Both sides are wrong in the ‘Israel Firsters’ debate

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
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Is it antisemitic to accuse someone of being an “Israel firster”? For the past few weeks some of the most prominent American liberal commentators and Jeffrey Goldberg have been shouting at each other about this, after former AIPAC-er Josh Block orchestrated a smear campaign against two liberal think-tanks on the basis that writers associated with them had made use of the phrase. The political agenda behind the attacks was transparent: both the targeted organisations – the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Media Matters (MM) – have been prominent in pushing against US support for Israel’s occupation and against an attack on Iran. But it provoked a minor split among liberal commentators, some of whom reacted by defending CAP and MM, and some of whom agreed that the phrase ‘Israel Firster’ is indeed “toxic”.

The debate, which has now simmered down, is interesting mainly for what it reveals about where liberal American discourse on Israel is currently at, and where it might be going.

First, it is another indication of Israel’s long-term secular decline in popularity among US liberals generally, and American Jews in particular. The fact that the debate is even happening indicates how far the ideological terrain has shifted. Fifteen years ago mainstream columnists would not have criticised Israel, and if they did would not have used the term “Israel Firsters” to do so, and if they had would not have been defended by other mainstream commentators. Times have changed.

The initial reaction to Block’s smear further illustrates the point: usual suspects aside, it went nowhere. Even Lanny Davis, Block’s business partner and himself a frequent apologist for Israel’s occupation, criticised it, while two other prominent Washington think tanks threatened to sever ties with him, and Block was forced to stage a partial climbdown. Glenn Greenwald is right to note that “the only reason this has become such a problem for Block is because he made the over-reaching mistake of targeting an organization that is extremely well-connected”. But more significant is that an establishment liberal organisation like CAP took such a critical line on Israel in the first place.

I say ‘initial’ reaction because, while MM dismissed the smears, CAP does appear to have censored its writers’ criticism of Israel in the wake of the incident. This is presumably due mainly to CAP’s association with the Democratic Party, which has an eye on the election and on Republican efforts to cast the Obama administration as hostile to Israel and/or Jews. But it also reflects the fact that even if criticism of Israel’s occupation can no longer be credibly dismissed as ‘antisemitic’, “Israel Firster”, with its resemblance to the charge of “dual loyalty” that has long dogged Jews, is more difficult to defend. A tactical corollary is that those commentators wishing to push back against attempts to police the discourse on Israel-Palestine ought not, perhaps, make their stand here.

Second, the debate prompts the question: is the spectre of “dual loyalty” being revived? This would be a significant development if so. Jews have historically been haunted by accusations of disloyalty, and American Jews have in the past been particularly careful to proclaim their loyalty to the US rather than Israel. Israel, in claiming to act in the name of Jews worldwide, threatened to give canards about Jewish ‘dual loyalty’ credibility, and as a result most American Jews for many decades distanced themselves from it. Norman Finkelstein’s forthcoming book documents that before Israel became an American ‘strategic asset’ by crushing Nasser in 1967, most American Jewish elites – including those who advocated most vociferously for a US-Israeli alliance after ’67 – were indifferent or actively hostile to it. More generally, “[fearful] of the ‘dual loyalty’ charge”, American Jews have “drawn away from Israel whenever bilateral relations at the state level have been tenuous and drawn closer when they have overlapped”.

If the current low-level grumbling among American elites about Israel’s service or lack thereof to US interests escalates – and it may not – anti-Israel and anti-occupation sentiment could well be increasingly articulated in the language of ‘national interests’, and criticism of those who support US backing of Israel’s occupation could increasingly take the form of accusations of dual loyalty or disloyalty to the US. This could in turn reinforce the abandonment of Israel by American Jews that is already underway.

On the substantive issue in dispute – the legitimacy of the phrase “Israel Firster” – both sides are wrong. Glenn Greenwald, MJ Rosenberg, Phil Weiss and Andrew Sullivan are correct to argue that there is nothing in principle antisemitic about accusing individuals of placing “Israel’s” interests above “American” ones. Nor is it “gross” to point out that the American media’s go-to guy on Israel-Palestine, Jeffrey Goldberg, served as a prison guard in the Israeli army. Amusingly, Goldberg now denies he was a prison guard, insisting that he was merely a “military policeman” and “counsellor” who took care of “the culinary, hygiene and medical needs of the prisoners”. This is odd because in his memoir Goldberg explicitly says that he wasn’t, whatever his formal job title, merely a counsellor:

“I was a ‘prisoner counselor,’ a job title that did not accurately reflect my duties in the related fields of discipline and punishment…”  [Prisoners, p. 28]

Which seems fair enough, since counsellors don’t generally assist in the abuse of prisoners, as Goldberg admits he did. Goldberg’s strange denial appears to have convinced Ackerman, at least, which is encouraging insofar as it suggests that people who say they like Jeffrey Goldberg have never read Jeffrey Goldberg.

More importantly, if it is the case that people increasingly perceive US policy towards Israel to be a decisively shaped by de facto agents of the Israeli state, the issue should be subject to honest and frank debate. Silencing the above-ground conversation is likely to promote the less savoury lines of discussion within it.

All that said, “Israel Firsters” rhetoric is seriously problematic:

-  It is not, contra Greenwald and Sullivan, “plainly true” that many prominent apologists for Israel are “Israel Firsters”. As noted above, virtually all of these supposedly principled devotees of the Jewish state were completely silent on or else actively critical of Israel before it became a ‘strategic asset’ of the US establishment. As Finkelstein observes, after ’67 Israel also effectively became “a ‘strategic asset’ of American Jews”:

“[joining] the Zionist club was a prudent career move for Jewish communal leaders who could then play the role of key interlocutors between the U.S. and its strategic asset.   Israel’s alleged existential vulnerability served as a useful pretext for politically ambitious Jews to champion American military power on which Israel’s survival supposedly hinged.”

Charging these “Me Firsters” with principled loyalty to Israel drastically overestimates them. The record suggests that they are, as a rule, in it squarely for themselves. This confusion is significant, for example because a more realistic appreciation of the interests driving the Israel lobby and its sympathisers would draw attention to the ways in which support for Israeli militarism benefits and speaks to elite interests in the US, rather than just in Israel.

The use of “Israel Firster”, while not necessarily antisemitic, is not innocuous either. Accusations of “Israel Firster” do imply some ugly politics. “Israel Firster” is, after all, being opposed implicitly to “US Firster”, with the tacit assumption that it is a Bad Thing to support a “foreign” state or people over one’s “own”. But why should that be so? If I am moved by images of famine in Somalia and decide to vote, in Britain, according to who I think would do the most to alleviate the effects and causes of that famine, am I being “dually loyal”? More to the point, if I am, is that a bad thing? It is particularly strange that liberals, who tend to take very seriously the idea that there are universal moral principles whose value transcends the claims of any particular state, would treat “dual loyalty” as a serious criticism.

I suspect Greenwald would reply that he rarely uses the term “Israel Firster”, that his aim in this debate is to defend its legitimacy against accusations of antisemitism rather than to positively endorse it, and that when he does use it, it is either as a rhetorical device to highlight others’ hypocrisy or as a normatively neutral description, rather than a criticism. In his case, this is generally true. But if we look at the emerging discourse more broadly, “Israel Firster” is typically used as a pejorative, which implies a set of assumptions that Sullivan, despite his dislike of the phrase, encapsulates quite well:

“[when] an American sides with a foreign government against his own president in a foreign country, what does one call that? Apart, that is, from disgusting.”

The use of the term “Israel Firster” reflects a broader trend which chooses to frame opposition to Israeli policies, and US support for them, in terms of defending or protecting US “national interests”, and which appears increasingly disposed to criticising apologists for Israeli occupation on the grounds that they are being disloyal to these “national interests”, rather than on the grounds that they are enabling a profound injustice. I suspect that this in turn reflects an influx of liberals into the solidarity movement – in this sense the watering down and degeneration of the latter might well be a consequence of its own success – and a desire by some activists to align the movement, in an attempt to gain political influence, with those American elites who are concerned that Israel’s occupation is harming US imperial interests (cf. Walt and Mearsheimer).

In either case, the strategy is dangerous. First, it relies on the gap among US elites over the wisdom of support for Israeli occupation widening, which may not happen to a sufficient degree. Second, its effect is to essentially whitewash the former. And third, it risks abandoning a principled opposition to Israel’s occupation grounded in broadly appealing progressive values – it is wrong to demolish people’s houses; it is wrong to torture children; it is wrong to shell schools and hospitals with white phosphorus; it is wrong to violently prevent a people from exercising self-determination in violation of international law; etc . – in favour of a critique based on parochial, unappealing and potentially quite vicious insinuations about people’s – mainly Jews’ – “loyalty”. This isn’t antisemitism. But it isn’t the way to win the struggle, and nor should it be how we’d want to win it.

This post originally appeared in the New Left Project.

About Jamie Stern-Weiner

Jamie Stern-Weiner studies politics at the University of Cambridge, and is particularly interested in the history of political thought, contemporary British foreign policy, and the Israel-Palestine conflict. His articles have been published on New Left Project, Le Monde Diplomatique and Znet. You can follow him on twitter at @jamiesw.

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  1. hass
    February 3, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Washington Post’s David Ignatius misrepresents US Sec of Def. Panetta, attributes made-up views to him re: Israeli strike on Iran

    link to iranaffairs.com

  2. Dan Crowther
    February 3, 2012, 3:26 pm

    “Me-Firster”

    Ab-so-freakin-lutely……..

  3. unverified__b6b781g7
    February 3, 2012, 4:06 pm

    The claim made by Goldberg, and repeated by Ackerman and Sullivan (and others), that “Israel-firster” comes from neo-Nazis is false:

    link to thesignalwire.com

    I emailed all three of them a couple days ago to let them know. No correction so far. If people are throwing around false accusations that people are using neo-Nazi terminology, and then not letting their readers know when this is shown to not be the case, they should not be trusted. If someone is willing to deal with falsehoods, there’s no need to argue with them.

    It’s odd to say that it feeds into stereotypes about Jews being disloyal, since it’s not a word that’s being used to describe Jews, but rather people that are pro-Israel. There’s a disgusting stereotype about black men that they are violent and that they threaten white women – does that mean the people who think OJ Simpson is guilty are drawing on these stereotypes? There’s a huge difference that people miss between saying you have a problem with an individual because of what they did and saying you have a problem with a whole group of people because of who they are. The latter is bigotry, the former is not.

    Other than that, I’m also not a fan of the term, and agree with you that there are problems with the idea that there is an American interest and a foreign interest (rather than interests that come from individuals). Contrary to Sullivan, I would say that there is nothing inherently wrong with standing on foreign soil and denouncing your president. Does anybody think that Nazi and Soviet defectors were disgusting? What I find disgusting is that people like Sullivan have a tendency to view Americans as the president’s subjects.

  4. American
    February 3, 2012, 4:17 pm

    Well, have to say this is one of the most hysterically funny attempts to whitewash the Israel firsters I have seen.
    And historically inaccurate about US zionist loyalty to and activities for Israel prior to 1967.
    Maybe Blankfort will show up and debunk this…I don’t have time.
    Anyway I don’t buy it and am sticking with Israel firster.
    If it looks bad for the Jewish zionist, oh well, there are plenty of Gentiles in the Israel- firster group to keep them company.

  5. stopaipac
    February 3, 2012, 4:21 pm

    I strongly agree that the fixation on “loyalty” is wrong-headed and destructive to the movement. I don’t understand at all why those that are self-described “progressives” would want to appeal to nationalism. Have we forgotten what has been done in world history by “America Firsters”? Genocidal wars, torture, military occupations… all from those who “put America first”. The world has had more than enough of the idiocy of the blind nationalism of many different nations. And what is often (though not always, to be sure) as “American Interests” are actually the interests of a few multinational corporations. For example, countless military coups have been supported (if not actually orchestrated) by the US around the world, and they have indeed helped “US interests”, if you define that as enlarging the profit margins of a few US-based multinationals. Then there have also been wars of aggression… certainly Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon was not destroying Vietnam on behalf any other nation except the wealthy and warmongering elite of the US. Take Pat Buchanan (please!), a grand example of an “America Firster”, was a leading proponent of bombing Vietnam “back to the stone age”.

    I think we will do much better in our cause for justice for Palestinians by promoting the values we want the US to adapt. That is, respect for the human rights for all. We certainly should make the point that by doing that we can free up resources that will make it possible to helps communities in the US. But we must not succumb to the temptation to attempt to gain support by promoting a rightwing view of the world that puts American lives of more value than the lives of others.

    Not all will be motivated by the cause of human rights and justice, but it was the main motivator of the movement for a Free South Africa. It certainly proved to be sufficient in that case. The cause of justice for Palestinians will be won in the context of a struggle for a just foreign policy based on support for human rights, and for economic and environmental justice at home.

    • Citizen
      February 3, 2012, 8:39 pm

      Do you get the sneaky suspicion that those who condemn in the main the usage of the term “Israel Firster” would not condemn usage of the term “America Firster” when directed negatively at Pat Buchanan, for example?

      Hard for me to see why the term “Israel Firster” should not be used in the status quo macro mantra context, e.g., “Not an inch between America and Israel” (Romney), or “No sky between American and Israel” (Beiden). Ad nauseum now for decades. The only politician I’ve not see welding the two countries together as if there were not thousands of miles between them–is Ron Paul.

      And how about the comparatively recent usage of the phrase “judeo-christian” to meld the two states together? No recognition of the Enlightenment’s influence on our Founding Fathers, and Zionism’s rejection of same as a value?

    • HRK
      February 3, 2012, 9:03 pm

      Tangent alert! (My comment here isn’t on the Israel/dual loyalty issue.)

      Part of your comment made me curious: Don’t you think that there is a natural hierarchy of loyalty–family, state, country, etc.? Not to say that one should adopt, say, a “my family, right or wrong” approach. But I, myself, do make a point, in my charitable giving, to give to the community in which I live. I suppose I could get a map of the U.S. (if not the world) and throw a dart and pick that place to make my donation. (I do give another part of my overall donations to an organization which has worldwide concerns, I should add, but my little town gets proportionally way more than it should if I didn’t have a local loyalty. Yet that doesn’t mean I think people’s lives in MyTown, U.S.A. are more valuable than those in YourTown, U.S.A.)

      Inherent in the notion of a country is the idea that resources aren’t shared equally with those outside the country, right? Sure, this can go to far–and it can lead to theft, aggression, etc., toward the other, but I’m inclined to believe that there exists a happy medium–wherein each country looks to its own citizens’ needs first but, concomitantly, also seeks to spend some of its resources on the good of the entire planet. Obviously there’s a lot of room for disagreement regarding where to strike the balancing line–when a country is being too stingy or too extravagantly generous with its resources, etc.

      One of the reasons I’m opposed to any more immigration to America is that I think American citizens are being hurt more than helped right now by immigration, and I think we’re in a tight spot–with a lot of our fellow countrypeople out of work, jobs shipped overseas, etc–supply and demand–lots of laborers means low pay for those who labor. Yet I mention this to some people, and the vibe I get from them is this: “How immoral! You’re only thinking of your own!” Well, I am thinking of my fellow citizens first, I’ll admit it. But that’s not immoral, at least not by my calculation.

      • Djinn
        February 5, 2012, 2:33 am

        Americans gain every day by the exploitation of the nations most immigrants are coming from, and have been doing so for a few generations now, it’s a bit much to want to keep those benefits while barring the door for the tiny minority who attempt to go to the US.

        Personally some of my giving is local but as I live in a first world country where no-one starves to death or is imprisoned without trial or tortured, the majority goes elsewhere. I see absolutely no reason to care about person X over person Y or why I should have some hierarchy of loyalty to them just because of the accident of fate that has us citizens of the same country which only exists because of colonization and/or some rich old white guys drew the line of the map there instead of there.

    • American
      February 3, 2012, 9:20 pm

      People have different definitions and understandings of America First.
      Some like the so called “progressives” are ‘me firsters’. They spend all their time demanding social benefits, limiting themselves mostly to domestic issues that affect them and being generally anti war except for the PEPs.
      The conservative ‘me firsters’ mostly want their rules imposed on everyone else and are generally kill them all and let God sort them out.
      Then there are some of us who have this idea that America first means cleaning up your own house, having some basic national principles internally and externally, taking care of your own people first and at the same time remain in a position to do something about humanitarian concerns outside your own country.

      Nationalism can be either good or bad, in Germany it was bad, in Norway it is good.
      Some things are black or white some times, but not everything is black or white all the time.

    • kalithea
      February 4, 2012, 12:47 am

      Why am I not surprised you’d be against this expression? Hey, did YOU know that your pet project BDS is also being considered Anti-Semitic? I’m waiting for the author of this article to give us an intellectualized excuse as to why BDS may be dangerous in the long run and you to come up with an excuse to betray the cause as well. Because should someone make an excellent case that the struggle for Palestinian rights could turn out to be a potential threat against Jews, I’ll bet you’ll be the first to drop it and never look back.

      Tribe trumps humanity.

    • Djinn
      February 5, 2012, 2:25 am

      Completely agree stopaipac. I find the loyalty/dual citizenship thing odd for two reasons, one because my plurality of citizenship has not caused any harm to the nation I live in. More importantly because I loathe nationalism. Just because something is “good” for your country doesn’t mean it should be supported. Australia’s colonialisation of Papua was a boon to this economy but it was not in any way something I would ever have supported (it ended several years before I got here). As pointed out above most of America’s foreign adventures have been good for American interests but they were still wrong. I get the reason for wanting to make this a “what is good for America” conversation, presumably people think that’s the way to sway US public opinion (which is a pret depressing assessment of American values) but there’s a nasty concomitant to this line of argument. If something vile *is* good for America, what then? I much prefer the what’s good for human dignity, safety and health in general line.

  6. seafoid
    February 3, 2012, 4:33 pm

    I think “Israel Firster” is a very wishy-washy term and it doesn’t convey much in the way of meaning. I prefer “Israel borg”. Even “Likudnik” is sufficiently pejorative .
    “Likudnik neocon capitalist war monger” is another good one.
    Putain de Likud de bordel de YESHA merde is the French

    Israel firster sounds like some kind of candy.

    • seafoid
      February 3, 2012, 4:36 pm

      Israel fister might be closer to the mark

      • Citizen
        February 3, 2012, 8:43 pm

        Maybe inside the mark?

    • stopaipac
      February 5, 2012, 1:42 am

      Why not call them war-mongering racist bastards? That applies to self-described “american firsters” like Pat Buchanan (amazing how destructive to America, and the world, such people can be) and to those that support the Israeli apartheid system. I think describing their screwed-up values rather than simply supposed national loyalty, is much more helpful.

      • dahoit
        February 5, 2012, 8:39 am

        Oh please,Pat Buchanan is an American single citizen interested in whats good for America ,and as a fellow single citizen,I say wonderful.And just what policy decisions has he ever had the power to bring about anyway,he’s never been more than an adviser to POTUS’s,and his anti stinkin free trade steals stance is great,as its been every loser pol of either stripe who have emasculated our economy by sending manufacturing overseas in search of profit over American citizen livelihood,and have made our inner cities ghetto central with no jobs for its people.And he’s called the racist,like Dr.Paul,when its those alleged paragons of liberal pedigree who are the real racists,heaven forbid.
        And his stance on Iraq or Iran has been much more civilized than these cretins of miseducated poison ivy league dullard dopes who have murdered thousands.
        Does Buchanan still harbor ancient anti commie or cold war hangover attributes?Yeah,but he’s still better than any other current Dem or Rep other than Dr.Paul.
        Ban dual citizenship,that modern bane of America.

      • stopaipac
        February 5, 2012, 11:26 am

        Buchanan is a piece of racist filth. He probably has more influence, through his work in the media, than any single congressperson. and his words, used by Nixon and assorted politicians, helped keep hate growing in the US and war possible.
        link to thinkprogress.org
        but there are so many examples of his racism and support for genocide.
        and torture… he is a big fan of torture.

        Many of us here, certainly not all, but certainly most of us, oppose such values.

  7. radii
    February 3, 2012, 5:50 pm

    the term “israel-firster” is not meant to be innocuous … it is thankfully being used now by the mainstream media, and it is a shot across the bow to Fifth Columnists who have for too long totally dominated the policies of the United States in service to and for the benefit of a foreign power

  8. MRW
    February 3, 2012, 5:58 pm

    A lot of words to say nothing.

    • kalithea
      February 4, 2012, 12:49 am

      Excellent, brutally honest comment.

    • dahoit
      February 5, 2012, 8:40 am

      Nothing you wanna hear, neh?

      • yo_mamma
        February 6, 2012, 1:11 pm

        Why not tell us what’s worth hearing about here, dahoit? You seem to be the one exerting the effort to sing it’s praises, so why not point out the value of the article to the discourse. It seems to make not a single useful point.

  9. Chespirito
    February 3, 2012, 6:11 pm

    Rejecting all arguments rooted in self-interest is both squeamish and unwise. We left-liberal types badly need to learn the rhetoric of enlightened self-interest, especially when it comes to US intervention in the Middle East. Arguments rooted in national self-interest and arguments rooted in human rights are not always mutually exclusive or antithetical; they can be complementary. It’s not on every foreign policy issue that national interest and human rights are in more or less perfect alignment, but when it comes to our imprudent and immoral support for Israel and Egypt’s authoritarian government, we have no reason NOT to have our cake and eat it too, and to give it to the neocons/neolibs with both barrels. In other words, I disagree with Stern-Weiner and think the term “Israel firster” is sometimes perfectly appropriate.

  10. Daniel Rich
    February 3, 2012, 6:22 pm

    How about adding ‘anti-semite’ and ‘anti-semitism’ to the list of ‘no-no words?’ I say this in light of the fact that they’re used and thrown around more often than confetti, do not include real and every Semite, are mostly served on a platter of legal ineptitude and, in most cases, are an attempt to stifle reality/debate/real concerns?

  11. Opaleye
    February 3, 2012, 6:29 pm

    Is it “innocuous” to point out that this article is silly?

    Has anybody ever claimed it is “innocuous” to use the term “Israel Firster”?

    Is it “innocuous” to point out that a murderer is a murderer? No, it isn’t. It’s unpleasant, but also necessary.

    Is it “innocuous” to accuse someone of lying? No, but what else are you going to do when they keep lying?

    Is it “innocuous” to try to stop a war? No, it isn’t. Why should it be? If you’ve got a whole arsenal of “innocuous” methods to stop the next stupid war, then what are you waiting for. Get on with it! But no, you don’t seem to be doing that. Instead, you think it’s useful to indulge in mind-reading, in particular, you concern yourself with what people (I’m not sure who exactly) were thinking in 1966.

    Who cares? I don’t care what Sheldon Adelson was thinking in 1966, I’m more concerned with what he and fellow Israel Firsters are doing now.

    The term “Israel Firster” is being applied to people whose public comments have explicitly put Israel’s interests above that of their own country, the country that they presume to urge into the next stupid war. Furthermore they have also often explicitly urged others to likewise put Israel first.

    So enough with the mind reading. It’s in their own words, which are perfectly consistent with their actions.

    Am I supposed to believe that Abelson isn’t an Israel fanatic? Instead, he’s a “Me” fanatic? Listen, the fact is that for most of his international business dealings, his Israel connection is an albatross. If he was a “Me” fanatic, he would ditch Israel. The model for a “Me” fanatic is Rupert Murdoch, who ditched his Australian citizenship the moment it held up his business career: he needed to be a US citizen to acquire US media properties.

    Murdoch really does only care about his businesses. He isn’t interested in ideology unless it will sell advertising. I’m sure he’s very unpleasant and all, but he doesn’t give a damn about ideology.

    The Israel First crowd are nothing like that. They are ideologues and fanatics. It’s not complicated.

    • dahoit
      February 5, 2012, 8:44 am

      Rupert Murdoch is a committed Zionist.Why else would his media empire of liars portray fact as fiction or vice versa repeatedly and constantly.

  12. HRK
    February 3, 2012, 6:36 pm

    The important thing for me doesn’t have to do with characterizing someone as dually loyal; I’d just like the ordinary people out there to know that certain talking heads out there revolve a lot of politics around what’s good for Israel–and we need take that into account when we’re judging their stories. (In the same way we should take someone’s pro-Palestinian perspective into account when we judge his or her stories).

  13. atime forpeace
    February 3, 2012, 7:05 pm

    When the neocons tore into someone, whether it was Judge Goldstone, Pres Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Prof Mearsheimer, Prof Walt, Prof Finkelstein or any of the many others that would add their name to the list, the aim of Israels defenders was to silence ridicule and or destroy their lively hood and reputation, and now we are to be sensitive and concerned not to hurt these barbarian vandals sensitive human side.

    The good thing is that these things take on a life of their own and hopefully the direction of the debate has changed.

    It can not be forgotten that this crowd wants war which kills innocent men women and children who have zero to do with anything, the everyday citizen that pays the price when empires seek to control others.

  14. Exiled At Home
    February 3, 2012, 7:20 pm

    JSW-

    Jewish “dual loyalty” is no canard. A significant number of American Jews do hold dual citizenship with America and Israel. This is a quantifiable fact. Dual loyalty is simply the logical progression of dual citizenship and it has nothing to do any “canard.” Many Italian Americans have dual citizenship. Is it a problem to suggest that the people, and even Italian-Americans who only hold American citizenship, hold loyalties to Italy? No. So, why are you continuing to discuss the Jewish community with heightened sensitivity? You do this nation a disservice in attempting to downplay the very obvious fact that a great many Jews in America do consider Israel’s interests as equal or superior to American interests.

    • Les
      February 3, 2012, 10:53 pm

      Should dual citizens of any country hold policy making postions in our Federal Government affecting their “other” country?

    • dahoit
      February 5, 2012, 8:57 am

      I have never heard of an Italian American put Italy’s interests over Americas,sorry,and if there are Italian American dual citizens,they aint common,and my experience is that Italian Americans are some of Americas most loyal citizens,have no record of spying,and enlist in our armed forces with pride,unlike certain Zionist oligarchs who are ashamed of their service and advertise the fact while corrupting our political scene.And I aint Italian American,so this is non biased.

    • wondering jew
      February 6, 2012, 4:38 pm

      Exiled at Home- Dual citizenship is a quantifiable fact. Well then, how about quantifying it. Do you have a number? I am one and I know of a few more, if you are counting them yourself.

  15. seanmcbride
    February 3, 2012, 7:32 pm

    I think “Israel Firster” is a perfectly legitimate and sometimes necessary term to describe anyone who is more preoccupied with Israeli issues and problems than with any other issue (Jeffrey Goldberg is a perfect example of this type of person, of which there are very many in American politics). But it can be subject to misinterpretation and abuse.

    I prefer these terms in increasing intensity (and with examples):

    1. pro-Israel activist (Jerome Slater)
    2. pro-Israel militant (Alan Dershowitz)
    3. pro-Israel extremist (Pamela Geller)
    4. pro-Israel terrorist (Yigal Amir)

    • MRW
      February 7, 2012, 4:26 am

      Or, (seanmcbride)

      1. PIA
      2. PIM
      3. PIE
      4. PIT

      ;-)

  16. seanmcbride
    February 3, 2012, 8:18 pm

    More terms:

    1. Israel-centric: your political interests revolve primarily around Israeli issues and problems

    2. America-centric: your political interests revolve primarily around American issues and problems

    One can apply simple content analytic methods on the published writings and public statements of people to decide to what degree they are Israel-centric or America-centric.

    For instance, browsing the writings of Jeffrey Goldberg indicates that he pegs the Israel-centrism meter — he is obsessive-compulsive on the subject (and generally fanatically ethnocentric compared to most Americans).

    Of course one could also be *nation-centric, *religion-centric, *ethnicity-centric in hundreds or thousands of ways — and those preoccupations are subject to objective analysis and description.

  17. RoHa
    February 3, 2012, 8:19 pm

    The whole thing sounds like a storm in a teacup to me.

  18. Sin Nombre
    February 3, 2012, 8:22 pm

    So let’s see, first there’s Mr. Stern-Weiner’s revulsion towards anyone concerned with U.S. “national interests” (his quotation marks, as if same are of laughable value) on the basis of how “parochial [and] unappealing” such a concern is, and how “potentially quite vicious” appeals to same might be.

    But then however … Oh the concern over those who might be called “Israeli Firsters”! (No matter how accurate the identification.) All the “ugly politics” that might be implied thereby! Oh the horror, the horror!

    So we’ve got Israeli Firsters calling people involved in a resolutely non-violent social protest movement Nazis and Kapos and accusing them of desiring genocide and … this guy is concerned about those who might be called “Israeli Firsters.”

    (And given the apparent lack of concern over those employing such Nazi smears one supposes Mr. Stern-Weiner feels that those who spew around promiscuous allegations of anti-semitism can never be anything but positively enlightened human beings.)

    Gosh, Mr. Stern-Weiner, could you perhaps tell us then why it is that you feel the interests of those in danger of accurately being called “Israel Firsters” are so much more important than mine and those of my fellow U.S. citizens?

    Indeed, why my interests and those of my fellow U.S. citizens have no importance whatsoever? And why, given that this is your view, why I should pay even a molecule of attention to you as one obviously willing to sacrifice those interests to those of your own?

    Or, to put it another way, what makes yours not just special, but in fact apparently the *only* interests with any real moral weight?

  19. W.Jones
    February 3, 2012, 8:41 pm

    If corporations put their interests before the interests of the rest of Americans (the 99%), is it OK to emphasize this?

  20. yourstruly
    February 3, 2012, 10:29 pm

    is the author saying that were he to vote for that politician who’d do the most to alleviate hunger in somalia, he’d be a dual loyalist? a somalia firster? but would his somalia firstness hurt the british, as israel firstness endangers u.s. troops in afghanistan and until two months ago endangered our troops in iraq, according to, among others, former general david petreaus. endangers them because israel’s intransigence vis-a-vis a peace agreement is the reason “they” hate us; despite this israel firsters keep pushing for yet another war, this time against iran, a war which would be fought, not for america but for israel (since iran poses no threat to the usa), and is certain to take the lives of americans? yet we shouldn’t say israel firster because it might offend? offending someone the likes of alan dershowitz in order to prevent a war? hey, what’s wrong with that?

  21. Les
    February 3, 2012, 10:57 pm

    Considering that Jeffrey Goldberg considers his services as a prison guard to be equivalent to counselor, we wonder how many Nazi era camp guards used that as a defense?

  22. iamuglow
    February 4, 2012, 12:35 am

    This nuanced view of Israel firster, or lets not call attention to the fact that the people speaking loudest about supporting Israel have a vested interest (birthright) to the land….would neuter the Pro-Palestenian argument in America.

