More Pussyfootin’ in the Media. Jews Qua Jews

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 9 Comments

Tim Russert has a politics show on MSNBC after Meet the Press and just now I heard him and guests Tucker Carlson and Ryan Lizza analyze the living hell out of Rev. Wright in Chicago and his black church and the political strains in the black community. Then touch-on/avoid the subject of Jews in politics.

Carlson was the most creditable of the speakers. He said that Obama’s refusal to meet with Hamas when he will meet with Iranian and North Korean leaders is a contradiction only explicable by "political considerations." The three of them then avoided where that was going by changin the subjeck to the Cuba Lobby and our immigration policy. Lizza offered the possibility that Democrats may soon stop "pandering" to the Cuban bloc vote, which he said was dominated by older conservative Cubans, because Florida was more and more safely Republican.

I don’t think immigration is as important an issue as whether the Arabs/the world hates us. Lizza was saying–and maybe reflecting his New Republic indoctrination on this score–that North Korea is a state and so is Iran; since when is Hamas at that level!

The issue of statelessness is of course key. At the same time that India and Pakistan became independent states, Palestinian Partition in ’47 called for two states, Arab and Jewish, on roughly equal portions of the land. The most distant observer–and this is what U.S. politics needs now, more and more detached observers–understands that for 60 years there has been a Jewish one on far more of that land than the U.N. apportioned to it, but no Arab one. The reasons for this are manifold, and no doubt the Arab world has played its part.  But certainly for the last 40 years the Israeli occupation has been the largest factor in Palestinian statelessness. And for the last 6 the Arab world has called for Partition along newer lines. Still no state.

Conservative American Jewry has obviously been one of the most important obstacles to the formation of that state. But our politics can’t deal with this. And neither can our journalism. Just ask Russert.

I have a Jewish journalist friend who meets my statement that Jews are members of the American establishment always with the condescending comment, "Yes but are they acting as Jews qua Jews. No." He means with that qua that we are simply Americans like other diverse Americans, we’re not behaving Jewish. As I’ve said here before, I find this attitude highly incurious for a journalist. I am fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of my people (and other tribes too), never moreso than now that we have a seat in the cockpit, funding the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Steve Walt’s seat at Harvard and Freedom’s Watch, too.

Which would be chiefly of sociological interest were it not for the issue of the Israel lobby. Per Lizza’s analysis of the Cubans, the Israel lobby is dominated by the older conservative component of Jewish life; and that group needs to be scrutinized and understood by journalists. But it’s not. I feel for myself that it still has a hold on the body of the Jewish community. So good journalists are simply afraid to talk about central facts in our political life. Though maybe Carlson is intrigued/titillated because his daddy done got largessed by the Israel lobby.

Oh–but let us talk about Obama’s "very radical" (I think those were Lizza’s words) black preacher all day and night. Qua qua qua. Quack quack quack.

9 Responses

  1. Andrew Sommers
    March 30, 2008, 1:31 pm

    Phil – I tried posting this in the previous discussion, but it didn't seem to show up, so I'm posting it here.


    Obama has millions of Jewish supporters and receives millions in Jewish donations for his campaign. His campaign manager is a Jew. Would someone please clue in these Jews that ZOG Headquarters has commanded that Jews support Hilary.

    My God people, the African-Americans are in lock step on this one and look at you pathetically diverse Jews. Why should anyone be afraid of you people?

    Philip – I'm sure AIPAC appreciates you bringing word to your people what their marching orders are. Good job. Sayanim of the Month perhaps?

    What I want to know is why the MSM has been silent about the incredible order and alignment of the African-American community and the complete disorder of the Jewish community on this election issue.

    My name is Andy Sommers. I'm Jewish. I'm voting for Obama, and I've approved this post.

  2. Jim Haygood
    March 30, 2008, 1:59 pm


    "Oh–but let us talk about Obama's "very radical" (I think those were Lizza's words) black preacher all day and night. Qua qua qua. Quack quack quack."

    The U.S. civil rights revolution blew the issue of race relations wide open. Discussion of the issue is relatively untrammeled. One can blast Rev. Wright for his ideas, without being suspected or accused of anti-black racism. And that's as it should be.

    An equivalent glasnost has never applied to Israel. From the day in 1948 when President Harry Truman recognized Israel within minutes of its founding, up until now, the major decisions on Israel have been taken without democratic debate. When Walt and Mearsheimer attempted to supply the missing side of the story — the factual case against aid to Israel — they were savaged as either incompetent or antisemitic, despite their solidly mainstream credentials.

    Observing the heavy-handed enforcement of the taboo on candid discussion of Jewish political influence, African American political figures such as Condi Rice and Barack Obama decline to explore the parallels between past U.S. segregation and present-day Israeli segregation, though they surely recognize them.

    Years ago, I recall reading an account by a Jewish author in Israel who impersonated an Arab, much as white author John Howard Griffin did when he had his skin pigmented in "Black Like Me" (1961). The Jewish author was shocked not so much by outright hatred, as by being ignored. Once he "went Arab," other Jews treated him as if he were invisible, sometimes having disrespectful conversations in front of him as if he weren't there.

    Someday, someone is going to write the English-language book, maybe even in fictional form, that blows the subject of Israeli segregation wide open. South African apartheid created a huge and vivid literature from authors all across the political spectrum, exploring that piquant, highly abnormal society. So did the American South. It's surprising that Israel's equally idiosyncratic society has not produced a similar dramatic literature, especially from Israeli Arabs in their "separate but equal" schools. But I'm guessing that breakthrough young author is pecking away on a keyboard even now. Look out … the pen is mightier than the sword, or the suicide bomber.

