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Israel, American Jews, and the War on Iraq

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Too Many Smoking Guns to Ignore: Israel, American Jews, and the War on Iraq http://www.counterpunch.org/christison01252003.html by BILL and KATHLEEN CHRISTISON
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2003
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      Too Many Smoking Guns to Ignore:
      Israel, American Jews, and the War on Iraq

      http://www.counterpunch.org/christison01252003.html


      by BILL and KATHLEEN CHRISTISON
      former CIA political analysts

      Most of the vociferously pro-Israeli neo-conservative
      policymakers in the Bush administration make no effort
      to hide the fact that at least part of their intention
      in promoting war against Iraq (and later perhaps
      against Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and the Palestinians)
      is to guarantee Israel's security by eliminating its
      greatest military threats, forging a regional balance
      of power overwhelmingly in Israel's favor, and in
      general creating a more friendly atmosphere for Israel
      in the Middle East. Yet, despite the neo-cons' own
      openness, a great many of those on the left who oppose
      going to war with Iraq and oppose the neo-conservative
      doctrines of the Bush administration nonetheless
      utterly reject any suggestion that Israel is pushing
      the United States into war, or is cooperating with the
      U.S., or even hopes to benefit by such a war. Anyone
      who has the temerity to suggest any Israeli
      instigation of, or even involvement in, Bush
      administration war planning is inevitably labeled
      somewhere along the way as an anti-Semite. Just
      whisper the word "domination" anywhere in the vicinity
      of the word "Israel," as in "U.S.-Israeli domination
      of the Middle East" or "the U.S. drive to assure
      global domination and guarantee security for Israel,"
      and some leftist who otherwise opposes going to war
      against Iraq will trot out charges of promoting the
      Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the old czarist
      forgery that asserted a Jewish plan for world
      domination.

      This is tiresome, to put it mildly. So it's useful to
      put forth the evidence for the assertion of Israeli
      complicity in Bush administration planning for war
      with Iraq, which is voluminous, as the following
      recitation will show. Much of what is presented below
      could be classified as circumstantial, but much is
      from the mouths of the horses themselves, either the
      neo-con planners or Israeli government officials, and
      much of it is evidence that, even if Israel is not
      actively pushing for war, many Israelis expect to
      benefit from it, and this despite their fear that a
      war will bring down on Israel a shower of Iraqi
      missiles.

      The evidence below is listed chronologically, except
      for two items grouped separately at the end. Although
      deletions have been made for the sake of brevity, and
      emphasis has been added to occasional phrases and
      sentences, no editorial narrative has been added. The
      evidence speaks for itself.

      "Benjamin Netanyahu's government comes in with a new
      set of ideas. While there are those who will counsel
      continuity, Israel has the opportunity to make a clean
      break; it can forge a peace process and strategy based
      on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that
      restores strategic initiative.To secure the nation's
      streets and borders in the immediate future, Israel
      can [among other steps] work closely with Turkey and
      Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back some of
      its most dangerous threats. This implies a clean break
      from the slogan, 'comprehensive peace' to a
      traditional concept of strategy based on balance of
      power. Israel can shape its strategic environment, in
      cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening,
      containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort
      can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in
      Iraq, an important Israeli strategic objective in its
      own right, as a means of foiling Syria's regional
      ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria's regional
      ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of
      the Hashemites in Iraq..Since Iraq's future could
      affect the strategic balance in the Middle East
      profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has
      an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their
      efforts to redefine Iraq. Israel's new agenda can
      signal a clean break by abandoning a policy
      whichallowed strategic retreat, by reestablishing the
      principle of preemption, rather than retaliation alone
      and by ceasing to absorb blows to the nation without
      response. Israel's new strategic agenda can shape the
      regional environment in ways that grant Israel the
      room to refocus its energies back to where they are
      most needed: to rejuvenate its national
      idea.Ultimately, Israel can do more than simply manage
      the Arab-Israeli conflict though war. No amount of
      weapons or victories will grant Israel the peace it
      seeks. When Israel is on a sound economic footing, and
      is free, powerful, and healthy internally, it will no
      longer simply manage the Arab-Israeli conflict; it
      will transcend it. As a senior Iraqi opposition leader
      said recently: 'Israel must rejuvenate and revitalize
      its moral and intellectual leadership. It is an
      important, if not the most important, element in the
      history of the Middle East.' Israel-proud, wealthy,
      solid, and strong-would be the basis of a truly new
      and peaceful Middle East."

