Commenter Profile

Total number of comments: 239 (since 2009-09-27 00:46:02)

David Green

David Green, 65, lives in Champaign, Illinois, and is of Jewish background. Since 1998 he has been involved in the Palestinian justice movement on campus and in the community. He has published articles relevant to this movement on Mondoweiss, Counterpunch, ZNet, Electronic Intifada, and Palestine Chronicle websites.

Showing comments 239 - 201

  • Goldberg on Obama's Syria credibility 'crisis'
    • "History just may record August 30, 2013 — as the day the sagacious Barack Obama brought to a premature end the reign of the neocons on American foreign policy. "

      President Obama is making war in 8 countries (2 more than President Bush); he is sending U.S. ‘special forces’ into 135 countries around the world; he has assassinated more than 6,000 people by drone (including US citizens and hundreds of children) - the most extreme terrorist campaign of modern times; and he is provoking war with Russia (Ukraine) and China.

      Yeah, that's really sagacious. The worship of Obama by the Lobby-obsessed realists at Mondoweiss continues to be a sight to behold.

  • The (Jewish) Civil War Heats Up. Sort of.
    • From the student JVP statement

      "Anti-Jewish bigotry is not equivalent to the structural oppression, experienced by students of color, which is maintained by state and university policies and violence. However, it is related to them and can provide a basis for historical analysis and a spirit of solidarity in struggle. This is because, on and off campus, contemporary white American Jews benefit, as all white people do, from a system of white supremacy. It is disingenuous to deny the fact that, while anti-black racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab racism run rampant on our campuses and in our society at large, acts of hatred directed against Jews thankfully remain isolated and fringe."

      This section from the JVP statement provoked disagreement among my local JVP chapter members, Urbana-Champaign, especially

      "Anti-Jewish bigotry is not equivalent to the structural oppression, experienced by students of color."

      There's no reason to minimize anti-Jewish bigotry, if it did exist. But the point is, it basically does not exist:

      link to

      The student statement, in my view, tips too far over into identity politics. "Safe spaces" has become part of the repressive discourse on campus, which includes "microaggressions."
      I don't think the pro-Palestine movement should buy into that, and I don't think Steven Salaita for one thinks that it should either. His critiques of multiculturalism on campus are incisive.

      There are a good number of decent people listed as signing on to the Open Hillel statement, including a few on my own campus at Urbana-Champaign. This results partly, I think, from the divisions provoked by the Salaita affair. The Open Hillel statement represents a form of progress; however, we have yet to see discourse where genuinely different or opposing viewpoints engage each other. That remains the impossible dream on campuses in this country.

  • US spying on Israel reveals cynical heart of the 'special relationship'
    • I would also add that my understanding was that the US was not at all on board with Osirak; but that did not disrupt the special relationship.

    • Bryan, I would add that in the original article, Murphy doesn't seem to be challenging the utility of the "special relationship." Nor is he claiming that the Lobby is primarily responsible for the special relationship, rather than its actual utility to US planners. But the implication was quickly drawn that somehow the Lobby is mostly or fully responsible, and that's the view I've challenged. There is a lot of moral capital in the MW comments section invested in the notion that the Lobby, rather than US elites, are responsible for the special relationship. Granted, sometimes it's hard to tell the two apart, but that's not the same as what Mearsheimer/Walt are claiming.

      I would also add that you omit the vital strategic relationship between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      Also, the Rogers plan was opposed primarily by Kissinger.

    • Bryan, I would primarily disagree that the U.S. has had any serious intention of supporting international law in Palestine, whatever the "official" policy.

      I would continue to claim, referring to the substance of the Murphy's original article, that the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is indeed special. On this I continue to agree with Chomsky: link to

    • Bryan,

      I think I've made it clear that I well recognize the power of the Lobby to influence politicians, as well as Jewish institutions and media. What I've argued against here is attributing to the Lobby control of USFP. Clearly, the Weir case is an example where the problematic nature of this sort of approach came to full boil in the pro-Palestine movement. Whatever you think about it, it wasn't about nothing. And while, I do not feel that she is an anti-Semite, there is an anti-semitic edge to what she argues, and gives hasbarats unnecessary fodder. Call it a trope, call it what you want. It's not my favorite word either. And of course, I myself always use the term Israel Lobby rather than Jewish Lobby. But again, when you're talking about a group of Zionists with the power to subversively control USFP, you're talking about a group of Jews, and that will be exploited, and understandably so in the Weir case. Again, it's also bad strategy for the pro-Palestine movement. We need to be challenging USFP at a fundamental level, while also educating people about I/P in a specific sense. We need not to see Obama as a victim of institutional forces, but as part of the problem.

      Here are a couple of letters I had published in my local newspaper last year regarding the influence of the Lobby. My local state assembly rep is an African-American woman whom I have known for years. I was publicly critical of her "non-vote" regarding apartheid, and I've taken much criticism for that:


      The connection between what is now called the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the movement for justice in Palestine can be traced to the aftermath of Israel’s aggressive 1967 war of choice that resulted in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—what has come to be called Palestine. Black Power advocates at that time rightly came to see Palestine as an anti-colonialist cause.

      While there were undertones of anti-Semitism in some blacks’ rhetoric, accusations were exaggerated in order to deflect attention from the fundamentally racist nature of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people, both within Israel and under the occupation regime. Moreover, the slogan “from Gaza to Ferguson” appropriately characterizes relationships between American and Israeli militarism and surveillance, including the training of American police in Israel.

      The Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement joins the Black Lives Matter movement in non-violent resistance to state-sponsored racist oppression. It is slandered locally by privileged and liberal academics, administrators, and Zionists who feather their own narrowly professional nests while having nothing to do with movements for social justice other than perhaps a few pretty words on Martin Luther King’s birthday.

      It is in this context that Israel Lobby propagandists proposed legislation in Springfield that not only condemns the BDS movement, but requires foreign corporations to invest in apartheid Palestine. Remarkably, this odious business was passed without dissent, including from African-American legislators. But these individuals should have to answer not only to advocates for justice in Palestine, but to the Black Lives Matter movement.


      From 1947-49, the establishment of Israel was accompanied by ethnic cleansing of ¾ million Palestinians. In 1967, Israel secured its role in U.S. strategic control of the Middle East by smashing Egypt in a war of Israel’s choice, with U.S. support and transfer of weapons ever since.

      As a quid pro quo for hegemonic services, Israel has maintained its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (Palestine) and illegally transfers Israeli citizens to those regions. The results have been apartheid on the West Bank and the ongoing genocidal siege of Gaza, with regular massacres to prevent a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution. Israel and the U.S. have been the only rejectionists of this solution at the U.N. for decades.

      The Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement (BDS)—mistakenly, I think—commits to neither one state nor two states. Nevertheless, its non-violent opposition to apartheid has been effective, especially on college campuses, and has supporters of Israeli apartheid panicked.

      These supporters—the Israel Lobby broadly understood—have enormous resources with which to challenge BDS, and use McCarthyite tactics unashamedly. Their influence on campus administrators created the context for the Salaita affair. Their influence on Illinois state legislators has resulted in unanimous support for or unwillingness to oppose apartheid. Both of our legislators should be unequivocally condemned for their recent “not voting” decision on this issue.

      Finally, affiliates of local Jewish institutions are enlisted in de facto support of apartheid, and are aligned with extreme right-wing News-Gazette editors in this effort.

    • Mooser, who is "us"??

    • Annie: "and yet it’s ok to target “national interest” but leave the lobby alone?"

      Point is, when you're only targeting the lobby, and blaming USFP on Israel and Jews, you're not really targeting the perversity of "national interest." You're accepting that somehow "national interest" would be authentic and pure, if not for Jews. I think that Mearsheimer/Walt/Freeman etc.'s track record is pretty clear on that. They don't question the essential virtue and purity of USFP, US right to rule the world. Maybe you do question that, but you and Kahleeen and Echinococcus have a strange way of showing it.

    • Noam Chomsky:

      When we do investigate (1), we find that US policies in the ME are quite similar to those pursued elsewhere in the world, and have been a remarkable success, in the face of many difficulties: 60 years is a long time for planning success. It’s true that Bush II has weakened the US position, not only in the ME, but that’s an entirely separate matter.

      That leads to (2). As noted, the US-Israeli alliance was firmed up precisely when Israel performed a huge service to the US-Saudis-Energy corporations by smashing secular Arab nationalism, which threatened to divert resources to domestic needs. That’s also when the Lobby takes off (apart from the Christian evangelical component, by far the most numerous and arguably the most influential part, but that’s mostly the 90s). And it’s also when the intellectual-political class began their love affair with Israel, previously of little interest to them. They are a very influential part of the Lobby because of their role in media, scholarship, etc. From that point on it’s hard to distinguish “national interest” (in the usual perverse sense of the phrase) from the effects of the Lobby. I’ve run through the record of Israeli services to the US, to the present, elsewhere, and won’t review it again here.

      link to

    • Bryan: "1) there is virtually no overt anti-Semitism here, perhaps partly because the moderators are understandably more sensitive to slurs against Jews in general or some Jews in particular than they are to equivalent accusations against non-Jews, especially Moslems."

      I doubt that is true for the moderators, nor should it be. There may be no overt anti-Semitism, but a good deal of what is said about the influence of the Israel Lobby over USFP evokes tropes about Jewish power that are false in relation to American elites, and should be avoided for strategic and tactical reasons. It will get the Palestinians nowhere for us to challenge "Jewish power" in this country. We need to challenge the hegemonic strategies of USFP. We need to do so by telling the truth about Israel's strategic role in US hegemony in the ME. It's really not that hard, once you get the hang of it. That's pretty much what JVP does, and it's telling that they are dismissed by at least two of the primary commenters on this thread in quite jaundiced terms. And this is an ongoing problem on Mondoweiss, that goes back years, to the era when Jeffrey Blankfort held forth.

      link to

    • Annie: "sorry, i do not view israel, strategically, as an asset for america in securing ME oil. "

      Then you might like to have a plan for convincing American elites to agree with you. Why don't you explain it to them.

      In this case, American elites know much better than you what butters the bread of global capitalism. Our job is to challenge them, and Israel--not the Lobby. The Lobby didn't invent the fact that Israel is a strategic asset. It just exploits that.

    • Echinococcus: "Firstly, calling oneself “Jewish” if one is not religious demonstrates illogical nationalism."

