The Jewish Telegraphic Agency has a story about Aipac’s teetering efforts to ram the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism bill down Congress’ throats. Before we delve into the substance I’d like to point out yet another example of ideological partisanship that passes for journalism in our Jewish press. This is the article’s opening sentence:
With the prospect looming of a terrorist-ruled enclave on Israel’s doorstep, the Bush administration is weighing how to isolate the terrorists
Anyone who reads newspapers and knows something about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict knows that this is out and out propaganda and NOT proper journalism. While I find the JTA a useful news source, it does have this annoying habit of reinforcing its Jewish insularity with statements like this (and many others I could point to). By the way, when you write to them to point out these issues no one ever replies–not even to disagree with you. And when you suggest story ideas to them–no one ever replies as well. Talk about insularity!
Returning to that loaded opening phrase, why focus on Hamas terrorism (which has been set aside for over a year now) unless you wish to signal your disgust with the Palestinian government which it now controls through democratic elections? If you are a fair-minded and balanced news source why not describe the PA in more neutral terms? This type of blather is one of the things that sometimes turns me off about the Jewish press.
But there is one very useful aspect of this article–its chronicling of the unusual problem Aipac is having in getting sufficient sponsors to guarantee passage of the Ros Lehtinen-Lantos Palestinian Anti-Terrorism bill. Imagine the following statement as music to my ears:
Six weeks after its introduction, and 10 days after a lobbying blitz by 5,000 delegates to the AIPAC policy conference, the number of co-sponsors remains stuck at about 150. Once a bill passes the halfway mark of about 220 co-sponsors, its passage becomes inevitable.
In an alert sent to supporters Tuesday, AIPAC sounded a note of alarm.
“After weeks of lobbying and hundreds of meetings at last week’s policy conference, the House International Relations Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 29th to ‘mark up’ this bill,” the alert said in an underlined passage. “Once this occurs, no new co-sponsors can be added.”
A “mark up” refers a bill to the full House for passage. The implication was clear: Without a majority co-sponsoring the bill, its passage is not guaranteed.
But no mark-up was scheduled for March 29, leaving lawmakers confused: Why was AIPAC telling this to its supporters?
It might be an innocent mistake, AIPAC insiders said. Others wondered whether the lobby was lighting a fire under its activists in the face of successful counter-lobbying by groups that oppose the legislation, including Americans for Peace Now and the Israel Policy Forum.
For perhaps the first time in its existence, Aipac’s political agenda is being disputed by other Jewish organizations. All I can say is Hallelujah! And keep up the good work. An Aipac defeat (by no means guaranteed–so call or e mail your representative and senator now) would be equivalent to an NRA defeat on a gun control bill. It would be be the first chink in Aipac’s vaunted political invincibility. It would signal to Congress that there are other, more moderate voices in our community who should be listened to as well as Aipac. What a breath of fresh air that would be!
JTA continues with a description of the counter-lobbying efforts:
“There’s a very active counter-lobbying effort going on,” said a senior staffer in the office of one congressman who strongly backs the bill.
APN blitzed the Hill with a bulletin headlined “questions to ask AIPAC,” the first time the dovish group has openly taken on the pro-Israel powerhouse during its policy conference.
“Why should Congress change U.S. law, permanently, in a way that weakens and embarrasses our best hope for a future Palestinian partner (people like former Minister of Finance Salam Fayyad, who is now an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council), and strengthens extremists?” it asked.
I’m also delighted to report that the Bush Administration is dead set against this legislation (I’ve outlined their reasons here). Even more interesting is that the Republican leadership has not yet signed on:
Additionally, the staffer said, two critical players appear detached from the legislation: the Republican leadership, and Israel, where officials have hinted that they may seek a bit of flexibility in dealing with relative moderates.
“I don’t think there’s been a signal from the Republican leadership that they favor this,” said the staffer, who would not comment on the record on pending legislation. “And there hasn’t been a clear signal from the Israelis.”
For a terrific comprehensive discussion of Aipac’s impact on U.S. Mideast policy, read the essay (especially the last half), The Israel Lobby, in the London Review of Books. I found some passages in the first half of the essay too doctrinnaire in their analysis of Israeli policy and motivations, but the discussion of the ‘Israel Lobby’ in the second half was on point.
Well, it is about to become a terrorist-ruled enclave. Actually, it was that before as well, but the new leadership is open about it.
I’m not surprised to see you agree with that protocols-like piece, The Israel Lobby. You’ll be happy to know that Hamas and David Duke have both endorsed it and CAIR and the Palestinian representatives in the US are handing out copies to everyone they can find. It’s a poorly researched and argued document, however and many of its premises are flawed.
