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J Street And Palin

Now, an increasingly organized segment of American Jews is stepping up to present an alternative perspective that is far more representative of the Jewish community. It may take quite a while — and the Palin invite withdrawal is a small step — but I’m hopeful that the days of pandering to the Jewish vote with saber-rattling [sic] are slowly coming to an end. ~Scott Paul

This is certainly a different interpretation of the significance of disinviting Palin to the anti-Iran rally, since the public justification for keeping her away was that they did not want the event to become “partisan” and the real reason was that Democratic pols did not want to appear at the rally alongside Palin in the middle of an election campaign.  Certainly, these pols would find anything that lends her even superficial credibility on foreign policy to be undesirable.  Presumably an anti-Iran rally is in and of itself part of “pandering to the Jewish vote” with sabre-rattling, as most of the people who are most concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and who obsess about Ahmadinejad tend to be people who also favor aggressive military action against perceived threats.  Indeed, the J Street “action alert” to which Paul refers takes for granted that the rally was originally going to be an exercise in sabre-rattling, and it probably still will be.  The “victory” of disinviting Palin has nothing to do with advancing a J Street agenda on policy, as a non-partisan or bipartisan anti-Iran rally would necessarily undermine the idea that “the best way to deal with Iran is through tough, smart diplomacy.”  On the whole, proponents of “tough, smart diplomacy” do not stage rallies designed primarily to ridicule and insult the head of government of the country with which one wants to negotiate, as the ridicule and insults negate the smart part of that formulation.  Of course, if the main objection that J Street has is to the means and not the ends of Iran policy, it’s not very clear what meaningful alternative they are providing.  If they are in agreement about the ends of Iran policy, pushing for disinviting Palin appears to be a transparent election-season ploy to avoid providing a platform for a Republican candidate.

P.S.  The organizers of the rally, led by the National Coalition to Stop Iran Now (no, I didn’t make that up), started their statement on the move to disinvite Palin and other American politicians this way:

The purpose of “THE RALLY TO STOP IRAN NOW” on Monday, Sept. 22, 2008, is to protest the presence of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad at the United Nations, and to oppose his nuclear weapons program. We take most seriously his threat to wipe the United States and Israel “off the map” and believe the world leaders gathered at the United Nations must act with resolve to prevent a nuclear armed Iran that would be a threat to this country, Israel and the world.

Note how the foreign government is identified entirely with one person–it is Ahamdinejad and “his nuclear weapons program,” as if it had anything to do with him personally.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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