Phillips and Dershowitz go head to head
My criticisms here of the piece Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal appear to be making some waves across the pond. Dershowitz has now written a lengthy defence of himself against me here. I had said that he had failed to address the most egregious aspects of Obama’s extreme hostility towards Israel, and that this was undoubtedly because, like most American Jews, he was incapable of admitting that a Democratic President could be so vicious towards it.
In his reply, Dershowitz not only shows that he still doesn’t ‘get it’ but also that he doesn’t appear to have understood what I wrote. Dershowitz says:
Israel must not be turned into a ‘wedge issue’ in America as it is in Britain and Europe, where it has become a target of virulent hatred for the Left while the Right remain more supportive; in the US it must remain bi-partisan
I have advised American Jews to vote Republican
I don’t want American Jews to remain Democrats
To take the last two points first: I said nothing of the kind.
She should not be trying to influence the voting patterns of American Jews.
But I did no such thing. I did not advise them to vote Republican. Nor did I say I didn’t want them to remain Democrats. I simply wanted them to acknowledge the danger that Obama poses to Israel and the free world. I hold no particular candle for the Republican party. As in Britain, I look at the positions being adopted by whichever party, issue by issue.
My argument was rather that Dershowitz and those like him amongst American Jews appeared incapable of acknowledging the terrible truth about Obama simply because they appear incapable of acknowledging that a Democratic President could ever be bad for Israel and the world. Their obsessive and irrational – indeed, Manichean — dread of the Republican party means they approach politics with heavy blinkers on and become incapable of seeing what is under their noses, a fact which Dershowitz’s own article merely underscores.
His main point, however, is that Obama must be supported because Israel must not become a politically divisive ‘wedge issue’ in the US as it is in Britain and Europe. He writes that instead of criticising American Jews, I should be
trying to change the terrible situation in Great Britain, where support for Israel has never been lower–in part because support for Israel has become a liberal versus conservative wedge issue.
This is wrong in almost every respect. First, I am trying to change the terrible hatred in Britain towards Israel. Second, it is not a political wedge issue in Britain. For sure, hatred of Israel is virulent on the Left. But it also courses through the Right. Although the two sides come at this issue from totally different positions, there is barely a cigarette paper to slide between them when it comes to attitudes towards Israel. The Left is fuelled by its anti-imperialist, anti-west, pro-Third World attitude, which means it hates Israel as America’s supposed ‘proxy’. Conservative ‘Middle Britain’ thinks that ‘abroad’ is a dangerous place full of lunatics who will leave us alone as long as we are nice to them, and that the only reason we and the world are at risk is because we support America and America supports Israel; and Israel is at the root of the world’s problems because it is preventing the Palestinians from having a state of their own, a fact of which the ‘settlements’ are the unpalatable evidence.