      "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the
      Realm," policy paper written for Israeli Prime
      Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mid-1996, under the
      auspices of an Israeli think tank, the Institute for
      Advanced Strategic and Political Studies. Authors
      included Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David
      Wurmser, now all policymakers in or policy advisers to
      the Bush administration

      "Iraq's future will profoundly affect the strategic
      balance in the Middle East. The battle to dominate and
      define Iraq is, by extension, the battle to dominate
      the balance of power in the Levant over the long
      run.Iraq tried to take over its neighbor, Kuwait, a
      catastrophic mistake that has accelerated Iraq's
      descent into internal chaos. This chaos has created a
      vacuum in an area geostrategically central, and rich
      with human and natural resources. The vacuum tempts
      Iraq's neighbors to intervene, especially Syria, which
      is also driven to control the region.Iraq's chaos and
      Syria's efforts simultaneously provide opportunities
      for the Jordanian monarchy. Jordan is best suited to
      manage the tribal politics that will define the Levant
      in the wake of failed secular-Arab
      nationalism.IfJordan wins, then Syria would be
      isolated and surrounded by a new pro-western
      Jordanian-Israeli-Iraqi-Turkish bloc.It would be
      prudent for the United States and Israel to abandon
      the quest for 'comprehensive peace,' including its
      'land for peace' provision with Syria, since it locks
      the United States into futile attempts to prop-up
      local tyrants and the unnatural states underneath
      them. Instead, the United States and Israel can use
      this competition over Iraq to improve the regional
      balance of power in favor of regional friends like
      Jordan."


      "Coping with Crumbling States: A Western and Israeli
      Balance of Power Strategy for the Levant," policy
      paper written for an Israeli think tank, the Institute
      for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, December
      1996, by David Wurmser, now a State Department
      official in the Bush administration

      "In the [occupied] territories, the Arab world, and in
      Israel, Bush's support for Sharon is being credited to
      the pro-Israel lobby, meaning Jewish money and the
      Christian right.[In April 2002] state department
      professionals convinced Bush that it was important to
      quell the violence in the territories before
      assaulting Iraq. The U.S. military supported that
      view, emphasizing the critical importance of the
      ground bases in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for the
      success of the mission. But according to a well-placed
      American source, the weather vane turned.Vice
      President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald
      Rumsfeld, and Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, asked
      Bush what kind of coalition-shmoalition he needed to
      win the war in Afghanistan. They calmed his concerns
      by saying there's no chance the situation in the
      territories will shake the regimes of Mubarak in Egypt
      and the Abdullahs in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.Last
      Saturday [April 20], the president convened his
      advisors in Camp David, for another discussion of the
      crisis in the territories and Iraq. They decided to
      sit on the fence."

      Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, April 26,
      2002

      "It echoes the hawks in the Bush administration, but
      Israel has its own agenda in backing a US attack on
      Iraq. As Egypt and other Arab allies issue vehement
      warnings to dissuade Washington, Israel's fear is that
      the US will back off. 'If the Americans do not do this
      now,' said Israeli Deputy Defense Minister and Labor
      Party member Weizman Shiry on Wednesday, 'it will be
      harder to do it in the future. In a year or two,
      Saddam Hussein will be further along in developing
      weapons of mass destruction. It is a world interest,
      but especially an American interest to attack Iraq.
      And as deputy defense minister, I can tell you that
      the United States will receive any assistance it needs
      from Israel,' he added. Viewed through the eyes of
      Israel's hawkish leaders, however, a US strike is not
      about Iraq only. Decisionmakers believe it will
      strengthen Israel's hand on the Palestinian front and
      throughout the region. Deputy Interior Minister Gideon
      Ezra suggested this week that a US attack on Iraq will
      help Israel impose a new order, sans Arafat, in the
      Palestinian territories. 'The more aggressive the
      attack is, the more it will help Israel against the
      Palestinians. The understanding would be that what is
      good to do in Iraq, is also good for here,' said Ezra.
      He said a US strike would 'undoubtedly deal a
      psychological blow' to the Palestinians.Yuval
      Steinitz, a Likud party member of the Knesset's
      Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, says he sees
      another advantage for Israel. The installation of a
      pro-American government in Iraq would help Israel
      vis-a-vis another enemy: Syria. 'After Iraq is taken
      by US troops and we see a new regime installed as in
      Afghanistan, and Iraqi bases become American bases, it
      will be very easy to pressure Syria to stop supporting
      terrorist organizations like Hizbullah and Islamic
      Jihad, to allow the Lebanese army to dismantle
      Hizbullah, and maybe to put an end to the Syrian
      occupation in Lebanon,' he says. 'If this happens we
      will really see a new Middle East. It might be enough
      not to invade Syria but just to have an American or UN
      blockade so that no one can ship weapons to it,'
      Steinitz adds.Mr. Ezra predicts a US strike would
      'calm down the entire region' by eliminating 'the
      extremism of Saddam.'"

      Ben Lynfield, Christian Science Monitor, August 30,
      2002



      "As the Bush administration debates going to war
      against Iraq, its most hawkish members are pushing a
      sweeping vision for the Middle East that sees the
      overthrow of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq as
      merely a first step in the region's transformation.
      The argument for reshaping the political landscape in
      the Mideast has been pushed for years by some
      Washington think tanks and in hawkish circles. It is
      now being considered as a possible US policy with the
      ascent of key hard-liners in the administration, from
      Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith in the Pentagon to
      John Hannah and Lewis Libby on the vice president's
      staff and John Bolton in the State Department,
      analysts and officials say. Iraq, the hawks argue, is
      just the first piece of the puzzle. After an ouster of
      Hussein, they say, the United States will have more
      leverage to act against Syria and Iran, will be in a
      better position to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian
      conflict, and will be able to rely less on Saudi oil.
      The thinking does not represent official US policy.
      But increasingly the argument has served as a
      justification for a military attack against Iraq, and
      elements of the strategy have emerged in speeches by
      administration officials, most prominently Vice
      President Dick Cheney.A powerful corollary of the
      strategy is that a pro-US Iraq would make the region
      safer for Israel and, indeed, its staunchest
      proponents are ardent supporters of the Israeli
      right-wing. Administration officials, meanwhile, have
      increasingly argued that the onset of an Iraq allied
      to the US would give the administration more sway in
      bringing about a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian
      conflict, though Cheney and others have offered few
      details on precisely how.In its broadest terms, the
      advocates argue that a democratic Iraq would unleash
      similar change elsewhere in the Arab world.'Everyone
      will flip out, starting with the Saudis,' said Meyrav
      Wurmser, director of the Center for Middle East Policy
      at the Hudson Institute in Washington [and another
      author of the 1996 policy paper written for Israel,
      above]. 'It will send shock waves throughout the Arab
      world. Look, we already are pushing for democracy in
      the Palestinian Authority, though not with a huge
      amount of success, and we need a little bit more of a
      heavy-handed approach,' she said. 'But if we can get a
      democracy in the Palestinian Authority, democracy in
      Iraq, get the Egyptians to improve their human rights
      and open up their system, it will be a spectacular
      change. After a war with Iraq, then you really shape
      the region.'"

      John Donnelly and Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe,
      September 10, 2002



      "Slowly, President Bush's war plan against Iraq is
      emerging from the thick fog. At first it looked like a
      collection of hazy slogans, but gradually it is
      becoming clear that it has definite, if hidden,
      aims.The war plan of the Bushies makes sense only if
      the US leadership is ready (more than that, is
      actually longing) for the occupation of Iraq in order
      to remain there for many, many years.But in the eyes
      of Bush and his advisers, this is a very worthwhile
      investment that would yield immense benefits. Among
      others:

      *The main objective of the American economy (and
      therefore of American policy) is the oil of the
      Caspian Sea.

