Many liberals like me have been tough on Joe Klein during the Bush years. Early last year I even had a post entitled "The Insipid Joe Klein." I and other liberal bloggers were angered by Klein's eagerness to embrace the neocon worldview about national security, terrorism and civil liberties. Even more infuriating, Klein has always been regarded as a liberal pundit while defending appalling policies.
Apparently, Klein is reading the tea leaves and realizes the center of political gravity is about to change in America. His writing and commentary are quite different this campaign season. Today, in Swampland, Klein posted a thoughtful essay about the role of Jewish neo-conservatives and the McCain campaign. As a Jewish American I've been dismayed by how neo-cons have defended Israel's brutal expansionist policies in the name of our national security interests. Hence, I was gratified by Klein's post today in which he specifically addresses the ridiculous controversy of Khalid Rashidi and McCain's slanderous efforts to link Obama with someone they describe as an anti-semite. To his credit, Klein rightfully quotes, Jeff Goldberg, the author of Prisons that being pro-Palestinian doesn't make one antisemitic:
"But about Khalidi -- he's a fierce partisan of the Palestinian cause, of course, and in my conversations with him, and in his writing, I see that his sympathies frequently cause him to distort Middle East history. But an anti-Semite? I don't think so. In fact, Rashid Khalidi is one of the rare Palestinian advocates who argues, as he has with me, that Arabs must study Jewish history, including and especially the history of Jew-hatred, in order to better understand Israel, and to reach a compromise with it."I especially appreciated this comment from Klein:
"I find the conflation, by some Jewish neoconservatives, of Israel's interests and America's--and their truly dangerous misreading of both--to be appalling. But much worse is their rush to pin the tag of antisemitism on anyone who disagrees with them, including me."Whether Klein is sincere or merely blowing with the political winds I don't know. I am encouraged however that he felt compelled to post this today.
Since I've started blogging I've received many hate emails accusing me of anti-Semitism. Although personally agnostic I am also proud of my Jewish heritage and identity. My grandfather escaped Nazi persecution in Poland while other relatives perished during the Holocaust. So being accused of anti-Semitism because I disagree with Israeli policy has always ticked me off. For the record I've also received hate email from people on the right and left simply for being Jewish.
Hopefully, Klein's post today illustrates that we're poised for a new era in which we can rationally discuss the Israeli/Palestinian conflict without silly name calling and guilt by association politics. Maybe, just maybe Joe Klein is a bellwether for what's to come after election day. Both America and Israel too would benefit.