Mark Kleiman, a UCLA Professor of Public Policy, is against the “lunatic warmongering” Iran sanctions bill, and good for him. He’s a blogger, and started a post for the Washington Monthly:
If you’re a constituent of, or a contributor to, [he named the 16 Democratic senators supporting the legislation], please consider making a phone call or sending a fax or email telling that Senator to back off the lunatic piece of warmongering legislation known as the Kirk-Menendez bill, designed to torpedo the nuclear deal with Iran. As of now, they’re all co-sponsoring it. Please consider making your voice heard especially strongly if you’re Jewish, or have a Jewish-sounding name.
The professor of public policy and I agree, Jews count more on this issue. I wrote him:
I agree with you re Jewish sounding names, and re Iran policy; but isn’t your recommendation also an acknowledgment of a political truth, that we are 5/3 of a man, to reverse the old voting fraction of black people? And inasmuch as that is true, isn’t this something liberal Jews ought to seek to end? For instance, by speaking openly about the Israel lobby?
Kleiman wrote back:
Not at all. I don’t think a Jewish name would have extra weight on a question about heath care or crime control or global warming or Burma. It’s only on questions where “Jews” generically are perceived to have one opinion that a Jew expressing a contrary opinion is man-bites-dog.
I wrote back to Kleiman to say that he was making my point: on this issue, Israel, there is a real effect of Jewish influence– the lobby that presumes to speak in our name. “You are attacking that presumption of solidarity, for the best reasons. But any analysis of why the U.S. is where it is today re the Middle East has to grapple with my 5/3 formulation.”
I think this is a very important conversation. Kleiman’s appeal shows that the lobby is fracturing: that Jews are taking on the lobby as Jews, and many Jewish groups are now opposing AIPAC on this bill. But it raises questions, like, What is the basis of the Jewish influence here? I think it’s financial contributions and our presence in the establishment and yes, also a widespread cultural deference stemming from the Holocaust. Also, how long did the lobby successfully presume or impose solidarity on liberal Jews? Certainly back when my brother said to me in 2003, “I demonstrated against the Vietnam war, but my Jewish newspaper says this war could be good for Israel.” Of course Jews were against that war, by numbers; but how many denounced that “warmongering” lobby as Jews? Very few. Joe Klein for one.
Back to the main point. So long as Jews count more (and it’s probably more like 30/3, not 5/3), doesn’t that give people the right to count Jews when it comes to this policy? Put another way, why does the State Department’s Middle East team have one Arab-American that I’m aware of, and a half dozen Jews, or people with Jewish-sounding names? Kleiman’s law. The most important constituency must be addressed.
PS. Adam Kredo got to this story first. Also, today the New Yorker did a piece on the boycott issue in which it identified me as a Jewish American blogger. Fair enough. But it proves the point– in how many other contexts would my religion/ethnicity matter?