‘Forward’ columnist says ‘divided’ loyalty is as American as cherry pie

Israel/Palestine
on 59 Comments
Brandeis

Brandeis

Last week the Israeli Foreign Ministry was preparing to distribute a poll to American Jews asking them to which country they would feel allegiance during a crisis, Israel or the U.S., when Prime Minister Netanyahu stuffed the survey out of concern that it would raise an “explosive” issue (as Haaretz put it). In response, Hillel Halkin stands up at the Forward for dual loyalty on the part of Jewish Zionists. “Why American Jews Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Put Israel First.”

And MJ Rosenberg got in trouble for talking about Israel Firsters?

I believe that Louis Brandeis made a similar argument about Americans’ diverse cultural affinities in seeking to remove the dual-loyalty stigma from Zionists 100 years ago, after he was converted to Zionism.

The poll sought to determine, among other things, which country American Jews would side with in case of a serious confrontation between Israel and the United States. As such, it was rightly criticized for conjuring up the specter of “dual loyalty” that Jews in America and elsewhere have been accused of by their enemies. There’s certainly no need to provide extra grist for the anti-Semitic mill. Yet it’s also time to stop pretending that the loyalties of some American Jews aren’t divided between Israel and America. Of course they are. There’s just nothing wrong with it — nor is there anything uniquely Jewish about this. You’ll find plenty of similar cases in other places.

The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people. Suppose vital American and Israeli interests were to clash. What would it mean for a Jew to say: ”I don’t give a damn what’s best for Israel. All that matters to me is what’s best for America”? What kind of Jew would that be? How deep could his or her Jewishness be said to go?

But one could ask a similar question about tens of millions of other Americans. Do Cuban Americans who have pressed for decades for harsh American policies toward Communist Cuba ask whether these are really in America’s interest? It’s enough for them to tell themselves that they’re in Cuba’s interest. Do Mexican Americans favor a relaxation of immigration laws because they think America’s general public will benefit? What they think, you can be sure, is that other Mexicans will benefit — and why shouldn’t they want them to?

It is excellent that the Forward has run this. It is akin to Eric Alterman’s frank declaration at the 92d Street Y that he has dual loyalty (not going in for Halkin’s euphemism, divided). It’s plainly the case that many American Jews would choose Israel’s interest over the U.S.’s if the two countries clashed.

While Halkin regards that choice as just fine, the Forward opens the door on those who may disagree– citing the regressive Cuban example, or the Irish-American support for a revolutionary movement back where they came from. Or: Did the neoconservatives support the Iraq war because it was in Israel’s interest? Joe Klein said they exhibited “divided loyalties” in doing so.

Myself I believe in the honorable principle of Doykeit, hereness in the Polish Yiddish formulation of the 1900s. Yes it worked out badly for the Polish Jews, but it remains the ideal of a democratic polity.

Speaking of which, my people came from Poland and Rumania and Russia, not from the Middle East. Yet to be concerned for Israel, a place most American Jews have never laid eyes on, is in Halkin’s view to “be identified with the Jewish people.” This is the knot at the bottom of Jewish identity in our times. Marc Ellis would say that identification with the Jewish people means concern for Palestinian conditions.

About Philip Weiss

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

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59 Responses

  1. Kathleen
    November 4, 2013, 12:21 pm

    So admitting that there is a dual loyalty and Israel wins out. Now trying to make it perfectly acceptable. Not going to work

    Prof Cole has a great post up
    http://www.juancole.com/2013/11/israelis-colonies-palestinian.html#comment-224744

  2. pabelmont
    November 4, 2013, 12:32 pm

    If a really, really SERIOUS issue came up in the USA (such as FAIR TAXATION for BILLIONAIRES, a WEALTH TAX, or just a FAIR ESTATE TAX), would the Adelsons and others quickly move off to Israel? We know they sometimes do that when they are threatened with criminal prosecution.

    Is paying a fair tax (to support or benefit all those pesky little folk out there, a concept presumably at odds with the TRUE RELIGION of really-really-rich folks) likely to send the Jews among them packing to Israel?

    • OlegR
      November 5, 2013, 7:10 am

      Is it antisemitic to single out Jewishness of rich people when asking rethorical questions ?

      • James Canning
        November 6, 2013, 4:54 pm

        Some seriously rich Americans favour higher taxes.

        Not so easy to escape the US taxman these days, by emigration.

  3. Ellen
    November 4, 2013, 12:44 pm

    The core premise of The Forward piece is an offensive falicy:

    The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people.

    The other examples of Cuban-Americans and Mexican-Americans are false comparisons on many levels.

    And since when are American citizens, who happen to be Jewish, Israeli-Americans?

    • James Canning
      November 4, 2013, 1:16 pm

      Good point, Helen: how can Americans who happen to be Jewish by religion or culture, be “Israeli-Americans”?

    • marc b.
      November 4, 2013, 2:12 pm

      in other words, ‘the forward’ can conflate Judaism and Zionism, but for most, that conflation is evidence of anti-Semitism.

