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Rosenberg gets backup from Plitnick on ‘Israel Firster’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 27 Comments

Another small but important moment. Mitchell Plitnick at Souciant applauds MJ Rosenberg’s reembrace of the term Israel Firster:

I’m glad MJ is back to using that term. He and I don’t entirely agree on the role the Israel Lobby plays in policy formation — I see it as extremely powerful, but less absolutely powerful than Rosenberg does — but his prominent role in calling out their actions is indispensible.

But in one small way, I think MJ sells the Israel Firsters short. He writes: “The way I see it, both my country, America, and a country I deeply care about, Israel, and the Jewish people are all being placed at risk by a small bunch of multi-millionaires and billionaires whose only interests are self-aggrandizement, hobnobbing with those in power, and crushing anyone who gets in their way.”

In my view, there are two groups of Israel Firsters, and MJ here describes only one of them. He discusses the ones who do care about Israel, put it before all else, and are misguidedly advocating policies that they think support Israel while they actually make it less secure and put its future at risk.

The second stratum is really the core of forces that are pushing so successfully for policies that not only interfere with US interests and deepen the misery of the Palestinians, but also harm the Israeli people. And they don’t care about any of that.

That group, which also advocates for what they describe as “Israeli security” is much more closely associated with the Israeli right. However, their ambitions go well beyond that.

This group is defined by a worldview in which Israel is just a means to an end, not an end in itself. Leading neoconservatives are certainly part of it, as are some of the farthest right wing financiers of Super PACs and of Israel’s settlements.

There is also the apocalyptic Christian component of that group, the ones who see the Book of Revelations playing out in the Middle East and who, despite their recent, cynical turn toward an odd brand of philo-Semitism, do not wish to see peace in any form in the region. It is conflict that they want.

What these groups have in common is that they push for policies that do not enhance either American or Israeli security but which, in their view, advance a much broader vision of the world they intend to create. They’re distinct from most Israel Firsters because they know what they are doing….

Most of MJ’s Israel First crowd truly puts Israel first. But just as they are unrepresentative of both American Jews and Americans at large (Rosenberg puts the figure at 4% among Jews) while being enormously influential and being mistakenly seen as representative, so too do these Israel Users exercise a massively disproportionate influence over policy while representing very few people’s actual views.

Where I differ from Plitnick is that I see these neocon rightwingers as being largely motivated by love of Israel and fear for its security. When Bill Kristol says that he cannot criticize Israel because he doesn’t live there on the front line, I believe he is being utterly sincere. When my friend in Jerusalem tells me that Jews in Israel are “aliyah” — higher — while we in the Diaspora are “yoredim,” lower, I believe she is also reflecting a deep truth about Jewish life. We are to assist the better Jews. Dershowitz said something like this in Chutzpah: “My generaton of Jews was too young to fight against Nazism or for Israeli independence, too American to make aliyah (emigrate to Israel), too comfortable to put our bodies on the line for anything Jewish. Instead, we observed, contributed… We became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy.” We have to do this because they are taking the spears.

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27 Responses

  1. Les
    July 3, 2012, 12:40 pm

    I am with Rosenberg on this. Even the tiniest countries have lobbies in the US but the Israel Lobby is so powerful that it dictates much of the agenda of both the White House and the Congress to the point where it openly operates as the most important Fifth Column in US history. I would argue that not money but media is the lever by which that otherwise ordinary lobby transformed itself.

  2. Kathleen
    July 3, 2012, 12:49 pm

    “When Bill Kristol says that he cannot criticize Israel because he doesn’t live there on the front line, I believe he is being utterly sincere.

    You actually believe Kristol? This is hard to take. Kristol is an elitist, racist socio path. This is an individual ready to lie about what ever serves the neo cons agenda. Ready to send American lives to Iraq based on a “pack of lies” Ready and more than willing to lie about Iran. I don’t believe anything this socio path says.

    On a softer note this is the man who came up with “kill the bill” When Hillary Clinton was pushing for an affordable health care plan in the 90’s. Believe him…really pathetic Phil

    • Mooser
      July 3, 2012, 2:27 pm

      “Believe him…really pathetic Phil”

      Come now, Kathleen. Don’t you realise that if Phil eats his cake, he won’t have it, too? So the best thing to do is just eat it crumb by crumb, even tho that won’t support life, and trying to pretend the crumbs you’ve got left are a whole piece. after all you might wake up and discover somebody put a new piece in while you were sleeping.

