by James M. Wall
A once largely unknown politician has been discarded as a liability by his fellow Democrats.
I refer, of course, to former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, not Glenn Beck (pictured here), about whom much more later.
Weiner resigned his seat in Congress because he used Twitter to depict and describe matters other than politics while indulging in behavior that was immature in the extreme.
What Weiner did was not a crime, unless, that is, an underage reader turns up. His actions did not reach anywhere near the level of illegal and immoral political conduct by politicians from both parties, some of whom survived and returned to public service. You know the names of those to whom I refer.
It was, however, Weiner’s grossly uninformed and zealous defense of all things Israeli, that in my book was more damaging than sexting.
For example, Weiner used his platform as a member of Congress to inform an audience that the West Bank is not occupied and that there are no Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied territory. That is not only false, it is also an attack on Palestinians suffering under the iron boot of occupation.
When Weiner made these statements, he was engaged in a public debate on The Goldstone Report with former Washington state Congressman Brian Baird. The debate was moderated by the New York Times’ Roger Cohen, at the New School in New York City, March 3.. The event was videotaped, but received only limited internet exposure.
Reporting on the debate, blogger Phillip Weiss wrote that Weiner displayed “contempt for international law and Palestinian humanity”. The full debate is available here on line. While the visuals are a bit jerky in this tape, the audio is quite strong.
When the Weiner Twitter story first broke two months later, Juan Cole, blogger and University of Michigan Professor of Middle Eastern History, posted on his invaluable Informed Comment blog, Top Ten Things Anthony Weiner has Said that are Worse than Sexting. He began:
The real scandal surrounding Anthony Weiner is that he is bigoted against Palestinians and has misused his position in Congress to support punitive policies against them. Americans appear to be bored by policy, titillated by private peccadilloes. But it is the policies that are important.
Mahatma Gandhi was once kicked out of a brothel in South Africa. No one judges him by his lapses. Weiner, in contrast to Gandhi, has not worked for peace but has rather given knee-jerk support to the worst policies of the most far right wing parties in Israel toward Palestinians.
Cole’s list of Weiner’s Top Ten Things Anthony Weiner Has Said that are Worse than Sexting, began with:
1. Called for Columbia University professor Joseph Massad to be fired for being critical of Israel;
Cole’s comment: Weiner thus spearheaded a new McCarthyism.
2. On the Israeli attack, in international waters, on the Mavi Marmara relief ship, Weiner sputtered: “”If you want to instigate a conflict with the Israeli navy it isn’t hard to do. They were offered alternatives. Instead they chose to sail into the teeth of an internationally recognized blockade.”
Cole’s comment: The blockade of Gaza civilians is a breach of international law; it is not internationally recognized and has on the contrary been condemned by almost every nation and human rights organization.(For Cole’s full posting, including the Top Ten list, click here.
Weiner might eventually emerge as a Fox (where else?) television commentator, realizing a childhood ambition to perform on TV. Lord knows he has the qualifications. He is able to simplify complex issues into incoherence with remarkable glibness and a degree of reptilian charm.
With his texting bad conduct behind him, Weiner is now free to join the Glenn Beck team. Beck (shown above at his 2010 Washington Rally) is Weiner’s exact political opposite on everything but Israel, where they share a common right-wing Zionist extremism.
The liberal Weiner (PEP, “Progressive except on Palestine”) could travel with Beck to Israel for the August rally Beck is hosting in the Old City of Jerusalem:
Jerusalem Post Columnist Larry Derfner has a less than respectful advance story on the rally:,
According to Wednesday’s Yediot Aharonot, the rally has a name – “Restoring Courage.” Also a date – August 24. Also a place, or places – the Old City and Teddy Stadium. Also, tentatively, some guests of honor – Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann and Mike Huckabee.
It’ll be sort of a GOP/Tea Party convention, only in Jerusalem, with thousands of godly Americans expected to fly in to join tens of thousands of godly Israelis, with free admission, snacks and drinks, fireworks and pop stars. So far there’s been no word about Koran-burnings, but the program’s final touches are still a way off.
Derfner writes that he anticipates the Jerusalem rally will include “lots of tears and solemn oaths to God, Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and Judeo-Christendom.”
Then, Derfner, who has a good feel for American politics, offers this prediction:
Since it’s going to be televised across America, where there’s an election next year, my guess is that they’ll soft-pedal the crazy stuff – the birther business, the conspiracy theories, the comparisons with Hitler and Stalin, the really overt, ghastly expressions of Muslim-hatred.
