Finkelstein ‘not going to be an Israel-basher anymore’ but remains ‘appalled and disgusted’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 115 Comments
Finkelstein from Haa
Norman Finkelstein (AP via Haaretz)

For those who follow the saga of Norman Finkelstein, a new interview with him by Haaretz reporter Natasha Mozgovaya breaks no new ground but nicely sums up his current perspective. The headline it carries on the Haaretz website – “Norman Finkelstein bids farewell to Israel bashing” – may make most Israeli readers happy, but though it’s based on a quote from the interview, it’s actually quite misleading: While Finkelstein repeats his now-familiar criticisms of the BDS movement, he makes it clear that he hasn’t softened his critique of Israel. Some highlights:

On American public opinion:

“Nobody really defends Israel anymore…. They’ve lost the battle for public opinion,” he says. “They claim it’s because American Jews know too little – I claim it’s because they know too much about the conflict… The tide of public opinion is turning against Israel…. And the American Jewish community that for a long time was a huge obstacle to resolving the conflict is breaking up.”

On Walt and Mearsheimer:

“I accept that the lobby is very influential and shapes [U.S.] policy on Israel-Palestine. But when Walt and Mearsheimer start generalizing about the influence of the lobby on Iraq, Iran policy and elsewhere – that’s where I think they get it wrong. I just can’t find any evidence for it.”

On J Street:

Finkelstein describes the leadership of J Street as “hopeless”. “It’s simply the loyal opposition. Politically they identify themselves mostly with Kadima.”

On his feelings about Israel:

“I don’t feel particularly attached to Israel – nationalism, as Noam Chomsky said, is not my cup of tea – but I feel no particular need to demonize it. I do feel a certain amount of disgust, that’s for sure. If my focus was on any other country’s human rights violations, I would be as appalled and disgusted. It’s just unacceptable, and you can’t make excuses for that with ‘other people do it.'”

On Palestinian tactics:

“International law says people fighting for self-determination can use force in order to achieve their independence….They do not have the right to target the civilian population. But now more and more Palestinians are turning to various forms of civil resistance and civil disobedience. This tactic of fasting in prison is going to spread.”

On the future of the conflict:

“I do not see other reasonable basis for resolution of this conflict other then the international law. What else can you use? To say, I have the rights, and solve it by force? Or based on needs – but who decides what are the needs? Dennis Ross decided Israel needs whatever it says it needs – and the Palestinians get everything that is left over. It’s a political problem, so it’s up to the international community to apply sufficient pressure to Israel to accept this map that is fair, within the parameters of law – and reasonable. And then the conflict can be solved. With the regional changes, there will be pressure applied by Egypt and Turkey however things settle with the Arab Spring, there will be pressure applied by the Palestinians and the international community, that is weary of this conflict, to resolve it on the basis of international consensus.”


Finkelstein has two new books coming soon from OR Books. The first is a short (100-page) tract entitled What Gandhi Says: About Nonviolence, Resistance and Courage. Here’s some of the publisher’s description:

There is much that will surprise in these pages: Gandhi was not a pacifist; he believed in the right of those being attacked to strike back and regarded inaction as a result of cowardice to be a greater sin than even the most ill-considered aggression. Gandhi’s calls for the sacrifice of lives in order to shame the oppressor into concessions can easily seem chilling and ruthless.
But Gandhi’s insistence that, in the end, peaceful resistance will always be less costly in human lives than armed opposition, and his understanding that the role of a protest movement is not primarily to persuade people of something new, but rather to get them to act on behalf of what they already accept as right – these principles have profound resonance in both the Israel-Palestine conflict and the wider movement for justice and democracy that began to sweep the world in 2011. 


The second book, this one a hefty 470 pages, is entitled Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End. From the website:

Despite Israel’s record of militarism, illegal settlements and human rights violations, American Jews have, stretching back to the 1960s, remained largely steadfast supporters of the Jewish “homeland.” But, as Norman Finkelstein explains in an elegantly-argued and richly-textured new book, this is now beginning to change….
In successive chapters that combine Finkelstein’s customary meticulous research with polemical brio, Knowing Too Much sets the work of defenders of Israel such as Jeffrey Goldberg, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Benny Morris against the historical record, showing their claims to be increasingly tendentious. As growing numbers of American Jews come to see the speciousness of the arguments behind such apologias and recognize Israel’s record as simply indefensible, Finkelstein points to the opening of new possibilities for political advancement in a region that for decades has been stuck fast in a gridlock of injustice and suffering.

According to the OR Books site, the official publication date for both books is June, but the Gandhi one is scheduled ship in mid-April and Knowing Too Much in late April. They’ll be available in both paperback and e-book format. You get a 15-percent discount if you pre-order now. 


115 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    April 6, 2012, 10:19 am

    “so it’s up to the international community to apply sufficient pressure to Israel to accept this map that is fair, within the parameters of law – and reasonable. And then the conflict can be solved. With the regional changes, there will be pressure applied by Egypt and Turkey however things settle with the Arab Spring, there will be pressure applied by the Palestinians and the international community, that is weary of this conflict, to resolve it on the basis of international consensus.””

    OK, I/C, step right up. I’ve been calling for USA pressure since 2008 ( and I/C BDS-like pressure since 2010 ( ).

    Many others called on the I/C too, no doubt. But there is no sign whatever that the I/C (or the USA) will act to pressure Israel. And the signs that Israel is hardening its position of 1SS-apartheid are conclusive, as Jeff Halper argues here ( ).

    COMPLAINT to WebMaster: the translation of URLs “eats” post-URL text such as “)” and “.” AND/OR
    replaces a trailing blank (” “) with a NEW-LINE.

  2. Les
    April 6, 2012, 10:20 am

    Another breakthrough?

    Connecticut Democrat candidate calls another a ‘whore’ for AIPAC during live debate

    • Charon
      April 6, 2012, 11:44 am

      Wow. Just googled for some more info on this. Almost everything quotes that Murphy guy saying something about lack of civility. Whatever, like this is the first time there has ever been name-calling in a debate. Whore might be ‘inappropriate’ to the pre-conditioned masses, but this is a woman calling a man a whore… for AIPAC… and he is. She probably shouldn’t have said it though. I’m guessing somebody spun what she said earlier about neocons. Politicians should re-consider smearing somebody as racist/antisemitic/etc. when neocons, globalization, or capitalist democracy are criticized.

      Neocons are Zionist warmongers who have a history of lying and using manipulative and hawkish tactics to influence agenda. They are anti-American, they deserve criticism. Those folks who say that anti-globalization and the occupy protests are antisemitic, what exactly are they trying to say?

      • Chu
        April 6, 2012, 1:03 pm

        “The Jewish community has always taken care of its own. There isn’t any reason why Connecticut children and Connecticut people have to pay the price for a country that is not impoverished,” Whitnum said.

    • Chu
      April 6, 2012, 12:31 pm

      It’s a good thing that it’s a woman calling the man a whore:

      Lee Whitnum “What I would like to propose is a prosecution of settlers here, American settlers, who go to Israel and maim or kill in the Promised Land. Since 2000, 66,000 of the indigenous culture have been killed, many of them by American settlers. This is viewed all over the Middle East and we are hated for this worldwide.”

      • wondering jew
        April 7, 2012, 3:46 am

        66,000 have been killed, many of them by American settlers.

        Where does this number come from? Maybe it’s a misprint.

        and “many of them by American settlers”. One is too many, so this can mean anything Lee Whitnum wants it to mean. And does she mean, American settlers acting as members of the IDF or settlers acting on their own. Such vagaries are a demagogue’s tools.

        But mostly where did she get the number 66,000? (Even if the number is one quarter the number, which seems more accurate, it is horrifying, so as a demagogue’s tool it is useful to use a false number and then say, So are you saying that killing 16,000 is okay?!)

    • Mayhem
      April 7, 2012, 8:40 pm

      Lee Whitnum (Les’s beloved Connecticut Democrat candidate) said “Since 2000, 66,000 of the indigenous culture have been killed”. No surprise she is a “long-shot” when she comes out with that kind of misinformation.

      • Shingo
        April 7, 2012, 9:33 pm

        No surprise she is a “long-shot” when she comes out with that kind of misinformation.

        Meanwhile, the leading presidential candidates all insist Iran is making nukes and threatening to wipe Israel off the map.

      • Kathleen
        April 9, 2012, 11:02 am

        great point. One candidate after the next as well as President OBama and team repeating false claims. about Iran

  3. W.Jones
    April 6, 2012, 10:23 am

    “when Walt and Mearsheimer start generalizing about the influence of the lobby on Iraq, Iran policy and elsewhere – that’s where I think they get it wrong. I just can’t find any evidence for it.”

    “Any” evidence? All you would need to do is find a statement by such an advocacy organization supporting the war to find “any” evidence.

    • Rusty Pipes
      April 6, 2012, 11:32 am

      Perhaps Finkelstein has been too busy reading the collected works of Gandhi (which are extensive) to get around to reading the book by Mearsheimer and Walt, which is meticulously footnoted with extensive evidence related to Iraq. The evidence of the Israel Lobby’s influence and pressure related to Iran policy has been documented by far more sources than just Mearsheimer and Walt.

      If the reporter is quoting Finkelstein correctly, he appears to have moved closer to Chomsky on this issue than he was after the publication of M&W’s article in the LRB. In fact, it was the sort of legitimate criticism like his “It’s Not Either Or” that contributed to the improvements in Mearsheimer and Walt’s argument between the publication of the article and the book the following year. While it is understandable that, as a political scientist, he would disagree with M&W’s realist perspective about what is in America’s national interest, the evidence about the Israel Lobby’s influence on Iran policy is obvious even to informed laypeople during this election season.

