14/05/2024 lewrockwell.com  27 min 🇬🇧 #248538

George Washington Warned Against a « Passionate Attachment » to Israel

By Brian McGlinchey
 Stark Realities

May 14, 2024

As war rages in Gaza, the intensifying debate over the US-Israel relationship spotlights a glaring political paradox: Those Americans who view George Washington with deepest reverence - that is, would-be "conservatives" - are often the ones who most zealously violate the central tenet of his foreign policy philosophy.

Specifically, their fierce devotion to the State of Israel defies Washington's admonition against "passionate attachments" to other countries - attachments that, he said, inevitably lead America "astray from its duty and its interest."

That's not to say that excessive advocacy for Israel is confined to the American right: As demonstrated by President Biden's backing of Israel's destruction of Gaza, the championing of policies that serve Israel to America's detriment also runs rampant among establishment Democrats.

Regardless of your position on the political spectrum, Washington's foreign policy advice merits your attention, and the US-Israel relationship serves as a case study that validates his warnings about the many evils that spring from "habitual fondness" for a foreign nation...including one that didn't exist when his warnings were issued.


After deciding not to pursue a third term as America's first president, Washington gave the country a parting gift: a farewell address delivered not from a podium, but from the front page of Philadelphia's Daily American Advertiser.

Washington's 7,641-word address reads like an owner's manual for the young republic. He asked Americans to give "solemn contemplation" and "frequent review" to his guidance, which was "the result of much reflection, and no inconsiderable observation."

Let's review some key excerpts of Washington's foreign policy guidance, starting with the principle he put above all others:

"Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated."

With this guidance, Washington echoed the wisdom of other American founders. Thomas Jefferson  urged "peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none." John Quincy Adams approvingly said, "[America] has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings...She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own."

In addition to "passionate attachments," Washington denounced habitual hostility toward other countries. As we'll discuss later, the US government's passionate attachment to Israel is itself the font of hostilities equally unrooted in American interest.

"The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest."

While it's a little less universal these days, "habitual fondness" for Israel remains widespread in American politics, particularly on the right and center-left, and more so among government officials than citizens.

That habitual fondness is routinely manifested by pronouncements that would make Washington, Jefferson and Madison cringe. Drawing from a common well of fawning rhetoric, politicians frequently refer to a supposedly "unbreakable bond" between America and Israel. Another cliche sees officials stating there must be "no daylight" between the two countries. Endorsing DC's unconditional backing of Israel, and showing utter disregard for future contingencies, President Obama  proclaimed that "our alliance is eternal, it is forever."

 Many politicians  go so  far as to say Israel is America's " greatest ally." One can only imagine reactions in the UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries that have gone to war alongside the United States on multiple occasions in this century, sacrificing lives and limbs as Israel offers little more than encouragement.

Taking things to mind-bending extremes, you'll even encounter declarations that "real Americans stand with Israel" - perversely measuring American patriotism by the extent to which one is devoted to a foreign country.

For many - especially evangelical Christians - habitual fondness for Israel has a religious dynamic. Viewed through religious, rose-colored glasses, the State of Israel is transformed from a modern, man-made political entity - led, like all governments, by manipulative, power-hungry politicians who pursue all manner of ungodly policies - into something sacred that supposedly represents and carries out God's will.

Exploiting the religious angle, Israel's advocates - even a US representative speaking in a recent congressional US Congressman Rick Allen: 'Do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God of the Bible?' - claim that America is compelled to serve the State of Israel because the  bible says God will bless those who bless the nation of Abraham and curse those who curse it - as if today's modern political entity and what's referenced in the bible are one and the same.

Validating Washington's warning that habitual fondness for a foreign country makes one an unthinking slave to that affection, these same people ignore the Israeli government's  killing of Christians in  Gaza and the  mistreatment endured by West Bank  Christians - to say nothing of  recurring  incidents of ultra-orthodox Israeli Jews  spitting on followers of Christ.

Especially where government officials are concerned, passionate attachments to Israel can bring enormous financial rewards.

Case in point: Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who's arguably the most extreme advancer of Israeli interests on Capitol Hill. When he ascended to the Senate in 2014, Cotton benefitted from  $960,000 in spending on his behalf by the Emergency Committee for Israel, in addition to $250,000 contributed to a Cotton-backing PAC by New York hedge fund billionaire and Israel-backer Paul Singer, and $100,000 from pro-Israel Boston billionaire Seth Klarman.

