Fallows calls ‘SNL’ donkey skit a ‘significant’ political marker of lobby’s exposure

Israel/Palestine
on 59 Comments

Jim Fallows’s steady, quiet, and urgent criticism of the Israel lobby is important because Fallows is an eminent establishment type who has long supported Israel’s public relations effort; but he is evidently concerned about the lobby as a militant, religious faction that could drag us into another war. 

Fallows is indirect in his criticisms. After all, he works at a lobby shop, the Atlantic. But last month his private email was published, in which he accused “Elliott Abrams and his wife [Rachel]” of the character assassination of Chas Freeman, a longtime Israel critic. And yesterday he publicly praised the fellate-a-donkey-for-Israel segment of the unaired Saturday Night Live skit for what it tells us about our political culture.

Fallows’s own criticisms of the Hagel hearings have been indirect; neither mentioned Israel explicitly. But he takes the SNL segment as seriously as we do:

as a political marker, I think it could be significant.

By the time a habit or attitude becomes widely known enough to be worth an SNL parody, even a failed one, it is on the way to seeming ridiculous. Ridicule is generally more threatening to a public figure or a public idea than “logical” rebuttal is. That’s why Colbert and the Daily Show matter, and why Rush Limbaugh first rose to influence in his early, funny-rather-than-angry-sounding phase… In the case of the Hagel hearings, you could read all the analyses you want about the posturing and disproportion of the senators’ grandstanding. Or you could watch the 65 seconds of the clip below that start at time 4:00. [that's the McCain parody: Would you fellate a donkey for Israel's security]

As to a religious faction dragging us into war, Fallows quietly defended Walt and Mearsheimer back in 2007, writing that the lobby was a religious faction aimed at a militant response to Iran:

To the (ongoing) extent that AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” — is trying to legitimize a military showdown between the United States and Iran, it is advancing its own concerns at the expense of larger American interests. The people who are doing this are not from one ethnic group in the conventional sense but are mainly of one religion (Jewish)…

[M]embers [of Cuba and Armenian and Israel lobbies] claim, and probably believe, that what they’re recommending is best for America too. But in these cases they’re wrong.

When the dust settles, I imagine he will tell us how the lobby gave us the Iraq war and Islamophobia… 

Oh and speaking of watching your words, the Times of Israel can’t say fellate-a-donkey. But it has a good euphemism:

Unaired Saturday Night Live skit parodies senators’ full-throated support for Israel during the Hagel confirmation hearing

59 Responses

  1. David Samel
    February 13, 2013, 10:20 am

    Catch this sentence at the end of the Times of Israel article:

    The mock hearing quickly degenerates into full-blown competition over support for Israel

    Looks like the reporter was having some fun with this story

    • ckg
      February 13, 2013, 1:32 pm

      No gag order?

      • David Samel
        February 13, 2013, 3:12 pm

        I almost never use these cute shortcut initials, ckg, but I have to say I did LOL at your question

  2. pabelmont
    February 13, 2013, 10:29 am

    Like, we’ve had it “up to here” with these guys?

  3. gingershot
    February 13, 2013, 10:53 am

    I can’t help laughing at the thought of Sen Hagel and Obama watching this video over the last few days. Priceless!

    The video is up at the Hill.com (link to thehill.com) and everywhere else – official Washington has just had to have seen it by this point

    The neocons and netanyahu need to be laughed out of town – I think this underground video goes a long way to grease those skids

    • Citizen
      February 13, 2013, 7:22 pm

      @ gingershot
      I bet Chelsea was on the phone last saturday night with her Dad about the draft skit.

    • Kathleen
      February 13, 2013, 7:36 pm

      Priceless indeed. Wondering if the video clip made a difference in the committee meeting yesterday and how many times Senator Graham did not mention Israel. That video made him look like the suck up he is and he was like a different person at that committee meeting. McCain too.

  4. Bumblebye
    February 13, 2013, 10:55 am

    Since you mentioned Freeman – he spoke recently at the Middle East Policy Council’s conference:
    link to mepc.org
    video nearly 20mins long, from around min 9 he speaks very harshly.

    • seafoid
      February 13, 2013, 12:53 pm

      He is so right . Israel is in deep ****. Nobody in the region will ever accept yesha. The last 30 years have been a disaster . And it is now about basic human rights for palestinians . Like it is always was .

    • Ellen
      February 13, 2013, 12:58 pm

      Bumblebye, thanks for the link. A fascinating series of talks. A must watch and listen. I have it going as I plug through a spreadsheet here….

    • Annie Robbins
      February 13, 2013, 10:02 pm

      bumblebye, thank you. check out your hat tip

      link to mondoweiss.net

  5. Nevada Ned
    February 13, 2013, 11:31 am

    It’s been said in Washington DC that once you are the butt of enough jokes, you’re finished.

    For example: remember “cold fusion”, allegedly discovered in the late 1980’s by researchers at the University of Utah?

    Comedian Mark Russell joked,
    “Cold fusion?? In Salt Lake City, you can’t even get a cold beer!”
    And cold fusion faded away.

    • seafoid
      February 13, 2013, 12:21 pm

      3 generations of influence with 2% of the population. All good things must come to an end . Iraq was the beginning of the end , the history books will say . Babylon redux.

