The best line in Nathan Guttman's piece in the Forward about the Justice Department's effort to prove that a pro-Israel spy ring was operating inside the Pentagon, AIPAC and the Israeli Embassy came from Steve Rosen, the former AIPAC lobbyist whose indictment on espionage charges the Justice Department recently dropped.
In 2003 the Justice Department stung Rosen. Here is how it went down. The feds had flipped a Pentagon analyst named Larry Franklin, who had been passing along secrets to Rosen and fellow AIPAC'er Keith Weissman. And in June 2003 they gave Franklin a fake cable saying that Israeli agents in Kurdistan were in mortal danger. Franklin brought the paper to Weissman at a restaurant. Weissman went back to AIPAC. Rosen promptly told an Israeli diplomat.
Franklin told the Forward that the AIPAC guys' actions crossed a line. The Forward got in touch with Rosen, who bridled.
"Franklin did not expect us to warn the Israelis that they would be kidnapped and killed? That’s like telling officials of the NAACP that there is going to be a lynching, but don’t warn the victims, because it is a secret.”
Rosen's response is fascinating for a few reasons. First, it shows that he sees himself as part of the Jewish nation, which transcends geographical borders. It is an expression of loyalty to the Jewish people. Second, his analogy of AIPAC to the NAACP during Jim Crow was echoed by Jeffrey Goldberg, the pro-Israel journalist, in a New York event two years ago where he said that gentiles can't say what is anti-Semitic, Jews can; just as blacks know what is racist and whites are not able to make that determination.
There is a second Goldberg echo here. In 2002 Goldberg wrote a piece from Kurdistan for the New Yorker on Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons that basically said that Saddam was another Hitler bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. The piece ended, of all places, at the Israeli embassy in Washington, where Goldberg talked to a diplomat about Israel's destruction of the nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981. The Kurdistan-Israel connection.
The Goldberg piece reminds us of the backdrop for the Justice Department investigation: the Iraq War. Franklin says that the Justice Department investigation was aimed at Doug Feith, the Under Secretary at the Pentagon, who pushed the Iraq war. Indeed, Justice was conducting this investigation through the spring of 2003, even as the U.S. was launching the disastrous Iraq war (at Goldberg's urging, too).
It is obvious in retrospect that a lot of the energy for the investigation must have come out of a feeling inside the Justice Department that Iraq war supporters were not being upfront about their true loyalty, Israel, which of course had been attacked by Iraq several times.
I share that feeling; and one of my grand irritants is Doug Feith's non-mea-culpa book of last year, War and Decision, where he basically put all the blame on George Bush, absolved the neoconservatives of any agency in the war, and failed to report the long memorandum purporting to link Al-Qaeda and Saddam that his office provided the White House to goad the country to war. At about the same time, Jeffrey Goldberg was also writing a piece for the New Yorker arguing that Saddam and Al-Qaeda had made an "alliance."
I believe that Feith and Goldberg pushed the war in good part out of concern for Israel's security. Goldberg has had dual loyalty. He once moved to Israel and served in the Israeli Defense Forces, back when he thought that anti-Semitism was a river running under American society. Feith, who is now a blogger (which is what he should have been doing instead of plotting the destruction of an Arab society), has often put Zionism and Israel first-- and he has good reason to do so. He says in his book that his Polish father narrowly escaped the Holocaust. "Both of his parents, four of his sisters, and all three of his brothers--my grandparents, aunts, and uncles--were murdered in the Holocaust."
Anyone with that background would be preeminently concerned about anti-Semitism. And the primacy of the Holocaust in the Jewish memory/experience means that Jewish liberals and even leftists have given the neoconservatives little resistance as they pushed a militant case on behalf of the Middle East's only democracy. We are all waking up from that now, the Jewish community is. The process will not be complete until neoconservatives and their adjutants are compelled to answer openly, Why do they feel unsafe in America? Is there any real basis for this insecurity?