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How Eli Lake tricks readers so as to cast realists Walt, Mearsheimer and Freeman as anti-semites

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Let’s read this Bloomberg story about the Koch Institute in Washington hosting Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer at an event on the future of foreign policy today. “Koch Brothers Give a Megaphone to the anti-Israel Fringe.”

On Wednesday, the Charles Koch Institute, a think tank funded by one of the conservative movement’s most generous donors, will host a conference featuring some of the academy’s most virulent foes of Israel.

Eli Lake made it almost through a whole sentence without giving away he wasn’t really a journalist. But then he just had to stick in “virulent” foes of Israel. Wasn’t “big” or “vigorous” foes of Israel enough? “Virulent” is defined as venomous or poisonous, as in a virulent disease. So now the intelligent reader has a decision. Does he or she want to risk becoming an anti-Semite by continuing to read Eli Lake right now? Because if history is any guide, the reader knows a lot of nasty things are about to be said about usually decent people.

Charles and David Koch, scions of the Koch Industries fortune, have always leaned libertarian in their political giving and nonprofit work. The two brothers have supported criminal-justice reform and other free-market initiatives in education and labor. In foreign policy, the Kochs have stayed away from the uglier fringes that blame Israel and its supporters for hijacking U.S. foreign policy. That is, until now.

Koch brothers, we used to think we had an understanding with you guys. You stick to your “conservative” issues, we stick to ours. What you’re doing would lead to a turf war on “The Wire.” You already know you can have all the conservative issues you want except for our “conservative” issues  like  the “special relationship”, overall Middle East policy; and of course we insist on being the “intellectuals” of the movement, too.

OK, time to meet our foaming-at-the mouth friends. Let’s recap. Virulent, uglier fringe, blame Jews Israel for “hijacking” US foreign policy.

The institute’s conference scheduled for Wednesday will feature separate panels with Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, co-authors of the 2006 [actually 2007] book “The Israel Lobby.”

While Walt and Mearsheimer are hardly household names, they are known in U.S. policy circles. Their book prompted Abe Foxman, who was then national director of the Anti-Defamation League, to write a response, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control.”

Mr. Eli Lake– you were about to introduce us to some bad, bad people; and now we learn this is on the “word” of one Abe Foxman– and who is this Abe Foxman? He “was then” the “National Director of the Anti Defamation League.” Here Mr. Lake is where anti-semites are made. You led us to believe we were going to get as a “witness for  the prosecution” an impartial witness. Do you not understand that people look at “Abe Foxman” the same way they look at, say, Ralph Reed talking about abortion rights? And if you ask why would they look at Abe Foxman like that, then you’re not being very objective. So already a dispassionate reader is thinking, If this is the best evidence you can marshal, the accused is probably innocent because everyone already knows you throw the proverbial  kitchen sink at your enemies.

The institute’s decision to host a conference that features Walt, Mearsheimer and a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Chas Freeman, is in keeping with a general realignment of U.S. politics in 2016. Under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, conservatives have embraced Israel and accused their partisan foes of not supporting the Jewish State, but this year has brought a shift. This week for example, the conservative website Breitbart featured a story that accused Weekly Standard editor William Kristol of being a “renegade Jew.”

OK; so it used to be that conservatives embraced Israel and accused liberals of not supporting Israel. But something has now changed and the example you give is a very, very vocal and combative pro-Israel American, David Horowitz, who is angry that another very, very vocal and combative pro-Israel American Jew (Kristol)  is trying to sabotage Trump who Horowitz says is good for Israel and the Jews. This is evidence of what? One crazy Jew called another a “renegade Jew”  and now you’re saying it’s Trump’ s fault? Or it’s Walt’s fault? Or maybe it’s the Mufti’s fault?

What it looks like is going on here is that you want to create a certain “impression” about the discourse of your enemies– but you take the discourse of  your friends (Horowitz and Kristol) and say, See what I’m saying?? Well that’s just plain dishonest, isn’t it Eli? Horowitz himself insisted on that “renegade Jew” title; it wasn’t some anti-semitic Breitbart editor.

