Paranoia on the Dish about the “American Jewish Establishment” turns to bigotry

The Daily Dish, Nov 10, 2010 4:17 PM, in the post “Israel To US: Drop Dead (Round II)”:

There is an aggressive assumption by Netanyahu that all of Jerusalem is unequivocally Israel’s, which all but rules out any viable two-state solution (as, one suspects, it is designed to). But instead of resisting this, a classic AJE member, Aaron David Miller, emits this contemptuous remark:

“Building in Jerusalem is as natural as breathing.”

This hearkens back to Peter Beinart’s NYRB article — “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” (i.e., the failure to out-Left the far-Left Meretz Party in Israel, in order to prove that Israel is liberal at all).  Andrew didn’t think critically about the article’s generalizations, slim characterizations of Israeli left-wing groups and the cause-effect relationships implied, but was able to glean from the article

AJE (American Jewish Establishment, a useful new term).

Since he has called someone a “classic member” of this vague group, it might be interesting to check Miller’s qualifications for anything this label, AJE, might denote.

One look at Aaron David Miller’s Wikipedia entry shows

Between 1988 and 2003, Miller served six secretaries of state as an advisor on Arab-Israeli negotiations, where he participated in American efforts to broker agreements between Israel, Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinians. He left the Department of State in January 2003 to serve as president of Seeds of Peace, an international youth organization, founded in 1993.

These associations do not in any way represent what Andrew calls, citing Peter Beinart, the “American Jewish Establishment.”   Aaron David Miller is part of no Jewish political groups. He was also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Woodrow Wilson International for Scholars, which are certainly not pro-Israel organizations and regularly argue that it must make concessions posthaste.

Miller said in the NY Times:

“We’ve allowed our special relationship with Israel to become exclusive,” said Aaron David Miller, who advised several administrations on the Middle East. “We acquiesced in too many bad Israeli ideas; we road-tested every idea with Israel first.”

Andrew Sullivan himself has touted Miller’s critical opinion of Israel in the peace process. And he has indicated Miller’s provocative, and I think distortive, characterization of America’s role in the peace process as “Israel’s lawyer.”

The only conceptual association Andrew could have found between Miller and the phrase “Jewish establishment” is that Miller’s voice has a bigger audience, and a small audience of figures in government, and thus more influence than the average citizen for that reason.

In other words, Miller is a Jew with power — who, and this is equally important, also disagrees with Andrew.  I wouldn’t call this antisemitism, but it’s a platform for antisemitic ideologies.

Sullivan misrepresented, somewhat radically, the opinion Aaron David Miller was voicing on building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. Miller knows what building extra rooms in a house or extra apartment units seems like to people who have been living in that town for over 20 years; and no one pushed a group out to build there.

Andrew’s reflexive condemnation of Miller’s stoicism blinds him to Aaron David Miller as an individual, to the content of Miller’s ideas, and absurdly labels him as part of a vague ideological enemy.

Evidently, Andrew would not be condemning Miller if Miller would only “resist” either (A) the building in Jerusalem, or (B) an idea about Jerusalem that includes the traditionally Jewish areas which weren’t annexed until after the 1948 Armistice was ended by Arabs. For Andrew, Miller must “resist” to be an effective moral agent, as if the opinions of public intellectuals have special powers.

Andrew wrote of Juan Williams’ fear, which Williams quickly indicated as subrational, that traditional Muslim garb indicates an attachment to a greater attachment to a religious ideal of the caliphate:

I see no other way to interpret those remarks, although of course he contradicted himself elsewhere in the conversation. He then had a chance to repudiate or retract the connection in the quote above and refused. Moreover, I did not call Williams a bigot, as Will claims. I said the quote above was bigoted, and that in my view, Williams was not, so far as I could see, a bigot.

I don’t see how Andrew could argue that at least “the quote above was bigoted” doesn’t apply to him. However, Andrew has never apologized for a bigoted phrasing and said that it didn’t represent his truer, better-considered feelings.

In the meantime, what variety of opinions are American Jews allowed to have so as not to receive Sullivan’s condemnation as part of the “darker” “Goldfarb-Krathaummer wing” or liberal supporters-appeasers of the “Likud line”? Apparently, sharing Aaron David Miller’s opinion about Jerusalem is not open to us.

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One Response

  1. […] after the Dish called, of all people, Aaron David Miller (!) a “classic A[merican] J[ewish] E[stablishment] member” merely because (a) he has a semblance of power (a respected byline and friends who still work for […]

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