      MJ Rosenberg is a Zionist.
      He simply disagrees with other Zionists on the methods by which the Jewish State will endure and prevail.

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 11:01 pm

      That one ‘cannot criticize Israel because he doesn’t live there on the front line’ is an absurd sentiment anyway. One could justify refusing to condemn almost anything this way. Don’t like how I just killed my neighbor with an axe? Well, you weren’t there, were you?

      The Congo Free State, the Einsatzgruppen in Eastern Europe, My Lai — we can’t condemn any of the perpetrators. We weren’t there. It’s a pathetically weak argument. If that’s the best he can do, it’s pretty clear where the right and the truth lies.

  3. DICKERSON3870
    July 3, 2012, 1:20 pm

    RE: “When Bill Kristol says that he cannot criticize Israel because he doesn’t live there on the front line, I believe he is being utterly sincere.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: So you do not think that Bill Kristol is the type of overtly political person who might say that he cannot criticize Israel so as to curry favor with “the powers that be” (or at least avoid getting the “Goldstone Treatment”)?
    And you do not think that Bill Kristol is the type of reasonably normal human being (sociopaths/psychopaths excluded) who might say that he cannot criticize Israel in order to rationalize never faulting Israel no matter what it does (thereby keeping cognitive dissonance at bay)?


    (excerpts) Subconscious Mind – A List of Defense Mechanisms
    Here we explore a list of defense mechanisms employed by the subconscious mind to ward off anxiety and protect the conscious mind from emotional pain. . .
    . . . Another term for such internal conflicts is Cognitive Dissonance — Two cognition’s (elements of knowledge)… usually one conscious and the other subconscious… are in direct conflict with each other.
    The two opposing cognition’s are located on neural networks in the brain. They create anxiety that steadily intensifies until the subconscious mind employs a solution from its list of defense mechanisms. . .

    List of Defense Mechanisms
    Rationalization is the cognitive reframing of one’s perceptions to protect the ego in the face of changing realities. . .

    • DICKERSON3870
      July 3, 2012, 1:21 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Can Jewish Liberals Transcend the Wiesel Doctrine? Countering the Israel Lobby’s Dominance”, by Alan Nasser, Counterpunch, 5/29/12

      “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivitiess become irrelevant.” ~ Elie Wiesel, From the “Kingdom of Memory: Reminiscences”
      “My loyalty to my people, to our people, and to Israel comes first and prevents me from saying anything critical of Israel outside Israel… As a Jew I see my role as a melitz yosher, a defender of Israel: I defend even her mistakes… I must identify with whatever Israel does – even with her errors.” ~ Elie Wiesel, “Against Silence”

      In the end, whether Israel’s penchant for serial atrocities encounters an effective obstacle will hinge on two types of resistance, elicited not from the fictitious “international community”, but from the active opponents of Israel’s ongoing projects, and from the withdrawal of moral and financial support for the ongoing reproduction of Israel as an apartheid Zionist State.
      Among the first type of response are the increasingly visible efforts, which gained momentum in the wake of the May 2010 flotilla murders, to promote sanctions, boycott and divestiture. . .
      . . . The second kind of response includes refusals to any longer make excuses for Israeli abominations [rationalizations – J.L.D], willingness finally to speak out in public protest, and the cessation of financial support for the rogue State. An especially powerful development would be the readiness of American Jews to announce loud and clear that Israel does not speak for them, to distance themselves from the agenda of the politically powerful Israel lobby, and to cross over into solidarity with the Palestinian people. None of this, I will suggest below, is as far-fetched as it might have seemed fifteen years ago.
      Among the key habits of thought, feeling and action that must be defeated is what we might call the Wiesel Doctrine, as expressed in the second passage at the head of this article, which pledges to “defend even [Israel’s] mistakes… [to] identify with whatever Israel does – even with her errors.” The Doctrine saturates the political consciousness of too many older (an important qualifier) liberal American Jews. These are the Jews most likely to contribute to AIPAC and for whom their perception of a given Senate, House or presidential candidate’s friendliness to Israeli policy is sufficient to determine support.
      . . . As [Peter] Beinart observes, “As secular Jews drift away from America’s Zionist institutions, their orthodox counterparts will likely step into the breach.” Thus, the distance between largely secular American Jews and the Zionist establishment is likely to widen. But this will weaken the political power of the Israel lobby -inextricably linked, of course, to the Jewish establishment- only if American Jews as a whole are prepared to announce unambiguously their antipathy to their. . . representatives. The political and moral responsibility this places on American Jewish liberals cannot be overestimated. . .
      . . . [Peter] Bienart sees that as an American Jew he bears a special responsibility to act on the words, hypocritically penned by Elie Wiesel, cited at the head of this article: “We must always take sides…. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.” I say he’s right.