    • Woody Tanaka
      February 13, 2013, 3:07 pm

      Calling Mark Russell a comedian is funnier than any joke he’s ever told.

  6. seanmcbride
    February 13, 2013, 11:49 am

    The people who are doing this are not from one ethnic group in the conventional sense but are mainly of one religion (Jewish)…

    Did James Fallows just push Judaism to the front and center of the Great Mideast Debates? — “mainly of one RELIGION.”

    By the way, in reviewing the history of the discussion of this volatile subject (the connections between Judaism and Zionism) on Mondoweiss, I turned up this interesting article by Phil from September 6, 2010:

    “Neoconservatism is rightly seen as a ‘current of Jewish culture’”

    link to mondoweiss.net

    The article forthrightly addresses the issue of Judaism in inspiring Jewish religious Zionists like Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir.

    Trying to construct a “Berlin Wall” between Judaism and Zionism is not a project that has the slightest chance of success in the real world, in which intelligent people pay attention to what is really going on and are not easily cowed and intimidated from telling the truth.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 13, 2013, 11:57 am

      Did James Fallows just push Judaism to the front and center of the Great Mideast Debates? — “mainly of one RELIGION.”

      i would urge you to open the link provided for more context! plus, when using double quotes it’s supposed to be an accurate quote, yours isn’t.

      also, phil wrote about this article at the time

      link to mondoweiss.net

      • seanmcbride
        February 13, 2013, 12:11 pm

        I opened the link and read the entire article carefully.

        Fallows said this:

        To the (ongoing) extent that AIPAC — the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby” — is trying to legitimize a military showdown between the United States and Iran, it is advancing its own causes at the expense of larger American interests. The people who are doing this are not from one ethnic group in the conventional sense but are mainly of one religion (Jewish).

        and he said this:

        To observe these patterns, and warn against them (including the disastrous consequences of attacking Iran), is not to be anti-Armenian, anti-Orthodox, anti-Cuban, anti-Catholic, or anti-Semitic. Nor is it to deny that members of each lobby claim, and probably believe, that what they’re recommending is best for America too. But in these cases they’re wrong. And noting these groups’ power and potential to distort policy mainly means recognizing that James Madison’s warnings about the invidious effects of “faction”* apply beyond the 18th century in which he wrote.

        Fallows explicitly described the Israel/Jewish lobby as a *religious* faction — which in fact it largely is — comprehending both Judaism and Christian Zionism — and grounded on a literal reading of the Old Testament.

        I also opened and read Phil’s article from October 23, 2007 — ‘Perestroika: James Fallows Says “Mainly… Jewish” Faction Pushes for Iran Showdown’ — as usual, it was right on the money — I wouldn’t change a single word.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 13, 2013, 12:30 pm

        sorry sean, i misinterpreted your comment “Did James Fallows just push Judaism”, as meaning this was something new, as opposed to an article he wrote several years ago.

        but personally, i don’t think his intention was to push judaism ‘front and center’, i think in the context he used it was to push the idea of the lobby as representing jewish interests in the same way his other examples of lobbies representing those ethnicities.

        as for your berlin wall reference i think it is abundantly clear what your focus is, since you’re reminding us of how volatile it is with regularity. did it ever occur to you it’s volatile because not everyone agrees with you? that doesn’t mean you’re right.

        Fallows explicitly described the Israel/Jewish lobby as a *religious* faction —

        not exclusively. and his examples in the pattern (anti-Armenian, anti-Orthodox, anti-Cuban, anti-Catholic, or anti-Semitic.) included three *non-religious* designations.

        saying the lobby mainly represents people of one religion doesn’t ignore the fact there have always been secular zionist jews.

        also, i think fallows words “are not from one ethnicity in the conventional sense” indicates a religious designation in his definition of ethnicity is non conventional.

      • seanmcbride
        February 13, 2013, 12:41 pm

        By “just” I was trying to communicate that I just read Fallows’ statement for the first time.

        This sentence couldn’t be more clear:

        The people who are doing this are not from one ethnic group in the conventional sense but are mainly of one religion (Jewish).

        He used the word “religion” in contradistinction to “one ethnic group in the conventional sense.”

        By the way, see this article from the Times of Israel yesterday:

        “Bennett: No Palestine in ‘God-given’ Land of Israel”

        In his first address to the Knesset plenum as an MK Tuesday, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Orthodox, right-wing Jewish Home party, made clear his ideological opposition to relinquishing any parts of the Land of Israel — sovereign Israel, as well as the West Bank — in a peace deal with the Palestinians.

