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The Israel lobby is alive and well– and split

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on 27 Comments

The defeat of the Israel lobby on the Iran Deal is leading to inevitable bleating: the Israel lobby is over, and the Israel lobby wasn’t very powerful anyway. Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post and Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine are making these arguments. They are both wrong. These two writers actually personify the split in the lobby, between those who want no daylight between the U.S. and Israel (Rubin) and those who want a little (Chait).

Rubin says that the Iran Deal shows that the Israel lobby isn’t Godzilla: it couldn’t deliver for Israel when Israel wanted support badly. From now on the Democratic Party will be a hotbed of anti-Israel sentiment and only the Republicans will stand up for Israel.

This  is pure horse feathers. Rubin is conflating her crowd, the Neoconservatives, with the Israel lobby. The Israel lobby is alive and well. J Street and Americans for Peace Now both supported the Iran Deal and both of them believe in the special relationship with Israel. Just watch as the Obama administration comes under huge pressure in weeks to come to give a lot more arms to Israel so it can raid Palestinian homes in the middle of the night and take on Hezbollah and threaten Iran. Cory Booker and Jeremy Ben-Ami will both insist on this. Bob Casey, Hakeem Jeffries, Chris Coons, Joe Donnelly and Jerrold Nadler will all go along, to try and fend off a well-financed primary opponent.

The actual objection to the Israel lobby comes from those who don’t want a special relationship with any country in the Middle East. We don’t want to support the Israeli occupation in any form. Some of us are anti-Zionists; we don’t believe in supporting a religious  state. But we are still outsiders in the capital and in the Democratic Party too. The Democratic Party supports Jewish control of Jerusalem, a recipe for endless conflict.

Chait’s argument is related. He says the Israel lobby is not very powerful. It can’t start wars, which it is accused of doing. Look what a pathetic job it did on the Iran Deal. He correctly anatomizes all the ways that AIPAC blew it on the Iran Deal and how out of touch the rightwing Israeli leadership is with the spirit of American Jewry.

The problem with Chait’s argument is that he leaves out Chait himself. Chait is going to continue to support Israel for a long time, because as he instructs us, Zionism is the civil rights movement for Jews (leaving out what a disaster it was for Palestinians and how empowered we are in the west). Chait spoke at J Street and Chait will continue to support the special relationship with Israel, inside the Democratic Party. Rubin is wrong: these pro-Israel Democratic Jews  aren’t going anywhere for a while!

Chait also conveniently leaves out his support for the Iraq war when he goes after the Israel lobby theorists for saying the lobby got us into the Iraq war. That is the part of the Israel lobby theory that ticks off Israel supporters the most. Like a lot of  liberal and centrist Zionists, Chait thinks that supporting the Iran Deal is a way of making people forget that he supported the Iraq war. But I still want to know how much of Chait’s support for that disastrous war (and that of Ken Pollack, the URJ, David Remnick and Tom Friedman too) came out of his belief in the Zionist dream. That’s the contention of the Israel lobby re the neoconservatives: that a good part of their addlepated theory of remaking the Middle East by overthrowing the Iraq regime grew out of concern for Israel’s security, out of Zionist delusions about transforming Israel’s neighbors. In fact it was this accusation against the Israel lobby vis-a-vis Iraq (demonstrated by Eli Clifton re AIPAC and by John Kerry blaming Netanyahu) that helped shore up support for the Iran Deal among Jewish groups that didn’t want to make that kind of mistake.

So where is the Israel lobby today?

The rightwing lobby has taken a huge defeat on the Iran Deal. The Sheldon Adelsons and Norman Bramans will be supporting Republicans and trying to keep the evangelical Christian lobby bubbling away. And let’s not forget, they still have about 60 Senators. They may not be able to get a war with Iran but they will keep sending guns and bombs to Israeli bases.

Jennifer Rubin will try to drag more Jews into the Republican Party, and she’ll fail. Jews will keep voting Democratic by close to 70 percent, and most Jews will back the Iran Deal, because they don’t care about Israel that much.

What the Iran Deal portends is an open battle inside the Democratic Party between the lobby and the people who don’t like the lobby. Sanctions for Israeli settlement policy will become a live issue inside the Democratic Party. Consequences for Israeli massacres will become an issue. And big Jewish contributors who love Israel and rank-and-file Jews who don’t really care about Israel will argue angrily over these policy positions. I can’t wait! Jimmy Carter will be restored!

