‘Patriots’ Owner’s Wife Says Her Sons Could Fight for Israel, Not U.S.

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 31 Comments

On her recent visit to the Jewish state, the Jerusalem Post asked Myra Kraft, a leader in American Jewish philanthropy to Israel and the wife of Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, how she would feel about one of her four sons moving to Israel and joining the army.

I would go with him. I always wanted to live here. As for joining the army, over Vietnam, I would have had an issue,
because I didn’t believe in it. The same goes for the war in Iraq. I
don’t know why we’re there. I would hate to have one of my sons
fighting there. Iran’s the problem, not Iraq. But, as far as fighting
for Israel is concerned, there is no problem.

The JPost asked what issues she’ll take into account in the coming U.S. election:

Israel, the economy, the plans for getting out of Iraq quickly.

I find Myra Kraft’s comments both troubling and understandable. Understandable because she is the daughter of a Lithuanian Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Massachusetts. As a little girl she collected money from neighbors for  Palestine. I imagine she has never felt completely secure in the west emotionally, given her father’s experience. His family was annihilated. So she feels great loyalty to Israel. I know Zionists like this. 

I’m troubled because of her indifference to the larger American scene, in which she is a player.  The Krafts have real power in the U.S., beginning with ownership of the Patriots. Robert Kraft is a dedicated alum of Columbia University and has given tons of money to the school. After the pro-Israel David Project blew apart Columbia in 2005 with its attack on the Middle East department, Kraft did a great thing and gave $500,000 to a fund for intercultural awareness and dialogue to try and heal his school. He has funded the Kraft Center for Jewish Life, which houses Hillel and a cafe that calls Israeli food "a taste of home"–whose home? And Columbia President Lee Bollinger surely had Kraft’s largesse in mind when he attacked Ahmadinejad before introducing the Iranian President at the campus  last year. Bollinger needs guys like Kraft to fund his new dream campus in Harlem…

The Krafts seem to look on Israel as a home. They count Ehud Olmert as a friend, also Netanyahu. Myra thinks Israel is a great country and that it’s badly portrayed in the media–people are afraid to go because there will be suicide bombings. There seems to be no awareness of the suffering Israel is causing. When she
urges Christians to go and see what a great place it is, I don’t think she’s including Arab-Americans, who according to the Arab-American Institute, face terrible discrimination when they try and visit Israel and the Occupied Territories. Time and again the U.S. has honored its promises to the Jews for freedom in American society. Yet Jewish leadership helps to rubbish minority rights in Palestine. If her sons were in the IDF, they would be serving an occupation.

Mostly I’m troubled by her parochialism. She is a member of the American establishment, and she thinks always of Israel. Is this the way leaders should act?

31 Responses

  1. Jim Haygood
    March 19, 2008, 8:18 am

    "Iran's the problem, not Iraq. But, as far as fighting for Israel is concerned, there is no problem." – Myra Kraft

    Ever since someone pointed out the curious ubiquity of Jewish neocons in the Bush administration, pushing war with Iraq, this has been the singsong refrain in the Jewish press:

    "Iran's the problem, not Iraq."

    So if we finally attack Iran, THEN we can legitimately call it a "War for the Jews." But I think it's not worth it, just to score a rhetorical point.

    Although not always enforced, fighting for a foreign military can be a basis for forfeiting American citizenship. Mrs. Kraft ought to read the fine print on her passport. The U.S. one, not the Israeli one.

  2. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 8:40 am

    "If her sons were in the IDF, they would be serving an occupation."

    This is FALSE. If they were serving in the West Bank or Gaza this statement might be true and in cases, but here you GENERALIZE, and negligently.

    She is a private citizen. My cousins (the ones you don't know) grew up with the Krafts' in Worcester. I don't know them at all, never met them.

    As, you said, a private citizen that contributes generously without controlling what her contributions are used for, and responds positively to divisions.

    If she ignores the effects on Palestinians, perhaps non-judgement non-polemic education would be possible.

    So quick to judge.

  3. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 8:47 am

    The approach of condemnation does NOT change them. If anything, it makes them more recalcitrant. Rather than a dinner guest of Netanyahu (he lived in the states for 15 years after all, educated here), they would become an unequivocal ideological supporter.

    Maybe they are already.

    Their money isn't going to disappear. They are going to continue to CHOOSE how that money is used.

    You want to change their actions, respectfully inform.