    You’ve got use every tool in the toolbox…to say lets not use this Truth – which resonates more strongly with more Americans than other argument because as you say

    “isn’t the way to win the struggle, and nor should it be how we’d want to win it.”

    Is incredibly arrogant. Who are you to say this? Are you Palestenian? American?

    The point, for me, is to end the ongoing snuffing out of the Palestenian people. If when talking to Americans I have to focus on US aid to Israel as that resonates with them…then so be it. And if I have to point out to them that the people who are most vocally directing their policy on Palestine themselves have something to gain and that despite being Americans, the interest they care about is not Americas interest….and this is verifiable true…then of course this should be focused on it. It is the most salient argument, because lets face, people want to act in their own best interests more than they want to follow international law. This is the first and foremost argument against Israel for Americans…but you want to throw it away…because its ‘parochial, unappealing and potentially quite vicious insinuations.

    No, sorry. Besides Israel-firster being something that all Americans can understand….The truth is dual citizenship, dual loyalty, has played a huge part in why this whole debacle has gone on for long. Take away dual citizenship and make the…likely 1/3 of Israeli-Americans who sprint btwn the US and Israel choose a country…and it would change Israels our way or the highway attitude…fast….

    Israel firster and the ideas it encapsulates are essential to changing how Americans perceive I/P…This article… unfortunately no matter how well intentioned is an attempt to police the debate by making suggestions that in fact handicap the effectiveness of the ‘Palestenian’ message. No thanks.

  23. anonymouscomments
    February 4, 2012, 1:05 am

    i think there is a dose of truth that the term is problematic. it is getting traction but has its own blowback and pitfalls; though perhaps minor. but at the same time we need a term that calls these people out….

    i used to use “likudniks”, or “right wing zionists”, but although these terms are more nuanced and specific, they lack traction and are incomprehensible to your average american (“likud?????” and even “right wing zionist” is essentially meaningless to the average MSM consumer; the terms only have meaning to people already well-informed, and with strong opinions). i also like “israel right-or-wrong” which does have meaning for average americans, but does not have enough gusto.

    i’m not leading any charge against the term “israel firster”, and it has some clear usefulness. but can we still brainstorm terms that might be able to fill the same role, just as effectively with the average american, but perhaps with less “issues”? it basically needs to be comprehensible to the average american.

    like they say- whoever controls the language of debate wins. i am not ceding them control (israel firster is here to stay, though i don’t really employ it; to strike it would cede them control), but we need to think hard about what terms we use, and what terms we can devise.

    ////
    while i’m at it, let me lay out my specific issues with some common terms (terms i have used historically, and sometimes still use)

    pro-palestinian: i don’t think many of us use this, but it annoys the hell out of me. some say “pro-palestinian rights” here, which is better. we just want peace and justice. pro-’x’ usually implies a bias for ‘x’. we are not biased, we are the truth-sayers and want an impartial accounting of things. we think everyone benefits from peace and justice. we need to JUMP on the MSM when it uses this term. i’ve had the term used “against” me, and the MSM often parrots it out. we are the informed people who are not ideologues, which brings me to the next term…

    pro-israel: this term implies that those we label with it have israel’s interests at heart. again, this is entirely false. these people usually are a fringe, and often fall to the right when placed on the israeli political spectrum. is jeff halper “pro-israel” or uri avnery? why not? would we EVER start calling *right* wing republicans “pro-american”? if foreign nationals supported the american right wing, would we ever term them “america-firsters” or “pro-american”? seriously… consider this. i *do* use the term sometimes, but i try to place it in “quotes” to indicate the inappropriateness of the term itself. or i say pro-israel ideologues, or pro-israel lobby. looking back on my comment history, i see how often i forgot to use quotes or add additional qualifiers…. GRRRRR

    israel firster: one issue with this is that it implies they have the interests of israel at heart. these people DO NOT, and they are ideological right wingers with a policy position that keeps israel in perpetual conflict for ideological reasons, land, money, or god-knows-what. so what is an “israel firster” really putting first? further, it also does not accurately encapsulate the actual internal motivations of many other people who are “israel firsters”, such as simple islamophobes who idiotically see israel as being on the “front line”, or christian zionists who don’t care so much about israeli welfare, but are concerned with messed up messianic BS. it does not include war-profiteers who say the same things as “israel firsters” but really just seem to love effing conflict.

    …there are more, but screw it. i hope we pay attention to language, avoid accepting loaded language that hurts us, and think up new and more effective terms.

  24. Keith
    February 4, 2012, 1:20 am

    LORDY, LORDY- I am pleasantly surprised that a ray of sanity has been permitted to penetrate the Mondoweiss narrative. Yes, yes, summon the spirit of Jeffrey Blankfort to protect you from obvious truth. One of the best, and most insightful posts to appear on Mondoweiss and discomfort the Mondofaithful, for whom proof by labeling is the rule not the exception. Read it and weep!

    “The use of the term “Israel Firster” reflects a broader trend which chooses to frame opposition to Israeli policies, and US support for them, in terms of defending or protecting US “national interests”, and which appears increasingly disposed to criticising apologists for Israeli occupation on the grounds that they are being disloyal to these “national interests”, rather than on the grounds that they are enabling a profound injustice. I suspect that this in turn reflects an influx of liberals into the solidarity movement – in this sense the watering down and degeneration of the latter might well be a consequence of its own success – and a desire by some activists to align the movement, in an attempt to gain political influence, with those American elites who are concerned that Israel’s occupation is harming US imperial interests (cf. Walt and Mearsheimer).”

    • American
      February 4, 2012, 1:58 pm

      Keith says:
      February 4, 2012 at 1:20 am

      ““The use of the term “Israel Firster” reflects a broader trend which chooses to frame opposition to Israeli policies, and US support for them, in terms of defending or protecting US “national interests”, and which appears increasingly disposed to criticising apologists for Israeli occupation on the grounds that they are being disloyal to these “national interests”, rather than on the grounds that they are enabling a profound injustice.”

      Listen, some of you keeping missing the fricking point of all this.
      The point is it doesn’t make a damn whether the national interest crowd or the I/P humanitarian crowd ‘want to own and dictate the reasons’ for opposing US- Israel or I/P.
      This your typical liberal kindergarten squabbling over the color of crayons to use.

      The fact is the answer for both crowds is ending the influence of Israel first in US policies..1) that affect the US national interest and ….2) enable I/P.

      I am a fan of W&M but they are a planet away from grass roots psychology.

      What would incite the public, the average Joe, the most to oppose current US policy on Israel?
      The idea or belief that their country and therefore their personal welfare is being manipulated/affected by some foreign entity special interest.
      Or an appeal to help correct some injustice abroad that isn’t and can’t even be revealed to the general public by the US media.

      Humm..? where do you think you are going to get the most traction for a public push back on US-Isr and therefore I/P?

      The general public can and does hear pledges to Israel by Israel firsters, particularly during election seasons on public ms media. The general public does NOT ever see or hear about the Palestine plight or Israeli atrocities on the public msm.

      So unless you think the smaller pool of more informed net civilian activist alone can swing the entire political establishment policy on Israel or that appeals to politicians humanitarian better natures will work, and work soon enough, to keep Palestine and Palestinians from disappearing you are gonna need a bigger movement.

      • Opaleye
        February 4, 2012, 4:55 pm

        Exactly right. In fact, consider that the US public does know, in general terms, that the US destroyed Iraq. Sure they’ve had the grim details carefully airbrushed out, but they still know that a whole country was destroyed for no reason. Yet it doesn’t seem to bother them much.

        I just don’t see the plight of the Palestinians registering with the pubic anytime soon.

        The issue of Israeli interference in US affairs is a much more potent one, and indeed, this explains the panicky attempt to ban the term “Israel Firster”. Their panic reveals just how concerned they are about the potency of this phrase, and that alone is plenty of reason to keep using it.

      • seafoid
        February 4, 2012, 5:33 pm

        I read something during the week about median wages per hour in the US which have been unchanged in 30 years. Do many Americans know this? Is anyone mad about it? It would be interesting to compare with median Israeli wage growth over the period and connect to all the aid that goes to Israel.

      • Chaos4700
        February 4, 2012, 5:42 pm

        Most Americans choose to be willfully ignorant, seafoid. Hell, the only mainstream news channel that has ever even TALKED about that fact to my knowledge is MSNBC.

        Most Americans are too afraid to be angry. They want their crust of bread and their overpriced meds and they aren’t willing to stand up for themselves, for the most part, let alone for anyone who’s actually doing worse than them.

      • Citizen
        February 4, 2012, 6:33 pm

        seafoid, this is true; further the CBO reported and graphed the stream upward of income to the top 5% & especially, the top 1%, for the last 30 years. The pattern is systemic and there for every American to see. Instead, mostly each blames the other main political party as if this result was not a bipartisan achievement. There’s a reason for Owsers and the cross-appeal of Ron Paul. Way too many Americans either believe they are literal slaves without opportunity, or, OTOH, that becoming Trump is just around the corner for them.

      • Djinn
        February 5, 2012, 2:44 am

        But they also know their polity has been 100% bought and sold, they know millions live in poverty while billion dollar wars are fought, they know they work 2 jobs and still live in a trailer, they know they can’t afford asthma medications for their kids. Even the self interest thing doesn’t seem to have energized the 99% all that much. I sometimes wonder if the 1% have managed to spike the entire nations drinking water with Valium.

      • Keith
        February 4, 2012, 6:04 pm

        AMERICAN- “The point is it doesn’t make a damn whether the national interest crowd or the I/P humanitarian crowd ‘want to own and dictate the reasons’ for opposing US- Israel or I/P.”

        Sounds reasonable. It is just a pity you don’t practice what you preach as your history of comments demonstrates, the most recent concerning the “So the U.S. military doesn’t want to attack Iran….” thread. You are part of a Mondoweiss affinity group which attacks those who espouse a more overarching perspective than simply that the lobby made us do it. We are frequently referred to as apologists for Israel, Chomskyites who blame the US for everything. Noam Chomsky an arch villain for your group. Some are quite nasty, engaging in name calling and grossly misrepresenting opposing positions. By the way, the quote which you attributed to me was me quoting Jamie Stern-Weiner, the author of the post. So, if you have suddenly decided to take the high ground, I am all for it.

      • American
        February 4, 2012, 11:59 pm

        “You are part of a Mondoweiss affinity group which attacks those who espouse a more overarching perspective than simply that the lobby made us do it. “…Keith

        Let me say it again…it doesn’t matter what your ”perspective” is.
        You can roll around in the all the psychological, philosophical, geo -political universal humantarian prespectives you want to and pick whatever you suits you as a reason.
        All that matters is the most effective way to get change in US-Israel policy and settle I/P.
        I told you the most effective way. The fact that ‘you’ don’t like it does not change the fact that that is the “perception” that will get you the most public weight on changing US policy.

        I don’t recall you being in the Chomsky conversation Dan, Sean and I having so I didn’t refer to you as a apologists for Israel or Chomskyite. Neither did I refer to Dan as a apologist for Israel. I made the case for why Chomsky’s claim that everything is US imperialism and in specific that the ME US imperialism for oil control is full of crap.
        I think I more than proved it with my step by step illustration of the facts, exactly how the US got zip in oil control or oil benefits out of Iraq or got any more oil out of Iraq than we did prior to our 1990 first military and sanctions encounter with Iraq or since then.
        If you or Chomsky have some secret facts unknown to the rest of the entire world oil industry feel free to prove me and them and the Iraq and the US reporting agencies wrong.

        I am not going to repeat all the reasons and evidence of why the US is not interested in controlling Iran or ME oil, is only interested in assuring it isn’t ‘disrupted’ for the sake of our own and the world economy and isn’t in a stand off war between Israel and Iran because it fears either Iran attacking Israel or the US.
        You can believe whatever you chose to, it makes no difference to me or to anyone or has any effect on the real Iran-Israel issue or the US part in it.
        I don’t attack people, I attack factless pie in the sky claims when there are real facts and real evidence that prove those claims false.

      • Mooser
        February 6, 2012, 1:13 pm

        “I told you the most effective way. The fact that ‘you’ don’t like it does not change the fact that that is the “perception” that will get you the most public weight on changing US policy.”

        I agree, absolutely. Anti-Semitism, properly and effectively cultivated, will be the most effective and efficient technique in putting pressure on Zionist Americans and Israel. Model the campaign on the techniques used by the right-wing entrpeneurs and Christians against minorities, immigrants, and women, and you can’t lose.

      • American
        February 13, 2012, 10:55 pm

        I’m not talking about witch burnings Mooser, just ‘political’ bonfires.
        Although there are a few Israel- firsters I wouldn’t object to seeing roasted.

      • Citizen
        February 14, 2012, 9:18 am

        Keith, what “Monoweiss affinity group” are you talking about? I think a fair look at the aggregate of (non-hasbarabot) comments over the years on Mondoweiss consistently link the concerns first articulated by Washington and Eisenhower in their farewell addresses to the American Public, i.e., respectively, excessive entanglement with any foreign nation (unique “special relation” Israel Lobby), and the military-industrial complex (also security-academia). This double concern is naturally related to humanitarian concerns. US is the lone superpower (strongest force, role model) and the principles of international rule of law first implemented at Nuremberg and Tokyo and enhanced at Geneva is the larger context it functions in; the long run includes chickens coming home to roost, even for a lone superpower.

      • yourstruly
        February 14, 2012, 11:07 am

        given that time is running out, why would anti-zionist/pro-palestinian camp drop its attack on israel firsters, when this is the only approach that’s been successful in swaying public opinion away from its steadfast support (however shallow/lukewarm) for the zionist entity? specifically, the dramatic shift (caught by opinion polls) that occurred when Pres. George Bush the elder and later,Pres. George Bush the younger) put pressure on the zionist entity’s government to stop its expansion of wb settlements. nothing comparable has ever occurred as a result of attacking the zionist entity’s human rights violations, its crimes against humanity nor empire’s involvement. the discrepancy between the two approaches at turning the public around on the mideast conlict, alas, has more to do with rally-round-the-flag than with mideast realities, but hey, since it works, why discard it (ie attacking israel firstness)? For fear of evoking antisemitism, even though many of those leading these attacks just happen to be jewish? for crying out loud isn’t this what brought mw into existence – getting out the truth on the me conflict, the better to turn the public around on the issue, while at the same time preventing the lobby from intimidating americans into keeping quiet for fear of being labeled antisemites? those who insist that the use of the term israel firster is too risky would have us drop the term and only resort to what? empire’s involvement? except how many americans even realize that our nation has become an empire? stick with the empire issue even though to date, as far as the public is concerned, it’s had little or no traction? what this means is that we either use the israel firster approach or reconcile ourselves to the inevitability of a u.s.-backed israeli war upon iran with all the implications such has for wwiii en route to doomsday. conceed defeat for fear of a couple of words?
        what ever happened to confidence in humankind’s ability to create a better world?

  25. kalithea
    February 4, 2012, 2:16 am

    This article is misleading and deceitful. Israel Firsters are what they are based on evidentiary FACT which overrides mere perception. This makes the term legitimate in their regard. Would the term wake up nationalism to the point that a kind of McCarthyism would prevail against anyone putting Israeli interests above American interests leading to Americans labeling such activities as Un-American and a demand for action against such individuals? This is after all the paranoia that motivates this article and those who agree with it. Maybe that might happen in some alternate Universe UNLESS of course Israelis undertook something so egregious, like a False Flag operation resulting in loss of American lives and serious, material damage to U.S. interests. Hey, maybe they’ll cross that line in regards to Iran? Maybe they’ve done something on a smaller scale and they know just how far to push against U.S. interests without awakening too much nationalistic ire?

    This being said, if this firster expression started to wake up America to the selfishness of the Israeli state and the evil that Zionism has produced; this could only be a good thing, because Zionists are INDEED selfish and Zionism has indeed produced evil and harm against others and deserves consequences. So it is only right and in the interest of justice that firster individuals who often work AGAINST American interests, as for example funding illegal settlements through tax exempt organizations, should suffer consequences for their actions as should Zionism no doubt. But oddly enough, some who would have you believe their cause is human rights and justice for all, ergo humanity, would rather shoot down preemptively anything that might raise the level of awareness among Americans. But injustice should never go unpunished and no one should be above the law or untouchable. Therefore, we should be asking ourselves, as in the case of the author here, where does their true allegiance lie, with the perpetrators of injustice whom they’re protecting by squashing this expression or with justice that will in fact reverberate favorably on their victims?

    But Zionist sympathizers tend to act on irrational paranoia once the inevitable tribalism kicks in and then set out to preemptively destroy every opportunity that might expose the truth of these perpetrators of injustice to a wider public and mainstream focus thus sabotaging once again the cause they pretend to embrace.

    I find the attempt to find “politically correct” substitutes for Israel Firster clumsy and amusing; as I find all attempts to shade the TRUTH amusing, like the pretty tight shoe that just won’t fit; since the truth cannot be silenced. The truth is what it is, and an Israeli Firster is EXACTLY THAT, and the description is true precision. So you know what you can do with that “political correctness” which ends up shielding injustice. Denying the truth is the first stage to making our worst fears become self-fulfilling.

    What you should be asking yourselves is: Why would a wide section of the tribe, i.e. Zionists do something so stupid and inhumane as to jeopardize the reputation of the entire tribe and turn on THAT rather than rally to protect it every time by turning against the truth that is destined to correct the injustice?

  26. Kevin R. Vixie
    February 4, 2012, 2:28 am

    Reading the article and the comments, I have to agree with RoHa … it is a storm in a teacup. Yet it is a very revealing teacup, kind of like those cleverly devised scientific experiments that distill some phenomena to an essence in order to expose fundamentals.

    I also agree that to focus on names (Israel-first, anti-semitic, terrorist, etc) is a distraction that draws us away from deepening experience, to superficial chatter that at best, only references deeper things. Or at least that is the tendency.

    What fundamental insights are being exposed? To a large extent, I think they are the same things that life teaches us all the time, even though we are usually pretty distracted by the details. Those things are the big issues, the issues spiritual teachers throughout history have realized were key to everything, and therefore worth devoting time to.

    Finally, if one listens to the meta-message of, for example, a slight shift from justice to nationalism, one can, even without condemning the name-calling, realize that we need to make sure that justice, in it’s most personal, most intimate, visceral expression, never leaves us for something less personal, more abstract — like tribal or national loyalty, even though there is a place for those things, at times.

  27. kalithea
    February 4, 2012, 2:32 am

    One more thing about trying to find a “politically correct” substitute for Israel Firster: I find this endeavor as stupid and deceptive as the media attempting to discuss Adelson and removing Israel from the equation. In other words, you are just as bad as the mainstream media and you are trying to use the same tactics to silence the truth!

    It sickens me that people HERE would be part of the effort that has denied Palestinians justice for so long. THERE IS NO EUPHEMISM FOR INJUSTICE!!

    • Daniel Rich
      February 4, 2012, 4:31 am

      @ kalithea,

      Have you also wondered how many more words will be sucked into the void and mauled in the vortex of the unspeakable? I, for one, wholeheartedly agree with you.

    • Citizen
      February 4, 2012, 6:57 pm

      kalithea, yes, removal of the phrase “Israel Firster” from the political equation is like removing Adelson’s own self-declared motive for giving Newt $10M, which Newt repeated to the mainstream media, which still refused to mention it–Rachel M talked about Adelson for about ten minutes and her only suggestion re his donor motivation was his casino business.

    • Djinn
      February 5, 2012, 2:53 am

      The is a middle ground between loving the term and using it and wanting it banished (has anyone here suggested it shouldn’t be used? I don’t think they have but may have missed it). You can be of the view that a term/argument/campaign etc is problematic or not the best strategically (what I read as the point of this piece) without any suggestion at all that it should be banned or substituted. Agree that there’s no euphemism for injustice which is why I prefer concentrating on the injustice of the situation and not on whether or not American interests are being served. Admittedly I’m not trying to convince Americans so don’t have a dog in this fight but it seems an entirely pointless fight from here in the cheap seats.

  28. Jabberwocky
    February 4, 2012, 4:01 am

    Israel firster is a perfectly descriptive term and rightly brings up the issues of loyalty. Pressing your government to gave famine aid to Somalia does not require you to break the law or to act in a manner that is negative for your country’s interests.

    Israel firsters have, in a number of cases, broken the laws of their country of origin to support Israel. NUMEC is one example of an Israel firster diverting nuclear material from the USA to Israel for weapons, after using his US nationality to set up a front company. This was against the laws of the USA and against the interests of the USA. The follow up investigation lasted 13 years and was blocked on many fronts – one can assume from influential government officials who are Israel firsters.

    Then there is the case, also documented by Grant Smith at : link to irmep.org

    It is proven that Israel firsters in the US government gave Israeli officials confidential US industry data that helped Israel in Free Trade negotiations and cost US industry business and jobs. Again this is an illegal act on behalf of a foreign state.

    Victor Ostrovsky’s book “By way of deception” clearly describes that there are citizens of many countries who are willing to break the law to help Israel.

    To raise these issues is not anti-semitic as it has nothing to do with religion but loyalty to your country of citizenship and this lack of loyalty is being demonstrated by citizens of different religions.

    • Justice Please
      February 4, 2012, 5:05 am

      I think you put it very well. Breaking the law of the US to help Israel, that’s one of several good definitions of an Israel-Firster.

    • jimmy
      February 4, 2012, 6:34 am

      Jabberwocky is correct..in that israel and it’s team of supporters in the US and other countries ..also wages economic war on everyone…

      if I recall correctly..in 2005 the cia report on spying against the US..israel was number 2… that being industrial, government and military…and since then I have not seen a report made public….wonder why…

      here is a good article

      Are Obama and Netanyahu Trying to Push Iran toward a Nuke?

      Leading the charge for an assault on Iran are the Israeli government, American supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the neoconservative foreign-policy activists who promoted war with Iraq on the basis of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

      link to fff.org

      as long as we have an ineffective media…and this congress goes against world opinion on israel….I’d say prepare for the worst…

  29. Daniel Rich
    February 4, 2012, 4:29 am

    What would one call Alan Dershowitz??

    link to youtube.com

    I call him Israel’s pit-bull in the US, the way John Bolton was labeled Israel’s 6th UN member to the UN [I can't find a link at the moment, but Israeli UN members called him that].

    • Citizen
      February 4, 2012, 7:12 pm

      And Bolton’s name has been tossed around as a Newt winner’s VP! Remember Sen Lieberman too ran for VP? All we need is Bibi as POTUS.

      • piotr
        February 6, 2012, 1:22 am

        Wasn’t it a requirement that a President (and vice-president) has to be a human, not a walrus? I have nothing against walruses in a proper environment, say Sea of Barents and some suitably cold beaches, but I am not for mixing walruses with humans.

  30. Justice Please
    February 4, 2012, 5:02 am

    Jamie,

    your article is a nice addition to the discussion, and you are initially right in reminding us that the debate over US support for Israel should also include the human rights angle, not only the nation interest angle.

    But Jamie, it’s not a question of “either or”! Opposition to status quo policy has to include all supportive arguments, so we need to talk about human rights AND about the nation interest. Because nations have interests of their own, regardless of how many “left” people don’t get that.

    Now to your more specific point about putting other nation’s interests before your own. You write:

    “If I am moved by images of famine in Somalia and decide to vote, in Britain, according to who I think would do the most to alleviate the effects and causes of that famine, am I being “dually loyal”?”

    First, there can be no “dual” loyalty in the long run, because nation’s interests differ from time to time. So one has to decide which loyalty comes first for himself. If you say “I am loyal to both countries”, you are being a coward. Simply ask the hypothetical question which country you would support if both were at war with each other, then you know which country you place “first”.

    Second, your example of a famine has no effect whatsoever on questions of current US policy towards Israel. Noone is talking about feeding starving Israelis. There are bigger things at stake, like going to war because of evil people like Netanjahu convince other Jews to be eternally paranoid. If you want to defend loyalty to another state, you need to think about more complicated issues than a famine.

    Lastly, the expression of Israel-Firster should only be used for people like Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban who are proud of their Israel-First views. If you say “I regret wearing the US uniform instead of the Israeli one” (Adelson) or “I’m a one-issue guy” (Saban), then you are an Israel-Firster, end of discussion. And it IS a bad thing, under these circumstances.

    For people like Dennis Ross we should use the term “pro-Special Relationship”, people who would never admit that they put Israel first, but who wrongly believe that the US and Israeli interests are always identical. Their crime is not putting Israel first, but more generally, jeopardizing the independence of the US.

    • David Green
      February 4, 2012, 1:54 pm

      “Their crime is not putting Israel first, but more generally, jeopardizing the independence of the US.”

      This is the sort of imperialist tripe that threatens to give the Palestinian movement a bad name on the left.

      • Justice Please
        February 4, 2012, 7:08 pm

        David, what are you talking about? And how come YOU are the officious spokesguy for “the left”?

      • Citizen
        February 4, 2012, 7:34 pm

        How is saying, “… we need to talk about human rights AND about the nation interest,” and adding, “Their crime is not putting Israel first, but more generally, jeopardizing the independence of the US.”–how is this context “some sort of imperialist tripe” threatening to give the Palestinian movement a bad name of the left?

    • Djinn
      February 5, 2012, 3:01 am

      Simply ask the hypothetical question which country you would support if both were at war with each other, then you know which country you place “first”.

      What if your answer is that you wouldn’t support either of them given that the vast majority of wars are fought for economic reasons that never help the working class? Or if you really believed in the ostensible reasons given for the war, what if your answer was that it would depend on the circumstances? If Australia started putting people in concentration camps and the UK declared war I’d support the UK, if it was the other way around I’d support Australia. What does this say about who I place “first”?

      • Justice Please
        February 5, 2012, 5:06 am

        Djinn, one could construct a more precise scenario like “country A gets attacked by country B, without any justification, and country A acts morally”.

        But you have convinced me that the question of loyalty can’t only be defined within war issues. It’s too narrow.
        So it needs to be defined more broadly, with the notion of national interest. If you advocate positions which are knowingly or unknowingly damaging your own countrie’s interest while helping another’s, you are disloyal.

        Of course, that brings the problem that everyone has a different opinion on what exactly IS the national interest, so it can only be defined subjectively.

        But it leaves us in the current debate with the following: If you think that it’s in the national interest of the US to NOT attack a country that didn’t attack you, and said attack happens to help the warmongering faction in Israel, then everyone advocating that attack, regardless who he is and what his motivations, is, to you, someone who on this issue puts the warmongering faction in Israel first. And more generally, is disloyal to the US.

        Of course, he/she would not only put Likud Israel first, but everyone else who profits from the war – weapons manufacturers, other rivals of Iran like Saudi Arabia,…

        Apart from that, there’s also a scientific definition of national interest from the field of International Relations: It is the accumulation of power in relation to other nations. I would say that an attack on Iran would not make the US stronger in relation to other powers, so if you advocate it, you are advocating something which would damage the nation interest of the US as defined by International Relations.

      • Justice Please
        February 5, 2012, 5:18 am

        North of 49 posted a great comment below:

        “I don’t think anyone here would question Adelson’s right to put the interests of Israel over those of the US. But that is not what we are talking about.

        What raises hackles is Adelson’s attempt to use his influence in such a way that the US govt act in Israel’s interest. I think we agree that a state has a moral obligation to act in the interests of its subjects — that is what it is there for. By co-opting the state, Adelson effectively forces that state’s subjects to act against their own interests, which is a violation of those individuals’ rights.”

        So you have

        a) Emotional Israel Firsters who act as individuals. They donate to the IDF or even to colonists in the West Bank. Their actions may or may not harm the US interest.

        b) Political Israel Firsters who use or attempt to use the US government, an organization which is hired by the American people to protect Americans, to also or even instead protect Israelis. Their actions may or may not harm the US interest, but since government has no business caring about people other than its citizens, are cheating the American people.

  31. Duscany
    February 4, 2012, 6:00 am

    Some American citizens with dual loyalty issues are pushing this country hard to bomb Iran on behalf of Israel. If we do, Americans are going to die and, if the conflict spreads, this country could go bankrupt. Given that these people clearly don’t have America’s best interests at heart, it’s absurd to say we can’t call them what they really are–Israel Firsters.

  32. Oscar
    February 4, 2012, 7:15 am

    As Sean McBride points out, “Israel first” is a perfectly acceptable description of those who’s monomania is Israel. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, until red lines are crossed and America is drawn into futile wars that enrich warmongers and devastate patriotic Americans from the heartland.

    This article was a step backward in the dialogue. Jamie Stern-Weiner appears to all but justify Josh Block’s nefarious McCarthyite tactics in this piece.

    A far more thoughtful, cogent and authoritative piece was written by someone who should know . . . former AIPAC employee MJ Rosenberg. Unlike the traitorous CAP, which threw its employees under the bus, MJ doubles down on the term and courageously promises his use of the term will not be curtailed by intimidation tactics of Israel-Firsters. link to huffingtonpost.com

  33. dbroncos
    February 4, 2012, 8:04 am

    “Israel-firster” is indeed a title that would apply to some Jews, by their own admission. The problem with the term, as I see it, is that if it becomes a broad brush term it won’t be used to describe just some American Jews (i.e. Adelson) but all American Jews. Many of the American Jews who are essential to challenging Isreal and Zionism would get lost in the sauce and that would be disasterous to our efforts for justice.

    • MRW
      February 4, 2012, 10:06 am

      If that’s the only problem you foresee in obtaining justice, then getting justice will be a cakewalk. ;-)

      dbroncos, I don’t think Max Blumenthal, Weiss, Horowitz, Rosenberg, et al, are going to get mistaken for Israel Firsters.

      • Oscar
        February 4, 2012, 3:40 pm

        It represents a peeling off of Zionism = Judiasm, the “not-in-my-name” phenomenon among Jews of conscience.

        It’s also intellectually dishonest to conflate criticism of a nation-state with anti-Semitism. If Adelson says he wishes he served in the IDF rather than the US military, he has every right to say so, but it shouldn’t prevent pundits to observe his allegiance is to Israel comes before that of U.S.

  34. Tuyzentfloot
    February 4, 2012, 8:16 am

    In one of plato’s books the greek philosopher Protagoras thought that ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not something inherent but something that depends on context, an idea that was a bit lost on Plato.
    Protagoras pointed out that manure was good for the roots but bad for shoots or leaves.
    It would be unhealthy to use ‘Israel firster’ for any ordinary citizen.
    For opinionmakers it becomes a matter of giving full disclosure. For people in key political positions it would sometimes be a reason for not allowing people in those positions.

  35. Theo
    February 4, 2012, 8:43 am

    I read this in an european blog, a comment by an upset reader.

    ” Don´t we have more important problems than to have to deal with the problems of Israel on a daily base? That little shitty country is so small that you must use a magnifying class to find it on the map. It is the only apartheid state in existence and the whole state is an illegal creation violating most international laws and human rights” (my translation).

