General Election Will Feature Rev. Wright vs. Rev. Hagee on Palestinian Rights. Hallelujah!

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 24 Comments

Hurray for the Times. On Tuesday it carried a profile of John McCain’s friend, the Rev. John Hagee, that pointed up his maximalist position re the West Bank as Israeli territory forever and quoted Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the head of the Union for Reform Judaism, saying that these views were "extremist" and would plunge Israel into unending violence and international isolation. (Gosh, I thought we were there already…)

Today’s Times prints a letter supporting Hagee from several leaders of the Daughters of the American Revolution–sorry, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations–including media baron Mort Zuckerman, Giants/Loews owner James Tisch, and Skadden, Arps powerhouse Ken Bialkin. The letter is short and to the point:

Pastor Hagee has been a true friend of Israel for many years.
Christians United for Israel is among the strongest supporters of
Israel in the United States.

This exchange is highly meaningful for a number of reasons:

1. The fat’s in the fire. A few weeks ago I blogged about Fresh Air’s Terry Gross and guest Steven Waldman of beliefnet talking all about religion in politics, including the repulsive Hagee, and completely ignoring the issue of Jews and Israel in the campaign. The Times story will hopefully get us past this type of charade. Yes, for many paragraphs it describes Hagee’s views on the standard evangelical Christian bile, like gay rights, but as I have argued repeatedly here, these issues are largely passe. Huckabee’s gone. McCain doesn’t care about abortion. The religious right is growing up, some of them are even biblical treehuggers now. And the national consensus is only solidifying in favor of Terry Gross’s social agenda, which I share.  Which means that at last the divisions over Israel will come to the surface.

2. The fat’s in the fire. I wish I had Mort’s telephone number. There is a war now between him and Eric Yoffie, as there should be. There is a war between the traditional Israel lobby and the new alternative lobby, between those who secretly are for a Greater Israel and have sabotaged Palestinian statehood for 60 years because those degraded human beings are not worthy of self-determination, they will only kill us, and those who have an enlightened view of Arab humanity. Take your sides! As lukewarm as I am on the two-state solution, it doesn’t matter, this is journalistically rivetting: this is at last the clarion call to American Jews to divide publicly. Look at it this way: The ’67 War galvanized young Doug Feith to write to the New York Times to defend the Sinai occupation, galvanized young Gershom Gorenberg to move to Israel, galvanized young M.J. Rosenberg, an anti-Vietnam war activist, to take up the Israeli cause, and young Tom Friedman to lecture his school about Israel’s security needs. Those boys would have been in the same club back then. The fight over Hagee is a call on American Jews who support Israel to choose Gorenberg and Rosenberg, who see the Arabs as human beings without a voice in American politics, or Friedman and Feith, parochialists, champions of the Iraq war. This is a great moment in American Jewish history. (Steve Waldman is a friend of mine; will you cover this on beliefnet?)

3. The fat’s in the fire. Not just Jews, all Americans will at last be asked to take sides. In the general election, it will be Rev. Wright versus Rev. Hagee. Whose side are you on re Palestinian self-determination?

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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24 Responses

  1. Michael Ochs
    April 10, 2008, 12:26 pm

    It seems like, as is usually the case, it's going to take a few hours for Phil's raging hard-on to let up. Later today he'll say "I may have been too passionate" or, "perhaps I exaggerated." Anytime he gets the sense that Jews are fighting (or better yet, being murdered by Arabs) he goes into an unhinged "I told you so" mode. His belief in redemption through in-fighting is paralleled only by those on the Christian Right. In a strange way, that Phil is–a first century Christian convinced that he shouldn't bother having sex anymore become the Messiah is coming TOMORROW!
    Phil has very little tangible connection to Jews in America, or non-Jews in America, or elsewhere for that matter, save the trust-fund elite of area code 914. Yet Jews, average American and Israeli Jews, are his obsession. Perhaps if he talked to Jews, Israelis,or Americans, he'd find that all groups overwhelmingly support Israel. The latest Pew poll shows that trend among Americans INCREASING!
    And maybe Phil's right–this will be THE issue in the Fall election. I seriously doubt it–but if so then by all means let's go to it Phil, the fat's in the fire as you would have it. I hope you'll join me in hoping that the winner have mercy on the loser. That is, after all, the American way.

  2. Phil Weiss
    April 10, 2008, 12:51 pm

    we'll see if i retract this one; though i'd insist even in my state of morning arousal that i predict that it will be a BIG issue of the campaign or an EXPLICIT issue, not THE issue of the campaign (except for me, of course; and yes Michael, I'm the only one who thinks about this)

  3. Jim Haygood
    April 10, 2008, 12:58 pm

    .

