Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lieberman as Symptom

Wednesday is the day that Robert Scheer's column appear in the Chronicle. However, I still prefer to read it on Truthdig, because, by the time I get to it, several interesting comments have accumulated. That was definitely the case today. Scheer's basic argument was that it was probably just as well that Al Gore lost the 2000 election, since, had he died in office, Joe Lieberman would have been a far worse President than Bush II. Scheer does not mince his rhetoric in his opening assessment of Lieberman:

His recent actions suggest that he could have descended even lower in his illogical and immoral responses to the tragedy of 9/11.

The keystone of Scheer's argument is the simple sentence, “He never learns.” Since I have a professional interest in matters of memory and cognition, I would like to use this as my own point of departure.

One comment submitted by reader “atheo,” cites an article entitled “It’s All About Israel,” which may provide the best context for reading Scheer’s column. It is not so much that Joe “never learns.” It is more that he has learned “one true thing” that will probably never be dislodged from his memory; and it is important to reflect on this learning on the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War.

I worked in Israel between 1971 and 1973, which is to say between the Six Day Way and the Yom Kippur War. The 1967 victory brought a wave of optimism to the country; but it also reinforced what was almost a “national motto” that has a lot to do with the subsequent undoing of that optimism. The motto was “Never again!,” the referent, of course, being the Holocaust; and it makes for an interesting commitment to priorities. The implication is that, if the elimination of the Jews is ever at stake again, then it should be prevented “by any means necessary” (although I doubt you would find many who would invoke the language of Malcolm X to make this point). This is the “one true thing” that Joe has learned; and it will always dominate every political decision he makes.

I first grasped the significance of this motto in 1972. I had to vote by proxy that year, but I still went around wearing a George McGovern button. However, because McGovern had made a speech recommending that Jerusalem be placed under independent international jurisdiction, I had a lot of angry fingers pointed at me (fortunately nothing worse) by Israelis who took this speech to mean that McGovern was “against the Jews.” I quickly realized that there was no arguing with these people. As far as they were concerned, letting anyone other than the Israelis control Jerusalem was the first step down the road to another Holocaust.

Have we progressed at all since 1972? At least now there are occasional conversations between Israel and the Arab world; but, for the most part, ceremony continues to trump (if not undermine) substance. Meanwhile, as a comment by “w mast” reminded us, AIPAC continues to charge ahead full steam, deriving much of its energy from that Holocaust mentality that keeps the never-again motto as alive as ever. It may be extreme to hypothesize that this little motto is the biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East, but it is folly to ignore the impact the motto has had over the history of Israel and continues to have in both Israel and the United States. The consequence, of course, is that any candidate in either the United States or Israel who tries to get beyond that motto basically eliminates any chance of getting elected.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Daniel Pipes Details Israeli Attack Against Iran
by Kurt Nimmo

Earlier this week, warmonger and Israel Firster Joe Lieberman said “I think we’ve got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” predicating, as neocons are wont, his argument on allegation. Now we have yet another Israel Firster and former United States Institute of Peace—as in war is peace—board member nominee, Daniel Pipes, calling for an attack against Iran.

Pipes cites “talented outsiders,” that is to say psychopaths, who focused “exclusively on feasibility, not political desirability or strategic ramifications: Were the Israeli national command to decide to damage the Iranian infrastructure, could its forces accomplish this mission?” Of course, in the process of destroying Iran’s “heavy water plant and plutonium production reactors under construction at Arak, a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, and a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz,” the Israelis would be spreading radioactive fallout across Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Japan, and other downwind countries in Asia and the Pacific Rim, not that this or “political desirability” are of concern to the Israelis or their cheerleading neocon cohorts.

Of course, simply bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities, resulting in the potential death of thousands, if not millions in the above mentioned countries, Pipes tells us “the IDF could reach Kharg Island, through which over 90 percent of Iranian oil is exported, heavily damaging the Iranian economy,” thus inflicting economic suffering and misery on millions of additional people, mostly average working people, albeit “dark-skinned” Muslims “with strange eating habits and less-developed notions of hygiene,” as Pipe famously characterized them.

One way or another, Pipes and his crazed compatriots will get their attack against Iran, not because the country is developing nuclear technology but rather because it serves as an example of a relatively strong and proud Muslim nation, something the neocons and Israelis detest, as they detested Saddam Hussein’s version of Arab nationalism and his support of the Palestinians. As we know, and as Zionists such as Oded Yinon tell us, the idea is to balkanize the Muslim world and spread as much chaos and misery—and, apparently, radiation—as possible.

Expect more of this as Bush prepares to exit office. As Pipes and crew realize, the Israelis will be unable to attack Iran, but the United States, already present in large numbers in the neighborhood, will be able to pull off an attack. For as the swami of the neocons, Norman Podhoretz, has promised, after consultation with Bush, the United States will attack Iran before Bush the Junior departs Washington.