      *The existence of a secure American base in the heart
      of the Arab world will also enable Washington to bully
      all the Arab regimes, lest they stray from the
      straight and narrow.

      *The new situation will destroy the last remnants of
      Arab independence. Even today, almost all the Arab
      countries are dependent on America.

      A massive American physical presence in their midst
      will put an end to any pretense of Arab power and
      unity.A grandiose, world-embracing, yet simple and
      logical design. What does it remind me of?In the early
      80's, I heard about several plans like this from Ariel
      Sharon (which I published at the time). His head was
      full of grand designs for restructuring the Middle
      East, the creation of an Israeli 'security zone' from
      Pakistan to Central Africa, the overthrow of regimes
      and installing others in their stead, moving a whole
      people (the Palestinians) and so forth. I can't help
      it, but the winds blowing now in Washington remind me
      of Sharon. I have absolutely no proof that the Bushies
      got their ideas from him, even if all of them seem to
      have been mesmerized by him. But the style is the
      same, a mixture of megalomania, creativity, arrogance,
      ignorance and superficiality. An explosive mixture.
      Sharon's grand design floundered, as we know. The bold
      flights of imagination and the superficial logic did
      not help; -Sharon simply did not understand the real
      currents of history. I fear that the band of Bush,
      Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice, Wolfowitz, Perle and all the
      other little Sharons are suffering from the same
      syndrome.Sharon may believe that he will be the big
      winner of such an American move, though history may
      show that he brought a historical disaster on us. He
      may succeed in exploiting the ensuing anarchy in order
      to drive the Palestinians out of the country. But
      within a few years Israel could find itself surrounded
      by a new Middle EastA region full of hatred, dreaming
      of revenge, driven by religious and nationalist
      fanaticism. And in the end, the Americans will go
      home. We will be left here alone. But people like Bush
      and Sharon do not march to the beat of history. They
      are listening to a different drummer."

      Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, CounterPunch.org,
      September 10, 2002



      "Ever since the Bush administration ordered the CIA to
      nurture the exiled Iraqis, nothing happens to them by
      accident. [Jordanian] Prince Hassan didn't just happen
      to drop in [on a meeting of Iraqi exiles in London]
      because he was in town. The Hashemite dynasty has
      never given up its dream to revive the Iraqi throne.
      It could be a great job for Hassan, whose older
      brother [the late King Hussein] denied him the
      Jordanian kingdom at the last minute. It's true that
      restoring a monarchy in Iraq does not exactly fit the
      Bush administration's vision of a democratic Middle
      East. But there are signs that it fits some old dreams
      of a few of the key strategists around the
      Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld triangle running America's Iraq
      policy. A few weeks ago, Richard Perle invited the
      Pentagon chiefs to a meeting with researchers from a
      Washington think tank.According to information that
      reached a former top official in the Israeli security
      services, the researchers showed two slides to the
      Pentagon officials. The first was a depiction of the
      three goals in the war on terror and the
      democratization of the Middle East: Iraq, a tactical
      goal; Saudi Arabia, a strategic goal; and Egypt, the
      great prize. The triangle in the next slide was no
      less interesting: Palestine is Israel, Jordan is
      Palestine, and Iraq is the Hashemite Kingdom."

      Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz, October 1,
      2002

      "The summer of 1993 saw the emergence of two
      contradictory paths concerning Israel and its place in
      the Middle East. The signing of the Oslo agreement
      raised hopes for Israel's integration into a web of
      political, security and economic cooperation with its
      Arab neighbors. At the same time, Harvard Prof. Samuel
      Huntington published his essay, 'The Clash of
      Civilizations,' in which he argued that the conflicts
      around the world would no longer be over ideology, but
      over culture instead. 'Islam has bloody borders,'
      Huntington wrote, counting Israel as a 'Western
      creation' on the fault lines of the conflict, along
      with Kashmir and Bosnia. The idea was accepted
      enthusiastically by the Israeli right wing. It also
      had some supporters on the left, most noticeably Ehud
      Barak, who described Israel as a Western fortress in
      the region, 'a villa in the jungle.' As of now, it
      appears that the argument was settled in favor of the
      clash of civilizations theory, which has taken over
      the political and security establishment in Israel.The
      appeal of the clash of civilizations theory is also
      expressed in the Israeli enthusiasm for the expected
      American assault on Iraq, in the hope of showing the
      Arabs who's the boss in the region. Israel is the only
      country to absolutely support the American decision,
      and has urged it to act, and quickly.The tangible
      result of the change in consciousness has been
      deepening Israel's dependence on American defense and
      economic support. Sharon led that policy. The same
      Sharon says there are no free lunches in policy and is
      now begging for aid from Washington, trying to point
      the American cannon in the direction of its next
      target after Iraq."

