Monday, 26 April 2010

Strain in U.S.-Israel Ties Spurs Anxiety About ‘Dual Loyalty’

But Some Downplay the Worry. ‘History Isn’t Giving Us the Language To Make Sense of What’s Going On,’ Says One Prof.

Dual loyalty is an old and nefarious accusation. It has dogged Jews for centuries in any land where they settled and began to feel comfortable — the allegation that their allegiance is to their tribe first and not to their nation.

America has been a haven precisely because the moments when this fear has swelled up have been few and far between. Even the existence of Israel, a country with its own set of national interests and its own wars and ways of dealing with them, has not created much of an issue for those American Jews who see themselves as both Zionists and patriots.

So totally aligned have the United States and Israeli governments been for most of the past 20 years that American Jews have not been forced to seriously consider that these two identities could be in conflict.

But this might be changing.

Since a vice presidential trip to Israel in early March to restart peace talks was spoiled by the unexpected announcement that new housing units were to be built in East Jerusalem, the tension between the two countries has been ratcheting up. The last time anyone can remember it getting this heated was in the early 1990s, during the presidency of George H.W. Bush, when loan guarantees to Israel were made contingent on a settlement freeze.

What most defines this current friction, according to observers, is an explicit link made by President Obama and other high officials, like U.S. Army general David Petraeus, that earlier administrations were reluctant to make: The continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict undermines American national interests and creates problems for America’s expanded presence in the Middle East. More

"I was never fully American. I was Jewish."

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