Frank van der Linde, a Dutch political-social activist who spent a long time in Israel and has dozens of friends in the country, is the face of the BDS campaign in the Netherlands. In a special interview to Yedioth Ahronoth, he explains why he doesn’t recognize Israel as a state, dismisses claims of hypocrisy in light of the other injustices taking place in the world, and says he supports the rights of both Palestinian and Jewish refugees.
Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic is a respected and well-connected American commentator on U.S.-Israel affairs and regional issues such as the nuclear deal with Iran. His access to top Administration officials like President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry is among the best in the business.
When he wrote a few months ago that a senior Administration official had described Benjamin Netanyahu as “chickenshit,” it caused gigantic waves in both Washington and Jerusalem. People in the know take Goldberg seriously.
So what is one to make of his latest effort, which propels the Iranian regime’s attitudes to Jews and Israel into the forefront of the ongoing debate (or virtual war) over getting the nuclear deal through Congress?
Goldberg’s confusion is evident from the start. The article is headlined “Why Iran’s Anti-Semitism Matters,” while the sub-headline is “A close read of Obama and Kerry’s comments on whether Iranian leaders seek Israel’s destruction.”
In other words, seeking Israel’s destruction—if that indeed is what the Iranian regime is after—is synonymous with anti-Semitism. But is it? And is there a consequential difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (or anti-Israelism,) or is it OK to conflate the two, as Goldberg does?
(Being a journalist I know that writers are very often not responsible for the headlines attached to their article and are at the mercy of less-stringent copy editors. But that’s not the case here. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel are used interchangeable by Goldberg throughout the piece, as in “Does the Iranian leadership seek the elimination of Israel? I had already discussed the nature of Iranian-regime anti-Semitism with Obama in a May interview.”)
Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, something remarkable is happening in American politics: the irreconcilable conflict of interest between most Americans on one side and Israel and its American supporters on the other is on full display and impossible to ignore. In the past the conflict could be papered over with grand empty rhetoric about the two sides being in “lock-step” and the absence of “daylight” between them. But no more. The conflict is out in the open where everyone can see it. Iran should be thanked for this valuable service.
War with Iran would be a catastrophe not only for the Iranians, including thousands of Jewish Iranians who openly practice their religion in their ancient community, and other people in the Middle East; it would also be a catastrophe for Americans—hence the conflict of interest between most Americans and the war party. Those, like Tom Cotton, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, and John Bolton, who think an attack on Iran would be a cakewalk, are either liars or fools. These are the same people, of course, who said the Iraq war would be easy and would usher in a new liberal Middle East. The result has been unspeakable sectarian violence throughout the region, culminating in the Islamic State and a reinvigorated al-Qaeda
There have recently been several articles in outlets like Haaretz, and others with titles something along the lines of “Who is Meir Ettinger?” In their articles they describe how Meir is the grandson of Rabbi Meir Kahane and how he is the head of a “terrorist” organization.
But, none of that really tells you about who Meir really is. None of that tells you what it would be like to meet him or what it would be like to live in a state that reflected Meir’s vision. As someone who has met Meir, on many occasions, and as someone who considers him a friend, I’d like to tell you who Meir Ettinger is, really.
The first time I met Meir was while he was learning in yeshiva. I saw him learning very intensely and decided that I wanted to meet this holy Jew. I introduced myself and I could immediately tell how much he cared for me as a fellow Jew. He was soft spoken, yet clearly very learned in Torah and Chassidus.
The next time I recall meeting Meir was when we spent Shabbos together. This was before he got married, and Meir had prepared Shabbos meals for a group of young people who had come to help settle one of the Jewish hilltops in the Shomron. I remember his smile as he joked that since he could cook he didn’t need to get married. A few of us mentioned that the potatoes were undercooked and he joked that maybe he’d have to get married, but his wife would only have to make the potatoes.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, right, speak during an event following the first session of the newly-elected Knesset in Jerusalem, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Gali Tibbon, Pool)
JERUSALEM, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Israel’s president suggested on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been overzealous in opposing the Iran nuclear deal, opening a “battlefront” with Washington and isolating his country.
Reuven Rivlin, who holds the largely ceremonial head of state post, argued in three separate newspaper interviews that Netanyahu’s vigorous campaign against last month’s nuclear deal between world powers and Iran could ultimately hurt Israel.
A former right-wing politician with a history of strained ties to the prime minister, Rivlin has voiced his own reservations about the deal but put it in a wider diplomatic context in the interviews.