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July 26, 2006

Should Jews Have Dual Loyalties?

It's hard to appreciate the level of frustration that spurs a zionist to compare his fellow Jews to Palestinians. But David Gelernter, surveying the unwillingness of American Jews to mindlessly back Bush, has reached his limit:

American Jews are not Palestinians and have not sunk to the level of supporting terrorist murderers. But their behavior is a lesson in self-destructive nihilism that could teach even the Palestinians a thing or two.

So they've not yet sunk to the level of supporting terrorist murderers? Oh David -- you flatterer!

Gelernter believes that support for Israel is such a paramount concern that not only should it be the main voting issue for American jews, but they should abandon the wildly pro-Israel Democratic Party in order to send a message to, apparently, Democratic university professors. Gelernter, in other words, is not only suggesting that Jews should have dual loyalties, but that they should let their allegiance to Israel's interests guide their choices in American leaders. Were a prominent speaker to ever suggest that such a dynamic currently exists or is in danger of arising, he'd be roundly denounced as a vicious anti-semite. Too bad excessive philo-semitism doesn't carry a similar stigma.

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Comments

Good point, we know how American arabs and muslims are portrayed if their leaders tell them to not support the USA because of its support for isreal.

Posted by: zane | Jul 26, 2006 1:05:02 PM

Your "they should abandon the wildly pro-Israel Democratic Party in order to send a message to, apparently, Democratic university professors." makes a very good point most liberal blogs elide. The Democratic party politicians are no less pro-militaristic-Israel than Republican ones. Why people who identify as Jewish should base their politics around what Kos does or doesn't say about Israel is beyond me, if it's never going to be enacted.

Posted by: Tony v | Jul 26, 2006 1:05:35 PM

Jews, like everybody else, should decide how much to support or not support Israel or anybody else.

Posted by: LowLife | Jul 26, 2006 1:10:42 PM

Fuck zionists.

Posted by: Tom3 | Jul 26, 2006 1:11:49 PM

You nailed his argument as a typical BS neocon piece of drivel. It also illustrates a classic piece of stupid logic that neo-cons repeatedly trot out.

Here's how it works:

1) I know THE solution to a problem.

2) If you don't agree with my solution - you don't care about the problem.

3) If you don't care about the problem you're an evil person.

4) You're being an evil person shows the moral bankruptcy of liberalism.

I know it's a caricture, but check out how often those steps are used.

Posted by: Samuel Knight | Jul 26, 2006 1:21:15 PM

Gelernter, in other words, is not only suggesting that Jews should have dual loyalties, but that they should let their allegiance to Israel's interests guide their choices in American leaders.

I don't really see the problem. I have a series of interests that I consider core. I think people should vote on those core issues and vote for the candidates and parties I support. Gelernter's the same. He's not being disingenous, or trying to trick anyone into anything.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jul 26, 2006 1:27:03 PM

Samuel Knight --

That's a great caricture, but its not just neo-cons who use it. Any critic of "free" trade agreements typically gets the same treatment from economists, though they will usually assert that opposition to free trade demonstrates the moral bankruptcy of the left, as opposed to liberalism.

Posted by: Rich C | Jul 26, 2006 1:29:21 PM

I think people should vote on those core issues and vote for the candidates and parties I support. Gelernter's the same.

Except he's really not. Gelernter isn't just saying "I think we should vote for Candidate X because he's very pro-Israel," he's saying "All Jews should vote for Candidate X because he's pro-Israel, and if they don't then they're self-hating nihilists." He's arguing that his core values - in this case, elevating a foreign country's interests above those of our own - necessarily belong to all Jews because they're Jewish. That's really a very different proposal than "I think everyone should want universal health care."

Posted by: Christmas | Jul 26, 2006 1:48:16 PM

Rich C - absolutely right.

That's exactly what a lot of economists argue when it comes to "free trade".

1) You're against the proposed free trade treaty.

2) You're against free trade.

3) You're against growth, freedom and everything good.

4) Thus you are evil. A protectionist.

Which goes back to what Ezra mentioned about Tom Friedman's admission that he hadn't read any of the free trade agreements - he just supported them because they were for "free" trade.

Well what if the agreements had little to do with "free trade" and were just labeled that way for marketing? What if the agreements totally ignored the best way to protect markets: by changing standards? etc.

Posted by: Samuel Knight | Jul 26, 2006 2:33:43 PM

He's arguing that his core values - in this case, elevating a foreign country's interests above those of our own - necessarily belong to all Jews because they're Jewish.