      That's a pretty ridiculous and insulting assertion. There are those of us who are culturally and "genetically" Jewish. There's no reason to deny that; in fact, the pro-Palestine movement obviously benefits from such perspectives.

    • Annie, of course you don't need any explanations for your activism. That doesn't let you off the hook for having an understanding of what you're being activist about.

    • Kathleen: "D let’s be grown up and stick to the written script. I have never written or said that the “U.S. is a tool for Israel” I have and will continue to say that Israel and the I lobby have a destructive and disproportionate amount of influence on U.S. foreign policy."

      Kind of like saying that the Gambino family had a destructive and disproportionate amount of influence on the Cosa Nostra.

    • Echninococcus: "No matter all your twittering about isolated questions (and systematically avoiding the point), it’s a no sale, definitive. I see you as a Zionist plant, one of the nationalists used to take control of the solidarity movement with the Palestinian resistance."

      You can see my response to the end of your statement near the bottom of the page.

      In any event, you only prove my point about the damage that the mentality you exemplify does to the already challenged pro-Palestine movement. I don't care to take control of anything. I care about being truthful, and beginning to be effective. I think JVP is a big step forward in this regard, but also a small piece of the puzzle. Again, I refer you to Norman Finkelstein's perspective on strategy and tactics, for which he has taken a lot of heat.

      I have no problem with a complicated and contentious movement, as comes with BDS and its critics. I do have a problem with a movement that attracts conspiracy theorists. I will continue to make a fuss about that from time to time.

    • Echniococcus: "Once the fact that the Zionist entity is a racist, apartheid regime, in fact more, a genocidal entity and the very negation of everything the US is supposed to be is clear to the general US public, one might expect a reaction strong enough to move the government, and this is exactly what you guys are fighting tooth and nail against."

      It may be the negation of everything to US is supposed to be, but not of everything that it actually is. In fact, Israel's behavior in ethnic cleansing mirrors our own. Certainly, the US public should be aware of the crimes committed in our name and with our $$. But it would seem more effective to make a truthful and honest argument about the nature of the relationship and what the US gets out of it, which you shamelessly deny. Once you make that argument, then Americans can be encouraged to be responsible for the behavior of their own government, which can indeed settle the issue, as well as many others. But as horrible as Israel is, just lashing out at it as if it operates in a vacuum is both moral and strategic stupidity, and is intellectually dishonest. And it won't work, because Americans won't be provoked into shame and conscience, as we should be. Relatively effective movements--Vietnam, Central America--have relied on Americans to examine our own imperialist agenda. There is no way to justice except through truth. And it's simply not the truth that Israel or the Lobby has somehow bullied Americans into supporting its oppression of the Palestinians.

      American elites, Jewish or otherwise, have gotten plenty of eggs from these crazy chickens, just like they've gotten plenty of eggs from everything else that has to do post-WWII global hegemony.

    • "BB was taped saying “America is a thing you can move very easily” "

      Apparently not so easily, and that's the point. Don't use the his megalomania as evidence for the false argument that the US is a tool of Israel. They are tools of each other, and the US has by far the larger arsenal with which to inflict damage on the ME and the rest of the world. BB gets under your skin, of course. But grow up.

    • Mooser, in no way would I ever support suppression of freedom of speech, including what I label incipiently anti-Semitic speech. People need to be free to say stupid things, so that what goes on in their heads can be challenged by others.

    • Annie: "so why don’t you explain to us how the salaita case, thru the machinations of the lobby, is part of challenging US global hegemony. assuming you think that’s a worthy endeavor, unlike others challenging the influence of the lobby that doesn’t meet your standards."

      Annie, I did my best to try to explain the Salaita case in the context of neoliberal hegemony: link to

      It's important not to see it in isolation from powerful contextual hegemonic forces.

    • Mooser: "Uh, nice try, dude, but here in the US we try to draw a big distinction between domestic lobbies, and organizations which are agents for foreign powers, posing as lobbies. That’s what this is about."

      Certainly that distinction is drawn, but is also ambiguous. Multinational corporations, and indeed all corporations, have agendas that in no way can be said to contribute to the public interest. The world isn't divided only by countries; it's divided by social class. Thus we have MNCs promoting trade deals that violate US sovereignty and the public interest. But again, it's part of the general ruling elite ethos to support these neoliberal trade agreements. Steve Jobs couldn't do it himself. No corporate lobby subverts U.S. "interests," any more than the Israel Lobby subverts USFP.

    • Annie: "the article is about an important story that WSJ broke, it’s news. if you want to know what the so called “obsession” w/the lobby is on this website go look in the mirror. of course if you come into a comment section and start saying lobby lobby lobby (‘we’re just helping out aligning with what the US would be doing anyway bla bla bla — and forget about how stupid that theory is because if you don’t agree w/me you’re an anti semite’) with every other breathe of course the conversation is going to end up being about the lobby. but the obsession is definitely yours! denial is not a river in egypt."

      The more I think about the focus of Murphy's article, the more I realize that it operates within the same parameters of the Frontline documentary shown on Monday. Everything is set up never to address the context of USFP and Israel's role in that. It's all set up to emphasize what amount to personal differences between Obama & Netanyahu. Yes, Iran is a major strategic split. And the Lobby could not stop it. And US hegemony remains and is strengthened. And Israel gets more $ for MIC weapons.

      All the rest is trivia, whether one is talking about Ross and Goldberg, or Obama & Netanyahu. Again, distractions from the major issues, and distractions from seriously addressing the Palestinian plight and what can be done about it, as Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky do.

    • Annie: "there’s no need to have a binding agreement to always secure a foreign state. if it’s in your interest you can just do it, or not. and no amount of diverting sugar plum fairy jokes will make that go away."

      So the questions becomes, why do we have a binding agreement with Israel. The answer lies in US strategy in the ME, to control its energy resources. So there is a reason. And no amount of fantasizing about USFP turning into Gandhi will make that go away.

    • Echniococcus: "No matter all your sales talk, JVP has revealed itself definitively as a racially/tribally segregated organization with a couple token Goys and token Arabs, organized and guided by Zionists with the intent of deviating all discussion away from supporting the liberation of Palestine against the Zionist theft, oppression and genocide, to “antisemitism” (undefined) and American aggression (and creating the impression that the latter is outside the control of the Zionists), and to prevent Americans of different political horizons to unite agaisnt Zionism."

      This is a defining statement of the "Lobby done it" incipiently anti-Semitic mentality. Blame the Lobby. Hate on a leftist Jewish pro-Palestinian organization that wisely does not blame the Lobby for American support for Israel. But of course never look in the mirror at USFP. This is anti-semitism and conspiracism in full bloom. And unfortunately, typical of the tone of many of the regular commenters on MW. And unfortunately that mentality only undermines the Palestinian cause. The enemies list gets long: JVP, Electronic Intifada, Noam Chomsky. Who's next?

    • It's hilarious to talk about "gatekeeping," given Annie's role on Mondoweiss comments. But I guess she's so ubiquitous that it's like she's not even there.

    • An illuminating quote from Norman Finkelstein's Knowing too Much, p. 69:

      "In light of their checkered careers, malleable doctrine and self-aggrandizing
      politics, it defies belief that Jewish neoconservatives would cast overboard
      their homegrown, made-in-America earthly pleasures for the sake of
      Zionism. The only “ism” to which these courtiers of power are in thrall is careerism.
      Although posturing as embattled outcasts “speaking inconvenient
      truths,” in reality they revealed “an astute feel for politics and culture,” as
      they put a “finger to the wind and tacked rightward.”89 The policy agenda
      they championed was “congenial to powerful forces, probably the powerful
      forces in American life. . . . Neoconservatives will not wither for want of
      well-heeled patrons.”90

      Should the interests of Washington and Tel Aviv collide, and should Jewish
      neoconservatives have to choose between their cushy seats of power in
      the U.S. and support for their tribe in Israel, who can doubt that, just as they
      turned on a dime in the past when the lure of “making it” proved irresistible,
      many of them would without a moment’s hesitation—indeed on this
      or that contrived “principle”—betray kith and kin?"

    • Annie, M & W have long been part of the USFP intellectual establishment. They accept the basic "realist" assumptions of US global hegemony and exceptionalism. Mearsheimer teaches at the U. of Chicago, Walt at Harvard and writes for the establishment journal Foreign Policy (the establishment "realist" journal). They gained notoriety by wrongly arguing that the Israel Lobby interferes with the US elite's pursuit of global & ME oil hegemony. Given M & W's established credentials, it would be up to you to dig up something that shows that they support a critique of USFP a la Chomsky, Zinn, Kolko, etc. Your handing me an assignment in this regarding is a rather transparently evasive tactic on your part. If you're interested in disproving my point, you can do your own homework.

    • Comment on MW by VR:Tell me what M&W say about the “American political system” in their tome, I have the book open. It is like a walk through Alice in Wonderland when it comes to America, and why is that? That is because M&W are merely interested being allies of power and they do not care if a two-state prison is erected for the Palestinians. If you want to get in bed with imperial power you will lose, and so will the Palestinians. Imperialism will continue with or without Israel. So when you wake up in the morning after a night with the Imperialists, which is where M&W are a mere shower will not wash the filth off. All you argue for is a more efficient empire with M&W, democracy has been long dead anyhow, you just don’t know it. So pontificate about “national interests” as if they are yours, and when you wake up in the morning and have you first cup of java, the nightmare will just have begun. - See more at: link to

    • eJay, your comment is a classic example of Lobby over-emphasis illogic and incipient anti-Semitism. You assume that the US is not advantaged by its alliance with Israel, when in fact US corporations work closely with Israel and invest heavily. More fundamentally, Israel serves as essentially a US military base in the ME. Even more fundamentally, Israel smashed Arab nationalism in 1967, and works to maintain the tropes of the "clash of civilizations" and "war on terror." And of course your manner of argument implies that US ambitions in the ME and the world are somehow innocent--just normal "interests" like everyone else. But when you are the world's only superpower, that's far from the case. You don't get to be the world's only superpower by being like everyone else, and US citizens need to challenge that. Once again, the Lobby explanation is a distraction to all of that.

    • No Kathleen, I've spent countless hours in my life challenging the influence of the Lobby, including in the Salaita case where I live and work. The distraction is that the emphasis on the power of the Lobby leads to an inaccurate and futile analysis of the origins of USFP, which lay in an empire that has been expanding since the founding of our country, and now incorporates the planet, especially including the ME and its oil. Understanding everything about the Lobby's influence, machinations, and perfidy is futile unless its part of challenging US global hegemony, and in fact serves to change the subject from that. It's a big problem and a big system, but the least you can do is start by naming it, instead of implying that its all about a few Jews.