The recent celebratory reception Prime Minister Netanyahu received from the US Congress is expected to be reciprocated by at least some members of Israel’s Knesset. According to Defner,
Likud MK Danny Danon, who chaperoned Palin on her recent visit [to Israel], and who recently remarked that “President Barack Hussein Obama adopted the phased plan of Arafat,” is handling the Israeli side of things. Beck and his friends will be welcomed by their Knesset admirers, who will be returning the favor for the way the GOP-led Congress welcomed Bibi.
. . . . Beck and Palin and Bachmann love us – but only as long as we go on fighting their enemies. If we ever make peace with them, our dear, devoted Republican friends will not be amused. Neither will the likes of Danny Danon, of course, so the American Right and Israeli Right have become the closest, most natural of allies.
In less than a month, in what could be described as a warm-up act for Beck’s Jerusalem Rally, Beck will appear at the annual “Christians United for Israel Rally”, in Washington, DC, where he will be the keynote speaker at the national Night to Honor Israel Banquet during the CUFI Summit, Tuesday, July 19.
The CUFI Summit is described on the organization’s home page as “the premier pro-Israel event of the year”, in which
We bring together some of the most influential leaders and thinkers to update you on recent developments in Israel, the Middle East and Washington, D.C. Then we go to Congress so that you can share your support for Israel directly with your elected officials and help change the way Washington views the Jewish state.
The CUFI Summit will be held a bit too soon for former Congressman Weiner to emerge as a partcipant. But he should be ready to travel to Israel in late August.
Meanwhile, below is a short clip from the CUFI home page. Rev. John Hagee, the CUFI chairman, is seen promoting the sixth annual July 18-20 CUFI Washington Summit.
Other Washington notables, including Senator Joseph Lieberman and several Republican candidates running for president, are also prominently featured in the CUFI film.
The Washington Post confirms that Senator Lieberman will be an honored guest at Glenn Beck’s Jerusalem rally. However, a report that several Republican presidential candidates would be in Jerusalem, has drawn denials from the candidates’ campaigns.
To conclude this journey into the dark side of Israeli-dominated American politics, ponder the fate of another fallen politician, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who awaits a federal jury verdict in Chicago to determine if he broke any laws in what the prosecutors claim was his attempt to trade for cash the Governor’s appointment to fill President Obama’s US Senate seat.
The jury is to continue its deliberations in the Chicago federal building Monday morning, June 20. The first jury to consider Blagojevich’s future took 14 days to find him guilty on only one count, a disappointment to the federal prosecutor that led to the current second trial.
As this second trial made clear, there was no successful swap for appointment to the Senate seat for cash. Instead, Blagojevich appointed a retired Illinois veteran political figure, Roland Burris, who chose not to contest the general election.
Republican Representative Mark Kirk was subsequently elected to the US Senate with strong support from the Israel Lobby.
Talking Points Memo’s Justin Elliott covered Kirk’s successful primary campaign, where he was also the Lobby’s choice among several candidates.
Republican Rep. Mark Kirk enters the Illinois Senate race as the member of the House who has consistently reaped the biggest contribution totals from pro-Israel PACs, making a name for himself through five terms in Congress as a hardline leader on legislation relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Kirk, who is considered a moderate Republican on most issues, sailed to an easy victory in the GOP primary this week and goes into the general election race as a strong contender for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.
There are plenty of members of Congress who subscribe to the same hawkish pro-Israel positions as Kirk. But the money totals (and his legislative record) show that Kirk is a particular favorite of the pro-Israel community.
In 2008, for example, Kirk got $414,000 from pro-Israel PACs, more than double the haul of the next biggest recipient in the House, and behind only Barack Obama, John McCain, and Hillary Clinton overall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the 2010 General Election, Kirk defeated his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. Six months later, Kirk is back from his obligatory fact-finding tour of the Israeli front.
In his Foreign Policy blog, The Cable, Josh Rogin described Kirk’s report after his return to Washington.
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) spent last week on what he calls “an intense fact-finding mission to Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan”.
. . . . In a soon-to-be-released report, obtained in advance by The Cable, he proposes a path forward for increased U.S.-Israeli defense cooperation and lays out his views on how Congress should deal with the thorniest issues of the U.S. approach to the Middle East.
. . . . Kirk maintains that the United States should reaffirm President George W. Bush’s 2004 letter on borders, which somewhat contradicts Obama’s May 17 statement that borders should be based on 1967 lines with agreed swaps. . . .Kirk’s report also states that U.S. funding should not go to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, nor should the United States give aid to the Palestinian Authority if it seeks a unilateral declaration of statehood at the United Nations in September or fails to curb anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian schools.
