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Dan Drezner says ‘Senate-confirmable’ positions are barred to those critical of Israel

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Dan Drezner at Foreign Policy says I twisted his words when I said that he is "deceiving the public about the power of the Israel lobby." He dares me to back up my accusation, also to follow thru on my coy statement that some day I would tell him about the censorial role of the Israel lobby in journalism.

First off, I should have listened to Drezner's video dialogue before shooting from the hip. I apologize to him for that. Sloppy. I based my point on an earlier attack of Drezner's that I remembered in which he said that Walt and Mearsheimer did "piss poor" "monocausal" social science and greatly exaggerated the power of the lobby. It was yet another in the battery of defensive, close-minded attacks that greeted the brave authors. 
Now that I've watched Drezner's video I see that it's more nuanced than I gave him credit for, but it's also mean. First off, Drezner concedes the point Larry Summers made, that if you want a "Senate-confirmable position" in government, you can't be very critical of Israel. Or, as he puts it, can't adopt "too harsh a tone about Israel."
That's a huge concession. If the lobby has that much power, it's too much power. It means it's distorting our foreign policy. Period. I think its power goes way beyond that, to other presidential appointments (where's Rob Malley?), and I bet Drezner does too.

Also, if the lobby can stop "Senate-confirmable" appointments, why didn't Drezner tell us this 3 years ago when he was attacking Walt and Mearsheimer? Maybe he did? I don't have time to read thru all his criticisms of them now. But you'd think Drezner would have celebrated them for breaking the seal on this important fact.
As to the mean stuff, Drezner passes along "scuttlebutt" about Walt (who is himself generous to Drezner) that he only wrote The Israel Lobby because he was a disappointed office-seeker to begin with. I doubt this. Then when Henry Farrell, Drezner's video-interlocutor, says that neither he nor Drezner regards Walt as an "antisemite," Drezner agrees, then says that only "three other people" share the view the Walt is not an antisemite.
That crack gets at the problem. Drezner reflects a range of opinion that is narrow–and vicious.
Drezner dares me to talk about the blacklist in journalism. I've written a lot about this on this blog, including my tale of the dismissal of this blog from the New York Observer, where I'd worked for many years. I'm too tired to go into all the data now. Suffice it to say that the late owner of the New York Times was proudly anti-Zionist, and today you can't show me a Jewish anti-Zionist whose views have been published in the paper, or just about anywhere else for that matter–yes in good measure because of the presence of Jews in the media, when Jewish identity is defined as being pro-Israel. The ban on the wrong "tone" about Israel, to use Drezner's delectable phrase, exists in almost all important publications, with the occasional exception of Time Magazine.

On three or four occasions I've been told that my views cannot be published at publications for which I once worked. I've been a journalist all my life. Lately I thought it was a real good story that a fabric store on 6th Avenue was collecting money for extremist religious settlers, including for their militias, in the occupied territories. Adam Horowitz and I haven't been able to sell that idea anywhere. We've tried 3 or 4 places. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's not a good story. More likely, the fact that we can't get it in the mainstream is a reflection of the profound problem here.
Last fall we had an election that at some level was about
neoconservatism in foreign policy, and the issue was almost never
addressed by the candidates or the major papers because of the
Israel-implications. That's a journalistic disaster. And yes, another sign of corruption.
In fairness, Drezner says that "the commentariat" now permits critical voices on the Israel lobby, in a way it didn't used to. I think he's right on that point. And yes things are softening a little at the edges.

(Phil Weiss)

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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