Has America Ever Sent Troops to Fight for Israel? (UPDATED)

Yesterday, my friend Joe Klein wrote something quite intemperate, and historically inaccurate:

"It's another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel's national security."

I sent Joe a private note, between friends, asking him, in essence, what he was talking about. I know of American troops fighting and dying on behalf of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq's Kurds and Shia (and so on), but not on behalf of Israel. No American soldier has ever died in the defense of Tel Aviv. Nor would Israelis want American soldiers to die on Israel's behalf -- self-sufficiency being a governing idea of Zionism (something, by the way, Ron Paul understands, and Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann et. al., don't).

In any case, Joe decided to make my private qualm public, writing:

A few hours ago, I received an anguished email from my friend Jeff Goldberg, who was incensed that I'd written this sentence:

"It's another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel's national security." [emphasis his]

Jeff had jumped to a silly conclusion. I was concerned about sending American kids off to war yet again. I separated the phrase with commas in order to emphasize the too-many-times we've sent our troops overseas in the past decade. It might have been more accurate if I'd written "to send American kids off to war yet again-this time, to fight for Israel's national security." Which I believe is what the warmongering against Iran is all about. But the thought that we'd gone to war in the past, especially in Iraq, to fight for Israel's national security was nowhere in my mind. Nowhere. I don't believe we've ever gone to war to fight for Israel's national security. Period.

I leave it to readers of English to decide whether I jumped to a "silly conclusion" based on my understanding of the sentence, "It's another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel's national security." I'm glad Joe corrected the record, and his follow-up post contains many interesting ideas, which I'll try to address later, when I'm not traveling, which is now.

UPDATE: I'll get to the whole of Joe's response when I can, but I couldn't let this line, about what he might call Jewish intolerance, go without comment: "I find that the tendency to dehumanize all Arabs, especially Palestinians, and all Persians to be un-Jewish in the extreme."

There is, of course, some amount of offensive Jewish discourse about Arabs, and even, I suppose, Persians, and all such discourse is condemned in this space. But is the story of the moment really the manner in which Jews de-humanize Persians? There is some evidence to suggest that the opposite that is true. It is not Israel that is calling for Iran's destruction. Last time, I checked, Israel's destruction was a policy demand of the Iranian leadership.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.


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