Right-wing pro-Israel blogger Ted Belman has recently embarrassed himself by joining the stampede of conservative Republicans so desperate to keep Senator Barack Obama out of the White House that they'll say just about anything to scare people out of voting for him.
Make no mistake, Belman and his ilk are scared. The smear tactics which worked so well against John Kerry in 2004 just don't seem to be working on Obama. So, what's an ideologue to do? The answer, apparently, is to take a gaggle of absurd accusations against Obama, combine them into a hastily written hodgepodge of rumor and innuendo, and throw them out into the blogosphere in the hope that "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes."
Here's what the smear-mongers want you to believe:
- jik's diary :: ::
If you aren't right-wing, you're anti-Israel. You can't be pro-Israel if you believe that Palestinians are human beings, or that not all Palestinians are terrorists, or that talking to the Palestinians who aren't trying to kill Israelis might encourage the ones who are to stop. You can't be pro-Israel if you believe that the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict might just involve creating the Palestinian state promised by the same UN resolution which created Israel, or that expanding Israeli settlements in disputed territory might not be such a good idea. You can't be pro-Israel if you stand up for Israel's right to defend itself while at the same time regretting the suffering it inevitably inflicts on the Palestinians. You can't be pro-Israel if your even-handedness and willingness to listen to all sides has earned you the respect of people who aren't.
When it comes to Christian Zionists, Jews should take their money and "support" and try not to notice that they want us to bring on the Apocalypse and then spend eternity in hell. American Jews should support the Republican party because that's where the Christian Zionists are. The Christian Zionists have always been strong supporters of Israel. Never mind the fact that it's war, not peace, that they want for Israel. They pray for Israel to provoke its Arab neighbors into a climactic war that will trigger the Apocalypse and the Second Coming, when the Jews will be forced to choose between salvation through Jesus or eternity in hell.
It's better to judge a person through the words of others than through his own words and deeds. Forget about a distinguished career ranging from helping poor inner-city workers to unionize, to teaching Constitutional law at a prominent university. Forget about eight years on the record as a state and US Senator. Forget about detailed position statements and policy proposals for every issue of national importance. Forget about inspiring, best-selling, truthful memoirs. None of these matter if we can get your childhood milkman to declare, "I always knew there was something odd about him. He only drank skim milk!"
When it comes to Israel, Democrats mean something different even when they say and do the same thing as Republicans. McCain supports the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Not only does the current Republican administration support the two-state solution, it is the first administration to have made it official US policy. McCain and Bush are pro-Israel despite their support for the two-state solution, but Obama's support for the same official US policy makes him anti-Israel and anti-American.
Democrats are responsible for the views of their spiritual advisers, but Republicans aren't. Barack Obama should be held responsible for the offensive views of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, even though he has denounced them and it is clear from his record that he disagrees with them. In contrast, there's nothing wrong with John McCain's "spiritual guide," the Rev. Rod Parsley, declaring that America has been given a mission from God to destroy the "false religion" of Islam. It's safe to assume that McCain doesn't share his reverend's genocidal tendencies, even though McCain hasn't actually said so. Either that, or...
It's OK to preach genocide, as long as it's about people who belong to a religion everybody's afraid of. Demonizing a particular religion and convincing the populace that it is responsible for all the world's ills and must be eradicated shouldn't make Jews nervous at all. After all, it's not like we've ever seen anything like that before, is it?
You can't trust a terrorist, except when it comes to presidential elections. Terrorists can't be trusted to tell the truth or to keep their word. They are expert propagandists, effectively spreading their message of "Death to America!" through lies, sneakiness, and doublespeak. Their words are so dangerous that no right-minded person would consider talking with them. But when one of them makes an off-the cuff remark about the American presidential election, now that is something we should take seriously!
God only punishes America for the things that Republicans think are sins. According to the Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed John McCain's bid for the White House after McCain courted his endorsement, God caused Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans to prevent a scheduled gay parade. According to the Rev. Jerry Falwell, "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU, and People For the American Way" helped cause 9/11. According to the Rev. Pat Robertson, tolerance for homosexuals at Disney World "will bring about the destruction of your nation, terrorist bombs, earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor." These views are perfectly reasonable. However, when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright suggested that perhaps God might disapprove of America for persecuting blacks for centuries and initiating wars that lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent people, now that was downright anti-American!
A whole lot of nothing adds up to something. If they take a whole bunch of easily disproven smears and glom them all together, with just a smidgen of true facts and a large measure of inflammatory, hateful speech thrown in to make them stick, you won't notice that "there is no there there."
You're too stupid to notice they're lying to you. Debunking all the lies the smear-mongers tell is too monumental a task to tackle all at once, but here are two examples from Belman's recent screed:
LIE: "Obama said 'Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.'"
TRUTH: In Obama's own words: "Well, keep in mind what the remark actually, if you had the whole thing, said. And what I said is nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence, and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region. Israel is the linchpin of much of our efforts in the Middle East."
LIE: "Obama has been in bed with Jew haters and Islamic jihad for years."
TRUTH: Obama has been friendly with Jews and supportive of Israel throughout his career. There have always been pro-Israel Jews among his closest advisers. Early in his political career, Obama faced accusations from Chicago's black community of being closer to the city's Jews than to its blacks. Obama lives across the street from one of Chicago's largest synagogues, and its rabbi and virtually the entire congregation supports his presidential bid.
Thinking for yourself is overrated. Why should you take the time to educate yourself about the issues and make an informed decision? It's much easier to let other people tell you what to believe. It's not like helping to choose the next leader of the free world is a big deal. After all, you only get one vote, right?
If you think that's not right, then...
Here's what you can do to help restore civility to the political debate:
Take the time to do your own research. Learn the real facts about our presidential candidates and the real distinctions between them. Whether you decide to vote for Barack Obama or John McCain, your decision should be based on the truth rather than on the warped delusions of people who fear it.
The smear-mongers represent the worst of American political thought. Spend some time reading, instead, George F. Will, David Brooks, and other conservative commentators who present cogent arguments and understand that people can disagree without being disagreeable. For the liberal point of view, Thomas L. Friedman and Bob Herbert are a good place to start.
Visit www.johnmccain.com and www.barackobama.com and learn about the candidates' views, stances and policies in their own words. Obama's stance on Israel is clearly laid out on his site (McCain's doesn't seem to be, for some reason).
Jewish, pro-Israel supporters of Barack Obama have spent many hours examining Obama's background, experience, qualifications, record, and policy proposals. They deeply believe that Obama is the right leader for America. Read what they have to say.
Most importantly, don't be party to the dumbing down of our political process. Don't pass on the smears. Tell the people who send them to you that you expect better. Stand up for the Jewish value (even if you're not Jewish — this is a good one!) which regards lashon hara ("evil speech") as a grave sin, one which harms not only its target but also those who repeat it and those who hear it.
Join with other well-intentioned people as we reclaim our legacy as the world's oldest democracy and live up to the democratic ideals envisioned by our Founding Fathers over 200 years ago. We are on the cusp of a new era of civility and engagement in American politics. Be a part of it!