Daniel Larison jumps to Anonymous’s defense. It’s as if Larison has the blogging equivalent of a Bat Signal that alerts him whenever anybody gets criticized for attacking Israel or its supporters, so he can rapidly come to the aid of the basher in question. The most amusing aspect of Larison’s item is that he claims Anonymous didn’t really mean to accuse Jewish conservatives of “divided loyalties” before Anonymous wrote a follow-up post making it abundantly clear that that’s exactly what he meant. As I wrote before, there’s no evidence that Israeli security concerns prompted the Bush administration to invade Iraq. Larison believes that American foreign policy is bad for both our own security and Israel’s, but the current debate is one about motives. The most disgusting aspect of the “divided loyalties” smear is that it questions the patriotism of Jewish conservatives by arguing that we’d actually advocate policies that are against America’s security interest because we’re actually more loyal to Israel than our own country. That is a shameful charge.
This subject particularly hits home with me because I didn’t start off as a strong supporter of Israel. In fact, even in the early stages of the Second Intifada, I tended to be more sympathetic to the Palestinian side because I hadn’t studied the conflict carefully, and my views were colored by news accounts emphasizing the disproportionate death toll. When did everything change? On Sept. 11, when my city and country were under attack, and Palestinians were celebrating in the streets. Only then did I begin to identify with Israelis for what they had been dealing with for decades, and the more I read about the history of the conflict, the more I sympathized with the Israeli position. The Palestinians allied themselves with Hitler during WWII and with the Soviets during the Cold War, and cheered while innocent civilians were still dying within a few miles of where I lived and worked. The point is that my support for Israel is firmly rooted in my love of America, and so I don’t take it lightly when somebody throws around the “divided loyalty” smear to taint all Jewish supporters of the Iraq War. The fact that the charge is coming from another Jew makes it worse, because now despicable anti-Semites can point and say, “See, even some Jews admit it!”
UPDATE: Larison responds, distancing himself from the “divided loyalties” argument, but still insisting that concerns about Israeli security interest played a significant role in the decision to invade Iraq, a point of view evidently shared by Andrew Sullivan as well. Neither offer any evidence to back up their assertion, yet they utter it as if it’s so obviously true. Larison asks whether I went after attempts to question the patriotism of Pat Buchanan in 2003. I find Buchanan’s views on foreign policy abhorent, but I always had a problem when people questioned the patriotism of Americans who opposed the Iraq War. I just wasn’t blogging or writing opinion columns in 2003, because I was still a Reuters journalist at the time and my contract precluded me from offering outside commentary.