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Leading journalists call 2nd Amendment an anachronism — but spare Zionism

on 40 Comments

There has never been a better time to be a media critic of the gun lobby, gun culture, and the National Rifle Association. The massacre in Las Vegas, at a country music festival, has got the gun lobby on its back foot for once, and we all hope that the rightwing’s instant concession on “bump stocks” (which convert a semi-automatic rifle to an automatic) will lead to more concessions, and end the stranglehold of the gun lobby over legislatures.

Every time I turn on National Public Radio these days there is an inquisition into the gun lobby. On Fresh Air, Terry Gross asks over and over how the lobby derives its power and what is the NRA’s latest agenda? Variations of the term gun lobby echoed 18 times.

So I’ve interviewed a lot of people about the NRA, and I still don’t really understand why do they have the power that they have? I mean, I know they represent the gun industry. Is the gun industry, like, that big and that powerful? I know they represent gun owners, but a lot of gun owners are also really concerned about gun safety…. What’s – what’s your understanding of, like, why do they have so much power?

On the weekly political dialogue on NPR yesterday, E.J. Dionne and David Brooks disagreed over whether the nefarious gun lobby is a political machine that can be taken on and defeated, or the expression of an oppositional cultural force ingrained in American life. Brooks took the latter position (which I find persuasive):

[W]e have a big culture war over a lot of things, but a lot of it is about the post-industrial economy and those who are benefiting from it and those who are against. And those who are against it and who feel their values are under assault have taken on guns and immigration and a few other issues as their proxies to mobilize their defense. And they’ve said guns stand for freedom…

I think I – the reason the NRA is powerful is not ’cause they give money compared to the money the Koch brothers gives. It’s relatively small. They’re powerful because 1 in 4 households have a gun. They’re powerful because there are more gun shops and gun clubs in this country than there are McDonald’s. They’ve just got a mass movement, and they build relationships.

Brooks wrote a column to this effect in the New York Times.

And alongside him, Bret Stephens adopted a radical position: Repeal the Second Amendment.

Americans who claim to be outraged by gun crimes should want to do something more than tinker at the margins of a legal regime that most of the developed world rightly considers nuts. They should want to change it fundamentally and permanently.

David Brooks seconded that idea on NPR.

[T]o me, if you’re not talking about that big issue, you’re really not talking about the core of this thing.

I happen to agree with all these folks. I marvel at the power of the NRA and wonder how it operates. I regard gun culture as deeply held and symbolic of cultural opposition to blue state values. And I think the Second Amendment is an anachronism. Times change, and so traditional codes should be abandoned.

What is so remarkable to me is that all this active, productive journalism and discussion never takes place when the subject is the Israel lobby and the U.S. special relationship to Israel. Terry Gross, David Brooks, and Bret Stephens are all Zionists; they believe openly/ardently in Brooks’s and Stephens’s case in the need for a militarized Jewish state that the U.S. must support militarily. Brooks’s son served in the Israeli army, and he is confessedly “gooey-eyed” over Israel. Stephens is a lost cause for Zionism. Gross is sotto voce, but she never puts on critics of the Israel lobby– “I’ve interviewed a lot of people about the NRA” — and she drubbed Jimmy Carter over his use of the word “apartheid” to describe Palestine 11 years ago.

Another person who drubbed Carter was CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who worked for AIPAC, the leading Israel lobby group, and produced propaganda saying there was no Deir Yassin massacre during the Nakba, and an autobiography celebrating the power of the organized Jewish community in its support for Israel. I am sure that Blitzer is these days conducting critiques of the gun lobby.

And everything that David Brooks says about the persistence of gun culture and its oppositional values can be said in its own terms about the Israel lobby, especially the neoconservative branch. That it represents a historic answer to the question of Jewish powerlessness and expulsion in Europe: weaponized Jewish nationalism in the Middle East. That it has sociological roots in the U.S., in the emergence of Jews from anti-Semitic discrimination to taking up many positions in the establishment. That it advocates a clash-of-civilizations world view that is utterly at odds with other intellectual values: liberal universalist thinking and realist-laissez-faire/containment. That violent regime change in the Middle East, effected by the U.S., is something that David Brooks and Bret Stephens have embraced, as neoconservatives who believe whatever-it-takes to preserve Jewish nationalism– in a place they don’t want to live themselves.

