The Israel Lobby and Hagel
The Israel Lobby and Hagel
By Joe Klein
Jeff Goldberg has an interesting post about the mixed feelings that the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have about launching a major lobbying campaign against Chuck Hagel.
He may be right–and it would be wonderful if true–but I know that AIPAC has been quietly working the phones, arguing against the nomination. There is a difference between that and a full-bore lobbying campaign, but AIPAC’s pro-Netanyahu posture has always been clear.
While on this subject, I should note, with sadness, that Ed Koch–a great mayor of New York and one of the most clever politicians I’ve ever covered–has gone off the high board on the Hagel nomination. There is much that is odious about Koch’s statement, but the notion that the President has ‘betrayed’ Israel by nominating Hagel is the most outrageous.
These notions of betrayal and appeasement (pace Bill Kristol), perfumed with intimations of anti-Semitism are part of a general hyperbolic corruption of the language favored neoconservatives and their extremist allies. Can Nazi metaphors be far behind? Indeed, the idea that negotiating with Iran constitutes ‘appeasement,’ as Kristol has harangued, is a direct reference to Neville Chamberlain’s catastrophic cave to Hitler in the 1930s.
This sort of thinking pre-supposes two false premises: that Jews are as weak and helpless as they were in Nazi Germany and that the dreadful regime in Iran has the strength and imperial hunger of the Nazis. The truth is, Israel is the most powerful country in the region, by far. It has a nuclear arsenal. It has a powerful military and a nonpareil intelligence service. Iran, by contrast, is near economic collapse as a result of the global economic sanctions organized by–yes–Barack Obama. Its nuclear program is constantly sabotaged by computer viruses launched by a joint effort of Israel’s intelligence services and–yes–the Obama Administration. Is this what Ed Koch means by betrayal?
So why all the Nazi talk? Two reasons: Ahmadinejad’s effusions make Iran’s leadership seem crazy–and that craziness is something that works for both Netanyahu and Iran’s real leaders.
The second reason why neoconservatives hype their rhetoric is that it serves as a smokescreen for a basic fact: they’ve been wrong about absolutely everything since 9/11. In the run-up to the Iraq war, prominent leaders like Malcolm Hoenlein–of the egregiously-named Conference of President of Major Jewish American Organization–were spreading the word that taking out Saddam would make the world safer for Israel. That sort of nonsense didn’t cause the war–Bush and Cheney were hurtling in that direction no matter what–but it didn’t impede it either. The record of the Bomber Boys, Bill Kirstol and Charles Krauthammer, and their followers has been undimmed by anything approaching rationality on any national defense issue since 9/11.
There is a third reason: they’ve been able to get away with their bullying. Accusing someone of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic is powerful juju…until it is misused. When you start flinging around such canards and libels to describe people who support Israel but don’t want to see the illegal settlements expand, or who want to negotiate with Iran, you are debasing the currency. The accusations become meaningless.
Read more: swampland.time.com