No Jewish Lobby

David Gergen, writing in the Daily News, replies to the “Harvard paper.”

Not only are these charges wildly at variance with what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office, but they also impugn the unstinting service to America’s national security by public figures like Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk and many others.

As a Christian, let me add that it is also wrong and unfair to call into question the loyalty of millions of American Jews who have faithfully supported Israel while also working tirelessly and generously to advance America’s cause, both at home and abroad. They should be praised, not pilloried.

To be sure, pro-Israeli groups in this country, led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, push hard to gain the support of U.S. political leaders. AIPAC is officially registered as a lobbying group, but that does not mean that its members are engaging in something sinister.

It is just not true that the Israel “Lobby” has captured U.S. policy toward the Middle East. As David McCullough writes, Harry Truman recognized Israel in 1948 out of humanitarian concerns and in spite of pressure from Jewish groups, not because of it. Since then, 10 straight American Presidents have befriended Israel – not because they were under pressure but because they believed America had made a commitment to Israel’s survival, just as we have to other threatened outposts of freedom like Berlin, South Korea and Taiwan.

Over the course of four tours in the White House, I never once saw a decision in the Oval Office to tilt U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of America’s interest.

Moreover, history shows many instances when our Presidents have sharply opposed the Israeli government. I was there when Ronald Reagan, a great friend of Israel, was so repelled by pictures of victims in Lebanon that he insisted the Israelis call off their assault on Beirut (they did).

6 Responses to No Jewish Lobby

  1. Lawrence Barnes says:

    These informed and intelligent comments will be ignored by those who “know” that the USA is in trouble because of its support of Israel.

    Facts have never mattered when it comes to attitudes toward Jews. Consider Martin Luther, Henry Ford and Mahathir of Malaysia. All smart enough to see the world as it is, and all totally nuts, round-the-bend bonkers, when considering Jews.

    Expect more Jew-hatred from the folks who scold Bush, scold the papers for printing the Mohammed cartoons, and scold anyone who wants secure borders for the USA.

    are you drawing a correlation between a certain form of PCP and anti-Zionism/Judeo-phobia?

  2. MTW says:

    So if I understand Mr. Barnes’ point, it is that those who question Israeli actions in the broader Middle East and the influence certain groups have in internal policy discussions, one is therefore an anti-semite.

    as you can see from what i wrote in response to Barnes, i don’t draw the same conclusions as you. indeed, your comment strikes me as similar to the family-fight technique of “so it’s all my fault.” i don’t think anyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-semite. But there are forms of criticism that reflect attitudes which are characteristic of anti-semites, and those forms of criticism have become increasingly popular. Why? I think that to a significant degree, it has to do with the very negative image that serves as a basis for what i call the Politically Correct Paradigm. It’s not that everyone who buys that paradigm is even Judeophobic. It’s that they are deeply unfair. And that unfairness, partly a result of intimidation, is misguiding people towards conclusions that are not just bad for Jews, Zionists, and Israelis, but for anyone in favor of the tolerance and fair-play that civil society depends on. (The irony, of course, is that the PCP thinks that it embraces precisely these principles.]

    Since Israel was formed as a “Jewish homeland” and proports to speak on behalf of all Jews, anti-semitism is natural outflow of hyperemotional hatred of Israel. In saying this, I will say that the charge of anti-semitism for anyone who dares question Israeli policy and influence here or abroad is a dishonest bait and switch.

    It’s precisely this “hyperemotional hatred of Israel” that’s the problem. As far as I can make it, it’s both irrational and self-destructive. And the same people who should be opposing it, are “understanding of it.”

    The bait and switch, as far as i can make out, is those who claim unfair accusations of anti-Semitism when defenders of Israel start pointing to a) the toxic demonization that goes on in both the Arab/Muslim world, and the “progressive left” on the one hand, and b) the astonishing tolerance, even acquiescence of so many people to that demonization (e.g., the failure to challenge the Muslims on their hate-mongering cartoons when they objected to being diss’d by the Danish ones), on the other. So that when the Zionists say this is unfair (e.g., the divestment movement, or the varieties of Israelis = Nazis, Palestinians = Jews), they get tossed the accusation, “Oh, the charge of anti-semitism for anyone who dares question Israeli policy, isn’t fair.” That’s not what this is about. But if you try and suggest that there are deeper problems, that this is not about finding the right division of land between Israelis and Palestinians, you get accused of racism, demonization, etc.

    It’s not that one can’t make this argument, nor that one can’t document it. Look at the Mearsheimer-Walt paper. It’s that imbedded in such an argument is an attitude that as far as I can make it, is self-destructive. It infantilizes the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim position — you poor dears, you’ve been treated so badly, no wonder you hate the Israelis, makes no demands on them, and then turns on the Israelis and says, “Make more concessions.” This is not smart. Indeed, it encourages the worst attitudes among the anti-Zionists (in particular, the demopaths), and discourages and discredits the most generous among the Israelis. It attacks a natural friend for the sake of a very tenuous alliance with people who hate Western culture every bit as much as they do the Zionists. In short, it’s the French strategy.

  3. MTW says:

    Are not replys to comments supposed to be placed as another comment or blog posting?

    can go either way. at the discretion of the blogger.

