Response to "Israel Lobby Intimidation"
This morning's issue of The Indianapolis Star included a "Fresh Thoughts" editorial by Scott Williamson entitled "Israel Lobby Intimidation". (Note that I don't necessarily hold the title against the author; I've learned that titles that I suggest for my IN Touch posts aren't used and, instead, the editorial staff of the paper chooses a title. Therefore, I will give Williamson the benefit of the doubt that he did not choose the inflammatory title given to his post.) There is much that I could write about Williamson's post, in particular the fact that the evidence simply doesn't support the allegations that he makes. Instead, I'll start by simply copying the comment what I posted in response to Williamson:
Another thing worth noting is the content of some of the other comments to Williamson's post (selected comments only, internal format editing not noted, all spelling errors in original):
You make the statement that Mr. Freeman withdrew his name after "repeated attacks" and claim that these attacks came from supporters of the "Israeli right".
First, since when is it an "attack" to discuss a particular nominee's previous stated positions as well as the nominee's affiliations (including those nations from whom the nominee has accepted payment)?
Second, why do you presume that someone who was opposed to Mr. Freeman must, by definition, be a supporter of the "Israeli right". Isn't it equally possible for supporters of Israel or for an equitable resolution to the conflict to be concerned by Mr. Freeman's positions and ties to Saudi Arabia?
Finally, while in response to a later comment, you endeavor to distance yourself from the distasteful connotations of the term "Israel Lobby", in your original post, you allege there is a "taboo that forbids our public officials from disagreeing with Israeli policies". Of course, you don't back this statement up with evidence because it is simply untrue. American officials criticize Israel all the time; Secretary of State Clinton did so during her recent visit to Israel. The belief in a "taboo" is simply buying into the worst aspects of the myth of the "Israel Lobby" that you then attempt to avoid.
Moreover, isn't it possible that American officials largely don't disagree with Israeli policies because they do, in fact, agree with those policies? The argument ought not to be whether the mythic lobby is so strong as to create a taboo; instead, the question ought to be whether America should support a democratic regime that recognizes human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and other basic notions of fairness that are important to us as Americans or end that support in exchange for support of non-democratic regimes that have no respect for human rights and which use violence as a means to political ends, both foreign and domestic?
Carl writes: Chas Freeman's sin was to utter the truth: 9/11 attacks were the direct result of our blind support for Israel. We need patriotic Americans to speak out against the Israel Lobby. Senator Joe "israel" Lieberman and Chuck Schumer led the fight in Congress. It is a shame that a patriotic and talented American like Chas Freeman was driven out by a parasite lobby. The Israel lobby is a malignant in America's body.While Williamson may have intended his post to raise and address a good faith discussion of a particular issue, his framing of the issue merely emboldens the more vitriolic anti-Israel and anti-Semitic crowd. So posts like Williamson's inevitably lead to comments and viewpoints like those set forth above which are becoming more and more prevalent and against which we are fighting. And, when I say "we" I don't intend to limit that to supporters of Israel. Instead, the "we" that I refer to includes all of those who believe in open, honest, reasoned debate, free of unsupported allegations, innuendo, and bigotry.
Jack writes: And you wonder why Hitler called the Jews a threat to his country?
mike writes: this is why germans hated jews and finally decided to take back their country
Lowell writes: Shame, Americans have NO control over their country. Obama/McCain all had to get blessing of AIPAC for becoming President. Rahm Imanuel (his father was a memeber of jewish "terrorist" organization Irgun, which killed countless Britisth!) runs White house.What do you expect? Time for Americans, to take their country back. America needs more Jimmy Carter, Paul Finlay!
Keltrava writes: When Israeli air force and ground troops weee killing hundreds of children, women, civillians, policemen and bombing UN compounds, schools, bomb shelters, government buildings and private homes without any objection from Obama he promised to have plenty to say after inauguration. So far not a whisper. A look at Obama's appointments, financial backers and speeches at AIPAC clearly demonstrates that AIPAC will define US policy in the Middle East.
I'm happy to debate anyone on the issue of US support for Israel or Israel's right to exist and to defend itself, but I'm not interested in having that debate with someone who refuses to be intellectually honest, to support their position with facts, or to accept the legitimacy of facts that weaken their position (Jimmy Carter being the chief example...). And I'm certainly not willing to have that debate with someone who, in the absence of facts and logic, will resort to timeless anti-Semetic rants, whether in the form of modernized versions of the Blood Libel or the equally modernized reframings of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
As Alan Dershowitz has suggested:
So long as criticism is comparative, contextual, and fair, it should be encouraged, not disparaged. But when the Jewish nation is the only one criticized for faults that are far worse among other nations, such criticism crosses the line from fair to foul, from acceptable to anti-Semitic.(The Case For Israel, 2003, p.1.) So, by all means criticize Israel, but in doing so be sure that your criticism is reasoned and just, supported by facts, and that you don't hold Israel (or its supporters) to a standard higher than that to which the rest of the international community is held. When you confuse Israeli and Jew, when you question the motives of American Jews, when you resort to vague innuendo that hearkens back to the Blood Libel or Protocols or "Jews control the media/banks" themes, then you are no longer engaged in good faith criticism, but rather you have crossed over the line.