Two days ago, in a column causing some commotion – “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” – Tom Friedman wrote this:
It confuses [many Jewish American students] to read a Financial Times article from Israel on Monday, that said: “In recent weeks, the country has been consumed by an anguished debate over a series of new laws and proposals that many fear are designed to stifle dissent, weaken minority rights, restrict freedom of speech and emasculate the judiciary. They include a law that in effect allows Israeli communities to exclude Arab families; another that imposes penalties on Israelis advocating a boycott of products made in West Bank Jewish settlements; and proposals that would subject the supreme court to greater political oversight.”
And it confuses them to read Gideon Levy, a powerful liberal voice, writing in Haaretz, the Israeli daily, this week that “anyone who says this is a matter of a few inconsequential laws is leading others astray. … What we are witnessing is w-a-r. This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state.”
Jeffrey Goldberg well answered the reflexive “Israel Lobby” charge. Walter Russell Mead has done it on multiple occasions at greater length. Sometimes people cannot accept that other people actually disagree with them, that non-Jewish Americans, for instance, support Israel in the face of all for profoundly natural and good reasons. There has to be an explanation external to reason: “bought and paid for.” In fact, I agree with a fair amount of what Friedman otherwise says in his column, and I do dislike the trends in the proposed legislation he cites from the Financial Times article. What I don’t agree with is the hysteria.
Here is a simultaneous development in the United States. Perhaps Israel should be worried about the U.S. From Jonathan Turley on the new defense authorization bill:
Americans will now be subject to indefinite detention without trial in federal courts in a measure supported by both Democrats and Republicans. It is a curious way to celebrate the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights.
I am not sure which is worse: the loss of core civil liberties or the almost mocking post hoc rationalization for abandoning principle. The Congress and the President have now completed a law that would have horrified the Framers. Indefinite detention of citizens is something that the Framers were intimately familiar with and expressly sought to bar in the Bill of Rights. While the Framers would have likely expected citizens in the streets defending their freedoms, this measure was greeted with a shrug and a yawn by most citizens and reporters.
- NYT’s Friedman: Netanyahu’s Standing Ovation in Congress ‘Bought and Paid for by the Israel Lobby’ (newsbusters.org)
- James Zogby: GOP Candidates Discuss Israel-Palestine (huffingtonpost.com)
- Is Greater Israel Now Mainly A Christianist Cause? (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Israel gets tough on Jewish settlers (smh.com.au)
- Tyranny of Victimhood: Why the Guardian gives a free ride to reactionary Palestinian movement (sadredearth.com)
- The Pernicious Anti-Israeli Propaganda of Global Policy Forum (sadredearth.com)
- The Uncanny John Mearsheimer (sadredearth.com)
- Anatomy of an Anti-Semite (sadredearth.com)
- “Emergency” Committee for Israel Uses Israel as a Wedge Issue (sadredearth.com)
- The Putrid Cynicism of the Emergency Committee for Israel (sadredearth.com)
- Dear Nicholas Kristof, You Are a Fool (sadredearth.com)
- Framing Israel (sadredearth.com)