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TNR Issues Fatwa Against McPeak for Criticizing Israel Lobby

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The New Republic is calling for Obama to throw ret. Air Force General Merrill McPeak under the bus because of comments in ’03 about the Israel lobby. TNR’s Noam Scheiber, who describes McPeak as a loose cannon on two earlier occasions, says: 

I don’t really trust people
who complain about Jews in New York City and Miami controlling U.S.
foreign policy, so in my book that’s a third strike.

Take a look at the entire transcript of that 2003 interview from which McPeak’s Miami/New York City comments were lifted. McPeak comes off as a smart, seasoned, worldly guy. Here’s the passage that refers to the Israel lobby:

don’t have a playbook for the Middle East. You know, for instance,
obviously, a part of that long-term strategy would be getting the
Israelis and the Palestinians together at . . . something other than a
peace process. Process is not a substitute for achievement or
settlement. And even so the process has gone off the tracks, but the
process isn’t enough. . . . We need to get it fixed and only we have the
authority with both sides to move them towards that. Everybody knows

So where’s the problem? State? White House?

New York City. Miami. We have a large vote – vote, here in favor of Israel. And no politician wants to run against it.

I was thinking of the larger lack of a Middle East strategy. Does that
emanate out of the State Department or out of the White House,
combination of both, is it a personality struggle, what’s – what’s
going on?

think that everybody understands that a settlement of the Arab-Israeli
problem would require the Israelis to stop settling the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip, and maybe even withdraw some of the settlements that’ve
already been put there. And nobody wants to take on that problem. It’s
just too tough politically. So that means we can’t . . . you can’t
develop a Middle East strategy. It’s impossible.

As Richard Silverstein has pointed out, McPeak’s language was a little imprecise, but he is talking about crucial ideas involving the Israel lobby’s role in obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state and barring political discussion of the Israeli colonization of the West Bank. Why, even Obama’s Jewish surrogate won’t condemn the settlements! Our politics are broken.

The New Republic’s fatwa against McPeak is Jewish Establishment orthodoxy, an atmosphere of censorship so thick that even Wise Men must be tossed out if they mention the Israel lobby. It reminds me that per John Mearsheimer, many have privately endorsed Walt and Mearsheimer’s work and not done so publicly–and that Steve Walt, who has the absolute pedigree of a high State Department or Defense official, knew he was kissing goodbye to any job in Washington when he wrote the book. This rope line won’t last.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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