This is only true if you think that Israeli and US interests may occassionally conflict. I think that sometimes happens; he may not. But that's the place to call him on it. I don't think worse of an African-American for asking that all African-Americans vote in certain directions because such votes should matter to African-Americans. Different groups have different interest. (And most people belong to various different groups, and have to reconcile conflicting issues however they can.)

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jul 26, 2006 3:03:41 PM

SCTM:

Well if one party stands for israel's foreign policy, and the other party stands for (what you believe to be) sound domestic policy, then yes it is a choice between the party of good US policy and the party of bad domestic policy.

Which is what these neocons are advocating. That all Jews, myself included, abandon their domestic policy instincts for the foreign policy interests of another country.

Posted by: Tony v | Jul 26, 2006 3:09:31 PM

Given all of the pro-Israeli comments I see by liberals, I assume no one thinks Israel's response is "disproportionate", and I can also assume that everyone agrees Israel should not stop until Hezbollah is completely disarmed.

Although I think most Israelis might disagree with the assertion of "the wildly pro-Israel Democratic Party", as opposed to the Republican Party.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jul 26, 2006 3:12:41 PM

Would we treat this question any different if it was a different group involved? If for example a black person said that:

All blacks should vote for a Socialist party because the platform of that party advocated helping Africa and that was important both for American interests and American (and especially black) values.

Would that be advocating blacks have dual loyalties?

I don't think so.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Jul 26, 2006 3:33:04 PM

Tony:

I think the neocons are crazy. It's entirely possible that they're putting Israeli interests above US interests, but I very much doubt they think they are doing that. The point to call them on is the conflict between Israeli interests and US interests.

Is it possible that American Jews have dual loyalties? Of course. Cripes, I'd be astonished if it were just "dual." But that makes them more or less just like every other American.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Jul 26, 2006 3:51:38 PM

Dave

Let me answer that as a black person and my experiences with other African Americans. We, first up, wouldn't be having this conversation at all because Africa doesn't get the attension that Israel gets. People whine about the aid to africa but that pales compared to the aid to Israel. Second of all, most African-Americans don't treat Africa the way some in the Jewish community treats Israel: ie, can do no wrong, is perfect and is above criticism. Third of all, if someone, who is African American, did make that point- I can answer yes, most people would say :"what the fuck?" because we, despite the way America has treated us, have always been American first. Hence our willingness to put up with shit like Jim Crow and the continued racism in the US. We don't have a 'homeland' to return where we get to ignore right and wrong. We certainly dont sit around, in general, confusing the interests of Africa with the interest of the US, if for no other reason than it's always been abundantly clear by the majority that the interests of Africa are not the interest of the US. That some in the Jewish community conflate Israel's intereest with the US interest is a unique aspect of the US-Israel relationship. So, leave us blacks out of it. thx.

Posted by: akaison | Jul 26, 2006 4:55:55 PM

"he'd be roundly denounced as a vicious anti-semite. Too bad excessive philo-semitism doesn't carry a similar stigma."

"Excessive philo-semitism" is comparable to "vicious anti-semit"[ism]? That's very sloppy writing or very slip-shod thinking.

Posted by: rilkefan | Jul 26, 2006 5:16:45 PM

"because we, despite the way America has treated us, have always been American first."

Then why do you call yourselves African-American?

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jul 26, 2006 5:21:12 PM

The same reason that italian or irish Americans call themselves Italian or Irish despite not having been born in Italy or Ireland- or for that matter any American (russian, dominican, or whereever because living here in nyc I can tell you that your question is silly on its face, and having lived in all white enclaves where people separate out according to German, etc, I find it equally stupid). I don't see any one questioning their loyalties to America. I also don't see someone trying to link the fact they feel an affinity from where they come from with being the same as some Jews conflating Israeli interests w/ American interests. That's what makes the comparision bullshit. People are using it as a hot potato designed to draw sympathy rather than any actual real comparison of situations. You are mentioning black because YOU somehow see us still as other. You didn't even think before posting that - wait- other Americans talk all the time about where they are from without the need like some Jews of having divided loyalties. As I said, keep us out of it, because it is simply not the same situation.

Posted by: akaison | Jul 26, 2006 6:35:33 PM

PS

For the record, before I am so accused, I am not anti Semitic. I am not against America protecting its legimate interest. I am not against Israel defending itself to exist. What I am against is this bullshit where no honest conversation can ever be had on the subject because of this sort of crass manipulation: ie, "well if it were 'blacks' then that means liberal guilt would have prevented you from saying that" kind of arguments is only a deflection from the real issue. Which is as the diary suggests: whether ANYONE can criticize the Israeli lobby without being called a bigot or anti Jewish?

