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Posts For: January 22, 2012

Re: Assassination Fantasies Beyond the Pale

Jonathan’s prediction that Andrew Adler’s disgraceful Obama assassination fantasy will be used to smear critics of the president’s Israel policy couldn’t have been more prescient. Here’s Yossi Gurvitz at 972 Magazine taking the first shot at the strawman:

The vast majority of American Jews will feel nothing but horror at Adler’s sick fantasy. Most of them would shudder at the idea of betraying their country like Jonathan Pollard did. A small number of them are, however, “Israel-firsters”: They put Israel’s interests – or, to be more precise, Greater Israel’s interest – ahead of their country’s. You can spot them easily: They generally doth protest too much about the usage of “Israel-firsters.”

Of course. Because if you didn’t secretly have a primary allegiance to Israel, why else would you possibly object to people saying you do?

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Jonathan’s prediction that Andrew Adler’s disgraceful Obama assassination fantasy will be used to smear critics of the president’s Israel policy couldn’t have been more prescient. Here’s Yossi Gurvitz at 972 Magazine taking the first shot at the strawman:

The vast majority of American Jews will feel nothing but horror at Adler’s sick fantasy. Most of them would shudder at the idea of betraying their country like Jonathan Pollard did. A small number of them are, however, “Israel-firsters”: They put Israel’s interests – or, to be more precise, Greater Israel’s interest – ahead of their country’s. You can spot them easily: They generally doth protest too much about the usage of “Israel-firsters.”

Of course. Because if you didn’t secretly have a primary allegiance to Israel, why else would you possibly object to people saying you do?

As an Israeli, Gurvitz likely has little experience with accusations that he’s an insufficiently faithful American citizen. Maybe to him, this doesn’t seem like a very big deal. Sure, he writes, there are a “small number of American Jews” who put Israel’s interests ahead of the U.S. But like most defenders of the “Israel-first” charge, Gurvitz is careful to note that this doesn’t include the vast majority of American Jews.

This is exactly where the defense of this smear starts to break down. For some reason, there’s a perception that the term is only anti-Semitic if it’s directed at the entire Jewish community. Jeffrey Goldberg skewers this succinctly: “The mainstreaming of hostility toward any group of Jews leads inevitably to the mainstreaming of hostility to Jews generally.”

In fact, this is already playing out right before our own eyes. Gurvitz begins his piece the same way all defenders of the Israel-first slur tend to: by listing off a few strawman-dual-loyalists, including convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, and the latest example, newspaper publisher Andrew Adler. Gurvitz’s intention isn’t just to argue that Pollard and Adler are Israel firsters – that’s too easy. The real target of Gurvitz’s column is Jeffrey Goldberg, as if a liberal, Obama-supporting Zionist could reasonably be lumped into a category with the first two.

The Israel-firster smear has been thrown at everyone from Goldberg to Gary Ackerman to Bill Kristol to Dennis Ross, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC and the Republican Jewish Coalition. If anyone who falls under that wide spectrum of Israel policy views is an “Israel-firster,” then we’re not just talking about a “small number of American Jews,” as Gurvitz contends. We’re talking about almost every Jewish American who considers himself a Zionist, and nearly every Jewish American who exercises his constitutional right to speak freely and lobby in support of the Jewish state.

Israeli fringe leftists like Gurvitz should realize that they’re providing cover for an anti-Semitic term that was coined by American neo-Nazis decades ago, a term that’s designed to intimidate American Jews from voicing support for Israel. Maybe Gurvitz hasn’t grasped that piece of history. Or maybe he wants to marginalize American Jewish support for Israel. Either way this is a debate that doesn’t concern him.

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The Islamist Winter and Middle East Peace

Anyone inclined to be sanguine about the future of Palestinian politics need only read the latest report by the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh to understand that the threat of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank is real. The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement concluded last year may not yet have been consummated but, as Abu Toameh writes, even Fatah officials are starting to understand that if they allow another election, the Islamists may take control of all of the territories just as their Muslim Brotherhood allies have done in Egypt. According to Abu Toameh, Fatah officials are now openly expressing worry about the outcome of these elections, assuming they are held in May as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has promised.

No one should be holding their breath waiting for Abbas to make good on that pledge. Given that he is in now about to start the 8th year of the four-year-term to which he was elected in 2005, Abbas’s idea of democracy is limited to elections that he thinks he’ll win. Yet the pact he signed with Hamas last year is an indication he believes he cannot govern indefinitely without the protection of the radical terrorist group. That’s a piece of intelligence that should inform not only Fatah, but those in the United States that are urging Israel to make further concessions to the Palestinians in the vain hope they will finally agree to make peace.

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Anyone inclined to be sanguine about the future of Palestinian politics need only read the latest report by the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh to understand that the threat of a Hamas takeover of the West Bank is real. The Fatah-Hamas unity agreement concluded last year may not yet have been consummated but, as Abu Toameh writes, even Fatah officials are starting to understand that if they allow another election, the Islamists may take control of all of the territories just as their Muslim Brotherhood allies have done in Egypt. According to Abu Toameh, Fatah officials are now openly expressing worry about the outcome of these elections, assuming they are held in May as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has promised.

