Some people thought Anthony Weiner would never ‘gett’ what he deserved.
Huma Abedin, a top Hillary Clinton aide, announced Monday that she is divorcing her husband, Queens-native Weiner, a disgraced former New York Congressman whose sexting of pictures of his engorged genitals to his fellow Americans cost him his political career in 2011. Her decision comes in the wake of yet another report of his digital infidelity. The New York Post broke the sexting story Sunday, and Abedin’s statement appeared Monday morning.
“After long painful consideration and work on my marriage, I have made the decision to separate from my husband,” she said, asking for privacy.
Before gaining international infamy for his online philandering, Weiner had distinguished himself as one of Israel’s most ardent apologists in Congress, apologizing for Israeli militarism, denying the existence of a military occupation in the West Bank and scolding critics of Israeli policies, even condemning the New York Times for its lack of Zionist cred.
The Nation Institute hosted a debate in 2011 between Weiner and former Washington State congressman Brian Baird, moderated by the New York Times’ Roger Cohen. The discussion followed the release of the Goldstone Report on Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in 2008/2009, Operation Cast Lead.
In the debate, Weiner floated such whoppers as there being no Israeli occupation of the West Bank or Gaza, and that all settlements are in Israel. Here’s one exchange, transcribed at the time by Zaid Jilani for Truthout.
WEINER: You can see a difference in the development in the West Bank with 11 percent year over year growth, with no Israeli occupation there either, with increasing access to checkpoints
COHEN: What about area C, D,
WEINER: Hold on, maybe this would be helpful
COHEN: No occupation in the West Bank, did I hear you right?
COHEN: Have you been to the West Bank lately?
COHEN: You didn’t see the IDF there?
WEINER: In Ramallah? No. In Nablus? No. Now can I tell ya there might be some people in this room who think Jerusalem is occupied.
COHEN: Well hold on a second there, let’s stick to the West Bank. You’re saying there is no IDF presence there?
As laid out in the Oslo Accords, Area A is where Palestinians have both civil and security control; Area B, in the suburbs of Palestinian cities, is under Palestinian civil but Israeli military control; and Area C is effectively annexed to Israel. It includes almost all of the Jordan Valley, except for a tiny Island of area A around Jericho. If you’ve visited the Dead Sea on the Israeli side, that was Area C. But these distinctions are somewhat meaningless, since Israel has drones and fighter jets that fly over the West Bank and Gaza at will, and can drop what they want.
Maybe it’s different for traveling congressmen who like sending pictures of their penises to strangers, but most human beings who travel around the West Bank have to go through checkpoints to get from small enclaves of nominal Palestinian control. In this process, they encounter Israeli security forces. The fact that Weiner didn’t see Israelis in Nablus meant that he happened to be there when the Israelis weren’t actively inside Nablus, a common occurrence during the first Intifada. In Nablus, you could see bullet holes in the walls and metal gates of buildings in the Old City.
There’s also this cool soap factory there. Check it out. Great soap. Amazing kenefeh, which is like a cheesy baklava-esque type dessert. But I digress.
Mondoweiss’s Phil Weiss was also there at the New School forum to listen to Weiner make excuses for Israel’s assault on civilians in Gaza.
“Baird asked about Israeli destruction (by bombing, shelling, missiles) of an industrial zone in Gaza which had nothing to do with the “war”. Weiner said it was OK to destroy anything in a war, and pointed out that Israel had dropped leaflets on civilian residences announcing impending bombardment so the civilians could get out, as evidence if Israeli morality. I do not remember any discussion of whether or not there was anywhere for such civilians to go which would be safe from bombardment, shooting, etc.,” Weiss wrote at the time. “The back-and-forth dragged on, and I got tired of listening.”
But that’s just one episode in Weiner’s history of saying stuff out of touch not just with morality, but with physical reality itself. Juan Cole, a professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, who runs the blog Informed Comment, compiled a greatest hits of Weinerisms about Israel/Palestine. Here it is:
- Called for Columbia University professor Joseph Massad to be fired for being critical of Israel; Weiner thus spearheaded a new McCarthyism.
- On the Israeli attack, in international waters, on the Mavi Marmara relief ship, Weiner sputtered: “”If you want to instigate a conflict with the Israeli navy it isn’t hard to do. They were offered alternatives. Instead they chose to sail into the teeth of an internationally recognized blockade.” The blockade of Gaza civilians is a breach of international law; it is not internationally recognized and has on the contrary been condemned by almost every nation and human rights organization.
- Alleged that the New York Times is anti-Israel: “Amnesty International in particular, has always had bias against Israel, and frankly I would argue that in many cases, the New York Times has, as well.”
- Alleged that the Palestine Liberation Organization is still listed by the US as a terrorist organization. It was dropped from the list over 2 decades ago.
- Tried to bar the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations from New York.
- Alleged that Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestine Authority, is not the head of the PLO. He is.
- Refused to condemn the use by Israel of cluster bombs on the civilian farms of south Lebanon in 2006.
- Alleged that the Israeli army does not occupy the West Bank and that there is no Israeli Army presence in the West Bank.
- Called Israel’s war on Gaza a “humane” war. 400 children were killed.
- Voted for Iraq War authorization in 2002, before later turning against the war.
A quick Google search for “Anthony Weiner Gaza War 2014” doesn’t turn up anything. But he was out of office by then, and nobody cared what he had to say.
Besides humiliating his wife, one of the lasting contributions of Weiner to American history was helping the late Andrew Breitbart’s conservative news empire get rolling. Today, Weiner’s fellow New Yorker, Donald Trump, is using the website as his public relations engine. It is, after all, the “platform for the Alt Right.”
Breitbart was one of the first to notice that Weiner had tweeted a picture of his erect penis, before quickly deleting it, after trying to send it to a young woman. The day Weiner apologized and admitted his mistake, but failed to resign, Breitbart used the opportunity to chastise fellow members of the press for failing to recognize that Breitbart had it right. He actually took the podium before Weiner got up. I was sitting in the New York Post newsroom at the time, and everyone was glued to the row of boxy television sets that sat above the city desk.
Later that night, I was outside of 1211 6th Avenue, home of News Corp. and The Post, smoking a cigarette. I looked up and saw Breitbart himself, chatting up a lady. After they were done talking, I walked up and asked Breitbart a question.
“What has this all accomplished?” I asked.
“It’s made America whole again!”
I tried to process that before Breitbart clarified.
“I’m joking,” he said. “I feel vindicated.”