Israeli pol says Jews can talk about the lobby like blacks can use the n-word

Israel/Palestine
on 29 Comments

200px-EinatpicHere are two recent reports about the Israel lobby, suggesting that the subject is getting more and more into the mainstream discourse, but with a lot of resistance.

Earlier this week, former British foreign secretary Jack Straw made news when he said that unlimited AIPAC money in the US political system is an obstacle to peace. He told Israeli media that he based his critique on Walt and Mearsheimer’s classic book on the subject of the lobby.

Straw, responding Monday in an e-mail to The Jerusalem Post’s Henry Rome, noted that his comments about AIPAC ’s influence on US policy are essentially based on Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s book. Straw also notes that in his 2012 memoir Last Man Standing he quotes in pages 445- 447 from these two men’s “critical study of AIPAC .”

Some Israelis regarded Straw’s comments as anti-Semitic, Anschel Pfeffer reports in Haaretz.

on Sunday, a number of Israeli newspapers and websites… published stories on the former foreign minister’s “anti-Semitic tirade,” saying that he had accused “Jewish money” of perverting American foreign policy.

Straw probably didn’t believe his ears when he was told what Israeli newspapers were writing about him; no British paper thought there was anything worth reporting. Finally on Monday, his office released a statement where Straw insisted: “I am not remotely anti-Semitic. Quite the reverse. I have all my life strongly supported the state of Israel, and its right to live in peace and security,” and reiterated the points he had made in the debate. In conclusion he wrote, “none of this is ‘anti-Semitic.’ There are plenty of people in Israel who take a similar view to me – not least (as I do) because they believe that the current approach of the Government of Israel will weaken the position of the state of Israel in the medium and long-term.”

Straw’s comments were first reported by an Israeli politician, Einat Wilf, who participated in a British roundtable then went on Facebook in anger. Pfeffer asked Wilf what was anti-Semitic about Straw’s statement.

I asked, did Straw say the words “Jewish money”? She confirmed that he did not and said she was not responsible for the newspapers writing it.

Pfeffer: But what is the problem with AIPAC and other Jewish organizations donating large sums of money to pro-Israeli candidates? I asked her. … Israeli newspapers talk very freely of Israel’s influence in the U.S., and I have even heard advisors to Israel’s prime minister talk about it off the record, so why is Straw in your opinion peddling a classic image of anti-Semitism? “That’s different,” she said. “It’s like two black men calling each other ‘nigger’ which is not right but it’s not racism.”

So apparently, according to Wilf, only Jews are allowed to speak of the effect lobbying and political donations have on U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Others have used that term, Jewish money; Seymour Hersh for example. Because, as I noted earlier today, Jewish wealth is widely confused with pro-Israel wealth– because the two communities overlap so broadly, and because Israel supporters brag on Jewish wealth. Shmuley Boteach talks about Cory Booker meeting “wealthy donors” at his events; a Jewish cultural festival shuts out participants who are critical of Birthright/Israel because its “funders” support Birthright; a Jewish stage in Washington cancels a Nakba play because of donors’ pressure. It’s hard to say where the Jewish community stops and Zionism begins. (And Tom Friedman says that with AIPAC’s support, a candidate need only make three phone calls to raise the amount of money it would take 50,000 calls to raise.)

More on the lobby from foreign-policy blogger Max Fisher in the Washington Post. Fisher pooh-poohs the power of the lobby, saying that when AIPAC supported an unpopular cause, bombing Syria, it lost. Its power derives from the fact that its cause, Israel, is usually popular, Fisher alleges.

Critics of the right-leaning, pro-Israel group often refer to it simply as “The Lobby,” as if it were so powerful that other lobbyist organizations hardly even mattered. It’s not considered especially controversial to suggest that the group plays a major role in shaping U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

AIPAC’s influence is thought to be strongest in Congress, where support for pro-Israeli policies is indeed bipartisan and passionately held. Its membership is thought to include lots of Washington power-brokers and heavy-hitters, the types who, in the common telling, pull all the hidden levers of American governance and foreign policy. So when AIPAC began lobbying on behalf of Obama’s Syria strike plan, many assumed it was a done deal, particularly since the administration most needed help in Congress, turf AIPAC knows well…

Typically, though, AIPAC has public opinion on its side; in this case, it very much did not.

