New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman may shrug off the criticism of his recent article coming from conservative quarters, but the new fans he has won definitely support the conclusion that he is on a “slippery slope from legitimate criticism of Israeli policies […] to a position indistinguishable from the anti-Semitic smears of Israel Lobby authors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.”
So Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss is ecstatically celebrating that after six years, we can finally (!!!) have a proper “debate” about the “Israel lobby”. After quoting Friedman’s astonishing claim that “the standing ovation he [Netanyahu] got in Congress this year […] was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby,” Weiss notes with apparent satisfaction:
By echoing Walt and Mearsheimer’s title, he [Friedman] upped the ante on his statement of a few weeks back that a ‘powerful pro-Israel lobby’ holds Obama ‘hostage’ on settlements.
Weiss goes on and on at considerable length, eventually anticipating that soon enough, it will be possible to address the really important issues:
As the two-state paradigm dies, the battle between liberal Zionists and hardcore Zionists, in essence another scene in the Israel lobby rondelet, is going to fade away into larger and deeper questions: Why is there a need for a Jewish state when western Jews are faring so well in liberal democracies? Why should western Jews devote so much political energy to a militant discriminatory country that they would hate to live in themselves, as a majority let alone a minority?
In a second post published yesterday, Weiss heaps praise on Friedman:
The last time Tom Friedman shocked the American Jewish community was in 1982 when he said that Israel’s bombardment of Beirut was “indiscriminate.” The word was disputed by his copy editors, but Friedman prevailed, and it made his career. The ponderous pontiff has now outdone himself with his laser shot at the Israel lobby in yesterday’s column, writing the “standing ovation [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.
The line is a shot heard round the world.
And, while we’re talking about “shots”, it’s worthwhile noting that already back in September, Philip Weiss published a jubilant post entitled: “It’s open season! Tom Friedman says Obama is ‘hostage’ to ‘powerful pro-Israel lobby’.”
If Tom Friedman continues to promote “open season” on the “powerful pro-Israel lobby”, Philip Weiss may be willing to forgive him for “cheerleading the Iraq war in 2003.”
Indeed, Weiss has already co-opted Friedman as a useful voice to support his view that “Israel isn’t good for the Jews anymore.” So maybe when Weiss announces “open season”, he really means “open season” on Israel?
For anyone lucky enough to have never heard of Philip Weiss and his blog Mondoweiss, I’m tempted to just refer to Ron Kampeas’ characterization of Weiss “as a provocateur of little intellectual consequence” who “throws bombs at Israel, at its defenders and at Jews in general.”
But here’s a bit of additional background: Weiss is convinced that liberals “like to deceive themselves about Jewish power” and therefore he likes to keep track “of the Jewish presence in the Establishment.” He has criticized Israel’s “Warsaw-treatment of Gaza” and since he also likes to use “the words apartheid and Jim Crow […] all the time,” I suppose it’s fair to conclude that he considers Israel a Nazi-Apartheid state.
I believe all people act out of self-interest. And Jews who define themselves at some level as Jews — like myself for instance — are concerned with a Jewish self-interest. Which in my case is: an end to Zionism. A theory of political life based on altruism or concern for victims purely is doomed to fail.
When Gilad Atzmon interviewed Weiss, he was presumably just finishing his recently published ramblings on Jewish identity – that have been warmly recommended by none other than Israel lobby author John Mearsheimer, whom Weiss so ardently admires.
Mearsheimer obviously thinks that somebody like Atzmon – who rejects comparisons between Nazi Germany and Israel by hysterically claiming that such a comparison is really unfair to Nazi Germany because “Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness” – is just the right man to provide stimulating thoughts on Jewish identity.
Finally, one more example of Friedman’s new fan club outside the Mondoweiss universe: in an Al Jazeera op-ed published in September, MJ Rosenberg encouraged his readers “If Tom Friedman can say it, you can too.” Perhaps it’s time for another installment of the “repeat-after-Tom-Friedman”-exercise?