Foreign Policy

Israel and the Tea Party: Heartland America supports Israel

Two overviews dominate American influence on Israel: the one emerging
from that old Pepsi commercial, of a bunch of waifs holding little
candles in some kind of world concert, singing, “I’d like to teach the
world to sing in perfect harmony.” This is Team Hillary, with help from
Bono and Bill. They want to turn back to the 1990s. The other is the
Kagan/Kristol axis, who send their littles, like Charles Krauthammer, to
the major media. Loosely called the neocons, it is a small group with a
big vision, a vision of America suited to 1946. They want to turn back
to the 1980s.

Israel, like China and Germany, has moved solidly into the second decade
of the 21st century, and both these views put Israel in jeopardy. The
Hillary/Bono people see no distinction between Moses and, for example,
Moammar Gadhafi — we are all the same inside. The others really see the
world with important places like America and Israel and a few unreliable
friends, surrounded by dangerous enemies. This is a version of the
British “frogs and wogs” variety.

Ron Paul’s criticism of this is well-known and he has been called an anti-Semite because of his views. The neocon view wants American military influence everywhere, including and especially Israel, and Paul opposes this. His congressional rants do indict Israel for seeking and finding vast sums from American pockets for Israeli defense. I don’t know if Ron Paul is an anti-Semite, but there should be a distinction between anti-Israeli polemic and anti-Semitism. Paul opposes American foreign policy everywhere, including and especially Israel.

But there is no question that this has fostered new anti-Semitic attitudes in some of his followers. Many professional libertarians share Ron Paul’s views on Israel. Recently, the Republican Jewish Coalition rejected a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to end foreign aid, including aid to Israel, as “misguided.”

Something in the relationship between Israel and America changed at 9/11. We in the United States suffered a direct attack on our most important symbols by Israel’s enemies. Heartland America was changed by 9/11. To the heartland, which does not share in East Coast Europeanism and like Texas Gov. Rick Perry does not care what they think in New York, Israel became our closest friend. The Hillary/Bono axis and the neocons and even the newly influential libertarians don’t see it because they are bound by ideology. And they are largely East Coasters and don’t understand the heart-based thinking of America. But heartland drives America, increasingly so, and this is what America will be. A savage attack like those on 9/11 brings it out.

The Tea Party — the non-ideology Jacksonian populist uprising — instinctively understands this and the two major politicians closest to it do as well. That would be Perry and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They are Israel’s best friends in America.

This, at its core, explains the breach today among conservatives. Tea Party America, especially the rough-and-tumble variety here in the heartland, have, like Israel, China and Germany, entered the new century with a clear, existential view of the world and our place in it. The others are still stuck in the past.

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