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Shalev: Lobby will stand up for Israel’s ‘national interest’ in Syria, never mind ‘Walt and Mearsheimer-style attacks’

on 29 Comments

We can all agree that yesterday was an extraordinary spectacle. Obama’s opening to Congress was a show of weakness, in Andrea Mitchell’s apprehensive response, or the beginning of a grand correction about American power and the American role. And great forces will contend on either side. Chemi Shalev writes in Haaretz that Israel and the lobby are likely to get embroiled in debate over Syria in Congress, because this is all about Iran, and the special relationship, and the US willingness to stand up for Israel’s “national interests.”


If lawmakers are allowed to vote their conscience, the campaign will see strange bedfellows and peculiar coalitions as leftist pacifists team up with Tea Party isolationists against moderate centrists and conservatives on both sides of the aisle.

In this showdown, Israel and the lobby that supports it may find themselves suddenly embroiled. Both have been careful to steer clear of taking sides and to appear neutral for fear of fueling Iraq War, Walt and Mearsheimer-style attacks that Israel and its doers in Washington were pushing America to go to war. But it is surely no coincidence that both Obama and Kerry have made a point of reiterating time and time again that in advocating a strong response to Syria, the US is looking out for Israel and its interests, by preventing the proliferation of chemical weapons and by sending a strong signal to Iran about its nuclear plans.

Supporters of Israel will likely be told that at this critical juncture, neutrality is a luxury that neither the lobby nor the Administration can afford. Time to put up or shut up, get off the fence and spend some of the precious political capital that Israel supporters have amassed in order to fight in the Washington trenches for something that most Israelis contend is crucial to their national interests.

What a fascinating definition of the American national interest: to stand up for Israel’s. The coalition of leftist pacifists and American interest types that I have long anticipated might become powerful over this question.

Notice that this great battle is framed by reference to Walt and Mearsheimer’s article and book saying the Israel lobby fostered the Iraq war. Another sign of the power of their idea (which even the Atlantic, which killed the original piece, has acknowledged) and a sign too of its suppression by the mainstream media. I’m still waiting for 60 Minutes to do the Israel lobby story, or for the New York Times to do such frank journalism about the lobby’s power in our political discourse. In another five years.

Thanks to Max Blumenthal.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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29 Responses

  1. seafoid on September 1, 2013, 1:18 pm

    The lobby operates in darkness. Bring it in to the light so everyone can see how ugly it is.

    • Shingo on September 1, 2013, 7:56 pm

      Light is anti Semitic.

      • Krauss on September 2, 2013, 2:05 am

        Don’t forget that thinking isn’t good for you, either.
        That’s anti-Semitic, too.

      • amigo on September 2, 2013, 10:27 am

        And sympathizing with the Palestinian cause is anti semitic.

    • pmb1414 on September 2, 2013, 11:30 am

      Mondoweiss and other courageous news sources are shining their light into that darkness. Unfortunately most Americans shun these sources that reside outside of their comfort zone. As Shingo says above, “Light is anti-Semitic” ~ too many Americans believe that and would rather be spoon fed their “truth” in the darkness.

  2. Woody Tanaka on September 1, 2013, 1:27 pm

    It’s becoming even more clear by the day that an so-called American who is working for the Lobby is a traitor.

    • Krauss on September 2, 2013, 2:10 am

      It’s so clear at this point that it’s like a bright sun staring you in the face.
      For Israel, it’s about Iran, not Assad. They don’t much care about anything humanitarian nor do their supporters(if they did, they’d be talking about Congo, where more people have died, but they don’t.)

      There’s a ton of hypocrisy going on. Whatever you want to say about the anti-interventionists, they are at least straight-forward with their arguments.

      The interventionists have tons of hidden agendas. For many of the Israeli lobbyists it’s about, as I said, Iran. They want to weaken the nation and they want to make sure that the road to intervention isn’t closed. Because they can’t strike Iran solo, Israel is a parasite, so it needs to piggyback off a stronger nation(via the lobby) and Syria is an important stepstone to that destination, as Shalev acknowledges.

      • seafoid on September 2, 2013, 8:43 am

        The Israelis have spent years trying to fade out international law with respect to their policies towards Gaza. They can’t just attack Iran – international law wouldn’t allow it. It’s a funny old parallel universe.

  3. seafoid on September 1, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Israel’s interest is so far away from war in Syria. The Israeli right wing is insane. The more I read about Israel the more it reminds me of 1930s Japan.

  4. MRW on September 1, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Interesting to see the lobby throw […], Lieberman, on Fox News this AM.

    Former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on Sunday blasted President Barack Obama for asking for Congress’ approval before launching an attack on Syria over the President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

    “I was looking back,” Lieberman told Fox News host Chris Wallace. “Over my 24 years, never saw anything like it.”

    The former senator insisted that the president now had authority to act and that it would be “catastrophic” if Congress did not give the green light to attack Syria.

    Lieberman said that he would urge lawmakers — including his “amigos,” Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — to approve an action in Syria.