        “There is no room in our small but wonderful God-given tract for another state,” Bennett said in a speech that stressed Israel’s Jewish religious heritage as a cornerstone of its society. “It won’t happen. Friends, before every discussion on the territories, we need to declare: ‘The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel.’ Only then can we start the debate.”

        link to timesofisrael.com

        A typical comment on the article:

        As a Jew and an American, it is inconceivable to me to have a Jewish State whose borders are not the Jordan River to the East Mediterranean Sea to the West, with Lebanon to the North and the Sinai to the South and with Jerusalem as the Capital. The “Palestinians” and all other like-minded Arabs can either live in the State with all the rights, benefits, and obligations but with voting restricted to a minority portion of Knesset, members or they are free to immigrate to an Arab Country.

        and:

        AMEN AMEN Kahane’s words are alive and well. It is about time someone stood up and invoked the words of the great Rabbi KACH is needed NOW Am Yisrael Chai.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 13, 2013, 1:09 pm

        sean, i am quite familiar w/bennet’s brand of fanaticism.

        link to mondoweiss.net

        link to mondoweiss.net

        i don’t think there’s a sole around here who would deny kahane’s words are alive and well. what has this got to do with fallows? are you suggesting kahane’s words represent mainstream american jewry? i notice you have no comment to make regarding my reference to secular jews.

      • American
        February 13, 2013, 1:25 pm

        Fallows words and description are good example of why religion should be left out of the “politics” of this.
        There are a blue million definitions of Jews floating around depending on who you ask—-they are an ethnic but not an ethnic, a race but not a race, a ‘people’ as well as a religion, a “people’ more than a religion, zionist are religious but not religious, zionist are secular but not secular,you can be Jewish without Judaism, you can’t be Jewish without Judaism ——–it’s way too screwed up when applied to the Lobby and politics.

        Just say the Lobby is a lobby for Israel supported mostly by Pro Israel Jews as the “Jewish “people’s” homeland” and some Christian zios for religious reasons.

        It’s a lobby for a foreign country period. ..is the point.

      • seanmcbride
        February 13, 2013, 1:29 pm

        Annie,

        I didn’t say that Kahanism represents mainstream American Jewry — I don’t think that. What I have argued is that the Jewish religious establishment has embraced Zionism, and that Zionism continues to pursue the program of building biblical Greater Israel.

        With regard to secular Jewish Zionists: all of the leading ones (Moses Hess, Max Nordau, David Ben Gurion, etc.) grounded Zionism in the symbols, archetypes, myths and themes of ancient and classical Judaism. Try Googling [david ben gurion bible]. Clearly this ideological tradition had enormous emotional resonance for them and served as an inspiration and blueprint for the entire Zionist enterprise from the very beginning.

        The second hit from Googling [david ben gurion bible]: “David Ben-Gurion — The Bible is Our Mandate”

        link to mailstar.net

        The third hit: “Netanyahu Resurrects Ben-Gurion’s Bible Study Circle”

        And all the while, for two hours on a mild afternoon, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – with a small black kippa on his head – sat in the covered courtyard of his home with 16 rabbis, academics, Bible scholars, archeologists and linguists, and discussed the meaning of the Book of Ruth, which will be read on Shavuot on Sunday in synagogues around the world. His wife, Sara, sat next to him, and his two sons sat on a bank of chairs set to the side.

        And Netanyahu made clear what the message was: “Ben-Gurion and Begin believed that the Bible should be the heritage of the entire nation – secular and religious, young and old, men and women. The Bible is the foundation of our existence. It unites the Jewish people, as it has throughout the generations. It also serves not only as a foundation but also as a map and compass,” he said.

        link to prophecynewswatch.com

      • MHughes976
        February 13, 2013, 2:00 pm

        I had not seen the idea of ‘all rights’ plus ‘restricted representation’ so starkly stated before. How arrogant, how brutal, how inconsistent. If your representation is restricted you don’t have all the rights of the other crowd, do you?

      • southernobserver
        February 13, 2013, 10:31 pm

        Dear Annie and Sean,
        I don’t wish to interfere in this interesting argument, however, we may postulate that to be a secular jew is a curious state of affairs since the definition of being jewish is religious. If you define your ‘ethnicity’ following religious terms, then you are not really secular, merely nonobservant. The same applies to at least as many Catholics, aye and Protestants of my acquaintance.

      • Hostage
        February 14, 2013, 8:30 am

        With regard to secular Jewish Zionists

        You apparently have little regard for the social or historical relevance of their contemporaries, the several millions of secular non-Zionist Jews who comprised the largest Jewish community in the world. Not that many years ago, they consciously decided against emigration to the Mandated State of Palestine.

        Try reading a book or two about them and Modern Jewish History, like Jack Jacobs, “Bundist Counterculture in Interwar Poland”; Daniel Blatman, “For Our Freedom and Yours: Jewish Labour Bund in Poland 1939-1949″ or at least the abstract/publisher’s synopsis:
        * link to amazon.com
        * link to amazon.com

      • seanmcbride
        February 14, 2013, 10:45 am

        Hostage,

        You apparently have little regard for the social or historical relevance of their contemporaries, the several millions of secular non-Zionist Jews who comprised the largest Jewish community in the world.

        This is a false statement and misrepresents my views.

        My argument all along has been that Jewish anti-Zionists, non-Zionists and progressive Zionists are exerting little or no influence on the Israeli government and the worldwide Jewish establishment — including the leading oganizational members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

        Benjamin Netanyahu and his fellow ethno-religious nationalist ideologues are controlling the conversation about Israel in American politics. The impact of those who share your views — especially on the US Congress — is between negligible to none.

        Why is this obvious fact of life so difficult to acknowledge?

