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Thread: Pro-Israel Lobby In U.S. Under Attack

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Pro-Israel Lobby In U.S. Under Attack

    Pro-Israel lobby in U.S. under attack.

    WASHINGTON, March 20 (UPI) -- Two of America's top scholars have published a searing attack on the role and power of Washington's pro-Israel lobby in a British journal, warning that its "decisive" role in fomenting the Iraq war is now being repeated with the threat of action against Iran. And they say that the Lobby is so strong that they doubt their article would be accepted in any U.S.-based publication.

    Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, author of "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" and Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard's Kenney School, and author of "Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy," are leading figures American in academic life.

    They claim that the Israel lobby has distorted American policy and operates against American interests, that it has organized the funneling of more than $140 billion dollars to Israel and "has a stranglehold" on the U.S. Congress, and its ability to raise large campaign funds gives its vast influence over Republican and Democratic administrations, while its role in Washington think tanks on the Middle East dominates the policy debate.

    And they say that the Lobby works ruthlessly to suppress questioning of its role, to blacken its critics and to crush serious debate about the wisdom of supporting Israel in U.S. public life.

    "Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts -- or by suggesting that critics are anti-Semites -- violates the principle of open debate on which democracy depends," Walt and Mearsheimer write.

    "The inability of Congress to conduct a genuine debate on these important issues paralyses the entire process of democratic deliberation. Israel's backers should be free to make their case and to challenge those who disagree with them, but efforts to stifle debate by intimidation must be roundly condemned," they add, in the 12,800-word article published in the latest issue of The London Review of Books.

    The article focuses strongly on the role of the "neo-conservatives" within the Bush administration in driving the decision to launch the war on Iraq.

    "The main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to the Likud," Mearsheimer and Walt argue." Given the neo-conservatives' devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and their influence in the Bush administration, it isn't surprising that many Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests."

    "The neo-conservatives had been determined to topple Saddam even before Bush became president. They caused a stir early in 1998 by publishing two open letters to Clinton, calling for Saddam's removal from power. The signatories, many of whom had close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) or WINEP (Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy), and who included Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, had little trouble persuading the Clinton administration to adopt the general goal of ousting Saddam. But they were unable to sell a war to achieve that objective. They were no more able to generate enthusiasm for invading Iraq in the early months of the Bush administration. They needed help to achieve their aim. That help arrived with 9/11. Specifically, the events of that day led Bush and Cheney to reverse course and become strong proponents of a preventive war," Walt and Mearsheimer write.

    The article, which is already stirring furious debate in U.S. academic and intellectual circles, also explores the historical role of the Lobby.

    "For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel," the article says.

    "The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy' throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only U.S. security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?" Professors Walt and Mearsheimer add.

    "The thrust of U.S. policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the 'Israel Lobby'. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. interests and those of the other country - in this case, Israel -- are essentially identical," they add.

    They argue that far from being a strategic asset to the United States, Israel "is becoming a strategic burden" and "does not behave like a loyal ally." They also suggest that Israel is also now "a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.

    "Saying that Israel and the U.S. are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around," they add. "Support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits."

    They question the argument that Israel deserves support as the only democracy in the Middle East, claiming that "some aspects of Israeli democracy are at odds with core American values. Unlike the US, where people are supposed to enjoy equal rights irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship. Given this, it is not surprising that its 1.3 million Arabs are treated as second-class citizens."

    The most powerful force in the Lobby is AIPAC, the American-Israel Public affairs Committee, which Walt and Mearsheimer call "a de facto agent for a foreign government," and which they say has now forged an important alliance with evangelical Christian groups.

    The bulk of the article is a detailed analysis of the way they claim the Lobby managed to change the Bush administration's policy from "halting Israel's expansionist policies in the Occupied Territories and advocating the creation of a Palestinian state" and divert it to the war on Iraq instead. They write "Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical."

    "Thanks to the lobby, the United States has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the Occupied Territories, making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians," and conclude that "Israel itself would probably be better off if the Lobby were less powerful and U.S. policy more even-handed."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    Partridge Guest
    The NY Scum has run a series of hit pieces on the report, including this one yesterday. They give free reign to critics, including those cited in the report as members of the Lobby (Daniel Pipes, Mort Zuckerman etc).