    • So Annie, why couldn't the Lobby "serve" the USFP power structure by convincing it to bomb Iran? You're right to say that the success of any major Lobby lay in its ability to convince powerful elites that they deserve to have a say in how power and wealth are dispensed in the country and in the world. But this is done in terms of the general elite interests of the system, not the specific ephemeral needs of, say, demonizing Iran for Israel's benefit. In the case of Iran, the influence of Israel and the Lobby was subordinated to an alternative USFP approach to control ME energy resources. And we are still left with the question of how to challenge the primary facts of US hegemony and global domination, which all the talk about the Lobby distracts us from, not to mention that Mearsheimer, Walt, Freeman etc. don't question US global hegemony, not really.

    • Mooser, the stuff we're not supposed to say about the Lobby is that its general success is based on the alignment of American elites, Jewish or otherwise, with general goals of US hegemony in the ME. That hegemony is based on the need to control oil. Thus, the Iran deal, which all the efforts of the Lobby could not subvert.

    • So Keith, do you think that the Zionists subvert "U.S. interests." And if they promote "U.S. interests" with marginally different tactical and material biases, what's all the fuss about their influence on this website?

    • Of course they do; they are classic realists, no secret. They don't question American global hegemony. If they did, you would have heard.

    • Freeman is a classic example, as are Mearsheimer/Walt, of "realists" who support the USFP global empire blaming Israel Lobbyists for undermining the efficiency of American empire. Kathleen, do you support the American Empire? Do you think the Zionists keep the US from dominating the ME and the world in a more efficient way, of which you would approve?

    • So Keith, how do you explain the Iran deal going through?

    • Mooser, you well know that my complaint is with those who inflate the power of the Lobby to control USFP. That's not excising anything. But I would also say that Norman Finkelstein has been wise to limit discussion of "Zionism" and "Zionists" in these discussions. He's right to say that the terms have lost most of their meaning in regard to productive discussions about how to resolve the conflict. But without them, where would the MW comments section be?

    • Annie: "btw, i don’t think america’s agreement to provide israel w/a qualitative military edge is normal or healthy. there’s no need to have a binding agreement to always secure a foreign state. if it’s in your interest you can just do it, or not."

      Annie, it's obviously "normal" in the context of US hegemony in the oil-rich ME, and has been since 1967. But while you're at it, you might want to wish for the IDF to turn into the Sugar Plum Fairy.

    • Annie, the Iran deal is about a re-structuring of the control of energy resources in the region, harkening back to the relationship with the Shah. The interests of Israel as perceived by its PM and the IL were subordinate to that. There are also broader geopolitical interests with Iran in relation to Russia/China. Israel's "interests" are subordinate to those as well. But of course Israel will do just fine out of all this, and the Palestinians will continue to be miserable while MW commenters proclaim victory over the IL LOL.

    • Annie, victim (or victim of circumstance) is the word I used to describe what is implied about Obama's acquiescence to Protective Edge, etc. It's important to stress that he has exhibited a certain enthusiasm about "killing people" in reference to the drone war. So no, he gained power by fully signing on to the neoliberal/imperial agenda. That gives us a better place to begin to understand his de facto support for the occupation, siege, arms shipments, etc. The Lobby didn't force him into any of that. By the same token, the threat of severe backlash from the Lobby does not explain his unwillingness to pursue a just settlement. All of that makes him no different than any other President, including Carter.

    • Page: 2
    • "Ah, Zionism is a “basic economic interest”! Of course it is, I guess, but for who? The US public? I’ll have to wait for him to explain it to me."

      Of course there are economic interests involved in support for Israel. They are subordinate to the primary interest of control of ME energy resources. Obviously none of this is in the public interest if that term is taken seriously. Have I ever said otherwise? All I've been trying to say is that the Israel Lobby did not invent global capitalism and the US need for hegemony in the ME.

    • Annie: "i totally agree with you that “Practically every major lobby undermines the interests of the majority, the public interest.” but, Practically every major lobby, aside from the israel lobby and the weapons industry lobbies (whoever they are), is not involved with foreign policy. iow, the NRA, AMA, IAI, PhRMA, etc, are not involved w/foreign policy. and since something like a HUGE % of our fed funds go towards foreign policy .. people whose focus is on foreign policy, would be UNWISE not to focus on guessed it >> the largest and most powerful foreign interest lobby, the israel lobby. or maybe you have not heard 60% of the funding going into the dem party is from… where? our elections coming up.. hello. israel matters, which is why our politicians keep mentioning them, or haven;t you heard. and we’re supposed to shut up about it? i don’t think so. lots of people think OUR FP is “uniquely subversive of the public interest”. iow: war. read this (SLOWLY) and then tell me to stay away from “plausible” (your word), which is only designed to shut us up."

      Annie, you're welcome to explore the influence of the IL and its relationship to USFP. There's lots of educating to be done in response to hasbara and its influence in the media, education, etc. But attributing USFP to the IL is like attributing capitalism to Big Pharma or Big Oil. It doesn't help to understand USFP or capitalism/neoliberalism, or the relationships at a larger level. You're confusing the fundamental structure with the players involved in perpetuating that structure. And it gets back to Dennis Ross's complaint about Obama's plight. Obama achieved power by agreeing to perpetuate the structure, generally and specifically. That's why Gaza is not the "price to pay"; it's just business as usual.

    • Your point about African American criticism of Israel is well-taken. I'm excerpting here from a summary I wrote a few years ago. This summary also provides a basis for understanding US support in a broader context that goes well beyond the Lobby, and incorporates other currents in terms of the reaction to the 1960s:

      In the institutional Jewish community, the occasion of Dr. Martin Luther King’s holiday brings with it customary references to Rabbi Heschel, Goodman and Schwerner, and Dr. King’s support for Israel—frozen in time. Fortunately, this year also brings with it increased and welcomed visibility of African-American supporters of Palestine, on leftist blogs like Black Agenda Report and Black Commentator, and from courageous individuals like Cynthia McKinney.

      The “official” history of African-American criticism of Israel, like Palestine, is Zionist-occupied territory. It demands revision and affirmation, especially from the left. There will of course be landmine charges of “blackantisemitism” along the way, but the single and unhyphenated word in quotations is designed to remind us that this has been for nearly a half-century largely a term of propaganda, invective, political blackmail, and indeed an expression of white racism itself. It will continue to be employed for all the wrong reasons: distortion, distraction, discreditation, and contrived Jewish claims of victimization.
      The purpose of this article is to briefly outline the basis for a leftist revisionist perspective on African-Americans, Jews, and Israel. This cannot be done without references to domestic history and issues, also commonly and egregiously misrepresented in ways that avoid fundamental realities of race, class, and the domestic correlates of American foreign policy. My purpose is also to provide a non-exhaustive but representative bibliography that documents not only the persistence of ideology and propaganda, but also a few objective and incisive examples upon which to build a leftist and accurate narrative as a basis for inter-racial solidarity in the antiwar and pro-Palestinian movements.

      But if the reader should choose to stop here, the major point—and one that has rarely if ever been forthrightly made—is this: Black critics of Israel, from the 1960s (when they were nearly lone American voices) to today, have been justified and should be largely vindicated, in terms of anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, human rights, and social justice. For African-Americans to be identified with the Palestinian struggle is one of many ways to connect that struggle to its global and historical origins, which inevitably brings us back to European and now American domination in the Middle East and elsewhere, including Africa.
      Black criticism has been shaped by a variety of perspectives, of course not all leftist. Some criticism has not been well-informed, especially during an era when the particulars were only known by the victims. Some of it has been based on a reflexive identification with colonized and oppressed peoples rather than a sophisticated understanding of Arab politics. Some of it has employed anti-Semitic characterizations of Jews.

      But for the large part, these views have been legitimately shaped by the identification of African-Americans with the natives of former European colonies in both the Middle East and Africa. It hasn’t been by accident that a subset of the racially oppressed in this country has more accurately distinguished perpetrators from victims, even when the Jewish perpetrators have historically been the victims of European racism; just as it hasn’t been by accident that Jewish-Americans can claim a legacy of principled participation in the Civil Rights Movement—although one hopes not in the spirit of self-congratulation and charges of betrayal, but in the spirit of self-criticism, and ongoing struggle.

      The unqualified post-1967 support of Jewish-American institutions and the U.S. government for Israel and its domination of the Palestinians runs like blue and white threads through the subsequent four decades of—as the official Jewish narrative would have it—conflictual Black-Jewish relations. The landmarks of this history include the infamous 1967 National Conference for New Politics in Chicago, the New York City teachers’ strike of 1968-69, Andrew Young’s dismissal from his post as Ambassador to the United Nations in 1979 for his contact with the PLO, the Jesse Jackson presidential campaigns of 1984 and 1988, the “culture wars” of the 1990s as framed by the anti-Semitic rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan and his lieutenants, and the furor raised by Farrakhan’s Million Men’s Marches of 1995 and 2005.
      As a reality check, it should be noted that as a result of these four decades of “deterioration,” the overwhelming vote of the U.S. House of Representatives to condemn the U.N.’s Goldstone Report was opposed by seven of the 39 (House of Representatives) members of the Congressional Black Caucus, out of a total “Nay” count of 36. Similarly, 12 of the 54 signers of a letter to President Obama urging him to ease the siege on Gaza were members of the CBC.

      The voluminous literature and commentary during this period, including four anthologies, has many serious entries from both Blacks and Jews, and provides a partial basis for a serviceable domestic history that can be pieced together by the critical reader if related to the larger domestic context of neoliberalism and white reactionism since the 1960s, as well as the global context of U.S. and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. Nevertheless, the dominant “public intellectual” voices are of Jewish liberals and neoconservatives, and the tendentious assumptions of what Norman Finkelstein calls the Holocaust Industry hold sway. Concepts of Black Power, Black Nationalism, and Pan-Africanism are often conflated, simplified, and ridiculed. Meanwhile, the virtue and necessity of Jewish attachment to Israel goes largely unquestioned, and Black concerns about Africa in relation to the U.S., Europe, and Israel are routinely dismissed. The realities of Israel-Palestine—that is, the Zionist narrative—are assumed to be both obvious and solely the political province of Jews and other supporters of Israel.

