Magic Fire and Empty Pockets

John Wayne as Wagner

John Wayne as Wagner

Wednesday was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), easily one of the greatest composers ever to have picked up a pen.  There appears to be no middle ground with Wagner; he is either despised or adored by serious music aficionados.  I am in the adoration camp and believe that he was in fact the greatest composer ever, certainly of opera – or music drama as he calls it.  I consider Der Ring des Nibelungen to be the supreme achievement of western music; for me the sweetest, most moving moment in all opera comes in Die Walküre, when Brünnhilde tells Sieglinde that she is carrying in her womb the greatest hero of all time, Siegfried, and his theme is heard for the first time.  Chuck Berry is very cool, of course, but Wagner provides the aesthetic shiver.

While many of his theoretical writings on music, especially his ideas on Zukunftsmusik (“music of the future”), are a bit strange (Did he really believe sculptors and painters would be satisfied just producing props, sets and backdrops for opera?), there is no question that his operas do indeed mark a towering advance in music.  Contrary to general practice, his carefully crafted librettos were written by himself, and there is consequently in the Ring and his mature operas an unprecedented intimacy between the words and the music surrounding them.  What the characters are singing is for the first time – at least to this degree – utterly important, which is probably why the increasing use of supertitles in opera houses has stirred renewed interest in the composer.

Wagner also broke ground in the music of his later operas, pushing the traditional tonal systems to their limits and dramatically influencing the next generation of composers, such as Gustav Mahler.  Ultimately, his work led to the often blatantly atonal “music” of twentieth century composers like Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg.  His use of leitmotivs or musical themes certainly points the way to cinematic music.

Behind this incredibly beautiful music, however, is a miserable human being.  Wagner was domineering, and his opinions (on just about everything) were rarely affected by counterarguments and were expressed whether desired or not.  He shamelessly used his friends, constantly borrowing money that would never be repaid and squandering it on luxuries.  One might say that after music debt was the second constant in his life.  He essentially deserted his first wife, Minna Planer, and had a conspicuous affair with Mathilde Wesendonck, the wife of one of his greatest benefactors.  He produced three children with Franz Liszt’s daughter, Cosima, while she was still married to his loyal conductor Hans von Bülow, who finally allowed a divorce so that Cosima might became Wagner’s bride.  In short, he seemed to think the world owed him a living, and given the music he created, I think it did.

What Wagner is best known for, certainly among those who have no familiarity with his music, is his anti-Semitism, something that might have been forgotten amidst all the other anti-Semitism of the nineteenth century but for the fact that he actually wrote about it and especially because Adolf Hitler loved his music.  A great deal of energy has been spent looking for the traces of anti-Semitism in his works, focusing on figures like Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger and the Mime and his colleagues in the Ring.  There is no evidence whatsoever for this, and Wagner was so wrapped up in the dramas and characters he was presenting that it seems unlikely he would consciously model them after Jews.  And if there is anti-Semitism lurking behind figures and ideas in his operas, it is so subtle and subjective that it certainly does not matter to those who love the music.

Though it is hardly a justification, Wagner’s anti-Semitism was very common among enlightened Europeans in the nineteenth century, and it lacked the crude characteristics of the grass roots hatred found in the rural areas.  Wagner certainly did not advocate pogroms or separation and lived in the part of Europe where Jewish assimilation was most advanced.  Since many of his friends were in fact Jewish, he could hardly support violence or other extreme measures against them.  His campaign against the music of the Paris composer Giacomo Meyerbeer has more to do with Wagner’s initial envy of Meyerbeer’s success and what he perceived as unjust treatment by the popular composer than it did with Meyerbeer’s Jewishness.  Wagner was plainly annoyed and frustrated by the popularity of Meyerbeer’s operas, which he considered inferior to his own vision and works.  And there were many Jews in music, such as Gustav Mahler, who could easily ignore Wagner’s various shortcomings and see only the musical genius.

Wagner as the über-anti-Semite chiefly derives from two developments after his death.  The first was the emergence of Haus Wahnfried, the Wagner residence in Bayreuth, as a notorious center of anti-Semitism, presided over by his widow, Cosima, until her death in 1930.  She herself may not have been seriously anti-Semitic, but her establishment certainly attracted a number of unsavory characters, like the racist Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who married one of the Wagner daughters and took up residence in Bayreuth.

