Not too surprisingly, all things considered, Bill Maher is now featured on American Friends of Likud.
The truth is that it has become somewhat of an embarrassment to some of his fans, including an important part of the Jewish community in America, what a sycophant to the Likud the comedian has been turning into.
The Benjamin Netanyahu interview (Youtube clip) was an amazing thing to behold. For all practical purposes, Bill Maher allowed the head of the Israeli right-wing platform to spew his one-sided argument while nodding along.
"I will work for you," I believe, Maher actually said.
Fox News couldn't have done any better - or any worse, depending on one's point of view - where such things, as one sided propaganda, are concerned.
One of the things that the fans of Real Time used to love about the comedian formerly known as Politically Incorrect was his equal opportunity irreverence. Back when he used to be his own man, his fans did not always agree with him (a healthy thing in my book insofar as such indicators go), but propaganda was a thing that he used to expose instead of being one of its high priests. It is a sad development that his latest political pandering has turned into a VNR for the Likud party.
Insofar as Bemjamin Netanyahu is concerned, with regard to recent American politics, it is worth remembering that it is only a mere eleven years ago, back in 1996, that a study group led by Richard Perle prepared a report for Benjamin Netanyahu, the current leader of the Likud party (then-Prime Minister of Israel), presenting a new approach to solving Israel's security problems in the Middle East with an emphasis on "Western values." It has since been criticized for advocating an aggresive new policy and advancing right-wing Zionism. The report, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, recommended repudiation of the Oslo Accords and instead called for the seizure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as encouraging an outright invasion of Iraq by the United States. It then suggested the next items that should be on the agenda: toppling the governments of Syria, Lebanon, and Iran.
It is a strange paradox and a sad irony that while Bill Maher has made himself a solid reputation for his fight against what passed for a while for the "political correctness" of unquestioned (and would be unquestionable) "patriotic" support for extremist reductionism of all kinds here at home and especially where it came to the policies of the current administration (Bill Maher is still a strong critic of the invasion of Iraq), he has now, where it comes to Israel, turned into the champion of the very same thing he used to fight.
Bill Maher may think he speaks for the Jewish community in America and all around the world, he may even think he speaks for Israel, the truth of the matter is he doesn't. Benjamin Netanyahu does no more speak for Israel, and even less for the Jewish diaspora, as George W. Bush ever spoke for the American people as a whole. And neither does the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) whose views primarily reflects the right-wing Likud's positions, rather than also representing those of more progressive Israeli political parties, such as the Labor Party.
As Gregory Levy pointedly observed in a relatively recent article dated December 2006:
Many American Jews, it seems, have similar feelings. Eighty-seven percent of them voted Democratic in the recent midterms -- the highest number since 1994 -- belying the oft-repeated claim that the Bush administration's staunch support for Israel would move the traditionally Democratic Jewish vote toward the Republicans. The fact is that most American Jews, and many other American supporters of Israel, do not see eye-to-eye on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the most hawkish, knee-jerk Israel supporters in the U.S. government -- even if their presumed leadership, represented by AIPAC, often appears to do so. Moreover, AIPAC's influence in Washington may soon begin to decline, as a powerful new alliance of left-leaning friends of Israel has begun to emerge, with the express aim of reshaping U.S. strategy on the region's most intractable problem.
At a time when there have been talks, by such groups as the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), Americans for Peace Now (APN) and Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, to form a new Jewish lobby seeking to counterbalance the one-sided views of the powerful AIPAC, Bill Maher has taken sides, and apparently, insofar as AIPAC is concerned, he has done the "safe" and "politically correct" choice: he has pledged allegiance to the the Likud and his chairman, Benjamin Netanyahu.
Posted by Tom Bombadil on 2/27/2007