  4. liberal white boy
    March 19, 2008, 9:17 am

    I wonder why this anti-Americanism isn't being discussed on every news channel like a certain preacher. No one should get exemption from their peoples suffering in their commentary should they? Franchise opportunities now available. Ellie Wiesels Drive Through Holocaust Museums and Amusement Parks link to homo-sapien-underground.blogspot.com

  5. Chuck
    March 19, 2008, 9:48 am

    The Krafts' preference for their son to serve in the IDF and not the American military is no different from what Witty expressed on this blog a few months back, after he commented on the moral inferiority of the American military relative to the IDF. A couple of months back, the Republican Jewish Coalition in Arizona chose to honor a war veteran. Of course they chose to honor an America soldier who likewise chose to serve in the IDF, not the American military. How much more unAmerican can you get?

    Let's be candid, these people don't deserve American citizenship and shouldn't be voting in American elections. Israel is their home; they should be required to make Israel their residence. That might not be happenning in the near future but someday the chickens will come home to roost.

  6. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 10:02 am

    I do agree with them on that.

    The current US military involvement in the world is largely offensive in both meanings of the term.

    The majority of current Israeli military involvement is genuinely defensive. Not always the way it is carried out, but the origination certainly is.

    Lebanon from Hezbollah shelling and abduction. (That's how it started, with shelling of civilian town.)

    Hamas shelling civilians in Sderot.

    It is time to end the occupation, so that roadblocks are someone else's business, and the borders are borders, not jurisdictions of occupation.

    But, when that occurs, when a border is violated by the action of a militia, and accepted by the Palestinian government, that then becomes a potential act of war.

    Not a good outcome.

  7. Jim Haygood
    March 19, 2008, 10:15 am


    "Now Ashkelon is in the line of fire, too. It's coming to a point where something has to be done. But I understand the problem of Gaza's being so tightly packed that going in there with soldiers will have to be done very carefully, because of world opinion." – Myra Kraft

    Isn't there something about la-di-da Myra Kraft which reminds us of Leona Helmsley, the "Queen of Mean"? I'm talking about the way Myra flits back and forth from New York to Tel Aviv on her husband's private jet (bought partly with public subsidies for his Patriots stadium), hobnobs with the elite, and cavalierly suggests that "something has to be done" about those deplorable Gazans, packed like vermin into their cramped little nest.

    It recalls a dinner party I attended in the swanky Johannesburg suburb of Sandton, "Africa's richest square mile." The house was protected by armed- response security, as all of them are. Guests lamented the violent criminal tendencies of the Africans, "packed" into the teaming black suburb of Alexandra nearby. Something would have to be done, they reckoned. Israelis, like apartheid-era South Africans, prefer to keep their central cities pure, and park the second-class citizens in distant outposts from which they must commute in to work.

    Myra Kraft seems intellectually incapable of drawing an analogy between the Gazan ghetto and the Warsaw ghetto, even if only to reject it. The ideology of zionism has blinded her.

    Here's the ultimate irony: despite the supposed 15-point Jewish IQ advantage, the tribal meme of zionism has interfered with the objective application of this intelligence to the subject of Israel. All of the reasoning toward Israel is subjective, emotional, irrational. Evidently, the tribal gene has trumped the intelligence gene, and not for the first time. Zionism is a social disease which spreads by intellectual contagion. The old IBM slogan supplies the antidote: THINK!

    "The majority of current Israeli military involvement is genuinely defensive." Oh gawd, Richard, you made me spit coffee onto the computer screen. Thanks for the laugh, bro! ;-)

  8. Chuck
    March 19, 2008, 10:29 am

    The internationally recognized border is the Green Line which is violated by the IDF and "settlers" every day for the last 41 years – not the least bit defensive.

    Witty is ridiculous. He chatters about context while ignoring the Israeli version of Lebensraum, the essence of which is a mode of terror imposed upon Palestineans. Shouldn't a more balanced point of view be that the perpetrators get what they deserve?

  9. Joachim Martillo
    March 19, 2008, 10:49 am

    By the standards that make the IRG a terrorist organization, the IDF is even more a terrorist organization.

    If the law were enforced the same for Jews as it is for non-Jews, the Krafts would be under arrest for giving material aid to terrorism.

    They would be subjected to interrogation according to Dershowitzian principles.

    And all their assets would be seized.

  10. Madrid
    March 19, 2008, 11:04 am

    Just appalling– this country is in such a pickle. And for Richard Witty, you should be ashamed of yourself for not seeing how the rest of us plebes feel about such comments.

    Not to mention the irony that she and her husband own a football team called the Patriots.