    On the 'pro' side, the NY Scum cites as defenders of the report - David Duke, the PLO and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. And only David Duke is given column inches to explain his views "The anti-semite David Duke says..." etc (of course I don't doubt that Duke is a digusting individual with disgusting politics, but is he really the authentic voice of principled opposition to Israeli polcies? I think not).

  3. #3
    Partridge Guest
    Also, I should note that the NY Scum is the only mainstream paper that I can find (through Google news) to have even reported on the report.

  4. #4
    rayrayjones Guest
    another view of same study

    the 80page .pdf of their study...


    Jon if you already posted this, sorry. i did not see it.

  5. #5
    Partridge Guest
    From Haartez (second article on the page):

    Lobby in the crosshairs

    The combination of an initiative aimed against Hamas - a party that is officially defined as a "terror organization" - and a Congressional election year should have insured that for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), passing a law limiting the aid to the Hamas government and associated bodies would be as easy as cutting through butter with a knife. And now, to the great surprise of the heads of the strongest pro-Israel lobby in Washington, nearly two months after they planted the proposal for the law with their obedient servants in both the House and the Senate, and two weeks after they sent out 2,000 activists to assault Capitol Hill, the proposal is still stuck deep in the pipeline.

    Thus far about 150 members the House of Representatives have signed the proposal, about 70 short of the required number. On the weekend, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that AIPAC had distributed to its activists a panicked bulletin warning them that if the missing votes are not recruited by next Wednesday, the initiative will be lost.

    An aide to a member of Congress told the Jewish weekly Forward that apparently the penny has finally dropped for the elected representatives of the American public. They have started to realize that the constant harassment of Arabs is liable to damage American interests in the Middle East, especially in Iraq.

    It is possible that he, like many of his colleagues in the power centers of Washington, has read a new study on the pro-Israel lobby published by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Two professors, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, dared to put in writing things that are often heard in closed rooms now that the U.S. has sunk into the Iraqi swamp. The group of neo-conservatives that pushed President George W. Bush into this swamp has become the punching bag of U.S. academia and media, and it was only a question of time before it became Israel's turn to pay the price of the battle waged by Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and their colleagues in the pro-Israel lobby and its allies on the Christian right.

    The start of the trial of the two AIPAC men accused of handing secret information over to Israel looks like the perfect timing for the publication of one of the most critical documents ever written at a first-rank academic institution about U.S. policy toward Israel (the main points of the article appear on The London Review of Books' Web site). The authors argue that the American support for Israel was one of the main reasons for the Al-Qaida terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

    "There is no question," they write, "that many Al-Qaida leaders, including Bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians."

    They note that American public opinion polls and research institutes show that the one-sided policy toward Israel is attracting fire against the United States on the Arab street and helping fanatics like Bin Laden to recruit activists. The researchers argue that Israel is detrimentally dragging the United States into a struggle against Iran. Moreover, they state that the nuclear weaponry in Israel's hands is one of the reasons that Iran, like other countries in the region, also wants to equip itself with a bomb. In their opinion, the American threat to depose the governments of those states increases nuclear appetites.

    The two do not refrain from mentioning that Israel consistently bites the American hand that feeds it - usually, contrary to U.S. interests. With its one hand, Israel is establishing settlements, contrary to the wishes of the Untied States, and with the other it is smiting the Palestinians and tearing up American peace plans one after the other.

    Once the pictures of American soldiers dying in Baghdad and of hungry Palestinian children in Gaza schools obliterate the pictures of the Israeli children killed in buses in Jerusalem and the Qassams in Sderot, the new government in Israel may well discover a different America.

  6. #6
    Partridge Guest
    CAMERA scores a (minor?) victory:

    Harvard Backs Away from "Israel Lobby" Professors; Removes Logo from Controversial Paper

    A controversial research report, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by Harvard professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, that faults the “Israel lobby” for allegedly distorting the foreign policy of the United States to the detriment of U.S. interests, and which has been severely criticized as inaccurate and wrongheaded, no longer sports the Harvard or Kennedy School of Government logos that previously appeared on its front page.

