The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

Syria and the ‘devious’ Israeli connection — Dr. Olmert doth protest too much, methinks

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Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
September 18, 2013

In a September 9 blog for The Huffington Post, Dr. Josef Olmert seizes on Professor Stephen Walt’s open letter to Congressman Joseph Kennnedy, urging him to oppose the use of military force against Syria, as an opportunity to attack Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis that the influential — not “demonic” as Olmert chooses to misrepresent it — Israel Lobby has managed to skew U.S. foreign policy from its national interest. Writes Olmert:

So, under these circumstances, I eagerly expected to read about the Israeli connection of the Syrian problem, as well as it being behind the President’s decision to attack in Syria. Nothing of the kind in the open letter, and for good reason. The Syrian conflict has nothing to do with Israel. So was the case in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring started, so it was in Libya, where the US intervened ” from behind,” so it was in Egypt, where the secular-liberal Tamarud movement agitates against the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty and the deposed Muhammad Morsi related to Jews as descendants of pigs and monkeys.

Well, Israel has not been involved in all these situations, as well as in Yemen, Bahrain etc. because the Arab Spring had nothing to do with the Arab-Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It has to do with poverty, corruption, authoritarianism and sectarianism — all are huge issues which are concerned with the very fabric of the Arab state system, with basic ills of Arab societies; in sum, with issues that are mostly the makings of the Arabs, ones which ought to be solved by them.

The Arab Spring has been a cataclysmic, formative event, the most important to have happened in the Middle East since the heydays of Nasserism, back in the 1950’s. Such a huge event and no Israel connection, so where is the big thesis of Walt and Mearsheimer? How is it connected to the Middle East circa 2013? Well, it is not.

Dr. Olmert’s denial of an Israeli connection to the so-called “Arab Spring” is undermined, however, by his own biography. Although omitted from his “full bio” page at the HuffPost, the adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina is a contributor to an “online community” known as Fikra Forum, “that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle with authoritarians and extremists.” Notwithstanding the high-sounding self-description, the pro-democracy “Arab” forum is in fact a creation of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank that was itself created by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful and best known organization in the Israel Lobby.

Among Olmert’s fellow Fikra Forum contributors is Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), a group that lobbies Washington for military intervention on behalf of the Syrian opposition. As Moustafa’s Israeli Fikra co-contributor no doubt remembers, an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal by SETF’s recently resigned political director, “Doctor” Elizabeth O’Bagy, was touted by John McCain and John Kerry during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing to bolster the dubious case for intervention in support of the supposedly “moderate” rebels.

So who does the one-time advisor to former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and brother of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert think he’s fooling when he claims there’s no “ever devious” Israeli connection to the Syrian problem?

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.


Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

September 18, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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