Then there's Donald Trump, who's not only made pandering to Israel a staple of his speeches, but, as president, took a variety of actions that had long been on the Israeli agenda. His reward: $20 million for his 2020 re-election bid from Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, in what was reportedly a  quid pro quo for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has personally affirmed the idea that habitual fondness has made America "in some degree a slave" to Israel. In a moment of candid conversation with West Bank settlers, Netanyahu was caught on video as he boasted, "I know what America is.  America is a thing you can move very easily."

Those who champion Israel's interest on Capitol Hill do their own bragging. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyist Steven Rosen famously pushed a napkin across a table and  said, "You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 senators on this napkin."

Patriotic Americans aren't the only ones put off by that kind of influence. Marveling at the extraordinary sway his tiny country holds over the world's foremost power, Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy  wrote:

"A new chapter is being written in the history of nations. Never before has a small country dictated to a superpower; never before has the chirp of the cricket sounded like a roar; never has the elephant resembled the ant - and vice versa. No Roman province dared tell Julius Caesar what to do, no tribe ever dreamed of forcing Genghis Khan to act in accordance with its own tribal interests."

President Clinton used a different kind of colorful language as he confronted the upside-down power dynamic. After being lectured by Netanyahu during his first meeting with the Israeli prime minister, an angry Clinton exploded, rhetorically  asking his aides, "Who the fuck does he think he is? Who's the fucking superpower here?!"

The most obvious manifestation of America's passionate attachment to Israel is the steady redistribution of American wealth, most of which comes in the form of weapons.

Since its founding, Israel has received far more US aid than any other country in the world with a haul of about a third of a trillion dollars. That's nearly  double the take of runner-up Egypt — and one could reasonably assign a chunk of Egypt's receipts to Israel, since US aid commitments were used to convince Egypt to sign  peace treaties with Israel in the 1970s.

Despite the fact that Israel is  one the world's richest countries — ranked three spots below the UK and one spot above Japan in per capita GDP — annual US aid to Israel is often  more than double what's given to all of sub-Saharan Africa combined.

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The toll keeps climbing: Even before Oct. 7, Americans were already on the hook for $3.7 billion in aid every year through 2028. Eager to please Israel, its lobbyists, and its domestic devotees, Congress routinely adds more money to that negotiated schedule: April's supplemental aid package dwarfed the $3.7 billion base, shoveling another $26.4 billion at Israel to bankroll its destruction of Gaza.

Federal legislators are so bent on borrowing money and giving it to Israel that they even break their own laws to do so. In the 1970s, Congress prohibited aid to nuclear countries that, like Israel, refuse to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). That means  every dollar of US aid to Israel breaks American law.

The American government's slavish devotion to Israel goes far beyond what it gives — it's also manifested by America's toleration of various forms of abuse at the hands of its beneficiary.

For starters, there's spying on a scale  far beyond what other purported allies undertake. In 2014, a congressional staffer who received a briefing on the scope of Israeli espionage in the United States said what he learned was " very sobering...alarming...even terrifying."

In 2019, Israeli cell phone  surveillance devices were found near the White House and other important places in the capital. Insiders told Politico there were no repercussions.

In one of the most notorious cases, Israel tapped Jewish civilian Navy intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, who provided boxes and suitcases full of files from the CIA, NSA and the Departments of State, Defense and Justice. When he was released in 2020 after a 30-year prison term, Netanyahu welcomed him at the airport, simultaneously providing a hero's welcome while signaling his contempt for his American benefactors.

In this image from a video posted to his official Twitter account, a jubilant Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomes notorious Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel after his release from US custody

American citizens are often kept in the dark about Israeli espionage — such as the near-certain Israeli theft of 330 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from a Pennsylvania facility in the 1960s — uranium Israel used to build nuclear weapons against American wishes. Much of  what's known about that affair has only come to light through Freedom of Information Act requests and lawsuits filed by investigative journalist Grant F. Smith.

In its subservience, the US government doesn't just tolerate Israel's taking of American uranium and state secrets — it even shows a striking indifference to Israel's taking of American lives.

The most damning example came during the  Israeli-initiated 6-Day War in June 1967, when, without provocation, Israeli forces attacked the USS Liberty, a communications ship patrolling the Eastern Mediterranean.

This wasn't a single, ill-considered shot in the middle of the night. It was a prolonged, multi-pronged attack in broad daylight. All the while, the Liberty was displaying the US flag — first, a standard-size one, then — out of desperation — the ship's huge, 8' by 13' "holiday colors." After multiple waves of fighter jets used rockets, cannons and napalm on the ship and machine-gunned life rafts dropped beside it, Israeli boats closed in and fired five torpedoes.

