Jews as a Necessary Condition

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.

A similar scenario presented itself in the attempt to get the U.S. to bomb Syria, when the Anti-Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center supported war (“The Organized Jewish Community: Wall-to-wall Support for a Strike on Syria“).
5. Mearsheimer gives the neocons a pass on the issue of whether they really thought that the invasion of Iraq was good for the U.S. (which I would chalk up to deception or self-deception), but does note that neocons believe that what is good for Israel is good for the U.S. and vice versa—a view that Mearsheimer (and common sense) sees as unreasonable.
6. The neocons could not pull this off by themselves. They needed allies, and that required a suitable context. 9/11 filled that need because it provided their cause with popular and elite (especially Bush and Cheney) support. (I suspect that this intuition of cui bono is behind a great deal of the suspicions of Israeli involvement or at least foreknowledge of the events of 9/11.)
7. The neocons were therefore a necessary but not a sufficient cause of the war in Iraq.
8. The Iraq War was not a Jewish war. Polls indicated Jews supported the war less than other Americans.
This is exactly the argument of The Culture of Critique—that the Jewish intellectual and political movements were necessary, not sufficient for the decline of White America. From Chapter 1:

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

Applied to the argument in Chapter 7 that Jews were a necessary condition for the sea change in immigration policy inaugurated by the 1965 immigration law, the argument can be paraphrased as follows. (Notice some differences from the argument that neocons and the organized Jewish community were a necessary condition for the war in Iraq.)
1. Jewish organizations were the main force in favor of change.
2. Jewish organizations recruited sympathetic non-Jews for the effort. As noted by Mearsheimer, this was also the case with neoconservatism: “because neoconservative Jews constitute a tiny percentage of the electorate, they need to make alliances with non-Jews whose perceived interests dovetail with theirs. Non-Jews have a variety of reasons for being associated with Jewish interests, including career advancement, close personal relationships or admiration for individual Jews, and deeply held personal convictions” (see here, p. 12). In the case of immigration policy, Jewish organizations like the American Jewish Congress organized groups (e.g., the National Commission on Immigration and Citizenship) composed mainly of non-Jews favoring immigration and an end to national quotas favoring Western Europe.
3. Jewish organizations systematically conflated American interests with Jewish interests. That is, they depicted the Jewish interest in cultural pluralism and decline in the power of White America that would result from changes in American immigration law as good for the country as a whole. In general, just as neocons cannot distinguish between U.S. foreign policy interests and those of Israel, American Jews fail to distinguish what’s good for Jews with what is good for other Americans.
4. Just as the neocon effort failed until there was a change in the context, the success of Jewish interests on immigration was made possible because of a change in the intellectual context — in this case, the change brought about by the success of the Jewish intellectual and political movements discussed in earlier chapters of  CofC (Boasian anthropology, the Frankfurt School, psychoanalysis, the New York Intellectuals). As John Higham noted, by the time of the final victory in 1965, the Boasian perspective of cultural determinism and anti-biologism had become standard academic wisdom. The result was that “it became intellectually fashionable to discount the very existence of persistent ethnic differences. The whole reaction deprived popular race feelings of a powerful ideological weapon” (58–59). In a 1951 statement to Congress, the American Jewish Congress stated, “The findings of science must force even the most prejudiced among us to accept, as unqualifiedly as we do the law of gravity, that intelligence, morality and character, bear no relationship whatever to geography or place of birth.”
5. These influences were accomplished without the knowledge or involvement of many Jews. The Jewish intellectual movements were the product of a very small number of Jews whose influence was magnified by Jewish influence and ethnic networking in the elite media and academic world. Just as the Iraq war is not properly labeled a “Jewish war,” one might argue that the change in U.S. immigration policy should not be labeled a “Jewish victory.” Jewish power is exerted by influence on elite institutions (the media, the academic world, Congress) by organized groups of Jews, not the entire Jewish population. The extent to which these attitudes are common in the wider Jewish community remains an open one.
Nevertheless, although there is good evidence that substantial numbers of Jews opposed the Iraq war, this is less convincing in the case of immigration policy. Whereas there is a major split between neoconservatives and the majority of American Jews on Iraq, support for liberal immigration policy spans the Jewish political spectrum (far left to neoconservative right), not to mention the entire organized Jewish community, and this has been the case since the early 20th century at least.
Far more than the war in Iraq, immigration policy and conceptualizing America as a proposition nation with no ethnic or racial implications are consensus issues in the American Jewish community.

  [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).

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