The Shadow Cabinet

Obama meets with left-wing critics of Israel to plot next moves

May 10, 2012

President Obama sat down yesterday with a cadre of far-left foreign policy writers, several of whom regularly lambast the state of Israel, to get advice on a range of critical foreign policy issues, among them Afghanistan, Israel, and NATO, according to press accounts.

The group of nine included several writers who promulgate fringe views about the state of Israel, advocate in favor of divestment from Israel, and describe the Jewish State as an "apartheid" state—views that are also endorsed by the most extreme anti-Israel advocates.

Liberal author Peter Beinart—who has compared Israel to the segregated South and advocates boycotting areas of the country that he deems "non-democratic"—is reported to have joined forces with several other Israel bashers, such as the New Yorker's David Remnick and Time magazine's Joe Klein, for a powwow with the president. Left-wing activist Jane Mayer of the New Yorker also attended the meeting.

"The group is also notable for the inclusion of writers with radically different views on the Israel debate," observed Politico’s Dylan Byers.

Remnick has described Israel as undemocratic and akin to Syria and Egypt, while Klein is known for penning a series of misleading articles chastising the Jewish state. He also has expressed sympathy for Iran, a country run by Holocaust-denying anti-Semites who are intent on developing a nuclear weapon.

Bienart, however, might be the most surprising name on the list given his outspoken and vociferous criticism of Israeli policies. Those viewpoints place him far outside the mainstream of Jewish public opinion.

The former TNR editor recently advocated divestment from Israel at a J Street event, a technique employed by activists who aim to destroy Israel’s economy and thereby the tiny state.

The meeting also raises questions about how Obama might approach the issue of Israel in a more flexible second term.

"If President Obama believes Peter Beinart’s opinions are credible or anywhere near mainstream thought, then that is a five alarm fire for Israel supporters all across the world," said one senior GOP adviser. "It’s completely irresponsible to have the president meet with a radioactive writer and anti-Israel activist who has been shunned, alienated, and isolated by even the most left wing factions of the organized pro-Israel community."