      Israeli correspondent Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz, November
      14, 2002

      "The embrace of U.S. President George W. Bush is Ariel
      Sharon's chief asset as he vies for another term of
      office as prime minister. Sharon is finding it hard to
      show any achievements during his 20 months in
      power.The only card left in his hand is the diplomatic
      card, as personified by Israel's good relations with
      the White House, and all of Sharon's campaign revolves
      around it. Sharon and his cronies are now asking the
      voters for an extended period of grace, and are
      promising that next year will be the year that counts.
      All of their hopes and expectations are pointed toward
      Washington: an American attack on Iraq is seen as the
      lever which can extricate Israel from its economic,
      security and social quagmire. It is hoped that the
      removal of Saddam Hussein from power will set in
      motion a 'domino effect,' will end the Palestinian
      Intifada, bring about the end of Yasser Arafat's
      regime and eradicate the threat to Israel from Iran,
      Syria and Hezbollah."

      Israeli correspondent Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz, November
      18, 2002

      "To understand the genesis of this extraordinary [US
      global] ambition, it is also necessary to grasp the
      moral, cultural and intellectual world of American
      nationalism in which it has taken shape. This
      nationalism existed long before last September, but it
      has been inflamed by those attacks and, equally
      dangerously, it has become even more entwined with the
      nationalism of the Israeli Right.The banal propaganda
      portrayal of Saddam as a crazed and suicidal dictator
      plays well on the American street, but I don't believe
      that it is a view shared by the Administration.
      Rather, their intention is partly to retain an
      absolute certainty of being able to defend the Gulf
      against an Iraqi attack, but, more important, to
      retain for the US and Israel a free hand for
      intervention in the Middle East as a whole. From the
      point of view of Israel, the Israeli lobby and their
      representatives in the Administration, the apparent
      benefits of such a free hand are clear enough. For the
      group around Cheney, the single most important
      consideration is guaranteed and unrestricted access to
      cheap oil, controlled as far as possible at its
      source. [A]s alternative technologies develop, they
      could become a real threat to the oil lobby, which,
      like the Israeli lobby, is deeply intertwined with the
      Bush Administration. War with Iraq can therefore be
      seen as a satisfactory outcome for both lobbies.[W]hat
      the Administration hopes is that by crushing another
      middle-sized state at minimal military cost, all the
      other states in the Muslim world will be terrified
      into full co-operation in tracking down and handing
      over suspected terrorists, and into forsaking the
      Palestinian cause.The idea, in other words, is to
      scare these states not only into helping with the hunt
      for al-Qaida, but into capitulating to the US and,
      more important, Israeli agendas in the Middle
      East.'The road to Middle East peace lies through
      Baghdad' is a line that's peddled by the Bush
      Administration and the Israeli lobby. It is just
      possible that some members of the Administration
      really believe that by destroying Israel's most
      powerful remaining enemy they will gain such credit
      with Israelis and the Israeli lobby that they will be
      able to press compromises on Israel. But this is
      certainly not what public statements by members of the
      Administration, let alone those of its Likud allies in
      Israel, suggest.It's far more probable, therefore,
      that most members of the Bush and Sharon
      Administrations hope that the crushing of Iraq will so
      demoralise the Palestinians, and so reduce wider Arab
      support for them, that it will be possible to force
      them to accept a Bantustan settlement bearing no
      resemblance to independent statehood.From the point of
      view of the Arab-Israeli conflict, war with Iraq also
      has some of the character of a Flucht nach vorn, an
      'escape forwards,' on the part of the US
      Administration. On the one hand, it has become clear
      that the conflict is integrally linked to everything
      else that happens in the Middle East, and therefore
      cannot simply be ignored, as the Bush Administration
      tried to do during its first year in office. On the
      other hand, even those members of the American
      political elite who have some understanding of the
      situation and a concern for justice are terrified of
      confronting Israel and the Israeli lobby in the ways
      which would be necessary to bring any chance of peace.
      When the US demands 'democracy' in the Palestinian
      territories before it will re-engage in the peace
      process it is in part, and fairly cynically, trying to
      get out of this trap."

