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Mondo Silliness

Philip Weiss has been outspoken in his support of Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid at MondoWeiss, the New York Observer blog, so it should come as no surprise that he's found a new sponsor in The American Conservative, the … Read More

By / February 28, 2007

Philip Weiss has been outspoken in his support of Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace not Apartheid at MondoWeiss, the New York Observer blog, so it should come as no surprise that he's found a new sponsor in The American Conservative, the in-flight magazine of all triumphantly domestic-bound air travel.

The fun with this rag comes when you find yourself playing neocon Mad Libs with its pieces on the dread cabal in Washington. Daniel McCarthy, one of the editors, once actually devoted pages and pages to exposing the unlikely Catholic contingent of this tenebrous ex-Trotskyist political movement, which we all know is controlled by the Shintos.

Anyhoo, here's Weiss on Jimmy the Brave:

Some of the fury hides an old-fashioned power struggle. For the first time since the State of Israel was created in 1948, a prominent American politician has publicly taken up the cause of the Arabs, describing Israel’s practices as oppressive. Such voices are common in Europe and in Israel itself. But they are uncommon here, where staunchly Zionist voices routinely assert that Israeli and American interests are identical, a view uniformly reflected in our politics and policies. The Carter groundswell seems to represent a real political threat to that claim. A recent batch of letters to the Houston Chronicle ran three-to-one in Carter’s favor. “Can’t Israel defend itself without subjecting all Palestinians in the occupied territories to such shameful conditions?” one asked. “Nothing justifies treating an entire group of people as if they were second-class human beings.”

If you take one thing away from this fawning tribute to a man who was never concerned with human rights as president, and who should therefore be disassociated from the worthy struggle for Palestinian enfranchisement, it is this: Weiss mercifully concedes that criticism of Israel is strong in Israel, which it is. It's also pretty strong in the U.S., if muted by a "not in front of the goyim" rule, which only gets reinforced when pious and noble "statesmen" write sentences like these:

"It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel."

Oh, I know he's apologized for it and said it'll get rejiggered in future editions. But such laziness of thought and morality, which have already exerted their influence at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list, are characteristic of the man who thinks Israel ought to be governed by more messianic-religious dogma, not less. And who encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in 1980, thereby inciting one of the bloodiest and most deadly wars in modern Middle Eastern history (yes, including the one that's on your mind). And who claimed that the people of North Korea really do love their Dear Leader. I could go on…One doesn't have to be an apologist for Israel to see that Carter is a lousy champion for anything.

Cuddly and fatuous though he may seem, shall we find a more cuddly or fatuous vignette rendered in print this week?

I soon found myself with 18 kids in a circle. Most were Jewish, ranging from liberal to progressive. Fearing anger and dispute, Danielle Sunberg, the group’s chairman, had brought a stuffed teddy bear. The rule was that you could only talk when you were holding the bear. When you were finished, you could throw it to someone else.

For the second or third time that day, I was surprised. A couple of students were sharply critical of Carter, but mostly they were enthused. “The campus is on fire tonight,” one remarked. It was exciting to them that the president had visited. “He was making a mea culpa to the Jewish community. To correct things, to move forward…” said Ari Fertig. They were moved by his largeness of spirit. They felt that they had a positive role to play in this discussion; they wanted to play their part as young people. “We need a few generations to die out,” one said. [...] The teddy bear was thrown this way and that until at the end it was passed around the circle for closing statements. When it came to me, I said that I hoped my generation’s attitudes died out and made way for theirs.

Evangelical reactionaries are said to be eagerly awaiting the return of the messiah, who has augured his material depot to be the exact spot where he skedaddled the last time. As the Buchananite Right's preferred chosen, Weiss awaits the day when a fusty old Jewry (with its bothersome long memory of the Holocaust and its wariness of continued genocidal fantasy) are all dead and buried and the kaffiyeh-wearing campus activists inherit the earth.

Hallelujah.

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