Both Israelis and American Jews are beginning the learn the cost of being House Jews for the Democratic Party:
Sometime in the fall of 2008 I sat down at my desk and banged out an impassioned letter to my sister. She was on the fence, I knew, about the young senator from Illinois who was running for president. There was some talk in the family that perhaps, on at least one occasion, during the Bush years, she had voted Republican.
We chalked it up to her decision, made as a college freshman, to marry a skilled and caring med student, who hailed from Michigan and loved cars. He drove a Chevy, Grand Am — candy red, I think — and called the city of his birth Dee-troit.
Sure, we realized, he was a terrific father and a stand-up guy all around, but he distrusted all things organic — he was in the habit of scrubbing my sister’s farmers’ market apples with hot water and soap — and he wore jeans while skiing. He loved mayonnaise and iceberg lettuce, had a soft spot for ATVs and leaf-blowers.
In short, we didn’t ask who he voted for — there was some hope that he might be a Libertarian — but, in the fall of 2008, the facts seemed quite clear: He was going with John McCain and Sarah Palin. My sister, I feared, might follow suit.
And so I took to the computer. In an email entitled “Politics” — which I reread this week for the first time in the wake of the nuclear framework deal agreed upon in Lausanne, a deal that has left me with the clammy feeling of anticipated betrayal — I spoke about the horrors of the American prison system and the plague of racism that continue to rot America from the inside; I spoke about drugs and how only people of color are incarcerated for using and dealing them, while people like George W. Bush and every other person I knew in college was free to pull bong hits, take acid, and boil ‘shrooms to his or her heart’s content. I think I spoke about African-American role models and education and gay rights. I even told her to read Frederick Douglass.
Then I lampooned McCain for never having sent an email and mentioned his age. “McCain is 72,” I wrote. “He has had four of five bouts of melanoma. He spent five and a half years in a POW camp. He is dad’s age. Dad is in great shape for his age. He has not been to the Hanoi Hilton. Yet he falls asleep at dinner regularly. Something could happen to McCain. In walks the moose hunter.”
As for Israel, I said with all the authority I could muster, it didn’t really matter. No president has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The United States believes in a two-state solution. The occupation of the West Bank and its subsequent settlement with civilians made sense historically, emotionally, but was a horrid piece of irony: The nation that had lived under persecution for two thousand years because of its statelessness had, in a sublime moment, carved out a state in its ancient homeland and revived its wizened language only to sacrifice that historic achievement on the altar of — of all things! — territorial expansion.
A deal with the Palestinians, pushed forward by American muscle, was in Israel’s interest, I said. Without a two-state solution, guided by someone like Barack Obama, “Palestinians will outnumber us and will no longer consider 1967 a relevant date. The battle will be for all of Israel and they will win. Everyone will be yelling ‘Apartheid.’ Within two generations we’ll see the destruction of the Third Temple.”
Moreover, I noted, Bush, with his love of Zion, had been a disaster, inadvertently empowering Iran. Obama, with his cool detachment, was just what we needed.
Lastly, I encouraged her to vote Democrat, now, before her Alex P. Keaton-like eldest got the right to vote and cancelled her out. And she did (I think, maybe). She even wrote to me about the beauty of that cold January day in 2009 when he was sworn into office.
What a pity this stab-in-the-back could not possibly have been foreseen… even if I failed to note that his ritual genuflection to AIPAC was even less genuine than it appeared to be at the time.
After eight years of experiencing regular pain between the shoulder blades, conservatives can enjoy the prospect of the knife sticking out of liberal backs.