But look what Shmuel Rosner says in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg:
I think that what American Jews can do--the best service they can give as to advance Middle East peace--is to support Israel as much as they can. And by support I do not necessarily mean "give money". In fact, giving money is the easiest way for people to support someone when they do not want to be bothered--but I'd like American Jews to be bothered. I want them coming for visits, I want them caring, I want them lobbying. And no--I do not want them to be criticizing Israel in public and trying to pressure Israel on matters of policy and trying to "save Israel from itself" and all that condescending crap.
Advocating moral action, apparently, being less important than not being condescending. Look, this is a flat-out assertion by Rosner that American Jews have a duty not to criticize Israel. Yet if I were to aver that there is pressure from self-appointed defenders of Israel to silence criticism of Israel, that would be derided as at best foolish and at worst evidence of anti-Semitism. Yet it's right here, in black and white, and invites nary a followup question from Jeff Goldberg. Rosner poses his opinion as a matter of American Jews as outsiders criticizing unhelpfully from afar. But this ignores the most salient aspect of any American criticism of Israel: American support for Israel, when viewed as a combination of the economic, military, diplomatic and intelligence benefits Israel derives from the US, is unprecedented. There is no other country in the world that receives the kind of benefit from American support that Israel does. As long as that is the case, American Jews, like all other American citizens (and taxpayers), have every right to criticize Israeli conduct. Our support makes us investors in the Israeli state; if you don't like American influence, you have to be ready to walk away from American support.
Now, there's another interesting thing about this, which is that both Rosner and Goldberg talk as if American Jews have duties to both America and Israel. Surely, an American Jew, being an American, might criticize Israel out of a sense of obligation to her own country, if she thought Israel's conduct was detrimental to the United States. That's what democracy demands, after all. Yet Rosner suggests that, unlike to any other foreign country, that American Jew has obligations to Israel that she should honor, or be relegated to condescending at best. In other words, Rosner, and presumably Goldberg, thinks that an American Jew has obligations to both America and Israel. When suggested by someone perceived as an enemy of the Israeli project (which simply means anyone not in line with the most radically hawkish Israeli right), that is commonly referred to as "dual loyalty", and suggesting that any Jews whatsoever feel it or have it is a blood libel, demonstrating the shrieking anti-Semitism of the person making the suggestion.
Strange to see two people with impeccable credentials for supporting Israel talking so matter-of-factly about the fact that there are people in America who feel loyalties to both America and Israel! Almost as if such a thing is perfectly common and perfectly understandable. I mean, I have a friend who was born in Brazil who is now making her life in the United States, and she has said that she feels conflicted about whose interests she would like to see best served. I have a friend from Ghana who has said the same. It's almost as if many people have interests in both this country and countries that they have affinity for or history with, and have conflicted emotions about where loyatly lies. Strange then that suggesting that when it comes to Israel is a demonstration of vicious anti-Semitism in a gentile or self-hatred in a Jew.
Of course, really, that's Goldberg's entire shtick. It's all he has, besides embarrassingly fawning praise of the Sopranos. Goldberg makes all of the principled, common-sense criticisms of Israel that you are likely to find in anything approaching the mainstream media; he then turns around and excorciates anyone else who makes the same criticisms. Thus he burnishes his credentials as a free-thinker who isn't afraid to criticize Israel, and at the same time shines his medals as an ardent supporter of Israel, and in general builds his brand as a Very Serious person. I think a lot of people underestimate the degree to which punditry is a matter of brand-building. People find a niche. Christopher Hitchens has one goal in everything he writes; he is creating the persona that is Christopher Hitchens. Mickey Kaus claims moderate Democrat identity and supports conservative Republican positions. Ezra Klein does earnest health care policy and flashes those dreamy eyes. Jeff Goldberg both snarks at the hawkish Israeli hardline, and derides those who make identical critiques of those same hawks.
I can't quite blame him. It's a living.
Update: "Supporting Israel is a responsibility you did not ask for--but it's yours nevertheless." This is a simple statement of dual loyalty. I look forward to reading in Commentary about how Shmuel Rosner is an anti-Semite.
Update II: I should point out, it's better that Goldberg make many of the points he makes that I agree with than not make them. But he seems to have this weird tendency to do so, then turn around and criticize others who make close to identical arguments. I think he suffers from a conflict a lot of people with emotional investment in an issue do, coming to believe that only they themselves have the authority or the requisite attachment to the issue in question to comment.
Update III: Though my larger criticism of Goldberg stands, and I definitely think he has some really noxious tendencies, I shouldn't have said "That's all he has". That's juvenile, and I apologize.