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Tom Rinaldo

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Member since: Mon Oct 20, 2003, 06:39 PM
Number of posts: 18,592

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The Future of U.S. Israel Relations

You will not hear any American or Israeli politician deviate from this script: “The U.S. Israel relationship is rock solid, and deeper than any possible disagreement between any two leaders.” True enough, but the rock solid relationship between Israel and the United States has fault lines running through it. How could it be otherwise? It's in the nature of rock itself for fractures to embed that may subsist for decades or generations without shifting, until accumulated stress creates a rapture. It is foolish for Israel's leaders to believe otherwise/.

The current Israel is not so old as countries go, it's age is counted in double digits, much like mine. Even so support for Israel has shifted in my lifetime. It has its ups and downs, in Europe certainly, but also here in the United .States. Support for a Jewish homeland was historically powerfully strengthened by, and Israel's rebirth as a nation itself is the direct result of, the evil that was the Holocaust. Antisemitism is many centuries old, but the Holocaust isn't. Still actual Holocaust survivors continue to die off, as time will always have it. Though what happened then will never be forgotten, it may not always be remembered quite as sharply for many as it still is today. History, unfortunately, is predictably layered with horrors, of greater and lesser brutality. All of them eventually age with time. Some do so quickly, others more slowly. The memory of each lingers longest in those whose direct ancestors were victims.

I was born in 1949, shortly after Israel itself and after the evil that caused the Holocaust was vanquished, the son of a soldier who participated in the liberation of death camps. I am not Jewish, but growing up on Long Island brought me Jewish friends, and familiarity with Jewish culture. My family wasn't very political nor was I while growing up. World issues were rarely discussed

The Holocaust was little more than 20 years distant back then but I usually only thought of it in the context of the Viet Nam War which was raging as I reached draft age, wondering could I really be a conscientious objector if I would have volunteered to fight Hitler? Israel captured my interest most then during two wars it became embroiled in with its Arab neighbors, the 6 Day War in June of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in the Fall of 1973. Oddly those seemed to bookend the peak years of the U.S. engagement in Viet Nam, which added to their seeming relevence. I supported Israel's in those wars unhesitatingly back them, linking those conflicts in my mind to the Jewish struggle for existence during World War II. I remembered only dimly at best when the United States actually opposed Israeli military actions during the Suez Crisis of 1956.

I knew little about Arab Countries or the Muslim world in general back then, aside from realizing that Egypt's Abdul Nasser was a leader of the non alligned nation bloc during the ongoing Cold War. It took another Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat, to awaken sympathy in me for people who previously I thought of mostly as adversaries of Israel. Like most Americans of my generation, I grew up inheriting strong sympathies for Israel, and I saw no good reason to question them.

That is how a “rock solid” relationship with another nation manifests: it rests on a foundation of widely shared essentially unquestioned loyalty that takes on the form of a self fulfilling prophesy, precisely because it is so widely shared. The aftermath of World War II cemented that status for Israel among several generations of Americans. Of course we also have shared values with Israel, of course there are strong and historic ties between our people. The same can be said even more so regarding America and France, but that didn't prevent a strong backlash of anti-French sentiments here when France was less than enthusiastic about the U.S. invading Iraq. The glow is off the French American relationship although we have mostly remained allies.

Israel counts on nonpartisan and widely felt American loyalty today, and it has good reason to be confident of that, today. But for how many tomorrows can that confidence extend? Israel counted on American support during the Yom Kippur War, in an existential sense it virtually depended on it. Israel still remains a mostly Jewish spot in an overwhelmingly Muslim region. 40 years after the Yom Kippur War unbending American support is just as essential to Israel as it ever was, maybe even more so. There is little reason to believe the same won't be true in another 40 years. But there are clear signs today that that the previous level of unquestioned support for Israel is beginning to erode among increasing numbers of younger Americans in particular.

That may not yet be apparent inside America's Halls of Power dominated as they are by the over 50 set. At least it hasn't been prior to Israel's current Prime Minister's willingness to exploit American partisan differences in service to his perception of Israel's interests, and seemingly his own short term political needs. A potent security threat to Israel lies below the surface, among younger generations of Americans who grew up exposed daily to horrors more recent than the holocaust, who increasingly see the state of Israel’s actions in regards to the Palestinian issue in far less than a wholly positive light. And who now see Israel's Prime Minister arriving in Washington in a blatant effort to undermine sensitive negotiations that America's twice elected (with strong youth support) President says is the last best chance to prevent Iran from acquiring the means to produce nuclear weapons.

