Sy Hersh’s ‘forbidden statement’: Sanders’s liberation from NY Jewish money could change US foreign policy

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Earlier this week Seymour Hersh went on Democracy Now! and said in essence what J.J. Goldberg said in Washington two weeks ago: that Bernie Sanders’s method of raising money from individuals off the internet was disempowering rich Jews. And that means the U.S. may finally get a peace deal in the Middle East.

Look, I’ve been to Israel many times, have a lot of friends there, and there’s a lot of very good people there, but we all know it’s headed for—it’s chaos coming. And here we have a guy running for president. This is something, I guess, you know, forbidden—a forbidden statement. But he’s the first Democrat since I’ve been watching politics, 50—I’m old, older and crankier than Bernie. But anyway, it’s the first Democrat that I can remember that actually did not have to go to the Jewish community in New York to get money to run. And that’s something amazing. We may be able to actually change our policy and let the Israelis know that there’s going to have to be a settlement—not just divided, not just two countries, but a real settlement, a peace settlement, in that area.

And we’ve seen some terrific changes happening in this election, as the Democratic Party has been moving to the left, with a lot of contempt for the way the party manages itself, by the people who are pro—working—are interested in Sanders, that look at the chaos on the right. Our system is basically breaking apart right now in this election. And you can only say, “Yay! It’s great!” So, it’s inchoate. It’s not very good. It’s a little bit like the new generation of journalism we have with the tweeting and—you know, and blogging, that’s going to clearly replace the newspapers, which are dying as we sit, every day. It’s all sort of a new world coming.

So to be clear: were it not for the role of Jewish money in the American political process, there would have been a peace settlement before now in Israel and Palestine. And that’s a “forbidden statement.”

And: Isn’t it great to hear an old-school print guy not pissing on internet journalism, but celebrating it for the great liberation it is?

This is not the first time that Hersh has been honest about this factor in our foreign policymaking. In October 2007, Hersh appeared on Amy Goodman’s show Democracy Now! and was asked about why so many senators were authorizing force against Iran. Goodman set it up with this from former Senator Mike Gravel:

“There was a vote in the Senate today. Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has authored another resolution, and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. And I want to congratulate Biden for voting against it, Dodd for voting against it, and I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You’re not going to get another shot at this, because what’s happened, if this war ensues, we invade, and they’re looking for an excuse to do it. And Obama was not even there to vote.”

Asked for his interpretation of the politics, Hersh said:

Money. A lot of the Jewish money from New York. Come on, let’s not kid about it. A significant percentage of Jewish money, and many leading American Jews support the Israeli position that Iran is an existential threat. And I think it’s as simple as that. When you’re from New York and from New York City, you take the view of — right now, when you’re running a campaign, you follow that line. And there’s no other explanation for it, because she’s smart enough to know the downside.

These comments resonate with J.J. Goldberg’s statement in the Sixth and I Synagogue 2 weeks ago:

[Of the top 14 givers on the Democratic side] There was one non-Jew who was giving big money to the Democrats. That’s gigantic in the terms of American politics. If Bernie Sanders sets a new model, then this may change, and the weight of Jews in the political system may go down.

And while you’re at that link, recall that Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List described the stranglehold that pro-Israel Jewish donors have on Middle East policy in the Congress:

I started as a finance director. I worked for candidates in the 90’s as their finance director. And I would come on a congressional race, I am a twenty-something kid who also knows nothing beyond the state borders, let alone overseas, and you thought about where you are going to go to raise the money that you needed to raise to win a race. And you went to labor, you went to the choice community, and you went to the Jewish community. But before you went to the Jewish community, you had a conversation with the lead AIPAC person in your state and they made it clear that you needed a paper on Israel. And so you called all of your friends who already had a paper on Israel – that was designed by AIPAC – and we made that your paper.

Note that Schriock’s horse in the Maryland Senate race, Rep. Donna Edwards, lost out to Rep. Chris Van Hollen in part because of Israel and pro-Israel donors.

And finally, note that this balance of power is changing, as even Schriock has said; and a symptom of that is the fact that Jamie Raskin was a progressive candidate in the Democratic race to replace Van Hollen and he won (over a very rich person and Chris Matthews’s wife Kathleen). Raskin said the usual pap and sap about Israel, but his father founded the Institute for Policy Studies, and I’m told Raskin knows the story. The public face of American Jews is changing; and that’s something else Hersh was touching on.

P.S. Hersh writes investigative pieces for U.S. publications, the New Yorker in recent years. Why has The New Yorker never assigned him a piece on the Giant Corruption he is describing?

Thanks to @WillDizard, Wilson Dizard.


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The times they are a changing.

Giving for the causes you believe in is not corruption, and the idea that but for political giving by American Jews, we would have had a deal, is the usual naive BS. The Palestinians aren’t innocents who lack any agency, and the Jews are not the only Americans. A majority of Americans support Israel.

PHIL- “…Bernie Sanders’s method of raising money from individuals off the internet was disempowering rich Jews.” Jeez, is there no straw so tiny and insignificant that you will not grab it, wave it around while jumping up and down declaring victory just around the corner? Phil, I hate to break it to you but this is capitalism, disempowering money is inconceivable. In the last 10 years, the rich have gotten a lot richer, and these… Read more »

I’m not so sure, yet, that the balance of power is changing. It may still come out to be just a flash in the pan. Eg: Maryland senator Barbara Mikulski – who backed Obama’s Iran deal – retires, Donna Edwards lost the race for that seat against the Israel lobby. So, to me it looks like the Israel lobby just got stronger. Bernie Sanders mounts a fine insurgent campaign against Wall Street and the Israel… Read more »

Great interview. However he went on a bit about Bernie not demonstrating enough knowledge about foreign policy to make him feel “comfortable” or something like that. As if Clinton’s foreign war hawk policies would make one feel “comfortable” unless you are part of the PNAC war team.

This was such a power packed piece by Seymour