In a less dark political world, Governor Blagojevich could have appointed a progressive Democrat, who was not a PEP (progressive except on Palestine), to serve the final months of Obama’s term. Then he could have trusted Illinois voters to elect that appointee, who would be the incumbent, for a full six year term.
The Governor could have done that on principle, without any interest in receiving any monetary reward. His reward would have been to have filled a Senate seat with a Democrat who would not have to subsist on Israel Lobby funding.
Instead, Blagojevich let his greed overrule his good judgment. As a result AIPAC has another kept senator at its beck and call. And speaking of Beck, my hypothetical appointed progressive Democrat would have boycotted both July’s CUFI Washington Summit, and Beck’s August Jerusalem Rally.
And President Obama would have a progressive (non-PEP) Senate ally guarding his back.
The picture of Glenn Beck is from YNet News, an Israeli website news site. Juan Cole’s picture is from his blog. The Youtube clip is from the CUFI web page. The picture of Senator Mark Kirk is from the TPM Muckraker web page.
This is an invaluable posting from Jim. I’ve been distracted, removed from the lurid details of Wienergate (and glad to be so removed). I had known, of course, of Wiener’s avid pro-Israel stance, but the quotations above are simply beyond the pale. Unfortunately, they are probably representative of the typical Jewish or non-Jewish politician’s position, if different only in degree of outrageousness. This entire enterprise has enveloped our America and the world in a frenzy of psychosis, more and more criminal in nature, with the hapless Palestinians always at the bottom of the pile. The Hagees, Becks, Netanyahus, (both) Liebermans et al are ascendant and riding their wave with increasing arrogance and sadistic pleasure (and wealth). I have no ideas toward attaining a recognition of the psychosis of Zionist supremacy tinged with fear, guilt and other components which only a professional psychiatrist/team could recognize and begin to treat, but recognition had better come, soonest. Continuation on this path is not an option for sane people.
If it is of any comfort, and to Americans committed to justice for Palestine I’m not sure it is, the U.S. is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the Middle East as the result of the failures of this administration, the spinelessness (or in the case of Weiner, the zealotry) of Congress, and most importantly the advent of the Arab Spring. With the ascendancy of countries like Turkey, China, India, Brazil and others, Arab countries are looking elsewhere for an “honest broker” and less burdensome bilateral relationships (relationships, which first put a premium on Israeli and not American interests). Whether or not Abu Mazen will be able to stand firm on the UN statehood effort and not be cowed (again) by the U.S., whether or not reconciliation will hold through elections, and whether or not a broad-based non-violent movement in Palestine can grow (or are allowed to grow by the different authorities) remain central questions. Let us hope each is answered in the affirmative.
Thanks for this great post, Jim. When I despair of Mr. Obama (and I do), I’ll re-read your piece to remind myself of the insanity that awaits if the U.S. elects a Republican president.
Maybe if Obama has a second term he won’t be so timid about real justice for Palestine. One can hope.
Meanwhile, thanks for your great work countering the liars and bigots.
Jim, are you aware that the Bush administration allegedly asked the CIA to investigate Juan Cole even though it is unlawful for the CIA to monitor American citizens?
Jim, you touched all the bases in this essay. It is “as tho” you’ve hit a home run. Peace, Roy
Great post Jim. The dark side of Christianity has merged with the dark side of Judaism to create an unholy alliance, that is promoting Jewish supremacy in Israel/Palestine, rather than equality and justice that are the basis for Jesus’ teaching, and of the Christian Faith.
It is time for Christians to have rallies for justice and human rights in Israel/Palestine, instead of the shameful Christian rallies that support Israeli oppression. This needs to happen, but it will only happen when Christians overcome their guilt and find a voice that is strong and uncompromising when it comes to issues of justice, equality before the law, and human rights.
The silence and the weak voice of Christians regarding this issue, with Jim being a notable exception, is permitting the dangerous forces of right wing Christians to spread a false message of the Christian faith to the world. We must change this.
I have been watching this story. It is developing. Here is what Juan Cole had to say about it in his blog. http://bit.ly/lItK4l
I don’t think we have heard the last of this story. Thanks for reminding our readers of the allegations against Cole. Its a jungle out there.
Thanks for a great post, Jim. The paradigm has changed drastically for me, as a Christian Palestinian-American. The truth is that:
1- The US Administration has been formulated, designed, and set on a path that is dedicated to serve the goals of Israeli occupation, foremost, regardless of whether it is Democrat, or Republican.
2- The declared principles for such support make the US a de-facto Zionist state that cannot be a “broker” for peace, period.
