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Attacking Kirk the Chicago Way

Some people actually believe what they say.

11:21 AM, Apr 16, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The followers of Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias--let's call him the Ali G of Illinois--are going after Republican candidate Rep. Mark Kirk for ... his support of Israel, saying that the congressman only supports Israel because it is politically prudent of him to do so. (Here's video of Kirk talking about Obama and Israel.) Steven Sheffey, who is co-hosting a little "Meet and Greet" at a law firm in Chicago next week with Ali G, sent out a mass email reeking of mass desperation. Sheffey writes:

If there is anything that pro-Israel advocates should agree on, it is that Israel should not be turned into a political football for partisan gain. But that’s exactly what Mark Kirk did yesterday by jumping on misrepresentations of President Obama’s recent comments.

Kirk said that “reports in the New York Times this morning are very disturbing that we are distancing ourselves from our best allies in the Middle East.” But we’re not. The New York Times article was an analysis of what might happen, not what is happening. Nothing Obama said, despite the best efforts of Kirk, Eric Cantor, and our other Republican friends, justifies that conclusion. The bottom line is that Obama was not blaming Israel for anything and relations between the U.S. and Israel remain strong.

If only it were so. The New York Times article is about what is happening regarding policy and attitude toward Israel. That already has happened, though it's true that all the consequences have not come to light, and that's the theme of the article in question. (Which, by the way, can be read here.)

The "bottom line," according to Sheffey, is "Obama was not blaming Israel for anything and relations between the U.S. and Israel remain strong." So when folks from the White House called the announcement from Israel's housing bureaucracy an "insult," what did they actually mean? And what did it mean when the Obama administration showed Netanyahu the back door on his subsequent visit to the White House (no photo op from the president who seems only interested in photo ops, no joint statement, etc.)?  

At best, Sheffey is caught up in an argument over semantics. But the more likely scenario is that he's being completely disingenuous. Even if this article had not been written, it's apparent to all observers that the U.S. attitude and policy toward Israel has shifted. To ardent supporters of Israel, this shift is quite worrisome, if not to Ali G and his supporters.  

Today in the Washington Post, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel has taken out a full page ad in an apparent rebuke of his friend Barack Obama. He says, "Jerusalem is above politics," and ends his piece saying,  "Jerusalem is the heart of our heart, the soul of our soul." No doubt, according to Sheffey's reasoning, Wiesel's words, and the impetus for his writing, is merely "a political football for partisan gain." Or perhaps he actually believes what he's saying. No doubt, this must be difficult for the Chicago political machine to understand.

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