    In a further sign that Harvard and the University of Chicago are distancing themselves from Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, the report also no longer includes the pro-forma disclaimer used for all other research reports on that Harvard website. In its place is a far stronger disclaimer, in much larger type. The original disclaimer read:

    The views expressed in the KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Series are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the John F. Kennedy School of Government or Harvard University. Copyright belongs to the author(s). Papers may be downloaded for personal use only.

    The new, much more prominent disclaimer reads:

    The two authors of this Working Paper are solely responsible for the views expressed in it. As academic institutions, Harvard University and the University of Chicago do not take positions on the scholarship of individual faculty, and this article should not be interpreted or portrayed as reflecting the official position of either institution.

    It is especially notable that while the original disclaimer merely stated that Harvard did not necessarily share the views expressed in the article, the revised disclaimer goes much further, stating that:

    1. The two authors are “solely responsible” for the content.
    2. Both Harvard and the University of Chicago “do not take positions on the scholarship of individual faculty.”

    Now, since universities do indeed take positions on the scholarship of individual faculty all the time (when deciding on hiring, tenure, raises, etc.), this can only be viewed as a devastating vote of no confidence by their respective universities in the work of Professors Walt and Mearsheimer.

    Harvard should take the obvious next step and remove the paper from its Website pending correction of numerous errors of fact, logic and omission.

  7. #7
    Partridge Guest
    A round up of some of the coverage - positive, 'neutral' and negative - from the web and print media.

    Editor hits back over Israel row
    London Review of Books stands its ground after being accused of anti-Semitism in an article attacking pro-Israeli influence on US policy.

    A Note of Dissent: On the Israel Lobby Piece
    The Angry Arab
    The authors seem intent on blaming all the ills in US foreign policy on the Israeli lobby. There are obvious problems with that approach: it seems to ignore or deny the ills of US foreign policy in regions outside the Middle East. It also absolves the US administration, any US administration, from any responsibility because they (the administrations) become portrayed as helpless victims of an all-powerful lobby.

    War of Words Over Paper on Israel
    Inside Higher Ed

    Since the article was published, it has been the subject of repeated articles and editorials in The New York Sun, a relatively small daily, but one with influence in neoconservative and media circles. Among the more embarrassing pieces there was one with the headline “David Duke Claims to Be Vindicated by a Harvard Dean,” which quoted the white supremacist as a fan of the new study, of which he said: “It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American university essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making.”

    Mearsheimer and Walt's Anti-Israel Screed: A Relentless Assault in Scholarly Guise
    Anti Defamation League

    On every issue, the authors start with unproven, anti-Israel assumptions and then look for isolated examples to justify these assumptions. One does not have to take a pro-Israel position to recognize that the authors, despite their reputations, have no interest in producing a serious, balanced work. The result is a sloppy diatribe.

    Harvard Takes On the Israel Lobby

    How a seemingly noncontroversial academic paper set off a political firestorm within the foreign policy establishment.

    Why the US May Be Acting Against Its Own Interests in the Middle East
    Michael Neumann - Counterpunch
    The melodrama is about the Israel lobby, aka the 'Jewish lobby'. One whiff of Jewish conspiracy theory, and squads of columnists march off to fight the Nazis lurking in academia. But at a bit of a distance, it's hard to see why tales of the lobby are so fascinating.

    Blaming the Israel Lobby: It's US Policy That Inflames the Arab World
    Joseph Massad - Al-Ahram Weekly

    As someone who has been facing the full brunt of the might of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, Joseph Massad explains the deceit behind blaming the lobby for US policies towards the Palestinians and the Arab world.

    The Israel Lobby?
    Noam Chomsky - ZNet

    The thesis M-W propose does however have plenty of appeal. The reason, I think, is that it leaves the US government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility, "Wilsonian idealism," etc., merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape. It's rather like attributing the crimes of the past 60 years to "exaggerated Cold War illusions," etc. Convenient, but not too convincing. In either case.