    • DICKERSON3870
      April 6, 2012, 12:59 pm

      SEE: “I don’t mean to say I told you so, but…” ~ by Stephen Walt, Foreign Policy, 2/08/10

      (excerpts) . . . This week, yet another piece of evidence surfaced that suggests we were right all along. In his testimony to the Iraq war commission in the U.K., former Prime Minister Tony Blair offered the following account of his discussions with Bush in Crawford, Texas in April 2002. Blair reveals that concerns about Israel were part of the equation and that Israel officials were involved in those discussions.
      Take it away, Tony:

      As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

      . . . Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum became cheerleaders for the invasion, and they played a prominent role in helping to sell the war here in the United States. Benjamin Netanyahu visited Washington, DC in April 2002 and spoke in the U.S. Senate, telling his audience “the urgent need to topple Saddam is paramount,” and that the campaign “deserves the unconditional support of all sane governments.” (It sure sounds like he was well aware of the discussions in Crawford, doesn’t it?) In May, foreign minister Shimon Peres said on CNN that “Saddam Hussein is as dangerous as bin Laden,” and that the United States “cannot sit and wait.” A month later, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post recommending that the Bush administration “should, first of all, focus on Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein.”
      This chorus continued through the summer and fall, with Barak and Netanyahu writing additional op-eds in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, each calling for military action to topple Saddam. Netanyahu’s piece was titled “The Case for Toppling Saddam” and said that “nothing less than dismantling his regime will do.” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s official spokesman, Ra’anan Gissen, offered similar statements during this period as well, and Sharon himself told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee in August 2002 that Iraq was “the greatest danger facing Israel.” According to an Aug. 16 article by Aluf Benn in Ha’aretz, Sharon reportedly told the Bush administration that putting off an attack would “only give [Saddam] more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of WMD.” Foreign Minister Peres reiterated his own warnings as well, and told reporters in September 2002 that “the campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must.” (For sources, see pp. 233-38) . . .


    • Henry Norr
      April 6, 2012, 6:39 pm

      To me there’s some room for debate about how big a role the lobby played in starting Bush II’s war on Iraq – for sure the mostly Jewish neocons were early and ardent promoters of the idea, but at least after 9/11 they weren’t alone, and it appears that Bush et al. had several strategic, political, and maybe oedipal motives, not _just_ appeasing the lobby, for deciding to go ahead with it. The Israelis themselves undoubtedly liked the idea, but I haven’t seen much evidence that Sharon et al. were a major force in pushing it (remember that in 2002-2003 they were rather busy with other things – smashing the intifada).

      Iran, however, is an altogether different case, because who on earth wants a war with Iran except the Israelis and the lobby (and, I suppose, the MEK)? The whole idea was conjured up in Tel Aviv and introduced into American political discourse by Israel’s stooges in the media, Congress, etc. Though I’ve had some differences with Finkelstein even before his attack on the BDS movement, I’ve never before had occasion to question his intellect or his integrity. But if he really sees no evidence for the lobby’s role in U.S. Iran policy, I have to say I think he’s lost his grip on reality!

      • Hostage
        April 6, 2012, 11:50 pm

        I’ve never before had occasion to question his intellect or his integrity. But if he really sees no evidence for the lobby’s role in U.S. Iran policy, I have to say I think he’s lost his grip on reality!

        He doesn’t object to the claim that it is an extremely powerful and influential lobby when it comes to protecting the settlements and Israel, or that it attempts to influence US policy in other areas.

        He objects to the overly-broad generalizations. The warmongering NeoCons aren’t necessarily Jewish. Even the ones who are, represent many other special interests beside Israel. Finkelstein has cited the fact that, in many cases, the Lobby hasn’t been able to call the shots or seal the deal on US foreign policy regarding Iran, & etc.

        If you had been underwriting the costs of AIPAC’s perennial efforts to instigate a war with Iran, you’d have to be pretty disappointed in the returns on your investment since the early 1990s.

        One of the best lines in film maker Yoav Shamir’s “Defamation”, was Finkelstein saying: “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.”

      • LeaNder
        April 8, 2012, 6:33 am

        Finkelstein has cited the fact that, in many cases, the. Lobby hasn’t been able to call the shots or seal the deal on US foreign policy regarding Iran, & etc.

        I agree, the best point would be Iran. If you studied the neocons closely, and they really were shouting at the top of their mouth over the years, Iran was always considered the more important enemy. Iraq simply was meant as a step on the way, at least that was the impression of this nitwit. But they haven’t succeeded yet.

        Do you know Robert Dreyfus’ interview with Keith Weissman, Hostage? The only thing, I do not completely trust in context is his allusion to Kohl, I think Kohl may have been double-dealing with the export-surplus interests of Germany in mind. But I am no political science scholar.

        If you want to keep the strong support of America, isn’t it a realistic scenario that you carefully choose exactly the topics were the interest of the pro-Israel elites and American elites in fact touch? Wouldn’t it be stupid to not ignore American interest?

        To a certain extend the lobby thesis had to be published. It was a simple and observable fact that Jewish voices dominated the debate. Many neocons and their assorted supporters in the most diverse fields, like “Objectivist” Yaron Brook (who even surprised O’Reilly: Wouldn’t that make us Nazis?), were Jewish Americans, Israelis, or both. No doubt media-wise they were the most visible force and the most rabid supporters of American empire and war against the Arab world. Because they consider beloved Israel as the absolute expert in the post 911 world, not just on the “Arab mind” (new Orientalism) but also on dealing with terrorism and the world expert on security? Israel was chosen to take care of Greek security during the Olympic games. The whole post 911 US world was mainly a seize the day scenario, and Israel surely is at the center, but did it manage to drive the whole process, I doubt too? Military complex “Condi” was “pleased” she could embrace the future enemy in the post-cold-war world, and Condi surely is not Jewish, neither are Cheney or Rumsfeld or Rove.

      • Hostage
        April 8, 2012, 10:58 pm

        Do you know Robert Dreyfus’ interview with Keith Weissman, Hostage?

        No, but I agree with the general idea that you’ve expressed that NeoCon, Jewish, Zionist, and Israel Lobby are overlapping sets of people and that many individuals are members of only one set.

        I’ll be sure to read the Robert Dreyfus interview, but a brouhaha has broken-out in the international law forums this weekend over the ICC Prosecutor’s decision on Palestine. I’m staying pretty busy just trying to read the various legal arguments and posting comments of my own on that subject.

      • Nevada Ned
        April 7, 2012, 9:29 am

        I’ll reserve judgement on Finkelstein’s latest statements until I read his book, Knowing Too Much.
        Meanwhile, I respect Henry Norr, but listen to the following arguments about the influence of the Israel Lobby.

        Walt and Mearshimer make the argument that the Israel Lobby is similar to the Cuba Lobby, because the organized Cuban exiles (mostly in Florida) have a monopoly over US/Cuba policy. The clout of the Cuba Lobby inhibits frank discussion of any change in US/Cuba relations.
        Similarly, the Israel Lobby inhibits any frank discussion over whether Israel is a US strategic asset or a US liability.

        So far, I’m just summarizing W&M. Now here’s my argument: isn’t there any reason for the US to be hostile to Castro’s Cuba IN ADDITION TO the clout of the Cuba lobby? Let’s see if we can figure this one out…Fidel Castro has abolished capitalism, pulled Cuba out of the US empire, and encourages other countries do the same. US policy is favorable to capitalism, and discourages (to say the least) its colonies from breaking away from the US empire. Whether the Cuban Lobby was powerful or week, the US had an interest in undermining the Cuban revolution. Hence the US blockade of Cuba, now in its sixth decade.

        Now on to Iran…when the Shah was in power, the US had no problem with Iran. The Shah was a friendly dictator, loyal to the US, willing to suppress his own population. But after the 1979 revolution, Iran became a center of resistance to the US empire. Iran encouraged (as best it could) other US colonies to break with the US empire. So the US is trying to blockade Iran, carry out regime change, etc. The goal is to return Iran to the status of a US colony, which was its status under the Shah (1953-1979).

        The US and Israel have a common interest in undermining and overthrowing the Iranian regime, restoring a dictator more friendly to the US. If not the Shah, someone like him. The Chomsky argument is that the US and Israel have a common interest in keeping the Arab world part of the US empire. The US is always on the lookout for Arab nationalism, a major possible threat to the US empire. Almost nobody remembers now that Nasser, who called upon the Arab masses to rise against colonialism, was vilified in the US media. Nasser was called “another Hitler” (sound familiar?). In the 1967 war, Israel absolutely clobbered the Arab world, and Nasserism never recovered its clout.

        While the US doesn’t have a stake in the West Bank (The US empire doesn’t care whether the West Bank is run by Israel or by Palestinians.) But the US wants to discourage talk about “the Arab revolution” coming from the Palestinians, because it might be contagious. Just ask Mubarak.

      • Henry Norr
        April 7, 2012, 10:40 pm

        If I’m following your logic correctly, Nevada Ned, you’re arguing that many forces in the U.S., not just the Israel lobby, would like to overthrow the current regime in Iran and restore it to Shah-like subservience. I agree completely, but that doesn’t contradict my previous comment. What I said was “conjured up in Tel Aviv and introduced into American political discourse by Israel’s stooges in the media, Congress, etc.” was not dislike for the Iranian regime or even the desire to overthrow it, but the idea of bombing the place over its alleged effort to achieve the capability of building nuclear weapons. Most everyone in the U.S. has been anti-Iran since 1979, but even during and after the hostage crisis, I don’t remember anyone arguing that bombing was a good solution. Nobody proposed bombing India or Pakistan when they got the bomb. But now the Israelis and their agents are pushing this criminal lunacy, so most of the Congress and the punditocracy are all for it, and the rest of the media is at a minimum normalizing the idea.

      • General Choomin
        April 8, 2012, 8:29 pm

        This is right on the spot. Nasser was also against the monarchies in the gulf. The West has always feared that Pan Arabism would empower the middle east which is why they promoted non arab countries such as turkey, israel, and iran has military powers. So that they could control and squash any nationalistic/leftist movements while the monarchies became the puppets of America and transferred most of the middle east wealth to the USA.

        Nasser tried to do that in the Arab world in Yemen. What happened next was Israel attacking him in an aggressive war while his best troops where fighting saudi and american supplied mercenaries.

        The Americans had basically won and pan arabism was dead. The only thing that kept it alive was that every single nation, even the puppet nations, could never accept Israel for it’s colonialism and for the displacement of the Palestinian people. That is the last thread that had kept Pan-Arabism alive.

        That is until the Iranian revolution. In which a new type of united front was formed. In which shia act as the vanguards to pan ultra nationalistic and anti-colonial forces. Forces that reject US hegemony and control.

        After the Iranian revolution, the USA put Iran on the shit list for being a spoiler. Just like how “the west” put Haiti on it’s shit list and left one of the richest region’s in the world desolate and poor after it’s own revolution.