In recent years Walt and Mearsheimer have gotten a cold shoulder from the right, but have been embraced by the anti-war movement. For example they were the featured speakers at a 2011 conference sponsored by Code Pink and the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. It was called Move Over Aipac, a reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

You’re supposed to be an objective journalist. You’re writing for Bloomberg. But the reader can sense for sure that some “smearing” is going on here. Look what you did, connected them to Code Pink and to a conference called “Move over Aipac”. But again Eli, this is where anti-semites are made. A smart reader says, Wait, isn’t this the same Eli Lake who put up an article last year on what a cuddly outfit Aipac is — “AIPAC is no different than the National Audubon Society.” And they also know from reading other Jewish journalists that AIPAC isn’t as innocuous as you make them out to be. And they heard Hillary’s AIPAC speech where she promised to take the relationship with Israel to “the next level,” and they thought to themselves WTF. And maybe some readers leave your article now to google “Move over Aipac” because it sure sounds interesting.

This made sense. Walt and Mearsheimer have doubled down against the pro-Israel lobby. In 2011 Mearsheimerblurbed a book from the notorious Holocaust denier Gilad Atzmon. During the Iran deal debate last summer, Walt tweeted his praise for an article that asserted the opponents of the Iran agreement were puppets of Israel’s prime minister.

Before you can even catch you breath, here comes the next volley of shit! And this is it: Here’s the evidence. This is going to be the best the opposition researchers came up with to explain why the Koch brothers made such a big mistake inviting Walt and Mearsheimer.

And first off, I couldn’t help but notice you offering that Walt and Mearsheimer were “not household names,” but now you give us the “notorious Gilad Atzmon” who has been giving kids nightmares for years. After all they’ve done, they’re still nobodies! What a childish knock. Then what do we get? A blurb from 2011 and a retweet from last summer. This is your evidence. Mearsheimer put a blurb on a book no one has even heard of; and on this basis the Koch brothers should throw out his 30 years at the University of Chicago and countless books.

Eli, seriously, you know you can’t be trusted with these things. Let’s cut to the chase: you want your readers to believe you when you say that Walt and Mearsheimer hate Jews. And you will do everything within the limits of the law to convince people of that “truth.” You and your friends will have no compunction about destroying their lives. Because like many, many people before Eli Lake and many people after, regular rules of civility, fair play, honesty, don’t apply when you “know” you are on the side of the angels and your opponents on the side of the devil. Of course it is lost on Eli Lake and his friends that their behavior is the strongest case for the thesis in “the lobby.” But other people are aware, the “lobby” had a fatwa put on it by Jeffrey Goldberg and the other warrior scribes have been tormenting Walt and Mearsheimer ever since.

Freeman, another panelist at Wednesday’s conference, has a similar record. In 2009 many Republicans led a campaign to stop his nomination to be the chairman of the National Intelligence Council in part because of his extreme views on Americans who support the Jewish State. In 2012, Freeman delivered a speech in Moscow on the topic, where he said, “In some countries, like the United States, Israel can rely upon a ‘fifth column’ of activist sympathizers to amplify its messages.”

So Chas Freeman gave a speech in Moscow! Is that here to suggest Chas Freeman is some sort of traitor? Or is it supposed to remind people of the Pale of Settlement? Definitely “Moscow” means something bad for Freeman. Maybe Eli Lake just put Moscow there to let each individual reader make their own negative association. So Chas Freeman in “Moscow” said that Israel has some fanatical supporters who are very aggressive in pursuing what they claim is in the American Interest but was ALWAYS in the state of Israel’s interest. Perhaps “fifth columnist” is too strong a term, but then again it may not be. We are going to explore that question in the coming weeks. And what if we discover together that 5th columnist is the most appropriate word; well then we are stuck in a situation where the truth is anti-Semitic.

Will Ruger, vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute, pushed back on the idea that his think tank was providing a “platform” to Walt, Mearsheimer and Freeman. “They are all very respected members of the foreign policy community and the academy,” he said.