Thirty-four crew members were killed and 173 wounded. Multiple Air Force intelligence veterans  say they saw transcripts of Israeli communication during the attack that made it clear they were knowingly targeting a US ship. While the motive is unclear, some suggest Israel hoped the attack would be attributed to Egypt, drawing the US into its war.

The Israeli military killed 34 American sailors and wounded another 173 when it attacked the USS Liberty in June 1967

A Navy veteran who facilitated communications on the day of the attack said he heard Defense Secretary Robert McNamara tell an admiral to recall jets being dispatched to save the Liberty —  saying, "President [Lyndon] Johnson is not going to go to war or embarrass an American ally over a few sailors."

A hasty American inquiry, which involved no testimony from Israeli officials, rubber-stamped Israel's claim that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. Surviving sailors were  threatened with imprisonment if they discussed what happened.

More recently, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) shot and killed popular Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while she was standing with a camera crew in the West Bank. The Israeli government first falsely blamed "Palestinian terrorists firing indiscriminately."

After video and other evidence revealed that to be a lie, Israel eventually admitted its forces had killed Akleh, but now claimed it was accidental — even though evidence, including a tight shot group and Akleh's clear "PRESS" markings — points to well-aimed, intentional fire. The State Department  endorsed Israel's conclusion, eagerly brushing the killing of an American citizen under the rug.

Further underscoring Israel's domination of America, Israeli officials also engage in casual humiliations of their chief funder and enabler.

For example, the US government periodically issues admonishments against Israel's construction of new settlements in the occupied West Bank, which violate international law and inflame animus against both Israel and America. Not satisfied with simply ignoring its sponsor, the Israeli government has twice timed the announcement of new settlements with the arrival of senior White House officials.

First, then-Vice President Biden got the treatment in  2010. In March of this year, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited, Israel announced the  largest seizure of West Bank land in decades. The move signaled a stunning lack of gratitude for the Biden administration's willingness to alienate the United States from much of the world on Israel's behalf, by arming and funding the IDF as it decimated the Gaza Strip and killed tens of thousands of innocents.

Last week brought a jarring new example of Israeli ingratitude: In a prepared speech, Netanyahu  said that, during the Holocaust, "no nation came to our aid." The families of more than 2,500 Americans who died on D-Day alone beg to differ.

"Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification."

As Washington warned, the core of the US-Israel relationship is an "illusion of an imaginary common interest," one that leads to Israel's hostilities being hardwired into American policy.

If you honestly and dispassionately scrutinize the relationship, you'll soon realize it's a hopeless tangle of circular logic and false premises:

  • Americans are constantly told Israel is a valuable ally. If you press for a rationale for that characterization, you'll likely be told that Israel serves as a bulwark against Iran. Ask why we need a bulwark against Iran, and you'll be told Iran is a threat to our valuable ally Israel.
  • US support of Israel is a  leading motivator of terrorism against the United States (more on that below). When Americans are killed in such attacks, we're told the attacks reinforce the need for a tight alliance with Israel.
  • Israel is said to be America's "greatest ally in the Middle East." However, we'd have far better relations with the rest of the Middle East were it not for our favoritism for Israel.
  • Israel is described as a veritable US "aircraft carrier" in the Middle East — a fanciful description seemingly unsupported by any real-world example of US forces using Israel as a base of attack. Meanwhile, US weapons stockpiled in Israel often end up in the hands of the IDF — as was the case when the Biden administration  opened the cache up to Israel after the Oct 7 Hamas invasion.

Ironically, Israel has demonstrated an ability to avoid "infusing" itself with the "enmities" of the United States, as when it was revealed that Israel was patching up wounded Al Qaeda-aligned fighters and sending them back into Syria to overthrow the government.

When asked why Israel would give medical aid to Al Qaeda but not members of the Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy  told Mehdi Hasan, "We have a different account with Hezbollah. A totally different account. Al Qaeda, to the best of my recollection, has not attacked Israel."

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When a wide-eyed Hasan said that al Qaeda had attacked Israel's "number one ally and protector and sponsor," Halevy replied, "Israel was not specifically targeted by al Qaeda, and therefore it's a different kind of account than we have with Hezbollah." In a similar vein, a leading Israeli think tank  argued that a full eradication of ISIS by the United States would be a bad thing, since Israel's enemy Hezbollah "is being seriously taxed by the fight against (ISIS)."

