Gun lobby in the headlights (Israel lobby in the brush)

on 24 Comments

Again and again since the Connecticut school massacre last Friday, the media have called out the gun lobby. Last night’s NBC Nightly news opened, for instance, with the NRA statement on the Connecticut shootings– after days of silence. Chris Matthews harped on this on MSNBC, saying that this is the NRA’s pattern. The gun lobby is clearly on the run, the murders of 20 children are being blamed on the lobby. And justifiably; the gun lobby is a key element of the permissive American gun culture that produced this massacre.

The contrast to coverage of the Israel lobby couldn’t be more stark. The NRA is a household name, for better or worse. AIPAC is a who-dat? But there have been countless outrages over the years involving Israel’s use of violence with impunity: the killing of American Rachel Corrie in 2003; the massacre of 16 children in Qana during the Lebanon War of 2006; the slaughter of nearly 400 children in Gaza in 2008-2009; the killing of American Furkan Dogan and eight others on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.

Many of these killings involved American armaments. But the condemnation is absent, and so is the finger-pointing at a powerful lobby. The Israel lobby has played a significant role in guaranteeing that impunity. How large a role we can only speculate, because it has escaped media scrutiny. Andrew Sullivan hopped on this point yesterday, and wrote: “But we are forbidden from calling AIPAC what it is the way we call the NRA what it is – because telling the truth about it has been stigmatized as anti-Semitism.”

It goes beyond AIPAC of course, to establishment institutions more broadly, and a culture of orthodoxy and omerta re Israel, lately experienced by Nicholas Dirks, who was compelled to eat his words in order to get a big job. I always say things are getting better. But they won’t really change till media begin to put the spotlight on the Israel lobby, for, say, the devouring of the West Bank, in the way that they’ve put the spotlight on the gun lobby’s role in the Connecticut massacre. When Jake Tapper states to the White House that there have been “no consequences” for Israel’s bad behavior in the West Bank, it’s a great first step, but he is still not addressing the core issue– Why are there no consequences? But he as a Jewish American knows, there is an orthodoxy within the Jewish establishment over supporting Israel, and it is enforced by whatever means, excommunication, blackmail, bribery, threat. Which is why I don’t think this knot will be untied without a serious conversation inside the Jewish community about when we married Zionism.

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24 Responses

  1. Betsy
    December 19, 2012, 10:37 am

    Exactly. Another excellent article, Phil.

  2. Dan Crowther
    December 19, 2012, 11:43 am

    Kind of a weird ending there.

    Not for nothing Phil, but when you so effortlessly lay the blame on the american jewish establishment and say only a rehabilitation of these people can change US policy you’re (1) indirectly stating that it’s normal for a teeny tiny subset of the population to run roughshod over the rest of us and (2) you’re stating that’s its normal for Jews to be in this position, that Jews rightly deserve to direct societies they are tiny minorities in, you just want them to do so ethically etc.

    But here’s the rub: People without familial or social attachments to this “American Jewish Establishment” read what you just wrote and think not, “wow, i wish they’d change their mind” they think: Let’s Get Rid Of These People. I’m writing this as a friend my brother, you can’t find tribalism with tribalism. These people should make your blood boil and your skin crawl, like Mooser always says to you, “Zionism must be fought, not debated.”

    One other thing: You gotta hire a non white male. Like, yesterday.