      • James Canning
        November 4, 2013, 6:40 pm

        But, of course, being Jewish does not mean being Zionist.

    • MRW
      November 4, 2013, 5:54 pm

      Are Catholics Italian Americans or Vatican-Americans?

      Are Anglicans British-Americans?

      • hophmi
        November 4, 2013, 6:05 pm

        Ask this question again when Judaism is the preferred religion of an entire continent rather than the majority religion in one state.

        What stupidity. Jewish-Americans take an interest in Israel because it’s where the world’s largest Jewish population is.

      • Ellen
        November 4, 2013, 8:34 pm

        hop, with that logic Jewish-Americans take an interest in Israel because it’s where the world’s largest Jewish population is then Catholic Americans would take an interest in Brazil because that is where the largest population of Catholics live.

        Well, few Americans of any background (Catholic or not) have any interest in Brazil.

      • Cliff
        November 5, 2013, 6:07 am

        LOL world’s LARGEST Jewish population huh?

        By how much? 5 bazillion? And America must have 5 Jews right?

      • James Canning
        November 4, 2013, 6:23 pm

        Good joke!

    • RoHa
      November 4, 2013, 9:09 pm

      “can’t be very identified with the Jewish people”

      What does it mean for a Jew to “be identified with the Jewish people”? Does it mean (e.g.) that and American Jew cares more about Welsh Jews than about his Christian neighbours?

      • OlegR
        November 5, 2013, 7:12 am

        Certainly more than about Welsh Non Jews.

      • RoHa
        November 5, 2013, 9:01 pm

        During, and for a while after, WW2, Australians sent food parcels to Britain.

        I sent mine to Wales, with a little note attached:

        “Feed the Welsh Gentiles first, then give any leftovers to Welsh Jews. I care more about Welsh Gentiles than about Welsh Jews.”

  4. pabelmont
    November 4, 2013, 12:46 pm

    Weiss: “Yet to be concerned for Israel, a place most American Jews have never laid eyes on, is in Halkin’s view to “be identified with the Jewish people.” This is the knot at the bottom of Jewish identity in our times. Marc Ellis would say that identification with the Jewish people means concern for Palestinian conditions.”

    I really wonder, if push came to shove (as if USA had a loyalty oath which made it clear that support for Israel — or maybe for ANY country other than the USA — was contrary to the oath) — would most Jews refuse to sign it?

    I came from a slice of Jewish Community (or from a large family, if that is a better term) that never to my knowledge gave much of a thought to Israel. Or experienced much antisemitism on these shores. There was nothing tentative about the American-ness of this family (that I ever noticed).

    If there were a rift between Israel and the USA, how many FOI would elect to remain here, perhaps for safety or wealth, perhaps with some dim view of being more use to Israel here than there? And how many would see the ridiculousness of the old idea that Israel would be a safe-haven for Jews in the event that the USA got too hot for Jews? especially at a time when it was Israel and not the USA that was getting too hot for Jews?

  5. James Canning
    November 4, 2013, 1:13 pm

    The neocons conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq because they thought this would benefit Israel. “The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad” was their idiotic refrain.

  6. seafoid
    November 4, 2013, 1:33 pm

    “The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people”

    Absolute horseshit.

    “My mother drunk or sober” type logic should not be the main criterion for whether someone is Jewish or not.

    The Germans got over Nazism. Judaism will somehow emerge from the darkness of Zionism.

    • pabelmont
      November 4, 2013, 2:21 pm

      Recall that Nazism began with the (as it was perceived in Germany) horribly unfair treatment of Germany after WWI. Israelism (not quite the same as the various older Zionisms) came into focus by the horribly unfair treatment of Jews IN Germany. After Nazis were defeated militarily (nothing to do with the holocuast, BTW), THEN (and only then) did Germans either feel guilty as a people, or feel guilty as a nation, or feel the revulsion that others felt.

      So, what’s needed is for a lot of Jews to feel revulsion for what Israel is doing (1948-2013 and continuing at high speed). This depends on information. IMO the morality is in place, but not the information, not the education. Jews are still in the “We didn’t know” phase, even though you’d think all Jews would know about the original 1948-slice of Nakba. But no. Big secret. False allegation. Lies, lies.

      Alterman says all the factual assertions of GOLIATH are true, but still the book is (somehow) wrong. He means that he personally or American Jewry as a group are NOT READY FOR THE EDUCATION.

      Education means to be led out. Out of darkness.

      And one CRITICAL piece of education is this: You can be guilty of failing in your moral duty IN THE PAST and still have a moral duty in the present and future. There is still time and still duty to correct the world including especially that part of the world which is “Jewish” .

      For instance, it would still be better if the USA FORCED ISRAEL TO REMOVE THE WALL AND THE SETTLERS, EVEN THOUGH IT HAS ALLOWED 46 YEARS TO GO BY WITHOUT DOING SO.

