Sure you’ve got Walter Russell Mead insisting that the battle over Israel “is not a battle between the Jews’ and the rest of the United States… [but] a battle between opposing conceptions of America’s interests in the Middle East, and gentiles and Jews can be found on both sides.” But the Freeman / Walt / Mearsheimer camp worked really hard to set up a contemporary dual loyalty canard, the better to intimidate American Jewish supporters of the special relationship into silence. It would be a shame to let all that work go to waste:
POLITICO spoke with several officials who confirmed the debate and its intensity. Ross did not respond to a query, nor did a spokesman for George Mitchell. “He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.” What some saw as the suggestion of dual loyalties shows how heated the debate has become. NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough fiercely rejected any such suggestion. “The assertion is as false as it is offensive,” McDonough said Sunday by email. “Whoever said it has no idea what they are talking about. Dennis Ross’s many decades of service speak volumes about his commitment to this country and to our vital interests, and he is a critical part of the President’s team.”
Given the sheer volume of anti-Israel “leaks” floating “in the ether” right now, it was inevitable Laura Rozen would end up publishing one or two as exclusives. At least she’s had the good graces to go meta on the issue. Certain other journalists – let’s take Andrew “we should invade Israel” Sullivan as a random example – have chosen to make themselves more straightforwardly… available. Now Sullivan’s a quivering lunatic intent on winning one for Chas, so that might not be an entirely fair example. But it’s weird how predictably traditional WH smears against proponents of the US/Israel alliance have become.
I’m even becoming open to the possibility that terrorist adviser Mark Perry was more conduit than originator of his anti-Israel Petraeus libel. It would certainly explain how he got maneuvered into staking his credibility on (a) the specific claim that Petraeus requested moving the Palestinian Territories under CENTCOM and (b) the anti-Israel fantasy that Petraeus linked settlement and East Jerusalem construction to jihadi radicalization.
It turns out you can actually fact-check the CENTCOM stuff, and no of course its not true. Not a problem, according to anti-Israel partisans. They were never particularly wedded to that part of Perry’s story, which was just there to add color and credibility to the broader libel. Like how names and dates are used to rhetorically sell conspiracy theories. Not coincidentally.
But the implication – that madrassa-educated lunatics who’ve never seen a globe were taking potshots at US helicopters because of Israeli schools on specific hills in Jerusalem – never really passed the laugh test. And no, of course it’s not true either:
The general said that it was “unhelpful” that “bloggers” had “picked … up” what he had said and “spun it.” He noted that, aside from Israel’s actions, there are many other important factors standing in the way of peace, including “a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place. So again we have all these factors in there. This [Israel] is just one.” What about Perry’s claim that American support for Israel puts our soldiers at risk? Petraeus said, “There is no mention of lives anywhere in there. I actually reread the statement. It doesn’t say that at all.” He concluded by noting that he had sent to General Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, the “blog by Max Boot” which, he said, had “picked apart this whole thing, as he typically does, pretty astutely.”
Petraeus: “all three items…were wrong, frankly.” Brutal.
Then again no one ever really stakes their credibility on anti-Israel smears. They throw whatever sounds suitably vicious against the wall, and when they get called out they just shrug and move on to the next fantasy. So Perry’s got nothing to worry about, and he’s probably already penning his follow-up. I hope it involves something about banks!
It’s getting ugly out there.
* Obama and the Jacksonian Zionists [Walter Russell Mead / American Interest]
* Mearsheimer: Let’s Mainstream Anti-Israel Lies So “Support For The Jewish State” Will “Evaporate” [Mere Rhetoric]
* Fierce debate on Israel underway inside Obama administration (UPDATED) [Politico]
* The Petraeus-Mullen briefings [Mere Rhetoric]
* Andrew Sullivan: You Know, I’m Thinking We Should Invade Israel [Ace]
* Something Much Darker [Leon Wieseltier / TNR]
* The Freeman Precedent [Sullivan]
* Confirmed: US-Israeli Alliance Plummets Into "Historic Crisis," Obama Triggers Worst Relations Since Carter [Mere Rhetoric]
* Petraeus: I never formally asked for command of the Palestinian territories [FP Cable]
* From the Horse’s Mouth: Petraeus on Israel [Max Boot / Commentary Contentions]
* Petraeus Sets the Record Straight on Israel [Klein / American Spectator]