3- A sizable section of organized Christian and Jewish Americans are ardent supporters of Israeli occupation. They have become de facto Zionist Taliban who want to turn back the hands of the clock 3000 years.
4- The emergence of other potential world powers, such as, China, India, Brazil, and others, will change much of what is going on now.
5- The “Arab Spring” will eventually bring new democratic leadership in key Arab states and this will translate into a stronger demand for the establishment of a Palestinian State, based on the pre-June 1967 borders..
“He is able to simplify complex issues into incoherence with remarkable glibness and a degree of reptilian charm.” Beautifully stated. This description applies to vast numbers of commentators on FOX and elsewhere. Thank you, Mr. Wall, and thank you for this post. I always look forward to Wallwritings.
Jim: You certainly do a good job in your journy into the dark side of Israeli-dominated American politics. Thanks for reminding us of what our President has to do to climb over past and present American policies that are so distorted in Isreal’s favor, It is a very sad tale and somethng I hope, as a former Repblican member of Ccongress we can begin to alter. Harris W. Fawell, Member of Congress (Republican), retired..
Congressman Fawell, I welcome your comment, but even beginning to alter the shape of this “entangling alliance” is arguably beyond us. I happened this morning on this June 16th report of Senator (sic) Kirk’s treasonous behavior: http://alexbkane.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/senator-wants-u-s-navy-to-help-block-flotillas-to-gaza/#comment-866
President Obama gave up on principle and justice long ago. He failed to “climb over” the Apartheid Wall of Zionism when he appointed Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff a day or so after election day in 2008. And then we have his retention, and even elevation, of the always-Israel-first Dennis Ross (do you remember? first, Obama wanted Ross to represent U.S. interests vis-a-vis Iran; the Irani objection was so strenuous that Ross was inserted into a MidEast position in the State Department and soon inveigled himself into the National Security Council, where he is gatekeeper and agent supreme of a foreign power…and has been since the days of Bush I.)
I can only say that I am grief -stricken and I find the inability on the part of many congresspeople to recognize Israel’s acts as criminal, is alarming, moreover, it is proof of their lack of moral principle, of their lack of basic humanity , and ignorance of
what constitutes justice. means…,Terrifying to me that such people were elected, and have little feeling for the wronged Palestinians.
Jim — as always, great job. But in future columns help me with a problem many of us (I suspect) have — how to avoid anti-semitism (both the accusation and the tendency) in our thinking and speaking and writing. For I have to admit that every time I read about the Lobby and the craven politicians I think about what is central here — the money — from which it is a short leap to “Jewish money” and the endless stereotypes about Jews and money and corrupting influence — I KNOW that most Jews, like most Christians, are not rich, AND I also know that most Jews are increasingly at very least skeptical about what the Lobby and Israel does in the name of defending Judaism — still, I can’t avoid the obvious fact that it is big Jewish money that is behind all this buying of politicians and of the Christian supporters of Israel — I personally, as a professor and leadership Catholic in Denver, was offered free “fact finding” trips to Israel hosted by this or that Jewish group — and this fact about big Jewish money in this country so easily opens the emotional door to all the anti-semitic stereotypes. Would love your wisdom on this problem. John
John, I share your frustration over the problem of speaking and writing about Jewish influence in American politics. The specter of “anti-semitism” looms over any such discussion. We all struggle with just how to speak boldly on this topic and, at the same time, stay clear of any actual anti-semitism, or the accusation of anti-semitism. It is that accusation that is easy to make and virtually impossible to defend against.
We have two “givens” that have left us bound by our own Gordian Knot: First, anti-semitism is a reality that haunts us all. Its history is well documented and its presence in modern discourse is unmistakeable; Second, it is clear that political power always uses whatever means it has at its disposal to exercise, maintain and increase, its power. In the hands of political leaders, the allegation of anti-semitism becomes a powerful and effective tool with which to exercise political power.
The state of Israel, and its backers outside Israel defend that state with its own weapons. These weapons range from military force to propaganda campaigns (“hasbara” in Hebrew). The Palestinians are attacked by actual military force and held in place by that same force and the threat of its further use (the Occupation). Brutality and intimidation work closely with one another.
Those of us who live outside the Middle East are brutalized and intimidated through propaganda, distortions, and finally the loss of control over our own means of communication and education. Our religious institutions are prime examples of groups that have been intimidated into submitting to the version of truth that serves to maintain Israel in power both in the Middle East and on the world stage.
