Dear Senator Obama,
I’m writing this the day before the New Hampshire primary. It’s looking very good for you, and if I had to bet, I would put money on you being in the White House next year.
Yesterday I wrote in my blog about Zbigniew Brzezinski and why I and other pro-Israel people don’t like him.
I don’t get the feeling that you are quite as absorbed in Mideast politics as some of us, and I don’t blame you. It’s just one of many issues that a president will have to worry about. And I also don’t blame you for resenting Alan Dershowitz for demanding that you disassociate yourself from Brzezinski because of his praise for the Mearsheimer-Walt book. After all, you did say that you disagreed with the contents of the book. Isn’t that enough?
Well, no, and I’ll give you an analogy. Do you remember the outrage in 2002 when Senate Republican leader Trent Lott said that he was proud that Mississippi had voted for Strom Thurmond’s 1948 segregationist presidential candidacy, and that “…if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”
Lott was forced to step down because in this day and age a national figure simply can’t approve of frankly racist politics.
To many of us, Mearsheimer-Walt is not just a tendentious anti-Israel book, but a hateful anti-Jewish book. We find in it a rehearsal of many anti-Semitic stereotypes, and a concretely dangerous attempt to smear the Jewish community by, for example, blaming it for the invasion of Iraq.
But Dr. Brzezinski has written that
Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have rendered a public service by initiating a much needed public debate on the role of the “Israel lobby” in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy. — Zbigniew Brzezinski, A Dangerous Exemption
Brzezinski is too polished to give vent to anti-Semitic remarks. But neither would Trent Lott ever say, as Thurmond’s 1948 platform did, “We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race”.
I see approval of Mearsheimer-Walt as code. Just as everyone knew the meaning of “welfare queen”, “forced busing”, or “states rights”, everyone understands “the Israel lobby” and exactly why it is so much more pernicious than, for example, the Saudi lobby.
Dr. Brzezinski is very careful in his public speech, but I and many other Jews have absolutely no doubt about where he is coming from.