Rep. Alan Grayson become something of a folk hero in the liberal blogosphere (and a boogeyman to conservatives) after his vocal criticisms of Republicans, particularly when he called the current health-care system in the United States a "holocaust." But now some liberal pundits are criticizing Grayson because they say he’s too supportive of Israeli policies.
Writing on the Mondoweiss blog, Max Blumenthal — in a post entitled "Gutsy progressive congressman Alan Grayson leads a double life" — argues:
Grayson has battled for the public option and opposed the wars Obama has inherited from Bush. Of course, these positions are upheld by a broad swath of congressional Democrats and, at least in the case of the public option, are supported by a majority of Americans. But when it comes to the Israel-Palestine conflict, Grayson is fully programmed by AIPAC and the pro-war, pro-settlements wing of the Israel Lobby.
Blumenthal then goes on to mischaracterize an interview Grayson gave to the Philadelphia Jewish Voice early this year, writing that the congressman says AIPAC excecutive director Howard Kohr helped to "educate" him about "Israel-related issues."
Grayson did say he had recently met twice with Kohr, but added that he was already quite familar with the Middle East and gets his information from the Israeli media:
I think what AIPAC often tries to do is to educate Members of Congress who frankly follow this a lot less closely than I do. In my case, I read Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post online four or five times a week, so I am pretty familiar with the circumstances and why the war took place.
Over on TPM, MJ Rosenberg links to Blumenthal’s piece and makes a similar attack on the Florida congressman:
He seems fearless.
But not when it comes to Israel where he is pure AIPAC. 100% path of least resistance. And proud of it.
It just goes to my point that most Members of Congress only stick their necks out on issues when they are sure it won’t cost them….anything. That is why some of your favorite legislators who are great on the environment, labor, marriage equality, health care, Afghanistan, Iraq, whatever, are hawks on Israel. They are afraid of AIPAC.
Grayson is typical. Brave, with a big asterisk.
There is, of course, the other possibility left unexplored by Blumenthal and Rosenberg: Grayson votes the way he does on Israel issues not because he is "afraid of AIPAC" but because that is actually what he really believes.