      • Ellen
        November 4, 2013, 5:49 pm

        pablemont, Israel is a sovereign country. How can the US force Israel to remove the wall and settlers? By what means?

        By actions (or lack of) it appears the US — or it’s government — believes it has a vested interest in the wall and squatter project.

      • James Canning
        November 4, 2013, 5:57 pm

        US Congress indeed very foolishly aids and abets idiotic illegal colonisation programme of Israel in the West Bank. And we know why this happens.

      • Kathleen
        November 4, 2013, 6:28 pm

        Cut off all aid and support unless they are pre-emptively attacked

      • seafoid
        November 5, 2013, 1:53 am

        Kathleen

        If in a hypothetical situation Lebanon went to war against Israel without any specific action from Israel, would that count as preemptive war or episode 8 ?

      • Kathleen
        November 5, 2013, 6:22 am

        If Lebanon went to war against Israel without any specific action from Israel I believe that gives Israel the right to respond proportionately

        If Israel attacks Iran pre-emptively I believe Iran has every right to respond proportionately..

      • seafoid
        November 5, 2013, 6:46 am

        Would 7 previous invasions not count as specific action from Israel?

      • James Canning
        November 5, 2013, 5:10 pm

        But of course, Lebanon has zero ability to engage in an offensive war. Hezbollah is another matter, however.

      • seafoid
        November 6, 2013, 8:58 am

        It doesn’t have any capabilities but it doesn’t mean it should take Zionist warmongering as acceptable behavior.

  7. James Canning
    November 4, 2013, 1:47 pm

    I agree that American Jews should feel free to care fairly little about Israel, provided they have some notion of the damage Israel does to national security interests of the US.

    • Ellen
      November 4, 2013, 5:52 pm

      James, most all Americans — including American Jews — still believe that Israel is vital to US interests.

      Walk the halls of Congress, mention Israel. And the first lines out of anyone’s mouth is an automatic, “Israel is critical to our security…blah blah.” It is almost comical how automatic that line is sputtered out. All have been programed to repeat that over and over.

      • James Canning
        November 4, 2013, 5:55 pm

        @Ellen – – I would be more precise, and say most Americans foolishly think that encouraging illegal Jewish colonies in the West Bank is not a problem, if that is what Israel wants to do in the West Bank. That is, if the subject Americans are even aware of the illegal settlements etc etc.

  8. Annie Robbins
    November 4, 2013, 2:09 pm

    claiming american jews have dual loyalties was a warning then banning offense over at dkos back in the day, as i recall. i remember getting slammed over there when i said it was obvious many jews had dual loyalties and that dual loyalties in life were normal. i made that argument here on several occasions too, as i recall, using an analogy of child being loyal to both parents in a divorce.

    anyway, the gatekeepers over there (i have not visited dkos in so long i don’t know if they’ve had a changing of the guards or what) went ballistic. the same..’old anti semitic trope’ allegation and then they brought up some historical incident from the 1800’s or something, as if it was a one size fits all situation and always anti semitic and we are not ever supposed to question this lame ‘logic’. because it opens a can of worms. so i am glad the forward is broaching this. funny thing tho, it takes a jewish person to change the rules on what’s appropriate speech about something so common as dual loyalties.

    what.ever.

  9. hophmi
    November 4, 2013, 3:05 pm

    You’re using dual loyalty in the way Father Coughlin used it – as a slur – and so are most people here. Hillel Halkin (a writer who has long argued that American Jews should take an active interest in Israel and that if they’re going to criticize, they should make aliyah) points out that other groups engage in similar identity politics.

    It’s quite different to say that Mexican-Americans advocate liberal immigration policies because they’re beneficial to Latinos than it is to make the inflammatory assertion, wholly unsupported by any social science data, that pro-Israel Jews “pushed” a war in Iraq where many Americans lost their lives. And you damn well know it.

    • MRW
      November 4, 2013, 6:20 pm

      “the inflammatory assertion, wholly unsupported by any social science data, that pro-Israel Jews “pushed” a war in Iraq where many Americans lost their lives”

      But they did, Hophmi. And you know it. Hostage’s remark.

      Like Blankfort, I’ve also been puzzled by activists, including Finkelstein, who downplay the role of Zionism in the motivations of the neocons who started the Iraq war:

      White man’s burden by Ari Shavit, April 3, 2003.

      The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history. Two of them, journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, say it’s possible. But another journalist, Thomas Friedman (not part of the group), is skeptical

      Chomsky Acknowledges the Neocons as the Dominant Force in Pushing for Iraq War

      Phil’s Neocons Tiptoe Away From Iraq

      • James Canning
        November 4, 2013, 6:38 pm

        A primary object of the neocon warmongers who conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq, was to benefit Israel. Of this fact there is no doubt whatever.

