America: Our Friend, Our Enemy

Summary ... The Americans are clearly committed to their own goals. Let the Jew do no less. Let there be support for a powerful government in Israel that says "No" to the pressure and that lets Washington know that it means it.

There appears to be a popular and dangerous misconception that has spread among Jews to the effect that one who opposes Jews is necessarily an anti-Semite and that hatred or hostility to Jews is the trademark of the enemy. The fallacy in this must be exposed lest we fail to properly assess the real enemy and act in the manner most calculated to thwart him.

To be sure, every anti-Semite is an enemy of the Jewish people but the converse — that every enemy is an anti-Semite is not necessarily true for it is clearly possible for one to be not an anti-Semite (or at least not particularly so or not more so than most gentiles) and still to be a deadly threat to the Jew, hence, his enemy. More, it is possible for a gentile to sincerely respect and admire Jews and Israel, to sympathize with their plight and still be their enemy. And because this axiom is so relevant to our times; because the greatest danger can come from the nation that most sympathizes with and is numbered as the best of the allies (if not the only one), it is important to analyze the concept and act upon that analysis.

Long before deGaulle or Churchill it was clear to any student of world or local politics that there are no allies but only interests. Nations that were bitter enemies but yesterday become close allies today, because they have suddenly discovered — due to shifting circumstances — that their interests coincide. Countries that only a short time ago fought side by side, turn into bitter rivals because their interests now clash. It is not due to love or hate, and rarely does ideology have anything to do with the fact that Communist China will side with the blackest of reactionaries against their fellow Marxist Soviet Union because of national interests.

France, which in 1956 began a decade-long "love affair" with Israel, did so not out of "love of Mordechai" but out of the knowledge that the Suez Canal, [former Egyptian president] Nasser, and the Arab struggle against French rule in Algeria, made the enemy of her enemy her friend. All over Israel there sprung up Israel-French friendship societies and to be French was to be loved in Israel. And then, the world turned upside down and the couple broke up rudely and suddenly. France suddenly emerged as the great ally of the Arabs and the most bitter enemy of Israel in the West. Was there a sudden change in French attitudes toward Jews? Was DeGaulle suddenly turned into an anti-Semite? Hardly! The French may have disliked Jews before but that did not prevent them from being their number one arms supplier. Any change now had nothing to do with likes or dislikes. What had changed was not the personality of the French but their political outlook. The Algerian war having ended and the scars of the French colonial struggle having healed, De Gaulle and the French now realized that the Arab world with its oil and growing political and economic power was important to French interests. And because of this, French policy took a 180-degree turn. Had Israel had the oil and the power, the French today would be wearing yarmulkes in the streets, if necessary.

And since one can sympathize with gallant Israel and admire her and still be motivated by self-interests to take stands that threaten her very existence, let it be understood that it is not the Soviet Union or the Arab states that stand today as the ultimate main enemy of Israel, but rather the country that in recent years was the best if not only ally — the United States.

The Soviets cannot force Israel to give in — they do not provide her with economic aid or weapons. The Arabs cannot destroy Israel militarily. It is Washington which has the greatest leverage. It is Washington that can turn off the military and economic faucet. It is Washington that can twist arms, choke, and pressure. It is Washington that — because of its interests are so opposed to those of Israel — is today the greatest enemy. It is Washington that is our friend, our enemy.

There is no hatred of Israel here; there is no anti-Semitism involved and only fools will use that yardstick to gauge whether America is dangerous for Israel. It is the Jewish Establishment leader who knows a [former US president Jimmy] Carter or a [former US Secretary of State Cyrus] Vance or any other policy maker well and who says: I know that they are decent people who have not an anti-Semitic bone in their bodies, who blind us to the danger. For the anatomy of the policy makers in Washington is irrelevant and though their bones be pure and free of hate, it is their interests that are the issue. And for the hundredth time I say: American interests are oil and the every-growing dependency on the Arab states; they are the billions in profits to be made in investment in Arab states; they are the petrodollars that, if invested in New York rather than Tokyo or Frankfort or Paris, will aid the American economy; they are the Russians whom Washington wishes to keep out of the Middle East.