  3. Rowan Berkeley
    March 30, 2008, 2:23 pm

    Your journalist friend has a concept of what does or doesn't count as "acting as Jews" that is so narrow and legalistic as to be pathetic.

  4. Oarwell
    March 30, 2008, 2:30 pm

    Google-casting for the book Jim H. mentioned above (I vaguely remember it, as well), I came across a review of a book I never heard of, and never even imagined might exist: Elliot Horowitz's "Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence." Published by Princeton University Press, no less.

    "While the Megillah’s account of the rivers of blood in which Purim was conceived may have no actual historical basis, its continued recitation has brought many ugly repercussions."

    Interesting read.

    link to

  5. Daveg
    March 30, 2008, 3:10 pm

    Actually, as you point out, Phil is a little imprecise with the term "Jew," but I guess he feels as a Jew he can be that way.

    It is not "Jews" per se, but actually pro-Israel Jews/Zionists/Likud however you want to label. There are also non-Jewish supporters of Israel.

    W&M called in the Lobby. Seems to work for me.

  6. Jim Haygood
    March 30, 2008, 3:59 pm


    From the Allan Nadler article in the Forward, linked by Oarwell above:

    "When I was a young child in Montreal, my grandfather explained that the mitzvah of 'wiping out' Haman’s descendants was best fulfilled by writing the word 'Amalek' in Hebrew on the soles of newly purchased shoes and then taking a stroll among our good French neighbors, whom, he assured me, certainly were not Amalekites."

    Well, that certainly beats setting fire to hanging effigies of Haman, in a kind of kosher Klan rally. Nadler notes, pace Horowitz, that "American Jews, repulsed by their country’s deep racism, made manifest most cruelly in the Deep South’s lynching of blacks, had no stomach for the Megillah’s hanging images."

    But still … what would one say about someone who wrote "JEWS" on the soles of their new shoes, just to have the pleasure of treading on them all day?

    I rather prefer the legend of Phil's hetairai. Some wore special shoes with soles that imprinted the message "follow me" (akolouthei) in the sand. Make love, not war.

  7. Jim Haygood
    March 30, 2008, 4:40 pm


    Here's an old (1986) article by Daniel Pipes, of all people, about Israeli segregation. He's all for it. Excerpt:


    Separation in Israel extends to all aspects of life. Jews and Arabs not only live apart; they also worship, work, socialize, and play separately. The same American movie might show simultaneously in two theaters in Jerusalem, playing to a wholly Arab audience in one and to an all-Jewish audience in the other. Arabs tend to vote for Arab politicians, Jews for Jewish ones. This pattern is learned young; with the lone exception of Neveh Shalom, * nowhere in Israel do Arab and Jewish children sit in the same classroom. *

    The Arabic-language telephone directory for Jerusalem highlights another aspect of this segregation. Israel's telephone company does not publish a directory in Arabic, so Arab entrepreneurs have published their own directory for Jerusalem. They omitted all Jewish names and published only Arab names. The assumption behind the omission – that Arabs do not call Jews – implies a great deal about daily life.

    Bus lines are equally revealing. Arabs travel on buses owned and driven by fellow Arabs; Jews use buses owned and staffed by Jews. The two people travel apart whenever possible, even when their routes overlap. Two separate companies, for example, serve the route between Jerusalem and Bethlehem; the one Arabs patronize leaves from a station in East Jerusalem; Jews patronize one that leaves from West Jerusalem. An Arab encounters no difficulties traveling on the Jewish line, nor a Jew on the Arab line, but the two peoples prefer to avoid contact with each other.

    As these many examples suggest, the paths of Arabs and Jews cross only when a specific purpose takes one of them to the alien side of the city. When Arab and Jew do encounter each other, they usually pass wordlessly. Physically, they must share a street; mentally, each lives in his own world. At best, each acts as though the other were invisible or nonexistent. At worst, they respond with fear or aggression. When a Jew put on an Arab headdress, carried an Arabic newspaper, and walked in the Jewish part of Jerusalem, he found that "the passers-by stare at me like at a walking bomb."

    Separation is a proven way of dealing with an historic challenge. Though not the solution we in the West would prefer, nor by any means an ideal solution, it does work. It offers an authentic, indigenous answer to a characteristic Middle Eastern problem; how two peoples can coexist at close quarters.

    link to


    All well and good, Mr. Pipes. So please don't patronize me by calling Israel — with its completely segregated schools — a model democracy, made in the image of the U.S., and represented by entwined U.S. and Israeli flags as in AIPAC's logo. "Since the inception of Zionism in the 1860s, Jewish-Arab segregation has been the rule," Pipes says. American Jews were heroes in the civil rights movement. But their activism ends at the water's edge, when it comes to Israel.

  8. Glenn Condell
    March 31, 2008, 2:47 am

    'Phil – I tried posting this in the previous discussion, but it didn't seem to show up, so I'm posting it here.'

    I have lost count of the number of times that's happened to me here. I'm trying not to take it personally.

  9. Clara
    March 31, 2008, 10:01 pm

    Andy Sommers, hi, I'm an African American woman. I would prefer big jewish donors were not giving to Obama as I want him to deliver on his promises. Bring our guys home from Iraq, stop the Israel-firster foreign policy. I would like to see it made illegal for any individual to give more than $100 to any political campaign or representative. I would like to make it illegal for corporations but more importantly, groups like AIPAC who represent foreign governments from donating money into the political process. There is no reason for jews to be the biggest donors of both parties this in itself is undemocratic because they're just 2% of the whole population. I do not want a ruling elite and sure not one so aligned to another country. I believe most White Americans agree with me too, that's why Obama has working and middle class votes.
    We want our country back.

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