        Now their are competing ideas post pan-arabism. The internationalist Sunni movements that because prominent during the USSR invasion of Afghanistan is still there in the fringes of the Arab world. You could compare them to revolutionaries of the 50-60 but most people would call them terrorists.

        Then there is the exportation of Iranian’s nationalist movement who’s aim is to have a Shia vanguard that then commits to protecting the integrity of that nation while rejection foreign hegemony and colonialism.

        Last, but not least, is the USA support GCC effort in which money is supplied and distributed lavishly to buy off compliance. Religion is also used to facilitate the control of the population. Religion and money are then exported to other nations in order to buy them off and keep under the GCC yoke whom are puppets of the USA.

        The USA wants it’s puppets to extract the wealth of the middle east with as little commotion as possible. They also want to make an example out of Iran so that other nations don’t choose the same path. They also want to stop Iranian support for nationalistic middle eastern countries that reject American interests.

        The USA doesn’t give a shit about the Sunni internationalist struggle since they simply do what they do best and use force. If a sunni internationalist uses force then America goes into “terrorism” mode. If the sunnis try to do it politically, then America just sells more weapons to the dictators and kings to oppress them.

      • General Choomin
        April 8, 2012, 8:38 pm

        Some may see Israel as just an extension of America’s force projection. They might have their own interests since they have a government but some political movements in Israel are also based in the USA. Those political ideas where also first developed in the USA to protect America’s economic interest in the most valuable resource in the world.

        Israel might want to swing it’s dick around sometimes and has it’s own agenda. But a lot of the agenda, such as the one of the neocons, was developed in the USA. Hell, a lot of Israel was formed in the USA. Bibi actually went to the same highschool as me in philadelphia.

        Yes Israel is a right wing nation. On almost all foreign policy America is right wing as well. Most Americans have no sense of the world and the news pumps in the most slanted right wing crap ever. That is why Israel is praised and everyone else demonized. Because Israel is an American client state.

      • dahoit
        April 7, 2012, 11:25 am

        Let’s see,the Zionist MSM backed Bush in that Florida debacle to the hilt,so I imagine a little payback by grateful GOP criminals was in order,and the MSM obliged by denying voice to the anti war,covering up the protests and under reporting them,and supported the efforts of the Zionist Bloombergs imprisonment and abuse of said protestors,a full scale quid pro quo of criminality,but the evidence of collusion is inconclusive?

      • Kathleen
        April 9, 2012, 11:08 am

        “and the MSM obliged by denying voice to the anti war,covering up the protests and under reporting them,” So many of us have been involved with Civil rights issues, anti Vietnam, anti apartheid, etc etc. But I had never followed the MSM so closely as millions of us nation and world wide protested the invasion of Iraq before the invasion. Would watch and examine the MSM news so closely after protest in DC, New York, Ohio and find little to no coverage of the diverse crowds out on the streets, in the halls of congress etc protesting, lobbying. The MSM was negligent once again.

  4. Kathleen
    April 6, 2012, 10:47 am

    I so admire Finkelstein but his claim that American Jews are now “Knowing too Much” is a bunch of hooey. The tripping point is finally admitting what you know and being willing to do something about it. Applying the same standards of human rights and justice that one would apply to crimes against humanity in one place on this earth to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. I think this is what has changed in the larger American Jewish community.

    And if he wants to pretend that the majority of signatories to the letters to Clinton pushing for an invasion of Iraq way back when are tried and true Israeli firsters that is his problem and denial.

    January 26, 1998

    The Honorable William J. Clinton
    President of the United States
    Washington, DC

    Dear Mr. President:

    We are writing you because we are convinced that current American policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since the end of the Cold War. In your upcoming State of the Union Address, you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for meeting this threat. We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world. That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power. We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.

    The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily eroding over the past several months. As recent events have demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when he blocks or evades UN inspections. Our ability to ensure that Saddam Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has substantially diminished. Even if full inspections were eventually to resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons production. The lengthy period during which the inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of Saddam’s secrets. As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

    Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing effect on the entire Middle East. It hardly needs to be added that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard. As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined largely by how we handle this threat.

    Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

    We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps, including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf. In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

    We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our interests and our future at risk.


    Elliott Abrams Richard L. Armitage William J. Bennett

    Jeffrey Bergner John Bolton Paula Dobriansky

    Francis Fukuyama Robert Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad

    William Kristol Richard Perle Peter W. Rodman

    Donald Rumsfeld William Schneider, Jr. Vin Weber

    Paul Wolfowitz R. James Woolsey Robert B. Zoellick

    Ross, Pollack, Ledeen, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Micheal Rubin, Ros Lehtinen, Lieberman the list of Jewish Israeli firsters who supported and pushed for thinvasion of Iraq is long. Aipac’s action alert before the invasion was focused on supporting the invasion of Iraq. As well as Jinsa’s website

    Soon after the invasion Aipac’s website turned their focus to legislation isolating and focused on Iran. From that point on many of the same individuals starting repeating unsubstantiated claims about Iran. Amazing that Finkelstein would be willing to ignore these facts. Mystery that Finkelstein would ignore Ros Lehtinen and Lieberman etc writing and pushing for legislation that isolates and targets Iran based on false claims. That he would ignore Aipac continually lobbying for military action being taken in regard to Iran. The facts are stacked up against Finkelstein on this one

    • hophmi
      April 6, 2012, 2:36 pm

      Again. A letter from thirty people is not proof of anything other than the opinion of those people.

      “Ross, Pollack, Ledeen, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Micheal Rubin, Ros Lehtinen, Lieberman the list of Jewish Israeli firsters who supported and pushed for thinvasion of Iraq is long.”

      Even longer (much,much, much longer) is the list of American Christians who supported the Iraq War.

      At the end of the day, the Iraq War was supported by a strong majority of Americans during the Presidency of a Christian whose vice-president was a Christian and whose Secretary of State was another Christian. You can’t blame the Jews.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:12 pm

        neo, theo, oil cons…indeed

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:13 pm

        “Even longer (much,much, much longer) is the list of American Christians who supported the Iraq War.”

        You confirm this list of Jewish individuals who are Israeli firsters as having influence.

      • lysias
        April 6, 2012, 4:51 pm

        If so many powerful “liberal” Jews and Jewish donors to the Democratic Party had not supported the Iraq War, there probably would have been much more determined Democratic opposition to the war, and it probably could not have taken place.

        Remember, until the end of 2002 the Democrats had the majority in the Senate.

      • wondering jew
        April 7, 2012, 7:54 am

        lysias- I disagree. After the attack on the World Trade Center, the US president would have been granted the right to attack any Muslim country he decided to attack. Certainly one which we had fought a war with less than 13 years previously and left an identifiable villain dictator still standing in a war that Americans saw as unfinished. Although the case of WMD’s was no slam dunk, getting congress to rubber stamp a war against Saddam was a slam dunk.

      • Shingo
        April 7, 2012, 10:03 am

        Certainly one which we had fought a war with less than 13 years previously and left an identifiable villain dictator still standing in a war that Americans saw as unfinished.

        Rubbish. Iraq was not on the mind of Americans until they were convinced that Iraq was connected to 911.

        Although the case of WMD’s was no slam dunk, getting congress to rubber stamp a war against Saddam was a slam dunk.

        If the slam dunkw as a reference to convincing Congress, then Bush would not have sought Tenet’s advice, who’s job it was to provide intelligence, not help form policy.

      • dahoit
        April 7, 2012, 11:29 am

        Yeah,the villain we installed and backed to the hilt during his most (alleged-everything is an account by serial liars)evil deeds.
        Yawn.This is getting tiresome,rebutting idiocy.

      • Charon
        April 6, 2012, 5:32 pm

        Strong majority? There were only a couple of polls that showed a majority percentage supporting the war and they were spins (ex – 67% who watched Bush’s speech when only a small percentage of Americans watch these speeches, or pending UN SC authority which technically was never given). The only time a majority of people supported the war was after it first started. The whole patriotism BS when it was all over the news. It went sour after that when they realized it was based on lies and false pretenses.

        Public opinion is easily molded by the media apparatus, and ever then they only fooled half the country and it didn’t take long to sober up, aside from warmongers.

        Support for the Iraq war was spearheaded by Neoconservatives and Zionists along with corporations. AIPAC has been saying for years that their hands are clean from the war, but they are not. They already own congress. They can do their dirty work behind the scenes.

        Rosen, Weissman, and Larry Franklin come to mind, and it’s Iran related too:

        Jack Abramoff was linked to many neocon congressmen as well as AIPAC. The Plame Affair with Perle and Feith, Perle who had spied decades earlier for Israel. Feith had Israeli generals meet him in secret at the DoD and would also write laughable bullet points to build a case for Iraq. Both were part of PNAC and both contributed to “A Clean Break.” Perle resigned ‘coincidentally’ after the FBI raided AIPAC’s headquarters. There is also the Jane Harman and her NYT/AIPAC scandal. I know I read some sort of media-preparation outline for an AIPAC event which talked about making Saddam Hussein a household word.

        We can blame Neocons and we can even blame Israel, there is plenty of evidence. Between these above goons, foreign policy think tanks and lobby, politicians, and the media itself, they pushed the US into an illegal war with Iraq against the interests of Americans. The minority of Americans who supported the war did so out of ignorance, because they don’t think for themselves. The citizens have no say when it comes to these decisions. If the leaders want war, they shall have war. The Bush administration was crawling with Neocons, especially in key defense positions.

      • Without Walls
        April 6, 2012, 7:53 pm

        What in the world is Finkelstein up to? Is he being blackmailed in some way? It must be pretty serious to persuade him to make such an intellectually dishonest — and readily refutable — assertion.

        It’s possible to construct a ‘chain of custody’ of ‘Israel lobby’ or ‘zionist lobby’ or influential Jewish ‘lobbyists’ influence on US foreign policy all the way back to turn of 20th century, without breaking a sweat.

        Ron and Allis Radosh are beyond forthright when they declare that Jewish activists in the Truman era radically changed the perspective of the State Department from pro-Arab to pro-Israel.

        Richard Silverstein hosted a conference that included Keith Weissman who said, When I worked for AIPAC I helped write the Iran sanctions executive order that Clinton signed in 1995, and helped get the Iran Libya Sanctions Act (D’Amato Amendment) through Congress.

