Rupa Shah forwarded me a link to the first TV documentary I’ve ever seen which focussed on Walt-Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby and a general exposition of the role the lobby plays in American politics. Unfortunately, you can’t see it on American TV because it was made for Dutch TV. But thanks to the wonder that is Youtube, you can see the entire documentary yourself.
There is hardly a weak link in the entire production (there is some Dutch language narration, but there are English subtitles). But the money quote, the one that made my jaw drop slightly was this interview with Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff:
Richard Perle would say…if you got the truth out of him…”Israel’s interests and America’s interests are the same.” So if I’m an advocate for Israel’s interests I’m an advocate for America’s interests. And I would say back to them, again as a strategist: “BULLSHIT.” No two countries in history and no two countries in future history will ever have coincidental national interests all the time. No way.
Yeah, that was worth the price of admission and should make you find 50 minutes in your day to watch this thing.
Tony Judt makes an interesting historical analogy between the Roman relationship with Judea and the U.S. relationship with Israel. He says that Rome tolerated Judea’s troublesome behavior for a time because it did not threaten them. But once those in Judea indeed did threaten Roman interests in a serious way, the latter simply invaded and destroyed Judea to end the threat. Judt uses this analogy to posit a scenario whereby the U.S. at some future time might find that Israel has become too great a burden on national interests. At that time, the U.S. might abandon Israel to its fate. Even the Israel lobby with all their political muscle would be powerless to prevent it. Because Israel has no other major allies, this outcome, no matter how unlikely now, is something greatly to be feared.
Among those interviewed are Wilkerson, John Mearsheimer, Kenneth Roth, Tony Judt, Daniel Levy, Michael Massing, Earl Hilliard and Richard Perle. I thought they were each perfect choices for the role they played in the production. There probably should’ve been a few more voices critical of the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis like Dershowitz just for the sake of balance. But no matter, Perle played the role and did his feeble best and they gave him plenty of time to try to undermine the Israel Lobby critique. Interestingly, no member of Congress was willing to be interviewed for the program.
All this raises a larger question: why is it that the Dutch can see such a program and Americans can’t? Why hasn’t American public TV or cable seen fit to produce a documentary on this subject? Can it be because the subject isn’t newsworthy or is of marginal interest? I think not. Can it be that if they tried the Lobby would tie them up in such knots that they’d regret ever having made the effort to do such a program? You bet.
Richard Witty says
“US destroy Israel”?
Leave Israel to its own devices is more like it at the worst case. Exact compromises is far far more likely.
The operative phrase in this one for me is “again as a strategist”.
I can see where not only israel and the US have the same interests, but where israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab world do as well. iI’s according to vantage point and goals. In other words our mutual interests are survival, the well-being of our people, normalcy, and that must take into account others needs.
Richard Silverstein says
Richard Witty: Rome destroyed Judea. But neither Wilkerson nor I are saying the U.S. will destroy Israel. If Israel becomes too much of a tactical or strategic liability all the U.S. would have to do would be to withdraw support & leave Israel to fend for itself. Doing so might even bring Israel to its senses & make it realize that it must cut a deal or be cut adrift fr. America’s strategic umbrella.
Yes – that is a strategy ( tough love) and represents the other view of what is in both Israel’s and the US’s best interest. Two totally different ideas as to what is in Israel’s and the US’s best interest. Though Richard Perle was saying something that I believe is true on the face of it, there are different ideas about what that means. For me- what is in Israel’s best interest also means what is in the Palestinians best interest and by extension must be in the US best interest ( as well as the rest of the world world).
I watched the documentary and I thought it was good. Reminded me of what Bill Moyers would do. I agree we have way too little of this.
zhu bajie says
Well, the Dispensationalists are likely to turn on Israel when they finally give up hope that the Rapture will come any time soon. Perhaps they’ll say that Jesus can’t come because Israelis won’t rebuild the Temple, re-institute animal sacrifice, as Dispensational future history requires. 🙂 I’ve already heard one American telling me that the Scofield Reference Bible (which popularized Dispensationalism early 20th century) was a Zionist plot! 🙁
Thanks for the video. Wilkerson speaks his mind quite often. UC Berkeley’s Conversation with History had a session (Vice President Cheney and America’s Response to 911) with him in April where he talked about Cheney/Rumsfeld cabal, calls Rumsfeld “amoral”, and Cheney “without adult supervision”.
He has also talked about Iran’s grand bargain offer made in 2003 (BBC, CNN) when they offered to end their support for anti-Israeli militants and accept Israel’s right to exist.
Eventually, you will need to make a choice between supporting Israel and being a progressive. Knowing that Israel consists of a majority of unwashed Sephardim as myself (yes I can call myself as a Sephardi), who are incapable of being redeeemed, and fully deserve what comes to us in Sderot, we stand as a stark, foreign accented and dark skinned embarassment to the elite. Since you termed Israel an apartheid state as early as 1968, your decision is a long time coming. I just wish you would come out of the closet and say that you have given up on us, and fully join the progressive movement against Israel as a racist Jewish state. Israel doesnt need conditional friends as yourself