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Déjà Vu All Over Again?

In 1967 too, a U.S. president told Israel to rely on the international community and resist going to war. In the end, Israel acted on its own as it became clear that international efforts were not succeeding.
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol at Randolf Airbase, Texas, June 1, 1968.

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol at Randolf Airbase, Texas, June 1, 1968.
Photo Credit: David Elfan/Government Press Office

This past Sunday, a veteran Times columnist went even further with the theme of an Israel bent on pushing America into war against its own interests. In a disturbing column titled “Neocons Slither Back,” Maureen Dowd invoked several infamous stereotypes in making her case.

The title itself is revealing. In the George W. Bush years, the term “neocons” came to be, in all too many cases, code for “Jews,” especially when certain critics of the Iraq war tried to make the case that some sort of nefarious cabal had hijacked American policy.

Such critics would cite by name Jewish administration insiders like Richard Perle, Elliott Abrams, Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, usually ignoring the non-Jewish officials – including, of course, President Bush himself – who actually were responsible for the decision to invade Iraq. Depicting Jews as manipulators of pliant and trusting gentiles has not been uncommon in anti-Semitic literature.

Ms. Dowd railed against the influence on “neophyte” vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Jewish adviser Dan Senor, whom she described as “the neocon puppet master.” She went on: “Before he played ventriloquist to Ryan, Senor did the same for Romney, ratcheting up the candidate’s irresponsible bellicosity on the Middle East.”

She alluded to a potential attack on Iran as the neocons’ promoting an American sense of “duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbors,” something she described as “all ominously familiar,” harking back to the Iraq war. She even said the neocons,“abetted by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld,” prodded “an insecure and uninformed president into invading Iraq.”

Imagine, the real driving force was the Jewish cabal, with even such notoriously hard-boiled types as Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld assuming the role of mere pawns.

As if there were any doubt about her message that only those with an agenda not in sync with true American interests could support Israel’s position on Iran, she referred to “Netanyahu’s outrageous demand for clear red lines on Iran.”

Outrageous? Not even an arguable position?

This is serious stuff. And the Obama campaign has circulated the Dowd column via Twitter.

We suggest that President Obama take a deep breath and consider where this sort of thing could easily lead. Especially since Israel only seeks to act, unimpeded, in its own security interests.

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