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July 10, 2013 2:44 pm

Esquire Columnist: America’s ‘Obsession’ with Israel ‘Has Gone on Long Enough’

avatar by Zach Pontz

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Photo: Screen shot.

Is America obsessed with Israel? Stephen Marche, a columnist for Esquire, thinks so, and “The obsession has gone on long enough,”  he writes in the magazine’s August issue.

Marche writes of an intellectual and military disengagement from the Middle East by America and the West, writing,  “That blessed time when we don’t care anymore can’t come soon enough.”

“Because what is there really to talk about anymore? The issues that originated the obsession with the region have all been either solved or stalemated,” he continues, adding:

“Israel has made it clear that it will deal with a nuclear Iran itself, and frankly, when all is said and done, Israel probably knows best. Its existence is at stake. As for the notion of a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, there is no hope and therefore no pressing reason for intervention. So why bother? Why talk about it?”

Marche displays a nuanced understanding of the political implications of the region—specifically those involving Israel.

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“For the Left,” he writes, “distancing itself from Israel is a way of working through issues of colonialism in a safely remote space…Support for Israel can often be equally dubious: born of apocalyptic fantasies borrowed from Revelation or the Book of Mormon, a counterreaction to liberal elitism, or a way to be on the side of the powerful.”

Marche even takes a stab at American Jewish firebrand Peter Beinart, whose recent book, The Crisis of Zionism, argues that young American Jews are falling out of love with Israel, “which may well be true,” Marche writes, “but their newfound indifference doesn’t particularly matter one way or the other” because “The political choice faced by American voters is between a party that is really quite pro-Israel indeed and another that is so pro-Israel it hurts.”

But the nub of Marche’s argument relies on what he believes are phantom global implications of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, reducing the matter to mere megalomania and writing that attempts to find peace between the two sides is futile.

“Israelis and Palestinians believe they are iconic of something global, something larger than their own limited, momentary concerns. They reason that peace, when it comes, will be imposed by some distant, deferred force beyond their borders. Therefore the important thing is to win the war of global symbolism. That war, because it is ethereal, ghostly, can never be won, and because it can never be won, it will never end.”

Perhaps even more cynically, Marche dismisses outright the engine driving peace efforts: “Standard foreign-policy wisdom holds that Israel is the key, that once the crisis there is solved, everything else in the whole of the Muslim world will improve. The terrorists will no longer have the necessary symbolism for recruitment. But the only thing that would satisfy the terrorists is Israel’s ceasing to exist, and Israel, rather gauchely, insists on existing.”

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