Big student of propaganda that I am, I have a 6th sense for trickery. What is the only fact in the above paragraph? It is that Will Ruger said of Walt, Mearsheimer and Freeman “they are all respected members of the foreign policy community and the academy.” Now read the paragraph again. Who is interpreting that statement as “pushback”? Eli Lake. Eli, did you just make that up to imply that Will Ruger is “defensive” about hosting them? Because his statement is pretty straightforward.

When asked whether he endorsed Freeman’s view of American supporters of Israel, Ruger backed off: “We’re not endorsing anything or everything these people have said; we are trying to have a broad conversation about foreign policy.” But he stressed that Freeman was a former ambassador and assistant secretary of defense and that he wrote the entry for diplomacy for the Encyclopedia Britannica. “His voice as a practitioner is relevant to a foreign policy conversation,” he said.

Look what a trick Eli Lake is playing on the reader. Ruger said what every person in the history of conferences says: “we’re not endorsing anything or everything…..” But look what Mr. Eli Lake adds here: “Ruger backed off.” What did Ruger do that showed the great journalist Eli Lake that he was “backing off?” Nothing. Eli Lake put those words in to show again some defensiveness which just isn’t there.

Do you feel any sense or responsibility to be honest, Mr. Lake? Do you expect “non partisans” to read you and believe you’re in the right? Why all the dishonesty if your cause is just?

“We went out of our way to invite a broad, diverse set of panelists for this conference,” Ruger said, pointing out that the institute had also invited two prominent advisers to Hillary Clinton, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Michele Flournoy, who both served in the Obama administration at senior levels. Neither Slaughter nor Flournoy could make it, but Kathleen Hicks, who served as a senior Pentagon official during Obama’s first term, will appear on a panel at the conference with Mearsheimer.

But the ideological diversity for the Charles Koch Institute has its limits. When asked whether the institute invited any neoconservatives to the conference, Ruger said, “Since I don’t want to assign labels to people, I don’t want to say.” He added, “We are trying to get away from labels, and we’re trying to focus on ideas.” The same cannot be said for Freeman, Mearsheimer or Walt.

So Mr. Lake ends this great polemic by saying I think Freeman, Mearsheimer, and Walt don’t “focus on ideas” but labels. I guess that means when those three have lunch together at the conference, while other tables are discussing ideas, these guys will just be “labeling.” I think the image Mr. Lake wants the reader to be left with is: Walt, Mearsheimer, and Freeman eating off in a corner (everyone else keeping away to not catch the virulent disease) and everyone else is discussing the big ideas of the conference but these three will just  be chanting “Jew” in between each bite.

There was a true statement in there, too, though: the Charles Koch Institute has not invited any neocons to the conference. Mr Lake, what is obvious to all your friends should be obvious to you by now, especially with all your insider Washington contacts. Neocon action can only be found with Hillary Clinton this election cycle.

This is a notice: If people like Eli Lake want to write an article for the mainstream that belongs in the feverishly-Zionist rag the Jewish Press out of Boro Park, it will be pointed out.

Yakov Hirsch

Yakov Hirsch is a professional poker player and a writer. His twitter handle is @Yakovhirsch and his articles are posted at

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36 Responses

  1. Citizen on May 18, 2016, 4:11 pm

    Wow! Looks like it’s finally going to happen–John Q Pubic-Taxpayer just may get a dose of reality about the Israel he’s been so heavily funding in the Holy Land for so long! May even see USA abstain in a UN SC vote to make Israel slightly accountable? Next thing you know a POTUS might entertain using foreign aid leverage on Israel! Hope I live long enough to see it all.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on May 19, 2016, 11:41 am

      You did. Bush Sr. had the balls to threaten to withhold loan guarantees to Israel if it kept building settlements, and it worked, till Clinton won and resumed the kiss Israeli as_ policy. I don’t say this as a fan of Bush Sr., but to point out how far we have regressed. I have been following this issue since the late 70s and have seen support for Israel increase.

    • REALITY CHECK 101 on May 21, 2016, 9:30 pm

      Did anyone post this quote yet? – “There is a powerful lobby determined to prevent any view other than its own from being aired, still less to factor in American understanding of trends and events in the Middle East. The tactics of the Israel Lobby plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the willful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth.” —from the withdrawal letter of Ambassador Charles W. Freeman, Jr.

