Under the First Amendment to our Constitution and long-standing custom we are free to criticize any nation's policies and any nation's leader, including (and especially) our our own president, who is attacked most viciously from the right and only slightly less viciously from the extreme left. There is, however, one exception: Israel.

The slightest critique of the systematic confiscation of Palestinian Arab territory on the West Bank is immediately decried as anti-semitism by many American Jews. There is verbal irony here since the struggle between Palestinian Arabs and the self-proclaimed Jewish State is a fight between two tribes both properly classified as Semitic.


As a result of the power of Jewish lobbies wielding both bloc voting and monetary contributions in Florida, New York and elsewhere, American politicians in both parties are especially kind to Israel, and of course Israel's president. How kind? Well in most years the industrialized and relatively well off Israel is the first in line for our foreign aid.

In 2012 we gave Israel over $3 billion, almost all in military aid. That year they came in second only to war-torn Afghanistan. We also gave aid to the relatively impoverished Palestinian lands of West Bank and Gaza strip, about $457 million, and none of it military of course. The average Israeli was the recipient of $423.59 each in combined aid; the average Palestinian $105.57; the average Nigerian $1.97; the average Bangladeshi $1.59.

We tend to ignore the mistreatment of Palestinians by Israel, both in and out of the borders of Israel. Perhaps it is because of our own sorry treatment of minorities over our nation's existence. There was black slavery and later Jim Crow. Native Americans were cruelly used throughout our existence, notably in the Cherokee trail of tears, the massacre at Wounded Knee and the deliberate distribution of smallpox laden blankets. The violation of the treaty rights of the Rosebud Sioux by the Keystone Pipeline is just the latest insult to our original Americans.

During the last half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th Orientals were denied the right to vote in Los Angeles. Japanese were interned and robbed of their possessions in world War II. "No Irish Need Apply" was a sign my ancestors faced. Some dropped the "Mc" or the "O" off their surnames, seeking acceptance, and many, lacking income, served under another man's name in the Union Army for $200 in the Civil War. My great-grandfather was one of these.

More recently here in Maryland, Jews faced private beaches and certain districts in Baltimore that were "Gentiles only."

The hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu of Israel manages to stir up some Palestinian resentment and retaliation just in time for each election to office. But recently he stepped over the line in two respects. He is attempting to sabotage our bold but difficult attempt to prevent Iran's nuclear weapons program. He much prefers an excuse for war with Iran. That is how he gets elected. His own nation already has between 100 and 200 atomic warheads.

Actually, Iran poses no real threat to Israel. Iranian leadership may be fanatical, but they are not suicidal. Netenyahu has also scheduled a visit to the U.S. Congress just before an electoral challenge in Israel by Isaac Herzog. This visit is at the invitation of John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, who also wants to sabotage the administration's effort to prevent Iran from going nuclear. He would rather that the United States fail in this effort than have President Obama score another diplomatic and national security success. Boehner has an interesting view of patriotism.

Ironically enough, Netanyahu complained about a similar pre-election visit to the U.S. by his then opponent Shimon Peres back in 1996.

Israel faces a national contradiction; how can a theocracy be also a true democracy? If and when that is resolved perhaps peace will finally come to

that embattled land.

John Culleton writes from Eldersburg. His column appears every second Tuesday. Email him at cct@wexfordpress.com.