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March 14, 2007

Conversations About The Conversation

Sort of related to The American Conservative article linked below, this Joe Klein post offers an interesting example of how blogs open up the discussion on topics like, but not limited to, Israel. Given the limitations of a print magazine, where you only have X number of pages a year and need to choose them carefully, there's neither the time nor the space nor the incentive to push back against folks you're basically friendly with. So it's very unlikely that Joe Klein would have ever used a paragraph in a column to point out that it's absurd to suggest that the median Palestinians isn't worse off than the median Israeli -- no matter what you think of the actual settlements that should be reached, or who's to blame. The Israel issue is so fraught that, given the nature of print and the firestorm articles on it spark, a throwaway pushback like that would have to come wrapped in a long, meticulously detailed, heavily-qualified, feature piece on the situation. So it probably never would have happened.

Further, most of the pundits on this issue don't have particularly differing views on the policies that should be pursued in Israel. The arguments are really over what constitutes rhetorical excess (i.e, is Barack Obama out of line to say that the Palestinians are suffering more?), and whether AIPAC's clout is under-discussed, and how the Israel Lobby responds to criticism. And when magazines run articles on Israel/Palestine, rightly or wrongly, they don't want the subject to be meta-political disputes in the domestic debate over the issue -- they're not likely, in other words, to devote space to conversations about the conversations. Blogs, lacking space issues, have no such compunction.

March 14, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

My understanding is that "the Israel Lobby" usage, and particularly the capitalization of "Lobby," is deprecated. Maybe that's silly--though I think there's some justification for the posture--I just though I'd point it out.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Mar 14, 2007 1:22:12 PM

"Given the limitations of a print magazine, where you only have X number of pages a year and need to choose them carefully, there's neither the time nor the space nor the incentive to push back against folks you're basically friendly with"

Isn't Joe Klein's entire career a refutation of this? (/snark)

Posted by: Dan Miller | Mar 14, 2007 1:35:13 PM

Fresh from the fireworks at Glenn's blog, I'm beginning to see distinctions and differences in the use of words that, although they may already be well understood by many others, are growing clearer to me by the day. The thing I am beginning to understand is that the words Jew, Israel, and Israel Lobby are not synonyms sharing connotative meanings and contexts. They are denotative identifiers and, as distinct categories, they mean different things.

The word Jew, for example. Some of the most progressive individuals in American, European and global society are Jews. Over a period of thousands of years, Jews have made some of the most important contributions to science, mathematics, art, philosophy, politics, economics, and every other category of rational and cultural endeavor. Given their representation in the total population, Jews represent a larger proportion of Western intellectual achievement than any other group I can think of. Time and again, as individuals and collectively, they have changed the course and future of civilization for the better.

But Israel is not a person. Israel is not a Jew. Israel is a culture and society and, more recently, a nation with a government, an economy and citizens. Like other nations, Israel has allies (us for example) and enemies. I freely admit that Israel has political policies that I completely disagree with. But that's about Israel. That's not about Jews. The word Jew and the word Israel are two different words denoting two different things. If I hate Jews, that certainly makes me anti-Semitic. If I "hate" certain of Israel's policies that doesn't make me anti-Semitic.

Which brings me to the Israel Lobby. The Israel Lobby is comprised of those people devoted to the support of Israel's current policies. In the U.S., they do so by encouraging the support of Israel's policies by the U.S. government. They accomplish this in many ways. This does not mean that the Israel Lobby's interests are the same as Israel's interests or the interests of Jews in general. It certainly does not mean that the Israel Lobby's interests are the same interests as those of the U.S.

One nation's interests are almost never identical with another nation's interests, even when that other nation is one of it's closest allies. The U.K. is our ally. France is our ally. Germany is our ally. Japan is our ally. Mexico and Canada are our allies. We do not always agree regarding our national policies, particularly those policies related to economics and trade. That does not mean that Americans hate Canadians or that the Canadians hate us. The French? Well, I personally love the French.

If I disagree with U.S. support of certain of Israel's policies, I can write my representatives in Congress. If I disagree with my Jewish friends about Israel's policies, we can go have a beer and talk about it. Neither of these things makes me anti-Semitic.

Posted by: Michael Harold | Mar 14, 2007 8:41:38 PM

"Fresh from the fireworks at Glenn's blog, I'm beginning to see distinctions and differences in the use of words that, although they may already be well understood by many others, are growing clearer to me by the day."

Do I understand you to say that READING A BLOG has changed someone's mind??????

Posted by: RW | Mar 14, 2007 9:16:04 PM

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Posted by: judy | Sep 27, 2007 4:12:58 AM

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