Exceptionalism Rules
in Tel Aviv and Washington

The US and Israel, Two Peas in a Pod

Philip Giraldi
The Unz Review
November 4, 2014  

A 2,000-year-old commemorative stone
inscription dedicated by the Roman
army to Emperor Hadrian, is unveiled at
the Rockefeller museum in east Jerusalem,
on October 21, 2014
AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana*

So Israel is building 2,610 new housing units in East Jerusalem and in
contiguous areas on the West Bank at a time when international sentiment
against its unending occupation of Palestine is growing, particularly among
Europeans if one goes by recent developments in Sweden, Britain and in
Ireland. The administration of President Barack Obama is reported to be
“deeply concerned” and even seriously annoyed by the latest Israeli thumb
inserted squarely in the American eye, but has not taken any action to
pressure Tel Aviv into reversing course.

Pardon me while I yawn. In the absence of any serious consequences
coming from Washington Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will
do whatever he wants in the firm belief that there is no one who can force
him to do otherwise. Israel owns Congress and the mainstream media
while its proliferating think tanks and promoters in a score of major Jewish
organizations continue to spew out self-serving nonsense. So who is going
to say nay?

Obama’s mistake lies ultimately in his apparent belief that Israel is
somehow a nation guided by tangible interests much like any other, which
is particularly ironic as he shares the same type of delusion as the Israeli
leadership. Both he and Netanyahu somehow believe that their respective
countries are not bound by any internationally accepted standards that
determine how one should behave, Washington somehow having designated
itself as “leader of the free world” while Tel Aviv defines itself as a chosen
people living in a land granted by covenant from Yahweh himself.

Obama would be well served by considering how the majority belief that the
United States is somehow exceptional, blessed and guided by God, has taken
firm hold of the American psyche. Which makes it not so very different than
Israel. Indeed the founding fathers of both nations were not particularly
religious, more the products of the French enlightenment than the Bible or
Torah, but it has been largely the successor generations in both nations who
have rediscovered God in its most exclusive and retributive form. This has
meant that tens of millions of the current generation of Americans are
insisting on a need to return to their versions of Biblical morality while
Israelis keep step by maintaining that Israel is an exclusively Jewish State.

Netanyahu believes that Israel has a manifest destiny to exercise complete
control over the West Bank so any talk of a two state solution is only so
much wind. Whether he believes that because of the argument that the
historic state of Israel included that region as a gift from God or because
he genuinely considers a Palestinian State to be a permanent security
problem is somewhat irrelevant. What is relevant is that many Israelis share
the view that East Jerusalem and the West Bank are there to be colonized, a
view expressed by Netanyahu when he challenged anyone to “To come
and tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem – why?”

A majority in Israel believes that it is both fit and proper that Israel should
be allowed to expand without regard for the native population, which
they look down upon and by some accounts hardly consider human. The
devil inevitably being in the details, the only real question becomes what to
do with the pesky Palestinians who remain – kill them, force them to leave or
permit powerless Bantustans that might easily be controlled by constructing
walls and checkpoints while exploiting the inhabitants for cheap labor if
for nothing else.

While the “moral majority” in the US exploits what it perceives to be the
ethical high ground in its attacks on critics so too the friends of Israel
promote two particular favorable narratives that permit their largely
unprincipled behavior. They are first that Jews have always had a
substantial presence in what is today’s Israel, which means that the
creation of the country and its expanding borders is little more than a
coming home, and second that Jewish suffering is unique and therefore
justifies a free pass and plentiful reparations for the foreseeable future.
Critics of the legitimacy of either narrative are routinely silenced by
being called anti-Semites, which until recently denied to them any serious
consideration or even civility, though the tag is currently losing its efficacy
through overuse. Former Israeli government minister Shulamit Aloni
once admitted regarding the anti-Semitism label that “It’s a trick. We
always use it.”

The US media, in which friends of Israel are heavily overrepresented,
generally toe the line on promoting Israeli national myths, just as they do
regarding the American counterparts. It should surprise no one that even
archeology is run by a department of the Israeli government in an effort to
establish historical legitimacy and to demonstrate Jewish claims to the land
that is currently part of the state as well as of those adjacent regions
that it seeks to absorb. Per one critic, “archeology thus becomes a national
tool through which Israelis can recover their roots in the ancient past and
the ancient homeland.” Demonstrating continuity of significant Jewish
presence and suppressing the evidence relating to other inhabitants
supports the false belief that the first generation of Israelis settled a land
that was largely empty.

Both the continuity and suffering narratives come together in a particularly
odd article* that appeared recently in Yahoo news. The article, entitled
“Jewish revolt written in stone,” states that “Israeli archaeologists said
Tuesday they have discovered a large stone with Latin engravings that lends
credence to the theory that the reason Jews revolted against Roman rule
nearly 2,000 ago was because of their harsh treatment. Israel’s Antiquities
Authority said the stone bears the name of the Roman emperor Hadrian and
the year of his visit to Jerusalem, a few years before the failed Bar Kochba
revolt in the second century A.D. The inscription backs up historical
accounts that Rome’s Tenth Legion was present in Jerusalem in the run-up
to the revolt.”

The inscription is actually a dedication from the Tenth Legion, which had
constituted the province’s military establishment at least since the time of
Domitian in 83 AD, to commemorate a visit to Jerusalem by the Emperor
Hadrian which took place in 130 AD. Hadrian famously was the first Roman
Emperor to visit many of the provinces of the Roman Empire to celebrate the
prosperity and peace that Rome had given to the Mediterranean world.
Whatever Hadrian’s attitude towards the Judeans might have actually been,
there is no suggestion anywhere in the inscription that there was any “harsh
treatment” of anyone, but the author of the article relying on commentary
from Israeli government archeologists made that the central theme relating
to the discovery, combining Jewish presence (even though Jews are not
mentioned) with unique historical suffering (also missing). Mission

So President Obama is running head on against a rigorously pursued
national myth about Israel and there is no reason why he should expect to be
victorious. National myths are inevitably tricky things but they are ignored
at one’s peril. Israel has no intention of ceding the West Bank to anyone
because it believes in its own destiny and righteousness. It will continue
to expand at the expense of the Palestinians until the tide of history turns
against it, a process that can be slowed by the protection afforded by its
patrons in Washington but which nevertheless will eventually be completed.
Reasonable voices in Israel argue that the country is on the wrong course
and is facing disaster, but they are likely to be ignored just as their
counterparts in the United States have been largely excluded from the debate
on how to extricate the “exceptional” nation from an endless cycle of war
and economic decline.

* http://news.yahoo.com/photos/jewish-revolt-written-in-stone-slideshow/

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military
intelligence officer who served 19 years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany,
and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992, was
designated as senior Agency officer for support at the Olympic Games, and
served as official liaison to the Spanish Security and Intelligence services.
He has been designated by the General Accountability Office as an expert
on the impact of illegal immigration on terrorism and is now the Francis
Walsingham Fellow at The American Conservative Defense Alliance and
provides security consulting for a number of Fortune 500 corporate clients.

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