    It seems more and more people are getting tired of this constant hystery about the state of Israel and their well being.

    • American
      February 4, 2012, 12:38 pm

      “It seems more and more people are getting tired of this constant hystery about the state of Israel and their well being.”…….Theo

      I think there is a general weariness in the public of the whole Israel thing. Increased even more so in the US because of the Presidential candidates constant Israel pandering.
      When I was looking thru the comment sections on the Adler-Obama assassination story on CNN I saw a one sentence comment that said…”I am so tired of Israel and the Jews.” I didn’t point out that comment in my comments on the story at the time because I thought, well someone could take the ‘tired of the Jews’ as anti Jewish—-but I don’t think the commenter meant it as anti Jew, she was referring more I think to the whole ball of wax around Israel, saying what a lot of people feel…..that everyone is just so tired of Israel dominating all other concerns of people and their countries.

      • seanmcbride
        February 4, 2012, 1:00 pm

        American,

        The truth is, any special interest group in American politics will eventually stir up resentment and a major backlash if it too much dominates the collective political agenda. In complex multicultural societies like the United States, each group is allotted only so much attention, solicitude and tender loving care. The Israel lobby used up all its allocated attentional resources among Americans as a whole years ago. It is pushing its relations with Americans (and Europeans as well) to the breaking point.

        If Israel and the Israel lobby succeed in instigating an American war with Iran that goes very badly for Americans, I think we will see a major historical turning point on Israeli issues in American politics.

        *Smart* special interest groups try to keep a relatively low profile in American politics. They understand how the game is played and the psychology of human nature. The basic rule of thumb: don’t be too annoying. Don’t get into too many angry and overexcited arguments with your fellow Americans about your narrow ethnic or ethnic nationalist issues. What could be more obvious?

      • Oscar
        February 4, 2012, 3:46 pm

        Sean McB — Netanyahu jumped the shark when he appeared before Congress and had every servile Congressperson tongue-bathing him with a standing ovation. If that wasn’t an in-your-face demonstration that our elected officials are in the pocket of a foreign power, nothing is.

      • American
        February 4, 2012, 6:38 pm

        “What could be more obvious?”…..Sean

        I don’t know how the Israel-firsters could be more obvious either. It’s part of their delusional hubris–the idea that if they control congress they control all Americans and they are untouchable. I hope they keep being obvious…the more obvious the better.

        BTW…this….”In complex multicultural societies like the United States, each group is allotted only so much attention, solicitude and tender loving care. “……reminds me I saw an interview with a hispanic leader on the news the other day who said no one was including or talking to or about the hispanic community.
        So there you go.

      • MRW
        February 4, 2012, 5:35 pm

        Yeah, this is happening. Danaa and I have been keeping tabs on the interstices of this in dull corners of (US) Flyover Country whenever we hear or see it for over two years. When people see ###-0 votes for Israel coming out of congress, US laws passed that are for the benfit of a foreign country–imagine a constant US legislative obsession with passing laws for the benefit of Sweden, or France, or India in this downturn–and absolutely zero being done to help people with foreclosures, mortgages, and jobs, resentent builds. The party that finished its eight-year term with this mess in 2008 has not made it a priority to fix it, instead it has (1) sought to undermine the succeeding admin because of it, and (2) gone overbord with Israeli concerns.

        Whether people like Obama or not, the spectacle of according Netanyahu status equal to the US Prez with those 29 congressional ovations years from now will be viewed IMHO as a turning point, and a stained marker of the inherent racism of white Baby Boomerism. By comparison, there isn’t a chance this would have happened under Clinton or Bush. Not a chance. Neither the House nor the Senate would have allowed a sitting US President to be preempted that way.

        What happened in May 2011 when US expat Netanyahu from Philly addressed congress as he did had as much to do with putting the Shabos goy Prez in his place as anything else, and there will be a consequence that Boehner and Cantor were too unintelligent to see.

        [The proper place for N's words were at the UN, as he did in 9/10. Now the Occupy Berkeley crowd have made the issue of Israel peddling its Palestine problem to local law enforcement via violating US citizen First Amendment rights, and the issue is going to gain traction.]

      • American
        February 4, 2012, 6:31 pm

        “By comparison, there isn’t a chance this would have happened under Clinton or Bush. Not a chance. Neither the House nor the Senate would have allowed a sitting US President to be preempted that way.”

        I’m not so sure MRW, although I agree there’s racism in their treatment of Obama. You got a bunch of closet and not so closet bigots that want to keep the black boy in his place.
        But both Bush and Clinton got pushed around by the zionist congress and their own parties.
        And congress is even worse today regarding Israel because they haven’t been punished for it…..and AIPAC has set it up so both parties are pro Israel so who can we punish when our choices are Israel first repubs or Israel first dems.

  36. yourstruly
    February 4, 2012, 11:37 am

    to use or not to use the generic term israel firster

    use it and force israel firster warmongers to back down, thereby preventing a war that could trigger wwiii en route to doomsday

    fail to use it for fear of upsetting these israel firsters and suffer the above consequences

    which will it be?

  37. worker bee
    February 4, 2012, 12:34 pm

    My main response to this is that I just don’t see American attitudes towards Jews changing in the way you’re worried about. Things may be very different in the UK. In the US, it’s not lost on anybody that many if not most of the main critics of Israel are Jews. I would be extremely surprised if many Americans started to think of “Israel firster”ism as a natural consequence of strong Jewish identity, rather than as an eccentric political view. If anything, I think most Americans underestimate, or don’t want to think about, the extent to which anti-Arab and pro-Israeli attitudes have been entrenched in Jewish culture in the US, and how this is different from how they have been entrenched in Christian-American culture (yes, I know the two overlap to a great extent…). This makes the term “Israel firster” innocuous in the current cultural context. In other words, I just don’t think there’s anything to worry about here.

    Even as regards “how we want to win”, saying “Israel firster”, even with the implicit opposition to “America firster”, does not (in the current American cultural context) reinforce the idea that it’s morally preferable to support your own country’s interests over others. “America firster” still sounds like almost a jingoistic epithet to my ears, and the term “Israel firster” being thrown around a lot won’t change that. What the term does do is point out exactly what HRK said above: “certain talking heads out there revolve a lot of politics around what’s good for Israel–and we need take that into account when we’re judging their stories.” Calling people out as Israel firsters–and these are typically people who engage in the most flamboyant jingoistic “America rah rah” rhetoric–draws attention precisely to how artificial the idea of natural interest is.

    But it also reflects the fact that even if criticism of Israel’s occupation can no longer be credibly dismissed as ‘antisemitic’, “Israel Firster”, with its resemblance to the charge of “dual loyalty” that has long dogged Jews, is more difficult to defend.

    I don’t know about the individuals with positions of responsibility in CAP, &c., but this sounds way wrong to me. I think Josh Block would have attacked CAP and MM no matter what terms they used. I don’t think he & supporters would have felt any less emboldened to accuse them of anti-Semitism. So no, I don’t think the public discourse has reached a point where you can safely criticize Israel, and US Israel policy; where nobody will accuse you of being an anti-Semite for doing this as long as you use the right wording. They (Josh Block and friends) were going to level this charge one way or another.

    re ‘they used to distance themselves from Israel before 1967′
    Really, this is grasping at straws. People’s attitudes and allegiances change, but that doesn’t mean they are insincere or calculating. People who saw that Israel could be a military powerhouse developed an attachment to Israel. That does not mean this attachment is insincere and fleeting. They saw that the Jewish state could be a military powerhouse, and once that was demonstrated, they became devotees, because it speaks to something in their cultural identity as Jews (who are stereotypically supposed to be physically weak, un-martial, &c. &c.). The political structure in the US favors neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism, and there is imperialistic ideology, and ideological attempts to make imperialist policies palatable, but that does not mean people are individually motivated by “imperialism”. That is a serious category error, it’s confusing the political structure with the cultural symbols that people are attached to. It’s also not the case that the neo-imperialist political structure is completely inflexible, that policy can’t be manipulated by rhetoric, cultural forces, &c.

    I would get concerned if the epithet “Israel firster” became ubiquitous, was thrown around all over the nightly news and Sunday talk shows, but that’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future. And Josh Bock and company aren’t attacking people who said “Israel firster” because they said “Israel firster”, and CAP didn’t back down because that term was especially problematic. It’s quite simply about whether it’s okay to criticize Israel at all.

    • dahoit
      February 5, 2012, 10:53 am

      Military powerhouse?Maybe in relation to impoverished and underwhelming neighbors,but have they ever faced a Wehrmacht of the first order?And I seem to remember some Lebanese guerrillas bloodying their nose recently.

  38. David Green
    February 4, 2012, 1:47 pm

    What’s being argued in this very sensible post has been argued, over the (now) years by Max Ajl, Keith, Gabriel Ash, myself, and others–always, of course, subjected to ridicule by the Blankfort Brigade (including Annie Robbins), implicitly supported by Weiss’s choice of topics. It also reflects basic perspectives put forward over the years by Chomsky & Finkelstein, which are sound, regardless of the “state” issue or the “BDS” issue. The “Israel Firster” debate accepts basic assumptions of U.S. global hegemony. It’s corollary is that the Lobby determines U.S. foreign policy and in doing so undermines “national interests.”

    link to palestinechronicle.com

    It would be a shame if the real progress made at challenging the Lobby is undermined by a misguided analysis of the Lobby’s power, and the motives of those who (falsely) claim to support Israel, but more fundamentally support class domination at a global level.

    • Cliff
      February 4, 2012, 3:37 pm

      LOL

      When will the US get Israel to stop the settlements? Why is some shitty little Levantine country able to do whatever it wants when it is one of our many client States?

      What is Israel to us? You define that first.

      The so-called Blankfort Brigade never shy away from these basic questions. People like you do.

      Chomsky is a liberal Zionist and said only last year that he was planning on moving to Israel.

      Finkelstein is indebted to Chomsky and supports him in this matter out of loyalty.

      Sheldon Adelson isn’t an Israel Firster?

      What the hell are you smoking?

      I think people like you simply want to break up the pro-Palestinian solidarity movement and create divisions and arguments where none are needed.

      The Lobby exists and it’s main function is censorship, bullying and playing both sides of the aisle against a peaceful resolution (and simply more colonialism).

      • David Green
        February 4, 2012, 8:16 pm

        “Chomsky is a liberal Zionist and said only last year that he was planning on moving to Israel.”

        This is the level to which Mondoweiss is capable of sinking. Too bad for a worthy cause.

      • Chaos4700
        February 4, 2012, 11:50 pm

        Step 3: Insult the whole Mondoweiss community when challenged.

        Keep going, you may score a first down touchdown! For your next move, you can other go the Witty/wondering jew/Newclench path and declare that we’re all weird and blind and partisan and that EXACTLY by supporting Palestinian rights, we are hurting the cause of Palestinian rights… or you can take the eee/hophmi/dimadok path and prepare a quiver of slanders against the annotated sources you are about to be avalanched with by the rest of us.

        Take your pick.

      • Keith
        February 4, 2012, 11:46 pm

        CLIFF- “Chomsky… said only last year that he was planning on moving to Israel.”

        Do you have a source for this surprising development?

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 10:22 am

        Check towards the end of the comments Keith. Also an excellent video by Ilan Pappe who is infinitely better on this issue and activism than Chomsky or Finkelstein have been and will ever be.

      • Keith
        February 5, 2012, 11:15 am

        CLIFF- Above you say that ““Chomsky… said only last year that he was planning on moving to Israel.” When I asked for a source you direct me down to your comment that “He goes on to say he would not move to Israel now….” In other words, you have intentionally misrepresented what Chomsky said to imply that he was currently planning on moving to Israel. It is this lack of intellectual integrity that I find most disturbing about the “Israel lobby made us do it” crowd.

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 11:42 am

        Lack of intellectual integrity?

        I was mistaken about when he said it. Big deal.

        This was not 30 or 20 or 10 years ago. It was 5 years ago, in Haaretz where he said he would move to Israel if he weren’t living in the States. That was 2005. It is hardly ancient history.

        You intentionally miss the point, that when taken in context with his characterization of BDS as ‘window breaking in the 1970s’, his statement that he is a supporter of Israel and his vague criticism of BDS as a whole – my original comment was true.

        Ali Abunimah expressed the same criticism of Chomsky’s BDS stance in the radio interview in question (where he calls BDS, ‘window breaking’).

        Adding to this record, I have said I could post the video where he tells two young activists that singling Israel out is hypocritical and opens oneself up to criticism.

        I later wrote that Chomsky seems to think that it is only in that situation, that pro-Israel ideologues will cry hypocrisy. Well, we have seen people smeared for much more lukewarm criticism.

        I don’t know what the hell you’re going on about Keith, but my basic point about his liberal Zionist stance and his dismissal of the Lobby and vague criticisms of BDS are ALL accurate and backed up by radio and video interviews.

        If Ali Abunimah is critical of Chomsky’s criticism of BDS, are you going to accuse him of a lack of intellectual integrity? Please, give me a break.

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 11:48 am

        Here is a link to that radio interview:

        link to perversionsofphilosophy.wordpress.com

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 11:51 am

        Here is the interview with those two activists:

        link to youtube.com

        In both interviews, he characterizes BDS, such as it is in its main expression, as a ‘feel good’ movement.

        This is what Ali Abunimah took issue with, among other things.

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 12:10 pm

        Whoops, here is the exact statement I was originally referring to in this excerpt from Part II of the interview:

        @1:18

        So the impression I get from Chomsky is that he changes his opinions to cater to his audience. He was very fatherly to the Israeli interviewer and characterized his views as supportive of Israel and that he is a supporter of Israel.

        He said he would move to Israel if he weren’t in the US already, in 2005 – not 100 years ago but only 5 years prior to the date of the interview (2010).

        Then in an interview with these activists he says Israel is not his State.

      • seanmcbride
        February 5, 2012, 12:42 pm

        Some “liberal” Zionists who have been greatly disappointing and bewildering in their words and behavior:

        1. Aaron David Miller
        2. Barney Frank
        3. David Axelrod
        4. Dennis Ross
        5. Gary Ackerman
        6. Leon Wieseltier
        7. Martin Indyk
        8. Noam Chomsky
        9. Rahm Emanuel
        10. Shimon Peres

        I have no idea what they are really up to, but one does notice that Israel in the year 2012 continues to move inexorably forward with its grand plan to build Greater Israel. I am now convinced that the Mideast “peace process” was bullshit from the start, a carefully concocted Israeli stratagem, a perpetual delaying tactic to fend off the world while continuing to build and consolidate new settlements.

        The American government has been taken for a ride by the Israelis for decades now, under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Israel’s real game plan is to trigger a massive global holy war between the United States and the enemies of Israel (including the entire Muslim world). Israel probably intends to use World War IV as a cover and an opportunity to expel most or all non-Jews from Greater Israel. One has to suspect that many “liberal” Zionists have been in on the game from the very start — they say one thing and do another. They have no real intention of effectively opposing Likud and its long-term Greater Israel agenda.

      • Chaos4700
        February 5, 2012, 1:00 pm

        Remember how wondering jew is supposed to be our resident “rational” “liberal” Zionist? Here, read this thread:

        link to mondoweiss.net

        There has never been any such thing as a reasonable Zionist, as far as I can tell. Time and time again, Zionists prove that they chose to jettison morality and the rule of law, if that’s what it takes to preserve the interests of their tribe. Zionism is always zealotry.

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 1:09 pm

        I completely agree and when I was 21 (6 years ago), during the 2006 Lebanon War – I already came to the realization that the Israelis were playing the waiting game.

        This is why the hiccups in Lebanon and Gaza (the wars), are not good for Israel.

        This is why I do not trust Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein (whom I respect greatly), but rather Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe.

        His speech to the student anti-war conference in the UK in 2009 was so on point.

        Israel can totally realize Greater Israel while no one is paying attention. This is why it is so dishonest when Zionist ideologues point to increasing Arab population as some kind of evidence that there is no ethnic cleansing taking place.

        This is why it is so dishonest to say ‘there are worse human rights’ offenders’ in the world than Israel.

        Chomsky says this in the interview I posted.

        The entire point of focusing on Israel is that even with ALL the focus Israel has, it is still able to get away with the slow-creep ethnic cleansing and continual colonialism.

        How much worse would it be if we followed Chomsky’s snail-like approach to BDS (he says BDS skipped over the alleged ‘education’ phase of the BDS campaign against South Africa and that Palestinian BDS is a ‘feel good’ movement).

        This is horseshit.

        In the Ilan Pappe video, Pappe says that we must advocate for Palestinian liberation with a sense of URGENCY. URGENCY and the growing facts on the ground should inform the TONE of our activism. Why? Because for one, the other side is always considering the most fantastical, hysterical scenario (Iran wants to nuke Israel/Hamas charter/Hezbollah/blah blah) and that informs their activism. TWO – in our case, the facts on the ground ARE happening at a fantastical pace.

        When Israel kills several thousand people at once, they are the center of attention over here for a little while. When they slowly-colonize at a steady pace for decades, their actions are down-played and mystified.

        Pappe understands that after Gaza 2008, we are entering a very dangerous period where things are ‘calming down’ while simultaneously getting much worse.

        Chomsky does not understand this at all.

      • Chaos4700
        February 5, 2012, 1:43 pm

        You’re right, Cliff. And as a corollary let me add a rather famous quote from Edmund Burke:

        All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 5:01 pm

        Chomsky chooses to not understand or he does not care that Israel’s conduct is of a colonial nature (unlike Pappe)–the last hold out for an old way discredited longer at least since Ike kicked the Brits, French, and Israelis out of their last desperate attempt to colonize the ME back in the day. Only the Israelis remain, sucking on a dead colonial stump for all its worth, and the Americans, of all people, supporting them. Obviously, Chomsky ultimately justifies what he thinks is needed for the perpetual survival of the Jewish people as Jews–he does so by omission regarding the power of the Israel Lobby, and by directly and indirectly suggesting the net lie that Israel is a strategic asset of the US, rather than the truth, i.e., it is a net loss–and not a little loss.

      • Hostage
        February 6, 2012, 1:05 pm

        In both interviews, he characterizes BDS, such as it is in its main expression, as a ‘feel good’ movement. . . . This is what Ali Abunimah took issue with, among other things.

        First of all, Ali Abunimah and his supporters admit that things like the boycott of a few Israeli products by food coops is a symbolic action. It makes a few headlines here or in Israel and is really only effective in making people talk about an issue that they wouldn’t otherwise be discussing. link to refrainplayingisrael.posterous.com

        Chomsky is absolutely correct in saying that the BDS movement should never miss an opportunity to do good (as opposed to simply feeling good) by highlighting official US government support for Israel. He is also correct that nothing happened in the case of South Africa until US administrations were forced to stop openly defending apartheid.

        The other examples that he cited in the video of failures along similar lines, including the Goldstone report, are spot on. The General Assembly convened an Emergency Special Session because Condi Rice kept the Security Council from taking any action to put an end to the IDF attack on Gaza. Ditto the 2006 attack on Lebanon. The General Assembly has gone into emergency special session over the special relationship between Israel and the US on more occasions than any other issue that threatens international peace and security. The Fact Finding Mission’s mandate allowed it to report on the overwhelming evidence of collusion between the Israeli officials and war planners and their US counterparts once the attack on Gaza began. Goldstone certainly reported on the Dahiya Doctrine. If the fact finding report had also reported on deliberate US interference in the Security Council, and recommended the General Assembly follow-up on the investigations through their Emergency Special Session, then the US wouldn’t have been able to use its “Bully Pulpit” or block the adoption of UN sanctions against Israel.

      • Hostage
        February 6, 2012, 2:45 pm

        I have no idea what they are really up to

        Chomsky has written several books and has told everyone in great detail exactly what he is “up to”. Cliff cited a video above in which he explained that he does not accept Israel as the State of the Jewish people. He has written elsewhere that he does accept the idea that it is an ethnic homeland of some of the Jews. Even the PLO accepts that proposition.

        Chomsky has written about the existence of the Israel Lobby, he simply denies it’s omnipotence. He provides several examples, like the invasion of Lebanon, where US interests diverged from Israel’s interests. I’d describe the campaigns to pardon Jonathan Pollard and the current US push-back on Israel’s desire to bomb Iran as yet another example that the Lobby doesn’t actually have the ability to dictate the terms of US policy. link to chomsky.info

        I think the position of Chomsky and Finkelstein is that the American Jewish lobby runs around cynically shreying about Israel, but that much of the money it raises goes elsewhere to support causes that don’t benefit Israel in any way, e.g. link to books.google.com

        Chomsky includes the Israeli Lobby neocons in his writings about the international terrorism practiced by the Regan administration and noted that the same neocons had been brought back into government by Bush II. Neither man claims that the only way to end the occupation or obtain a just settlement is to overthrow the Capitalist system as we know it. FYI, in film maker Yoav Shamir’s Defamation, Finkelstein said “It’s the best thing that will ever happen to Israel if they get rid of these American Jews who are warmongers from Martha’s Vinyard; and the warmongers from the Hamptons; and the warmongers from Beverly Hills; and the warmongers from Miami. It’s been a disaster for Israel. It’s the best thing if it can ever get rid of this [warmongering] American Jewry. It’s a curse.”
        *http://www.democracynow.org/2004/6/7/noam_chomsky_on_reagans_legacy_bush
        *http://books.google.com/books?id=HcUzlK2M1igC&lpg=PA152&ots=RoGTWfS6Qm&pg=PA152#v=onepage&q&f=false

      • seanmcbride
        February 6, 2012, 3:06 pm

        Hostage,

        That’s a fairly effective defense of Noam Chomsky and of some of his supporters/disciples in this context. Acknowledged.

        I actually feel more friendly to Chomsky than some of my comments here have suggested. I’ve been venting some steam towards “liberal” or “left-wing” Zionism in general lately because it has begun to dawn on me that it has been a complete failure in moving Israeli politics in a more positive direction, one towards a viable peace settlement. One should not waste any more time on it. It’s pure gas, or worse, a deception-based stratagem to keep the heat off the inexorable progress of Greater Israelism.

      • Cliff
        February 6, 2012, 3:12 pm

        Hostage,

        Ali Abunimah took issue with the characterization of the BDS movement as a ‘feel good movement’.

        It is true that he might have said also that some BDS actions were symbolic, but that is not the same as saying it was ‘feel good’.

        The Gaza flotillas were not going to solve the problem of the humanitarian crisis.

        They would provide some aide, some relief but they could not logistically stop Israel’s strangulation.

        They were symbolic and meant to draw attention to the issue. People took notice, and I think the hope is that, that attention will compel Israel to change the policy.

        Is that also a ‘feel good’ tactic?

        Activism can be symbolic and logistically worthwhile and efficient.

        It is like Ilan Pappe says in the other video I posted. The ‘language of BDS’ resonates with people. SYMBOLICALLY – because the SA analogy may not be perfectly aligned w/ the current apartheid policies in Israel (although, some SA anti-apartheid activists say it is worse) but the connection to other conflicts LIKE South Africa helps put the Palestinian struggle in context.

        Chomsky is not wrong on the things you mentioned, Hostage.

        However, he did criticize the BDS movement for jumping ahead a couple of steps and passing the supposed ‘education’ phase. That was the implication.

        Unless you can prove that proponents of BDS aren’t also talking about the US role, I don’t understand the point of your comment.

        The US economy is the world economy, so we can’t boycott the US. So, I assume Chomsky (and you) recommend the BDS movement also include talking about the US partnership in the apartheid policies. That’s fine.

        That’s not the issue I took with Chomsky though. My problem with him is that he believes everything has to proceed neatly and nicely. I am reconciling that w/ Chomsky’s other comments. It’s great that Chomsky criticizes Israel because his word carries a lot of weight on the Left. I don’t think that’s a standard anymore. He has never white-washed Israeli crimes.

        But when you bring up BDS, he is all of a sudden saying there are worse offenders. Worse offenders in what context? Kills per year? Ok, great. Lets start doing the human-math all of a sudden.

        The entire point of focusing on Israel is that it is our responsibility as Americans and because Israel thrives on lack of attention or awareness. If we ‘balance’ ourselves, then where will the situation be? It’s already horrible as it is with the kind of persistence and focus that the Palestinian solidarity activists exhibit.

        So I just thought that comment by Chomsky was odd and really just obtuse. It didn’t sound like something Chomsky would say.

      • Hostage
        February 6, 2012, 6:04 pm

        The Gaza flotillas were not going to solve the problem of the humanitarian crisis. . . . Is that also a ‘feel good’ tactic?

        You are talking as if Chomsky was condemning feel good actions. He was really only saying they represent a lost opportunity to highlight the active support that the US government provides Israel. In the case of the aid flotilla, they US did nothing to implement the Security Council resolutions regarding the free and unrestricted flow of humanitarian supplies to Gaza or to assure that its citizens wouldn’t be arbitrarily killed or harmed by the IDF. In fact, it pressured the governments of Egypt and Turkey to maintain the Egypt-Gaza border closure; to stop assisting the aid flotillas; and drop legal actions against Israel. At the same time, the US played an active role in hampering the trickle of supplies thru the tunnels when the US Army Corps of Engineers helped design a 100ft underground steel wall. link to csmonitor.com

        My problem with him is that he believes everything has to proceed neatly and nicely.

        Please provide a citation. So far you are complaining because he offered a critique of the BDS movement and suggested ways it could be made more effective. In the video above, he actually commended the students platform as an example of a “do good” action. BTW, Ali Abunimah dishes out criticism of others on nearly a daily basis.

        But when you bring up BDS, he is all of a sudden saying there are worse offenders. Worse offenders in what context?

        No, Chomsky and Finkelstein criticize Israel all the time. Chomsky warned against engaging in abstract discussions opposing the existence of the State of Israel. That would open up an opportunity for a charge of hypocrisy, because there are a lot of other bad actors in the region too. There’s nothing wrong with condemning them all for their human rights record or criticizing the US for propping-up the other authoritarian regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, & etc.

      • Hostage
        February 6, 2012, 6:40 pm

        Hostage, . . . That’s a fairly effective defense of Noam Chomsky and of some of his supporters/disciples in this context. Acknowledged.

        I think the comments here are over-generalizing and reading things into the positions taken by Chomsky and Finkelstein in a some instances that they haven’t actually proposed.

        I tend to agree with Jeffrey Blankfort on a lot of the issues that he’s discussed in the past with Prof. Slater and Max Ajl. I personally don’t care if neocons are pro-war because: they’re Zionists; they are grasping for political power; enrichment of their corporate sponsors; or all of the above.

      • Cliff
        February 7, 2012, 1:48 am

        Hostage,

        Chomsky is not ‘offering advice.’ For one, Ali Abunimah and other BDS activists don’t need Chomsky’s advice as they’ve been doing this for years now.

        Chomsky’s comments should be taken in context with his other characterizations of the BDS movement. He also said BDS was like, ‘breaking windows in the 70s’ – which Ali Abunimah rejected once again.

        The tone is not even helpful. These are patronizing/condescending things to say about a movement that has already demonstrated it’s work/objectives as being more than ‘feel good.’

        Chomsky wasn’t condemning outright – he was just being cranky and passive-aggressive.

        And all of that is besides the point because BDS does highlight the US role.

        This will go back to the Lobby and the role Jewish Americans play in this conflict. I don’t think the flotillas will end the blockade. They won’t be able to get to Gaza first of all and they won’t compel American politicians to change either!

        You are assuming our political system responds to all kinds of pressure equally. There was no comparable Indonesian lobby or SA lobby. And the eras were different.

        Chomsky talks about how late the anti-war movement was in getting their sights on Vietnam. He then compliments the anti-Iraq War movement for being much more diligent (well at present, that movement is gone).

        Different conflicts, different eras, etc.

        This conflict has gone on for decades.

        On criticism, you miss my point again.

        First, I am talking about Chomsky’s specific comment that there are worse offenders.

        This has nothing to do with whether Chomsky criticizes Israel all the time and also has nothing to do with what Norman says about Israel.

        Chomsky’s statement was made with respect to BDS (‘feel good’/unfocused) and yes, the ‘right to exist.’

        You didn’t address what I said about this so I will repeat it.

        Ilan Pappe says that we are entering into a dangerous period – a period of calm. This was in 2009. Israel thrives when no one is paying attention – as would any other law-breaking State. The difference is that in Syria people are being butchered in really grotesque ways and there is a higher body count. There are generally higher body counts elsewhere. But who cares?

        The Israel-Palestine conflict is not of the same nature as that in Darfur or Syria or Iraq or Iran. It is a colonial conflict and time is very important in a colonial conflict.

        When Israel draws attention to itself by killing people outright in the thousands, it opens itself up to criticism and there is a window of opportunity for activists to apply pressure.

        The US will fight wars in other countries like Iraq. It will apply sanctions towards Iran and Syria. It won’t do a damn thing towards Israel, except issue a slap on the wrist comment every now and then and even that is ultimately worthless.

        In between the Cast Leads, Israel does far more long-term damage by establishing facts of the ground such that any international consensus will be made impossible.

        So what exactly is the point of Chomsky’s statement about worse offenders?

        Worse in what way? What context? What kind of conflict? They are not the same kind as Israel. What an asinine thing to say, on Chomsky’s part.

        This assumes that Chomsky’s assertion that pro-Palestinian solidarity is one-sided is true.

        So why say it? What proponents of BDS, for example, are not criticizing Saudi Arabia? Or Syria?

        And is it just criticism that Chomsky suggests? If that’s all, it’s not a big deal to write some words condemning Syria.

        But those countries (unless they’re US allies like SA) will get theirs one way or the other.

        Israel won’t. Even if we’re one-sided and against it’s ‘right to exist’ – it still won’t face justice.

      • Hostage
        February 7, 2012, 11:00 am

        Hostage, . . . Chomsky is not ‘offering advice.’

        Please view the video at the link above once again, because that is exactly what Chomsky is doing – offering advice to the students.

        For one, Ali Abunimah and other BDS activists don’t need Chomsky’s advice as they’ve been doing this for years now.

        If this is a war of ideas, no one needs the consent of Ali Abunimah or other BDS activists before they can express a point of view, i.e. they have been wasting opportunities and being less effective in some cases.

        Chomsky’s comments should be taken in context with his other characterizations of the BDS movement. . . . These are patronizing/condescending things to say

        No, the notion that any political movement is immune from criticism or from receiving sound advice is patronizing and condescending.

        Chomsky wasn’t condemning outright – he was just being cranky and passive-aggressive. And all of that is besides the point because BDS does highlight the US role.

        Looks more like he was asked a question by some students and some thin skinned people got offended by the answer. The 2005 Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS doesn’t mention the role or involvement of the US government at all: link to bdsmovement.net

        On criticism, you miss my point again.

