Is there any good we can say about the U.S. adventure in Iraq any more, even as it relates to us here? I'm not so sure anymore.
Think back to about three years ago, when the tom toms for a U.S. invasion of Iraq started beating: The Bush administration was itching for a fight, and it seemed to play right into our hands in Israel at the time.
Remember, that was the height (depth?) of “Intifada 2: The Sequel,” and our security and military forces had yet to dismantle the suicide terror machine. Any distraction from that, anything to throw a monkey wrench into it, seemed like a good thing.
Further, with Saddam Hussein presumed to be playing hide the salami with Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas (mix-and-match any, or all three), it seemed an easy call to go after him.
Finally, few here had forgotten the Scud War of 1990-1991, when Israelis sat huddled in their sealed rooms while Benjamin Netanyahu pontificated on CNN about how tiny Israel was surrounded by a sea of hostile Arab and Muslim combatants.
So, support here for toppling the Butcher of Baghdad ran high.
The U.S. Jewish community picked up its queues from the folks here, and most mainstream organizations and community activists climbed on board and in bed with Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice.
Unfortunately, Jewish support for the war emboldened the conspiracy nuts to note that the prominent neocon Jews in and out of the White House not only were urging the administration, but were, in fact, orchestrating the entire campaign ostensibly to benefit Israel at America's expense.
Here, of course, most of us dutifully taped up our windows and lined up for gas masks again. Kids went off to school with their masks over their shoulders.
Wild beast of suicide bombing has been caged
We still have ours; my eldest son's is decorated with the crayon drawing he did to blunt the box's bitter message. We never did scrape
Well, that was then, and this is now. Things sure look different, don't they. More than 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died, and countless thousands of Iraqis. It is becoming clearer day by day that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, and truly lacked any of the WMD capabilities with which he was charged. Rest assured he and his attorney Ramsey Clark (gag me!) will bring that up at his trial in Baghdad in coming weeks.
Israel was certainly complicit to a degree in egging the U.S. on. The gas mask/window-taping frenzy was ginned up by our civil defense establishment to enhance the perceived threat. Israelis may or may not have been in Iraq helping the U.S. to track down and dismantle mobile Scud missile launchers, but the talk that they were added to the urgency.
Perhaps the biggest canard used then - and I'm guilty of having used it, too - was that "the road to peace in Jerusalem runs through Baghdad." The assumptions underlying that claim rested on Saddam's perceived involvement with the bad guys here, as well as providing both financial support (no doubt he did that), at least, for families of suicide bombers.
Bush administration ruined its ability to explain
There is no question that we have made progress on a number of fronts since three years ago: The wild beast of suicide bombing has been caged, if not tamed, and settlers are out of Gaza, largely reducing the threats from there.
But it was domestic initiatives that brought both of those results about, not the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was emboldened in taking his stand for disengagement by President George W. Bush's strong backing, but the national consensus for the move was more important.
Suicide bombers didn't seem deterred by the lack of a payout after the bang; their murderous ideology has never been financially motivated, no matter what bleeding heart Western journalists have claimed about the poverty and despair of Palestinian life.
The problem caused by the revelations of just how much the Bush administration lied, cheated and manufactured the Iraqi threat to the U.S. and all of Western Civilization as we know it is that there was and is something valuable under way here: A truly brutal, neo-fascist dictator has been deposed, a country is on the mend, and the region's remaining dictators are watching their backs.
Those are all good things. That the administration's prevarications have caused that message to be lost or disregarded - that's the shame.
There is value in what has happened, and not only for Israel. The shame is that the Bush administration has ruined its ability to explain and be proud of that effort.
Alan D. Abbey is Founding Editor of Ynetnews. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org