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March 15, 2012 9:00 am

Why I am Proud to be an ‘Israel Firster’

avatar by Dovid Efune

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Among others, liberal poster child and at times valiant Israel defender, Alan Dershowitz, recently strongly objected to the use of the term ‘Israel Firster’ applied notably by M.J. Rosenberg, an employee of President-Obama-affiliated watchdog Media Matters.

Fox News pointed out that the term ‘Israel Firster’ is an “epithet that implies somebody’s loyalties are to Israel before America.” As Dershowitz explained in an interview with the news station, “When you accuse Jews of dual loyalty, you invoke a canard that goes back hundreds of years and falls into the category of anti-semitism.”

The inherent problem with the objection to the use of the term is that in order to accept its ‘negative connotation,’ one first has to accept the false premise that American and Israeli interests are fundamentally at odds.

Yes, of course Israel and the United States won’t agree on all the details, but these are only policy differences, in the same way as Americans among themselves will disagree. As a whole, Americans overwhelmingly agree that support for Israel is in America’s interests, and Israel’s and America’s global objectives are about as perfectly aligned as possible with any other sovereign nation.

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A March 2nd 2012 Gallup poll showed that 71% or Americans view Israel favorably, as opposed to 19% for the Palestinian Authority. For the sake of reference, this figure is higher than the favorability rating of both the President and Congress combined. In 2010 another Gallop poll showed Israel to be the fifth favorite foreign country for Americans, following Canada, Germany, Great Britain and Japan.

Ratings like this are not the result of some collective charitable complex that has been sweeping the nation since the birth of polling on this subject, nor could they possibly be the result of some sophisticated marketing campaign. Quite simply public opinion is formed by a collective perception of interests and allegiances, and America recognizes that Israel essentially serves as its Middle East beachhead. If Israel were to fall, the United States and the free world would be significantly weakened, and its interests in the region would be in dire jeopardy.

Consider for a moment a world without Israel. Once the ‘small satan’ is gone, the enemies of freedom in the Middle East would increasingly shift focus towards the ‘big satan’ and its interests, starting with Saudi Arabia. Producing almost 10 million barrels of oil daily, more than double Iran’s output, the impact of instability in Saudi Arabia on oil prices and Western economies would be unimaginable.

On the rare occasion that American administrations have taken significant anti-Israel positions, it has been against the will of the American people. An Associated Press article published last week indicated that President Obama himself had acknowledged as much. The article cites the Palestinian foreign minister Riad Malki saying that “Obama has told the Palestinians to sit tight during a U.S. election year, while holding out the promise of a serious push for Palestinian statehood if he wins a second term.”  Adding that the reason is “because the President will be focusing on how to be re-elected.” Now, if the kind of ‘serious pushing’ that the Obama administration has been engaged in before the ‘re-election’ concern came to the fore was in accordance with the will, interests and priorities of the American people, he would be upping the tempo during election year, and not sitting out the round.

M.J. Rosenberg wrote, “There is no need here to describe who the Israel Firsters are. They are those people (of whatever ethnic background) who invariably support Israel’s policies over those of the United States.” His premise is false. Those who support Israel’s policies believe that they conform to the Interests of the United States, and in America they are the vast majority.

In truth, the term ‘Israel Firster’ is almost tantamount to accusing a supporter of America’s military as being a ‘Troops Firster.’

It is Rosenberg and his academic cohorts like Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer that have been working so diligently to undermine the dovetailing of the United States and Israel’s foreign interests by injecting their ‘Liberal Firster’ agenda. As such the ‘Israel Firster’ term should be proclaimed as a badge of honor by those who refuse to accept their dishonest narrative.

The author is the director of the Algemeiner Journal and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

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  • ISRAELSECONDER

    Israel is useful to America insofar as providing an excuse for dispensing corporate welfare to arms manufacturers and by providing tactical support to U.S. overseas operations. But when Israel ceases to be useful to America, when interests cease to be aligned, when Israel acts against America’s strategic interests in its own perceived best interest, and you have to choose between America’s policy and Israel’s policy, you’ll choose Israel’s policy every time. It goes something like, “Who are you to tell a sovereign nation how it should conduct its internal affairs!” When it’s Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan or Pakistan or the Palestinian Authority, feh their sovereignty! Bomb them back to the Stone Age! But when Israel violates treaties to which it is party, and violates America’s clearly stated foreign policy towards settlements 40 years running despite taking $4bn in aid, and then shoots and kills unarmed American protesters, and insults the American President to his face on international television after he vetoes Palestinian statehood, SOVEREIGNTY! And when Israel spies on the U.S. and procures intelligence illicitly, what then? FREE POLLARD! FREE STEVE ROSEN! Because you’re loyal all right…to your own. Face facts: You’re not really thinking about America’s interests. You’re thinking about Israel’s purported interests and how you’re going to trick these freiers into believing its good for them too. But time will run out, and one day again they’re going to take a chunk out of all our asses. And it’ll be thanks to you, for proving all their delusions right.

  • Howard

    The epithet, especially when used by M J Rosenberg who is a frequent writer for Al Jazeerah, is intended to question American Jews’ loyalty. That is regardless of whether Britain or Israel or Canada or any other country share our values. The charge implies that we do what is best for Israelis than for Americans. So, Rosenberg, Walt and Mearsheimer should be criticized because, much like Holocaust deniers, they intend to make a point while misstating the facts. Then again, Dovid, you are a Brit and you rather tendentiously link President Obama to this smear by linking Media Matters to him. That is guilt by association and that association is questionable. Wikipedia says that MM “is a politically progressive media watchdog group…dedicated to…correcting conservative misinformation”. That is akin to linking Mitt Romney and other Republicans to anti-Semitic sites that support some of their policies”.

  • Mark Orman

    I don’t agree with your position on this. What if G-d forbid there were an exchange of fire between the Israeli and U.S. military? This happened in the Liberty incident, and is still cited by anti-semites against Israel and Jews. And if Israel attacks Iran, flies over Iraqi territory, and there is an incident with a U.S. aircraft? We really don’t need this attitude of “Israeli Firster” to complicate the question of Jewish loyalty to America. And I might point out that any American citizen holding a security clearance with the U.S. government would face a lot of problems with such an attitude (think Pollard). I agree with Dershowitz, and with all due respect Mr. Efune, think you are misguided and naive on this matter.

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