    With a ruling elite like this, who needs enemies?

  11. Sean
    March 19, 2008, 11:20 am

    Serves 'em right, losing the Super Bowl in the last seconds. Traitorous, fifth column scum.

  12. samuel burke
    March 19, 2008, 11:43 am

    i'm all for jewish-americans being proud of their heritage, as right well they should be. what interests me in the reporting of this story is that it's democratically acceptable to say certain things in certain ways but, when the same sentiment is expressed by OTHERS, then all of a sudden the same ideas become worthy of attacks by the ruling punditocracy working for the man up in warshington (lol).
    the huns are at the gates.

    but really who cares, the weight (glory) of the matter will outrule those who think they can rule over conscience.
    in israel/palestine an ongoing crime is being committed but the reporters never make it there to do reportage.
    israel palestine is an issue and it ought not to be an issue of race.
    in the u.s. we ought to be concerned for the interests of our nation, and forego any foreign entanglements of conscience as to your nationality.

    "Evidently, the tribal gene has trumped the intelligence gene, and not for the first time. Zionism is a social disease which spreads by intellectual contagion. The old IBM slogan supplies the antidote: THINK!"

    did you write that yourself or do you have a comedy writing team on call?

  13. Jim Haygood
    March 19, 2008, 11:43 am

    "Not to mention the irony that she and her husband own a football team called the Patriots." – Madrid

    They dare not call them the Mensches. LOL!

  14. MM
    March 19, 2008, 12:05 pm

    Richard, once again, you have the perfect patch of sand in which to stick your head. It's amazing, isn't it? This time, you soothe yourself with the line that not all the IDF does relates to occupation.

    Israel has full military conscription for both sexes, I believe it and Cuba are the only countries in the world who do.

    Yet Israel hasn't been invaded by an army in decades, and unlike Cuba, Israel enjoys a military technological superiority over all of its neighbors, indeed over the entire region, thanks to U.S. support.

    What is Israel doing with all those soldiers?

    The answer is obvious to all but the witless.

    Richard, what is Israel doing with all those soldiers? Preparing for another all-out assault by the entire Arab world, as you Zionists enjoy mythologizing (even in Israeli schoolchildren's textbooks) the wars of independence in 47-48? What's the likelihood of a military invasion of Israel, Richard, considering Israel's nuclear arsenal?

    Why do you constantly evoke security for "your people" without measuring what actual risks exists, and to what they should be attributed?

    Why does Israel have full military conscription for both sexes, Richard?

    (Why do Israelis face the likes of Ala Abu Dhaim?)

    It is because it is CARRYING OUT AN OCCUPATION, increasing its territory incrementally, whether by decree or by bulldozer or by clusterbomb. While the Israeli Supreme Court decides how far into the West Bank the wall can go, the IDF decides who ought to be sniped, who ought to get bombed, whose home ought to be demolished, aided by the imposition of a total surveillance captivity, and the rank, sub-human image of Arabs cultivated within the IDF's ranks.

    I formerly thought that ignoble army, dozens of whose 20-something-year-old veterans I personally know, would more properly be called the "Israeli Occupation Forces," but alas, I may have missed something.

    If one meant the IDF is defensive in the sense that it defends Israel's ability to acquire territory (and maintain what's been acquired), well then, yes, I must concede, I suppose one would be correct.

    Is that the sense in which the IDF defends your interests, Richard?

  15. Charles Keating
    March 19, 2008, 12:20 pm

    "You want to change their actions, respectfully inform."–Richard Witty

    Yes, please inform her & hubby, together worth an estimated $1.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, making them the 297th wealthiest family in America. I'm sure they will listen.

    Actually, Myra is already informed, thank you:

    "You don't solve problems by blowing yourself up in public buildings and killing innocent people – that's not going to solve the problem," she says. "I understand, if I were a Palestinian, and the third generation now in a refugee camp, I'd probably be doing the same thing to myself, because it's wrong. But it's not Israel's fault." Kraft blames Arab governments, which, she says, could do much more to help Palestinians. On a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, Kraft says, she was struck by the enormous wealth and the conspicuous consumption. "I think if I were a Palestinian and I were dropped down in Dubai for a little while, I'd be pretty ticked off."
    link to iht.com

    In the article Phil links to, Myra says,"But I understand the problem of Gaza's being so tightly packed that going in there with soldiers will have to be done very carefully, because of world opinion."

    Oh, if only the darn world wouldn't notice, Myra would really put her foot down properly.

