Furthermore, while a number of prominent neoconservative intellectuals are of Jewish background, they have tended not to be religious nor have they, despite their support for the current right-wing Israeli government, been strongly identified as Zionists. ~Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus

What a laugh! Neoconservative intellectials are not strongly identified as Zionists? What on earth are they to be identified with strongly if not with Zionism? Even the laughable Max Boot admitted this much at the very moment when he was denying the existence of “neocons” in his forgettable What the Heck is a ‘Neocon’?:

First, many of the leading neocons aren’t Jewish; Jeane Kirkpatrick, Bill Bennett, Father John Neuhaus and Michael Novak aren’t exactly menorah lighters. Second, support for Israel–a key tenet of neoconservatism–is hardly confined to Jews; its strongest constituency in America happens to be among evangelical Christians.

As the late Dr. Francis pointed out last year, it was quite a trick for Boot to deny the existence of neocons at the same time that he acknowledged that support for Israel was a “key tenet” of neoconservatism. Boot’s larger point (which was stupidly to adduce anti-Jewish rhetoric to the use of the term ‘neocon’ and then show it to be foolish because “many neocons aren’t Jewish”–which no one ever denied) is, of course, worthless.

Mr. Zunes then makes this misleading claim in Boot-like fashion:

To argue that support for Israel and/or pressure by supporters of Israel was a crucial variable in prompting the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq assumes that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has been good for Israel.

Of course, one does not have to assume any such thing. What is necessary to make the argument is to show that supporters of Israel were foremost in calling for, justifying, provoking and sponsoring the war, and here the public statements of known neoconservatives condemn them where they stand. Some vocal critics of the Iraq war, such as Peter Hitchens, have made just the opposite argument: invading Iraq is a bad idea, pushed by neocon ideologues, that will hurt the security of Israel.

For Mr. Zunes’ claim to be true, we would have to assume that neocons are actually competent, possess foresight and understand the real-world consequences of their ideas. Thus no sensible neocon would advocate a policy that would end up hurting Israeli security! Barring mass cynicism on their part (which is not out of the question), if we compare the results of their policies to their predictions we can safely say that they have proven themselves to be consistently poor judges of international politics, foreign cultures and military necessities. They wouldn’t know what it good for Israel any more than they know what is good for America, and what is frightening is that they may not care so long as the policies serve their revolutionary turn. Of course it is ridiculous to believe that greater democracy in the Near East is good for Israel–but neocons do believe this and claim as much. Newsflash: neocons are bizarre, ideological hacks!

That the Iraq war has made Israel less safe is fairly certain, as is the reality that there are scarcely any other more fanatically pro-Israel people in America than Mr. Bush and his neocon supporters. That Mr. Bush and the neocons around him will deny to their graves the increased danger to Israel from the invasion is also fairly certain. That is powerful evidence that ostensibly pro-Israel neocons should not support the aggressive policies that they do, if they truly want what is best for Israel, but then they would hardly be neoconservatives if they allowed something as trifling as reality to interfere with their plans.

Nonetheless, once all of the bilious nonsense about Iraqi terrorism and WMDs is set aside, there remains good reason to think that the only remotely ‘rational’ purpose of invading Iraq was to try to enhance the security of Israel, perhaps as part of a broader project of regional U.S. hegemony (which would be perfectly compatible in the neocon view of things). I have sometimes thought this was giving the policy more credit for rationality than it deserves, but it is the rationale that war supporters talked about least and, I suspect, believed in most of all. Obviously, many supporters of Israel did not accept that the war would improve Israel’s security, which hardly proves that the neocons were not supporting the war for that reason (and no one denies that there could have been other reasons). It simply proves that many supporters of Israel are not as ignorant and foolish as the neocons.

This last part of the article is real comedy:

As part of its desperate strategy to defend its disastrous policies in Iraq, the Bush administration and its supporters are now using the defense of Israel as an excuse. While such claims have not more validity than claims that Saddam Hussein had operational ties to al-Qaida or still possessed WMDs, it carries the additional danger that Israel and its American Jewish supporters will end up getting blamed for the whole Iraqi debacle. The American Jewish newspaper The Forward noted how a number of pro-Israel American activists and prominent Israelis had criticized recent comments by President George W. Bush and other prominent Republicans who have recently played the Israel card to justify the increasingly unpopular war. For example, Dani Rothschild, a retired Israeli major general who had served as the Israeli army’s top administrator in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, noted how “It could put Israel in a very awkward situation with the American public, if Israel would be the excuse for losing more American soldiers every day.”

It is amusing to see the flailing administration latching onto Israel in an attempt to buoy its failed policy in Iraq, but this is not some latter-day scapegoating of Israel by Mr. Bush, much less anti-Semitism! It has been part of the policy from the beginning. There is a certain rich irony in having Mr. Bush et al. accused of the same anti-Semitism that his supporters directed against honourable critics of the invasion, but it is just as idiotic to accuse them of such things.