"HOSTILE": IT'S THE NEW PINK.

Over at Contentions, Noah Pollak writes “there has been an awakening in recent days to the presence of a disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel.” As evidence of this “awakening,” Pollak offers a couple of articles by Ed Lasky, the substance of which hovers somewhere around your basic right-wing chain email, and a column by Jerusalem Post crank Caroline Glick, (imagine Charles Krauthammer without the jokes) that draws heavily from Lasky’s articles. Quite an awakening.

Picking one of Barack Obama’s advisers, Harvard professor Samantha Power, Pollak offers this interview quote as evidence of her "hostile views":

Another longstanding foreign policy flaw is the degree to which special interests dictate the way in which the “national interest” as a whole is defined and pursued . . . America’s important historic relationship with Israel has often led foreign policy decision-makers to defer reflexively to Israeli security assessments, and to replicate Israeli tactics, which, as the war in Lebanon last summer demonstrated, can turn out to be counter-productive.

So greater regard for international institutions along with less automatic deference to special interests–especially when it comes to matters of life and death and war and peace–seem to be two take-aways from the war in Iraq.

Going to the actual interview, we can see what Pollak omitted from the quote:

Look at the degree to which Halliburton and several of the private security and contracting firms invested in the 2004 political campaigns and received very lucrative contracts in the aftermath of the U.S. takeover of Iraq. Also…

Powers' comments about Halliburton and Israel are two elements of a broader critique of the way that American foreign policy is formulated. By “yadda-yaddaing” the bit about Halliburton, Pollak is clearly trying to create the impression that Powers is some kind of Israel-obsessed extremist.

Pollak bangs on:

Power is not just assenting to the Israel Lobby view of American foreign policy, but is also arguing that Israel had something to do with the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003–an appalling slander, and a telling one.

“Telling,” really? What does it tell us? Oh, Noah Pollak thinks you know (wink wink, it rhymes with "shmanti-Shmemitism".) Et voila! through a transparently tendentious interpretation of one (doctored) quote and some unsubtle insinuation, Pollak has manufactured yet another slanderous Israel-hater for Commentary’s readers to fear.

The truth is that none of Obama’s foreign policy advisers are “hostile” to Israel, at least not in the way that most speakers of the English language define the word. They represent a range of views on Israel and the Middle East, all of which, like Obama's, lie solidly within the American academic and political mainstream. As Glenn Greenwald noted last month, in reality it is Commentary and associated neoconservative goons who are the real outliers here, constantly hyping new threats, making a lot of noise, and attempting to chill debate through baseless assertions and irresponsible innuendos, while actually representing a relatively small faction of hard-line pro-war, pro-Israel extremists. (Gershom Gorenberg recently contested very effectively the idea that the policies supported by this crowd are truly "pro-Israel.") In the peculiar moral universe of Commentary, simply implying that the special U.S.-Israel relationship has ever produced a single negative consequence is quite enough to get one branded “hostile to Israel,” and even suggesting that Israel bears a share of responsibility for its conflict with the Palestinians is enough to get one compared to (gasp!) Jimmy Carter. (Not even Ehud Olmert is immune!) I suppose it’s become redundant to point out the irony that, even as Noah Pollak excoriates Samantha Power for supposedly “assenting to the Israel Lobby view of American foreign policy,” by attempting to throw dirt on her reputation, and on Barack Obama’s campaign, with his careless and malignant rhetorical shenanigans, Pollak is engaged in precisely the sort of behavior that Mearsheimer and Walt lament in their book.

--Matthew Duss

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