Dual Loyalty?

Who's saying what about 'the elephant in the room'--Israel's role in the conflict with Iraq.

A joke currently circulating around the internet tells the story of Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush sharing their dreams with each other.



Saddam Hussein phoned President Bush. "I had a dream about the United States," he said. "I could see the whole country, and over every building and home was a banner."



"What was on the banner?" asked Bush.



"LONG LIVE SADDAM!" answered the dictator.



"I'm so glad that you called," said President Bush, "because I too had a dream. In my dream, I saw Iraq and it was more beautiful than ever; totally rebuilt with many tall, gleaming office buildings, large residential subdivisions with swimming pools in every yard; and over every building and home was a big, beautiful banner."



"What did the banner say?" asked Saddam.



I don't know," answered President Bush, "I can't read Hebrew."



The joke may offend some, but it underscores a growing debate over the role of Israel--and American Jews supportive of Israel--as the U.S. moves further toward war with Iraq. In recent months, everyone from Slate's Michael Kinsley to former U.S. presidential candidate Gary Hart to "Hardball" host Chris Matthews has commented about the problem of "dual loyalty" in this conflict--the question of whether some Americans--especially certain Jewish members of the Bush administration--are supporting war with Iraq because they believe war is in Israel's interests.

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The debate surfaced in public March 3 when Congressman James Moran, D-VA, told a church forum that "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this." The

White House condemned

Moran's comments and Congressman Moran has since

apologized for his comments

.



American Jewish groups

have not endorsed

the war, and many Jews

have been active

in the antiwar movement. As

the Forward reported

, Jewish members of congress are deeply divided on the issue. But, as evidenced by Moran's recent comments, the debate continues over Israel's role, American Jewish support of the Iraq war, and a perceived dual loyalty.

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Rebecca Phillips
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