Dissents Of The Day

A reader writes:

I read your blog faithfully - but I'm sorry, in what world is the resolution "not totally one-sided"? 

You think one line about the humanitarian crisis (solely blamed on Hamas) adds balance?   What part of the Palestinian side did this resolution fairly paint?  Was there anything in there about disproportionate force?  Was there anything in there about illegal use of white phosphorous?  Was there anything in there about unnecessary casualties?  Was there anything in there about expanding settlements?  Not even a throw-away line about how it'd be nice to see some restraint or better flow of aid. Instead, to add bull to the sh*t, we get some self-serving statement about how magnanimous Israelis have been in letting humanitarian aid through - with no acknowledgment of the UN/Red Cross complaints to the contrary.

On the other hand, another adds:

When you start citing Walt and Mearsheimer with approval, you've let slip the mask you're so careful to wear the rest of the time. Your blog is suffused with a subtle anti-Jewish feeling, despite your frequent, self-serving, comments to the contrary. Your anti-circumcision obsession belies those comments, though. You're educated enough to know that every time you rail against the cutting of a foreskin you're railing against Jews.  It's where I first picked up the feeling.  Posting photos of bloodied children, constantly criticizing Israel, now supporting the Walt/Mearsheimer perspective - it's gotten to be too much.  Somewhere deep inside your tortured Catholicism is a cache of bad feelings toward Jews.  You should own up to them.

I take my first reader's point. And I do see why many in Congress instinctively side with Israel in most circumstances. So do I.

Israel's polity and culture and achievements dwarf that of her neighbors and are much more appealing to me than the vile doctrines of Hamas or the autocracies of Egypt or Jordan or the Islamists running Iran. As a gay man, I could live freely in Israel. Nowhere else in the Middle East - where I would be murdered for my candor. But that's precisely why it is important for a president advancing US interests to have a diversity of views within his administration - to guard against cultural biases that may blind us to empathy, when empathy may be necessary to advance peace, and to ensure that a cool assessment of national interest balances legitimate cultural and humanitarian concerns.

As to the somewhat comic second reader, my issue with circumcision has nothing to do with Jews or Muslims. It has to do with the fact that I was circumcised as an infant and later in life found that there was no good reason for it at all. I take the view that parts of my own body should not be removed without my permission. As for my alleged anti-Semitism, I think I am about as anti-Semitic as I am homophobic. And I am a good deal nicer toward AIPAC than to the Human Rights Campaign. But I don't believe those who accuse me of such actually believe it for a moment, even JPod. The point of accusing fellow bloggers of anti-Semitism is not to expose anti-Semitism but to police and control debate by a trivial abuse of an important issue.

I feel bad, of course, for defending Freeman (even as I feel it's necessary). I feel bad because many Jewish friends think less of me because of it, or suspect now that I am an anti-Semite because I can't toe the neocon line on Gaza. I feel bad because I have deep affection and admiration for many on the other side of this question. I don't find these accusations of bigotry in my in-tray to be a badge of honor. I find them deeply distressing. I hope I have long understood from my first visit to Yad Vashem as a teenager why Israel must exist and be defended by non-Jews as well as Jews, and why its founding was and is a great moment for humanity. I just believe we need change in our policies in the Middle East if we are to avoid an increasingly perilous polarization - a polarization that could destroy Israel as well. Change will not come if we demonize dissent, and forbid diversity of views. That's where I'm coming from. Believe it or not, as you wish.