    • philweiss
      July 3, 2012, 1:43 pm

      i think bill is the straw that stirs the drink. i think he has autonomy and the powers that be on this question will respect him. his father was a pro israel godfather. he is regarded as sincere in his devotion inside the lobby; and i agree with them

      • Mooser
        July 3, 2012, 2:34 pm

        One day he’s Evelyn Waugh and then he’s back to being ee cummings. But then, using punctuation is just so, so, common.
        It’s for people who haven’t been Ivy League.

      • DICKERSON3870
        July 3, 2012, 2:37 pm

        But a normal human being can “sincerely” rationalize (without being consciously aware he is rationalizing) as a defense mechanism to keep cognitive dissonance at bay. Since it is not really a conscious process, there would not be any “insincerity” involved.
        “Sincerity” goes to conscious motives such as in the first theoretical where he says that he cannot criticize Israel with the motive of currying favor with “the powers that be” (or at least avoiding the “Goldstone Treatment”)?
        Where is Anna Freud when we need her?

        P.S. George W. Bush once looked into Putin’s eyes and determined essentially that Putin was sincere (trustworthy).
        If a psychotic individual says that the moon is made of green cheese, he is very possibly being “sincere”.
        If a cult member (who has been “brainwashed”) says that in order to reach an alien space craft following the Comet Hale-Bopp he must commit suicide, he is very possibly being “sincere”.
        • Heaven’s Gate (religious group) –'s_Gate_(religious_group)

      • DICKERSON3870
        July 3, 2012, 9:39 pm

        Land of Plenty, 2005, NR, 124 minutes
        After living abroad with her American missionary father, Lana (Michelle Williams) returns to the United States to begin college. But she gets sidetracked in a search for her only other living relative, her uncle Paul (John Diehl). A reclusive vagabond, Paul is beset by deep psychic wounds suffered during service in the Vietnam War. Can the two help each other forge the healing bonds of kinship? Wim Wenders directs.
        Netflix Availability: Streaming and DVD (Streaming until 7/9/12)
        • Netflix Listing –
        Land of Plenty, Official Trailer (VIDEO, 02:16) –
        The Making of “Land of Plenty” (VIDEO, 10:51) –
        P.S. OMG! Now I think I might be infatuated with Michele Williams. Please don’t be mad at me, Juliette. You’re still my #1 “bad girl”!

      • MarkF
        July 3, 2012, 3:06 pm

        “i think bill is the straw that stirs the drink..”

        Maybe, but the property values of his homes are pretty sweet. He’s made out rather nicely, as has his Chevy Chase brethren. He may be sincere, but a lot of people could be sincere for that kind of money.

        As far as criticizing Israel, was it just Chuckie Kraut that hammered Israel over the Oslo Accords? I think Bill criticized Israel for this as well. They’ll criticize if Israel seeks to reconcile with her neighbors.

        Think about it Phil. You could “see the light”, join the dark side and regain an income. Kristol, Ledeen, Krauthammer and Feith live in some serious swank pads. Maybe not worthy of MTV Cribs, but still, they’re livin’ large….

