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Ed Driscoll

Joe Klein–Still In The Fever Swamp

October 31st, 2008 - 9:53 am

Back in June, the liberal New Republic noted that Joe Klein took Time magazine’s “Swampland” blog into the fever swamp, when he wrote:

The fact that a great many Jewish neoconservatives–people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary–plumped for this war, and now for an even more foolish assault on Iran, raised the question of divided loyalties: using U.S. military power, U.S. lives and money, to make the world safe for Israel. And then there is the question–made manifest by the no-bid contracts offered U.S. oil companies by the Iraqis–of two oil executives, Bush and Cheney, securing a new source of business for their Texas buddies.

James Kirchick of TNR replied:

“Raised the question of divided loyalties?” Why doesn’t Klein just come out and answer the “question,” instead of cowardly using a vague, past tense construction, and say that a cabal of Jews agitated a War for Israel? His suggestion that they advocated “using U.S. lives and money to make the world safe for Israel” is the exact same sort of thing Pat Buchanan said about the First Gulf War (remarks that led his former mentor William F. Buckley Jr. to label him an anti-Semite).

More questions for Joe Klein. If the Jews with dual loyalties really ran our foreign policy, wouldn’t they have pressed first for war with Iran, which presents a far graver threat to Israel than Saddam ever did? And how come so many non-Jews like Don Rumsfeld, former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey, the Kurds, just to name a few, all “plumped for war?”

With Klein’s latest writing…

I’ve never met Rashid Khalidi, but he is (a) Palestinian and therefore (b) a semite, so the charge of anti-semitism is fatuous.

…He’s still in the fever swamp, as Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic writes:

I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not about to accuse Joe of being an anti-Semite, but I will note that this the first time I’ve ever heard a Jewish person, or a non-anti-Semite, make this sort of malicious statement, one that perverts the universal meaning of a term in order to mock the phenomenon of Jew-hatred. “Jew-hatred” is actually my preferred term, because, as I’m sure Joe knows, “anti-Semitism” was a term invented by the avant-garde Jew-hater Wilhelm Marr, who was the founder, in 1879, of the League of Anti-Semites, which argued that Germans and Jews were locked in a death struggle for racial superiority. And we know where that ended.

Since Marr’s time, of course, the term has evolved from a compliment to an insult, but its meaning has held steady all these years. As I said, the only people who insult Jews by denying the meaning of the term are, in my experience, anti-Semitic. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, told me in an interview once that his organization could not be anti-Semitic, because Arabs were the true Semites, while Jews were simply European impostors. This interview occurred at a time when Yassin’s suicide bombers were systematically seeking out large groups of Jews in order to murder them for the crime of being Jewish. By Joe’s dangerous new standard, the World War II-era Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al Husseini, who was a Nazi fellow traveler and a frank advocate of total Jewish extermination, could not be called an anti-Semite because he was Arab. So, really, who’s being fatuous?

I know that Joe derives great pleasure from criticizing Jewish supporters of the Iraq War — the Wolfowitzes, Perles and Feiths –in specifically Jewish terms, while never seeming to use the Christianity of other supporters of the war, including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, and other such marginal figures, against them. I don’t like the double-standard, but it’s part of the rough and tumble. However, emptying the term “anti-Semitism” of its accepted meaning in order to score points against John McCain? That’s simply too much.

You stay classy, Time magazine.