In Praise of James Petras

I’m thrilled to see that retired scholar James Petras is still punching above his weight. Last month he published yet another powerful essay on his website, this one explicitly bringing to our attention the whopping over-representation of one particular ethnic group at the top of America’s power structure. He begins: “Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court marks a continuation and deepening of the lopsided ethno-religious representation in the US judicial system. If Garland is appointed, Jewish justices will comprise 45% of the Court, even though they represent less than 2% of the overall population.”

PowerPetras, retired Bartle Professor of sociology at Binghamton University whose views are generally on the left, came to my attention nearly a decade ago when he released three books that were extremely critical of not just Israel but Jewry as a whole. First was the 2006 book The Power of Israel in the United States, followed a year later by Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants. Then, in 2008, came Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power. (For those interested, my forty-two-page review of The Power of Israel and Rulers and Ruled appeared in the Winter 2007–2008 issue of The Occidental Quarterly.)

Obviously, it’s rare to see such critical prose from an academic. Despite his stature and wide exposure, Petras has continued to this day his principled criticism of Jews and Zionism — and has not been silenced by the usual tactics. I’m impressed.

Petras, I believe, should be known for coining the phrase “Zionist Power Configuration” (ZPC), which of course includes, in addition to Israel itself, Jewish organizations such as AIPAC, The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee, and the Anti-Defamation League. Crucially, in my view, Petras also includes most “ordinary Jews” who we normally do not consider an active part of this conscious configuration.

Petras writes that “the ZPC’s formal and informal structure has a crucial dynamic element to it: each power center interacts with the rest, creating a constant ‘movement’ and activity, which converges and energizes both leaders and followers.” Petras is right to stress this “crucial dynamic element,” for it explains how a small number of actors drawn from a small portion of the American population (Jews constitute roughly two percent of the U.S. population) could effect such large changes throughout the world.

In The Power of Israel, Petras, given the year he was writing, begins by focusing on the question “Who Fabricated the Iraq War Threat?” His answer echoes that of others such as Pat Buchanan, Kevin MacDonald, and Mearsheimer and Walt: “The Jewish Lobby.” In a nutshell, Petras argued, “The tyranny of Israel over the US has grave consequences for world peace and war, the stability and instability of the world economy, and for the future of democracy in the US.”

I think what most impressed me was Petras’s willingness to go beyond naming just the big political organizations like AIPAC and such. What makeszionism these organizations so potent, Petras believes, is that “thousands of their activists — doctors, dentists, philanthropists, real estate magnates, financiers, journalists, media moguls, and academics — acted in concert with key Jewish politicians and ideologues.” These sayanim, or Jewish helpers, allow Mossad and other Jewish assets to operate smoothly in countries throughout the world.

Also, Petras is courageous enough to describe the massive plunder of Russia, orchestrated in part by none other than the president of Harvard University, Lawrence Summers and some of his Jewish professors. Petras also concludes that this plunder consisted of “over a trillion dollars worth of factories, transport, oil, gas, iron, coal, and other formerly state-owned resources.” That is not a typo; Petras wrote trillion. This figure is consistent with that of Jeff Gates, as I noted in my recent review of his book.

Consistently, Petras in all three books (and others) hammers away at the misuse of power by powerful Jews. For example in Zionism, Militarism he writes:

It is this slavish obedience to the official Israeli policy that marks out the Zionist Power Configuration as something much more than just another lobby as its ‘left’ apologists and even Walt and Mearsheimer claim. The ZPC is much more sinister both as a transmission belt for the policies and interests of a colonial power hell-bent on domination in the Middle East and as the most serious authoritarian threat to our democratic freedoms: no single individual who dares criticize can escape the long hand of the pro-Israel authoritarians.  Book sellers are picketed, editors are intimidated, university presses and distributors are threatened, university presidents are blackmailed, local and national candidates are browbeaten and smeared, meetings are cancelled and venues are pressured, faculty are fired or denied promotion, corporations are blacklisted, union pension funds are raided, theater performances and concerts are cancelled.  And the list of repressive actions taken by these authoritarian Zionist organizations at the national and local levels runs on, arousing fear among some, anger among many more and a slowly burning resentment and growing awareness among the silent majority.          

Colorfully, he describes how this “Judeo-fascism” enforces its will with “‘private visits,’ abusive phone calls by Zionist zealots, including death threats,” which are not uncommon among “‘respectable’ Zion-fascists.” I don’t suppose you’d hear most social scientists using such language, especially ones who are still employed.

Followers of Petras’s website will know that he has continued to address the power of and threats from the ZPC, including his latest blog, as I mentioned in the first paragraph. Mocking the argument that “merit” is responsible for the appointment of Jewish justices such as Elana Kagan, he instead writes that her relationship with former Harvard president Summers (ethnic nepotism by any other name) was responsible. Both Kagan and nominee Garland, in Petras’s view, have meager, mediocre and pedestrian academic publication records. Yet Kagan now sits on the bench and Garland conceivably could.

