The prominent New York Democrat's far-right Zionism might surprise some of his new liberal fans
Rep. Anthony Weiner’s completely non-measured, non-conciliatory remarks on the Israeli attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla are proof that he’d rather be a successful New York politician than a prominent national liberal.
It’s a little odd, actually. Weiner has spent the last year becoming the sort of unapologetic liberal Democrat that netroots activists and cable news bookers love.
After deciding not to run for mayor of New York last year, Weiner dedicated himself to being a relentless advocate for the Democratic healthcare reform plan. (He blogged on HuffPo and everything.) He’s great with a sound bite and he’s a born street fighter in a party full of timid moderates. He’s Jon Stewart’s old college roommate. He’s taking on Glenn Beck and sparring with Bill O’Reilly. He’s easily one of the most prominent liberal politicians in the nation.
But at the end of the day, he still wants to be mayor of New York, once billionaire Mayor-for-Life Michael Bloomberg finally grows bored and steps aside.
Will the liberals who only know Weiner from his feisty MSNBC appearances and his staunch support of the president’s domestic initiatives be put off when they hear him taking the “Israel can do no wrong” side in the debate over Israel’s botched raid, in international waters, of a humanitarian aid flotilla?
Weiner’s statement is comical. “Even if we are the only country on earth that sees the facts here,” Weiner says, “the United States should stand up for Israel.” That’s the statement of a man with whom there can be no reasoning.
And it’s not, by any means, outside the norm for Weiner. He’s precisely the sort of liberal establishment politician that Peter Beinart accused of failing young American Jews in the New York Review of Books recently. In the past, Weiner has matter-of-factly accused Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International of being anti-Semitic. And not just them!
“I would argue that in many cases, the New York Times has” anti-Israel bias, Weiner told Amy Goodman in 2006. The idea of any elite, establishment newspaper in New York having an “anti-Israel bias” makes sense only if you consider any criticism of any action taken by the state of Israel to be out of line.
Also in 2006, Weiner introduced legislation banning aid to the Palestinian Authority and barring the Palestinian delegation to the U.N. (and kicking them out of the county). Weiner insisted that the PLO was a terrorist organization. And the delegation, he said, “should start packing their little Palestinian terrorist bags.”
His demagoguery on this particular issue largely stopped once he decided he couldn’t beat Bloomberg. But he’s hawkish enough that Ronn Torossian, a scummy publicist who once told a journalist that he wants a thousand Arabs to be killed for every Jew, threw Weiner a “breakfast reception” in January. I doubt Torossian (who’s represented right-wing religious cranks Benny Hinn and John Hagee) appreciates Weiner for his advocacy for single-payer Medicare for all Americans.
Support for Israel in all its conflicts is still the bipartisan norm in Congress, but the rise of the neocons in the Republican Party has made unquestioning support of Israel’s current right-wing government increasingly a right-wing concern in the U.S. Democrats face pressure from the young, activist base to be more critical of Israeli actions than they were expected to be a generation ago.
But Weiner needs the support of New York’s Orthodox and Hasidic communities if he wants to be mayor. And it’s bad enough that he recently married a Muslim woman! (Check out the comments here if you want to see how quickly some right-wing Israel supporters can turn on one of their most steadfast political allies.) Philip Weiss says Weiner just repeats the talking points of the Israel lobby because that’s what his constituency wants to hear. If that’s true or not, he’ll continue repeating the far-right line on Israel.
It will be interesting to see what sort of statement Sen. Chuck Schumer makes, if he makes one. Schumer’s untouchable in New York, and he’s been, like his protégé Weiner, a staunch ally of Israel throughout his carer. But Schumer wants to be the Senate majority leader. And a good portion of the senators who might support Schumer want an unapologetic liberal leader. I imagine Schumer will put out something equally uncritical of Israel, but way less confrontational than Weiner’s statement.
More Related Stories
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge talks gun rights with Alex Jones
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
- Coburn calls questions about tornado aid "typical Washington B.S."
- Conspiracy theorists clash over London attack
- Voting is not a right
- Destroying the planet for record profits
- Ahead of Obama's speech, U.S. acknowledges four American drone killings
- Pic of the day: Barack Obama at prom
- Anti-Islam backlash in London after machete attack
- Must-see morning clip: Bill O'Reilly visits "The Daily Show"
- Obama’s drone speech will probably be maddening
- Boehner: "Inconceivable" Obama didn't know about IRS targeting
- Obama to announce new effort to close Guantanamo Bay
- House supporters of KXL received $56m from fossil fuel industry
- Judge tells lesbian couple to separate -- or lose kids
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
War Room is our political news and commentary blog, with coverage and commentary throughout the day.