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John Tinmouth

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Bully Boys II - Mearsheimer And Walt's Book On The Israel Lobby
« on: November 27, 2014, 12:38:43 PM »
    SOUTH TYNESIDE STOP THE WAR COALITION


    BULLY BOYS II:
    THOUGHTS ON MEARSHEIMER AND WALT’S BOOK ON THE ISRAEL LOBBY

    An ideology that divides the world into those who are worth more and those who are worth less, into superior and inferior beings, does not have to reach the dimensions of the German genocide to be wrong.
    Amira Hass, Israeli Journalist


    --------------------------------------

    There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.
    Golda Meir, former Israeli Prime Minister.
    Extract from John Pilger’s book Freedom Next Time, heading to his chapter ‘The Last Taboo’, discussing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict
    .


    --------------------------------------

    Sometime in the late 1950’s, that world-class gossip and occasional historian, John F. Kennedy, told me how, in 1948, Harry S. Truman had been pretty much abandoned by everyone when he came to run for president. Then an American Zionist brought him two million dollars in cash, in a suitcase, aboard his whistle-stop campaign train. "That’s why our recognition of Israel was rushed through so fast". As neither Jack nor I was an anti-Semite (unlike his father and my grandfather) we took this to be just another funny story about Truman and the serene corruption of American politics.

    Unfortunately, the hurried recognition of Israel as a state has resulted in forty-five years [now sixty] of murderous confusion and the destruction of what Zionist fellow-travellers thought would be a pluralistic state - home to its native population of Muslims, Christians and Jews, as well as a future home to peaceful European and American Jewish immigrants, even the ones who affected to believe that the great realtor in the sky had given them, in perpetuity, the lands of Judea and Samaria. Since many of the immigrants were good socialists in Europe, we assumed they would not allow the new state to become a theocracy and that the native Palestinians could live with them as equals. This was not meant to be. I shall not rehearse the wars and alarms of that unhappy region. But I will say that the hasty invention of Israel has poisoned the political and intellectual life of the USA, Israel’s unlikely patron.
    Gore Vidal, in the foreword to the first printing of Israel Shahak’s book Jewish History, Jewish Religion.


    --------------------------------------





    Part I:
    Background: STSTWC’s Position, Anti-Semitism, Zionism, The History Of Palestine


    This article seeks to investigate the issues surrounding Mearsheimer and Walt’s book on The Israel Lobby. Because the issue is so highly emotive, it is necessary first of all to set out South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition’s position, and to consider both the nature of anti-Semitism, and of Zionism. It is also necessary to examine the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition’s Position
    South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition is, like the national Stop The War Coalition, just that - a coalition. All of its founding members are secular. Though none are right-wing, their politics range from liberal with a small ‘l’, via Old Labour, to Marxist in about equal proportions. They include a Briton who was born in Iran and came here as a young man (he is also a liberal and stood against Miliband at the last general election - they say here in rock-solid Labour South Shields that, if Labour were to put up a monkey it would win by a landslide – and Miliband duly won). They also include a British Jew (who is also a Marxist and a pacifist). Several of the founding members regularly go out and distribute anti-racist leaflets in areas where a roughing-up is always a possibility, which is probably more than can be said for most of those so-called liberals and others (often Jewish) who attack anyone who criticises Israeli policy. We strongly support the Palestinian cause, not because we love Palestinians and hate Israelis, but for justice, because the Palestinians have first been dispossessed of their land, and then have long been brutally oppressed by the Israeli state. Furthermore, a just settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would bring peace and security to the region, and thus greatly benefit, not just the Palestinians, but also the Israeli people themselves (as opposed to the Zionist Israeli government). We are not anti-Semitic, though we are strongly anti-Zionist.


    Anti-Semitism
    Anti-Semitism is a complex subject, but some quotes from Michael Neumann’s book The Case Against Israel may be apposite:
    • "The claim that opposition to Israel is anti-Semitic is unworthy of discussion for two reasons. First, it is patently false. Since not all Jews are Israelis or supporters of Israel, to be against all Israelis or Israel is not to be against all Jews. Second, opposition to Israel is almost always opposition to Israeli policies, not to the existence of Israel, and it is often held that such policies are in fact harmful to Israel, Israelis and Jews. These claims can hardly be considered anti-Semitic. Indeed, the accusation can hardly be made in good faith."
    • Neumann continues: "No doubt many anti-Semites oppose Israel, and do so for anti-Semitic reasons, and conceal their motives. None of this is relevant to whether or not Israel is in fact in the wrong. No doubt many people opposed Japanese fascism for racist reasons. It does not follow that such opposition was mistaken."
    • Neumann also makes a further significant point, in his essay What Is Anti-Semitism? (included in the Politics Of Anti-Semitism, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair). After first arguing that we should not be bullied into proclaiming anti-Semitism in today’s world as uniquely the Evil of Evils - though very unpleasant, it has not caused Jews a great deal of actual harm (he mentions roughly half a dozen Jews hospitalised – none killed *) - he goes on to say:
      “... the scandal today is not anti-Semitism but the importance it is given. Israel has committed war crimes. It has implicated Jews generally in these crimes, and Jews generally have hastened to implicate themselves. This has provoked hatred against Jews. Why not? Some of this hatred is racist, some isn’t, but who cares? Why should we pay any attention to this issue at all? Is it of any importance that Israel’s race war has provoked bitter anger when we compare that anger with the war itself? Is the remote possibility that somewhere, sometime, somehow, this hatred may in theory, possibly kill some Jews, of any importance next to the brutal, actual, physical persecution of Palestinians ...? Oh, but I forgot. Drop everything. Someone spray-painted anti-Semitic slogans on a synagogue.”