That is the best thing about the Iran Deal politics. The monolith of Jewish organizational opinion has been broken. Jews who want no daylight between the US government and Israel are now in the Republican camp, and Jews who want daylight are in the Democratic camp. That’s the real split, between daylighters and no-daylighters.

Then the Democrats will argue about how much daylight; and liberal Zionists will be forced into the role of the new AIPAC, with all that happy baggage. Many of them will stop being Zionists. Come in, the water’s fine.

 

philweiss
About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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27 Responses

  1. mijj
    mijj
    September 5, 2015, 3:49 pm

    Don’t be a Zionist, be a Mentsh.

    • Krauss
      Krauss
      September 7, 2015, 4:36 pm

      I think it’s mensch, but yeah.

      BTW I am amused by the continuation of Zionist Jews who insist that the Israel lobby is dead. Gotta give credit to Rothkopf, he started this whole trend. Of course it is ethnic activism on the part of these people. What is perceived as dead cannot be fought.

      And as Phil points out, the lobby has always been more than AIPAC/J Street. It includes journalists like Chait or Goldberg, who both work on behalf of Israel whenever it is under fire in the media or when its interests are at stake, such as an open conversation on the influence the lobby has in the U.S. political system.

      Chait does not want that debate to happen, so better pronounce it dead before it can begin.
      It will take time but sooner or later, Chait will be exposed as a non-liberal, the non-liberal he always was, same as Goldberg. Goldberg who writes long articles on racism in the U.S. but supports a system of Apartheid in a country in which he does not live, like Chait. These people are voting left not because they are liberals but because they are ethno-nationalists.

      It makes sense to vote democratic in the U.S. as racial/religious minorities, its in our interests. And the same impulse of ethno-nationalism which makes them support left-wing policies in America, where they are in the minority, drives them to support race-based nationalism abroad, in a country where they would be in the majority.

      Once these people are forced to choose between their liberalism and Zionism, they will be in effect exposed as non-liberals because many of them will choose Zionism.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        September 7, 2015, 6:59 pm

        makes sense to vote democratic in the U.S. as racial/religious minorities, its in our interests

        Krauss,

        May I trouble you to identify who the heck that We is in “our interests”?
        Thank you.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        September 8, 2015, 10:27 pm

        makes sense to vote democratic in the U.S. as racial/religious minorities, its in our interests

        Krauss,

        Please see the post to you, below.
        Not that you owe anyone anything, but it doesn’t make much sense to try to communicate if you don’t respond to requests to explain obscure passages, does it?

        Krauss,

        May I trouble you to identify who the heck that We is in “our interests”?
        Thank you.

        – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/09/israel-alive-split#comment-795184

  2. traintosiberia
    traintosiberia
    September 5, 2015, 4:47 pm

    Republican Party will become the party of Evangelical and the Tea Party ,anti non white ,anti LGBt . At least that is the direction current crop of GOP hopefuls are taking the party to. So how will the Zionist fit in ? It is a dangerous development . Two extreme elements will combine to shape public discussion and governmental polices . Despite being in minority.,they still can remain chillingly effective . The rancor over Iran deal has shown that a very vocal minority with access to money nd media can easily overrule the popular opinion . But after a while this minority can’t even get enough sustaining power from these sources . Then the situation gets ugly . There is possibility that after destroying GOP the Zionist will angle for fracturing the country just to serve themselves .

  3. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    September 5, 2015, 5:09 pm

    RE: “The defeat of the Israel lobby on the Iran Deal . . .” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Please stike “Deal” (Deal)! ! ! Norman Pollack refers to it as the Iran Accord.* I concur! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! The Iran Accord! [continued ad nauseam]

    * “Paradigm of a Fascist Mindset: Nicholas Burns on Iran”, by Norman Pollack, Counterpunch.org, 4 September 2015
    LINK – http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/09/04/paradigm-of-a-fascist-mindset-nicholas-burns-on-iran/

  4. Blownaway
    Blownaway
    September 5, 2015, 5:52 pm

    Before anyone declares the lobby dead or even injured, wait and see the onerous companion legislation attached to the Iran resolution. Like a vampire very hard to kill or injure.

  5. RobertHenryEller
    RobertHenryEller
    September 5, 2015, 5:57 pm

    Jennifer Rubin: Zombie Zionist Psychopath.