    • traintosiberia
      November 4, 2013, 7:46 pm

      There are two was to understand that Iraq war was pushed by Israel. The most obvious one that could be applied is the anti Iran activities now being played out and in fact has been work in progress for last few years. It is the same group of senators and congress who are pushing for war ,more sanctions ,or both are the same who are fully supporting Israel in every way possible,agreeing with everything Israel has to say for Libya Syria,Egypt and even sometimes Turkey. These lawmakers are also heavily subsidized by campaign donations from Israeli organizations . The actors against Iran work in the local level to international level. The multilateral sanctions bear the marks of overwhelming pressure from the same groups of local and national and transatlantic entities. Any attempt by the administration to change the dynamics between Iran and US is undermined by the same set of people by flooding the airwaves, demanding meetings and private discussion,and by preemptive moves that include criticizing Obama more sanctions travel to Israrl to share ideas and plans and by antigovernment activities even by the people within the administration. Interspersed within it are numerous attempts to frame Iran for anti American terrorism, Anti Israeli terrorism. slayings of the Iranian scientists, use of the falsehood spread by MEK that were often supplied by Israel. These figures or the organizations that can offer a counter arguments are not seen in Congressional hearings, not in media, not in the bipartisan committee . They are not invited ,despite their established credentials, by the POTUS while major Jewish organization get to the Oval Office to demand what needed to be done. Meanwhile Israel is provided with more arms,money,and when necessary vetoes at UN while Israel continues its illegal activities against Syria and Palestine. Israeli explanation that borders on plain lies and hatred get accepted at local,national,international level without any follow up when those lies get exposed. Anybody wanting to be elected to any offices has to travel to Israel or to local offices or to Israeli embassies or be seen with a rabbi or be endorsed by one of them . They have to utter the same lies against Iran with a threat attached to. The people who are promoting the anti Iran behaviors are also in the body that deals with peace process or terrorism or finances of US government . They are often chosen to be the ambassador to Israel and other important countries whose influences and and pro Israeli views are well known. The same folks or new folks with same orientation are chosen for UN .
      If there is a war between Iran and US , who should be blamed ? If the draconian sanctions managed to engulf Iran into a civil war resulting into lawlessness and violence who should be blamed ? If taking the advantage of the new situation. Israel attacks Iran as they did and still doing to Syria ,who should be blamed?
      To exonerate Israel of the pivotal influences for sanctions and for possible war would be like exonerating Cheney- Wolfowitz nexus of waging wars against Iraq since they were not actually shooting and dropping the bombs.

    • RoHa
      November 4, 2013, 9:12 pm

      “Hillel Halkin … points out that other groups engage in similar identity politics.”

      And does that make it right?

  10. eljay
    November 4, 2013, 3:08 pm

    The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people. Suppose vital American and Israeli interests were to clash. What would it mean for a Jew to say: ”I don’t give a damn what’s best for Israel. All that matters to me is what’s best for America”? What kind of Jew would that be? How deep could his or her Jewishness be said to go?

    Where is the perfesser to denounce the sheer anti-Semitism of this statement?

    And where is yrneee with his clear, definitive and unambiguous answers to my five questions?
    1. What are the criteria for considering a person to be a Jew? Please don’t omit any.

    2. Is being a Jew the same as being Jewish?

    3. Under what circumstances – if any – can a Jew be stripped of his Jewish identity and rendered not a Jew?

    4. Can a person be a Jew and not belong to “the Jewish people”?

    5. Can a person belong to “the Jewish people” and not be a Jew?

    • hophmi
      November 4, 2013, 6:02 pm

      “1. What are the criteria for considering a person to be a Jew? Please don’t omit any.”

      Anyone with a Jewish parent.

      “2. Is being a Jew the same as being Jewish?”

      Is being a Catholic the same thing as being Catholic? Well, to the extent that “Jewish” is a social construct, yes, one can be a Jew by definition without being “Jewish.” To the extent that Jewish is the definition of someone who is a Jew, obviously not.

      “3. Under what circumstances – if any – can a Jew be stripped of his Jewish identity and rendered not a Jew?”

      Under none. A Jew is a Jew. Of course, free will is free will. Many Jews have stripped themselves of Jewish identity. But there is no way, if one is a Jew, to be rendered not a Jew.

      “4. Can a person be a Jew and not belong to “the Jewish people”?”

      Maybe. If you define Jewish people as people who are Jews, then no. If you define Jewish people as a political construct, then obviously, in the same way you can be Black and not belong to the African-American community.

      “5. Can a person belong to “the Jewish people” and not be a Jew?”

      Interesting question. Probably not, though one can certainly be supportive of the Jewish community or the political construct of the Jewish people and support the same aims as they do.

      I personally think Halkin’s question, asked by many antisemites over the years as a preface to a dual loyalty charge, is stupid, or as Norman Finkelstein would say, a little like asking what would happen if Grandma were a baby carriage, would she have wheels? Who cares? Grandma is not a baby carriage. America isn’t going to war with Israel, and our interests largely coalesce with Israel’s.

      Most Americans support a Jewish state in principal, and have no trouble with an America committed to Israel’s security.

      Israel is certainly a part of American Jewish identity. Many American Jews have visited Israel, and many have family there. It’s well and good that American Jews should care what happens there, something I’m sure Phil Weiss would heartily agree with.

      What Halkin is saying is nothing surprising. To the extent that one identifies as a Jew, those who would forsake their brethren in Israel probably care less about the religion in general than those who would be interested in their welfare.

      Perhaps some would answer that Israel’s interests would be paramount, because, after all, America is a lot more secure and established than Israel’s is. Those who take that view are protected by the First Amendment, much as those who favored the Soviet Union over America forty or fifty years ago were, much as those who prefer Europe to America today are. Besides the fact that I know many of those in the American Jewish community whom Phil would accuse of dual loyalty and know that they are proud Americans, the silliest thing about the dual loyalty argument is that it could be used against literally anyone who expresses a view that is opposed to some American foreign policy position or supportive of some position that someone else disagrees with. That’s why it’s particularly ironic and jarring to see the charge leveled by people on the left, who really should know better. Phil is a trenchant critic of American foreign policy. Many of those associated with pro-Palestinian politics are members of radical left groups that in recent generations were broadly supportive of the Soviet Union, and on the I-P conflict, found common cause with radical elements in the Arab world, much in the way Lynne Stewart did with Sheikh Rahman, whom she defended in part because Ramsey Clark told her the left owed it to the Arab world.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/22/magazine/left-behind.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

      So maybe dual loyalty is not the best charge for you guys to throw around.

      • James Canning
        November 4, 2013, 6:35 pm

        surely the issue of whether a person is a “Jew” must give some weight to what that person prefers. If someone has a Jewish parent, and a Catholic parent, and professes to be a Catholic, should that person be regarded as a Jew? I think not.

      • eljay
        November 4, 2013, 9:22 pm

        Well, you’re not yrn, but let’s see what you have to say:

        1. What are the criteria for considering a person to be a Jew? Please don’t omit any.

        hophmi: Anyone with a Jewish parent.

        Interesting:
        – A person’s religious affiliation (Judaism or some other religion) or lack thereof has no bearing on whether or not a that person is Jewish.
        – Acceptance of, devotion to and/or support for a “Jewish State” have no bearing on whether or not a person is a Jew.
        – Religious converts to Judaism are not considered Jews.

        2. Is being a Jew the same as being Jewish?

        hophmi: Is being a Catholic the same thing as being Catholic? Well, to the extent that “Jewish” is a social construct, yes, one can be a Jew by definition without being “Jewish.” To the extent that Jewish is the definition of someone who is a Jew, obviously not.

        Is “Jewish” a social construct or an essential definition of what is a Jew? This is not very clear, definitive and unambiguous.

        3. Under what circumstances – if any – can a Jew be stripped of his Jewish identity and rendered not a Jew?

        hophmi: Under none. A Jew is a Jew. Of course, free will is free will. Many Jews have stripped themselves of Jewish identity. But there is no way, if one is a Jew, to be rendered not a Jew.

        The bit about Jews stripping themselves of their Jewish identity conflicts with comments made by others who have said that Jews are always Jews, regardless of whether or not they think or say they are.

        4. Can a person be a Jew and not belong to “the Jewish people”?

        hophmi: Maybe. If you define Jewish people as people who are Jews, then no. If you define Jewish people as a political construct, then obviously, in the same way you can be Black and not belong to the African-American community.

        Is “Jewish people” an essential definition of what is a Jew, or is it a social construct? This is not very clear, definitive and unambiguous.

        5. Can a person belong to “the Jewish people” and not be a Jew?

        hophmi: Interesting question. Probably not, though one can certainly be supportive of the Jewish community or the political construct of the Jewish people and support the same aims as they do.

        If “Jewish people” is a political construct, a non-Jew could belong to “Jewish people” merely by adopting the group’s political principles. So, is “Jewish poeple” a political construct, or is it something else? This is not very clear, definitive and unambiguous.
        ____________________

        OK, yrn, now it’s your turn. Don’t be shy!

        And perhaps you can be more clear, definitive and unambiguous than hophmi was.

      • seafoid
        November 5, 2013, 1:55 am

        What is jewish identity? Can “radical left” be part of jewish identity? Can tikkun olam for non jews?

      • traintosiberia
        November 5, 2013, 8:28 am

        “Perhaps some would answer that Israel’s interests ..”-Question is how one does it- I can support a cause of Khalistan -Punjab or of Kashmir from USA and can support a weak Bangladesh from the interfernces of Burma or India or China . Can I support those countries or movement if it continue to use illegal means,engage to internationally defined illegal norms of behaviors and sametime damages US interests? Can I use all the resources I have or I can gather through my religion or ethnic based relationship violating conflicts of interests as Brandeis to Schumer to Ilena Roth , M Rubin, D Ross, M Indyk, Liberman , Cantor to the traesury secretary have done ? There are a lot of small conutries out there , some of them are younger and surrounded by more powerful nations . Do Australia, Russia, US,Canada or any of them has to get up every morning and wait for the signal from the local citizen aired abroad at home by many channels and by many differnet faces with strong attachment to that country what should or should not be done irrespective of international obligations, morality, self interest or leaglity?

