One of the distinguishing characteristics of a moribund ideology is that it seeks not converts but heretics. And one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Greater Israel lobby is that it is rarely satisfied with making its case for constant war in the Middle East, but always tries to target its critics as bigots or "something much darker", as anti-Semites or self-hating Jews, and does what it can to harm these critics – by getting them fired, or removed from think-tanks, or used as disposable pawns in larger political games.
The Emergency Committee for Israel is almost a parody of such tactics, rolled up into one toxic little ball of rage and fanaticism. It's currently engaged in an attempt to get one MJ Rosenberg fired from his perch at Media Matters for using the term "Israel Firster", and to get the White House to diss Media Matters. Alan Dershowitz is also apparently fired up over this campaign to police the discourse:
Not only will [the Media Matters controversy] be an election matter, I will personally make it an election matter…I will speak to every Jewish group that invites me, and I think it’s fair to say I speak to more Jewish groups than probably any other person in the world. I spoke to over a million Jews over the years,,,You know, just last Thursday I spoke to 1,200; just in the next weeks alone I’ll be speaking — and in the past weeks — to thousands of American Jews. And believe me, I will not let them ignore this issue.
And lest you think Rosenberg will escape his ire, Dershowitz says
I don’t know whether President Obama has any idea that Media Matters has turned the corner against Israel in this way…I can tell you this, he will know very shortly because I am beginning a serious campaign on this issue and I will not let it drop until and unless Rosenberg is fired from Media Matters, or Media Matters changes its policy or the White House disassociates itself from Media Matters.
Lovely, isn't it? I don't like the term "Israel Firster" and have not used it. But the idea that "the full Cantor" is not the guiding principle of AIPAC right now is bizarre. Of course it is. Dan Drezner's definition of the Full Cantor is Cantor's quote that
"we need to make sure that this president is also going to stand by Israel and not allow his administration to somehow speak contrary to what our ally thinks is in its best interest."
Isn't that exactly what ECI believes? And however needlessly provocative the term "Israel Firster" might be, does it compare with the following statement for ugliness, racism and neo-fascism:
“Round up [Gilad Shalit's] captors, the slaughtering, death-worshiping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women … as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons … but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose.”
Or this, after an Israeli bomb killed a Hamas leader – and 18 others, including the man's four children and wife:
The fight against Islamic radicals always seems to come around to whether or not they can, in fact, be deterred, because it’s not clear that they are rational, at least not like us. But to wipe out a man’s entire family, it’s hard to imagine that doesn’t give his colleagues at least a moment’s pause. Perhaps it will make the leadership of Hamas rethink the wisdom of sparking an open confrontation with Israel under the current conditions. Or maybe not, and the only way to stop Hamas is to eliminate its capacity for violence entirely.
The two statements are from ECI Board member, Rachel Abrams, and its spokesman, Michael Goldfarb. I'd argue that the implication of Goldfarb's last sentence is close to genocide.
My point would simply be this: by what chutzpah do people who have called for war crimes against their enemies, and urged instrumental mass murder of civilians, turn around and get squeamish about a rhetorical excess by someone who is clearly a passionate liberal Zionist? And by what chutzpah do they purloin truncated quotes from five sources for a newspaper ad, four of whom have now objected to being coopted in this manner?
It takes a fanatic.