      * Neumann’s book was published in 2005. Since then, as M & W report, a French Jew was murdered by a Muslim gang in 2006. Still, when compared with Israel’s crimes, it hardly invalidates Neumann’s point.
    It is also useful to peruse M & W on the so-called ‘new anti-Semitism’ – alarmist claims about a resurgence of virulent anti-Semitism - which is alleged (invariably by Zionists and their apologists) to be abroad, especially, they say, in Europe:
    • “No one would deny that there are still some virulent … anti-Semites in Europe (as there are in the United States), but their numbers are [relatively] small and their extreme views are rejected by the vast majority of Europeans.” We could add to M & W’s point that, for example, the British National Party (BNP) in Britain, and Le Penn’s party in France have, over the years, garnered little support when reviewed dispassionately. For example, despite the BNP’s recent ‘surge’ in European elections, those voting for it (something less than 1 million) represent only about 1 person in 40 of the electorate eligible to vote. Despite the near-hysterical furore in the British media, this is hardly a landslide – more an extremist fringe. Whilst not condoning them, those of us who have encountered them on the streets will testify that there is a considerable proportion of them who, rather than being racist, are concerned more about jobs (and the supposed effect of immigration on jobs) in these difficult economic times.
    • “Nor would we deny that there is anti-Semitism among European Muslims, some of it provoked by Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians and some of it straightforwardly racist.” To add to M & W, we again refer to the BNP’s performance, as noted above. M & W continue: “In Great Britain, for example, the Community Security Trust (CST), a watchdog group that monitors anti-Semitism ... reported a 31 per cent rise in such incidents in 2006 ... the total number of incidents reported was 594 (in a country of more than sixty million people) ... As CST’s Mark Gardner acknowledged, ‘This is certainly not comparable with the 1930’s or anything remotely like that’.”
    • “When pressed to go beyond vague assertions, pro-Israel groups now claim that there is a ‘new anti-Semitism’ which they equate with criticism of Israel.” M & W continue, with a telling instance: “When the Synod of the Church of England voted in early 2006 to divest from Caterpillar Inc. on the grounds that Caterpillar manufactures the bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes, the chief rabbi of the U.K. complained that it would ‘have the most adverse repercussions on ... Jewish-Christian relations in Britain’, while Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of the Reform movement, said, ‘There is a clear problem of anti-Zionist – verging on anti-Semitic – attitudes emerging in the grass roots, and even in the middle ranks of the Church.’ ” M & W continue: “the church was guilty of neither anti-Zionism nor anti-Semitism; it was merely protesting Israeli policy.”

    Neumann’s is the major point. Of course it is necessary to be always vigilant, and extreme Jewish sensibilities on the matter are understandable. But, as M & W point out, “Supporters of Israel, in fact, have a history of using fears of a ‘new anti-Semitism’ to shield Israel from criticism.” These objectionable tactics are referred to in detail below, in the section headed ‘The Lobby - Objectionable Tactics’.

    Zionism
    Historical Zionism – that is, Zionism before the creation of the state of Israel - can be defined as a project by Jews from outside Palestine to inhabit a Jewish area in Palestine. Neumann again: "Having a project to inhabit a certain region in no way entitles you to wield the power of life and death over its current inhabitants, or for that matter to give them a choice of submission or departure."  He goes on “Since your project is illegitimate, it may be resisted just as fiercely as any other project that gives someone, illegitimately, the power of life and death over your existence.” Historical Zionism involved supporting this Zionist project without regard for the rights of the people who were there in the first place, the Palestinians, as the murderous history of the Zionist project referred to below amply demonstrates. What then, can current Zionism mean – that is, Zionism since the creation in 1948, by murderous violence, of the state of Israel (a de facto state – its legitimacy is another matter)? Current Zionism, therefore, can only be defined as similar continuing support for post-creation Israel without regard for the legitimate and human rights of the people who were there in the first place – the Palestinians. Thus, anyone who now supports Israel without regard for the rights of the Palestinians is a Zionist (or an apologist for Zionists), and, since the Israeli state currently ignores Palestinian rights, it follows that it itself is a Zionist state unless and until it changes its policies. But, as the history referred to below demonstrates, the Israeli state is also a Jewish supremacist state, a racist state. A Zionist, therefore, (whether or not he or she is Jewish – many of them are) is a supporter of such a state, and is therefore a racist. Zionism is thus an oppressive, racist creed which should be resisted by all people who care for justice and human rights for all. It is vital that it be carefully distinguished from both the notions of Jewishness, and of the people of the state of Israel. It is also even more vital that any attempt by Zionists to confuse the three different notions – Jewishness, the people of the state of Israel, and the Zionist cause – for their own malicious purposes, be similarly resisted by all people who care for justice and human rights for all.

    The Israeli/Palestinian Conflict – A Brief History
    There is one further task to carry out before examining the issues raised by Mearsheimer and Walt’s book. We need to examine the history of Israel (and thus of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict), since this is the root cause of the problem. This has already been done in an article entitled “A Brief History Of Modern Palestine: A History Of Israel And The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, which we have already distributed. For those who do not have copies, the article is available on South Tyneside STWC’s website, www.northeaststopwar.org.uk – at the site, just click on ‘Forum’, then select ‘South Tyneside Stop the War’, then select the article. The history ends with the Israeli assault on Gaza in December 2008 - events since then to the present date are set out below.

    The long-planned and savage 22-day assault on Gaza - the Israeli army, the fourth largest army in the world, plus the (American-equipped) Israeli air force, against the light weapons of the Palestinian resistance fighters of Hamas, began in the last tottering days of the ardently pro-Israeli Bush administration. It ended with Israel’s declaration of a ceasefire on 17th January, just prior to Barack Obama’s inauguration as the new president of the United States. It had killed around 1400 Palestinians, and injured more than 5,000. Unsurprisingly, given the balance of forces, there were only 13 Israeli deaths – the usual kill ratio of many Palestinians for each Israeli.

    Israel was accused of serious war crimes by numerous groups, including the UN, human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and even Israeli groups. These include the use of white phosphorus against civilians, the use of human shields by the Israeli army, the deliberate targeting and killing of civilians (including by drones), and the killing of medical rescue units. The issue is unlikely to go away. More sinisterly, it has emerged that a booklet, approved by the army’s chief rabbi, was issued to soldiers preparing for the Gaza offensive. This document, bordering on racist incitement, talks about the necessity of cruelty against the enemy, and dehumanises and delegitimises the Palestinians and their claims. Israel Shahak, in his book Jewish History, Jewish Religion, similarly reported years ago on the racist effects of Orthodox Judaism, prevalent not just among Israeli politicians (and particularly Likud), but within the Israeli army, affecting the army’s attitude towards the Palestinians. So much for Israeli ‘purity of arms’.

    The Israeli siege of Gaza, commenced more than two years ago, continued after the assault ended, and persists to this day – Palestinian torment goes on. Its real purpose, like that of the assault, was to bring down Hamas by coldly and quite deliberately causing death and malnutrition, and physical and mental suffering to one and a half million Palestinians in an act of collective punishment which the oppressors mistakenly calculated would turn the population against Hamas. Conditions are dreadful. Large areas have been reduced to rubble, and infrastructure and much of private industry has been destroyed. Many thousands of people remain displaced, living in tents amongst the debris, or forced to stay with relatives. The Israeli overlords control the borders and refuse to allow reconstruction materials in, or adequate food supplies. Medical services cannot handle a traumatized population battered by siege, bombardment from land and air, renewed siege, the killing of family and friends, living in poor conditions on inadequate rations with, for many, precarious access to water and power. Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian land continued to be stolen amidst settler and Israeli army violence.


