American Jews Come Around to Israel’s Failings
Introducing the Friedmometer
Politico’s Ben Smith periodically tracks “right-of-center conventional wisdom about Obama” with a device known as the Brooks-O-Meter (invented, it should be noted and disclosed, by Friend-of-The-Scroll Avi Zenilman). In extremely severe debt to that, we inaugurate the Friedmometer, which tracks left-of-center conventional wisdom about the state of peace in the land between the river and the sea.
The line in today’s column that’s caused the largest
brouhaha controversy, with Elliott Abrams weighing in and then having to fight in his own comments, is, “That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” But more to the point is Friedman’s vidui-like litany of Israel’s sins:
It confuses them to read that Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia last Wednesday, was quoted as saying that the recent Russian elections were “absolutely fair, free and democratic.” …
It confuses them to read that right-wing Jewish settlers attacked an Israeli army base on Tuesday in the West Bank, stoning Israeli soldiers in retaliation for the army removing “illegal” settlements that Jewish extremists establish wherever they want.
It confuses them to read, as the New Israel Fund reports on its Website, that “more than 10 years ago, the ultra-Orthodox community asked Israel’s public bus company, Egged, to provide segregated buses in their neighborhoods. By early 2009, more than 55 such lines were operating around Israel. Typically, women are required to enter through the bus back doors and sit in the back of the bus, as well as ‘dress modestly.’ ”
It confuses them to read a Financial Times article from Israel on Monday, that said: “In recent weeks, the country has been consumed by an anguished debate over a series of new laws and proposals that many fear are designed to stifle dissent, weaken minority rights, restrict freedom of speech and emasculate the judiciary. They include a law that in effect allows Israeli communities to exclude Arab families; another that imposes penalties on Israelis advocating a boycott of products made in West Bank Jewish settlements; and proposals that would subject the supreme court to greater political oversight.”
And it confuses them to read Gideon Levy, a powerful liberal voice, writing in Haaretz, the Israeli daily, this week that “anyone who says this is a matter of a few inconsequential laws is leading others astray. … What we are witnessing is w-a-r. This fall a culture war, no less, broke out in Israel, and it is being waged on many more, and deeper, fronts than are apparent. It is not only the government, as important as that is, that hangs in the balance, but also the very character of the state.”