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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Alan Dershowitz rips J Street over the 'blood libel' charge

Alan Dershowitz goes after J Street for its criticism of Sarah Palin's use of the term 'blood libel,' on the one hand, and its silence in the face of even worse references to the Holocaust by Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tn), Norman Finkelstein and other on the Left. I recommend that you read the whole thing. Here's his bottom line.
Yet, although J Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel lobby, went out of its way to criticize Palin's remarks, it has not leveled comparable criticism against Finkelstein and other prominent leftists who abuse the language of Jewish suffering. The reason is obvious: Many J Street supporters adore Finkelstein, cheer him at his lectures and echo his demonization of Israel. J Street does not go after Finkelstein for the same reason it refused to go after Richard Goldstone: If it did, it would lose support from many on the hard left, which it is trying to cultivate. (One of J Street's leading activist and supporters, Letty Pogrebin, has praised Goldstone as a modern day prophet and supported the most egregious statements made in his report.)

Why J Street felt it necessary to enter the kerfuffle about the use of blood libel may not be obvious to those who actually believe that J Street is a "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby that limits its activities to issues surrounding the Israeli Arab conflict. After all, J Street does not claim to be in the business of defending the Jewish people against defamation as does the ADL. Nor is it a protector of Jewish sensitivities as is the Wiesenthal Center. But to those of us who understand what J Street really is, its attack on Palin makes perfect sense. J Street is a lobby for the Democratic Party in general and for the Obama Administration in particular. That's why it doesn't deviate from the Obama line, doesn't criticize the Obama Administration, and doesn't miss an opportunity to dump on Republicans, even those who support Israel.

J Street will respond to this charge of a double standard by arguing that Sarah Palin is a prominent public figure, a potential presidential candidate, while Finkelstein and others on the hard left who abuse the language of Jewish suffering are marginal figures. But that misses the mark. Those of us who are liberals have a special obligation to criticize abusers of the left, just as those who are conservatives have a special obligation to criticize abusers of the right, such as Patrick Buchanan. It's too easy for J Street to pile on when the alleged abuser is a conservative Republican. It's far more difficult, and costly, for J Street to go after fellow leftists who abuse language, especially those with large followings among its supporters. But that is their responsibility if they are to assume the role of protector of Jewish sensibilities. I doubt it is a role they are willing to assume, except when it serves the interests of their real clients: the Democratic Party, the Obama Administration and the left. That is why they went after Sarah Palin, even though her remarks had nothing to do with Israel or peace.

Any genuine lobby group for Israel and for peace must assure that support for Israel and for peace remains a bipartisan concern. J Street wants to turn it into a partisan wedge issue that divides Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, young and old. That's why they focus so much criticism against Republicans who support Israel. Such divisions do not serve the interests of peace or Israeli security.
Unfortunately, much of the Jewish community (including a lot of the comments and emails I get) seems to be afflicted with Palin Derangement Syndrome. It's good to see someone like Dershowitz - who was still considered a liberal the last time I checked - put them in their place.

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At 10:32 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

J-Street is more interested in chasing the anti-Zionist Left than it is in supporting Israel. J Street's Jeremy Ben Ami and Monodoweiss' Philip Weiss have more in common than people think.

At 11:41 PM, Blogger biorabbi said...

Carl, you may be referring to me as I have commented on one of your posts with criticism of Palin. I admit it. I really can't stand her.

Yes, on Israel, she's very good. That is a vital issue to me but what bothers me is her anti-intellectualism and simplicity which seems to guide her. Look, at the example of M. Begin. Strongly right wing, a revisionist
Zionist but he knew his stuff. Reagan could debate anybody and didn't hide from the press.

Carl, perhaps the best comparison to Palin would be Margaret Thatcher. She was intensely hated by the elites for being a tough right-wing woman who would not take crap, but she knew what she was talking about. I get the feeling with Palin she's just reading her lines. She avoids any hostile questioning.

Palin would be a horrible choice for the 2012 GOP as this would mean Obama in a landslide. Romney all the way!!!

At 1:44 AM, Blogger LanceThruster said...

Palin's use of the term is less about what it means in regards to Jewish suffering and more an indicator that in her mind, everything is about her. Any handwringing that Dr. Finkelstein is not singled out is equally ludicrus as he has the facts on his side. The greatest offenders of abuse of the language by far are the Zionists, who also cry the loudest when valid comparisons are made. Dershowitz's supposed liberal credentials are meaningless in the face of his willingness to support any atrocity for the sake of Israel.

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

J Street is a pimple on a pupik. It's about time Ben Ami found real work to do rather than sponging off George Soros, Iranian agents of influence, and gambling moll cut-outs in the mysterious east.

Palin never killed nobody but mooses. Thrusting Lance, by Zionists you inevitably mean Jews--trashing the Jewish national aspiration to rebuild Zion as some vague imprecatory conspiratorial cabal of "the Zionists" and reference to non-existent "atrocities" reveals a mentality we know all too well even without dredging up the self-loathing derangement syndrome of Finklestein.

At 12:33 AM, Blogger LanceThruster said...

By Zionists I mean Zionists, Sparky. It is from many principled Jewish friends, authors, and scholars that I revised my views on the IP conflict. Zionist atrocities are numerous from both the garden variety to the extreme. Murder, assasination, torture, false-flag, war-crimes, genocide (as per UN definition), illegal imprisonment of men, women, and children, the slaughter of military personnel of a supposed ally (USS Liberty), etc. If you do not feel these acts are atrocious, then you've got ethical deficiencies similar to Dershowitz.

The Zionist notion of exceptionalism and the claim that their god gave them the land they've taken buy force of arms deserves trashing. Jews recognizing and respecting humanist universalist views apply equal standards. Zionists apply whatever standard that suiits them in order to justify their actions.


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