    The new Obama administration indicated from the outset its intention to settle the Israeli-Palestinian question. However:
    • In February, Israeli elections resulted in a right-wing coalition government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu – an outcome which did not help the siuation
    • In America, in March, the Israel lobby struck again, in their first clash with the Obama administration, overturning the appointment of long-time diplomat Charles Freeman to a top intelligence job. Freeman, after the lobby’s attentions over his criticisms of Israeli government policy, resigned before even starting work. The White House declined to comment on the resignation, which perhaps does not bode well for the future – Freeman considers that the hullabaloo raises "serious questions" as to the Obama administration’s ability to take on the lobby. ” Just a few of his comments regarding the lobby: their tactics “plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency and include character assassination, selective misquotation, the wilful distortion of the record, the fabrication of falsehoods, and an utter disregard for the truth."; their effect “a hammer lock on both public discussion and policy"; the object of their campaign “[to] reinforce the taboo against any critical discussion of Israeli policies".





    Part II:
    Mearsheimer And Walt’s Book, And The American Background

    Mearsheimer And Walt’s Book
    We can now examine Mearsheimer and Walt’s book, and the American background. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (subsequently referred to as M & W) are two distinguished American academics.  Their original paper and article in March 2006, and subsequent book The Israel Lobby And US Foreign Policy in September 2007, generated much heat and controversy. They argue that a very powerful lobby of staunchly pro-Israel groups, think tanks, institutions and individuals, many of them Jewish but also including sympathetic gentiles (who include Christian Zionists), and with neoconservatives prominent amongst them, unduly influences America’s Middle East foreign policy in ways that the lobby considers to be favourable to Israel. The result, they say, is an extraordinary degree of financial and political support for Israel, which, they contend, cannot be justified either on strategic or moral grounds - in fact, they consider that foreign policy has thereby been distorted in ways detrimental to American interests, and which are also in fact damaging to Israel’s real interests.

    The Israel Lobby
    The Israel lobby is a loose coalition of individuals and organizations that actively work to shape US Middle East policy in a pro-Israeli direction. It is in no sense a unified movement with a central leadership, and the individuals and groups that make it up sometimes disagree on specific policy issues. The boundaries of the lobby cannot be identified precisely – there are individuals and groups whose position is hard to classify.

    The lobby has a “core”, which includes AIPAC, WINEP, and the ADL. The bulk of the lobby consists of Jewish Americans and Jewish organizations. The elements of the lobby comprise:
    • key organizations which include
      • AIPAC – American-Israel Public Affairs Committee – identified by M & W as the most important organization. M & W: “In recent years, AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents [of Major American Jewish Organizations] have tilted towards Likud and other hard-line parties in Israel and were skeptical about the Oslo peace process …”
      • The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – M & W report that 51 of the largest and most important organizations come together in this umbrella organization whose mission includes “forging diverse groups into a unified force for Israel’s well-being” and working to “strengthen and foster the special U.S.-Israel relationship”.
      • ZOA – Zionist Organisation of America
      • ADL – the Anti-Defamation League
    • think tanks which include:
      • JINSA – Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
      • MEF – Middle East Forum
      • WINEP – Washington Institute for Near East Policy
    • the neoconservatives, many of whom occupy influential positions (even after the recent election of Barack Obama)
    • the Christian Zionists – a subset of the Christian Right
    M & W quote J.J. Goldberg on the lobby’s desire that American Jews discuss Jewish issues in an inconspicuous way: “All these [Jewish lobby] organizations came to the same conclusion: American Jews had the right to discuss issues freely, but only within discreet forums outside public view.”

    M & W are careful to point out that the Israel lobby is not a cabal [their word] or conspiracy, and that it operates in the open [but see the paragraph above] and proudly advertises its own clout. They are also careful to stress that its operations are no different from those of other interest groups. However, they say, what sets it apart is the unusual degree of power of those groups and individuals which comprise it, and its extraordinary effectiveness. It is easy to infer that its extraordinary effectiveness is because of its unusual degree of power.


    The Operation Of The Lobby
    Before examining the operation of the Israel lobby, we can:
    • note that M & W are careful to state that the Israel lobby is like other policy interest groups in its desire to influence the U.S. government through a variety of different channels. They note that it “is in a better position to do so than most other groups, which is one reason its efforts are so effective.”
    • note in passing the comment in Jeffrey Blankfort’s article The Israel Lobby and the Left (included in The Politics Of Anti-Semitism referred to above), where he notes that “Jewish power has, in fact, been trumpeted by a number of Jewish writers, including one J.J. Goldberg, editor of the Jewish weekly Forward, who wrote a book by that name in 1996.” He said that “any attempt, however, to explore the issue from a critical standpoint inevitably leads to accusations of anti-Semitism ...”
    • also note in passing, since much of the American situation described below is concerned with the effect of Israel lobby money on politics, that Blankfort’s article also quotes from Benjamin Ginsberg’s book The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, written in 1993. Blankfort states that this is how Ginsberg began his book, written in 1993:
      • “Since the 1960’s, Jews have come to wield considerable influence in American economic, cultural, intellectual and political life. Jews played a central role in American finance during the 1980’s, and they were among the chief beneficiaries of that decade’s corporate mergers and reorganizations. Today [that is, in 1993], though barely 2 per cent of the nation’s population is Jewish, close to half its billionaires are Jews. The chief executive officers of the three major television networks and the four largest film studios are Jews, as are the owners of the nation’s largest newspaper chain and the most influential single newspaper, the New York Times.”
    The Operation Of The Lobby In The Political Sphere
    Strategies
    M & W state that the groups and individuals who make up the lobby pursue two broad strategies to encourage steadfast support for Israel. One of these is to exert significant influence on the policy-making process in Washington, and is discussed here. To influence the policy-making process, M & W allege, the lobby helps get sympathetic individuals elected or appointed to key positions. It wants uncritical support for Israel to be the ‘smart’ political choice. To this end, the lobby tries to shape perceptions and options so that many key leaders willingly favour the lobby’s positions, and puts pressure on US leaders who might nevertheless be tempted to take an independent view

    Influence On The U.S. Congress
    M & W assert that a major plank in the lobby’s effectiveness is its influence in the U.S. Congress, to the point that Israel, remarkably, is largely immune from criticism. Unlike virtually all other areas of policy, where lively debate is the norm, “where Israel is concerned, potential critics fall silent and there is hardly any debate at all.” They give as an instance a hearing on the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process on February 14th, 2007, by a sub-committee in the House of Representatives. Testimony was sought from three witnesses, all of whom were “central players in the lobby” (involving AIPAC, WINEP and the right-wing Middle East Forum). “No critic of Israel, much less a Palestinian or Arab-American was brought in to offer alternative views”. The authors quote M.J. Rosenberg, from a “moderate pro-Israeli group that actively supports a two-state solution” (the Israel Policy Forum): “This was a hearing about two sides of a conflict where only one side was allowed to speak.”