      Anatol Lieven, Senior Associate at the Carnegie
      Endowment for International Peace, London Review of
      Books, December 2002

      "If you want to know what the administration has in
      mind for Iraq, here's a hint: It has less to do with
      weapons of mass destruction than with implementing an
      ambitious U.S. vision to redraw the map of the Middle
      East. The new map would be drawn with an eye to two
      main objectives: controlling the flow of oil and
      ensuring Israel's continued regional military
      superiority.[Patrick] Clawson [a policy analyst with
      the Washington Institute for Near East Policy], whose
      institute enjoys close ties with the Bush
      administration, wascandid during a Capitol Hill forum
      on a post-Hussein Iraq in 1999: 'U.S. oil companies
      would have an opportunity to make significant
      profits,' he said. 'We should not be embarrassed about
      the commercial advantages that would come from a
      re-integration of Iraq into the world economy.'...But
      taking over Iraq and remaking the global oil market is
      not necessarily the endgame. The next steps, favored
      by hard-liners determined to elevate Israeli security
      above all other U.S. foreign policy goals, would be to
      destroy any remaining perceived threat to the Jewish
      state: namely, the regimes in Syria and Iran.In 1998,
      [David] Wurmser, now in the State Department, told the
      Jewish newspaper Forward that if [Iraqi opposition
      leader] Ahmad Chalabi were in power and extended a
      no-fly, no-drive zone in northern Iraq, it would
      provide the crucial piece for an anti-Syria, anti-Iran
      bloc. 'It puts Scuds out of the range of Israel and
      provides the geographic beachhead between Turkey,
      Jordan and Israel,' he said. 'This should anchor the
      Middle East pro-Western coalition.' [Richard] Perle,
      in the same 1998 article, told Forward that a
      coalition of pro-Israeli groups was 'at the forefront
      with the legislation with regard to Iran. One can only
      speculate what it might accomplish if it decided to
      focus its attention on Saddam Hussein.'Now, Israeli
      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has joined the call
      against Tehran, arguing in a November interview with
      the Times of London that the U.S. should shift its
      focus to Iran 'the day after' the Iraq war ends.[T]he
      hard-liners in and around the administration seem to
      know in their hearts that the battle to carve up the
      Middle East would not be won without the blood of
      Americans and their allies. 'One can only hope that we
      turn the region into a caldron, and faster, please,'
      [Michael] Ledeen preached to the choir at National
      Review Online last August. 'That's our mission in the
      war against terror.'"

      UC Berkeley journalism professor Sandy Tolan, Los
      Angeles Times, December 1, 2002

      "The immediate and laudatory purpose of a United
      States military campaign against Iraq is to stamp out
      the regime of Saddam Hussein, the world's most
      psychopathic ruler, and to strike a blow against
      terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass
      destruction. As such this is a welcome move from
      Israel's standpoint, whatever the consequences.[T]he
      American planners, who display considerable disdain
      for most of the Muslim and Arab worlds, seem to think
      that the forcible removal of Saddam's evil regime and
      the consequent implantation of an American military
      presence in the wild Middle East will project a
      civilizing or liberating influence. They are not
      alone; not a few progressive Arab thinkers (and many
      Israelis) appear to welcome this American deus ex
      machina into the region."