The problems with Max Fisher’s claims are first, the lobby isn’t covered openly by the media. As Jack Straw is discovering in England, it’s been considered anti-Semitic to speak of anything that seems to raise the issue of Jewish influence. The Washington Post hasn’t covered Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis in any depth and it rarely refers to the lobby. If “AIPAC [is] typically portrayed as the most shadowy and powerful” of all lobbies, as Fisher says, why isn’t the Post doing stories on it every day?

He is right that in this instance, the papers did at last cover AIPAC on Syria, because Obama called on AIPAC to work for him against the popular will. But Democrats were coming out against AIPAC on the question, and it did not touch on Israel per se. The matter was alot like Republican Steve Largent and Democrat Bill Clinton joining forces against  the Cuba lobby on the Elian Gonzalez case: the facts were so extreme (a boy taken from his father), they knew they could get the American public’s support.

But settlements in the West Bank have been disastrous policy for decades, and the press doesn’t cover AIPAC’s work in that case. Because it’s treated as a matter of Israel’s security.

This case marked a new terrain for AIPAC, and that’s a great thing. Maybe Americans will finally get to debate whether they want to support racially-based apartheid?

 

29 Responses

  1. DICKERSON3870
    November 1, 2013, 11:15 am

    RE: “So apparently, according to Wilf, only Jews are allowed to speak of the effect lobbying and political donations have on U.S. policy in the Middle East.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Bad, OpenSecrets.org! Bad! ! !*

    * FROM opensecrets.org (10/28/13):

    ● Pro-Israel: Money to Congress (Senate and House)

    • SUMMARY

    • All cycles

    Dems: $70,969,618
    Repubs: $39,958,026
    Other: $1,546,917
    All Candidates: Total to All Candidates: $112,474,561
    Incumbents Only: Total to Members: $91,696,169

    The numbers on this page are based on contributions from PACs and individuals giving $200 or more.All donations took place during the -1-All election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission on Sunday, August 18, 2013.

    SOURCE – link to opensecrets.org

  2. pabelmont
    November 1, 2013, 11:35 am

    Phil,

    As to the phrase “Jewish Money”, several things.

    First, the phrase “Zionist Money” seems to me awkward — have you ever seen it used? Many Americans know about The Lobby, know about Israel, know about money-pressuring-politicians, but have never heard the word “Zionist” and couldn’t find Israel on a map. “Pro-Israel” money is, of course, far more accurate, and includes money from (e.g.) Evangelicals who are not Jews.

    Second, a lot of Jews who may not themselves be ARDENT Zionists nevertheless suspect that their friends are. Don’t make waves applies to rich Jews as well as rich non-Jews. “Some of my best friends are Zionists” is a judgment that many people could make, very, very much including Jews.

    BTW, the 1948 Einstein letter relates to the raising of “Jewish Money”:

    During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

    Today the methods may be gentler, but a lot of “Jewish Money” may still be raised by coercive means. (I cannot say.)

    So the political money that supports Israel may come in part — even in large part — from people who would be really, really surprised (and not at all pleased) to read (and BELIEVE) GOLIATH. They support Israel because their friends do, their synagogue does, whatever. They contribute “Jewish Money” as an act of ill-informed solidarity. (By ARDENT ZIONISTS, I suppose I mean people who DO know what is going on, who would not be surprised by anything in GOLIATH, and who support Israel anyway.)

    So, yes, “Jewish Money” seems to me quite appropriate.

    • broadside
      November 4, 2013, 2:54 pm

      Things we can say of others we cannot say of the Jews. George Steinbrenner did not own the NY Yankees outright. He was the majority owner. He had controlling interest. In fact, Jewish ownership of the mainstream media is at a far greater percentage than Steinbrenner’s of the Yankees — but when was the last time you heard of Jewish ownership of the media followed by anything other than Louis Farrakhan or David Duke (or a letter to the Times by Abe Foxman)? malvernthenovel.com

  3. Shmuel
    November 1, 2013, 11:53 am

    “That’s different,” she said. “It’s like two black men calling each other ‘nigger’ which is not right but it’s not racism.”

    Wilf prefers to focus on we-control-the-world banter among Jews, but that was not what Pfeffer was asking.

    “I am not remotely anti-Semitic. Quite the reverse. I have all my life strongly supported the state of Israel, and its right to live in peace and security,”

    A non sequitur.

    • German Lefty
      November 1, 2013, 2:05 pm

      A non sequitur.

      Right! Why do so many politicians cite their support for Israel as evidence that they are not anti-Semitic? Doesn’t make any sense.

  4. Cliff
    November 1, 2013, 12:00 pm

    Remember – this story only broke very recently.

    As soon as it did, all the idiot Zionist cult members went on an on-line jihad against Straw.

    Here are 2 examples:

    hophmi:

    Mr. Straw will have a black mark on his record for this, as he should, and as all should who express such hate, even if it is couched in the fashionable language of the times.

    oleg:

    Straw basically said that Jews have way too much money and that he does not approve the way they choose to spend it.
    And you don’t find this antisemitic , not even a little bit ?

    And all for what? For what EINAT WILF implied he said.

    He didn’t even use the expression, ‘Jewish money’. All of the Jewish press and Israeli press reported this as being some kind of evil Holocaust denier manifesto.

    Crazy, irrational, hysterical propaganda. The slander against the man is due to an Israeli politician who goes on to say he/she is not responsible for how the story turned out.

  5. lysias
    November 1, 2013, 12:02 pm

    Since Straw is one-eighth Jewish, does that mean he’s entitled to talk about the lobby?

    • Shmuel
      November 1, 2013, 12:06 pm

      Since Straw is one-eighth Jewish, does that mean he’s entitled to talk about the lobby?

      Only one eighth of the time (or one eighth of it all of the time — his choice).

  6. Woody Tanaka
    November 1, 2013, 12:04 pm

    “That’s different,’ she said. ‘It’s like two black men calling each other ‘n*****’ which is not right but it’s not racism.'”

    What she’s proposing is Orwell-style thought policing. It’s not about the use of a word, but about the discussion of a topic. Her comparison is vile.

    • justicewillprevail
      November 1, 2013, 1:35 pm

      It’s a spectacularly offensive and odious comparison, one which is utterly illegitimate. There is no comparison whatsoever, especially as if Israel is on one comparative side of the racial divide in the US then it is on the KKK side. And would it be disallowed to talk of their pernicious influence back in the day? How revealing of the confused mindset of these people, and their attempts to hijack genuine racism for their own political purposes and to seek to silence discussion. Abysmal. Fail.

    • pabelmont
      November 1, 2013, 3:18 pm

      If black people (you know who I mean, I mean people who, in America, are often called “African Americans” even though they may not be Americans or of a particularly black skin color either, people who were once properly called “Negroes” and later properly called “Black”) choose to use the N-word among themselves, and presumably not meaning any harm, then Jews should be able to use the K-word (among others) among themselves, ditto. (I rather imagine that they do not.)

      But what’s this got to do with use of such terms as “Israel Lobby” and “Jewish Money”? Lobbying and getting rich are so American! A well-regarded professions and well-regarded accomplishment! It is not a slur to say that people are Lobbying. Or that they are Rich. By contrast, “Nigger” became a slur and is no longer accounted a proper usage. One must nowadays ordinarily hide it behind the thin screen of “N-word”. (The English language only has 26 must-not-be-spoken words, did you know?) But people actually register as “lobbyists”, something to be proud of. And though they don’t like to pay taxes, they do like to be rich.

      And since the purpose of ALL lobbying is to skew governmental decisions in the lobby’s desired direction, and since no-one would bother to lobby for something that would happen automatically (apple pie, motherhood), it should go without saying that the purpose of the Israel Lobby is to skew USA’s behavior in a direction it would most likely not have taken absent the efforts (and expenditures) of the lobbyists.

      So when Straw (or I) say that the Lobby spends too much money and moves USA’s policies away from what Straw or I consider the “good” or the USA’s “National Interest”, all he or I mean is that he or I doesn’t like the result. It’s pure sour grapes. Not hate-speech. Either that, or we will soon be speaking of using the “L-word”.

    • Egbert
      November 2, 2013, 8:26 am

      Here is the entire content of the Zionist dictionary:

      “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

      • lysias
        November 4, 2013, 10:13 am

        And we all know what happened to Humpty Dumpty.

  7. Bumblebye
    November 1, 2013, 12:20 pm

    Wilf is so damn wrong on so many levels!
    Who are the victims of an Israel tailored, bought (but never paid for) US foreign policy? – Palestinians, US soldiers, US taxpayers (paying both for Israel and the wars US enters into at its design), millions of unknowable Iraqis, Iranians (victims of sanctions) and endlessly on. But only her kind can talk about this gross misuse of power and money? Isn’t that ‘omerta’?

  8. NormanF
    November 1, 2013, 12:37 pm

    The American people support Israel because the two countries have shared values as liberal democracies and market economies and they have strategic interests in common in the Middle East.