        Main street is figuring it out and speaking up —

        Caller to C Span’s Washington Journal on April 1, 2012 – 9:42 AM, Patrick from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania —

        Caller: “My friend is a consul general with the major Mid Eastern nation that was involved in the whole crisis point across the Arab spring. When she came back to the United States, she went to the U.S. State Department and the Mid East section where the various consuls are. I have to tell you that she was absolutely overwhelmed by the fact that as she went from office to office to office to office to office, almost virtually all of the offices were occupied by Israelis. The outrage that the American people should have that a billion people are being represented by an occupying force in our country. This is now an occupation of America. The American people are beginning to wake up to the massive manipulation, the co-opting of our entire military industrial complex to accommodate a country the size of New Jersey. To illustrate this, all you have to see is the mixed signals that the United States government is providing relating to General Dempsey conveying that a military campaign against Iran would be disastrous, which it will be. Then the Secretary of State turning around and saying time is running out for the Iranian government, basically because Israel, as the puppet masters of America, are now choreographing us into yet another manipulated war of lies. The American people need to wake up and stop this.” “

        Finkelstein, the insiders –Keith Weissman, say, Israel firsters influenced government at the highest level; highly informed scholar/observers –the Radoshes– say, Israel firsters influence government at the highest level; the man on the street observes that Israel firsters influence US government at the highest level.

        Recall what Benjamin Netanyahu stated so eloquently in his speech to AIPAC last month — “If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck . . .”

      • Annie Robbins
        April 6, 2012, 11:11 pm

        Patrick from Pittsburgh……she went from office to office to office to office to office, almost virtually all of the offices were occupied by Israelis

        freaky if true.

      • Hostage
        April 7, 2012, 12:13 am

        Recall what Benjamin Netanyahu stated so eloquently in his speech to AIPAC last month — “If it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck . . .”

        Yes, but when Bibi and the circus left town, our government gave him another thumbs down on his call for a preemptive strike against Iran. So to paraphrase: If the Israel Lobby’s attempts to call the shots on US foreign policy look like a failure, and sound like a failure, they’re probably a failure – and that’s the point Finkelstein is trying to make. At the height of their power, during an election campaign, we can still say “No”.

      • RoHa
        April 7, 2012, 2:22 am

        Ducks are notorious anti-Semites.

      • Tuyzentfloot
        April 7, 2012, 9:50 am

        [Roha]Ducks are notorious anti-Semites.

        Clearly if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck,and looks like a duck, it must be an antisemite.

      • dahoit
        April 7, 2012, 11:35 am

        And remember Obombas is too,and more of them have never put their ass on the line,unlike at least some of the shrubs.
        Give me an honest(they don’t couch their evil like liberals) scumbag over dishonest scumbags anyday.
        We have to punish the guy who lied to US about his intentions of change,because we must send a message to these clowns,that even if your opponent might be worse,(and since Nulands husband is Romneys FP adviser whats the diff?)lying must be punished.
        One and Done!

      • Daniel Rich
        April 6, 2012, 7:11 pm

        @ hopmi,

        Q: A letter from thirty people is not proof of anything other than the opinion of those people.

        R: now you’re just being dishonest. Most of those people ended up in the most powerful and influential positions on the planet and gave us the wars they wanted. I didn’t want them and so did millions of others.

        Finkelstein lost me when he claimed there is no proof. There is. Period.

      • yourstruly
        April 7, 2012, 8:58 am

        in 2003 a strong majority of americans supported the iraq war? but how is 47-60% approval (wikipedia) in various polls a strong majority, especially when considering that as the war approached the public was being bombarded with msm propaganda from the usual retired military experts called in to seal the deal?

    • Without Walls
      April 6, 2012, 8:51 pm

      Benjamin Netanyahu drafted the blueprint for the ‘war on terror.’ He’s published several books — actually, two books, each with several editions and new introductions, etc.

      His first book, co-edited with his father, was published in 1982, and collected the 50 speeches/papers presented at the first Jonathan Institute-sponsored conference on international terrorism in 1979. George Schultz, George Bush, several other American hawks attended the conference.

      By 1986 he had distilled the ideology of the 1979 conference and published Terrorism: How the West Can Win. in hardcover, followed by paperback in 1987.

      In 1993 he published Place Among the Nations,
      In 1995 he published Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism
      In 1999 he expanded “Place Among the Nations” to “A Durable Peace: Israel’s Place Among the Nations” to include his recently completed three years in office;

      In July 2001 he re-worked his terror series and published Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat the International Terrorist Network in paperback, followed in Sept 2001 with a second edition and an updated Forward to address 9/11.

      Benjamin Netanyahu appears in the C Span film archive 81 times; Michael Oren appears 10 times; Danny Ayalon 26 times; (compare — Tony Blair appears in archive over 750 times).

      Netanyahu, whose undergraduate degree is in architecture, drew the blueprint for the US global war on terror. On the day George Bush made a case at the UN that the “international community” should take out Saddam Hussein, Benjamin Netanyahu told a US House panel chaired by Dan Burton that the US Congress should support Bush and take out Saddam Hussein, the “keystone” in the “global terror network.”

      Mitchell Bard is on record stating that “AIPAC does what Israel’s government wants it to do.”

      Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) spun off from AIPAC.

      Dennis Ross, now at WINEP, has more ‘interconnected directorships’ than J P Morgan had in the trust-buster era.

      Stuart Levey, now returned to his original base at WINEP, was head of US Treasury Dept office of terrorist finance; his former law partner, Daniel Cohen, now heads that office.

      Israel Project is linked directly to Netanyahu.

      Haim Saban has a direct link to the State Department and Hillary Clinton, and global influence through the Saban Centers at Brookings in Washington, DC and in Dubai.

      Not even Great Britain, US’s closest and real ally, has so much influence on US foreign AND domestic activity and policy.

    • LeaNder
      April 8, 2012, 7:00 am

      And if he wants to pretend that the majority of signatories to the letters to Clinton pushing for an invasion of Iraq way back when are tried and true Israeli firsters that is his problem and denial.

      Kathleen, you use the term Israel firsters, could you define it. Do the many non-Jews on the list indeed have Israel’s interest in mind first? How do you know? Are you suggesting the many non-Jews on the list, are somehow bought by AIPAC or the larger Jewish lobby? How do you know?

  5. Charon
    April 6, 2012, 11:12 am

    “International law says people fighting for self-determination can use force in order to achieve their independence….They do not have the right to target the civilian population.”

    Targeting civilians is obviously the wrong way to resist. Israel, on the other hand, is not fighting for self-determination and they target civilians as policy. If you look at their ‘war’ history or ‘counter-terrorism’ attacks, you see a disproportionate number of civilian casualties. They might publicly say how they went out of their way to avoid them, the old ‘collateral damage’ excuse. Elsewhere they say they are ‘teaching a lesson’ by using excessive force. Collective punishment. That’s their policy. They don’t go out of their way to avoid civilian casualties. They attack civilian areas that are often unrelated to the alleged perpetrators they retaliate against.

    I was reading some of the things that went on during the occupation of south Lebanon and there were several details I wasn’t aware of. Israel not only defied the UN SC (and the USA even) and failed to unconditionally withdraw from Lebanon, they are responsible for killing thousands of civilians. Destroying ancient sites. Targeting suburban areas (they did this again in 2006). And in many cases every time there was an attack against their army, they responded by bombing unrelated civilian areas.

    • Daniel Rich
      April 6, 2012, 7:14 pm

      Q: They do not have the right to target the civilian population.

      R: What to do when 95% of the population is the [IDF] army?

  6. Kathleen
    April 6, 2012, 11:14 am

    This statement by Finkelstein sure makes me question Finkelstein’s integrity and honesty. Seems seriously selective.

    Finkelstein: “I accept that the lobby is very influential and shapes [U.S.] policy on Israel-Palestine. But when Walt and Mearsheimer start generalizing about the influence of the lobby on Iraq, Iran policy and elsewhere – that’s where I think they get it wrong. I just can’t find any evidence for it.”

    Just roll through the anti Iran legislation pushed by Aipac and Jinsa over the last 10 years. Go through the anti Iran legislation that Ros Lehtinen has pushed and passed through. H.R. 3783, H.R. 1905, H.R. 2105 etc etc

    Wolfowitz has popped up on Fareed Zakaria’s, at the Republican’s presidential candidates forum pushing for sanctions and military action against Iran. Dennis Ross, Slaughter, Yoghi Dreazen, Lieberman, Micheal Rubin have all been pushing the idea that diplomacy with Iran has been exhausted. The Aipac site has been devoted to anti Iran policies for 10 years. At one of the Aipac conferences some years back they set up a Hollywood style set of an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons site at the conference. There is so much evidence that the Israeli Lobby in the states has pushed for sanctions against Iran based on unsubstantiated claims and for a military response that Finkelstein really chooses to keep his head up where the sun does not shine on this one. Surprising that he chooses to do so.

  7. marc b.
    April 6, 2012, 11:23 am

    salient point on gandhi. he didn’t renounce violence unequivocally. as i understand his argument, the resort to violence may be the only option in some circumstances, but is necessarily an admission of the weakness of your position, e.g. the lack of broad popular support, ideological weakness of the movement, etc., which is why when the wittys of the world complain about the absence of a palestinian gandhi, they are esssentially whining on about a palestinian cartoon character who should willingly throws him/herself under the treads of an israeli bulldozer at every opportunity . that’s clearly the sentiment; we zionists would love to see a self-immolation of sorts, and then we can complain about the geneticly programmed tendencies of arabs when a violent reaction occurs in response to the death of ‘the palestinian gandhi’. (note to editors: i hope i didn’t violate any copyright laws. i’m pretty sure that ‘palestinian gandhi’ must always be linked with the words ‘where is’ or ‘why isn’t there’ punctuated with a pained question mark.)

    • lysias
      April 6, 2012, 2:28 pm

      Violence played as big a role in ending British rule in India as did nonviolence. Indian National Army leader Subhas Chandra Bose is still a big hero in India.

      It was the insistence of the British authorities on trying for treason the officers of the Indian National Army that led in 1946 to mutinies of the Indian Royal Navy and the Indian Army that convinced virtually everyone in the British government that the game was up and that they would have to leave India.

  8. Leper Colonialist
    April 6, 2012, 12:18 pm

    Hey, what happened here? This is a major disappointment.

    Is Finkelstein channelling Noam Chomsky?

    First Goldstone, now Finkelstein?

    • Eva Smagacz
      April 6, 2012, 1:13 pm

      Finkelstein is not going to attack Israel any more because “it has become too easy”.

      There is no challenge for Finkelstein: the argument has been won. The facts are in public domain, and the fist of silence prized open ( thanks Moldoweiss!).

      He is anything but political animal ( and this by it’s nature requires compromises), and he knows it.

      This was his last job as a teacher. He can now become full time scholar.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:44 pm

        Finkelstein attacks Israel’s illegal actions. defiance of UN resolutions and International laws

      • LeaNder
        April 8, 2012, 7:22 am

        Eva, I find myself agreeing with you completely. Considering our occasional clashes some years ago, this is interesting.

        My favorite English quote is: Every cloud has got a silver lining. Now the silver lining accompanying the success of Dershowitz and his attack dogs is, Norman Finkelstein has much more time to do his favorite work: archeological science. We all know to what extend the mistakes in scholarship are relied on and repeated over and over again. Who has the time to study the origins of every argument? But he surely has expertise by now, that helps him spot more curious matters, and thus focus his attention.

        I can’t deny I am somehow pleased about the outcome. Thank you, Alan Dershowitz! It also shows the limits of power. They surely can stop him as a prof, but they can’t stop the scholar. Of course I pre-ordered, and admittedly can’t wait to read it.

  9. DICKERSON3870
    April 6, 2012, 12:27 pm

    RE: “In successive chapters that combine Finkelstein’s customary meticulous research with polemical brio…” ~ OR Books

    MY COMMENT: To put it mildly!

  10. Ira Glunts
    April 6, 2012, 12:51 pm

    I am sure Finkelstein’s refutations of Ross, Oren, et al. will be original and brilliant. What I find less convincing is that even Finkelstein’s arguments and the efforts of many others to explain the insanity and injustice of Israeli policy is a process will result in radically changing average Jewish-American’s opinion. It has not worked during the last 20 years, while the critical voices have been more and more numerous.

    The “romance is coming to an end?” I wish it were. Some attitudes are not subject to the influence of rationality. This is one of them.

    Maybe pressure from without would help. How about BDS?

    • Elliot
      April 6, 2012, 1:31 pm

      Ira –
      As he says himself, Finklestein’s scope is the world of academia. Taking at face value his conclusion that Israel has already lost in that arena, this still leaves the question of the Jewish and Christian communities, among others.
      I expect that the ever-growing of academics – including many Jews – hopping on to the Palestinian bandwagon will have some impact beyond the ivory tower, but the battle has not even begun in large areas of American life. That is certainly the case for mainstream Jewish life.
      And, yes, this does call for a strong stand such as BDS.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:47 pm

        Listen to Cspan’s Washington Journal. Huge shift over the last 10 years. Have heard the debates in university settings and amongst peace nik, Quaker communities over the decades. Mostly non Jews discussing, debating, lobbying Reps for decades. Over the last 10 years been a shift with Jews jumping on the Palestinian human rights wagon. Welcome and powerful shift happening. Nothing has changed on the ground in the conflict…as Art Gish used to say “getting worse” for the Palestinians on the ground

      • Ira Glunts
        April 6, 2012, 4:55 pm


        I thought that the battle for the hearts and minds within the Jewish-American community was waged and won a long time ago, thus the “romance.”

        I just don’t see this “romance” ending any time soon. So I think the title of Finkelstein’s book is a bit of wishful thinking.

      • LeaNder
        April 8, 2012, 7:37 am

        So I think the title of Finkelstein’s book is a bit of wishful thinking.

        Ira, don’t forget the last decade, the absolute high about the close alignment of power between Israel and the US. Don’t forget that Israel has become the visible motor now for the drive against Iran. They only thing that could shift matters again is, if Obama indeed–as the Israeli’s mouthpiece Goldberg suggests–is dissembling while secretly plotting with Netanyahu an attack, the only disagreement being the right time. He only wants to be elected first to do what must be done. I am not completely prepared to believe that this is Obama’s intention; nor do I believe the Israelis think so.

    • Keith
      April 6, 2012, 6:00 pm

      IRA GLUNTS- “Some attitudes are not subject to the influence of rationality.”

      When forced to choose between group ideology and empirical reality, MOST people opt for defending group ideology. Further, all ideologies to a certain extent deviate from empirical reality so as to form a unique group outlook which both harmonizes group perceptions and binds the group together in solidarity. Given the importance of groups for human development and of the essential nature of ideology as group unifier, it may well be that what raised humans up from the other animals was the invention of bullshit, which, to this day, makes the world go round.

      • Ira Glunts
        April 7, 2012, 8:35 am

        Thanks Keith,

        I take this as a statement of support for my point.

  11. rensanceman
    April 6, 2012, 1:02 pm

    It is disappointing that Finklestine can not see any connection between Israel and the Iraq war and the current campaign to demonize Iran. Is he not aware that the Project for a New American Century was authored by the neocons who later conducted the Iraq war from the White House, a war that benefitted Israel but which shed much American blood and has essentially started the long term decline in our economic standing in the World. We saw the once revered jurist Goldstone genuflect before the Zionist for his grave sin of telling the truth about Operation Cast Lead. His sniveling attempt to appease his fellow tribesmen was chilling.
    I credit Finklestine for heightening my awareness of the sordid situation in Palestine and truly hope that he continues to spotlight this crime against humanity in real time and not capitulate to rabid Zionist who believe him to be a traitor in their midst.

    • Kathleen
      April 6, 2012, 4:48 pm

      He knows. This is why I am saying what he has said is “dishonest”

  12. Kathleen
    April 6, 2012, 1:17 pm

    On Walt and Mearsheimer:

    “I accept that the lobby is very influential and shapes [U.S.] policy on Israel-Palestine. But when Walt and Mearsheimer start generalizing about the influence of the lobby on Iraq, Iran policy and elsewhere – that’s where I think they get it wrong. I just can’t find any evidence for it.”


    H.R. 1905: Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011

    112th Congress, 2011–2012

    To strengthen Iran sanctions laws for the purpose of compelling Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and other threatening activities, and for other purposes.

    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL18]
    Passed House

    H.R. 2194 (111th): Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010

    111th Congress, 2009–2010

    To amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to enhance United States diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by expanding economic sanctions against Iran.

    Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA28]
    Signed by the President

    ran Center Stage at AIPAC, White House

    March 6, 2012

    The American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference took place from March 4-6, featuring key speeches by President Barak Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Iran was a key focus of the speeches, and of the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu at the White House yesterday afternoon.

    Both leaders agree that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and have refused to pursue a policy of containment. However, from their speeches and public statements, it is clear that they have differences over the imminent necessity to pursue military action against Iran.

    President Obama said in his speech that he “will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.” However, he did emphasize in his meeting with the Prime Minister that, “We do believe that there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue, but ultimately the Iranians’ regime has to make a decision to move in that direction, a decision that they have not made thus far.”
    Over the last 10 years the Aipac websites action alert section of their site has generally had two action alerts focused on isolating Iran at all times.
    Back Tougher New Iran Sanctions

    Please urge your senators to cosponsor important legislation that would impose tough new sanctions on Iran. The Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act (S. 2101) would enshrine in law that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, escalate the level of sanctions against the regime’s human rights violators, and sharply tighten the enforcement of existing sanctions

    Bill Kristol on Iran

    Ron Paul makes Paul Wolfowitz squirm

    Paul Wolfowitz on Iran

    One of the architects of the unnecessary and immoral invasion of Iraq pops up at the Republican debate to open it up for Romney to talk about Iran
    Wolfowitz should be in prison for war crimes..not asking questions at a Presidential candidates debate.

    Robert Kagan, Wolfowitz, David Addington, Michelle Pletka all ask questions about US foreign policy in regard to foreign aid, Iran, expanded drone program

    Fred Kagan pushes Iranian attack. Andrea Mitchell opens up the door
    Fred Kagan: Only way to prevent Iranian nukes is an attack

    Danille Pletka pushing falsehoods about Iran at the Republican candidates forum

    • hophmi
      April 6, 2012, 1:52 pm

      Yes Kathleen, we’re all impressed with your ability to cut-and-paste long lists of things. None of this proves AIPAC is responsible for the Iraq war or the campaign to sanction Iran.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 2:56 pm

        mi know you have objections when it comes to facts. The facts and tons of evidence that demonstrates the I lobby has had huge influence on the invasion of Iraq and pushing and passing inflammatory legislation against Iran. No way around the evidence

      • hophmi
        April 7, 2012, 1:06 am

        No way around the fact that there is no evidence.

      • Shingo
        April 7, 2012, 9:31 am

        Yes there is Hop.

        The Senate has adopted an anti Iranian resolution that was written by AIPAC.

        END OF STORY.

      • Cliff
        April 7, 2012, 10:52 am

        Hophmi is so cartoonishly corrupt and lies so effortlessly.

      • Hostage
        April 7, 2012, 1:37 pm

        None of this proves AIPAC is responsible for the Iraq war or the campaign to sanction Iran.

        LOL! Unless you’ve been lining in a cave, on a number of occasions, AIPAC has pushed resolutions calling for a blockade of Iran and made passage it’s top legislative priority e.g.

        The last time I checked, the US State Department was still describing blockades as “a weapon of war between sovereign states.” link to

  13. Kathleen
    April 6, 2012, 1:52 pm

    Finkelstein “no evidence” that the I lobby has pushed for a strike or sanctions against Iran. How absurd. How dishonest on Finkelsteins part

    Jinsa has also persistently been focused on either a military strike on Iran or more sanctions against Iran based on unsubstantiated claims for a solid 10 years.
    Lining Up on Iran
    JINSA Report #: 1130
    February 24, 2012

    The Islamic Republic is the major state sponsor, funder, and trainer of terrorism. The regime abuses human rights, violates international accords, materially supported violence against American troops in Iraq, props up the Syrian dictatorship, destabilizes Lebanon, and targets Israeli diplomats. They also happen to be on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon.
    Read the JINSA Report

    • Tuyzentfloot
      April 6, 2012, 2:09 pm

      Finkelstein dishonest? That doesn’t really fit. If I were to criticize Finkelstein I wouldn’t use those words. I hope to look into this later but here’s two modifiers to stretch his comment so it becomes more plausible.

