By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
It turns out that American citizens “are not allowed” to criticize Israel.
Or so says Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
Emanuel was asked his view of the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace in an interview appearing in the April 21 issue of The New Republic. He ventured to say that while Israel “has a security concern involving geography, geography does not have the same value it did in 1967.”
Emanuel’s strategic notions are highly debatable. Without the territories captured 47 years ago, during the Six-Day War, Israel would be nine miles wide at its midsection. Stripped of the geographical protection of the highlands of Judea and Samaria, Israel’s security would depend entirely on Arab dictators and terrorists abiding by peace treaties.
But Mayor Emanuel was not content to make dubious assertions about Israel’s geography and security. He then decided to play the martyr.
The interviewer remarked, “Sometimes American politicians can’t say things that have already been said in Israel,” to which Emanuel replied, “You are not allowed to here! Because the American-well, for whatever reason, that is a whole different debate.”
“You are not allowed to here”? Could it be that Emanuel never reads the New York Times, and never watches CBS, NBC, ABC, or CNN – not to mention dozens of Jewish newspapers – where criticism of Israel rules the roost? Of course not. He knows the truth. He perpetuates the canard that Americans are “not allowed” to criticize Israeli policies because this serves three purposes.
First, it gives critics of Israel a phony martyr status. They can claim to be aggrieved victims who have been unfairly silenced.
Second, it provides an explanation as to why their arguments have not won over the majority of Israelis and American Jews. Of course the real reason that their arguments have not won substantial support is because they’re bad arguments. Their case is based entirely on the public’s willingness to ignore constant Palestinian treaty violations, support for terrorism, and anti-Jewish incitement.
Third, it’s an attempt to delegitimize supporters of Israel. It says that friends of Israel don’t play fair, they’re McCarthyites who suppress their opponents.
Rahm Emanuel is probably destined to have a long future in American politics. He is entitled to his opinions, but not to his phony claim of being a suppressed critic of the Jewish State.
Does it matter what Rahm Emanuel says about Israel?
It does. He played an important role in shaping the pro-Arab tilt of the first Obama Administration, and he could very well end up having a hand in Mideast policy in the future. One must assume that he has political ambitions that extend far beyond the municipality of Chicago. Will he next run for U.S. Senator, or perhaps governor of Illinois? Does he dream of running for president one day?
Whatever his future ambitions, Rahm Emanuel has in the meantime injected itself into the debate right now, with his preposterous allegation about tyrannical supporters of Israel.
There are reasonable people on both sides of the debate. There are people on both sides who take a sober-minded look at the facts and reach various conclusions. And then there are the cranks – the paranoid fringe element who see pro-Israel lobbyists under every bed. This extremist camp is led by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, whose 2007 book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” was a book-length conspiracy theory about the alleged ability of the all-powerful Jewish lobby to twist American policy and suppress debate. The fact that Osama Bin Laden publicly endorsed it tells you all you need to know about the Mearsheimer-Walt book.
Rahm Emanuel is not a hater of Israel. But in falsely claiming that “you are not allowed to” criticize Israel in the United States, Emanuel has effectively aligned himself with the Mearsheimer-Walt camp. Is that really where he wants to be?