Time's Klein: AIPAC Unpatriotic for Telling Obama to Ease Up on Israel

I wrote too soon apparently.

Hours after I noted how Joe Klein suggested that Americans who support Israel might be unpatriotic for disagreeing with the Obama administration, the Time writer made his claim more explicitly in a Swampland blog post entitled "Israel First?" (emphasis mine):

The America-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has done a very unwise thing: It has issued a statement criticizing the Obama Administration, rather than Israel, for its reaction to the Netanyahu government's recent announcement of more illegal settlement blocks in East Jerusalem--an announcement that was made during Vice President Joe Biden's visit last week, an act of extreme rudeness on top of its unquestioned illegality.

This is quite remarkable. I may be wrong--and commenters are welcome to correct me--but I can't remember another ethnic or religious lobbying group publicly siding with a foreign country against the President of the United States...especially when the country in question is engaging in behavior that the international community believes is illegal.

[...]

As an American Jew, I find this extremely embarrassing and unfortunate. This could get very, very ugly.

As I noted yesterday, no Israeli government in the past 43 years has agreed to a policy of freezing construction in the portion of Jerusalem that Israel won in the Six-Day War of 1967. Indeed, the construction freeze agreement the Netanyahu government reached with the Obama administration applied only to the West Bank, not east Jerusalem.

What's more, the March 14 AIPAC statement Klein whines about is fairly measured and hardly belligerent at all. Here it is in full:

The Obama Administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.

Israel is America's closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the U.S-Israel relationship is rooted in America's fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region. Those strategic interests, which we share with Israel, extend to every facet of American life and our relationship with the Jewish State, which enjoys vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.

The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests.

The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.

We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments.

As Vice President Biden said last week in Israel, "The cornerstone of the relationship is our absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel's security. Bibi, you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel. There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel's security."

Then again, that last paragraph may be precisely why Klein is so irate: AIPAC is willing to point out the hollowness of the Obama administration's protests that it is an unwavering ally of Israel.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters