Fair and Balanced Envoys

by Brien Jackson

Anti Defamation League grand poobah Abe Foxman is worried about Barack Obama appointing former Senator George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East because Mitchell is, wait for it, too fair. Yglesias is not particularly amused:

For one thing, I’m not thrilled to see Foxman talking about this issue at all which seems far afield from the ADL’s mandate. But the position he’s taking is also incredibly stupid—nobody comes out against fairness. It’d be one thing to complain that Mitchell is somehow biased against Israel in a problematic way, but Foxman’s complaining that he’s too fair and even-handed. That’s absurd. Fair is a good quality in an envoy.

Well this isn’t really the first time Foxman has waded out of the realm of the ADL’s “mandate,” so I’m not all that surprised. But I think Foxman’s real problem here is that he’s just not very good at this sort of thing. What he’s really doing, after all, is just confirming something we already knew, that the “Israel lobby” isn’t actually concerned with a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so much as they’re concerned with making sure the US can bent into supporting Israeli policy at all times. Which is fine, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and you’re also entitled to advocate for those opinions. But it’s something that ought to be kept in mind the next time someone is being accused of anti-Semitism or Israel hating for pointing out that the right-wing of Israel hawks are neither concerning themselves, primarily, with US interests nor seeking, in good faith, a peaceful solution to the situation.