Like you and many, many others, I was initially offered that “free trip” to Israel. I declined, as do many others. But, as we know, a far greater number of church folk have been lured into the trap of the necessity of maintaining “inter-faith relations”. They have consumed the Kool Aid, a toxic brew of guilt-the Holocaust and the ugliness of anti-semitism–and laziness–it is easier to embrace the “Judeo-Christian” tradition of our common scriptural history than to reach out to those who embrace the Koran and its rich religious history.
This is not the answer you seek, John. It is, however, my attempt to lay out the problem. Some of the annual conferences in my own United Methodist denomination once again this summer declined to endorse BDS. A few did accept BDS as a strategy, bless their courageous Wesleyan hearts. The Kool-Aid lulled the majority of delegates in those anti-BDS conferences into the sort of dullness of mind and soul that once dulled the mind and soul of those church leaders of the American South who asked Martin Luther King, Jr., to “go slow” in his (ultimately unsuccessful) fight against segregation.
Education and first-hand experience with people in the Middle East are thus far the most effective methods we have utilized to awaken the minds and souls of our Kool-Aid consumers in both pulpit and pew.
So, finally, what are we to do break the Gordian Knot we confront? What exactly, is a Gordian knot? According to Wikipedia, “The Gordian Knot is a legend of Phrygian Gordium associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem solved by a bold stroke (“cutting the Gordian knot”).”
Wikipedia also offers us a bit of Shakespearean wisdom that could be the clue we seek:
“Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter”. (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act 1 Scene 1. 45–47).
We have the “cause of policy “; that would be the intimidating and brutal policy of absolute Israeli-oriented control over American politicians, media, educational, and religious institutions. Now we await the “bold stroke” that will untie the knot of anti-semitism employed as a means of intimidation.
As the summer moves along, John, we should all work more on this theme. Thanks for the helpful suggestion in your Comment that we need to find the bold stroke that will untie the knot. Jim Wall
Good post Jim. Re antisemitism, we should urge all to understand that Jews are not the only Semites. We should also vigorously reject the notion that criticism of the policies of Israel – a sovereign state – should be equated with antisemitism. Certainly criticism of the policies of Saudi Arabia or other Gulf states – including Iran – cannot properly be viewed as evidence of prejudice against Muslims. Indeed, the bizarre irony is that the most fervent supporters of everything Israel are evangelical Christians. Further, we should question whether financial support of a country that promotes or requires religious exclusivity violates basic principles of our constitution.
Speaking facts about any situation is never anti-anything, it’s just the facts. It is a fact that many wealthy Jews are primary backers of the Israeli Lobby, and since our entire political system is based on money given to polititions by all Lobbies and corporations, this should come as no surprise to anyone.
As long as the almighty dollar rules our “democracy”, the only way to break the power of the Israel Lobby is by using the same tactics they use to get Congress to act the way it wants.
It’s also critical to remember that many Jewish Americans are in the forefront of confronting the Lobby and challenging US and Israeli policies that oppress and deny human rights and equality befor the law to the non Jewish population of Israel and Palestine. I also bilieve that Israel’s policies and their US supporters, are creating anti Israeli and anti American feeling accross the world.
I have also noticed that Christian Zionists and Christian support of Israel’s policies, are turning progressive Christians away from Christianity. I know several Christians who have walked away from their religion because of it’s connection to Israel’s unjust policies, and it’s timidness in the face of injustice.
As long as Christians feel defensive and stay timid regarding injustice, the more irrelavant Christianity will become for people of conscience. One can only wear a coat of anti semitism if it fits. This coat does not fit those of us who are appalled by US support of Israel’s brutal occupation and unjust policies towards those who are not Jewish in Israel/Palestine.
A great re-post on anti-Semitism, Jim, and excellent points made by the respondants, especially noting that just as the criticism of Saudi Arabia doesn’t constitue Islamophobia, criticism of Israel doesn’t constitute anti-Semitism. I think the easiest response is to those Christian Zionists who level charges of racism against us; namely that their dispensationalist theology, which calls for the destruction of two-thirds of the Jewish people so they can bring about the return of Christ is the real form of anti-Semitism. Granted, those whose priority is “inter-faith dialogue” are much harder to confront. Sadly, these are some of the same folks who were intimately, passionately, and courageously involved in the American civil rights movement but are now constrained by a combination of their own political status and their perceived loyalty to Jewish Americans for their own courageous part in the struggle; especially true in my hometown of Atlanta. For these individuals, it is worth, I think, drawing explicit parallels between what took place in the South and what is currently taking place in Palestine and Israel, where again, Israeli Jews in Sheikh Jarrah and in villages across the West Bank are active participants with their Paletinian brothers and sisters.
Well said, Jim. I await the “policy cause” that will break the Gordian Knot” and free us free its lethal entanglement. Bill