Mr. Alterman's piece is cogently argued and well-written.
However, I am somewhat saddened and disappointed that what moved Alterman to write this piece is not necessarily any sympathy for Palestinians or the brutal punishment meted out to them recently in Gaza--he is on the record (in this publication) as saying he firmly supports Israel--but rather his friendship with Mr. Moyers.
Certainly, Alterman is justly outraged at the smear job faced by his friend (and countless others who dare to criticize Israel). But because Alterman appears more motivated by his friendship than by a true understanding of the Palestinian plight, he approvingly repeats Moyers's mistaken, hyperbolic assertion that Hamas aims to see Israel's Jewish population exterminated.
How have either of these gentlemen divined the position of Hamas? Clearly not by asking them: the organization's spokesmen have repeatedly said--in public statements and op-ed pieces--that they support a long-term truce with Israel along 1967 borders.
(2006 BBC Interview, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal: " If Israel withdrew to the 1967 borders and recognised the rights of the Palestinian people--including the right of those in the diaspora to return to their land and to East Jerusalem and to dismantle the settlements--Hamas can then state its position and possibly give a long-term truce with Israel.... There are roots to the problem. But in reality, we now say that if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders there could be peace and security in the region and agreements between the sides.")
I find it somewhat troubling that Alterman can take Foxman to task for the latter's narrow ethnocentrism and "Manichean mindset," but cannot see that he himself buys into the same mentality when he accepts the blatant mischaracterization of Hamas's actually stated position.
The point here is not that Hamas should be invited to join the Boy Scouts or nearest quilt-knitting club.
Rather, the point is that when Israel, the occupying power, is actively erasing the basis of Palestinian existence through settlements and ethnic cleansing, it is disingenuous and irresponsible to falsely attribute exaggerated rhetoric about exterminating Jews--with its obvious historical connotations--to Israel’s victims.
Indeed, this deplorable tactic--silencing sympathy for Palestinians by painting them in the hues of those who carried out the Holocaust--is one that Foxman himself has happily engaged in.
(I invite readers to visit my blog, "Crossing the Crescent: Reflections from an American Muslim Mind of the Left.")