      – the lobby: W&M consider it a loose decentralized set of groups that don’t always have the same agenda, although they all have Israel’s interest in mind. So they can claim the lobby had a large impact on the Iraq war as well as claim AIPAC didn’t do much about Iraq while the neocons did the bulk of the work there. If Finkelstein uses a tighter , more ‘core’ definition of the lobby, namely AIPAC, then they agree.

      – influence. Saying the lobby shapes a policy is a lot stronger than saying it has a lot of influence, or saying it has influence. So let Finkelstein say the lobby doesn’t shape the policy.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 2:54 pm

        I respect Finkelstein. But for him to say “But when Walt and Mearsheimer start generalizing about the influence of the lobby on Iraq, Iran policy and elsewhere – that’s where I think they get it wrong. I just can’t find any evidence for it.”

        That is dishonest. Finkelstein is a brilliant and generally fair individual. But for him to say that there is no evidence to back up that the I lobby had an influence on pushing the invasion of Iraq and on pushing for and passing unnecessary and inflammatory sanctions against Iran as well as pushing for an attack on Iran is total hogwash and dishonest

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 2:57 pm

        hell the I lobby has written much of the policy against Iran

    • hophmi
      April 6, 2012, 2:33 pm

      Right, again, Kathleen, the opinion of a small organization with the word Jewish in it does not prove your case.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 6, 2012, 3:40 pm

        You know what, hoppy, what is interesting is seeing you post “that Jewish lobbying group pushed for war, but you can’t blame it on the Jewish Lobby” and “that group of Jews pushed for the Iraqi war, but you can’t blame it on the Jewish Lobby” and “this other Jewish group lobbying in politics may have pushed for war, but that doesn’t establish the Jewish Lobby did it” over and over and over again, with regard to different groups, and the net result is the conclusion that there were a hell of a lot of Jews pushing for war, more than you would expect if things were random; if there wasn’t a unifying theme to all of these different groups pushing for the same thing.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:11 pm

        powerful Jewish organizations as well as powerful individuals

      • hophmi
        April 7, 2012, 1:09 am

        Which powerful Jewish orgs pushed for war? You’ve got nothing.

      • Hostage
        April 7, 2012, 1:24 pm

        Which powerful Jewish orgs pushed for war?

        When I “paste and go” the phrase “Which powerful Jewish orgs pushed for war?” into the Mozilla address bar, Google loads the Wikipedia article on AIPAC, but YMMV;-)

      • Chu
        April 6, 2012, 3:47 pm

        Hophmi, I suppose Kathleen’s gentile perspective threatens your security in America. You are such a bitter feckless wimp when you throw your tantrums.

        hophmi: The point is that more than half of Europe’s Jewish population was wiped out. We cannot rely on gentiles to secure our safety. We must rely on ourselves.

        This comment is such an example of Israeli first behavior. People your age aren’t as frantic to save Israel inside the US. Why this fixation with the state, or is this grandstanding performance about something else?

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:09 pm

        We are debating whether Finkelsteins comment that there is no evidence to back up the fact that the I lobby not only had and has a huge influence on US foreign policy when it comes to the invasion of Iraq and sanctions against Iran as well as the push to pre-emptively attack Iran is total bullshit on Finkelsteins part. As well as being dishonest.

        Israel has every right to protect Israel based on the internationally recognized border. They do not have every right to build and expand illegal Israeli settlements and use US taxpayers money to do so.

        Cut all US aid to Israel. Boycott all Israeli products made in the occupied territories!

      • Without Walls
        April 6, 2012, 8:57 pm

        Israel has no internationally recognized borders.
        It’s impossible to BDS only settlements because the Green line has been erased.

      • wondering jew
        April 7, 2012, 5:33 am

        Israel has internationally recognized borders on at least two fronts and possibly three: Jordan, Egypt, with Lebanon a third possibility. Israel’s status vis a vis its borders with the West Bank and Gaza are certainly not as clear, but there was a cease fire line that was recognized as such and the definition given to various terms by the parties who drafted UN Security Council Resolution 242 would certainly be relevant if not determinitive, if we are attempting to reach common conclusions, rather than attempting to obfuscate.

      • yourstruly
        April 7, 2012, 9:18 am

        “we must rely on ourselves to secure our safety”?

        to make israel safe exactly how many of ourselves’ children were among the 4500+ americans who died in the iraq war?

      • dahoit
        April 7, 2012, 11:47 am

        Well,our puppet in Egypt is out,our puppet in Jordan is probably hearing Islamic footsteps and in Lebanon our attempts at producing a puppet are stillborn so far.
        You want secure borders in Israel?Secure the lives of your neighbors against violence and destruction and treat them as you would yourself and you will reap peace!
        Live and let live!
        Simplicity neh,or the product of a naive simple mind ?I’m sure the monsters will endorse the latter,as they are.

      • Hostage
        April 7, 2012, 10:05 pm

        Israel has internationally recognized borders on at least two fronts and possibly three: Jordan, Egypt, with Lebanon a third possibility.

        Nope, the article on boundaries in the peace treaty with Jordan reserved Jordan’s position concerning the status of all the territory that came under Israeli military control in 1967.

      • mig
        April 8, 2012, 2:14 am

        wondering jew :

        Israel has internationally recognized borders on at least two fronts and possibly three: Jordan, Egypt, with Lebanon a third possibility.

        Jordan yes. Egypt yes. Lebanon no. With Jordan this issue is in peace treaty between I/J. Same with Egypt. Between Israel / Lebanon, no peace treaty yet where sides verify their borders. Mainly it follows “international border”, Blue Line as called, but not in Shebaa farms area.

      • Shingo
        April 6, 2012, 4:04 pm

        Wrong Hop,

        1. The sanctions bill was authored by AIPAC

        2. When the debate was held on Israel’s eight to attack Iran, dissent was quickly overturned due AIPAC

        AIPAC’s bloody hands are all over the push for sanctions and aggression against Iran. It ”s not even worth disputing abs you know it

      • Shingo
        April 6, 2012, 4:10 pm

        More evidence Hop

        1. Senate passes AIPAC sponsored Iran Sanctions Act

        2. Senate Passes AIPAC’s Iran Sanctions Bill in Five Minutes

        3.  Nancy Pelosi Pulled Iran Bill On Request of Israel

      • Proton Soup
        April 7, 2012, 7:24 pm

        i can’t help but wonder if hophmi is trying to be a bit clever here. AIPAC is not so much jewish as it is zionist.

    • giladg
      April 7, 2012, 2:36 am

      Finkelstein is talking about the exaggerated power of the Israel lobby, and not that they did not lobby at all, which is perfectly okay to do. The time old stereotypes have come to the for once again. With the Israel bashing going on in the intense fashion it is, one would think that every doctor is Jewish, every business owner, every lobbyist. Finkelstein has come to realize that many of the radicals he shares his bed with, are not interested in the truth and only want Israel to disappear, even if they do not fully realize this thLemselves and this is due to these same people’s inability to think logically when it comes to Israel.
      And another thing, discussions with the leaders of another country is not called lobbying. But from some of the comments here, they don’t even want Israeli leaders to speak. Blair and Bush spoke to this Israeli prime minster or that prime minister as if this should not have happened. It’s called antisemittism.

      • Shingo
        April 7, 2012, 9:30 am

        No one is talking about Jewish doctors, but who is pushign for war. The US would not give a crap about Israel’s security (ie. excuses for war) if the Israeli Lobby wasn’t blackmailing and bribing everyone on the Hill to make it their business.

        There is no point disputing the fact that the Senate was pressured to adopt resolutions that were authored by AIPAC – resolutions that will likley lead to war. In fact, any suggestiong that the US president is not commited to war is being famed as abandoning Israel and therfoe anti Semitic.

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 7, 2012, 2:15 pm

        “Blair and Bush spoke to this Israeli prime minster or that prime minister as if this should not have happened. It’s called antisemittism.”

        LMAO. Noun, verb, “antisemittism.” [sic]

        So when the Zios say that no discussion should ever occur between Obama and Ahmadinejad, I’ll be sure to point out that even thought the Zio thinks he is making a solely policy-based remark, he’s really demonstrating anti-Persian bigotry.

      • Without Walls
        April 7, 2012, 9:16 pm

        when states seek to affect policy of other states, they abide by the protocols of those other states and, in the case of the United States, register those agents of influence as Foreign Agents.

        Israel’s agents have refused to register as foreign agents since Israel’s inception.

  14. Liz Shulman
    April 6, 2012, 1:54 pm

    Wow. I didn’t know Finkelstein had it in him to be the new Benny Morris. What a shame that Finkelstein, after so many years, is backing away from the institutional oppression that is growing. To back away like this is a huge exercise of his massive white privilege; too bad he chooses not to recognize it.

  15. Polly
    April 6, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I’m not buying any of this. If someone else was saying it I wouldn’t even blink but no matter how hard I try and see this from NF’s point of view it doesn’t even remotely add up.
    This guy has been the poster child for blowing the whistle on Israeli misdeeds for 30 odd years and I find it hard not to think this weird shift has something to do with the fact that there are several new kids on the block and that the spotlight may not be all his from here on.
    The damage done by lending his name to any negativity toward BDS (“a little cult”) and Walt & Mearsheimer’s ground breaking paper is devastating and he could not possibly be unaware of that.
    Once upon a time nothing out of his mouth was anything but honest, meticulously well-researched and to the point. His words here ring hollow and untrue.

    • hophmi
      April 6, 2012, 2:53 pm

      No, he has always agreed with Chomsky that Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis was wrong, and he has called out BDS for it is . . . a cult movement.

      • Kathleen
        April 6, 2012, 4:50 pm

        He did call BDS a “cult” as well as saying that he agreed with much of what BDS is doing. He seems burnt out. wits end

    • Kathleen
      April 6, 2012, 3:54 pm

      Come on everything Finkelstein is not Gospel, Torah etc truth. Think. He actually said “On Walt and Mearsheimer:

      “I accept that the lobby is very influential and shapes [U.S.] policy on Israel-Palestine. But when Walt and Mearsheimer start generalizing about the influence of the lobby on Iraq, Iran policy and elsewhere – that’s where I think they get it wrong. I just can’t find any evidence for it.”