    Some key members of Congress are Christian Zionists, such as former Majority Leader Richard Armey (who said ‘my No. 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel’ – not America, as M & W point out). Tom DeLay was Armey’s successor as Majority Leader (he said that he was ‘an Israeli at heart’)

    There are Jewish senators and representatives who work to make US foreign policy support Israel’s interests. We note that, for the 111th Congress, the Jewish Virtual Library website currently lists 44 Jewish members of Congress, 13 out of 100 senators and 31 out of 435 in the House. Thus, the Jewish community is considerably over-represented in both Senate and House – Jewish members make up 8% of Congress, whereas the Jewish community makes up a little over 2% of the population.  M & W report that, in 2006, a record number of Jewish Americans were elected to the House and Senate. They note that some of these legislators are ardent defenders of Israel, and that the chair of the subcommittee described above was Gary Ackerman (D-NY), “another avid backer of Israel”, while the chair of the larger Committee on Foreign Affairs is [was] Tom Lantos (D-CA), “who has no rival on Capitol Hill in his devotion to Israel. As one former AIPAC leader put it, Lantos ‘is true blue and white’ ”)

    Congressional staffers can tilt legislation in a pro-Israel way – they provide policy options for their employers. M & W quote Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC: “There are lots of guys at the working level up here [on Capitol Hill] ... who happen to be Jewish, who are willing ... to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness ... These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators ... You can get an awful lot done just at the staff level.” Representatives from lobby groups sometimes directly help Hill staffers draft legislation, provide talking points that legislators can use publicly, help write letters that legislators send one another on their positions, draft and circulate open letters designed to put congressional pressure on the executive branch.


    AIPAC: At The Core Of The Lobby
    M & W, after pointing out that lobbying groups of all types provide a ‘legislative subsidy’ to sympathetic lawmakers by providing direct help as described in the paragraph above, then consider AIPAC (at the “core” of the Israel lobby): “Not only does every member of Congress receive AIPAC’s bi-weekly newsletter Near East Report, its personnel are also available to help staffers when issues affecting Israel arise. According to Douglas Bloomfield, a former AIPAC staff member, ‘it is common for members of Congress and their staffs to turn to AIPAC first when they need information, before calling the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service, committee staff or administration experts.’ More important, he notes that AIPAC is ‘often called upon to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on tactics, perform research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes.’ In other words, AIPAC inserts itself directly into the legislative and policy-making process with considerable frequency ...”

    M & W state that it is AIPAC that holds the key to influence in Congress, and that this is a fact widely acknowledged by politicians from both parties. They quote:
    • Bill Clinton as once describing AIPAC as “stunningly effective” and “better than anyone else lobbying in this town”.
    • former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called it “the most effective general-interest group ... across the entire planet.”
    • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): “I can’t think of a policy organization in the country as well-organized and respected [as AIPAC].”
    • the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg, who  calls it “a leviathan among lobbies”
    • AIPAC’s own website, which quotes the New York Times’ assessment that it is “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel.”

    AIPAC: Its Tactics And Operations
    They attribute AIPAC’s success largely to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda and to punish those who do not, mainly through its ability to influence campaign contributions – AIPAC makes sure its friends get financial support so long as they do not stray from AIPAC’s line. Many individuals who bankroll AIPAC are important political contributors in their own right. AIPAC also helps connect political candidates to other donors and sources of funds. AIPAC screens potential candidates and arranges meetings with potential donors and fund-raisers, and provides information to pro-Israel PACs. M & W quote the historian David Biale: “The American Jewish ‘Israel lobby’ has developed ... into one of the most sophisticated and effective lobbying organizations in the United States Congress. It has done so in part by developing a national network of Jewish Political Action Committees for contributing funds to congressional candidates based on the criteria of support for Israel.” And AIPAC President Howard Friedman: “AIPAC meets with every candidate running for Congress. These candidates receive in-depth briefings to help them completely understand the complexities of Israel’s predicament and that of the Middle East as a whole. We even ask each candidate to author a ‘position paper’ on their views of the US-Israel relationship – so it’s clear where they stand on the subject.” The authors note that Friedman’s description of AIPAC’s modus operandi is consistent with testimony from other political figures:
    • they note Tom Hayden, “the anti-war figure who was running for a seat in the California Assembly in the early 1980’s, explains how he won support from the local power broker Michael Berman on the condition that he would always be a ‘good friend to Israel’. Hayden, who won the election, notes that he ‘had to be certified ‘kosher’ ’, not once but over and over again. The certifiers were the elites, beginning with rabbis and heads of the multiple mainstream Jewish organisations ... An important vetting role was held as well by ... [AIPAC], a group closely associated with official parties in Israel. When necessary, Israeli ambassadors, counsels general and other officials would intervene with statements declaring someone a ‘friend of Israel’.”
    • they also quote the case of Harry Lonsdale: “the democratic candidate who ran unsuccessfully against Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR) in 1990 has described his own visit to AIPAC headquarters during that campaign. ‘The word that I was pro-Israel got around’, he writes. ‘I found myself invited to AIPAC in Washington, D.C., fairly early in the campaign, for ‘discussions’. It was an experience I will never forget. It wasn’t enough that I was pro-Israel. I was given a list of vital topics and quizzed (read grilled) for my specific opinion on each. Actually, I was told what my opinion must be, and exactly what words I was to use to express those opinions in public ... Shortly after that encounter at AIPAC, I was sent a list of American supporters of Israel ... that I was free to call for campaign contributions. I called; they gave, from Florida to Alaska.’ ”
    • then there is former Idaho governor John V. Evans: “... tells a similar story about his 1986 campaign against incumbent Idaho Senator Steven Symms. He visited AIPAC headquarters, where, according to Evans, they ‘emphasised constantly that they were not a PAC (political action committee) ... But they noted that there were Jewish organizations all over the country that had their own PAC’s and that if we could contact them, they would be able to help us.’ According to the Wall Street Journal, AIPAC steered Mr. Evans to a series of supposedly independent committees – many of them run by people with ties to AIPAC – that gave him $204,950 for his losing race against Republican Sen. Steve Symms.”

