"Two very smart -- and very Jewish -- professionals . . . summed the night thusly: So we traded Lieberman for Cynthia McKinney?
Lamont, people say now, will not be an advocate for Israel the way Lieberman was -- but he will not be hostile, or join the ranks of Israel bashers. Maybe trading him for McKinney was actually a good thing."
"What depresses me most about the constant playing and replaying of the anti-Semitism card isn't the fact that I'm currently a target of it -- Billmon is just an bunch of electrons, a shadow of the blogosphere, and it doesn't matter what the pro-Israel partisans say about him -- but the blanket of dishonesty and fear it throws over any discussion of Israel and Israel's special relationship with the United States.
I mean, here we have an incredibly powerful lobby -- as effective in its own sphere of interest as the NRA is with firearms, if not more so -- and yet when a critic of Israel (or even worse, a goy critic of Israel) dares to mentions that power and influence it's treated as the moral equivalent of a Julius Streicher editorial. The other day one of my e-mail stalkers accused me of writing stuff that could have appeared in the Völkischer Beobachter.
Now why would I want to do that when Fox News already has that market locked up?
On the other hand, when a Jewish writer for the New Yorker quoted AIPAC's top lobbyist saying this:"You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin."
I didn't hear an upwelling of outrage in Right Blogistan -- or a peep out of the Zionist sentinels at the Weekly Standard and The New Republic.
I wonder: What would the reaction have been if the writer's last name had been Mearsheimer or Walt?
I'm not whining about the unfairness of it all: I'm old enough to know that all is fair in love, war and "transactional lobbying." But I do see it as yet another example of the increasingly impermeable bubble that America now lives in -- a kind of virtual reality in which the government, both political parties and the major media tacitly agree to ignore threatening facts or uncomfortable contradictions if recognizing them would upset the "mainstream" consensus. And America's alliance with Israel is a cherished part of that consensus.
In this particular case, the make-believe reality is that there's nothing unusual about the enormous influence that the representatives of a tiny Middle Eastern country (one without oil, no less) now have on Capitol Hill, and the assumption that anyone who thinks it is unusual and frequently harmful must hate the Jews -- or at best is a "subliminal" anti-Semite, blissfully unaware that their prejudices are leading their policy positions around by the nose.
In the context of U.S. policy towards Israel and the Middle East, the object of playing the anti-Semitism card is to create a debate in which one side is constantly questioning its own motives. It demands that everyone accept the basic premise that criticism of Israel, the country, must equal hostility towards Jews, the ethnic group.
The thing is, when a charge like anti-Semitism is repeated, over and over, high and low, to cover everything from David Duke's poisonous rants to the mildest criticisms of the Israeli war machine in action, it inevitably starts to lose its sting. If you've got any intellectual courage at all, you begin to think: I'm going to be accused of anti-Semitism no matter what I write, so why not write honestly, and let the readers decide who's telling the truth?
I mean, why should the correspondent from Ha'aretz get to have all the fun?