The second and far more important development was the association of Wagner with the Third Reich.  Hitler was surely aware of Wagner’s anti-Semitism, but the attraction was the music, which would have held him spellbound even if the composer had never uttered an anti-Semitic word.  Wagner’s obvious German nationalism and connection with Teutonic myth would have appealed to Hitler more than the anti-Semitism.  The fact that there was virtually no one else in the Nazi hierarchy that had any desire to sit through a Wagnerian opera suggests a lack of identity between National Socialism and the music of the future.

Abetting Hitler’s love of Wagner was the composer’s daughter-in-law Winifred’s love of Adolf Hitler.  Her husband, Siegfried, died the same year as his mother, and Winifred became the pro-Nazi mistress of Wahnfried, where Hitler would be a regular visitor.  She would only go so far when it came to the master’s music – she refused to put swastikas on the shields of the Gibichungen in Die Götterdämmerung – but Hitler’s frequent presence at Bayreuth and the clear affection between him and the family – he was “Wolfie” – forever bound Wagner to the Reich.

And Wagner’s attitude to Hitler?  He certainly would have applauded the ultra-nationalism and the final unification of all Germans, and one might guess he would find the pomp and incredible showmanship of the Nazi state very attractive.  Humiliating the French would likely also appeal to him.  But Wagner was a revolutionary, not just in his music but also in politics, at least in his youth, and he participated in the anti-monarchy revolts of 1848 and was forced into exile in Switzerland.  Once successful he seems to have retreated to some degree from these sentiments, especially when a monarch, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, showered him with money, and the creation of the German Empire pleased him.  Yet, it is hard to see Wagner enthusiastic about the absolute and particularly vulgar dictatorship established by Hitler, and for all his anti-Semitism I find it impossible to believe that the soul manifested in his music could abide the Final Solution.

But in the end – who cares?  Were Wagner himself a mass murderer, the music would still be the music and that is all the matters.  Modern Israel has had an unofficial ban on performing Wagner, which is simply silly.  The messenger is not the message.  And in any case Wagner is unwittingly performed: the traditional wedding march (“Here Comes the Bride”) comes from Lohengrin.

Finally, a little known connection between Wagner and America.  The American Centennial Commission in 1876 commissioned Wagner to write a piece of music for the occasion, resulting in the obscure American Centennial March, clearly not one of the master’s great compositions.  He himself said the best thing about the piece was the $5000 he was paid for it.

Ironies from Israel #4: The Embarrassing Benefactor

Well, this is not exactly an irony from Israel but rather an irony from the Third Reich that has put Israel in an ironic position.

Israel has a circle of honor for those who rescued Jews from the clutches of the Third Reich, whether it be one or thousands. Nominations are sent to a department of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial (built on land confiscated from Palestinian families, we must not forget), where the cases are checked and researched and then passed to a committee of ten Holocaust survivors, which makes the final decision. 24,356 people from forty-seven countries, five hundred of them Germans, have been so honored as the “Righteous Among the Nations.”

On the face of it, the case now facing the committee should be extremely simple. The candidate aided several dozen Jews and non-Jews in escaping from the Reich and set up Swiss bank accounts to help the exiles. On a number of occasions before the war he saved individual Jews from assault by Nazi thugs, and as an executive with the vast Skoda works in Czechoslovakia he aided resistance fighters and supported anti-German sabotage. He once took a truck to the Theresienstadt concentration camp and demanded workers for the Skoda factories, then driving them to a woods where they were released. All these activities are documented by witnesses, most especially the people (or their children) he helped to survive.

The only problem: the man’s name is Albert Göring.

Yes, the man in question was Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring’s little known younger brother. He was an apolitical engineer and a dapper womanizer, but despite his family connections he was also anti-Nazi and despised Hitler. Rather than turn a blind eye, however, he used those connections to rescue people from the system in which his brother was the number two man.

He obviously fits the bill for the honor of being a member of the Righteous Among the Nations, but his name is Göring, which might be a bit difficult for Israel to accept. But there is a way out. There is a rumor that Albert was actually the child of his mother and the family doctor, who was a Jew. This would give the Israelis an opportunity to avoid what might be an embarrassment in proclaiming a Göring one of the Righteous Among the Nations, since only non-Jews are eligible for the honor. There is, however, absolutely no evidence for this claim of a Jewish father, and even the Reichsmarschall would have had some difficulty protecting his brother had the Reich suspected Albert of carrying Jewish blood.

