The session took an awkward turn when witness Ray McGovern, a former intelligence analyst, declared that the United States went to war in Iraq for oil, Israel and military bases craved by administration "neocons" so "the United States and Israel could dominate that part of the world." He said that Israel should not be considered an ally and that Bush was doing the bidding of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
"Israel is not allowed to be brought up in polite conversation," McGovern said. "The last time I did this, the previous director of Central Intelligence called me anti-Semitic."
Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), who prompted the question by wondering whether the true war motive was Iraq's threat to Israel, thanked McGovern for his "candid answer."
At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations -- that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an "insider trading scam" on 9/11 -- that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks.
Of course, it should be quite acceptable for people to question U.S. ties and aid to Israel without incurring the anti-Semitic label - but the airing of the worst paranoid conspiracies about 9/11 is pretty damning.
Tom Maguire is wondering why, exactly, one fairly prominent New York paper known to be friendly to Democrats doesn't see fit to cover the story; after all, it was a big enough deal to draw condemnation from Howard Dean, much to his credit. Richard Baehr, however, wonders if that apology would have been forthcoming had the Washington Post reporter not been present, and says the presence of McGovern, whose views on the matter are well-known, should have been a tip-off.
I'm willing to give Dean and the Democrats the benefit of the doubt here, but the episode highlights a curious matter: why are so many on the Left so hostile to the only functioning democracy in the Middle East? For once, I hope the answer is just partisan politics, because the alternative is ugly to contemplate.
UPDATE 06/22/05 3:22 p.m. central: Welcome to any and all Beltway Traffic Jam readers!...