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Rob Malley: the Willy Horton of right wing Jewish nut jobs

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.

21 thoughts on “Rob Malley: the Willy Horton of right wing Jewish nut jobs

  1. So tell, me. What makes the title of this post diffent from those of rabid anti-Semites? I know you are not such a person, Mr. Fleshler, and though I disagree with about 75% of what you write, that you do want to help Israelis and also the Palesitnians. But the phrase “Jewish nut jobs” relly offends me. Please change this title. You are better than this title.

  2. Don’t do anything of the sort that Lanny urges. I’ve called Rachel Neuwirth, one of the doyennes of American Thinker, a “Kahanist swine.” Calling the authors at that site ‘right wing nutjobs’ is being kinder than they deserve.

    And I agree with Marco that, while American Thinker is indeed deeply noxious, the real danger lies with Marty Peretz, Dershowitz, Pipes & their ilk who really have the ear of more serious media outlets (though why I couldn’t tell you).

  3. I like the approach of constructing, rather than reacting.

    I guess its necessary to identify that others hold less liberal/humane views, and then distinguish one’s own from them, even if partially by silhouette rather than assertion and intention.

    By silhouette, I mean forging what occurs by the critical method, of opposing what one opposes, then what remains is what is believed or what occurs.

    Rather than forming asserted goals and principles, and implementing them. (I know that sounds very Dale Carnegie-ish.)

  4. That was Richard Witty, somehow it defaults to anonymous. It never did that prior.

    Willy Horton as negative (inferring what Bob Dole believed), reaction to the media presentation of Willie Horton – a negation a reaction (inferring what liberals/radicals believe).

    Each silhouettes, that at best others can only guess at. Guess at the view, and guess at the determination to reliably and consistently apply the view.

  5. In contrast, Obama’s comments are supportive, describing confident loyalty combined with principled understanding of consequences to others.

    Goodness. A mensch. A real Jew, in contrast to the faux-Jew that only references through fears, and then over-reacts, denying the experience or even existence of the other.

  6. I know Rob and you have to be really looking for enemies to deem him anti-Jewish or anti-Israel.
    Rob is a Jew who has devoted his entire professional life to achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace. His “controversial” articles are only controversial because he had the temerity to write (from first-hand experience) that Arafat was not the only guy who dropped the ball at Camp David, Clinton and Barak did too.
    It’s true Malley would not have walked out of Camp David and put all the blame on the Palestinians but neither would Bill Clinton NOW. Clinton admits he was steamrolled by Ehud Barak into blaming just the Palestinians, allowing Barak to essentially terminate the diplomatic process until it was too late.
    The crazies, nut jobs and Arab-haters (Martin Peretz comes to mind) dislike Malley because Malley has invariably been right and the policies that the ZOA crowd has supported has produced nothing but dead soldiers and civilians and misery for Israel.

    Had Malley been in charge at Camp David in 2000, I doubt there would have been a second intifada. But he wasn’t and the result was a thousand Israelis dead and 4000 Palestinians. The Jewish hawks hate Malley and others like him because they are full of guilt for what the policies they have supported have done to Israel. How much easier to attack those of us who have been right than to look in the mirror!

    Let them attack Rob all they want. It will not eradicate the shame they feel for having jeopardized the survival of the Jewish State while Rob Malley has done everything in his power to secure it.

  7. Thanks, MJ. I wish they felt shame. That’s the problem. They don’t. Some of them want to arrest the so-called “Oslo criminals” in Israel. As Danny Rubinstein recently told me, “The real Oslo criminals are the Israelis and Americans who are letting the settlements grow and making it more and more unlikely that we will ever have peace.”

  8. Dan,
    I read Malley’s original NY Times piece when doing early research for a book on the Oslo peace process. I agree with Mr. Rosenberg. Another author whose name now escapes me, but who wrote “The Truth Behind Camp David,” went much further than Malley and further than the evidence warrented in absolving Arafat of blame. I believe that Arafat was the main villain, but that both Barak and Clinton made many mistakes that we should learn from so that if another summit occurs with either Abbas or Hamas–in the distant future–we will not repeat them.

    The rabid reaction to Malley illustrates why America is incapable of being balanced internally on the conflict and must seek external balance in its mediation. In NI London balanced its bias, both real and perceived, towards the unionists by bringing in Dublin. Neither government could be balanced by itself but together they represented a balanced approach. Washington should imitate London by bringing in Brussels.

  9. “””Clinton admits he was steamrolled by Ehud Barak into blaming just the Palestinians, allowing Barak to essentially terminate the diplomatic process until it was too late.”””

    When did Clinton allegedly make this statement? I don’t necessarily disbelieve it, but I would like more details.

  10. Some of us remember how Jim Baker’s “Jew boys” in the early 90’s — Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller, and Dan Kurtzer — were accused by the ZOA of being self-hating Jews during the loan-guarantee business. Kurtzer, a friend, an orthodox Jew, and a lifelong Zionist, whose son was learning at the West Bank Har Etzion yeshiva at that time, took the accusation in stride. And so, I am sure, will Rob Malley. Only good will come of his being targeted by the rightwing Zealots. I just hope that Obama will hang tough.

  11. MJ – I’m a fan of Malley’s work. I wasn’t aware that he was jewish. I wonder why that isn’t brought up more in rebutting those who would claim he is anti-Israel.

  12. Let’s forget Malley, OK? He’s a red herring. But Obama’s real foreign policy advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is not. And let’s forget Brzezinski is closely associated with Carter, OK. That’s a red herring too. But the fact that Zbigy rose to the defense of Walt & Mearsheimer is not.