    Noam Chomsky and the Pro-Israel Lobby: Fourteen Erroneous Theses
    James Petras - Urkunet

    The problem of war and peace in the Middle East and the role of the Israel lobby is too serious to be marginalized as an after-thought. Even more important, the increasing censoring of free speech and erosion of our civil liberties, academic freedom by an aggressive lobby, with powerful legislative and White House backers, is a threat to our already limited democracy.

    So what do we learn from the Chomsky reaction?
    Illan Pappé

    We can find out what Noam has missed in his analyses in the last twenty years - as this was clear before the LRB article: Chomsky never paid too much and enough attention to the impact of AIPAC on American policy. He identified other factors and grounds, but failed to highlight something which was next door. Nor did he ever write anything of significance of the Christian Zionists

    The Lobby: Why is American policy in the Middle East skewed in favor of Israel?
    Justin Raimondo -
    American foreign policy has been weighed down for all too many years by an albatross hung round Uncle Sam's neck, one that distorts our stance especially vis-^-vis Middle Eastern issues and ultimately works against U.S. interests in the region and around the world: that albatross is unconditional support for the state of Israel.

    Keeping It Quiet: The Israel Lobby's Crushing of Dissent
    Charley Reese -

    The first weapon of choice for the Israeli lobby when someone with prestige publishes a soundly researched paper or book critical of Israel or its powerful lobby is silence. If it's a book, it rarely gets reviewed; its author doesn't get interviewed. If it's a paper, there are no news stories in the big corporate press, no interviews with the authors, no television appearances.

    Criticism of U.S ties to Israel draws fire
    Washington Post
    Their argument --- that the influence of a powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States threatens U.S. national security --- has reverberated through academic and policy circles, the media and the blogosphere. A sampling of their article and the ongoing controversy.

    The problem with "The Israel Lobby"
    Poltical Cortex
    I have a problem with The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Mearsheimer and Walt. I don't think they go far enough. Instead of looking at the institutional frameworks for this lobby, they focus on personalities. Identifying individuals is not enough. This makes it impossible to understand the motivation of this lobby. If they spent more time discussing the connections between Israeli hardliners and the US military industrial complex, I think they could spend less time trying to justify their case. Follow that money trail and it is easy to demystify the tilt to Israel.

    Israel Lobby Dictates U.S. Policy, Study Charges
    Inter Press Services
    "Why has the United States been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?" ask authors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

    When vigilance undermines freedom of speech
    Financial Times

    What is striking is less the substance of their argument than the outraged reaction: to all intents and purposes, discussing the US-Israel special relationship still remains taboo in the US media mainstream. While leading newspapers have remained silent, the response elsewhere has been swift. Some critics have charged errors of fact. Others have condemned the authors for taking lobbyists’ boasts at face value, saying they exaggerate their strength, unity and impact.

    Scholars' Attack on Pro-Israel Lobby Met With Silence
    Jewish Forward

    In the face of one of the harshest reports on the pro-Israel lobby to emerge from academia, Jewish organizations are holding fire in order to avoid generating publicity for their critics.

    Israel Lobby controversy grows
    Washington Post

    The international debate about Prof. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's study of the influence of the Israel lobby continues to grow. The Post's Michael Powell reported on the controversy today while Mary-Kay Wilmers, editor of the London Review of Books, defended her decision to publish the piece. Israeli critics also continued to dispute the authors' findings.

    The Paranoid View of History Infects Harvard
    Dr. Richard L. Cravatts - History News Network

    What troubles observers of this type of scholarship is that, unlike its intellectually flabby predecessors from right-wing hate groups or left wing cranks, this political analysis comes complete with academic respectability and the crests of Harvard and the University of Chicago, a trend that Professor Hofstadter had himself originally found curious.

    Overstating Jewish Power
    Christopher Hitchens - Slate

    The essay itself, mostly a very average "realist" and centrist critique of the influence of Israel, contains much that is true and a little that is original. But what is original is not true and what is true is not original.


