We here at LobeLog have been critical of The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin for her use of negative labels to describe her political opponents (e.g. complaining that American Jews have a “sick addiction” to the Democratic party), her factual distortions about HSBC’s advertisement which included a factoid about the number of female film producers in Iran, and her unsubstantiated claims that a September 24th cease and desist letter from U.S. regulators to HSBC North America was evidence that HSBC is “continuing to do business with a murderous regime” (Iran wasn’t actually mentioned in the letter).
But perhaps Rubin’s most egregious language, which would seem to fall well outside of the accepted tone of The Washington Post, has been saved for those individuals and groups that she deems to be enemies of Israel for daring to suggest that Israel should cease settlement construction in the Occupied Territories.
The Washington Note’s Steve Clemons has issued a public call to the Post’s editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt, and Post Chairman Donald Graham, to address Rubin’s recent post in which she wrote:
The usual crowd of Israel bashers has sent the president a letter urging him to go along with a U.N. resolution condemning Israel for its settlements.
Clemons, along with a host of prominent foreign policy analysts, issued a letter urging the the Obama administration to support a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction in the Occupied Territory.
He responded to her smear:
I believe that she and I have a serious disagreement about what Israel’s interests are — and I believe that the Netanyahu wing of the Israeli political establishment regularly places short term interests over long to mid-term interests. But I don’t call those who support Netanyahu Israel-bashers even though I believe that as patriotic as they may be as Israelis or as pro-Israel as they may be as Americans they are harming Israel’s interests. That could be a constructive debate — something where both sides could learn something, perhaps.
Calling someone as Israel-basher is akin to calling them an anti-Semite or a bigot, and that can’t go without response. I’m a strong believer in Israel and want a healthy and constructive relationship between Israel and the United States. I have traveled to Israel, have met people from nearly every political party in the Knesset, and love the place and people.
But Rubin, it would appear, took Clemons’ post as a personal challenge and used the exact same term in a post this morning in which she characterized a group of congressmen who endorsed General David Petraeus’s concept of “linkage” as “Israel-bashing.”
Rubin, who repeatedly tries to challenge conventional wisdom that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict damages U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East, wrote:
…[A] group of the worst of the Israel-bashing congressmen sent a letter last May to Obama parroting back the general’s gaffe.
Back in May, these congressmen wrote to Obama, urging him to “continue [his] strong efforts to bring U.S. leadership to bear in moving the parties toward a negotiated two-state solution.”
They began their letter:
As steadfast advocates of the unbreakable U.S. commitment to the security of Israel, we write in support of your strong commitment to a Middle East peace process that results in Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security.
Hardly the language of “Israel-bashing” except, perhaps, in the peculiar world of Jennifer Rubin’s Right Turn blog at The Washington Post.
Rubin’s proclivity towards smearing her opponents as Israel-bashing belies the fundamental weakness of the hawkish, Israeli right-wing — a position she consistently advocates from her perch at The Washington Post. While she can’t be blamed for continuing the abrasive tone that she perfected on Commentary’s Contentions blog, Clemons is right in pointing out that Rubin’s character attacks are beneath The Washington Post and should be called to the attention of the Post’s editors and chairman.
Calling someone an “Israel-basher” is a smear? Smear is a very strong word. People are so sensitive these days; one can’t speak one’s mind without offending somebody. Looking back over 35 years of adult life, I have to say we’ve gone way too far in the area of policing language.
Dear Jon –
Context. Context. Context.
A ‘hoe’ is not a defamatory expression…or is it?
In the context of Rubin’s passionate propaganda postings, “Israel-bashing” was, most decidedly, a form of extreme prose purposely prejudicing sane discourse.
While I agree with your generalization that we have indeed gone too far in pursuit of ‘Political Correctness’, much of the umbrage seems to be taken by the conservative wing whenever a criticism of their tactics or agenda is voiced.
I dunno, I think the Left invented political correctness and speech codes. I just don’t see the “smear” here. I bash Israel all the time; calling me an Israel-basher is calling a spade a spade. Now, if you call me an anti-semite because of my opposition to Israeli policies, THEN you’re smearing me. If I attack Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, and they in turn call me a conservative-basher or whatever, are they smearing me or just describing what I’m doing? I’d say the latter. Whatever the context, calling someone who bashes a basher is descriptive; to say it’s a smear is a corruption of language.
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