If you don’t already know about it, the ongoing battle between Time magazine’s Joe Klein and the hard-line neo-conservatives at Commentary’s Contentions blog, as well as the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Abe Foxman (whose recent silence on the issue suggests he thinks this can’t turn out well for his side), over the question of divided or dual loyalties and what is in the respective interests of the U.S. and Israel appears to be heating up. One hopes that it will soon move from the blogosphere (including Time’s “Swampland”) to the mainstream U.S. media. Perhaps Klein himself will get the go-ahead from his editors to devote one of his magazine columns to it so it actually gets in print.
Daniel Luban and I wrote about the controversy today for IPS in which we tried to put it in the context of a series of events that have made it possible for a mainstream, centrist journalist — Jewish and proudly “pro-Israel” no less — like Klein to go after the neo-cons for their war-mongering, their “very, very dangerous form of extremism” and, a propos my last post, their “really dangerous anachronistic neocolonial sensibility,” as Klein described it in a very compelling interview with Jeffrey Goldberg on the Atlantic Monthly’s blog Tuesday. (I praised Goldberg’s own extraordinary attack on AIPAC and other right-wing Jewish groups in the New York Times two months ago as a major advance in the ongoing battle over the media’s reflexive use of the “pro-Israel” moniker to describe such groups.) Klein followed up the interview with a very concise restatement of his position and his determination to continue denouncing the neo-cons in a post, entitled “When Extremists Attack,” on the Swampland blog.
Led by John Podhoretz and Christian Right activist and Bill Kristol protege Peter Wehner, now with the misnamed Ethics and Public Policy Center (where Elliott Abrams spent most of his time after his pardon by President George H.W. Bush), and provoked by Goldberg’s interview, the neo-cons have returned to the attack, once again accusing Klein of anti-Semitism (which was Foxman’s concern) and adding charges of both intellectual and emotional instability for good measure.
But, as he argued in his interview with Goldberg, Klein argued that he is not anti-Semitic; he’s anti-neo-conservative — a very useful distinction that underlines the difference between religion or ethnicity, on the one hand, and political ideology on the other. Now, if all Jews were neo-conservatives, then Klein’s critics, including Foxman, might have a point, but, as Klein notes, Jewish neo-conservatives, to their great frustration, have always been and remain a rather small minority within the larger U.S. Jewish community.
In any event, both Klein’s interview and latest post are well worth reading, and the controversy he has provoked will hopefully soon move into the mainstream press. Oh, and don’t miss M.J. Rosenberg’s review of the latest developments at talkingpointsmemo.com.