Jonah Goldberg

This question will have to remain academic because there is scant evidence to back up Yglesias' statement that "major Jewish organizations are trying to push the country into war" with Iran. Neither Clark nor Yglesias offers any. All Yglesias says is that pro-Israel organizations are highlighting the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran. It's Yglesias and Clark who infer that such warnings amount to nefarious backroom warmongering by "New York money people." (Yglesias, under fire, later conceded that rich, right-wing Jews "all on their own" couldn't force war.)

What odd logic. Iran-U.S. relations have been hostile since 1979. Iran funds terrorism and foments attacks on our troops in Iraq (and, probably, at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia). It's led by a Holocaust-denying zealot who dreams of Israel's and America's extinction. And Iran is rapidly seeking nuclear weapons. But, ah yes, it's those bagel-eating puppeteers in New York who are driving us to war with their piles of blood money, clever whispering and devious efforts to call attention to the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. When will those Jews learn?

Are there American Jews who favor military strikes against Iran to prevent it from getting nukes? Of course. But there are also Christians, atheists and perhaps even Muslims who feel likewise. They are all making arguments to support their view, but Yglesias and Clark don't think those arguments are legitimate, so it must be a right-wing Jewish cabal at work.

Which brings us to the claim that (mostly liberal) Jewish groups have worn out the anti-Semitism card with overuse. There's a lot of truth to that. But just as such knee-jerk mau-mauing shouldn't be used to censor people, neither should it justify glib, offensive assertions. Rather, you should simply be careful, both in how you say things and how you marshal facts to bolster your case.

Clark and Yglesias were negligent on both counts. That doesn't make either of them Jew-haters. But it does demonstrate that Clark remains a plodding and confused politician and, more poignantly, that even liberals can be hoisted on the petard of insensitivity.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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