      • traintosiberia
        November 5, 2013, 8:40 am

        “Those who take that view are protected by the First Amendment, much as those who favored the Soviet Union over America forty or fifty years ago were”
        No one is stopping anybody to say that he or she supports Russia or Georgia . But if the support is translated to spying, illegal money transfer, raisng fund for their army and recruitment, passing government secret to Russia, dismissing the intelligence that portrays correct picture of the intention and capabilities of Russia ,using tax payers money for the growth of Russian economy and military ,transferring military hardwares against existing laws – the person shoud be prosecuted and held responsible even if there were no wars or active conflcits between the two conutries.

        During active conflicts , America has prosecuted persons of Germans, and recently Middel Eastern origins. The same standard should apply to persons concerned for Israel.Iraq was a weak country would have cut
        no ice. It could be illegal but the illegality should not be compunded by using it selectively

      • traintosiberia
        November 5, 2013, 8:58 am

        “Phil is a trenchant critic of American foreign policy. Many of those associated with pro-Palestinian politics are members of radical left groups that in recent generations were broadly supportive of the Soviet Union, and on the I-P conflict, found common cause with radical elements in the Arab world, much in the way Lynne Stewart did ”

        Historically the neoconservatives have been Trostkytes .Thats where they started and it was also a Jewish movement with international dimension . During the course of their evolution, the guiding principles of evolution been whether the US political parties are supportive of huge military bidget, pro war foreign policy and pro Israeli. None of theme ever been prosecuted or sent to jail despite known spying and transfer of intelligence and working for the foreign country ( The staff from PNAC should have never been inducted into Bush 2 cabinet, shoudl never been given predominant roles through contacts . They advocated a position , advocated by Israel ., they advocated a position for they felt it was godd for Isreal, they wanted to reverse the US policies for it was good for Israel. No body will hold them to be guilty for having a position of that nature. But they could not come to offcial and unoffical limemlight without getting elected or without getting their ideas put to the voters, and become the sole voice in the media and the sole voice in the admisnitration . They should have recused themselves from any decision making capacities relating to Iraq or ME unless we make official exception to the idea of the conflicts of interest ) They felony conviction was never overturned but they managed to return to the adminsitration through pardon which was orchsetrated by the disparate and distributed power centers mamaged by the people with same loyalty and concern for Israel.
        It is not the idea that one holds dear .It is the way one shovels down those ideas on other who dont want .

        If Lynne Stewart did anything like this for Kadish or Rosen or Kahane or for Mark Rich she could have been out of prison long ago.

  11. Clif Brown
    November 4, 2013, 6:06 pm

    The issue is simple for me.

    Do you put the interests of those you live with in daily life (Americans if you are American, Israelis if you are Israeli) behind those of people who you do not live with? If you do, something odd is going on, you are putting second those who are your actual community; the people you interact with on your block, in your town, the people who support the status quo that provides the kind of life you choose to live and underlies your choice to live where you do.

    The Israel Firster issue doesn’t appear to be nuanced – it is unconditional support, with no brake. That’s why it should arouse anxiety for Americans, let alone that it is exhibited by some powerful people who are near or have political power in America.

    It’s interesting…we rightly condemn those Americans who jump to the conclusion that American Muslims are Islam-firsters, implying disloyalty to the U.S., without the suspects saying a single word to indicate they might be so, that contrasts sharply with little or no uproar over Israel-firsters who come right out and say that they are such.

    Slowly but surely, Israel is ceasing to be the untouchable subject politically. It is a signal of how powerful this untouch-ability is that Israel-Firsters can proclaim themselves so boldly, even defiantly. There should normally be great reticence to proclaim loyalty to another, any other country than the one lived in, because it is a rejection of community.

    • James Canning
      November 4, 2013, 6:37 pm

      Fine assessment. More discussion of this issue is good thing for Israel and for the US.

  12. dimadok
    November 4, 2013, 9:28 pm

    What is really amusing for me, as an Israeli Jew, from former Soviet Union , is that Mr. Weiss has absolutely no clue about history of Jews either from the perspective of “his” people or any other Jews coming from elsewhere. Arrogant, self -proclaimed notion of what is a right way to be a Jew without a single attribute of Jewish traditions or cultural history, is a staple of the MW authors of Jewish origins. Interestingly enough authors here want to be heard and embraced by the general Jewish and Israeli public in order to change the world they live in. It contradicts there denial of general lessons of Jewish history.
    The same “people” of Mr. Weiss went and built the State of Israel by their sweat, blood and tears. The same people keep building while he is keen on destroying. That’s the difference and no intellectual spins and salon talk can hide it.

    • eljay
      November 5, 2013, 10:45 am

      >> The same “people” of Mr. Weiss went and built the State of Israel by their sweat, blood and tears.

