What do AIPAC, Abe Foxman and Azmi Bishara have in common? More than you might think.
James Besser’s story in today’s Jewish Week about the AIPAC spying trial struck me regarding his interview of Abe Foxman. Foxman is mightily uncomfortable naturally with the prospect of the AIPAC staffers going to the slammer for spying for Israel. He tends to think it’s a government witch hunt with overtones of anti-Semitism. He doesn’t like the idea of the government trying to conduct the trial in secret:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that a prosecution shrouded in secrecy fuels the theories that view AIPAC in conspiratorial terms — and helps move those theories from the edge into the American mainstream.
“The whole thing has a chilling effect in part because the whole case raises more questions than answers,” he said. “We still don’t know what it’s all about, but we do know that it legitimizes people who are coming to conclusions, who are using the case to reinforce their own beliefs.”
Foxman, too, sees hints of anti-Semitism in the way the prosecution has unfolded. He called the trial a “very distressing phenomenon, especially when we realize that the story was first leaked in stark terms of Jews spying in America on behalf of Israel. That was a classical anti-Semitic form.”
Those of you following my coverage of the Azmi Bishara secret spying case may see where I’m going here. The two cases are mirror images of each other (with the proviso that I have a lot more faith in the federal government’s case against Rosen and Weissman than I do the Shin Bet’s case against Bishara). But think about it. Foxman says a “prosecution shrouded in secrecy” fuels conspiracy theories against AIPAC and American Jews. What about the secret Bishara charges and the effect they have on Israeli Jews’ views of Israeli Arabs? And think again about this quote in terms of the Bishara affair: “The whole thing has a chilling effect…we still don’t know what it’s all about…” And here again: “The story was first leaked in stark terms of Jews spying in American on behalf of Israel.” Which is precisely the charge against Bishara: spying on behalf of Hezbollah during the Lebanon war.
Do you think ol’ Abe would understand the irony? And would he be willing to extend to Azmi Bishara the same protections and consideration he’d like extended to the AIPAC suspects?? You already know the answer to that one.