Nov 13, 2010
Eric Cantor's Pledge of Allegiance
By Glenn Greenwald
Soon-to-be GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor met on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- the same day when the actual U.S. Secretary of State met with Netanyahu -- and vowed that he and his GOP colleagues would protect and defend Israeli interests against his own Government. According to a statement proudly issued by Cantor's own office:
Regarding the midterms, Cantor may have given Netanyahu some reason to stand firm against the American administration.
"Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington," the readout continued. "He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other."
Leave aside the absurdity of believing that Israel needs to be protected from the extremely deferential and devoted Obama administration. So extraordinary is Cantor's pledge that even the Jewish Telegraph Agency's Ron Kampeas -- himself a reflexive American defender of most things Israel -- was astonished, and wrote:
I can't remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the president. Certainly, in statements on one specific issue or another -- building in Jerusalem, or somesuch -- lawmakers have taken the sides of other nations. But to have-a-face to face and say, in general, we will take your side against the White House -- that sounds to me extraordinary.
As Kampeas notes, Cantor's office quickly disputed his understanding, but this is hardly the first time Cantor has violated supposedly sacred political conventions in order to side with Israel over his own country. Last August, Cantor led a GOP delegation to Israel and while in Jerusalem -- which happens to be "foreign soil" -- he condemned his own President and American policy for opposing the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Criticizing America while on Dreaded Foreign Soil is supposed to be one of the most extreme taboos in American politics: Al Gore was bitterly denounced as a borderline-traitor for a 2006 speech in Saudi Arabia criticizing American foreign policy, and Gore at the time was merely a private citizen, not a leading political official. But American political figures like Cantor feel free to do exactly that -- criticize America on foreign soil -- when it comes to Israel; recall the same thing being done by by Mike Huckabee.
That's because, in general, all the rules change -- are completely reversed -- when it comes to Israel. As Cantor's behavior demonstrates, the rules that apply to "foreign countries" are inapplicable to Israel because in mainstream American politics, Israel is not considered and therefore is not treated as a "foreign country" at all. Many Israel devotees actually tried to expand the "no-criticizing-the U.S.-on-foreign-soil" rule by suggesting there was something wrong with Obama's criticism of Israel while in Indonesia; apparently, it's fine for American officials to criticize the U.S. while in Israel, but not for the U.S. President to criticize Israel while on foreign soil...