September 22, 2008

Bad faiths

In his J-Street primer for American audiences (an op-ed in the Washington Post), J-Street's founder, Jeremy Ben Ami wrote:

Grateful as I am for decades of U.S. friendship with Israel, I have to wonder, as the state my father helped found turns 60, just who is defining what it means to be pro-Israel in the United States these days.

In other words he's asking, who gives others the right to claim that I'm not pro-Israel?

So now, guess what? Mr. Ben Ami has defined who can be pro-Israel.

But as Noah Pollak observed last week, that's exactly what J-Street was doing with Sarah Palin. They declared - with absolute certainty - since Gov. Palin did not represent the views of most Jews, she couldn't speak out against Iran!

So apparently, according to J-Street, you can define who is pro-Israel, if you have the correct political beliefs.

We see a similar hypocrisy with the NDJC - yes, for them Democratic comes before Jewish. During the past few years they took shots at Lincoln Chafee. I'm not saying they were undeserved. He was and is anti-Israel. But let's look at one:

The New Republic's blog notes the unprecedented nature of Republican rallying around anti-Israel Chafee:

So when the Republicans supported Chafee in a vain effort to hold onto the Senate, the NDJC saw fit to use this action as an indictment of Republicans. Fair enough.

So when the Obama campaign welcomed the endorsements of Republicans for Obama, led by one ex-Senator Lincoln Chafee what did we hear from the NDJC?


And when J-Street joined the NDJC from allowing Gov Palin to speak, did the NDJC distance itself from an organization one of whose advisory council members is the same, ex-Senator Lincoln Chafee? Did we hear a peep of protest? Again ...


So for J-Street being pro-Israel is a privilege reserved for those who believe the same things they do. And for NDJC being anti-Israel is a disqualification - if you're a Republican.

(I'm not going to try to square NDJC's identification of Lincoln Chafee as anti-Israel with the apparent J-Street belief that he is pro-Israel. My head would explode.)

Speaking out against Ahmadinejad is as bi-partisan an issue as there could be. These two organizations pretending to be pro-Israel instead chose to make the even partisan and disqualified Gov. Palin from speaking at the event. But their hypocrisy regarding Israel is more proof that partisan politics for them came before confronting tyranny.

Regardless, at least one protest will go. An Iranian exile protest which will be protesting:

Ahmadinejad's trip coincides with an appalling rise in public executions in Iran - victimizing juveniles in particular. In late July, in one day alone, 29 people were executed. His government continues to arrest and kill dissidents in prisons and crush anti-government protests. It is also conspiring to massacre nearly 3,500 Iranian dissident refugees at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. Ahmadinejad, isolated and despised by the majority of Iranians at home, is pushing Iran and the region toward war and crisis by fomenting terrorism in Iraq and developing nuclear weapons.

Not everyone is ill-disposed toward Ahmadinejad:

But for Quakers and Mennonites who'll be at the table, breaking bread with this controversial dignitary means drawing deeply on the same spiritual roots that sustained their embattled ancestors long ago.

"Jesus ate with lepers and with tax collectors, and in the United States right now, Iran would be in that category," said Arli Klassen, the executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee, an outreach arm for Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the United States and Canada.

"The criticisms levied at Jesus were that he ate with ... people of ill repute, and we're getting similar criticisms."

I wonder if these folks would ask Ahmadinejad about the increase of executions or what treatment a citizen of his country could expect if he converted to one of their religions. If last year's dinner is any indication, that will not be the case.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's smile at times turned to a grimace as the panelists prodded him, politely, about his record on the Holocaust, human rights abuses, Israel and nuclear weapons development. Also politely, he conceded nothing, and often deflected the inquiries by turning the spotlight on the policies of the United States and Israel.

"Who are the ones that are filling their arsenals with nuclear weapons?" he said. "In the United States they have tested the fifth generation of atomic bunker bombs, missiles that go as far as 12,000 kilometers. Who is the real danger here?"

The Times of course was impressed with the "friendly, even warm, exchange," regardless of whether it accomplished anything positive.

That's why these phony pacifist religions get criticized. They're going to the dinner to commiserate with a tyrant, giving him the cover of ecumenicism, when, in fact, he is intolerant.

And we can also see how successful talking with Ahmadinejad has been. Not at all.

And that's similar to the problem with J-Street and NDJC. They're now congratulating themselves for getting Palin's speech canceled. But they have not one word of criticism for the Iranian tyrant. They have no words of criticism for the so-called pacifists who'll shake Ahmadinejad's blood soaked hands.

I have a hard time believing that having Gov. Palin speak at a protest of a tyrant is worse than those who receive him warmly. But J-Street and the NDJC can't work up any outrage over a true outrage. Not only are J-Street and NDJC hypocritical, they have no sense of priorities.

Meryl has more on the Ahmadinejad protests.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Posted by SoccerDad at September 22, 2008 6:50 AM
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This is an interesting post; I confess I was baited by your somewhat caustic language - specifically, "phony pacifist religions". I couldn't help but think, as I read the examples of how tyrannical Iran is, that we, here in the US, do many of the same things. Juveniles in Texas are murdered by the state, as are the mentally retarded (like Palin's most recent off-spring). I'm not sure if you saw any of the events at the RNC, but free-speech left the building (really, the whole country).

Then it occurred to me how both the right & left seem to believe they still hold some kind of moral compass (i assume you're the right, though I doubt it's as easy a fit as one word). As far as I'm concerned, if I look at the US objectively, I can't say we ever had a perfect moral compass, but it seems to have gone astray significantly since '92 - regardless of party in control. For a country who values "the rule of law" above all else, we have put aside our values repeatedly.

I suppose I appreciate talkers more than fighters, if only because the talkers generally know more of what is going on that those lost in dodging and trying to land blows miss because of their violent preoccupation. I'm still not sure how you can use the word "phony"... after all, they aren't picking up weapons or using their fists, are they? If not, I think they are the real thing - pacifists.

But regardless of mine or your views, you write very well informed posts, you just come to the wrong conclusions (j/k - about the last part, you really do pack a bit of info here that is interesting to read).

Btw, good luck this soccer season.

Posted by: josh taylor at September 22, 2008 11:49 AM
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