For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



Letter to the Sunday Times



The gist of Andrew Sullivan’s opinion piece (see below) is that the Only Superpower judges its allies and various developments of the modern life according to the criteria of ‘What is good for the Jews’. I recognize this approach of my dear late grandmother. Whenever my grandfather would lift his eyes from his morning paper and announce an Earthquake in Patagonia or a Miners’ strike in Wales, she would invariably pose this question. Sullivan deserves praise for his astute observation of this peculiar Judeo-centricity of American cultural and political life.

Sullivan notices a ‘similarity of spirit’ between Israel and America. He is right again: both countries are possessed by the same spirit of Judeo-centricity. Sullivan describes the Israeli political system as a 'democracy' similar to the American one. Here he is right, up to a point: in Israel/Palestine, majority of non-Jews have no right of vote at all, while in the US, their vote is largely irrelevant. There is similarity on the ground: security checks, plenty of jingoism, huge social gap are among the features common for Israel and America.

But, in his panegyric, he misses growing dissatisfaction of Americans with the dominance of the Jewish outlook in the discourse. American media now is as detached from the feelings of Americans as that of Russia in Brezhnev's days. It stopped to fulfil its basic function in the society: that of safety valve. As opposed to my grandmother, many Americans are able to see some other factors of life, beyond narrow Jewish interest. They are increasingly frustrated with the totalitarianism of the American mass media, with vehement attacks on any but ferociously pro-Israeli writer and thinker, with ugly racism and hatred (very much in evidence in Sullivan's piece as well: "city of whores and effete men", "thugocracies of Arab states") produced by these fans of Israeli apartheid.


Israel Shamir,


Headline: America knows who its friends are: Comment: Opinion
Source: Sunday Times
Issue Date: Sunday May 05, 2002
Byline: Andrew Sullivan
Page: News 18
Word Count: 1119
Edition: 1GN

Story Text: In crises or periods of personal turmoil, you find out who your friends are. And your enemies. That's why our friendships and relationships can change more profoundly under stress than in any other condition. And that goes for countries too. I was thinking about this recently, observing the coverage in the American media of two critical allies: Israel and France. If you want an insight into the future of US foreign policy, you could do worse than notice how attitudes towards these two have hardened in recent months. And in these relationships, the growing gap between Americans and Europeans is particularly marked. While Israel's battle against Islamic and Palestinian terrorism is regarded across Europe with dismay, most Americans cheer the Zionists on. And while France remains central to the European project, and its flirtation with the far right has alarmed other Europeans, many Americans saw in Jean-Marie Le Pen confirmation of what they already believed: France is an essentially untrustworthy, hypocritical repository of posers and bigots. I'm not exaggerating. This prejudice is even more striking when you recall that France is America's oldest ally. The capital was designed by a Frenchman, L'Enfant, and the square across from the White House is named after Lafayette. In the war of independence, France was America's key ally against the British. Both republics point to the Enlightenment as their founding influences, and up until President Kennedy, France was regarded as the centre of culture to which Americans paid obeisance. In the past few decades, however,distance from France has deepened into hostility not merely among elites, but also among ordinary Americans. The cold war worsened matters. De Gaulle's suspicion of the Anglo-American nexus led to natural tension. France's desire to use Europe as an anti-American counterweight in world affairs didn't help either. More recently, the war on terror has exposed a deeper rift. The French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine's belief that American policy was "simplistic" failed to win a respectful audience in Washington. For most Americans, when the French call something simplistic, it's a sign that it's the right thing to do. The suspicion of the French is deepest among conservatives. The right-leaning Washington Times said after Le Pen's recent triumph in the first round of voting: "You don't have to be an anti-semite, a racist or even a jerk to enjoy the squirming this morning among our dear friends the French." "Everyone take a moment to cackle over how these people were so smug about the Florida recount," chimed in Jonah Goldberg at National Review. When The Weekly Standard had a reader contest to name a fourth country to add to George W Bush's "axis of evil", Libya, Syria and China made decent showings. France won. In almost two decades of living in America, I'm still amazed at the contempt most Americans hold for France. That doesn't mean a basic alliance with France is in question. But popular culture still tilts against Paris. Last weekend, the popular Saturday Night Live sketch comedy show ran a spoof tourism commercial for France. "France, home to the world's greatest painters, chefs and anti-semites. The French, cowardly yet opinionated, arrogant yet foul-smelling, anti-Israel, anti-American, and of course, as always, Jew-hating," ran the voice-over. "Paris, the city of whores, dog faeces on every corner and effete men yelling anti-semitic remarks at children. The real creme de la creme of world culture. With all that's going on in the world, isn't it time we got back to hating ... the French?" The contrast with Israel couldn't be more stark. While most Europeans have experienced the horror of the past few weeks as grist for their hostility to the Jewish state, Americans have bonded deeply to their Israeli allies. A recent Gallup poll found that 47% of Americans sided with Israel in the conflict against a mere 13% with the Palestinians (40% registered no preference). The more Americans tilt to the right, the more pronounced their pro-Israeli sympathies. But even among professed liberals, 45% favour the Israelis compared with 24% who back the Palestinians. And among the strongest supporters of Israel have been Democrats, such as Senators Dianne Feinstein and Joe Lieberman. Perhaps the most aggressively Zionist political magazine in Washington, The New Republic, tilts left and endorsed Al Gore in 2000. And last week, despite requests for silence from the administration, the House and Senate both passed by overwhelming margins statements of support for Israel. Sceptics will say this all points to the strong pro-Israel lobby in Washington and Jewish control of the media. There's no question that American Jews do have a strong presence in the media and in political funding. But explaining Americans' support for Israel in this paranoid (and near bigoted) way misses the point. Support for Israel is not just among elites, and the strongest backing comes from Republicans who get few Jewish votes and far less Jewish campaign money than the Democrats. President Nixon - an anti-semite in private - was a fierce defender of Israel. So was Ronald Reagan. The root of Americans' sympathy for Israel is cultural. Americans admire tenacity, democracy and a free society. They look at Israel and see a polity not unlike their own. There's a free press, a democratic system, a cantankerous civil society and a strong military. They admire the hard work that has built an amazing society from virtually nothing. When Americans look at the dictatorships, thugocracies and failed societies and economies of Arab states, they feel distant and repulsed - especially as Islamist anti-semitism is so naked. The newest factor in this bond is the religious right. The Republicans were once the natural repository for country club anti-semites. But that cultural influence has waned - replaced by fervent support for Israel among many fundamentalist Christians who back Israel's claim to the Holy Land for biblical reasons. This evangelical influence has largely eclipsed that of the old elites, just as President Bush's strongly pro-Israel administration has supplanted his father's more neutral posture. Above all, Americans, like all people, tend to like and support those who like and support them. Israel (and Britain, to a similar degree) can only gain from their proximity to the greatest super-power. This is not ultimately decided by elites, but by the people who vote for and endorse them. American support is not inevitable; and it can be withdrawn. If I were Jacques Chirac, or indeed any other European leader, I'd think about that lesson more deeply now than ever.