Bachmann and Israel

IsraPundit reports on Michelle Bachmann’s remarks to the Republican Jewish Coalition regarding the alliance of the United States and Israel.

I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.

The ellipsis and other edits are in the original post–I haven’t been able to find an unedit transcript of Bachmann’s remarks.

Personally, I think this statement is appalling. A sitting Congressperson should not be so willing to subordinate the interests of the United States to a foreign power, no matter how strong the alliance with that nation is. The fact of the matter is, Israeli interests and American interests are not always aligned, and Israel’s actions are not always worthy of American support. For example, I do not think that the United States should support Israel stealing its military secrets.

If Israel and the United States are at odds in the future, I would like to think that every American politician would side with the United States. Bachmann’s remarks above would make me doubt her loyality in that situation–and they go well beyond the questionable nature of Sarah Palin’s wearing an Israeli flag at a domestic political event. The latter raises questions but could also be fairly seen as Palin simply showing support for Israel. The former seriously calls into question Bachmann’s patriotism.

FILED UNDER: National Security, US Politics, ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    Can you show me where ‘stand with Israel’ gets morphed into subordinating the US to Israel or supporting Israel to spy on us?
    I don’t see it. Is it possible you are over reacting? If Christians give you the willies, fine. Just don’t let your prejudice make you see something that isn’t there.
    Substitute UK or Canada for Israel (yes the biblical language doesn’t work). Now given the shared history of the US and those countries, what would you find objectionable? That we should stand with an allie?
    If the language you are objecting to is ‘inextricably linked’, I think you are taking standard speech exageration to far.

  2. COLINDALE says:

    ISRAEL to be effectively the 51st State of the Union?

    If Rep. Michele Bachmann insists that Israel be (effectively) the 51st State of the Union, then it is up to the entire US electorate of 308 million, in fifty States, to vote on such an important, constitutional move and not to merely accede to the insistent and demanding voice of AIPAC supporters, a pro-Israel lobby that is a minority pressure group completely unrepresentative of the American people as a whole.

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    I have no objection to politicians showing support for our allies. I do object to the implication of Bachmann’s statements that there is a religious imperative to support Israel. Not because I have a problem with religion, but because I have a problem with a U.S. Congressperson who believes that God dictates unequivocal support for a foreign power.

  4. Palin/Bachmann 2012!

    “They’re hot. They’re crazy. They have their finger on the button!”

    There is something there to appeal to everyone.

  5. Your fascination with the fringe of the Republican party is, well, fascinating.

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    Israel is our ally. That’s not a problem. Bachmann’s faith supports Israel. That’s not a problem. So we assume Bachmann will subordinate the interests of the United States in order to appease Israel? Not even close.

    I doubt the loyalty of those ready to give sovereignty to international courts or policy bodies. I doubt the loyalty of Jane Fonda still to this day. I doubt the loyalty of those whose play to foreign dictators who openly root for our downfall. There are plenty of people whose loyalty can be questioned but her statements are not cause for such a question.

    People of faith have a right to bring that faith with them into the city hall, state legislature, or congress. It is who they are and it is who many of us are.

  7. steve says:

    “Can you show me where ‘stand with Israel’ gets morphed into subordinating the US to Israel or supporting Israel to spy on us?”

    It is the inextricably entwined part. We should not be inextricably entwined with anyone. There are times when our interests may differ. I also do not think we should base foreign policy upon Genesis. I Corinthians maybe, but not Genesis.

    Steve

  8. yetanotherjohn says:

    Alex,
    So you put up strawman arguments about ‘supporting Israel spying on US’ and ‘subordinating the US to Israel’, question her patriotism and don’t reveal your true objection in your post.

    You may not be persuaded by her reasoning, but at least she had the honesty to give her motivation.

  9. Alex Knapp says:

    yetanotherjohn,

    You misunderstand completely. The fact that Bachmann’s faith impels her to support Israel carries a strong implication that she would not be loyal to the United States should the United States find itself at odds with Israel. I’m assuming that Bachmann cares more about her faith than she does her political loyalties, because she’s said so herself.

    Frankly, I think that’s a problematic position for an elected official to hold.

  10. yetanotherjohn says:

    Alex,
    I don’t have a problem with your saying that a politician using a reason not persuasive to you does not persuade you. That is common sense.
    But read your post. Show me one sentance that supports the idea a religeous motivation for supporting Israel indicates that the persons loyalty should be questioned.
    It is fine to hold that view, but you did not say that in your post. Instead you jumped to conclusions that weren’t warranted by what she said. She did not say we should support Israel with no other considerations.
    You put up two strawman arguments about what unconditional support could mean. I seem to recall you posting on strawman arguments before. But I guess that was to beat someone over the head for taking a position you didn’t like, not to limit yourself.

  11. Alex Knapp says:

    yetanotherjohn,

    I don’t understand what about this argument that you’re missing, but maybe I’m being unclear, so let me break it down.

    1. Michelle Bachmann, a sitting Congressperson, believes, as a matter of faith, that the United States should always support Israel, and not reject it.

    2. There are times when the interests of the United States and Israel are at odds, such as with the stealing of military secrets.

    3. Bachmann maintains a higher alleigence to her religious faith than she does the United States. (Assumed, as most persons of faith feel this way.)

    4. Therefore, her loyalty to the United States might be compromised when its interests and the interests of Israel are not aligned.

  12. Steve Plunk says:

    Do people whose religion practices pacifism have a right to serve in office? Some would say their beliefs come before the interests of the United States. Of course they have right to serve in public office and without anyone questioning their patriotism or loyalties. You’re grasping here.

