In response to my weekend blog note about AIPAC, there has been a contentious back-and-forth in the comments which I’d like to take a few moments to respond to:
First, to be clear, I’m Jewish, and while I’m not religious I am not shy about saying that I do have Zionist sympathies, namely to support the existence of Israel as a primarily Jewish nation. The strange thing about commenter “Boris” and people like him (at least as I understand him based on the few words of his that I have read) is that they routinely term even moderate support for Israel’s right to exist with terms like “obsession.” In other words, if I support a group that you dislike, I’m obsessed but you’re just rational?
That said, I’m American first and foremost — the son of two US Navy officers (my mother retired as an admiral) — and would never suggest sacrificing our national interest for Israel’s, though I find they’re typically aligned.
I understand there is a serious debate to be had regarding the level of US financial and military aid to Israel, the largest recipient of US foreign aid. I’m not going to get into this debate today as, frankly, I’m quite torn about it, believing that some part of it is basically (inappropriate) domestic US politics but part of it also represents a legitimate US strategic interest in the area. I’m not prepared to offer an opinion as to what percentage of our aid to Israel falls into either description, but I’m convinced that our aid to Israel is not solely, as some anti-Semites argue, because of the influence of American Jews on American politicians. (And yes, I do mean anti-Semites, not just anti-Israelis, in that sentence.)
Being a supporter of Israel’s existence also does not imply being a NeoCon. I am the former, and not the latter. The same is true of many people I know. Conflating the two is yet another sign of Israel Derangement Syndrome wherein people like “Boris” believe that anyone who supports Israel must also belong to every other category they oppose, i.e. (using Boris’ own words inspired by his thinking about Israel) “NeoCon”, “anti-white”, “anti-Christian”, etc.
As for my “throwing money” at AIPAC, I think the most I ever gave them was about $150 in a year, for just a couple of years, much less than I typically give pro-liberty organizations in the United States. I was never a major supporter…basically gave a bit because a friend asked me to, though I was always suspicious of AIPAC’s politics (despite their claims that they avoid domestic politics.) It wouldn’t have bothered me a bit to read criticism of them. It only took one bad act by them (at least the first that I noticed) to have me not just end my support but to aggressively criticize them on this national web site.)
Next: To be pro-Israel is not to be anti-Christian. Furthermore, to be Christian does not and should not imply being anti-Israel. Indeed, in America today I would argue that Israel has better friends among evangelical Christians than among most Jews, whose first religion is liberalism and a distant second Judaism.
Therefore, commenter Boris, your apparent anger at Israel is horribly misplaced because you are confusing American Jews with Israel and Israelis. It is a mistake which might be understandable for someone with only a very superficial understanding of the two. But the idea that you should hate Israel because American Jews are often naive leftists would be similar to hating Ghana because a black man once mugged you in Philadelphia.
As a Jew, I’m even more disappointed than you are with the voting patterns of American Jews, namely strong support for Democrats even though the Democratic Party (and especially the Congressional Black Caucus) is the home of anti-Semitism in America. But a lot of Jews remember (or are told to believe in) white Republican country clubs in the 1950s which would not admit Jews, as well as having a general belief that the Democratic Party is the party of the underdog, the persecuted, as Jews feel they have often been.
(Of course, the real goal of the Democrats is to keep poor people poor so the Dems can keep getting elected by claiming to care oh so much about redistributing money to those very poor in a system which not only doesn’t work, not only can’t work, but isn’t designed to accomplish its stated goals.)
Finally, I object to the characterization of support for Israel as meaning I (or any other supporter) have “dual loyalties.” No, I have a single loyalty, but multiple objectives — while making sure that none of my objectives is in opposition to my loyalty to the United States. Describing an American who has an interest in a strong Israel as having “dual loyalties” is a remarkably tyrannical and narrow-minded view, showing that it’s not only liberals who are capable of fitting those adjectives.