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.

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Nor does he mention that Adelson proposed to Saban that the two of them buy the NYTimes, to get better coverage for Israel.

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

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… Read more »

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… Read more »

“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”.