The Chas Freeman debate has devolved into the typical pissing contest between the token pro-occupationists and the Juicebox Mafia, and given as it should be clear where I stand in that, I didn’t feel it necessary to comment. But this accusation of Jon Chait’s is so truly vile that it needs singling out:
Walt is arguing that any Jewish-American who does not roughly share his views on Israel (which, of course, disqualifies the vast majority) is presumptively acting out of dual loyalty, is probably coordinating their actions in secret, and should thus be dismissed out of hand.
This is a lie. Walt has never said this. I defy Chait to find any Walt quote where you accuses all Jewish-Americans with hawkish views on Israel of dual loyalties. What I have read Walt say is that two specific individuals – Steven Rosen and Jeffrey Goldberg – have dual loyalties. Because they do. Steve Rosen is under federal indictment for being an Israeli spy, and Jeff Goldberg is an IDF veteran.
Now, I recognize that accusations of dual loyalties are a frequent anti-semitic trope, but let’s be clear for a second. I’m roughly the same age that Goldberg was when he enlisted in the IDF. If I were to move to the UK and enlist in the British Army, most people would conclude that I have dual loyalties with the US and Britain. And they’d be right, because that’s what dual loyalties means. Similarly, if I were to serve for decades as a major lobbyist pushing for closer Anglo-American ties and it came out that I had been funneling classified information from a source in the DoD to the MI6, any reasonably intelligent person would say I had dual loyalties, if not singular loyalty to Great Britain. And, again, they’d be right.
Does this mean that Rosen and Goldberg’s opinions are invalid? Of course not. But it does mean that they should be interpreted as driven by a desire to protect Israeli and American interests, rather than just the latter. It’s not beyond the pale, then, for someone solely concerned with the American national interest like Walt to dismiss Rosen and Goldberg’s arguments, or least be highly skeptical of them, on the basis of the mens’ dual loyalties. What is beyond the pale is baselessly accusing someone of anti-Semitism for rhetorical gain and blatantly lying about what that person has said. Then again, that’s the basic business model of TNR these days, so I really shouldn’t be surprised. It’s just disheartening to see someone as smart as Chait – who’s so consistently good on economic issues – to sink to such a contemptible level of discourse.