    • Annie, it's wrong for those who support Israel's crimes to accuse their opponents of anti-Semitism. And it's also wrong and stupid for supporters of the Palestinians to give them a plausible reason for doing so. Zionists will always accuse critics of Israel of "singling out Israel." That's almost always a specious argument. But claiming that the Israel Lobby has the power and control to determine USFP against "American interests" in the ME (as Weir does), and to assume by omission that "American interests" represent the majority rather than elites, is a double bad move. It creates nothing but distraction and confusion. Cut to the chase. The power of the Israel Lobby has been to align itself with and contribute to shaping elite interests in this country; to create a win-win for Israeli and American elites. It's been effective at doing that within the limits imposed by general capitalist elite interests in the ME and around the world, including the Iran deal. Practically every major lobby undermines the interests of the majority, the public interest. The Israel Lobby is no different. To single out the Israel Lobby as somehow uniquely subversive of the public interest, no less in a global sense, is to just hand Zionists a big juicy case for anti-Semitism, however cynical they are in exploiting it. Once you blame any group of people called Jews for the destructive nature of USFP, you've lost credibility, and for good reason, even if that's unfair to sincere intentions to defend Palestinian rights.

    • "lobbies do not exist unless there is strong public pressure against their interests." That may be sometimes true at a very trivial level. On the other hand, lobbies emerge from basic economic interests whatever the public interest, which hardly has an institution to define that public interest and advocate for it. And again, there was no lobby to get us into Vietnam. It was institutionalized into Cold War politics and ideology. And as Chomsky correctly argues, there was no lobby to explain to the ruling class that Israel aided U.S. global hegemony and control over oil an enormous service by smashing Nasser's Egypt in 1967.

      When lobbies do exist, they more often reflect larger elite class interests which may jostle with each other, but support capitalism as we know and love it. The Israel Lobby has done nothing to challenge that, and indeed supports ruling class interests, and thus it has thrived. But again, it does not control USFP, as Iran shows. Instead, it aids and abets the basic elite interests reflected in USFP. Otherwise, elites wouldn't allow it to prosper, as they will continue to do post Iran deal.

      We shouldn't allow the despicable behavior of Israel and Zionists to distort our understanding of the context in which this behavior takes place--domestically, internationally, or economically.

    • Annie wrote: "the lobby exists (like all lobbies exist) because without them the public interest would prevail." Yikes. That truly is an unbelievably naïve statement. Which lobby got us into Vietnam?

    • Of course I well understand all the ways in which those who want to defame the pro-Palestinian movement conflate criticism of Israel/Zionism with hatred of Jews/Judaism. I well understand that people like Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites in any ideologically/politically operative sense. I'm not lumping those who over-emphasize the influence of the Lobby with anyone who genuinely hates Jews. I am lumping them with those who don't want to confront the fundamental problem of US foreign policy and its strategy to control ME energy resources, and therefore perpetuate the status quo. The quid pro quo with Israel and the occupation and the oppression of the Palestinians is a product of this geopolitical strategy.

      Americans need to understand our role in this. It is not a result of the Lobby, except insofar as the Lobby has skillfully exploited primary US interests that coincide with Israel's interests in oppressing the Palestinians. An over-emphasis on the Lobby hands a weapon to Zionists, and it leaves a vacuum that should be filled by the sort of institutional analysis that Chomsky/Finkelstein favor. It also unnecessarily divides the pro-Palestine movement on fundamental issues of strategy, not just tactics.

      If the Lobby thesis is correct, all we have to do is explain to the ruling class that their interests are being subverted by Israel; but of course, they know that's not true, and that won't work to support a just settlement in Israel/Palestine. The correct strategy is to confront the ruling class and its neoliberal geopolitical strategy, which obviously is really hard. But avoidance only makes it harder, and makes things worse. But overall, that's a relatively minor reason why things have continued to get worse. I don't lay all that much at the feet of those who are relatively powerless anyway. But if the powerless are going to organize to win people over and gain some influence, at least make the right argument. People around the world know about USFP, because they bear the brunt of it. It's Americans who need to be told to look in the mirror.

    • "So let’s finally have the definition of that “anti-semitism” that JVP and a couple others (not that I am inferring anything about your affiliations, which I have no idea of) seem to have made into the primary objective of their operation, instead of destroying Zionism. We have had reams of correspondence about that, recently even on MW, and these guys strangely never gave a precise one. Let’s see exactly what’s yours, before all that talk."

      Falsely attributing an inordinate amount of power and influence to a group of Jews is anti-Semitic, and will be credibly used against the Palestinian movement. That's why JVP, of which I am a member (and I'm Jewish) was correct regarding the Alison Weir affair. I have not doubt that Weir and people like you aren't really anti-semites; you just say anti-semitic shit, and that's stupid and obviously bad for the movement.

    • "Is the theory that Zionists have got the US Gov by the balls racist against Jews (i.e. discriminating against a group of people because of circumstances at birth)?"

      Of course it is, because it's simply not true. If you choose to ignore the long rich history of US WASP elite USFP and instead emphasize the Israel Lobby (not the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, Oil Lobby, Chamber of Commerce, Military-Industrial Complex), then you're reducing an overwhelming and long-standing power structure to some allegedly powerful Jewish/Zionist interests. It's a gift to those who want to label the pro-Palestinian movement as anti-semitic. You should not be so generous or ignorant to give them that gift. The Palestinians have a difficult enough time as it is.

      Countering Lobby propaganda is one important function of the pro-Palestine movement, obviously. Blaming the Lobby for USFP goals that have allowed for and supported Israeli wars and occupation ongoing is something else altogether. This should not be that difficult to see, but dogmatism and doctrinaire thinking create their own world of self-fulfilling propaganda. Never a testable proposition, never a way to disprove it. If the Lobby is "defeated", then that's just more fodder for the thesis that the Lobby is all-powerful. It's a self-contained ideological system, impervious to reality.

    • Annie, when you only talk about the Lobby and place inordinate emphasis on it, then you may as well be talking about the Jews. It's shocking, as always, to think that those who claim (wrongly) to support the Palestinian cause give a pass to 200 years of USFP and its expanding economic/military control around the world, including the ME. With friends like these, the Palestinians don't need enemies.

    • Annie, you simply will not look at what is right in front of your face. The goals of US hegemony & empire dwarf and circumscribe those of the Lobby. The Lobby gets what it wants as long as there is a quid pro quo for American empire, and there are plenty of those--economically, militarily, technologically, ideologically. It all works rather smoothly, except when it doesn't, and USFP slightly diverges from Israeli ambitions. So you have "victories" against the Lobby--the Iran deal, Pollard in prison for the full term. But that doesn't clue you in that perhaps the Lobby wasn't really that powerful all along, that it's just being used by elites for various reasons as long as they don't conflict with USFP and global hegemony. These "victories" only prove that there have has always been a Wizard behind the curtain effect. And the Palestinian suffering goes on, and you fail to acknowledge what's at the root of it. You blame the Jews in the form of the Lobby, and you provide fodder for valid charges of anti-semitism, and the Palestinians are not helped one whit by your stubborn blindness to the realpolitik of American power. So how many years of "game changers" regarding Israel do we need before you realize that the game has not changed, because Americans are compliant with their rulers?

      But then again, why do I bother responding to you? You never forget anything, and you never learn anything.

    • Kathleen, you're avoiding naming the system of American global empire and hegemony, and instead rely on the Lobby to account for that. Chas Freeman, a diplomatic tool, made rather a fool of himself in his blaming the Israel Lobby while avoiding discussing US hegemony in the region. And no, Schumer and Co. were not going to derail the Iran deal, whatever the political posturing involved. Yes, it was going to happen, because USFP elites were on board with that, it was long in the making. The rest is political theater at a different level with lower stakes. You do a disservice to the Palestinian cause by avoiding the responsibility of USFP for their plight. Instead, you rely on over-estimating the power of the Israel Lobby, which when it is effective acts at the behest of US elite interests. The Liberty had nothing to do with the Lobby; it coincided with the 1967 war, during which Israel served USFP goals by smashing Arab nationalism in the form of Nasser. That was just a quid pro quo, not the Lobby influence. Anymore than you needed a Lobby to pardon Iraq's attack on the USS Stark in 1987. You just don't want to look in the mirror and see that we Americans are responsible for a government that rules the world, especially the ME, by force. So blame it on the Lobby, aka the Jews, and subject yourself to credible charges of anti-semitism by those who have destroyed Palestine.

      The "shift" in foreign policy you refer to was not a historical anomaly. It does not portend any change in brutal regional or global power politics. There have been plenty of shifts, nothing to do with the Lobby. And the Lobby could not do a thing about it, in the final analysis. Sure they were opposed to it. What good did that do them, in the final analysis? USFP elites got their deal, and Israel gets another $1.5 billion. Yes, a great defeat for the Lobby LOL as the settlements continue to grow and Gaza remains under genocidal siege. Yes, we're so proud of defeating the Lobby LOL.

    • Steve, I'm in favor of justice for the Palestinians, and I'm opposed to US/Israeli/Saudi hegemony in the region. The incipient anti-semitism of the Lobby thesis undermines proper analysis and organized action to work to these ends. There is an enormous amount of lazy analytical thinking and fellow travelling among MW commenters in relation to the power of the Lobby and the alleged perfidy of our elected representatives. They miss the point that our representatives and the institutions they work within are designed to maintain the power of the elite. Thus a lot of distraction about who spied on whom, who extorted what, who betrayed whom. Lots of people are making a nice living in this framework. The power structure remains, before and after the Iran deal, before and after the spying and the bribing. I could not care less about Jeffrey Goldberg's disagreements with Dennis Ross; they are both vile.

      Anyway, I'm going to retire from the University of Illinois in April, so you won't have to pay my salary any more after that.

    • And how far did he get, Kathleen, and what does that tell you about the real power of the Israel Lobby? No, USFP was about bringing Iran into the system, and that's what it got. The IL could not do a thing about it, when all was said and done. And of course Israel is of strategic value to US hegemony. So it's a win-win that they have to be "bribed" with a couple billion more $. Lots of activity, lots of fodder for comment on MW, but the result is the same. And the Palestinians get nowhere, partly because the US govt. is not responsible to US citizens, including you and me. That's on us, not on the Lobby. Noam Chomsky has stated: "The thesis Mearsheimer-Walt propose does however have plenty of appeal. The reason, I think, is that it leaves the US government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility, “Wilsonian idealism,” etc., merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape. It’s rather like attributing the crimes of the past 60 years to “exaggerated Cold War illusions,” etc. Convenient, but not too convincing. In either case."