    M & W report that AIPAC monitors congressional voting records and makes these records available to its members so they can decide which candidates or PACs to support, and that candidates or incumbents who are seen as hostile to Israel can expect AIPAC to guide campaign contributions to their opponents. They note that “internal AIPAC documents acquired by the Washington Post in 1988 revealed that its deputy political director was actively ‘trying to help raise money for several candidates in the 1986 Senate.’ ” Also, “the Wall Street Journal reported in 1987 that ‘despite AIPAC’s claims of non-involvement in political spending, no fewer than 51 pro-Israeli PACs – most of which draw money from Jewish donors and operate under obscure-sounding names – are operated by AIPAC officials or people who hold seats on AIPAC’s two major policy-making bodies. Although the federal Election Commission ruled that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to conclude that AIPAC controlled the network of pro-Israel PACs, the belief that AIPAC helps guide contributions remains widespread.” Notwithstanding the above, M & W state that “despite its name, AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not officially endorse candidates or give money directly to their campaigns.” George Sunderland (Sunderland is the pen name of a senior congressional staffer), in his article Our Vichy Congress in The Politics of Anti-Semitism referred to above, goes further, and asks “... Why is AIPAC different? For one thing, it is a political action committee that lobbies expressly on behalf of a foreign power; the fact that it is exempt from the Foreign Agents’ Registration Act is yet another mysterious ‘Israeli exception.’ ” And the effect? :
    • M & W again: “The veteran diplomat David Newsom, who served as assistant secretary of state in the Nixon administration and as undersecretary of state under Jimmy Carter reports that ‘when a prominent member of congress was once asked the reason for the power of AIPAC in the legislature, he replied, Money. It's as simple as that.’ ”
    • Jeffrey Blankfort’s article on The Israel Lobby and the Left in The Politics of Anti-Semitism referred to above referred to above, quotes former US Senator James Abourezk (D-South Dakota), in a speech before the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee: “That is the state of American politics today. The Israel lobby has put together so much money power that we are daily witnessing US senators and representatives bowing down low to Israel and its US lobby. Make no mistake. The votes and bows have nothing to do with the legislators’ love for Israel. They have everything to do with the money that is fed into their campaigns by members of the Israel lobby ... that [US aid and] … money [to Israel] plus the political support the US gives Israel at the United Nations, is what allows Israel to conduct criminal operations in Palestine with impunity.”

    How much money? M & W go on: “The Center For Responsive Politics (CRP), a non-partisan research group that tracks campaign contributions, has identified roughly three dozen pro-Israel PACs active in recent elections. In the 2006 midterms, these groups gave more than $3 million to candidates from both parties. Between 1990 and 2004, reports the Economist, pro-Israel groups contributed nearly $57 million to candidates and parties, while Arab-American and Muslim PACs contributed slightly less than $800,000. When combined with individual contributions to particular candidates and donations given to the national party organizations themselves, pro-Israeli forces wield considerable electoral clout. According to CRP’s Steven Weiss, ‘If you are a candidate and you get the pro-Israel label from AIPAC, the money will start coming in from contributors all over the country.’ ”

    AIPAC: The Effectiveness Of Its Tactics On Congress
    M & W say that “there is little doubt over the potency of these tactics” and go on to give a number of instances:
    • “in 2006 ... money from pro-Israel groups and individuals helped Senator Joseph Lieberman retain his seat by running independently following his defeat by Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary. Lieberman received a total of more than $145,000 from two different pro-Israel PACs, and none of these groups helped Lamont.”
    • “in the same year [2006], $76,000 worth of pro-Israel PAC contributions helped Sheldon Whitehouse defeat incumbent senator Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), who had long been regarded as lukewarm on Israel.”
    • “other beneficiaries of pro-Israel PAC support include successful candidates such as Robert Menendez (D-N) and Brad Ellsworth (D-IN). According to Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the money for these (and other candidates) was ‘raised by a loose network of donors, many of whom have strong ties to [AIPAC], the pro-Israel lobby.’ ”
    • “AIPAC and its related network cannot influence every election, of course, and even large donations from pro-Israel groups could not get Lonsdale or Evans elected or prevent former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) or incumbent senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) from being defeated in their respective bids for re-election in 2004 and 2006. But over the past three decades it has helped many successful candidates win their races, while driving from office a number of individuals it considered unfriendly to Israel.”
    • “in 2002, for example, it helped defeat Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) by funnelling campaign money to her opponents. McKinney returned to office in 2004 but was again defeated for re-election in 2006. Hank Johnson, her victorious opponent in the 2006 Democratic primary, received at least $34,000 from seven pro-Israel PACs.” Further detail on McKinney’s 2002 defeat is provided in Alexander Cockburn’s article ironically titled My Life as an ‘Anti-Semite’ in The Politics of Anti-Semitism:  “McKinney ... an excellent liberal black congresswoman ... had called for a proper debate on the Middle East ... American Jewish money showered upon her opponent, Denise Majette ... Buckets of sewage were poured over McKinney’s head in the Washington Post ... McKinney saw ... that American Jewish money was pumping up Majette’s challenge. So she went to Arab-American groups to try to raise money to fight back. This allowed Tom Edsall to attack her in the Washington Post as being in receipt of money from pro-terror Muslims ... Down went McKinney.”
    • “in another well-known case, wealthy Chicago businessman and former AIPAC President Robert Asher helped recruit and vet an Illinois attorney, Richard Durbin, to run against incumbent Congressman Paul Findley (R-IL) in 1982. Durbin had never held elected office, and as Asher later recalled, ‘I probed [Durbin’s] views ... I wanted to make sure we were supporting someone who was not only against Paul Findlay but also a friend of Israel. He beat Findlay with a lot of help from Jews, in-state and out-of-state. Now, how did the Jewish money find him? I travelled around the country talking about how we had the opportunity to defeat someone unfriendly to Israel. And the gates opened’. Asher solicited funds with a letter to potential donors declaring that the election was the ‘best chance’ to remove a ‘dangerous enemy of Israel’ from Congress, and Durbin eventually received a total of $104,325 in campaign funds from thirty-one different pro-Israeli PACs. By way of comparison, other Illinois congressional candidates received an average of about $3,700 from the same groups. Durbin went on to narrowly defeat Findley, who had served eleven previous terms, and he later won election to the Senate, where he currently serves as majority whip.”
    • “in 2002, Mayer ‘Bubba’ Mitchell, another member of the ‘Gang of Four’ (the group of wealthy donors that guides AIPAC’s policy making) used similar tactics to oust Congressman Earl Hilliard (D-AL). Like Durbin, Hilliard’s opponent got financial help from AIPAC supporters across the country. According to the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Asher later said that he had ‘asked Bubba how he felt after [Hilliard's opponent] won’, and he said ‘just like you did when Durbin got elected.’ “ again, further detail is provided in Alexander Cockburn's article titled My Life As An ‘Anti-Semite’ : ”Hilliard had made the fatal error of calling for some measure of even-handedness in the Middle East. So he was targeted by AIPAC ... Down he went, defeated in the Democratic primary by Artur Davis, a black lawyer who obediently sang for his supper on the topic of Israel.”
    • The following case comes from Alexander Cockburn’s article titled My Life as an ‘Anti-Semite’ : Rep. James Moran, “... in hot water for having remarked ... , as quoted in the Virginia-area newspapers, ‘if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.’ The House and Senate Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Tom Daschle, hastened to denounce Moran’s remarks, and six Jewish House Democrats took it upon themselves to advise Moran that he not seek re-election in 2004 ... Moran was forced to give up on his positions as Democratic Party leader in the mid-Atlantic region ...”
    • M & W again: “AIPAC has also played an important role in defeating a number of other politicians who took positions it disagreed with, including representative Pete McCloskey (R-CA) and senators J. William Fulbright (D-AR) and Roger Jepson (R-IA), to name a few. Jepson’s fate is particularly revealing: he was targeted after he succumbed to a personal plea from President Ronald Reagan and agreed to support the 1981 sale of AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia. His opponent in the 1984 Senate race, democrat Tom Harkin, received more than $100,000 in pro-Israel PAC money and Jepson lost his seat. Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA) later commented that Jepson’s fate ‘has sort of struck terror into the hearts of senators about switching’ on Middle East votes.”
    • “... former Senator Adlai Stevenson (D-IL), who ran for Governor of Illinois in 1982. He first ran afoul of pro-Israel groups in 1980, when he introduced an amendment to a Senate bill that called for reducing foreign aid to Israel if it did not stop building settlements. Stevenson knew the amendment would never pass, but he wanted to show that his colleagues would support Israel even if it was acting in ways contrary to U.S. Policy. The measure was easily defeated, gaining only seven votes. One reluctant opponent of the amendment, Senator Quentin Burdick (D-ND), told the Illinois Senator, ‘Sorry, Adlai, but I am up for reelection.’ When Stevenson ran for governor two years later, he quickly discovered that campaign contributions began to dry up, and indeed, went to his opponent. According to the former senator, he and his wife ‘were reviled as anti-Semitic. Some in the press turned hostile. Jewish Democratic Committeemen wilted under pressure. Jewish friends and supporters were also reviled.’ Stevenson was narrowly defeated, and as he later said, ‘the lobby made the difference in that election many times over.’ ”
    • “… perhaps the most renowned example of the costs that can befall a politician who crosses AIPAC is the defeat of Senator Charles Percy (R-IL) in 1984. despite a generally pro-Israel voting record, Percy incurred AIPAC’s wrath by declining to sign the AIPAC-sponsored ‘Letter of 76’ protesting President Ford’s threatened ‘reassessment’ of U.S. Middle East policy in 1975. He also made the mistake of calling PLO leader Yasser Arafat more ‘moderate’ than some other Palestinian terrorists. Percy’s opponents in both the primary and general election in 1984 received large sums from pro-Israel PACs, and a businessman from another state (California), Michael Goland, who was also a major contributor to AIPAC, spent $1.1 million on anti-Percy advertising in Illinois ... As Tom Dine boasted after Percy’s narrow defeat, ‘All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And the American politicians – those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire – got the message.’ Dine’s hyperbole notwithstanding, the basic lesson of these cases is hard to miss. As J.J. Goldberg, the editor of the Forward, said in 2002, ‘there is this image in Congress that you don’t cross these people or they take you down.’ “

