George Washington Warned Against A 'Passionate Attachment' To Israel

By Brian McGlinchey at Stark Realities 

As war rages in Gaza, the intensifying debate over the US-Israel relationship spotlights a political paradox: Those Americans who view George Washington with deepest reverence — that is, would-be “conservatives” — are often the ones who most zealously violate the central tenet of his foreign policy philosophy.

Specifically, their fierce devotion to the State of Israel defies Washington’s admonition against “passionate attachments” to other countries — attachments that, he said, inevitably lead America “astray from its duty and its interest.”

That’s not to say that excessive advocacy for Israel is confined to the American right: As demonstrated by President Biden’s backing of Israel’s destruction of Gaza, the championing of policies that serve Israel to America’s detriment also runs rampant among establishment Democrats.

Regardless of your position on the political spectrum, Washington’s foreign policy advice merits your attention, and the US-Israel relationship serves as a case study that validates his warnings about the many evils that spring from “habitual fondness” for a foreign nation...including one that didn’t exist when his warnings were issued.

george washington warned against a passionate attachment to israel

After deciding not to pursue a third term as America’s first president, Washington gave the country a parting gift: a farewell address delivered not from a podium, but from the front page of Philadelphia’s Daily American Advertiser.

Washington’s 7,641-word address reads like an owner’s manual for the young republic. He asked Americans to give “solemn contemplation” and “frequent review” to his guidance, which was “the result of much reflection, and no inconsiderable observation.”

Let’s review some key excerpts of Washington’s foreign policy guidance, starting with the principle he put above all others:

“Nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated.”

With this guidance, Washington echoed the wisdom of other American founders. Thomas Jefferson urged “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” John Quincy Adams approvingly said, “[America] has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings…She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

In addition to “passionate attachments,” Washington denounced habitual hostility toward other countries. As we’ll discuss later, the US government’s passionate attachment to Israel is itself the font of hostilities equally unrooted in American interest.

“The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred or an habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest.”

While it’s a little less universal these days, “habitual fondness” for Israel remains widespread in American politics, particularly on the right and center-left, and more so among government officials than citizens.

That habitual fondness is routinely manifested by pronouncements that would make Washington, Jefferson and Madison cringe. Drawing from a common well of fawning rhetoric, politicians frequently refer to a supposedly “unbreakable bond” between America and Israel. Another cliche sees officials stating there must be “no daylight” between the two countries. Endorsing DC’s unconditional backing of Israel, and showing utter disregard for future contingencies, President Obama proclaimed that “our alliance is eternal, it is forever.”

Many politicians go so far as to say Israel is America’s “greatest ally.” One can only imagine reactions in the UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries that have gone to war alongside the United States on multiple occasions in this century, sacrificing lives and limbs as Israel offers little more than encouragement.

Taking things to mind-bending extremes, you’ll even encounter declarations that “real Americans stand with Israel” — perversely measuring American patriotism by the extent to which one is devoted to a foreign country.

george washington warned against a passionate attachment to israel
"I will always stand with Israel": Congressman Brian Mast (R-FL)  wearing his IDF uniform on Capitol Hill (Bill Clark/Getty via
Daily Beast)

For many — especially evangelical Christians — habitual fondness for Israel has a religious dynamic. Viewed through religious, rose-colored glasses, the State of Israel is transformed from a modern, man-made political entity — led, like all governments, by manipulative, power-hungry politicians who pursue all manner of ungodly policies — into something sacred that supposedly represents and carries out God’s will.

Exploiting the religious angle, Israel’s advocates — even a US representative speaking in a recent congressional hearing — claim that America is compelled to serve the State of Israel because the bible says God will bless those who bless the nation of Abraham and curse those who curse it — as if today’s modern political entity and what’s referenced in the bible are one and the same.

Validating Washington’s warning that habitual fondness for a foreign country makes one an unthinking slave to that affection, these same people ignore the Israeli government’s killing of Christians in Gaza and the mistreatment endured by West Bank Christians — to say nothing of recurring incidents of ultra-orthodox Israeli Jews spitting on followers of Christ.

george washington warned against a passionate attachment to israel
Israel killed 18 people sheltering at Gaza's historic Greek Orthodox Christian Church of St. Porphyrius, in a devastating strike in October (Dawood Nemer / AFP via Getty Images)

Especially where government officials are concerned, passionate attachments to Israel can bring enormous financial rewards.

Case in point: Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who’s arguably the most extreme advancer of Israeli interests on Capitol Hill. When he ascended to the Senate in 2014, Cotton benefitted from $960,000 in spending on his behalf by the Emergency Committee for Israel, in addition to $250,000 contributed to a Cotton-backing PAC by New York hedge fund billionaire and Israel-backer Paul Singer, and $100,000 from pro-Israel Boston billionaire Seth Klarman.

Then there’s Donald Trump, who’s not only made pandering to Israel a staple of his speeches, but, as president, took a variety of actions that had long been on the Israeli agenda. His reward: $20 million for his 2020 re-election bid from Las Vegas casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, in what was reportedly a quid pro quo for moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has personally affirmed the idea that habitual fondness has made America “in some degree a slave” to Israel. In a moment of candid conversation with West Bank settlers, Netanyahu was caught on video as he boasted, “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily.”

Those who champion Israel’s interest on Capitol Hill do their own bragging. American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyist Steven Rosen famously pushed a napkin across a table and said, “You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 senators on this napkin.”

Patriotic Americans aren’t the only ones put off by that kind of influence. Marveling at the extraordinary sway his tiny country holds over the world’s foremost power, Israeli journalist and author Gideon Levy wrote:

“A new chapter is being written in the history of nations. Never before has a small country dictated to a superpower; never before has the chirp of the cricket sounded like a roar; never has the elephant resembled the ant - and vice versa. No Roman province dared tell Julius Caesar what to do, no tribe ever dreamed of forcing Genghis Khan to act in accordance with its own tribal interests.”

President Clinton used a different kind of colorful language as he confronted the upside-down power dynamic. After being lectured by Netanyahu during his first meeting with the Israeli prime minister, an angry Clinton exploded, asking his aides, “Who the fuck does he think he is? Who’s the fucking superpower here?!”

Read the rest at Stark Realities

george washington warned against a passionate attachment to israel

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Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ZeroHedge.

Authored by Tyler Durden via ZeroHedge May 18th 2024