Thursday, June 26, 2008

Neocon Blog Wars! An Update

In an earlier entry, "Neocon Blog Wars!," I made light of the conflict between Joe Klein and the neoconservatives over at Commentary.

Well, it turns out this is not a laughing matter.
As Jennifer Rubin relays, the Anti-Defamation League has gotten involved, calling out Klein for allegations of "divided loyalties" among Jewish Americans on the war in Iraq:

Fulfilling its historic role as a nonpartisan watchdog against anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League has acted quickly in the case of Joe Klein and his jaw-dropping use, on the Time Magazine blog Swampland, of the anti-Semitic argument of “divided loyalties” against Sen. Joseph Lieberman and those neoconservatives who supported the war. In a plainly worded letter sent yesterday, the ADL honcho said this:

We were deeply troubled by your outrageous assertion on Time Magazine’s “Swampland” blog that Jewish neoconservatives “plumped” for the war in Iraq and are now doing the same for “an even more foolish assault on Iran” with the goal of making the world “safe for Israel.” (”Surge Protection,” June 24). Whether or not one feels that America’s war on Iraq was justified, the charge that it is being fought by the United States on behalf of Israel is both offensive and categorically false.

There can be no question that in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, legitimate and serious American security and foreign policy interests played a critical role in President Bush’s decision to attack Iraq. Moreover, many top decision-makers in the administration who advocated for war hardly fit the mold of a “Jewish Neocon” – Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell being the most prominent among them.

The notion that Jews with “divided loyalties” were behind the decision to go to war is reminiscent of age-old anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate government….We are disappointed that a respected and thoughtful writer of your caliber you would resort to such stereotyping.

Klein responded quickly, and with the same quiet dignity that characterized his original post:

I have never said that Jewish neocons were the primary reason we went to war in Iraq….But Jewish neoconservatives certainly played a subsidiary role in providing an intellectual rationale for the war. In a 2003 column, I called their arguments “the casus belli that dare not speak its name.” The notion of a “benign domino theory”–benign, that is, for the interests of Israel—was certainly abroad in the community during that time….And there is now, in my opinion, an even more dangerous tendency among Jewish neoconservatives to encourage a pre-emptive attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Their gleeful, intellectual warmongering—given the vast dangers and complexities of an attack on Iran–is nauseating….

I am disappointed, but not surprised, by your claim of antisemitism. But that’s what you do for a living, isn’t it? I find your “outrage” particularly galling because the people you defend are constantly spewing canards against those who favor talking to the Palestinians, or who don’t favor witless bellicosity when it comes to Iran. Their campaign of defamation has cost people jobs, damaged reputations and careers. I am very tired of having reasonable people accused of being “soft on terrorism” or “unpatriotic” or favoring “surrender”–Joe Lieberman’s favorite—by Jewish neoconservatives who seem to have a neurotic need to prove their toughness….

Foxman has now responded:

Our concern is with the term “Jewish neoconservatives” and the distressing claim that those individuals are eager to serve Israel’s interests against the interests of their own country….

Neoconservatives have the right to make their case without having their religion brought up. So, too, do those on the opposite end of the political spectrum, whether Jewish or not….Contrary to your assertion, ADL is extremely careful in making accusations about anti-Semitism and we spend every day in our work all over the country assessing the validity — or lack thereof — of such accusations….

The letters can be read in full here.

I'll update when I have more.

Klein's essay in question, "Surge Protection," is here.