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Krugman’s economy: I will spend none of my immense journalistic capital criticizing Israel or its lobby

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Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman just wrote a column for the New York Times called “Privilege Pathology and Power,” lamenting Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer’s influence in the Republican Party and he did not mention Israel in the column. Israel is a core concern to both men, but Krugman speaks only about Adelson’s casino interest as a political factor. Not the fact that Adelson has urged the president to nuke Iran— and that Marco Rubio, who wants his money, has vowed to tear up the Iran agreement on day one. He doesn’t tell readers that Adelson held a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in Jerusalem in 2012, that he has aligned with Haim Saban to fight the BDS movement against Israel, that he says he wished he had served in the Israeli army not the American one. Krugman doesn’t say that Paul Singer– a supporter like Krugman himself of abortion rights and gay-marriage– is a Republican for neoconservative purposes: he has complained that President Obama is too hard on Israel, and has ties to Dan Senor and the rightwing pro-Israel group, the Republican Jewish Coalition.

So, Krugman takes up the issue of the rightwing Israel lobby’s influence in the Republican Party, but he can’t call the thing by its name.

There is just a lot of moralizing about the soullessness of the rich and privileged, and this sort of gruel:

Then Mr. Adelson bought Nevada’s largest newspaper….

O.K., but why do we care? Because Mr. Adelson’s political spending has made him a huge player in Republican politics — so much so that reporters routinely talk about the “Adelson primary,” in which candidates trek to Las Vegas to pay obeisance….

Oligarchy, rule by the few, also tends to become rule by the monstrously self-centered. Narcisstocracy? Jerkigarchy?

He doesn’t tell the reader that Adelson owns a newspaper in Israel that he runs for the political aggrandizement of Netanyahu. There is, as I said, not a mention of Israel.

We knew this about Krugman. He wrote an entire book called The Conscience of a Liberal that doesn’t mention Israel or Palestine, even as young progressives understand that this is an important cause. He told us himself that he would spend no political capital on the issue, because it could hurt him, four years ago, when he lifted a finger on behalf of Peter Beinart (surely because Beinart had once done him a favor, and he had to repay it):

The truth is that like many liberal American Jews — and most American Jews are still liberal — I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going. It seems obvious from here that the narrow-minded policies of the current government are basically a gradual, long-run form of national suicide — and that’s bad for Jews everywhere, not to mention the world. But I have other battles to fight, and to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism.

Of course it’s not anti-Semitism, but Krugman, who is Jewish and insulated from the charge, doesn’t want to expend any effort even knocking that canard down. He is obviously a latent Zionist inasmuch as he thinks Israel is important for “Jews everywhere,” but he doesn’t really care enough about it to try and save Israel. OK; I understand. Let Israel go to the dogs. But in this column, he isn’t just avoiding the issue, he’s lying to his readers about Adelson and Singer’s motivation. Surely because to point out that they are rich Jewish Israel supporters would be tantamount, in his view, to anti-Semitism. The readers are smarter than that. Krugman doesn’t think so.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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24 Responses

  1. David Doppler on January 2, 2016, 3:09 pm

    Nor does he mention that Adelson proposed to Saban that the two of them buy the NYTimes, to get better coverage for Israel. http://forward.com/opinion/208924/adelson-and-saban-try-to-out-hawk-each-other/

    Not relevant to a report about Adelson’s newspaper ambitions? Or, too relevant?

  2. John Douglas on January 2, 2016, 4:28 pm

    Very good column, Phil. Here is the leading progressive economist, a thinker who has done a great service with his critique of austerity programs, both here and in the EU and a Nobel winner who has has sterling credibility as a progressive. It would be so important if he would address the ways that the US ties to Israel are harmful to the US, presumably his own country. The excuse that he will lose his ability to affect economic trends is lame and untrue. Imagine a Jewish Nobel winner being afraid to be labeled anti-Semitic. The contrast with Jimmy Carter in spinal strength is not favorable to Krugman. At very least he could declare his presumably everlasting commitment to Israel and then use his stature to show how its present path will lead to the end of Israel.

  3. Keith on January 2, 2016, 4:32 pm

    PHIL- “He is obviously a latent Zionist inasmuch as he thinks Israel is important for “Jews everywhere,”….”

    He is not going to attack Zionism as long as he perceives that Zionism is good for him. Just how much has his career been helped by organized Jewish kinship? Why are Jewish billionaires like Adelson Zionists? What is in it for them? Can you name any Jewish billionaires who are anti-Zionists? If not, why not? Are anti-Zionist Jews lacking in Jewish meritocracy? It is all about power.

