Small Differences

Jeff Goldberg, still talking sense about AIPAC and West Bank settlements, is throwing increasing quantities of hysterical accusations at John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt in order to guard his right flank as Max Boot flings hysterical accusations at him. Says Goldberg:

The second point concerns Walt and Mearsheimer: One of their many sins, perhaps one of their bigger sins, was to make impossible an open conversation in the Jewish community about the impact of pro-Israel lobbying. By accusing American Jews of acting against the best interests of their country, they not only made themselves worthy heirs to Father Coughlin and a long list of antique Jew-baiters, they sent us into a defensive crouch.

But of course Walt and Mearsheimer didn't say that all Jews are acting against the best interests of their country (which would be outrageous) nor did they say that some Jews are acting against the best interests of their country (which would be trivial -- Jews disagree about lots of stuff and some of us must be wrong). Rather, they said certain "pro-Israel" institutions, including AIPAC, are harming American interests.

Goldberg, meanwhile, charges AIPAC with preventing the United States from putting any meat on the bones of its policy against Israel's West Bank settlements. Walt and Mearsheimer agree with this. Goldberg argues that unless Israel removes those settlements, it will increasingly find itself becoming an apartheid-style country where a Jewish minority rules over a disenfranchised Arab and Muslim minority. Walt and Mearsheimer think so, too. The difference is that Goldberg primarily sees this as bad for Israel whereas Walt and Mearsheimer primarily see it as bad for the United States but surely it can be bad for both! And even if not, the disagreement here is about something relatively minor with both sides agreeing that the American failure to apply pressure is a bad thing, and both sides pointing the finger at AIPAC.

Surely there should be room for some difference of interpretation here that doesn't involve either party to the dispute being motivated by racial hatreds.