    Much more on Google News

  8. #8
    Partridge Guest
    Also, came across this rather disturbing piece on Haaretz:

    New Christian pro-Israel lobby aims to be stronger than AIPAC
    By Shlomo Shamir

    NEW YORK - Televangelist John Hagee told Jewish community leaders over the weekend that the 40 million evangelical Christians in the United States support Israel and that he plans to utilize this power to help Israel by launching a Christian pro-Israel lobby.

    The lobby is slated to launch in July, during a Washington conference in which hundreds of American evangelicals are slated to participate, Hagee said at a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represents 52 national Jewish groups. He also discussed the lobby with Israel's consul general in New York, Aryeh Mekel.

    Hagee said his group would be a Christian - and more powerful - version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a large pro-Israel lobby, and would target senators and congressmen on Capitol Hill. A quarter of congressmen are evangelicals, and many American legislators represent regions that include a large evangelical population, he said.

    Hagee - the founder and senior pastor of the evangelical Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, that claims an active membership of more than 18,000 - said the lobby's activities would be a "political earthquake."

    In his meeting with Mekel, Hagee said he planned to establish an effective network of key activists across the United States who can be reached within 24 hours if necessary for emergency lobbying efforts. He said he has already appointed 12 regional directors who are to be responsible for lobby activities in their areas and that he plans to appoint representatives in every state and major city.

    Hagee also said he would head a delegation of 500 evangelicals slated to visit Israel this summer.

    "The evangelical population's support of Israel is very important," said Mekel yesterday.

    The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, responded in a similar fashion while discussing the new lobby in February.

    "We see Christians in the United States as true friends and important supporters on the basis of shared values, and we welcome their efforts to strengthen the ties between Israel and the U.S.," Ayalon said at the time.

    Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman was a bit more cautious. He said Hagee's project should be welcomed, but added that Jews and Israelis should be both respectful and wary. Foxman noted that Hagee told the Conference of Presidents that evangelicals support Israel from a biblical perspective, but did not explain exactly what he meant.

    Rabbi James Rudin, author of "The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us," said Sunday that Hagee - one of 20 evangelical leaders who met with Ariel Sharon during his last trip to Washington - has been known for many years as an enthusiastic advocate of Israel, and is a typical right-wing Christian supporter of the country.

    Some 400 Christian community leaders met in San Antonio in February to establish the lobby. Other than Hagee, its leaders include evangelist George Morrison; fundamentalist Baptist minister Jerry Falwell; and Gary Bauer, president of the American Values organization aimed at protecting marriage, family and faith. All are well-known supporters of Israel, and considered hawkish.

  9. #9
    Partridge Guest
    The Israel Lobby Redux: Colin Powell Disagrees With David Gergen’s Claim That There Is No Israel “Lobby”
    By Ira Glunts

    Two Israeli prominent journalists wrote that Colin Powell understood and feared the power of the lobby.
    In an op-ed column critical of his Harvard colleagues, ludicrously titled “There Is No Israel ’Lobby’” the well-known political consultant David Gergen proclaimed, “Over the course of four tours in the White House, I never once saw a decision in the Oval Office to tilt U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of America’s interest.” [1] America’s massive financial support of Israel’s territorial expansion in the West Bank is very much contrary to its own interests, his two colleagues would respond. Gergen’s blanket denial is one of the most preposterous statements in the ongoing media reporting that impugn the motivations of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, two academics who recently published the “Israel Lobby.” Their essay described what the writers understand to be the many deleterious effects of pro-Israel activists upon the formulation of American foreign policy. [2] In his critique of the essay, Gergen displays a level of chutzpah which would astound even the most blindly loyal devotee of the Israeli cause, when he excoriates Walt and Mearsheimer for “impugn[ing] the unstinting service to America’s national security by public figures like Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk ....”

    The truth is that Ross and Indyk are two government officials that best illustrate the presence of pro-Israel advocates in the US government. Ross, who was the lead negotiator at the Camp David Peace talks, was publicly criticized for his lack of objectivity by his own deputy Aaron Miller. Miller in a Washington Post op-ed called “Israel’s Lawyer” wrote that during the negotiations Ross and his team, instead of facilitating compromise, which would have been in America’s best interest, chose to act as an advocate for the Israelis. [3] Dennis Ross is currently the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think-tank which is funded by the American Israel Policy Action Committee (AIPAC). Martin Indyk, who founded WINEP and served as its first executive director, was later both US Ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. He is a long time uncritical supporter of Israeli government policy.

