The shift in Israel from a democratic – even socialist – society into a fundamentalist-driven, expansionist state, contemptuous of its closest ally, and aggressively hostile to all its neighbors is one of the most depressing developments in our time. It is driven by the religious parties, the settler movement and the opportunism and paranoia of Netanyahu. To give a flavor of his government, note that his neo-fascist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, just went to Moscow to give Putin an embrace after the latest rigged elections, and denigrated the Russian opposition. The idea that a man like Lieberman is interested in democracy for the Palestinians on the West Bank is ludicrous. To him, the Palestinians are sub-human irritants, one day to be expelled or subdued.
All of this would be disastrous enough, but we now know that the two likeliest Republican nominees next year back neo-fascists like Lieberman to the hilt. Today, Gingrich has all but declared that under his presidency, the American position would be that of Netanyahu's. This is Pamela Geller territory:
"I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state, and I believe that the commitments that were made at a time. Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940's, and I think it’s tragic."
So the Palestinians should have fled entirely. And the implication is that they should now leave the West Bank as well. Does Gingrich not understand that the concept of an "Israeli" is also as old as the term "Palestinian"? Or did he pick John Bolton as a secretary of state in part because he just wrote the foreword to Pamela Geller's latest screed? Ben Smith, the best reporter on the US-Israel struggle, quotes Hussein Ibish:
To call the Palestinians 'an invented people' in an obvious effort to undermine their national identity is outrageous, especially since there was no such thing as an 'Israeli' before 1948," he said. "Arab and Jewish identities are very old, but Israeli and Palestinian nationalisms are both 20th-century phenomena, and arose at the same time in competition with each other. The idea that either is more 'invented' and hence less 'authentic' than the other is ignorant, ahistorical claptrap.
Romney is not far behind. And the reason was clearly laid out by the Likudnik Charles Krauthammer:
98 percent of pro-Israeli Americans are gentile. It’s a very strong, important issue among the evangelical Christians. The association [of Israel] only with Jews is missing a very large story here.
Indeed it is. But that makes it all the more worrying. You can view the US as a global power, assessing its values and interests in a secular fashion. Or you can view the US as the most powerful Christianist force in the world, and its foreign policy as one shaped by fear and loathing of Islam and fusion with Judaism.
If you believe the former, you will see why you'd want to keep the US on the right side of the Arab Spring, calm Jihadism by getting Israel to accept a two-state solution soon, and then embrace a defensible Israel as a vital democratic country in the world. But if you believe the latter, you believe that Israel has a Biblical right to all of the West Bank, and to a permanent apartheid-style Greater Israel with a permanently disenfranchized and restive Arab majority. Moreover, you see Israel's clash with Iran as a no-brainer. In the Judeo-Christian war with Islam, it fits right in. Of course, the US should back such a war. As the leader of the Judeo-Christian front against Islam, it should initiate it.
My view is that no one has attempted to destroy the Obama administration's promise more than Benjamin Netanyahu. He, more than McConnell or Cantor or Cheney, wants Obama to be a one-term president. And now he has dropped any pretense of being apart from America's internal politics, by fusing his agenda with that of the Christianist right. It is a new alliance based not on shared national interests but a common religious war. It is a direct route to another 9/11. Or worse.