Is the Israel Lobby Splintering at the Edges?

on 11 Comments

Yesterday the Israel Policy Forum called on Secretary Rice to "engage Hamas" so as to keep the peace process alive and protect American interests in the Middle East. The statement was evenhanded. It spoke of "deaths and suffering" on both sides. Hamas is not going away; work with the Arab states to engage it.

This is an important development. Some weeks back, MJ Rosenberg wrote that a "seismic shift" was occurring in the American Jewish leadership. After decades in which a rightwing bloc had managed Jewish leadership and resisted the two-state solution–in a word, the Israel lobby–that bloc is breaking up in the wake of Lebanon war, the failure to choke Hamas, etc. I don’t know if Rosenberg is right; but certainly the IPF statement is evidence of independent thinking within that Jewish establishment. Dan Fleshler is in the IPF crowd and has been talking about a dovish alternative to the lobby for years (in his latest post he attacks the rationale for the checkpoints in the West Bank). Also, I’d note that at my Waldorf breakfast with the Israel Project, spokesman Marcus Sheff kept telling me that the Likudnik resistance to a two-state solution is all but over in Israel. Reflecting Ehud Olmert’s desperation about making a deal now.

Hillary and McCain, of course, will be the last to know. But the IPF statement is important because it shows leftish Jewish leaders pressing the American government to act, and act now, in an unorthodox manner. Huh!

11 Responses

  1. jonathan ekman
    March 22, 2008, 11:13 am

    I find little evidence for optimism, and I
    firmly believe that most American Jews
    would concur with the outrageous statement
    made last week by Ann Lewis. As for the
    attitudes of the goyim, is it not fascinating
    that Nancy Pelosi will speak publicly of the
    suffering of the Tibetans at the hands of the
    Chinese but remain silent on the topic of
    even worse suffering among the Palestinians?

  2. Jim Haygood
    March 22, 2008, 11:47 am


    "Is it not fascinating that Nancy Pelosi will speak publicly of the suffering of the Tibetans at the hands of the Chinese but remain silent on the topic of even worse suffering among the Palestinians?" – jonathan ekman

    Oh come now, Jonathan, aren't you being too hard on the poor woman? I quote from the linked source:

    At an AIPAC members luncheon in San Francisco right after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Pelosi was speaking when an alarm sounded.

    “Everybody started getting nervous, scrambling toward the door,” Lauter recalled.

    One person, though, was reading the words of Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem, above the din.

    It was Pelosi.

    “It actually calmed the crowd,” Lauter said. “You could see people actually smiling, saying ‘Wow.’ ”

    This “wasn’t something done purposefully to show everyone that Nancy Pelosi supports the Jewish community,” he said. It “actually came from inside her.”

    link to

    I think we all sensed how thoughtful and appropriate it was for Nancy to sing the Israeli national anthem during America's moment of pain and crisis. Maybe she'll sing the Chinese national anthem next time it happens. But don't count on it.

  3. the Sword of Gideon
    March 22, 2008, 1:48 pm

    I know the Palestinians are the most put upon wronged people in the entire world, bar none. And their situation is the worst there is, the worst there ever has been. But I didn't know that the Tibetans had it so easy. After all the chinese are just kind wonderful people who wouldn't hurt a fly. My father used to talk extensively about how he and his friends enjoyed interacting with the peaceful, pacific Chinese during that little dustup in Korea, 1950-53

  4. otto
    March 22, 2008, 2:28 pm

    I wouldn't put too much faith in MJ Rosenberg and IPF. They're trying to push the discourse a bit in the US, which is good. But the policy outcomes they want – like keeping lots of settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank – in fact require the Israeli violence against Palestinians they claim to oppose.

  5. schnorrer
    March 22, 2008, 4:51 pm

    memo to sword of Gideon – most of the world stopped using racial stereotypes to analyse conflict situations over six decades ago.

  6. qt
    March 22, 2008, 7:11 pm

    Don't mind Gideon (aka Bill Pearlman). Racial categorizing is at the very core of his identity.

  7. americangoy
    March 22, 2008, 9:21 pm

    I am so tired of this question.

    It IS splintering.

    Simply because of these 2 unassailable points:
    1) Jews in political circles right now are neocons or neocons-light (supposedlty lefties) and are very powerful, as described in the Walt and Mearshimer study

    2) Jews who are NOT in politics are all kinds of political animals (no pun intended!), with a broad range of views, anything from anarchist to staunchly conservative and everything in between.

    It is simply a fact that the pro-Israeli lobby DOES NOT REPRESENT American Jews, whose views are very very varied.

    Whereas (I would wager 99.9% of American Jews) support Israel and wish it well, they are divided over the methods the USA should use in its dealing with our "beloved" ME "democracy".

    Many even question the settlers policy and the gigantic USA aid to Israel.

    Hence, in my opinion, with this broad spectrum of opinion in the American Jewish community, it is simply incredible that the lobby is what it IS – a goeabbel's like propaganda organization, or the American version of Pravda and its censor board, if you will.

  8. Joachim Martillo
    March 23, 2008, 10:53 am

    Obviously, the web of Zionist control in the USA represents those who fund it and neither the majority of American Jews nor the Israeli government.

  9. Rowan Berkeley
    March 24, 2008, 7:08 am

    What we have to grasp here is the way in which the issue of Jews qua Jews has been systematically grafted into the most widely accepted ideas about global class struggle, the problem of the 'backward nations', as they were once more bluntly known, which seem unhappy about their role in the global capitalist system, and their nationalist reactions, which so easily take racially simplistic forms.

  10. Rowan Berkeley
    March 24, 2008, 8:29 am

    In fact, I think, one could argue that it is the attempt by the (in reality) more than 'assimilated' Western Jews, to retract their historic leftism and become more conservative than the boyars, that has led us to where we are now – with a global explosion of class-based 'antisemitism'.

  11. Rowan Berkeley
    March 24, 2008, 1:31 pm

    Let me see if I can explain this classic and notorious sore point, which has raised accusations hither and yon.

    You may recall that Borochov and indeed Marx had argued that Jews were forced by the capitalist market mechanism into situations which quite clearly led to their being periodically ejected as scapegoats for the ills of the capitalist market as a whole.

    What Labour zionists failed to see was that zionism itself would become just another pawn in the established game, whereby Jews are forced to do capitalism's shitwork, this time in the context of imperialist globalisation, for which zionism has made all Jews, whether they like it or not, into crack troops and cadres.

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