I just finished reading Max Blumenthal’s deeply unsettling book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, and I can certainly understand the frothing response it received from the Isreal-First crowd when it was released last year.
Sadly, it had landed in the sale bin at Powell’s, because although it saved me sixteen bucks, too few people actually read the thing, and that’s quite unfortunate, because it holds an unflattering mirror to those who really need a look, that is, we Americans, who continue to support a regime that stands for little other than racist eliminationism.
What disturbed me most, though, was how eerily similar are the myths, phobias, and hatreds that have brought Israel to this horrifying state to our own. From the founding, set as an heroic struggle of hardy settlers vs. savage natives, to the relentless exaltations of military conquest, to the serial importation of and, later, demonization of, foreign labor, I can only conclude that the reason Americans can’t tell Israel to take a long walk on a short pier is that, well, we’re just too much alike.
Of course, we don’t (yet) teach schoolchildren to hate an entire class of people and force them all to serve in the military to fight them, but the love of border fences, military hardware, and stifling authoritarianism would hardly be out of place in any Republican campaign platform. And the freewheeling hatred, easily turned from one target population to another like a garden hose, would be mother’s milk to your average teabagger. (Liberals! Europeans! The UN! Oh, my!)
But basically, the only thing that keeps America from turning into its grabby and shameless stepsister is size; we can’t just get rid of our minorities, much less any liberals who might object, as Israel has so effectively done, no matter how fervently the Right Wing Noise Machine might wish. We have the will, in many quarters, but not the way. It’s a matter of numbers.
But to those American politicians who lionize Israel as the only “democracy” in the Middle East, and the cuckoo billionaires like Sheldon Adelson, who finance them, I would ask them to watch what they wish for.
As Blumenthal drearily documents, what happens to a society whose internal contradictions make democracy impossible is, to put it mildly, a pretty undesirable place to be, and its best and brightest will inevitably vote with their feet.
Photo by Andrew E. Larsen under Creative Commons license