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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Glenn Greenwald Plays Victim

I have criticized Glenn Greenwald on multiple occasions for playing the dual-loyalty card against American Jewish supporters of Israel.

Greenwald uses the phrase "Israel-firsters" and also recently accused Eric Cantor, the incoming Republican Majority Leader in the House, of pledging allegiance to Israel.

The charge against Greenwald is not one of anti-Semitism, and my posts have made that clear.  Rather, the charge is that Greenwald, in his fervor to attack Israel and its supporters, is all too willing to use lines of attack which do not go to the merits of our policy towards Israel, but rather, play upon age-old smears against Jews.  This is a distinction Greenwald certainly understands.

Rather than defend his writings, Greenwald instead plays victim, claiming he falsely has been charged by me and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit with being anti-Semitic:
And just in case you were wondering: yes, it is still true that if you question American policy toward Israel or criticize "pro-Israel advocates" in America, you will be immediately smeared as an Israel-hating anti-Semite by right-wing polemicists who strangely seem still to believe that these sad, discredited tactics will intimidate people and suppress such debate.  [Note: Links in original.]
This is an intellectual dodge of the first magnitude.  No one is saying Greenwald cannot criticize Israel or its advocates. 

The issue is why Greenwald feels the need to go much further, and accuse supporters of Israel -- particularly American Jewish supporters of Israel -- of being disloyal to the United States through the use of the term "Israel-firsters," or accusing Eric Cantor of pledging allegiance to Israel.

When Greenwald uses this language, he well understands that he is moving beyond the merits of his arguments into emotional territory which plays upon age-old stereotypes of Jews, both here and abroad. 

I have yet to hear Greenwald's explanation.  All I hear is someone who falsely plays victim.

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  1. But isn't that what chutzpah is all about...those who throw themselves on the mercy of the court as orphans after having been convicted of murdering their parents?

  2. Same old same old. When you can't defend your positions on their merits, attack, accuse, redirect, obfuscate, and do whatever it takes to frustrate intelligent discussion.

    That's how us Tea Party conservatives became "right wing extremists" despite promoting the majority view of Americans. It's how we became bigots. It's how we became nativists. It's how climate "scientists" trumped science with politics. The list is long.

    If we are going to get our supposedly deliberative government to work, we need to start weeding out those who only seek to end discussion with their lies and replace them with honest adults who seek truth-based solutions around which to form a popular consensus. This tyranny by elitists must end.

  3. What a hypocrite that Israel-fister is.

  4. Speaking of dual-loyalties, if they want to cast stones, well, many on the left seem more loyal to "world opinion" and the United Nations than America. Israel is a great ally. Why, in this dangerous world, would we not support an ally? Obama's attitude towards Israel has been shabby at best and his treatment of Netenyahu that time in the White House when he went to dinner and left Netenyahu hanging was a complete embarrassment. His treatment of the UK and its leaders is also embarrassing.

  5. If you look at the history of Greenwald's writing on the subject, you'd see that his concern isn't dual loyalty per se, it's the hypocritical use of the concept of dual loyalty on the right (trotting it out to smear opponents while actively using it to encourage Jews to adopt "pro-Israel" positions) that bother him. See, for example, these paragraphs from a July 2008 post (http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2008/07/02/israel_iran):

    "As I've documented previously, the very same right-wing advocates who scream "anti-semitism" at anyone, such as Klein, who raises the issue of devotion to Israel themselves constantly argue that American Jews do -- and should -- cast their votes in American elections based upon what is best for Israel. They nakedly trot out the "dual loyalty" argument in order to manipulate American Jews to vote Republican in U.S. elections (e.g.: "the GOP supports Israel and Obama doesn't; therefore, American Jews shouldn't vote for Obama"), while screaming "anti-semitism" the minute the premise is used by their political opponents. The Weekly Standard ran articles openly arguing that American Jews should vote Republican because the GOP is better for Israel, and Joe Lieberman runs around South Florida telling Jewish voters that they should vote for McCain because Obama isn't good for Israel.

    The most recent blatant example of nakedly exploiting "dual loyalty" and "anti-Semitism" claims comes from Commentary's Jennifer Rubin. Rubin was one of those most viciously attacking Klein, accusing him last week of spouting what she called "the anti-Semitic argument of 'divided loyalties.'" Yet today -- barely a week later -- Rubin has a long Op-Ed in The Jerusalem Post which is probably the most unabashed expression of this "dual loyalty" argument that I've seen in quite some time.

    Her column is devoted to arguing that many American Jews -- despite their commitment to political liberalism -- are (justifiably) reluctant to vote for Obama because "some Jews are incapable of deluding themselves that Obama would be the most resolute candidate in defending Israel." What is that if not an argument that American Jewish voters cast their votes in American elections -- and should do so -- based on what is best for Israel, i.e. for he who is "the most resolute candidate in defending Israel"?"

    Perhaps he did misrepresent Cantor, in which case he should issue a correction, but his overarching point in focusing on this issue isn't to damn people like Eric Cantor for supporting Israel, it's to damn their hypocrisy (as was also made clear by his reference to the vilification of "Baghdad Bob" for doing essentially what Cantor and other Republicans have done--criticize America on foreign soil).

  6. Glenn Greenwald must be one of the 20% of Americans who suffer from mental illness.


    Since 18% of Americans describe themselves as liberals, that accounts for most of it. The rest must be due to second hand insanity among those who have to deal with them constantly.

  7. I seriously doubted that 20% figure until pasadenaphil now made it indisputable in my mind.

  8. I'm sure Rick Ellensburg would agree.

  9. Considering that majority of Jews vote for Democratic party, Greenwald risks offending a community of gentile Israel supporters that is several times bigger than fruction of jewish voters. He also puts into question loyalty of the hate-America-first liberals (remember 'never been proud of my country' lady?) He can't be that stupid, or can he.

  10. @Graham, if anyone should know the uses of hypocrisy, Greenwald should.

  11. For the record, Brad Dayspring, the press secretary for Eric Cantor wrote a piece in Politico on Cantor's comments:

    False accusations, echo chambers

    Don't hold your breath for retractions from Ron Kampeas, Andrew Sullivan, Charles Johnson, and Greenwald.

  12. I am less troubled by Greenwald's comments than I am by how little Cantor's assurances to Netanayhu bother you, sir.

  13. I think your column is heading a little off track in trying to reason with Greenwald. The kind of disproportionate animus he has is clearly far more personal than political. In fact, I doubt politics or philosophy enters much into it at all.

    It would be interesting to know more about his family background. Besides saying he's from NYC, there's nothing about it that I've ever seen. He's such a resentful, bitter person, obviously in constant terror of his sense of inferiority. Every family has one it seems; certainly every Jewish family.

  14. I can't help but notice that you never make any substantive critiques of Greenwald. Its always his "tone" or "the historical relevance of the dual-loyalty charge," etc. etc. I mean, you never even tried to explain why his attack on Cantor was unwarranted. You just skipped to the optics.

    You pretend to be a lawyer all day - so don't you notice how weak that makes you look?