Posted by: akaison | Jul 26, 2006 6:40:05 PM

Blacks seem to insist on hyphenating their Americanism more than other groups. I never thought of myself as a Russian-American because most of my ancestors come from that area of the world.

As far as your perception of continued racism in America, I would compare American blacks more to the Palestinians. As Palestinian children are raised to blame and hate Jews, to a much lesser extent black kids in America are raised to blame whitey for the ills of their society instead of looking inward to their own community and leaders. Look how Bill Cosby was ostricized and maligned when he tried to get the black community to be accountable for the crime, drugs, disease and out of wedlock births in the black community.

I'm not saying racism isn't part of the history in this country, but today blacks in America(especially poor blacks) have more opportunities as far as employment and higher education than whites do. All they have to do is work.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jul 26, 2006 7:37:16 PM

Toke

I am not going to bother arguing with you. You are an idiot. Others play games with you and Fred, but I am not them. Let me be clear- I think you are idiot, and therefore, i won't waste my time. Good luck.

Akaison

Posted by: akaison | Jul 26, 2006 8:01:24 PM

akaison: ...only a deflection from the real issue. Which is as the diary suggests: whether ANYONE can criticize the Israeli lobby without being called a bigot or anti Jewish?

The answer is that question is abundantly clear from the record from as least since 1947: you are anti-semitic in these people's minds if you do not place Israel's interests above US interests in any public discusion. No waffling, no deviation is permitted. The apply this logic first to US jews and then spread it amply to any another non-jew.

This isn't a healthy relationship, folks. Both Israel and the US will suffer in the longer term because of this rhetorical dynamic. Israel is to be beyond criticism in the US.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jul 26, 2006 9:28:07 PM

"This isn't a healthy relationship, folks."

When did the Left go anti-semitic?

Most of the world is against Israel. Europe for the most part is against Israel.

Cartoons and columnists in Belgium compare modern Israel to Nazis and Palestinian terrorists to freedom fighters.

Chirac comdemns Israel's response to Hezbollah as "disproportionate". What would he do if do if rockets were being lobbed into France from a neigboring country? Surrender, I suppose.

Kofe Annan accuses Israel of "deliberately targeting" UN workers. Kofe Annan and the same UN who was supposed to be making sure Hezbollah was disarmed.

Israel is criticized for killing civilians when fighting an enemy who hides among civilians. An enemy who hides their rockets and guns in mosques, who fires at Israel from behind women and children. An enemy who targets Israeli women and children.

And the Left is upset that we are so close to Israel.

Posted by: Captain Toke | Jul 26, 2006 10:02:53 PM

Captain Toke: nice way to pick and choose your facts.

First off, fuck off on the French surrender thing. Get back to me when you've reviewed French casualties for WWI and then tell me about the French surrender then. Oh? They didn't? And you forget Lafayette and the American revolution? You're a nitwit.

At any rate, if rockets were being lobbed into France from Alsace-Lorraine and Chicac bombed Alsace-Lorraine a little and bombed the fuck out of Bavaria, which has no control over the actors of Alsace-Lorraine, we'd say he was friggin nuts. Or criminal. Like Israel.

The IDF has every right to confront Hezbollah, which is, you might know, centered in Southern Lebanon. Not in Beirut. Not in Northern Lebanese factories or television stations, especially not in TV stations loyal to the President of Lebanon that was, until last week, an American ally and a shining example of the new success of Middle Eastern democracy.

And Hezbollah is hardly a straight up terrorist organization. They're a nonstate actor with a military. Terrorist organizations don't run community health clinics. Nor do they occupy seats in parliament. Hezbollah does both. None of this justifies their lobbing missiles into Haifa, but neither does Hezbollah's act of war justify the IDF's war on the entire country.

Nor does it justify an hours long assault on a UN bunker despite the UN letting the IDF know in quite clear terms that they were there. Israel has committed war crimes. So has Hezbollah. But Israel is doing it on my tax dollar. If you want to believe otherwise, you're engaged in special pleading.

Posted by: Karl the Grouchy Medievalist | Jul 26, 2006 11:01:14 PM

An enemy who targets Israeli women and childrenn

You mean like this?

Posted by: Karl the Grouchy Medievalist | Jul 26, 2006 11:02:37 PM

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