U.S. Media Airs Alleged Jewish Role in Iraq War
Rep. James Moran, a Virginia Democrat, brought down a
torrent of opprobrium on his head this month when he said the
United States would not be planning an invasion of Iraq "if it
were not for the strong support of the Jewish community."
"The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough
that they could change the direction of where this is going,
and I think they should," a newspaper quoted him as saying.
The White House condemned his remark as "shocking," as did
congressional leaders of both parties. Moran later apologized.
Rep. Jim Kolbe, an Arizona Republican, asked Secretary of
State Colin Powell (news - web sites) directly on Thursday whether there was any
truth to the claim that supporters of Israel or any other group
were conspiring to influence U.S. policy.
"It (policy on Iraq) is not driven by any small cabal that
is buried away somewhere that is telling President Bush (news - web sites) ...
what our policies should be," Powell replied, speaking to a
subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
The Washington Post, which has been mostly supportive of
the Bush administration on Iraq, took up the attack on Moran on
Wednesday, saying it was "demonstrably wrong" that Bush's Iraq
policy is motivated primarily by the desire to protect Israel.
"The argument moves from merely wrong to patently offensive
when it attributes to Jews or 'the Jewish community' a single
view and a nefarious influence," it added.
AIRING IN EDITORIAL PAGES
The two big East Coast newspapers, the Post and The New
York Times, have given the conspiracy theory some airing on
their op-ed pages, if only to try to quash it.
"How the Bush administration has arrived at the brink of
war with (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), and to what extent
Israeli influence has brought it there, is a legitimate
question about which there is ample room for disagreement,"
Lawrence Kaplan wrote in the Post.
Bill Keller, in The New York Times on Sunday, said the
theory deserved some attention because the idea that the war
was about Israel was "more widely held than you may think" and
because it has "sprouted from a seed of truth."
The alleged seed of truth is that several key second-tier
officials in the Bush administration are Jewish
neoconservatives who have advocated overthrowing Saddam Hussein
to enhance the security of Israel.
The group is said to include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul
Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, Pentagon (news - web sites)
adviser Richard Perle, National Security Council Middle East
official Elliot Abrams and Lewis Libby, chief of staff to Vice
President Dick Cheney (news - web sites).
Some of their allies are former members or advisers to the
Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a Washington
organization which argues that the security of the United
States and Israel is inextricably intertwined, or to the
like-minded Center for Security Policy.
That group includes Cheney, Feith, Perle and Under
Secretaries of State John Bolton and Paula Dobriansky.
Feith put the case in public last month when he told a
Senate committee that democracy in Iraq could help bring to
power the kind of Palestinians Israel wants to talk to.
The most prominent U.S. politician accusing them of
foisting the war on Bush for Israel's sake is former Reform
Party presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan (news - web sites), an isolationist
opposed to foreign adventures by the United States.
Buchanan, writing in the American Conservative this week,
said: "The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also
gotten something it did not bargain for.
"Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the
War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated
firefight, our neoconservative friends are ... claiming the
status of a persecuted minority group."
Keller said the element of truth was that the interests of
Israel and the United States coincide in the case of Iraq.
"(That) does not mean that a Zionist fifth column has
hijacked the president's brain. ... Making the world safer for
us -- defusing terrorism and beginning to reform a region that
is a source of toxic hostility to what we stand for -- happens
to make the world safer for Israel as well," he said.
The public debate so far has been mainly over whether it is
anti-Semitic even to suggest that the neoconservatives may have
a dual loyalty to Israel and to the United States, not so much
over whether the allegation might be true.
Kaplan said that, although the debate was legitimate, the
accusation of impaired loyalty was beyond the pale.
"Invoking the specter of dual loyalty ... amounts to more
than the everyday pollution of public discourse. It is the
nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute
accusations grounded in ethnicity?" he wrote.
Buchanan, who said before the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites) that the only
groups beating the drums for war in the Middle East were "the
Israeli defense ministry and its 'amen corner' in the United
States," is undeterred.
"Those hurling these charges (of anti-Semitism) harbor a
'passionate attachment' to a nation not our own that causes
them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to
act on an assumption that, somehow, what's good for Israel is
good for America," he wrote.