Everything that Stephens says about the Second Amendment– that it has outlived its moment, that it was intended for certain conditions and those conditions no longer exist, and that its preservation is a grotesque and violent offense to order in the 21st century– can be said about Zionism, the belief in Jewish political supremacy/majority on lands that were historically Palestinian.

Tony Judt said that Zionism was an anachronism 14 years ago, in the New York Review of Books, and he was promptly shouted down and his argument shelved, by the august/official Bob Silvers, though Judt believed it to his death, and many other Jews and non-Jews believe it now. Though they never get a hearing anything like the hearing the critics of the gun lobby are getting. Here is Judt:

In a world where nations and peoples increasingly intermingle and intermarry at will; where cultural and national impediments to communication have all but collapsed; where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them; in such a world Israel is truly an anachronism.

That argument is so fresh and beautiful because we never hear it in the mainstream. But every bit of it was true then and is still true for western liberals– we seek democracy, freedom from Jim Crow caste systems, and legal orders that treat everyone as equal.

This is all we have ever asked for re the Israel lobby: debate it openly. Let Bret Stephens defend his anachronism of privilege in a country he doesn’t want to live in against liberals who believe in one person, one vote. Let me explain why the Jewish rise into the establishment granted donors so much power inside the Democratic Party that Hillary Clinton was busy attacking BDS when she should have been in Wisconsin and the lead Democratic thinktank was hosting Netanyahu to trash Obama and the Iran deal.

That’s what good journalism is about, a wideranging discussion of important issues. The fact that the media cannot bring itself to broach such questions about the Israel lobby is a reflection of the fact that it is compromised by that lobby.

P.S. It is great news that the Forward, which is itself a component of the Israel lobby inasmuch as it advocates for the special relationship, is conducting a debate about the power of the lobby, between Steve Walt and Dennis Ross (part 3 at the link). Liberal Zionists understand that the rightwing lobby is destroying their dream castle. So they’re showing some intellectual honesty.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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40 Responses

  1. JeffB on October 7, 2017, 11:46 am

    Terry Gross’ question is easily answerable. The issue is not gun manufacturers have so much financial power. The issue is that there is around 1.5-3% of the voting population who normally vote Democratic that will vote Republican over the gun issue. The reason we have the gun laws we have is because a small but determined group of voters wants the gun laws we have. The lobby is powerful because it reflects the views of a subset of the voters who will vote and donate based on their views.

    And yes the same math applies to the Israeli lobby. The Democrats do not want to permanently lose the votes of gun enthusiasts. The Democrats do not want to permanently lose the votes of Jews. Political parties are coalitions of interests. Most members of any parange between effectively indifferent to mildly opposed to what other members of their coalition want to achieve.

    The Labor party took a mildly anti-israel line (nothing like what you suggest the USA take). As a consequence of this and demographic factors British Jews are now 3/4 Tory with 1/4 floating between Labor and Lib-Dems. Were something similar to happen in the USA it would be devastating to Democrats. They lose a rich supply of donors and activists and a not trivial number of voters. There is no group of Republicans that is willing to change over and vote Democratic if the Democrats took a harder line against Israel. Pushing Jews out is just a permanent loss of support for the coalition.

    And like gun owners helping solidify libertarian leaning voters losing Jews might even compound loses further because Jewish Republicans could make the Republican party more sensitive to Republican leaning minorities (particularly Asians) that they have been alienating.

    • John O on October 7, 2017, 1:15 pm


      You’ve already given us the benefit of your keen mind on the relationship between British Jews and the three main British political parties (4 October: “Anti-Zionism pushed most Jews from Labor to Conservative so 3/4 are Tory. The remaining 1/4 float between Labor and Liberal-Democrat. In the Labor party there remain solid members of the Jewish establishment who are trusted by Jews.”)

      Would you care to explain to us quite what this has to do with the topic of the current post?

      When you brought this up on 4 October, you said in your concluding paragraph: “… no one is willing to have the honest conversation about lobbies and ethnic community representation. Don’t know British culture well enough to know how you have the conversation politely.”

      If you don’t know British culture well enough on that issue, chances are you don’t know British culture well enough to talk about it at all, and are ill-advised to keep bringing it up.

