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Obama aide calls Israel her ‘homeland’ and a ‘healthy democracy’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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The neocon cabal is going crazy over comments supportive of J Street from Hannah Rosenthal, Obama’s aide in charge of fighting anti-Semitism. It’s really amazing that the neocons have been able to hurt J Street, a mainstream group if ever there was one, a group that turned its back on the powerful Goldstone report that describes the moral corruption of Israeli society.

Andrew Sullivan, who has been accused of anti-Semitism for his own criticisms of Israeli policy, correctly identifies the Israel lobby’s presence in the discourse:

Remember what the neocons believe is a criterion for public office: no criticisms of any Israeli policies. Or you are a suspect Jew or a closet anti-Semite. And they believe this. Thank God the younger generations are less paranoid and less blinkered.

The problem with Sullivan’s formulation is that it isn’t just neocons. Remember what Haaretz stated baldly in an article a couple weeks back:

Every appointee to the American government must endure a thorough background check by the American Jewish community.

In the case of Obama’s government in particular, every criticism against Israel made by a potential government appointee has become a catalyst for debate about whether appointing "another leftist" offers proof that Obama does not truly support Israel."

I.e., it’s Democrats who are imposing this criterion, not just neocons!

I would take this analysis further. Rosenthal made several comments in her interview with Haaretz suggesting that this high White House official, whose office is on the same floor as Hillary Clinton’s at the State Department, regards Israel as her country.

"It is not 1939," she said. "We have the state of Israel…"

Although she did not say outright what she thought Israel should do regarding the peace process, when pressed, she said: "I lived in Israel in 1973 in the bomb shelters. I don’t want my kids or my grandchildren to have to ever come visit their homeland and to live in a bomb shelter – that is what I mean when I say the matzav [the situation/conflict] … Sometimes I wonder what it does to the psyche of people and children to know that they have to know where the nearest bomb shelter is – that’s not okay. As a peace loving person and as a Jew who wants my kids to feel comfortable here [Israel]- I think that’s what I mean that the matzav cannot continue."

From the time that Herzl began promoting Jewish nationalism in the 1890s, anti-Zionist Jews said, Wait, you’re threatening our patriotism to our country! This was a refrain in England and the U.S., where Jews did not require liberation. Today, dual loyalty continues to be an issue. I started this blog in large part because I saw the neocons, many of whom feel tremendous loyalty to Israel, helping to plot a war by the United States. 

The essence of dual loyalty is a failure to distinguish American interest from an Israeli one. Rosenthal describes Israel as a "healthy democracy." Well: It is a democracy for Jews, as many Palestinians point out. That it is not a democracy for Palestinians is known throughout the Arab/Muslim world, and that fact is damaging the American image in this dangerous region. I believe that Hannah Rosenthal is incapable of acknowledging that fact, out of a religious identification. Let’s hope Sullivan is right about the coming generations…

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About Philip Weiss

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

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