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Volume 1 - Number 2 - August 2005 

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Whose War is This Anyway?

Like the plans for the destruction of Arthur Dent's home in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," the Downing Street memo hearings, finally addressing after two years the reasons the United States of America invaded Iraq, were to be found hidden away in a disused corner of the basement of Congress.

One of the witnesses, former CIA agent Raymond McGovern, cited Israel and oil interests as major reasons for the war. Republican activists led by the columnist Dana Milbank use a broad brush and paint all Democrats as anti-Semites for that testimony.

It is somewhat ironic that the Republicans criticize the Democrats for the claim that the war was good for Israel, when that claim was essentially *the* talking point of the Republican Jewish Coalition's campaign to reelect the president.

Instead of joining the frenzied discussion about whether Democrats are making this interesting claim, I prefer to address the more relevant question: Is this claim true? Did Israel have anything to gain from the war in Iraq?

The RJC claimed that the wall diverted terrorists attacks on Israeli civilians towards attacking American G.I.'s. Leaving aside the question of whether this is an ethical objective, is it true?

Let's look at the Israeli monthly death toll statistics compiled from The Free Dictionary:

Israeli monthly death toll
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2000                 2 10 21 8
2001 6 13 8 7 19 30 10 30 13 14 14 37
2002 13 19 119 20 28 53 29 15 10 22 51 5
2003 26 0 21 6 14 26 3 27 18 28 5 4
2004 16 12 1 3 19 5 3 17 8 18 3 9
2005 12 4 0 1 1              
The death toll does not seem to drop around the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was earlier, in late 2002 that the death toll started to drop, which I attribute to the efficacy of the partially completed defense barrier. Bush has been inconsistent in his rhetoric on this barrier, harshly criticizing it until summer of 2003. Financially, he has consistently penalized Israel, effectively doubling the cost of the barrier, for every cent of the construction cost is deducted from US loan guarantees promised by earlier administrations. And that deduction includes the parts west of the so-called green line, which are not contested even by the UN. Moreover, in May 2004, for example, when Arab nations sponsored a resolution condemning Israel, Bush shocked Jews around the world by not vetoing this resolution. Bush ordered our UN representative to abstain, as we almost never do, and because of this the anti-Israel resolution passed, 14-0.

The reason that Bush took such an unprecedented anti-Israel stance is understood by
many as an exchange for the United Nations not raising the issue of the American abuses at Abu Ghraib, which had just come to light.

The real question is not why or if the Democrats "blame Israel" for the war in Iraq, but why the Republicans claimed Bush was advancing Israeli interests, when such a claim whether made by a Democrat or a Republican is patently false.

Recently, in the Jewish Exponent, Jonathan Tobin expressed shock that our great stalwart protector of Israel, the candidate who was supposedly "better for the Jews" recants prior claims that Jerusalem is indisputably Israeli, and now insists that any changes to the 1949 borders would have to be agreed to by the other side.

Somehow, unfortunately, I am not surprised.

- Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

Features This Issue: Front Page * Exponent Watchpost * In Their Own Words * Around Our Community * Networking Central * Living Judaism
News & Op/Ed: Foreign Aid * Demography * On Them Like Glue * Israel Policy Forum * Letters to the Editor * London * Presidents * Whose War is it
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