Friday, December 22, 2006

Taking Potshots at Israel

In a recent weekly briefing, Eran Lerman, the director of the American Jewish Committee's Israel office, referred to some "troubling signs of tension - from the Iraq Study Group report to the Jimmy Carter book and the Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer paper" that have generated considerable anxiety among Israelis. I think it would be wrong to be too alarmist about this - and Lerman is not. But Lerman has put his finger on something by linking these three. It is becoming fashionable in Washington to take potshots at Israel. At a recent panel discussion on "US Policy Toward Iran" held by the Center for American Progress and broadcast on C-SPAN, audience members repeatedly asked about the constraints put on American foreign policy by its relationship with Israel. References to Israeli politicians by both panelists and questioners were accompanied by smirks and drew the kinds of laughs with which I am familiar from Berkeley teach-ins. Meanwhile, the people taking the potshots continue to do so with the pretense that they are breaking taboos.

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