For those inclined to see the workings of Divine Providence in human history, the special affinity of the American people for Israel provides a happy example. If Israel could have only one consistent ally in the world, it would surely have picked the world's (still) most powerful nation. Without the United States, Israel would be hard pressed to obtain the weapons needed to defend itself.
BELIEF IN AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM, its chosenness, has always played a major role in American civic religion. The two dominant conceptions of American foreign policy — isolationism and liberal internationalism — are both predicated upon an assumption of American moral superiority. Isolationists fear contamination from the "foreign entanglements," of which President George Washington warned of in his Farewell Address. Liberal internationalists seek to remake the world in America's image.
Senator Barack Obama represents a third foreign policy approach — what Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington calls the "cosmopolitan." Far from taking American virtue as its starting point, the cosmopolitan seeks to remake America in Europe's image.
Thus Senator Obama presented himself to Europeans last summer as a citizen of the world, one of them. "Mr. Obama," in the words of Fouad Ajami, "proceeds from the notion of American guilt. We called up the furies ... ." He accepts the Western European critique of America's aggressiveness, and seeks to restore American "moral standing" in the eyes of the world.
He shares the Europeans contempt for the terminology of good and evil: "A lot of evil's been perpetuated based on the claim that we were fighting evil," he says. If his heart thrilled at the sight of Iraqis twice braving suicide bombers to go the polls, he kept it to himself. The war in Iraq, in his view, was nothing more than a "cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors ... to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the cost in lives lost and in hardships born."
And he expresses understanding of the grievances for the perpetrators of evil — Hamas, Hizbullah, even the perpetrators of 9/11, which he characteristically portrayed as part of "an underlying struggle between worlds of plenty and worlds of want" (despite the affluent backgrounds of the attackers). He voted against a Senate bill to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.
Senator Obama's most fervent support has come from the university campuses and cultural elites — where attitudes tend most to resemble those of Western Europeans and where scorn for those who "cling to guns or religion" runs rampant. The campuses also happen to be the redoubts of the greatest hostility to Israel.
AN AMERICA THAT MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLES Western Europe will not be good for Israel. Western Europeans consistently rate Israel the greatest threat to world peace. And they are remarkably cavalier about Israel's defense of its own existence. Recent memory does not include any Israeli response to attack that the Europeans did not deem disproportionate. The Western European countries have done little to prevent the United Nations from degenerating into an anti-Israel debating society, and a number have supported or abstained on U.N. Human Rights Council resolutions supportive of anti-Israel "resistance" — i.e., terrorism.
Many commonly-held attitudes predispose Europeans against Israel. Western Europe is far along a project of transferring political legitimacy from nation-states to supranational organizations, like the European Union, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. Having achieved their nation-state rather late in the day, the Jews of Israel remain proud of it. To the Europeans, however, a non-Moslem state based on national/religious identity appears an atavism.
Western Europe's almost religious faith in international institutions of open membership, like the U.N., and a declining concern with national sovereignty threaten Israel. International criminal jurisdiction has already rendered Israeli military personnel wary of traveling abroad. Senator Obama frequently demonstrates a similar reverence for the U.N., and has a long list of international treaty obligations to which he is eager to submit the United States.
Europe has adopted a stance of appeasement towards both external threats and to Islamic minorities within. (Ironically, the United States, which offers no special dispensation to Moslems, has done a far better job of integrating Moslem immigrants than European countries.) Europeans' abhorrence of any resort to military action causes them to instinctively recoil from Israel, as the superior military power in the region.
Having moved beyond simplistic categories of good and evil, Europeans try to take, at best, an even-handed approach to any conflict, invariably warning, for instance, against a "cycle of violence" whenever Israel responds to attack. Obama's immediate call for "mutual restraint" after the Russian invasion of Georgia was a classic example of that tendency.
At worse, European sophistication favors whichever party can present itself as the aggrieved underdog, or serves to mask an ugly cynicism, as in the recent multi-billion deals signed by Austrian and Swiss energy companies with Iran.
To the extent that Senator Obama's likely election betokens a move towards a more European America, the special ties that have bound the people of America and Israel show signs of fraying.
And, what will come in the wake of a the end of this special relationship?
What the group who Sabeel'scalls a "liberation" movement has in mind:
Following are excerpts from an interview with Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on July 13, 2008
Muhsen Abu 'Ita: "Naturally, the Koran chapters conveyed to Muhammad in Mecca only rarely deal with the Jews - like in 'those who incur Allah's wrath,' which appears in the Al-Fatiha chapter.
"Hence, it is strange to find an entire chapter bearing the name of the Jews, or Bani Israil. It is even more peculiar that this chapter does not talk about the Jews of the Qaynuqa, Nazir, or Qurayza tribes.
"It talks about the Jews of our times, of this century, using the language of annihilation, the language of grave digging. Note that in this chapter, the Jews were sentenced to annihilation, before even a single Jew existed on the face of the earth. This Koranic chapter talked about the collapse of the so-called state of Israel, before this state was even established. From here stems the importance and oddity of this chapter...
"The blessing of Palestine is dependent upon the annihilation of the pit of global corruption in it. When the head of the serpent of corruption is cut off here in Palestine, and its octopus tentacles are severed throughout the world, the real blessing will come.
"The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God."