- WASHINGTON - As the argument
in the United States over the necessity of the war in Iraq and the manner
in which it was waged intensifies, and as the presidential election date
draws nearer, those who have tried to accuse Israel or the U.S. Jews of
pushing the administration into battle are once again sounding their voices.
- In the American Jewish community, they warn it could
- The most blatant example in recent weeks was an article
written by veteran Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings (Dem.-South
Carolina), who charged in an article published in a Charleston newspaper
at the beginning of the month that behind the decision to go to war was
"President Bush's policy to secure Israel."
- In his article, Hollings mentions the names of three
prominent Jews, from the neoconservative stream in the administration,
as those responsible for pushing for the decision to go to war in Iraq.
- Two weeks later, Hollings stepped up to the podium in
the Senate and delivered an emotional address in which he defended his
statements, attacking the Jewish establishment and repeating the main thrust
of his claims.
- Hollings has been the most outspoken U.S. official against
the alleged Israeli-Jewish connection to the war; but a week ago, the issue
was also picked up by retired general Anthony Zinni, a well-known and esteemed
figure from the center of the American political spectrum.
- In an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes," Zinni,
who, with Tom Clancy, is about to publish a book in which he harshly criticizes
the war and Bush's team, said there were a number of neoconservatives who
had promoted the idea of the war in Iraq with the purpose, among others,
of "strengthening the position of Israel."
- Zinni mentioned the names of five representatives of
the neoconservative stream - all of them Jewish. He did say, however, that
the religious or ethnic affiliations of the members of the administration
were of no bearing on the matter.
- Despite the significant difference between the statements
of Zinni and those of Hollings, certain members of the U.S. Jewish community
are beginning to feel a little uncomfortable.
- "The fact is that this claim is out there,"
says the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman,
on the charge that the Jews and supporters of Israel were the ones who
pushed the U.S. into the war. "We were pointed out at the beginning,
and it's easier to blame us when things go bad," he adds.
- The claims about the Jewish-Israeli link to the war were
raised even before they were voiced by extreme right-wing spokespersons
such as Pat Buchanan and Democratic Congressman Jim Moran, who found himself
having to apologize for saying that without the Jewish community's strong
support, the U.S. would not have gone to war in Iraq.
- Foxman says the charges are being voiced anew because
the argument over the war is heating up. "We knew that if things went
wrong, they will look for someone to blame," he says. "The more
protest, the more politicizing of the issue, people will be sloppier and
will not be careful in what they say."
- But the link between Israel and the war in Iraq espoused
by Hollings is not the only one. More voices are making the connection
from a different direction, charging that the only solution to the embroilment
in Iraq is a more intensive approach toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian
- Last week, in an article by Nicolas Kristof in the New
York Times, Zinni was reported to have said that he had been surprised
to hear from members of the administration that the advantage of the war
in Iraq is that "the road to Jerusalem leads through Baghdad."
- According to Zinni, "The opposite is true; the road
to Baghdad leads through Jerusalem. If you were to solve the Middle East
peace process, you'd be surprised what kind of other things work out."
- Similar sentiments were expressed by Anthony Cordesman,
one of the most highly regarded academics on the Iraq issue, in an article
in the Baltimore Sun a week ago. The first step toward fixing America's
status in the Arab world must be "steady and visible U.S. pressure
... on [the Israeli and Palestinian] governments," Cordesman wrote,
while urging the U.S. administration to make a concerted effort to stop
Israeli settlement activity.
- Senator Ernest Hollings charged that 'President Bush's
policy to secure Israel' was behind the decision to go to war. (AP/Archives)