      To put it as simply as I can, what Phil is talking about in this post is essentially “omertà”. You can quote all the percentages you want about who supports what, but you are not addressing the question – why the silence? You are yourself silent on the subject. Why does opposing the gun lobby/Zionist lobby result in political death sentences, loss of academic tenure, the ending of distinguished journalistic careers (e.g. Helen Thomas)?

      • JeffB on October 7, 2017, 4:30 pm

        @John O

        What Phil is talking about is an American lobby. I know USA lobbies much better than UK lobbies.

        Opposing the gun lobby causes Democrats to lose elections especially in Pennsylvania and Colorado. Bill Clinton has said his biggest mistake as president (and he quite a few) was the semi-automatic weapons ban for this reason.

        Opposing the Zionist lobby is damaging. But there certainly are politicians that do so. They tend to have a strong reputation so they don’t have to worry about a primary challenge, and they have a safely blue or red district so they don’t have to worry about the general election. They don’t have ambitions to move up, so they can stay in their safe district. That’s a lot of eliminators. Same way there used to be prolife democrats. But as Democrats have decided that choice is an issue over which they won’t support a candidate they start eliminating them. So in today’s congress we have 3: Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). Given a selection bias and an effectual selection mechanism its not hard to create an overwhelming majority. That’s how evolution works.

        As far as journalistic careers… This is in the USA btw. The purpose of television is to fill the space between commercials. The purpose of television news is to create a mildly agitated emotional state in news viewers due to them being confronted with difficult and complex problems. That mild agitation makes them maximally susceptible to advertising. which offers simply solutions, “Are your dishes dirty after you wash them… well Palmolive …”. Statements that are politically unacceptable to viewers create a distraction to maintaining this emotional state. Helen Thomas’ position that 3rd generation Israelis should go back to Poland made some viewers, some product purchasers, intensely dislike her. They simply could not watch her and be moved to change their opinions on dish soaps. Same thing that happens with anything else that truly offends viewers.

        So really the question is why does strong anti-Zionism offended some viewers as intensely as say racism, lying about their military service or pediophilia would? But your issue again is not a lobby but the American people.

        Academic tenure is more complicated. Obviously it isn’t true because the academy is where the BDS movement and pro-Palestine lobby is centered. It isn’t underground. Colleges and Universities are where Jews get attacked by BDSers. As the war has been escalating both sides are collecting heads. Andrew Pessin was taken out by BDS forces. The Zionists have a few more but not a ton. This hasn’t gone all out yet.

        If I had to guess I’d say that University and College administrators understand in a country with militant funders on both sides and fairly open gun laws how ugly severe ethnic tension on their campuses could get if they let it get out of hand. Even a few violent incidents could damage or lead to closing of a college. The Israel/Palestine debate isn’t being held in a way that is civil. The BDS forces are generally activist not academic thus they often refuse to be constrained by norms of civility. They push things to and sometimes slightly beyond the legal limit. What’s the upside for administrators in having this problem on their campuses?

        This is the same problem they face with rightwing agitators who also want to unify a small group of disgruntled students who then want to lash out at broader non-academic societal problems. Student activism is a fun extra curricular activity up to a point. After that point it starts to threaten the bottom line.

        Then you compound that with Jews disproportionately donate to higher education and this makes things worse for administrators. BDS activity driving Jews off their campuses is bad.
        Activists students fighting with Jewish donors is terrible.

        And before someone objects this isn’t targeting Jews. Stanford just released a study of Jewish students on UC campuses, where there has been years of serious problems.
        Main results (outliers excluded on all points):
        * Jewish students did not believe BDS activism was a threat to their physical safety
        * Jewish students did believe the debate on both sides lacked nuance. They mostly took a Liberal Zionist position (Israel is not horrible but some of its policies are).
        * They simply refused to discuss the issue with anything other than trusted people feigning ignorance and disinterest to avoid the noxious tone.
        * They restricted their Jewish religious & social activities to avoid getting enmeshed in I/P issues.
        * They strongly resented the pressure they felt as Jews to have to take sides constantly.
        * They believed BDS caused antisemitism and they had experienced antisemitism on campus as a result of it.

        In other words the I/P debate is making college less pleasant and less fulfilling for Jewish students on UC campuses. Why would administrators want more of what students are going to perceive as a negative experience about their education?