Pressed to prop up the myth of Israel's strategic value to the United States, advocates point to the country's supposed value as an intelligence partner. However, Israeli intelligence contributed to America's biggest foreign policy catastrophe of the 21st century, if not the last 100 years: the invasion of Iraq on the false pretense that Saddam Hussein was assembling weapons of mass destruction.

Testifying before Congress in 2002, Netanyahu said, "Every indication we have is that (Saddam) is...pursuing with abandon, pursuing with every ounce of effort, the establishment of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons."

Israel and Netanyahu didn't just provide bogus intelligence about the Iraqi threat; they also provided rosy assurances about the prospective invasion's effect on the Middle East. "If you take out Saddam, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region," Netanyahu  told Congress.

One can debate whether Israel's pre-Iraq intelligence was merely inaccurate or intentionally misleading to encourage US destruction of a regional rival. In the case of Iran's nuclear program, however, a compelling case has been made that Israel has  fabricated "proof" of the country's intent to build nuclear bombs, as part of Israel's long-running quest to draw the United States into another disastrous regime-change effort.

From Iraq to Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, serial disasters and perpetual destabilization — accompanied by widespread human misery — are embraced by some as a policy goal that serves Israel. As Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell,  told me in 2016, "There are people in this country who believe the chaos in the Middle East, to include the brutal civil war in Syria, is conducive to Israel's security."

"[Passionate attachment] leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions—by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained—and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld."

The US government purports to be a fair arbiter of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but relentlessly gives "concessions to the favorite nation," Israel.

In a particularly vivid example, Trump said he wanted to make the "ultimate deal" to end the conflict, but proceeded to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem without any Israeli concession, demolishing a long-standing US position that the final status of the contested city must be part of a negotiated two-state solution.

As Washington warned, America's favoritism to Israel "excite[s] jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate" throughout the Muslim world. Millions blame US financial, military and diplomatic support of Israel for enabling, among other things, the occupation of the West Bank, seizures of Palestinian homes and land, violence by Israeli settlers, and the killing of Muslims in Gaza, Lebanon,  Iran and Syria.

You don't have to disapprove of anything Israel does to recognize that the United States pays a dear price for its association. As Michael Scheuer, the former leader of the CIA's bin Laden unit, said in a  combative appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, "What [terrorists are] fighting us about is what we do. And we don't have to stop what we're doing, sir. But we have to realize the cost."

There's no greater example of that cost than 9/11. From Osama bin Laden down to the hijackers, anger over US support of Israel was one of the foremost motivators:

  • In his 1996 declaration of war against the United States, bin Laden cited the  First Qana Massacre, in which Israel killed 106 Lebanese civilians who sought refuge at a UN compound. He said Muslim youth "hold [the United States] responsible for all the killings...carried out by your Zionist brothers in Lebanon; you openly supplied them with arms and finance."
  • Bin Laden  said he was initially inspired to strike American skyscrapers when he witnessed Israel's 1982 destruction of apartment towers in Lebanon.
  • The 9/11 Commission said mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's "animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his  violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel."
  • 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta signed his will on the day Israel began its 1996 Operation Grapes of Wrath attack on Lebanon. A friend  said Atta was furious and used his will as a means of committing his life to the cause.
  • An acquaintance of hijacker-pilot Marwan al-Shehhi asked why neither he nor Atta ever laughed. He  replied, "How can you laugh when people are dying in Palestine?"
  • Addressing the motives of the 9/11 hijackers, FBI Special Agent James Fitzgerald told the 9/11 Commission, "I believe they feel a sense of outrage against the United States. They identify with the Palestinian problem...and I believe they tend to focus their anger on the United States."

Today, the seeds of future terror attacks are being planted in the blood-soaked streets, homes and hospitals of Gaza. As Israel's wildly disproportionate rampage in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion continues — with the IDF using American jets to drop American bombs on Palestinian homes and hospitals — brace for the likelihood that innocent Americans will pay a price for their government's facilitation of the carnage.

"[A passionate attachment] gives to ambitious, corrupted or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium [disgust], sometimes even with popularity"

It's bad enough to watch "ambitious, corrupted or deluded" US politicians put Israel's interest ahead of America's. It's even worse to see them do so ostentatiously and often to the applause of misguided citizens.

In recent weeks, politicians on both sides of the aisle have unleashed a frenzied, multi-faceted attack on American liberties in service to the State of Israel.

