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Cowardice on Israel

Nicholas Kristof’s column in yesterday’s NYT was right. American politicians avoid criticism of Israel, no matter what Israel does. He correctly touts Jordanian King Abdullah’s speech to the US Congress. And he correctly points out that there is much more criticism of Israeli policies in Israel than there is in the US. Kristof said:

One reason for the void is that American politicians have learned to muzzle themselves. In the run-up to the 2004 Democratic primaries, Howard Dean said he favored an “even-handed role” for the U.S. — and was blasted for being hostile to Israel. Likewise, Barack Obama has been scolded for daring to say: “Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.” In contrast, Hillary Rodham Clinton has safely refused to show an inch of daylight between herself and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

A second reason may be that American politicians just don’t get it. King Abdullah of Jordan spoke to Congress this month and observed: “The wellspring of regional division, the source of resentment and frustration far beyond, is the denial of justice and peace in Palestine.” Though widely criticized, King Abdullah was exactly right: from Morocco to Yemen to Sudan, the Palestinian cause arouses ordinary people in coffee shops more than almost anything else.

He points out that last year while Palestinians killed 17 Israelis, of whom one was a child, the Israelis killed 660 Palestinians, of whom 141 were children.

It’s ironic that Americans, especially American politicians who fear AIPAC, are so much more conservative in their support for oppresive Israeli policies than Israelis are themselves.

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