Black or White? The Dershowitz-Phillips Debate Over Obama

I love the fact that Melanie Phillips can come down on Alan Dershowitz, who has written a trilogy of books in outright support of Israel, for his support of Barack Obama. I applaud Phillips for her steadfastness in defending Israel and Jews from bigotry, and Dershowitz wrote as much in his blog for JPost. His point, I think, was that support of Israel should be bipartisan. Which is why I smile when my more conservative friends ask how I can vote Democtratic and still support Israel. As if one position naturally informed the other.

They don’t, unless we think support of the Jewish state goes hand in hand with social issues like abortion, separation of church and state, minority rights, immigration, scientific research, the economy, etc…conservatives and liberals are split on most of these issues, which do not regard support for Israel in the least. Obama, for his part, hasn’t deviated from previous American policy very much at all. The Bush administration, too, was dedicated (in theory, at least) to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, as is the Netanyahu government and, yes…even the Sharon government. Tzipi Livni, who actually won more votes than Bibi, is outspoken on the issue.

Israel pulled out of Gaza when George W. Bush was in the White House and Ariel Sharon in the Knesset. Would this today not be labeled “suicidal” by Melanie Phillips? That an eventual Palestinian state should pose no threat to Israel is a position shared by all of them, Obama included. He cannot and will not say, “Let the Jordanians take them in and give historic, biblical Judea to the settlers.”

Is this what Phillips advocates? Dershowitz, in his book The Case for Peace, lays out a point by point peace plan. Has Phillips ever proposed a viable solution to a problem that will not go away until it is resolved? What exactly does all this fiery criticism of Obama’s supposed ransoming of Israel come to? His “roots” on the hard left? Or is he the de facto President Chomsky? What was it about the Bush administration that people think was so much more friendly to the Jewish people and their only country than the current one? Is it that Bush is perceived as having been “tough” on Islamists-Iran-the Palestinians? The man who lost no opportunity to proclaim that “Islam is a religion of peace?” Why was he not the “dhimmi in the White House?”  The Bush years solved nothing. They did nothing to curb the Iranian threat in its infancy, knowing that could be left to the incoming administration.

The Bush years were not the golden years of American-Israeli relations any more than Muslim Spain was a golden age for convivencia. We should stop lionizing George W. Bush just because Obama’s middle name is Hussein.

Support for the State of Israel is a moral position that should have nothing to do with being liberal or conservative, Christian, Jewish or Muslim, religious or atheist, black or white, male or female. It is a moral issue just as women’s rights are a moral issue, just as racism and bigotry are moral issues. It should, as Dershowitz wrote, be a bipartisan issue. There is no other way.

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