        Perhaps matters will change in the future — but current political, social, cultural and demographic indicators and trendlines in Israel do not suggest that major change in a progressive direction will occur during our lifetime. Religious Zionists are on track to acquire more power in Israel in the future, not lose power.

        What this means is that it will probably be impossible to stop biblical Greater Israelists from setting the world on fire.

      • seanmcbride
        February 14, 2013, 12:05 pm

        Hostage,

        Try reading a book or two about them and Modern Jewish History….

        I’ve read a few hundred such books, by the very best scholars.

        Which five books or authors have most influenced your thinking about Israeli and Mideast politics, Hostage? — particularly on the big picture issues.

        For me: Yehoshofat Harkabi, Karen Armstrong, F.E. Peters, Ehud Sprinzak, Gershom Scholem, Shlomo Avineri, Norman Cantor, Victoria Clark, Amos Elon, Gershom Gorenberg, Yoram Hazony, Elliott Horowitz, David Hirst, Paul Johnson, Ian Lustick, Arie Morgenstern, Israel Shahak, Yuri Slezkine, Edith Zertal, Geoffrey Wheatcroft.

        Sorry — that’s more than five, and there are many more. Most of them are leading Jewish thinkers — they tend to know most about the subject and write most eloquently on these matters.

    • Hostage
      February 14, 2013, 7:10 am

      Trying to construct a “Berlin Wall” between Judaism and Zionism is not a project that has the slightest chance of success in the real world

      Sorry Sean, but the folks you claim are the Jewish establishment, don’t have any presence in my neck of the woods in Kansas. The notion that they are the spokesmen for Jews or Judaism is just as bogus as the notion that Dershowitz, Hikind, or Hophmi are my official spokesmen.

      If you are going to talk about harmless versus harmful streams of Jewish culture or the multiplicity of Jewish cultures, then you need to acknowledge that the same can be done for comparisons of Judaisms and Zionisms. There are streams whose members only believe there’ll be pie in the sky in the sweet by and by (if even then) who wouldn’t harm a fly. The fact that the majority hold a contrary view doesn’t render all Judaisms or Zionisms automatically suspect.

      • Hostage
        February 14, 2013, 7:24 am

        P.S. Jews were arguing over the social boundary markers that define who is, and isn’t a real Jew a couple of millennia ago. As wise Jewish man observed back then: “grass will grow from your cheeks and still the son of David will not come.” Everything isn’t simply a question of Messianism or living in the promised land.

      • Annie Robbins
        February 14, 2013, 8:20 am

        hostage, some background on sean’s statement, he’s referencing something mooser said: link to mondoweiss.net

        sean later referenced the berlin wall down thread. as you can see if you scroll. however, mooser’s reference to the wall wasn’t used the same way sean is using it, let’s listen to his words:

        Which is why looking for religious explanations, or even Jewish cultural explanations, while, I admit, lot’s of fun (I do it all the time if you haven’t noticed) and for some people it seems to be extremely personally satisfying, but it’s dead end as far as doing anything about Zionism. (And BTW, it’s also why a site like this needs to put up a pretty high “Berlin” wall)

        he’s talking about not using the site to explore, what just happens to be sean’s obsession, old testament “ancient” judaism. google “judaism messianic ethnic nationalism” (try it). now let’s review sean’s statement:

        Trying to construct a “Berlin Wall” between Judaism and Zionism is not a project that has the slightest chance of success in the real world, in which intelligent people pay attention to what is really going on and are not easily cowed and intimidated from telling the truth.

        in fact i support sean breaking down those walls over on his blog. but i don’t think we need to use mondoweiss to host a discussion about judaism day after day after day after day. it’s not what we’re here for. sean knows this.

      • Hostage
        February 14, 2013, 10:30 am

        he’s talking about not using the site to explore, what just happens to be sean’s obsession, old testament “ancient” judaism.

        Some of my hobbies have been studies in comparative theology and the various schools of higher criticism. The notion that the “old testament” is a collection of works authored by a single Jerusalem-based Davidic temple cult or that there ever was any such thing as a unified “ancient Judaism” that universally agreed upon the meaning of the prophecies regarding a son of David (versus a son of Joseph, or son of Levi, & etc.) is improbable.

        There’s a great deal of evidence to support the view that “Jews” like the author of Isiaiah 44, Yochanan ben Zakkai, and Flavius Josephus didn’t rule out the possibility of a Gentile Messiah (based upon a reading of Genesis 49 which allowed that the scepter would “depart from Judah” one day). The consensus on the canon and its meaning was a development that was only solidified and codified in the modern era after hundreds of years of effort. It ceased to enjoy anything near to universal support with the advent of the 19th century Reform movement.

      • seanmcbride
        February 14, 2013, 2:29 pm

        Hostage,

        Former high-level CIA officer Philip Giraldi is doing heavy lifting in taking on Old Testament cultists among the Christian spectrum of religious Zionists. See:

        article; AUTHOR Philip Giraldi TITLE Towards a Christian Zionist Foreign Policy PUBLICATION Antiwar.com DATE February 14, 2013 URL link to original.antiwar.com

        Christian Zionism is not a religion per se, but rather a set of beliefs based on interpretations of specific parts of the Bible – notably the book of Revelations and parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah – that has made the return of the Jews to the Holy Land a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ. The belief that Israel is essential to the process has led to the fusion of Christianity with Zionism, hence the name of the movement.