        No you miss my point. Ali Abunimah & Co. are not above criticism. They have dismissed the UN statehood bid as a waste of time, while the governing political factions have endorsed it, e.g. Hamas Leader, Meshaal, Praises Abbas’ UN Bid for Statehood link to richardsilverstein.com

        Ali Abunimah and the BDS movement discuss Israel’s violations of international law and the failure of UN resolutions to end the situation. At the same time, they waive aside or surrender the rights of the victims of serious crimes to pursue readily available legal remedies through the State government that actually represents them.

        Last September, the US and Israel were frantically trying to find ways to avoid a legal tsunami and the BDS movement stepped-in and gave them aid and comfort.
        *The legal tsunami is on its way link to haaretz.com
        * Recognising Palestine? link to aljazeera.com

        These unelected activists have rendered a valuable service to the Zionists in opposing the UN bid, downplaying the legal significance of the vote on UNESCO membership, and etc. As a result, the Palestinian people are divided and poised to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You need to explain why it’s patronizing or condescending to offer honest criticism of Ali Abunimah and the BDS movement on that and many other accounts. I could care less how many years they’ve been involved.

        The PennBDS conference discussed legal rights and legal remedies for those instances where a right had been violated. Please see the declaration on Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law link to www2.ohchr.org

        Those Children Deserve To Have Someone Ask Why They Died! Congressman Baird

      • Cliff
        February 7, 2012, 8:21 pm

        Please view the video at the link above once again, because that is exactly what Chomsky is doing – offering advice to the students.

        Superficial truth, and dishonest.

        No, he isn’t offering advice. Chomsky’s criticism of BDS is obtuse. His criticism is vague and when you put his comments to the students in context w/ his other characterization of BDS as ‘breaking windows’ then his tone is not a ‘helpful’ one but rather a ‘condescending’ one. He is a liberal Zionist.

        He can criticize Israel – great. So does Jerome Slater.

        Chomsky said he would live in Israel if he had to move from the US – in 2005. He says he is a supporter of Israel. He speaks in an entirely different tone to an Israeli interviewer than he does to the students. He says Israel is not his State in one interview and poses the question to the students but says something else to Haaretz and the Israeli interviewer. Not very difficult to understand, Hostage.

        I don’t know why you’re filibustering your replies w/ so much random irrelevant facts.
        Ali Abunimah and other proponents of BDS do not ignore the US role and do not use BDS as a ‘feel good’ tactic.

        You still haven’t addressed the difference between ‘feel good’ and ‘symbolic’. One is an insult/patronizing comment and the other is a statement of fact.

        The flotillas were symbolic. They could not logistically reach Gaza 100% of the time and could not deliver enough aide when they were able to make it by the Israeli army.

        The point of the flotillas were to break the blockade as a show of solidarity and to draw attention to people who can easily be forgotten during periods of ‘calm’. The same ‘calm’ Ilan Pappe understands as being the most dangerous time of this conflict.

        It is when Israel is not killing 1000+ Palestinians at a given time that no one is looking. More facts on the ground go unnoticed, and the last massacre goes down the American memory hole.

        If this is a war of ideas, no one needs the consent of Ali Abunimah or other BDS activists before they can express a point of view, i.e. they have been wasting opportunities and being less effective in some cases.

        This is not an academic discussion. It’s a discussion about tactics and Chomsky’s comments are narrow-minded and baseless.

        He wants BDS to proceed at a snail-like pace in a specific order. Or that is what he suggests implicitly. Who cares? You can give him credit, but the movement is off the ground and running and it doesn’t need people who characterize it as ‘window breaking’.

        Comments like that are a non-starter. In fact, Chomsky says the same thing over and over even though he knows Ali Abunimah protests to those characterizations so he doesn’t factor in those rebuttals to his newer responses.

        No, the notion that any political movement is immune from criticism or from receiving sound advice is patronizing and condescending.

        No, when someone with Chomsky’s stature and reputation characterizes BDS as ‘breaking windows in the 70s’, says one thing to one interviewer and another to a different audience, says focusing on Israel’s right to exist or in general is hypocritical because there are worse States, etc. – that is condescending and patronizing.

        Chomsky’s advice, and I suspect yours as well are total non-sequitars. You either have no clue what proponents of BDS think or you just want to save face (for Chomsky too).

        Palestinian civil society will naturally talk about Israel. It is Israelis who are physically occupying their land and stealing from them. I don’t blame them for not mentioning the US role, but it’s absurd to imply (because that is the only conclusion to draw from your comment) they are letting the US off the hook. As if they give a damn.

        You’ve now changed the subject to the UNESCO bid. It’s happening, so I don’t see why you’re criticizing people who disagree with you! I thought this was a war of ideas!

        The difference, and it’s a big one, between Ali Abunimah and others like him and someone like Chomsky is that Ali offered a detailed critique.

        Chomsky ONLY OFFERS sound-bites and lame cliches. He arguments aren’t even arguments. They are one-liners. And the joke is on you for exaggerating their significance.

        You have written much more blah blah here than Chomsky has on his criticisms of BDS. Criticisms that are completely baseless and pointless since BDS isn’t going to stop, rewind, and proceed at your pace or Chomsky’s pace.

      • Hostage
        February 8, 2012, 12:34 am

        Cliff the Palestinian BDS Movement has not followed the pattern of the South African anti-apartheid campaign. The latter pursued both formal sanctions through international organizations and informal grassroots action. The African leadership obtained formal UN sanctions, a UN arms embargo, a UN suppression treaty which criminalized apartheid, and put the issues of the occupation of Namibia and the policy of apartheid before the International Court of Justice in four related cases. So, it’s not condescending to compare the current symbolic grassroots informal actions of the Palestinian BDS movement to the grassroots anti-war movement of the 60s and 70s.

        Here is an example of Ali Abunimah complaining about other people giving away rights and remedies. He claimed “Fayyad just gave away your right of return,” solely on the basis of his rather strained interpretation of an interview published in Haaretz link to maannews.net

        That claim was a fabrication. The Fayyad plan was published in 2009 and has always called for “a just and agreed solution for Palestinian refugees in accordance with relevant international resolutions, and UN General Assembly Resolution 194 in particular.” Fayyad was being interviewed about the details of the PA plan with regard to the establishment of the State of Palestine, not about the responsibilities of the State of Israel. He had been asked if his plan – Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State: Program of the Thirteenth Government – takes into consideration the need to absorb refugees? Fayyad replied that “Of course, Palestinians would have the right to reside within the State of Palestine.”: See Palestinian PM to Haaretz: We will have a state next year (Fayyad hopes Israel will celebrate Palestinians’ sovereignty, accuses Netanyahu of succumbing to settlers)

        Omar Barghouti wrote a similarly misleading article here at Mondoweiss which incorrectly stated that the Palestinian application for membership in the UN didn’t mention the role of the PLO and that UN membership would somehow undermine UN General Assembly resolution 194. link to mondoweiss.net

        Simone Daud and I both pointed out that the actual text of the application did contain statements affirming the role of the PLO and the rights of the refugees:

        Palestine’s application for membership is made consistent with the rights of the Palestine refugees in accordance with international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly resolution 194 (III) (1948), and with the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

        See A/66/371–S/2011/592 page 4 of 5 link to un.org

        Recognition of the State of Palestine inside interim borders and the option of UN membership have always been Phase II Quartet obligations under the Road map. The just settlement for the refugees is a Phase III obligation. Prof Francis Boyle refuted the claims that Palestinian Statehood or UN membership would somehow be harmful to the rights of the Palestinians. link to counterpunch.org

        The Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations also published a Response to Arguments that the “September Initiative” regarding Statehood will harm the Status of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the rights of the Palestine Refugees.

        So the leaders of the BSD movement have not been at this stuff so long that they’ve become infallible and have no need for honest criticism and advice. If they’re going to run around shreying about others forfeiting rights and remedies, then it’s perfectly fair to hold them to account when they undermine the rights and remedies that flow from the UN bid.

        Barghouti complained when the PA delayed the initial vote on the Goldstone report. link to counterpunch.org

        He said that Israel will finally face a long overdue process of legal accountability and that its victims will have a measure of justice. Pot meet kettle. Barghuoti and Abunimah have undermined the credibility of the UN statehood bid. International recognition of the State of Palestine in the UN or its specialized agencies is essential before the ICC will agree to act on the Palestinian criminal complaint regarding Operation Cast Lead.

      • Cliff
        February 8, 2012, 4:53 am

        How did the SA leadership get formal UN sanctions?

        I am not against the statehood bid. So I agree with you on it’s importance. But when did Chomsky ever elaborate on this issue with specific details. As I said, he has always been vague.

        He does say that success in the SA anti-apartheid struggle came after decades of work. Ok, I don’t know anything about that. I do know that those two conflicts are both similar and different.

        In our country, did anti-apartheid activists have to go up against something comparable to the Lobby?

        How do you compel people like Amy Gutmann to change their views?

        I don’t understand your comparison to SA anyway. You make it seem so easy…so why hasn’t it happened yet?

        Has your argument been communicated to Ali Abunimah?

        I’m genuinely curious because if these steps would lead to UN sanctions, among other things, why isn’t their a groundswell or support from the kinds of proponents of BDS like Ali?

      • Hostage
        February 8, 2012, 5:15 pm

        How did the SA leadership get formal UN sanctions?

        They and the OAU member states introduced draft resolutions containing the various sanctions and convinced other countries to adopt them. They also spearheaded efforts to reject the credentials of the representatives of the Union of South Africa, so they could not participate in UN business. See for example a pro-Israel position on that subject presented by Malvina Halberstam in, Excluding Israel from the General Assembly by a Rejection of its Credentials, The American Journal of International Law, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Jan., 1984), pp. 179-192 link to jstor.org

        In 1974, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was granted observer status by resolution 3237 (XXIX). That same year General Assembly resolution 3280 (XXIX) invited national liberation movements, recognized by the Organization of African Unity, to participate in the relevant work of the main committees of the General Assembly and its subsidiary organs, as well as in conferences, seminars and other meetings held under the auspices of the U.N. which relate to their countries. So the ANC and PAC (South Africa), as well as SWAPO (Namibia) were invited. In 1976 the General Assembly adopted resolution 31/152 granting observer status to SWAPO, using the same language as the earlier PLO resolution.

        Has your argument been communicated to Ali Abunimah?

        Of course, the Op-Ed President Abbas wrote for the New York Times, The Long Overdue Palestinian State, explained the bid is part of long term legal strategy that began in 1988. Prof Francis Boyle’s article at Counterpunch and the position paper on the subject that was published by the Permanent Observer Mission to the UN at the links above covered some of the same ground. Authors, including Mouin Rabbani and Camille Mansour, have mentioned the options a successful bid in the Security Council or General Assembly would provide with respect to the ICJ or ICC in articles published by the Institute for Palestine Studies, e.g. see Palestinian Options at the United Nations and Prisoner Exchange Levels Hamas, Fatah Playing Field.

        Ironically Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky helped co-author a book, Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians, Haymarket Books, 2010 in which Pappé devoted two chapters to the task of tracing the undesirable results of US involvement in the Question of Palestine. Chomsky devoted two chapters which provide his own analysis; citations to analysis of Court decisions by Norman Finkelstein, Gershom Gorenberg, and others; plus links to several articles on the failure to apply the Responsibility to Protect law norm to Palestinians (despite the fact they are a protected population under the Geneva Conventions) and criticism of the impunity the Western powers have granted themselves and their clients (so far) in the operations of the ICC.

        I’m generally not swayed by the criticism that Chomsky would live in Israel or that he is a liberal Zionist. You could just as easily argue that the founders of B’Tselem or Yesh Din live in Israel and are liberal Zionists too or that Ilan Pappé would live in Israel if he could. The fact that Chomsky doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of Israel as a sovereign state of the Jewish people means that he isn’t a Zionist in the normal sense in which the term is commonly employed.

        Critics like Ghali Hassan have utilized a straw man argument and incorrectly state that Chomsky denies the existence of the Israel Lobby. In fact Chomsky has written about the American Jewish Lobby and the Israel Lobby. I provided some links above which illustrate that fact. Chomsky proposed that the US-UK invasion of Iraq was simply a natural extension of the anti-nationalist agenda the two governments have pursued since the days of the mandate era “Red Line” Agreement on the exploitation of the oil in the region. Chomsky has commented on “the astonishing failure to achieve what was pretty clearly the original war aim.” link to chomsky.info

        So Jeffrey Blankfort’s critique about the spoils actually going to China and other countries is somewhat moot. Cheney’s old company, Haliburton, was in the oil and services businesses and it profited from the war. link to halliburtonwatch.org

        The fact that other countries eventually obtained franchises to exploit Iraq’s natural resources wasn’t the result of any publicly announced policy pursued by Dick Cheney or US Viceroy Paul Bremmer.

        Years ago Prof J. C. Hurewitz advised students of history that, although the policies of a government may seem patently obvious, the motives behind the policy and its authors can nonetheless remain obscure until the official records are declassified and studied. See William Roger Louis, Robert W. Stookey (editors), The End of the Palestine mandate, University of Texas Press, 1986, page 137.

        In this particular case, “the jury is still out” on the basis of the documentary record. President Bush invoked executive privilege in refusing to disclose to the Government Accounting Office the details of Vice President Cheney’s meetings with energy company executives. It was another branch of the government that filed an unsuccessful lawsuit attempting to obtain those records, e.g. link to fl1.findlaw.com

      • Citizen
        February 9, 2012, 6:17 pm

        Yeah, Hostage, re your observation that very personally selfish goy Cheney’s meetings with the energy company executives has not been open to sunshine–I’m reminded of his boss Bush Jr, who, although nearly a moron, considering his position as POTUS , smugly told all of us that he was the decider, the man of action, and he could care less about what the historians would say about his judgment and policies. That is the benefit of classification of official documents.
        It’s also a direct call to support Wikileaks. It seems we have not gone far from the Middle Ages in terms of lack of transparent government.

      • Hostage
        February 9, 2012, 6:35 pm

        It’s also a direct call to support Wikileaks. It seems we have not gone far from the Middle Ages in terms of lack of transparent government.

        Well I’m not certain the GAO would have the administration’s “authorization” to read Wikileaks either;-)

        In a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left, the Obama administration and the Department of Defense have ordered the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to view the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks and news organizations around the world unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization.

        – Don’t Look, Don’t Read: Government Warns Its Workers Away From WikiLeaks Documents link to nytimes.com

        I’m not gonna ask if that applies to us retirees.

    • traintosiberia
      February 4, 2012, 4:59 pm

      Mr Green
      US has engaged over the years in numerous conflicts that have compromised its values,hurt other countries, destroyed Ameriucan standings ,and hurt its ecnomies.But America also has come to accecpt the facts that its actions with regard to Blacks, Native Americans,Phillipines,Cuba,Central America and Vietnam have been nothing short of unprovoked war crimes of enormous destructive unjust nature. Media more or less accecpt this fact .So will the leaders of both parties .They even if had different views ,wont dare to express so in public. None celebrates these orgies in US school or colleges. Chucrh dont condone anymore these past practices.

      Unfortunately an invsisble diffuse poweful force prevents US to self examine its behaviors same way when Middle East gets involved. Same force also gets all shook up at the accustaion of dual loyalty.
      Israel like Pakistan Saudi Arab,Turkey,and Indonesia or Colombia have supported American egregius behaviors.But like those nations Israel never suffered in the process unless we include the non-response against Iraqi missile in 1991. It could be proven that Israel have actually benefitted from those joint-operation.

      • David Green
        February 4, 2012, 8:17 pm

        “But America also has come to accecpt the facts that its actions with regard to Blacks, Native Americans,Phillipines,Cuba,Central America and Vietnam have been nothing short of unprovoked war crimes of enormous destructive unjust nature. ”

        Which America is it that you’re referring to?

      • Chaos4700
        February 4, 2012, 11:45 pm

        You know, playing stupid doesn’t really impress anybody. Just thought you may need that very pertinent information.

      • Djinn
        February 5, 2012, 3:09 am

        Americans have realized that what they did in Vietnam was an unprovoked war crime? Really? You’d never guess by the reams of TV/film glorification of that crime or the fact that despite compensating US soldiers for Agent Orange effects they still havent compensated the nation it was dumped on destroying two thirds of the vegetation and leaving a legacy of genetic disorders that persists to this day.

        As for Cuba, the continuing trade/travel ban, the protection of terrorists who attempt to harm Cuba and the many many attempts on Castro’s life would suggest that there’s still some acknowledgement of past crimes required there too.

      • dahoit
        February 5, 2012, 10:45 am

        Oh please,you’ve never watched Platoon,the most popular Vietnam movie ever made, it doesn’t portray US as good guys,just crazy thugs thrust into unforeseen circumstance by their poohbahs of idiocy,with every soldier but Barnes wanting out of the hellhole.
        In America,only Newt Gingrich has fond memories of the war he did everything he could to avoid.(A few other draft dodgers also maybe)

      • traintosiberia
        February 5, 2012, 3:38 pm

        Mr Green
        The America that does not support an war against Iran ,according to current poll, I am talking about that America. An America that now believes that Iraq war was not worth ,that what I am referring to.Given more information I will see a more robust moral clarity and acceptance of responsibilty for the destruction wrought on that country over 12 yeras by US. The America that: has asked for apology for the Syphilis experiment , that has promoted M.L King and honored Rosa Park, has developed a transition in the mind -set making possible for majority of America could voting for Obama , has eventually stoppped supporting Apartheid in S Africa , that one I am referring to. The same America also booed the returning soldiers from Vietnam and forced Lyndon Johnson not to seek reelection, that America I am referring to.
        Loyalty to another deity could have prevented those developments.

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 4:55 pm

        “Which America is it that you’re referring to?”
        The one shown in American high school and college textbooks.
        Obviously David Green has no kids in school.

      • Djinn
        February 7, 2012, 4:33 am

        So one movie makes a point? There are many many more movie/TV shows that portray that war as just, the soldiers as well intentioned with perhaps just one or two “bad eggs”. When the US fully compensates Vietnam for the horrors it rained upon it then maybe one could advance the argument that the lessons there had been learnt, perhaps not ploughing in to more non defensive war while pretending the victims will greet you as liberators would also help. Maybe an apology to the Vietnamese people.
        Seriously you think Platoon demonstrates that the US has atoned on this front?

      • dahoit
        February 5, 2012, 10:19 am

        Aint it a laugh how the MSM delineates American crimes in perpetuity,but shines no light on Israeli crimes?Remember the anti Vietnam war groundswell by Jewish voices that have turned mute towards Israeli massacres and provocations?
        Hypocrisy indeed.

    • Citizen
      February 4, 2012, 6:11 pm

      David Green, American interests are not simply class domination at a global level, and “pro-Israel” rhetoric does not live by itself alone–and especially thrive, but rather by who makes and repeats it, which leads to conclusions regarding influence, regarding the Israel Lobby. America’s best interest is to stand for universal values, to be a role model at home and abroad, not a knock off of soft Goering theory left over from Nuremberg. And you malign “the Blankfort Brigade” on MW, which does not favor either Israeli or American hegemony–does not support the ruling class here or abroad that maintains the status quo.

      Re motive, you’ve said:

      “Weiss accords undeserved credibility to the Nation’s ridiculous Eric Alterman:

      “Sometimes I’m going to go with Israel,” Alterman said. Why? Because the U.S. can take a lot of hits, but Israel can’t. And when the moderator asked in what instances the countries’ interests diverge, Alterman said that terrorist attacks on the US were motivated in some degree by the U.S.-Israel relationship. “Dammit, if that’s the price we have to pay [for the special relationship], let’s pay it… But let’s be honest about it.”

      There is nothing honest or principled in this “confession,” from Alterman, whose career has been built entirely on liberal posturing and triangulation under the guise of “media criticism.” ”

      If you do a simple search on YouTube you can watch a video clip of the CSPAN coverage of the congressional committee being told point blank by special FBI agents what the motive of the 9/11 attackers was: America’s special relationship with Israel, its support of Israel right or wrong. The second part of the clip shows how this specific finding on “the chickens come home to roost” was abstracted in the final version of the 9/11 Commission’s report for the public to a generic, “all foreign policy has consequences [blowback].”

      The term “Israel Firster” is not constrained by hard-nosed hegemonic interests in behalf America; it covers the whole American cultural waterfront as well, which includes the Enlightenment and Western Civilization, and a humanist America is not an island, but part of the Main. Non-ruling class Americans may use the term “Israel Firster” too, and that includes commenters here too.

      “Truth, Justice, and the American Way–up, up and away! ” Superman wears an S, not a USA on his chest.

    • American
      February 5, 2012, 2:16 pm

      “It (Stern Weiner) also reflects basic perspectives put forward over the years by Chomsky & Finkelstein, which are sound, regardless of the “state….”

      Greene…..the problem in arguing from a Chomsky pov is, yes, he is accurate in his criticisms of Israel and holocaust misuse and minces no words.
      But then he attributes all Israel’s actions to US desires and Israel as just a paid agent/servant of the US hegemony with no real influence on US policies.
      And he does this by just ‘ stating it’, with no evidence or examples or examining…he offers nothing to show for example his claim that the US wanted Israel to bomb Lebanon…or why the Israel occupation of Palestine benefits the US, other than just indulging our hired hand in their land grab.
      Some of his claims are outlandish, like saying the US considers Israel a strategic asset of the United States because it will do what we want like support genocide in Guatemala. Yea he really said that. Whether the US wanted to genocide Guatemala or not we wouldn’t need the support of Israel to do it, so that’s plain absurd.
      Why Chomsky refuses to acknowledge the “Lobby”- the loose collection of Israel firsters…you’ll have to ask him. Maybe it has something to do with his own anti semitism experience he has written about and he’s afraid to raise any canards about any kind of Jewish influence.
      He talk and talks about the evils of US-Israel and implies they all come from something ‘general” floating around in the US and other evil countries.
      The fact is nothing comes out nothing, everything starts somewhere.
      The antidote to Chomsky’s US-ME-Isr-I/P theory of just floating evil in general is the hundreds of pages of footnotes in W&M’s The Israel Lobby. They are facts. Chomsky’s belief in the non existence of the Lobby influence, is just that, his chosen belief,unanalyzed.

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 4:50 pm

        American, yes. Further, and considering the net result of US support of Israel, especially since the cold war ended, what a score of years ago? –I’d like to see Chomsky or anyone lay out a case for Israel being a strategic asset of the USA rather than a stinky net albatross that keeps flying higher–on its way to the Iranian moon.

    • Thomson Rutherford
      February 5, 2012, 2:44 pm

      @David Green

      The “Israel Firster” debate accepts basic assumptions of U.S. global hegemony.

      This statement is fundamentally wrong. If you actually think this, where did you come up with such an idea. Most, if not all, anti-Zionists and non-Zionists who use the term Israel Firster to describe some (not all) Zionists are not interested in preserving some “U.S. global hegemony” based on projection of military or economic power.

      It’s corollary is that the Lobby determines U.S. foreign policy and in doing so undermines “national interests.”

      That’s not a corollary. For most anti-Zionists who use the term Israel Firster, it is a basic tenet that, in large measure, the Israel Lobby determines U.S. foreign policy – an hypothesis so demonstrably true that it is regarded as fact.

      It is also regarded that the U.S., like all other nations, does have “national interests.”
      Now why would you want to dispute that? Does Israel have ‘national interests’? Like security? Like economic viability? May not the U.S. have a national interest in avoiding unnecessary wars, especially those fought in Israel’s undeserving behalf under the political pressures of the Israel Lobby? For American citizens, should Israel’s national interests trump America’s allegedly non-existent national interests?

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be mainly interested in protecting America’s Jewish-dominated Israel Lobby from intense scrutiny, and especially in protecting it from charges that it dominates U.S. Middle Eastern policy geared to the promotion and prosecution of Israel’s wars. That’s what the rhetorical diversion of “imperialism” of the “elites” is all about.

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 4:44 pm

        Thomson Rutherford, I agree (for at least the 3rd time with you on this thread). David Green seems to not recognize that Jews are very much a part of the US Establishment, the Establishment Chomsky targets as the soft-imperialistic culprit. He’s writing on a blog created by Phil Weiss, a Jew who considers himself also a first-rate American, and a first rate humanist. This blog that was created by that Phil in recognition that his own (2%) Jewish-American community is very much a part of the US Establishment, and has been for a long time–and a very disproportionate part of it at that.

      • David Green
        February 6, 2012, 6:06 pm

        “David Green seems to not recognize that Jews are very much a part of the US Establishment, the Establishment Chomsky targets as the soft-imperialistic culprit.”

        No, I didn’t realize that until now. Thanks, Citizen, for getting me up to speed.

  39. talknic
    February 4, 2012, 4:18 pm

    How about traitors? It’s probably more accurate and out of reach of the antisemitic tag. One only has to look at who’s hot for and lobbying for Pollard.

  40. traintosiberia
    February 4, 2012, 4:36 pm

    Author writes”Jews have historically been haunted by accusations of disloyalty,..”
    One day this episode between Block /Goldberg/Ackerman and CAP writers will be added to that hackneyed theme to deny similar reality in future confrontation bewteen Israel and any other nation where success of Israeli intransigence and offenses would again depend on sacrificing US interest.

  41. jamiesw
    February 4, 2012, 6:24 pm

    Hi everyone – I’ve resisted wading in to the comments thread because I feel I pretty much said my piece in the article, and don’t see the point of repeating myself. Also many, perhaps most, of these comments don’t seriously address my arguments, which is a shame. But now that a fair few comments have been left, I thought I’d do one reply addressing a few of the most prominent arguments in the thread. It will also be my one reply, because after this I really will have said all I think needs saying at this point.

    First, to address a theme that has cropped up several times: I wasn’t trying to whitewash apologists for Israel, I was making an argument about the basis on which they ought to be criticised. If an American decides to start apologising for Israeli war crimes, we can criticise them for apologising for Israeli war crimes, or we can criticise them for apologising for Israeli war crimes. That is, we can place the emphasis of our criticism on the fact that it is ‘Israeli’ or ‘foreign’ war crimes that are being apologised for, as if American war crimes either don’t exist or are just fine and dandy; or we can place the emphasis of our criticism on the fact that what’s being apoligised for are ‘war crimes’, which are wrong and ought to be opposed.

    Many of these comments (see, for instance, the comment by ‘radii’) have demonstrated my argument in the post that the decision to emphasise the “Israeli” or the “foreign” bit, rather than the “apologising for war crimes” bit, typically indicates that what is lying behind the accusation is a politics of resentful nationalism, rather than any principled concern for human rights or justice. The political and epistemological drawbacks of resentful nationalism shouldn’t need explaining. Just one likely consequence of its successful invocation: the whitewashing and hence enabling of American elites, who have as a whole at least as much (in fact, far more) blood on their hands than their Israeli counterparts. (In this I agree with ‘stopaipac’).

    Second, while I disagree that the term “Israel Firster” is, in general, accurate as a matter of fact (for the evidence on which I base this judgment, see Norman Finkelstein’s ‘This Time We Went Too Far’ and, when it comes out, his ‘Knowing Too Much’), that was only one of my criticisms. The other was that even if it were true that “Israel Firsters” existed in any significant numbers and influence, the decision to focus criticism on this “Israel Firster”-ness betrays a misguided and potentially pernicious politics. Again, the decision to criticise them because they are showing loyalty to a ‘foreign’ country, rather than on the basis that they are enabling an injustice, indicates that what really matters to you is loyalty to your favoured state, rather than adherence to moral principles. Quite apart from the damaging consequences of this line of argument described above, and quite apart from its obvious tendency to slip into antisemitic accusations against American Jews (see e.g. the charge of “Fifth Columnist” levelled by a commentator above), it’s also incoherent: why on earth should “dual loyalties” (or indeed hundreds or millions of loyalties) be a bad things? Why on earth should anyone be obliged to put the alleged interests of something called “the US” above everything else? If, say, the “US interest” in authoritarian rule in Egypt clashes with the interests of most Egyptians in overthrowing that rule, why should I not support the latter over the former if I think that’s where justice lies? In such a situation, being an “Egypt Firster” would be (in fact, is) the only moral position to take. Indeed, it is particularly strange to hear the “dual loyalty” criticism coming from people who profess to support justice for the Palestinians – doesn’t that, after all, make them ‘Palestine Firsters’? Or do they only support justice for the Palestinians insofar as it serves “US interests”? And if the latter, how does that make them any better than bog-standard racists, who put the alleged interests of their favoured group above those of everyone else?

    Third, several people have made comments to the effect that bitter, resentful nationalism, rather than respect for basic liberal principles like the rule of law, opposition to torture human rights abuses, etc., is the only thing that the “average Joe” can “understand”. This is euphemistic – I think the argument should at least be stated openly: that in order to build public pressure for ending US support for Israel, people’s xenophobic and nationalist instincts should be provoked and inflamed. People must be persuaded to see that a big source of their problems is Israel, a ‘foreign’ power, and its agents in the US who act as fifth columnists, secretly working to undermine the position of Americans in favour of their foreign paymasters. Two objections to this. First, I see no evidence that this is an effective, let alone the most or only effective, means of changing US policy on the conflict. On the contrary, the main factors in the swing against support for Israel among American liberals, and especially American Jews, have been revulsion at Israel’s warmongering and its human rights abuses (human rights reports about Israeli conduct in the 2006 Lebanon war and the Gaza masssacre being the two key turning points in recent years), while most American liberals will run a mile from the ‘fifth columnist’-type rhetoric being used here. Second, even granting for a moment that the premise is true, can it really be a good thing to encourage people to blame their problems on “traitors” working for the benefit of a foreign power? Doesn’t the fact that this would completely delude them about the true sources of their oppressions, and thus undermine their own struggles, matter? Doesn’t it matter that it would whitewash US elites, leaving them freer than ever to wage war and kill on a scale vastly greater than anything attributable to Israel? At any rate, people who advocate this course of action should at least stop pretending that anxieties about its potential to increase anti-Jewish sentiment are nonsense. They’re actually entirely sound, because were the approach I just described successfully implemented, that would be an obvious result.

    Finally, some people here have tried to play language games, pretending that “Israel Firster” is being used and can be understood simply to describe people who are particularly interested in Israel (note that this would make all of you Israel Firsters, too), and so on. We all know that isn’t how the term is used, or understood, so this is just timewasting.

    • Keith
      February 5, 2012, 12:21 am

      JAMIESW- Excellent comment! Allow me to add that there is a certain irrationality to stressing nationalism in the face of the transnational nature of elite activity. At a certain level, the dog versus tail analogy is ludicrous, the dog and tail are one. Nowadays, one of the greatest threats facing mankind are the consequences of neoliberal globalization. The power elites are linked in a matrix of control that transcends borders. They are inevitably, as you say, “Me Firsters.” Also, I applaud your emphasis on universal morality. To oppose a situation because it may arguably be contrary to the interests of the US empire is inherently flawed. We have a moral obligation to oppose human rights abuses because they are wrong. Trying to second guess strategic planners on the fly is a losing proposition. It is, however, a favorite ploy of the “Israel made us do it” crowd.

    • Thomson Rutherford
      February 5, 2012, 1:05 am

      @jamiesw

      The available evidence suggests that you are a British (not American) citizen, and I shall assume as much in this reply to your comment just above.

      1. Your post appeared, in general, to be addressed to Americans and to be preoccupied with the concept of ‘America Firsters’ in juxtaposition with the topic of ‘Israel Firsters.’ A note: Many Americans, ‘liberal’ or otherwise, who employ the term Israel Firsters are not America Firsters, at least not in the pejorative sense you use the term.

      2. … I disagree that the term “Israel Firster” is, in general, accurate as a matter of fact ….

      Many American Jews are clearly not Israel Firsters. No one I know of denies this. However, people who use that term, including me, believe that there is an enormous amount of evidence to support the contention that many American Jewish Zionists are, in fact, Israel Firsters in their political allegiances. A note: Such belief on the evidence is not in itself indicative of anti-Semitism.

      3. … even if it were true that “Israel Firsters” existed in any significant numbers and influence, the decision to focus criticism on this “Israel Firster”-ness betrays a misguided and potentially pernicious politics ….

      You want to know what pernicious politics looks like? Good examples of that from some of our Israel Firsters are currently in full view at the venue of the U. of Pa. BDS conference. If you will pay closer attention to the American political scene, you can observe, any time of year, some very ugly tactics employed by Israel’s loyalists in commanding dominance over the U.S. Congress, White House, and mainstream media – let alone academia. These “pernicious politics” extend to efforts, usually successful, to besmirch the reputations of any dissenters, more often than not on charges of ‘anti-Semitism.’

      4. … the decision to criticise [Israel Firsters] because they are showing loyalty to a ‘foreign’ country, rather than on the basis that they are enabling an injustice, indicates that what really matters to you is loyalty to your favoured state, rather than adherence to moral principles.

      For the vast majority of Americans who are not Israeli citizens, Israel is indeed a foreign country – no need for the quotes. Loyalty to one’s “favored state” – the state in which one lives (probably with one’s family) and votes and pays taxes, and in the armed forces of which one may have voluntarily served, is not mutually exclusive with “adherence to moral principles.” If you reject such social concepts as nationhood and loyalty to one’s own nation, then you need to explain what social constructs you would propose to restrain rapacious multinational corporations and financial institutions, as well as such international monstrosities as Zionism.

      Israel’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians is one of the reasons that many Americans are opposed to the political activities within America of Israel Firsters and other Zionists. But it is likely not the most significant reason. Many Americans, like me, are anti-war. Israel Firsters and Zionists in general appear to be almost uniformly not anti-war. They lobby the U.S. government to undertake Middle Eastern wars that they think will be in Israel’s interests. They lend support to the IDF’s own wars. And some Israel Firsters contribute, in various ways, to Israel’s quite extensive espionage activities within the U.S., directly or indirectly in behalf of Israel’s war aims.

      I’m not finished; just need a rest.

    • tree
      February 5, 2012, 2:08 am

      Jamie.

      Since you are here, would you mind elaborating on this statement of yours:

      It is not, contra Greenwald and Sullivan, “plainly true” that many prominent apologists for Israel are “Israel Firsters”. As noted above, virtually all of these supposedly principled devotees of the Jewish state were completely silent on or else actively critical of Israel before it became a ‘strategic asset’ of the US establishment.

      I don’t wish to argue the point about whether Israel really became a “strategic asset” for the US in 1967 or not. I disagree but will wave that point. But you are claiming that “virtually all of these supposedly principled devotees” were publicly silent or critical of Israel prior to 1967. Silence might make sense, but not in the way you mean it, but I doubt you have any information to back up your claim of “active” criticism. Most of those who earn the title were too young to have had a public forum to say jack squat about Israel in 1966 or before. 1967 is FORTY FIVE years ago. Anyone younger than 70 today would have been way too wet behind the years prior to 1967 to have had a forum to say anything publicly, critical or praiseworthy, about Israel. That includes Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Goldberg, Geller, Saban, et al. If you’ve got cites of ANY of these people indicating critical views of Israel prior to 1966, you might want to show them. I won’t even hold you to proving “virtually all” of them did this, which is what you claimed. Your statement above is ludicrous, and quite frankly, stupid.

      And I might also point out that you are doing exactly the same thing you are claiming others are doing. You are making two arguments in your column, one moral, one not. First, you say that arguing over whether someone is more concerned with promoting Israel’s interest over the US’s interest is not the proper moral argument to make. And then you insist that “virtually all” of those people accused of being “Israel firsters” really aren’t. But if the moral argument is, as you imply, that it doesn’t matter whether someone has a foreign interest uppermost in mind, then why go out of your way to insist that these people don’t care about Israel’s interest foremost? Why not stick to the moral argument? Especially with such a lame argument such as the one above, because you think Douglas Feith must have written a junior high school essay in 1966 (at age 13) criticizing Israel, or Jeffrey Goldberg, child prodigy, criticized Israel in his first spoken words at age one.
      You seem to think that its improper to argue that supporting Israel’s massive human rights violations is both immoral AND not in the US interest, but don’t mind making an argument that the label “israel firster” shouldn’t be used AND that none of the people who are labeled as such really deserve the label. I’ve got nothing against using two different arguments to make your point, although I strongly disagree with both of them, but you might want to consider why you think it unfair for others to likewise use two different arguments to make their point,.i.e., that attacking Iran, or f***ing over Palestinians, is both immoral AND not in the US interest.

      Finally, some people here have tried to play language games, pretending that “Israel Firster” is being used and can be understood simply to describe people who are particularly interested in Israel (note that this would make all of you Israel Firsters, too), and so on. We all know that isn’t how the term is used, or understood, so this is just timewasting.

      I must have missed that, because I didn’t read any comment about “Israel Firster” being used to “simply” describe people who are particularly interested in Israel, outside of your comment above. Who exactly here made that argument? Or are you strawmanning?

    • tree
      February 5, 2012, 2:26 am

      And on this point:

      I think the argument should at least be stated openly: that in order to build public pressure for ending US support for Israel, people’s xenophobic and nationalist instincts should be provoked and inflamed.

      To paraphrase you for a moment, in order to build public pressure for attacking Iran, people’s xenophobic and nationalist instincts are already being provoked and inflamed. Clearly stating that some of the people who are doing this do not have the US interest uppermost in mind, and are in fact playing everyone seems like a legitimate counterargument, to my mind. If someone is trying to instigate a fight between two other people, its both proper and effective to point out if they have an interest in stirring up trouble that doesn’t include the welfare of those two they are urging to fight.

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 7:18 am

        Seems to me, since “pro-Israel” advocates (currently the dominant US political culture) constantly wrapped themselves in the American flag, then two related ways of countering them are (1) to wrap your own counter in the American flag, and (2) stand the Israeli flag up next to the American Flag your opponents display (if it’s not there already), and at the same height (or higher). Another (3) counter is to display the invisible banner of Humanism along with the American flag.

        Israel Firster, American Firster, Humanity Firster. Who has the most American flags behind them at the podium? Who’s wearing the America flag lapel pin? Who’s wearing the crossed American & Israel lapel pin?

        I mean to suggest that all the arguments against using the term “Israel Firster” pale in the face of actual politics in action–symbols are of course short-hand. And so are word phrases. (When Cain was beginning to have a hard time treading water, more and more American flags begin appearing behind him–nearing his viability end, you could see they were hastily taken out of the box and put up–the fold creases still sharply visible. Look at the sea of flags in vintage films of public forums in Nazi Germany.)

        I agree with Thomas Rutherford, tree, N-49, and pabelmont in their most recent comments way down here on this thread. Pabelmount is correct, the most practical cure for us is to drastically change our campaign finance system. Make the sole avenue for campaign speech a publicly financed one. Assuming 100 M voters, is a $10.00 federal tax on each of them unaffordable as means to keep corruption, deep disproportionality in voices heard out of our elections? Or should the Sheldon Adelsons and Goldman Sachs folks simply buy our representatives?

      • dahoit
        February 5, 2012, 10:24 am

        And when was the last time campaign finance reform raised its pretty head among the MSM?About the last time you heard them critique global trade.
        The Zionists chortle at American stupidity.

    • Thomson Rutherford
      February 5, 2012, 5:10 am

      @jamiesw (continuation)

      5. … what is lying behind the accusation [of Israel First-ness] is a politics of resentful nationalism, rather than any principled concern for human rights or justice…. Just one likely consequence of its successful invocation: the whitewashing and hence enabling of American elites ….

      Some Americans, including me, would maintain that Zionism itself consists of a “politics of resentful nationalism” which has no “principled concern for human rights or justice.”

      When you write of “the whitewashing and hence enabling of American elites,” which elites do you mean? Some, apparently including Phil Weiss, think that America’s new and most significant elites are our Jews. These are the elites that Zionists (including Israel Firsters) wish to enable, if not also to whitewash and hold blameless of America’s misdeeds in the world. Myself, I wish to disable all elites and enable the general populace.

      6. … in order to build public pressure for ending US support for Israel, people’s xenophobic and nationalist instincts should [i.e., would have to] be provoked and inflamed.

      This statement is entirely wrong. That position seeks to rob Americans of any legitimate political defense against a foreign policy crafted for the benefit of a foreign country, rather than their own. (America and Israel do not have identical interests in the Middle East.) Quite rational, realistic, non-xenophobic, and non-nationalistic arguments have been put forth for ending our special relationship with Israel. I have no doubt that eventually a clear majority of the American public will be persuaded of their validity. Israel and the Israel Firsters themselves will help that process along by overplaying their hand in the American political arena.

      7. At any rate, people who advocate this course of action [calling some Zionists Israel Firsters?] should at least stop pretending that anxieties about its potential to increase anti-Jewish sentiment are nonsense.

      I think you need some reassurance that the overwhelming majority of Americans have been made fully aware of the dangers of anti-Semitism, and don’t want any part of it. But you may want to entertain the distinct possibility that at some point soon the majority of Americans and the majority of Jewish Americans will be at opposing ends of the political spectrum with regard to the critical question of American policy towards The Jewish State of Israel. Then what?

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 7:22 am

        Agree (again) with Thomas Rutherford.

      • American
        February 5, 2012, 2:44 pm

        Citizen says:
        February 5, 2012 at 7:22 am
        Agree (again) with Thomas Rutherford

        Me too. Excellent explanation of the problem.

    • Sin Nombre
      February 5, 2012, 5:41 am

      Jamie Stern-Weiner wrote:

      “Again, the decision to criticise [sic] ['Israeli Firsters'] because they are showing loyalty to a ‘foreign’ country, rather than on the basis that they are enabling an injustice, indicates that what really matters to you is loyalty to your favoured state, rather than adherence to moral principles.”

      And the crux of his error is in not perceiving that people believe their country’s interests *include* their consideration and balancing of the moral principles at stake, and that thus their loyalty to their favored state *is* an adherence to same even if *you* disagree.

      After all as regards the U.S. and this issue in particular one of the glaring interests that a U.S. citizen has is the concern about the moral guilt and obloquy of supporting of a country engaged in the kind of behavior that Israel is following. And yet they also have the right to consider other moral dimensions involved too, including what being a co-citizen with someone else means.

      Thus what I find so typical of a certain sort of mentality here with Mr. Stern-Weiner is the amazingly automatic, unconscious assumption of a superior if not unique moral status. As if he and he alone (together with whoever else he identifies with) were somehow born on some special moral plane, with everyone else being like some kind of naturally inferior being, capable only of thinking of their own by-definition grubby interests.

      Seen an awful lot of this sort of sneering denigration in recent history: An awful lot of that, it might be observed, coming from American jewish commentators telling the rest of us how existentially backward and racist and all around nasty we are, with an awful lot of those same commentators however never quite coming around to observe what Israel has been doing, if not in fact supporting the hell out of it. As the oh-so thunderingly moral and ever-chastising American Rabbi Yoffie put it just the other day when it came to his own personal choices, “I prefer to live with jews.”

      Of course *everyone* has all kinds of interests to weigh in making and balancing their moral judgments, and indeed Mr. Stern-Weiner himself is addressing his main one right here: A concern about all American jews being tapped for not being principally loyal to the interests of their fellow U.S. citizens.

      So how does *he* handle that special interest of his? (Whose validity I don’t dispute.) Well, by advocating that nobody be able to even *accurately* identify those individuals where that is manifestly or even *admittedly* true. By saying that his “moral principles” mandate even the suppression of the truth.

      I don’t know where some of these folks’ exalted if self-assessed moral status comes from, but haven’t we had enough of it now? Haven’t we had enough of some people’s belief that anyone who disagrees with them are moral insects, while they go about balancing their interests and moral considerations just the same (if not worse) than the rest of us?

      Mr. Stern-Weiner seems to take great delight, for instance in talking about the crimes of the United States (somewhat disguising same by talking as if they have just been committed by our “elites”), and then saying a number of times how the crimes of Israel pale in comparison.

      Well, Mr. Stern-Weiner, in terms of at least being *concerned* with anyone else, any day of the week I’d put the record of the U.S. up there against Israel which damn near *boasts* on a regular basis about how solely concerned with itself it is. Even when it was no longer necessary to fight Hitler and even after his monstrous crimes were out there it had no problem seeing Uncle Joe Stalin as an A-okay guy. And it had no problem being big nuke-weapons friend and co-conspirator with South Africa.

      Lastly, while Mr. Stern-Weiner’s concern here is principally about American jewry I don’t deny his concern for the Palestinians. But I think it’s rather demonstrably feeble to say that helping them lies better in simply trying to garner sympathy for their cause and not mentioning to Americans that supporting Israel is bad for their own interests.

      In my opinion omitting the latter effectively says that without opposition the Israeli’s can just go on ever more successfully sucking the resources they absolutely need to continue from the U.S. in what amounts to a literal carnival pursuit of their *own* interests, hindered only by ineffectual little squeaks of usually censored humanitarian objections about this or that action against the Palestinian.

      The Israelis have found it very very easy to find ways to disguise what they’ve been doing to the Palestinians. It’s a lot harder for them to disguise that us supporting them is contrary to any number of our own interests, and indeed over the last decade especially it’s gotten almost impossible. (Which is why I find it remarkable now especially to see this call coming to refrain from pointing this out.)

      And I can’t help noting a moral dimension that exists here as well: If indeed the Palestinian cause is the moral one, what’s the moral judgment to be made about using only that tool in aid of same that is a demonstrable failure and that results in nothing?

      Don’t some actual *results* matter? Or is it all really just about our own moral preening?

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2012, 7:37 am

        Agree, Sin Nombre. Further, because of our factual “special relation” with Israel, the clinical enmeshment of our own government with Israel’s, the question of who is, and who is not an “American Firster,” cannot be detached from the question, who is, and who is not an “Israel Firster.”

        It is not unpatriotic to criticize our American government or Israel’s. Some of both highly influential in government should be tried as war criminals and/or for crimes against humanity a la Nuremberg Trials.
        To be a nationalist does not require one leave one’s humanism at the door.

      • yourstruly
        February 5, 2012, 1:48 pm

        those who object to the use of israel firster don’t seem to care that as the term catches on with the public, not only will israel firsters be totally discredited, support for the u.s.-israel special relationship could plummet. Or is it that they fear this outcome?

    • traintosiberia
      February 5, 2012, 1:53 pm

      In an ideal world, the ideal citizen of any country will oppose any destructive,premptive,agreesive crossborder activities at any level. Thats not going to happen.War stops eventually when one party gives up and a new equilibrium follows or exhaustion sets in for both. In that equilbrium the roles are defined and mainatined .Within the border,native American accecpt certain limitations and outside the border Indian( Pakistanis ,bangladeshis) accecpt the losses and start adjusting to new realities. That equilibrium also allow for eventual rebellion,freedom movement for Indian subcontinet and for emancipation of Native American and Afro American . Two parties fight and sign peace with thier interest in mind with the social and political reality in the back of their mind.
      But when you have another extraterritorial interest ,the name of the game is not same any more. One needs a new word to define the absurditiy of the dangerousness ,illogicality,and entire endeavor undertaken under pressure ( bribery,accusation of appeasement and antisemtism and suppression of facts )on behalf of another country . Here lies the concept of fifht column and firster. That is an apt description when the interst of the fighting countries do not shape the behavior of those provoking the confrontation.
      It was the self interest that prompted US to mend relations with Vietnam. The same geopolital interest but much more urgent and obvious shoudl have prompted US long ago to change the equation between it and Iran. The equilibrium brought by new development forced Iarn to offer almost uncoditional capitualtion in Bush jr ist term. The new reality also forced Iran to accept the Obam offers at Turkey-Brazil-Iran negotiations . An America with its own interest in mind would have accecpted that triumphal moment and would have clebrated it leading to new asseretive and positive influences in ME. No ! that cant be allowed. For there is the interest of another country riding on the back who cant define its interest other than as an open hegemony .
      The succeess of the Israeli firster in recruiting the help from so many other sources within the country shows the extent of the corrupting of the system.It does not confer legitimacy on Israeli firster.
      It is always one degree above when one commits crime for someone else’s gain at a cost to self interest than when one commits same for his own gain.It is worse when that activities are undertaken under the influences of myriad labirynthine corrupting process.

    • American
      February 5, 2012, 3:49 pm

      “First, to address a theme that has cropped up several times: I wasn’t trying to whitewash apologists for Israel, I was making an argument about the basis on which they ought to be criticised.”…Stern -Weiner

      That’s not exactly an totally honest statement is it? What is woven in your entire piece is a fear that Israel- firster will tar all Jews.
      You want us to criticize Israel I/P in general humanitarian terms without pointing out a core cause and what enables it.
      What do you think will happen if Jews in general were criticized and or blamed on I/P or US-Isr or Iran? You think there will be some nights of broken glass or whatever or mass attacks on Jews? Won’t happen. Any more than the US anti -Iran war’ers for example would en mass attack the US pro war’ers. Might some Jews be uncomfortable with Israel- firsters being discredited because of the Jewish association with Israel? Yea they might, some of that is probably unavoidable.
      But a period of discomfort only with no real threats to their actual welfare or position is better than letting the Israel thing go on and on to some worse conclusion for Jews, Isr, USA, Palestine and everyone else.
      What I am curious about in some people I see putting out this worry about Jews in general being affected is ….are they really concerned with the Jewish communities feelings or protection?……or are they concerned with protecting the Israel influence individuals so Israel will continue to be a pampered US client, maybe reformed in it’s humanitarian problems, but still a pampered US client state?

    • MRW
      February 5, 2012, 4:26 pm

      jamiew,

      So, in your first argument in the comments, it is impermissable (OK, less than salutary) to argue against Israeli actions because America’s are just as unforgiveable, as opposed to your moral stance that only war crimes in general should be objected to or admired as an objection. And your rationale is that objecting to Israeli actions as opposed to war crimes in general represents the “politics of resentful nationalism, rather than any principled concern for human rights or justice.”

      Do I have that right?

    • lareineblanche
      February 5, 2012, 8:51 pm

      Excellent response.
      I’m responding to a lot of people, but to simplify I’ll just put it all here :
      This has been a good discussion, and also useful for airing out what different persons’ reasons are for being interested in this movement, and how they think about. There’s a lot of confusion as to how to define the Lobby, and what “interests” are, and for whom. Suffice it to say that most people here are critical of Israeli policy and support Palestinians in some way, but may not all have exactly the same motivations for doing so. The practical question is whether or not those possessing different motivations can come to the same desired result (Palestinian liberation), or if, on the contrary, having different motivations will somehow be translated into different policies on the ground. Briefly, do we all need to have the same motivations for doing what it is we do, or can the narrow goal of Palestinian liberation afford divergent opinions (and even wrong, or misguided ones) and still achieve the desired effect? That is, if someone’s advocacy for Palestinian rights and criticisms stem partly from nationalistic resentment of a foreign power and “disloyal” individuals rather than genuine concern for human rights, can the result still be positive for Palestinians and Israelis – can we somehow totally divorce motivations from concrete results?

      1) The basic moral principle which should hold is that it makes more sense to criticize those power centers which we have the greatest possibility to influence – that is, generally, our own communities and our own governments. I would be suspicious of Americans, for example, who go out of their way to criticize Israeli crimes if they were consistently silent on the far bloodier record of the various parts of the US Executive branch and Dept. of Defense over the last century. The historical record is so clear on this that it’s undebatable. It one’s true concern is human rights and ending state terrorism and aggression, then this is where one should direct one’s energies. This, however, does not invalidate any other struggles, and if some advantages can be gained for Palestinians through attacking groups like AIPAC, then it is all for the better.
      2) The various lobbying interests in Washington all act in the interests of their constituents, and not in the interests of any abstract “national interest”, or the greater good. Was it in the “national interest” to invade Vietnam and bomb Cambodia and Laos, killing over 2 million people, helping to bring the Khmer Rouge into power, to starve Iraqis with sanctions, to overthrow Mossadegh, to destroy Haiti and E. Timor, to piss on the corpses of dead Afghans? To grant monopoly patents to certain drugs, putting them out of reach of certain sectors of the population? To ask this question is to ask the question :
      Is there indeed ANYONE at all acting in the “national interests” in Washington? You’ll be hard-pressed to identify them. Health care, civil rights, 1st amendment organizations, perhaps. It is helpful to see Washington as a sort of musical instrument, machine, or orchestra which responds to the moneyed interests that will act as an input – the output will be the policy, or the particular tune being played…
      So, we can now differentiate between those who work to further their own interests representing various domestic or international trade organizations and other large financial interests, and those who work to further the interests of certain nation states. This is a qualitative difference, and one which many seem to respond to for some reason – even though the reality is that the old men in Congress and the Pentagon are just as happy to send your kids off to die for no good reason as Netanyahu is.
      3) The idea that Western governments will not resort to armed conflict in order to secure their interests, or secure control over oil and the profits from it is just wrong. They have done this continually. Think Central America, South America. That was one of the main reasons for MI6 and CIA to instigate the overthrow of Mossadegh in the first place. The “Carter Doctrine” explicitly states that the US should have military control over the region, as it contains the main energy resources. The oldest ally in the region is the KSA, and most of their “terrorism” intel comes from the CIA. The State Dept regularly lobbies for major corporations around the world, as evidenced by certain wikileaks cables (think Monsanto). The idea that Western oil companies did not benefit from the Iraq invasion is just false, even though they didn’t get everything they wanted. Things are still unstable there, and playing out. Exxon/Mobil has signed recent contracts, and will apparently exploit Kurdish oil fields, according to this :
      link to foreignpolicy.com
      BP has access to the enormous Rumaila field. Remember, this was a US/British invasion, not just US.
      Remember also that Saddam Hussein was first brought to power with the help of the Americans, and was lavishly aided during the Iran-Iraq war (which helped secure the money for the arms to send to the Contras, for which Israel helped play middle-man). This was US policy, not Israeli. Tel Aviv did not force Colin Powell to humiliate himself in front of the UN with his baggie of Anthrax and lies about WMD.
      The question is whether your interests are the same as Exxon and BP’s, or Admiral McRaven’s, or Leon Panetta’s – of course they aren’t. The other question is whether or not Israel is an asset for these imperial adventures – would it make you happy if it WAS? If the Israelis prove useful in helping us smash the Arabs, are they OK then?
      4) It is clear that those with ties to Israel and the Likud in the press, the D.C. think-tank Archipelago and in Congress are the ones most vehemently agitating for military action against Iran. This is obvious. The question should be :
      Are these people motivated by a real concern for Israelis, or is their professed motivation a camouflage for other interests which prefer to fly the “pro-Israel” flag? I think we should drop the term “pro-Israel” altogether, as it pretty meaningless. It confuses the people of a particular state with the state itself, and many of those professing their loyalties to Israel care no more for the people inhabiting the region than for anyone else. It’s an abstraction. The only thing which unites them seems to be their utter disdain for human rights and democracy. In this, they are no different from any of the other factions of power which haunt the halls of Washington, and should be dealt with accordingly – by dismantling them as far as possible.

      • patm
        February 6, 2012, 8:10 am

        4) It is clear that those with ties to Israel and the Likud in the press, the D.C. think-tank Archipelago and in Congress are the ones most vehemently agitating for military action against Iran. This is obvious. The question should be : Are these people motivated by a real concern for Israelis, or is their professed motivation a camouflage for other interests which prefer to fly the “pro-Israel” flag?

        My answer to your question: The US imperialists among them do not care one whit for Israelis. They see Israel as a fulcrum, a lever to control the middle east and contain China, India etc.

    • iamuglow
      February 6, 2012, 11:43 am

      Talk about playing “language games”.

      “….at least be stated openly: that in order to build public pressure for ending US support for Israel, people’s xenophobic and nationalist instincts should be provoked and inflamed. ”

      Now it is playing on “xenophobic” instincts to point out that out that people who push for US support of Israel have a vested interest (citizenship/second homeland when they want it) for doing so? What is this besides a watered down you antisemite charge…?

      This idea that I/P unlike just about any other political issue should be divorced from “nationalist instincts” is ridiculous. We live in a world of nations…the language of politics that the public uses is….especially for FP, is this good for my country/me?

      This is a devasting question for Israel supporters in the US. Unless you believe in some muslim conspiracy to implement Shria law on the US which is interesting is being pushed by Islamaphobic/Israel loving groups , US support for Israel can’t be answered in the affirmative. I can have that conversation with Americans all day everyday and 70-90% (my estimate) of them they will agree…’its not good for my country/me..we need to stop supporting Israel.’

      The only people who won’t see that are Christian evangicals who are obsessed with the rapture and Jewish/Zionists who see Israel as their birthright. These motives are not something that the majority of Americans believe. Except for purposefully handicapping the ’cause’ there is no valid reason to not call attention to this.

  42. pabelmont
    February 4, 2012, 8:08 pm

    Israel first is a flavor in the 50-flavor ice-cream store of American oligarchy. Every oligarchic special interest — in my view — is using its vast wealth to secure what it wants irrespective of the damage to America that it will do.

    The damage may be environmental (as the BIG-OIL oligarch tries to prevent dealing with global warming), environmental/human rights (many extractive industries working world wide including the fracking-folks here in USA), pure human rights (the BIG-ZION oligarch doing what we discuss here), destruction of economies as the BIG-BANKs oligarch keeping the world safe for unsafe derivative transactions, etc.

    There’s no defeating any of them unless we change USA’s politics (via constitutional amendment, likely) so that
    [1] no-one but human beings is allowed to do or to pay others to do political action (lobbying and electioneering) and
    [2] no human being is allowed to pay or spend more than a fixed maximum (maybe $1000 or $5000) in any calendar year for political action. [Including candidates!]

    • dahoit
      February 5, 2012, 10:28 am

      Ron Paul is our only hope,and it looks like America just can’t see it through the Zio looking glass.

  43. NorthOfFortyNine
    February 4, 2012, 11:58 pm

    … the decision to criticise them because they are showing loyalty to a ‘foreign’ country, rather than on the basis that they are enabling an injustice, indicates that what really matters to you is loyalty to your favoured state, rather than adherence to moral principles. … and quite apart from its obvious tendency to slip into antisemitic accusations against American Jews (see e.g. the charge of “Fifth Columnist” levelled by a commentator above), it’s also incoherent: why on earth should “dual loyalties” (or indeed hundreds or millions of loyalties) be a bad things? Why on earth should anyone be obliged to put the alleged interests of something called “the US” above everything else?

    That is fair enough if the question is considered from the perspective of the individual. I don’t think anyone here would question Adelson’s right to put the interests of Israel over those of the US. But that is not what we are talking about.

    What raises hackles is Adelson’s attempt to use his influence in such a way that the US govt act in Israel’s interest. I think we agree that a state has a moral obligation to act in the interests of its subjects — that is what it is there for. By co-opting the state, Adelson effectively forces that state’s subjects to act against their own interests, which is a violation of those individuals’ rights.

    The principle becomes more clear is we compare soccer clubs instaed of nations. An individual can support any soccer club he wants. You can live in Manchester and support Chelsea. That’s your right. But what is not right is to influence ManU such that they throw games when playing Chelsea.

    Anyone who did attempt to do this rightly deserves to be called a “Fifth Columnist”.

    My two cents. -N49.

    • Justice Please
      February 5, 2012, 5:09 am

      N49,

      thanks. This issue is confusing to me, and I think you showed me a good definition of being an Israel-Firster. Now I can finally put this issue to rest with myself.

    • MRW
      February 5, 2012, 4:32 pm

      The throw games analogy is apt, N49.

  44. Cliff
    February 5, 2012, 6:48 am

    Yes I do have the YT video interview of Chomsky with some Israeli propagandist who Chomsky clearly sympathizes with evidenced by his fatherly tone to her.

    In it he says that he was going to move to Israel.

    So when I get on my computer and post the video I expect David Green to apologize for his slander.

    • Cliff
      February 5, 2012, 7:22 am

      link to youtube.com

      Towards the end, he says something like ‘I was asked where else I would want to live other than the US,’ and he says he would have moved to Israel. The interview he is referring to was in Haaretz apparently. This was in 2005 and the YT interview was in 2010. He goes on to say he would not move to Israel now because of the growing anti-democratic sentiment. As if that is a new phenemena.

      I have another video where he lectures two young Jewish peace activists, who are pro-BDS, on why it is hypocritical to single out Israel and that it gives opportunities to pro-Israel ideologues to use the antisemitism card (or simply being called a hypocrite).

      As if, once again, people are not being called Kapos, Nazis, Jew-haters, etc. For FAR LESS critical comments on Israel.

      He also says he is a supporter of Israel in the first part.

    • David Green
      February 5, 2012, 9:26 am

      “So when I get on my computer and post the video I expect David Green to apologize for his slander.”

      It’s well known that Chomsky lived in Israel in the early 1950s, and considered staying there. It’s well known that he was a “no state” Zionist, and still is.

      You’ve said nothing new, and slandering Chomsky is old hat on MW. And there’s certainly no reason for me to apologize. You should apologize for polluting MW with your nonsense, and the apology is owed to the Palestinian people.

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 10:18 am

        I’m not polluting MW. I posted the source for the comment Chomsky made wherein he said he was a supporter of Israel and considered it a second home for him.

        It’s not slander, it’s the truth. I can also post the video of Chomsky patronizing two young Jewish activists about BDS.

        I think the point is that, on criticism of Israeli crimes – he is solid and consistent.

        On strategy – he is a joke. He once criticized the BDS movement because it didn’t first ‘educate’ the masses as in the case of SA.