      Israeli military/political analyst, Yossi Alpher,
      bitterlemons.org, December 23, 2002

      "I thinkthat the conquest of Iraq will really create a
      New Middle East. Put differently: the Middle East will
      enter a new age. For the time being this will happen
      without us, as long as there's no Palestinian
      solution. Many peoples in the region are ruled by
      frightened dictators who have to decide whom to fear
      more, the terrorists or the war against terrorism.
      Asad fears for his legitimacy due to the war against
      terrorism. Arafat can also lose his legitimacy. The
      Saudis gave money for terrorism due to fear. No
      terrorist-sponsoring country is democratic.In those
      countries [that support terrorism] there will be
      revolutions. Television will play a role like in the
      collapse of the Iron Curtain. This will happen with
      the Palestinians, too. The Arab world is ripe for
      internal revolution like the USSR and China in the
      past decade."

      Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres,
      bitterlemons.org, December 23, 2002

      "Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, having just
      returned from a week-long fact-finding trip to the
      Middle East, addressed the Chicago Council of Foreign
      Relations Dec. 16 and said out loud what is whispered
      on Capitol Hill: 'The road to Arab-Israeli peace will
      not likely go through Baghdad, as some may claim.' The
      'some' are led by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
      In private conversation with Hagel and many other
      members of Congress, the former general leaves no
      doubt that the greatest U.S. assistance to Israel
      would be to overthrow Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.
      That view is widely shared inside the Bush
      administration, and is a major reason why U.S. forces
      today are assembling for war.As the US gets ready for
      war, its standing in Islam, even among longtime
      allies, stands low. Yet, the Bush administration has
      tied itself firmly to Gen. Sharon and his policies.In
      private conversation, National Security Adviser
      Condoleezza Rice has insisted that Hezbollah, not al
      Qaeda, is the world's most dangerous terrorist
      organization. How could that be, considering al
      Qaeda's global record of mass carnage? In truth,
      Hezbollah is the world's most dangerous terrorist
      organization from Israel's standpoint. While viciously
      anti-American in rhetoric, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah
      is focused on the destruction of Israel.Thus, Rice's
      comments suggest that the U.S. war against terrorism,
      accused of being Iraq-centric, actually is
      Israel-centric. That ties George W. Bush to Arik
      Sharon.What is widely perceived as an indissoluble
      Bush-Sharon bond creates tension throughout Islam.On
      balance, war with Iraq may not be inevitable but is
      highly probable. That it looks like Sharon's war
      disturbs Americans such as Chuck Hagel, who have no
      use for Saddam Hussein but worry about the background
      of an attack against him."

      Robert Novak, Washington Post, December 26, 2002



      "With a scandal chipping away at his government, Prime
      Minister Ariel Sharon changed the subject to Iraq this
      week and found his country eager to listen.Mr.
      Sharon's remarksseemed to strike a chord with Israeli
      voters, who are concerned about an Iraqi attack and
      still traumatized by the events of 1991, when 39 Iraqi
      missiles landed in the country.To some Israeli
      commentators, the week's events highlighted the
      lingering effects of the first war with Iraq, and how
      Mr. Sharon, an incumbent prime minister with an
      unmatched reputation for toughness, is the likely
      beneficiary of any debate over a second one. 'What
      happened in 1991 is an unfinished chapter,' said Asher
      Arian, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy
      Institute in Jerusalem. 'The Israeli public feels it
      has a score to settle. When Sharon talks about Iraq,
      it has enormous resonance.'Part of the explanation for
      the positive reception of Mr. Sharon is the genuine
      fear that many Israelis harbor of an Iraqi attack.The
      other factor, commentators here say, is the looming
      memory of the Persian Gulf war of 1991. For Israelis,
      proud of their military successes over the years, that
      war was a different experience. At American
      insistence, they endured Iraqi missile attacks without
      fighting back. 'The gulf war was the first time in
      Israel's history where people had to hide and run
      way,' said Itzhak Galnoor, former commissioner of the
      Israeli civil service. 'For Israelis to be helpless,
      that was very traumatic.'"

      Dexter Filkins, New York Times, December 29, 2002


      Authors' note: Given the prevailing atmosphere in the
      United States for debate on Israel, the frequency with
      which critics of Israel are accused of malicious
      ethnic motives, and the widespread skittishness about
      associating Israel or American Jews with war planning
      against Iraq, the following items are of particular
      interest. The first of these items reports a clear
      Jewish effort to suppress any evidence of Jewish
      support for war. The second is evidence, from a
      non-Jewish perspective, of the effect of the silence
      imposed on critics of Israel.

