The elephant in the room that Beinart doesn't discuss is that Israeli leaders may feel that they don't need Jewish support in the United States, because they can substitute Christian evangelical support, with the latter less likely (or at least perceived to be less likely) to produce any sorts of constraints on the Israeli government. Personally, I think shifting from a American base of American Jews to a coalition of Orthodox Jews, evangelical Christians, and ideological neo-cons would be a tragic mistake for Israel...but I can certainly understand the appeal for Likud politicians.
in many ways Israel is on net benefitting from a rising tide of anti-Islamic sentiment in the western world even as its support on the American left is eroding. New anti-Muslim European political parties like Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party and the Danish People’s Party are among the most pro-Israel groupings on the continent even though in some respects they’re actually the descendants of the European anti-semitic movements of yore. We don’t have growing far-right parties in the United States, but in part that’s because violent populist nationalism with an anti-Islamic tinge is part of our mainstream conservative movement. Ultimately, these may just be the kind of friends that Israeli political elites want to have.
I don't know where this ends. As Beinart says, one possibility is that the ranks of American Zionists cease to be dominated by mainstream Jews and instead become the province of Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christian Zionists and takes a sharp turn toward the right even as its influence ebbs. Another possibility is that this will prove the darkness before the dawn of a more reasonable turn in Israeli politics. A scarier possibility is that some sort of catastrophic event -- either a terrible attack on Israel, or a terrible attack by Israel -- reshapes the situation.
But Israel has to walk with care. Previous generations might have believed in "Israel, right or wrong." Their replacements may not be as willing to sacrifice moral perspective in service of tribal allegiance.
And this is where Palin comes in. She is a settler-fanatic. She wants more Jewish immigration into the West Bank. She wears a twinned US and Israel flag pin for the Tea-Party convention. She is AIPAC's last hope for denialism and a Manichean struggle in which the most atavistic feelings emerge and prevent, actual thinking. I see Palin's fundamentalist belligerence as a non-starter for the West. But it would be a catastrophe for Israel. As a reader notes:
I'm currently reading Birds Without Wings, a novel by Louis de Bernières about the last days of the Ottoman Empire. Last night I felt very squeamish about a Palin candidacy after reading this sentence:
"The triple contagions of nationalism, utopianism and religious absolutism effervesce together into an acid that corrodes the moral metal of a race, and it shamelessly and even proudly performs deeds that it would deem vile if they were done by any other."
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.