In the new movie Dinner for Schmucks, a financial analyst looking to move up in his firm is invited to take part in a cruel game, where an assortment of losers and lunatics are brought to a dinner designed to set them up for mockery. The analyst finds his useful idiot in the form of a doofy amateur taxidermist, whom he bonds with via a zany series of ensuing antics. In the feel-good ending, the analyst confesses that it was he who was acting like the true 'schmuck' all along. One is reminded here of the unusual game being played between Israel (and it's American supporters) and those wacky Christian Tea Party zealots. Their budding bromance is still in it's beginning stages, though it seems likely that this unlikely pairing also has two true 'schmucks'. Antics will surely ensue.
This past week, the Israel advocacy (formerly civil rights) organization the Anti-Defamation League, which had previously warned about the dangerous white supremacist potential of the Tea Party, has now made common cause with them over objections to the proposed Islamic community center to be built in downtown Manhattan (aka 'the ground zero mosque'). Their Islamophobia justifies itself with claims of protecting friends and families of 9/11 victims from "unnecessary pain" caused by seeing Muslims, warning the Muslims that their existence in the financial district will be "counterproductive to the healing process". Apparently, the proper way to heal a wound from 9 years ago is to continuously pick at the racist scab that has hardened over it. Some Muslim kids playing basketball at their community center causes some sort of irrational "pain" to racists, so the kids should obviously be the one's barred from the neighborhood. Perhaps the ADL doesn't realize that Muslim human beings feel pain too (such as when they're discriminated against), taking a stance akin to the one pescatarians have towards fish.
Meanwhile, 21 members of the new Tea Party congressional caucus, which one would assume opposes 'big government' spending such as is inherent in the US-Israel relationship, cosponsored a resolution preemptively supporting an Israeli military strike against Iran, which they claim poses an existential threat to both Israel and the United States. Coming from a group that sees birth certificates and healthcare reform as taking on nearly apocalyptic dimensions, one wonders how seriously to take this perceived threat. One thing's for certain though, the threat to Iranians posed by either the US or Israel is very real; just today, Admiral Mike Mullen, the highest ranking US officer, acknowledged that the Pentagon has a plan to potentially attack Iran, which would surely result in the deaths of countless innocent civilians.
One shift demonstrated by the resolution is the Tea Party's moving away from the domestic-focused isolationism characterized by early movement leader Ron Paul and towards growing militarism and support for Israel, a shift that's occurring as the movement mainstreams itself and consolidates with the Republican Party. Even Paul's prodigal spawn, opthamologist turned Senatorial candidate and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul, has strongly voiced his support for strengthening US ties to Israel, referring to the "shared history and common values" that "unites us". It takes little effort for Rand Paul, who has stated his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act (albeit before issuing a politically correct retraction), to find "common values" with a state that's carried America's segregationist history into the new millennium.
Indeed, it is these "common values" that Israel and it's supporters are interested in highlighting, towards the goal of forging a Judeo-Christian civilization united against Islam. This is why the ADL's anti-mosque stance is linked to their Israel advocacy: they're attempting to foster support for racist policies in Israel amongst the increasingly powerful voices supporting Muslim, Arab, and immigrant disenfranchisement in America. Of course, this breed of Christian malcontent has also historically been an enemy of the Jews. Already, certain Tea Party members have displayed their criticisms of Rahm Emmanuel and Rep. Anthony Weiner via slurs and swastikas, as well as expressed beliefs that Obama and his supposed socialist agenda are controlled by cabals of Jewish bankers. Other Tea Partiers, such as Rev. Ted Pike of the anti-Semitic National Prayer Network, have expressed fear of the movement taking on an "Israel-first" tone (for Jew-hating, rather than Palestinian-loving reasons), rejecting the 'Judeo-' in their Christian civilization. As the Tea Party grows in size and influence, one wonders how their anti-Semitism will develop, potentially turning into a danger for Jews who shortsightedly made common cause with them. As some have pointed out, they already show many similarities with last century's fascist movements, and we all know how great those were for the Jews.
This inconvenient anti-Semitism is ignored in the name of forging a politically-useful coalition. Case in point, the Israeli government itself has promoted the following clip from notoriously schmucky Glenn Beck on their official website:
One wonders what they think about Beck's promotion of anti-Semitic instigator Elizabeth Dilling or his libelous insistence that the Jews murdered Jesus. 'Politics makes strange bedfellows' may be a clichéd truism, but getting down and dirty with blatant anti-Semites like Beck displays a particularly masochistic fetish on Israel's behalf. I wonder if they have a 'safe word' in case Beck gets too carried away with his bigotry. I suggest 'chutzpah'.
It seems as if the end goal of creating a Judeo-Christian civilization is too valuable to waste time with small problems: for Israel, the Tea Party's anti-Semitism; for the Tea Party, Israel's Semitism. After all, which side would risk the rise of a Judeo-Islamic or Islamo-Christian civilization? The stakes are too high. As Tea Party congressional candidate from New Jersey Sergey Shevchuk said, "We are in the final stages in the battle between good and evil in the world, and Israel is in the front line of this war, fighting on our behalf" (really, this guy needs to be on the next season of Jersey Shore, nicknamed "The Extermination"). Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the Tea Party's sponsors of the Iran resolution, believes that if America doesn't support Israel over the Islamic hordes, the entire US will be cursed by God and come to an end. Yikes.
Liberal Zionists: you might believe you can support Israel while laughing at and admonishing the antics of the right wing Tea Partiers, but the two are becoming increasingly similar in their agendas. More and more, supporting Israel in the US is becoming synonymous with backing the right wing policies of the Likud Party, to the disservice of the many dissident Israelis working towards change and the Palestinians who are denied their human rights. Perhaps now is the time to truly make a stand in the name of peace, rejecting Israel's Jewish supremacist government on the same grounds you'd reject a Christian supremacist government in the US. You would probably de-friend someone on Facebook for posting a Glenn Beck video; now will you de-friend Israel?
(Expect a follow-up to this post later this week examining links between the American anti-immigrant movement and it's counterpart in Israel)