    She says her choice of candidate does not at all depend on comparing stances on attacking Iran, but rather on this priority:
    Israel, the economy, the plans for getting out of Iraq quickly.


  16. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 12:25 pm

    Go there and see.

    The Israeli draft is a genuinely popular army, in which some serve in direct military capacity, and many (I don't know numbers) serve in more civil type roles.

    They do carry weapons, and even on civilian buses there are many young kids with their rifles.

    I'm sure some foreigners and newbies get the willies from it, but the vast majority relate to the IDF as honorable popular public service.

    Its different than in the states. Soldiers are not taunted as "baby killers", or "pawns of colonialism".

    The people KNOW that without the IDF and its "children", Israel's existence would be in jeopardy, mostly currently from terror, but also from armies and missiles.


  17. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 12:43 pm

    "Mostly I'm troubled by her parochialism. She is a member of the American establishment, and she thinks always of Israel. Is this the way leaders should act? "

    This is a loopy statement, Phil.

    She is NOT an official of the US government. Are you suggesting that she be subject to some "thought-police"?

  18. Chuck
    March 19, 2008, 1:03 pm

    Your filibustering continues to ignore OCCUPATION, Witty.

    It's hard to believe that you are really that obtuse. Your disingenuousness has becomes increasingly obvious. Like many American Jews, you present yourself as liberal when it comes to the affairs of America. When the affairs of Israel are concerned, ZioNazism becomes your path of choice. If 8 Israelis are killed you are outraged. If 120 Palestineans are killed by the IDF over a couple of days, including dozens of children, you proclaim the killing to be defensive.

    Why is it that informed and honest observers see your blatant double standard but you and the AIPAC hordes can pretend not to? Is there any reason this double standard shouldn't be identified as a form of Jewish Supremacism(ie RACISM) at work?

  19. MM
    March 19, 2008, 1:19 pm

    "I'm sure some foreigners and newbies get the willies from it, but the vast majority relate to the IDF as honorable popular public service."

    Yes, Richard, and the Hitler Youth were a popular organization as well. They planted trees, you know.

    My God you really are, despite your attempted congeniality and measured temperment, a scummy Zionist, through and through, aren't you Rich? Incorrigibly Israel uber alles, everything negative about Zionism is a mere anomaly… a mere coincidence… After 60 years of attempted genocide, Zionism continues untarnished in Richard's beautiful mind.

    Do you see, with those two barely functioning eyes of yours, which don't even read the comments you purport to respond to, that YOU ARE CREATING RESENTMENT, by your Zionist exceptionalism?

    I only challenge your nonsense here because you insist on trying to impugn Phil's CHARACTER, undoubtedly because he is more honest and conscionable than you or your like could ever HOPE to be.

    I only hope that well-meaning young Jewish Americans see your example, and run from it.

  20. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 3:43 pm

    Lame MM.

    Phil lays out his angst differently than I. We have formed different political approaches, but from similar original sensitivities.

    We diverged in the degree of identification with the Jewish community as a whole, and the Israel as a current focus of it.

    He values his Jewish heritage, values, some rituals, implications for ethics expressed politically. (Phil, correct me if I mistate.) But, he is not necessarily an active Jew. If he had to fully assimilate, there would be compromises, but ones that he would mostly accept.

    For me, being a Jew is more pronounced, not as fully assimilable (though I live in a way that does not state "I am a Jew" at all. I don't work on Saturday ever. Thats the most conspicuous.)

    When Israel is attacked, I feel partially that "we" are attacked. I doubt that Phil feels that explicitly. I expect that he feels that part of the human community is attacked, and sympathetic as a human being. And probably similar feelings when Palestinian or other communities are attacked.

    I share that human feeling, but I also have the layer of "we".

    And, in words, I feel the same way when criticism is carelessly presented as condemnation.

    You'd probably get the willies if you were there. Israelis trust the IDF, and do so on very sound basis, that you don't really get to hear about or understand.

    Not all that different from American Jews not hearing so much about Palestine and devaluing the experience.

  21. Charles Keating
    March 19, 2008, 3:53 pm

    "Its different than in the states. Soldiers are not taunted as "baby killers", or "pawns of colonialism"–Witty

    Just maybe it shouldn't be? In the states people grew aware that
    maybe containment & preemption policy wasn't a sufficient justification for what was done in the policy's name and in fact
    in the long run accomplished the reverse. Look at the police actions, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, next Iran. It's not for little reason our congress has not delared a war since WW2. The constant flag flown is always some version of "We're only defending ourselves."