Confirmation of Albert Göring’s role in rescuing Jews would be a victory of truth over image, but unfortunately, Israel, more than most states, has allowed the image of its past to be built upon serious distortions of the truth, beginning with “A land without a people for a people without a land.” This must have been a baffling proclamation for the millions of Palestinians already living in the “land without a people.” Closer to the subject of this essay, missing from the list of the Swedish Righteous is the name Folke Bernadotte, who saved at least 1600 Jews (among tens of thousands of others) near the end of the war. But as a mediator during the Arab-Israeli conflicts of 1947-1948 Bernadotte earned the ire of the extremist Stern Gang, and in 1948 he was assassinated on the orders of its leaders, one of whom, Yitzhak Shamir, was later Prime Minister of Israel. Clearly, it would be awkward to encourage public review of Bernadotte’s life.

With Jews, Czech resistance fighters and others defending him Albert Göring was completely cleared by the allies, but out of loyalty to his family he refused to change his name, and even a talented engineer could not find work in Germany with the name Göring. He died a poor man in 1966, his deeds unknown to the world until an Australian writer published an account in 2009.

Das Mitt Romney Lied

(This updated version of the Horst Wessel Lied (the official anthem of the NSDAP) scans like the German original (you can sing it), and the lyrics are actually a relatively close translation.  The actual Lied follows for comparison, at least for those who know any German.)

The banner high! The columns tightly bounded!

Mitt Romney walks with quiet, steady tread.

Paul Ryan, whom red scum and socialists have hounded,

Will march with him and see all freedoms dead.


The streets are filled with we who gather billions.

The streets are filled with we the corp’rate pawns!

It’s true that voters can be bought in all their millions.

The day for business and for greed now dawns!


For one last time will liberals be crying!

For battle stand conservatives to arms!

Soon Romney’s banners will be up and flying.

Obama’s fall will end false commie charms!


The banner high! The columns tightly bounded!

Mitt Romney walks with quiet, steady tread.

Paul Ryan, whom red scum and socialists have hounded,

Will march with him and see all freedoms dead.



Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!

SA marschiert mit ruhig, festem Schritt.

Kam’raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,

Marschier’n im Geist in unser’n Reihen mit.


Die Straße frei den braunen Batallionen.

Die Straße frei dem Sturmabteilungsmann!

Es schau’n aufs Hakenkreuz voll Hoffnung schon Millionen.

Der Tag für Freiheit und für Brot bricht an!


Zum letzten Mal wird Sturmalarm geblasen!

Zum Kampfe steh’n wir alle schon bereit!

Bald flattern Hitlerfahnen über allen Straßen.

Die Knechtschaft dauert nur noch kurze Zeit!


Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!

SA marschiert mit ruhig, festem Schritt.

Kam’raden, die Rotfront und Reaktion erschossen,

Marschier’n im Geist in unser’n Reihen mit.

Grass Roots on Israel

Nobel Laureate author Günter Grass has just published a short poem entitled “What Must Be Said,” in which he accuses Israel, with its undeclared stockpile of nuclear weapons and constant threat of attacking Iran, of being the real threat to peace in the Middle East.  The poem is hardly likely to enter the corpus of great literature, but in it Grass makes valid points that must in fact be made and has stirred a discussion – at least in Germany – that has been constantly avoided.

Granted, Grass has undermined his position and unnecessarily provided material for his critics by suggesting that Israel is poised to launch a nuclear strike that would destroy the Iranian people, something Tel Aviv is not likely to consider doing.  Even the ever-compliant United States would (I hope) bristle at the use of a nuclear weapon, and in any case in the highly unlikely event that Israel’s incredibly powerful conventional defenses were inadequate, the US would be obliged to step in.

Nevertheless, Grass’ basic point is certainly correct: the only Middle Eastern nation west of Pakistan possessing nuclear weapons is Israel, which has never even been asked to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, let alone accept inspection of its facilities.  This bit of grand hypocrisy is hardly surprising, given that America and to a lesser extent Europe have historically granted the Jewish state a blanket dispensation when it comes to accepted international law and behavior.

