BIGOTS IN ABUNDANCE?

James Traub, in his Times Mag piece on ADL head Abe Foxman, notes that

Foxman upset many of his colleagues by extending a welcome to Christian conservatives, whose leaders tended to be strongly pro-Israel even as they spoke in disturbing terms of America’s “Christian” identity.

True that. Brings to mind the Zionist Organization of America’s decision to honor Pat Robertson with a “State of Israel Fellowship Award.” Abe Foxman at the time demurred that “He’s not deserving, but I have no objections to other groups honoring him.” This despite Robertson having literally written the book on how Jews conspired with Free Masons and Illuminati to engineer the major wars in American history in order to manipulate the global market (Norman Podhoretz argued at the time that that kind of antisemitism was rendered irrelevant by Robertson’s Zionism just as in the Talmud a tiny bit of treif can’t render a huge kosher vat no longer kosher). Robertson went on to raise the ire of the ADL, which had previously highlighted some of his rantings with concern, when he suggested that Ariel Sharon’s strike was punishment from God.

Perhaps the most telling piece of Traub’s article is this exchange:

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.

This is the Abe Foxman worldview. Intellectual and/or moral serious equals the belief that the pro-Likud lobbying infrastructure exercises no pressure on the scope of the Israel debate in this country. Concern about the role of that lobby (unlike, say, concern about the role of the NRA) in shaping public perceptions and policy outcomes equals bigotry. And acceptance of Jews equals support for the actions of the current Israeli government.

This despite the ADL’s own research showing antisemitism declining in Europe at the same time that “anti-Israel” sentiment rises. As my friend Jacob Remes wrote at the time,

Abe Foxman, while hailing European governments that have worked to differentiate Israel from Jews, fails to do so himself and continues to equate the two.

Recently I linked an EUMC report demonstrating that the rise is antisemitism in Europe comes from right-wing whites, not left-wing Arabs. Now Jacob considers another report, this one comissioned by the ADL itself, which challenges Abe Foxman view of the world and the subtext of his fundraising appeals:

Antisemitism decreases in Europe; Abe Foxman confused. The JTA’s Toby Axelrod reports on an ADL survey of Europeans that shows a significant decrease in antisemitism. At the same time, anti-Israel feeling increased. Abe Foxman, while hailing European governments that have worked to differentiate Israel from Jews, fails to do so himself and continues to equate the two.

Jacob Remes points out a History News Network account of the tension at the annual Business meeting of the American Historical Association, which he attended, over the successfully passed resolution calling on Yale to respect the right of its graduate students to organize. Yale History Chairman and candidate for Yale College Dean Jon Butler made the unfortunate argument that it was “presumptuous” for historians to concern themselves in a dispute over free speech and the right to organize and the specious argument that calling for a fair process to determine whether GESO represents the majority of graduate students is unfair to any other potential graduate student organizations, and finally tried and failed to stall the resolution on procedural grounds.

Jacob highlights (first here, then here) a deeply troubling and shamefully unreported story: US troops being used to destroy and dismantle Iraqi trade union headquarters and arrest their leaders – this in the context of continued US maintenance of Ba’athist labor laws. Of course, it’s easy to become numb to this kind of rank hypocrisy from this administration – but vital not to. Enforcing Saddam’s Pinkerton policies ranks up there with appealing to Cuban sovereignty to justify abusing POWs in Camp X-Ray and co-operating with the “evildoers” at the UN to hamstring global access to contraception. Let’s not forget the Bush Doctrine:

If you can make something that others value, you should be able to sell it to them. If others make something that you value, you should be able to buy it. This is real freedom…

Those other freedoms are just to be trotted out when the situation calls for a moral fig leaf.

Lodge your protest here.

Breaking news from Business Week:

Howard Dean’s Presidential ambitions are poised to get a major lift on Nov. 6 when the AFL-CIO’s largest union, the 1.3 million member Service Employees International Union, is set to endorse him, BusinessWeek has learned. The SEIU’s action, coming shortly after Dean won pledges from two small unions, the International Union of Painters and the California Teachers Assn., goes a long way toward completing the transformation of the former Vermont governor from a niche candidate backed by limousine liberals, antiwar activists, and tech-savvy young people into a mainstream candidate who can also connect with blue-collar America. Says SEIU President Andy Stern: “It’s clear that Dean has gained the most support amongst our members and local leaders.”

For all my reservations about Dean, I do see truth in Jacob’s argument that

if anyone is going to win against Bush, that candidate needs to unite the foreign policy left wing of the party with the economic policy left wing of the party, and combine all that with a strategy that gets people riled up, donating money, and voting. I’d happly back anyone I thought could do that, from John Edwards to Al Sharpton. Kucinich tries to to the part where he unites the two important parts of the party, but fails at actually running a campaign. Gephardt was thought to have the unions but his wishy-washy politics on the war, combined with his proven record of failure (most recently in 2002) make him a poor candidate. Dean is the man to unite around, and now it seems that the biggest unions in the country agree

As I’ve probably said here before, Dean is the candidate who has had the most success so far in building a left “Contract with America” – mounting a (generally) coherent, passionate, and resonant critique of the current administration and articulating a vision of a more (if insufficiently) progressive alternative – and he knows better than many of the other eight how to organize around it. Shame that he has a record of prioritizing balanced budgets over social services.

One place where I agree with Jacob wholeheartedly:

…it’s nice to see SEIU, AFSCME, and CWA working together on something. If only SEIU can get AFSCME and CWA on board with the New Unity Partnership…