Jane Harman, Haim Saban, and AIPAC: The Disloyalty Issue in Multicultural America
Disloyalty is an age-old issue with Jews, and for a simple reason: Jews often have interests as Jews that stretch beyond national boundaries. Even before the existence of Israel, Diaspora Jews often could be said to have a “foreign policy” in the sense that there was a general consensus among Jews to favor some nations and disfavor others.
For example, the Spanish Inquisition targeted Jews who pretended to be Christians, with the result that Jews in other countries sought Spain’s downfall. From 1881 until the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia was seen as an enemy of Jews. As a result, the organized Jewish community in other countries often opposed Russian interests. Jacob Schiff, the preeminent Jewish activist of the period, financed the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, and he financed revolutionaries in Russia.
At times, Jewish foreign policy interests were in conflict with those of the wider society. In 1908 Schiff also led the successful effort to abrogate the Russian Trade Agreement which was opposed by the Taft Administration as not in the interests of the United States. Schiff’s motive for helping Jews in Russia conflicted with US national interests as understood by the US government.
Questions of disloyalty are by no means unique to Jews. Loyalty issues are common for minority groups living as a Diaspora, as with Overseas Chinese and Indian groups living as minorities abroad. In the US, issues of divided loyalties arose among pre-1965 immigrants who retained attachments to their countries of origin. During World War I, many German-Americans were reluctant to support the Allied cause against Germany because of their ties with their homeland.
The German-Americans eventually assimilated completely, at least partly because of their racial similarity to other White Americans. However, assimilation is unlikely for post-1965 immigrant minorities given their racial dissimilarities to the traditionally dominant people and culture of America. This is even more so because of the rise of multiculturalism as a paradigm for Western societies. As I noted in my review of Mearsheimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby,
dual loyalty has become legitimate because of the rise of multiculturalism in America — a phenomenon that is due in no small part … to Jewish activism. … Beginning with Horace Kallen, Jewish intellectuals have been at the forefront in developing models of the United States as a culturally and ethnically pluralistic society. … Within the multicultural perspective, there is tolerance for different groups but the result is a tendency to deprecate the importance or even the existence of a common national identity. If there is no national identity, it’s hard to see how there can be a concept of national interest.
However, until the multicultural utopia legitimizes all loyalties in the name of world citizenship, divided loyalties will likely be a chronic issue. For example, ethnic Chinese who are American citizens have been convicted of spying for China. An April, 2008 Washington Post article listed 12 cases of ethnic Chinese spying on the United States.
We should not, therefore, be surprised that at least some American Jews may be more loyal to Israel than to the United States. Unlike the German-Americans who assimilated to America, Israel remains a powerful source of identity for the great majority of American Jews. Chi Mak, the Chinese spy who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for sending information on military technology to the Chinese, has as his counterparts Jonathan Pollard and Ben-Ami Kadish, convicted of spying on behalf of Israel.
Besides Pollard and Kadish, there is a bumper crop of neoconservatives who have been credibly accused of spying for Israel: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, and Michael Ledeen.
None of the neocons were convicted, and now we have the AIPAC espionage trial in which former AIPAC employees Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman have been accused of providing information to Israeli Embassy employees. Jewish Congresswoman Jane Harman has allegedly been caught agreeing to “waddle in” to help get the charges against Rosen and Weissman reduced.
As part of her defense in the media, Harman pointedly noted that “anyone I might have talked to was an American citizen, and these were conversations that took place in the United States.”
This is the multicultural defense par excellence. Harman was talking to an American about the business of AIPAC, an American organization that has not been required to register as an agent of a foreign government. What could possibly be wrong with that?
One problem with that is that the American citizen that Harman may well have been talking to was Haim Saban who is not only an American citizen but also a citizen of Israel. Saban’s commitment to Israel seems almost a caricature of a nut case Zionist — someone who makes Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz seem lukewarm by comparison.
Saban’s commitment to Israel really knows no bounds. This is from an interview with Haaretz in 2006; Saban’s comments are in quotes.
You said once that you are a one-note person, and that note is Israel. Why?
“You can’t explain love.”
It’s really love?
“More than love. Passion. A love that is passion.”
“When we approach Israel I always ask the pilots of my plane to let me sit in the chair between them. We don’t play ‘Heveinu Shalom Aleichem,’ but when I see the coast coming up my heart starts to go boom, boom, boom.”
Is Israel also part of your everyday life here, in Los Angeles?
“At 9 A.M. I start with London and Kirschenbaum [Channel 10’s evening current events program]. After that, throughout the day, if I see something about Israel on one of the four channels that are always on in my office, on mute, I immediately turn on the sound. And I have Israeli music on my computer, classics and contemporary singers, too.
“Let me tell you a story. A few years ago I got some new albums and I put them on the computer. Suddenly ‘The Photos in the Album’ [sung by Haim Moshe] comes up. I’m standing there, shaving, listening to the lyrics. And the tears stream over the soap, without my even being able to explain why. Grandma, mom cooking, I promised you wouldn’t fight against anyone. A knife in the heart. That is the heart of the nation. And I love this nation. I love the Jewish people, even more the Israeli people. I feel a very deep bond which I can’t explain.”
