‘NY Jewish Week’ speaks bluntly of ‘Israel firsters’ in US politics

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A few years ago writers got in trouble for using the phrase “Israel Firster.” Now an outright supporter of Israel, Gary Rosenblatt, uses that phrase in the Jewish Week in a piece titled, “Israel-Firster’s Seen Edging Toward Trump.” Rosenblatt says that some voters care more about Israel than the U.S.

Among “Israel firsters” — those who vote primarily on what they believe is best for Israel — I find more and more people saying they may well vote for Trump, based on their dislike and distrust of Clinton and their reasoning that Trump will stand up for Israel more forcefully and openly than Clinton.

They note that Trump is against the Iran deal, highly critical of Obama, heaps praise on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, wants to see the settlements expand, and pledges to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

This is important because the issue of dual loyalty is inherent in Zionism, especially as Israel has evolved, to be totally dependent on the United States and on Jews inside the United States to compel American politicians to support Israel. And it is good that this issue is coming into the mainstream conversation.

It’s good that American Jews will begin openly saying of other Jews that their first loyalty is Israel. It makes such a stance untenable: it will make it impossible for people who act on “what they believe is best for Israel” to hold high position in foreign policy-making in the U.S. government. It demonstrates that the neoconservatives are losing oxygen slowly. And that those critical of Israel are having greater influence in the discourse.

Talking about dual loyalty was verboten for a good 30 years, ever since Gore Vidal attacked the Podhoretzes for dual loyalty in the Nation, and the scorn turned on Vidal; and the charge was said to be an anti-Semitic canard about the international Jew. (Scott McConnell treats that story in his new book Ex-Neocon). But the problem still exists; the existence of Israel Firsters was an important factor in the drive to go to war in Iraq, and in opposition to the Iran deal; and in order to fight that crowd, you have to be able to state publicly what they’re up to. A great number of American Jews have pointed out the dual loyalty problem, from Rabbi Melissa Weintraub to Peter Beinart to John Judis to Eric Alterman (list here). Last year Chuck Schumer told a Jewish audience there was a difference between American interests and Jewish interests over the Iran deal, and he had to back the American interest, and then he voted against the deal, and some charged dual loyalty. Of course the issue is inherent in the rise of the neoconservatives, as both Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol said in the 1970s that there was a “Jewish interest” (Kristol’s words) in the U.S. having a big defense budget so that it could help Israel. Some of those advocates became White House aides. Elliott Abrams said that Jews must stand apart from any society they are in except Israel, and he helped make US Middle East policy. And just last month Dennis Ross, the longtime peace processor, told a New York Jewish audience in what was presented as an off-the-record discussion that American Jews “need to be advocates for Israel” and not for Palestinians.

So it’s good an American Jewish publication is acknowledging the question. Maybe we can have a mature conversation about the true agenda of many advocates in the Israel lobby at last. Maybe Dennis Ross won’t be considered to be the next secretary of state.

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The JSIL Firsters here in the UK meanwhile continue to do their bit particularly faced with the growth and impact of BDS. Now even the Chief Rabbi (ie in the UK) and the former Chief Rabbi(ie in the UK) are jumping on the bandwagon. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36676018 Like desperate starving marooned sailors who they are frantically gnawing at anything that looks remotely like a bone in order to expose (they hope) some anti – semitic marrow. In… Read more »

I was thinking of my aliyah experience, in relation to others that moved to Israel. Now as a citizen, of both the US and Israel; I think much of the politics of the Middle East. I think, why, people are extreme in views is more out of fear, then anything else. When, I moved into my first apartment in Israel, I lived in a Russian Jewish community; which in my view has been russified (As… Read more »

“I think most American Jews are similar; they only want to be Americanized”

And a lot of non-Jewish Americans also think Jews can be citizens, with no political or legal disabilities, and able to participate fully in American life. And mark my words, someday, and someday soon, that will happen!

But then again, look at the American Jewish support for Zionism. Absolutely amazing what we can accomplish while mired in a second-class status.

My mother, the ideal shikse goy… It is simply the thoughts that are in the mind of a half Jew; mirroring the Orthodox views; that are in the minds of many Jews, perhaps, half or more of the population; some, of which I met in my life. I was making conscious, there (right wing Jewish) sub-conscious thoughts of me, and it is my attempt at answering a historical question, about American Zionism; from my perspective… Read more »

Although vidal’s attack on Podhoretz’s israel priorities was valid, vidal’s rhetoric included ugly jew hatred unrelated to israel as well.