Israel Firsters?

Joel Bleifuss

New Republic senior editor Lawrence Kaplan recently took to the op-ed page of the Washington Post to inveigh against those on the left, right and center who dare to question the allegiance of the neoconservative ideologues—Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, among others—who are currently driving U.S. policy for a war with Iraq. To make his argument, Kaplan plays the anti-Semitism card. “The charge that the administration’s ‘rabid Israel supporters’ are behind the drive to war is risible,” Kaplan writes. “Invoking the specter of dual loyalty … is the nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute accusations grounded in ethnicity. The charges are, ipso facto, impossible to disprove.”But they are possible to prove. Robert L. Norberg, a former Aramco executive, in a letter to the Post, writes:In 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, all of whom now hold influential policy positions in the Bush administration, co-authored a paper titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which was hand-delivered by Mr. Perle to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The “realm” referred to Israel, and “removing Saddam Hussein from power” was described as a means of containing Syria and as “an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.”The paper, which was described as “a framework for a series of follow-up reports on strategy,” also counseled the Likud prime minister on how to massage American public opinion and U.S. policy-makers. The point is not that Messrs. Perle, Feith and Wurmser are “doing Israel’s bidding,” but that they wrote a plan for Israeli foreign policy that they are now positioned to carry out within the U.S. government. The least they can do is recuse themselves.

Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.

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