      • John O on October 7, 2017, 5:11 pm


        “What Phil is talking about is an American lobby. I know USA lobbies much better than UK lobbies.”

        So, why did you introduce the subject of UK lobbies if (a) it was irrelevant to Phil’s argument; (b) you don’t know what you’re talking about?

      • Emory Riddle on October 9, 2017, 10:41 am

        “The issue is that there is around 1.5-3% of the voting population who normally vote Democratic that will vote Republican over the gun issue.”

        Why do I always react with “WTF?” when I read the stuff this guy says?

      • Misterioso on October 9, 2017, 10:45 am

        Recent comments by Professor Lawrence Davidson are well worth noting:

        “War Culture – Gun Culture: They’re Related – An Analysis” (8 October 2017) by Professor Lawrence Davidson


        “Part II – A Gun Culture to Complement the War Culture

        “America’s propensity to violence in other lands is but one side of a two-sided coin. Callous disregard for civilian lives abroad is matched by a willful promotion of violence at home. That willful promotion is the product of a right-wing ideological orientation (stemming from a misreading of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution) that demands a nearly open-ended right of all Americans to own an almost unlimited number and types of fire arms. The result is gun regulation laws that are embarrassingly ineffective.

        “Again, the consequences of this position are much more profound than any claim that its supporters’ intentions are to defend citizens rights to own guns. Since 1968 about as many Americans have been killed in-country by gun violence (1.53 million) as have died in all of America’s wars put together (1.20 million). The numbers are too close to be dismissed as coincidence. Both reflect a culture of exceptionalism that grants at once the United States government, and its citizens, extensive rights to act in disregard of the safety and security of others.

        “You would think Americans would recognize an obvious contradiction here. You cannot maintain a safe population and, at the same time, allow citizens the right to own and, largely at their own discretion, use firearms. Nonetheless, some Americans imagine that they have squared this circle by claiming that their guns are for “self defense” and therefore do make for a safer society. This is just like the U.S. government’s constant exposition that all its violence is committed in the name of civilization and freedom. In both cases we have a dangerous delusion. Ubiquitous gun ownership makes us unsafe, just as does the endless waging of war.

        “The inability to see straight is not the sort of failing that can be restricted to one dimension. If you can’t grasp reality due to ideological blinkers or historical ignorance, you are going to end up in trouble both at home and abroad – not just one place, but both. And, the more weaponized you are, both as a state and as a citizen, the greater the potential for disaster. In the end the United States cannot stop killing civilians abroad unless it finds the wisdom to stop killing its own citizens at home – and vice versa. That is the U.S. conundrum, whether America’s 320 million citizens realize it or not.”

      • Mooser on October 9, 2017, 12:08 pm

        When I buy a car, I must, by law, have liability insurance since cars can cause a lot of damage.
        I also must buy liability insurance for my house, in case it collapses on to a country-music concert.
        Every business has liability insurance.

        Why not mandatory liability insurance for gun owners? Insurance actuaries could use the usual calculations to set reasonable rates.

      • echinococcus on October 12, 2017, 8:38 pm


        I am superlatively insured. It means I can now start behaving like a Zionist and offing anybody I want.

      • Mooser on October 13, 2017, 1:29 pm

        “I am superlatively insured.”

        You should check the policy. Most home-owner’s policies cover you only if you shoot somebody on your own property. Coverage may not be portable or apply out-of-state.

      • echinococcus on October 13, 2017, 2:10 pm

        It’s Zinsurance, Mooser. Covers you anywhere anytime period.

    • JeffB on October 7, 2017, 5:48 pm

      @John O

      So, why did you introduce the subject of UK lobbies if (a) it was irrelevant to Phil’s argument; (b) you don’t know what you’re talking about?

      I didn’t. My entire post was about USA lobbies. I did make a point bout what happened with British Jewish voters and how American political parties wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to American Jewish Voters, since there are ton of Corbyn threads lately. But this entire conversation is about american lobbies. NRA is a USA lobby. Terry Gross, David Brooks, and Bret Stephens are all Americans…

      • just on October 7, 2017, 6:56 pm

        ” Terry Gross, David Brooks, and Bret Stephens are all Americans…”

        Are they solely Americans first, or dual Irsraeli/’Americans’ first? Are they folks that support the US , and yet still support the malignant relationship with The Apartheid, Occupying State that the US has shamefully been complicit with its neverending violence toward the People of Palestine?