        The political significance of this viewpoint is enormous, meaning that a large block of Christians promotes a non-reality based foreign policy based on a controversial interpretation of the Bible that it embraces with considerable passion. Christian Zionism by definition consists of Christians (normally Protestant evangelicals) who believe that once the conditions are met for the second coming of Jesus Christ all true believers will be raptured up into heaven, though details of the sequence of events and timing are disputed. Many Christian Zionists believe that the Second Coming will happen soon, within one generation of the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, so they support the government and people of Israel completely and unconditionally in all that they do, to include fulfilling the prophecy through encouraging the expansion by force into all of historic Judea, which would include what remains of the Palestinian West Bank.

        Though it is an organization that defines itself as Christian, CUFI supports war against Iran as a precursor to total global conflict. Hagee explains “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”

        Neoconservatives, who most often might best be described as non-religious, were quick to identify the advantages derived from linking their cause with the evangelicals and established strong ties during the Reagan administration.

        Some evangelical leaders to include John Hagee have also benefited from the relationship directly in other ways. The Israeli government has presented Hagee with a Lear executive jet, complete with crew, to make his evangelizing more comfortable. It has, of course, been suggested that American aid and tax free charitable contributions to Israel are thus recycled to support those groups that inevitably are willing to provide still more aid until the well in Washington finally runs dry.

        So the bottom line is that the Christian Zionist involvement in American politics on behalf of the Washington’s relationship with Israel does not serve any conceivable U.S. national interests unless one assumes that Israel and the United States are essentially the same polity, which is unsustainable. On the contrary, the Christian Zionist politicizing has been a major element in supporting the generally obtuse U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East region and vis-à-vis other Muslim countries, a policy that has contributed to at least four wars while making the world a more dangerous place for all Americans. Christian Zionist promoted foreign policy serves a particularly narrowly construed parochial interest that, ironically, is intended to do whatever it takes to bring about the end of the world, possibly a victory for gentlemen like Pastor John Hagee if his interpretation of the bible is correct, but undeniably a disaster for the rest of us.

        Would anyone be dim or intellectually dishonest enough to construe Philip Giraldi’s critique of Christian Zionism to be an attack on Christianity as a whole?

        And would it be too much to ask Jewish humanists and Jewish religious progressives to be as vigilant and vigorous in their critique of Jewish religious Zionism as Christians like Philip Giraldi and Andrew Sullivan have been in their critique of Christian Zionism?

        While you are arguing the fine points of international law, the Israeli government is pulling the strings of Christian Zionists in pursuit of its own messianic Bible-based ideology. You can witness its handiwork in James Inhofe’s attacks on Chuck Hagel.

      • Philip Weiss
        February 16, 2013, 11:28 am

        Interesting that you asks Jews to undertake that labor. Implicit: we find repugnant those critiques of Islam that come from Christian/Jewish sources. This is a sensitivity that many people respect. I regularly slam the Catholic church for pedophilia scandal. I dont delve into the liturgy to find its justifications there. Above my pay grade

      • seanmcbride
        February 16, 2013, 12:08 pm

        Phil,

        I have been baffled that we’ve run into this major disagreement between us because I usually find myself in agreement with you on the finest details of almost every issue.

        Reasonable and rational people from all religious and secular traditions critique religious fundamentalism all the time in important books and articles.

        The critique of religious Zionism, in both its Jewish and Christian expressions, is especially important, since religious Zionists are driving Greater Israelism and the settlements movement, which is the main obstacle to achieving a Mideast peace agreement.

        Disagreements with religious Zionists do not constitute an attack on Judaism or Christianity as a whole. To make that argument is equivalent to claiming that disagreements with Zionism constitute antisemitism and an attack on Jews as a whole.

        How has our communication broken down on this issue? I honestly don’t get it.

        I’ve stated many times, and with sincerity, that I respect Judaism, Christianity and Islam at their best. The debate here is about the perversion of those traditions by fundamentalists and militant nationalists. I strongly believe that enlightened Christians, Muslims and religious Jews need to join forces and develop an effective opposition to Abrahamic fundamentalists and extremists all across the religious spectrum.

        If you would prefer that discussion about these issues not be pursued on Mondoweiss, I will of course respect your wishes, but with a heavy heart — I think they lie at the heart of everything that is driving the Mideast towards an apocalyptic explosion. I confess: I am wound up about the subject, as are many enlightened Christians and religious Jews (including Marc Ellis, for whom you have provided a major platform on Mondoweiss).

      • seanmcbride
        February 16, 2013, 12:13 pm

        Phil,

        Interesting that you asks Jews to undertake that labor.

        In the war of ideas, I think that enlightened Christians need to take on Christian fundamentalists, enlightened Muslims need to take on Muslim fundamentalists, enlightened Jews need to take on Jewish fundamentalists, enlightened Roman Catholics need to take on abuses in the Roman Catholic Church, etc.

        I also think that enlightened members of all these traditions need to take on religious fundamentalists collectively — to combine forces and leverage their power. That is my point of view.