    M & W note that AIPAC and pro-Israel PACs focus on more than getting Israel-friendly candidates elected. They have also had notable success turning politicians into steadfast supporters of Israel:
    • They note that “former Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) was an outspoken critic of the U.S. Foreign aid program for much of his career, which also meant that he opposed giving substantial aid to Israel. In 1984, however, Helms was in a hard-fought (and expensive) race for reelection against James Hunt, the popular governor of North Carolina. Sensing an opportunity to put a formidable enemy out of business, AIPAC channeled large amounts of campaign money to Hunt, who came within a hair of winning. Helms got the message: he traveled to Israel the following year and had his picture taken with a yarmulke on his head kissing the Western Wall. The same trip also produced a picture of the senator with Ariel Sharon for his office wall. More important, Helms became a vocal supporter of Israel and remained one until his retirement in 2002.”
    • George Sunderland, in his article Our Vichy Congress in The Politics Of Anti-Semitism, cites the case of Marianne Gingrich as an instance of the lobby’s power to influence Congress: “... In 1995, coincidentally the year her then husband became Speaker of the House, Marianne Gingrich was hired by the Israel Export Development Co. Ltd ... as its vice president for business development. Mrs. Gingrich’s interest in Israel began during an eight-day trip to Israel she and her husband made in August 1994 at Israel’s expense.” Was it, Sunderland asks, “a political payoff from a foreign power?” ... Mrs. Gingrich ... had no experience in the field. Her salary was $2,500 per month, ‘plus commissions’, the size of which neither she nor anyone connected with the business would reveal. By an even odder coincidence, the newly minted Speaker Gingrich’s foreign policy prescriptions became stridently pro-Israel and bellicosely opposed to the countries that Israel designated as enemies. One of Gingrich’s notable forays into diplomacy at the time was his public call for the CIA to overthrow the government of Iran ...”

    M & W state that “if electoral pressure and persuasion don’t work, AIPAC has been known to threaten politicians who appear reluctant to follow its lead. In 2006, for example, congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), a liberal with a solid pro-Israel voting record, nonetheless opposed the AIPAC-backed Palestinian Anti-terrorism Act. The measure, which sought to impose draconian measures on the Palestinian Authority in the aftermath of the election of Hamas, was also opposed by the State Department, the Catholic Bishops, and other pro-Israel groups like Americans for Peace Now and the Israel policy Forum. Nonetheless, an AIPAC lobbyist told McCollum’s chief of staff that the representative’s ‘support for terrorists will not be tolerated’, a threat that led McCollum to demand an apology from AIPAC chief Howard Kohr and to bar AIPAC representatives from her offices.”