  13. Alex Knapp says:

    Steve,

    You’re missing the point. Rep. Bachmann is saying that her belief requires her to SUPPORT A FOREIGN NATION. If she is a private citizen, that’s fine. If she’s a sitting Congressperson, I believe that raises the question of whether she has divided loyalties.

    I would have the same problem if, say, a Muslim Congressperson gave a speech in which he stated he believed his faith required that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia be “inextricably entwined” or a Shinto Congressperson made similar statements about Japan.

    It’s not Bachmann’s religion I take issue with. It’s that her religion, by her own admission, dicates that she have a loyalty to a foreign power.

  14. Houston says:

    Your four steps of logic fail at #1. She never said (at least not in the quote you provide) that she “believes, as a matter of faith, that the US should always support Israel, and not reject it.”

    She says that we should “stand with Israel,” and that if we fail to – meaning, if we allow the Arabs to destroy them, as a nation and a race – as some Arabs have openly stated is their objective – then we risk our own destruction.

    I don’t disagree with that – do you?

    “Standing with” an ally does not mean blanket approval of anything they do, nor does it mean assuming that our interests would never cross. It means “standing with them.”

    I think perhaps what you find truely “appalling” is that she bases her policy decisions on her faith. Correct?

  15. Alex Knapp says:

    Houston,

    You are deliberately mis-representing Bachmann. She makes her point clearly: “as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play.”

    There’s no nuance about that, nor any indication that she is limiting her comments to merely “standing with” Israel, nor does the context limit this to a military alliance.

    For the record, yes, I do believe that Israel is an important ally of the United States. But that doesn’t mean they’re our only ally, or that we should consider their interests ahead of ours.

    I think perhaps what you find truely “appalling” is that she bases her policy decisions on her faith. Correct?

    She’s welcome to come to her policy decisions however she pleases. The country is stronger when it’s represented by diverse viewpoints. However, it is not stronger if those viewpoints of the potential for a member of government to have a stronger loyalty to a foreign power than to the United States.

  16. steve says:

    “You may not be persuaded by her reasoning, but at least she had the honesty to give her motivation.”

    As stated, her motivation is Genesis. Is that how we should make foreign policy decisions? Shouldnt we make those decisions based upon mutual interests, mutual defense even intelligence needs. Read it again. She explicitly says…

    “we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle. ”

    Stop being obtuse. Is that how our Congresspeople should make their decisions? If it is ok for Christians to make foreing policy decisions based on Scripture, how about any Muslims or Buddhists who get elected?

    Steve

  17. yetanotherjohn says:

    Alex,
    So are you suggesting that there be some sort of religeous test that should disqualify her from serving in congress? Perhaps all Christians should be banned.
    You aren’t taking her words as said, but continue to add your own embellishment, even to the point of accusing her of being disloyal based on those embellishments.
    If the voters of her district agree with you, she will lose her job. If they do not, then she will continue.
    Let’s try your logic along a different path. The UN is trying to gain power to control global warming. Such an action may be in conflict with the good of the US. So any politician who expresses support for the UN’s global warming position must be suspected of being a traitor to the US.

  18. Brett says:

    She never said (at least not in the quote you provide) that she “believes, as a matter of faith, that the US should always support Israel, and not reject it.”

    She said that we are “inextricably tied” to Israel, and that if we reject Israel, there is a curse involved. Alex was right to use that as he did – I mean, how much more clearer can that be?

    The whole religious side of things from Bachmann is no shock – she probably thinks that Israel needs to exist so that Jesus can come back in the near-future. I wonder, though, if there’s another element to it. I think for some of these religious conservatives, it’s like Israel embodies some vision of an America they think existed in the past and should be defended. The “strong, macho” America, conquering the wilderness and Building Civilization while Fending Off The Savages.

  19. Highlander says:

    First we gotta nail all these wacko God guzzling Christians like Palin and Bachmann. The lions haven’t been fed in awhile.

    After that,we can get the Juzzzz! Yea,then it will all be cool man!

    Then our Muslim Brothers will be open to a deal. Kumbyya, Peace and Love!

  20. Alex Knapp says:

    yetanotherjohn,

    So are you suggesting that there be some sort of religeous test that should disqualify her from serving in congress? Perhaps all Christians should be banned.

    WTF are you talking about? I don’t think there should be any religious test for office. But I *do* think its problematic that a sitting member of Congress appears to have loyalty to ANOTHER COUNTRY.

    You aren’t taking her words as said, but continue to add your own embellishment, even to the point of accusing her of being disloyal based on those embellishments.

    Okay, you’ve clearly stopped paying attention to the arguments I’m actually making and instead inserting something else. My argument is clear: Bahmann believes, as a principle of her religious faith, that she should act in the interests of a FOREIGN POWER *and* that the United States should follow suit or else this country will face a CURSE FROM GOD. I find that to be problematic.

    If the voters of her district agree with you, she will lose her job. If they do not, then she will continue.

    Yeah, that’s how voting works. What’s your point?

    Let’s try your logic along a different path. The UN is trying to gain power to control global warming. Such an action may be in conflict with the good of the US. So any politician who expresses support for the UN’s global warming position must be suspected of being a traitor to the US.

    No–whether a particular policy is in the best interests of the United States is a matter of debate. Now, if Nancy Pelosi were to give a speech where she said that, as a matter of religious faith that “we have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with the United Nations, and if we reject United Nations, then there is a curse that comes into play.” then I would have a HUGE HUGE HUGE problem with that, because it would show a dividied loyalty.

  21. anjin-san says:

    Can you show me where ‘stand with Israel’ gets morphed into subordinating the US to Israel

    Sure.

    “I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States”