  13. Ynetnews says that Israeli political analysts say that Brzezinski, who is 79 years old, is at this point in his life insignificant.,7340,L-3449954,00.html

    “””…’Too soon to draw conclusions’

    Despite the escalating argument in the US, analysts in Israel seemed largely unfazed by Brzezinski’s appointment.

    Professor Gerald Steinberg, Head of he Political Studies Department at Bar Ilan University, told Ynetnews that it was premature to draw conclusions based on the appointment.

    “This may not be significant,” Steinberg said. “Brzezinski is roughly the same age as Kissinger. I view his appointment as being more symbolic, to try and shore up Obama’s image as someone who has no experience in foreign policy, so he’s bringing in an older statesman to try and bring in a different image,” he added.

    In addition, Steinberg said, Brzezinski did not offer “a very strong defense” of Walt and Mearsheimer’s paper.

    “What will count if Obama is elected are Obama’s own positions. He has a broad range of advisers who have a long history of being pro-Israel. It’s premature to see this as a major tilt by Obama towards a position like the one held by Cater,” Steinberg said.

    David Ricci, a professor of political science and American studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, agreed that Brzezinksi’s age prevented him from taking up a “serious appointment, even if Obama is voted in.”

    Dr. Arie Kacowicz, who teaches international relations at the Hebrew University, told Ynetnews that Brzezinksi has “a history of certain hostility towards Israel, as seen in the first Camp David meetings of 1978. Having said that, I wouldn’t conclude from his appointment that Obama is changing his opinion towards our country.”

  14. The NYT article that you say is balanced is an apology for one of the great villains of the 20th century. The “myths” perspective is correct. The “fact” that Arafat merely wanted land is the real myth.

    The truth test, or the best evidence as to Malley’s skewed views, (better uninformed views) is the line “to imagine that the 100-year conflict between Jews and Palestinians living in this region, with roots going back thousands of years more and tens of thousands of victims along the way, could be resolved in a fortnight without any of the core issues..”.

    There was no “Jews and Palestinians” conflict 100 years ago, nor ergo, no conflict “with roots thousands of years” ago. In 1900 there was no arab nationalist movement let alone “palestinians”. Even leaving an illusion of such a thing as arab nationalism in Israel in 1900 is anti-Jew and a significant lie. see THE LAND OF ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM IN 1900 . Please do not respond to this by saying, “it is a literay technique on the part of Malley”. It is not. It is an intentional usage of arab propaganda. Malley is anti-Jew and Obama for not doing his homework deserves the attention from the blogosphere.

  15. Robert Malley is primarily known for being the co-author of a article that appeared in the New York Review of Books shortly after the Taba talks, in which Malley and his Palestinian co-author attempted to sanitize Yasser Arafat’s inability (due to a lack of desire) to make peace.

    In fact, in the aftermath of that article, and the subsequent outpouring of dissenting views by primary participants, i.e. Bill Clinton and Dennis Ross, Mr. Malley’s version has been shown to be a severe distortion of reality, so much so, as to correctly be thought of as a myth.

    Robert Malley is a confused individual with motives I am incapable of understanding, but someone who has a need to see the Arabs (called Palestinians) as filled with good faith, and whose pursuit of peace has been thwarted by the villain Jewish state.

    For a candidate to choose to surround himself with advisors with such naive or biased views is proof either of a shared bias and naiveté, or a candidate who has a shallow understanding of the real conflict between Israel and the Arabs.

    Put simply, the real conflict is the rejection by Arabs of any state in the Middle East that is not a Muslim majority population and Muslim governed state, preferably Muslim of the Sunni, Wahhabi kind. Of course, the fact that Israel is not only a non-Muslim majority population but a Jewish governed state, to Arab sensibilities, Israel represents the absolute worst kind of alien “dhimmi” state for which they have zero tolerance, and no intention with which to recognize as having any legitimate right to exist as a Jewish state, much less “make peace”.

    Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded.

  16. APPREH and dleone:

    Thank you for sharing your evidence that Malley is “anti-Jew” and thinks the Jewish state is so vile that his opinions cannot be trusted..

    Itrust your evaluations more than Sandy Berger’s,the National Security Advisor whom Malley worked for and who is Jewish. But I suppose he was deluded for hiring this anti-Semite, as was Clinton, who chose him as a special assistant during very delicate Middle East negotiations. Surely they did a much less thorough job of vetting his credentials and biases than you did, and that is why they didn’t notice his antagonism towards the Jews. Thanks again..

  17. Hi Teddy,

    I agree with you that Sandy Burglar can’t be trusted either with the archives of the United States or with the security of Israel. As one can observe by watching the Clinton’s current campaign for President, misery loves company. Maybe you could suggest a good basic history reader for Malley.


  18. If Malley was so tight with Clinton why is he allegedly helping Obama?

    I am not sure that Mr. Malley is an important enough figure to matter. Lots of people try to earn a living as policy analysts, but it’s tough out there. A lot of lobbying is unethical and so the support or opposition of these people doesn’t mean much.

  19. Oy, when Jonathan Mark quotes an article using Gerald Steinberg as a trusted informant you know you’re in for a snow job. Though in this particular case Steinberg’s comment were relatively obvious & inoffensive. Who knows whether Brezinski wants to become Secretary of State under a Pres. Obama (should there be one). The pro-Israel militants may hate Brezinski but he helped bring us Camp David I & Israel-Egypt peace. Not bad work if you can get it.

    As for why Malley is working for Obama after working for Clinton–there are scores of former Clinton staffers working for Obama. Malley is not an anomaly there. I supported Clinton & now support Obama. Nothing strange in that.

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