My Israel Problem
When I started this article, I was calling it “My Israel Problem.” Benjamin Netanyahu had recently made one of his periodic attempts to blackmail our government. He implied that Israel might make a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities unless we join in drawing a ‘red line’ over which the Iranians dare not step.
Netanyahu had the gall to try hijacking our foreign policy during a neck-and-neck presidential contest, probably assuming he could rely on his usual accomplices in congress. I began to think the United States had a real Israel problem on its hands, seemingly because of Israeli intransigence. I decided to discuss it with an older and wiser friend, Mordecai Stern.
“The way a lot of Americans see it, Israel should just cool it. We’ve got your back! Your enemies would have to be crazy to come after you with us standing behind you.”
I saw Mordecai begin to give one of his sad smiles, so I hastened to add the words ‘standing right behind you all the way!!’
“Well, cowboy, I don’t doubt your sincerity, but I seem to recall we were standing right behind South Vietnam in just the same way until –” Mordecai whirled his fingers and made a helicopter sound. “–until that last marine chopper left the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon — adios, South Vietnam. Hello Hanoi.”
“I know! It was very bad.” Eli nodded. “We never should have gone into Vietnam in the first place! Right?”
Mordecai said he wasn’t sure about that. If America had turned its back what might the Soviets have done? And the Chinese? Would there even be a South Korea?
“You’re making me crazy, Mordecai. You can’t have it both ways. Or are you buying into that George W. bull about us being the ‘indispensable nation?’ Because that line has put us at the poor house door!”
Mordecai seldom laughed, but he came close, saying some things were just too complex for our little brains to figure out. Sometimes, having it both ways is the best we can do.
“Maybe tomorrow,” Mordecai suggested, “maybe we’ll make some progress in the Middle East. That’s what I like about Obama. He thinks a while before he talks.”
“The Republicans call that leading from the rear, Mordecai — ”
“That’s better than talking from your rear. Remember Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Deception? Or Condi Rice’s mushroom souffle cloud?”
“No red line then?” Eli asked. “But what about the Iranians?”
They’ll need watching, Mordecai agreed. And the Pakistanis and the Saudis and the Chinese. And every two-bit dictator and religious nut on the planet. But who did the most harm to us, Mordecai wondered, Bin Laden or Dick Cheney?
” … okay,” Eli agreed, “so who’s more dangerous to us now? Netanyahu or Romney?”
” … well, cowboy, I’d say Romney. Netanhayu’s just another clever demagogue. But our boy Mittsy is worse. He combines chutzpah and ignorance about the world around us. That’s a dangerous combination.”
“So we don’t have an Israeli problem right now. We have a Romney problem –”
Mordecai’s expression brightened abruptly.
“No. Not if we don’t elect him!”