In all the coverage of Joe Lieberman’s address to the Christians United for Israel gala last month, only Justin Vogt, writing for The National, seems to have noticed that Lieberman tacitly called for Israel to attack Iran. Considering that this man may be John McCain’s running mate in a few days or weeks, I can’t understand why this story hasn’t gotten more play:
Though careful to say he hoped war with Iran could be avoided, the senator ended his address with a Biblically-coded call for military action against the Islamic Republic. According to the Book of Exodus, when faced with Pharaoh’s army behind them and the Red Sea in front of them, the Israelites panicked…
“But God…said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to me? Speak to the children of Israel and tell them to go forward.’ In other words, God was saying to Moses and the Israelites, ‘The time for prayer is over. It’s time for Israel to act.’”
…A tribal leader called Nachshon took the initiative and leapt into the Red Sea. “Nachshon understood that there comes a moment when faith and prayer must be followed by action right here on Earth,” Lieberman concluded. Coming on the heels of his dark warnings about Iran, there was no mistaking the kind of Israeli action Lieberman had in mind.
I think this speech justifies the question: does Lieberman see Israel as a U.S. surrogate? That is, a nation which has none of the strictures preventing it from taking actions Lieberman and the U.S. wish they could take. This raises another legitimate question whether, if McCain wins the presidency, Israel will receive a green light to attack Iran. This is an issue the American people should know about in considering which candidate they vote for in November. If McCain wins, you can expect a nudge-nudge, wink-wink arrangement between his Administration and Israeli generals who’re fully prepared to teach Iran a lesson–at least in their minds. Whether they can pull it off is something about which even Israeli specialists and military analysts have raised serious doubt.
An important theme of Vogt’s story is the competition that has developed between AIPAC and the new Jewish kid on the block, J Street. The reporter manages to elicit a lot of over-reaching and chest-thumping by AIPAC operatives and boosters. This is characteristic of the genre:
“AIPAC represents the organised Jewish community,” argued Robert Asher, a former AIPAC president and a member of the “Gang of Four”. “And we are the only organisation that is recognised that way.”
There you have it in a nutshell. All the hubris. All the hegemonic pretensions. And this from a group supported, according to a recent J Street poll, by only 38% of American Jews. AIPAC aims to suck all the air out of the Jewish room. Thank God, J Street won’t let ’em.
Vogt managed also to tease out a lot of the unintentionally comic aspects of the CUFI conference. In case you didn’t know this, Israel has oil and the Bible tell us so:
…A jumbo-sized cinema screen bombarded the audience with an infomercial touting the work of the evening’s proud corporate sponsor, Zion Oil & Gas, a company founded by a Hagee supporter who believes that the Bible contains clues that point the way to plentiful deposits of oil in Israel. (“The geology has confirmed the theology,” explained one executive.)
And this is the outfit about which Lieberman said:
“The bond I feel with Pastor Hagee and each and every one of you,” he told the audience, referring to the campaign to pressure him, “is much stronger than that [any opposition raised by J Street], and so I am proud to stand with you tonight!”
Do you want a potential vice-president who communicates to Israel that it would be acceptable to attack Iran, and does so at a convention of religion whack jobs and wingnuts? And lest anyone argue that Lieberman hasn’t been picked for this post yet, I’d reply that Lieberman clearly has McCain’s ear and even if he isn’t vice-president, he will be a very close advisor over the next four or, God help us, eight years should the Republican candidate win.