Monday, January 7, 2013

MJ Rosenberg's Continuing Obsession

Unemployed blogger MJ Rosenberg is back to talk mostly Israeli politics, but also about the nomination of Chuck Hagel to the Secretary of Defense. He will start off by getting really up in arms about Yisrael Beytenu, a further right party that is trying to link up with Likud in the next Israeli election. As usual, I'm not all that interested in defending politicians of any nationality, but I do care about telling the truth and Rosenberg doesn't do a great job of it.

He begins by claiming that Naftali Bennett, the head of Beytenu, wants to annex 60% of the West Bank. Of course, that isn't the whole story but what else is new when it comes to Rosenberg. But sure, I think we can agree that that point of view is further to the right than the general Israeli public is right now, even though Bennnett calls it a "one state solution."

Now it's time to get the real "meat" of Beytenu's "extreme right wing." Let's hear from Rosenberg first, as always:
"Needless to say the new party is dominated by ultra-nationalist settlers and religious fanatics who, in addition to supporting land grabs, vehemently oppose equal rights for gay peoplewomen, Arabs, and non-Jews in general. Nonetheless, Jewish Home is the first choice of Israelis under 30, who are abandoning the old right-wing parties for the extreme right."
In this paragraph Rosenberg engages in the classic case of cite a source, while not telling you the whole story about what that source says.  If you click on his links about gay people and women, what you will find is an article about a Likud politician saying that Beytenu opposes equal rights for gay people and women. Apparently Likud tells the truth when MJ Rosenberg wants to believe what they have to say. It is true that Beytenu does not want the state to recognize gay marriage. That is right wing, but it isn't an extreme point of view either. 46% of Americans have that view as well. So it seems disingenuous to me to label other people as "religious fanatics" for having the same point of view that a significant amount of Americans have.

As for the claim that they are opposed to equal rights for women, it contains more claims by Likud politicians, the most damning being here:
"If he does not care about this issue, he can vote for a list whose Number 4, Rabbi Ben-Dahan, who was Director of the Rabbinical Courts, calls for the abolition of the Committee for the Advancement of Women; or whose Number 9, Moti Yogev, led a move toward gender separation at Bnei Akiva [youth movement] when he served as its Secretary General – or whose spiritual head opposes representation by female lawyers in courts."
So as with politicians here in the states, certain politicians in the party have points of view that are anti-women. That certainly helps his point of view but I don't see how it makes the party as a whole opposed to equal rights for women. But just like Israeli voters, you can draw your own conclusions. Nor does Rosenberg provide any evidence that Beytenu is opposed to equal rights to non-Jews in general. What a surprise.

As for why young Israelis like him, even though Rosenberg links to the left-wing "Open Zion," you would behoove yourself to go to the actual source and find out why:
"The tropes I heard from Bennett’s young supporters were straightforward; they were avoiding his religious views and were inflected with hope. Of course they were enthused by Bennett's maximalist nationalism (see his Plan to annex area C), his capitalist impulses (he made his money in hi-tech), his view of the Palestinians (“they want to wipe us out, period”) and his rebranding of the old sectarian Mafdal into the new Jewish Home for all. 
But beyond the basic right-wing stances, the young right prefers Bennett to Leiberyahu for two reasons: First, he is refreshingly not cynical (in contrast to, say, Bibi, Shelly, Livni, etc.) and second, he truly believes he can change Israel for the better (a conviction Meretz, for example, sorely lacks). There is a sense that Bennett is the real deal: he is the authentic Zionist, the chaste politician, the man with a plan."
Maybe young Israelis are finally realizing exactly what Rosenberg doesn't want us to believe: That the Palestinians don't want peace, so it makes no sense for Israel to weaken itself to placate them. Anyway, let's get back to the article and another jump to conclusions:
"The interesting thing is that few Americans are paying any attention to the Israeli election, a sign that even the pro-Israel community is losing interest in and hope for Israel. A country that once was a source of joy for so many Americans is now a source of pain; the prevailing attitude seems to be to just look away and hope that things will improve by the next time they pay attention."
Yeah...okay that's one theory. Here's another: everyone knows (including Rosenberg) that Netanyahu is going to win. So nothing will change. What exactly should we be paying attention to? The attitudes of individual MKs in each party? You're lucky if Americans can even name the presidents of foreign countries, let alone any kind of details. Notice further the classic propaganda trick of "many Americans" think XYZ. Saying "many Americans" means nothing, especially when you aren't backing it up with facts. "Many Americans" can include any from five million to five thousand to five hundred to five.

Anyway, he then proceeds to spend five paragraphs about how dependent Israel is upon the American president for its very survival (not the Congress, which he often says is controlled by Jews Zionists). He finally gets to Chuck Hagel, and is quick to declare that he is not anti-Israel, putting him in line with Huffington Post editorial policy. Rosenberg says that President Obama should nominate him because...
"The reason to nominate Hagel, in addition to his qualifications for the post, is that the Israel lobby has decided to demonstrate its clout by preventing his nomination. Like the National Rifle Association, the lobby has an intense need to demonstrate that it's in charge. It does not like Hagel, so he will not get the post. Successfully blocking him would demonstrate that no matter how far Israel lurches toward the right, no matter how many settlements are built, no matter how many Palestinians are thrown off their land or just abused, the United States will simply grin and bear it."
And later:
"There is only one way to send a message to Israel that will be heard: it will be by nominating Hagel. It is Israel and the lobby that created the Hagel issue. Why not use it to America's advantage? And Israel's too. After all, it is Israel not the United States that seems to be going over a cliff and, sadly, it is not just fiscal."
An on twitter:

 The administration is really going all out on Hagel. Clearly it wants to bloody the lobby. Not Israel. The lobby.

So you know what my reaction to this is? How little MJ Rosenberg cares about the future of this country and the welfare of its soldiers. After literally years preaching about how every Jewish person other than him is secretly loyal to Israel, and only he cares about the welfare of this country, he pens line after line after line that has a message of its own: He only likes Hagel because Israel doesn't. If it were a secretary of defense that Israel liked, he would be screaming that he or she not be allowed.

Rosenberg has been shrieking about how American Jews only care about Israel and not America, and yet here he makes it clear that in his mind, the world literally revolves around Israel. Hagel's qualifications for the post get a whole eight words, while "the lobby" and Israel are raked over the coals. Has it occurred to Rosenberg that maybe President Obama didn't want to stick a finger in the eye of Israel and its supporters when he nominated Hagel? That other people don't have Israel on their minds twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week? Or for Twitter: That Obama isn't obsessed with "the lobby" and nominated Hagel specifically because they wanted to mess with it? It would be hilarious, if I wasn't pretty sure it was serious.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say that Hagel is not anti-Israel in article after article after article and then turn around and say that his nomination is an insult to Israel and its supporters. Somewhere in there you were lying. In the end I'm not sure what to believe, except that as usual the Huffington Post and its bloggers are being contrary to "pro-Israel people" just for the sake of it. I just hope that Hagel's nomination is the right one for this country.

Let's conclude with the top favorited blatantly anti-Semitic comment on Rosenberg's article. Huffington Post approved of course:

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