      • philweiss
        July 3, 2012, 11:52 pm

        i dont think he’s a materialist, i think he’s a religious zionist. and sure, it works for him

      • DICKERSON3870
        July 7, 2012, 7:58 pm

        I have no reason to doubt that Bill Kristol (Dan Quayle’s onetime brain) is a “true believer” as to Zionism, but I didn’t think as a general rule that the neocons were very religious (in the traditional sense). Of course, that may be changing.
        Speaking of religion Phil, when are you going to take the plunge and “git washed in the blood”? You know that you want to! And you “sho” would be a prized convert.
        Blood Of The Lamb, Wilco & Billy Bragg (VIDEO, 04:16) –

      • DICKERSON3870
        July 7, 2012, 8:11 pm

        All you Fascists, Billy Bragg and Wilco (VIDEO, 02:50) –

        Billy Bragg & Wilco ft. Natalie Merchant: Birds and Ships (VIDEO, 02:14) –

  4. DICKERSON3870
    July 3, 2012, 1:33 pm


  5. Shunra
    July 3, 2012, 2:41 pm

    “We have to do this because they are taking the spears.”

    There is a very ugly corollary to that: “they have to stay there and take the spears _for us_.”

    And that is the hideous truth of the relations of U.S. and Israel Jews: US Jews consider it to be the natural order of things that the Israeli Jews to be the sacrificial lamb, prepared to die for their backup homeland – whereas Israeli Jews expect all U.S. to pony up the infinite stream of dollars and engage in what is basically treason to the U.S.

    That’s kind of like a culture-wide chickenhawkitude from the U.S. and a culture-wide dual loyalty libel against all Jews in the world from Israel.

    • MRW
      July 3, 2012, 5:20 pm


      What it is, as well, is tedious. Like being in a bar with a couple who are half-undressed and heaving over the bartop. Get a room.

      Great that you’ve got aliyah and yoredim, y’all, but
      * 90% of Homeland Security security grants?
      * Over 50% of congressional time spent on rulings for Israel? (
      * Infecting US foreign policy and our relationship with Iran with Israeli hamartia? (Goes to Plitnick’s complaint)

      Forty-five million Americans are under-employed or unemployed. Still. An equal amount need food stamps. Millions have lost their unemployment benefits, their only safety-net. Still. Churches can’t supply the food that families are asking them to help with. My nearby Walmart Superstore has families sleeping in their cars at night. Still. With the heat, at midnight, you hear kids whimpering through the cracked windows. They use empty food cans tied to a string between the front and back as a security system Who is occupying the time of elected officials charged with correcting this mess; moreover, why?

    • ColinWright
      July 3, 2012, 11:12 pm

      “…prepared to die for their backup homeland…”

      The difficulty with that is that Israel isn’t even a ‘back up homeland.’ It’s about the one place it’s actually dangerous for a Jew to be.

      Even when Jews have had to move, if given a choice, they’ve usually gone anywhere but Israel. After World War Two, when for reasons it was apparently indelicate to go into, most of the surviving Jews ‘couldn’t’ return to their country of origin, Britain and America, in their innocence, came up with a plan to resettle a million D.P.’s, half in the United States and half in the Commonwealth countries.

      The Zionists quashed that one fast — and as I recall, something similar happened when Jews began to leave the Soviet Union. At first, they showed a distressing tendency to choose to emigrate to the United States. I recall reading that this escape route was bolted shut as well.

      By and large, what Jews have gone to Israel have only gone there because they had no choice.

      It’s not a ‘back up homeland.’ It’s a cage Jews are herded into to force them to perform in the Zionist fantasy.

      • YoungMassJew
        July 4, 2012, 12:07 am

        “It’s about the one place it’s actually dangerous for a Jew to be.”Colin Wright.
        Right on brother. It really is something that Germany has like the fastest growing Jewish population in Europe. Germany looks like a great country based on the video German Lefty posted yesterday. I think I’m going to move to Germany to escape the backlash against Jews that is coming to America.

      • G. Seauton
        G. Seauton
        July 7, 2012, 1:54 am

        ” I think I’m going to move to Germany to escape the backlash against Jews that is coming to America.”

        Seriously? Where do you think you are — Nazi Germany? Get over that early-childhood-induced paranoia, kid.

        Or don’t. Go off to Germany. The social safety net is so much better there. Do you speak German? Do you think you will fit in? Or do you plan to hang out with an expatriate community of Americans (mostly non-Jews)? Of course, without knowledge of German, you’re unlikely to go far there. And why should you? Germany is set up for Germans. You’re not German. And don’t count on German guilt about the Holocaust making it any easier for you. If you think it will, you’re not smart enough to survive there.