    I’m sure that our enemies are cheering now as a result of this decision because they realize it’s not clear the president will get authority, and our allies are worried,” he concluded. “That’s why, again, this resolution or something like it has to pass Congress.”

    Rawstory has the video:

    • amigo on September 2, 2013, 10:30 am

      Lieberman said that he would urge lawmakers — including his “amigos,” Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — to approve an action in Syria.

      MRW, not this Amigo.

  5. Justpassingby on September 1, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Still mainstream expose no light on WHY and for WHOM Obama wage this war.

  6. Citizen on September 1, 2013, 4:13 pm

    In the end, it’s all about Israel, or rather, despite the many contending world factions, the decisive thrust by the only superpower will be falling on its own sword for Israel. That’s the power of Zionist money and media in the USA. This is all nothing new–Mayer Rothschild covered it well a long time ago, and the rest was covered by the likes of Smedley Butler.

  7. DICKERSON3870 on September 1, 2013, 7:31 pm

    RE: “Chemi Shalev writes in Haaretz that Israel and the lobby are likely to get embroiled in debate over Syria in Congress, because this is all about Iran, and the special relationship, and the US willingness to stand up for Israel’s ‘national interests’.” ~ Weiss


    ● FROM
    To email Obama, your senators and representative, expressing opposition to an attack on Syria, click HERE.

    If you think Congress should debate and vote before any war with Syria, you can join 25,000 people at MoveOn in telling Congress by clicking HERE

  8. just on September 1, 2013, 7:49 pm

    Let the Sunshine In!

    “We starve, look at one another, short of breath
    Walking proudly in our winter coats
    Wearing smells from laboratories
    Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy
    Listening for the new told lies
    With supreme visions of lonely tunes
    Somewhere, inside something there is a rush of
    Greatness, who knows what stands in front of
    Our lives, I fashion my future on films in space
    Silence tells me secretly
    Manchester, England, England
    Manchester, England, England
    Across the Atlantic Sea
    And I’m a genius, genius
    I believe in God
    And I believe that God believes in Claude
    That’s me, that’s me, that’s me
    We starve, look at one another, short of breath
    Walking proudly in our winter coats
    Wearing smells from laboratories
    Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy
    Listening for the new told lies
    With supreme visions of lonely tunes
    Singing our space songs on a spider web sitar
    Life is around you and in you
    Answer for Timothy Leary, dearie
    Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in
    The sunshine in”……………

    I hope the somnolent people of the world wake up………the “Lobby” deserves the sunlight as a disinfectant and so does our government.

  9. on September 1, 2013, 8:18 pm

    60 Minutes did the Israel lobby story, many years ago. Mike Wallace.

  10. Nevada Ned on September 2, 2013, 1:01 am

    This piece and the comments make the case that the Israel Lobby is pushing for war against Syria. Of course that’s true. (See the petition clamoring for war, signed by Bill Kristol and the rest of the neoconservative gang.
    There are other reasons, also. If the US is able to put in a US-friendly regime in Syria, that will (1) help the US encircle Iran and (2) prevent weapons from Iran from flowing through Syria to reach Hezbollah in Lebanon.
    Goal #1 will help, along with economic sanctions, to ultimately return Iran to its former status as a US colony. (At least that is the US policymakers’ hopes).
    Goal #2 is a long-standing goal of the US: weakening or eliminating Hezbollah. It’s an anti-US organization which has shown the ability to battle Israel to a draw (in 2006).

    So this is one case in which the US national interest, at least as represented by the Obama administration, is parallel to the Israeli national interest, as represented by Netanyahu and his henchmen.

  11. traintosiberia on September 2, 2013, 5:35 pm

    911 has changed everything . Hate filled ideas against muslim created by various Jewish figures and think tank in and out of administration along 100 percent support from the Christian zionist started crawling out of the dark shade with amoeba type tentacles and hydra like head . They can recede just like neoocon to appear again even when some of them lose their heads . There is always some one in the place holder . This evolution of mixtures of fear,anger,uncertainty and narcissism to a theory of violent prevention provided a sustained easily locatable fixed and emotive easily understandable background justifying any adversarial position against any muslim nation or society by anyone and anywhere .