  2. Boomer on May 18, 2016, 4:36 pm

    Not losing traction which Mrs. Clinton, who is eager to take our relationship with Israel “to the next level.”

    • straightline on May 18, 2016, 7:39 pm

      What does “the next level” mean? I can’t think of anything short of statehood – the 51st state! Add the Star of David to the Stars and Stripes! Imagine that – and subjecting Israel (and Occupied Palestine) to something approaching First World (but not quite there) Federal human rights legislation!

      • Boo on May 19, 2016, 9:48 am

        “Add the Star of David to the Stars and Stripes!” But of course! And it would have to be in the center of the blue field, with all the other stars gathered around it in a circle and paying it homage.

        It reminds me of this scripture, Genesis 37:5-9.

        Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”

        His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

        Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

        Of course the world has changed since then — nowadays, instead of eleven stars bowing down, it’s fifty.

      • Boomer on May 19, 2016, 11:08 am

        re: “What does “the next level” mean?”

        If it were two people on a third date, it might mean intercourse. But in this case, I have no idea. I guess it could mean doing the donkey in the Oval Office, but–at least as a metaphor–that’s not new. In fact, there is ample precedent for that. I don’t think it means statehood. I’ve often seen Israelis say that statehood would be unacceptable, because then they would only have two senators in the U.S. Senate, instead of 98. Also, while the U.S. Constitution has provision for adding states, it does not have a provision for a “Jewish state.” So the status quo allows Zionists to have their cake and eat it too. That’s a common human desire, but rarely achieved in reality. What’s more, the cake is subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer.

      • Brewer on May 20, 2016, 4:37 am

        “Add the Star of David to the Stars and Stripes!”
        That’s a graphic I’d like to cut and paste. 50 Stars of David would be nice.

      • Mooser on May 20, 2016, 2:31 pm

        “Listen to this dream I had:”

        Biblical dreams and visions have been of use to mankind. Ezekiel, of course, saw “a wheel in the middle of a wheel” and invented epicyclic gearing. Still used in transmissions today.

    • pabelmont on May 19, 2016, 7:36 am

      What’s “next level” mean?

      Perhaps: “Yes!. Israel’s settlements are necessary not only to Israel’s security but also to American security and the USA will brook no effort to remove any settlers.” How’s that?

      • Boomer on May 19, 2016, 11:15 am

        re “the USA will brook no effort to remove any settlers.” How’s that?”

        Maybe, but I’m not sure that’s what she has in mind as “the next level.” In practice we’ve been doing that for years. If memory serves me correctly, George Bush the Elder was the last president who actually tried to impede the settlement process, and we know how much he accomplished in that regard.

  3. just on May 18, 2016, 4:42 pm

    After I got over my shock that the Koch Institute was hosting this conference, it was a pleasure to read your very clever and successful dissection of Lake’s miserable/hasbara/slime column.

    Thanks, Yakov.

  4. Scott on May 18, 2016, 5:19 pm

    Well done, treated with the mockery this kind of crap deserves.

    • Yakov Hirsch on May 19, 2016, 3:20 am

      Thanks Scott! I’m the Shabbos Yid. I do the job the Goyim are just too nice or (too frightened) to do.
      I take requests by any and all to “dissect” any “egregious” article.
      I’m trying to show my Talmudic skillz here to get invited to Jeffrey Goldberg’s Talmud study class with Jake Tapper and Martin Indyk if im not mistaken. Amazing how much impunity they think they have.

      • annie on May 19, 2016, 4:43 am

        I’m the Shabbos Yid. I do the job the Goyim are just too nice or (too frightened) to do.

        maybe, maybe not. because unless your editors ask you to tone it down, it could be they’re just more comfortable hearing it from you. safety in tribe and all that.

      • echinococcus on May 19, 2016, 9:39 am

        10 for insight, Annie

      • Don on May 19, 2016, 11:57 am

        Well, another home run by Yakov…you’re making it look easy…

  5. ritzl on May 18, 2016, 6:11 pm

    Another excellent takedown, Yakov. And thanks so much for the Koch connection.