Haim Saban is an American citizen, but can there really be any question where his loyalty lies? I suspect it’s the same with the neocons accused of spying, and with AIPAC’s Rosen and Weissman. A big part of my article on neocons was simply to document their intense commitment to Israel.
Nevertheless, I suppose that if we asked these people whether they are more loyal to Israel than the US, they would deny it and they may be utterly sincere in their denial.
But how could any reasonable person believe what they are saying? Psychological research shows quite clearly that people with strong ingroup loyalties are likely to suffer cognitive distortions that would bias their attitudes and their policy recommendations. They may well believe that their recommendations also benefit the United States, but they might not even be aware of how their commitment to Israel can bias their judgment.
The big picture here is that the Israel Lobby has managed to create a climate in which issues of the loyalty of American Jews are off limits at the highest reaches of government. However, this sensitivity to Jewish concerns (and susceptibility to Jewish pressure) has not filtered down into the intelligence and military establishment, especially at the lower echelons.
Commenting on the Harman case, “an official with an American Jewish organization,” stated that suspicion of the loyalties of American Jews is “rooted deep in the system and it comes from the bottom up.” An Israeli official is paraphrased as claiming that “suspicion toward Israel [is] prevalent in the military and intelligence establishments but [is] not common at the political and diplomatic levels.”
These lower-level people are less susceptible to public pressure because they represent an institutional consensus that has not yet embraced multiculturalism and the slavish American commitment to Israel. Instead, they seem committed to the quaint view that America is a nation state with interests that are different from other nations, including Israel.
This in turn suggests that the powers that be may eventually get the charges against Rosen and Weissman dropped. As a result of court rulings in favor of the defense, this certainly looks to be the case. Elite culture is far more influenced by Jewish sensibilities and far more on board with the multicultural zeitgeist than those responsible for initiating these investigations.
Rosen and Weissman may be exonerated, but the lower-level people still have quite a bit of power. The American intelligence community is doubtless the only reason Jonathan Pollard languishes in prison despite huge public relations campaigns proclaiming the injustice of his sentence. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were strongly pressured to pardon him so that he can return to a hero’s welcome in Israel. However, as an Israeli commentator has noted, “Each time, over the last 2 decades that there has been some sense that a commutation or a pardon might be in the offing, there have been official leaks to the media, creating such devastating press about Jonathan that it made it difficult for the president to proceed with commutation.”
The notorious Mark Rich received a pardon by throwing enough money at Bill Clinton. But there was no powerful constituency opposing Rich. It’s different with Pollard. No president dare release Pollard, even though Bill Clinton, at least, would have loved to do so. Clinton agreed to release Pollard but changed his mind when CIA Director George Tenet threatened to resign if Pollard was released.
It’s noteworthy that the Israeli official quoted above exempts the diplomatic service from the charge of being insufficiently sensitive to Israel. This was not always the case. The State Department was famously an anti-Israel bastion beginning with Secretary of State George Marshall in the Truman Administration. Jewish foreign policy activists — most notably the neocons — viewed the State Department, and particularly the Near East Desk, as dominated by Protestant Ivy Leaguers who were insensitive to Jewish concerns and particularly Israel.
But all of that is long gone — an early casualty of the demise of the East Coast Yankee Protestant elite and Jewish ascendancy in those same circles. But the intelligence and military establishments have still not capitulated entirely. As a result, we see little flare-ups of rebellion from time to time, like the current AIPAC case, the investigations of so many neocons, and the continued incarceration of Jonathan Pollard.
It is doubtless noteworthy that the Whites who remain influential in the intelligence and military establishments are relatively unlikely to be East Coast Ivy Leaguers. They are more likely to be Southerners or have other White identities. As the co-author of a recent academic report noted, “Politically and economically, the South remains the heart of our country’s military.” The FBI remains a whipping boy of liberals unhappy because it is insufficiently diverse.
The concern of the Israeli official that suspicions of Israel remain prevalent in the US military and intelligence establishments is particularly interesting. The attraction of White Southerners for the military is on a par with the attraction of White descendants of Puritans to moralistic aggression. The Southern military tradition is a legacy of the Scots-Irish Celtic culture so well described in David Hackett Fisher’s classic Albion’s Seed, Kevin Phillips’ The Cousin’s Wars,and James Webb’s Born Fighting.
As I have noted elsewhere, this is the only significant group of American White people with any cultural confidence. For this group of Whites — and only this group — there is “a racial pride that dares not speak its name, and that defines itself through cultural cues instead—a suspicion of intellectual elites and city dwellers, a preference for folksiness and plainness of speech (whether real or feigned), and the association of a working-class white minority with ‘the real America.’”
This is implicit whiteness — implicit because explicit assertions of white identity have been banned by the anti-white elites that dominate our politics and culture.
The current angst about the obvious examples of Jewish disloyalty is part of a larger cultural struggle. The old East Coast Protestant elite and its bastions, such as the State Department and the Ivy League universities, have fallen to the new multicultural zeitgeist in which Jewish disloyalty is more or less inconceivable. But there are still some holdouts. And therein lies the hope.
Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.
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