Critics are screaming at the barest suggestion that Iran may be the victim here, but this is perhaps not as outrageous as it first appears, certainly not from the Iranian point of view.  The West overthrew their democratically elected government in 1923, imposed the utterly ruthless Shah, occupied the country during World War II, created and supported a militarily powerful Israel and encouraged Saddam Hussein in his decade-long war against them.  And now, because of the interests of Israel and the Sunni oil barons, America has declared its (albeit reluctant) willingness to engage in a war of aggression because Iran might be working on nuclear weapons and might have one in a few years.  For all that Iran is controlled by a collection of ideological numbskulls there is at least an aura of victimhood, and certainly no rational person could ever consider imperial Israel a victim.

For the obvious reason of its Nazi past criticism of Israel is very infrequent in Germany.  (Because of domestic politics it is also very infrequent in America, but the utterings of a European author typically do not stir the interest of the self-absorbed American media.)  Clearly, the atrocities of the Third Reich neither justify bad behavior on the part of Israel nor require reasonable Germans to be silent, but as Grass predicts in the poem, any criticism of Israel will result immediately in the accusation of anti-Semitism, which is exactly what happened.

Criticizing Israel is of course no more anti-Semitic than criticizing Germany is anti-German, and Israeli citizens in fact do it every day (only to be branded “self-loathing”).  But so great is western guilt and Zionist influence that it is now generally accepted that gainsaying Israel is in fact anti-Semitic; the latest edition of Webster’s does offer as the second definition of “anti-Semitism” criticizing Israel.  So, one does so at one’s own risk.

Sundry Germans, particularly newspaper columnists, immediately jumped on Grass as an anti-Semite, especially the Jewish writer Henryk Broder, who described the novelist as “the prototype of the educated anti-Semite,” in part for labeling the appropriation of Palestinian land as a criminal act (which of course it is by established international law).  As can easily be imagined, the extreme right-wing government in Tel Aviv promptly branded Grass an unrepentant Nazi, and Interior Minister Eli Yeshai barred the author from ever entering Israel, a petty measure already taken against others, such as linguist Noam Chomsky and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maquire, who dared criticize Israel.  (In 2001 there were calls, unsuccessful, to do the same to Daniel Barenboim, who had the temerity to conduct a piece by Richard Wagner; these people are off the deep end.)  To their credit even some German politicians condemned this fit of Israeli pique.

Grass has on numerous occasions demonstrated himself to be something of a jerk, but he is undeniably a world-class novelist and certainly no ignoramus.  Whether or not one agrees with his appreciation of Israel and its nuclear arsenal, he has clearly made a valid point about the danger of criticizing the Jewish state, a point most Germans apparently agree with.  And a point amply demonstrated by the reaction of Israel, which once again has chosen to erect a wall rather than confront rationally those who dare object to its actions, whether they be Palestinian farmers or German authors.

What must be said

Why have I kept silent, held back so long,

on something openly practised in

war games, at the end of which those of us

who survive will at best be footnotes?
It’s the alleged right to a first strike

that could destroy an Iranian people

subjugated by a loudmouth

and gathered in organized rallies,

because an atom bomb may be being

developed within his arc of power.

Yet why do I hesitate to name

that other land in which

for years – although kept secret –

a growing nuclear power has existed

beyond supervision or verification,

subject to no inspection of any kind?

This general silence on the facts,

before which my own silence has bowed,

seems to me a troubling, enforced lie,

leading to a likely punishment

the moment it’s broken:

the verdict “Anti-semitism” falls easily.

But now that my own country,

brought in time after time

for questioning about its own crimes,

profound and beyond compare,

has delivered yet another submarine to Israel,

(in what is purely a business transaction,

though glibly declared an act of reparation)

whose speciality consists in its ability

to direct nuclear warheads toward

an area in which not a single atom bomb

has yet been proved to exist, its feared

existence proof enough, I’ll say what must be said.

But why have I kept silent till now?

Because I thought my own origins,

tarnished by a stain that can never be removed,

meant I could not expect Israel, a land

to which I am, and always will be, attached,

to accept this open declaration of the truth.

Why only now, grown old,

and with what ink remains, do I say:

Israel’s atomic power endangers

an already fragile world peace?

Because what must be said

may be too late tomorrow;

and because – burdened enough as Germans –

we may be providing material for a crime

that is foreseeable, so that our complicity

will not be expunged by any

of the usual excuses.

