Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
There is an Israel Lobby. There I said it. The fact I or other people say that where others can hear cause people to look around and listen for the anti-Semitic alarms to go off.
It’s a country and there are people here and living in the Israel who petitions the US Government on behalf of Israel. They are lobbyists, not Lord Voldermort. To act like saying “The Israel Lobby” is a term that can’t be spoken is absurd.
In American politics, you’re nobody to the political infrastructure without a political lobby group. Google has one. So does the Macaroni industry. Why can’t a group advocating on behalf of Israel’s interests do the same? Or should I say, why it is implied from “the name that can’t be spoken” reactions it’s an indelicate subject? But here’s my bigger concern.
Yes I know we, the United States, have a “special relationship” with Israel. I just question when sometimes that relationship seems more like the force’s Jedi Mind Trick. It seems American leaders are expected to hold dogmatically supportive Israeli policy positions. And if your statements or policy proposals around Israel are the slightest notch below taking dictation, your credibility as rational or an American leader is questioned.
During the presidential campaign, the president was criticized for having “daylight” between the US and Israel. The concern wasn’t that the US didn’t support Israel, but that we might have the gall to deviate from Israel’s preferred policy position on 1967 borders or hawkish stance on Iran just a little. That may be a special relationship, but in a love relationship, that’s the smothering closeness and rule by guilt of an obsessive, insecure and passive-aggressive girlfriend.” This kind that makes you eventually wear embarrassing cargo pants because she says you like them.
Chuck Hagel, now in line for Secretary of Defense said, “The political reality is that … the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here…”
He had to apologize for “Jewish Lobby” saying he meant “pro-Israel” I’m not sure why that is so far removed from in describing people representing the interests of a country that declares itself a Jewish state. Some Jewish lobbying groups have referred to themselves as “The Jewish Lobby.” To simply say that Hagel words are racist or anti-Semitic at face value is absurd. It reminds me of the Steve Martin joke; “I apologize to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for calling them “Colored People.”
Regardless, Chuck Hagel’s bigger statement in that quote deserves more attention. There is something about the way we as Americans speak about our relationship with Israel that does feel like intimidation. In Congress and in the country. When I speak with both liberal and conservative friends about any Israel policy or ideas that are not in full praise of the Israeli viewpoint, I too have the same self-consciousness as if spewing out racial tinged jokes in public.
Problem is, we’re NOT talking about race. Or about careless throwing around of Jewish stereotypes. We are talking about a country’s foreign policy and its affairs in relation to our nation. A country that, we as the United States and my taxpayer money, are its greatest financial benefactor and our military is pledged to its defense and security. That’s great (Because I do support the state of Israel – funny because I feel like I have to say that like some feel they have to say “not that there’s anything wrong with that” when you mention something about gay people), but I reflexively do have a problem with people who’s loyalty or character are questioned for the slightest dissent from established doctrine. That’s not policy or doctrine, that’s imposed dogma.
Even worse, those who, even in slight deviation, themselves hustled into the anti-Semitic camp. I really don’t want to be in the same group as Hitler for suggesting that my priority as an American citizen might differ from that of Israel. A country that, as of this blog posting, is a separate and sovereign state.
And that’s the invisible stick that the politics of Israel seems to hang over America. Anti-Semitism. Very real but as it also seems to be used as a discussion barrier for Americans in building a bigger dialogue on Israel. A climate where everyone fears stepping on the landmine of being called an anti-Semite.
Part of that may come by the convergence of what it means to be Jewish. A religion treated a lot like a race and that religion and race are intrinsically tied to the secular activities of political state, Israel. A convergence of constructs blended so closely criticism of any part of the convergence of religion, race or state is felt as an attack on the others.
There are plenty of Anti-Semites. So much, I am no longer shocked or surprised to find people around me who I respect show flashes of it. But to simply be on the wrong side of a desired policy over Israel is not anti-Semitism. There’s a saying. It used to be that an anti-Semite was a person who hated Jews. Now an anti-Semite is a person Jews hate.
I get the feeling there are some Jews (and non-Jews) that hate Chuck Hagel.