    • Annie, you are a consummately intellectually lazy person, simple-minded in your analysis of the situation, lacking in background, insight, and depth. Those qualities are revealed in your arrogance and moralistic sense of superiority, which of course have never served the Palestinian cause one whit. I think Richard Silverstein, a real journalist with some integrity, had you pegged about right.

    • You have zero evidence for making this statement.

    • "I tend to think that the second is true, else what sense does the existence of a vast lobbying apparatus make? " No, this is nonsense, and incipiently anti-Semitic nonsense; that's why I'm appalled by the tone and substance of the comments to this post. I don't think Murphy is even on board with such an absurd statement, but he should speak for himself.

    • The Israel Lobby would like for politicians to think it is in control, and it expends a lot of effort to create that image in that. There is an aspect of that control that is real, and an aspect that is Wizard behind the curtain. However, it is not in control of USFP, and not influential in ways that violate U.S. elite interests. That in itself is propaganda and mythology. It's a bad analysis that in no way helps the movement for justice in Palestine.

    • Eamon, if you are placing the limited and selective power of the Israel Lobby in U.S. geopolitical context, then I've misunderstood you. But why do you end your article by stating that Obama is a victim of circumstance? Moreover, do you think that there is any chance that Israel would disobey its U.S. master when real U.S. elite interests are at stake?

    • "What Ross heard in the Oval Office was Obama consoling himself, reminding himself that when it comes to Israel he is only the temporary custodian of a partnership that persists for reasons far beyond the personal: “It’s not just me.” The scourging of Gaza, and the defying of the president, is part of the price of the special relationship."

      Obama is not a victim of institutional forces. He chose to align himself with those forces, which makes him a war criminal.

    • You might like to consider that the U.S. has an empire which it rules by force if necessary. Especially if you're and American citizen.

    • Annie, this article is a waste of time, and is symptomatic of the obsessions of MW commenters with distractive perspectives on the Israel Lobby. This article doesn't say anything interesting to those of support Palestinian rights and a just settlement of the conflict.

    • The U.S., including Kerry, have never promoted a just settlement. It's naïve of you to think otherwise.

    • If Israel is ready and willing to do it, why haven't they?

    • "financial noose around America’s neck"

      What a ridiculously stupid statement. What planet do you live on? Do you really think America is a victim?

    • My objections to the tone and substance of this article and many comments were summarized years ago:
      link to
      Israel is not a tail wagging the U.S. dog. Israel is a strategic asset with its own interests. Dems and Repubs have their interests as well, but none which challenge U.S. hegemony in the ME.

      "Shared values" was always a ruse. How naïve of Murphy to believe otherwise. It's all about power and control. The movement for justice in Palestine is ill-served by blaming Israel as a cover for U.S. hegemony.

  • To the next 'NYT' Jerusalem chief -- Here is your job description
    • My impression is that Baker is a standard issue NYT American exceptionalist. Expectations can't be too low. Very smooth and ambitious; see his work on the G.W. Bush administration. Don't expect him to make any waves.

  • Despite global disgust, Netanyahu doubles down on claim that Hitler got idea of Final Solution from a Palestinian
    • I first noticed this charge in Dershowitz's The Case for Israel (2003). Abunimah also refers to this book. Interesting that it surfaces now--desperation, I would think.

  • Coulter's point is that Republicans pander on Israel to win donors, not voters
    • "The issue here is that the power of the Israel lobby derives from conservative Jewish wealth. "

      That's nonsense, Phil. The power of the Lobby has always derived just as much from "liberal wealth."

  • Danny Danon 'would only make Israel look more extreme' -- former Israeli ambassador
    • That's just silly. Oren is every bit as much of an extremist as Danon, and all the more pernicious for being able to sell himself as a moderate. What on earth are you thinking? Extremism is the entire point of Israel's government; as well as of our own.

  • Joining up (Tzedek Chicago, and a Judaism beyond nationalism)
    • Brant Rosen has spoken a couple of times down here in Champaign where I live. He sets a high standard both intellectually and morally, and matches it with a calm demeanor which is of enormous value in this difficult work. He has great political instincts, and we should trust those, as well as our own--to each his or her own in this ongoing struggle.

  • 'NYT' article on UN's Gaza report strains to demonstrate equivalence in suffering
    • I agree of course that this was an effort at faking balance. But it's also telling that they picked those 2 photos, which clearly undermine that effort, consciously or unconsciously, except for the most hardened supporters of Israel.

  • Mainstream media covers website attacking pro-Palestine activists but downplays threat to free speech
    • link to

      The narrator and some of the visuals replicate that of "The Jewish Voices" about which I wrote at the above link. The name associated with this on Youtube is Aaron Goldenberg. The female narrator is the same. The Horowitz clip is the same. So if this has anything at all to do with the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, these people should be in hot water on campuses around the country for intimidation of fellow students. Haters always claim they are the hated; nothing new.

  • Campus movement against Israel is largest since anti-Vietnam war movement, Cary Nelson says
    • In regard to Cary Nelson, let me say this. I have lived in Champaign for 16 years, and in fact I lived across the street from Cary for 2 years. I got to know him only a little, and now I understand why. I accepted his leftist credentials at face value. I should not have. In any event, everything about my 16 year experience on campus and in the community as a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist contradicts the assertions he made at this event. Jewish Studies, and an Israel Studies Project within Jewish Studies has dominated the discourse. A Schusterman fellow has taught the course on Israeli history for years. On the other hand, JS/ISP has in recent years avoided provocative and/or informative discussions, emphasizing more narrow scholarly interests. That's because there are a few individuals like Michael Rothberg who know enough to be embarrassed by Israel's behavior. Pro-Israel speakers beyond Hillel have dwindled to nothing. They have even dwindled at Hillel in comparison to 10 years ago. The SJP goes about its business with a few speakers every year. The wall on the Quad was largely administratively suppressed, but in any event (of course) intimidated or threatened nobody. I've known three or four "generations" of SJP students, and they've always been decent and personable, and much less angry than me. For Nelson to say that he can't have an anti-BDS talk on campus without being heckled or worse is just nonsense. He hasn't tried, to my knowledge, and there simply is no penchant in my experience of this campus at dozens of events for pro-Palestinian students or community members to be rude or disruptive. I can honestly say that I myself was rude on two occasions in a minor way (2005, 2008), and that constitutes 100% of the rudeness at pro-Israel events, period, although my rudeness actually included factual argument. The manner in which Nelson parades himself as a victim is just beyond belief, and well beyond any evidence. He has become one sick, paranoid, self-pitying puppy. BTW, I have a copy of the chapter in his book called "The History of Israel." It was co-written with Rachel Harris, a literature professor on campus, and likely mostly written by Kenneth Stein of Emory. It is simply propagandistic garbage, from start to finish; what 3rd grade Israeli students read is probably more fair. Even the brief bibliography shows that Nelson doesn't take seriously the historical scholarship--it includes none of the revisionist figures. Ultimately, it's ignorance and lack of self-reflection that is the problem. Dalit Baum is exactly right in the second video above. And look at the expression on Nelson's face, in the midst of somebody who is genuinely being heckled. Unbelievable.

  • Dissecting 'The Jewish Voices on Campus': a predictable but necessary endeavor
    • If this propaganda effort reflects what is called anti-Semitism, then it's pretty clear that anything that can be fairly called anti-Semitism no longer expresses itself in any concrete and substantial way on college campuses. Given the last 40 years of political/cultural history in this country, that's not the least bit surprising.

    • Kathleen, the Arizona incident has a back story, but I don't really care. What I care to argue is that none of these alleged incidents passes the laugh test in terms of anti-Semitic intent of students/faculty on campus; on this basis, none of them passes the laugh test in terms of Jewish students "targeted" by supporters of BDS. There are multiple levels of absurdity involved here.

    • Thanks for substantiating my doubts.

  • Israel and Palestine is not about Jews vs. Palestinians
  • Israel's Dead Soul: Steven Salaita's critical scholarship explains his dismissal from the University of Illinois
    • Necessary but not sufficient.

    • He engages these topics. The struggle proceeds on multiple levels, politically and intellectually. The fact that Salaita can have no place at the U of I says a lot about the nature of that struggle in this venue. His book provides the background to understand that.

    • Yes, it's a typo from my transcription.

    • His "impolitic tweets" wouldn't have mattered in almost any other context. Of course they were exploited. At the root of his exclusion are his serious political views. The fact that his critics ignore them says a lot about the political culture on campus and in this state that persecutes him.

    • I don't find his language to be tortured. For someone who reads a lot about the ME, I find his insights incisive, especially in relation to the exploitation of multiculturalism. Understanding his critiques takes a little work, but I think it's worth it. I wouldn't lump him in with the obfuscatory aspects of lit crit.

    • Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    • I'm not enamored of academic jargon, but Salaita uses the words he does to express ideas that reflect cultural realities, and I don't have a problem with his style.

  • The real issues in the Salaita case: Palestine, neoliberalism, and the corporate university
    • I feel that the protection that Israel gets from the Congress has more to do with the Lobby, but the protection that it gets in the UN has just as much if not more to do with U.S. geopolitical interests as a strategic ally in the ME. I generally agree with Chomsky/Finkelstein in this matter, FWIW.

  • Rabbi Brant Rosen steps down from Jewish Reconstructionist Synagogue saying his activism on Israel/Palestine has been 'lightning rod for division'
    • Rabbi Rosen spoke here in Urbana last Spring. I'm astonished by his knowledge, rationality, calmness, and dignity. In fact, in some ways I'm jealous of it. He sets an example that I haven't always been able to follow. Did I forget to say "courage."?

  • As Salaita's case becomes a cause, U of Illinois issues declarations on 'civility'
  • Reading Salaita in Illinois—by Way of Cary Nelson (part 1)
    • Actually, at the May 13 AAUP meeting at U of I discussing ASA/BDS, Nelson expressed the hope that the settlers would return inside the green line. Not sure if that could be construed as "gone missing."

  • The academic/political context of the Salaita affair
    • Hi Keith,

      It helps to get some experience and get one's name and views out there.
      If I do it again, it will be as a Green. But that will require 15,000 signatures, rather than 700.


