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George Washington warned us: "A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils," he wrote in his farewell address to the nation in 1796. He emphatically advised against such special relationships. Now, 228 years later, having ignored his warning, our country confronts a variety of evils indeed.

Look no further than the latest fruits of our "passionate attachment" to Israel — 1,200 Israelis killed, 240 taken hostage in a surprise attack by Palestinian militants from Gaza; in revenge, some 37,000 Palestinians, the majority children and women, killed by Israeli bombs; thousands of amputees; Gaza's homes, hospitals, universities, schools, mosques, churches and public utilities turned to rubble, burying thousands of uncounted dead; starvation and disease for survivors. A variety of evils? Definitely!

America's so-called "special relationship" with Israel — "unbreakable," President Joe Biden calls it — continues to metastasize in a way that surely would have horrified our nation's first president, the leader who emphatically warned against such a thing.

In his valedictory, Washington warned against confusing American interests with those of a foreign country:

"Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter … It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country … gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation."

In other words, when U.S. policy has such a "passionate attachment" to a foreign country, it's likely to make enemies of others, as well as run the risk of "ambitious, corrupted, or deluded" citizens putting the interests of that foreign country ahead of the interests of their own. (Looking at you, AIPAC and followers.)

Washington further decried how such special relationships offer opportunities "to tamper with domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the public councils … Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. … Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests."

These warnings of our first president should be on our minds as we anticipate the address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress in July, ironically the month celebrating the birth of American democracy. As Netanyahu receives the rapturous applause of America's elected officials, let us remember Washington's warning about passionate attachments to foreign countries and the variety of evils produced by such special relationships.

Mary Christine Bader writes from Wayzata and is a member of Middle East Peace Now.