      "A group of U.S. political consultants has sent
      pro-Israel leaders a memo urging them to keep quiet
      while the Bush administration pursues a possible war
      with Iraq. The six-page memo was sent by the Israel
      Project, a group funded by American Jewish
      organizations and individual donors. Its authors said
      the main audience was American Jewish leaders, but
      much of the memo's language is directed toward
      Israelis.The memo reflects a concern that involvement
      by Israel in a U.S.-Iraq confrontation could hurt
      Israel's standing in American public opinion and
      undermine international support for a hard line
      against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. 'Let American
      politicians fight it out on the floor of Congress and
      in the media,' the memo said. 'Let the nations of the
      world argue in front of the UN. Your silence allows
      everyone to focus on Iraq rather than Israel.'An
      Israeli diplomat in Washington said the Israeli
      government did not request or fund the efforts of the
      Israel Project and that Israeli leaders were unlikely
      to follow all the advice. 'These are professional
      public relations people,' the diplomat said. 'There's
      also a political-diplomatic side.' The Iraq memo was
      issued in the past few weeks and labeled 'confidential
      property of the Israel Project,' which is led by
      Democratic consultant Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi with
      help from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg and
      Republican pollsters Neil Newhouse and Frank Luntz.
      Several of the consultants have advised Israeli
      politicians, and the group aired a pro-Israel ad
      earlier this year. 'If your goal is regime change, you
      must be much more careful with your language because
      of the potential backlash,' said the memo, titled
      'Talking About Iraq.' It added: 'You do not want
      Americans to believe that the war on Iraq is being
      waged to protect Israel rather than to protect
      America.' In particular, the memo urged Israelis to
      pipe down about the possibility of Israel responding
      to an Iraqi attack. 'Such certainty may be Israeli
      policy, but asserting it publicly and so overtly will
      not sit well with a majority of Americans because it
      suggests a pre-determined outcome rather than a
      measured approach,' it said."

      Dana Milbank, Washington Post, November 27, 2002

      "[We need to] demystify the question of why we have
      become unable to discuss our relationship with the
      current government of Israel. Whether the actions
      taken by that government constitute self-defense or a
      particularly inclusive form of self-immolation remains
      an open question. The question of course has a
      history.This open question, and its history, are
      discussed rationally and with considerable
      intellectual subtlety in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.Where
      the question is not discussed rationally, where in
      fact the question is rarely discussed at all, since so
      few of us are willing to see our evenings turn toxic,
      is in New York and Washington and in those academic
      venues where the attitudes and apprehensions of New
      York and Washington have taken hold. The president of
      Harvard recently warned that criticisms of the current
      government of Israel could be construed as
      'anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.'
      The very question of the US relationship with Israel,
      in other words, has come to be seenas unraisable,
      potentially lethal, the conversational equivalent of
      an unclaimed bag on a bus. We take cover. We wait for
      the entire subject to be defused, safely insulated
      behind baffles of invective and counterinvective. Many
      opinions are expressed. Few are allowed to develop.
      Even fewer change."

      Joan Didion, New York Review of Books, January 16,
      2003

      Kathleen Christison worked for 16 years as a political
      analyst with the CIA, dealing first with Vietnam and
      then with the Middle East for her last seven years
      with the Agency before resigning in 1979. Since
      leaving the CIA, she has been a free-lance writer,
      dealing primarily with the Israeli-Palestinian
      conflict. Her book, "Perceptions of Palestine: Their
      Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy," was published
      by the University of California Press and reissued in
      paperback with an update in October 2001. A second
      book, "The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the
      Palestinian Story," was published in March 2002.

      Bill Christison joined the CIA in 1950, and served on
      the analysis side of the Agency for 28 years. From the
      early 1970s he served as National Intelligence Officer
      (principal adviser to the Director of Central
      Intelligence on certain areas) for, at various times,
      Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa. Before he
      retired in 1979 he was Director of the CIA's Office of
      Regional and Political Analysis, a 250-person unit.
      They can be reached at: christison@...
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