Dan Sniderman says
I’m not gonna feed a troll 🙂
Just comment that I saw Ros-Lehtinen on Bill Maher’s show on HBO and I was really unimpressed with her. Usually Maher can get Repubs who can do more than recite the talking points – but she didn’t go beyond that (but did get Richard Belzer to lose his cool). They didn’t discuss the Israeli-Palestinian issue at all…
Dan Sniderman says
In hindsight – I apologize calling TheMiddle a troll – I usually find his comments well thought-out even if I don’t agree with them. I didn’t see the name before commenting
I do just get suspicious when I see allusions to David Duke. I must also confess I don’t really know much of who the “Israel Lobby” is and their opionions
Richard Silverstein says
Dan: By “the Israel Lobby” generally people refer to Aipac and those who share its hardline pro-Israel positions. The “Lobby” lobbies Congress hard for support of Israel and criticizes presidents and elected reps (like Howard Dean during the presidential primaries) who stray too far fr. the Aipac “reservation” by having views that diverge fr. the main talking pts.
BTW, I’ve never called him a “troll.” But his behavior does have a few things in common with one. He dogs this blog in the same way a troll does. Pretty obsessive if you ask me. I’m having trouble figuring out why he does it unless he believes he has some personal responsibility to tell my more untutored visitors the error of my ways (as if this would have much impact on anyone). However, he isn’t as savagely insulting as some trolls I’ve had to ban here so doesn’t fully merit the appellation. And if he comes here just for the “fun” of intellectual debate then that’s of course a totally legitimate reason to post a comment.
Richard Silverstein says
It’s your views my friend which are flawed, poorly researched and argued. Here are the credentials of the two authors:
Gee, I guess those credentials aren’t good enough for you. Tell me about yr academic pedigree & what in it which allows you to substitute yr own superior judgment for theirs?
The Israel Lobby has absolutely nothing to do with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion–another calumny of yours. It contains no anti-Semitism whatsoever. In fact, it acknowledges and supports Israel’s right to exist.
This is just another example of the hysterical defensiveness of the pro-Israel right (oh sorry Middle you’re an avowed progressive supporter of the 2 state solution aren’t you–but why is it that your views accord in almost every way with the Israeli & American Jewish right?). Every analysis that isn’t absolutely sympathetic to Israel is ‘Protocol-like.’ I can’t have a serious intellectual debate with you because you dismiss anything that questions your orthodoxies too strenuously.
You also conveniently neglect my comment saying I didn’t agree with everything in the essay (I guess that was too much nuace for your propaganda-laced world view). But I do find it’s analysis of Aipac to be right on.
Jake Haller says
With no intended sarcasm I’m surprised that you’re not offended that the likes of Walt and Mearsheimer define the “Pro-Israel” lobby as AIPAC and JINSA but somehow the dovish groups who despite differing on policy and are no less pro-Israel are left alone. This should arouse suspicion on their motives. It seems like they are pigeon-holing and defining “pro-Israel” as akin to the neo-Con agenda which is akin to interests inimical to American ones. Ironically this could prove harmful to the groups you likely support since if Walt/Mearsheimer gives them a pass, it sends the message that they are not really “pro-Israel” and provide fodder for their opposition.
It would be quite regretable if intentional or not your groups form some kind of alliance with these figures as a way sticking it to AIPAC. Failure on their part to define terms along with a staggering dearth of scholarly material to back their claims betrays some agenda outside of scholarship.
The quote from the paper “”The Lobby’s activities are not the sort of conspiracy depicted in anti-Semitic tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Don’t mean to get too cynical but was that some form of disclaimer to avoid the nuisance of libel suits? Why did they have to include that seeminlgy superfluous line? Just in case anyone thought that the remaining 60,000 words of that piece was a 21st century addendum to that tract? Who was their target audience here?
Regarding Harvard’s gift from $20 million gift from a Saudi prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud:
Do the same people in the Kennedy School who called for Larry Summers’ head for saying that men and women MIGHT possess different heads, have no qualms about accepting millions from the regime that indulges in chopping off heads?
At far as playing the credentials game, Alan Dershowitz, Martin Peretz, Jacob Neusner et al hold their own with the titles and likely differ vehemently with the authors. The former two were lambasted in fact. Don’t know if Neusner has commented but scholar from Brown veers towards conservativism.
Richard Silverstein says
I did add a short statement to this post saying I believed the two author were guilty of overstating their case & using jargon & arguments that were too doctrinaire, too pat. I agree w. you that there was a little too much ideology and too little nuace in their analysis of the American Jewish community & specifically the Israel Lobby.
Another quarrel I have w. the essay is that it omits those dovish groups you mention. The authors entirely neglect those groups which fight the hegemony exerted by those hardline groups like Aipac/JINSA. They should’ve acknowledged this struggle. As it is they only affirm that the majority of American Jews do not view issues concerning Israel with such a hard right prism (which is absolutely true).