  22. Richard Witty
    March 19, 2008, 4:19 pm

    "The constant flag flown is always some version of "We're only defending ourselves." "

    It is necessary to cut through the lies.

    Do it. Cut through to truth that stands when looked at.

  23. Jim Haygood
    March 19, 2008, 4:21 pm


    "When Israel is attacked, I feel partially that 'we' are attacked." – R. Witty

    That's it in a nutshell, isn't it? THANKS for finally typing something honest here. Obviously if you feel that way, you're going to perceive criticism of Israel as inherently anti-Semitic.

    But this formulation makes it impossible for people to criticize Israel the state, without criticizing Jews, the people. It's a unilaterally-declared "gotcha" clause. But nobody else assented to it.

    As much as you may disbelieve it, there really are critics who are disturbed by Israel's extraordinary, beyond-the-pale behavior — who would level the same criticisms if Israel were a Buddhist state, or an atheist state.

    In the long run, this common formulation of asserting that "you can't criticize Israel without offending me and my religion" is a very bad idea. Judaism should not have hitched its wagon to zionism. There's still time to correct the error. But if the U.S. presidential campaign is any indication, Israel supporters' heels are only being dug in deeper. Not a promising situation for anyone, is it?

  24. syvanen
    March 19, 2008, 4:41 pm

    witty wrote:
    "Its different than in the states. Soldiers are not taunted as "baby killers", or "pawns of colonialism"."

    Do you have any evidence for this claim other than an isolated anecdote of some nut. This is a major right wing talking point which accuses the left of disrespecting our military. It is a big lie. Witty has internalized it. He has been brainwashed by the ultra-right.

  25. samuel burke
    March 19, 2008, 7:32 pm

    is this argument really about whether the idf is really an iof?

    i would have thought that it was more about whether this ongoing sixty plus year extravaganza of a fight for a land against a formidable neighbor can go on forever or until they make peace and live together in peace.

    cant you all just get along?

  26. Gene
    March 19, 2008, 7:33 pm

    Myra Kraft is right in one respect. No right thinking American wants his sons to serve in Iraq. I wouldn't let my younger son volunteer for the marines for fear he'd end up forced to kill Iraqi civilians. The war in Iraq is irrational, unproductive, ruinously expensive and morally bankrupt. But then, so is Israel's war of colonization in the occupied territories.

  27. Scott
    March 19, 2008, 8:47 pm

    Now we know why Our Lord helped David Tyree catch that ball.

  28. American
    March 19, 2008, 9:16 pm

    Phil says Myra might not feel safe in the West due to her family history.

    I am rather tired of this excuse. If the Krafts and all other Jews don't feel safe here while they are enjoying the privilages and opportunities of America and spend their time and money on Israeli interest then they need to move to Israel.

    Enough with this whine…Get them out. I am sick of this crap. The US wasn't created to house paranoid whining hypocritics.

  29. cogit8
    March 20, 2008, 1:16 am

    Phil, you write "Mostly I'm troubled by her parochialism. She is a member of the American establishment, and she thinks always of Israel. Is this the way leaders should act?"

    Perhaps someone who thinks of Israel first should be called "an Israel Firster" rather than "a member of the American establishment".

  30. Leila Abu-Saba
    March 20, 2008, 1:30 am

    My sister-in-law, a journalist in San Francisco, just wrote about being a reluctant war mom in the SF Bay Guardian. See Sara Phelan on this week's front page (links not allowed in comments here). It's also linked at my blog.

    Against Sarah's wishes, her 20-year-old son dropped out of a very good university last year and joined the Army National Guard with the express purpose of going to Iraq. He is now deployed to Baghdad. (He's also my brother's step son – he's been part of our family for half his young life).

    SIL just said to me on the phone that one of the most horrifying aspects of this for her is knowing that the mission is a sham. (Her son doesn't think so). She says if he were in Darfur she'd be just as agonized for him, but she could at least comfort herself that he's doing some good. Not so with Iraq.

    Here is an American woman whose son is indeed serving in Iraq. Myra Kraft's comments make her sound pretty silly in comparison.

  31. MM
    March 20, 2008, 12:42 pm

    Now we know why Our Lord helped David Tyree catch that ball.

    Posted by: Scott | March 19, 2008 at 05:47 PM

    That was one incredible f'ing catch!

    Cheater coach and Zionist ownership… not to mention the quarterback who walked out on his pregnant girlfriend… I'd say the Patriots are America's team!

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