      • johneill on October 7, 2017, 7:25 pm

        your 3rd paragraph goes to britain for whatever reason.

      • JeffB on October 7, 2017, 9:16 pm


        Just for 2 sentences then the rest of the paragraph starts with were something similar to happen in the USA it would be devastating to Democrats. . Britain is just a case in point (France and Canada also work) where Western Jewish communities swung right over anti-Zionism and demographic changes. USA is a holdout. The Democrats (and I suspect most of the world) want it to stay that way as long as possible. The point is about the USA Democratic party and that Jews can abandon the left when the left abandons them (becomes hostile to Israel).

        In terms of the lobby like the NRA the Israeli lobby has a genuine constituency that can move. Unlike the NRA’s constituency that move is likely to be permanent if it happens. You would have a generation where Jews become swing voters and then they are just Republicans.

        As an aside you think the Israeli lobby is powerful now, that generation when Jews are up for grabs in the general election… AIPAC would get to decide how Florida and Pennsylvania come in (assuming demographics haven’t changed too much before that happens). That’s when the Israeli lobby will be a top 10 and maybe top 5 lobby rather than bottom of the top 20.

      • JeffB on October 7, 2017, 9:43 pm


        Bret Stephens is a well known neoconservative. Former editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post
        David Brooks’ son served in the IDF.
        Terry Gross plays her cards close. I’d guess Liberal Zionist. But no way to tell, she’s appealing to a Liberal Zionist audience.

        They all support a relationship with Israel. Your position is very fringe.

      • johneill on October 8, 2017, 11:40 am

        so, you did, for 2 sentences go to britain – flatly contradicting your claim you didn’t.
        your mission to distract: accomplished. class A troll

      • JeffB on October 8, 2017, 8:07 pm


        The claim was I “introduced the subject of UK lobbies”. I didn’t do that. I did discuss American lobbies and I did discuss British voters. Nowhere did I discuss British lobbies. And I introduced neither British voters nor lobbies as a subject when using them as an example. The subject was American lobbies and American lobbies throughout.

      • Mooser on October 9, 2017, 12:04 pm

        “your mission to distract: accomplished. class A troll”

        But that’s not really “Jeff b’s” fault, that he’s a troll. He is simply repeating the distractions Zionists use on themselves and each other. He doesn’t know any others.

        He thinks he is discussing something, but what he is actually doing is giving us a guided tour through the Zionist mind.

  2. Boomer on October 7, 2017, 1:18 pm

    Good post. It does not diminish your point regarding Zionism, I trust, to note that many contemporary Americans, including some judges, read the 2nd Amendment in a way quite different from the original authors. See, for example, “Firearms Regulation in the Bill of Rights: 18th Century English Language and the U.S. Constitution.” Our current dilemma regarding gun regulation would be less intractable if the original understanding were retained.

  3. Kay24 on October 7, 2017, 1:40 pm

    From what I remember MDW had an article about Brett Stephens son being in the Israel Defense Forces, so no one should be surprised where Stephens head is, and which way his bias would go, when it comes to anything Israel. It is a shame that America has journalists who are strongly pro Israel, and cannot write unbiased articles. They have lost any credibility they may have had.

    • Nathan on October 10, 2017, 3:23 am

      Kay24 – I couldn’t imagine why an avid reader of this website would complain about pro-Israel journalists who write biased articles. This website, obviously, is an anti-Israel publication that writes biased articles. It’s perfectly fine to have a slant in journalism. Everyone has one. Obviously, you define “credibility” as having your slant.

      • Mooser on October 10, 2017, 12:00 pm

        .” This website, obviously, is an anti-Israel publication that writes biased articles”

        I refuse to link the “About” page for you again. The link is at the top of the page.

        The “About” page clearly contradicts your accusations.

      • Kay24 on October 12, 2017, 10:27 pm

        Most journalists in America, are afraid to write about Israel or it’s endless crimes. Brett Stephens is one of the pro Israeli ones, and gets amnesia when it comes to naming Israel in a negative light. Of course many journalists have their slants, but when it comes to Israel it is not a slant, it is total tip over.

