The NYT on Foxman

Abe Foxman isn’t a very good propagandist:

The A.D.L., he says, doesn’t operate that way; it seeks balance, not suppression. Foxman told me that he believes he’s challenging his adversaries to a debate, not shouting them down. But, I asked, isn’t slinging the dread charge of anti-Semitism at people like Jimmy Carter and Tony Judt and Mearsheimer and Walt really a way of choking off debate? No, it isn’t, Foxman said. This was at our lunch; Foxman got so exercised that he began to choke on his gratin. I asked if it was really right to call Carter, the president who negotiated the Camp David accords, an anti-Semite.

“I didn’t call him an anti-Semite.”

“But you said he was bigoted. Isn’t that the same thing?”

“No. ‘Bigoted’ is you have preconceived notions about things.”

The argument that the Israel lobby constricted debate was itself bigoted, he said.

“But several Jewish officials I’ve talked to say just that.”

“They’re wrong.”

“Are they bigoted?”

Foxman didn’t want to go there. He said that he had never heard any serious person make that claim.

I don’t see why someone doesn’t debate Mr. Foxman, especially if he can’t even get interviewed by a sympathetic reporter without looking like a liar, and a bad one at that. I don’t know what the truth is with regards to what the article refers to as “the Israel Lobby”, as I pay no attention to the Washington insiders game and I don’t have an opinion on things I know nothing about.

What I do know, however, is that 13 percent of the Senate and 7 percent of the House of Representatives are from a group that represents only 2.2 percent of the U.S. population. Given that 93 percent of these 43 politicians belong to a party which believes that a lack of proportionality is proof of discrimination and shady conspiracies among the powerful, it would be bizarre for Mr. Foxman, or anyone else, to attempt to claim that Jews do not possess disproportionate influence in Washington.

It is, in my opinion, a very bad idea for any small minority to attempt to amass disproportionate political power to itself. One would certainly expect a certain amount of resistance if there were 65 Black Senators or an entirely Hispanic Senate, and yet that is precisely what a similar disproportionality in favor of those minorities would indicate. And it’s particularly problematic given that the President is being openly encouraged to go to war with Iran due to the threat Iran poses to Israel.

Is this bigoted or anti-Semitic? I don’t think so, any more than it is unfriendly to tell your friend that he’s had too much to drink when he’s about to drive home. The plentitude of Jews in the 110th Congress and in the commentariat is likely to weaken the ability of America to effectively assist Israel over any period of time that exceeds two years, given the likelihood of a powerful political backlash to such assistance should things go less than smoothly.

And let’s face it, it’s the Middle East. No matter what we do, things are bound to go pear-shaped.

UPDATE: As always in these days, any mention of Jews that is insufficiently laudatory in any way is immediately taken as potential evidence of anti-Semitism:

Well, not to defend the concept of democracy, or anything, but if 13 percent of the Senate is Jewish, then those 13 percent are a group that represents 13 percent of the U.S. population. That’s what representative democracy means.

Of course, I’m playing a semantic game – what Vox means by the word “represents” is somewhat different – he thinks that a Jewish senator somehow inherently represents “Jewish interests” (whatever that means).

Not to defend the concept of math and the American Constitution or anything, but if 13 percent of the Senate is Jewish, then those 13 percent are a group that represents whatever percentage of the population happens to live in the states which elected them. Which almost certainly isn’t 13 percent… see, just don’t even bother to get pedantic with me.

And it is irrelevant how these senators happen to vote on changes to FCC regulation or sheep raising subsidies, the question is if they happen to wield an inordinate amount of influence on US foreign policy and are doing so in a manner that is contrary to American interests. (Whatever that means….)

I am not saying that they are. I am saying that if they do and are seen to do so, they are almost certainly running the risk of hurting Jewish interests and causing significant problems for the Jewish people. Since I believe the Jewish people have suffered more than their fair share of misery and persecution over the centuries, I would like to see them avoid yet another round of it.