      By “built the State of Israel” you mean they stole, occupied and colonized land in Palestine; used terrorism and ethnic cleansing to rid the land of its indigenous population; and established an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” in Palestine.

      And, yes, they shed a lot of Palestinian blood and drew a lot of Palestinian tears in the process.

      >> The same people keep building while he is keen on destroying.

      Hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists like you keep on oppressing, stealing, occupying, colonizing, destroying, torturing and killing

      Mr. Weiss is keen to see an end to Zio-supremacist injustices and immorality.

      But you deride him. Interesting.

  13. Susan Johnson
    November 4, 2013, 9:59 pm

    “Most Americans support a Jewish state in principal, and have no trouble with an America committed to Israel’s security.”

    And pray tell:
    what is a “Jewish state”? Or a “Jewish state in principal”?
    what’s the official definition of these terms?
    what are Israel’s security needs????
    really, what security needs does Israel have??
    what is America’s commitment?
    Americans have no problem sending Israel 3.5 billion dollars in military aid each
    year????….Oh, that’s not very well known, is it? Would that be a problem?

    Most Americans have no clue about Israel’s needs/”needs”
    Most Americans have no clue about Israel/the Israeli government;
    it’s a democracy, isn’t it? not really?
    there are equal rights, right? oh, different laws for Jews and non-Jews, really?
    there’s more? what? the tip of the iceberg?
    Please, you’re spoiling the image….. we’d rather not know!

  14. yonah fredman
    November 5, 2013, 12:22 am

    Phil writes: “Speaking of which, my people came from Poland and Rumania and Russia, not from the Middle East. Yet to be concerned for Israel, a place most American Jews have never laid eyes on, is in Halkin’s view to “be identified with the Jewish people.” This is the knot at the bottom of Jewish identity in our times. Marc Ellis would say that identification with the Jewish people means concern for Palestinian conditions.”

    Phil is outvoted two to one. Both Halkin and Ellis agree that the Jewish people must be concerned with the Israeli (Jewish) versus Palestinian conflict. Halkin views the concern to be practical, as in: Let us be certain that the Palestinians don’t kick the Israeli Jews out. Ellis views the concern to be moral, as in: Let us be certain that the Jews don’t act immorally towards the Palestinians. Phil’s vote seems to be (in the context of this paragraph at least), It’s no concern of mine, I come from Eastern Europe. So Phil is outvoted two to one.

    • yonah fredman
      November 5, 2013, 3:00 am

      Or to take a different tack, is the number six million really accurate to Phil, if he only identifies with those who came from Poland, Rumania and Russia? Those other Jews, well, they don’t come from where I come from, so why should I care about them?

      What Phil really means is that he is an American and he doesn’t really care about Jews, which is okay, but why doesn’t he say so and why does he focus on the specific roots of Poland, Rumania and Russia, when he doesn’t really care about those Jews either.

      • talknic
        November 5, 2013, 3:40 am

        yonah fredman “What Phil really means is ..” … very likely what he says.

        “that he is an American and he doesn’t really care about Jews, which is okay, but why doesn’t he say so”

        Maybe because that’s what you need or think him to mean, which is you and not him.

  15. traintosiberia
    November 5, 2013, 12:22 am

    “Vital American and Jewish interest to clash”
    Question is how and why it would clash . The Chinese and American interest an clash . The american and Irish interest can clash . Islam and Christinaity can clash . So can Hinduism and Buddhism can clash. But how does Hinduism will clash say with Indonesian or Australian interest? Unless we create a state that also defines a religion and vice versa. But we are supposed to have left that world where territorial god could not be moved around or relocated. Here lies the inherent weakness of the argument. It is not an argument. One can be a Hindu or Muslim or Christian anywhere they would like excepting may be S Arab , and can live a life according to the fundamental tenet of the religion unless the religion comes into conflict with the secular laws that define relationship between adults,children,properties,and rules that govern the transacting part between state and the person that can include ban on loud noise,driving ,taxation,smoking,drinking,or anything that state decides by careful deliberations .We also have system where permanent majority of certain kind can’t impose its rules on permanent minority of another kind whether Homosexual or disabled or vegetarians.

    So the clash if ever happens between two countries is going to be in the realm of the economy,,military,intelligence,or security . Why should a citizen have to pause to decide where his or her loyalty lies? It will hurt to see a blood feud between two . The conflicted feelings are genuine but it does not mean that loyalty to the country of which he or she is a citizen would be ever in doubt. One can approach this problem with the aim of peaceful resolving but ultimate arbiter would still be the valid and honest interest of the country . The moral question of conscientious refuseniks can crop up . But that question is also resolved not by loyalty to any creed or territory but by moral scruples and if Jewish people find Israel is morally right ,they can choose that route to defend,support and fight for Israel.
    The issue of beings traitor and being truthful is total nonsense.
    Can we say that Rosen of AIPAC and Rosenberg of 1960s are made of same moral fibre? One can forgive and even come to love the later ,at least one will appreciate the value system of Rosenberg for it points to a direction of universal hope,optimism,and possibility despite the fact that they were wrong in beleiving that was the case.