    This today serves the same function that the image of suffering Jesus served in any middle age pogrom . That was the unifying flag,unifying memory and unifying philosophy as the belief now 911 justifies any atrocity ,any sanction,any war and any behavior against muslim country or its citizen . Israel which actually taught some of those responses and some of those behaviors to Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq and itself conducted for ages on Arab victim now argues that US has no moral ground to condemn similar Israeli action. Those activities when get exposed by the whistleblowers get a peculiar inverted responses from the same Israeli friendly media and the justice system . This corrupting of the conscience justified and accepted morally without any resistance is akin to the process that was taking place in the minds of those anti Jewish middle age pogrom instigator and perpetrator :i.e they killed Jesus!
    Today explanation of any periodic ( against Lebanon ) or sustained pogrom (against Gaza ) or against Iran by Israel is made sure to pass through the same lens.
    There is a visible confluence of the ideas that Israel was nurturing and creating and strengthening for years ( muslim are anti western, anti democratic,anti progressive,anti gay,anti minority and intellectually unable to progress ) for last 100 years have now found a partner in belief who focuses on 911 as reference point disallowing any other options or explanation or facts or possibilities or motive from any sides that can shed new lights or better understandings or better resolution of the crisis. The bridge of Rubicon has been crossed . Israel tells US “we told you so “and the US says ‘yes, we know” .Isreali experience becomes our own. .Isreali understanding becomes our and Israeli solution becomes our solution. Now there is no moral hazard in using Israeli existence as our existence and threat to it as threat to our existence.
    One mortgaged of ones own patriotism to the service of another country’s ultra nationalism .
    Prior to 911, it was the Hollywood, book like Exodus, flooding of US library with books supporting Israeli centric narrative, covert condoning of the 1947,1948,1956,1967 Israeli aggression, ignoring the significance of Lavon affairs , or 1970s-2000 Isareli machinations and attacks in Lebanon ,media silence over Kiisinger’s famous quote about Iraq and Iran “Bad that they both cant lose” ,AWAK sale fiasco, 1981 Israeli bombings of Iraqi nucler reactor, and allowing general portrayal of Aab/Muslim as savages , ingrates, and scientifically mismatched with social structure and removal of Arab voices from accessible sources or corridor of power.The same is being continued with openness and gusto. 911 has allowed this development and people dont have to question anything anywhere anytime.

  12. Xpat on September 2, 2013, 9:03 pm

    This music video from Jerusalem for the Jewish New Year captures the Israeli spirit of defiance. One subtle point the translation misses is when Latma slyly cracks a sunflower seed. In Hebrew, there is a double entendre that could also be translated as: “we know how to split the atom”.

    On a local Mondoweiss note, a good portion of it is filmed at the Mahane Yehuda market. Didn’t see any potato sellers though.

    • just on September 2, 2013, 9:50 pm

      That’s one ick video.

      ( I meant to ask MahaneYehude1 whether he actually farms his potatoes and where they are grown……)

    • Walid on September 3, 2013, 12:22 am

      It’s more about infallibility than about defiance; it’s being reminded over and over that God is on their side, which translates into whatever they do to the lesser people is of no consequence. Seafoid would simply call it the “Kool-Aid”.

      • seafoid on September 3, 2013, 12:35 am


        I felt sad watching it. All the memes – god, the IDF, Amalek, the Babylonians. Such a grim ideology.

        “It was from my parents, too, that I inherited the sense that the Old Testament was the first written history of all; that, for all the poetic excesses of miracles, it was the scroll of enslavements and liberations, of royal hubris and filial rebellions, of sieges and annihilations, of lawgiving and law breaking: the template on which every other subsequent history would be laid.

        The book and the television films are full of such little revelations that add up to a culture, the prosaic along with the poetic: a doodle on a child’s Hebrew exercise page from medieval Cairo; battling cats and mice on a sumptuously illustrated Bible from Spain; the touchingly meagre dowry of an Egyptian slave girl from the fifth century BC married to a local Jewish temple official; a Jewish general of a Muslim army in 11th-century Spain watching his soldiers sleep in the ruins of an abandoned fort and composing lines of sombre, beautiful meditation; the great doctor-philosopher Maimonides writing a manual of sexual performance for a wasted Muslim potentate and recommending rubbing a concoction of crushed “saffron ants” on the problematic member for hours on end (therapy or revenge?); a 14th-century Mallorcan Jewish map painter smuggling a little star of David on to his “Catalan Atlas”; the illuminator of the most spectacular Bible produced in the Middle Ages, signing his name in Hebrew letters comprised of acrobatic clowning figures some of them without a stitch on; the heart-rending lament of a survivor of the Spanish massacres of 1391 grieving for the death of his community and of his own son, who was of their number.
        For good or ill, too, so much of the material newly unearthed or freshly considered ties together the history of the Jews with everyone else’s”

        There is so much more to the Jewish story than the paranoia of Zionism.

      • Walid on September 3, 2013, 1:37 am

        Yes there is much more to the rich Jewish story and I’m one of its admirers. Regrettable that it has been hijacked by the Zionist cult.

      • seafoid on September 3, 2013, 9:19 am

        Me too. Which is why the depth of that guy’s ignorance is so depressing. Judaism is capable of far more than 3rd rate indoctrination.

    • MahaneYehude1 on September 4, 2013, 3:40 am

      @Elliot: Thank you very much for that!! beautiful, just beautiful, I like the sarcasm and the satiric parts. I showed this video to several friends in the market and they enjoyed too. I wish some day computers would transfer also smells so people can feel the MY market atmosphere.

      I wish you Happy New Year and Gmar Hatima Tova.

  13. Dan Crowther on September 3, 2013, 11:00 am

    I gotta say, it’s a pretty dangerous moment for us all, but definitely for the lobby

    • seafoid on September 3, 2013, 11:24 am

      They’d love to zip back to 2007 when the only thing they had to worry about was how best to smear Walt and Mearsheimer

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