    Hey Bandolero, Yakov suggests/lays out the answer to your Koch-Sessions-Trump connection question to me last week (that I couldn’t answer).

    Extrapolating a bit, I suspect that non-Jewish Republican business interests/influencers are getting leery of having their interests explicitly subordinated to Jewish, zero-sum, pro-Israel interests/influencers. Opening Iran (or the “virulent” [ :) ] aversion to doing so) is perhaps the biggest and brightest example of this subordination.

    I speculated about this potential unease when Cruz stood in front of a hometown oilpatch crowd in Houston and promised to appease Israel by discounting the energy crowd’s business interests to flat zero. I used to work for one of those oil billionaires (never met any of them but the Bush family and some admin cohorts were personal friends from Houston 1. Presbyterian) in a 5-person office for a couple years* and they’re not used to being subordinated much or for very long – politically speaking.

    That’s just a partial and anecdotal read of a complex set of politics, but I think you’re asking the right questions and making highly plausible deductions.

    The Trump game/hustle is interesting. I pray it doesn’t get a million people killed. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but even that wispy prayer may be somewhat answered by the competing interests of (as pabelmont sez…) Big Zion (perpetual war) and Big Oil (exploitable stability). What “side” the MIC comes down on this process is an unknown because I believe MIC players have interests in both instability and stability (oil PLUS weapons to Iran may tip that balance?).

    Sorry for straying pretty far OT. Bringing it back to Yakov’s article, this Eli Lake (anti-semites!) v. Koch Bros (F$k off) exchange may be a micro opening salvo of a coming macro public debate between the BZ v. BO interests/influencers.

    Again, thanks Yakov. Good stuff.

    * Sorry to keep doing that, but I’ve had kind of a couple of insightful, Forrest Gump-like/serendipitous intersections with some powerful people that seem relevant. Just insight, not expertise. And that’s all I have to say about that. :)

    • Bandolero on May 18, 2016, 7:58 pm


      Thanks for the flowers, and yes, I see this as another sign that there is a fight going on between Big Oil (coming from Southern States) vs Big Zion (Wall Street, Hollywood). It looks less and less plausible for me that the Trump rise was just accidental, and in a way, the neocons are getting a similar grasp, and I think, that’s behind the virulent article by Eli Lake.

      Remember, with oil at $50 much of the native US oil industry cannot exist for long, and we have $50 oil because the Saudi-Zionist axis wants to destroy Iran and Russia. That policy is extremely expensive for Big Oil, and makes it a compititor with the Saudi-Zionist axis, while it’s interests in higher oil prices align with Russia.


      Great takedown of Eli Lake. Btw, I’ld prefer this pic of Eli Lake in a Begin shirt to this article:

      • ritzl on May 18, 2016, 9:10 pm

        Well said.

        To Be Continued.

      • Rusty Pipes on May 19, 2016, 1:15 pm

        The Saudi-Zionist axis wants to destroy Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Venezuela’s independence and charitable giving under Chavez, when oil revenues were high, were a source of irritation to Israel and its supporters.

  6. Yakov Hirsch on May 18, 2016, 8:05 pm

    Think about the irony. I accuse Eli Lake of spouting bullshit, deception and lies. His tweet in response to my “indictment” is to say “a good day got better.”

    Of all the things to say. Can Eli really not help himself? Is what you’re saying true Eli? Did you read my article and do a fist pump and feel like shouting “what a day!” Couldn’t you find one honest thing to say about what I wrote even if you want to disparage it? Is it that difficult? Or do you want me to spend the next month and “review” all of your columns to make many days “better day?”

    • just on May 18, 2016, 9:02 pm

      It means you struck a nerve with your pinpoint accuracy. Congratulations!

      Thanks to MW for publishing this and your other informative and clever articles.

      • pabelmont on May 19, 2016, 8:04 am

        I think the Big Zion folks still feel (and why not?) that they rule the USA (and UK) and that folks who rebel are losers who will get no traction. Hence, Hirsch’s analysis rolls off Lake’s back — in Lake’s opinion. Lake’s glad Hirsch spelled his name right.

