Joe Lieberman Is a Great Politician, and Intellectually Dishonest

I caught Lieberman on Meet the Press today. The guy is an amazing politician. He’s always been a great politician, this time he outdid himself. He knows how to talk to people, he knows how to build a coalition, he is creative and synthetic and articulate. Hat’s off to him for the political Lazarus job he pulled off since August 8.

He is also intellectually corrupt. When he says that America’s biggest job is to reach “hearts and minds” across the Arab world and says that this is to be achieved by imposing democracy in Iraq, he has learned nothing from a bloody and horrifying experiment that has weakened America. He knows better. There’s one thing that America can do tomorrow to reach hearts and minds across the Arab world, and that is to listen to what those Arabs say they want: for the U.S. to commit itself to a peace process in Israel/Palestine that will end the humiliation of the Palestinians and end attacks on Palestinians and Israelis. That commitment by American leaders might even help in the eventual stabilization of Iraq, indeed in reforming Islamic dictatorships.

Per Haaretz, the recent election has resulted in there being 13 Jews in Lieberman’s club, our nation’s most elite club, the Senate. That is 10 times the national percentage of Jews, 1.3 percent. This in spite of dire warnings from Gabriel Schoenfeld and Abraham Foxman about the return of anti-Semitism. These guys are simply wrong. The truth is that Americans like Jews in power, trust them with power. The great challenge to Jews in power is to recognize a reality in the Middle East that goes against the ideology of mainstream American Jewry, the Israel lobby, and most of the money that helped Lieberman rewin his seat: Palestinians have been too long denied the right to self-determination. (And the destruction of their hopes is corrupting Israel’s soul…)