      • Ellen
        February 16, 2013, 12:30 pm

        I regularly slam the Catholic church for pedophilia scandal. I dont delve into the liturgy to find its justifications there.

        Slam the Catholic Church all you want and more for their failings on those scandals. (there were more than one.) It’s a perfect example of the pernicious lengths instututions and enterprises will go to protect themselves.

        But you won’t find any justification in liturgy or theology.

        As an aside, I always admired that Judaism as a faith was not aligned with or structures as an institution like the Church. (Actually, I think Constatine was the one to really make that happen.)

        But Judaism was free of all that stuff! Then came along Zionism.

      • MRW
        February 16, 2013, 2:48 pm

        I also think that enlightened members of all these traditions need to take on religious fundamentalists collectively — to combine forces and leverage their power. That is my point of view.

        Too much homework and, frankly, truthful SNL skits work better and faster. Caustic would be even more effective, if funny.

      • MRW
        February 16, 2013, 2:55 pm

        Bill Maher broke the mold last night. Maher on Hagel: Based on GOP statements ‘the Israelis are controlling our government’
        2 min. Mediaite clip here: link to rawstory.com

        “Jamie Weinstein, senior editor of the Daily Caller, argued that there were still legitimate questions that senators had about Hagel,” and cited a Rutgers paper where Hagel OMIGOD said the state department was the most pro-Israeli, which Weinstein implied was preposterous.

      • sardelapasti
        February 16, 2013, 2:56 pm

        “I always admired that Judaism as a faith was not aligned with or structures as an institution like the Church”

        There was no opportunity to align with the Church in the absence of a state with official religion . We have no detailed data at all on the official Jewish states, ie the Khazar kingdom and the almost-mythical Yemenite one. In fact, the recorded switch to becoming official Church of the realm for the Khazars may well have been accompanied by bannings, persecutions and other usual benefits of official religion, fully Constantinian in character given the time and place.
        BTW, the Zionist entity today, an unforgivingly theocratic state, does have an official Church (limited to the Orthodox fraction.) It has realized, by the very hand of its once atheist leadership, the most obscurantist, Constantinian dreams of Antiquity.

      • seanmcbride
        February 17, 2013, 9:45 am

        MRW,

        You’re right:

        Satire, parody, wit and humor are powerful tools for deflating the delusional beliefs of dogmatic ideologues of all varieties. One strong cutting skit is worth a hundred long-winded theological doctoral dissertations.

        But official theological doctrines as defined by Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious authorities do in fact exert considerable influence on the affairs of the world.

        Recent generations of many young Jews have been intensely indoctrinated in Jewish religious Zionism by leading authorities from all three major branches of Judaism. Ideas matter. This theological propaganda is producing minds like Ben Shapiro (who is an Orthodox Jew and an extreme religious Zionist).

        See:

        “An Open Letter to American Jews”

        link to townhall.com

      • seanmcbride
        February 17, 2013, 9:54 am

        MRW,

        I saw Bill Maher’s remark on Israeli control of the American government last night (on DVR), and noticed that he delivered that line with complete seriousness.

        Perhaps Bill is beginning to wake up just a bit on Israeli issues. On most issues he is very sharp.

        Jamie Weinstein: yet another overexcited neocon/neolib clone who is all wound up about Israel. All of these characters are perfectly interchangeable — not a trace of individuality or individualism in them. Standard cult member profile. Completely underwater and undeveloped as rational adults.

      • seanmcbride
        February 17, 2013, 10:04 am

        Keeping in mind Phil’s editorial tastes:

        In-depth discussions about all aspects of religious Zionism are always welcome here:

        link to friendfeed.com

        In-depth discussions about all aspects of the Semantic Web and list-based knowledge processing technologies are always welcome here:

        link to friendfeed.com

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2013, 2:52 pm

        We have no detailed data at all on the official Jewish states, ie the Khazar kingdom and the almost-mythical Yemenite one. . . . BTW, the Zionist entity today, an unforgivingly theocratic state, does have an official Church (limited to the Orthodox fraction.) It has realized, by the very hand of its once atheist leadership, the most obscurantist, Constantinian dreams of Antiquity.

        LOL! Not quite. They haven’t adopted the policy of the Hasmonean Kingdom which required lapsed Jews and the Gentile inhabitants who had encroached on the boundaries of the promised land to become proselytes and observe the laws of the Jews or to be put to the sword. See the account of forced circumcisions under Mattathias in 1 Maccabees and Flavius Josephus’ accounts about similar incidents involving John Hyrcanus and the Edomites and the Ituraeans under Aristobulus (Antiquities 13).

        There’s really only one place where there was a requirement for Gentiles to observe the same laws as the Jews, Eretz Israel. Many passages of the Torah condition the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments with the phrase “When you enter the land”. Jewish authors tended to aggrandize its scope. But no fair reading of the accounts of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and the death of Moses would permit the inclusion of Iraq or Yemen within its boundaries, since much of the southern Negev and Jordan are described as stops along the way outside the promised land.

      • seanmcbride
        February 14, 2013, 9:48 am

        Hostage,

        If you are going to talk about harmless versus harmful streams of Jewish culture or the multiplicity of Jewish cultures, then you need to acknowledge that the same can be done for comparisons of Judaisms and Zionisms.