  3. David Doppler
    December 19, 2012, 1:30 pm

    The smear of Anti-Semitism tied to criticism of Likud-Beiteinu policies is rapidly losing its steam. It may be that the American-Jewish community needs to redefine its relationship with Zionism, but the United States, writ large, needs to redefine its relationship with Likud-Beiteinu. Sheldon Adelson has promised to double down in his support for Neocon causes and candidates, whose corruption is deeply apparent to anyone who is paying attention. Out of all the Jews I know, I only know one who identifies with Adelson and the Neocons. The Lobby retains some inertial effectiveness in putting out sheer propaganda in support of its objectives, in getting Congress to sign whatever its napkin of the day has to say, and continuing to intimidate lonely but ambitious individuals who must face the promise of adverse consequences for not knuckling under to their pressure, but the crowd is turning, Obama actually won despite the Israeli prime minister’s rude disagreements with him and active support for his opponent. Phil wants the American Jewish community to reexamine Zionism; I want Obama to let the Lobby condemn Hagel with all its might, then appoint him and get him approved anyway, preferably just before the Israeli elections, and then pursue the policies Hagel has voiced that so unwind the Lobby – like engaging with Iran, and pushing to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, replacing idiotic ideology with practical realism as the basis for our foreign policy. And maybe indict a few law-breakers, expose a few ideologues in journalists’ clothing while they’re at it.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    December 19, 2012, 3:18 pm

    RE: “Gun lobby in the headlights (Israel lobby in the brush)” ~ Weiss

    THE HASBARIST SEZ: “Supporting a ban on assault weapons is tantamount to ‘deligitimizing’ Israel. First they go after our guns; the next thing you know, they start rounding up the Jews! ! !”
    [In other words, look for the pro-gun lobby to make “common cause” with the pro-Israel lobby (and the rest of the military-industrial complex).]

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 19, 2012, 3:38 pm

      P.S. RE: “look for the pro-gun lobby to make ‘common cause’ with the pro-Israel lobby (and the rest of the military-industrial complex).” ~ me, above

      FROM ‘YNET NEWS’, 6/18/12:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . Gush Etzion has become a hot destination in recent months for tourists seeking an Israeli experience like no other: The opportunity to pretend-shoot a terror operative. Residents of the nearby settlements, who run the site, offer day-trippers a chance to hear stories from the battleground, watch a simulated assassination of terrorists by guards, and fire weapons at the range.
      The fact that the tourist attraction is located beyond the Green Line only intensifies the thrill for the visitors, who often appear disappointed when told by their guides that they are not in any danger. . .
      ● Five-year-old sniper
      Michel Brown, 40, a Miami banker, chose to take his wife and three children to the range with the purpose of “teaching them values.”
      Upon entering the range, his five-year-old daughter, Tamara, bursts into tears. A half hour later, she is holding a gun and shooting clay bullets like a pro.
      “This is part of their education,” Michel says as he proudly watches his daughter. “They should know where they come from and also feel some action.” . . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE –,7340,L-4243882,00.html

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 19, 2012, 4:11 pm

      P.P.S. RE: “[L]ook for the pro-gun lobby to make ‘common cause’ with the pro-Israel lobby (and the rest of the military-industrial complex).” ~ me, above

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Jewish Defense Organization]:

      The Jewish Defense Organization (JDO) is a militant Jewish organization in the United States.
      The JDO was founded in the early 1980s by Mordechai Levy after a violent feud with the Jewish Defense League’s former leader Irv Rubin, who was killed or committed suicide in jail in 2002.[1] It is one of two United States offshoots of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) after a breaking with the JDL’s former leader Meir Kahane.[2] . . .
      . . . The JDO is right-wing in its stance on Israeli defense and foreign policy issues. . . The JDO has targeted Jewish organizations that it deems to be insufficiently supportive of Zionism.
      The JDO takes no stance on most domestic US issues unless they relate directly to anti-Semitism, or Zionism. An exception to this rule is gun control, which the group strongly opposes. . .
      . . . Mark “Mordechai” Levy is the founder and leader of the JDO, and the only JDO member to receive substantial notice in the press. He spends much of his time promoting the JDO’s Camp Jabotinsky, which provides self-defense and gun training for young Jews at a facility in the Catskills. Levy is an avid follower of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, after whom the camp is named , and often repeats Jabotinsky’s motto: “Better to know how to shoot and not need to, than to need to and not know how.”[25]
      . . . According to the Anti-Defamation League, Levy had an antagonistic relationship with Irv Rubin of the Jewish Defense League. The two of them nearly came to blows during a Los Angeles press conference in 1989, and later that year Levy was charged with four counts of attempted murder, one count of first-degree assault, and one count of criminal possession of a deadly weapon after shooting at Rubin from a rooftop in New York City. Rubin was attempting to serve Levy with a subpoena in a slander suit. . .

      SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870
      December 19, 2012, 4:18 pm

      P.P.P.S. RE: “[L]ook for the pro-gun lobby to make ‘common cause’ with the pro-Israel lobby (and the rest of the military-industrial complex).” ~ me, above

      SEE: “The Dogs of War: The Next Intifada”, By Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 9/03/11

      [EXCERPT] . . . The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.
      This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground. . .


    • DICKERSON3870
      December 19, 2012, 4:26 pm

      P.P.P.P.S. RE: “[L]ook for the pro-gun lobby to make ‘common cause’ with the pro-Israel lobby (and the rest of the military-industrial complex).” ~ me, above

      SEE: “Report: Israeli snipers picked off unarmed protesters at Lebanon-Israel border”, by Alex Kane, Mondoweiss, 5/23/11

      [EXCERPT] A May 20 report from Human Rights Watch alleges that Israeli snipers may have picked off unarmed demonstrators at the Nakba protest last Sunday in the Lebanese village of Maroun al-Rass. 10 protesters were killed in Lebanon as tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees approached the Lebanon-Israel border, demanding the right of return. . .

      SOURCE –

  5. Bumblebye
    December 19, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Jeffrey Goldberg:
    The Case for More Guns (and more gun control)
    What else to expect from the former prison guard??

    (Edit – does he support two lobbies?)

  6. MRW
    December 19, 2012, 5:40 pm

    Phil, AIPAC is not a who-dat. It’s a household word. Welcome to the rest of America. Congressmen use the word repeatedly in their telephonic townhalls. And if someone doesn’t click, there’s a chorus to tell him ‘Oh, it’s that Jewish group’. Case closed.

    When Josh Block calls Hagel an anti-semite, he’s talking for AIPAC. Same with Foxman, even though the acronym ADL floats in there somehow too, like a subset. Same with Pam Geller. She’s talking for AIPAC, and why not, everyone knows that Jews ‘stick together’ because, as Block and Goldberg and whomever else tell us, Jews are cowering in their clubs and Mercedes out of fear for their safety, or encountering anti-semitism, so give Israel more money and change our laws. And all three of them are talking for Israel and Netanyahu and bombing Gaza. Because everyone knows that all Jews are for Israel and Israel is the Jewish state. We’re bombarded with it, like a constant Newtown catastrophe, the drumbeat message. (Netanyahu’s Wylie Coyote stunt had as many replays as Monday Night Football.)

    So, you can spend the next three years trying to gently coax a convo within the tribe, but what you need to understand is that you’ve lost America. American Jews and Israel have lost America. There’s no more sympathy. Gone. It’s not 2002 anymore, and no army of Israeli MOI blogger recruits is going to change it. I don’t give a damn what the 1,123-person polls show. You can stick a fork in it. That’s why Sullivan is writing what he does. It’s not because he’s courageous. He’s reading his email, where his real commenters are, and Glenn Greenwald is giving him a run for his money on balls-out morality and he has to play catch-up so he doesn’t look like a dissolute Catholic on a DC pogo-stick. He wants to be a Significant Voice.

    And as for those phone polls, I’m still getting them, and I lie through my teeth. So does everyone I know, so they tell me. We don’t know who’s on the other end, maybe some whack-job JDL or JDIF (?) volunteer who has our addresses and phone numbers and a hair-trigger temper with the chutzpah of Block and Geller to think their narrow (spiteful) interests trump the problems the American middle-class is facing. The children of the middle-class with univ degrees, graduates, are living on the streets, or bunked up sleeping in swing shifts, no jobs, and rich, privileged (and published) American Jews are screeching anti-semitism and hogging the airwaves and papers day after day after day, stove-piping their povs to the NYT so they can be parsed in the other pubs, because someone criticized Israel, Yisrael Beitenu, or Yahu. Boo-hoo.