        I like very much the suggestion that the USA’s oligarchy is (to some extent) splitting up on support for Israel — with Big Oil coming over against the Israeli-Saudi anti-Iran axis. Doesn’t the recent fulmination against Saudi (w.r.t. 9/11) sound like a political action is taking place within the oligarchy?

        But cheap oil doesn’t only militate against Russia-Iran; it also militates against renewable energy production, which is getting cheaper all the time but is not yet seen as “free” the way nuclear energy used to be advertised. Increasing the price of oil is not as good for Big Oil as they used to think.

        Interesting to see the (scary, of course) death-rattles of Big Oil and Big-Gas (Big coal seems dead) as the USA and the world are (supposed to be) ending use of fossil fuels ASAP.

  7. Les on May 18, 2016, 8:25 pm

    Neocon-Bashers Headline Koch Event as Political Realignment on Foreign Policy Continues

    Zaid Jilani

    May 18 2016, 6:21 p.m.

    In the latest example of how foreign policy no longer neatly aligns with party politics, the Charles Koch Institute — the think tank founded and funded by energy billionaire Charles Koch — hosted an all-day event Wednesday featuring a set of speakers you would be more likely to associate with a left-wing anti-war rally than a gathering hosted by a longtime right-wing institution.

    At the event, titled “Advancing American Security: The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy,” prominent realist and liberal foreign policy scholars took turns trashing the neoconservative worldview that has dominated the foreign policy thinking of the Republican Party — which the Koch brothers have been allied with for decades.

    Most of the speakers assailed the Iraq War, nation building, and regime change. During a panel event also featuring former Obama Pentagon official Kathleen Hicks, foreign policy scholar John Mearsheimer brought the crowd to applause by denouncing American military overreach.

    “We need to pull back, stop fighting all these wars. Stop defending rich people who are fully capable of defending themselves, and instead spend the money at home. Period. End of story!” he said, in remarks that began with a denunciation of the dilapidated state of the Washington Metrorail system.

    “I completely agree on infrastructure,” Hicks said. “A big footprint in the Middle East is not helpful to the United States, politically, militarily, or otherwise.”

    Chas Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, decried U.S. thinking on toppling foreign governments. “One has to start questioning the basic premise of regime change, whether it is to be accomplished by invasion and occupation or by covert action or the empowerment of NGO activity on the ground or other means,” he reflected. “Frankly, it generally doesn’t go well.”

    “If you want to know why our bridges are rickety … our children are educationally malnourished, think of where we put the money,” concluded Freeman, pointing to the outsized military budget.

    Over lunch, Stephen Walt, the Foreign Policy columnist and Harvard realist foreign policy scholar, said the presidential election is providing evidence that the military-restraint camp is starting to make progress. “On the campaign trail, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have gotten receptive audiences when they questioned certain aspects of foreign policy. Really, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate defending the status quo,” he boasted. “I think those public doubts are not surprising because … our current policy has been a costly failure.”

    Walt dubbed his own prescription for foreign policy “offshore balancing” — a middle ground between full-scale military engagement and isolationism, where the U.S. would engage diplomatically and economically first and foremost, and retain the capacity to militarily intervene only when major power imbalances occur, where one state would be able to threaten global security.

    Mearshiemer, Walt, and Freeman are particularly despised by neocons, and not simply for their starkly different policy prescriptions. Walt and Mearsheimer’s 2006 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was critical of the U.S.-Israel relationship, arguing that it was overly influenced by domestic interest groups. Freeman’s nomination to an intelligence post in the Obama White House was derailed by behind-the-scenes accusations that he wasn’t sufficiently pro-Israel.

    Bloomberg View columnist Eli Lake, a hawkish supporter of Israeli government policies, expressed horror at their appearance on institute panels in a column on Wednesday, writing that “the Kochs have stayed away from the uglier fringes that blame Israel and its supporters for hijacking U.S. foreign policy. That is, until now.”