    If that didn’t exist between the two nations, all the influence of the Israel Lobby wouldn’t matter. Israel has a far easier time of it in Washington than its tyrannical adversaries who hate America, oppress their own people at home and just resent American involvement in the Middle East.

    Jack Straw, like much of the British Establishment doesn’t really understand why Israel is held in high esteem by Americans and it has nothing to do with the pernicious powers of Zionism. And Einat Wilf is correct that any one who ascribes almost supernatural powers to the Jews is trafficking in anti-Semitism.

    • Cliff
      November 2, 2013, 8:49 am

      The American people do not support Israel.

      America has 300 million + people. The majority do not support Israel.

      Support for Israel is concentrated in the Christian Zionist community and Jewish community.

      The American political systems is corrupt and does not require a ‘majority’ to care about an issue to get something done about said issue – providing large concentrations of wealth and power have a say in it.

      Israel and America have a shared colonial past/present. Shared racism. Shared bigotry.

      But America is infinitely better than Israel when it comes to civil liberties (the NSA spying aside).

      Israel is a Jewish supremacist colony.

      You are not any kind of descendant of ancient Jews or Israelites. You are the product of conversion and have no claim to Palestine.

      You and your Israeli cult members got your country through rape/massacre/lies/propaganda/ and ethnic cleansing.

    • James Canning
      November 2, 2013, 3:29 pm

      Jack Straw clearly understands the power of the Israel lobby in the US.

  9. seafoid
    November 1, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Wilf is an idiot. It’s not our fault the lobby looks and behaves like an anti-Semitic trope.

    Money is at the rotten heart of Zionism. Money and Jews who don’t want to look.

    15000 people in East Jerusalem ethnically cleansed this week and where is the outrage? Israelis will send money and equipment to Haiti, to Rwanda, to Sri Lanka , to India but when great evil happens at the hand of their own public servants nobody says anything.

  10. James Canning
    November 1, 2013, 4:10 pm

    Bravo, Jack Straw. Aipac is of course a HUGE obstacle to peace, and one might even say Aipac is a threat to US national interests as a result.

  11. James Canning
    November 1, 2013, 4:15 pm

    And yes, how sad and dangerous the American news media do so little to inform the US public of Aipac’s role in promoting continuing growth of illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank.

  12. LanceThruster
    November 1, 2013, 7:18 pm

    Stephen Colbert recently explained that “tigers can call each other ‘Tigger,’ but *you* can’t.”

    • German Lefty
      November 2, 2013, 6:06 am

      Well, that’s not fair. If one racial group is allowed to say something that another racial group is not allowed to say, then that’s unequal treatment and racial discrimination. Either everybody has the right to say “tigger” or nobody. No special rights for anyone. If minorities believe that they can take special liberties, then they don’t have to wonder when the majority reacts with resentment to them.

      • gamal
        November 2, 2013, 6:15 pm

        Why would non-tiggers want to use “tigger”, is there a German word for context? The subject of a few brilliant articles here, respect to Austin and Max.
        Appropriation is a form of dehumanization, if a young Somali calls me Haji I would assume it would differ in intent and context and thus in effect from a US marine referring to me by such an epithet, am I wrong to suspect that this may be the case.

        The author above who stated that Black people calling each other “Nigga” is wrong made me laugh and laugh, self awareness so easily translates into solipsism, which is perhaps wrong or at least unhelpful, who can be sure. The right to scrutinize and defame seems almost impossible for some, unaware of their privileged position, WEB Dubois anyone, to surrender.

        Could I tentatively suggest Emersons “Invisible Man”, or Maxin Hong Kingstons “Chinamen” and “Woman Warrior”, not sure what you mean by “fair” here, would it be fair if everyone paid a similar sum in income tax say 40k Euro’s per annum, its fair we all pay the same, economic and social context being irrelevant.

        After a fine meal of gypsysnitcz followed by a smoke of “Nigger Head” pipe tobacco, me and my Golliwog can go for a pint of bitter down at the Turks Head pub, in my colour and ethnically blind utopia.

  13. traintosiberia
    November 1, 2013, 7:19 pm

    So lets allow only Germans talk about Nazi atrocities and demand the return of the money from the holocaust victims.
    Lets allow only white Americans and Spanish talk about dispossession,killings, and dehimanization of Native and lets them decide about the land grab or right in white country from the point of white supremacist.
    Lets Saudi and Pakistan talk about terrosim and no one else.

    N word was not created by the blacks but by their enemies and haters.
    Jewish lobby and power and influneces were created by Jewish people with both good and evil effects on other and teh affected and benefitted -both have every right to talk about it.

