Cloak and Dagger

Marty Peretz is in high dudgeon over the appointment of Chas Freeman (which I discussed a couple days ago), calling Freeman a bigoted and out of touch advocate of for dictators and anti-Israelis. Peretz's dudgeon is much higher than mine, inasmuchas Peretz noisily supported Obama because he believed Obama's assurances RE: Israel.

Freeman's real offense (and the president's if he were to appoint him) is that he has questioned the loyalty and patriotism of not only Zionists and other friends of Israel, the great swath of American Jews and their Christian countrymen, who believed that the protection of Zion is at the core of our religious and secular history, from the Pilgrim fathers through Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. And how has he offended this tradition? By publishing and peddling the unabridged John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, with panegyric and hysteria. If Freeman believes that this book is the truth he can't be trusted by anyone, least of all Barack Obama. I can't believe that Obama wants to appoint someone who is quintessentially an insult to the patriotism of some many of his supporters, me included.
Ah, innocence! Peretz is not just a liberal; he is a man of the Left. But, he is so far inside that he doesn't realize how much has changed since the Sixties. 

Peretz thinks liberals and progressives are instinctively pro-Israel. That was true once, but no longer. Spend a few years in San Francisco, and you will learn where the sympathies of the real progressives and liberals lie. And it ain't on the side of Israel. Just as an example, here is a report from Gaza that Medea Benjamin filed last week whererin she excoriates Israel for its recent attacks in Gaza. You might think it's easy to dismiss Benjamin as "one of those Code Pink whackos." Actually, she is a wealthy woman, welcomed at the highest reaches of SF society. If that's not enough, go to any anti-war demonstration in SF. There is always a sizable contingent of anti-Israel activists. They also fill lecture halls to hear professionals like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein denounce Israel in the high flown language of the public intellectual. 

For people like Peretz, Israel is often a First Principle upon which the rest of their philosophy rests. And this is as it should be. Israel is an ally. It is the one nation in its neighborhood where Americans are welcomed with open arms. Indeed, there are a lot of Americans who spend many years living and working there. But, Peretz's "side" no longer supports Israel and in fact views her as an enemy. Forget Obama, look at how two of the progressive's institutions - the universities and the media - treat Israel. The emphasis is always on "apartheid," "jack booted" images and the like. 

Meanwhile, the recently departed "worst president ever," GW Bush was probably the greatest friend is Israel out of any US presidents. It is conservatives, especially those from the despised Religious Right, who have given Israel their full intellectual, moral, and financial support. 

Peretz says Freeman is "a new psychological type for a Democratic administration." I have no idea what this means. If the "type" is that of a WASP-y diplomat who managed to find common cause with America's enemies even as he occupied ever higher positions of power in the executive branch, then ... does the name Alger Hiss ring a bell? 

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