Bill Kristol and Jeremy Ben-Ami on Israel

Philip Weiss has a nice column on the debate between Bill Kristol and Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street held at a synagogue in New York (“Bill Kristol celebrates Republican Party purge of ‘old fashioned Arabists’ Scowcroft, Baker and Bush I.”) The headline reflects Kristol’s power in the Republican Party—openly saying that the neocons purged those who were not sufficiently aware that the capital of the United States is Tel Aviv, to paraphrase Russell Kirk.

It’s nice of Kristol to acknowledge this—it reflects a well-deserved sense of invulnerability. What’s next? Acknowledging the indispensable neocon role of in promoting the war with Iraq?

But we have known about the purging of traditional conservatives from the GOP for a long time. Sam Francis’s statement from 2004 says it all:


There are countless stories of how neoconservatives have succeeded in entering conservative institutions, forcing out or demoting traditional conservatives, and changing the positions and philosophy of such institutions in neoconservative directions.… Writers like M. E. Bradford, Joseph Sobran, Pat Buchanan [whose article on the purge is here], and Russell Kirk, and institutions like Chronicles, the Rockford Institute, the Philadelphia Society, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have been among the most respected and distinguished names in American conservatism. The dedication of their neoconservative enemies to driving them out of the movement they have taken over and demonizing them as marginal and dangerous figures has no legitimate basis in reality. It is clear evidence of the ulterior aspirations of those behind neoconservatism to dominate and subvert American  conservatism from its original purposes and agenda and turn it to other purposes.… What neoconservatives really dislike about their “allies” among traditional conservatives is simply the fact that the conservatives are conservatives at all—that they support “this notion of a Christian civilization,” as Midge Decter put it, that they oppose mass immigration, that they criticize Martin Luther King and reject the racial dispossession of white Western culture, that they support or approve of Joe McCarthy, that they entertain doubts or strong disagreement over American foreign policy in the Middle East, that they oppose reckless involvement in foreign wars and foreign entanglements, and that, in company with the Founding Fathers of the United States, they reject the concept of a pure democracy and the belief that the United States is or should evolve toward it. (Sam Francis [2004]. “The neoconservative subversion.” In B. Nelson (ed.), “Neoconservatism.” Occasional Papers of the Conservative Citizens’ Foundation, Issue Number Six, 6–12. St. Louis: Conservative Citizens’ Foundation. Quoted here, p. 26)

It’s really a debate between American Jews who think of themselves as trying to save Israel from itself, and American Jews who will support Israel no matter what. Ben-Ami is saying the same thing Mearsheimer and Walt have said—that current Israeli policies are bad for Israel long term. (Ben-Ami would not credit M & W for this; Weiss notes that Ben-Ami “is the same man who when Walt and Mearsheimer wrote about the Israel lobby’s hammerlock on US policymaking in the Middle East, said it smacked of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

Ben-Ami is afraid that Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians is unsustainable given international pressure. And he worries that support for Israel is ultimately fragile since the power of the lobby stems mainly from US politicians motivated by fear rather than from the belief that all-out support for Israel is in US interests.

Kristol, on the other hand, thinks that “the status quo is sustainable for another 45 or 60 years.”

I am inclined to agree with Kristol. Americans of all stripes, especially Whites, are getting used to censoring themselves on a whole host of issues—Israel, Jewish influence, and virtually anything touching on diversity. Whereas even the most trivial sin against diversity is severely punished, a US Congressman can advocate permanent second-class status for the Palestinians in the mainstream media.  I don’t see any end to the craven support given Israel by the vast majority of US politicians. Fear works. The Israel Lobby has shown over and over again that it’s quite capable of enforcing its will on Congress and the president.

Behind the fear is all the money that automatically flows to the opponents of any politician who doesn’t toe the line.

[Ben-Ami and the moderator] could have asked Kristol about how he derives his power— how he buys a full-page ad in the Times to say that Obama whom he agrees with is using Israel as a punching bag. No one mentioned hedge funder Daniel Loeb, who funds the Emergency Committee for Israel.

Weiss could have mentioned David Kovnar, another hedge funder who “over two decades, has underwritten the infrastructure the neocons have used to achieve their current prominence.” And a whole lot of others. Ultimately, it’s all about Jewish money.

Kristol also doubtlessly believes that Israel is militarily invulnerable, and it would be difficult to argue the point. Israel is the preeminent military power in the region, and the US has pledged to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge over its neighbors. (A bill before Congress now promises to enhance this pledge.)

Of course, continuing its aggressive, expansionist policies means that Israel will continue to be an international pariah. But Israel is quite accustomed to that role at this point, and the lobby has a long and successful track record in dealing with the fallout from charges such as “Zionism is racism,” at least in the West (which is all that really matters).

As we have stressed here several times, the extremists are in charge in Israel and there is no going back. Ben-Ami is kidding himself if he thinks that humanitarian arguments or even arguments phrased in terms of Israeli survival are going to persuade the Israeli right to change course on settlements. It’s not going to happen. And with the demographic power of the religious and ethnonationalist right, these trends will only get stronger in the future.

Finally, Weiss writes that

as for the war that Bill Kristol pushed, the Iraq war, no one was so impolite as to bring that up, let alone Kristol’s counsel to George W. Bush to remove Saddam Hussein because “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.”

In the Weiss piece, Kristol complains about the New York Times and NPR as enemies of Israel. But neither would ever breathe a word about the simple fact that the war in Iraq never would have happened without the Jewish neocons who falsified intelligence reports on WMD and created the image of Iraq as bent on destroying the US: “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight,” as Kristol phrased it.

That is yet another huge display of Jewish power. And we already know what would happen if a mainstream media outlet strayed off the reservation by charging the neocons with responsibility for the Iraq war: Charges of “anti-Semitism” by the ADL and attempts to ruin careers. (The ADL labeled such charges “a canard that America’s going to war has little to do with disarming Saddam, but everything to do with Jews, the ‘Jewish lobby’ [notice that ‘the Jewish Lobby’ is in quotes; the ADL is implying that it doesn’t really exist] and the hawkish Jewish members of the Bush administration who, according to this chorus, will favor any war that benefits Israel. Such charges are “reminiscent of age-old, anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate government’  (see here, pp. 15-16).

As so often these days, the truth lives on the Internet. But even there, you  better be bullet-proof if you want to talk about it.

In an ideal world, Bill Kristol would be tried for treason as a war criminal. In the real world, Weiss correctly calls him a “Republican Party boss” who has also taken it upon himself to “enforce a pro-Israel line inside the Democratic Party.”

I realize I am buying into a canard, but if you are not concerned about Jewish power in America, you are not paying attention.

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