  14. pipistro
    November 2, 2013, 8:32 am

    Inasmuch as Israel defines itself as a Jewish State even when bombs the Palestinians and/or menaces of bombing half the Middle East, nobody should complain the fact that it is Jewish influence on the Congress to make it possible with the whole of USA support. Neither Jews, nor anyone else. It’s facts. And if you say this is anti-Semitic (i.e. offensive), well, then you are acknowledging at the same time that the support itself is evil, but you are not willing to carry the shame. Congratulations, Mrs. Wilf!

    • traintosiberia
      November 2, 2013, 1:11 pm

      It seems you are onto something here. Languages do matter in clearing the mud. If I accuse someone of something,there are two possibilities which may require more explanation or may not. The two possibilities are that they have done it or not or they have lent the crucial support without which the actions they are accused of ,would not have come to fruition or they had no role. But the act is wrong andthatkind of action would be wrong in future or would have been in the past. The attack on Osirik was bad,the attack on Syria – many this years and in 2007 were bad as wasthe proposal to India in 1987 was bad. Kuwait attack is provided by Israel as the hindsight validated reason to carry out attack on Iraqi nukes. But another argument is possible that Kuwait would not have started stealing oil from Iraq if Iraq had nukes, Kuwait would not have started demanding payment if Iraq had nukes and Kuwait could not have bragged on Jordan TV that it would get US involved if Iraq dared for no assurances would have been forthcoming.
      Itis anti semitism to say Iraq war was engineered by Israel but the fact of the matter is that overwhelming support for war came from a israel its leaders,its re
      Obvious organizations,and along with US citizen came from Jewish American as well who in other situation have. Been usually against war. If it were good why will Israel would feel bad? The war party here in US does not think it was bad and still thinks – at best -it was not worth-but feels no moral pangs and are not afraid of saying so.
      Also the same method only with much less support from American publics , the Jewish group are agitating for war against Iran. The languages they use are the languages of ruthless dictators of 20 th century. They meet Obama and offers grace period and they promise of working privately with the Congress ( lobelog .com ) This they did this week after meeting with Obama. This action when accused of being employed against Iraq is Antisemitic but the same action openly carried out by them is not when employed against Iran and to some extent against Syria.

  15. German Lefty
    November 2, 2013, 8:50 am

    TheRealNews: Netanyahu’s Greater Israel Based on Expulsion and Annexation

    TheRealNews: Ethnic Cleansing and the Israeli “Center ” – Blumenthal Pt2

    The Majority Report: Goliath – Life and Loathing in Greater Israel w/ Max Blumenthal

  16. LeaNder
    November 2, 2013, 9:41 am

    He is right that in this instance, the papers did at last cover AIPAC on Syria, …

    They generally seem to have covered Syria pretty differently from anything I witnessed before. Quite possibly on Pat Lang’s blog I was advised that I do not understand the WP: They always support the president. The problem is I cannot see that argument works completely. Would there have been a deal concerning WMD without Russia’s intervention? I haven’t followed this closely, but it feels that the government was pretty bent on helping the nice freedom fighters, while some argue they have been completely taken over by Saudi sponsored jihadists.

    Not much on Wiki

    Assad had denied any involvement, however President Obama claims to have intelligence proving otherwise. No proof has been given to the public other than reports from key United States senators and representatives. As of September 4 2013, the Committee on Foreign Relations approved an attack with a 10-7 vote.

    Well, I didn’t pay close attention, but the argument some years ago that the “freedom fighters” are not such nice guys with a lot of Islamic forces among them seems to have gained ground over the years in the WP too.

    With Israel seemingly stuck with the the regime change ideology reminiscent of Michael Ledeen’s faster please argument after the “victory” in Iraq: on to Syria and then let’s take Iran.

    Pat Lang’s latest statement on the issue:

    - Israel struck target in the Lattakia, Syria area yesterday. The objective appears to have been the destruction of Russian materiel destined for the Syrian armed forces. This has been a declared policy of the Israelis who say that they will prevent delivery of anything that can be used against them. Until recently that seemd to be a plausible explanation for Israeli policy toward Syria but by his own statements it is clear now that Bibi is the main actor in creating the US led coalition of the marginally willing that seeks to destroy the Syrian government in the belief that this will severely wound Iran. That projected wound to Iran seems to doubtful to me. The probability that the destruction of the Baath government would result in the creation in Syria of a bastion of Islamist jihadism bordering Israel seems to mean nothing to him.

    Israel + Lattika + Syria

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