  4. Citizen on October 7, 2017, 1:59 pm

    In the USA, the wealthier the zip code, the less denizens there feel the need to personally own a gun for home protection.

    What American would want to live like the average Palestinian on Israeli-controlled land? Wouldn’t they like to have a gun?

  5. RoHa on October 8, 2017, 1:27 am

    I give you fair warning, Phil.

    Revoke the 2nd Amendment, and gleaming cohorts of Canadians will come down (probably like a wolf on the fold, because Canadians are all very cultured and know their Byron) to restore the defenceless Americans to the Crown.

    Though you might prefer that to your current arrangements.

  6. DaBakr on October 9, 2017, 12:46 am

    There is absolutely nothing in the second amendment requires that citizens be able to own weapons used for war or mass murder. When I was young and my older neighbor came home from the war he told’ve stories about hand grenades and how he used a bazooka. I said, like many seven year olds would that I’d like to shoot a bazooka. My neighbor Freddie told me then that nobody except soldiers in the military were allowed these things. Evidently, I accepted that as reasonable and while I enjoy skeet and hunting only when required, I also admit that I like my very small collection of two vintage handguns and one modern pistol. They are all registered and I have no desire whatsoever to aquire an assault rifle-with or without a bump stock, expanded magazine, laser scopes or any addition that makes a gun more leather as a mass murdering tool rather then a tool of hunting and self protection.

    If bazooka and,50mm gaitling guns or mortars or uzi’s or guns that fire around 90° corners were outlawed I see no slippery slope towards taking the basic right to bare arms for self defense away. There is something not right about the radical nra members who have been so easily duped

    • John O on October 9, 2017, 10:29 am

      Bully for you, DaBakr.

      Are you going to do something to take military-grade weapons out of the hands of the civilians who have them? That would be get my praise and endorsement, no matter how much I disagree with you on other matters.

  7. mondonuevo on October 9, 2017, 9:38 am

    In Constitutional terms, if Israel is a Jewish state in the sense of Judaism being a religion, U.S. support of it violates the 1st Amendment prohibition on favoring one religion over another (

    If it is a Jewish state in the strictly ethnic sense, U.S. support of Israel is de facto support of an apartheid system.

    All of which puts the 2nd Amendment comparison in a richer context.

    • JeffB on October 9, 2017, 10:54 am


      Well this is a new one. The Establishment clause forbids the Federal Government from establishing a state church. The 14th Amendment extends this to American states and local governments. Combined with non-discrimination rules the government cannot deliberately discriminate in its local laws regarding religion nor incidentally do so with a compelling state interest.

      There is no prohibition on the government engaging with countries that don’t follow American law. No other country has our legal system. No country follows American law in its domestic affairs. Most of the countries America has dealt with throughout history had established state churches.

      US support for Israel doesn’t constitute support for Judaism anymore than support for Saudi Arabia does. US opposition to Iran doesn’t constitute discrimination against Shia or Islam. In fact when the USA was conducting its dirty war in Latin America it was aiding and likely directly engaging in the destruction of churches, the assassination of priests and nuns, the torture of priests and nuns. None of that constituted discrimination against Catholicism.

      So nice try. But no.

      • oldgeezer on October 9, 2017, 6:14 pm


        If someone supports Israel it is not pro Jewish but if someone is opposed to Israel it is anti Jewish and they are antisemitic.

        I agree with the first part jeff. And I’m not sure you have ever made a claim on the basis of the 2nd part but it is the typical argument. Clearly the two clash.

      • mondonuevo on October 9, 2017, 8:30 pm

        If as you say, “US support for Israel doesn’t constitute support for Judaism anymore [sic] than support for support for Saudi Arabia does” then the “Jewish State” must be an ethnic one, correct? Or if not, what? Please define “Jewish State” in this context.

        In terms of “original intent” I doubt that support for for either Saudi Arabia or Israel could be justified under the 1st Amendment, but since 1947 “National Security” trumps any Constitutional concerns, in practical terms.

      • JeffB on October 9, 2017, 11:51 pm


        If someone supports Israel it is not pro Jewish but if someone is opposed to Israel it is anti Jewish and they are antisemitic.

