Klein-Neo-Con Conflict Gathers Steam

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.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. Hooray for Joe Klein! He speaks important truth.

    As Klein notes, U.S. neoconservatives have a dual loyalty. But their second loyalty is not to Israel. It is to the Likud and its expansionist agenda. The neocons have contempt for the sensible majority of Israelis (and American Jews) who favor a just two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They display this contempt often in their words and deeds. For example, the neocons have opposed the Israeli government when it took initiatives for peace–recall their opposition to Yitzhak Rabin in 1994-95 (leading to Rabin’s showdown with AIPAC’s leadership), and the more recent efforts of Bush administration neocons to prevent the Olmert government from negotiating with Syria.

    So it is WRONG to accuse the neocons of loyalty to Israel. They have a far narrower loyalty, to Likud extremism.

    Bless Joe Klein for calling the neocons to account for this ugly second loyalty.

  2. I applaud Klein for pointing out the Israeli -zionist factor in the Jewish necon’s agenda.

    But there are a lot of ‘controlled burns” going on in writing about this subject. The liberal or non neo Jews can’t just throw off the whole thing off on a few whacky neo Jews without examining their own faults.

    All of us who have watched this aberration closely know that the jewish neos are a small segment of the jewish community.

    But….there is more to the US-Israel issue than a few neocons.

    There is the fact that a large segment of the jewish community believes that they somehow have a “right” to “dual loyalty” or a higher loyalty to Israel than the nation they actually live in and are citizens of simply because they are Jews. Without this widespread belief the neos couldn’t have gotten the foothold they have gotten in our government and policy and AIPAC couldn’t wield the power it does on congress.

    The brave jews who point out the truth about the jewish neos Israel delusions then go on and ruin everything they just said by declaring their own fidelity to Israel. Evidently they still want the US to continue everything we are doing for Israel but with just a wee bit less violence.

    The same could be said of the Cuban exile effect on US Cuban policy. The question of having or maintaining a loyalty to and lobbying for benefits and actions in behalf of a foreign country being a ‘right” of those who live in our country under the US “right to representation” is actually a perversion of our democratic tools and a fundemental problem that needs to be addressed.

    And of course none of this would be possible without our corrupt congress and political system.

    Everytime I hear a presidential candidate swear his fidelity to Israel and promise to use his office to spend American’s blood and money in behalf of Israel and the Jews I cringe.

Comments are closed.