I’m not sure I agree w. you when you say that dovish groups like Amer. for Peace Now, Israel Policy Forum & Brit Tzedek are as pro-Israel as Aipac. They are if you define pro-Israel as fighting for what’s in Israel’s best interests. But they are not if you define pro-Israel as fighting to support Sharon/Olmert/Kadima policies like expanding settlements, building the Wall, continuing the Occupation, etc. There the dovish groups diverge fr. the hardliners. And I think that the Aipac crowd would easily sling the term ‘anti-Israel’ at most of those groups if you gave them half a chance.
The majority of what the two authors say about Aipac and the hardline pro-Israel organizations (like Conference of Presidents, Aipac, ADL, AJCommittee, ZOA, etc.) is right IMO.
I agree w. you though I’m not as afraid of such pigeonholing happening as you may be. Since the two didn’t even mention the dovish groups it’s hard to say that their article will hurt their reputations, though as you say it’s possible.
I think the hard right crowd hates the dovish groups and has been calling them anti-Israel (though perhaps not publicly) for a long time already. So they don’t need prompting from Walt or Mearsheimer to do this.
I have long ago lost any sympathy for Aipac. It is one of the most pernicious forces in American Jewish life as an organization that lobbies for the most extreme anti-Palestinian & pro-Israel (in the sense of supporting the Israeli right) policies imaginable. This isn’t good for U.S. Mideast policy & it isn’t good for Israel’s long-term interests.
If I felt that the Walt/Mearsheimer essay was anti-Zionist I would cease having any interest in it whatsoever. While it’s certainly not a favorable piece about Israel, I believe that it acknowledges Israel’s existence and even acknowledges there was once a legitimate moral basis for the establishment of the State. While this may not satisfy you or others who are attacking the essay, this is sufficient for me to take the essay seriously (while criticizing it in part).
Yes, this is precisely what I meant when I said the essay lacked nuance. This statement could’ve been formulated totally differently and could’ve managed to say virtually the same thing if they’d wanted to express themselves w. nuance.
The meaning that I derive from this quotation is the “The Lobby should not be seen as it often is by the American far-right as a Protocols-type conspiracy by Jews to dominate the U.S. government.” That being said, there are so many boneheaded, overbearing actions taken by Aipac along these lines (the Rosen-Weissman-Franklin spy scandal being but one) that sometimes Aipac itself provides fodder for these anti-Semites. If a group wishes to throw its weight around & become the biggest bully on the block, then people who watch your actions are gonna think you’re a big, bad wolf. Aipac brings this attitude on itself I’m sorry to say. While I often disagree with Abe Foxman & the ADL on issues at least Abe understands that there’s a need for deftness, for working with people on many sides of an issue. The ADL doesn’t beat you over the head if you disagree w. them like Aipac does.
Hey, I’m a professional non profit fundraiser who’s worked for colleges & universities. I’m very sensitive to moral/ethical issues in fundraising. This supposed tempest is brewing in a very tiny teacup. I have no moral problems w. accepting that gift. Unless, that is you’d like to have the Arabs question every major gift given to Harvard’s Jewish studies program by American Jews.
If you show me evidence that the prince engaged in an illegal act or made statements inimical to Harvard’s mission then I might find room to agree w. you. BTW, I also thought Rudy Giuliani rejection of a similar gift fr the same individual was the height of political grandstanding & hypocrisy.
In fundraising & in Jewish traditions of tzedakah, you first concern is for the object of the gift. The thing that is meant to do good is primary. The donor’s motive is secondary. In the laws of tzedakah say that even “tainted” tzedakah can be accepted unless certain provisions are violated (like the author has engaged & continues to engage in illegal acts). The Bible says that a harlot’s wages cannot be donated to the Temple. I just don’t see this prince as the moral equivalent of a harlot.
I am a defrocked Jewish academic (All but dissertation in Comp Lit) & so know ea. of their work fairly well. I find all three of them to be blowhards whose views on politics are worthless (at least to me). Their views about Israel are about as conservative as you can go among Jewish academics. They don’t support anything as extreme as Arab transfer, but then again few American Jews do either. But they are on the far right extreme.
Allen D Post says
Stop Iran Invasion – Impeach Bush and Cheney
Remove Bush and Cheney from office before it’s too late
George Bush and Dick Cheney came to office by means of voter fraud. Despite numerous prior warnings, they intentionally let the 9-11 attacks happen in order to exploit the resulting outrage for their own evil purposes. Bush and Cheney lied in order to involve our nation in a war with Iraq, nearly destroying the military in the process. Their illegal spying on Americans and restrictions of civil liberties resemble those of 1930’s Germany.
Not content with the damage they’ve already created, Bush and Cheney now want to mislead America into yet another war with Iran. Given the depleted state of our military, this can only have disastrous consequences, including likely retaliatory attacks in America.
At long last, Bush and Cheney have completely parted company with reality and sanity. Like a stolen car, they are driving America right toward a cliff. Only immediate impeachment proceedings will save our once-great nation.