  4. Mooser on January 2, 2016, 4:53 pm

    “lamenting Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer’s influence in the Republican Party and he did not mention Israel in the column.”

    Josh Marshall did the same in his series on Adelson’s newspaper purchase. Oh, he mentioned that Adelson owned a paper in “Israel”.

  5. ckg on January 2, 2016, 5:07 pm
  6. JWalters on January 2, 2016, 6:47 pm

    “to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups” – Krugman

    Certainly credible testimony about the Israel Lobby (which emphatically claims it doesn’t exist).

    Perhaps when the chorus of truth about Israel gets broad enough Krugman will feel safe enough, and also be angry enough about being bullied, that he will decide to fight for justice on this front.

    After all, Israel is just another catastrophe capitalism project of corrupt, war profiteering bankers, designed to create a perpetual religious conflict, hiding behind a facade of holiness.

  7. Les on January 2, 2016, 7:33 pm

    If the need to “save” Israel requires the sacrifce/loss of Judaism, what’s left?

    • Mooser on January 3, 2016, 1:20 pm

      “If the need to “save” Israel requires the sacrifce/loss of Judaism, what’s left?”

      Les, please don’t worry. Judaism can always be renewed, or re-invented if necessary. There’s plenty of it, it’s a renewable resource.
      Land, well, that they’re not making any more of. And if you can pay for it with something there is actually a pretty good supply of, cause we make it, that’s one hell of a real-estate deal!

  8. drhmay on January 2, 2016, 9:11 pm

    An interesting site. Clearly objective journalism is not its aim. The motto seems to be “Israel all bad all the time.” The few comments here point to the fact that most people think you do such a good job vilifying a decent country in a bad neighborhood they don’t need to pile on. Israel is far from perfect, but many of the less than pretty actions they take are a direct response to the most despicable acts of savagery and threats of annihilation. If Israel has become more like the bad actors and states fomenting its elimination, some blame needs to be pointed at the source of those attacks. This website attacks Israel primarily because it desires to thrive and survive. Many BDS supporters go way beyond a desire to help Palestinians. They desire the end of Israel. The prevailing attitude concerning the Palestinians is that they are blameless in this mess. They apparently are the most saintly people on the planet, judging from the articles, while every Jew not parroting your line or standing up for Israel is vile and repugnant. Al Jazeera and its backers are beyond reproach while Jewish newspaper owners are inherently evil? This site would have more credibility were it not such a blatant, one-sided organ of hatred and distortion.

    • eljay on January 2, 2016, 10:08 pm

      || drhmay: … The few comments here point to the fact that most people think you do such a good job vilifying a decent country in a bad neighborhood … Israel is far from perfect … ||

      Israel is a religion-supremacist state that for almost 70 years and with impunity has been:
      – stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land;
      – oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians; and
      – committing sundry (war) crimes.

      Israel is indeed far from perfect and does a damned fine job of vilifying itself.

      || … but many of the less than pretty actions they take are a direct response … ||

      …to the blowback from its decades-long campaign of (war) criminal actions.

      || … This website attacks Israel primarily because it desires to thrive and survive. … ||

      What Israel desires to see thrive and survive is Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of Palestine.

      No state has a right to exist as a supremacist state of any kind, and no-one should be expected or required to recognize or accept the existence of any state as a supremacist state.

      || … Many BDS supporters go way beyond a desire to help Palestinians. They desire the end of Israel. … ||

      || … The prevailing attitude concerning the Palestinians is that they are blameless in this mess. They apparently are the most saintly people on the planet … ||

      Palestinians victims of past and on-going Israeli oppression, colonialism and assorted (war) crimes are not responsible for the actions of Zio-supremacists and the oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel any more than the victims chained in his basement are responsible for the physical and sexual abuse they suffer at the hands of the rapist.

      || … while every Jew not parroting your line or standing up for Israel is vile and repugnant. … ||

      Every Jewish person – and every non-Jewish person – who advocates, supports, justifies and/or excuses Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” and related past and on-going (war) crimes is vile and repugnant, especially if that person hypocritically espouses justice, accountability and/or equality elsewhere in the world.

    • Kris on January 2, 2016, 10:59 pm

      drhmay, could you provide some links to evidence backing up your many assertions, and explain how your comment relates to “Krugman’s economy: I will spend none of my immense journalistic capital criticizing Israel or its lobby,”
      since this is where you have posted your comment.

