…And I’ll Cry if I Want To

I couldn’t find this yet on the Internet, but I was chatting this morning with a friend in Israel and it sounded like he did a spit-take looking at the Jerusalem Post. Apparently, today’s JPost has a pic of Jimmy Carter and (former NJ gov and EPA Administrator) Christine Todd Whitman – in the area to monitor the Palestinian elections – paying their respects at Arafat’s gravesite.

I’d expect nothing less more of Carter, but am dismayed by CTW. Not that she’d ever impressed me, but there is something fundamental that you’d expect politicians from the Northeast to get about who Arafat really was. Paying homage at his gravesite is rubbing salt in the wounds of the bereaved – including, without mentioning names, Jews from New Jersey, who’ve suffered personally and whose situation is without a doubt known to her – and lionizing a murderer of Jews.

I find this not really shocking, just sickening. Whitman’s recent knife-in-the-back book “It’s My Party,” lambastes the Bush administration that made her a Cabinet-level official and laments the dominance of conservatives in the Republican party. She so badly wants the moderate Republicans to take control.

During the past few years of crisis, many have observed the phenomenal support for Israel and the impatience with Arafatism stemming from GOP leadership – whether the White House or leadership in the House and Senate. That support is a function of precisely the conservative thinking that Whitman can’t stand.

I find it extraordinary when Jews who appreciate Republican support and find it superior in quality to the “engagement at all costs” approach of the Democrats, nonetheless wish aloud for a more “moderate” GOP. It’s a sentiment I have heard often among longtime “establishment” GOP Jews.

What they seem to miss is that there is nothing uniquely Republican about supporting Israel – it is far more rooted in conservative values. Moderate Republicans are nothing if not “pragmatists” and, barring those few with political constituent concerns, support for Israel is much less a politically pragmatic matter than a matter of morality.

The fact that polls for years have shown Republicans (grassroots as well as elected officials) to be substantially more pro-Israel than Democrats is directly related to the fact that far more conservatives make their political home in the GOP.

I think people who are strong supporters of Israel and prefer the approach President Bush has taken to that of President Clinton or candidate Kerry (keep the pressure on Israel regardless of Palestinian rehabilitation or recidivism) should be on guard against the wistful moderates.

Politics- the art of the possible – is the ground war in a vast societal cultural struggle. What gets lost by those who just see the ugliness of the daily skirmishing up and down the frontlines of the political battleground, what gets lost through the foibles of some of the commanders and ground troops in the struggle, what gets lost as the media filter the news using their most cynical and sensational spin, is that ideas and values actually matter in Washington far more than people believe.

Quoting again (and again and again) R. Noach Weinberg: “Clarity or Death.” As a small minority with few friends, the more we understand about the ideas and values that drive policy, the better we can engage.

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1 Response

  1. We have to remember the vestigial liberalism in the average American Jew.
    But Whitman’s a puzzle.

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