I thrive on ferreting out the unexamined assumptions of Israel's uncritical supporters. One of them is The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg. Israel Policy Forum just e-mailed me a panel discussion he conducted with Israel's former New York consul general, Alon Pinkas. The sheer chutzpah of Goldberg's statements about Rahm Emanuel took my breath away:
The rumor about Obama's "Jewish problem" was one of the non-stories of the campaign. Approximately 78 percent of the Jews who voted went for Obama. Obviously, they didn't buy it. It is interesting, however, that if you had been able to tell people that "the guy who will be running the White House is essentially an Israeli," it may have quieted some people down.
...Emanuel is emotionally tied to Israel in ways that very few politicians are, and is unyielding on Israel's right to exist.
I've never been taken with the dual loyalty issues that occupy bloggers like Phil Weiss. But Goldberg has just backed into this one with his eyes wide open. Should American Jews feel more comfortable that Rahm Emanuel is "essentially an Israeli" and will therefore do Israel's bidding in the White House? This somehow doesn't make me more comfortable. It makes me queasy.
I don't mind having Israel's perspective represented in policy discussions. But to feel happy that Obama's key aide represents Israel's perspective in his own person -- that's too much for me.
And here now I've been trying to persuade my readers that regardless of Emanuel's views he's going to be subordinate to Obama's views on Israel even if they might disagree with his own. Goldberg comes along and blows my claim right out of the water. Screw chain of command, Emanuel friggin' owns the White House. My God, what a train wreck Goldberg is.
To be fair, Goldberg follows up with this attempt to balance the equation:
...His low tolerance for nonsense and his willingness to get into people's faces should give caution to those who think he will be some sort of "rubber stamp" to all of Israel's policies.
But this statement seems almost an afterthought. The preponderant emphasis is on the first passage and not the second.
It's possible that Emanuel is one tough son of a bitch who will be able to face down stubborn Israeli politicians reluctant to concede an inch in compromising with their Palestinian neighbors (and vice versa). If that's the Rahm who runs the White House, then more power to him. But Goldberg here hasn't done him any favors in making it appear that Emanuel will be Israel's point person in the Oval Office.
The full audio of the discussion is here.