And granted: I’ve broken my silence

because I’m sick of the West’s hypocrisy;

and I hope too that many may be freed

from their silence, may demand

that those responsible for the open danger

we face renounce the use of force,

may insist that the governments of

both Iran and Israel allow an international authority

free and open inspection of

the nuclear potential and capability of both.

No other course offers help

to Israelis and Palestinians alike,

to all those living side by side in enmity

in this region occupied by illusions,

and ultimately, to all of us.

Günter Grass

(Translated by Breon Mitchell)

Ironies from Israel #3: Lessons of History

"We're here to help you!"

On March 27, 2002 Palestinian militants killed 30 Israeli civilians at the resort town of Netanaya, part of a wave of suicide attacks that accompanied the Second Intifada.  In response to this assault, on March 29 the IDF publically announced the implementation of Operation Defensive Shield, a large-scale military incursion into the West Bank that involved the activation of 20,000 Israeli reservists.  The operation had actually begun unannounced a month earlier, making the March 29 invasion the second wave to move into Palestine.

The IDF entered every Palestinian city, but the most serious fighting was in Bethlehem, Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah, where Yasser Arafat was besieged in his presidential headquarters.  The most intense combat was in Jenin, where according to UN reports both sides engaged in excesses, though a rumored massacre in the Jenin refugee camp proved unfounded.  In the entire operation 30 Israelis were killed and 127 wounded, while the Palestinians suffered 497 dead and 1447 wounded, with 7000 detained.  The World Bank estimated the Palestinian economic losses at $361 million.

The Israeli goal, stated before the Knesset by Prime Minister Arial Sharon, was to capture or kill terrorists and destroy the infrastructure that supported them, which was to include anyone who resisted the Israeli troops.  Palestinian and neutral observers claimed that the operation was also directed against the police, officials and general infrastructure the Palestinian Authority. In its report Amnesty International stated that “the IDF acted as though the main aim was to punish all Palestinians.”  Human Rights Watch determined that “Israeli forces committed serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

Urban warfare, particularly for the aggressor, is extremely difficult and destructive, especially when the defenders have the time to prepare, as in Jenin.  Though they used helicopter gunships, because of American pressure the IDF could not simply bomb the city into submission and was forced to conduct house to house fighting, resulting in more casualties than it was accustomed to when operating against Palestinians.  The IDF ultimately developed effective tactics employing armored bulldozers, and lacking heavy weapons, Palestinian forces were defeated.

With little experience in this type of intense urban warfare the IDF studied the accounts of other militaries that had engaged in such actions.  One of the most pertinent of these concerned an operation carried out in Poland from January to May 1943 by the German Wehrmacht: the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto.

Ironies from Israel #2: die Fahne hoch!

On June 6, 1982, responding to the assassination of their ambassador, 60,000 Israeli troops poured into Lebanon in an effort to end Palestinian raids into northern Israel. Israel had invaded before in 1978, driving up to the Litani River with the help of its client army, the Christian South Lebanon Army, but on this occasion the IDF marched all the way to Beirut, precipitating a general conflict between Christian and Muslim forces inLebanon.  Their major ally in this incursion was the Phalange, a virulently anti-communist and anti-Palestinian Maronite Christian militia that had played a major role in the country since the days of the French mandate.  Under pressure from Israel Bashir Jumayyil, son of the founder of the Phalange, was elected president of Lebanon, and after his assassination Israeli support went to his brother Amin, who replaced him.  During the IDF occupation of Beirut the Phalange, with the complicity of Israeli forces, massacred hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

Israel’s best friend in Lebanon, the Phalange was organized in 1936 by Pierre Jumayyil, who modeled it after another paramilitary organization that had seriously impressed him: the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA or Brownshirts).

With Friends Like These: America, Israel and Palestinian Statehood

For all his lofty sentiments of a year ago Barack Obama, like
every American President since Dwight Eisenhower, has caved in completely to Israel.  He may well feel for the Palestinians and he
certainly despises Benjamin Netanyahu, but like all the rest he wants to be
reelected, and the conventional wisdom says you will lose the Jewish vote if
you do not give unqualified support to Israel.
With American Jews, especially the
Reformed, losing faith in an increasingly right-wing Israel, that wisdom may no
longer be completely true, but American politicians will nevertheless continue
to pander to a state that more or less spits in our face.  A new twist is Christian Zionism, espoused by
evangelical politicians like Rick Perry, who are setting new standards in
channeling Tel Aviv.  Their support is of
course warmly welcomed by the Israeli government, even though their only
apparent interest in Jews is that they be converted or slaughtered on Judgment

