Kvetching About Israel

It’s been a while since I read Tom Friedman, but I see the Israel First contingent is up in arms about something he wrote, so I thought it was worth checking it out.

Friedman writes that while American politicians are tripping all over themselves declaring total subservient loyalty to whatever the government of Israel wants, American Jews are conflicted and ambivalent.

I’d never claim to speak for American Jews, but I’m certain there are many out there like me, who strongly believe in the right of the Jewish people to a state, who understand that Israel lives in a dangerous neighborhood yet remains a democracy, but who are deeply worried about where Israel is going today. My guess is we’re the minority when it comes to secular American Jews. We still care. Many other Jews are just drifting away.

This is the passage that is getting the most attention:

I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.

Here’s the rest of the paragraph, generally ignored:

The real test is what would happen if Bibi tried to speak at, let’s say, the University of Wisconsin. My guess is that many students would boycott him and many Jewish students would stay away, not because they are hostile but because they are confused.

Friedman goes on to say that a lot of worrisome stuff is going on in Israel that is making it look less like the western-style democracy that we like to pretend it is. You can read Friedman for details. I think Friedman hits a lot of nails square on the head in this column.

Naturally, Jennifer Rubin is beside herself in outrage of biblical — nay, Michelle Malkin — proportions. You can almost hear the steam coming out of her ears.

The neocon Elliott Abrams also is fuming, to the point that he is stumbling to express himself in English:

… what in the world except prejudice can lead Mr. Friedman to make the ugly charge that support for Israel in Congress, need support for Mr. Netanyahu in Congress, is “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby?”

Oh, I don’t know. Truth, maybe?

BTW, the war in Iraq is officially over. Thought I’d mention it.

Update: David Frum, currently filling the role as the “reasonable” conservative, bashes liberals as anti-Semites by framing any criticism of Israel’s Likud government as “antisemitism.” This is, of course, a slick way to slap down open and honest discussion of how much the U.S. is subordinating its own interests to support right-wing radicalism in Israel. See also Andy Sullivan.

Update: Remarkably, nearly all of the comments to Frum’s op ed are pointing out to Frum that he’s full of it.

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