Getting out of the hole

My latest New Matilda column discusses the war in Iraq, the influence of the Zionist lobby and the new direction of the conflict:

Many Jewish organisations supported the decision to invade Iraq in the misguided belief that a regional enemy of Israel would be obliterated. A number of Zionist groups still back the occupation, and are now advocating military action against Iran.

However, last week the New York Jewish newspaper Forward featured an intriguing article by Yossi Alpher, a former senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Alpher states that Ariel Sharon was in fact against the Iraq war:

“Publicly, Sharon played the silent ally; he neither criticised nor supported the Iraq adventure. One reason for his relative silence was Washington’s explicit request that Israel refrain from openly backing its invasion of an Arab country or in any way intervening, lest its blessing damn the United States in Arab eyes.”

The article attempts to neuter a growing fear among many members of the US Jewish community — that critics of the war may start blaming Jews for the Iraq debacle, because so many of its leadership boldly advocated the invasion. Alpher dishonestly tries to whitewash the political and financial pressure exerted by the Zionist lobby on the Bush Administration before 2003, including his own cheerleading for the invasion.

Prominent New York Jew Phil Weiss damns Alpher for his intellectual trickery and his attempts to change the historical record. Weiss writes:

“I’ve said before that the war represents a crisis for Jewish identity: it reveals the degree to which Jewish identity is now built upon the demonisation of Arabs, hundreds of thousands of whom are now dying and fleeing and suffering in incomprehensible ways in part because of crazy ideas hatched in thinktanks. The Forward is responding with cowardice to an intellectual chore: What was the Jewish role in this mess? Progressive Jews have a part to play in this soul-searching.”

My New Matilda archive is here.