        Anyway, good luck. But if you’re leaving America because of some phantom menace that hasn’t even remotely materialized, you deserve every bit of misfortune you’re likely to encounter in Germany.

  6. YoungMassJew
    July 7, 2012, 2:12 pm

    Excuse me G. Seauton! I don’t have a clue who you are. You seem new here. Do you even know who I am? This isn’t about “German guilt about the Holocaust.” It simply has a large and growing Jewish population. If not moving there, I want to take a vacation there sometime. My neighbor, who happens to be Jewish, vacations there all the time. He’s in a band that consists of German musicicans. He says the scenery is nice. And seriously, it tells me what type of person you are who wants me to not “survive.” I can’t believe you haven’t been banned.

    • G. Seauton
      G. Seauton
      July 9, 2012, 12:28 am

      You’re right: I am new here, but not as new as you.

      You write, “it tells me what type of person you are who wants me to not ‘survive.’ ”
      Your comment suggests you have a low reading level. Go back and see what I actually wrote.

      You think there’s going to be a backlash against Jews in America so you want to move to Germany? You’re just too naive. Not that the Germans are going to attack you for being Jewish; rather, you’ll simply find it very difficult to survive there without a large bank account to live on or a good collection of wealthy friends to support you. And they can grow tired of that very quickly.

      Once again, do you speak German? Germans aren’t very tolerant of Americans who show up speaking English only.

      However, if it’s just a vacation you want, no problem. But that’s not what you wrote in your previous comment.

    • G. Seauton
      G. Seauton
      July 9, 2012, 12:49 am

      You write, “You seem new here. Do you even know who I am?”

      No, I don’t know who you are. Why, should I? Are you somehow very important? Should I watch my tongue? I’ve read a few of your posts. Does that count? Honestly, what did you have in mind when you wrote that?

      The more important issue is what you wrote in your previous post. Why do you think there is going to be such a backlash in America against Jews that you would have to move to Germany, of all places, which hardly tolerates the Turkish guest workers that were invited into the country? (You’re probably unaware of that, I imagine.) Is it just paranoia from your childhood? Were you told by adults that “everybody hates the Jews”?

      If so, you need to get over it. It is extremely unlikely that there will be any backlash against Jews in this country well into the foreseeable future, despite what psychotics on the Zionist right (or the more extreme elements on this site) assert. If you don’t feel safe in America, there’s nothing anyone can do to calm your fears — except perhaps to write a prescription for some very potent meds.

    • G. Seauton
      G. Seauton
      July 9, 2012, 1:29 am

      You write, “[Germany] simply has a large and growing Jewish population.” According to Wikipedia, Germany has a population of 119,000 Jews out of 81,777,000. That’s a considerably lower percentage of the German population than the German Jewish population of the 1930s, which was not very large, compared to that of Eastern Europe.

      Is 119,000 a large population, in your opinion? Even if it is growing? In other words, if there is strength in numbers, is Germany really the place to be?

    • G. Seauton
      G. Seauton
      July 9, 2012, 1:39 am

      A final comment: I don’t really mean to dump on Germans. It’s just that your desire to flee to Germany to escape what you perceive as some sort of future persecution of Jews here in America could not be more ironic — and obviously inadvertently so.

  7. YoungMassJew
    July 9, 2012, 10:24 pm

    Ok, first of all G. Seauton, I’m an anti-Zionist young Jewish person. Do you think I’m a Zionist? Cause I’m not. I’ve had to convince everyone on the site for over a month, including Phil who now believes me, that I’m not a “Zionist sock puppet.” Yes, I’m aware of the situation of the Turks. So what. Every country has problems with its minorities. Go ahead throw some more venom at me. See if I give a rats a$$. The fact that I mentioned that “I think” I’d move to Germany doesn’t mean I will sir. But go ahead and get yourself worked up over an anonymous poster. Oh, and by the way, I’m not the first person who said that Americans are not going to make the distinction between the Zionist sociopaths and regular Jews when TSHTF. Go talk to MJ Rosenberg and then get back to me. Peace

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