        Not only have I repeatedly acknowledged the presence of progressive and humanist strains in Jewish civilization many times, I rely heavily on progressive and humanist Jewish thinkers for my analysis of Israeli and Mideast politics.

        But here is the problem: the Israeli and Jewish establishments — the Israeli government, the Conference of Presidents, AIPAC, the leaders of the mainstream Jewish religious establishment, etc. — have successfully marginalized Jewish progressives and humanists. In fact, the power of progressives and humanists within the official Jewish establishment continues to decline — witness the results of the recent Israeli election.

        The fact that the majority hold a contrary view doesn’t render all Judaisms or Zionisms automatically suspect.

        That is a straw man: no one here has ever suggested that “all Judaisms or Zionisms” are “automatically suspect.”

        Few people condemn all Christians because they think Christian Zionism is an odious ideology or all Muslims because they oppose al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

      • Hostage
        February 16, 2013, 6:11 pm

        the problem: the Israeli and Jewish establishments . . . have successfully marginalized Jewish progressives and humanists.

        Take heart, if they’ve produced an intellect to marginalize people like Tony Judt, Joel Kovel, Zygmunt Bauman or his grandson Michael Sfard, I haven’t heard a word about it.

        We don’t need very many “marginal” people of that caliber to critique the harmful streams of Zionism or change minds in the Jewish community, e.g.
        See On eve of Israeli visit, renowned academic Zygmunt Bauman laments protracted occupation link to haaretz.com

      • seanmcbride
        February 17, 2013, 10:14 am

        Hostage,

        What a pity that Judt, Kovel, Bauman and Sfard have had so little influence on the Conference of Presidents, AIPAC, the ADL, the AJC, the Israeli government, the US Congress, the American mainstream media, the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform establishments, etc. They lack powerful billionaire backers like Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, Mort Zuckerman, Bruce Kovner, Bernard Marcus, Irving Moskowitz, Rupert Murdoch, Lev Leviev, etc.

        During the last decade or two they have lost, not gained, influence in Israel and among the worldwide Jewish establishment. Look at all the key trendlines and indicators. Crunch the numbers with a bit of computational social science.

      • Hostage
        February 17, 2013, 5:38 pm

        What a pity that Judt, Kovel, Bauman and Sfard have had so little influence on the Conference of Presidents . . .

        Sorry but all of the surveys I’ve read say that the majority of young Jews are tuning out the tribal message of the Jewish and Zionist people and groups you keep harping about. The chances that the average Jew will pass on DNA to his or her grandchildren and great-grandchildren is 100 percent. The chances that they will be considered Jewish or Zionist by those people or groups is very remote. That doesn’t mean they’ve ceased to exist, only that they’re no longer included in statistics about “Jewish Growth”, i.e. link to simpletoremember.com

        FYI, I think the same holds true for “Evangelical Zionists” or “Christian Fundamentalist Zionists” if my friends are any indication. Most American Christians never darken a Church door, or only attend Christmas or Easter services. People like Hagee are shunned by the major denominations. Non-denominational support for Zionism, per se, is miles wide. But it’s only inches deep when it comes to support for things like the apartheid wall in Palestinian-Christian Bethlehem or elsewhere. Christian Zionists don’t have any exegetical basis for denying Palestinian Christians basic human rights. If stories about DNA testing are any indicator, the inhabitants of Bethlehem are the inheritors of the Davidic covenants that Christians keep harping so much about.

        Most of my Christian neighbors and acquaintances view the political agendas of the Televangelists and the money raising campaigns associated with their lobbying efforts with just as much suspicion and skepticism as I do.

      • Cliff
        February 16, 2013, 11:32 am

        Hostage said:

        The notion that they are the spokesmen for Jews or Judaism is just as bogus as the notion that Dershowitz, Hikind, or Hophmi are my official spokesmen.

        Excellent comment, Hostage.

  7. American
    February 13, 2013, 1:46 pm

    My senator.

    Dome: Hagan backs Hagel for Secretary of DefensePublished: February 5, 2013
    2013-02-06T05:32:16Z
    By Craig Jarvis and John Frank The_News_and_Observer
    U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan said Tuesday that she would support Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense.The senator from Greensboro, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she made her decision after questioning Hagel.“After several weeks of reviewing his qualifications, meeting with him in private, and participating in his hearing, I plan to support the nomination of Senator Hagel to become our country’s next Secretary of Defense,” she said in a statement. “During the hearing and in our meeting, Senator Hagel assured me that he would be a helpful partner in getting answers about water contamination at Camp Lejeune. He also expressed his strong support for the state of Israel, one of our most important allies, and he shared my concerns about the serious, negative consequences sequestration would have on North Carolina.”Hagan, who is up for re-election next year, was one of five senators targeted in an ad earlier this month by Americans for a Strong Defense, a group trying to block Hagel’s nomination.”

    Read more here: link to newsobserver.com

    Hummm….Hagan knows Americans for a Strong Defense is Pro Israel group…..so with her lip service about being convinced Hagel o.k. on Israel is she trying to plead to them that she is convinced that Hagel is pro Israel after all? I know she has been hearing from the military element in NC who are for Hagel and I imagine that’s why she included her reference to the water problem at Camp LeJuene marine base which has been going on forever and she has never paid any attention to before. I am guessing she made a judgement on NC votes vr Lobby money in her 2014 re election campaign and decided she was gonna need the votes more than the money. She’s been a useless dud in getting anything done for the eastern part of the state where all the military is.