  6. JLewisDickerson
    JLewisDickerson
    September 5, 2015, 6:17 pm

    RE: “The defeat of the Israel lobby on the Iran Deal is leading to inevitable bleating: the Israel lobby is over, and the Israel lobby wasn’t very powerful anyway. Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post and Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine are making these arguments.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: I’ll believe “the Israel lobby is over” when AIPAC goes the way of AARP and gives priority to selling insurance (as opposed to lobbying)! ! !

    P.S. Jennifer Rubin is a nutjob. I wouldn’t take her word for anything.

    • JLewisDickerson
      JLewisDickerson
      September 5, 2015, 6:29 pm

      P.P.S. REGARDING JENNIFER RUBIN, SEE: “Inside CUFI’s 2011 Washington ‘Summit'”, Special to JewsOnFirst.org, 07/29/11
      Our eyewitness report on Christians United For Israel’s annual Washington conference

      [EXCERPT] . . . And this is the rub – Christian Zionists love the idea of Jews – not Jews as they actually are, but as representatives of God’s ongoing truth and impending Christian salvation. They love religious Jews who, through the conflation of American and Israeli identities, many seem to think of as sharing the exact same values as them, minus Jesus. Whether it is CUFI on Campus students excitedly Tweeting “there are so many Jews here!” or women fawning over their new Star of David necklaces and sharing stories of possible Jewish lineage, it seems that actual interaction with Jews of diverse opinions is significantly lacking. So while conversion attempts are waning (some attendees expressed the idea that God is creating “one new man” with Christians and Jews as they are) there is still a need for conversion to the political philosophy of Christian Zionists.
      And this is where those Jews who are strong supporters of CUFI come in handy. They can criticize Jews to a far greater degree than any Christian Zionists would be willing to do.
       Conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin [of the “Washington (Neocon) Post”] spent a great deal of her talk slamming her co-religionists for being naively liberal, and referencing her fellow panelist’s father’s book – Norman Podhoretz’s “Why are Jews Liberal?” – as a way to try and explain that they have fallen away from God and been captivated by the “religion of liberalism” to which the audience expressed considerable dismay. Rubin and others are useful for this kind of criticism because it allows them to express contempt for their fellow Jews, which coming out of the mouth of anyone else would, quite rightly, be considered anti-Semitism. . .

      ENTIRE REPORT – http://www.jewsonfirst.org/11a/CUFI2011a.aspx

  7. JWalters
    JWalters
    September 5, 2015, 6:22 pm

    “Zionism is the civil rights movement for Jews (leaving out what a disaster it was for Palestinians”

    No professional reporter or analyst today can overlook the cruelties, injustices, and outright crimes behind this alleged “civil rights movement for Jews”. That is simply not credible. If they really cared about civil rights they would drop that bogus bullsh*t like a hot potato. My guess is they are kept in the pen by money. To keep their jobs, to keep their grants, to keep their donations coming in they keep PRETENDING that this is a “civil rights” movement.

    But they know it is a scam. It is a scam by very wealthy war profiteers, using money to control speech and religious fanatics as boots on the ground. More war and weapon sales is the whole point. And as the facts keep spreading, more and more of these “civil rights” guys will become shocked! shocked! to learn there is mass murder going on here. This has all been voluminously documented, including by Jewish writers. “War Profiteers and the Roots of the War on Terror” for example.

    History will remember and judge these hypocrites harshly.

    • Bandolero
      Bandolero
      September 5, 2015, 8:09 pm

      “Zionism is the civil rights movement for Jews”

      That claim seems to me to be similar to apartheid being a civil rights movement for the Boers.

      • Boomer
        Boomer
        September 6, 2015, 6:23 am

        re “similar to apartheid being a civil rights movement for the Boers.”

        Exactly. Hence Rabbi Lerner’s assertion that giving Palestinians’ land to Jews from Europe and America is a form of “affirmative action.”

    • oldgeezer
      oldgeezer
      September 6, 2015, 2:06 pm

      The mere suggestion that the creation of an ethnic supremacist state is an advance for any form of civil or human rights is a typical perversion of history and language by zionist. Civil rights does not include denying equality under law to others. Nor does it include ethnic cleansing,oppression, violation of international or IHL. It certainly doesnt include denying millions of people of their basic human rights.

      In addition to taking back stolen goods for the Palestinians it’s time to take English language back from those who pervert it at every opportunity.

