Any doubt we might have that the Israeli right has lost its
mind should be eliminated by the latest column from one of its most prominent
media figures, Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem
Glick, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, has
flipped out over some remarks (which we'll get to later) made last week by Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Ambassador to Belgium Howard
Gutman. And here is how
she explains those remarks.
Her first explanation is that "the Obama administration is
an ideological echo chamber in which only certain positions are permitted."
Restrained by ideological thought police that outlaw
critical thought about the dominant forces in the Islamic world today, US
officials have little choice but to place all the blame for everything that
goes wrong on the one society they are free to criticize -- Israel.
That, in itself, borders on hilarious.
Anyone who pays even a modicum of attention to the Middle
East knows that rather than "place all the blame for everything" on Israel, the
Obama administration blames Israel for nothing while providing more foreign aid
to Israel than to any other country, supporting it on every issue at the United Nations -- often against America's own
interests -- and never, ever attaching any conditions to our aid or support (as
we do with every other country in the world).
The only thing President Obama has asked of Israel during
his entire term is for a three-month settlement freeze, to which Israel said no.
(Prime Minister Netanyahu himself says Obama
has earned a "badge of honor" for his uncritical support for Israel.)
It is Glick's second explanation of the Obama
administration's attitude toward Israel that demonstrates the mindset of those
whose ardor for maintaining the occupation of the West Bank and blockade of Gaza
trumps the security of Israel. Get ready.
The second possible explanation for the administration's
treatment of Israel is that it is permeated by anti-Semitism. The outsized
responsibility and culpability placed on Israel by the likes of Obama, Clinton,
Panetta and Gutman is certainly of a piece with classical anti-Semitic
They are anti-Semites! Who would have imagined?
Not only are Obama, Panetta and Clinton anti-Semites, but
they are, she writes, from the "classical" school (by which she means, I guess,
that their antipathy toward Jews comes from reading The Merchant of Venice and Oliver
I'll leave Gutman out for now because he is Jewish, which
means that a "classical" anti-Semite he cannot be.
I am not going to address the absurdity of calling any of
these people anti-Semites, a term that refers not (take note, Abe Foxman) to disagreeing
with policies of the state of Israel, but to disliking Jews, discriminating
against them, and, at worst, doing them bodily harm.
Disliking Israel or its policies does not make one
anti-Semitic anymore than disliking Saudi Arabia or its policies makes one
Yes, some people who dislike Israel and/or its policies are
anti-Semitic, but, by the same token, so are many (in the Christian right, in
particular) who profess love for Israel and defend every one of its policies.
Of course, none of the people Glick calls anti-Semitic are
remotely anti-Israel, let alone anti-Semitic.
Under President Obama, strategic military cooperation
between Israel and the United States has reached an all-time high, as even
Obama critic and neocon Elliot Abrams agrees.
Secretary of Defense Panetta said last week that America's
"unshakeable bond" with Israel is the first of the "three pillars" on which
U.S. policies in the Middle East stand and will remain so as long as he is
As for Secretary of State Clinton, her support for Israel and
for progressive and Jewish causes during her years as First Lady, Senator from
New York, and now Secretary of State has made her one of the most popular
political figures in the American Jewish community.
Glick reminds me of the truth of philosopher August Bebel's
statement that "anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools." If he were alive
today and read Glick and other neocons like her, he'd surely say that "invoking
anti-Semitism is the Zionism of fools."
But enough about Glick.
What about those statements by administration figures that
got the neocons so bent out of shape?
First, there was Panetta's.
According to neocon blogger (and Caroline Glick sidekick)
Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, Panetta
was being "antagonistic" to Israel when he said that Israel's security would be
enhanced if it would "reach out and mend fences with those who share an
interest in regional stability -- countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as
Jordan. This is an important time to be able to develop and restore those key
relationships in this crucial area."
As Rubin -- an ardent
and outspoken Mitt Romney supporter -- explains, calling
on Israel to "reach out" was typical of Panetta's view that everything bad in
the Middle East is "Israel's fault" when, as she continuously argues, absolutely
Then there was Clinton, who decried
the effort in Israel to ban international funding for progressive
Israeli NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that work in Israel on democracy
building, civil rights, protecting
minorities, environmental issues, and gay and women's issues, to name a few.
Clinton pointed out that she goes around the world promoting
acceptance of NGOs and their empowerment, and the Israeli right was trying to
shut them down with the support of the Netanyahu government.
The right-wing Commentary
website called Clinton's remarks an "anti-Israel" broadside, although
thankfully not classical anti-Semitism. Of course, that would require calling
the Anti-Defamation League anti-Semitic, because it shares Clinton's
views on the NGO law.
I'll devote the least space to Ambassador Gutman's remark because,
although it stirred the most outrage among the usual suspects, the hysteria is
Gutman said that what he calls Muslim anti-Semitism "stems
from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians." This rather
obvious statement caused a brouhaha because, as Jeff Goldberg tells us,
anti-Semitism comes from the air and is, in no way, connected to anything
Goldberg writes: "Jews
do not cause anti-Semitism; blacks do not cause racism; gays do not cause
homophobia. Hatred is a mental and spiritual illness, not a political
Well, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, as
Israeli writer Yossi Gurvitz points out.
Muslim-baiting in this country stems from the misconception
that Muslims, as a people, were responsible for 9/11. Anti-Japanese hysteria in
the United States reached fever pitch because of Pearl Harbor. And Muslim
antipathy toward Jews is, as everyone knows, directly connected to the history
of Palestine since the Zionist movement began.
We may not like it. We may wish it wasn't so. But all it
takes is talking to a Muslim (whether from Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia,
or anywhere else) to discover that yes, the displacement of the Palestinians is
at the root of any antipathy that exists. (Much like Israeli antipathy toward
Palestinians has something to do with terrorism.)
The good news is that Gutman's truth-telling is not costing
him his job, a sign, I guess, that the classical anti-Semites are really in
It's insane. But less insane than this crowd's current big
project: war with Iran.
Question: If Israel bombs Iran, how will Jeff Goldberg
explain the world's rage toward Israel? Will fury over the attack stem from the
fact that it plunged the region into war and crashed the world economy or will
it just be another result of some "mental or spiritual illness"? You know the
Follow MJ Rosenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mjayrosenberg