NEOCONS AND ANTI-SEMITISM….Pat Buchanan has an article this month in The American Conservative that questions the influence of neocons on administration planning for the Middle East. That’s fine. But he also says this:

We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people’s right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.

Coming from someone with Buchanan’s rather dodgy record of anti-semitism, this doesn’t really help the anti-neocon cause much. However, while granting that this is the wrong way to address the issue, I’m curious about what the right way is.

As near as I can tell, here are the (highly condensed) relevant facts:

  • Lots of neocons are Jewish.

  • Neocons are rabidly pro-Israel.

  • It is reasonable to infer that they are pro-Israel largely because they are Jewish.

  • They have a strong influence in the current administration.

  • Lots of people have a strong distaste for the whole neocon agenda of remaking the Middle East in America’s image.

I don’t really have a place to take all this, I guess, but I’m wondering about the best way to clearly distinguish legitimate criticism of neocons from mere anti-semitism. For example, when Gary Hart referred a few weeks ago to “think tank theorists,” he was clearly talking about neocons. And when he warned that we shouldn’t be guided by “Americans who too often find it hard to distinguish their loyalties to their original homelands from their loyalties to America and its national interests,” it’s pretty obvious that he might well have had Jews in mind. Or not.

This is hardly a new issue, but it’s become more visible lately because of the rise of the neocons and we’re likely to hear more about it. What I’d like to see are some reasonable guidelines for discourse, guidelines that suggest which lines of attack on neoconservatism are reasonable and which ones aren’t, and what kinds of criticism of Israel are legitimate and which ones aren’t. If there were any consensus on this, it would make both criticism and defense of neocon theology a lot easier and a lot less polemical. It would make it a lot easier for me, anyway.

Maybe someone who thinks this is an interesting topic and allows comments on their site will bring this up and see what kind of discussion we get. Matt? Max? Anybody?

Or is this just a hopeless topic?

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