While researching the Tony Judt affair I discovered a forum run by The Chronicle of Higher Learning, a U.S. based journal that pitches towards a post-graduate market.
In anticipation of reasoned and informed debate, I signed up and threw in my two cents worth on a thread entitled “Why can’t we talk about Israel”. Emboldened by the responses, I posted a new thread based on my “Truth, Lies” essay below. The debate swiftly degenerated into a series of attacks on my supposed “anti-Semitism”. Then it disappeared. I received the following email:
“A topic you are watching has been removed by moderator.Regards,The Chronicle Forums Team."
It seems that, in the United States, robust debate about Israel is often confused with anti-Semitism. This is regrettable but probably to be expected in open debate on the internet.
Certain aspects of debate about Israel are proscribed by the U.S. Government. On the question of Israel’s Nuclear weapons, the official line is: "don't ask, don't tell".
The history of this policy can be examined here:
During the past week, Israel’s Nuclear Weapons were referred to by Robert Gates during hearings on his confirmation as U.S. Secretary of defense.
“During his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Gates mentioned why Iran might be seeking the means to build an atomic bomb: "They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons: Pakistan to their east, the Russians to the north, the Israelis to the west and us in the Persian Gulf," he said.
The remark led Israeli news bulletins. State-run radio suggested Gates may have breached a U.S. "don't ask, don't tell" policy that dates back to the late 1960s.
"It's quite unprecedented," a retired Israeli diplomat told Reuters on Thursday when asked about Gates's testimony. ‘I can only assume he has yet to get to grips with the understandings that exist between us and the Americans.’ ”
The rationale is intriguing to say the least:
“By not declaring itself to be nuclear armed, Israel also skirts a U.S. ban on funding countries that proliferate weapons of mass destruction.”
The Symington, Glenn, and Pressler Amendments prohibit aid to countries that develop or traffic in Nuclear weapons.
So there’s a dilemma. If you talk about Israel’s nukes, the juice might get turned off. Estimates range from 2 to 5 billion U.S. taxpayer dollars flow to Israel each year. This “aid” is offered to a country with a standard of living higher than most in the first World.
Even in the arcane world of diplomacy, such blatant “double-speak” is astonishing.