Several years after leaving government, I wrote a piece in the Washington Post titled “Israel’s Lawyer.” The article was an honest effort to explain how several senior officials in U.S. President Bill Clinton’s administration (myself included) had a strong inclination to see the Arab-Israeli negotiations through a pro-Israel lens. That filter played a role — though hardly the primary one — in the failure of endgame diplomacy, particularly at the ill-fated Camp David summit in July 2000.
Unsurprisingly, the piece was hijacked in the service of any number of agendas, especially by critics of Israelonly too eager to use my narrow point about the Clinton years to make their broader one: America had long compromised its own values and interests in the Middle East by its blind and sordid obeisance to the Jewish state and its pro-Israeli supporters in the United States.
Here we go again. Election years seem to bring out the worst — not only in politicians, but in advocates, analysts, and intellectuals too. Nowhere are the leaps and lapses of logic and rationality greater than in the discussion of Israel, the Jews, domestic U.S. politics, and the Middle East. Once again, we’re hearing that a U.S. president is being dragged to war with Iran by a trigger-happy Israeli prime minister and his loyal acolytes in America.
Before we lose our collective minds (again), it might be useful to review some of the myths and misconceptions about domestic U.S. politics and America’s Middle East policies that still circulate all too widely in Europe and the Arab world — and sadly in the United States too. Here are a half-dozen of the worst ones.
It’s a twist of irony: The Russian news website Pravda has published an accusation that the American media is “tame,” afraid to publish news and is “deliberately hiding the evidence published on the internet about [President Obama’s] defrauding of the American public and the deliberate evisceration of the Constitution of the United States.”
It’s not unusual for President Obama to criticize his Republican predecessors from time to time, but this morning, he targeted his scorn not at George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, but … Rutherford B. Hayes.