Dershowitz – ‘Why J Street Attacked Sarah Palin’
Posted by avideditor on January 27, 2011
Alan M. Dershowitz
Shortly after Sarah Palin provoked a barrage of criticism for her use of the term “blood libel,” a Democratic Congressman named Steve Cohen compared Republican statements about the Obama health care reform to “the big lie” told by Joseph Goebbels, saying it’s “like [a] blood libel. The same kind of thing.” Cohen further posited, “the Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it and you had the Holocaust.” For the most part the left excoriated Palin for being insensitive to Jewish suffering, while the right has either defended her use of that historical term or has given her a pass on it. I am one of the few liberal Democrats who, while criticizing her use of crosshairs in indentifying contested congressional seats, found nothing objectionable in her use of “blood libel” as a metaphor to describe what she regarded as a false accusation of complicity in the bloodletting in Tucson. I have heard little from the left regarding Congressman Cohen’s more extreme statements.
The irony, of course, is that many of the same people on the left who criticized Palin for insensitively to Jewish suffering, have themselves contributed to Jewish suffering by unfairly demonizing the Jewish state and trivializing the increase in global anti-Semitism. They have also given a pass to those on the hard left who have used Holocaust and Nazi references in mischaracterizing Israeli self defense actions.
Consider the case of Norman Finkelstein, a hero of the hard left. Finkelstein regularly uses Nazi references in his attacks on Israel. He has said the following about the Israeli Defense Forces: “[I] can’t imagine why Israel’s apologists would be offended by a comparison with the Gestapo.” (This same formulation has been used by Finkelstein’s British clone, Gilad Atzmon and by others on the hard left.) Most recently, Finkelstein, who regularly refers to the Holocaust as a “circus,” responded to a critic with the words “Heil Hitler,” and to Israeli President Shimon Peres’ Christmas greeting to the Christian world with the words, “And a ‘Heil Hitler!’ to you too.”
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Yet, although J Street, which claims to be a pro-Israel lobby, went out of its way to criticize Palin’s remarks, it has not leveled comparable criticism against Finkelstein and other prominent leftists who abuse the language of Jewish suffering. The reason is obvious: Many J Street supporters adore Finkelstein, cheer him at his lectures and echo his demonization of Israel. J Street does not go after Finkelstein for the same reason it refused to go after Richard Goldstone: If it did, it would lose support from many on the hard left, which it is trying to cultivate. (One of J Street’s leading activist and supporters, Letty Pogrebin, has praised Goldstone as a modern day prophet and supported the most egregious statements made in his report.)
It has not leveled comparable criticism
against prominent leftists who abuse
the language of Jewish suffering
Why J Street felt it necessary to enter the kerfuffle about the use of blood libel may not be obvious to those who actually believe that J Street is a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby that limits its activities to issues surrounding the Israeli Arab conflict. After all, J Street does not claim to be in the business of defending the Jewish people against defamation as does the ADL. Nor is it a protector of Jewish sensitivities as is the Wiesenthal Center. But to those of us who understand what J Street really is, its attack on Palin makes perfect sense. J Street is a lobby for the Democratic Party in general and for the Obama Administration in particular. That’s why it doesn’t deviate from the Obama line, doesn’t criticize the Obama Administration, and doesn’t miss an opportunity to dump on Republicans, even those who support Israel.