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A New War Frenzy

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Just as Saddam Hussein was cast as the monster whose elimination would transform Iraq into a democratic oasis, Hezbollah and its allies in Syria and Iran are presented now as the crux of all evil in the Middle East whose military defeat will bring a new day.

Inside the United States, many of the same politicians and pundits who stampeded the nation into Iraq are back again urging the application of even more violence. While George W. Bush and his neoconservative advisers may be leading the herd, influential Democrats - like Hillary Clinton and Alan Dershowitz - are running with this pack, too.

But the ease with which these Middle East hawks tolerate the slaughter of Arabs in Lebanon - as well as in Iraq and in the Palestinian territories - has a flavor of racism that has poisoned U.S. policy as far as many Muslims are concerned and indeed has strengthened popular support for Islamic extremists on the Arab street.

On July 17, New York Sen. Clinton shared the stage in a pro-Israel rally with Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations who has espoused anti-Arab bigotry in the past and now proudly defends Israel's "disproportionate" violence against Lebanese civilians.

"Let us finish the job," Gillerman told the crowd. "We will excise the cancer in Lebanon" and "cut off the fingers" of Hezbollah. Responding to international concerns that Israel was using "disproportionate" force by bombing Lebanon and killing hundreds of civilians, Gillerman said, "You're damn right we are." [NYT, July 18, 2006]

In other public statements, Gillerman has been even more disdainful of Muslims. At the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington on March 6, Gillerman virtually equated Muslims with terrorists.

"While it may be true - and probably is - that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim," Gillerman quipped to the delight of the AIPAC crowd. [Washington Post, March 7, 2006]

Despite Gillerman's professed uncertainty about whether "all Muslims are terrorists," this crass case of anti-Muslim bigotry didn't generate any noticeable protest. It would have been hard to imagine any other ethnic or religious group being subjected to a similar smear without provoking a noisy controversy.

Not only did U.S. officials and politicians - both Republican and Democrat - avoid criticizing Gillerman or almost anything else about AIPAC, they bowed to its legendary power to make or break American political leaders.

Clinton's Stance

Four months later, Sen. Clinton and other Democrats joined Gillerman at the New York rally to endorse Israel's devastating military attacks on Lebanon in response to a July 12 cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas who captured two Israeli soldiers in an effort to distract Israel from an offensive in Gaza and in support of a proposed prisoner exchange.

Clinton, who is considered a Democratic presidential frontrunner in 2008, pleased the crowd by denouncing Hezbollah and Palestinian militants in Hamas as "the new totalitarians of the 21st Century" who believe in neither human rights nor democracy. (As for the democracy part, Hamas won the last round of Palestinian elections and Hezbollah has become a political force in Lebanon, holding seats in parliament.)

Clinton was joined by two Democratic congressmen who also endorsed Israel's bombing raids on Lebanon.

"Since when should a response to aggression and murder be proportionate?" said Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

"President Bush has been wrong about a lot of things," said Rep. Anthony D. Weiner. "He's right about this."

Similarly, attorney Alan Dershowitz, a frequent TV commentator, posted at the liberal HuffingtonPost.com blog site that Israel's killing of large numbers of Lebanese civilians was justified by the need to take out Islamic radicals operating in civilian neighborhoods. He wrote:

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at

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