        Oh and he compared BDS to breaking windows in the 70s or something in an interview on the radio last year or something.

        I haven’t made any of this up and you haven’t addressed anything I’ve said.

        You just prove my point more about people like you who are, while Palestinians are suffering, more interested in quibbling over asinine academic details.

      • David Green
        February 5, 2012, 1:24 pm

        Why don’t you just support BDS in whatever way you feel appropriate, and stop worrying about what Chomsky says about it, which doesn’t seem to matter to the BDS movement?

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 1:41 pm

        David Green,

        I do support BDS in the way I believe is appropriate. I do not care about what Noam Chomsky thinks of BDS.

        However, it’s still something to take note of. I was replying to you, not making a standalone comment off-topic.

        We can sit around and discuss this issue of liberal Zionists intentionally or unintentionally (by being bogged down w/ their orthodoxy like Chomsky) stagnating the progress of the Palestinian struggle in their own small way (because at this point, Chomsky’s endorsement does not matter; people care too much on their own and do not need his approval) or we can get to work.

        I believe in the latter but the former does not expend much energy. It’s not some big debate for me. Chomsky’s own statements are sufficient proof since all he can do is provide a statement or NOT provide a statement in support of BDS in the ONLY meaningful context there exists – the tone of URGENCY that should inform ALL PALESTINIAN SOLIDARITY.

        Ilan Pappe gets it. Chomsky doesn’t. This is the last thing I’m saying on the subject.

        I apologize if I insulted you. This is just my opinion and I won’t carry on further with it.

      • seanmcbride
        February 5, 2012, 10:54 am

        David Green,

        Can you point us to any works by Noam Chomsky which disccuss and analyze in detail the central role of pro-Israel activists and militants in engineering the Iraq War?

        Can you also point us to any works by Noam Chomsky which discuss and analyze the role in the making of American foreign policy of neoconservative policy centers, think tanks and lobbying groups like AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, CSP, ECI, FDD, FPI, Hudson Institute, JINSA, MEMRI, One Jerusalem, PNAC, RJC, WINEP, etc.?

        Also, does Noam Chomsky ever acknowledge that many leading members of the US national security establishment opposed the Iraq War, oppose an Iran War and in general despise the neoconservative and Likudnik agenda? Which of his works analyze this internecine and bitter conflict at the highest levels of American politics?

        Would it be unfair to describe Noam Chomsky as a liberal or left-wing Zionist? Is he a Jewish ethnic nationalist or not?

      • David Green
        February 5, 2012, 1:38 pm

        “Also, does Noam Chomsky ever acknowledge that many leading members of the US national security establishment opposed the Iraq War”

        Who were these leaders that Chomsky is supposed to acknowledge, according to you? What power did they have?

        Basically, the entire American establishment, period, supported the invasion of Iraq.

      • David Green
        February 5, 2012, 1:39 pm

        “Would it be unfair to describe Noam Chomsky as a liberal or left-wing Zionist? Is he a Jewish ethnic nationalist or not?”

        In these terms, it would be unfair, inaccurate, decontextualized, ignorant, and stupid.

      • seanmcbride
        February 5, 2012, 2:05 pm

        You are calling me “ignorant” and “stupid” because I am asking you if Noam Chomsky is a Jewish ethnic nationalist? Are you arguing that he is not a Zionist? How about you: are you a Zionist? A Jewish ethnic nationalist? What exactly is your argument?

      • David Green
        February 5, 2012, 2:45 pm

        “are you a Zionist? A Jewish ethnic nationalist? What exactly is your argument?”

        Are you from the moon? Mars? Neptune? Where do you stand on interplanetary travel?

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 3:32 pm

        Recall, that seanmcbride only asked you that question after you called him ignorant and stupid.

        Chomsky is obviously a liberal Zionist who says one thing to his Zionist audience like the Israeli interviewer in the video I posted and another thing to the anti-Zionist Jews in the OTHER interview I posted.

        The difference is night and day and you have your head in the sand, while mumbling lame jokes.

      • American
        February 5, 2012, 4:05 pm

        “Basically, the entire American establishment, period, supported the invasion of Iraq.”…..David Greene

        Hu oh! Red Alert!
        That is so untrue it sounds like trolling.
        Maybe you better explain what you are calling the entire Amerian establishment.

      • seanmcbride
        February 5, 2012, 5:02 pm

        David Green,

        You wrote:

        BEGIN QUOTE

        Who were these leaders that Chomsky is supposed to acknowledge, according to you? What power did they have?

        Basically, the entire American establishment, period, supported the invasion of Iraq.

        END QUOTE

        Dozens of very high level members of the American power elite and US security national security establishment opposed the Iraq war, had strong doubts about it or strongly regretted supporting it.

        People like Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and many others — I can produce a full list. Colin Powell, who was secretary of state at the time, was one of those leaders who regretted his support for the war and revealed that “the JINSA crowd” (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) — neoconservatives, the Likud wing of the Israel lobby — was the prime mover behind the Iraq War.

        Do Noam Chomsky and you know more about the internal politics of the Iraq War than Colin Powell, James Baker or Zbigniew Brzezinski? I think not.

        To repeat: Noam Chomsky and his disciples and cult followers have a weak grounding in basic historical methods. They are mainly crypto-Marxist ideologues who ride a crude hobbyhorse back and forth and back and forth and back and forth…. They don’t seem to know much about what is actually going on in the world.

      • seanmcbride
        February 5, 2012, 5:33 pm

        David Green,

        “Are you from the moon? Mars? Neptune? Where do you stand on interplanetary travel?”

        In a discussion about Zionism, which is an ethnic nationalist movement, you don’t want to explain whether you or Noam Chomsky is a Zionist — a Jewish ethnic nationalist?

        What’s the problem with addressing this question? There are enormous implications in committing oneself to any ethnic nationalist movement. Are you in fact a Jewish ethnic nationalist?

  45. Cliff
    February 5, 2012, 7:39 am

    Let me add one more thing, I think Norman Finkelstein is much more honest than Chomsky. Norman had the audacity to tell Palestinian refugees to give up their dreams of returning as part of an overall goal of solving the conflict. That’s fine from a strategic point of view maybe? Maybe since it will end Palestinians’ suffering such as it is.

    It’s supposed to be the so called pragmatic solution. But with the revelations of the Palestine papers, and the fact that Palestinian negotiators were willing to give up so much, contrary to Israeli hysterics – is it not superfluous to lecture Palestinians on pragmatism?

    Israel is corrupt and they know they will never be compelled to make peace or negotiate, by the US. The Palestinians have nothing to trade except their steadfastness (i.e., their DIGNITY).

    Look at the reaction to the UN statehood recognition bid. The sheer hysteria.

    David Green and whoever else want to quibble over whether the Lobby is all-powerful or incredibly powerful or powerful. Who gives a shit?

    The basic problems exist across all three scenarios.

    Ilan Pappe ‘gets it’ and is much more in tune with Palestinian solidarity and the struggle than Finkelstein and Chomsky.

    At an anti-war conference, which btw I will look for since it is also on YT, he talks about the inspirational language of the BDS ‘movement’. Yes, it inspires people, it’s a good organizational tool and mobilization tool. It connects the conflict to past conflicts and is supported by people like Desmond Tutu who help bolster that inspirational component.

    He goes on to say that critics of the apartheid analogy/charge are quibbling over the details, that while there are difference, they are insignificant differences.

    This is what people like David Green or Max Ajli(sp) and that Egyptian blogger, who guest authored some article here who is also an ideological ally of Max and David on the issue of the Lobby, obfuscate unintentionally (or maybe intentionally).

    The truth is close enough. That is all that matters, because the quibbling over the asinine minutia belies the physical effects (settlement expansion, censorship of the Palestinian voice and experience, hijacking or the Palestinian voice and experience by juxtaposing it next to a Zionist counterpart for ‘balance,’ etc etc).

    I have no patience for the claptrap produced by David, Max, et. al.

    The situation for the Palestinians is too bleak for me to give a shit about whether the lobby is all-powerful or really powerful or whether ‘Israel-firster’ is a term to use in polite company.

    • David Green
      February 5, 2012, 9:29 am

      “David Green and whoever else want to quibble over whether the Lobby is all-powerful or incredibly powerful or powerful. Who gives a shit?”

      Actually, I give a shit.

      link to palestinechronicle.com

      And the purpose of this website seems to give a shit, although I have a problem with how they go about giving it, ad nauseum.

      • Chaos4700
        February 5, 2012, 12:25 pm

        So basically, you support the Palestinian cause by endlessly attacking supporters of the Palestinian cause? How very newclench/hophmi of you.

      • David Green
        February 5, 2012, 1:32 pm

        Every movement has it’s strategic and tactical disagreements. I don’t attack supporters of the Palestinian cause on that basis. I attack them for supporting the Palestinian cause in a manner that is ineffectual, stupid, or even counter-productive to the Palestinian cause. That includes people who say things that actually provide credible support for the argument that those who support Palestinians are also anti-Semites. I don’t believe that many of these people really are anti-Semites, but there’s no reason to provide juicy excuses to those who support American and Israeli imperial ambitions. More important, framing supporters of Israel as “Israel firsters” distorts the analysis, and leads to bad strategy and tactics. The U.S. supports Israel because Israel is a strategic asset. Chomsky was right, and remains right.

      • seanmcbride
        February 5, 2012, 2:02 pm

        David Green,

        You wrote:

        “The U.S. supports Israel because Israel is a strategic asset. Chomsky was right, and remains right.”

        The truth is that Israel is a huge strategic liability for the United States, and the American national security community has worried about this problem from before the creation of the state of Israel to the present day.

        One sees little evidence in Chomsky’s writings that he is familiar with any of this history — it’s not his field. His field, other than linguistics (to which has not contributed much for a very long time now), is spinning crypto-Marxist theory that is often a poor fit for the real world.

        David: are you a liberal Zionist? A Jewish ethnic nationalist on the left? How do you feel about ethnic nationalism in general? Is it compatible with modern Western democratic ideals?

      • Cliff
        February 5, 2012, 2:19 pm

        The occupation of East Timor is over. Why has the Israeli colonization of the OT persisted for so long?

        Because of the power of the Israel lobby, because of Christian evangelicalism, etc.

        Israel is a tiny strip of land in the grand scheme of things. The Palestinians have no reason to be virulently anti-American and if there was a peace settlement tomorrow, it would not affect American hegemony in the region detrimentally.

        In fact, it is our support for Israel that was used as part of the justification for 9/11. It is our support for Israel that inspires Islamists to take up arms against us. The Palestinian cause is often hijacked by Arab dictatorships as well.

        The notion that it is within our interest to get embarrassed by the Prime Minister of some small strip of land is absolute garbage.

        And once again, the antisemitism card is absolutely meaningless.

        People are smeared as antisemitic for FAR LESS, David Green. What do you care if they are additionally smeared for saying the lobby is really powerful as opposed to powerful?

        LOL

        Israel firsters exist and the entire concept is really plain and bland. When Sheldon Adelson says he regrets the uniform he worse was an American one and not an Israeli one, or that all he cares about is being a good Zionist – he is being an Israel firster.

        You, and I believe you are Jewish, are too concerned with antisemitism tropes to consider whether something is true or not, outside of the framework of this/that is antisemitic.

        If it is true, it is true. Plain and simple.

        If someone is in our government and is a Chinese-American, they could theoretically push for policies favorable to China over the concerns of the country they live in and run for office in and hold office in, the United States of America.

        It is so crazily stupid that you sincerely believe the concept of an American intellectual/politician/etc. putting the interests of a foreign country ahead of his country of residence/citizenship or the one he works in/etc. is ‘distorting analysis’.

        Now, you just sound like a pro-Israel propagandist. Do you think Palestinians benefit from the kids-gloves you apply to people in our intellectual culture who are so blatantly pro-Israel and anti-American? People who try to associate Israeli values with American values with the only purpose being to lobby for more weapons/control over the piece process?

        Palestinian solidarity activists, in contrast, are not asking the US to send a non-State like Palestine, weapons, diplomatic immunity, fight some country who poses an existential threat, and blah blah blah.

        Palestinian solidarity is about principles and abstractions really. Human rights. Basic human rights. Material support only in the sense of humanitarian aide or in the reverse (stop sending our oppressor guns to kill us with). And of course no strategic aide since the non-entity of Palestine has no foreign policy interests other than trying to shake off the chains of Zionism.

        You are so thoroughly deluded and it’s vulgar you think antisemitism should even be a consideration in this entire debate. It’s ACADEMIC and insulting to the Palestinians.

        As an Indian-American, I too am a minority but I don’t give a damn about identity. If something is TRUE, then it is not racist/antisemitic/etc.

      • lareineblanche
        February 6, 2012, 7:11 am

        The truth is that Israel is a huge strategic liability for the United States

        This is true, if you define “The United States” as the bulk of the citizens – and the greater part of US foreign policy has also been a strategic liability. In fact, most of America’s extremely belligerent and murderous foreign policy since 1945 has been extremely harmful to the image of the US and the interests of US citizens. So has the internal, domestic policy, since the 1970s. This much seems obvious.

        Al-Qaeda explicitly listed three motives for attacking on 9/11, and those were :
        1) Presence of US troops in KSA (bin Laden released a “fatwa” and several letters regarding this)
        2) Blind support for Israel (bin Laden claimed the idea for attacking the towers came from the Israeli invasion of Lebanon)
        3) The Clinton-era UNSC (US) sanctions against Iraq (responsible for the deaths of 100s of thousands of children)
        To pretend that resentment in the Arab world towards the US is solely a result of support for Israel, and not a result of some over-arching policy towards the Middle-East is just completely off the mark. The truth is that Muslims in the Middle East have seen the US as at war with them for some time (and evidence is there to support that view, frankly), and support for Israel and oppression of the Palestinians just fits in with these extremely destructive tendencies. See Chalmers Johnson’s “Blowback”.
        Also see the longstanding US and British support for and cooperation with Islamic fundamentalists, here :
        link to newint.org
        Your observations on the various right wing lobbying organizations, think tanks and other assorted D.C. acronyms pushing militaristic policy in the Middle East for Israel are totally correct (has been happening since the 90s), and it would be good for everyone if the US actually cared about Palestinian self-determination and civic and political rights. What I can’t seem to figure out is how some insinuate that normal US policy WITHOUT Israel would somehow be seen as Arab-friendly, or in the interests of citizens of the Middle East, or Americans, for that matter. America cares nothing for citizens of the Middle East, SW Asia, and it never has.

      • seanmcbride
        February 6, 2012, 9:26 am

        lareineblanche,

        You wrote:

        “What I can’t seem to figure out is how some insinuate that normal US policy WITHOUT Israel would somehow be seen as Arab-friendly, or in the interests of citizens of the Middle East, or Americans, for that matter. America cares nothing for citizens of the Middle East, SW Asia, and it never has.”

        Why do think that the Israel lobby has complained so bitterly for decades about “Arabists” in the US government and State Department? Before the Israel lobby began to totally dominate US Mideast policy, the American government overall sought friendly relations with most nations in the region for reasons of economic self-interest.

        All nations without exception pursue their self-interest — unless they are subverted and hijacked from within by foreign interests. Often pursuing one’s national interest (including imperialist designs) means developing and maintaining *friendly* relations with other nations — not attacking them. Attacking other nations may well undermine one’s national interest.

        Certainly it is not in the American interest to be in a state of bitter and violent conflict with every nation in the Mideast except Israel — but that is the state of affairs towards which the Israel lobby has been relentlessly pushing the United States — all war all the time on behalf of Israel (Greater Israel, actually) at the cost of trillions of dollars to the American people.

        Down the line (and not much farther down the line at that), Israel could be blamed for bankrupting and ruining the United States. It’s not inconceivable that an Iran War could produce this outcome.

      • iamuglow
        February 6, 2012, 12:20 pm

        “To pretend that resentment in the Arab world towards the US is solely a result of support for Israel, and not a result of some over-arching policy towards the Middle-East is just completely off the mark.”

        What were the motives of the hijackers who actually killed themselves and thousands of others? What were the motives of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the princible architect of 9/11? What was the motive of the 93 WTC attack?

        Numerous, quotes, interviews, statememts show that it was for them princiablly about US support for Israel.

        The real story is not that US support Israel is focused on too much, because it isn’t. Its been wholly ignored in the US in favor of the they hate our freedoms bs or some other vague they were angry with US FP in the region. Its obscene, that despite the endless 9/11 coverage in the US, you have read transcripts to understand the motives for the attack.

        “”The 9/11 Commission Report notes that, “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

        “A German friend of Mohammed Atta(the hijacker pilot who flew into WTC) is quoted as describing him as “most imbued actually about Israeli politics in the region and about US protection of these Israeli politics in the region. And he was to a degree personally suffering from that.””

        Ziad Jarrah – Jarrah was born in Mazraa, Lebanon, Lebanon, to a wealthy family. His parents were nominally Muslim Sunnis, although they lived a secular lifestyle. When he was seven years old, Israel invaded southern Lebanon, a fact he referred to later in life.

        “For over half a century, Muslims in Palestine have been slaughtered and assaulted and robbed of their honor and of their property. Their houses have been blasted, their crops destroyed. And the strange thing is that any act on their part to avenge themselves or to lift the injustice befalling them causes great agitation in the United Nations which hastens to call for an emergency meeting only to convict the victim and to censure the wronged and the tyrannized whose children have been killed and whose crops have been destroyed and whose farms have been pulverized ” – Osama bin Laden May 1998

        link to representativepress.org

      • Hostage
        February 6, 2012, 3:08 pm

        What were the motives of the hijackers who actually killed themselves and thousands of others? . . . The 9/11 Commission Report notes

        Under the heading “Who Is the Enemy?”, the Commission report said that:

        “Bin Ladin also stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, which is the home of Islam’s holiest sites, and against other U.S. policies in the Middle East.”

        link to 9-11commission.gov

        The US military tends to set-up shop permanently and resist efforts to make it leave another country’s territory.

      • lareineblanche
        February 9, 2012, 8:52 pm

        Still somewhat alive and kicking, I see.

        @ seanmcbride :

        Let me just state that we have few disagreements as to the facts, and our differences lie in our respective interpretations of those facts, and the ideological frameworks we use to think about this issue. The historical record is not in dispute, really, and you will never find me defending Israel’s policies in the region because they’re for the most part indefensible (as is the existence of a “Jewish state”, or an “Islamic state”, or any ethnocratic nation-state, for that matter). The discussion I’m having isn’t about that, in a sense, it is more about going back and questioning some very basic assumptions that are generally taken for granted when addressing this, and it really isn’t about Israel at all. It’s about trying to reformulate the more fundamental questions so that we can in turn find the right answers – or get as close as possible – and I think this is more or less what JSW was doing as well (unless I misinterpreted his article).

        1) I reject outright the notion of a “national interest”. Period. I think it is a notion that is problematic for several reasons, and therefore evaporates under any kind of real scrutiny. So, it is even impossible for me to engage with you on the subject using that notion as building block for analyzing the situation. It’s not that I disagree with you, it’s just that for me there’s really nothing to talk about (if that’s at all clear). In my view, nations do not have interests, OR rights – people, human beings do, and nations can only have rights by virtue of the individuals who make up this “nation”. Nations only have “interests” in the sense that they tend to coincide with the interests of powerful individuals or groups which are dictating policy. Nations can only have “interests” in the realm of foreign policy, as they are a type of elemental particle, or compound, in the larger “universe” of nation states, and therefore can be seen as a “unit” making its wishes known, either by diplomacy, ruse, or force. In this model, however, ordinary citizens rarely have a say in how policy is created or implemented, and therefore the “interests” are again, the interests of powerful factions within that nation-state. That is, the “interests” are whatever those powerful factions say that they are, and by definition cannot be “hijacked”, or “corrupted” from within. If the US supports Israel’s right-wing, intractable and belligerent policies, in a certain sense it is by definition in its interests to do so, otherwise it wouldn’t be doing it. This may all be detrimental to most of us, and indeed, even to most Israelis (and obviously to Palestinians, Iranians, Lebanese, and whoever else has the misfortune of crossing the Middle East mad dog), but that is just an irrelevant question if one understands “national interests” in this way. I do think JSW is correct in implying that “Israel-firster” has some unfortunate undertones, and if you scour the internet you will find that the themes of white supremacism, monetary policy, fear of a global Zionist conspiracy, and New World Order snake-oil salesmen catastrophe theories often tend to go together with the sense of a “non-white” demographic threat (much like the Israeli one), a sense of urgency at a “pure” and “uncorrupted” way of life disappearing under “foreign” and “corrupt” influences, and other such nonsense. There are people who think like this, and while that doesn’t invalidate the argument, one should be aware that it exists. And I don’t like the idea of professing “loyalty” to any state, it’s something which is an anathema to freedom and clear thinking in my opinion.

        2) The fact that the Israel lobby is so loosely defined and so misunderstood as to whom it truly benefits also are problematic for me, even though I know it exists, and wields considerable power on US Middle East legislation and policy towards Israel. The fact is, not all groups in this loose constellation of “pro-Israel” groups are advocating on behalf of Israeli policy for the same reasons, and some have even quite divergent interests. Briefly, my problem is not with recognizing its power, or its considerable negative influence (which has been recognized since at least the 70s, far before Walt and Mearsheimer’s book) :

        “The third myth … was the tendency to believe – with an incredible arrogance that showed through in every domain – that we could force the Palestinians, all the Arabs and the whole world to accept a territorial status quo for the next 30 or 40 years. After all, weren’t we superior, infallible, unbeatable? And didn’t we have Washington in our pocket thanks to a powerful Zionist lobby in the United States? Weren’t we containing the Soviet Union and the communist bloc? What did it matter that Africa, Asia, and the Third World were hostile to us, since Mr. Nixon’s veto at the United Nations had succeeded in taking the stuffing out of their anti-Israel resolutions? In short, General Dayan and his cronies thought we were the undisputed masters of the Middle East and of history.”
        - Reserve General Mattityahu Peled, 1974

        - but it is, in fact, with defining exactly what it is.

        3) Regarding the “lobby”, there is no doubt that most of the elite American Jewish community has strongly drifted toward the right over the years, as they are reflexively supporting and mirroring Israel’s policies, which are also drifting toward the right (one could say more accurately that their true nature is just being expressed more openly and honestly, but this is another debate). In a certain sense, they really have no choice, as being part of the elite, they must reflexively support state policy, both in the US and Israel – otherwise, they would not really be part of the elite. This has put them in a difficult position both emotionally and intellectually, as it has forced them more and more to support policies which they would normally reject, hence a lot of cognitive dissonance, and the cracks we are seeing in the edifice. The main culprit here, however, is slavish adherence to state policy and personal identification with state power, without which much of this confusion and contradictions fall away. This philosophy of marching in lockstep with state power is also one reason we see that most Jewish Zionists in America are also without much exception reflexive defenders of aggressive US foreign policy and militarism in general, as in the neoconservative movement. Of course, for Jews, the culprit is Zionism, and without it, that part of the lobby all but disappears. The arms and petroleum industries and imperial grand strategy are another story.

        4) This is the most important part for me : none of what I say has really anything to with defending or critiquing Zionism, Israeli or US policy toward the Palestinians – this is just another subject altogether.

        @ iamuglow :

        I’ve read through those quotes, and am aware of the fact that US unconditional support for Israeli aggression and terror is one of the main motives for al-Qaeda aggression and terror. No one has ever disputed this. The point I was trying to make is that there is a reason they flew those jets into New York, and not elsewhere. Much of Israeli policy in the region is indeed seen as US-Israeli policy, and there is no shortage atrocities brought upon the region by US – and Western – foreign policy over the decades from which to draw grievances which have little to do with Israel. If you subtract Israeli influence, there really is still plenty to go on.

        @ Hostage :

        I just wanted you to know that I have many of your comments bookmarked as references to international law (and whatever else) regarding I/P, just in case I need it…

      • Citizen
        February 10, 2012, 6:49 am

        @ lareineblanche,
        RE: ” In this model, however, ordinary citizens rarely have a say in how policy is created or implemented, and therefore the “interests” are again, the interests of powerful factions within that nation-state. That is, the “interests” are whatever those powerful factions say that they are, and by definition cannot be “hijacked”, or “corrupted” from within.”

        So, a nation-state’s “interests” follow lockstep behind what said state’s powerful factions say they are? In a sense this is true since “the state” is only an abstract concept. But “factions” are concepts, abstractions too, yes? The former implies the interests of everyone in the state, and any particular faction implies the interests of everyone in the described faction. I don’t get how your model enhances discussion except it recognizes the banality that elite groups run the state by prioritizing their own best interests first, and not in a way that may best serves the larger population, or, say a significant number of the total population (“the greater good,” numerically-speaking?). That’s the whole point of OWS, yes? And does not this point hold true as to both domestic and foreign policy? Referring to “national interest” is just short-hand; and in the US, for example, the symbol for this “national interest” is our flag. Are you doing more than suggesting we need to detail more who, which groups, we mean when we speak, e.g., of “America’s best interest,” or “the national interest?” And similarly, wrt, e.g., “the lobby,” or “the Israel Lobby,” or the “Zionist Lobby,” or “Israel Firster?” Why don’t you make a general statement dealing with the big picture that illustrates the specificity and complexity you’d like to see more often here on MW? That would help, methinks. Thanks.

      • seanmcbride
        February 10, 2012, 9:43 am

        lareineblanche,

        If you are trying to argue that there is no such thing as a “national interest,” I think you are wrong. When the national interest is pursued successfully, the general prosperity, wealth, standard of living and quality of life of a nation improves. When the national interest is not pursued successfully, the general prosperity, wealth, standard of living and quality of life of a nation deteriorates.

        In democratic nations, leadership classes that fail to make the right decisions in pursuing the national interest lose power. They have a strong incentive to pursue the national interest in order to maintain power.

        Yes, there are powerful special interests within nations that pursue their narrow selfish interests, but if they get too out of sync with the national interest as a whole, they will be cut down and rooted out.

        With regard to American Mideast policy, the national security establishment since before the founding of Israel (which leading national security experts during the Truman administration opposed) have consistently argued until the present day that the American national interest is heavily dependent on maintaining friendly economic relations with Arab and Muslim nations in the region — and so it is. Turning every nation in the region into a bitter enemy for the sake of Greater Israelism (messianic Zionism, messianic Jewish ethnic nationalism) would be disastrous for the American interest.

        Re: Hostage — yes, he (or she) posts very high quality comments, worthy of archiving for future reference.

    • Hostage
      February 5, 2012, 8:43 pm

      Norman had the audacity to tell Palestinian refugees to give up their dreams of returning as part of an overall goal of solving the conflict.

      No he did not. Finkelstein recommended that Palestinians adopt the pre-existing international consensus for a two state solution because politics is not about changing public opinion, it’s about meeting it where it is today. He specifically writes:

      A broad international consensus has also crystallized upholding the Palestinian “right of return.” We have already seen that the annual United Nations resolution, supported overwhelmingly by member States, calls for a settlement of the refugee question on the basis of resolution 194, which “resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for property of those choosing not to return.”

      *Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi
      link to normanfinkelstein.com

      During his talk at Boston University he specifically cited international consensus to the effect that both the original refugees and the subsequent generations of Palestinians who have maintained genuine links to the land should have the right of return. He stresses that “The prize on which our eyes should be riveted is human rights, human dignity, human equality.” He didn’t ever suggest that Palestinian refugees from the territory of Israel grant Jews a superior legal right of return. See the article above and:
      *Norman Finkelstein and Mouin Rabbani at Boston University – Solving the Israel-Palestine Conflict link to youtu.be

      He employed the analogy of giving a homeless person a coat versus a room in his apartment to illustrate that existing international consensus or public opinion provides strong political support for a two state solution rather than a one state solution. His point was that demanding a single state solution might be over reaching, even if it is morally justified. He was not discussing the right of return or the just settlement for the refugees. In fact, he stated that he had no moral authority to speak on that topic, and asked Mouin Rabbani to address that issue.

      • Cliff
        February 6, 2012, 3:36 pm

        Hostage,

        See this thread:

        link to mondoweiss.net

        This excerpt, written by Noura Khouri:

        Using the same logic when speaking about one of the most important issues for Palestinians-right of return, he continues to overlook and thus dismiss altogether, the unlimited potential for people power, handing it over to Zionists: “For now, Israel will not honor a Palestinian right of return; to ‘demand’ it is the emptiest of gestures. That right will be honored only if the Palestinians become powerful enough to enforce it. If or when that happens, that some leaders verbally renounced the right will count for nothing.”

        If and when, we amass such a show of people power that we will be able to influence justice to be served, we certainly will not need Israel’s permission to grant us these rights. Just as the apartheid government of South Africa was forced to fall, so will the Israeli system of oppression. Would the activists who worked all those years to end apartheid in South Africa have done justice to their cause if they created goals, based on what they thought the oppressors would be wiling to concede? For 20 years Israel has shown a clear lack of good will to engage in negotiations, or even uphold the agreements they’ve already made!

        Another one of his bizarre recommendations is, rather than educate the international community about the racist ideology of Zionism* and Israeli apartheid, he suggests we adjust our language to fit this ‘global consensus’. Would the civil rights, women’s rights or any other movements in the USA have succeeded if they backed down because they didn’t have popular support at the time? Could they have effectively succeeded without talking about the KKK and white supremacy, issues of gender and male dominance etc.? Are we more concerned about protecting people’s feelings, or “turning them off” – than we are capable of/educating the general public about the source of the injustices, and seeking justice for the oppressed?

        This is actually not the lecture I am referring to. I remember Norman saying this to an audience of Palestinians in Lebanon. I could be hazy on the details (as I was w/ regards to the Chomsky statement) – but I remember clearly that Palestinian commentators were upset.

        I remember emailing Norman about the ‘international consensus’. Norman suggests that Palestinian solidarity speak a language that is uncontroversial and based on sensible opinions that are already supported. Maybe he would then say, work from there.

        He disagreed w/ the Freedom March over ideas he felt weren’t politically viable (not of the ‘consensus’ or a language that people not intimately involved in the conflict could latch on to).

        I wrote to Norman saying something like (this was years ago):

        Well, Israel continues to establish facts on the ground. How can we work with what we have if the reality is always changing (for the worse). When does this ‘consensus’ become irrelevant?

        —–

        Something like that at least. I was reminded of some official of the American government who said that ‘we [as in the Establishment] create new realities too fast for you [the opposition], so that by the time you catch up, you have to deal with a new ‘established truism/political reality’.

        That quote has been cited here at MW in an article by Phil I believe. I cannot recall who said it though.

        It’s an insightful statement. That is why some people were disappointed in Norman’s stance on the RoR. They believe that the ‘reality’ is forgone already.

