In the Arena

Petraeus and Israel…Continued

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There’s been a resounding silence over at the Commentary blog about the Centcom report, approved by David Petraeus, that identifies Israeli intransigence as a problem for the U.S. military in the region. Now, finally, we have Max Boot offering a post entitled, A Lie: David Petraeus, Anti-Israel. Which is, in itself, a lie: Nobody said Petraeus was anti-Israel.

What has been reported is that a Centcom paper, approved by Petraeus, identified Israeli intransigence as a problem. That doesn’t mean Centcom is anti-Israel…except in the eyes of the Israel-first extremists over at Commentary, who believe that anyone who opposes settlement expansion on Palestinian lands is a terrorist sympathizer or something thereabouts (Irony-deprived neocons please note: that was hyperbole). As I’ve pointed out before, that would make every President since Richard Nixon anti-Israel. But these twisted bullies need to believe that if you don’t back every Likudnik act of aggression, you’re an enemy of the state–our state and the Jewish state. (For the record, I oppose the recent naming of a square in Ramallah after a Palestinian terrorist–the aggrandizement of butchers is not a step toward peace–and I also oppose the rock-throwing near the site of a renovated synagogue in the Old City…or rock-throwing anywhere else, for that matter. These are minor offenses, compared to the Israeli colonization of Palestinian lands, but they are offenses nonetheless.)

In fairness, Boot is correct that some bloggers have gotten this wrong. The Centcom paper’s Israel finding was not part of the general’s testimony before the Armed Services Committee. But then Boot takes a flying leap: Since Petraeus didn’t mention it in his testimony, the finding obviously wasn’t very important to the general. Maybe not. But as Boot well knows, Petraeus is ferociously precise about every piece of paper that emanates from his shop. Therefore, he cannot possibly disagree with the conclusion about the inefficacy of Israel’s intransigence. Chances are pretty good, in fact, that he agrees with it. (And Petraeus has a well-known penchant for steering away from political controversy in his congressional testimony.)

The Centcom finding also has the benefit of being true: the alliance with Israel has worked very much against the United States in the region–and, with our troops in combat there for most of the past decade, it has undoubtedly made life more dangerous for them. Which is one reason why the continuing alliance between the United States and Israel is one of this country’s most honorable enterprises. It is also why Israel’s insistence on expanding illegal settlements is so dishonorable.  It would be nice if groups like AIPAC lobbied Israel to be a more thoughtful ally and stop expanding its settlements, especially given the American blood that has been shed in the region–but America’s best interests don’t always seem to be the top priority for these people.

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