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Posted by on Apr 20, 2009 in At TMV | 17 comments

It Gets Worse Jazz … Rumor Has It Santa Isn’t Real

I have to admit I stunned by the sheer naivete it takes to find it a shocking revelation that Israel might have agents in the US. Why wouldn’t they? I bet we have agents in Israel. And France and the UK and Germany and Japan for that matter (and vice versa). And I’m sure they have agents here as well. And sometimes the agents get caught, and get arrested or expelled or whatever, and it’s a big incident, and then everyone goes back to where they started.

Just because sovereign states are “friends” doesn’t mean that they are going to take each others word on every last question. Nations — even friendly nations — still spy on each other. I’m sorry if this shocks anyone, and the next time you lose a tooth, for the love of God don’t stay up all night looking for a magic fairy. But on my end, this simply doesn’t give me the vapors.

Okay, enough mockery. More serious and distressing is the conspiratorial tone Jazz adopts, which is not only wholly unwarranted by the actual facts of the story, but I think implicitly buys into some extremely dangerous and illiberal ideas about Jews.

We don’t ask questions like that about Israel and AIPAC is never to be mentioned in anything but glowing terms.
Shhhhh… don’t repeat this, link to it, or mention it to your friends. It doesn’t matter which party holds power in Washington. If you’re heard asking questions about Israel, it will be your phone next now that they’ve already nailed down Harmon.

Well, I guess I’m putting myself up for the Croix de guerre then. Put aside the bizarre leap in logic (“if you dare cross Israel and AIPAC, you’ll end up like Jane Harman, wiretapped while allegedly … performing favors for Israel and AIPAC.”), and the performative contradiction (notwithstanding the above paragraph, in general being associated with a spying scandal isn’t considered positive press coverage) … well, no, I can’t put that aside, because it kind of wrecks the whole argument, doesn’t it? What we’re witnessing is a scandal in which a member of Congress is alleged to have improperly worked with an alleged Israeli agent in a quid pro quo setting. The fact that a) this hit the press and b) it did so because the agents were being wire-tapped by the US government would both seem pretty clear evidence that looking into these questions are not no-gos in American politics.

There is something quite pernicious inlaid in this analysis. The message of this story is clearly not one that is positive from a Israel-phile perspective, and even more clearly does not demonstrate that it is impossible to cross Israel in the US and get away with it. Yet Jazz reinterprets such that it has a virtually opposite meaning, then deploys it to reinforce this Jewish hyper-power myth which is extraordinarily damaging to Jewish equality in the global sphere. It’s bad enough that Jews must systematically restrict their political agency for fears that if we are too assertive in our participation, then suddenly we’re puppet masters. Here, we see another example of how literally any story — even when the objective message would seem to run opposite — can be contorted by the paranoid so that it fits the image of the shadowy, dangerous Zionist cabal.

Just so I lay my cards on the table: The problem isn’t “Jazz is criticizing Israel”. I have no problem with expelling Israeli agents, or (if warranted) arresting and prosecuting Americans who facilitate Israeli espionage. The problem is that Jazz observes a critical piece on Israel fostered by a US government investigation and somehow uses that to say that this sort of criticism and investigation is impossible and, if pursued, will be met with a Zionist hit job. In normal contexts, that’s simply illogical. But since it’s the sort of illogic which still holds significant social potency and is used to deny me my right to fair and equitable political inclusion, it needs to be broken down.