        I agree with the first part jeff. And I’m not sure you have ever made a claim on the basis of the 2nd part but it is the typical argument. Clearly the two clash.

        OK. The point above was about the establishment clause. My point is there is nothing in the establishment clause making it illegal for America to wipe Israel out, or deciding to grant it $500b / year in aide or anything in between. Because whether Israel becomes amazingly successful or fails completely the USA will not have an established church either de-facto or de-jure.

        I think you are talking in a social context not a establishment clause context. That’s a totally different situation because you get much more into the world of grey than the black or white of establishing a state church in the USA. In a social context I would say that supporting Israel is pro-Jewish and opposing Israel is anti-Jewish. However that effect may be accidental. If it is accidental it is not philosemetic / antisemetic. Antisemitism is a set of beliefs and stereotypes which ultimately come down to beliefs that Jews are demons in human form. Beliefs that Jews knowingly and willingly serve evil, because that’s what they were designed to do.

        So when you say is being anti-Israel being antisemetic or not the question of double standard plays a huge role. Would those same behaviors if done by a Christian, Muslim, animist or Buddhist be equally troubling? If yes then it isn’t antisemetic. It could still be stupid or wrong but it is not antisemetic. If no then it is antisemetic. Which is why Zionists find the double standard argument to be disqualifying with respect to anti-Israel arguments. A good standard not regularly applied shouldn’t be applied to Israel.

        A huge percentage of the debate on Mondoweiss revolves around this basic tenant of equal application. This idea that Israel to be legitimate must meet a moral ideal, rather than just be another state, flawed like any other state.

        In short the why they act against for or against Israel is how I determine whether it is antisemetic or not. I frequently talk about the example of had Britain not held back Zionist development Hitler very easily could have done a massive forced deportation to Israel. Britain’s fundamental motivation for retarding Zionism was not antisemitism. In this hypothetic Hitler’s assistance to Israel would have been motivated by profound antisemitism. Liberal church opposition to Israel, while certainly having a basis in concern for Palestinian human rights is fundamentally rooted in an extremely anti-Judaic replacement theology.

      • JeffB on October 10, 2017, 12:00 am


        If as you say, “US support for Israel doesn’t constitute support for Judaism anymore [sic] than support for support for Saudi Arabia does” then the “Jewish State” must be an ethnic one, correct? Or if not, what? Please define “Jewish State” in this context.

        I think you clipped that improperly. Saudi Arabia is explicitly a Muslim state. A judicial common law procedure in Saudi Arabia is an Islamic religious dictate. Middle ages Islamic dictates are enforced with state power. That’s as tied together as you can possible get. However cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia does nothing to establish Islam as a state church in the United States.

        This isn’t about national security. The establishment clause prohibits establishing a state church in the United States. It doesn’t prohibit cooperating with one abroad. The same way that traffic codes don’t regulate the laws regarding surgical procedures. The government can freely form relations with countries that have state churches even if there is no national security interest.

      • mondonuevo on October 10, 2017, 11:06 am

        (Jeffb: This is in response to your last post in this thread, since the site won’t allow a direct link to it.)

        Clearly there are expert disagreements on the issue of whether the 1st Amendment applies abroad (i.e., it’s not a “new one”):

        “But to suggest that the Establishment Clause can never apply beyond our borders would be an emasculation of that critical pillar of the First Amendment that ensures religious liberty for all Americans and whose underlying principle of governmental neutrality informs a proper understanding of religious liberty abroad,” Walker said.

        The Chicago Council on Global Affairs report cited in the above link is in PDF here:

        Also, you haven’t clearly answered whether Israel is a religious Jewish state or an ethnic one. Possibly there is no answer to that question, in the same way as there is no consensus as to what defines the condition of being Jewish.

      • JeffB on October 10, 2017, 12:00 pm


        I think if you look at the articles you posted even the people arguing for applying the establishment clause outside the borders of the USA agree they are arguing a fringe position. Baptists have a long and wonderful track record on church-state issues. They may be able to advance their position into law. And we might have a different conversation in 2117. But in 2017 there is no such laws nor policies nor anyone who is in a position of power who has advocated those policies.

        Your assertion that it is obvious the USA can’t have relations with a country with a state church goes even well beyond the fringe position in those articles.

