We knew Wesley Clark was in for it when he opened his mouth about the push to war on Iran and mentioned the Jews. Clark, whose father was Jewish, offered Arianna Huffington this response when asked why he was worried about an impending attack on Iran– “You just have to read what’s in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.”
American Prospect’s Yglesias has written a terrific analysis of what happened to Clark, and why it’s so difficult to ever talk about Israel and the US if you want to get elected.
[What Clark said], of course, is true. I’m Jewish and I don’t think the United States should bomb Iran, but Thursday night I was talking to a Jewish friend and she does think the United States should bomb Iran. The Jewish community, in short, is divided on the issue. It’s also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country.
JVP’s Mitchell Plitnick adds (check out his great blog here)
Clark may have really meant that it was Jews pushing the US toward war. Clark is certainly right that major Jewish organizations as well as major forces in Israel (far beyond Netanyahu) are pushing this war. That’s a far cry from saying that they’ll get it, or if they do get it, that these pushes are the reason for that war. The Iraq war was caused by far more than Israel and its Lobby, though both played their part. I continue to doubt that the US will attack Iran, but if it does, it will be because of a wide array of forces, of which Israel and its Lobby are only one, and not the leading one.
The bottom line is that American Jews are extremely ambivalent about Jewish power. Amongst ourselves, we kvel over the myriad ways Jews have attained real power, but we get very nervous when anyone else talks about it. In part, there’s a good reason for that. Classical anti-Semitism typically scapegoats Jews as a powerful minority that runs the world. But that hyper-sensitivity can also make us hypocrites, unable to let anyone get a word in edgewise.