    In their recent best-selling book, Boomerang: The Failure of Leadership In the Second Intifada, presently only available in Hebrew, Raviv Drucker and Ofer Shelah, two respected Israeli journalists, described a meeting between the then Secretary of State Colin Powell, who the lobby considered to be the “weak link” in the chain of more Israel- friendly Bush Administration officials, and Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, who is a prominent member of what in Israel is called the Jewish lobby. The following selection indicates in a dramatic way that Gergen’s view of the influence of the Israel lobby may not be shared by all ex-government officials.

    In his [Powell’s] own State Department there was a keen awareness of the strength of the Jewish lobbyists. Secretaries of State did not usually meet with lobbyists, but both Jewish officials and Jews that did not officially represent specific groups from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League to Ronald Lauder, could meet with Powell on short notice.... At the State Department, Foxman had an aura of omnipotence. He was held responsible for the appointment of Indyk as Undersecretary of State under Clinton, and was thought to have played a role in the appointments of Secretaries of State Christopher and Albright. Powell related to Foxman almost as if he were someone to whom he must capitulate. Once Foxman told one of his deputies that Powell was the weak link. When the Secretary of State heard this he began to worry. He knew that in Washington a confrontation with the Jewish lobby would make his life difficult. Once he arranged a meeting with Foxman, but the busy Foxman postponed the meeting three times. When they eventually met, the head of the Anti-Defamation League apologized to the Secretary of State [for the postponements]. “You call, we come,” replied Powell, paraphrasing a well known advertisement for a freight company. That statement had much more meaning than just a humorous polite reply. [4]
    Unfortunately, the American press has thus far been largely complicit in the unwarranted attacks on two professors who have written a generally well-argued essay on the disadvantages of the current American/Israeli relationship. Most press accounts of the article feature the negative criticism, but tend to ignore or downplay positive comment. In the present political climate it is not a surprise that there is not a groundswell of support for the two embattled scholars. Abe Foxman called the essay “a classic conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control.” [5] I, as a Jew, agree with the Jewish editor, Mary-Kay Wilmers, who published the article. She feels, as paraphrased in The Observer, “that the most angry denunciations of anti-Semitism - while designed to serve the purpose of censorship by those attempting to forestall criticism of Israel - may actually encourage anti-Semitism in the long run.” [6]

    The American media does no favor to the many American Jews and Israelis who are critical of Israel’s self-defeating expansionism and its suppression of the Palestinian right of self-determination. The Israel lobby in the United States does not represent the opinions of many American Jews. The pressure it exerts on government officials to blindly and unconditionally support present Israeli policies, in the end will help neither the United States nor Israel itself.

    Ira Glunts first visited the Middle East in 1972, where he taught English and physical education in a small rural community in Israel. He was a volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces in 1992. Mr. Glunts lives in Madison, New York where he operates a used and rare book business.




    [4] Drucker, Raviv and Shelah, Ofer, Boomerang..., Keter, 2005, pps. 132-133. Translation and text emphasized or enclosed in brackets, mine.



  10. #10
    Partridge Guest
    The Chomsky/Blankfort Polemic
    Réseau Voltaire
    February 20, 2006

    Jeffrey Blankfort is a US journalist and producer of radio programs on KPOO in San Francisco and KZYX in Mendocino, in Northern California, and was formerly at KPFT/Pacifica in Houston, until they purged the political programming to better lull their listeners to sleep with music. Engaged in the political fight in favor of the Palestinians and for the creation of one binational state in Palestine since the 70s, he has become one of the favorite targets of US Zionists while also attracting the animosity of a part of the US left grouped around Noam Chomsky, who reproaches Blankfort for his "lobby obsession". He was editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East. Also, he was a founding member of the November 29 Coalition on Palestine.

