Personally, I blame Rush Limbaugh.
Israel’s announcement of its decision by a low level bureaucrat during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel did not justify unduly critical comments. We acknowledge that Israel’s announcement was poor timing given the purpose of Vice President Biden’s trip to Israel and his deep commitment to Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister quickly recognized this unfortunate indiscretion and extended his public apology-an appropriate and proper response to the United States. But instead of this matter being put to rest and any further differences privately resolved as befitting close allies, the incident was used as grounds for criticizing Israel publicly, and perhaps attempting either explicitly or implicitly to humiliate its Prime Minister. Such actions are not justified against a close, democratic ally with whom policy differences arise. Both Democrats and Republicans on the AIFL Board were distressed by the actions of the government in this very public shaming of Israel. At a time when Israel is facing a very well financed and concerted campaign by its enemies to delegitimize its existence as a state (e.g., the Goldstone Report), the actions of your Administration were not in line with our values. Israel’s conduct cannot serve as a basis for any radical change in U.S. policy…
Our concerns are not only with the breach of good relations between two countries that we love and hold dear to us but we are concerned with the possibility that such extreme words coming from the United States following numerous apologies from the Prime Minister will give aid and comfort to those who seek to incite hatred of Israel and, indeed of Jews.
The United States, the world community and Israel face unparalleled challenges from Iran. This is not a time to exacerbate any real or perceived slights.
They’re not accusing him of deliberately inciting animus towards Israel, of course (even if he does, perhaps, harbor some himself), but then the “climate of hate” game has never depended upon deliberate incitement. If it did, there’d be relatively few opportunities to play it and it would lose its usefulness politically. Typically the basic charge is one of recklessness, not intent — that hostile rhetoric, in Bill Clinton’s words, falls on the “serious and the delirious and the connected and the unhinged alike,” and that we should be ever mindful of how the unhinged may perceive mainstream cues that their hostility is legitimate. How we’re supposed to gauge what someone who’s off his rocker does and doesn’t take as a “cue” is beyond me, but then that was oddly never much of a worry during the golden years of “Bush = Hitler” excess or, more recently, the heyday of crap about “evil-mongers” and a new Kristallnacht pouring from the mouths of bottom-feeders like Harry Reid and Frank Rich.
Anyway, the lesson, put simply, is don’t get too angry or else some crank you’ve never met and never would meet in a thousand years might get even angrier. Which brings us back to the AIFL’s letter to Obama: There are an awful lot of angry, Jew-hating cranks out there right now, more so than in any year since 1945 if the director of the ADL is to be believed. And since it’s hard to say for sure what cues, if any, a jihadist nut will take from White House anger towards Israel (a state led by jihadist nuts is easier to predict), there’s no reason to laugh off the AIFL’s concerns. I’ll make Obama a deal: If he wants to tell them to get bent, that he’s not responsible for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being an opportunistic terrorist degenerate, I’ll back him 100 percent — just as soon as he has that chat with Harry Reid about “evil-mongers.” How about it, champ?