What the web has done for honest Mid-East debate (eg. helped)

Following the desperate smear of neo-con Lee Smith against dissenting bloggers on the Middle East, two leading writers weigh in.

Max Blumenthal explains how how frustrating it must be Zionists who simply can’t believe that their views are no longer sacrosant.

And Israel Lobby co-author Steve Walt explains that the blogosphere has truly liberated debate over the Middle East and Israeli crimes can no longer be denied:

What is really going on here? Smith’s article is just another illustration of what has become a familiar and depressing story here in the United States. Anyone who writes or says something that is critical of Israeli policy, who questions the wisdom of the special relationship, or who talks about the negative influence of the Israel lobby, is almost certain to smeared, usually by being labeled either an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew. It is as predictable as the sun rising in the east each morning.

It doesn’t matter how often you remind people that lobbying on behalf of a foreign country is a legitimate political activity in the American political system, how often you emphasize that you support Israel’s existence, or how often you denounce genuine anti-Semitism. Nor does it matter how carefully you document your claims.

People like Smith (and Goldberg) will simply ignore all of that and instead come up with bizarre arguments designed to portray you as a virulent and dangerous bigot. Of course, the purpose of this smearing is two-fold: to deter others from speaking out in public, and to discourage those who have spoken out from doing so again. And when someone cannot be silenced, the goal is to marginalize them so that they cannot influence the discourse about Israel and Middle East politics in meaningful ways.

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