    Silvia Cattori : Washington and Tel-Aviv are intensifying their threats against Iran. In your opinion, does Israel have a precise national interest in weakening, or destroying, numerous Arab neighbors and to what degree does it succeed in orienting US policy towards new aggression in the Middle East?

    Jeffrey Blankfort : My position is, and I have written an article about it, that the war in Iraq was not a war for oil, but was a war conceived by the neo-cons and the pro-Israeli lobby in the United States to benefit Israel, and to elevate Israel to a very important position in the Middle East, as a part of a plan to achieve overall US global control. This is what was called for in the document of the "Project for a New American Century” or PNAC. And even though a number of prominent people, politicians as well as military people, have said that this was a war for Israel, the anti-war movement will not consider that at all.

    And right at this moment, the only segment of the American society that is pushing the US administration to confront Iran, happens to be the Jewish establishment or the lobby, whose main focus for months – groups like AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but also other Jewish organizations-- has been to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

    The left and the anti-war movement are so focused on blaming everything on US imperialism on one hand, and avoiding the provoking of what they fear will be "anti-Semitism" on the other, that they have gone further from putting any blame on Israel than have elements of the mainstream. And so, having paid no price for pushing the US into the war in Iraq – and not only this war, but the first Gulf war – they are preparing to do the same with Iran. There is no lobby like it.

    S.C. - In other words, the US has become a satellite of Israel and acts in function with Israel's interests? Is this thesis not the opposite of that of Chomsky and of the left in general, for whom it is the US that uses Israel? That there is a convergence of interests between the US and Israel, and that Israel is simply the US's cop on the ground in exchange for services rendered by the US in the Middle East?

    Jeffrey Blankfort : Yes, Chomsky tends to simplify US politics, blaming everything on the elites and whoever is in the White House while avoiding the role of Congress. Today, eleven members of the Senate are Jewish, that is 11 % of the 100 members while only 2 % of the American population is Jewish. He and his supporters, either directly or indirectly, raise the spectre of anti-Semitism, of provoking anti-Semitism, and what happens is that people keep their mouth shut. Now, Chomsky, who was a Zionist when he was younger--he lived in Israel, he has friends in Israel, was considering moving to Israel-- admitted in 1974 that this might influence his perspective – and he wanted his readers to know that. He wrote this in 1974 and yet few people who read Chomsky today know that. They do not know that he was Zionist, that he considered living in Israel.

    In fact, for years he did not speak about Israel while he was speaking out about the US in Central America and Vietnam. It was a mutual friend of ours, Dr. Israel Shahak, who convinced Chomsky that he should speak up against what Israel is doing to the Palestinians. It is interesting that the most important book that Chomsky wrote about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, The Fateful Triangle, begins actually with a defence of Israel, a defence in the sense that while acknowledging all the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, he blames the US for allowing it to happen. Now, this defence, I would say, could be used by Pinochet in Chile or any dictator the US has supported around the world, to take the primary responsibility from them and place it on the US. And I don’t buy this. And most people who understand the situation, don’t buy it either when they come to look at it. A number of friends of mine, who are friends of Chomsky, have come to agree with me. The problem is, I would say, as fellow academics, that they don't feel comfortable criticizing Chomsky, particularly since he is often attacked by the right wing.

    He has defended many people who have been under attack and has thus gained their loyalty. He also has been a mentor to a number of academics, and ironically, Chomsky has been the doorway for so many people to become involved in politics. They read Chomsky, and they become excited about political work. And it is only later, if they are fortunate, that they discover that Chomsky not only opens the door, he closes it as well!

    S.C. - Which would mean that Chomsky gives less importance to the pro-Israeli lobby than it has? Has Chomsky upheld unjust options for the Palestinians in order to preserve Israel, for which he has an emotional attachment? Is this a unique case or has Chomsky defended the indefensible?

    Jeffrey Blankfort : For the most part. On most other subjects, he is more open. On this particular one, he won’t even debate the issue. In 1991 we had an exchange that was published in a left newspaper in New York, the National Guardian, and a friend there wanted to set up a debate between Chomsky and myself on the issue of the Israel lobby at the Socialist Scholars Conference. Chomsky refused, writing "that it would not be useful." After his refusal, I asked a professor in California, Joel Beinin, whom I know, and who takes Chomsky’s position, if he would debate me. His response was identical: "it would not be useful !"

