Which David Axelrod?


Jeffrey Goldberg, at the Atlantic, posts a recent photo of Rep. Louis Gohmert (D-Texas) posing with David HaIvri.

Jeffrey notes HaIvri’s past association with Kach, a U.S.-designated banned terrorist group. He headlines the post "The Texas Congressman and the Israeli Fascist." (In HaIvri’s defense, his Wikipedia entry suggests he has left his Kach associations behind and is now part of the mainstream settler leadership.)

In any case, I don’t know if I’d be as non-plussed by the association. Kach and its sympathizers have long imagined an alternative Middle East. Gohmert and the alternative Middle East he imagines from the House floor have been for years matters of wonder for Lara Friedman at Americans for Peace Now, whose weekly legislative round-up is DC must-reading.

Here’s Lara trying to figure out the Middle Eastern map in GohmertLand in her May 27 entry:

Gohmert demonstrates his expertise in all things Middle East when he goes on to suggest that the area of southern Lebanon that Israel withdrew from in 2000 – land that Israel never claimed and in which Israel never implanted settlements – is actually a part of the state of Israel that Israel graciously gave away to Lebanon in an effort to achieve peace.

And, indeed, here’s what the congressman said:

They are so tired of being terrorized and losing friends and family that they’re willing to say, Look, we’ll give you this area up here in Lebanon that we were able to control after the ’67 war when you attacked us, we will give it back to you if you’ll just leave us alone.

Israel in fact withdrew in 2000 from areas it had controlled since 1982 (not 1967) because of public pressure arising from the deaths of soldiers inside Lebanon since the end of the 1982 war — which numbered by then in the mid-500s — and not because it sought peace from Hezbollah.

But I’m way off topic already. What I learned from Jeffrey’s post is that HaIvri is formerly David Axelrod.

His name change is intriguing. I’m almost positive it has nothing to do with the notable hack-to-flack conversion of a onetime Chicago newsman.

It might be nothing more than the Hebraicization that was once de rigueur in Israel, was required for senior army and foreign ministry posts, and that is still popular among some new immigrants.

But here’s what I remember from my reporting days, circa 1990s Israel. There were two David Axelrods then associated with Kach. They both lived in Kfar Tapuah, a West Bank settlement noted — at least then — for its preponderance of Kach associates.

One of them was descended from Leon Trotsky.

And once, at least so the telling went then, they were both detained after getting into a fight.

With each other.

Now packed into that biography are any number of reasons for changing your name. Do you really want to be known for the rest of your life as "David Axelrod, the one descended from Trotsky," or "not descended from Trotsky," for that matter? (I think HaIvri is the one descended.)

And, if you ever had to go at it again in the town square with your doppleganger, and your buddies were barracking for you, wouldn’t you want to know they were barracking for … you?

Disruptive European revolutionaries, dopplegangers … inevitably, it must come to this:

UPDATE: HaIvri recently engaged in a (very civil) tussle with Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine. Hussein Ibish, as far as I know, has never been named David Axelrod.

It’s fascinating: Ibish, whose group strongly endorses two states, refuses to be drawn into a battle of narratives and sticks to a central question: How does HaIvri make work two people with wildly different statuses in the same nation?

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