Obama showed
his true colors when the US
vetoed the UN resolution condemning the Israeli separation wall, which
manifestly violates the international law that we have sworn to uphold.  The promised veto of the Palestinian bid for
UN recognized statehood, however, is perhaps a new high in American hypocrisy
regarding Palestine.  After repeatedly asserting his support for a
Palestinian state and after twenty years of failed peace negotiations he
intends to prevent a symbolic step in that direction, claiming this move will
only cause violence.  Knowing full well that
the current administration in Israel
has absolutely no intention of seriously negotiating and is in fact pumping a
steady stream of colonists into the West Bank, he
blithely claims that face-to-face negotiations are the only road to peace.  The self-serving deceit is breathtaking.

expresses “disappointment” at the settlements (the standard euphemism
for “colonies”), but has never taken any action whatsoever on the
issue, even when we are slapped in the face with them, as during the Vice
President’s visit to Israel.  As for the clear violations of accepted
international law, no American administration has dared even mention the topic,
and even the media, whether liberal or conservative, never refers to this
illegal behavior.  Americans of course
are highly suspicious of the United Nations and international agreements, which
are seen as dangerous to our sovereignty and restrictive of our freedom to do
whatever we please around the world.  The
irony – and demonstration of our cynicism and lack of principle -is that in the
wake of WW II we emphasized international conventions and created the UN, which
under American leadership then created the state of Israel,
an act legitimized by the supposed support of the international community.

Most of that
international community is now clearly fed up with Israel,
which continually ignores resolutions of the very body that established it and
is protected against any serious measures by the American veto in the Security
Council.  While railing against other countries
for human rights violations, the White House and Congress consistently ignore Israel’s
behavior in the Occupied Territories.  Our favorite ally has violated or continues
to violate approximately thirty articles of the Fourth Hague Convention, the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the Convention Against Torture and
the Fourth Geneva Convention, which we ourselves are violating by refusing to
take action against Israel
as we are required to do as a High Contracting Party.  Indeed, protected by the US,
Israeli has ignored or violated more UN resolutions than any other state in the
region, including Saddam Hussein’sIraq.

The most
egregious and basic infractions are those typically associated with the
totalitarian states of the twentieth century: annexation of land and planting
of settlements in territory gained through military conquest.  Yet Israel
apparently gets a pass because much of the occupied territory was once part of
ancient Israel,
obtained through conquest but also given them by their god.  Two millennia later this hardly justifies an
exemption from well-established norms of international behavior, but given the
importance of Israel in the emergence of Christianity, many Americans are
willing to accept this, despite the fact that this is a questionable precedent
for people who themselves live on land relatively recently seized from

The Israelis
in fact at times seem to be emulating the acknowledged masters of international
bad behavior, the Nazis.  Granted, they are
not carrying out mass executions, but Israeli policy in the West
Bank seems strikingly like German plans for Poland,
Belarus and the
creating fortified enclaves of colonists and reducing the local population to
an impoverished pool of laborers lacking any rights.  And the “freeing” of Gaza
has locked almost a half million Palestinians into what can only be called a
ghetto, albeit one of unprecedented size.
Domestically, even the most generous analysis can only describe the
twenty percent of the population who are not Jewish as economically and
socially disabled, right-wing Israelis seeing no contradiction in calling their
state both “Jewish” and “democratic.”  Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, the
former bouncer from Moldava, has in fact publicly called for the expulsion of
all non-Jews; at least he is honest about it.

might simply be an historical oddity, a curious and ironic betrayal of
traditional Jewish liberalism were it not for the fact that virtually
unqualified American diplomatic, economic and military support has inextricably
bound our national reputation to that of this increasingly pariah state.  In return Israel
has treated us with contempt, spied on us, resold our weaponry and even
deliberately attacked us (the USS Liberty in 1967), confident the
incident would be covered up, which it was.
Our alliance with Israel
has become the kind of “passionate attachment” that George Washington
warned the country about in his Farewell Address, but given the leverage
the Zionist lobby has in our elections, that attachment is unlikely to
change.  Meanwhile, we suffer on the
international stage and the Palestinians just suffer.