Jewish establishment gives White House cover to criticize Israel–just not on Palestine

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Mild criticisms of Israeli policy towards Palestinians, like the comments made by Howard Gutman (above), have provoked the ire of the Israel lobby (Photo: U.S. Embassy in Belgium)

The most salient lesson from the ruckus Jeffrey Goldberg and other Jewish groups created over the ridiculous ads about American Jewry and Israelis was voiced on Twitter by Max Blumenthal:

American Jews are shocked by ads urging Israelis to return to Israel but don’t seem to care that expelled Palestinians can’t return at all.

The mainstream of American Jewry turned in anger on the Netanyahu government, but it wasn’t on the central moral issue they should be directing their anger at: the systematic denial of Palestinian human rights.

No surprise, unfortunately. And it happened again over the weekend when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concern over the sorry state of Israeli democracy, but made no mention of the anti-democratic nature of Israeli rule over Palestinians. The reason why Clinton could voice that concern–and why U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro criticized a bill that would place restrictions on NGOs–was because they had the political cover to do so from Ruth Marcus, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee. There hasn’t been much noise from those quarters about Clinton’s criticisms of Israeli democracy.

But now turn to the comments made by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and U.S. ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman. They were mildly critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians–stress on the word mild–but now the Israel lobby is on the attack. The Anti-Defamation League has put out a statement saying they are “deeply troubled” by Panetta’s comments. And the neoconservatives smell blood on Gutman, and are pushing for his firing.

So the message to Israel from the Jewish American establishment remains: we will shield you from consequences for your settlements, occupation and denial of human rights. Look at our criticisms of the Obama administration. Just don’t let “brand Israel” tank by bringing your repressive laws over the Green Line.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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5 Responses

  1. Citizen
    December 5, 2011, 3:08 pm

    It’s all about PR image. Jews have to be seen as humanistic as between Jews the world over. The Palestinians don’t even enter the picture. Why? Because not even Americans of any stripe give a hoot about the Palestinians. As a group they have no political clout in the USA; in fact no Arab organization does. And the impregnated image of Arabs are as barely human brown folks, way too many of them believers in a terror religion. There have been no significant cultural inroads on this bad Arab image in any US institutions, public or private.

    • Chaos4700
      December 6, 2011, 9:25 am

      And its unfortunate, because the good name of a good many Jews, especially in the US who are genuinely humanistic, is being poached and sullied by a small 1% cadre of business interests tinged with religious zealotry.

  2. dumvitaestspesest
    December 5, 2011, 4:04 pm

    “The Palestinian /Arab Problem” has been placed by American’s governement PR in the file :”The War on Terror”, and part of the general public happily buys it.
    They don’t question, wonder, look for explanations.
    “The boogie man”/Arab/terrorist IMAGE has been planted in the brains of many fellow Americans, and they take it for granteed.
    The same goes for the Other IMAGE, that ‘s been thrown continuously in the collective, American mind. The image of Israel as a “vibrant democracy” ,”the Only democracy in the Wild , Middle East.”
    Those two Images , presented ad nauseam in the MainStreamMedia are imprinted deeply in the head of an average American.
    Now ,the second Image, the democratic Israel” one is somewhat “shaken” by the way women are treated there. The slight cristicism of it , within “permitted limits”, is allowed.
    After all ,”the True Democracy” doesn’t let women sit in a seperate seats on a bus, or doesn’t forbid soldiers from listening to the woman sing.
    But the fact that “the only True, vibrant Democracy in the ME ” commits much, much worse crimes against humanity is not something to be disscussed by the PR memebers of the White House. This is still a part of the big “NO, NO” List.

  3. ToivoS
    December 6, 2011, 12:28 am

    OT but don’t where to place this. Ron Paul has just been excluded from a Jewish GOP candidates forum because his views on Israel are too “extreme”.

    link to guardian.co.uk

  4. Citizen
    December 6, 2011, 6:51 am

    Yeah, God forbid we should talk to the American people about blowback. Ron Paul excluded, and now our Belgian ambassador. We have our political leaders running around looking aghast when somebody in the public eye confirms what the original 9/11 Commission reported in the first place re motivation of the hijackers. They hate us for our shopping malls, not for the crappy footprints we’ve been leaving all over the ME.

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