First, a long-simmering TikTok ban suddenly sailed through Congress with ease. The catalyst for the unprecedented outlawing of a social media platform used by 170 million Americans: Content on the Gaza war that's both voluminous and overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Palestinians.

That's not a conspiracy theory: US politicians who back the ban have publicly  cited that rationale — most recently, Sen.  Mitt Romney, who, in a discussion bemoaning Israel's losing battle for public opinion, said:

"Some wonder why there was such overwhelming support for us to shut down potentially TikTok or other entities of that nature. If you look at the postings on TikTok and the number of mentions of Palestinians, relative to other social media sites — it's overwhelmingly so among TikTok broadcasts."

Similarly, New York Rep Mike Lawler said pro-Palestine campus protests "highlight exactly why we included the TikTok bill...because you're seeing how these kids are being manipulated by certain groups or entities or countries to foment hate on their behalf and really create a hostile environment here in the US."

Rep. Brian Mast wearing his IDF uniform on Capitol Hill (Bill Clark/Getty via Daily Beast)

Further "betray[ing]...the interests of their own country" and citizens on Israel's behalf, federal legislators are now targeting anti-Israel speech at American colleges. In early May, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the "Antisemitism Awareness Act," which declares a variety of statements about Israel to be discriminatory against Jews — ignoring the fact that many of the prohibited statements are frequently made  by Jews themselves.

Under the measure, campus speech about Israel and Palestine could trigger federal punishment of colleges and universities at the hands of the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Among  other things, students and professors could run afoul of the law by merely:

  • "Claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor"
  • "Comparing Israeli policy to that of the Nazis"
  • "Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation"

The recent flurry of Israel-catering bills also includes the "No Student Loan Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act."  Introduced last week, it would prevent college debt forgiveness for those convicted of a state or federal offense associated with a campus protest. Had that last sentence ended with the word "offense," it might be a reasonable proposal. However, by focusing on campus protests, it's clearly another move to advance Israel's interest by chilling activism against it.

"Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite [nation], are liable to become suspected and odious"

One of the most disturbing aspects of America's passionate attachment to Israel is the treatment endured by those who dare to oppose the Israeli policy agenda inside the United States.

Some of that treatment is simply political hardball: Politicians who stray from the Israeli agenda are frequently targeted for election challenges funded by formidable pro-Israel lobby groups like AIPAC. Last week, an AIPAC-affiliated SuperPAC announced that, even though it wasn't funding a challenger to  Rep. Thomas Massie, it would spend $300,000 running ads to let "every single voter in the state of Kentucky...know about his anti-Israel actions."

Washington warned that "real patriots who...resist the intrigues of the favorite [nation] are liable to become suspected and odious," and those who resist the Israeli agenda are targeted with a particularly malicious form of vilification: accusations of antisemitism.

It's one thing to face political criticism or a primary challenge; it's another to be accused of hating Jews simply because you criticize a foreign country or oppose the redistribution of American wealth and weapons to it.

Like many others, Massie has received that kind of treatment too. In February, noting that "Israel has a lower debt-to-GDP ratio than the United States," he  announced via Twitter that he would oppose sending Israel another $14.3 billion in aid.

Massie was predictably met with accusations that his real motive for voting "no" was a hatred of Jews, and those accusations weren't only leveled by anonymous social media trolls. "Of course you're a no, you disingenuous piece of anti-Semitic filth," sputtered  John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine.

You certainly don't have to be politician to trigger nasty, baseless accusations of antisemitism: When I wrote about the potential dangers posed to Americans by Israel's extremist new government, I was called " dirt bag Nazi trash."

More significantly, over the course of the Israel-Gaza war, pro-Palestine, anti-Israel protesters have been subjected to blanket accusations of antisemitism, and universities have been hit with lawsuits accusing them of fostering hatred of Jews. A  Stark Realities analysis of the 84-page legal complaint filed against the University of Pennsylvania found the vast majority of supposed antisemitic incidents put forward in the complaint are merely expressions of unwelcome political views about Israel.

"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government"

To mark Washington's birthday, the Senate has a tradition of selecting a member to read the first president's entire farewell address aloud on the Senate floor. Clearly, few inside or outside the Capitol are listening to Washington's emphatic warning about the many harms of yielding to the "insidious wiles of foreign influence."

Until they do listen, and finally curtail America's passionate attachment to Israel, the country will continue to be led "astray of its duty and its interest" — and the unjustified redistribution of American wealth, intensification of deadly anti-American sentiment, and assaults on American liberties will continue.

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