Those wacky Republicans are up to their old smears–”there they go again” (to quote one of their political deities). They surely must fear what Howard Dean represents or they wouldn’t escalate their rhetoric into the hysterium tremens of their latest ad campaign (see accompanying image–click for larger image) in which the image of a would-be child suicide bomber is juxtaposed with Howard Dean’s statement during the presidential campaign: “It’s not our place to take sides.” The message: when confronted with terrorist evil, Howard Dean dithers.
This is how a Forward editorial characterized the background of Howard Dean’s remark:
In fact, his “don’t take sides” statement — seen in its now-forgotten context — was a reasonable response to a specific question about whether and how to encourage Israeli-Palestinian dialogue at a time of resurgent terrorism.
In other words, he was saying that in order to play a constructive role in promoting Israeli-Palestinian dialogue we must not be seen as taking sides. Otherwise, we could never be seen by either side as an “honest broker.” The editorial goes on to say:
Whatever one thinks of Dean’…it is absurd to suggest, as some Republicans were doing this week, that he will somehow undermine Democratic support for Israel.
Dean might have been naive in thinking he could bring the subtlety of Middle East diplomatic debate into the overheated atmosphere of American presidential politics last year. If so, his naiveté is trumped by the cynicism of his Republican critics right now in seeking to draw a visual link between Dean and the suicide bombers. The new GOP ads recall nothing so much as the placards depicting Yitzhak Rabin in an Arab headdress, which were brandished by the Israeli right in the months before Rabin was assassinated.
If you want to lend your name to a National Jewish Democratic Council petition denouncing these smear tactics visit this link. Tell Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee chair, that you won’t stand for this sort of smear rhetoric.
Of course, this rhetoric is what Bush campaign politics is known for: get an independent group (in this case the Republican Jewish Coalition) to say the low-down mean dreck that you can’t say publicly because you have to make a pretense of being “above the fray.” In this case, you’ve got Jews (Republicans) smearing other Jews (Democrats). It reminds me of the Talmudic admonition against sin’at chinum (roughly “hatred based on nothing”). During the Temple period two brothers started a fight over something terrifically insignificant. But our rabbis tell us that this trivial dispute in turn caused the destruction of the Temple. In the present situation, the entity that will be damaged will be Israel itself. AIPAC and other Jewish organizations pride themselves on the bi-partisan support they line up for Israel within the halls of Congress. Is this campaign designed to encourage Democrats to cooperate with Republicans in efforts to support Israel? To paraphrase the old saying: “If you love me, you sure have a funny way of showing it.”
If you liked what you read here you might want to check out the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Blog Directory, which features eight other Jewish and Arab bloggers with progressive views on the conflict.