Maureen Dowd meets anti-Semitism charge
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd set the Jewish political community on fire today with a column about the Republican ticket's foreign policy proposals that, according to her critics, peddled anti-Semitic imagery.
Dowd fairly observed that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan are experts in the field of foreign policy, but asserted their strategy was orchestrated by a "neocon puppet master" who was leading the neocon effort to "slither back" into power.
Such language, to say nothing of the questionable legitimacy of her claims, struck experts on American-Israeli relations as an inappropriate (though perhaps unintentional) appeal to anti-Semitic stereotypes, and especially offensive ahead of the first night of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
"Dowd's use of anti-Semitic imagery is awful," Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote on Twitter.
"Maureen may not know this, but she is peddling an old stereotype, that gentile leaders are dolts unable to resist the machinations and manipulations of clever and snake-like Jews," Jeffrey Goldberg, the Atlantic columnist and leading journalist on Israeli issues, wrote.
Right, Jeffrey, Maureen Dowd is obviously a naive young girl who hasn't been around the block a few times, so she doesn't understand the meaning of what she writes.
Goldberg, as usual, is way exaggerating, but, still, there's a more here than when, say, Goldberg started the smear campaign that got Glenn Beck thrown out of the MSM.
Look, Dowd's not twelve, she's sixty. Of course she knows she's peddling an old stereotype. She just happens to think the old stereotype is true, at least when it comes to Republicans. (Obama spent age 18-24 socializing predominantly with anti-Israel Pakistanis, so he's less naive than insular Republicans about what the rest of the world thinks of Israel.)
"[A]mazing that apparently nobody sat her down and said, this is not OK," Blake Hounshell, the managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, tweeted.
That sentence is worth pondering.
On the right, The Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper called it "outrageous," while Commentary's Jonathan Tobin described it as "particularly creepy."
"Dowd’s column marks yet another step down into the pit of hate-mongering that has become all too common at the Times," Tobin wrote. "This is a tipping point that should alarm even the most stalwart liberal Jewish supporters of the president."
"[The] weirdest part of the anti-semitic tropes on the Dowd column is how lazy they are," Max Fisher, an editor at The Atlantic who is leaving to launch a foreign policy blog at the Washington Post, tweeted.
UPDATE (8:01 p.m.): Rosenthal emails, via a Times spokesperson:
"No fair-minded reading of Maureen Dowd's column supports the allegations you and others are making. She makes no reference, direct or implied, to anyone's religion."
Seriously, my guess is that Dowd will get away with her column, even though she's Irish-American, because her column was in service of getting Obama re-elected, and she only attacked the influence of Zionists on the GOP. She didn't mention, say, Haim Saban's Adelson-like role in the Democratic Party. Dowd's a liberal Democrat who writes for liberal Democrats, and this was in the cause of hurting Republicans, so it's all good. But, anybody on the right who did this would be toast, career-wise. I mean, in the right wing media, Saban gets mostly good publicity, such as when Saban periodically whispers that Obama isn't pro-Israel enough.
My personal view is that the Sheldon Adelsons of the Republicans and Haim Sabans of the Democrats are a lot like Phil Knight and T. Boone Pickens, with their 9-digit efforts to win NCAA football championships for their alma maters (U. of Oregon and Oklahoma State, respectively). Boys will be boys. Knight and Pickens are excited by the idea of their linebackers flattening opposing quarterbacks; Adelson and Saban are excited by the idea of their bombers flattening Israel's enemies.
"So, likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill will, and a disposition to retaliate in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld; and it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country without odium, sometimes even with popularity, gilding with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation….
"Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial, else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people to surrender their interests."
Judging from a Google search, however, citing the applicability of George Washington's Farewell Address to current events marks you as some kind of fringe nut, suspected and odious, far beyond the bounds of mainstream American discourse.