Bill Kristol, great man of sacrifice, on the duties of Passover

The New York Times warrior/columnist points to the glories of sacrifice (by others) and the lessons of Judaism to urge a vote for John McCain.

By Glenn Greenwald
April 21, 2008 4:18PM (UTC)
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In his New York Times column today, Bill Kristol not only play-acts his standard role of Brave Warrior for Freedom but unveils his new role as Jewish theologian-moralist. Kristol decided that there is profound insight about the presidential candidates hiding in the Passover statements issued by each campaign: "There's a clear choice of worldviews here -- and not just for Jews, but for all Americans."

Needless to say, while Obama's Passover statement is "slightly New Age" and "multicultural," and Clinton's is "conventional" and lacking "anything interesting or distinctive to say," John McCain's Passover sentiments reveal a noble, powerful, strong and wise crusader for freedom:

Not John McCain. He understands Passover as a time for reflection about sacrifice: "As families gather together for Seders, members of the Jewish faith reflect upon the painful sacrifices made by their ancestors, the joys of freedom, and the triumph of inherent goodness over evil."

Sacrifices for the sake of freedom, the triumph of good over evil -- if John McCain was at a Seder this past weekend, he surely would have liked this passage: "In all ages they rise up against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, rescues us from their hands."

There are few more reprehensible traits in American political culture than the constant exploitation of the glories of "sacrifice for freedom" by war cheerleaders like Kristol who ensure that only others sacrifice and neither they nor their families ever do. What "sacrifices for the sake of freedom" has Bill Kristol -- the prime poster child of nepotistic protection -- ever made in his entire life? He really is someone who never ceases demanding that more and more people around the world be slaughtered, that more and more of the tiny sliver of his fellow citizens who serve in the military be separated from their families and die in wars that he cheers for, all the while telling them that it's their moral, patriotic and religious duty -- but never his or his family's -- to "sacrifice for freedom." Is it even possible to conceive of behavior more self-absorbed, dishonest, and repugnant than that?

So much worse, not only does Bill Kristol never endure any "sacrifices" himself, he benefits wildly from the sacrifices of others that he urges. People continue to be slaughtered and Americans sent to die so that his ideological dreams of an America-dominated Middle East and an Israel unconstrained by anyone or anything can be realized. As the wars and "sacrifices" rage on, his career as a War Commentator consequently flourishes, with more appearances on Fox, more readers for the war-loving Weekly Standard, and now even a column in the New York Times, itself the by-product of nepotistic connections, from which he preaches to the little people of their need to continue to sacrifice for his wars.

On the radio show last week of his fellow resolute, relentless Freedom-Warrior -- law professor Hugh Hewitt -- Kristol excoriated Americans for failing to sacrifice more and more:

So there's a real weariness. Even amongst some decent people of just you know, it seems kind of there's no end, there's no clear, there's no clarity. And are we going to be such a feckless country, frankly, that we're going to waste the sacrifices that have been made, snatch defeat and retreat out of the jaws of success and victory. . . . I'm moderately hopeful that the country gets beyond the kind of weariness and annoyance about the war and gets serious about the world we live in.

Given that accusations of "elitism" are all the rage, is there anything more definitively elitist -- more repulsively elitist -- than continuing to sermonize to a tiny segment of the population that they must continue to give up everything -- even their lives -- while the sermonizers give up absolutely nothing?

Flamboyantly singing the glories of "sacrifice" while never sacrificing themselves is, of course, nothing new for our nation's twisted war cheerleaders. To the contrary, that's their defining attribute.

But the fact that Kristol chose to haul out the moral duties of Judaism and Passover when spinning his warrior tales this time just made it that much uglier. That's true particularly since, as I intend to write more about over the next few days once my book tour ends, shamelessly exploiting the overarching devotion of many Jewish-Americans to Israel will be a principal political weapon in the right-wing noise machine in this year's election, assuming Obama is the nominee (for one truly disgusting though perfectly illustrative example, see The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier accusing Andrew Sullivan of "Jew-baiting" for having dared to criticize Bill Kristol's attack on the authenticity of Barack Obama's Christianity).


All sorts of neoconservatives and their various organs have spent the last year insinuating to American Jews in key voting locales (such as South Florida) that they cannot possibly vote for Barack Obama because he doesn't "support Israel" (by which they mean militaristic Likudnik policies that are actually quite damaging to Israel and which huge numbers of American Jews and even Israelis themselves reject). At the same, in order to prevent this tactic from being challenged or even discussed, they scream "anti-semite!" at anyone who points out a benevolent and painfully obvious fact: that many Americans Jews have loyalties to Israel that influence their voting behavior and political positions -- the very premise on which these smear campaigns are predicated.

Joe Lieberman -- whose bloodthirsty neoconservative fanaticism would clearly be one of the most potent influences on a President McCain -- has been running around South Florida telling Jewish voters they should vote for McCain because he "supports Israel," while neoconservative organs -- circulated far and wide via email in American Jewish communities -- smear Obama as someone who has been "aligning himself with people who are anti-Israel advocates"; has "ease around Israel animus"; and is "the candidate likely to be least supportive of Israel" and "the candidate most favored by the Arab-American community." It's to advance that dark and deceitful strategy that we have Bill Kristol spouting things like this today in The New York Times:

McCain's statement is also the only one to mention current assaults on Jews. . . . So if Clinton's Passover message is liberal, and Obama's is multicultural, one might call McCain's Zionist.

Indeed. It's absolutely critical that we all heed Bill Kristol's warnings and continue to sacrifice for all his political objectives -- especially on Passover. That means, first and foremost, voting for John McCain so that he can continue to wage endless wars in the Middle East while others perish in pursuit of Glorious Kristolian Sacrifice. That is the real lesson of Passover, teaches our nation's towering, noble, courageous theologian and Freedom-warrior -- Bill Kristol.

Glenn Greenwald

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