Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Matthew Yglesias on The Lobby

The number of voices making clear, unambigous statements, regarding the supporters of Israel moving us towards war is growing. Matthew Yglesias has just joined them.

Retired General Wesley Clark is, like me, concerned that the Bush administration is going to launch a war with Iran. Arianna Huffington spoke to him in early January and asked why he was so worried the administration was headed in this direction. According to Huffington's January 4 recounting of Clark's thoughts, he said this: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

This, of course, is true. I'm Jewish and I don't think the United States should bomb Iran, but Thursday night I was talking to a Jewish friend and she does think the United States should bomb Iran. The Jewish community, in short, is divided on the issue. It's also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country. Furthermore, it's true that major Jewish organizations are trying to push the country into war. And, last, it's true that if you read the Israeli press you'll see that right-wing Israeli politicians are anticipating a military confrontation with Iran. (For example, here's an article about the timing of the selection of a new top dog in the Israeli Defense Forces; Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted as saying that the new leader "will have to straighten the army out, rebuild Israel's deterrence and prepare the defenses against threats, first and foremost, against Iran.")

Everything Clark said, in short, is true. What's more, everybody knows it's true. The worst that can truthfully be said about Clark is that he expressed himself in a slightly odd way. This, it seems clear, he did because it's a sensitive issue and he worried that if he spoke plainly he'd be accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism. So he spoke unclearly and, for his trouble, got … accused of trafficking in anti-Semitism.

American Prospect


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's see, talking about the "money people in New York" channelling funds to control polticians can indeed be considered "saying something in an awkward way."

It also could be considered antisemitic.

But we're not allowed to mention that "gorilla in the room" these days. Because in the Orwellian world of the anti-Israel "lobby," pointing out the truth is actually "stifling debate."

1/24/2007 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Does your definition of anti-semitism include any statement, true or otherwise, that you don't like?

1/25/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My definition of antisemitism includes people who claim that Jewish money people in New York are controlling our politicians.

1/25/2007 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Well, "controlling" is tad strong, and I don't think anyone said "control" per se, but "heavily influencing", well I think that would be accurate.

AND no one said Jewish, just New York.

But, if you say that New York donors are influencing politicians, and you can back it up with facts, hard to see how that is anti-Semitic.

So, it seems that we are trying to expose the truth, and you are trying to stifle the debate with overly broad, inaccurate, and unsubstantiated claims of "anti-Semitism".

But what else is new.

1/26/2007 04:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does pointing out the antisemitism prevelant on the Israel bashing side "stifle debate?"

If you want a debate, have a debate. And pointing out racism is a part of that.

Let's review what "stifling debate" we have seen.

In Canada, a mob of pro-Palestinian protestors physically prevented former Israeli PM Bibi Netenyahu from speaking. The University announced that it would not host the speech, because it could not guarantee security.

In Egypt, a group of citizens wants to form an "Israeli Egyptian friendship league" which would support cultural exchanges between the countries. The government, despite its peace agreement, refuses to allow such a group.

In Bangladesh, a journalist, Salah Choudury sits in jail on charges of "sedition." His crime? Attempting to travel to Israel to speak at a conference in support of interfaith dialogue.

In Iran, Zionism is a capital crime.

Those are examples of "stifling debate." Pointing out the racism behind much of the attacks on Israel and its supporters is not. Rather it is "counterspeech."

1/26/2007 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

The problem is you not "pointing out" anti-Semitism. You are just making a baseless statement. Your don't show why Wes Clark's statement was anti-Semitic.

Also, your examples are weak, but particularly so because none are from the US.

Israel is talking about arresting and/or revoking citizenship of arab Israeli's that travel to "enemy" nations. Sounds as bad if not worse than the examples you provide.

And if you need to compare Israel with (mostly) Arab nations, then that says a lot about what it takes to make Israel look good, relatively speaking.

1/26/2007 12:18:00 PM  

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