    "Today's Times prints a letter supporting Hagee from several leaders of the Daughters of the American Revolution — sorry, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations –"

    AH HA HA HA … the rapier wit draws blood! No wonder Ochs is ranting about the "trust fund elite of area code 914" (which is pretty damned funny too, as is the delusion that more and more Americans support Israel).

    A majority of Americans support Israel because they pay income taxes at gunpoint. Change Israel aid to an optional checkoff — like the presidential election public funding checkoff — and you'd get an overwhelming participation of about, ohhh, 2 percent. LOL!

  4. Charles Keating
    April 10, 2008, 1:04 pm

    Who gets asked these poll questions? I've never known a single soul who received such a poll. Imagine a poll result from Goebbels's Germany. Or Stalin's Russia. It's hardly different here in the USA. The difference is, Americans could actually find out
    more than Paul Newman acting in the old Exodus flick, but they simply don't care. They are just economic and cannon fodder, and I'd be annoyed except I got to go shop at the mall.

  5. jonathan ekman
    April 10, 2008, 1:17 pm

    Will most Americans be aware that (if Richard Silverstein's Guardian blog is correct) Israel is buying oil from the hated
    Iranians (via Europe), while almost all the
    most bellicose voices in this country for
    confrontation with Iran are Jewish?

  6. Charles Keating
    April 10, 2008, 2:11 pm

    No, they won't. A boycott is easily circumvented, especially when
    most Americans don't care.

    As to Wright (Obama) or Hagee (McCain), given Obama's far lefty credentials and physical features (he does live in his own body after all), and Hagee's extreme right wing Israel credentials, this is certainly a litmus test for every American Jew. What's good for the Jews? Obama since in diversity we conquer, prevent any future Nazi America, a program on-going since the 1965 Immigration Act, or McCain, with Lieberman at his side–yet McCain is an American Firster, a nationalist–he just might rebel against AIPAC vision at some point before he has a heart attack…

    link to ariarmstrong.com

    And for goy America? Gee, that's a toughie too. Let's see, most of goy America never even thinks about the I-P conflict, so will they, parting from their shopping at the mall on what's left of their credit, vote for Obama just to show they aren't racists, or will they vote for McCain, just to show the r/w/b flag is real to them?

    Could go either way, white guilt is embedded almost as much as it is in Germany.

    I don't believe most Americans have connected the dots between
    the cost of the Iraq War and our economy. Yet the economy is something that directly affects all Americans. Since most Americans are poor, this is a negative for McCain, a feeder at the trough from day one.

    So the tip goes to Obama. The affirmative action model par excellence. (Oops, will too many see this?"

  7. Ed
    April 10, 2008, 2:20 pm

    Are these wealthy Jewish Zionists merely endorsing Hagee's Zionism, or are they also endorsing his anti-Catholicism and his statist Bush-Christian warmongering? I say the latter.

    A political, social and religious war is coming to America. I wouldn't want to be on the side of the Zionists.

  8. syvanen
    April 10, 2008, 2:21 pm

    There is real polling data that shows majority support for Israel in the US. It is not strong support though. This is not the basis of Israeli support in the US as we all know.

    But in the last 5 years support for Israel has weakened considerably among one very important group. These are academics, writers, business leaders and many others in the professional classes. I know this not from polling but from stirrings that are becoming visible among many who in the past would never discuss Israel in public. Phil is correct — there is a change occurring. He is being overly optimistic to think that we will see that change in the coming presidential campaign but we will probably see this change in the kinds of articles that the MSM is willing to publish. Perhaps someone like Amira Hess in the NYT in a few years!

  9. benjoya
    April 10, 2008, 2:28 pm

    i guess ochs, who knows all, hasn't spoken to the > 60% of israelis who want to negotiate with hamas. putz.

  10. benjoya
    April 10, 2008, 2:33 pm

    here's a link:
    link to haaretz.com

  11. Charles Keating
    April 10, 2008, 2:42 pm

    According to the article benhoya gave us (thanks!), Sixty-four percent of Israelis say the government must hold direct talks with the Hamas government in Gaza toward a cease-fire and the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit. Less than one-third (28 percent) still opposes such talks. The figures were obtained in a Haaretz-Dialog poll conducted Tuesday under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University.

    Why is the Israeli mass more astute than the American mass?
    Two reasons: the American MSM, the American Congress and regime think tanks.

    1984 has long been there. It came with a bit of subtlety. But the memory hole is as active as can be. Otherwise, Phil wouldn't be bothered with a blog.

  12. bondo
    April 10, 2008, 3:07 pm

    hagee is a fraud. created, given life and exposure by jews to lead foolish americans to israel.