    S.C. – On Iran, which today is caught in a vise, is Chomsky, in your opinion, also minimizing the role of the lobby acting in favor of Israel in the United States ?

    Jeffrey Blankfort : Regarding Iran, Chomsky and the others seem to be ignoring the campaign that the lobby is waging to get us into another war, one that will be far more catastrophic than the disaster that has taken place in Iraq. There is a coalition of the 12 leading Jewish women's organizations, representing a million Jewish women, calling itself "One Voice for Israel," that formed in 2002 in response to the bad publicity Israel received over the destruction of Jenin. Each year, in what it calls "Take-5," it gets it gets it members to call the White House at the same time and then on another day, to do the same to Congress. Each time they have done it, they have tied up the Capitol switchboard. It is one of the ways in which they show their power.

    This coming February 22nd, they will be phoning President Bush to express their opinion on what he should do about Iran, and its development of nuclear energy or weapons. This a kind of operation that goes on all the time, but it is not even an issue or even known about by the anti-war movement, or by the left, and Professor Chomsky has written to me and others that he is not interested in the issue.

    When two years ago, the same person who invited him to have a debate with me in 1991, asked Chomsky again if he would do it, he refused, dismissing my "preoccupation" with the lobby. He also writes that he refuses to read the article that I wrote about him. This is hardly the response of an intellectual. I find it interesting that he is willing to debate Alan Dershowitz, because that is fairly easy, but he won't debate someone on the left or at least on this issue. And that is where the debate should take place.

    S.C. – Do you think that other countries have their equivalent of AIPAC?

    Jeffrey Blankfort : AIPAC is very unusual because while it is a registered lobby for Israel, it does not have to register as a foreign lobby. And that gives it a unique situation in the country. In every hearing in the Congress that involves Middle East issues, you have staff members of AIPAC sitting in these committee hearings. No other lobbies, foreign lobbies, have this privilege. And they also write the legislation that Congress passes regarding the Middle East. For example, the recent Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, which was passed a couple of years ago and which lead to what we see in Lebanon and Syria today was written by AIPAC which later bragged about it. It is not a secret. The only people that pretend they don't know it is the Left. It's on AIPAC's website, it is in their publications. AIPAC also provides interns - young, bright Jewish college students to work in the offices of members of Congress. They go to a member of Congress and say: "We have this young person who is interested in working on Capitol Hill, they will come one year and they will work in your office." No member of Congress is about to refuse a volunteer.

    Also AIPAC has a special foundation that provides free trips for members of Congress to Israel. Last year over a hundred members of Congress went to Israel, on a free trip, paid for by this foundation. Now there is a big debate about such trips in Congress paid for by various lobbies, but I do not believe that anything is going to happen there that would negatively affect AIPAC. Congress will make an exception when it comes to Israel. What is interesting is we have a country to the South of us called Mexico. Mexico is far more important to the United States, to our economy, and also there are many more people of Mexican-American extraction than Jews.

    There are thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who work here and are responsible for growing and picking the farm produce in the United States. And yet we don’t have Congressional delegations going to Mexico, we don’t have Congress talking about the importance of Mexico. If they go to Mexico, they go for a vacation, and yet here the focus is on Israel simply because of two things: money and intimidation. The Democratic Party has for years relied on wealthy Jewish donors for the majority of its contributions. AIPAC itself does not give money. AIPAC coordinates where the money should go, so if you are a wealthy Jewish donor and you want to do something to help Israel’s cause, AIPAC will let you know where to give it. Also, around the country, there are now about three dozen political action committees or PACs that exist only to give money to candidates who support Israel. None of them are identified by a name that has anything to do with Israel; so here in California we have something called the Northern Californians for Good Government”. You have in St.Louis, Missouri, the St. Louisans for Good Government. The biggest one is called the National PAC, NPAC. Then you have the Hudson Valley Political Action committee, Desert Caucus, et cetera.

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