No one should be holding their breath waiting for Abbas to make good on that pledge. Given that he is in now about to start the 8th year of the four-year-term to which he was elected in 2005, Abbas’s idea of democracy is limited to elections that he thinks he’ll win. Yet the pact he signed with Hamas last year is an indication he believes he cannot govern indefinitely without the protection of the radical terrorist group. That’s a piece of intelligence that should inform not only Fatah, but those in the United States that are urging Israel to make further concessions to the Palestinians in the vain hope they will finally agree to make peace.

It is possible to disagree about the current extent of the PA’s moderation but there should be no uncertainty about what a Palestinian government that included Hamas would mean. As reluctant as Abbas and Fatah have been to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, we know that Hamas will never make peace with Israel or give up its war to eradicate it for long.

The problem is not, as many Americans, including those who count themselves as Israel’s friends, that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not been forthcoming enough to satisfy the Palestinians. It is that Palestinian public opinion is such that no PA government, whether run by Abbas or Hamas, can afford to accept the Palestinian state that Israel has been offering for more than a decade. What is needed is not more pressure to make Israel bow to Palestinian demands but pressure on the Palestinians — which can be exerted via the aid the West gives the PA — to make them understand that their only choice is between peace and utter ruin.

The Arab Spring that many hoped would bring democracy to the Muslim world has morphed into an Islamist Winter that promises nothing but sorrow and future conflict. If the Palestinians, like the voters of Egypt, ultimately choose to embrace radical Islamists, there is not much the West can do to stop them. But they can draw the proper conclusions from this turn of events and forebear from policies that are based on the assumption that the Palestinians still desire peace with Israel. This is especially true for an Obama administration that is still beguiled by the chimera of a peace accord that the Palestinians clearly have no intention of signing no matter where it might place Israel’s borders.

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Assassination Fantasies Beyond the Pale

It is difficult to know how exactly to classify a recent column published in the Atlanta Jewish Times that, unbelievably, listed the assassination of President Obama, as one of Israel’s options in dealing with the threat of nuclear attack from Iran. But whether you term it over-the-top criticism of Obama or a case of non-ideological idiocy, it is the sort of thing that all people of good will, no matter what they think of the president’s policies, must condemn in the harshest possible terms. The vile canard that Israel would ever consider such a thing is the sort of thing we might expect to see in an anti-Semitic publication rather than one that serves a Jewish community. The author of the piece, the paper’s publisher Andrew Adler, has apologized but he still ought to be forced to step down from his position.

But whatever Adler’s fate turns out to be — and he will be having some rather uncomfortable conversations with the Secret Service — there will be those who will try to use his absurd article to prove that President Obama’s Jewish detractors are so deranged by hatred for him that they are willing to say or write anything. Indeed, we should expect Adler’s stupidity to be a frequent theme employed by apologists for the president who will seek to discredit all of those who argue that Obama’s policies are potentially harmful to Israel. Democrats who try to associate all of Obama critics with Adler will be wrong. But the Atlanta outrage should also serve as a reminder to those who rightly take the president to task that their comments must remain within the bounds of civility and fact.

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It is difficult to know how exactly to classify a recent column published in the Atlanta Jewish Times that, unbelievably, listed the assassination of President Obama, as one of Israel’s options in dealing with the threat of nuclear attack from Iran. But whether you term it over-the-top criticism of Obama or a case of non-ideological idiocy, it is the sort of thing that all people of good will, no matter what they think of the president’s policies, must condemn in the harshest possible terms. The vile canard that Israel would ever consider such a thing is the sort of thing we might expect to see in an anti-Semitic publication rather than one that serves a Jewish community. The author of the piece, the paper’s publisher Andrew Adler, has apologized but he still ought to be forced to step down from his position.

But whatever Adler’s fate turns out to be — and he will be having some rather uncomfortable conversations with the Secret Service — there will be those who will try to use his absurd article to prove that President Obama’s Jewish detractors are so deranged by hatred for him that they are willing to say or write anything. Indeed, we should expect Adler’s stupidity to be a frequent theme employed by apologists for the president who will seek to discredit all of those who argue that Obama’s policies are potentially harmful to Israel. Democrats who try to associate all of Obama critics with Adler will be wrong. But the Atlanta outrage should also serve as a reminder to those who rightly take the president to task that their comments must remain within the bounds of civility and fact.

We’ve often criticized liberals for indulging in hateful speech and inflammatory rhetoric aimed at conservatives while posing as guardians of civility in politics. The recent comments by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the National Democratic Committee, who tried to revive the smear linking the Tea Party to the shooting of Rep. Gabriele Giffords, is an excellent example. Indeed, when it comes to assassination fantasies, liberals who laughed at films and articles that made similar threats about President Bush are in no position to wax indignant about Adler. But it must be admitted that there are conservatives, including some Jewish conservatives, who are just as willing to accuse the president of anything.