    The lone prominent hawk among the panelists was Michael O’Hanlon, the Brookings Institute scholar and liberal interventionist. But perhaps in deference to the audience’s skepticism of nation building and sustained military engagement, even O’Hanlon said we need to be “very selective about when we actually employ military force,” insisting that he preferred utilizing economic sanctions rather than war in possible future confrontations with Russian and Chinese spheres of influence.

    Still unresolved is whether the institute intends to take on neoconservative orthodoxy on a regular basis. “Part of what the Charles Koch Institute can do is to help increase the range of arguments on the table, have that marketplace of ideas, so the best ideas can win so that our country can flourish,” said William Ruger, the institute’s vice president for research and policy. Ruger told The Intercept that numerous additional foreign policy-centric events are planned.

    “I certainly think we’re uneasy with the status quo. It doesn’t seem like the status quo is making us safer, especially given the cost of this to our soldiers, especially given the high expense in terms of our fiscal situation. Also in terms of some of the ways it affects our civil liberties as well as our standing in the world. We want to make sure that we’re not missing opportunities for ideas to be added to this conversation.”

    • ritzl on May 18, 2016, 9:33 pm

      Re: “…no longer neatly aligns with party politics…”

      It might be better to say Israel-as-foreign-policy-centerpiece is being forced outside party politics. To half the Dem base it’s a moral affront and to a big part of the Rep donor class it’s a business loser.

      When suppprting Israel becomes a net loser in both parties, what happens then? It’s happening.

  8. just on May 18, 2016, 8:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing that article, Les.

    (I’ll be dancing a jig when I read that O’Hanlon supports “economic sanctions” on Israel)

  9. pabelmont on May 19, 2016, 6:57 am

    Great article!

    5th columns and 6th senses! And Hirsch’s 6th sense is right on and delicious. Let him dissect propaganda anytime! And write it, if need be: “the feverishly-Zionist rag the Jewish Press out of Boro Park”. Yikes! Makes the hair stand up on one’s head! Move over, Eli Lake!

    “And what if we discover together that 5th columnist is the most appropriate word; well then we are stuck in a situation where the truth is anti-Semitic.”

    Errm, yes, but if the “truth” is antisemitic then, errm, it is “antisemitic” — and there are those who will do their darnedest not to let you say it. (“The greater the truth the greater the libel”). At least, that’s the way it works now.

    BTW, “5th columnist” was a propaganda term used against (partisans within) the Republican (anti-fascist) side in the Spanish civil war (1936-39) the use of which epithet caused a great deal of internecine sub-civil warfare, Republicans killing each other (communists killing anarchists). Here, I suppose, someone (Koch Bros ?) is attempting to start a civil war within the foreign policy community to de-throne AIPAC or at least (isn’t this the same thing ?) make opposition to it respectable.

  10. just on May 19, 2016, 5:43 pm

    RIP, Morley Safer~ a bona fide journalist.

    “Morley Safer, ’60 Minutes’ Reporter, Dies at 84

    Safer, who made his reputation as a Vietnam War correspondent for CBS before becoming a mainstay on ’60 Minutes,’ dies days after his retirement.”

    read more:

  11. otc on May 21, 2016, 9:25 am

    You don’t have to agree with Eli Lake(I don’t) to see some flaws in this article

    “Eli Lake made it almost through a whole sentence without giving away he wasn’t really a journalist. But then he just had to stick in “virulent” foes of Israel”
    “You’re supposed to be an objective journalist. You’re writing for Bloomberg. But the reader can sense for sure that some “smearing” is going on here”

    Mr. Lake’s byline states that he is a columnist. His columns appears on BloombergView in the Opinion section.
    A columnist who writes opinion pieces is supposed to have opinions.
    There is a difference between news content and opinion content – journalists writing opinion pieces, when clearly stated, are operating under a different set of standards than journalists writing news.

    “What is the only fact in the above paragraph? It is that Will Ruger said of Walt, Mearsheimer and Freeman “they are all respected members of the foreign policy community and the academy.” Now read the paragraph again. Who is interpreting that statement as “pushback”? Eli Lake. Eli, did you just make that up to imply that Will Ruger is “defensive” about hosting them?”