  16. Shmuel
    November 5, 2013, 3:00 am

    The truth is that any American Jew who doesn’t care as much about a Jewish state as he or she does about the United States can’t be very identified with the Jewish people. Suppose vital American and Israeli interests were to clash. What would it mean for a Jew to say: ”I don’t give a damn what’s best for Israel. All that matters to me is what’s best for America”? What kind of Jew would that be? How deep could his or her Jewishness be said to go?

    I reject most of Halkin’s premises, but by implication:

    What would it mean for a[n American] to say: ”I don’t give a damn what’s best for [America]. All that matters to me is what’s best for [Israel]”? What kind of [American] would that be?

    Is Halkin OK with that?

  17. American
    November 5, 2013, 8:43 am

    ”Of course they are. There’s just nothing wrong with it — nor is there anything uniquely Jewish about this. You’ll find plenty of similar cases in other places”

    Fools, fools, fools……they ignore the world’s bloody history of what divided loyalties, betrayals, treasons, foreign subversions, ethnic powers, have resulted in within nations since time began.
    It’s impossible for me to conceive of this kind of stupidity, especially on the part of those who claim a Jewish ‘identity’, given the history of the Jews and the historical disloyalty canards.

    However they are not alone in pushing this ethnic & roots loyalty idea. I noticed recently a Dem congresswoman making a speech about how America is not a melting pot of one for all and all for one, how it is a collection of ethnics who have a right to demand their ethnic rights and interest from the US Government. In checking this congresswoman’s bio I saw that she was a second generation Italian and a lesbian—is her ‘personal’ identity and personal interest overriding the original American concept of the ‘common good of all’?—–I think so.
    All these identities have no idea what will happen to them when they destroy the fundamental bedrock of one nation for one people and the US becomes a battleground of competing ethnic, religious and foreign loyalties.
    There is no cure for stupid.

  18. traintosiberia
    November 5, 2013, 4:05 pm

    If Mr X creates a Think Tank that also may enter into a position from where MrX can lobby and influence decision that the same Think Tank is advocating while also enjoying access to the intelligence and the plans of the government , will it be considered as a violation of legal moral,and ethical code. I think so. Will it be more obvious if the person also goes back to the same think after quitting the government position that an infraction of grave nature has been allowed? It will. What about if we came to know that the said person also are briefing of the latest position to a country that has same position or similar position to that of the think tank- what should be inferred from the activities of these people working both in the think tank and the government?
    Mr Gary Samore was the founding member of the UAN- united against nucler Iran He was the coordinator for WMD Counter terrorism and Arms Control. He accompanies Ms Sherman to Israel to update the Israelis on P5 +1 meeting held on Iraq before updating US around May 25 th 2012 .He joins UAN after leaving Obama administration.
    These kind of examples are plenty . Mr Samore is not well known like Liberman, or Wolfowitz, or Perle or Mark Kirk or Charles Schumer or Kagan. This makes it easy to slip away from any public awareness ,it is much easier for this kind of people to get things done behind the limelight and hide from possible exposure.
    But is it legal? Is it morally defensible ? Media would have exposed if an oil baron came to the dartment,gutted environmental policies, acquired preferential intelligence ,and administrative plans and passed those while still in office to oil industry and went back to work for the oil industry after quitting the job.

  19. Binyamin in Orangeburg
    November 5, 2013, 6:44 pm

    It is no crime, I believe, to have “divided loyalties.”

    There are circumstances when Americans should support those making war against our armed forces.

    Certainly, during the Vietnam War, I fervently supported the nation of Vietnam, who fought under the leadership of the Vietnamese Communist Party, against the U.S. (land of my birth and citizenship — and that of seven generations before me).

    Supposing the U.S. were to commence a genocide against its Jewish citizens (impossible as long as our Constitution is functioning, but supposing it happened).

    Supposing Israel made war against my country to stop the gencode. Would I support Israel? With all my heart and soul. And I say that as someone devoted to the Palestinian freedom struggle.

    The issue is not “divided loyalty.” It is “loyalty to what”.

    Our loyalty is to the noble ideals of freedom, human rights, liberty and equality — which, fortunately are enshrined in our Constitution, and no, they are not mere empty rhetoric. We are loyal to America as long as America is loyal to its ideals.

    Of course, the pro-Israel lobby cares little for those ideals, at least as applied to the Palestinians.

    But that does not change the principle of the thing.

    • American
      November 6, 2013, 10:30 am

      I think you are confusing ‘divided *national* loyalties’ with personal commitment/loyalty to a ‘higher moral principle’–which your nation was violating in your opinion.
      They are not exactly the same.
      The I Firsters have no ‘higher moral principle’ in loyalty to Israel—it’s all pure self and ethnic racist interest.
      Quite a different thing than your moral based feelings about Vietnam and the US.

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