    So, yeah, you go really gentle on those various factions on the Hagel issue, or the Univ of CA Chancellor issue, or the kill a few more kids sadistically in Palestine issue, or whatever, lest you offend them about whether it’s the Israel Lobby or the Jewish Lobby or maybe it should be Jewish Leaders, or maybe the American Jewish umpty-umps (who have the temerity to remain silent) because you all need an internal converation first to settle things collegially over bubbe’s brisket about what the rest of us are a year ahead of you on.

    Don’t wait too long. There’s no more sympathy. And they need to know. Since none of them like to leave their zip codes (10021, 10023, 10065, 19, whatever), maybe you should take the message to them. Maybe what you need to do is come out blazing on the back of Mooser’s motorcycle with a healthy dose of his sneering irreverent truth and clear-eyed disdain for feudal myths and lies.

  7. Keith
    December 19, 2012, 7:25 pm

    PHIL- “…the gun lobby is a key element of the permissive American gun culture that produced this massacre.”

    The US is an empire, a warfare state which glorifies war and violence. The US military routinely commits massacres and other atrocities in foreign lands. Obama has a “kill list” for targeted drone assassinations. The entertainment media has become grotesquely violent. Extreme violence has been glorified and normalized. Our violent society is an inevitable consequence of our warrior culture in support of never-ending war. The business of America is war. Under these circumstances, to blame gun deaths and massacres primarily on a “permissive American gun culture” is to ignore the big picture. Additionally, harsh economic conditions correlate strongly with increased violence and other crime. There has been an increase in massacres, yet our gun culture is not more permissive than it used to be. No, I’m not defending gun ownership or the ready availability of assault rifles. I merely wish to point out that the problem is structural in nature and being an empire has unavoidable consequences, as does neoliberal structural adjustment.

    • sardelapasti
      December 20, 2012, 10:26 pm

      Well said. In fact, there is some historical research to confirm that homicide, assault and other violent crimes increase by a manifold in countries at war, and that the increase is definitely greater in countries waging wars of aggression. There has been no control about the exact role of media and entertainment, although in a country like ours where all the press is part of one-party propaganda you could not expect any mitigating effects. I am not saying that having the guns handy has any mitigating effect, either.

  8. Avi_G.
    December 19, 2012, 7:41 pm

    Well, to his credit, Obama had this to say about Israel’s acquisition of U.S.-made weapons:

    “I am also betting that the majority, the vast majority, of responsible law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war.”

    OK, he didn’t say that about Israel. But it’s nice to see that the man is capable of some basic logic when Israel is not the topic of discussion.

    • Avi_G.
      December 19, 2012, 10:16 pm

      Come to think of it, Obama is merely repeating Lobby talking points. This time, however, the lobby in question just so happens to be the NRA.

      • Mooser
        December 20, 2012, 6:45 pm

        Why not take a look at the statistics on how guns are actually used. There are very few legal purposes for guns, and very, very few, if they are used, are used for legal purposes.

        But the gun has become a person in Amerioca, and with more rights than a human person. You don’t have the right to kill, he does. It was given him in return for the thousands and thousands of times he has saved lives in dire danger from criminals, terrorists, and even zombies. Everybody knows this is true, they’ve seen it a million times. They know the gun knows who’s the bad guy and who’s the hero.

  9. Byzantium
    December 20, 2012, 5:08 am

    Restricting gun ownership is one side of the equation, but I believe much of the psychology behind these shootings is created by the entertainment media (movies, tv, video games, graphic novels) glorifying violence and portraying it as the way real men (and real Americans) solve their problems. Yet all focus now is on the gun lobby and almost none on the entertainment industry which, incidentally, is equally responsible for creating such a powerful pro-Zionist tendency in the American public.