  13. Charles Keating
    April 10, 2008, 3:14 pm

    Yes, I agree. What say you about Obama's 20 years sitting at Wright's pulpit, and McCain's simply accepting Hagee's endorsement as a practical election matter?

  14. Jim Haygood
    April 10, 2008, 3:21 pm

    .

    "Phil is correct — there is a change occurring … we will probably see this change in the kinds of articles that the MSM is willing to publish." – syvanen

    Weapons availability is also changing, and not in Israel's favor. From Robert Fisk in the Independent:

    ————

    For months, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, has been warning Israel that his organisation has a "surprise" new weapon in its armoury and there are few in Lebanon who do not suspect that this is a new Iranian-developed ground-to-air missile – rockets which may at last challenge Israel's air supremacy over Lebanon. For more than 30 years, Israel's fighter-bombers have had the skies to themselves, losing only two aircraft – one to a primitive Palestinian SAM-7 shoulder-fired missile, the other to Syrian anti-aircraft guns – during and after its 1982 invasion.

    After its 1980-88 war with Iraq, Iran introduced a new generation of weapons, one of which – a development of a Chinese sea-to-sea missile – almost sank an Israeli corvette in the last Hizbollah-Israeli war in 2006.

    If its aircraft could no longer bomb at will over Lebanon without fear of being destroyed, would Israel stage another costly land invasion – highly unlikely after the bloodying its troops took in 2006 – or use its own ground-to-ground missiles on Lebanon? For if the latter option were chosen, it would bring a whole new dimension to Lebanon's repeated wars.

    link to tinyurl.com

    ————

    All of Israel soon will be within rocket range from three sides. That wouldn't be a problem, if there was peace with the neighbors. But Israel's demand for recognition of its "right to exist [as a Jewish state]" stops any peace negotiations before they start.

    Ma-a-a-a-a-n … zionist folk sho is crazy.

  15. bondo
    April 10, 2008, 3:23 pm

    to go back to yesterday, ileana ros-lehtinen's mummy was was a jew. via wikipedia, the jewish online encyclopedia.

  16. bondo
    April 10, 2008, 3:27 pm

    fisk ruins his article by referring to israel as america's proxy as if the usa(the non jewish part) wants to destroy hezbollah(and lebanon, syria, iran, hamas, s. arabia, egypt)

  17. Jim Haygood
    April 10, 2008, 3:35 pm

    .

    Yes, it seems that Fisk had to give the article somewhat of a sensationalist 'Islamofascist threat' theme to get it published in the Independent. From reading his reporting over the years, I don't think this slant fully reflects his views. An editor may have leaned on him.

    In any case, if it's true that Hizbollah has the antiaircraft defenses to end Israel's air superiority, then that changes everything.

  18. MM
    April 10, 2008, 3:47 pm

    "Americans support Israel" is the laugh-line of the day, classic Mike! Thank you!

    Suppose Mike Gravel's federal ballot initiative were enacted, and there was a proposition on Israel and Egypt's annual billions. I wonder how Americans would vote… lol!

    The concept of direct democracy must scare the shit out of our zionist establishment.

  19. syvanen
    April 10, 2008, 5:25 pm

    Well if a subthread here is weapons systems, and their ability to alter the ME power dynamics there is another development we could mention. The Iranians are armed antiship cruise missiles that fly at mach 2 and have ranges of 2 – 300 kilometers (the width of of the Persian Gulf) and just may have the capacity to evade Aegis defense systems (too fast and do not fly on a trajectory) and a single missile clearly has the power to sink a frigate, destroyer or cruiser. Multiple missiles could disable an aircraft carrier.

    Google sunburn-22, yakhonts and persian gulf to see what this is all about. I understand clearly why the navy admiral opposed attacking Iran; his entire 7th fleet could be vulnerable.

  20. Crimson Ghost
    April 10, 2008, 5:41 pm

    Swiss reject terror sponsor charge by US Jewish group

    GENEVA, April 8 (Reuters) – Switzerland rejected accusations on Tuesday by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that it could be financing terrorism after a Swiss company clinched a multi-billion euro (dollar) deal to buy natural gas from Iran.

    The Swiss Foreign Ministry reiterated that the purchase did not violate U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme or U.S. domestic law.

    The American Jewish group's full-page advertisement — which follows a complaint lodged by Israel with Switzerland over the deal — appeared on Tuesday in newspapers under the banner "Guess who is the world's newest financier of terrorism? SWITZERLAND".

    "The reproaches in this advertisement do not correspond to the facts," Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel said.

    The ad — which ran in the International Herald Tribune, the leading Swiss financial daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung and Geneva daily Le Temps — said the deal's "likely result" was Hamas and Hezbollah "may get tens of thousands of additional missiles".

    Both Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Muslim movement in Lebanon, and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas which seized control of the Gaza Strip last year, are pro-Iranian parties.

