Joe Klein still fighting


Back in June, Joe Klein found himself on the defensive, after he argued that “the desire of a great many Jewish neoconservatives — people like Joe Lieberman and the crowd over at Commentary” to go to war with Iraq and Iran was raising questions about Jewish loyalties. He went back and forth with Commentary bloggers, including Jennifer Rubin, and exchanged feisty letters (here and here) with the ADL’s Abe Foxman. He also was criticized by John McCain.

Well … we’d like to update you on Round 2.

Klein recently took aim at a column by Rubin in the Jerusalem Post titled “Why more Jews won’t be voting Democrat this year.”

The Times columnist characterized Rubin as saying that “the most important thing for Jewish Americans to consider about Barack Obama is his policy toward Israel.” And then…

“The real problem with Rubin’s distorted view is this: the overwhelming majority of American Jews–except, perhaps, for the Commentary crowd – are far more concerned about what the next President has to say about the United States than about Israel. Rubin’s description of the interests of American Jews is an embarrassment that plays into the worst antisemitic stereotypes.”

Two problems with Klein’s slam on Rubin.

First, she never suggested that the bulk of American Jews would end up voting for McCain over Israel-related concerns. In fact, she suggested the opposite:

That does not mean Obama will not carry the majority of the Jewish vote. Jews are overwhelmingly Democratic, and it is certainly the case that for many American Jews the secular liberal agenda takes precedence over everything else in presidential politics.

The second point is that did she say specifically say that Israel is “the most important thing” for Jews to consider when voting for president.

What she did say is that there are some Jews who believe Israel’s survival is at stake, and that there is nothing in Obama’s record to suggest that he will definitely deliver in a life-or-death crisis.

On the one hand, it’s easy to understand why Joe Klein, himself a Jew, takes umbrage with what he feels are the efforts of conservatives to accuse him of anti-Semitism. But, at the same time, last time I checked, Rubin is an American, so maybe he should be a bit more cautious before painting her with the dual-loyalty brush.

His post leaves me wondering: If Klein thought Israel’s survival depended on the actions of the U.S. president, and he concluded that a specific candidate could not be counted on to back up Israel, to what degree would that sway his vote?

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