A Roman Triumph in DC

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Recently by Justin Raimondo: The Lobby Takes the Offensive

The rapturous reception afforded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he ascended the dais to address a joint session of Congress was like the triumphs Roman generals were honored with as they returned from their wars of conquest. It's true u201CBibiu201D didn't have President Obama trailing behind him in chains, as the Romans dragged Vercingetorix, the king of the Gauls, but then again, that wasn't really necessary. Only hours before, Sen. Harry Reid had denied his own president and the leader of his party, distancing himself from the Obama administration's Mideast peace plan, and reiterating his support for Netanyahu, while other Democrats ran for the hills. Netanyahu's triumph — after 56 standing ovations — was complete.

The content of the Prime Minister's speech was almost irrelevant: it was the usual panoply of lies, u201Cspin,u201D and vaunting. Lies about how great the Palestinian economy is doing, spinning (i.e. glossing over) Israel's criminal occupation of conquered territories, and vaunting of Zionist power — not the Jewish state's military power, but its political power right here in this country. When it comes down to a contest between the chief executive of the most powerful nation in the world, and the Prime Minister of a country that would fall into the abyss without US support, the latter proved his superior potency.

u201CIn an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability. In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America's unwavering ally. Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American.u201D

Only in a Bizarro World alternate universe is Israel u201Cthe one anchor of stabilityu201D in a volatile region. Quite the opposite is true: the Jewish state is the primary source of regional instability, due entirely to its ruthlessness and inhumanity in enforcing a military occupation that weighs heavily on the conscience of the world.

Netanyahu has it backwards: America is and has been Israel's unwavering ally, and yet, as Vice President Joe Biden found out on his last trip to Israel, this doesn't preclude the Israelis' open hostility. Ambushed and humiliated by his most ungracious hosts — who announced a new round of settlement-building the day the Vice President arrived — Biden learned first hand that this arrangement doesn't work both ways.

u201CMy friends, you don't need to do nation building in Israel. We're already built. You don't need to export democracy to Israel. We've already got it. You don't need to send American troops to defend Israel. We defend ourselves. You've been very generous in giving us tools to do the job of defending Israel on our own. Thank you all, and thank you President Obama, for your steadfast commitment to Israel's security. I know economic times are tough. I deeply appreciate this.u201D

How many lies can one speechwriter pack into a single paragraph? We are engaged in u201Cnation buildingu201D in Israel — how else are the Israelis spending that cool $3 billion a year in u201Caidu201D? u201CWe're already builtu201D — so does that mean we can cut the Israelis off the dole, and stop borrowing from the Chinese in order to placate Tel Aviv? Surely that isn't what Netanyahu meant to say.

As for the boast that we needn't export democracy to Israel — because u201CWe've already got itu201D — what can one say to the ruler of a country that has established a two-tiered tyranny, granting the members of one religious group voting rights and the ability to move freely, and relegating the rest to a political limbo, and the status of helots imprisoned in their own land?

What can one say, except: You lie?

Netanyahu, whose first response to the upsurge in Egypt was to support Mubarak and cavil at the specter of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Cairo, had the nerve to hail the u201Cepic battle now unfolding in the Middle East,u201D which, he averred, is u201Cbetween tyranny and freedom.u201D Yet, in this battle, Israel is on the other side — the side of the tyrants — and always has been. u201CMillions of young people are determined to change their future,u201D he pontificated, to ringing applause. u201CWe all look at them. They muster courage. They risk their lives. They demand dignity. They desire liberty.u201D

That these very young people are risking their lives, demanding dignity, in the occupied territories is what Bibi forgot to mention. He dares evoke those u201Cextraordinary scenes in Tunis and Cairo,u201D likening them to what happened in Berlin and Prague in 1989. Yet surely he knows they are mustering their courage against the IDF, which is shooting them down in the streets of occupied Palestine. Somehow, I don't think Bibi means to praise these brave souls.

Bibi praises the u201CArab springu201D of democratic hope, and goes on to bemoan the snuffing out of hope u201Cin Tehran in 1979,u201D the year the mullahs triumphed in Iran. u201CYou may remember what happened then.u201D Yet does he remember the role played by Israel in those events? The Mossad helped set up the dreaded SAVAK, the Iranian Shah's ruthless secret police, which tortured and imprisoned many thousands, and crushed all opponents of the regime. This bit of history is neglected by the Prime Minister, whose memory is necessarily selective.

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Justin Raimondo [send him mail] is editorial director of Antiwar.com and is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard and Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement.

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