Sorry to keep beating on this, but I have to admit, this one drives me to distraction. Here’s Carl In Jerusalem on his hyperactive blog Israel Matsav in response to the [deservingly] nasty comments in The Jewish Week about that idiotic JewsforSarah thingamabob:
Let’s be blunt: Any Jew to whom Israel matters more than abortion rights and gay marriage would be intellectually dishonest if they supported Barack Obama over Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee or just about any other conservative candidate for the Presidency (with the exception of Ron Paul – I’d stay run away from home if the choice was Ron Paul or Barack Obama).
These people may be Jewish and they may be intellectual but they’re not Jewish intellectuals because they don’t give primacy to Jewish concerns. They should drop ‘Jewish’ from their titles.
This, I have to admit, is a bit nuanced and deserves a similar reply. It is nuanced because he is not advocating specifically for Palin, but for someone who holds Palin’s idea of Zionism and what CIJ deems is good for The Jews.
First of all, CIJ, who is an American-born Orthodox Jew who made Aliyah and now lives in Jerusalem, sees things explicitly in terms of What Is Good For Israel = What Is Good For America. This is what I will denote as the Axiom of CIJ. Further, What Is Good For Israel = What Is Good For Israel Right Now, meaning that CIJ takes the view that all the settlements should be kept, forever. Further, Arab Muslim subjects of Israel in the West Bank are not Israel’s problem, but rather are Jordanian citizens and should go back there. Further, these Arab Muslims are solely interested in destroying Israel rather than taking the opportunity to build their own state.
CIJ will not stand for any American politician who deviates from these lines. And, clearly, Barack Obama is The Enemy.
In CIJ’s defense, he is not unlike many Israeli citizens. One of Obama’s failings has been to properly engage Israeli citizens as President. Not necessarily to go there, but at least to make his intentions better understood. Thus, the Fox News Narrative has defined him there. As Obama tends to take the long view of things and is trying to succeed where others have failed miserably, he is going to ruffle feathers. Thus, the speech in Cairo and the subsequent [and unfair] view that he is on Islam’s Side.
CIJ advocates very strongly from an Israeli point of view. And this is fine. I actually quite enjoy his blog and am amazed at his output, as he carries quite valuable news from around Israel which even now can be difficult to get over here.
That said, CIJ is no longer in America and clearly does not have the best interests of the USA at heart. That is, the Axiom of CIJ is false. Israel and America have interests which sometimes do not align. And these interests are mostly more complicated than the few spying affairs or military accidents which have colored the Special relationship. So, consider again the musings of CIJ:
Any Jew to whom Israel matters more than abortion rights and gay marriage…
OK, that’s enough. CIJ has clear right-wing views on social issues and that’s fine. But what exactly does this blurb mean? Israel means different things to different American Jews, but even so, let’s assume that I am a typical American Jew [sure, why not?]. I am an unapologetic Zionist right now, have been since I understood the concept. But is this The Most Important Issue In America for me? For me, the most important thing is that the USA remains a place where you can be who you want to be and say what you want to say. I want this to be a place where I can be a Jew and a Zionist and publish a blog saying so. I also want this to be a place where I can be a Jew and an anti-Zionist and scream it to the heavens. In both cases, so long as I do not interfere with the rights of anyone else to do similar things.
So what does this have to do with Israel? Pretty close to nothing, which is my point. But what I hope for the USA is a pretty fuzzy wuzzy vision thing and requires attention to certain issues. For example, I believe that this country has some serious defects whilst gays cannot marry or openly serve in the armed forces. So, as CIJ puts it rather unfairly, this means that, yeah, gay marriage is more important to me than propping up a bunch of Jewish outlaws who would in any case hate my guts if I lived near them. [Read this devastating article from Jeffrey Goldberg back in 2004 to understand why.]
But what of Israel’s survival and Iran policy and the such? Of course it is important to me! But I also pray for avoidance of war, as our two previous adventures in The East have been foolhardy and ultimately pointless. I cannot follow this line of “Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran.” The short and long-term damage to world Jewry will be incalculable, something else CIJ tends to ignore.
I want Israel to be there, free and Jewish. But America is my home and that of my children and family. I have to vote in its interests and when they clash with those of Israel, then America comes first.
The politicians that CIJ supports – the “Pro-Israel” ones – have a fantastic sense of what is Good For America. Their policy toward Israel which CIJ just loves is in fact Good For Neither. [As for Ron Paul, while he has guts, I distrust him because of his antisemitic and bigoted associations.] I hate to inform CIJ, but Barack Obama still, as much as he is disliked, has the best long term view for both the USA and Israel.
I doubt CIJ will ever see eye-to-eye with me, but he must understand that American Jews are going to vote for whom they view as best for America. And yes, those that do not do as they told realize that they will not always make CIJ happy.