  8. W.Jones
    February 13, 2013, 3:11 pm

    Can you please say a bit more (or point me to) the Atlantic being a Lobby outfit? I know a number of their writers promote the State’s system, but Mr. Sullivan there is a critic, on the other hand.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 13, 2013, 4:11 pm

      jeffrey goldberg posts out of the atlantic. and the discourse about his boss in that last article about him…hmm.

      • W.Jones
        February 13, 2013, 5:37 pm

        The article you pointed to I think was Mondoweiss’s one mentioning:

        Starobin approvingly cites Atlantic editor James Bennet’s concern about “the survival of the Jewish people,” The piece says that when Goldberg, fearing anti-Semitism in the U.S., moved to Israel in the 1980s, he wanted to go into Israeli intelligence– before… working in a prison for Palestinians and exulting that his rifle “was electric with the promise of Jewish power.”

        Wow dude. “[insert nationality] Power” sounds like something from a speech by you know who.
        This is a situation where a person says that he recognizes the system is what he calls “Apartheid.”

        Nonetheless, what about the fact that Sullivan is a critic of the State’s system? Would you consider him an exception within the Atlantic, and take the position that in general the journal promotes the State’s policies and system? The Atlantic used to be a very leftist journal in the US in the 1950’s. Is it now a P.E.P. journal, or one whose views have become co-opted in general due to the importance of the State to the journal’s editors?

      • Annie Robbins
        February 13, 2013, 10:06 pm

        w.jones, sullivan is leaving the atlantic. he announced it last month. others knowmore about the history of the atlantic than myself,wish i could be of more help.

      • W.Jones
        February 13, 2013, 11:46 pm

        ‘Atlantic Pure’

        ?

    • Ellen
      February 17, 2013, 10:36 am

      W. Jones, one example might be that The Atlantic commissioned Walt and Mearsheimer to do a piece on what developed into their book, “The Isreal Lobby and US Foreign Policy.”

      The Atlantic would not accept it or publish it. (i think that original paper was then published in the UK) No explaination was ever given why they would not accept what they comissioned. The test of time is supporting the MW thesis more and more.

      This points to the pattern of The Atlantic as yet another Zio tool and sinking credibility of The Atlantic.

      link to salon.com

  9. Kathleen
    February 13, 2013, 3:15 pm

    Fallows inferring that SNL has held back criticism of the I lobby until “an attitude or habit becomes widely known enough to deserve a SNL parody” Give me an f–king break. The attitude and habit of the I lobby has been widely known for decades. Lorne Micheals and SNL have been one of the gate keepers on the I lobbies power. NEVER EVER doing a skit for decades on the I lobby or on Israel or Israeli leaders while ripping other countries leaders and policies new assholes. Come on. While it is a marker that this skit even was done and then made it onto the web..but let’s stop right there. Lorne has seen the writing on the wall/barrier/fence and knows there is no keeping the gates closed any longer. Lorne Micheals is joining the better late than never crowd.

  10. DICKERSON3870
    February 13, 2013, 5:30 pm

    RE: “the Times of Israel can’t say fellate-a-donkey. But it has a good euphemism: ‘Unaired Saturday Night Live skit parodies senators’ full-throated support for Israel . . .'” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Full-throated? Oh my! Are donkey’s that well endowed? I had no idea!
    Mind you, I have no interest in such things. I’m merely asking on behalf of a good friend of mine who just happens to be doing a term paper on the relative sizes of various animals’ endowments; and the notion of full-throated fellatio on a donkey might really pique his . . . [a nervous cough] . . . er . . . uh . . . I mean her interest.

    • piotr
      February 17, 2013, 5:09 pm

      I have a vivid memory of a visit to a zoo when I heard piercing voice of a small boy “Daddy! A donkey is climbing a donkey!”. Daddy, a young man in his twenties had a red face and dragged his son with full speed. Which made me focus on the donkeys. The female was not in the mood and was evading the male by twisting away. The male would react by momentarily standing with his arousal vanishing, but then the arousal would come back, more than a foot long (two feet? given that a donkey is not a very large animal, it looked impressive), and he would mount the female again, and that was repeated a number of times.

      A great occasion to explain a five year old some essential facts of life, like how does US Senate operate.

  11. chrisrushlau
    March 21, 2013, 3:07 am

    It does sound like some breakthrough is being made. I was told two years ago by a Jewish woman on the phone from northern Maine, “You don’t know how hard it is for a Jew to talk about Israel.”
    Compare this to the new Pope. Assume he is as Francis-like as possible. He would not be promising, nor is anybody expecting him, to abolish the Papacy, or the episcopate (office of bishop). But that is what is being asked of Israel, and by God, the God of circumstances. But this raises an idea. Could Zionism become the basis for a delocalized Jewish established religion, with a set of officials, regalia, canons, banks, butlers, Swiss Guards, with a headquarters in some quaint out-of-the-way tourist destination?

Leave a Reply