  8. yourstruly
    yourstruly
    September 6, 2015, 2:52 am

    the struggle is for the minds of all Americans, not Jewish-Americans only. Too many Americans avoid entering the fray because of fear that they’ll be labeled antisemitic. And this is where Jewish-Americans can best serve the cause of justice for Palestine – by expressing such a profound and unwavering commitment to justice for Palestine that those Americans, who, up to now, have been holding back for fear of being called antisemitic, will feel free to step forward, each saying something like “label me antisemitic if you choose, but clearly I’m not, being that, in this struggle on behalf of human rights, I’m part of a diverse coalition that has many Jews in its ranks?”

    • Stephen Shenfield
      Stephen Shenfield
      September 6, 2015, 7:19 pm

      Yours truly: If they have been holding back for fear of being called antisemitic, why should the presence of Jews make them feel free to step forward? Do they imagine it will ward off accusations of antisemitism? Because it won’t.

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        September 6, 2015, 8:12 pm

        “If they have been holding back for fear of being called antisemitic, why should the presence of Jews make them feel free to step forward? Do they imagine it will ward off accusations of antisemitism? Because it won’t”

        Of course the presence of people who call themselves Jewish or have biologic nominal Jewish roots won’t “ward off accusations of antisemitism” by Zionits and allied tribalists, but it will allow these honest people to square it off with their conscience.
        As I observed with a number of friends of mine, what really pushes them into action is accusations of antisemitism against “biologically Jewish” or religiously Jewish persons.
        That’s where both the Zionits and the “non-Zionist” antisemite hunters get the inverse of the desired effect, to general merriment.

      • yourstruly
        yourstruly
        September 7, 2015, 1:34 am

        @Stephen Shenfield

        Not ward off accusations of antisemitism, but render them resistant to such taunts. Has to do with the spirit and power of solidarity.

    • jimby
      jimby
      September 6, 2015, 10:52 pm

      America could change but it’s still far off. The Zionist Palestinian issue has to gain importance to the point where people do not care if they lose friends over it. You lose a friend and back you go to the hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil framework but now you know that it’s wrong.

  9. Boomer
    Boomer
    September 6, 2015, 6:17 am

    Thanks for the useful analysis. Regarding your observation that, “The Democratic Party supports Jewish control of Jerusalem, a recipe for endless conflict,” I infer that you have in mind the Official “Democratic” Party (TM), i.e. the Party comprised of officials and those who give them large sums of money. Based on events at the previous Democratic Convention (where the aging Jimmie Carter was ignored) I am not so sure that the democratic party, the one comprised of the people, supports Jewish control of all of Jerusalem. But that is a side point, mere fruitless muttering under my breath.

    As a non-Jewish American reading this, I am reminded (as so often) that I’m mostly a passenger along for the ride . . . being taken for a ride actually . . . since I didn’t choose to go down this path. I hope the people who are in charge do a better job in the future.

    Keep up the good work Philip.

  10. Zaghlul
    Zaghlul
    September 6, 2015, 11:07 pm

    I hope you’re right, Phil. America needs this.

  11. James Canning
    James Canning
    September 7, 2015, 1:00 pm

    Democrats “have turned against Israel”? Rubbish.

  12. pabelmont
    pabelmont
    September 8, 2015, 9:35 am

    The true believers in the Zionist dream. What is that dream? Well — that Jews are unsafe. They need a safe haven, a place to go when times get tough and the neighbors get unruly.

    Nowadays, the premiere proof of that Zionist dream of the unsafety of Jews is that those Jews who went to Palestine and stole it vi-et-armis and evicted most of the former tenants and claiming ownership, yes the Jewish Israeli people, the Jews who went willingly, guns a-blazing, into someone else’s home are now unwelcome there and find — surprise, surprise — that they live (by deliberate and recent choice) in an unruly neighborhood where they are not welcome.

    And the rest of the world’s Jews, for the most part quite safe, allow the un-safety for Israeli Jews to become the argument for Zionism! We need this safe-unsafe haven for Jews to be safe. And the unsafety comes precisely from Zionist behavior. An endless circle, a self-fulfilling prophecy, etc, etc., a perpetual motion machine,

    When will these non-Israeli Zionists open their eyes? Dump the Zionist dream and resume the Jewish dream — making the world a better (rather than a much worse) place?

  13. eljay
    eljay
    September 8, 2015, 9:55 am

    … Chait is going to continue to support Israel for a long time, because as he instructs us, Zionism is the civil rights movement for Jews …

    Zio-supremacism may be the “civil rights” movement for Jews, but advocating Jewish supremacism in/and a religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much of Palestine as possible has nothing to do with real civil rights.

    Zio-supremacists sure do enjoy redefining words and terms…

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