A week ago, Israeli paratroopers took over a ship on the high seas that was part of a flotilla trying to flout Israel’s embargo against Gaza. Those aboard the boat, which carried wheelchairs and such like, fought back against the invading Israelis, who retaliated by killing nine of them.
Even some friends of Israel (and normally non-partisan sites like Boing Boing) found this a bit much. But the Obama Administration, following American Presidential tradition, refused to condemn Israel, suggesting only that our Middle Eastern ally agree to an investigation of the “tragic” incident.
Seasoned readers of this column know what’s coming next: Rightbloggers decreed Obama an enemy of Israel. No good deed etc!
Even accepting that the flotilla’s managers were seeking to make Israel look bad — a task in which they seem to have had the Israeli government’s full cooperation — the invasion and slaughter might suggest even to Israel supporters that an admission of Israeli wrongdoing might be in order (and to some it has).
But rightbloggers — whose devotion to the cause of Israel is, like that of all modern American Conservatives, something of a mystery (we think Ronald Reagan lost a bet to Irving Kristol in the 80s) — admitted nothing. Their first reaction was to declare that, although the Israelis had flown a helicopter over the boat in international waters and dropped soldiers onto it, the Israelis were merely practicing self-defense on the ship they had invaded.
“When the Israeli commandos were set upon as they were lowered from a helicopter,” said Jennifer Rubin at Commentary with no apprent ironic intent, “they acted to defend themselves.”
“…the commandos kept shouting, ‘don’t shoot, don’t shoot’ even as they were attacked,” wrote a sympathetic Power Line. The ship’s passengers didn’t shoot, because they had no guns — they attacked the invaders with knives and clubs — but Power Line still found the killing justified because the commandos waited until the people on the invaded vessel fought back to kill them:
“If the Israelis had immediately neutralized their opponents by shooting them before the attacks had clearly put the commandos in danger,” said Power Line, “they would be susceptible to rational claims (as opposed to the claims that have been lodged) that they violated the concept of ‘proportionality’… this looks like another instance of the IDF erring on the side of trying to avoid bloodshed…”
Melanie Phillips of The Spectator called the incident “an Islamist terror ambush,” as if repulsion of invaders were some sort of dirty trick. And because the commandos were carrying paintball guns rather than heavier armament, “with their hand guns to be used only as a last resort,” Phillips found them “hopelessly ill-prepared for the violence they encountered,” and thus justified in going for their handguns — which were apparently quite adequate to their fatal task.
When it was revealed that one of the dead was an American citizen, rightbloggers were quick to point out that the late Furkan Dogan wasn’t really a citizen citizen, having left our shores at a tender age. Power Line took the opportunity to suggest that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution be repealed so that people born in the U.S. could be denied citizenship. Clearly the laws of the United States aren’t worth much compared to the need to get Israel’s PR problem taken care of.
Well, anyway, Obama hung in there and backed Israel. The White House announced it was “working urgently with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other international partners to develop new procedures for delivering more goods and assistance to Gaza” (which was reported by Gateway Pundit as “WHITE HOUSE SIDES WITH HAMAS!”). Vice President Biden vociferously defended Israel’s “absolute right” to defend itself however it sees fit, and asked of its critics, “What’s the big deal here?”
So that ought to count for something with rightbloggers, right? (You might ask if you’re new here.)
“Obama vs. Israel,” headlined Robert Stacy McCain. He never explained this headline — except poetically, or psychedelically, with an unsupported assertion that whenever any U.S. Administration tries to “push Israel into a peace deal, the result is more dead Jews.”
And why should he bother to explain? It is an article of faith among rightbloggers that Obama is trying to destroy Israel, and reason is if anything an impediment to such pure communion with the infinite.
Take for example this stream-of-consciousness by Jay Nordlinger at National Review:
“As I understand it, Israel is the only U.N. member-state — the only one of the 192 nations represented there — that is unable to sit on the Security Council. The only one. All the other states have a shot. And who has been Israel’s friend and protector on the Security Council? I’ll give you a hint: not France (although Sarko has been better than any French premier in memory). If Israel has not the U.S. . . . it has itself, and — many, many Americans and others whose understanding of the Middle East is much different from, and better than, President Obama’s.
“I smile at two little facts: Sarah Palin, in her governor’s office, had an Israeli flag. Siv Jensen, leader of a party in Norway called the Progress party, has an Israeli flag in her office. No, those women are not in power. But they represent a lot of people, who count.”
What might, what could Nordlinger mean? That Obama’s U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is, like all the Obamatrons, a Nazi, but there is also in the wings a shadow Ambassadorial team comprised of Sarah Palin, Siv Jensen, some Tea Partiers and maybe Adam Sandler, who will like the Golem rise to Israel’s defense in her hour of need?
No, Nordlinger needn’t mean anything except some inchoate version of Obama = Hitler. Neither did Roger L. Simon need to explain his assertion that “Consciously or not, our President — with his increased, and pompously self-righteous, pressure on Israel — has sent a message to the world. It’s time to blame the Jews.” This is a hi-sign, not an argument. (Simon also said that American Jews like Leon Wieseltier who don’t approve of the killings “pretend to defend while criticizing… one wonders how they feel when hearing the vitriol spewed by [Helen] Thomas.” Apparently “My country, right or wrong” doesn’t just apply to America.)
Atlas Shrugs announced a “bombshell consistent with Obama’s lifelong anti-semitism” — that is, that “Obama’s great pals and sponsors, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn — vile anti-semites and domestic terrorists — are behind the flotilla, as is Ground Zero mega mosque Imam Faisal, and seditionist (codepink) Jodie Evans.” Some bombshell. Though none of these people has a job with the current Administration, Atlas Shrugs informed us “all are O-pals,” which is apparently some kind of official designation.
Mona Charen joined Atlas Shrugs in noting that Obama “got his start in politics in the living room of domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.” Thus, “under Obama’s leadership, the United States has capitulated to terror tactics and the despicable temptation to blame Israel,” a boy has never wept nor dashed a thousand kim, etc.
Though impassioned incoherence is a rightblogger legacy, it is rare that they’d rise to this level of vehemence based on so very little provocation. Though abnormal psychology is not our forte, we will hazard this guess as to the reason: Maybe Israel’s religious dimension offers them an opportunity for displacement.
These days rightbloggers can’t do much with what was once a powerful component of their conservative coalition: The evangelical, Moral Majority part. Thanks to their endless cavalcade of sex scandals, the Bible-beaters have become a liability to the movement.
Maybe it’s frustrating for rightbloggers not to be able to invoke these religious authorities anymore. Perhaps they pine, not only for the electoral muscle they provided, but also for the connection the preachers provided with a living God who was always, naturally, on their side.
But thanks to Israel, now they have at least the first half of the Bible on their side — and (at least since Moshe Katsav stepped down) no extracurricular embarrassments to screw up their self-righteousness.
And, bonus: If you disagree with them, they can always call you an anti-Semite — or, where applicable, self-hating (“the most disturbing thing is that in 2008 US Jews decided to not let common sense dictate how they are to vote but elected someone who was proven already to be a Muslim”) — even if you’re Jewish.
If you agree with them, of course, nothing is off limits.