Klein-Neocon Conflict Gathers Steam

Jim Lobe, July 30, 2008

If you don’t already know about it, the ongoing battle between Time magazine’s Joe Klein and the hard-line neo-conservatives at Commentary’s Contentions blog, as well as the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Abe Foxman (whose recent silence on the issue suggests he thinks this can’t turn out well for his side), over the question of divided or dual loyalties and what is in the respective interests of the U.S. and Israel appears to be heating up. One hopes that it will soon move from the blogosphere (including Time’s “Swampland”) to the mainstream U.S. media. Perhaps Klein himself will get the go-ahead from his editors to devote one of his magazine columns to it so it actually gets in print.

Daniel Luban and I wrote about the controversy today for IPS in which we tried to put it in the context of a series of events that have made it possible for a mainstream, centrist journalist — Jewish and proudly “pro-Israel” no less — like Klein to go after the neo-cons for their war-mongering, their “very, very dangerous form of extremism” and, a propos my last post, their “really dangerous anachronistic neocolonial sensibility,” as Klein described it in a very compelling interview with Jeffrey Goldberg on the Atlantic Monthly’s blog Tuesday. (I praised Goldberg’s own extraordinary attack on AIPAC and other right-wing Jewish groups in the New York Times two months ago as a major advance in the ongoing battle over the media’s reflexive use of the “pro-Israel” moniker to describe such groups.) Klein followed up the interview with a very concise restatement of his position and his determination to continue denouncing the neo-cons in a post, entitled “When Extremists Attack,” on the Swampland blog.

Led by John Podhoretz and Christian Right activist and Bill Kristol protege Peter Wehner, now with the misnamed Ethics and Public Policy Center (where Elliott Abrams spent most of his time after his pardon by President George H.W. Bush), and provoked by Goldberg’s interview, the neo-cons have returned to the attack, once again accusing Klein of anti-Semitism (which was Foxman’s concern) and adding charges of both intellectual and emotional instability for good measure.

But, as he argued in his interview with Goldberg, Klein argued that he is not anti-Semitic; he’s anti-neo-conservative — a very useful distinction that underlines the difference between religion or ethnicity, on the one hand, and political ideology on the other. Now, if all Jews were neo-conservatives, then Klein’s critics, including Foxman, might have a point, but, as Klein notes, Jewish neo-conservatives, to their great frustration, have always been and remain a rather small minority within the larger U.S. Jewish community.

In any event, both Klein’s interview and latest post are well worth reading, and the controversy he has provoked will hopefully soon move into the mainstream press. Oh, and don’t miss M.J. Rosenberg’s review of the latest developments at talkingpointsmemo.com.

Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.


Visit Lobelog.com for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.



34 Responses to “Klein-Neocon Conflict Gathers Steam”

  1. It’s a sign of how bad things have gotten when a dork like Joe Klein seems like a hero.

  2. I despise Klein and distrust his motives.

    In other news, Bibi Netanyahu for Israeli Prime Minister? Apocalypse Now!

  3. If we were talking about Muslims in power in this country the way this issue is coming up; there would be an uprising.

    5pillar.wordpress.com

  4. the former president of italy mr cossiga stated that all the intelligence services in europe know for certain that 9-11 was a mossad and cia operation

  5. So if all Jews, or merely a majority of them shared the neocon agenda Joe Klein’s words could be construed as anti-semitic? Sorry, but I can’t accept that.

  6. This is clearly a neocon tactic to stifle debate. Anyone possessing a room temperature IQ could surmise that all the banging of war drums over Iran’s imaginary nuclear weapons program is a pretext for a military strike.

    No doubt the Israeli government would prefer that America take the lead (and the blowback) in another misbegotten military adventure against Israel’s foes, but push come to shove, will do the dirty work themselves.

    The irony is that a military response will not make Israel or America any safer. We cannot destroy a nuclear program that doesn’t exist, but we can certainly radicalize even further a people whose widespread perception is that we are at war with Islam, not terrorism.

    Furthermore, we will have succeeded in more mass murder, a continuation of our march to a total police state within our shores, and the destruction of our remaining liberties – all to protect Israel from threats they can and should be taking care of themselves.

  7. The U.S. would be so much better off without its ties and connections to Israel.

  8. It is great people are standing up to the Neocons. It would be nice if their ideas were discredited in the Mainstream Media.

    If anybody is anti-Semitic it is the Neocons allying themselves with people (the Christian Right) whose ideology requires the extermination of a large portion of the Jewish people in the end times. Who is to say the “Christian Right” won’t turn on them once they learn that an attack on Iran didn’t get them whisked away into heaven. It makes me wonder if the website “True Torah Jews Against Zionism” tells the truth about Zionist allying themselves with Nazis for political gain.

  9. Israel has used the holocaust as a coverup for all their crimes against the palestinian people starting in 1947 & 48. The US is giving Israel billions of dollars every year which they don’t need. Israel has violated numerous UN sanctions, refused to be inspected for nuclear weapons, etc. Anybody that speaks the truth about Israel is labeled an anti-semite. Half of Congress is in the pockets of AIPAC.

  10. Our politicians are being bribed with our own foreign aid to Israel. Washinton is Israeli occupied territory. We can never be free of this gang until we stop all aid to the zionist entity.