  4. MTW says:

    Being an undergraduate at a University in Boston that has a strong Jewish connection, when one talks of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in a way not completely deferential to Israeli interests, the charge of anti-semite is brandished. I get a little trigger happy in that regard, because I hope to understand this morass of policy problems from a disconnected (ie as objective as possible) perspective.

    “completely deferential to Israeli interests” does not sound familiar. if anything, defenders of Israel tend to be highly tolerant of criticism. the degree of criticism, moral equivalence, sadistic comparisons with Nazis, etc. that one has to endure in any discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict means that most people who want to defend Israel have to put up with a great deal of unpleasantness. if you want a group that wants “completely deferenital” attitudes, try the Palestinians. try criticizing them one tenth as much as you criticize the Israelis and see what happens.

    Upon reading sections of the “Jewish Lobby” paper, a title in and of itself screems RED FLAG, I can understand the highly negative reaction to it. Sadly any substantive points that were (or could be) made were lost in the authors’ hyperbolic writing.

    what substantive points do you think there might have been?

    Maybe my own fears revolve around the political alliance of conservative Israelis and fundamentalist Christians. The later being the group I mistrust most stridently. If you may permit me a few examples, not to describe a “jewish conspiracy,” but to raise a questions.

    The investigation of Jack Abramoff and his bribery/money laundering activities started with the investigation of a charity which funds inner city childrens programs. The FBI found that Abramoff had induced his Indian Casino clients to make donations to the charity, which were syphoned off to pay for automatic weapons and sharp-shooter training for Israeli settlers/colonists. AIPAC itself is under investigation from the Justice department for passing information to Israeli intelligence. The Israeli government was the largest booster for the Iraq war, beyond the White House, feeding the Pentagon office of special plans with exactly the information they wanted to hear. The Iraq war, if it had gone according to the fatally naive mindset of Paul Wolfowitz, would have greatly improved Israel’s security situation. I see the Likud party’s cojoling of US officials to take a bite out of Iran as along the same vein.

    really? do you have any evidence of this? i remember the Israelis being exceptionally reluctant to say anything about the Iraq war. what’s your source for this remark?

    Little of this information, like the fact of Israeli special forces operating in Northern Iraq (the kurdish sector) ever gets into the major headlines. It is just not deemed important. Why, I am not really sure. Better they “entertainment news” or those damn pundit shows.

    maybe for the same reason that israel sat out the first iraq war because their presence wd be considered inflammatory.

    Now in the interest of balance, I can go on about how the United States plays with kid gloves when it comes to the Saudi’s despite the fact that we would be better off without them. And I know with the ample materials you have hear that the Palestinian propoganda has been dissected quite thoroughly. I guess my long rambling point is that certain pro-Israeli individuals and groups play a sizable roll in determining US middle east policy. This does not mean I believe that Israel or, racially, the Jews run this country. I guess its the meshing of right wing Israeli politics with the current wingnut administration that dictates my views on this subject at the moment.

    watch out for Bush Derangement Syndrome. plenty of people make deep mistakes in reading what’s going on because they have so much hostility to one or another player, wish them such ill, that they end up supporting very dangerous folks just to get “even.”

  5. Lawrence Barnes says:

    This won’t be read by anybody, but here’s my clarification of comment number one:

    Noting the influence of Jews on US policy, or questioning the actions of Israel, does not qualify as evidence of Jew-hatred. I would even say that the Harvard article does not express this bigotry.

    Jew-haters distinguish themselves by their irrational discourse. Much of it is moronic conspiracism or obscene invective.

    It came as a surprise to me to see that the most bitter critics of US foreign policy include in their ranks a number of unabashed Jew-haters who are not denounced by their comrades. The Left is tainted by bigotry, and is not interested in cleaning up its act.

    In past years, Jew-hatred was almost exclusively on the Right. Why did the shift occur? Will it accelerate? I wish I knew. All I can do is remark on the unusual association of two mindsets, and wonder whether there is some causal connection.

    What disturbs me about the Harvard article is its tacit suggestion that if the USA had not supported Israel from 1948, the terrorists would never have targeted New York and Washington. This hints that it is not too late for the USA to abandon Israel and thereby save itself; who says A, must say B.

    The article also gives credence to the old myth that Jews have inordinate power to veto, shape and create US foreign policy. That’s part of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion rubbish.

    The obvious explanation is not convincing, IMHO: Muslims hate Jews; the USA is fighting Islamofascism; many in the West hate Bush, Blair and the very idea of attempting to improve the Middle East by introducing Western values there; the Arab and Muslim enemies of Bush, Blair and democracy support the “Palestinian” cause; therefore those who oppose US foreign policy are likely to be hostile to Israel and Jews. It can’t survive criticism.

    Still there is a connection between Leftist activism and Jew-hatred. In California, La Voz de Aztlan has a history of attacking Jews as malicious, scheming villains, even though one would think this particular bigotry would be irrelevant to Hispanics in the USA. And then there’s that recently leaked ABC memo in which former Secy of State Albright is attacked for her Jewish ancestry. Lunacy.

    Why Jew-hatred emerged on the Left in the late 20th-early 21st century I can’t say. I believe we shall, however, see more of it in months to come.

  6. James Hanson says:

    “jew hatred was exclusively on the right, why did it change?”

    The jew has taken over the right, this is a right government, with neo-con jew as its controlers, that is if what is claimed is right.

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