The controversy over Newt Gingrich’s refusal to disavow his comments on Palestinian peoplehood gave me a sense of déjà vu. It seems we had a similar conversation in July when Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon released a video about the “disputed” nature of West Bank stewardship.
Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg objected to Ayalon’s plainly truthful video, and was upset enough about this truth-telling to crudely swear at the respected Israeli politician and accuse him of saying something that Ayalon never actually said. As Jonathan had put it: “To speak of the West Bank as disputed territory rather than ‘occupied Arab land’ is beyond the pale, because it hurts the feelings of the Palestinians and puts the two claims on a level playing field.”
Newt Gingrich is taking a lot of flack for telling a Jewish cable channel that the Palestinians are an “invented people.” Those comments were the subject of a lengthy segment of last night’s Republican presidential debate and will, no doubt, inspire angry commentary from the pro-Palestinian left as well as concern from others who will say that Gingrich’s attitude is unpresidential (as Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum seemed to imply) and will not help the cause of peace.
This leaves us with three questions: Was Gingrich right? If so, what implications should this have for U.S. policy? And even if he was correct, was it wise for him to say it?
The answer to the first question is simple. Yes, of course, he is right.
The Jewish Daily Forward‘s JJ Goldberg has published an article comparing U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman to Louis Pasteur. The analogy is that just as Louis Pasteur diagnosed diseases, Gutman diagnosed European anti-Semitism. Gutman’s conservative and pro-Israel critics, by criticizing him for his rationalization of Muslim Jewish-hatred, are therefore obviously pretty stupid:
I think it’s time we faced up to the hard truth about Louis Pasteur. The famed 19th century French scientist was a rank bigot. He’s been getting a free ride for too long, and it’s got to stop.
The evidence is shocking but undeniable. It seems that while Pasteur was supposedly devoting his career to battling deadly diseases, he was actually trying to “understand” them, to “explain” what “caused” them to behave as they did. Instead of speaking out firmly against disease, he rationalized its behavior. Indeed, he put the onus on the victims to deal with the consequences of their own suffering, forcing them to ingest “vaccines” and “medicines,” as though their infirmities were their own fault. If he truly believed that germs caused disease, as he claimed, he should have been sticking his needles into the germs, not their victims.
It’s a truism that most American Jews are not one-issue voters with regard to Israel. They have a multiplicity of concerns about church-and-state issues. The majority of American Jews are politically liberal and view social justice issues as integral to their worldview if not their faith. But it is one thing to argue these other concerns as well as those related to Israel’s future must be considered when voting. It is quite another to say they must not only supersede support for Israel, but that the Jewish state’s survival may be considered a minor concern when compared to one element of the liberal agenda.
That is more or less the position taken by Jewish environmental activists who say their cause must take precedence over promoting American energy independence, which would thereby reduce our dependence on the Arab oil that finances both terrorism and regimes that support the war on Israel. Indeed, in denouncing the American Jewish Committee’s justified support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada recently halted by President Obama, Joelle Novey writes in the Huffington Post to say the whole notion of taking what is good for the Jews into account is itself part of the problem.
Mitt Romney picked a bad time to have his worst moment during one of the Republican presidential debates. Few will remember or care whether he was right that Rick Perry was misquoting what Romney wrote in his book about his Massachusetts health care bill. But Romney’s betting Perry $10,000 that he didn’t write what Perry said he did will linger in the public’s memory like Perry’s own “oops” moment when he forgot which government agency he wanted to shut down.
Romney’s flippant reminder of his wealth — he bet $10k as easily as most people would wager a $10 bill — at Saturday night’s ABC News/Des Moines Register debate was the most memorable moment at an event in which his goal was to put the heat on frontrunner Newt Gingrich. But instead it was Romney who looked shaky and Gingrich relaxed and confident. Every time the former Speaker found himself in the crosshairs of either his opponents or the moderators, he held his own easily. Though he was pressed hard on his record on health care, the Middle East, immigration and his marital infidelity, Gingrich never faltered. Coming as it did after two weeks in which his poll ratings had soared and Romney’s declined, Gingrich could not have asked for a better evening.