  10. Joe Catron
    December 20, 2012, 8:50 am

    I disagree with Phil’s position on gun control, but that’s beside the point here. More important is what his piece reveals about the problematic nature of the word “lobby” as it’s commonly used in our circles.

    To be sure, the NRA *has* a lobby, but it cannot, itself and as a whole, be *reduced* to a lobby. Attempts to do so aim to minimize it, to wish away its massive grassroots constituency, and to pretend that it does not, in fact, legitimately and accurately represent the collective position of millions of Americans.

    But it does. It’s a mass movement, whose lobby is a minor and natural outgrowth. So, for that matter, is Zionism. And in each case, the lobby would have negligible political influence without the movement behind it.

    If all the “lobby” talk were mere external propaganda, that would be one thing, right or wrong. The big problem with it is that most of those who say it have convinced themselves to believe it! This can lead to neither clear thought nor effective action. And it’s not like anyone else is really fooled, either.

  11. Mooser
    December 20, 2012, 6:55 pm

    I would think more than a million Americans making their living from guns, and manufacturing the fear that sells them. But it’s a big country. There is the other constituency; the people who get shot.

    I’ve always had a problem with a gun to defend my home. So I ask you knowledgeable gun owners who took the gun-safety class: Do I keep it, loaded, in the nightstand or under my pillow so it ready and accessible when the home invasion comes, or do I do the safe thing and store the gun in a locked cabinet, with the ammo stored separately? And need 15 minutes to put it together when the bad guys come? On the other hand, a loaded gun in a home is always avalable for suicide, or those little domestic spats which get out of hand, or when those damn kids at the elementary school sing too loud.

    Or, we could look at what actually happens when a gun is in the home, there’s no script for that, but there are a lot of statistics.

    Oh well, I feel better about one thing! I just realised that the NRA did the same thing with guns and Americans that Zionism did with American Jews and Zionism. Small of me, I know, but I feel better.

  12. Mooser
    December 21, 2012, 10:21 am

    Okay, that’s, that! I’ve completely changed my mind about gun control. People should be able to by any kind of gun they want. But just like I do with my car, all they have to do is buy liability insurance. with rates set by adjusters based on the likely liability.
    What the heck would be so wrong with requiring liability insurance for gun ownership? Can anybody tell me?

  13. Mooser
    December 21, 2012, 10:29 am

    “Which is why I don’t think this knot will be untied without a serious conversation inside the Jewish community about when we married Zionism.”

    Much more comforting, isn’t it, to think that you simply made a bad marriage by your own choice (hey, it happens, to the best of us) than it is to think you were kidnapped and raped with your own assistance. That’s a degree of weakness and credulity it isn’t pleasant to face.

    I know (and don’t mind) that I wasn’t invited to the wedding (I wasn’t even asked to play a bluesy “Sunrise, Sunset”) but I would like to know, when were we proposed to? When did we accept? When was the ceremony? And what do we get out of this marriage?
    Wait a minute! Show me the pre-nup!

  14. Mooser
    December 21, 2012, 12:40 pm

    Well, what do you know? I might very well be wrong about the Second Amendment.

    I forgot there wasn’t just Catholics and Protestants back then, there were people and non-people. And people could have all the guns they wanted.

    “Historically then, the principal activities of the Founding Fathers’ “well regulated militia” were Indian killing, land stealing, slave patrolling and the enforcement of domestic apartheid, all of these, as the Constitutional language declares “being necessary to the security of a free state.” A free state whose fundamental building blocks were the genocide of Native Americans, and the enslavement of Africans.”
    (From the linked article)

    • Mooser
      December 21, 2012, 12:44 pm

      Speaking of all this, don’t make the same mistake I did. Spent untold sums to get an advance, illegal copy of “Django Unchained”, and settled down watch what I thought would be over an hour of Reinhardt at his best.
      The damned thing turned out to be porno-violence, and nobody will give me a refund.

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