By Dan Fleshler | February 1, 2008
Unable to find anything in his past to prove that Barack Obama will sell Israel down the river, right wing bloggers in my community are now focusing on one of his Middle East advisors, Robert Malley. Malley served various roles in the Clinton Administration and was President Clinton’s special assistant during the Camp David talks.
Ed Lasky’s character assassination of Malley in American Thinker spews accusations that are being echoed all over the right wing Zionist blogosphere. Normally, I don’t worry about what Lasky and other contributors to American Thinker have to say. Some of them make Bill Krystal seem like a member of the War Resisters League, or a Deadhead. But someone needs to address the current, vile frenzy to use Malley as the Willy Horton of Likud sympathizers and those much further to the right.
Normally, it is best not to call attention to the irrational bile that often passes for analysis when Israel is discussed in the digital world. But Lasky’s article is extensively quoted by the Greater-Israel-right-or-wrong crowd. One can find posts entitled “OBAMA IS FUNDING TERRORIST…..this MUST STOP” and “Obama’s Pro-Terrorist Foreign Policy Advisor,” which opens with “Robert O’Malley [sic] goes past appeasement, directly to alliance with terrorists out to destroy Israel.”
As far as I can tell, nobody attacked Willy Horton’s father, but Lasky can’t forgive Malley for being the son of a well-known, leftwing francophone journalist, Simon Malley, who was born to a Syrian family in Cairo. That ancestry presumably makes his son immediately suspect and someone who should be carefully screened at American airports. So does the fact that Simon Malley, like much of the post- World War II intelligentsia, lauded liberation movements in Africa and also supported the Palestinian cause. Lasky asserts:
Malley has seemingly followed in his father’s footsteps: he represents the next generation of anti-Israel activism. Through his writings he has served as a willing propagandist, bending the truth (and more) to serve an agenda that is marked by anti-Israel bias…Robert Malley’s writings strike me as being akin to propaganda. One notable example is an op-ed that was published in the New York Times (Fictions About the Failure at Camp David). The column indicted Israel for not being generous enough at Camp David and blamed the failure of the talks on the Israelis.
The column did no such thing, of course. Read it youself. Malley overturned conventional wisdom by blaming everyone, including the Palestinians, for missing a historic opportunity.
Lasky’s piece is quite instructive, because each and every article by Malley that he deems to be anti-Israel propaganda is precisely the kind of article Israel needs. His writing is balanced, evenhanded, refusing to rely on received wisdom when dealing with a conflict that both sides must take responsiblity for inflaming. He comes across as very…reasonable. We have reached the point where anyone who tries to be cool and level-headed about the conflict is absolutely terrifying to those who think of it as a zero sum, Manichean game.
I don’t know Malley well but I do know that in the Clinton Administration, his “agenda” was to promote and protect America’s best interests. Those interests –and indeed, Israel’s interests–will be well-served if the next president uses America’s leverage with both sides, rather than just one side, to help them solve a conflict they cannot possibly solve by themselves.
There is no way to stop anyone from saying anything they want about Rob Malley in the lawless, rhetorical wild wild west of the blogosphere. But I hope Obama’s campaign does not take the bait and disassociate itself from Malley. And if this smear campaign continues, I hope the mainstream American Jewish community will rise to Malley’s defense, just as they did for Obama.