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Where Are Our Pro-Israel Leaders?

This morning, Elliott Abrams calls out both Tom Friedman and Joe Klein for offering up Walt/Mearsheimer conspiracy theories about American Jewry in the place of reasoned analysis. Friedman had said that Benjamin Netanyahu’s standing ovations from members of Congress last May were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

Klein wrote this: “I don’t meet many neoconservatives outside of Washington and New York. It’s one thing to just adore Israel, as the evangelical Christians do; it’s another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel’s national security.” Alarmed, Abrams asks the following:

Once upon a time, William F. Buckley banned Pat Buchanan from the pages of National Review and in essence drummed him out of the conservative movement for such accusations. Today, where are the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee, and all the Jewish “defense” organizations?  Where are all the Jewish groups which have given Klein and Friedman awards, demanding them back? Where are Jewish Democrats in Congress, who have no doubt wined and dined both Klein and Friedman in a thousand dinner parties, and congressional leaders from Nancy Pelosi to Harry Reid? And what about our other supposed moral leaders, religious, intellectual, or political?

It’s a good question. Klein subsequently clarified that he didn’t mean to suggest that Americans have previously been sent to war to protect Israel. He said he thought his commas made that clear. That, however, doesn’t actually answer Abrams’ objection, which was the suggestion that American Jewish neoconservatives want Americans to be sent to war in Iran to protect Israel. Klein also said he wants Jews to uphold our tradition of “tolerance and understanding in a world too often hateful and barbaric.” In the next paragraph, he calls Abrams “a feckless shmuck.”

I’ll leave it to Abrams to decide if the latter comment deserves a response, but in his defense of Tom Friedman, Klein adds: “The reaction from assorted Israel First/Likudnik bloviators to Tom Friedman’s comment has been absurd.” Here are three quotes about the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis of the Israel lobby, which Friedman was echoing:

  • “[P]ortrays the Israel lobby as a nebulous, all-powerful force subverting America’s interests for the sake of Israel.”
  • “But their announced objectives have been badly undermined by the contours of their argument—a prosecutor’s brief that depicts Israel as a singularly pernicious force in world affairs.”
  • “Mearsheimer and Walt are a classic example of pundits hatching a thesis and then hacking away at the facts to make them fit.”

The first was Jonathan Chait, writing in the New Republic. The second was David Remnick, writing in the New Yorker. The third was Daniel Lazare, writing in the Nation. According to Klein, are these fellows “Israel First/Likudnik bloviators”? The fact remains that the mainstream left does not believe in the Walt/Mearsheimer view of the world, and that dissent from Friedman’s and Klein’s nonsense is not evidence of dual loyalties.

But that begs Abrams’ question: Where is everyone? Why would the reaction to this deeply paranoid assault on the loyalty of American Jews be to quibble over the placement of a comma–or worse, silence? Siding with Friedman and Klein just because you share their dislike of pro-Israel conservatives is as yet the clearest example of politicizing the issue and turning Israel into a partisan wedge.


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