      There is so much evidence to back up that the I lobby not only “influences” US policy on Iraq and Iran. The I lobby has written much of the US legislation against Iran for decades.

      When I have more time I will certainly put more links up to more US legislation against Iran, who wrote, who sponsored etc. How many US officials, experts, historians, Generals have now addressed I lobby influence on the US policy towards Iraq and Iran? Dr. Brzenski, Former President Carter, General Zinni, Scowcroft, Wesley Clark, Former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer, former Cia analyst Ray McGovern, Kathleen and Bill Christison and so many more. Former middle east CIA analyst and former Bush administration official Flynt Leverett has said that Israel and the I lobby in the US have been interfering with US/Iran policy for decades.

      Go through the legislation passed towards Iran and see who sponsored and how much of the legislation is based on unproven and inflammatory claims.

      Norman Finkelstein is not always right. And yes he is one of the poster folks for being fair and just in the I/P issue. But there have been many before him that took stands. He is one of the first Jewish Americans to take such a stand

      • Dex
        April 7, 2012, 2:29 am

        Well said Kathleen. Finkelstein’s unwillingness to fully support BDS is sad. Perpetuating the conflict by keeping the failed idea of “two-states” alive is, apparently, more lucrative.

      • Hostage
        April 7, 2012, 9:51 pm

        Well said Kathleen. Finkelstein’s unwillingness to fully support BDS is sad. Perpetuating the conflict by keeping the failed idea of “two-states” alive is, apparently, more lucrative.

        Members of the Palestinian leadership, including President Abbas, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, jailed leader Marwan Barghouti, Israeli MK Hanan Zoabi, and the legal assistance organization Al Haq have all endorsed the UN bid for recognition of the statehood of Palestine.

        FYI the Palestinian Solidarity Movement call for action in 2005 was based upon the notion that the Security Council had done absolutely nothing about the ICJ advisory opinion for more than one year. They asked all of us to pressure our state governments to take direct actions and to impose sanctions and embargoes against Israel.

        After the attack on Gaza the PA filed a criminal complaint against Israel directly with the ICC Prosecutor, because all of the many reports about war crimes and crimes against humanity authored by the United Nations since the second intifada have been quashed by the Security Council. The Goldstone report contained recommendations for the Security Council, but it also addressed a recommendation directly to the International Criminal Court:

        1767. To the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court:
        • With reference to the declaration under article 12 (3) received by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC from the Government of Palestine, the Mission considers that accountability for victims and the interests of peace and justice in the region require that the legal determination should be made by the Prosecutor as expeditiously as possible.

        Abbas caved-in to threats of attacks against the West Bank from Israel and the US government’s promise that it would veto the Goldstone report in the Security Council anyway and postponed a procedural vote in the Human Rights Council. The leaders of the BDS movement who had given up on the Security Council in 2005 feigned mock outrage and ignored the much more important Palestinian criminal complaint that was already on file with the ICC Prosecutor. The residents of Gaza staged demonstrations and tossed shoes at pictures of Abbas.

        When Abbas and Fayyad went to the United Nations, they immediately secured international recognition of Palestine’s statehood from UNESCO for the purpose of becoming a party to UN and other multilateral treaties. They also pursued full UN membership through the Security Council in order to isolate the US and force it to waste political capital. The Solidarity Movement feigned ignorance about the significance of the UNESCO vote and wrote editorials about the futility of pursuing action through the Security Council. The so-called leadership went into high gear and wrote editorials about the non-existent State of Palestine and never once called for the ICC Prosecutor to finally take action on Palestine’s criminal complaint in the wake of the UNESCO vote. At my house we started throwing shoes at pictures of Ali Abunimah and Omar Barghouti.

        After 3 years of fence sitting, the ICC Prosecutor ignored the applicable treaty law contained in the Vienna Conventions regarding the status of members of UN specialized agencies and simply echoed the sentiments expressed by Abunimah and Barghouti about the so-called non-existence of Palestinian statehood. The international law experts of the BDS Movement have continued to remain silent, while the rest of the International legal community, including Amnesty International, Al Haq, the European Journal of International Law, Opinio Juris, et al are expressing shock and demanding a that the decision be subjected to judicial review or put to a vote of the Assembly of State Parties here are some of the articles:

    • Rusty Pipes
      April 6, 2012, 3:57 pm

      I have not been impressed by some of the previous articles I have read by this Ha’aretz reporter. She may have been shaping his statements to fit her narrative.

      Even so, this is not the first time he has commented about BDS and M&W. Finkelstein does not oppose targeted BDS as a strategy. Yet, in recent years, NF has offended many Palestinian activists by some off-the-cuff remarks about BDS and its Palestinian spokespeople. BDS has broad support across Palestinian society, both by those who have advocated for one-state and by those for two-states.

      While it is understandable that NF would rather focus on issues related to his forthcoming books on Gandhi and the American Jewish community, his remarks make him appear, at best, out of touch with the stated concerns of the nonviolent activists putting their bodies on the line in Palestine and calling for the world to support them through BDS as well as the parameters of debate about I/P within American society at large (including academia since he left it), not just within the American Jewish community.

      • Rusty Pipes
        April 9, 2012, 2:08 pm

        Just as a follow up about Finkelstein and the context of the interview. I have heard Finkelstein speak in some recent interviews about preferring not to speak at length about subjects which he has not thoroughly researched. He has quoted people who have said, you may not agree with his tone, but you can’t disagree with his facts. His comments about not having seen enough evidence about the Israel Lobby and Iran may be more of a reflection that he hasn’t thoroughly researched the subject.

  16. Chu
    April 6, 2012, 2:55 pm

    A lot of mixed messaging from Finkelstein lately. I feel like he yelled fire for so long now that people are showing up, he’s downplaying the intensity of the blaze.

    • Without Walls
      April 6, 2012, 9:02 pm

      it could be that he has kids to get through college and needs the money or access to good schools for them.

      Ilan Pappe felt compelled to leave Israel, not so much to protect himself but to protect his children.

      Maybe NF is in a similar situation. The I Lobby that he disclaims (sorta) could seriously mess up his children’s futures (I don’t even know if he has children, but if he does, you can be sure they are a target for anyone who wanders off the reservation.)

      • Eva Smagacz
        April 7, 2012, 3:02 am

        Norman Finkelstein is not married and has no children. His parents are dead. He has two siblings.

  17. dbroncos
    April 6, 2012, 6:53 pm

    Israel isn’t a vital trading parter, they don’t control any shipping lanes, they have no resources that we need… nothing! The ONLY explaination for the strength of US attachment to Israel is the Lobby. For the US, supporting Israel has been a net liability. Sirhan Sirhan, Ramzi Yousef, Abu Nidal, Imad Mugniah, Osama Bin Laden, Kalid Sheikh Muhamed, etc… and all their minions shared a contempt for the US based totally or in part on our limitless supply of cash, arms and vetos to advance the ongoing crusade of the Jewish State. How is it that inviting the contempt, merderous contempt in some cases, of the world is in our interest were it not for the Lobby? I think Finklestien’s the one who lacks evidence for his case that the Lobby is just not that influencial.

  18. ToivoS
    April 6, 2012, 8:01 pm

    I have difficulty criticizing Finklestein. One thing about him is that he is a lone wolf. He does not do well in groups. I read that Haaretz piece and came away with the impression that he feels he no longer has a big role to play in critiquing Israel since so many are now doing what he used to do. I have always respected him for his fiery rhetoric. His analysis of the bigger picture has always been a little weak. It seems, like with Noam Chomsky, he lives in fear of a revival of antisemitism in the West because of Israel’s behavior. I can’t criticize him for this fear.

    • yourstruly
      April 7, 2012, 9:50 am

      i share that fear of a possible revival of antisemitism consequent to the actions of the zionist entity and its israel firster defenders here in america, but believe that what’ll prevent such from happening is open rebellion against the jewish establishment such that a new leadership emerges that can think and act in terms of what’s good for america and the world rather than what’ll benefit israel. the emergence of anti-zionist/pro-palestinian organizations such as jewish voices for peace and young jewish & proud are indicative of this development as are websites such as mw.

  19. Dex
    April 7, 2012, 1:59 am

    Finkelstein is becoming increasingly irrelevant regarding the question of Palestine.

  20. Dan Crowther
    April 7, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Its kind of strange that perhaps the most controversial stance finkelstein takes – his loyalty oath to Gandhi- is the least remarked on, whereas his less controversial statement, regarding the extent to which “the lobby” is/was the main culprit in american foreign policy draws the most attention.

    There isnt even an Indian consensus on Gandhi. This is the man after all who sent “violent” indian resistance fighters to their death, while creating what amounted to a totalitarian cult, with himself as its leader. And Finkelstein remarks on this in interviews, joking of the “little tyrant” that Gandhi was. But, maybe Finkelsteins worship of Gandhi does make sense, in the context of throwing their brethren under the bus when they act in ways not condoned by the self appointed gurus.

  21. David Green
    April 7, 2012, 3:35 pm

    I agree with the gist of this article from Toensing & Plitnick:

    “The essential flaw in the Mearsheimer-Walt argument is not, as many critics have said, the authors’ exaggeration of the pro-Israel lobby’s power, for although the authors do this in some instances, the thrust of their argument remains sound. It is not even their inattention to the other factors that have historically defined the US interest in the Middle East for the bipartisan foreign policy establishment. Rather, the most serious fault lies in the professors’ conclusion—soothing in this day and age—that US Middle East policy would become “more temperate” were the influence of the Israel lobby to be curtailed. This conclusion is undercut by the remarkable continuities in US Middle East policy since the Truman administration, including in times when the pro-Israel lobby was weak. And other factors—chiefly the drive for hegemony in the Persian Gulf—have also embroiled the US in plenty of trouble.”


    The Attack-Iraq Caucus

    The Bush administration’s real interest in 2001 was the Persian Gulf, specifically Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. In their most explosive argument, Mearsheimer and Walt state that “the war [in Iraq] was due in large part to the Lobby’s influence, especially the neo-conservatives within it.” They then follow the trail of statements from neo-conservatives advocating the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and tie this advocacy to devotion to Israel.