    George Sunderland, in his article Our Vichy Congress in The Politics Of Anti-Semitism mentions the following cases where Congress’s investigatory apparatus, he alleges, was not used, or was muffled:
    • he cites the example of “Lyndon Johnson’s decision to cover up the deliberate and protracted attack [by the Israeli air force] on the USS Liberty in June 1967 (which resulted in 34 deaths, almost double the deaths suffered by the crew of the USS Cole) was pointedly not investigated by Congress. Instead, the surviving crew were shamefully bullied into silence by the gargoyle Johnson and his functionaries; those who did break the silence later were reviled by the lobby as delusional anti-Semites.”
    • he continues: “... the congressional investigation into the Beirut barracks bombing stuck to the narrow issue of the incompetent US military chain of command, and avoided the wider issue of the Marines’ presence as sitting ducks in the middle of Sharon’s first war of conquest. A retired officer has asserted that the Mossad had intelligence from informers that the frame of a truck was being reinforced to carry a heavy load of explosives, but chose to keep the intelligence secret. Despite the lobby’s claim that the US-Israel relationship is one of mutual intelligence sharing, the real relationship is a starker one: according to old intelligence hands, Israel takes all and gives nothing, even if US lives are at stake.”
    • he goes on: “The way for then National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane’s ‘opening to Iran’ was paved by the fact that Israel was already providing F-4 Phantom spare parts manufactured in the United States and transported to Israel at American taxpayer expense to Iran on the sly as a way of counterbalancing Iraq’s military power. The extent to which President Reagan’s privatized foreign policy used these pre-existing links to pursue the Iranian opening is uncertain. What is certain is that the joint House-Senate investigating committee, chaired by long-time AIPAC favorite senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, took some pains to steer the investigation away from Israel, so that those links would not be made public in a way that would embarrass our major non-NATO ally.”
    • and more: “... Congress’s deafening silence over the Israeli ‘art student’s saga ... is astonishing for those unfamiliar with Congress’s reticence about embarrassing Israel ... The full story of how hundreds of Mossad agents-in-training were literally inundating federal facilities in the year and a half prior to 9/11 may never be known, thanks to a total smothering by the Justice Department, Congress, and the major media.”

    AIPAC: Its Clout In Congress
    Back to M & W. “The basic message”, they say, “is clear: any senator or representative who crosses AIPAC is playing with fire ... its ability to affect a politician’s electoral prospects is well-known.”:
    • M & W: “as one congressional source put it in 1991, ‘voting against Israel has become like voting against lumber in Washington state, except AIPAC does it all over the country.’ ”
    • M & W again: “And that is why Morris Amitay, the former AIPAC director who later served as the organization’s treasurer, could say in 2002 that ‘everyone seems to be very good [that is, pro-Israel] nowadays’ ”
    • M & W, noting what Jimmy Carter said in February 2007: “I don’t see any present prospect that any member of the US Congress, the House or Senate, would say, ‘Let’s take a balanced position between Israel and the Palestinians and negotiate a peace agreement.’ ” Carter added, “It’s almost politically suicidal ... for a member of the Congress who wants to seek reelection to take any stand that might be interpreted as anti-policy of the conservative Israeli government.”
    • Again, George Sunderland in his article Our Vichy Congress: “Since the mid-1980’s, no member of Congress has even tried to take on the lobby directly.” As a Senate staffer told Sunderland “it is the ‘cold fear’ of AIPAC’s disfavor that keeps the politicians in line. This scam has been going on for decades. The main purpose, other than to maintain the flow of weapons and loot to Israel, is to keep Congress’s investigatory apparatus turned off.”
    “AIPAC’s clout”, as M & W note, “also explains why attendance at its annual Policy Conference has become a command performance for prominent politicians. Speakers at the 2007 Policy Conference included Vice President Dick Cheney, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). The previous year’s speakers included Cheney, Boehner, UN Ambassador John Bolton, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Representatives Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Artur Davis (D-AL), Bill Pascrell (D-N), and Robert Wexler, as well as former senator and [then] presidential hopeful John Edwards. Speakers in other years have included have included President George W. Bush, Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, former House Speakers Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Newt Gingrich, former Majority Leader Richard Amey, and a bevy of prominent pro-Israeli pundits.” M & W say that “it is hard to think of any other lobbying organization that is wooed as strenuously by politicians in both parties.”

    M & W continue: “To seal the deal, an AIPAC sister organization, the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), funds free congressional trips to Israel itself. These junkets burnish a legislator’s pro-Israel credentials and facilitate fund-raising, and also expose him or her to the policy preferences and basic worldview of Israel’s leaders. This situation helps explain why about 10 per cent of all congressional trips overseas are to Israel, even though it is but one of nearly two hundred countries in the world. The Center for Public Integrity reports that AIEF spent nearly $1 million on these visits from January 2000 to mid-2005. Not surprisingly, AIPAC and other Jewish groups lobbied hard – and successfully – to make sure that the new ethics rules enacted after the Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay scandals did not interfere with these visits.”

    Concerning congressional trips, George Sunderland’s article Our Vichy Congress states that a perusal of the May 6th, 2002, Jerusalem Post reveals the following headline: “Visiting Congressmen Advise Israel To Resist Administration Pressure.” He continues: “the Israeli newspaper chronicles the pilgrimage of a group of Congressional wardheelers to the Promised Land, carrying with them a copy of the resolution of support for the Israeli government that passed Congress by a vote of 352-21 with 29 abstentions. The delegation’s leader, Rep. James Saxton of New Jersey, displayed a copy of the resolution to reporters, which he said they wanted to ‘hand deliver’ to the Israeli people.” Sunderland does not mention whether this particular trip was free or not.


    “The bottom line”, say M & W, “is that AIPAC, which bills itself as ‘America's Pro-Israel Lobby’, has an almost unchallenged hold on Congress. One of the three main branches of the American government is firmly committed to supporting Israel. Open debate about U.S. policy toward Israel does not occur there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world”:
    • “As Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) noted as he was leaving office in 2004, ‘you can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here.’ ”
    • “Another senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, told a Washington Post reporter in 1991, ‘my colleagues think AIPAC is a very, very powerful organization that is ruthless and very, very alert. Eighty per cent of the senators here roll their eyes on some of the votes. They know that what they’re doing isn’t what they really believe is right, but why fight on a situation where they’re liable to get beat up on?’ ”
    • George Sunderland, in his article Our Vichy Congress, mentions Chris Patten, the European commissioner for external relations, who “writing recently in the Washington Post”, says, “A senior Democratic senator [alas, Patten does not name him] told a visiting European the other day: ‘All of us are members of Likud now’ ”
    • “Small wonder then”, continue M & W, “that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told an American audience, ‘When people ask me how they can help Israel, I tell them – Help AIPAC.’ His successor, Ehud Olmert, agrees, remarking, ‘Thank God we have AIPAC, the greatest supporter and friend we have in the whole world.’ “
       
