This is about the power of ideas. The neocons were on the outs for a long time after Reagan left office. To their credit, they lived quietly in their cells exchanging crazily logical ideas about the Middle East—and were well paid to do so. They won over a lot of Democrats. Then through a concatenation of events, Cheney, 9/11, they were suddenly sitting in the Oval Office.
That’s over, of course. The proof of which is all the noise they are making in the neoconservative press, from the Sun to the Weekly Standard, about taking on Iran and Syria.
Meanwhile, the left is on the outs, but all the talk about the Israel lobby is of course fueling the left’s response to the neocons, and to Democratic hawks. On Sunday the Washington Post magazine published its brave cover on the Israel lobby and author Glenn Frankel included a fabulous psychological insight from Henry Siegman:
While American Jews may have become powerful, they don’t feel powerful. A new set of pogroms or a new Holocaust? It could happen, even in America. “There’s a certain dynamic to organized Jewish life as to all so-called defense organizations created to protect a supposedly vulnerable group,” says Henry Siegman, who once served as executive director of the American Jewish Congress and now directs the U.S./Middle East project at the Council of Foreign Relations. “It creates a culture of victimhood, and it often attracts people who feel like they’re victims as well.”
Juan Williams obviously read that article before he went on Fox News Sunday, where he struck out at Bill Kristol in a way that drew on Siegman’s analysis.
You just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you want us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East, where I think there’s a real interesting dynamic at play. I think it’s psychological on the part of Israel and many of its supporters, and I’ll throw you in here. Somehow you see Israel as weak, and you see Ehud Olmert as weak. And the defense minister as weak. Everybody is weak in the aftermath of Sharon, and so everybody has to prove what a man they are in the Middle East, including — you’re saying, why doesn’t the United States take this hard, unforgiving line? Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been, we don’t talk to anybody. We don’t talk to Hamas. We don’t talk to Hezbollah. We’re not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?
Apparently Kristol threw up his hands and didn’t answer. As if to say, Antisemitism! While Williams must have felt indemnified by Siegman’s Jewishness in saying what he did.