Harris: Iraq war will cost Israel

03.31.03

A story in Ha’aretz by Amiram Barakat features an interview with David Harris, executive director of the AJC, in which he claims that the war in Iraq will end up costing Israel:

The leaders of American Jewish organizations are increasingly concerned the United States’ “debt” to its allies in Europe will be repaid at Israel’s expense, sooner than Jerusalem would even like to think about.

[ . . . ]

In other countries, this same rule results in the opposite outcome, and by this, Harris obviously means France and Belgium, where hostility to Israel is in direct proportion to hostility to the U.S. These countries are working against Israel in the pan-European arena. Harris feels that Britain and Spain are working to harden the American positions toward the government of Israel, primarily as they relate to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Leaders of the Jewish organizations in the United States – Harris included – place sole responsibility for President Bush’s March 16 “road map speech” on this group.

“The question that nagged at them after Bush’s speech was ‘Why now?'” says Harris. “Why, at the height of a war in Iraq, does the road map have to be put on the table? Does it mean Washington is caving in to pressure from our European allies? Does it mean that Washington, even if unintentionally, consents to allow the impression to be made that there is a connection between the situation in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian issue? Personally, based on my acquaintance with the president, the vice president and the national security adviser, I do not believe they see it that way.”

It’s tempting to write this off a a typical leftist tactic of looking solely at the consequences to evaluate the ethics of a situation. In other words, if the argument is that ousting Saddam is good for Israel, then pro-Israel people should support the war, and if the argument is that it’s bad for Israel, then the opposite should be true.

That, however, negates the existence of a right and wrong. And that’s a dangerous trap – one that Harris, it should be noted, has avoided falling into. He’s not taking a position on the war in Iraq; he’s making a statement, an observation if you will, about the potential dangers of its outcome. And I think it would be blind of us not to examine these things, within the context that states that it shouldn’t affect current policy in Iraq, of course.

The US has pissed off much of Europe with this war in Iraq. That’s a given. A lot of Europe may be looking for some sort of reconciliation, and it’s a very realistic possibility that Israel will once again get the short end of the stick. The minute the United States moves in and starts forcing reforms and agreements down the throats of two parties clearly not ready or able to accept them, the situation’s bound to worsen. Start forcing Israel to make security concessions, and a lot less of those suicide attacks will be prevented. Start forcing the Palestinians to play nice, and more will be attracted to the terror groups who offer them an outlet for their true feelings.

But I’m not convinced that it will play out like that. Bush did take office determined not to repeat Clinton’s mistakes, after all. Harris makes some valid points about the new geopolitical stage, but I think that it’s far from a foregone conclusion that Israel will lose out here.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peter Lehrer 04.02.03 at 6:39 AM

Harris is right. The price of this war will be Israel’s freedom and the turning over of Jewish land to arabian migrants.

Reply

2 mr_b2b2 04.03.03 at 7:10 AM

It is kind of scary because the US may force Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians who might appear to be taking “democratic” steps but are really just trying a new method of tricking Israel into giving up its land.

Reply

3 Peter Lehrer 04.03.03 at 8:13 AM

Well, things might not be so bleak. The plo will never be able to live up to the conditions laid down by Bush in his June speech. therefore, the Israeli government is bound to give arafat nothing, which is as it should be. Anyway, why should the United States reward a group of people who are rooting for a regime that it is currently at war with?

Doesn’t make much sense does it?

Reply

4 Jonny 04.03.03 at 6:25 PM

Peter, if the plo doesn’t live up to the expectations outlined by Bush, this fact will be totally ignored. After signing the Oslo accords, Arafat made a speech in South Africa in which he compared Oslo with a Trojan horse, thereby nullifying the accords, this was totally ignored by the UN and by the Israelis.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: