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More Pussyfootin’ in the Media. Jews Qua Jews

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Tim Russert has a politics show on MSNBC after Meet the Press and just now I heard him and guests Tucker Carlson and Ryan Lizza analyze the living hell out of Rev. Wright in Chicago and his black church and the political strains in the black community. Then touch-on/avoid the subject of Jews in politics.

Carlson was the most creditable of the speakers. He said that Obama’s refusal to meet with Hamas when he will meet with Iranian and North Korean leaders is a contradiction only explicable by "political considerations." The three of them then avoided where that was going by changin the subjeck to the Cuba Lobby and our immigration policy. Lizza offered the possibility that Democrats may soon stop "pandering" to the Cuban bloc vote, which he said was dominated by older conservative Cubans, because Florida was more and more safely Republican.

I don’t think immigration is as important an issue as whether the Arabs/the world hates us. Lizza was saying–and maybe reflecting his New Republic indoctrination on this score–that North Korea is a state and so is Iran; since when is Hamas at that level!

The issue of statelessness is of course key. At the same time that India and Pakistan became independent states, Palestinian Partition in ’47 called for two states, Arab and Jewish, on roughly equal portions of the land. The most distant observer–and this is what U.S. politics needs now, more and more detached observers–understands that for 60 years there has been a Jewish one on far more of that land than the U.N. apportioned to it, but no Arab one. The reasons for this are manifold, and no doubt the Arab world has played its part.  But certainly for the last 40 years the Israeli occupation has been the largest factor in Palestinian statelessness. And for the last 6 the Arab world has called for Partition along newer lines. Still no state.

Conservative American Jewry has obviously been one of the most important obstacles to the formation of that state. But our politics can’t deal with this. And neither can our journalism. Just ask Russert.

I have a Jewish journalist friend who meets my statement that Jews are members of the American establishment always with the condescending comment, "Yes but are they acting as Jews qua Jews. No." He means with that qua that we are simply Americans like other diverse Americans, we’re not behaving Jewish. As I’ve said here before, I find this attitude highly incurious for a journalist. I am fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of my people (and other tribes too), never moreso than now that we have a seat in the cockpit, funding the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Steve Walt’s seat at Harvard and Freedom’s Watch, too.

Which would be chiefly of sociological interest were it not for the issue of the Israel lobby. Per Lizza’s analysis of the Cubans, the Israel lobby is dominated by the older conservative component of Jewish life; and that group needs to be scrutinized and understood by journalists. But it’s not. I feel for myself that it still has a hold on the body of the Jewish community. So good journalists are simply afraid to talk about central facts in our political life. Though maybe Carlson is intrigued/titillated because his daddy done got largessed by the Israel lobby.

Oh–but let us talk about Obama’s "very radical" (I think those were Lizza’s words) black preacher all day and night. Qua qua qua. Quack quack quack.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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