    • Thanks for the reminder. This operates at so many levels. Here's this morning's article from the News-Gazette:

      link to

    • No visiting scholars in the Israel Studies Project have ever engaged the broader scholarly or local community in open discussions about the fundamental issues presented by I/P. The Program for Jewish Culture and Society has never promoted open dialogue about I/P, the Israel Lobby, etc.

      Seidelman is still here, so far as I can tell; she was at the AAUP panel in May. She has never proposed a broad discussion during her tenure here. She certainly has taught courses on "the conflict" from the perspectives mentioned above. She is most certainly "undistinguished," which I have no problem with--she just doesn't merit teaching I/P on this campus.

      There might have been one or two exceptions to the lockdown in terms of those invited under scholarly auspices over the past 16 years--Joel Beinin in 2000 comes to mind, and perhaps one or two others; Rashid Khalidi was here a couple of years ago. But Beinin was here to talk about Egyptian Jews. There have, of course, been many speakers invited by SJP or local peace groups.

      Kashua fits the pattern just fine; he won't ruffle any feathers.

      Wise calls for campus dialogue about a lot of things, especially "diversity." But she opposed ASA/BDS without input or discussion.

      I'll stick to "lockdown." After 16 years in this community, that's pretty much what it feels like.


    • Here is a link to most recent "coverage" of this issue in the local press, just to give you a taste of the usual tone in these affairs:
      link to

    • Point taken--DG

  • Bored with the Jews
    • Agreed. For example, here is a piece I published in my local paper this morning:

      The history of the Korean War is distorted and exploited for political ends
      David Green
      Recent commemorations of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War have evoked standard rhetoric and rationalizations regarding the righteousness of the United States’ role in that conflict. From President Obama to columnist Max Boot to a local veteran writing on these pages, the slaughter that the war entailed—at least 2 million soldiers and civilians dead—is retroactively and perversely justified by South Korea’s subsequent economic development and North Korea’s ongoing misery, respectively equated with what is called freedom or lack thereof.
      This hindsight is contrived and morally specious; as a tool of political propaganda by Obama, it is one of many examples of cynical exploitation of militaristic sentimentality by our current Aggressor in Chief. The historical narrative that is determined by Obama’s political opportunism is empty of serious content and critique, as one would expect by this master of fraudulent, manipulative, and hollow rhetoric.
      Historian Gabriel Kolko perceptively wrote in Main Currents in American History (1976):
      The Korean War was essentially the internationalization of a civil conflict that had begun in 1945 immediately after Korea’s liberation from Japan and the artificial partition, which the United States imposed in August 1945. The totalitarian regime (beginning under Syngman Rhee in 1945 and ending not until 1987) that the U.S. funds left the nation in constant turmoil, with guerilla warfare within the south itself and increasingly large scale combat between the two sections along the 38th parallel in the year before the north autonomously made the decision to reunify the nation in June 1950. Divorced from the preceding five years of history, theories on the origins of the Korean War become a part of the Cold War’s mythology.
      Part of what Kolko refers to is Rhee’s recruitment of those South Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese (who were notorious for recruiting thousands of Korean women into sexual slavery) during the occupation (1910-45), and the subsequent murder by Rhee’s forces of up to 100,000 leftist and nationalist South Korean dissidents from 1945-48—with the help of their American sponsors.
      This American support for formerly collaborationist and authoritarian elements was parallel to support for collaborationist and fascist forces in Greece and Italy against former WWII resistance and leftist fighters during that same period, always fraudulently justified by the Soviet threat. This strategy also foreshadowed American support for the ruthless authoritarian puppet Diem in South Vietnam against his own indigenous revolt, leading to a genocidal American war (1962-75) that is increasingly distorted and rationalized by politicians, including Obama, as living memories fade and opportunism knocks.
      The Korean War was a result of the imperial strategies of the U.S. and Soviet Union, as well the Chinese revolution. Nevertheless, President Truman had the options of either actively promoting a unification agreement or leaving Korea to its own civil war, which would not likely have been joined by either the Soviet Union or China. Instead he chose American aggression—aggravating the subsequent loss of life, destroying the entire country, essentially leveling every structure in North Korea, committing war crimes by bombing dams in North Korea when there was nothing else left to destroy, and risking nuclear war.
      It is to Truman’s credit that he resisted Douglas MacArthur’s lunatic proposal to use nuclear weapons against China and fired the megalomaniac general. However, it is to his discredit that his decision to use anti-communism to justify American militarism and imperialism set in motion foreign policies that have come to deadly and destructive global fruition for six decades. As communist enemies have been conveniently and disingenuously replaced by Muslims, the Orwellian basis of American militarism has been revealed as part and parcel of the aggressive ambitions of American global capitalism and multinational corporations—all, not incidentally, to the detriment of American workers and our own freedom and democracy, as can be plainly seen now more than ever.
      The Truman administration had momentous decisions to make in this period from 1945 to 1953. American workers, accustomed to full employment and labor activism during WWII, demanded a welfare state; unions were empowered to aggressively support such ambitions, and strikes were frequent. These ambitions were consciously subverted by massive government spending justified by military rather than social goals, now known as “military Keynesianism.” Corporate propaganda dominated the media and education in the 1950s. An extraordinary and ongoing climate of fear was created and persists among the population of a country that has no natural enemies and hasn’t been invaded in 200 years. Moreover, a massive military-industrial complex that remains unaccountable to the American people was perpetuated.
      The global and neoliberal legacy of the Truman era has elevated the South Korean working class while decimating the American working class. But since our own Civil War, the American working class has always been the primary threat to and enemy of American elites, who are at heart vulgar Marxists. As long as American workers continue to fight wars for global corporate capitalists, they will continue to lose in their own struggle for freedom and prosperity.

  • 'Nation' says rightwingers paint FDR as anti-Semite so as to manipulate US support of Israel
  • Exile and the Prophetic: Crossing the - Israel - and Palestine - Rubicon
    • Blacks and women, at the diplomatic level, have become the global face of American hegemony in the neoliberal era, beginning with Albright. "Human rights" is their cover story, and there rationale for both "hard" and "soft" power.

  • Rashid Khalidi on the Israel lobby
    • Wow, Shingo, Obama and Hagel have been "humiliated." I'm so furious that our very own warmongering and child-killing thugs have to put up with such treatment. How do you think they can even stand to look in he mirror?

      Do they act humiliated? Do you think they feel like the prisoners at Abu Gharib? Do you think they give a crap about your emotional projections on to their states of mind?

      I mean, what a load of subjective tripe. The "humiliation" is completely in your ideological imagination.

      And of course, it's simply a fact that the Lobby got rid of Bush in 92. I mean, how does somebody with any empirical integrity even begin to think that? Nothing to do with the economy, Ross Perot, or about a million other factors that can't possibly allow you to make such a ridiculous argument with such arrogant and complacent certainty. Liberal Jewish Zionists have always preferred a Democrat. So what else is new?

      As usual, the Lobby debate brings out the "higher racism" (yes, anti-semitism) of the MW faithful. I mean, Khalidi is the most solid historian in this field. But at least I'm sure he could care less about being "humiliated" by the likes of you and your fellow travelling Lobby ideologues.

  • Israel boosters threaten civil rights claim against Brooklyn College and suggest barring student activists from campus
  • The Fog of Occupation: An interview with Dror Moreh, director of 'The Gatekeepers'
    • There's one in every family.
      link to

    • Moreh's interview on Democracy Now this morning with Amy Goodman & Aaron Mate reveals the limits of his compassion for the Palestinians. Like so many Israelis, he has a superiority complex. This also limits the pragmatic possibilities for a just peace. Palestinians always have to be accorded equal guilt; Israelis are never really ultimately responsible for their behavior, except in their "own interests." Interesting film, I guess, but pretty disappointing at a political level.

  • Since when is the left embracing Chuck Hagel, a nationalist, establishment figure?
    • "first off, a pt i’ve made already, (david green declined my invitation to back up max’s claim ..."

      Annie, I'll look forward to your extended deliniation of the differences between "realist" and "neocon" policies in the post-Vietnam Era. Clinton/Ross presided over the expansion of Israeli occupation post Oslo. Obama has presided over Gaza 2012, after refusing to comment on Cast Lead after his election in 2008. Meanwhile, drones, Libya, Africom, etc. "Realist" HW invaded Iraq in 1991. Clinton continued sanctions. I don't see that the ideological distinction means much in practice, whether regarding I/P or more generally. I'm not sure if that addresses your challenge, but your own rhetorical tactics seem rather convoluted.

    • In short, the difference is in tactics and not strategy. The strategy is domination and control.

    • From a critical leftist perspective that is genuinely anti-imperialist, the difference is minimal. Kudos to Davis and Ajl.

  • Tom Friedman's endorsement of Hagel as the DefSec Israel needs is wakeup call to Bill Kristol on Boxing Day
    • if you oppose the mic and war, then you don't give a crap about hagel but i guess you and shingo etc. have a high regard for u s imperialism

    • Then why do you care whether Hagel or some other tool is SoD?

    • You sound like someone who supports militarism so long as it is allgedly to the benefit of people who are not Zionists.

    • Friedman's column is predictably full of asinine assertions about Israel's "enemies." Yet we are supposed to see him as somehow not in lockstep with USFP and empire, including Israel's occupation. Friedman's column reveals once again the absurdity of this promotion of Hagel. Hagel isn't lipstick on a pig. He's the pig.

  • Chuck Hagel gets reinforcement from gay rights advocates, but White House is wobbling
    • From Max Ajl:

      From a dependable obesevor:

      link to

      That the lobby does not want Hagel is clear, and his nomination would be a defeat for the lobby’s right wing.

      Still, it is barely a scandal, except in the sense that it is scandalous how narrow the parameters of debate are in this country such that leftists think that an aggressive nationalist like Hagel merits their defense.

      There are a few reasons for that.

      First, Hagel’s policy prescriptions for dealing with Iran are, in fact, American policy. US policymakers have been huffing and puffing about a US attack on Iran for over a decade – without producing that attack. They are not the only ones. While the Israeli political class itinerantly threatens Iran, its defense intelligentsia warns against it. So does the Pentagon and the US State Department. At the military level, there is no direct war on Iran, and the absence of a military attack against Iran is not a policy secured by the dominance of responsible and beleaguered technocrats fending off the neocons’ pressure.

      It is simply the consensual policy amongst most of the Washington elite.

