Patrick Leahy, Friend of Israel
Alert reader K.R. points me to Scott McConnell at The American Conservative, who writes:
Patrick Leahy, long serving Vermont Senator and chairman of the Judiciary committee, compared the plight of the Palestinians to that of his Irish ancestors in the 19th century. This is huge in American politics; everyone loves the Irish (or at least pretends to)... How long before Jeffrey Goldberg and John Podhoretz claim that Leahy is a rabid anti-Semite?
This is a thuggish new tactic of the anti-Israel lobby, to accuse Jews it doesn't like of committing libel in the future. If McConnell had bothered to ask me, I would have told him that I find Leahy more-or-less reasonable on the Middle East. His last speech, I thought, over-romanticized Hamas, and short-shrifted the Hamas propensity for self-destructiveness, but overall, Leahy has been simultaneously a supporter of Israel and a critic of some its excesses. Here he is in January on the Gaza War:
Hamas' unilateral decision to break the ceasefire was deplorable. It is clear that rather than work for peace, Hamas used the ceasefire to amass more powerful and longer range weapons. Its actions should be universally condemned, and they will achieve nothing positive for the cause of the Palestinian people. Those who have collaborated in supplying weapons that are being used to terrorize and harm innocent civilians in Israel are complicit in the suffering and destruction that has occurred on both sides.
For its part, Israel used the ceasefire to pressure Hamas through a blockade that, in the absence of a long-term strategy, has caused extreme hardship for the Palestinian people collectively in Gaza but done nothing to change Hamas' militant policies. The blockade was not coupled with an effective strategy to address the underlying causes of the conflict.
I don't see much to complain about it in his analysis. I was just in Israel last week; the rockets are still falling, so I think it's hard to argue that the Gaza war was an overwhelming success from Israel's perspective. I think Bibi Netanyahu, when he comes to Washington, should spend some time listening to reasonable critics like Leahy, as well as to some of Israel's less critical supporters. And I think Scott McConnell shouldn't libel people with whom he disagrees. But I'm afraid we're more apt to see Netanyahu and Leahy sit down than we are to see Scott McConnell drop his thuggish tactics.