The slow death of the State of Israel

It used to be said that Social Security was the "third rail of American politics." (A "third rail" exists in transit systems and carries the electrical charge; touching the rail leads to electrocution). Candidates and officials were afraid to discuss Social Security because talking sense was courted instant death from voters.

Today Israel is the Third Rail. To attempt in any manner to discuss the failure of American policy, and to address the slow death of the State of Israel, is to court instant attacks as an "anti-Semite" and worse. Last year, then-presidential candidate Howard Dean suggested the U.S. should be "evenhanded" in dealing with the Middle East. There was an outcry from Jewish leaders. The United States must not be fair and evenhanded, they said; Israel is a "democracy."

A few weeks ago, in what can only be described as a "kowtow" identical to that used in ancient China to do obeisance to Chinese emperors, presidential candidate John Kerry was forced to appear before "Jewish leaders" and to recant mild statements he had made about Yasser Arafat. To paraphrase the late Senator Barry Goldwater, Kerry was told that anything less than extremism in defense of Israel is heresy and cause for political extinction.

The Bush administration has become extremely pro-Israel, courting Jewish voters and "conservative Christians," while American foreign policy in the Middle East becomes a shambles and laughingstock. No genuflection to Israel is sufficient when the votes of conservative Christians (calling Mel Gibson) are at stake in 2004. (It should be noted that neither American Jews nor Israelis ever express support for the genuinely most pro-Israel president in history, Richard Nixon, who saved Israel from defeat in 1973. There are no "Richard Nixon Boulevards" in Israel, though there ought to be.)

To even suggest that the Emperor Sharon has no clothes (and more importantly no policy) and that he is single-handedly destroying the State of Israel, is one more cause for being branded an anti-Semite. Just as it is considered bad form to say that one’s "best friends are Jews," today many American Jews justify irrational support for Israel by claiming they "oppose Sharon" but "still support Israel," as though the contradictory nature of these statements can be harmonized.

On my own radio talk show, the Andy Martin Show, we enjoy a large Jewish audience, and lively discussion about the fate of Israel. Occasionally someone tries to brand me an anti-Semite, but it is clear to regular listeners I am no enemy of Jews or Israel, but merely a friend to all peoples in the Middle East.

Thus, I feel comfortable in observing that however much politicians may avert their eyes (they also avert their eyes when they reach backwards with open hands for campaign contributions), Israel is slowly dying. Ironically, Israel is dying as much due to the support of its "friends," as it is due to the successes of its enemies. Today, Israel’s "friends" are its greatest enemies.

Israeli supporters continue the pretense that Israel is a "democracy." Israel is not a democracy. Israel is a military dictatorship with regular elections at which voters are manipulated to endorse militarism and national self-destruction.

Israel is supposedly the target of "terrorism." On the contrary, Israeli policies create terrorism as a natural backlash to occupation, subjugation, genocide and simple boorishness. Last week, Israeli Arab workers were branded with red "x’s" to expose them in the same way that Jews wore forced to wear a Star of David in Nazi Germany. Israeli politicians create the conditions for terrorism to exploit and manipulate their own supporters.

On Sunday March 14th, suicide bombers attacked a large Israeli port facility. Israeli officials admitted that a "new phase" has begun in the war between the occupiers and the occupied. Yes it has. Unless sane minds and strong hands take control of a situation that is spinning out of control, the whole world is endangered.

As someone who will soon be a U.S. Senate candidate in Florida, let me be clear: America must be evenhanded in the Middle East. Political pandering to American Jews undermines national security for both Americans and Israelis. Period.

Ariel Sharon’s policies are a prescription for perpetual war, and the inevitable decline and demise of Israel. Palestinians will never surrender, no matter how much terror is directed at them by Israeli leaders. The relentless Israeli attacks on Gaza, with missiles repeatedly fired into crowds and crowded streets, is state terrorism, nothing less. Militant Islamic groups should have Sharon’s picture on their recruiting posters; Sharon has done more to energize hatred than any leader in Israel’s history. As long as Israelis tolerate a leader who is a war criminal, they lack the moral legitimacy to criticize the Palestinian leadership.

Time is not on Israel’s side. Period. Israelis and their supporters think that developing new weapons and new tools of oppression will somehow buttress them against the inevitable path of history. They will not and cannot. Israel’s high tech weapons and nuclear armaments as are as helpless and irrelevant as America’s power was in seeking to defeat Saddam Hussein.

What will work? What will save Israel from inevitable destruction? From eventually falling helplessly into the desert sand, Ozymandias-style?

First, the United States must take control of the fault line between Israel and Palestine. We were willing to invade Iraq, but we are afraid to police the 1967 border between Palestine and Israel. Far from being an anti-Semite or enemy of Israel, I believe that only a commitment of American troops can help end the impasse and bring peace to the region.

Second, Israel will have to remove all settlements and completely withdraw to its 1967 borders. If the Israeli regime refuses to remove its illegal settlements, the world community must forcibly remove them.

Third, the United States must extend a security commitment–an equal commitment–to both Israelis and Palestinians. Israel can no longer be allowed to conduct state terrorism, invading Palestine at will, killing civilians, destroying property. Once Palestine is established, both Israeli and Palestinian terrorism must cease. Period.

Fourth, we must acknowledge that the existence of Israel is not an excuse for the failed states of the Middle East. Arab dictatorships have played a cruel hoax on their peoples, and on themselves. America must stand ready to make a meaningful effort to help create representative institutions and democracy.

Finally, as President Bush has said so often, but as his underlings seem to ignore, "Islam is not the enemy." Islam has a millennium of tolerance behind it. Militant Islam is largely a reaction to colonialism, oppression and the American-Israeli axis.

As a Christian, I know that confession is an essential predicate to cognition and contrition. Unless I confess my sins, I am bound by them. Unless American leaders have the strength and courage to confess that our policies have been a colossal failure over the past sixty years, and open a new day in the Middle East, a day of respect and recognition for all peoples, we are prisoners of the past and hostages to the future.

The foregoing suggestions were part of the "Andy Martin Peace Plan," which I promulgated in 2000 in response to the supposed "failure" of the peace process at that time. My suggestions are as essential and unavoidable today as they were in 2000.

Unless and until American officials stop playing politics with our Middle East policy, and unless and until Israeli politicians stop seeking to manipulate the American political process, Israel remains on a path for inevitable decline and ultimate extinction as a nation state.