All of these interests are clearly seen as favoring a pro-Arab policy and Israel, with neither oil nor money nor the ability to woo the Russians, is at best a nuisance to America and at worst, dangerous. Thus, Carter and all the others who salute the brave men of Entebbe and who may honestly respect Israel's gallant fight, will nevertheless begin a brutal campaign to choke her into suicidal concessions — without hate; only with the thought: Is it good for the United States?

And so Carter clearly says what I have cried out for months now: We may have to impose a solution. Of course, he does not use those words. Instead he says: "I would not hesitate if I saw clearly a fair and equitable solution to use the full strength of our country and its persuasive power in an effort to bring those nations to agreement [a policy reiterated by all succeeding US presidents, regardless of party—ed]." No, not "imposing of the will" but only "persuasion" and "full strength". And of course, all the Jewish leaders know what he really means and are quiet because in Israel the Labor Party fears to show the people that its policy of "friendship with America" is a failure and the American Jewish Establishment is terrified of a real confrontation with Carter [succeeding US presidents—ed] because it knows how weak Jews really are in the face of a popular President and more, because it is horrified at the prospect of a surge of massive anti-Semitism in the event of a clash between U.S. and Israeli policy.

And so George Ball writes in Foreign Affairs that America must insist on total Israeli withdrawal and threaten to "suspend governmental assistance" as well as "eliminate essential tax credits (i.e. UJA) and take other administrative action to restrict the flow of cash gifts and bond purchases from American private citizens." Is George Ball an enemy of Israel? Clearly. Is he an anti-Semite, a Jew hater? Consider how he begins the article:

"Most Americans approach the problems of the Middle East with a pro-Israel bias — and rightly so. The desire of a dispersed people for a homeland cannot but evoke sympathy even of those with no Jewish roots..." Indeed, the very title of the article is: How to Save Israel In Spite of Herself. No greater sympathy had an investment banker.

It is time to stop prattling childishly about love and hate, pro-Semites and antis. It is time to clearly realize that under all circumstances the United States interests differ radically from those of Israel and that Washington is committed to her own interests as she understands them. U.S. pressure will grow to intolerable degrees. She will turn on Israel and choke her with the suggestions of George Ball, for Ball speaks for a great many other Americans. In the Readers Digest of April, 1977 Senior Editor William Griffith writes an article titled: "Let's Resolve the Middle East Crisis-Now!" and says: "Indeed, our aid which totals nearly $1.8 billion dollars this year is essential to keep Israel going. If we make it plain to Israeli officials that we are determined to see their nation withdraw they will act accordingly." Both he and Ball and Jack Anderson in a column ("When the Arabs Speak, More are Listening") emphasize over and over again the American dependence on Arab oil and the lessons to be learned from this.

What must be done? Clearly to begin to stop speaking of "good" and "bad" people in Washington. Good or bad, they are all bad for Israel and the next step is to gather Jewish strength all over the world and to demand that Jewish leaders bury the fear of anti-Semitism. Let there be support for a powerful government in Israel that says no to the pressure and that lets Washington know that it means it. Let the Administration know clearly that Israel is developing weapons of mass destruction-atomic, chemical and biological — to use in the event of an American cutoff of conventional arms. Let procedures be planned to evade any American attempt to prevent private funds from reaching Israel. And let us return to faith in G‑d.

The crux of the matter is interests. The Americans are clearly committed to their own. Let the Jew do no less.

[Editor's note: This commentary was written in the period 1974-1977, when Jimmy Carter was still in office. Nevertheless, the subject of this commentary — the true interests of the United States — has not changed since then. It's not an outright rebuke of the U.S; rather it's a history lesson in the nature of how nations operate. Many people tend to think that when a nation is "friends" with another nation it's as with their own friends. But nothing can be further from the truth. Nations do not "hang out together", nor do they necessarily share the same likes and dislikes, or even have the same long-range goals. The main responsibility of the leaders of a nation is to insure its continued existence, whatever that takes. Yes, there may be senators and members of Congress who proclaim their support for Israel but, in the end, it's the security of the United States that takes priority. That was clearly demonstrated during the first campaign and election of George W. Bush. During the campaign he repeatedly made the promise that, upon being sworn-in, he would begin the process of moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. However, once elected he hid behind the "for the good of America" masquerade and refused to do it.—ed]

[This commentary, written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, is taken from Beyond Words: Selected Writings 1960-1990 Vol. 2 1974-1977.—ed]

[ Rabbi Meir Kahane | Published: August 7, 2014 ]