Should those negotiations fail it seems probable that America will end up fighting a new war with Iran in support of Israel, with impossible to predict long term adverse consequences. If Peace is NOT given a chance, and America is plunged into a new round of Middle East wars before, in the eyes of many Americans, all other options are exhausted, what will be the fallout in long term American public opinion toward Israel? How will that effect future American support for that state whenever they need it again?

If support for Israel's Prime Minister is employed as a political club in the Republican Party's continuing domestic war against a President they never have accepted, when will support for Israel cease to unquestionably be nonpartisan inside an America where increasingly few issues remain above that fray? And how will THAT effect Israel's long term security?

Soon as the media pandered to the false equivalency game on climate change the floodgates opened

The forces of know nothingism were home free, and not just on global warming but on anything that is objective fact based. As long as differing opinions can be produced on a topic (sometimes purchased and delivered) any assertion of fact is is now called "a side" in "a controversy". Scientific facts are increasingly deemed disputed "theories". And when science isn't honored anymore education itself becomes suspect. And when education becomes suspect false populists run against it, calling it nothing but an elitist agenda dictated by the state, and so on. Truth is now a commodity for sale on the "free market", a product of market research packaged and peddled, with bold bald assertions carrying the same weight as anything that emerges from a rigorous application of scientific method. And this now dominates our politics.

When the Right attacks Obama for not being "Pro American" they insult Voters who twice elected him

The Republicans have remained frozen in their 2008 campaign mode for a full six years. They seem almost biologically incapable of recognizing that the majority of the American electorate firmly rejected the Barack Obama as an anti-American figure narrative that Sarah Palin in particular spearheaded that year. They can't stop flogging their straw man; Barack Obama the terrorist lover who is clearly a socialist but may actually be an outright Marxist, who is not really American, who seems closer linked to Islam than to Christianity (let all evidence to the contrary be damned), who just so happens to be Black - which only matters in this case (they aren't racists you know) because Obama probably learned to hate America from his absent Kenyan father.

Yes Republicans try to update and refresh their Anti-Obama talking point factoids periodically, continually injecting their all purpose buzz scare term Benghazi into the 2012 campaign for example, but they still doggedly stick with the same failed narrative. And they don't even bother to retire their old stale talking points when they obviously implode. Obama as potential Muslim is left over from 2008 but is still kept in play, and no one doubts for an instant that Benghazi will continue to be fawned over in 2016. While "fawned over" is indeed an offensive characterization to apply to an incident that saw the death of several Americans, unfortunately its use here is appropriate. The Republican Right keeps treating those deaths like a treasured shiny weapon bestowed on them for their political arsenal, even when the actual families involved plead with them to stop it.

This is all part of a political narrative that has been fully vetted by voters. Twice. Americans, who presumably love America, chose Barack Obama to be their leader in 2008, and then again in 2012. What does the frozen Republican narrative about Barack Obama say about those tens of millions of Americans, the literal majority of voters? Either that they are stupid fools who should not believe their own lying eyes or ears, or that they too must not love America. Take your pick, neither could be characterized as particularly flattering. Republicans push the argument that Barack Obama is actually rooting against America, wanting us to fail, which marks him as an Un-American President. But what most people see is a political party dominated by leading voices who want the President who Americans themselves elected to lead America, to fail. And for millions of voters that calls into question exactly who is acting Un-American after all.

Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot in 2014, and that is the main reason Republicans scored well that year (aided in part by gerrymandered Congressional districts). Were 2014 a Presidential election year, like 2008 and 2012 both were, Republicans would have lost again, because more Americans play closer attention to politics in Presidential election years than they do in the off years in between them. Actually were it not for the massive Ebola hysteria being fanned by the media in the immediate run up to the 2014 election, where Obama was daily lambasted for following expert medical advice and refusing to lock down our borders, Democrats might have done a little better than they ultimately did. Obama didn't panic, the media did, but they weren't on the 2014 ballot either.

Unfortunately for the Republican Party, 2016 will once again be a Presidential Election year. And from most current indications they seem to have learned as much from their 2012 defeat as they did from their 2008 one.

I Don't Know If Scott Walker Is A Human

I've never had the chance to ask him that in person. There are multiple other possibilities; Android, Extra Terrestrial, Holographic Projection, you name it. I'm not a scientist so I would rather not venture an uninformed guess. Opinions vary on what makes some one or thing human. Anyone really curious about it should directly ask Scott Walker in person, or rather in entity, his opinion on the matter.
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