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NPR’s Robert Siegel opens a door I want to go through

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Why is Martin Indyk saving Americans, and Netanyahu, too, from Netanyahu’s brother-in-law’s statement that Obama is "anti-semitic"? On NPR tonight, Indyk was interviewed by Robert Siegel, and described Netanyahu’s "chevra — the people he lives with–" as hardline Zionist rightwing ideologues. For instance, Bibi’s brother-in-law, Indyk said, who "got some headlines today criticizing the United States."

Well look at that first link. His brother-in-law didn’t criticize the United States. He said the president is an anti-semite. I don’t see one criticism of the U.S. in there. Why Indyk’s indirection?

(Also wouldn’t it be nice if people on NPR used Arabic phrases casually, and then translated them for Americans?)

Indyk passed on the usual line these days: Netanyahu needs to get past this so that we can all focus on Iran, an "existential threat."

Well, Israel’s own defense minister doesn’t think that Iran is an existential threat. But if you work for the Israel lobby you have to be more Catholic than the Pope.

Robert Siegel made an interesting statement. He said of Netanyahu, "Well he’s now at something of a crossroads. I suppose he could decide that he could tough it out with  President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton and enjoy enough support either from the American Jewish community or other American supporters of Israel, that he wouldn’t have to give in much– do you think he’s up for that fight?" No, Indyk said.

Let’s look at Siegel’s statement. He is saying that "the American Jewish community" are such "supporters of Israel" that they could give Netanyahu the political capital he would need not to "give in" to an American president (on a simple matter of international law, on which the world is unanimous).

And I think Siegel’s right. The American Jewish community does support Israel, and it supports rightwingers like Netanyahu to defy presidents. The cracks in the community are pretty small, my efforts notwithstanding. And Siegel knows what he’s talking about. He’s Jewish and from New York, he knows more of these folks than I do.

Siegel’s statement raises a central issue for me: the responsibility of the American Jewish community for Palestinian statelessness, because Jews here have supported Israel right or wrong, through decades during which everyone and his brother and Turkmenistan have gotten states.

Tonight on Chris Matthews, he badgered a member of the Texas School Board who’s a Christian, about her religious agenda for the curriculum. Good for him.

Can we ever ever have a political conversation in the American media about How Jews feel about Israel? It seems pretty important. I admit I’m an outlier: I never got the Zionist vaccination as a boy and I don’t think the Jewish state is necessary for Jews. But most Jews don’t share my view; they support the Jewish state out of some ethnocentric allegiance or wisdom about our status in the west (that I think is anachronistic). But Siegel’s right. They support it.

Can’t we talk about this? Robert, where do you stand on the Jewish state, personally? You must have some feelings. And how many neocons are in your family? OK fine, I’ll go first. But let’s talk about it.

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About Philip Weiss

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

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