Kvetching About Israel

It’s been a while since I read Tom Friedman, but I see the Israel First contingent is up in arms about something he wrote, so I thought it was worth checking it out.

Friedman writes that while American politicians are tripping all over themselves declaring total subservient loyalty to whatever the government of Israel wants, American Jews are conflicted and ambivalent.

I’d never claim to speak for American Jews, but I’m certain there are many out there like me, who strongly believe in the right of the Jewish people to a state, who understand that Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood yet remains a democracy, but who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today. My guess is we’re the minority when it comes to secular American Jews. We still care. Many other Jews are just drifting away.

This is the passage that is getting the most attention:

I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.

Here’s the rest of the paragraph, generally ignored:

The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused.

Friedman goes on to say that a lot of worrisome stuff is going on in Israel that is making it look less like the western-style democracy that we like to pretend it is. You can read Friedman for details. I think Friedman hits a lot of nails square on the head in this column.

Naturally, Jennifer Rubin is beside herself in outrage of biblical — nay, Michelle Malkin — proportions. You can almost hear the steam coming out of her ears.

The neocon Elliott Abrams also is fuming, to the point that he is stumbling to express himself in English:

… what in the world except prejudice can lead Mr. Friedman to make the ugly charge that support for Israel in Congress, need support for Mr. Netanyahu in Congress, is “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby?”

Oh, I don’t know. Truth, maybe?

BTW, the war in Iraq is officially over. Thought I’d mention it.

Update: David Frum, currently filling the role as the “reasonable” conservative, bashes liberals as anti-Semites by framing any criticism of Israel’s Likud government as “antisemitism.” This is, of course, a slick way to slap down open and honest discussion of how much the U.S. is subordinating its own interests to support right-wing radicalism in Israel. See also Andy Sullivan.

Update: Remarkably, nearly all of the comments to Frum’s op ed are pointing out to Frum that he’s full of it.

20 thoughts on “Kvetching About Israel

  1. Barbara, I noticed Mr. Friedman’s article in passing, and am now going to go back and read it. thanks to your blog post. Frequently, I am ambivalent about Friedman, but this looks worth the journey.

  2. If Israel stays on its current course, it’ll look even more like apartheid South Africa. Anyone with eyes can see that.

    And it doesn’t take much to get Ms. Rubin’s knockers all in a knot. All you need to is to say “Did you?” too fast (D’Jew?)- h/t to Woody Allen.
    Yes, Jennifer, a man with the last name Friedman is SURE to be anti-Semitic. What a schlemiel!

    Did Lieberman miss this, or is he holding his fire waiting for the inevitable call from FOX News calls? He is, after all, the bought and paid for Senator from Jerusalem.

    And how dare the Kenyan/Socialist/Fascist/Communist/Atheist/Muslim Usurper officially end Little Boots’ War?
    Where were the promised VI Day parades?
    I look forward to Dick Cheney defending his war criminal stances for the remainder of his un-natural life, and Liz, ‘Daddy’s Little Draft Exemption” defending ‘Daddy War Monger” for the remainder of hers. After all, the turd doesn’t fall far from the sphincter.
    Actually, I’m not looking forward to it at all.

    OK, NeoClowns – time to focus on Iran!

  3. I think Ol’ VDH did that 3 years ago, the minute a Democrat won the Presidency and could take any credit for ending that war.

    But I’m sure Ol’ VDH’s kept his “V-I!” banner, in the hopes that he’ll be able to wave it around right after we win the glorious victory over Iran – but only if it’s stared and ended by Republicans!
    NeoClowns never learn from their mistakes. They just claim success whatever way the can and move on to the next war. After all, it was Little Boots who set everything up for Obama’s successful withdrawal from Iraq, and he also caused the ‘Arab Spring!” Just like the NeoClowns predicted!
    Being Conservative means never having to say you’re sorry…

  4. Friedman may be wrong about that applause all being thanks to the Israel lobby – I’m pretty sure part of it, at least on the GOP side, was because of the way Bibi has been treating Obama, and the administration’s positions, with contempt and disrespect. They love that stuff.

  5. I didn’t read the Friedman article – but from the sound of it, it might be actually something worthwhile. Friedman may not be willing to speak for American Jews, but Glenn Greenwald usually has no such reservations, because he uses polling information to make his claims. No links, but I believe I’ve read Greenwald (well in the past) make claims for American Jews, backed by polls, that confirm American Jews are well to the left of the right wingers in Israel. More along the lines of the crowd in Madison, Wisconsin that Friedman imagines.

    After all, the turd doesn’t fall far from the sphincter.

    That is the funniest, grossest thing I’ve read in a long time. Will remember it. Nice update of that cliche involving an apple and a tree.