  11. With his courage, no longer can I say that Joe’s writings are klein gut.

  12. A co-founder of the new pro-Israel lobby, J Street, Jeremy Ben Ami, wrote an article recently in which he talked about how the early Zionists, including his grandfather, cooperated with the Nazis to move Jews out of Germany.

    So Zionists cooperating with the Nazis is not some kind of secret.

  13. It’s remarkable how this has been kept out of the print version of Time magazine, eh? “Keep the noise down, fellas – or you’ll wake the American people!”

  14. …so do the Russians and the Chinese! The typical american/british ding-a-ling is the only one who really believes the government version…and they have become the laughing stock because of it!

  15. I hate to throw cold water on this “Klein the dragonslayer” meme, but he gave his soft imprimatur to the war and all of its manifestations – including the dubiously “successful” Surge. He has consistently denigrated the intentions and legitimacy of antiwar groups and bloggers. Could it be that going on six years, he’s noticed that support for the war is tanking in every poll – and he’s jumping on the antiwar bandwagon? After all, if the entire country is waking up to the corrupt evil at the core of the neoconservative soul – and he fails to do so – who will be his audience? The last rat on the ship gets five dry minutes with the cheese, and then oblivion. Klein is jumping early… that’s all.

  16. Klein is definitely being a bit disingenuous about the degree to which he supported the war – or at least supported a whole raft of lies and belligerent attitudes which helped to justify the war, sustain the occupation, and smear critics as naïve, “soft-on-terrorism,” or anti-Semitic.

  17. If it is a matter of pattern, it was set when Perle abandoned ship. Bush and Cheney are war criminals–but the important role to the Neo-Cons now is as scapegoat, as the same faction moves to the Democrat side of the aisle.

    Meanwhile the whole ship of state lists dangerously toward war with Iran, which is now the new goal.

    Staying in Iraq is slow strangulation. Attacking Iran is straight out suicide.

    Paul Craig Roberts is right. Since it appears there will be no impeachment, destroying the Republican Party from A-Z will be the only accountability. For the majority of the Republicans, because they participated in what Bush and Cheney and the Neo-Cons have wrought. For the rest because, whatever their expressed opposition, like Paul, they do nothing.

    What matters this distraction say as mainstream media sideshow for groundlings?

  18. that a pundit of kleins level of mediocrity and non descriptitude has said this is significant. this isn’t ron paul or pat buchanan, it’s a well fed beltway sheep

  19. “Non-desriptitude”–clearly nonce but nice. A real ring. And you hit the nail on the head in regard to significance it seems.

  20. Many years ago, U.S. Senator William Fulbright expressed his (unusually knowledgeable opinion)that the U.S. Congress was “Israeli occupied territory.” He was right, and I think you are far off the mark with your “Half of Congress is in the pockets of AIPAC.” It is my opinion, and is becoming clearer and clearer to knowledgeable people, that 99.99% of the U.S. Congress is either bought or terrified by the power of AIPAC.
    Never in history have so many been so duped by so few.

  21. An American woman was being shown the amenities in a European hotel. Pointing to the bidet, she asked the manager, “What’s this for–to wash the baby in?”

    “No, Madam, that’s to wash the baby out.”

  22. mr berkely- haven’t you just confirmed what i stated? and I learned it from arab muslims I know personally who rail against “splashback” inherent in wastern bathroom styles. at any rate, the point was people can be offended by things you say about them even if they are true if they are presented in an abusive or jocular manner

  23. Oh, I don’t know. One of Geo. Washington’s 100 rules of civil behavior was to first check the chair you’re about to sit on. Apparently leaves and corn cobs left something to be desired way back when.

  24. Can you hear it? Can you see it coming? Anger against the Uber-Zionists is growing by the day. The pendulum swings both ways as they say, and Americans who promote the cause of a foreign nation – while their own country is already ‘at war’ at that- are traitors to America and should be treated as such.
    Klein is hopefully just the first.

  25. they are doing an amazing job of keeping this issue out of the media. they sucessfully condemned and somehow didn’t discuss walt and mearsheimers book. i can’t explain how they did it but they did.

    one sort of disturbing aspect of this particular donnybrook (we’re well past kerfuffle) is that it is being posited as a sort of battle royale between jews. this issue affects all americans, it’s not some silly little familial squabble.

  26. The U.S. should just wash its hands of Israel. Its the only path to strategic sanity for America. No ethnic group should ever have been allowed to have acquired such sinister dominance over American foreign policy. The USA has today adopted foreign policies that would have horrified the founding fathers. To say nothing of the imperial presidency.

  27. For sure. Thanks, andy.

  28. well, you can use the bath as a bidet.

    why are we talking about this?

    oh, I know. someone retailed that old canard that, in the wicked non-white world, people routinely wander about and socialise with excreta stuck to their fingers.

  29. Which means we have to get rid of both political parties.

  30. (I praised Goldberg’s own extraordinary attack on AIPAC and other right-wing Jewish groups in the New York Times two months ago as a major advance in the ongoing battle over the media’s reflexive use of the “pro-Israel” moniker to describe such groups.)

    I googled AIPAC. It says “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” right on the homepage.

  31. They pushed ittoo far. They got vainglorious and triumphalist, the tactic of smearing every critic as an anti-semite worked too well. As a result they got lazy and sloppy, started calling people like Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu "anti-semites". When they started going that far it becomes only a matter of time before the pendulum starts to swing back.

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