    • Critique of Hagel-mania from Charles Davis:

      False Dichotomy by charles davis

      A defense secretary of their own
      December 22, 2012 5:11 PM

      How bad has it gotten for the US antiwar movement? After the president its most prominent leaders supported in 2008 took George W. Bush's war on terror and institutionalized it, they have been at a strategic loss, unable to kick their dogmatic, electoral-minded tactics to the point that they are now engaged in an awkward campaign to get a conservative Republican appointed to administer Barack Obama's wars. Indeed, after getting a commander-in- chief of its own, the down-and-out antiwar movement is now angling to get its own defense secretary.

      The logic behind the leftists for Chuck Hagel campaign -- sometimes unstated -- is not so much that he's a great guy, but that the people attacking him are even worse. And to be fair, they're right. Most of the people blasting the former Nebraska senator hail from the belligerent far right, primarily employed by neoconservative media outlets like the Weekly Standard and Washington Post. Their critique is that Hagel is no friend of the Jewish state, and perhaps even anti-Semitic, because he once made comments critical of its influential lobby in DC and opposed Israel's 2006 war on Lebanon (an undeniably good thing). He's also talked about giving diplomacy a shot with Iran, when the proper line is supposed to be "nah, fuck those guys."

      Hagel has also come under fire from military lobbyists for his stated desire to cut bloat at the Pentagon, though it's worth remembering that Bush/Obama secretary of defense Robert Gates pledged the same thing while burning through the biggest military budgets in world history. In other words, the usual sky-is-falling crowd is making much ado about nothing with respect to a guy who, outside of a few maverick-y speeches over the years, adheres to the Washington consensus as much as the next old white guy. Their goal? Maybe a nice little war with a third-rate power and a bit larger share of the GDP. But like executives at Goldman Sachs, they know they're going to be pretty much fine no matter who is in office.

      It would be one thing to simply point this out; that yes, some of the charges against Hagel can politely be called “silly. ” One can disagree about the wisdom of Israeli wars, for instance, without being a raging anti-Semite, and indeed much of the Israeli establishment would privately concede their 2006 war was a bust. And with politicians talking of slashing Social Security, you damned well better believe it's not a gaffe to say maybe we ought to take a quick look at where half the average American's income tax goes: the military. Such a defense might have some value.

      Unfortunately, that's not what the pro-Hagel campaign is doing. Instead, they're billing the fight over Hagel's nomination as a defining battle of Obama's second term. If Hagel wins, the argument goes, AIPAC loses, opening up the foreign policy debate in Washington and increasing the possibility of peace in our time. If his nomination goes down, however, that reinforces the idea that the hawkish foreign policy consensus in Washington shall not be challenged and that even the mildest criticisms of Israel cannot be tolerated. Some even suggest that who administers the Defense Department could decide if there's a war with Iran or not, perhaps forgetting the chain of command.

      Indeed, most of Hagel's defenders aren't defending his occasionally heterodox views on Israel and unilateral sanctions (he's cool with the multilateral, 500,000-dead- children- in-Iraq kind), but rather trumpeting his commitment to orthodoxy. The Center for American Progress, for instance, has released a dossier detailing “Chuck Hagel's Pro-Israel Record, ” noting his oft-stated verbal and legislative commitment to the “special relationship. ” Some of his former staffers have also issued a fact sheet showing that all of Hagel's alleged heretical views are well within the hawkish mainstream.

      Further left on the spectrum, it's not much different. The Washington-based group Just Foreign Policy, for instance, has revived Democratic rhetoric from 2004 to pitch the fight over the potential Hagel nomination in black and white terms of good and evil.

      “The Obama-hating Neocon Right is trying to 'Swift Boat' the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, ” the group states in a recent email blast to supporters. Neoconservatives have been “making up a fantasy scare story that Hagel . .. is 'anti-Israel, ' ” it continues, helpfully informing us that the Hagel the neocons make out to be such a reasonable guy is indeed a fantasy. Finally, it ends with an appeal: “We cannot stand idly by as the neocons stage a coup of our foreign policy, ” followed by a petition supporting Hagel's nomination hosted by sure to defeat any military coup.

      In a blog, the group's policy director, Robert Naiman, likewise pitches the battle over Hagel's nomination in terms of Obama vs. The Warmongers. “Hagel represents the foreign policy that the majority of Americans voted for in 2008 and 2012: less war, more diplomacy, ” he writes, pointing to past statements he's made about the wisdom of a war with Iran.

      Of course, the unfortunate truth is that American's didn't vote for “less war, more diplomacy, ” as comforting as that thought may be, because they haven't had the chance. In this past election, Obama often ran to the right of Mitt Romney, his campaign frequently suggesting the latter would not have had the guts to kill Osama bin Laden. The DNC ridiculed Romney for suggesting he'd consider the war's legality before bombing Iran. “Romney Said He Would Talk To His Lawyers Before Deciding Whether To Use Military Force, ” read the press release, as if that's a bad thing. Obama, bomber of a half-dozen countries, never forgot to mention the “crippling” sanctions he's imposed.

      And J Street, the group that just co-sponsored a rally with AIPAC backing the Israeli state's latest killing spree? Ask a resident of Gaza how “pro-peace” it is.

      But, in order to create a sign-this-petition! narrative, one often can't do nuance. So Naiman doesn't. In another post, this one highlighting Hagel's establishment support, because antiwar activists care about that sort of thing, he casually refers to former ambassador Ryan Crocker as among the “diplomacy champions and war skeptics” backing the former senator. This would be the same Ryan Crocker appointed by George W. Buish who has said “it's simply not the case that Afghans would rather have US forces gone, ” and dismissed the killing of at least 25 people in Afghanistan, including children, as “not a very big deal. ”

      That should give you a good idea of the obfuscation going on in the antiwar campaign for a Pentagon chief. This is a problem. If you're going to play the role of the savvy Washington activist and get involved in the inside baseball that is fights over cabinet appointments, ostensibly to reframe the debate more than anything – we must defeat AIPAC! – you ought not go about reinforcing adherence to orthodoxy and the perceived value of establishment support and credentials. And you ought not cast as heroes of the peace movement people that really shouldn't be. That's actually really dangerous.

      Yet, some would rather play down Hagel's pro-war credentials for the all-important narrative. So we cast him as a staunch opponent of a war with Iran, ignoring his repeated assertions that we must “keep all options on the table” with respect to the Islamic Republic, including killing men, women and children. In a piece he coauthored with other establishment foreign policy figures, Hagel's opposition to war amounted merely to a call to consider its costs – and its benefits.

      For instance, “a U. S. attack would demonstrate the country’s credibility as an ally to other nations in the region and would derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions for several years, providing space for other, potentially longer-term solutions, ” the senator and his friends wrote. “An attack would also make clear the United States’ full commitment to nonproliferation as other nations contemplate moves in that direction. ” Ah, but he mentioned there could be “costs” (though none of those he mentioned were “dead people”). Such is brave, antiwar opposition in Washington.

      But that's the cynical game played in DC by some of the would-be movers-and-shakers on the outskirts of the policy conversation: cynically play down a politician's faults to please funders, other politicians and one's own sense of savvy self-satisfaction. It's how the antiwar movement ended up dissolving and largely getting behind a president who more than doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan. People were presented a rosy image of a candidate who was on their side and they concluded their work was done upon his election. The same thing threatens to be the case with Chuck Hagel. Indeed, as The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg notes, “who better to sell the president's militant Iran position than someone who comes from the realist camp? ”

      When I privately raised some of these concerns with Naiman, he got snooty quick, just as he did with other writers who questioned whether the quest to “defeat AIPAC” should be conducted by stressing why AIPAC should love the guy. To me, Naiman wrote that if I had concerns about the antiwar movement taking ownership of a defense secretary, “There are plenty of organizations that pursue an ultra-left, ideological purist line. Why don't you give them your support and be happy? ”

      We live in an an age where ideological purity is defined as being uncomfortable with an antiwar organization throwing unequivocal support behind a conservative Republican to head the Pentagon. It's an amazing world.

      Rather than engage in the reactionary politics of supporting what one perceives to be the least-evil administrator of war, those on the antiwar left and right ought to be truth tellers. Let's not sugar coat this: The problem isn't just AIPAC and the neocons, but the Center for American Progress and the neoliberals. Dumbing down the reality only serves to bolster one faction of the war party. And it kills antiwar movements.

  • Liberal Zionists and neocons battle over Chuck Hagel
    • "“It is simply beyond disturbing to think that somebody of Chuck Hagel’s stature and significant record of national service is being slandered in this way,” Mr. Ben-Ami said."

      "National service" is one way to describe support for empire and of the oppression and murder that that entails. Yes, Hagel's "service" is much appreciated by JStreet, Zionist lite. But it also seems to be appreciated by many at MW, anti-imperialism fake.

  • Hagel called for all-but normalizing relations with Iran so as to engage it as an ally on Israel-Palestine issue
    • "Even on the radical left I see little understanding of how the system actually functions."

      But that takes a lot of work, and a willingness not to personify the system with the views of individuals, especially politicians (like Hagel).

    • link to

      This little address will gag you with a spoon. Enjoy oldies but goodies like:


      The talk about Hagel is Obama playing his "base" for suckers. Not a hard thing to do, if MW is any evidence.

      Hagel has a few decent ideas. They will come to nothing as Defense Secretary. The war with Iran has a foundation in USFP that will not be shaken.

      The same for Israel, of course. When push comes to shove, Hagel doesn't give squat for the Palestinians.

  • In 'Dissent' debate, Walzer hints that leftists who focus on Israel are anti-Semitic
    • Rule: "It is hard to imagine that any of these policies could win the support of American liberals if they occurred elsewhere the world."

      I don't know what world Rule is referring to. Liberals have continuously supported such policies all over the world for quite some time. Where was liberal criticism, for example, regarding East Timor for about 25 years?

      It's appalling that anyone can retain such fantasized image of liberalism in this country. Both Clinton and Obama should have cured us of that. But then again, Nicholas Kristof sees Madeleine Albright as a paragon of human rights.

      Walzer has been an ass for quite some time. But Rule is a pretty sorry excuse for someone to debate him. But after all, it is Walzer's journal.

  • The war over Hagel is on
    • Your devotion to U.S. "national security" reveals an uncritical attitude toward the rampant militarism which characterizes our foreign and domestic policies. Shame on you.

    • Why do you assume that Obama's strategy is anything other than to continue to support everything Israel does, and to hire people to carry out the charade that he supports some sort of just settlement? Do you really think that Obama is to the left of the Lobby?

    • "JStreeter."

      Great epithet. A real zinger. Thanks for putting so much thought into it.