  6. It’s no more antisemitic to call people like Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman thugs than it is racist to call Herman Cain a moron. Recognizing that Netanyahu and Lieberman are thugs also doesn’t mean you’re incapable of seeing that Hamas are a bunch of thugs too. I think Americans have this deeply ingrained idea that every conflict has to have good guys and bad guys, and of course we’re always the good guys and Israel is our ally. But the Nuremberg trials defined aggression as the ultimate war crime, and building settlements in disputed territory is just as much an act of aggression as lobbing rockets into southern Israel. We’re constantly reminded that Israel has a right to defined itself, but apparently the Palestinians don’t. And they’re Semites too, by the way.

  7. The war in Iraq may officially be over but you’d never know it if you visited our embassy there – staffed by (excluding the usual embassy staff) 15,000 additional personnel, most of whom are private security personnel. (At the cost of $2,000/day/guard, say they work about 200 days/year, that’s a very hefty sum of money. Besides, don’t the Marines normally guard embassies? Who says the private sector, which can afford it, isn’t/hasn’t bought the government.)

  8. It’s no more antisemitic to call people like Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman thugs than it is racist to call Herman Cain a moron.

    Yes, it makes me wonder if the neoclowns really think people are incapable of being thugs by virtue of the fact that they’re Jewish, or someone could never be a moron because s/he is African American.

    Nah… honestly, I don’t wonder that at all. I know the answer.

  9. “After all, the turd doesn’t fall far from the sphincter”

    Too funny, what a visual!

    “That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”

    I find it amazing how the Israeli lobby has managed to tie up a majority of media, politicians and regular run of the mill American citizens. It’s really quite an accomplishment. The politicians and media are easy, just takes money, the corrupt infrastructure is already up and running at full speed. Locking up ordinary folks has been the real achievement, years of over the top holocaust propaganda combined with the evangelical’s lust for the apocalypse seems to have done the trick. It’s been a brilliant marketing campaign.

  10. …the neoclowns really think people are incapable of being thugs by virtue of the fact that they’re Jewish

    In their minds, actually in any conservative mind, it’s all about fear and survival. This is used to justify Anything. Any principle is discarded as soon as it threatens their sense of survival or if its application might cause a loss of some kind. This is why conservatives effectively have no principles, despite their protests to the contrary. They cannot see beyond their own personal survival, and so they not only don’t see themselves as thugs, they brush off any accusation of the same, all in the name of survival. Expanding this notion to their tribe (whatever the tribe happens to be), makes them feel magnanimous, somewhat self-less and strong – they are the protectors of their tribe, which makes them even more immune to such self reflection.

  11. Felicity: The Marines USED to be the Embassy guards. I’m not sure exactly when that changed and they began to use private soldiers for the task. But private must be better…

  12. PurpleGirl – it probably changed when Halliburton, Blackwater and other mercenary outfits successfully ‘bought’ the right people in government. Private aren’t better, they’re just more expensive.

  13. moonbat, why do you think American neocons have made Israel an honorary part of the tribe? Is it a shared “victimization” by Muslims? An end-times thing amongst the religious right? Or more simply, a shared love of blowin’ stuff up?

    Really, it’s one of the most knee-jerk responses neocons have, imo. If we on the left said, for example, “Mexico’s best interest is also America’s best interest,” imagine how the neocons would scream. Israel is the only other nation on the planet whose best interest, in the neocon mind, is equivalent to our own. It truly puzzles me.

  14. joanr16, I think your second paragraph is extraordinarily perceptive. Further, I think it poses a condition that, while doubtless true, is never spoken. If we had an intellectually honest set of legislators, your concept would inform a far-seeing policy that would treat Mexico as more than an immigration problem. +100 points.

  15. joanr16 … I’ll go with the end times thing. No doubt it’s the largest factor in our love affair with Israel…The Lord clearly states that our survival as a nation is dependant on how we honor Israel..Israel is the Lord’s baby…and don’t you forget it!

  16. Leonard Nimoy is Jewish. He recently came out publicly and persuasively in support of a two-state solution.


    The point being, there’s no shortage of American Jews who support advancing a two-state solution and a divided Jerusalem. Neo-con may support a repressive Israel for the same reason we funded through the CIA, a Muslim insurgency in Afghanistan. The religious fanatics we love to hate now were our best friend when they were killing Russians.

  17. Pingback: The Disastrous Iraq War Is Over (Officially) | Left-Handed Nib

  18. Bill, thanks. But credit for the Mexico insight should go to my sister-in-law, who comes up with great stuff sometimes. (Maybe she should run for Congress.)

    Swami, agreed. End times it is. I wish I were joking.

    Doug, Leonard Nimoy is a very enlightened human, it has always seemed to me. Thanks for that link!

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