    Here they run into problems of direct evidence. It is easy to show the neo-conservatives’ affinity for Israel—actually, the Israeli right—but the professors have not made the case that this affinity was a “necessary, if not sufficient cause” of the 2003 invasion. Nor is it even clear that love for Israel motivated the pro-war impulses of the neo-conservatives themselves. For instance, the professors adduce the so-called “Clean Break Paper” of 1996, which was put together by a “study group” featuring key Bush administration hawks David Wurmser and Douglas Feith, and saw removing Saddam Hussein as a key Israeli goal, to bolster their theory. The central theme of this paper, however, is promoting Israel as a regional hegemon independent of the US. Far from encouraging US action in the service of Israeli interests, this paper was entirely rooted in the idea that Israel must quickly wean itself off US support and exert its proven ability to dominate the region militarily on its own. [14]

    Mearsheimer and Walt are not the first to point to the activities of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) as especially revelatory. The genealogy of PNAC’s ideas, however, suggests a much broader set of motivations than loyalty to Israel. PNAC made its debut in 1997 by issuing a statement of principles decrying drift in US foreign and defense policy and calling instead for “a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity.” The statement was signed by six hawkish politicians, most notably Cheney and Rumsfeld. Among the signatories who were soon to be household names were I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Paul Wolfowitz.[15]

    Next came two letters, one addressed to Bill Clinton and the second posted to the House and Senate majority leaders. The occasion for the PNAC letters was the pending failure of containment in ensuring that Iraq was not reconstituting its banned arsenal. In a speech in 1997, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had made clear that regime change was containment’s real agenda, saying that the US would back sanctions “as long as it takes” to usher in “a successor regime” that would comply with UN resolutions. [16]

    PNAC’s concern was the fate of US Middle East policy goals, not the integrity of UN resolutions. “It hardly needs to be added,” they wrote to Clinton, “that if Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction…the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at hazard.” Unless Saddam’s regime was taken out, “We will have suffered an incalculable blow to American leadership and credibility; we will have sustained a significant defeat in our worldwide efforts to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction…. This could well make Saddam the driving force of Middle East politics.” The hawks gathered by PNAC did not fear Iraq’s putative weapons; they feared the potential of an “uncontained” Iraq to disrupt US hegemony in the region.

    At one level, the PNAC letters did not diverge from previous articulations of US interests in the Middle East. A September 1978 Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum listed three strategic goals for the US in the region: “to assure continuous access to petroleum resources, to prevent an inimical power or combination of powers from establishing hegemony and to assure the survival of Israel as an independent state in a stable relationship with contiguous Arab states.” Kenneth Pollack, who ran Iraq policy at Clinton’s National Security Council and then authored a book-length case for invading Iraq in 2002, writes that these goals “have guided US policy ever since.” [17]

    But the PNAC letters about Iraq sprung from a deeper ideological well. The introduction to PNAC’s full-length report, Rebuilding America’s Defenses, published in 2000, summarized the group’s agenda: “At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and expand this advantageous position as far into the future as possible.” PNAC recommended adding $15–20 billion in defense spending annually, “restoring” the size of the active-duty military to 1.6 million personnel and “selectively” modernizing military hardware. [18]

    Most of the PNAC members are staunchly and vocally pro-Israel. What unites the neo-conservatives with their traditional Cold Warrior confréres Cheney and Rumsfeld is not Israel, however, but a common set of ideas about US power. The convergence of interests first appeared in the aborted Defense Policy Guidance of 1992. This document is the Pentagon’s classified internal assessment, made every two years, of comprehensive military strategy. In 1992, the task fell to Paul Wolfowitz, who set about conceiving a justification for maintaining the military at something approaching Cold War strength. He delegated the actual writing of the Defense Policy Guidance to his top aide Libby, who in turn passed it off to his colleague Zalmay Khalilzad. What Khalilzad came up with stunned Washington when the draft was leaked to the press: The US was uniquely qualified to be the sole superpower, and to maintain that status, the US should actively block the rise of any possible rival. [19]

    Khalilzad was specific: “In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve US and Western access to the region’s oil.” The White House swiftly disowned the document, but it found an appreciative reader in Dick Cheney. “You’ve discovered a new rationale for our role in the world,” Khalilzad recalls being told by his boss. [20] Rebuilding America’s Defenses cites the 1992 Defense Policy Guidance as its primary intellectual inspiration. [21] When the Cheney Defense Department was reunited in the administration of George W. Bush, much of this “inspiration” made its way into the 2002 National Security Strategy. Together with Washington’s long-standing interest in Persian Gulf oil, the genealogy of PNAC suggests that the decision to invade Iraq was determined by grand ambitions for US power—not a “desire to make Israel more secure,” as Mearsheimer and Walt assert.

    And from my own article of last year:

    As quoted on this website two years ago, Chomsky has stated: “As I’ve mentioned several times, if the thesis about lobby power were correct, it would be a great relief to me and others who have been actively engaged for years in trying organize popular pressure to lead to abandonment of US rejectionism. We could stop all of that, just go to the corporate headquarters of Lockheed Martin, Intel, Microsoft, and others and explain to them that their interests are harmed by US support for Israel, so they should terminate their investments in Israel and use their political and economic clout to put the lobby out of business. Anyone with a little familiarity with American society and political economy knows that they could do that in their sleep. That in fact is the sole activist-related conclusion that follows from the thesis. But none of the believers do it. Why?”

    • Keith
      April 7, 2012, 6:56 pm

      DAVID GREEN- Very nice analysis which will probably be attacked by the lobby-centric Mondoweissers, who will likely inundate us all with voluminous neocon quotes to “prove” that we did it for Israel, with empire and geostrategy playing no part in deliberations. This is what I refer to as proof by labeling. First you label the neocons as Israel Firsters, then proceed to adduce causation based upon the label.

      A good example of this is when Stephen Walt says that “Professor Mearsheimer and I made it clear in our article and especially in our book that the idea of invading Iraq originated in the United States with the neoconservatives, and not with the Israeli government.” He then goes on to say that steadfast support for Israel is “a key tenet of neoconservatism.” In other words, neocons are always assumed to be agents of Israel even when they have to sell the idea to Israel because “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this scheme….” Once convinced, however, “they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea of invading Iraq once the Bush administration made it clear to them that Iraq was just the first step in a broader campaign of “regional transformation” that would eventually include Iran.” (Stephen Walt)

      Once convinced, the Israel lobby swung into action providing the Bush administration with lobbying support, and in providing a plethora of “evidence” for lobby fetishists to “prove” that the Israel lobby pressured Uncle Sam to attack Iraq. Of course, the “lobby-made-us-do-it” crowd needs to turn a blind eye to voluminous facts on the ground like over 750 US military bases world wide to project strategic power, over 60 years of non-stop war against the entire Third World to sustain Western global hegemony, and denial of the strategic importance of oil, gas, and other natural resources historically controlled by force.

      The question of lobby power is contingent upon how one defines “the lobby.” If one includes everyone with a bias towards Israel into a catchall “lobby,” the net effect is to include what Finkelstein would consider domestic concentrations of power. Not only does this exaggerate lobby power, but it implies a dubious relationship between “the lobby” and the government of Israel, with Israel, in effect, running the empire out of Tel Aviv, a ludicrous scenario. The actual situation is much more complex. A certain symbiosis has occurred in which Israel has become an integral part of empire, the lobby functioning to a considerable extent as an imperial lobby, providing appreciated service to the military-industrial complex and other domestic centers of power in our warfare state. Additionally, it is not a one way street. The lobby, American Zionists, and organized American Jewry have considerable influence over Israeli society and policies, usually for the worse. As Phil has noted, Israel is the way it is in no small measure due to the nature and extent of American Jewish support.

    • Rusty Pipes
      April 9, 2012, 1:47 pm

      The article from the Summer 2007 edition of MERIP analyzes the M&W 2006 article from the LRB not their 2007 book, as is evident from the opening paragraph:

      John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s 82-page paper “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” has entered the canon of contemporary political culture in the United States. So much, positive and negative, has been written about the March 2006 essay that the phrase “the Mearsheimer-Walt argument” is now shorthand for the idea that pro-Israel advocates exert a heavy—and malign—influence upon the formulation of US Middle East policy. To veteran students of Middle East affairs, this idea is hardly new, of course. But the fact that two top international relations scholars affiliated with the University of Chicago and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, respectively, have espoused this analysis has lent it unprecedented currency. Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a book-length version of the professors’ argument in late 2007. Along with President Jimmy Carter’s volume Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, “The Israel Lobby” (as the paper is commonly known) has opened up a debate that many members of the lobby have long sought to suppress.

      In their introduction to the book, M&W list among their reasons for expanding their article into a book:

      Although the vast majority of charges leveled against the original article were unfounded — as were the various personal attacks leveled at us — there were a number of thoughful critiques that raised important issues of interpretation and emphasis. We have learned form these criticisms even when not fully persuaded by them, and we have tried to address them here.

      The Israel Lobby is an excellent resource. I am not fully persuaded by its concluding recommendations, but then I am neither a political scientist nor a Realist. The book’s analysis of the problem as a whole is thorough.

  22. ritzl
    April 8, 2012, 2:25 am

    If Finkelstein can be “Goldstoned,” or if Goldstone can be “Finkelsteined,” does it matter what they say, because it’s all imminently changeable.

    I say that with huge respect for what each of them has brought to the table and endured because of it.

    How do the major contributors to this site withstand that treatment? Is it just a matter of reach, and therefore time?

  23. kalithea
    April 8, 2012, 5:29 pm

    Well it’s no surprise that now that Finkelstein’s hopes for a two-state solution are dashed and rendered dead-in-the-water by the growing and predictable radicalisation of Israelis, particularly in the West Bank and government; Finkelstein has reached a brick wall and instead of being guided by his conscience and moral compass and evolving with the changing reality; he’s “devolving” and resorts to intellectual dishonesty and tribal loyalty. Typical Zionist.

    I’ve lost total respect for this man. Shades of Benny Morris. Ick.

  24. Bill
    April 8, 2012, 8:12 pm

    I have known Norman since 1984, when we met trying to expose Joan Peters. Norman has never had great political instincts, as he himself will admit. However, he is not a sell-out or a new Benny Morris. For more than ten years (and probably more than fifteen), he has been discussing what he sees as a coming break between American Jews (particuliarly younger American Jews) and Israel. Frankly, much of what he predicted seems to be happening.

Leave a Reply