Well, they do say that those whom the Gods want to destroy, first they make crazy… And here is the evidence that it this is indeed happening in today’s Israel. The ultra-right in Israel has always attacked many members of the ethnic-Palestinian leadership in Israel for being “anti-patriotic”, “traitorous”, or a “fifth column”. But in recent weeks, a really vile proto-fascist organization called Im Tirzu has come out with a campaign of unprecedented vituperativeness against such pillars of the left-Zionist establishment as Naomi Chazan, a former deputy Speaker of the Knessset who is the chair of New Israel Fund.
Just scroll down in this recent post by the indefatigable Didi Remez to see the grotesque caricature of Dr. Chazan that Im Tirzu published recently.
And now, Israel’s hard right has gone even crazier. Yesterday, the foreign ministry, which is headed by the ultra-rightists Avigdor Lieberman and Danny Ayalon, even intervened to prevent four visiting members of the U.S. Congress from meeting Israel’s president, the veteran politician and former prime minister Shimon Peres!
The four are are William Delahunt (D-Mass.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.), and Mary Jo Kilroy (D.-Ohio)
The foreign ministry reportedly sought to block their visit with Peres because the short regional tour on which the four are traveling was organized by J Street, the newish Jewish organization in town that proudly describes itself as “pro-Israel, pro-peace”, and Churches for Middle East Peace, a much smaller pro-peace advocacy group that is also a staunch supporter of Israel’s existence and security. (Full disclosure: I sit on the Leadership Council of CMEP.)
No word on whether Peres himself, who used to the head of the Labour Party and who always used to pride himself on being pro-peace, tried to over-ride the foreign ministry in the matter.
This morning, Rep. Delahunt issued a statement noting that the group had just returned from Sderot in southern Israe, “where we had a very emotional meeting with the Mayor and residents from whom we better understood the trauma and pain they have endured…
- We were puzzled that the Deputy Foreign Minister has apparently attempted to block our meetings with senior officials in the Prime Minister’s office and Foreign Ministry – questioning either our own support of Israel or that we would even consider traveling to the region with groups that the Deputy Foreign Minister has so inaccurately described as “anti-Israel.”
In our opinion this is an inappropriate way to treat elected representatives of Israel’s closest ally who are visiting the country – and who through the years have been staunch supporters of the US-Israeli special relationship.
We would respectfully ask the government for a clarification of its stance toward this and future delegations. There are undoubtedly a range of opinions in this country as there are in the United States on how best to secure our common goal of peace and security for Israel and all the peoples of the region.
It is unwise for anyone to take disagreements as to how to accomplish our common goals and purpose – which is to achieve peace and security – and to misrepresent those differences as questioning support and concern for the state of Israel itself.
Delahunt, I should note, has been one of the wisest members of congress on issues relating to Iraq in recent years. Back in 2007, he sponsored some key hearings in which he made an honest attempt to listen to, understand, and engage with the range of views of the elected parliamentarians in Iraq– including parliamentarians who were strong opponents of the US’s continued military presence there.
At a broader level, it’s important to note, too, that support for Israel has nearly always, historically, been a lot stronger in the Democratic Party here in the US, than in the Republican Party. If Lieberman and Ayalon now feel ready to treat four Democratic members of congress in such a humiliating way, that marks a sea-change in US-Israeli relations.
Of course, these four courageous members of Congress will need all the help they can get from fair-minded citizens in their own constituencies and around the country, because almost certainly the chorus of anti-J Street organizations in this country, from AIPAC on down, will most likely seek to punish them during the coming months as they seek the funds they’ll need to get re-elected next November.