    U.S. President George W. Bush has accused Shi'ite Muslim Iran of being "the world's leading state sponsor of terror" and of undermining peace by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.

    The United States has led international efforts to penalise Iran for failing to allay suspicions that it is seeking nuclear weapons and has been urging other countries to cut trade ties.

    The ad said that the contract, signed during a Tehran visit last month by Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, would enable Iran to accelerate and complete its nuclear programme.

    "Terrorist cells in Europe, the Middle East and around the globe will have access to new weapons and support," it said. "When you finance a terrorist state, you finance terrorism."

    The Swiss energy group Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) has said its 25-year deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Company was worth between 10 billion euros ($15.73 billion) and 22 billion euros, depending on several factors such as the price of oil.

    Calmy-Rey, whose neutral country has worked in the past to find a compromise in the nuclear row, said in Tehran that the deal was important in the long term for both parties.

    "This business transaction between the EGL and NIGEC is fully in line with the U.N. sanctions against Iran as well as with the U.S. Iranian Sanctions Act," Knuchel said on Tuesday.

    Asked whether the deal might jeopardise neutral Switzerland's role in handling U.S. interests in Iran, as it has done since the 1979 revolution, he said a State Department spokesman had said last week there was no change in U.S. policy.

    The Swiss foreign ministry also pointed out that other powers including the European Union (EU), China and Japan were doing business with the Islamic Republic. (Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Charles Dick)

    link to wiredispatch.com

  21. Crimson Ghost
    April 10, 2008, 5:43 pm

    Swiss reject terror sponsor charge by US Jewish group

    by Stephanie Nebehay

    GENEVA, April 8 (Reuters) – Switzerland rejected accusations on Tuesday by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) that it could be financing terrorism after a Swiss company clinched a multi-billion euro (dollar) deal to buy natural gas from Iran.

    The Swiss Foreign Ministry reiterated that the purchase did not violate U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme or U.S. domestic law.

    The American Jewish group's full-page advertisement — which follows a complaint lodged by Israel with Switzerland over the deal — appeared on Tuesday in newspapers under the banner "Guess who is the world's newest financier of terrorism? SWITZERLAND".

    "The reproaches in this advertisement do not correspond to the facts," Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Lars Knuchel said.

    The ad — which ran in the International Herald Tribune, the leading Swiss financial daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung and Geneva daily Le Temps — said the deal's "likely result" was Hamas and Hezbollah "may get tens of thousands of additional missiles".

    Both Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Muslim movement in Lebanon, and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas which seized control of the Gaza Strip last year, are pro-Iranian parties.

    U.S. President George W. Bush has accused Shi'ite Muslim Iran of being "the world's leading state sponsor of terror" and of undermining peace by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.

    The United States has led international efforts to penalise Iran for failing to allay suspicions that it is seeking nuclear weapons and has been urging other countries to cut trade ties.

    The ad said that the contract, signed during a Tehran visit last month by Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey, would enable Iran to accelerate and complete its nuclear programme.

    "Terrorist cells in Europe, the Middle East and around the globe will have access to new weapons and support," it said. "When you finance a terrorist state, you finance terrorism."

    The Swiss energy group Elektrizitaetsgesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) has said its 25-year deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Company was worth between 10 billion euros ($15.73 billion) and 22 billion euros, depending on several factors such as the price of oil.

    Calmy-Rey, whose neutral country has worked in the past to find a compromise in the nuclear row, said in Tehran that the deal was important in the long term for both parties.

    "This business transaction between the EGL and NIGEC is fully in line with the U.N. sanctions against Iran as well as with the U.S. Iranian Sanctions Act," Knuchel said on Tuesday.

    Asked whether the deal might jeopardise neutral Switzerland's role in handling U.S. interests in Iran, as it has done since the 1979 revolution, he said a State Department spokesman had said last week there was no change in U.S. policy.

    The Swiss foreign ministry also pointed out that other powers including the European Union (EU), China and Japan were doing business with the Islamic Republic. (Editing by Jonathan Lynn and Charles Dick)

    link to wiredispatch.com

  22. Charles Keating
    April 10, 2008, 6:00 pm

    Now here's something the average gullible American will be discussing over the weekend.

  23. Charles Keating
    April 10, 2008, 7:00 pm

    The Next President and the Middle East
    link to prospectsforpeace.com

  24. hlmeankin
    April 11, 2008, 5:05 am

    No probably not.
    The average American gets his/her image of Israel and Jews from a media the content of which is largely controlled by Jews, many of whom are Zionists and most of whom "Defend Israel's Right To Exist". (You know the mantra which enables Israeli war crimes against Palestinians).
    This situation helps explain why Americans are so "guillable" on the issues of the day.

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