    • If Hagel manages to get the job, it's because he'll shape up and get with the program. There is absolutely no reason to believe that he will do anything to rock the boat. One person can never make a difference. Only a wholesale movement against the USFP establishment can. That hasn't happened since Vietnam. It won't happen as the result of a "realist" fantasy, even if that's the prevailing wisdom on MW.

    • So what made anyone think that Obama would make a difference? Always some snake oil on the horizon.

    • I just have to say that this is an utterly ridiculous comment. With Hagel in this post, USFP will go on its violent and merry way, as always. You live in an absolute fantasy world, and that's really too bad. And by the way, he will not "stand up" to Israel; no way. It's just nonsense, and a complete distraction.

    • For crying out loud, who do these people think Hagel is?

      I saw him on C-Span last night speaking at a ridiculous Senate foreign policy committee self-praise fest, with Lugar, Kerry, the whole gang. What a bloviator and a bore.

      Why on earth does anyone think that he would be doing anything other than the Empire's business?

  • 'New York Times' fails dismally again, this time in Congo
    • Thank you for the great summary article in the Nation. I only disagree with your use of the world "failure" for USFP; these are seen as successes by those who matter, including Obama and Susan Rice.

  • Gazans are 'ho-hum' about the deaths of relatives -- NYT's Rudoren
    • Jodi's pathetic response:

      "A blogger just posted this incredibly unfair analysis of my Facebook posts, taking everything out of context to support his agenda. Luckily, he included fat excerpts of my posts, so people will be able to see how it was twisted; his analysis just does not stand up to scrutiny. There are many, many depressing things about this conflict, of course, deep-seeded depressing things about two peoples profound distrust and misunderstandings of each other. But a perhaps less important one that I find equally depressing is the way upper-class international intellectuals so blatantly and purposely distort in order to inflame. Sometimes, it really seems like no one in the world actually wants to solve it."

  • As the discourse shifts, 'NYT' stays rooted in the past (the 1800s to be exact)
  • 'Haaretz' undermines a foundational myth: FDR abandoned Europe's Jews
    • Guilty as charged.

    • OK, thanks. I'd like to hear you address the complex historical/ideological issues raised by your piece and suggested in various comments. I've thought for some time that assumptions have been a bit casual in this regard, including by the late Peter Novick:

      link to

      "If Novick understands that beneath the cult of Holocaust memory are essential political divisions in Jewish-American and American life, he nonetheless misconstrues these conflicts, undermining both his scholarly efforts and his claim to intellectual insight that matches his penchant for iconoclasm.

      Thus Novick mistakenly thinks he is challenging conventional wisdom by debunking those who, following the meticulous research of historian David Wyman, believe correctly that the Roosevelt administration failed miserably in its treatment of Jewish refugees before and during the war. He is apparently unaware that it has become the political fashion, even among the Jewish intelligentsia, to rationalize and minimize American guilt--as does Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., so as defend FDR’s protective liberal image among Jews; and as does Novick himself."

      Beyond that, I think that Lenni Brenner's various critiques of the relationship between Zionists and Nazis have brought out the role of Jabotinskyists in this country (Silver, Kook). In some way they have to be given their due for genuinely working to save Jewish lives. There's no reason that their horrible politics should prevent acknowledgement of that. Instead, we need to reckon with the moral complexity engendered by European anti-semitism and various responses to it.

    • By the way, I find it curious that Desch can write a long article in 2006 on the misuse of the Holocaust and not refer to Finkelstein's book (2000) on the Holocaust Industry. I can't imagine that this was not a conscious decision on his part. I'd be curious to know the rationale.

    • William D. Rubinstein, author of "The Myth of Rescue," is hardly a critic of Israel, as evidenced by his review of Norman Finkelstein's "The Holocaust Industry."

      link to


      The State of Israel has, indeed, been almost punctilious in not exploiting the Holocaust for political ends. While one might expect Israel to be dotted with Holocaust monuments on every street corner, in the whole of the country there is precisely one memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem, on the hills outside Jerusalem. A place of dignity, it is probably best known for its avenue of trees planted, not in memory of murdered Jews, but to commemorate “Righteous Gentiles” who risked their lives to save Jews. Apart from Eichmann (and the ill–fated, highly unfortunate Demjanjuk trial of the 1980s), Israel has shown virtually no interest whatever in apprehending former Nazi war criminals, and, indeed, it is a legitimate charge that one might make against Israel that it has not tracked them down more rigorously.

      It must also be stressed that the current centrality of the Holocaust flows from the power of that event to affect virtually everyone today: it is recognized by nearly everybody as an unspeakable horror that requires no “Holocaust industry” to impress on our consciousness. Finkelstein never acknowledges this basic truth. Indeed, the problem with the Holocaust as a memory and a metaphor today is precisely that it is too powerful, an ever–expanding black hole of consciousness that invariably swallows up everything in its path. To millions, it is perhaps the only real contemporary religious event; for hundreds of thousands of Jews, it has served to define their Jewish identity, taking the place of everything else. It is at the heart of many contemporary forms of political correctness, and of many remaining academic and intellectual taboos. Its automatic moral authority is such that it allows charlatans and hucksters to flourish unchallenged. The great importance of Finkelstein’s work, flawed though it is, lies in breaking those taboos and exposing the charlatans.

    • Revised comment:

      So Bauer all of the sudden doesn't have his own agenda?

      I’m not sure whether the myth of abandonment has been that useful in recent years in service of the Zionist cause; I sensed at one point that it seemed easier for supporters of the “special relationship” to set aside and downplay such historical critiques. I think some of the criticisms of David Wyman were in this ideological vein, as well as the positive reception of William Rubinstein’s previous challenge to the so-called myth--his argument had its own serious problems.

      This is interesting stuff, but may be more complicated at closer reading. Ultimately, I think the momentum of Zionist ideological tactics has been not to push too seriously on this issue, especially in comparison to punishing every alleged ex-Nazi who found refuge in this country. The much vaunted Israel Lobby doesn't really like to talk much about "rescue", do they?

      Bauer has his own ideological agenda, as do so many Holocaust scholars. It might be useful to ask what it is in this case; I suspect that he’s simply joining the consensus that Zionists don’t benefit from turning over that particular historical rock. It offends too many powerful Americans, including Zionists themselves, who are not stupid when it comes to their own narrow interests--Dershowitz, for example.

    • I'm not sure whether the myth of abandonment has been that useful in recent years in service of the Zionist cause; I sensed at one point that it seemed easier for supporters of the "special relationship" to set aside and downplay such historical critiques. I think some of the criticisms of David Wyman were in this vein, as well as the reception of William Rubinstein's previous challenge to the so-called myth, although his argument had its own problems. This is interesting stuff, but may be more complicated at closer reading. Ultimately, I think the momentum of Zionist ideological tactics has been not to push to seriously on this issue, especially in comparison to punishing every alleged ex-Nazi who found refuge in this country.

      Bauer has his own ideological agenda, as do so many Holocaust scholars. It might be useful to ask what it is in this case; I'm not sure that he's simply joining the consensus that Zionists don't benefit from turning over that particular historical rock.

  • Wasserman Schultz brags on Obama's continuity with Bush policies in ME
    • In regard to Syria or Israel, what difference could this election possibly make? There is no significant difference regarding USFP in any arena between the major candidates.

  • 'NYT' op-ed equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism relied on Nasrallah quote that is in all likelihood a fabrication
    • Shindler's article, even aside from the Nasrallah issue, relies completely on stereotypical assertions about Muslims, the Left, etc. that are unsupported by facts or a serious narrative. It simply depends on certain visceral responses among those who still are inclined to equate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism. It also ignores the genuine nature of neo-fascism in Europe, as discussed today by Raimondo, which can in fact be equated with Jewish Israeli politics.

      link to

      I appreciate the research, but Shindler's lack of seriousness is evident regardless of Nasrallah's alleged statement.

  • US professors organization solicits articles with argument for endorsing BDS campaign
    • With all due to respect to the ambitions of the author, the professoriate is on the whole devoid of political consciousness in any meaningful sense of the words. They excel in self-gratification.

  • 'Jewish political community' supported Iraq war, but now divides between neocon funders and liberals -- Alterman
    • "My non-hyped assessment is that the key segments of American ruling class were pro-war but in an ambivalent degree"

      Speaking of semantics, it's amazing the lengths that you will go to to try absolve--although unconvincingly--the ruling class from responsibility. Again, Finkelstein's chapter convincingly refutes the notion that the neocons were ultimately responsible for going to war.

    • Alterman's changes re Israel are a form of liberal pragmatism. He would like to reinforce the view, mistaken in my view, that Obama is "better" on Israel/Palestine than Romney, neocons, etc. He hopes that might be reinforced if more people recognized that liberal Jews are not the Israel Lobby. That may be true, but unfortunately, Beinart etc. aside, liberal Jews are still largely passive regarding I/P. And the Israel Lobby is, in more crass terms "Jewish money." Both parties need it. In any event, neither the IL or "Jewish money" determines USFP. It's "U.S. money" that does that. Whether or not Obama gets re-elected, and whether or not it's perceived that he did so in spite of "Jewish money," he will continue to play the role of "dishonest broker."

    • You're an apologist for the Saudi royal family, and U.S. alliance with them. That's shameful. They are a part of the general USFP problem, of which Israel-Palestine is another important part.

    • "There was no other lobby to interfere with those sane decisions eventually taken by US in 1975 over vietnam, 1990 over S Africa and similar distancing in cases of Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, or Hinduras or even Venezuela. US could have learnt the same lessons and could have applied the same knowledege to engage to Iraq, Yemen,Somalia, Iran ,Saudi Arabia, but could n’t dare for the presence of organizations AIPAC/JINSA/ADL and for the presence of their card holders in the administration and in the media. US still would be fighting China if Taiwan lobby were that effective and dangerous."

      In all honesty, this shows that your alleged understanding of the history of USFP is based on fantasy. You don't understand the most primary fact: that USFP in the ME has been built--for 80 years--around engaging Saudi Arabia.

      You completely discredit the "Israel Lobby explains everything" crowd, which hardly needed to be done anyway.

    • "An Obama win is “very dangerous for Israel”"

      An Obama or Romeny win is a win for the 1%, including the 1% in Israel. The specific policy toward Israel won't be much different as a result.

    • Is this the first you've heard about endemic American paranoia regarding foreign policy? I guess you haven't heard about the Cold War, for starters.

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