        Chomsky talks about the Vietnam War peace movement. He talks about how the war came to an end. He says, it ended when the business community said it ended.

        He talks about the 2SS v. 1SS v. etc. He says, that people used to be against the 2SS decades ago (because it was possible) and now they are for it (because it is not possible).

      • Hostage
        February 6, 2012, 6:58 pm

        I read the portion of the article written by Noura Khouri, but he didn’t actually say those things in the accompanying video. He suggested that we demand the enforcement of existing international law. I’ve noted here on several occasions that the Geneva Convention is not silent about the subjects of repatriation or population transfer. Noura said Finkelstein leaves the discussion of right of return to Zionists, but he actually said he didn’t have the moral authority to address the subject and left it to Mr Rabbani. He also claims that he told his publisher there wouldn’t be a book unless Rabbani served as the co-author.

  46. Cliff
    February 5, 2012, 7:49 am

    Ilan Pappe video

    • Citizen
      February 5, 2012, 8:36 am

      Thanks, Cliff. In the video clip:

      Ilan Pappe: (9/2009)
      No language for anti-colonialist to use today as it does not exist apart from Israel in the world today. Palestine is not occupied (As Iraq has been, and Afghanista is), it is colonized. Need to reveal Palestinian cause as anti-colonialism.

      We need to visit Palestine, and report every incident there under the macro of power politics–even if physically cannot do that, do it on internet. And Support BDS option.

      Students are most free to act, so should adopt the more extreme stance in this context. Every day Palestinian 50 or 60 students are jailed for free speech by Israel.

      Get out of colonial situation by 2-state solution? Compared to struggle against apartheid S Africa, we have not penetrated the establishment media.
      Rhetoric of parity is not relevant to achieve this penetration. We need to widen the coalition supporting Palestinians. Israel is moving ahead, it’s in 5th gear to change more facts on the ground so our struggle will be irrelevant except for history books.

      There is no chance for change of Israeli public in short term as Israel now in 5th gear on the ground. Situation too dire daily for Palestinians.

      Apartheid & political lobbying: We can’t give up on this. Learn this from the enemy. It took 30 years to build up the pro-Israel lobby re Britain’s parliament. Unfortunately, we needed the Gaza massacre to recruit significant number of people in our cause; we don’t want another massacre, so we must be innovative in laying out our case and being influential before no matter what we do, it will be irrelevant due to Israel’s push on the literal ground.

  47. optimax
    February 5, 2012, 11:25 am

    Israel Firster is a useful term because it p*sses off the people who would destroy the US to feed their religio-mythic beast.

    Usefull maxim: Only respect those who respect you.

    • Chaos4700
      February 5, 2012, 12:29 pm

      What’s funny is I’m pretty sure that term originates among Israel Firsters themselves.

    • David Green
      February 5, 2012, 7:58 pm

      “Israel Firster is a useful term because it p*sses off the people who would destroy the US to feed their religio-mythic beast. ”

      You mean, the kind of people who would invade Mexico, commit genocide against the Indians, invade the Phillipines and Cuba, China, Europe in World War I, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq?

      Those kind of people who would “destroy the U.S.?”

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 10:01 am

        I guess you’re right, Green, it’s better that we respect and listen to Israel instead.

        Goddamn. Seriously?

  48. atime forpeace
    February 5, 2012, 12:16 pm

    What truly saddens me is how oblivious your average american jew really is…just think how oblivious your average american on the street is about “the only democracy in the middle east” and apply that to the american jews.

    good luck trying to not blame anyone and pretend that shit just happens all by itself and that the american public will not scapegoat someone…we know that the gov’t would like to blame iran and point the finger away from our shores but the public by then may not be in the mood for more war.

  49. patm
    February 5, 2012, 12:31 pm

    No term will perfectly describe the past and present horrors perpetrated by Zionists in Palestine. Here are my reasons for using the term Israel Firsters:

    The term directs attention to the issue of loyalty; Israel Firsters cannot easily leap from this term to falsely accuse me of being a Canadian Jew hater. This imo is the main reason why they are so alarmed by the term.

    Christian Zionists in Canada and the US have within their ranks some of the most rabid Palestinian haters of all time. There are millions and millions of these sad ignorant people being manipulated by John Hagee and his ilk. The term Israel Firster contains a simple concept, one easier to explain and to comprehend than Apartheid Israel. Many of these ill-educated Christian Zionists are loyal to their home country, and some will be influenced by this new term.

  50. optimax
    February 5, 2012, 2:39 pm

    In war you can not let the enemy make the rules. The Zionists have been waging a covert war against the security and wealth of the US for years, desguised as friendship or God’s Will. By controling the media, they decide what is acceptable or forbidden to believe. Unfortunately, the average american uses this information/entertainment plasma drip as his main source of nourishment, not realizing it is killing him.

    They angrier you make Zionists–all the criminal elite really(this goes beyond Israel)–the better. It makes them crazy foolish, swinging wildly, hitting those they previously sought as allies, exposing the Zionist/elite insanity, and turning friends against them. It worked for Mohammad Ali. Making nice and trying to change the minds of psychotic/true believers doesn’t work. To them it is a sign weakness to be used against you. The only minds you can influence are those on the fringe but not the rotten core of fanatics.

    Keep up the good work.

  51. brenda
    February 5, 2012, 5:09 pm

    I’ve been rethinking this issue myself lately. Even though it does seem to be accurate, unfortunately, it doesn’t get the job done to belabor the point. And I don’t know what the solution is either.

    meanwhile, here’s some red meat:
    link to haaretz.com

    maybe the solution is to support the Israeli peace movement and to support American democracy as best we can, without reference to the traitors in our midst. Hopefully they will dry up and blow away…

    • patm
      February 5, 2012, 5:49 pm

      Red meat indeed, brenda. Reason enough to get out in droves to support OCCUPY AIPAC.

      Here’s the first para of the Haaretz article you cite:

      “We have a prime minister who was elected thanks mainly to donations from abroad. Some 98 percent of the donations that Benjamin Netanyahu received for the Likud primaries of 2005 came from foreign donors, most of them Americans. The phenomenon of raising money primarily from abroad repeated itself in last week’s Likud elections.”

      p.s. Don’t give up on the term Israel Firsters. It is accurate and it is useful.

  52. lyn117
    February 5, 2012, 6:14 pm

    A local congressman, Brad Sherman, regularly holds “town hall” meetings with the Israeli deputy consulate at a synagogue in his district on the subject of foreign affairs – he’s a ranking member of the congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    As far as I know, he advertises that he’ll have them only in the local Jewish Journal. I don’t know if he sends out notices about them ahead of time on his regular email list, since I haven’t signed up for that. Unlike his other town hall meetings, these particular town hall meetings aren’t published on his web site.

    I’ve called Brad Sherman an “Israel firster” in part because of events like this and the amount of effort he spends as a congressman supporting Israel, but I’m not sure it’s an accurate description. Israel firster or not, it seems a little underhanded to sort of reserve a town hall meeting for a specific part of his constituency, a segment that he himself is a member of, and exclude from the invitation his general constituency. I think that they’d all have an opinion on the wars on Iraq (which Sherman voted to authorize) and Iran (which he apparently supports), if nothing else. Conversely, I’m sure Sherman’s Jewish constituents have an interest in more than just foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel. Maybe it’s just his “glaring” lack of publicity on the foreign policy town halls that makes it seem underhanded.

    Anyone else want to weigh in? Should Brad Sherman get the “Israel firster” label?

    • patm
      February 5, 2012, 8:24 pm

      Hi Lyn. The author of the article you cite seemed to think it wrong not to have had a properly publicized foreign policy town hall meeting.

      Yes, I would say Congressman Brad Sherman is an Israel Firster, for this reason and for his long mindless history of voting for Israel.

      One of the criticisms of the term on this thread is that Israel Firsters are not helping but harming Israelis. (The article Brenda cites above has this theme.)

      Yes, Israel Firsters may well be hastening the day the Zionist state is deemed illegitimate. But that doesn’t mean the term ‘Israel Firster’ is incorrect. What it means is that Israel Firsters are crazed fools.

    • Citizen
      February 6, 2012, 4:22 am

      Is Brad Sherman an Israel Firster? Judging by the article you hot linked to showing how he operates as a US representative, it’s not hard to conclude what his highest priority is. Currently, he’s running for reelection. A little known opponent is Vince Gilmore, who has his own web site, a short one, laying out his priorities. Is Gilmore an Israel Firster? It’s hard not to conclude he is not an Israel Firster.

    • Citizen
      February 6, 2012, 7:27 am

      I already replied to your question, lyn117, but for some reason my comment has vanished. Anyway, Brad Sherman, judging by the linked article about how he operates as a US Rep, is certainly not like one of his competitors in his current campaign for reelection after redistricting: Vince Gilmore. Judging by Gilmore’s web site text re his priorities, nobody could ever call Gilmore an Israel Firster.

      Gee, suddenly my original response has reappeared!

  53. Sin Nombre
    February 5, 2012, 11:50 pm

    patm above noted something that I too just read in Haaretz and I think it’s so amazing and important—if not in fact “paradigm changing” to use an unfortunately hackneyed phrase now—that I wish this were the start of a more on-point thread so that more people here could consider it.

    To repeat what patm pointed out, Haaretz said that something like 98% of all the donations Netanyahu got for his campaign at one point came from abroad. Most from Americans.

    Well it seems to me that’s just gobsmacking in a number of different ways. Firstly of course in perhaps changing at the most fundamental level the way some think about the Israeli issue and indeed the way we too often thoughtlessly talk about it.

    That is, how common is it that we think and talk about the problem being … “Israel leading the U.S. around by the nose” or etc.? And yet this information sort of reverses that, doesn’t it? To be more accurate it’s more a matter of “some Americans leading Israel around by the nose to then lead America around by the nose,” true?

    And while this doesn’t … “absolve” the Israeli voters from their votes, well it does put that in a little different light, doesn’t it? No different than our dismay when big money is seen as choosing *our* candidates here.

    In addition, interestingly enough, I also think that seeing things in this perspective radically undermines the charges of some thoroughgoing anti-semitism being at work amongst those who are so critical of Israel. At least to the degree they share that perspective. And that’s because that criticism now can be seen as significantly less of “the jews” in Israel, and … *far* more centrally directed just at those few individuals in the U.S. who are pumping all this money into the Likud and other extremist pockets in Israel.

    I know of course that there’s been lots of previous criticism of these U.S. contributors here, much due to Phil Weiss’ perceptiveness. But did we really appreciate the … “98%” figure and what that means?

    Did we really consider for example how much more moderate Israel may well have been and might be in the future if only this funding by a relative few were not there?

    That “98%” is just a forehead-slapping figure, to me at least. Amazing. The only thing I can’t figure is how come the Israelis themselves aren’t absolutely up in arms about it. Can they really be that sanguine about their fate being determined by foreign jews?

    But, indeed, maybe they are, and those conversations are just muted from our view.

    In any event and again, amazing to me at least, and consequential perhaps even to the point of being fundamental.

  54. American
    February 6, 2012, 3:01 am

    Yes, Israel firster is definitely the way to go. Because is no cure for the kind of people with the agenda in this article. What this writer is espousing is a direct threat to any nation’s first purpose and reason for being—the wishes and welfare of it’s own citizens. Obviously this is aimed at US Jews to encourage or reassure them that putting Israel first is as American as apple pie.

    link to haaretz.com

    Latest update 05:38 06.02.12

    U.S. Jews who put Israel first are merely exercising their democratic rights
    There is nothing neither wrong nor un-American in being a single issue voter.

    By Joel Braunold / Jewish World blogger
    Tags: Jewish World US Jews US elections Diaspora

    With the loathsome term ‘Israel-Firster’ coming back into the journalistic vernacular in some parts of the U.S. press, an opinion is forming that elections bring the worst out of Jews. Whether through the Republican candidates’ fixation on Israel, or vocal elements of the communities myopic focus, some are questioning whether it is right to be such a single issue voter at a time when there are so many problems plaguing the United States. By voting on the basis of how a candidate for office views Israel, are you somehow showing you have dual loyalties?

    First and foremost it is vital to make clear that there is nothing neither wrong nor un-American in being a single issue voter. Many in the environmental lobby made clear to the president that if he had green-lighted the Keystone Pipeline then they would not have voted for him. They boiled their selection down to a single issue. Whether on a woman’s right to choose, the second amendment or nuclear disarmament, being intensely motivated by a single issue is normal in many settings. Why cannot those whose issue is Israel be considered in the same way?

    Some may retort that Israel is a foreign country, not a domestic policy choice; a vote based on a foreign countries interest is clearly not something that a loyal citizen would do. There are many responses to this accusation, I will lay out two.

    The first is to say that how the U.S. treats Israel directly affects the United States values and ethics. Israel is the test case for Western values and its abandonment will ultimately lead to America’s downfall. Judging candidates’ worth based on their views on Israel therefore would be upholding American values. I personally do not subscribe to this view, but there are many on the political right who do.

    Alternatively, one could truly believe that Israel is in mortal danger and, as a person who feels a deep affinity with the people there coupled with your concerns about their welfare, you choose to prioritize their physical safety over your domestic problems. Again, this is not a position to which I ascribe but there are plenty of American Jews, often older segments, who do believe that Israel’s very survival is dependent on a strongly pro-Israel U.S. government. This elder generation lives with the belief that just as in the 1930’s the Jewish community risked much to prioritize Jewish welfare over other concerns, so does the duty fall on their heads. Does this act of compassion, as they see it, make them any less loyal to America?

    These dual-loyalty claims are as bizarre as they are offensive. What could be more American then organizing and making your views heard at the ballot box? There are plenty of Diaspora communities, who care about their national homeland. Should the Norman Tebit cricket test be applied to all before we accept their pledges of allegiance?

    As a newcomer to America I do not have the ability to cast a ballot in the forthcoming elections. Yet, back in my native city of London I too am faced with an electoral problem. As a Labour Party member, the candidate standing, Ken Livingston, is a marvelous technocrat. I greatly admire his handling of London’s many services. Yet his unhealthy obsession with Israel and all things anti-Zionist make it impossible for me to vote for him with a clean conscience.

    Does this imply my loyalty to the U.K. is in question, or that someone who I believe hates a country to which I feel a deep emotional connection is not deserving of my vote? Israel, in my case, is the determining factor in my decision at the ballot box, yet my loyalty to London, the U.K. and to the Queen is never in question. My problems as a Jewish Londoner are similar in type if not scope to those of the Jewish Swede in Malmo.

    However one decides to judge the merits of a candidate for public office, their expression of their preferences through the ballot is both a function of good citizenship and loyalty to the institutions of state. Voting – whether based on a single issue or a multitude of issues – are both the expressions of a free citizen exercising their rights in the democratic process.

    Joel Braunold is a Bnei Akiva alumnus and a former staff member of OneVoice Europe who is currently studying at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

    • American
      February 6, 2012, 3:19 am

      Short poll.

      How often have you seen a zios activist claim…” What could be more American then organizing and making your views heard at the ballot box?”…..as a justification for the Israel Lobby or Israel first voting?

      I know I have seen this dumbed downed reasoning about a thousand times over the years, that use to be their favorite argument…that they are just exercising their democratic rights, yada,,yada….can’t believe they are still using it.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 6:32 am

        As a non-USian, I’ve been watching the whole “Israel firster” debate from the sidelines – and it does strike me as a very American conversation. From this outsider’s perspective, the term would appear to be effective, and the accusations of anti-Semitism misplaced, to say the least.

        Nevertheless, I would distinguish between three groups (something that Mr. Braunold would seem to be reluctant to do): ordinary voters, political donors/lobbyists, and politicians. It is perfectly legitimate for voters to base their decisions on whatever foolishness (national, foreign, interplanetary, etc.) they like – they do anyway. Those who try to influence politics with their billfolds can and should be called out for the nastiness of the specific causes they espouse (Israel first, corporations first, widgets first, psychotropics first, organised crime first, banks first and so on), although the fact that they can get away with it must be addressed on the systemic level. Politicians must constantly be named and shamed for any immoral, narrow and self-interested positions they take. If “Israel firster” works, use it. I don’t see much difference between that and the “one-percenter” slogan – although, as a rule, I dislike patriotic arguments (might have something to do with the fact that I’ve been called a “traitor” more times than I can count).

      • Citizen
        February 6, 2012, 7:41 am

        Simple exercise, if we replaced every Jewish American in government with a Palestinian American, and we substituted “Palestinian” for “Jewish” in our MSM Op-Eds, and basically switched words, and we replaced “Israel” in accepted commentary in Congress with “Palestine,”and we had a Palestinian version of AIPAC, with the same influence, would those who don’t like the phrase “Israel Firster” think there was anything we everyday Americans should be concerned about?

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 8:22 am

        … would those who don’t like the phrase “Israel Firster” think there was anything we everyday Americans should be concerned about?

        Not liking the phrase doesn’t necessarily imply liking the situation – whether talking realistically about Zionists or hypothetically about Palestinians.

        I don’t see anything wrong with the phrase, but I do see something wrong with casting aspersions on the motives of anyone who does. Stern-Weiner makes some valid points, as does David Green. Sadly, cannibalism is part and parcel of the revolutionary spirit.

      • seanmcbride
        February 6, 2012, 9:38 am

        Citizen,

        I modified your post slightly. Consider this:

        “Simple exercise, if we replaced every Jewish American in government with an Irish American, and we substituted “Irish” for “Jewish” in our MSM Op-Eds, and basically switched words, and we replaced “Israel” in accepted commentary in Congress with “Ireland,”and we had an Irish version of AIPAC, with the same influence, would those who don’t like the phrase “Israel Firster” think there was anything we everyday Americans should be concerned about?”

        How crazy would that be? How incredibly self-destructive for Irish Americans? Most American ethnic groups would never permit themselves to get backed into such a dangerous corner.

        For Irish American, substitute German American, Italian American, Japanese American, Mexican American, Swedish American, etc.

        Most American ethnic groups have abandoned ethnic nationalism and have worked hard to integrate into American democratic society without reservations or qualifications. They are not trying to drag us into endless wars on behalf of the questionable values and policies of their foreign “homeland.” America is their homeland.

        If I *were* an Irish or British nationalist (I am not), I would never harass my fellow Americans about Irish or British nationalism. I would move to Ireland or Britain and fight the good fight from my real homeland

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 9:57 am

        Yeah, Shmuel, remember how you self-styled doves here shielded wondering jew as a reasonable person we should respect? You know… this guy?

        When are you going to figure out that it’s no anyone on our side that has a taste for blood?

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 10:11 am

        Chaos,

        I think your criticism of WJ on this point is on the mark. I also think that he is one of the few Zionists here who actually tries to engage in discussion rather than merely disseminating propaganda.

        That’s not what I’m talking about on this thread. I’m talking about seeing “crypto-Zionists” and “closet tribalists” under the bed (excuse the mixed metaphor).

        There was recently a scuffle on my local pro-Palestinian mailing list, because the actions of some members were seen as being too “soft”. The argument itself was a legitimate one, but the accusations of “Zionist”, “collaborator” and “kapo” were not.

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 10:19 am

        You CANNOT separate what someone says in one situation from what they say in another situation and pretend like you have anything other than two contradictory visualizations of that person — neither of which will be accurate.

        You are being naive and needlessly obsequious. I’m sorry to get personal, but let me ask you something: Shmuel, have you ever confronted the fact that you have family in Israel who would literally KILL you if you stood between them and the Palestinians?

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 10:27 am

        You CANNOT separate what someone says in one situation from what they say in another situation and pretend like you have anything other than two contradictory visualizations of that person — neither of which will be accurate.

        Not “two contradictory visualizations”; one complex one.

        have you ever confronted the fact that you have family in Israel who would literally KILL you if you stood between them and the Palestinians?

        A conceivable albeit remote possibility. So what?

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 10:31 am

        You’re in danger of resorting to Witty logic to justify something that really doesn’t deserve justification.

        On the second count: my point exactly. You are willing to endanger your own life to forgive people who are a threat to you and others.

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 10:36 am

        And for the record, since it will be hours before I can reply again: I’ll forgive someone after I’ve ensured they’re no longer a threat to myself and other people.

      • Citizen
        February 6, 2012, 10:44 am

        seanmcbride, there are about 3 million Arab-Americans. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say nearly all of them empathize with the Palestinian people’s plight—why should they differ in this respect from the Arab Street in the ME? The bulk of America’s Arab population are Christians. I think those facts are significant enough for my original comment to which you responded. Nevertheless, you make my point in a wider American context, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Americans of German descent are the biggest ethnic group in America, yes even 2012 America (where the newborns are quickly becoming browner, so that soon America will have a nationally minority that is white, instead of now, where that is only so in many urban areas)–and Americans of Irish descent are the second-largest ethnic group. And yes, both of these ethnic groups have totally bought into the melting pot vision of America. No other two ethnic groups have put their young sons on the line so much for America–as cannon fodder. This is still true today, despite the gross change trend in US demography. Actually, who will replace them? Anybody see who?

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 10:56 am

        Chaos,

        I don’t see how you reached either conclusion.

        “Witty logic”? Where? Because I think people can both hold repugnant views and engage in introspection and reasoned argument?

        willing to endanger your own life to forgive people who are a threat to you and others

        Who have I forgiven? Are you suggesting that I sever all ties with my family? That I make clearer distinctions between “good guys” and “bad guys”? (Damn, I do sound a little like Witty now, but even a stopped clock …)

      • Citizen
        February 6, 2012, 11:03 am

        Damn, this is getting interesting…

      • Cliff
        February 6, 2012, 11:22 am

        Shmuel I agree w/ you on the local level issue. People should be allowed to vote however they choose.

      • Mooser
        February 6, 2012, 11:31 am

        Wow, you guys are tough on Shmuel! How dare you ask him to grow up and act like a man who values his relationship with God and his own integrity more than he values his ability to keep a foot in both camps and one in his mouth. Remember, Judaism is a “we” thing.
        And besides, there’s a good possibility that Israel will win, and get, along with the extinction of the non-Jews in the way, all the land and economic benefits they want. Where would Shmuel be then if he cut off relations with his family?
        Stuck with God, and what the hell has He ever done for the Jews, except to get them Israel?

      • seanmcbride
        February 6, 2012, 11:38 am

        Citizen,

        When is the last time you have seen an Irish American or German American verbally attack or abuse a fellow American over Irish or German politics? It doesn’t happen. Perform the same thought exercise on dozens of other ethnic groups. Generally one doesn’t see that kind of behavior.

        Americans being verbally attacked by pro-Israel activists, often viciously so? It’s an everyday occurrence — a central feature of contemporary American political culture. (For instance, I was just called “ignorant” and “stupid” by David Green, who is a liberal Zionist.) When you stand back from this pattern of attacks and take a good look at it, it’s really bizarre — radically out of sync with mainstream American cultural values.

        Why would anyone who has been attacked by pro-Israel activists feel any motivation to make large sacrifices for Israel — especially when they disagree on principled grounds with many Israeli policies?

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 11:42 am

        You’ve got me pegged, Mooser, as always ;-) Nice to see you back, by the way.

      • Mooser
        February 6, 2012, 11:53 am

        I am not, by no means, “back”. I just have a huge backlog of comments on file, and I have set up a program to enter them based on a natural algorithm, of which I’ve got plenty.
        As a matter of fact, I am at this moment installing a vinyl floor, and seating a new toilet.
        Besides, I don’t belong here, Shmuel. From an early age, I have neither liked nor trusted Israelis. And I am sure they will screw up, killing thousands of Jews and non-Jews in the process, with absolutely no help from me.
        But I tell you one thing, Shmuel, and mark this well: As of the end of tod…well, tomorrow, a poor Guatemalan pentecostal church in my neighborhood will have much more pleasant and reliable defacatory conditions. You may think I have neither the experience or intelligence to accomplish this, but don’t forget: In the past I have often wired a head for reservations.

      • Mooser
        February 6, 2012, 11:58 am

        “You’ve got me pegged, Mooser, as always”

        There you go again, positing yourself as Jesus. And shall we turn a blind eye to the ethnic and religious extraction of the guy you say is doing the pegging?

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 2:04 pm

        Consider the outcome of ”legitimizing” the foreign country attachment, what would happen if became accepted as right and normal.

        We have more Greek-Americans than we do Jewish-Americans.
        Do you see any Greek Americans lobbying for or demanding the US use taxpayer money to bail Greece out of it’s bankruptcy?

        How about Black Americans, Africian -Americans, second largest group in our population, do you see a organized African American lobby for Africa, for the US to give billions to Africa or promote democracy or protect Africians from all it’s conflicts?

        How about hispanic- Americans for Mexico?

        See any rich US Greeks or rich US Africian Americans giving milllions to politicians to control US policy toward Greece or Africa?

        What if all hyphens in the US, every immigrant , which would be all Americans except Indians, had a attachment to their original homeland and a lobby like AIPAC to lobby for it.

        What would be the point or purpose of America except as a factory of workers forced to put their money in a pool to be parceled out to foreign countries in proportion to each hyphened-Americans favored country’s lobby influence.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 2:41 pm

        Consider the outcome of ”legitimizing” the foreign country attachment, what would happen if became accepted as right and normal.

        Maybe it’s a USian thing – or maybe it’s the fact that I was born in one country (one with a declared policy of multiculturalism), raised in another (one with a declared policy of ethno-religious discrimination) – and live in a third (as an immigrant) but I don’t see the problem on the ordinary voter level.

        Elected officials are another matter – although one would expect elected officials to look out for the concerns of the specific constituencies they represent. A rep. from a predominantly Muslim or Polish or Hispanic (or rich or poor or rural or gay or black) district would have the interests of those communities close to heart. I don’t see voters’ “foreign” concerns as being fundamentally different from any other parochial interests (within reason, and law and constitution permitting).

        Large donors and lobbies are yet another matter. A system that demands such large sums of money and is vulnerable to such pressures is a bad system. Call out lobbyists who support bad causes (human rights abuses, unfair distribution of resources, warmongering – or whatever you consider wrong, according to your personal world view), and call out the system that gives them so much power.

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 3:24 pm

        I don’t see voters’ “foreign” concerns as being fundamentally different from any other parochial interests “…Shmuel

        “Elected officials are another matter – although one would expect elected officials to look out for the concerns of the specific constituencies they represent. A rep. from a predominantly Muslim or Polish or Hispanic (or rich or poor or rural or gay or black) district would have the interests of those communities close to heart”…….Shmuel

        No limit to elected officials representing their specific constituencies… eh?
        Including championing a US war for the specific constituency that wants one for their favorite foreign country…. eh?

        Have to say Shumel you fit in with the Insidious Agenda crowd just fine. lol

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 3:39 pm

        No limit to elected officials representing their specific constituencies… eh?Including championing a US war for the specific constituency that wants one for their favorite foreign country…. eh?

        Where did I imply anything of the sort? Are you intentionally misrepresenting what I wrote?

        Have to say Shumel you fit in with the Insidious Agenda crowd just fine

        Thanks, but I prefer “vicious”.

      • tree
        February 6, 2012, 4:06 pm

        Thanks, but I prefer “vicious”.

        As long as you aren’t “innocuous”, you’re fine by me. ;-)

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 4:11 pm

        As long as you aren’t “innocuous”, you’re fine by me. ;-)

        That’s even worse than “Insidious Agenda”. Won’t catch me within a mile of “innocuous” :-)

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 4:36 pm

        “Where did I imply anything of the sort? Are you intentionally misrepresenting what I wrote?”…Shumel

        No I didn’t misrepresent what you wrote…..I took it to it’s logical conclusion….if a politicians constituency has a specific wish, then that’s what he’s going to champion.
        Has it escaped your attention all the calls for attacking Iran by politicians with specific constituencies? How about all the presidential candidates swearing to attack Iran if elected….what specific constituencies are they promising that for? The Jewish zionist, the Pro Israel donors, the Christian fundies, the Israel firsters? It’s definitely not for the majority who don’t want a war.
        Who are you trying to kid? Yourself or us? This is the exact phenomenon of specific constituencies we are seeing right now re Israel and Iran.
        Promising a war for a specific constituency is apparently not beyond the limits.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 4:49 pm

        No I didn’t misrepresent what you wrote…..I took it to it’s logical conclusion….

        What part of “within reason, and law and constitution permitting” was unclear?

        Pursuing a warmongering agenda merely to satisfy the narrow interests of constituents is not “within reason”, and probably (I’ll leave it to Hostage to cite chapter and verse) illegal and unconstitutional. Whether that narrow interest is due to an attachment to a foreign country, local capital, religious belief, jobs in military industries, patriotism or an excess of testosterone is immaterial.

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 5:58 pm

        @ Citizen,

        It’s true that German, Scot and Irish have always made up the majority of US armed forces, in particular the Southerners of Scot-Irish. Sen. Jim Webb’s book ‘Born Fighting’ was a pretty good accounty of the military demographics.
        For some reason the elites hate this Southern military majority and the AEI last year was complaining about it.

        ”In a WSJ op-ed titled “The Military Should Mirror the Nation,” AEI scholars Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller lament the Southernization of the officer corps and worry that the ROTC system is exacerbating the trend. The statistics are indeed rather stark:

        Few Americans today have a personal connection to the military. Veterans represent 9% of the total population (a number that continues to decline), and less than 1% serves in any of the military services, active duty or reserves.

        Soldiers also come from a narrower segment of society—geographically and culturally—than ever before. Nearly half of all Army recruits come from military families. Southerners disproportionately populate all the branches, while the middle-class suburbs surrounding the nation’s largest cities—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia—produce relatively few service members despite having a large percentage of the nation’s youth population.”
        link to topics.wsj.com

        This is actually a conspiracy we Southerners cooked up called The Protocals of the Southerners. When the US falls we will already be in control the US military forces and take over the US. lol

      • Thomson Rutherford
        February 6, 2012, 5:58 pm

        @Shmuel

        I don’t see anything wrong with the phrase, but I do see something wrong with casting aspersions on the motives of anyone who does. Stern-Weiner makes some valid points, as does David Green. [my emphasis added]

        This is a categorical denunciation – not admitting of exceptions.

        The problem arose because both S-W and DG were themselves “casting aspersions” – factually incorrect aspersions – on the motives of most people who use the Israel Firster label to describe some American Zionists (cf. my comments above). Since they were attempting to throw up obfuscating strawmen which have, over and over again, been knocked down on this blog, it is to be expected that many of us will question their motives in doing that, even while recognizing the validity of some of their statements.

        Keep in mind, Shmuel, that all conscious (and some unconscious) human actions – including verbal statements – are motivated; i.e., they are actuated my “motives” (emotions) arising in the emotive elements of the brain.