    Pushed Back doesn’t mean, or even imply, defensiveness. Defensive means overly sensitive, anxious to avoid criticism.
    “Pushed Back” just means a negative or unfavorable response.
    People can push back in a conversation with great confidence.

    Clearly Ruger is responding to questions – the next paragraph begins. “When asked whether he …..”
    If Lake asks Ruger if his think tank is providing a “platform” to W and M, and he responds in the negative, with the quote above, characterizing that response as “pushed back” seems perfectly reasonable.

    • annie on May 21, 2016, 10:32 am

      Pushed Back doesn’t mean, or even imply, defensiveness. Defensive means overly sensitive, anxious to avoid criticism. “Pushed Back” just means a negative or unfavorable response. People can push back in a conversation with great confidence.

      pushed back implies ‘in opposition’ — whether it’s in defensive, negative, unfavorably or with great confidence, is not the point. eli lake still stated Ruger “pushed back on the idea that his think tank was providing a “platform” to Walt, Mearsheimer and Freeman” and that’s not apparent in the quotes presented. listen to the words:

      “They are all very respected members of the foreign policy community and the academy,” he said.

      it sounds to me like a reasonable answer to a question. neither defensive, negative or necessarily with great confidence. lake could have said ‘when asked why they hosted the trio rugers said’ or ruger stated, or ruger explained, or according to ruger. he didn’t, he said he pushed back. and by framing it as such he set up rugers following response as then “backing off” from his previous statement — when in actuality the following statement does not “back off” from the one that proceeded it.

      in fact if you take the too statements by rugers you can place them together or reverse them and they are perfectly compatible, like this (statements in reverse):

      “We’re not endorsing anything or everything these people have said; we are trying to have a broad conversation about foreign policy, they are all very respected members of the foreign policy community and the academy,”

      by framing the 2 responses, one as pushing back and the other as backing off his previous statement, lake sets up rugers (as back and forth) — but what lake doesn’t do is frame himself as accusing rugers. lake positions himself as benign or neutral “When asked”. but lake doesn’t let rugers words speak for themselves — he frames them as push back.

  12. Sibiriak on May 21, 2016, 11:04 am

    “…some of the academy’s most virulent foes of Israel.”


    It’s worth noting that in “The Israel Lobby” Walt and Mearsheimer staked out a quintessentially “Liberal Zionist” position:

    We are not challenging Israel’s right to exist or questioning the legitimacy of the Jewish state. There are those who maintain that Israel should never have been created, or who want to see Israel transformed from a Jewish state into a binational democracy. We do not. On the contrary, we believe the history of the Jewish people and the norm of national self-determination provide ample justification for a Jewish state.

    We think the United States should stand willing to come to Israel’s assistance if its survival were in jeopardy. And though our primary focus is on the Israel lobby’s negative impact on U.S. foreign policy, we are also convinced that its influence has become harmful to Israel as well. In our view, both effects are regrettable. [emphasis added]

    “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (p.12)


    There is no question that Jews suffered greatly from the despicable legacy of anti-Semitism and that Israel’s creation was an appropriate response to a long record of crimes. This history provides a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s founding and continued existence. This backing is also consistent with America’s general commitment to national self-determination.

    But one cannot ignore the fact that the creation of Israel involved additional crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians. Crimes against Jews justify backing Israel’s existence, but its crimes against Palestinians undermine its claim to special treatment. [emphasis added]

    “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (p. 92)

  13. traintosiberia on May 21, 2016, 7:36 pm
  14. traintosiberia on May 22, 2016, 1:13 am

    Israeli foe is an antisemite . That is one of the many definitions of antisemitism. Other definitions have included opposing Bush’s war on Iraq,denying that Iran has a nuclear program, using the word ” neocon” in a negative sense and referring to the persecution of Arab. .

    Lets now focus on Horowitz- why Kristol is renegade Jew ? What makes one a renegade Christian r Muslim
    or Hindus? Do they respectively become one by their failures to support something that could have been or can be good for England or America or Saudi Arab or India?

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