Glenn Greenwald has a lengthy hyperbolic column complaining that people who criticize Israeli policies are smeared with accusations of anti-Semitism.
The column relates to the fallout from Ben Smith’s report on the anti-Israeli activities and writing at the Center for American Progress (CAP) and its Think Progress blog, and at Media Matters.
One focus of the criticism of the activities of CAP and Media Matters was the use of the term “Israel-Firsters.” That term is directed primarily at American Jewish supporters of Israel, although the term could be used against non-Jews.
The Israel-Firsters term has been a focus here before. It plays upon ages-old stereotypes of Jews being disloyal to their country, and has a history of being used by outright anti-Semites like David Duke. Just as likely these days, the Israel-Firster smear is used by leftist and particularly Jewish leftist writers hostile to Israel, as I noted in my prior post, Why Do Leftist Jewish Bloggers Love The Dual Loyalty Smear?
Greenwald himself has used the term, referring to supporters of Israel in Congress:
Meanwhile, one of the many Israel-Firsters in the U.S. Congress — Rep. Anthony Weiner, last seen lambasting President Obama for daring to publicly mention a difference between the U.S. and Israel — today not only defended Israel’s attack (obviously) but also, revealingly, pronounced: “Even if we are the only country on earth that sees the facts here, the United States should stand up for Israel.” In other words: who cares how isolated it makes us or what harm we suffer? What matters is not American interests, but Israel.
Greenwald also has applied the concept of Israel-Firster, if not the term itself, to Eric Cantor (R-VA), who he accused of pledging allegiance to Israel. When Glenn Reynolds and I called him out on it, Greenwald responded by claiming we were slurring him with an accusation of anti-Semitism.
Getting back to Greenwald’s column, Greenwald again defends the use of the term Israel-Firster and laments that a Think Progress blogger who tweeted the term deleted the tweets:
One CAP blogger, Zaid Jilani, has now apologized for and deleted tweets where he used the term “Israel-firster” even though (a) everyone knows there are American political activists — both evangelical Christians and Jewish — whose political worldview is dominated by allegiance to Israel and (b) even long-time stalwart Israel supporters like Tom Friedman now describe how U.S. officials are “hostage” to the “powerful pro-Israel lobby” that can force them to place Israel’s interests over their own country’s.
Greenwald should stop playing the victim card. In my prior post I noted:
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.
Now I have heard his explanation, and it is no explanation at all.
All I hear is someone who has lost the argument over Israel with the vast majority of Americans, and lashes out in frustration.