October 16, 2007

Complexity Has Never Been This Simple

If there’s any benefit to reading a left-leaning newspaper, surely the letters-to-the-editor section makes it all worthwhile. And no wonder: Ever gleeful to take in delightful examples of sanctimonious fatuity, we savor the little bursts of reader nonsense that appear in such organs as The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Washington Post.

Here’s a perfect exemplum of what we mean. The October 14 number of The Boston Globe, the Gray Lady’s New England satellite, contains a missive from one Brother Mark Brown, who is described as “a member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopalian monastic order, and…a frequent visitor to Israel.”

Br. Brown’s epistle is a response to Elaine McArdle’s column “I Was Lobbied by the ‘Israel Lobby,’” which must have been as ham-fisted as its title suggests. Br. Brown’s letter reads as follows:

McArdle mentions the daily Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. On the left side of the Israeli political spectrum and frequently critical of the powers that be, the paper provides ample evidence of the impassioned, uninhibited debate that characterizes Israeli public discourse.

The sheer complexity of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, not to mention the high stakes, naturally generates a wide range of opinions about the situation. At least in Israel.

We have to wonder how it is that Congress is miraculously of a single mind on this critical and complex issue when this body can otherwise be so fractious. It is precisely the absence of vigorous and uninhibited debate in Washington—the kind that Israeli democracy can rightly be proud of—that makes it difficult to dismiss claims that the Israel lobby has indeed had too much influence on US foreign policy.

If that is so—if we have the best Congress money can buy—it will eventually become clear that we have been false friends of Israel. True friends offer something sturdier than unquestioning acquiescence.

Ah, what a delight! One moment Br. Brown is piously intoning about the “sheer complexity of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict,” and the next he’s myopically trashing the Jewish Lobby for subverting American democracy! Oh, the complexity!

Naturally, Br. Brown’s take on the so-called Israel lobby is arrant nonsense. The idea that Congress is in lock-step with Israel should be news to such folks as John Conyers and Dennis Kucinich, both of whom seem strikingly unfriendly to Israel. If this is a miraculous “single mind,” we’d love to see Br. Brown’s assessment of complete agreement.

But clearly the most disgusting—and morally obtuse—portion of Br. Brown’s missive is his unreflective assumption that Jewish money is purchasing Congress and forcing it to do its bidding. Perhaps Br. Brown has never heard of Saudi Arabia. If so, allow us to inform him that this country is rather oil-rich, and, as a result, tosses around millions and millions of dollars in its lobbying efforts in the United States.

As anyone but a complete simpleton realizes, the Israel lobby is not the only lobbying group in Washington, DC interested in the Middle East. But, to the deeply complex Br. Brown, only the Jews can subvert American democracy.

Posted at October 16, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack