The fear [of persecution] blinds Jews to our power, in Israel and the United States. It is hard for Jews to think of ourselves as powerful because of a historical and collective memory of persecution. Yet the world regards us as powerful. It sees the Jewish state as a nuclear armed country with a huge army, and it sees Jews as an elite in the United States with a ton of clout. “Why is the American Jewish community so determined to convince itself that we are living in 1938?” the late Tony Judt asked nine years ago. “Why does the most successful, the most well integrated, the most culturally and politically influential, the most socially and economically well situated Jewish community since the late years of the Roman republic, why is it so worried about the demon of anti-Semitism?”
We are as I like to remind readers the wealthiest American group by religion and we took over many establishment perches in the last generation. We are three of the four Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court, and whenever I turn on the news, I see influential Jews. Andrea Mitchell the wife of Alan Greenspan interviews Kenneth Pollack, Matt Lauer interviews Lorne Michaels. Last night I watched a panel on CSPAN about the Charlie Hebdo murders at the French-American Foundation and it appeared that all four speakers were Jewish.
I think that there are two prominent phenomena which will soon make people aware of the fundamental importance and extent of the Jewish question in the present world.
The first phenomenon is the existence of Israel, a prime signal of Jewish ethnocentrism’s inevitable double standard when compared to the ethnically and culturally pluralist attitudes of Diaspora Jews in the West.
The second phenomenon is the exposure of how easy it is for Jews to ally themselves with (or taking the side of) Muslims, if it suits their interest either in their war against the White gentiles — their perceived main Western enemies — or in other ways.
Among major examples of this tendency are European Jewry’s “heightened empathy and sympathy for Islam” and invention of the myth of Islamic tolerance; and the Jewish collaboration with Muslims during the invasion of Christian Spain.
Both phenomena are on display in the Middle East’s current events. Read more
The meeting of Jewish oligarchs Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson at the Israeli-American Council has attracted considerable comment. Obviously, it’s another illustration of the power of a minuscule number of very wealthy individuals to influence the political process. And since Adelson is partial to Republicans to the tune of $150 million in the last election (more to come) while Saban donates to the Democrats (substantially less [after all, he’s only worth 3.4 billion], but certainly not to be ignored), both parties are quite prone to doing their bidding. The Israel Lobby is nothing if not bi-partisan.
As Justin Raimondo noted, “Oh, it was quite a party, as the two philanthropists did their best to conform to every caricature out of the anti-Semites’ playbook” (“Oligarchs for Israel“).
(Isn’t it amazing that if one listens to activists on the left, such as MoveOn.org [originally funded by Jewish megadonors of the left, George Soros, Peter B. Lewis, and Linda Pritzker], one would think that the only wealthy individuals involved in U.S. politics are the safely non-Jewish Koch brothers?)
In the paranoid world of pro-Israel fanatics, even the New York Times and Washington Post are insufficiently pro-Israel. Scott McConnell in The American Conservative:
The two naturally agreed that the American media was terribly biased against Israel, except for maybe Fox News, and they discussed whether they could buy the Washington Post or New York Times to correct the problem. This aspect of the performance was comic, the lament, commonplace enough among neoconservatives, that the American press is biased against Israel. Consider that the Washington Post runs (the Wall Street Journal aside), the most neoconservative major editorial page in the country, and it’s been a long time since someone that one can even conceive of being slightly sympathetic to those subjected to Israeli occupation (perhaps the late Mary McGrory?) has written there. TheTimes is more diverse and makes occasionally sincere efforts at both balance and objective journalism, but if one looks at the roster of Times-men who regularly cover Israel, one could conclude that having a child serving in the IDF is a job requirement.
Sheldon and Haim then amused themselves and their audience by talking about taking over the Times and Washington Post.
News from England conveys that Andrew Bridgen, a Member of Parliament for the so-called Conservative Party, has troubled those of the Hebrew persuasion by daring to mention that there is a link between the Jewish people and the State of Israel. During an exchange in the House of Commons on proposals to recognize a State of Palestine, Bridgen is alleged to have said:
Does my hon. Friend agree that, given that the political system of the world’s superpower and our great ally the United States is very susceptible to well-funded powerful lobbying groups and the power of the Jewish lobby in America, it falls to this country and to this House to be the good but critical friend that Israel needs, and this motion tonight just might lift that logjam on this very troubled area?
A report at Breitbart.com is illustrative of irrational and pathological responses to any acknowledgement that Jewish lobbying groups (of which the Israel Lobby is only one) are well-funded and highly influential. Despite the measured tone of Bridgen’s comments, Breitbart’s journalist described the statement as a “scathing, anti-Semitic attack on pro-Israel groups in the United States. … Mr Bridgen’s comments give fuel to the anti-Israel lobby in the UK, and echo statements made by a number of anti-Semites. According to the European Monitoring Centre’s definition on Anti-Semitism, equating the actions of the State of Israel with Jewish people as a race is classed as anti-Semitism.”
Bridgen’s sin, we can deduce, is deemed to be two-fold. The first element was that he dared to state that a Jewish lobby existed and that the government of the United States is “very susceptible” to its influence. Although this is a clear and demonstrable fact, it is off-limits for public discussion. His second sin was to dare to suggest that Britain should be a “critical” friend, and that Israel “needs” friends who will carefully point out when it has committed wrongs or errors — another perfectly reasonable statement, that is, unless you are Jewish in which case anyone who criticizes you or blames you for anything is an “anti-Semite.”
Israel’s actions are clearly blameworthy, and have cost it support. The Guardian reported that in the same debate, Sir Richard Ottaway, the Conservative chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, said the Netanyahu government’s recent appropriation of land in the Etzion Bloc area of the West Bank had cost Israel his support. He said he had long been a supporter of Israel but “I realize now Israel has slowly been drifting away from world public opinion. The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life. It has made me look a fool and that is something I deeply resent.” A significant problem is that there are many more fools, with a variety of motives, who will persist in their support for Israel. Read more
The Steven Salaita is yet another example of the power of the Israel Lobby and how they leave no stone unturned in their efforts. Salaita is a professor of Arab descent who was offered a position at the University of Illinois until he made several tweets critical of Israel:
For instance, there is this tweet: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” Or this one: “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror.” Or this one: “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already.”
The job offer was rescinded, and now there is some light shed on how it went down: Read more
If there was a poll right now asking Americans whether the war in Iraq was a good idea, undoubtedly the vast majority would say no — the thousands of Americans dead, the tens of thousands wounded, many with life-long disabilities, the stratospheric, multi-trillion dollar costs.
And for what? Eleven years later there is sectarian/ethnically based violence with no end in sight. The neocons advertised a swift and easy victory, followed by joyous and grateful Iraqis eagerly embracing democracy and human rights . After all, underneath the surface veneer of sectarianism and tribalism, the Iraqis are just like us, or so said neocons like Prof. Bernard Lewis. Of course, he’s far from the only one (certainly the manufacturers of false intelligence working under Paul Wolfowitz at the DOD deserve a special place in Hell as well), but I find Lewis’s behavior as an academic to be the height of evil.
So I guess we can all agree that it was all a huge mistake and everyone regrets what happened.
But that would be dead wrong. The people who sold the Iraq war to George W. Bush and the American people are nothing if not Israeli patriots. And there can be little doubt that Israel is quite happy with the consequences. Read more
Given the situation of sectarian/ethnic warfare in Iraq, I am posting an article that originally appeared in 2011. It’s amazing that academics like me are routinely pilloried as doing shoddy research and skewing everything they write about for political/ethnic reasons. But that does not apply at all to academic activists like Bernard Lewis, the much praised Princeton University professor who promised George W. Bush that all that was needed for a flourishing of Iraqi democracy of multiculturalism and human rights was a little military nudge. Iraq will never be like the West.
This logic continues with Tony Blair who absolves himself of any blame because “the sectarianism of the Maliki Government snuffed out what was a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq. Blair writes as if to say, “if only they had a better leader, all would be well.”
Who could have possibly known that Maliki would simply reverse Saddam’s modus vivendi and start oppressing the Sunnis? Bernard Lewis, for one. But Lewis was far more intent on carrying out Israel’s foreign policy interests than telling Bush the truth. A fragmented Iraq or an Iraq torn by war were equally attractive possibilities. Win-win.
Of all the lies that the neocons came up with to get the U.S. to invade Iraq, the one that most angers me was Bernard Lewis’s lie that Iraq just needed a little nudge in order to unleash the popular surge for democracy and republican government.
Lewis … argues that Arabs have a long history of consensus government, if not democracy, and that a modicum of outside force should be sufficient to democratize the area—a view that runs counter to the huge cultural differences between the Middle East and the West that stem ultimately from very different evolutionary pressures. (see here, p. 50)
I agree that the WMD lie created and promoted mainly by Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Abraham Shulsky was critical. But Bernard Lewis deserves a special place in academic hell because he used his position as an elite academic to influence policy on behalf of his ethnic brethren in Israel and his close friends in the Likud government.
I assumed that Iraq would implode quite quickly after the U.S. left, but the pace is breathtaking. The LATimes report (“Iraq bombings kill 60, revive old fears“) shows that nothing has changed after 8-1/2 years of occupation, over 4400 U.S. armed forces dead and almost 32000 wounded, and over 100,000 Iraqis dead (see here). The Times article shows that the fundamental social structure hasn’t changed. The country remains divided along ethnic and religious lines.
The scenes of devastation were all too familiar after more than a dozen explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital Thursday, killing at least 60 people and injuring nearly 200, just days after the last U.S. troops left the country.
The attacks, some of the worst in Iraq this year, came in the midst of a political standoff between the country’s main Shiite Muslim and Sunni Arab factions. The dispute threatens to unravel a U.S.-backed power-sharing government, and is spreading anxiety over the prospect of a return to the sectarian bloodletting that devastated the country in recent years.
All the violence has not changed the basic fact that Iraq, like every other Arab culture, is a low-trust society:
“This crisis really is caused because there is pervasive distrust and an absence of institutions that can carry this kind of transition,” said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq expert at the International Crisis Group. Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shiite, has never trusted the Sunni politicians with whom he has been forced to share power, Hiltermann said.
Western societies have uniquely been high-trust societies, a point made, e.g., by Francis Fukuyama and a basic corollary of the psychology of Western individualism (see here, p. 27ff). The problem is that we think that everyone is “just like us”—willing and able to set up individualist societies with democratic and republican institutions. As Ian Morris writes in his Why the West Rules—For Now, people are pretty much the same the world over (see Brenton Sanderson’s review).We want to believe this so badly that it was easy to pull off the big lie. It’s the foundational lie of multi-culturalism. Of course, the same goes for IQ. We are supposed to ignore the findings that the average IQ in Iraq is around 87.
The Sunnis want more autonomy under the Shiite government, and the Kurds will doubtless continue their drive for autonomy. Iraq will be fractionated, politically weakened where the only solution is a heavy-handed dictatorship a la Saddam Hussein, or partition into three states.
In the ideal neocon world, the U. S. would have remained in Iraq indefinitely. Since that didn’t happen, they are doubtless not unhappy to see Iraq’s current turmoil—except that it will be more difficult next time to sell attacks on Israel’s enemies as a crusade for democracy.
I suspect that the neocon strategy will now be to blame the Obama administration for premature evacuation and use this as a trump card in the current campaign for a war against Iran. Already, “Republican leaders have sharply criticized President Obama for not trying harder to keep a U.S. military presence in Iraq. Sen. John McCain of Arizona said on CBS television Thursday that Iraq was ‘unraveling tragically.’ ‘We are paying a very heavy price in Baghdad because of our failure to have a residual force there.'”
It is unclear what price we are paying, since it’s unclear what threat Iraq poses or ever posed to the U.S. But it is certainly the case that this will be an issue in presidential politics in the months ahead. One can imagine the Obama administration being more willing to do the bidding of the Israel Lobby on Iran in order to counter the inevitable charges that he “lost Iraq.”
In a sane society, the neocons would have been executed for high treason for their involvement in the death and maiming of thousands of U.S. citizens under false pretenses, not to mention the trillion dollar price tag. In the U.S., they are preparing for their next war.
And the Israel Lobby has their back. Any intimation of Jewish influence related to Israel policy remains off limits. Thomas Friedman recently had the temerity to write, “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” But it wasn’t long before he mollified his remarks and said he didn’t subscribe to any “grand conspiracy theories.”
I don’t subscribe to any grand conspiracy theories either. It’s all out in the open. In your face. Just don’t say so in public.