I have to thank the National Jewish Democratic Council for enabling me to see the humor in the Israel lobby’s scorched earth campaign against the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Yes, I know that the lobby has officially declared itself neutral in the Hagel fight but (1), it is the source of all the propaganda being used against Hagel and (2), if it did not want this unprecedented attack against him to continue, it could just order its Senate cutouts to cease-and-desist just as it dictates the positions they take on any and all matters relating to the Middle East.
If AIPAC decided that, as a lobby dedicated to the interests of Israel, it is inappropriate to dictate who is fit to be in charge of U.S. national security, all it would have to do is pick up the phone. It doesn’t do that. It chooses to keep the Hagel onslaught going in order to show who is in charge. ” This is what we can do.” No doubt that message has been received in all the right places.
There is nothing to laugh about in any of this.
Nor is it funny that the media and blogosphere remain so terrified of the lobby’s power that virtually no journalists are telling their readers or viewers that the only issue that is holding up Hagel’s confirmation is that he is considered insufficiently devoted to the interests of the Netanyahu government.
Contrast this to the media’s handling of AIPAC’s twin, the National Rifle Association, which, powerful as it is, cannot intimidate the media into silence or anything even close to it. AIPAC can definitely teach the NRA a thing or two.
So I was in no laughing mood about the Hagel situation until I saw this statement from the National Jewish Democratic Council. The NJDC is the opposite of (and the same thing as) the Republican Jewish Coalition. The RJC smears any Democrat it does not like as “anti-Israel” in the interests of the Republican party and, even more, to raise money for itself.
The NJDC smears any Republican it does not like as “anti-Israel” in the interests of the Democratic party and, even more, to raise money for itself. This is what the NJDC issued after the Republican response to the State Of The Union message:
Jewish Dems Slam GOP for Snubbing Israel in SOTU Rebuttal
WASHINGTON, DC- National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) Executive Director, Aaron Keyak, issued the following statement in response to Senator Marco Rubio’s glaring omission of Israel and Iran from his State of the Union rebuttal.”Speaking on behalf of the Republican Party, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) neglected to even say one word in support of Israel or our nation’s efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program. President Obama was clear that we must stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace, and do what is necessary to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”
“Jewish Democrats are proud to stand with President Obama and his second term priorities that put support for Israel and preventing a nuclear Iran at the top of his foreign policy agenda. Republicans should support President Obama and his strong leadership on these important issues – or at least mention them when they choose to give a broad national address.”
Did you get that? The NJDC is outraged by Senator Rubio’s “glaring omission” of Israel and Iran from his 2500 word response to President Obama, which it contrasts to the 39 words (all innocuous boilerplate) that Obama devoted to Israel and Iran in his 7000 word address.
So what’s funny? Simply this. The NJDC’s statement demonstrates what a racket the whole Israel issue has become. Like Inhofe, Cruz, McCain, Graham and the rest, the NJDC joyfully exploits Israel to advance a partisan agenda. It smears Rubio (albeit mildly compared to the hyena-like attacks on Hagel) to advance a partisan agenda and, not incidentally, to fund raise in order to pay staff salaries and expense accounts.
Does the NJDC really think Rubio is anti-Israel? Of course not. In fact, using the pro-occupation, pro-Netanyahu standards of the NJDC, Rubio and his fellow rightwing Republicans are considerably more “pro-Israel” than the NJDC, which does, after all, support President Obama, no big Netanyahu fan. Nonetheless, the NJDC and RJC are twins, both components of a lobby that is dedicated to preventing politicians from speaking honestly on any subject that touches on Israel. Neither is really Democratic or Republican. Both are Likud.
Of course, none of this is really about Israel. Neither Chuck Hagel nor Marco Rubio are any more “anti-Israel” than Hagel’s raging Senate prosecutors –James Inhofe, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, David Vitter, Roy Blunt, etc – are “pro-Israel.” I mean, really. Does anyone believe that any of these guys ever thinks about Israel when they are not using it as a cudgel to smash the Obama administration and to court favor with the lobby?
The good news is that some people are waking up. By now everyone has seen the Saturday Night Live skit mocking the Senate Armed Services Committee for its absurd sucking up to the lobby. The skit enraged Abe Foxman, the Anti-Defamation’s league’s Big Kahuna. He said that although the sketch was a hoot “there inevitably will be those who say, ‘yeah, it’s funny, but there is some truth to all of this. ‘” That is, of course, precisely what SNL was trying to say.
Foxman then added that, get ready, “elements of the skit could play into the worst kind of ideas, even reinforcing pernicious notions of Jewish control of government in the vein of those routinely espoused by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites by suggesting that U.S. officials would even engage in public sex acts if asked to do so by Israel.”
No, Abe. The skit could not do that. But the lobby’s unprecedented attack on Hagel might.
Foxman is, of course, the same lobby enforcer who denounced Kevin Spacey’s Netflix series House Of Cards for “anti-Semitism” because it depicted the ADL itself as trying to sink a president’s Cabinet choice because he had once called the occupation of the West Bank “illegal.” Foxman went into full faux-outrage mode over the show’s fictional suggestion that the lobby would try to sink a Cabinet nomination over Israel at the precise moment that it was actually happening in real life! You cannot make this stuff up. On a happier note, earlier this week Foxman absolved fashion designer John Galliano (who, I admit, I never heard of) from the charge of anti-Semitism for appearing on the street in an outfit that resembled Hassidic garb. Here is Foxman:
There is no truth to their [the New York Post's] accusation that John Galliano was dressed in Hasidic garb, and anyone familiar with the dress of traditional Orthodox Jews should not mistake what Galliano is wearing in the photograph as “Hasidic garb.” Hasidim do not wear fedora hats, pinstripe pants, blue jackets or an ascot tie.
This is John Galliano being John Galliano. His dress is always eccentric and his hair is always worn long. This is, at the very least, ignorance on the part of the reporters and editors at the Post, or, at worst, a deliberate, malicious distortion in an effort to sell newspapers.
For the past year and a half, Mr. Galliano has been on a pilgrimage to learn from and grow from his mistakes. Now people are trying to distort and destroy him. He has spent hours with me and with others in the European Jewish community, including rabbis and Holocaust scholars, in an effort to better understand himself and to learn from his past mistakes. He is trying very hard to atone.
Foxman says that Galliano is just being Galliano when he dresses like a Hassid. “Hasidism do not wear fedora hats, pinstripe pants, blue jackets or an ascot tie,” he reminds us. Of course, if they did wear those fashion items and Galliano (a non-Jew!) wore them too, he would no doubt be an anti-Semite.
But it is Foxman’s last paragraph that brought the word racket to mind. Apparently, Galliano is so stung by the charge of, oh you know, that “He has spent hours with me and with others in the European Jewish community, including rabbis and Holocaust scholars, in an effort to better understand himself and to learn from his past mistakes. He is trying very hard to atone.”
Forgive me for being cynical enough to believe that this Galliano chap is not just studying with Foxman, he is writing checks to the ADL too. I don’t know this but somehow I think Foxman’s hysterical defense of Galliano’s fedora is connected with money.
Like an indulgence from the Pope, you can purchase absolution for a price. Maybe Hagel can write a check to AIPAC. I’m just saying. In other words, we are talking about a racket. From Hagel to Galliano, from AIPAC to the ADL to the NJDC, it is all a racket.
The lobby has turned anti-Semitism into a laughing matter, which it most certainly isn’t. Except to the lobby.