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Michael Tracey: “America First” Conservatives Declare: “Actually, We Meant Israel First”

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Michael Tracey isn’t wrong about this.

Michael Tracey:

“Whenever there’s an outbreak of deadly violence in Israel-Palestine, a very similar dynamic plays out; although in this instance it’s concentrated in different sectors of society. While a handful of Republicans joined in on the “Much Work To Be Done” refrain after the Chauvin trial, cultural left/liberals comprised the largest share of offenders. Now though, it’s time for public-facing conservative figures — joined by a sizable portion of liberals — to mindlessly recite the same slogans and phrases over and over again as a signaling mechanism and, conveniently, a substitute for even a modicum of independent thinking.

Usually the formulation is to triumphantly proclaim that so-and-so person, place, or thing “stands with” Israel. …

Despite the raging ideological schism that’s supposedly roiling the GOP, ostensibly between reviled “neocons” and the new wave of principled “America First” reformers, you will find virtually no difference whatsoever on this issue between say, Liz Cheney and the hardcore MAGA stalwarts who just agitated to oust her from the GOP House leadership, like Lauren Boebert. This is unsurprising because MAGA stalwarts are huge fans of Donald Trump, and Trump himself repeatedly bragged about being the most pro-Israel president of all time. (With “pro-Israel” essentially meaning: subsidize and cheerlead whatever the Israeli government desires to do, and then leverage that policy to generate domestic US political support among certain demographics.) 

As such, the same sorts of “America First” people who bleat about how much they want to End Endless Wars — always easy to say in the abstract — will then turn around and declare unflinching, conditions-free support for the war-making activities of a foreign state. Even the small handful of edgy, heavily-online right-wing personalities who profess to be antagonistic toward Israel nonetheless see no contradiction between this professed antagonism and their furious efforts to keep Trump in power — a president who received massive sums of money from the now-deceased hardline pro-Israel megadonor Sheldon Adelson, tried to publicly cajole Benjamin Netanyahu into backing him in the 2020 election, and so on. Overall, Trump was indeed the most ardently, devotedly pro-Israel president at least in recent history, surpassing even his GOP predecessor George W. Bush on that score.

With few and marginal exceptions, right-wing figures who declare themselves to be so against foreign entanglements on the basis of some half-formed “America First” ideology have zero qualms about the status quo of the US-Israel relationship — particularly the $3.8 billion per year in direct US taxpayer-funded military aid that flows to the country. Israel is the largest recipient of such aid, so it’s Israel which comes in “first” in that regard. (The budget Trump signed into law in 2019 allocated more money to Israel than to the US Southern border wall.) Right-wing figures who claim to want to “stay out” of foreign conflicts which don’t impinge on the US national interest frequently fail to recognize that the US is already effectively a co-belligerent in this conflict. …”

What are the politics of this issue though? Really?

The truth is that dissent about OUR GREATEST ALLY isn’t tolerated in the so-called “mainstream” on either side for obvious reasons. There are simply too many wealthy and powerful Jewish donors.


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