While reading his three books eight or nine years ago, I remember thinking that, given the way he described how the ZPC advanced the interests of Israel, the same tactics could be used to enhance Jewish power in America more generally. With last month’s essay, I’m happy to read that Petras has come to this conclusion as well. As he writes, “Today the major issue has turned into an ‘American Problem’: how a powerful ethno-religious elite can use its multi-faceted power to secure (and create) strategic positions in the state while excluding contenders, repressing critics and actively promoting policies in the interest of a foreign state, Israel.”

The gist of the essay is that many American Jews have degrees from America’s best universities, but their policies in top positions have resulted in almost universally dismal results — if you are measuring by the effects on America as a whole. In the area of foreign affairs, Petras writes, “If we evaluate foreign policy ‘performance’ in terms of US political, economic and military interests, their policies have been costly in lives, financial losses and military defeats for the nation as a whole. They rate ‘summa cum lousy’. However if we consider their foreign policies in the alternative terms of Israel’s political, economic and military interests, they regain their ‘summa cum laudes’!”

Petras shows how the US government is to some degree a private tool for advancing Jewish interests. He points, for example, to the position of Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence within the US Treasury Department, filled by Stuart Levey. Showing his sense of caustic humor, he notes who followed Levey: “Levey’s successor, David Cohen (who else!) followed the same policy.” The result was that  “Multi-national banks and corporations, which had corrupted officials, swindled investors, evaded taxes and laundered illicit funds were never investigated, let alone charged. Cohen devoted his time and effort, at Israel’s behest, enforcing sanctions against Iran and endeavoring to sabotage any US.-Iran nuclear negotiations.”

Think how rarely we hear about obvious Jewish dominance in the West. Yet Petras shows no fear in revealing it:

Jack Lew, Secretary of the Treasury (2013-2016) heads an ethno-Chauvinist quintet dictating US foreign and domestic economic policy (with Michael Froman, Chief Trade Negotiator; ‘Penny’ Pritzer, Secretary of Commerce; Lawrence Summers, Director of National Economic Council and Janet Yellen, head of the Federal Reserve Bank). Lew pushed policies favoring the wealthiest 1% along with his co-religionist Michael Froman, while millions of Americans were plunged into poverty and stagnation. Their policies include Free Trade Agreements in Europe, Asia and Latin America which have led to the relocation of US MNC overseas, massive job losses at home, further deepening inequalities and degrading work conditions and wages. Recently, in his stellar public career, Jack Lew was investigated for lying to the US Congress about the national debt, the size and growth of which he deliberately understated. Thanks to his ‘backers’, he was never charged. … Of course, Lew has his BA from Harvard and JD from Georgetown, which accounts for his success on behalf of the leisure class.

Perhaps of most interest to me is the Jewish plunder of American wealth over the last decade. Petras sees this, too, writing how former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s policies “led to the greatest financial crash since the Great Depression and his successor, Benjamin Bernanke, who presided over the trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street banks while millions of American’s lost their homes.”

There’s that number again — one trillion dollars.

Regular readers know I have been interested in how these Jewish financial predations have been rendered into fare understandable to the common man, specifically through Hollywood. As I believe I’ve shown, Jewish identity has been thoroughly cleansed from the films that deal with Wall Street misbehavior, so the common man is just not learning about these things that negatively affect so many of us.

This is not the least bit surprising, since it really is Wall Street that funds Hollywood through an ethnic division of labor. Does anyone remember David McClintick’s expose of Wall Street’s power in Indecent Exposure: A True Story of Hollywood and Wall Street? There he showed how Jewish power in the East coast dictates to Jewish power in the West coast. Very revealing. (In 2006, McClintick published a long article called “How Harvard Lost Russia,” where, unlike Petras, he wisely chose to keep the ethnic identity of so many players in that plunder a secret. In fact, the only time he used the word ‘Jewish’ was when one women accused Russians of discrimination against Jews.)

I will continue to explore how Hollywood hides Jewish identity with respect to Wall Street shenanigans, just as I did with my review of the book and film The Wolf of Wall Street. I now have the DVD of The Big Short, a story about the subprime mortgage fiasco. Expect my discussion of that later this month.

In the meantime, consider getting at least one or two of Petras’s books, the best probably being The Power of Israel in the United States and Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants. Of course, you can access a treasure trove of good essays on his site, as well.

Maybe this can be a last hurrah for following through the printed word the issue of Jewish power. Like many others of my generation, I’ve watched as the younger generation has fled from the print media in favor of screens of various sizes. Now with the rise of the Alt-Right, we see the success of sources such as The Right Stuff and The Daily Stormer. Their open hostility to Jewish attacks on the West clearly have an appeal with the younger crowd, and that cohort is the one that will be taking the reins soon.

With my return to a discussion of the film The Big Short, I hope to appeal to this wider Alt-Right crowd. Stay tuned.

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