      The discussion here is much more interesting, and certainly more useful, when it is evidence-based. Diatribes, not so much.

      Thanks.

    • talknic on January 3, 2016, 2:11 am

      @ drhmay January 2, 2016, 9:11 pm

      Diversion Alert!

    • amigo on January 3, 2016, 8:55 am

      ” If Israel has become more like the bad actors and states fomenting its elimination, some blame needs to be pointed at the source of those attacks. “drhmay

      Well, off you go and start pointing.

      ” Israel is far from perfect,” drhmay

      Indeed it is .It lacks borders and a constitution not to mention the option of “Civil ” marriage.It has roads where only Jews can drive and Illegal squats where no non Jew can reside and rabbis who advise their customers to refuse to rent to Arabs , even those who happen to be citizens of your so called light unto the nations.

      Yup , Israel is a long way from being perfect, when compared to real democracies but you, like all ziocainists don,t wish to go there , eh drhmay.

      “This site would have more credibility were it not such a blatant, one-sided organ of hatred and distortion.” drhmay

      Yup , no place for any decent self respecting zionist apologist to be hanging around trying to defend the indefensible.Try J Post , you will be much more at home there.

      Btw , before you leave , care to comment of the subject matter at hand.

    • CigarGod on January 3, 2016, 11:25 am

      Drhmay,
      Now that eljay, kris, amigo and talknic have kicked over your bucket of Parrot Dropings, you have an opportunity to practice thinking instead of reacting with your state sponsored conditioning. You will discover an opportunity to understand and practice courage, by challenging state sponsored history and all it’s contradictions to Judaism. Stand tall man…take the oath and step forward…into the light.

    • Mooser on January 3, 2016, 12:08 pm

      “This site would have more credibility…”

      Oh, no, another ‘bad hit’ on the Mondo stats, and a NUPV. How much more of that can Mondo stand?

      • annie on January 3, 2016, 3:59 pm

        i take it you were not impressed w/the ‘israel only wants to survive and thrive but is forced into brutality by despicable acts of savagery and threats of annihilation’ excuse.

    • echinococcus on January 3, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Dr. May,

      Doctor of what, if I may ask? Flaunting titles only attracts inquiry.
      Anyway, I’ll give you that: someone in the Zionist entity may be right on insignificant things twice a day. Some people in the Zionist entity who aren’t Zionists themselves may be right most of the time. It’s a pity that they all are on stolen land, thanks to war of aggression and genocide, and in contravention of all human rules.

      • eljay on January 3, 2016, 6:04 pm

        || echinococcus: … Doctor of what, if I may ask? … ||

        Doctor of Apologetics, from the look of it.

    • Froggy on January 3, 2016, 4:51 pm

      Oh look! Hasbara Central has sent us another one.

  9. Rusty Pipes on January 2, 2016, 11:14 pm

    How much of an insider does Krugman consider himself to be? He may have a blog at the NYT website, but how often does he get an opinion in print, other than when David Brooks is on vacation? He may be a tenured professor at Princeton, but his hawkish colleague, Anne-Marie Slaughter was easily cleared to serve in the Obama administration, while his name was only among those rumored for consideration. From his Beinart blogpost, his silence appears to stem more from intimidation by the Zionist establishment than from enthusiasm for the Zionist project. Saying that Israel’s self-destruction is bad for Jews and the world seems to imply that Israel doesn’t care whom or what it destroys in its attempts to save itself.

    If Krugman wrote about the Zionist demands of billionaire donors, would the NYT print it? Would he continue to get published on the op-ed page, much less have his own blog? On the other hand, liberal Zionist readers of the NYT know that Krugman has just called two Jewish Zionist billionaires just as spoiled and selfish as the easily-ridiculed gentile, Donald Trump.

  10. iResistDe4iAm on January 3, 2016, 10:15 am

    Shorter Paul Krugman…

    First they came for the Gazans, and I did not speak out —
    Because “I have other battles to fight”.

    Then they came for the East Jerusalemites, and I did not speak out —
    Because it was “something I’ve been meaning to do — and still don’t have the time to do properly”.

    Then they came for the non-Jewish Israelis, and I did not speak out —
    Because “to say anything to that effect is to bring yourself under intense attack from organized groups that try to make any criticism of Israeli policies tantamount to anti-Semitism”.

    Luckily they never came for me — because “I basically avoid thinking about where Israel is going”.

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