A Sad Thing

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Nicholas Kristof's column this morning reminded me of one of the sadder things about Israel today. It is that Glenn Beck is emerging as one of its most prominent American defenders. And not only prominent -- he is emerging as the Israeli right's favorite American friend. In other words, a man considered too extreme and unstable to appear on Fox News is invited to speak at the Knesset, and hold rallies in Jerusalem. I realize the expression "jump the shark" has itself jumped the shark, but nevertheless, I fear that Beck's August 24 rally in Jerusalem might mark the moment when the cause of Israel itself jumps the shark.

This is not to say that there aren't still liberal, and centrist, supporters of Israel in the U.S. Nor does Beck's adoption of Israel as a pet cause reflect the only reality about Zionism today (I would argue that Zionism today is also on display in the call for social justice made by affordable housing protesters across Israel; in people who fight for a Jewish homeland while criticizing the expansion of settlements; in Haiti and other developing-world countries, where Israeli technology and medicine are helping poor people, and so on). But: The Israeli government's budding alliance with a conspiracy-mongering cable-television extremist does not fill me with hope.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/08/a-sad-thing/243086/