        Also, you haven’t clearly answered whether Israel is a religious Jewish state or an ethnic one. Possibly there is no answer to that question, in the same way as there is no consensus as to what defines the condition of being Jewish.

        My short answer is they would reject the distinction you are making with good reason. I’m going to repeat what I wrote earlier on this. Colonies like Massachusetts were founded on the desire for a regenerate church. That is a church of believers and people who act consistently with those beliefs not merely a church of all citizens. They way they aimed to achieve this was through having a regenerate citizenry. Within a few generations of course you arrive at the problem of what to do with the clearly non-regenerate residents. The way this gets resolved in colonial America is a strong belief in a regenerate church with citizenship not tied to religion. And within 2 generations that evolves into an explicit “separation of church and state” (though what they mean by that doctrine is somewhat weaker than what we mean in 2017).

        That model of religion is American. It is not universal. As America’s cultural influence has grown it has spread but colonial America is the native soil and the USA is where that ideas grows. It is starting to have substantial influence in Western Europe and Latin America where “religion” and “personal beliefs” are becoming unified. And because people don’t know their own history they are assuming this is universal.

        Most of the world has never gone through that conflict. Your “religion” has nothing to do with belief but rather with your ethnicity. Western Europe historically this system broke down in a different way due to an attempt to take over the state church by people with different theologies. They ended up with diversity but most diversity being geographic. If you live in a Lutheran state you are Lutheran, in a Presbyterian state Presbyterian, a Catholic state Catholic. People in Finland mostly don’t understand the distinctions between Luther and Calvin’s position and justification well enough to either believe or disbelieve in them.

        As you go further east the Reformation events never happened. The church and the state are comfortably unified. Your choice of church is essentially a product of your ethnicity not your theology. A person is Greek Orthodox vs. Russian Orthodox because he’s Greek not because he holds that one does not need to take confession before every communion.

        Everybody involved in the Israel / Palestinian conflict evolved in Byzantine societies: Eastern European Jews, Arabic Jews , Arabic christians and Arab Muslims. They all share a Byzantine definition of religion which conflicts with the Western one. The definition of religion is not a point of dispute in the I/P conflict. Israelis mostly don’t have the cultural background to even understand what Americans mean by religion and separation of church and state much less to accept it or reject it. Israel really is a foreign country populated by foreigners. Don’t assume you can just apply American concepts to it. They don’t share your mental frames.

      • Mooser on October 10, 2017, 5:28 pm

        “Also, you haven’t clearly answered whether Israel is a religious Jewish state or an ethnic one”

        It must be a “religious Jewish state”. With the genetic diversity already inherent in the Jewish community, it could hardly be ethnic. We’ve got the whole world in our glands.

  8. Misterioso on October 9, 2017, 10:53 am

    The reference to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in Philip Weiss’s article brings to mind this old video of a debate between Blitzer and Dr. Norman Finkelstein:

  9. AGlueck on October 9, 2017, 12:58 pm

    Another excellent article exposing hypocrisy and double standards.

    Incidentally, one often overlooked source of information about how the ethnocratic “state” of Israel came into being is a book by the London based Thomas Suárez which is titled “ State of Terror : How Terrorism Created Modern Israel “.

    This book documents the violent and lethal punishments meted out on Palestinian Torah universalist values abiding Palestinian Jews for refusing to go along with the Zionist mandated nationalization of the Jewish religion and ordered them to join the Irgun, Haganah, and Stern Gang terrorists for the colonization of Palestine and hence – as early as in 1941 – these noble Jews were targeted for punishment by assassinations and or bombing of their residences.

    • Misterioso on October 9, 2017, 2:33 pm

      @Alfred Glueksmann

      Well and truly stated!!


      The British Cabinet’s endorsement of the 1917 Balfour Declaration paid no heed to the wishes of Arab Jews living in Palestine. Like their Muslim and Christian compatriots, they saw Zionism as a threat. Ronald Storrs, the first British military governor of Jerusalem, understood this well: “The religious Jews of Jerusalem and Hebron and the Sephardim were strongly opposed to political Zionism…” (Storrs, Ronald, “Orientations,” Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1945, p. 340)

    • Mooser on October 9, 2017, 3:29 pm

      Hello “Alfred”. Thomas Suarez has many articles at Mondoweiss, and comments, too.

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