Weeping With Dersh

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Lately, I’ve been watching the blossoming lovefest between the conservative-Republican establishment and those on the Left who are raging over the Obama administration’s reaction to the UN resolution against Israel. Arguably, this resolution was an attempt to take away Israel’s bargaining chips in negotiating with the Palestinians. The UN Security Council, which passed the resolution, made unmistakably clear that Israel is illegally occupying both East Jerusalem and the territory on the West Bank that had been taken during the Six Day War. The resolution may also have the effect of justifying terrorist acts designed to dislodge Israelis from areas that they’re no longer supposed to be occupying. Finally, it challenges Israeli claims to East Jerusalem, although there is no chance that the Israeli government will acquiesce in making Jerusalem once again a divided city.

Although some of the reactions coming from Republican publicists and politicians have bordered on the hysterical or histrionic, I won’t disagree that the US might have done better by not lobbying for the troublesome resolution, which it appears is the case. And I wouldn’t question the view of the Israeli Premier that the Trump administration would have handled the resolution differently. Trump undoubtedly would have taken a different course, as he indicated in a tweet. But to move on to other matters: I’m appalled by how Fox-news and other disseminators of GOP party-lines have been fawning on leftist politicians and celebrities who share their “indignation” over the Obama administration’s treatment of the Israeli premier. Since the passage of the fateful resolution, we’ve been inundated by expressions of friendship from GOP celebrities for liberal Democrats who have now turned against Obama. For example, Chuck Schumer, Elliot Engel, and Kirsten Gillibrand are all outraged by how the outgoing president has turned on the “only democracy in the Middle East.” As a sign of the new relationship between us and them, we were treated last week on Fox news to a bathetic interview with a longtime political leftist and a bosom buddy of Obama, Alan Dershowitz. In this memorable interview, Dershowitz explained how the President betrayed the Jewish people after assuring him that “I’ll have the back of Israel.” This may have been one of the great acting moment in the life of a seventy-eight-year-old courtroom performer. And the people in the studio were lapping it up.

Let me point out the obvious. Those who are being celebrated by Fox News, New York Post, and Wall Street Journal are mostly Democratic politicians representing heavily or disproportionately Jewish constituencies. Their reaction to what happened with the UN resolution was as predictable as the fact that North Carolina Senators vote for tobacco subsidies. Alan Dershowitz throughout his career has been a left-leaning Democrat but also a committed Zionist. Only a fool would have expected him not to take the side of Israel, even against a left liberal administration that he has tirelessly defended. Why the interviewer on Fox-news and her colleagues were awash in compassion for Dershowitz as he whined on about how Obama let him down, is something I still can’t get my head around.

Do Republican commentators and TV producers really think they can make pals of liberal Democrats simply because they all oppose the UN resolution on Israel? If that is the case, then these Republicans must be hopeless fools. Once the Obama administration’s failure to veto that resolution fades from the news, Schumer, Dershowitz and the other protestors will become the relentless opponents of the heartless, xenophobic, homophobic, racist Republicans once again. Don’t expect them to assist the Trump administration in replacing Obamacare or support the candidates for the Supreme Court whom President Trump will likely nominate. And because Schumer and the others are accidentally taking the same side on the UN resolution as Evangelical Christians, don’t expect them to respect the religious liberties of those who out of conscience refuse to cater gay weddings. Needless to say, these pro-Israel Democrats will be hot to trot for allowing men who have just changed their gender preference to enter shower facilities previously reserved for young women.

My other reaction to these unseemly overtures on the part of Republicans is that these folks must be desperate for the approval of left liberal politicians. Perhaps they’re trying to show that contrary to what the Left has been saying about them, they’re not anti-Semites after all. GOP luminaries have therefore decided to kiss up (no other phrase will do here) to the pro-Zionist Left by showcasing their solidarity over the Jewish state with Schumer, Dershowitz, etc. Of our two national parties, the Republican Party has been the more effusively pro-Israel, but perhaps its partisans now feels impelled to go further, by demonstrating their fervent Zionist sympathy in the company of solidly leftist allies. Such overcompensating behavior is not unusual for the conservative establishment; I’ve been observing it for decades. Republican publicists and Republican politicians often go all out trying to outdo the Left, for example, in praising Martin Luther King and deploring American incidents involving racial and gender prejudice. The GOP establishment can sometimes bring off such gestures without looking utterly ridiculous. Unfortunately this is not one of those occasions.

Paul Gottfried is an American political philosopher and intellectual historian, and former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.