Earlier this year Jeff Halper explained the hold of the Israel lobby when he said that Barney Frank has told him that he is against the settlement project but that he can’t go public against it unless “you bring me the names of 5000 Jews in my district that support you… If you can’t do that…. I’m not going to commit political suicide for the sake of the Palestinians… “
Let’s be clear about the significance of this statement. Barney Frank is in one of the most liberal districts in the country. It went for Obama 63-35, Barney won by even a larger margin. There are lots of Jews in that district, and if you came out against abortion or gay rights, that would be political suicide. But coming out against the settlements would also be political suicide, because liberal claims notwithstanding, the American Jewish community is generally to the right of Atilla the Hun on settlements and Jerusalem and it demands solidarity with Israel’s actions. So when you ask whether AIPAC is representative of American Jewry, the answer is sadly, Yes! (No wonder Frank has equivocated on criticism of some settlers’ actions.)
More evidence of the lobby’s power inside the Jewish community (thanks to Khelil for bringing this to my attention) is the rise of Sean Bielat, a Tea Party candidate, who is giving Barney Frank the toughest race he’s had in years. Politico reports that Frank has taken a $200,000 campaign loan. Barney Frank is surely going to be reelected, but the man who won by 68-25 last time round leads by only 49 percent to 37 percent this time, with many on the fence.
And though Frank has supported Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the right clearly sees Israel issues as the wedge. The Weekly Standard has been promoting Bielat; and tonight the ubiquitous Bill Kristol is holding a fundraiser for Bielat in Newton, the heart of the Jewish community outside Boston.
Click on the sub-heading “Israel” at Bielat’s website and you find an old school neo-con and militant promoter of the “clash of civilizations” theory. He has only 7 headings under “Views” and Israel is one of the 7 and his site has a lot to say:
The 100 year-old war of the Arabs against Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East is not the cause of the 1,400 year-old war of Islam against Western Civilization. Some believe the Arab-authored narrative that Israel is the “cause” of Middle East unrest as opposed to being a nation affected by it. Some also choose to ignore the fact that, like Israel, the United States, as the current leader of Western civilization, is under attack by Muslim jihadists. Israel and the United States are fighting the same war and are on the same side. Israel is on the frontier, and the United States is farther back, but we’re in this battle for freedom and security together.
…We may soon have to accept the unpleasant realization that the Palestinian leadership does not really want to co-exist peacefully with Israel and that no amount of Israeli concessions will change this. Recent history has shown that Israeli concessions have led not to reciprocal gestures but to increased Palestinian demands and more violence. Perhaps the root cause of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews is, in fact, not that the Palestinians don’t have a state but that the Jews do.
And on and on. Why does a person like this gain any traction in a liberal district? Because of the conservatism of the Jewish community on an issue of religious nationalism.