        When people (like S-W and DG in this context) make statements about others that are wholly or partially false, they are doing so either (a) not knowing that they are incorrect, or (b) knowing that, but proceeding with spurious claims anyway. In either case, they are acting with motives. In the former case, one tries to correct their misconceptions. When the latter case is suspected, one questions their motives.

        I attempted to construct my reply to S-W without questioning his motives, since I judged him to be a young and naive British student without much experience of American politics. In DG’s case, I did question his motives without actually impugning them. But judging from his comments, I do suspect him of being a Zionist who doesn’t shoot straight (as we say here in Texas).

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 6:22 pm

        O.K. Shumel, I’ll accept you meant withing reasonable limits as you said…
        ” (within reason, and law and constitution permitting).”

        But that qualifier doesn’t seem to be much of a roadblock on your slippery slope of ….”I don’t see voters’ “foreign” concerns as being fundamentally different from any other parochial interests” does it?
        You don’t see the Israel foreign issue as different from say, Social Security or SEC Regulations or US Health Care or the NRA?

        Point me to where the law and constitution has had the slightest effect on the activities of the Israel firsters or prevented congress from ignoring laws or making up laws to benefit Israel foreign elements, like for a small example, IRS lLaws –allowing fully deductable tax free individuals donations to Israel, but not for any other US citizens individual donations to any charitable or interest group…not Cure Cancer, Not Save the Whales, none, nada, zip. Care to explain that?

        A slippery slope has only a down elevator, not a up elevator.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 6:40 pm

        Thomson,

        I don’t think there is any question that the “anti-Semite” label is grossly and disastrously abused, but I don’t think that’s what JSW or even DG were doing here (although in DG’s case, it’s a little hard to see through the angry rhetoric).

        I get the feeling that some commenters can’t conceive of opposing or feeling uncomfortable with the “Israel firster” label without being one (if only subconsciously). As we have seen, even suggesting that such an argument might be legitimate (without actually agreeing with it) is enough to put one in the “Insidious Agenda” club.

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 7:09 pm

        O.K. Shumel, I’ll accept you meant withing reasonable limits as you said…

        Most kind ;-)

        No, I don’t see a fundamental difference between different kinds of “special interests” – except in terms of the morality of the agendas they promote, which is also related to how narrow those interests actually are and how they affect those who don’t share them (and even those who do).

        Another factor you mention is how powerful the lobbies in question have been allowed to become. Beyond demonstrating the deep flaws in the system, they also make a case for fighting harder against the more powerful lobbies, because the very fact of their power poses a danger. But I don’t see the distinction as being between “national” and “foreign” interests.

        Good laws may be enforced and they may offer recourse when they have been broken, but the law is neither perfect nor sacred. I myself have fought against and even broken a few laws that I have considered immoral – and I have fought for the enforcement of laws that are regularly ignored or even violated by those charged with upholding them.

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 7:37 pm

        But I don’t see the distinction as being between “national” and “foreign”
        ( American says we are talking about foreign interest of a minority here I want to add just to be clear) interests. “…..Shumel

        O.K. Shumel, if you still don’t get the difference– then I’m gonna have to resort to hiring an exorcist to cast out the demon controlling your mind. lol

      • Thomson Rutherford
        February 6, 2012, 11:40 pm

        @Shmuel

        I get the feeling that some commenters can’t conceive of opposing or feeling uncomfortable with the “Israel firster” label without being one (if only subconsciously). As we have seen, even suggesting that such an argument might be legitimate (without actually agreeing with it) is enough to put one in the “Insidious Agenda” club.

        Shmuel, I can think of a number of defensible reasons why some people, including some who are not even supporters of Israel, might “feel uncomfortable” with use of the Israel Firster label applied to some Zionists. No complaint from me about that. It is perfectly legitimate for the discomfited to argue against such expressions. The problem, I repeat, comes when these opposing arguments are based on faulty characterizations of those using the term Israel Firsters. For example, both Stern-Weiner and David Green made spurious suggestions about the moral fitness of persons who say “Israel Firster,” while simply making stuff up about their motivations – such as a putative desire to defend America’s imperialism and military adventures. (Is this all of the objectors’ take-away from Chomsky?)

        The relevant question is one of fact: Are there some Zionists who (a) are Jewish ethnic nationalists and (b) whose ethnic nationalism is focused on the Jewish State of Israel so intensely that it is fair to say that their loyalties lie firstly with that nation? I maintain that this is indeed a fact, that there are such people living in appreciable numbers within the U.S. Does anyone deny that this is a fact?

        If the statement is accepted as fact, does anyone deny that the term “Israel Firster” provides a reasonably accurate representation of these persons’ general political disposition, at least in regard to U.S. foreign policy? Notice that the term does not imply anything about such a person’s attitudes about internal Israeli politics. Nor does it imply anything about the person’s specific preferences about U.S. policy toward Israel, other than that the policies should conform to the person’s own conception of what is best for Israel.

        Shmuel, there is a deadly serious struggle now underway in America between pro-Zionism and anti-Zionism for influence in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. As Paul Krugman likes to say in the different context of disputes over macroeconomic policy, “this is not a game.” The lives of many millions will be affected by the outcome. It is nothing less than a struggle for the soul of America.

        The term Israel Firster, narrowly and accurately applied, is not intended to be innocuous. It is intended to reflect reality. “Viciousness” has not been a common characteristic of anti-Zionist behavior in America. But, unfortunately, it has characterized much of the Zionists’ inevitable attacks on any who oppose them. It is not (as yet) an even battleground; the cannons of calumny are almost exclusively in the hands of the Zionists.

      • Shmuel
        February 7, 2012, 3:58 am

        O.K. Shumel, if you still don’t get the difference– then I’m gonna have to resort to hiring an exorcist to cast out the demon controlling your mind. lol

        Fr. Amorth is the senior exorcist in my diocese. Maybe he’ll give us a twofer :-)

      • Shmuel
        February 7, 2012, 4:01 am

        Thomson,

        I disagree with your reading of JSW and DG, but agree completely with the rest of your comment (February 6, 2012 at 11:40 pm).

      • MRW
        February 7, 2012, 4:47 am

        Thomson, no truer words:

        Shmuel, there is a deadly serious struggle now underway in America between pro-Zionism and anti-Zionism for influence in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. As Paul Krugman likes to say in the different context of disputes over macroeconomic policy, “this is not a game.” The lives of many millions will be affected by the outcome.

        And had it not been for the net, we could have been at war by now. Should it get to that, however, the consequences could be so grave that we will have unleashed a horror few seem equipped to imagine. These warmongers need to be lashed to poles in the public square, and left there to live with themselves where they can do no more harm to the unsuspecting and ignorant (which at this point, unfortunately, is the massive majority of the nation). There is no justification for war. Period.

        You are absolutely correct to call it a deadly serious struggle here. And if an inopportune label can divert their insane rumble and use up some of their overwrought agita, so much the better.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 5:34 am

        Just want to say I agree with Thomson Rutherford’s nicely concise assessment of the stakes here in America in re his response to Shmuel.

        Ditto MRW’s response.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 5:42 am

        Well, yes, Shmuel, any special interest is just that, fundamentally. Any comparison of them is all about your outlined comparative differences.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 5:51 am

        RE: “When the US falls we will already be in control the US military forces and take over the US. lol”

        Hey, maybe I should stick around for awhile–I could resurrect my old combat engineering skills–I was pretty good way back when; I made PFC a bunch of times! Might be more entertaining than doing the treadmill at the gym, watching Jude Judy unravel, case by case, the culture of modern America. Maybe after the attack on Iran slides into all the unintended consequences?

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 5:53 am

        Yeah, Cliff, that’s why we have all those instructive $M superPAC ads. Keeps it tidy.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 6:19 am

        seanmcbride, you’re right, perhaps because the Irish and German Americans, inter alia, have completely melted into the old American melting pot? Meaning they think of themselves as “American” first as gut reaction to their secular identity? Because they don’t feel the need for a foreign country as an insurance policy? A sequel to the melting pot simile is the tossed salad, and a sequal to that sequel simile is the stew. But even in our current diverse, multicultural society, there is generally, at least among the 98% non-Jewish Americans, no significant tie in with a foreign country, is there? Certainly nothing exists anything like The Israel Lobby and its matrix of supporting organizations (often under very deceptive names).

        Because, too, they don’t have to go back from 1948 thousands of years to a point on the world map to show you where there ancestors came from (at least in their own mind)? Because the warrior tradition has long been part of their historical tradition?

        How do you think an American of Gypsy background would answer your question? (I use to date one).

      • seanmcbride
        February 7, 2012, 9:41 am

        Citizen,

        My impression is that in contemporary America Jews *as a group* (certainly not all or most Jews) rank much higher for ethnic nationalism than every other ethnic group. Does anyone disagree? And they rank much higher for ethnocentrism in general and ethnic xenophobia in particular (the expression of fear of and hostility towards ethnic outsiders).

        This question could be answered in part this way:

        1. Sort ethnic groups by number of ethnic nationalist op-ed articles in the New York Times from 2000 through the present.

        2. Sort ethnic groups by number of ethnic nationalist op-ed articles in the Washington Post from 2000 through the present.

        3. Sort ethnic groups by number of ethnic nationalist op-ed articles in the Wall Street Journal from 2000 through the present.

        How many excited articles by Jewish pro-Israel activists (Jewish ethnic nationalists, Jewish Zionists) have all of us read by now in those publications? Many more than I wish I had read. I am grateful that I do not have to wade through a similar torrent of excited verbiage by Irish pro-Ireland activists or any other ethnic nationalist lobby. It’s tiresome, it’s divisive and it has little to do with the best interests of most Americans and of America as a whole. It’s all Israel all the time. One might even call it “Israel Firstism,” although I prefer the terms pro-Israel militancy or obsessive-compulsive Zionism.

        My best advice to the Israel lobby would be this: radically lower your profile. Regarding the three sorts above, strive to come in third place or lower — not in first place by a mile. But one already knows how this is going to go: they are going to escalate their militancy and further raise their profile. They can’t help themselves — this is all about irrational biblical messianism.

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 11:05 am

        
From Wikipedia:
        . Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the “nation” is defined in terms of ethnicity. Whatever specific ethnicity is involved, ethnic nationalism always includes some element of descent from previous generations and the implied claim of ethnic essentialism, i.e. the understanding of ethnicity as an essence that remains unchanged over time.
        . The central theme of ethnic nationalists is that “..nations are defined by a shared heritage, which usually includes a common language, a common faith, and a common ethnic ancestry.”[1] It also includes ideas of a culture shared between members of the group, and with their ancestors, and usually a shared language; however it is different from purely cultural definitions of “the nation” (which allow people to become members of a nation by cultural assimilation) and a purely linguistic definitions (which see “the nation” as all speakers of a specific language). Herodotus is the first who stated the main characteristics of ethnicity, with his famous account of what defines Greek identity, where he lists kinship (Greek: ὅμαιμον – homaimon, “of the same blood”[2]), language (Greek: ὁμόγλωσσον – homoglōsson, “speaking the same language”[3]), cults and customs (Greek: ὁμότροπον – homotropon, “of the same habits or life”).[4][5][6]

        Again, at Wikipedia:

        Ethnic nationalism is also present in many states’ immigration policies in the form of repatriation laws. States such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey provide automatic or rapid citizenship to members of diasporas of their own dominant ethnic group, if desired.[1] For example, Italy allows citizenship almost entirely on the basis of jus sanguinis (having an Italian Ancestor). Israel’s Law of Return, grants every Jew the right to settle in Israel and automatically acquire citizenship.[8] In Germany, citizenship is open to ethnic Germans.[clarification needed] According to the Greek nationality law, Greeks born abroad may transmit citizenship to their children from generation to generation indefinitely.
        On the other hand, civic nationalism defines membership as an individual’s duty to observe given laws and in turn receive legal privileges.

        Other than getting into the actual details comparing what Wikipedia nails as the listed repatriation laws singled out by state, with, specifically, Israel’s, I have a major problem with this last generic and unsupported (by footnote source) entry on the Wikipedia page:

        A nation-state for the ethnic group derives political legitimacy from its status as homeland of that ethnic group, from its protective function against colonization, persecution or racism, and from its claim to facilitate the shared cultural and social life, which may not have been possible under the ethnic group’s previous status as an ethnic minority.
        [edit]

        Seems to me, while this Wiki description of how a nation-state describes generally its political legitimacy, and its function, in the sole case of Israel, is it not Israel saying and acting to perpetuate colonialism at the expense of the locals? And closing its Zionist eyes to the legitimacy and function of Palestinian just cause as an ethnic group without a fully sovereign state to protect it?
        . Here, ethnonationalism is enlarged to meet a more macro model we all know has been characterized as “the clash of civilizations”–in the article, you will discern that the text is not really objective in that it favors “pro-Western civilization–with Israel as the outpost: link to thewesternexperience.com

        Further, in this context of ethnonationalism, isn’t Israel’s claim as a traditional (Western Civilization-justified) ethnocentric state much closer to (now PC-dead & literally) apartheid S Africa’s, or (Now PC-dead & literally) French Algeria than, say to David Duke’s? After all, David Duke is a WASP, born and bred in USA. (Or try Pat Buchanan’s version of historic America)

      • Hostage
        February 7, 2012, 11:36 am

        Other than getting into the actual details comparing what Wikipedia nails as the listed repatriation laws singled out by state, with, specifically, Israel’s

        Most of that is hasbara that get’s added to articles by contributors who are trying to provide cover for Israel’s Law of Return. For example:

        Because this influx could no longer be managed, especially because of the vast expense of unification, restrictions on the right of ethnic Germans to return to Germany became effective in January 1991. Under the new restrictions, once in Germany ethnic Germans are assigned to certain areas. If they leave these areas, they lose many of their benefits and are treated as if they were foreigners. The government has also established programs to encourage the estimated several million ethnic Germans who still live in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to remain there. Although ethnic Germans are entitled to German citizenship by virtue of their bloodlines, to many Germans they do not seem German, and their social integration has frequently been difficult.

        link to countrystudies.us

      • Citizen
        February 7, 2012, 11:52 am

        Yeah, Hostage, I figured just so; there really is no other state in the world that is as truly enthnocentric as Israel. In the post-WW2 Era, Israel is the most contrary to civic nationalism as the governing principle of civilized countries, along with at least more than a bow to Humanism, the ultimate defender of the individual human standing against the power of collective tyranny. It’s more than interesting that Zionism rejects Enlightenment principles, yet it utterly depends on them in its very definition of “anti-Semitism.” The whole enlightened Western idea as it pertains to jews, is gentiles should judge each jew as an individual, not as part of collective jewry–no blanket condemnations by ethnicity. Yet, Zionism, Likud Israel, a state with nuckes and one of the strongest military powers thanks to USA charity ,justifies it’s ultimate legitimacy on the notion that most of the world, the non-jewish world, is by DNA–closet jew hating. I wish more jewish folks would actually study the socio-economic role of the jews in the Western world over history, just the fact of it in terms of relative power and influence, both compared to the goy royalty and the goy peasants. And we all know, we now live in neo-medieval times, all things considered, especially in USA, a service economy all the way.

      • seanmcbride
        February 7, 2012, 12:27 pm

        Here is another way to look at the issue of ethnic nationalism in American politics: which American mainstream media pundits are ethnic nationalists other than the dozens of Jewish ethnic nationalists with whom we are all familiar? Are there any at all?

      • patm
        February 7, 2012, 5:35 pm

        : which American mainstream media pundits are ethnic nationalists other than the dozens of Jewish ethnic nationalists with whom we are all familiar? Are there any at all?

        Yes, something new, Christian nationalism. Canadian journalist Marci McDonald has a new book out on this movement: The Armageddon Factor: The Rise of Christian Nationalism in Canada.

        Here are the Globe and the Star reviews:

        link to theglobeandmail.com

        http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/807640–timing-of-book-s-release-downright-divine

      • seanmcbride
        February 7, 2012, 6:34 pm

        patm,

        I think the issue of Christian Zionism and Christian Armageddonism is extremely important indeed, and I follow it closely, but permit me to point out that there is an important distinction between ethnic nationalism and religious nationalism.

        There is something more primal and primitive about ethnic nationalism than pure religious nationalism, and it often quickly morphs into vicious or even genocidal racism.

        But of course ethnic and religious nationalism can often merge into a single toxic ideology — call it ethno-religious nationalism. Contemporary Zionism is largely ethno-religious nationalist in character — it combines the worst features of both ethnic and religious nationalism.

        Thanks for the pointer to Marci McDonald’s book — I intend to read it soon.

        By the way, there is some activity going on at Mondoweiss on Friendfeed:

        link to friendfeed.com

        You might want to check it out.

      • patm
        February 7, 2012, 7:13 pm

        …there is an important distinction between ethnic nationalism and religious nationalism.

        Not anymore, Sean. Check out definition 5 from the free online dictionary.

        link to thefreedictionary.com

        Word definitions are always on the move. Christian nationalism is now a dangerous new species of ethnic nationalism.

        eth·nic   [eth-nik] Show IPA
        adjective
        1.
        pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.
        2.
        referring to the origin, classification, characteristics, etc., of such groups.
        3.
        being a member of an ethnic group, especially of a group that is a minority within a larger society: ethnic Chinese in San Francisco.
        4.
        of, pertaining to, or characteristic of members of such a group.

        5.
        belonging to or deriving from the cultural, racial, religious, or linguistic traditions of a people or country: ethnic dances.

      • seanmcbride
        February 7, 2012, 8:17 pm

        patm,

        There are various ways to define these terms. For me, Christian Zionism, at least in the United States, isn’t an ethnic nationalist movement because it is not organized around the identity or agenda of any particular ethnic group — members of any ethnic group are permitted to join. On the other hand, it promotes some crazy ideas about the special “chosen people” status of a single ethnic group — “the Jews” — so perhaps in that sense it is an ethnic nationalist movement at one remove — it worships a single ethnic group in an abstract way.

        The Christian nationalism being developed by European extremists like Anders Breivik (the Oslo terrorist) does in fact seem to be an ethnic nationalist movement in the traditional sense — white nationalist to be exact. Basically it’s a racist neo-Nazi ideology.

      • seanmcbride
        February 7, 2012, 8:44 pm

        patm,

        Notice this passage in the review of Marci McDonald’s book in the Star:

        “especially evangelical Christians who belong to **many ethnic groups**” [my emphasis]

        from this paragraph:

        “The book, which sprang from her controversial 2006 piece for The Walrus, “Stephen Harper and the TheoCons,’’ is a clarion call to Canadians — and to the Ottawa press gallery — to pay attention to how the religious right, especially evangelical Christians who belong to many ethnic groups, is increasingly influencing both foreign and domestic policy. That while growing and gaining greater access to the corridors of government.”

        http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/807640–timing-of-book-s-release-downright-divine

        I would argue that Zionism (Jewish Zionism, Jewish ethnic nationalism) is an ethnic nationalist ideology and movement. Christian Zionism (in the United States) is a multi-ethnic religious nationalist ideology and movement organized around a Jewish ethnocentric mythology.

      • patm
        February 8, 2012, 10:53 am

        [What Marci McDonald has delivered] is a clarion call to Canadians — and to the Ottawa press gallery — to pay attention to how the religious right, especially evangelical Christians who belong to many ethnic groups, is increasingly influencing both foreign and domestic policy. That while growing and gaining greater access to the corridors of government.”

        Sean, both Canada and the US have been formed by immigrants; to say there are many ethnic groups in either country is to state the obvious.

        To my mind, Christian nationalism is a very precise term. These folks want to do away with the separation of church and state. They pose a grave danger to hard-won liberties in both countries.

      • Citizen
        February 8, 2012, 11:21 am

        Yes, patm–a woman called up on CSPAN WJ this morning; I don’t know if she ever heard the term “Christian nationalist” before–I doubt it, but, in the context of expressing her opinion on gay marriages (she did not dislike gays, and wanted them to have equal civil rights, but she felt the term “marriage” was traditional, and should not be extended to couples with civil union status), it was abundantly clear she had no truck at all with the concept of separation of church and state.

  55. MHughes976
    February 6, 2012, 9:34 am

    I think that the first thing you should do when confronted with a term you don’t like is ask the other person what (s)he means by it.
    There can’t be an absolute ban on attributing to people motives that they do not acknowledge. You ought to have some reason for doing so, of course.
    The motive of advancing the interests of another country is not in all circumstances wrong. ‘As far as we’re concerned we always come first!’ is not in fact a very attractive principle.
    So there is perhaps some room for some ‘mistakes on both sides’ rhetoric here but I think that the Mr.Stern-Weiner’s argument is a little off-centre, since it is really strongly on one side. ‘May not be anti-Semitic but may well be vicious’
    means ‘close enough to anti-Semitism to be vicious’.

    • Shmuel
      February 6, 2012, 9:51 am

      ‘May not be anti-Semitic but may well be vicious’ means ‘close enough to anti-Semitism to be vicious’.

      Or it may mean ‘close enough to jingoistic chest-thumping to be vicious’, which – apart from the “mostly Jews” remark – seems to be the thrust of Stern-Weiner’s argument.

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 10:03 am

        Yes, Shmuel, I suppose if you cut the “non verb anti-Semite” stock ADL-style slander, then by cherry picking you can make an unreasonable man sound reasonable.

        Why do you keep cutting slack to vicious people?

      • Shmuel
        February 6, 2012, 10:16 am

        Chaos,

        Do you really think that Jamie Stern-Weiner is a “vicious person”? He may be, but I see no evidence of it in this post – even if I disagree with his conclusions.

      • Chaos4700
        February 6, 2012, 10:20 am

        My pending reply on the next thread up covers my response here too.

      • Citizen
        February 6, 2012, 10:53 am

        Well, I agree with this: “Or it may mean ‘close enough to jingoistic chest-thumping to be vicious’, which – apart from the “mostly Jews” remark – seems to be the thrust of Stern-Weiner’s argument.”

        That’s exactly what Stern-Weiner’s argument was in a nut-shell.

      • Opaleye
        February 6, 2012, 12:24 pm

        Shorter Stern-Weiner:

        1. If the truth is ugly, then you’re not allowed to tell the truth, because, uh, someone might not like it and pleasing that someone is *much* more important than being truthful

        2. When your country is about to be dragged into an orgy of jingoistic violence involving the annihilation of another country that has done nothing to yours, the correct response is to send the warmongers wistful, overlong, politically-correct philosophical essays concerning what they may or may not have been thinking in 1967, and then begging them not to call you names in return.

        As an aside, as Citizen already mentioned upthread, the article contains the absurd claim that Israel has been a strategic asset. In reality, US statesmen always expected it to be a liability and so it has proved, in spades.

        The only strategic interest the US has in the region is the steady movement of tankers full of black goo. Since Israel doesn’t supply any of said goo and constantly endangers its continued supply, it is a liability.

      • MHughes976
        February 6, 2012, 1:14 pm

        Overlong philosophical essays are one of my specialities, must admit. I would say that the ‘mainly Jews’ remark, being so clearly present in the punchline, means that there’s only a fine shade of difference between Shmuel’s interpretation and mine. On neither interpretation is Stein-Weiner holding to the middle course: he is against the term ‘Israel Firster’ and says that those who use it approach viciousness, a very strong condemnation. His strongest critique of the other side is that they are not necessarily right in the main reason that they give, a very mild condemnation of what they say.
        None of this proves that he’s wrong in his main opinion, of course.
        But I also think that there’s some inconsistency in saying that ‘My country first!’ is not a valid moral principle and in saying that it’s rather vicious to accuse someone of sometimes putting another country first, ie of not living by a false principle. That might be rather a good thing.
        No more politically correct philosophy for at least three minutes!

      • patm
        February 6, 2012, 1:19 pm

        …the article contains the absurd claim that Israel has been a strategic asset.

        Shall we give the young politics student a C minus and call it a day?

      • Opaleye
        February 6, 2012, 2:17 pm

        I don’t know about that … grade inflation is poor preparation for reality.

        BTW, I’m not opposed to philosophy… my favorites are realism and solipsism. Realism because it’s, well, kind of necessary. Solipsism because it’s hilarious and we need a laugh, don’t we?

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 2:22 pm

        “No more politically correct philosophy for at least three minutes!”

        (sigh)….I hate always being the bad cop MH, but politically correct and 3 bucks will get you a latte coffee and not much else.

        What for instance is the politically correct description or term for house members using their position to profit by insider trading?…..”misguided public servants”?

      • American
        February 6, 2012, 2:39 pm

        “Do you really think that Jamie Stern-Weiner is a “vicious person”?””……….Shmuel

        Is a “insidious agenda” vicious? I don’t know.
        But a insidious agenda is a insidious agenda.
        There are plenty of Stern-Weiners in the insidious agenda movement whether they know that’s exactly what they are doing or not.
        US zionism and all their activities in the US for 60 years has always been an insidious agenda.
        We could call them the Insidious Agenda People….would that be better than Israel- firster? But then how would the public know which Insidious Agenda People we were refering to?

      • MHughes976
        February 6, 2012, 3:57 pm

        Horrible corruption and shocking betrayal of trust.

      • patm
        February 6, 2012, 4:27 pm

        Solipsism: Collins English Dictionary definition n
        (Philosophy) the extreme form of scepticism which denies the possibility of any knowledge other than of one’s own existence.
        [from Latin sōlus alone + ipse self]

        You’re teasing me, Opaleye, about my mention the other day of self-awareness training and my regular meditation practice. You’re a rat :-) I will say no more.

  56. Mooser
    February 6, 2012, 11:44 am

    When the perfectly phrased, moderately critical of Israel (yet hopeful and untinged by anti-Semitism) cadences of Mondoweiss cause everybody in Israel (the settlers, ultra-religious and Likudniks most of all) to utter a collective “Hoo-boy, did we overdo it!” and reverse the essential and intrinsic bigotry and violence of Zionism and make willing reparations for all those they hurt, you guys are gonna be soooo sorry!!
    And remember, if you say one thing that Israelis don’t like, the whole thing is off.
    Don’t you think (and you know who “you” are, or, for that matter, is) you’ve done enough by chasing off that paragon of just war theory, Prof. Emeticus Jerome Slater? Phil “needed” him around here, because he is “willing to critisise Israel”. But do I see him on the writer’s roster? Nooooo!

    It’s this simple: Publishing all of Israel’s transgressions to the world, that’s just honest journalism. But actually dis-liking Israel, or Zionists because of what they have done, well, that’s just plain old anti-semetism! And everybody knows the Israeli regime can be toppled or substantially changed only by the most loving and dispassionate catalogueing of their crimes. But whatever you do, you can’t actually not like them.

    • MRW
      February 6, 2012, 1:12 pm

      Prof. Emeticus.

      I love it when the vinyl glue fumes inspire you.

    • patm
      February 6, 2012, 1:23 pm

      Prof. Emeticus Jerome Slater

      good one, mooser.

  57. MHughes976
    February 6, 2012, 1:49 pm

    ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner’ and all that. They told me in Sunday school. But we don’t have to love anyone, saint or sinner, on grounds of nationality or race, only on grounds of shared humanity. Opponents of Zionism shouldn’t be asked to prove that they love or admire people who are Israeli by nationality or Jewish by race, but that they respond to all individuals as fairly as they can and especially without regard to race one way or another.
    No one increases their entitlement to hugs and kisses by repeated acts of injustice and cruelty or by hideous words in defence of these things.

    • patm
      February 6, 2012, 2:56 pm

      No one increases their entitlement to hugs and kisses by repeated acts of injustice and cruelty or by hideous words in defence of these things.

      Not in my family, Martin, that’s for sure. Nor should it be the case with the proponents of Zionism. They ask for much, and give nothing in return. Nothing. They are a rotten collection of ingrates.

      ****
      btw, I’ve finished reading Matt Taibbi’s 2008 “The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics & Religion at the Twilight of The American Empire”.

      I liked his assessment of the reasons why a high percentage of Americans believe in conspiracies (truthers’ 9/11; Christian Zionists’ rapture). Basically, the reasons boil down to lies, lies, and more lies from the politicians in power. But he does tell you in colourful detail what these lies were/are.

      His undercover sojourn with members of John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church is related in an outraged but shamefaced manner. He gets to know these poor souls, feels their pain, and despises his own role as liar.

      His experiences with a band of NY truthers is laid out, also a hilarious scene wherein Cheney, Feith, and Kristol get the details of their 9/11 plot sorted out.

      A good read, Martin, thanks for suggesting it.

      • MRW
        February 7, 2012, 7:18 pm

        patm,

        While I love Taibbi’s work in general, his hard-on against anyone who questions the official story of 9/11, and his sneering that those who do are conspiracy theorists, are hard to take from someone who was a 31-year-old hard-core self-admitted heroin addict (for four years) living in Russia at the time.
        link to vanityfair.com
        His judgment is highly suspect on the issue. He certainly wasn’t watching it in real time as we were, nor did he have access to local reports and eyewitnesses.

        Furthermore, there is nothing in his background, zip, to lend credence to any pronouncement he may make that the following (detailed by ABC Nightly News with Peter Jennings on 9/11) can be vaporized by a Jet Fuel A (kerosene) fire in 8.2 seconds, which ample video shows was the case: 43,600 windows
, 600,000 sq ft of glass
, 200,000 tons of structural steel, 5 million sq ft of gypsum
, 6 acres of marble
, and 425,000 cubic yds of concrete.

        So Matt Taibbi needs to be taken with a grain of salt on that issue, because I ain’t buyin’ stupid.

      • patm
        February 7, 2012, 7:52 pm

        MRW, I forgot mondo’s new comments rules regarding 9/11 conspiracies; I wish I hadn’t. I’m not going to say anything more about the 9/11 material in Matt Baibbi’s book. Cheers

      • seanmcbride
        February 7, 2012, 8:07 pm

        Matt Taibbi: worse than useless on 9/11; very good on Wall Street. I think he’s too smart not to abandon belief in the 9/11 official story eventually.

      • Citizen
        February 8, 2012, 11:42 am

        Yeah, wonder if Taibbi is still sticking to his story re 9/11. I know we can’t talk about it on MW here, but the 9/11 Commission now tells us that the official version of 9/11 was based on false testimony and documents and is almost entirely untrue. The details of this massive cover-up are carefully outlined in a book by John Farmer, who was the Senior Counsel for the 9/11 Commission.

  58. seanmcbride
    February 8, 2012, 1:13 pm

    Citizen,

    If you want to talk about Matt Taibbi on 9/11 or any other sensitive topic, feel free to post here:

    link to friendfeed.com

    Of course your points are important and true. And also take notice of the collapse of the official story on the 9/11 anthrax attacks — a development that even the New York Times and Washington Post have been forced to acknowledge.

    As someone who is worried about the imminent use of false flag attacks by pro-Israel militants to push Americans into a war against Iran, this subject is still very much on my mind — and it should be on the minds of all thinking Americans.

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