Joe Klein’s short piece saying that Ron Paul is surging because Americans don’t want their kids to fight for Israel’s national security elicited a reprimand from an “incensed” Jeffrey Goldberg. Klein has now written a followup piece about 10 times as long as the original, explaining with Talmudic precision why he didn’t say what I thought he said. It includes an exegesis on commas. Attention!
A few hours ago, I received an anguished email from my friend Jeff Goldberg, who was incensed that I’d written this sentence:
“It’s another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel’s national security.” [emphasis his]
Jeff had jumped to a silly conclusion. I was concerned about sending American kids off to war yet again. I separated the phrase with commas in order to emphasize the too-many-times we’ve sent our troops overseas in the past decade. It might have been more accurate if I’d written “to send American kids off to war yet again–this time, to fight for Israel’s national security.” Which I believe is what the warmongering against Iran is all about. But the thought that we’d gone to war in the past, especially in Iraq, to fight for Israel’s national security was nowhere in my mind. Nowhere. I don’t believe we’ve ever gone to war to fight for Israel’s national security. Period.
Kind of pathetic. And let’s be clear. This is a Jewish drama, sort of like Biff and Happy arguing at night upstairs in the desperate Loman household.
The next dozen paragraphs are much better. Including some talk about the Israel lobby, the Jewish portion of which has nothing on the Christian lobby. A catechism, Joe: How many Christian Zionists do you know personally? How many are in the Democratic party, or in the media, and how many have sent you sharp notes when you criticized Israel? What do you think of the spiritual advice that one should not criticize the mote in someone else’s eye when there’s a beam in your own?
I think any sort of pre-emptive bombing campaign against Iran would be more of the same sort of thoughtless, macho, neo-colonialism as we suffered during the Bush years…
I’ve supported Israel’s right to exist all my life–I even supported the Israeli strike into Gaza a few years ago; you simply can’t allow an enemy to continue lobbing rockets at your civilians. But I do have grave differences with the Netanyahu government, particularly when it comes to the illegal settlements on the West Bank. And I find that the tendency to dehumanize all Arabs, especially Palestinians, and all Persians to be un-Jewish in the extreme.
Jewish tradition and culture has always been about tolerance and understanding in a world too often hateful and barbaric. It’s very distressing when the thugs and barbarians turn out to be Jewish, but that, sadly, is what we’ve been seeing–especially since Barack Obama became President.