Some Democrats may claim that the premise of Adler’s spy novel fantasy — that Obama is “unfriendly to Israel” — is as false as his claim that the Jewish state would even think of attacking the leader of their only ally. But one needn’t believe in Adler’s despicable suggestion to understand that Obama’s attitude toward Israel has been less than supportive of the Jewish state throughout his first three years in office. His distancing of America from Israel, the fights he has picked with the Netanyahu government and stands on Jerusalem have undermined its diplomatic position and strengthened Palestinian extremism.

Yet just as liberals try to ignore these truths, Obama’s opponents must not speak as if the U.S.-Israel alliance has already been completely destroyed or that security cooperation between the two countries has been abandoned. It may well be that an Obama second term would present severe challenges for Israel but that does not excuse those who wish to avert the president’s re-election from indulging in flights of rhetorical fancy or to make accusations that are not based in fact.

Atlanta’s Adler idiocy ought not to be used to smear those who point out Obama’s shortcomings on Israel. But neither should it be completely forgotten, especially by those on both the right and the left who can’t be trusted to tell the difference between a poor record and something far worse.

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South Carolina Proves Conservatives Are Far From Finished

For the past few months we’ve been hearing a lot in the mainstream media about the demise of the Tea Party and conservative Republicans in general. After their triumph in 2010 the Tea Party’s influence was supposed to have peaked last summer during the debt ceiling crisis. The failure of presidential candidates who openly identified with the movement such as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry was seen as evidence of their not being able to even influence the GOP. But yesterday’s big victory in the South Carolina primary by Newt Gingrich is a clear indication that conservatives are still calling the tune in the Republican Party and anyone who thinks their concerns can be ignored or swept to the side is mistaken.

Gingrich won because, unlike Mitt Romney, he was able to tap into the genuine anger that conservatives in this country feel for President Obama and his cheerleaders in the liberal media echo chamber. While Gingrich’s claim to be the true conservative in the race is highly questionable, there is no question that he was the best at articulating the same fervor that helped galvanize Tea Party sentiment and sweep the last midterm elections. If Romney hopes to keep Gingrich’s latest comeback from gaining enough momentum to deny him the GOP nomination, he is going to have to find a way to convince conservatives that he is not merely a technocrat who understands the economy but a man who understands and can articulate their core beliefs. In other words, not only is the Tea Party’s moment not in the past, it is still very much the future of the Republican Party.

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For the past few months we’ve been hearing a lot in the mainstream media about the demise of the Tea Party and conservative Republicans in general. After their triumph in 2010 the Tea Party’s influence was supposed to have peaked last summer during the debt ceiling crisis. The failure of presidential candidates who openly identified with the movement such as Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry was seen as evidence of their not being able to even influence the GOP. But yesterday’s big victory in the South Carolina primary by Newt Gingrich is a clear indication that conservatives are still calling the tune in the Republican Party and anyone who thinks their concerns can be ignored or swept to the side is mistaken.

Gingrich won because, unlike Mitt Romney, he was able to tap into the genuine anger that conservatives in this country feel for President Obama and his cheerleaders in the liberal media echo chamber. While Gingrich’s claim to be the true conservative in the race is highly questionable, there is no question that he was the best at articulating the same fervor that helped galvanize Tea Party sentiment and sweep the last midterm elections. If Romney hopes to keep Gingrich’s latest comeback from gaining enough momentum to deny him the GOP nomination, he is going to have to find a way to convince conservatives that he is not merely a technocrat who understands the economy but a man who understands and can articulate their core beliefs. In other words, not only is the Tea Party’s moment not in the past, it is still very much the future of the Republican Party.

Needless to say, liberals are not taking this development with a good grace.

The New York Times editorial column this morning attempted to rationalize Gingrich’s win by attributing it to conservative racism. This is a liberal canard that has been repeated endlessly in the last two years without any proof to back it up. But the anger that the Times and other liberals mistake for racism is genuine. It is not, however, fueled by racism or a wish to deny minorities opportunities but a function of the frustration that many Americans feel about Obama’s reckless spending and taxing that is leading the country over the economic cliff.

Romney has a case to make to conservatives about his ideas being a better fit on the economy than those of Gingrich. But his cool demeanor and inability to create some chemistry with the electorate is a genuine obstacle to his presidential hopes. By contrast, Gingrich described himself as not a great debater but someone who can “articulate the deepest values of the American people.” It’s easy to scoff at the typical false modesty in this boast but there is something to what he’s driving at. It must be acknowledged that what happened in the last week is in large measure the product of his ability to channel conservative and Tea Party sentiment about liberal politicians and journalists.

The vast compendium of “grandiose” schemes and slogans that emanate from the former speaker are all over the ideological map. His personal flaws and abysmal leadership style make it difficult to imagine him winning the presidency. But unless Romney can figure a way to speak to the hearts as well as the minds of conservatives, he may deliver the GOP nomination to Gingrich.

In the nine days until the Florida primary and most especially the two debates in the state this week, Romney must start speaking directly to conservatives. Last night in his South Carolina concession speech, he gave us a hint of the sort of language that he might use to do that when he spoke of a campaign to defend free enterprise against the party of big government and those Republicans like Gingrich who have employed the arguments of the left to try to tear him down. We’ll need to hear a lot more of that and to hear it spoken with the sort of passion that Gingrich can so easily summon if Romney is ultimately to prevail.

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