This video of John Mearsheimer (available also in our video archive) is a good discussion of how to conceptualize not only Jewish involvement in the Iraq war but Jewish influence generally.
The argument is that :
1. The neoconservatives were the main force behind the war.
2. The neoconservatives are a key component of the Israel Lobby, are “deeply committed to Israel,” and are involved in a variety of pro-Israel organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
3. Other components of the Israel Lobby, notably AIPAC, were also deeply involved.
4. The main Jewish groups were also major supporters of the war. Mearsheimer quotes a Forward editorial from May 7, 2004:
As President Bush attempted to sell the American public and the international community on the need for a war in Iraq, America’s most important Jewish organizations rallied as one to his defense. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. [The editorial goes on to state:] Some groups went even further, arguing that the removal of the Iraqi leader would represent a significant step toward bringing peace to the Middle East and winning America’s war on terrorism.
Thus there is no implication that Judaism constitutes a unified movement or that all segments of the Jewish community participated in these movements. Jews may constitute a predominant or necessary element in radical political movements or movements in the social sciences, and Jewish identification may be highly compatible with or even facilitate these movements without most Jews being involved in these movements. As a result, the question of the overall effects of Jewish influences on gentile culture is independent of the question of whether most or all Jews supported the movements to alter gentile culture.
This distinction is important because on the one hand anti-Semites have often implicitly or explicitly assumed that Jewish involvement in radical political movements was part of an overarching Jewish strategy that also included wealthy Jewish capitalists, as well as Jewish involvement in the media, the academy, and other areas of public life. On the other hand, Jews attempting to defuse the anti-Semitism resulting from the fact that Jews have played a predominant role in many radical political movements have often pointed to the fact that only a minority of Jews are involved and that gentiles are also involved in the movements. Thus, for example, the standard response of the American Jewish Committee (hereafter AJCommittee) during the 1930s and 1940s to the predominance of Jews in radical political movements was to emphasize that most Jews were not radicals. Nevertheless, during this same period the AJCommittee undertook efforts to combat radicalism in the Jewish community (e.g., Cohen 1972).[i] The AJCommittee was implicitly recognizing that statements that only a minority of Jews are radicals may indeed have been true but were irrelevant to whether (1) Jewish identification is compatible with or facilitates involvement in radical political movements, (2) Jews constitute a predominant or necessary element in radical political movements, or (3) influences on gentile society resulting from Jewish predominance in radical movements (or the other Jewish intellectual movements reviewed in this volume) may be conceptualized as a consequence of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.
Similarly, the fact that most Jews prior to the 1930s were not Zionists, at least overtly, surely does not imply that Jewish identification was irrelevant to Zionism, or that Jews did not in fact constitute a predominant influence on Zionism, or that Zionism did not have effects on gentile societies, or that some gentiles did not become ardent Zionists. Political radicalism has been one choice among many available to Jews in the post-Enlightenment world, and there is no implication here that Judaism constitutes a monolithic unified group in the post-Enlightenment world. That Jews have been more likely than gentiles to choose radical political alternatives and that Jews have been a predominant influence in some radical political movements are therefore facts highly relevant to the present project
[i]. As indicated in SAID (p. 261), the AJCommittee’s endeavor to portray Jews as not overrepresented in radical movements involved deception and perhaps self-deception. The AJCommittee engaged in intensive efforts to change opinion within the Jewish community to attempt to show that Jewish interests were more compatible with advocating American democracy than Soviet communism (e.g., emphasizing Soviet anti-Semitism and Soviet support of nations opposed to Israel in the period after World War II) (Cohen 1972, 347ff).