Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Good-bye, Neocons! ---Hope from the Jews of America
HIRAYAMA Kentaro / Former NHK commentator

December 26, 2008
President George Bush's last trip to Baghdad will long be remembered for the scene in which he dodged the shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi journalist. The final result of the "Grand Design" which aimed at toppling by force the Saddam Hussein regime allegedly "holding weapons of mass destruction" and "involved with the 9.11 incident" and establishing a pro-U.S., pro-Israeli (?) administration in Iraq, which would have great influence over Syria and Iran while spreading democracy in the entire Middle-Eastern area including these "rogue countries" is now well known. President Bush himself, at a press interview on his way to Iraq and Afghanistan, expressed regrets for having mentioned "wrong information" about WMD as the reason for opening hostilities against Iraq. When asked if there were no Al-Qaeda in Iraq before the intervention of the U.S. forces, he did not deny it, but defiantly bawled out: "So what?"

On the list of famous "neocons," or new conservatives around the Department of Defense who drew up the original Grand Design and sold Bush on the validity of unilateralism and pre-emptive strikes were Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, etc. They disappeared one after another from the stage around the time "exit strategies" from Iraq began to be discussed. There were such persons as Mr. Perle who was applauded at the Israeli Parliament as "a man who contributed most to the security of Israel," but later criticized himself and admitted that he was "misled by Iraqi Shiite defectors." It is still fresh in our mind that most of these neocons were, after all, Jewish.

American voters have elected as the next president Barack Obama, who has constantly opposed to the Iraqi War. In Obama's election campaign, many Jewish American intellectuals positively involved themselves. Among the ambassadorial-level human resources rumored as possible persons to take charge of American diplomacy for the Middle-East in the in-coming Obama administration are such Jewish Americans as Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and Daniel Kurtzer who worked actively under President Clinton, in addition to David Axelrod, chief spokesman for Obama during the election campaign as well as Rahm Emmanuel named White House Chief of Staff as soon as Obama was elected President. Quite a few of them have assumed a critical attitude toward Israel. It is also reported that 77 percent of Jewish Americans have voted for Obama.

On the same day as the presidential election, a third of the Senate seats were also up for election and there are now 14 Jewish Senators, who constitute 14 percent of the 100-person Senate. When you realize that Jewish voters occupy only 2 percent of the constituency, the strength of their influence can well be understood. The role played by the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), the largest or second largest lobbying organization in Washington, D.C., cannot be underestimated, in light of the fact that Obama's Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech was made from the stage of this body's national convention. It seems that in the Jewish community of the United States, a silent but steady current of change is taking place. One such example is the formation of "J Street," a new Jewish lobby launched in April with the presidential election as backdrop. As if to counter the K Street, where major lobbying organizations stand in a row, they named themselves "J" Street, which does not exist in reality. Vying with other major Jewish lobby groups that tend to brand all criticisms against specific Israeli policies as "anti-Semitic," this new lobbyist organization, openly declaring itself "pro-Israel for the sake of peace," may serve as a foothold to calmly consider, discuss and save the freedom of criticism as to what is needed for the long-time peace and security of Israel. The uniqueness of the Israeli-U.S. relationship may be one of the main reasons for anti-American sentiments throughout the world that adds fuel to the flames of "anti-Semitism" – and not a few Jewish Americans must now be realizing this fear. It will be interesting to see how Obama will deal with this new current of thought.

During the election campaign, Obama, while reiterating unchanged support for Israel, announced that, "U.S. support for Israel does not necessarily mean support for Likud." In addition to the general principle that the U.S. does not blindly support any specific political party in Israel, it may be that he intentionally mentioned the name of Likud who is negative to conceding land. In Israel, general elections will take place on February 10, just three weeks after Obama takes office as president. At the moment, the right-wing opposition party Likud, led by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netaniyahu, is showing considerable strength in opinion polls against Kadima and the Labor Party, who have been playing a major part in negotiations for peace ("final status" talk) with the Palestinians. Haaretz, an influential Israeli paper, carried a severe headline entitled: "Obama in America, and Bush in Israel?" It was an innuendo on the basis of public polls. Possibilities are that the historic nightmare during three years in the 1990s when the Clinton administration faced none other than the Netaniyahu regime, may be revived. Leading to even more "tortuous" relations between the U.S. and Israel. Meanwhile, it is ardently hoped that the good sense of U.S. Jews will work constructively from the standpoint of world peace.

The Writer is a former NHK commentator.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

平山健太郎 / 元NHK解説委員

2008年 12月 26日





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English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Good-bye, Neocons! ---Hope from the Jews of America