On Thursday August 20th, the Washington Post reported that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has branded Ralph Nader a “bigot”, which is a furtive way of saying they think the independent candidate for president is a vile anti-Semite. Nader has come under attack from the ADL and their executive director Abe Foxman for suggesting that the US should proceed in a new direction regarding the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
“The days when the chief Israeli puppeteer comes to the United States and meets with the puppet in the White House and then proceeds to Capitol Hill, where he meets with hundreds of other puppets, should be replaced. The Washington Puppet Show should be replaced.” Nader said in Washington DC forum titled “The Muslim Vote — Election 2004”.
Nader’s crack at Ariel Sharon for being the “chief Israeli puppeteer”, and his jab at George W. Bush for being Sharon’s “puppet”, didn’t sit well with the pro-Zionist defense organization. Nader’s comments provoked a rejoinder from the league which stated, “[Nader’s] image of the Jewish state as a ‘puppeteer,’ controlling the powerful US Congress feeds into many age-old stereotypes which have no place in legitimate public discourse.”
Of course Nader wasn’t speaking of Israel’s control over all US policies, but simply the US’s special relationship with Sharon’s occupying government. But as usual, the penalty for condemning the Israeli military establishment amounts to nothing less than being labeled a filthy Jew-hater — for which it seems Ralph Nader is not even immune.
Standing fearlessly behind his claim, Nader told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! that, “The truth here is that there is no balanced determination. The U.S. government never connects with the deep and broad Israeli peace movement They put 120,000 people in the square in Tel Aviv recently. You would think that the U.S. government was not a puppet it would support the deep Israeli peace movement — which has been in touch with the Palestinian peace advocates and has worked out more than one accord So, there should be a debate. The two candidates Kerry, and Bush, are both pro-Israeli military government.”
Even if some progressives detest Ralph Nader’s decision to run this year, pro-Palestinian advocates must admit that it is gratifying to finally hear such arguments made in the public arena — for these criticisms have been political faux-paus for far too long. And certainly Nader is right to point out that little will change regarding the US and Israel if Kerry defeats Bush in November. As Kerry exclaimed to a Georgetown University crowd in January 2003, “Israel is our ally, the only true democracy in a troubled regionAmerica has always been committed to Israel’s independence and survival. We will never waiver.”
Ralph Nader isn’t notorious for backing down from a fight, and hard-line Zionists are always quick to throw the first sucker punch. So you can bet this will not be the last of the anti-Semitic accusations hurled at Nader by the ADL or other pro-Israel factions. It seems their only response to allegations of the US’s critical support for the brutal Israeli government, or one’s compassion for the Palestinian plight, is to label such individuals as malicious Jew-hating-bigots. It just shows how insignificant the ADL’s charges have become. Ralph Nader is not David Duke. Even if they want you to think so.
Joshua Frank, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.