by James M. Wall
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.
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.
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.