    AIPAC: Its Influence On The Executive
    M & W note that “American presidents are not as sensitive to pressure as Congress is, and most of them have taken positions that Israel or the lobby opposed at one time or another. But such instances are becoming increasingly rare, even though Israel’s strategic value has declined and some of its actions (such as the continued effort to colonize the Occupied Territories) are at odds with stated U.S. policy.” M & W consider congressional pressure on the executive branch when it takes actions that are considered to be not in Israel’s interest: “When that happens, the president or cabinet official is likely to get a hard-hitting letter from one or both houses of Congress, signed by most of its members ...”:
    • M & W: “The receipt of such a letter by President Gerald Ford in 1975 when he threatened a reassessment of U.S.-Israeli relations.” Further detail is provided in Jeffrey Blankfort’s article on The Israel Lobby and the Left referred to above: “Gerald Ford, angered that Israel had been reluctant to leave the Sinai following the 1973 war not only suspended aid for 6 months in 1975 but in March of that year made a speech, backed by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, that called for a ‘reassessment’ of the US/Israel relationship. Within weeks, AIPAC ... secured a letter signed by 76 senators confirming their support for Israel, and suggesting that the White House see fit to do the same. The language was tough, the tone almost bullying. Ford backed down.”
    • Jeffrey Blankfort again, in his article The Israel Lobby and the Left referred to above: “In 1991 ... Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir asked the first Bush administration for $10 billion in loan guarantees in order, he said, to provide for the resettlement of Russian Jews. Bush Sr. had earlier balked at a request from Congress to appropriate an additional $650 million dollars to compensate Israel for sitting out the Gulf War, but gave in when he realized that his veto would be overridden. But now he told Shamir that Israel could have the guarantees only if it would freeze settlement building and promised that no Russian Jews would be resettled in the west Bank. An angry Shamir refused and called on AIPAC to mobilize Congress and the organized American Jewish community in support of the loan guarantees. A letter, drafted by AIPAC, was signed by more than 240 members of the house demanding that Bush approve them, and 77 senators signed on to supporting legislation. On September 12th, 1991, Jewish lobbyists descended on Washington in such numbers that Bush felt obliged to call a televised press conference in which he complained that ‘1000 Jewish lobbyists are on Capitol Hill against little old me’ ... Bush’s opposition to the loan guarantees was the last straw for the Israel lobby ... Months later, the loan guarantees were approved ...”
    • M & W: “President Bush got a similar letter in April 2002, when he briefly sought to end a large-scale military incursion in the Occupied Territories.” Further detail is again given by Jeffrey Blankfort: “... Bush Jr. forthrightly demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon withdraw his troops from Jenin, saying ‘Enough is enough!’ It made headlines all over the world, as did his backing down when Sharon refused. What happened? Harsh criticism boomed from within his own party in Congress and from his daddy’s old friends in the media ... Junior got the message and within a week declared Sharon to be ‘a man of peace’. Since then, as journalist Robert Fisk and others have noted, Sharon seems to [have been] writing Bush’s speeches.”
    • M & W: “Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice felt the same pressure as she sought to restart the peace process by visiting the Middle East in March 2007. Just before her departure, Rice received an AIPAC-sponsored letter signed by seventy-nine  senators, urging her to avoid contact with the new Palestinian ‘unity government’ until it recognized Israel, renounced terror, and agreed to abide by Israeli-Palestinian agreements.”
    • M & W note: “The lopsided percentage of signatories [for the letters to Ford and Bush Jr. referred to above] is eloquent testimony to AIPAC’s ability to twist arms. As senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) commented after signing the letter to Ford in 1975, ‘it’s easier to sign one letter than to answer 5000.’ ... or as Senator John Culver (D-IA) later admitted, ‘The pressure was just too great. I caved.’ ... No wonder former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger once told AIPAC’s Tom Dine, ‘Dine, I deal with you because you could hurt me.’ ”
    M & W note that “influence over the executive branch derives in part from the impact Jewish voters have on presidential elections”. M & W state, “Despite their small numbers in the population (less than 3 per cent), American Jews make large campaign donations to candidates from both parties”, and they continue:
    • “As presidential adviser and former White House Chief of Staff Hamilton Jordan wrote in a confidential memorandum to President Jimmy Carter, ‘wherever there is major political fundraising in this country, you will find American Jews playing a significant role.’ ”
    • “Indeed, the Washington Post once estimated that Democratic presidential candidates ‘depend on Jewish supporters to supply as much as 60 per cent of the money raised from private sources.’ Other estimates are lower, but contributions from Jewish Americans form a substantial share – between 20 and 50 per cent – of the contributions made to the Democratic party and its presidential candidates.”
    • “Israel is not the only issue that inspires these contributions, of course, but candidates who are perceived as hostile (or even indifferent) to Israel run the risk of seeing some of these funds go to their opponents.”
    • “... Jewish voters have high turnout rates and are concentrated in key states like California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania ... In close races, therefore, the so-called Jewish vote can tip the balance in key states.”
    • “... Because Jewish votes matter in close elections, presidential candidates go to considerable lengths to cultivate their support. Indeed, a 2007 story in the Jerusalem Post referred to this effort to court Jewish support as ‘a Washington ritual as reliable as the cherry blossoms.’ Candidates are especially eager to appeal to AIPAC and other organizations in the lobby – and not just to Jewish voters as a bloc – because they know that the seal of approval from these prominent organizations will facilitate fund-raising and encourage higher turnout on their behalf.”
    • “Gaining and retaining that support means backing Israel down the line, which is why presidential candidates John Edwards, Mitt Romney, and John McCain all made emphatic pro-Israel speeches ...”
    • M & W note “... the fate that befell Howard Dean in the 2004 presidential campaign, when he made the mistake of recommending that the United States take a more ‘even-handed’ role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In response, one of Dean’s rivals for the nomination, Joseph Lieberman, accused him of selling Israel down the river ... Even more remarkably, virtually all of the top democrats in the House of Representatives signed a hard-hitting letter to Dean criticizing his comments ...” M & W add that “this worry [about Dean] was absurd”, and give reasons. They note that “key groups in the lobby do not welcome the idea of even-handedness when it comes to the Arab-Israel conflict.” They conclude, “Dean’s failure to win the Democratic nomination has many causes, of course, but the incident underscored the potential cost of being anything less than ardently pro-Israel during a presidential campaign.”

    M & W state that the lobby’s goals, obviously, are served when individuals who share its perspective occupy important positions in the executive branch. While stressing that this desire is no different from that of other lobbies and interest groups, they note:
    • “the Clinton administration’s Middle East policy was heavily shaped by officials with close ties to Israel or to prominent pro-Israel organizations ... The two most notable individuals in this regard were Martin Indyk ... and Dennis Ross ... They were among President Clinton’s closest advisers at the [abortive] Camp David summit in July 2000. Although both Indyk and Ross ... favoured the creation of a Palestinian state ... they did so only within the limits of what would be acceptable to Israeli leaders ... the American delegation at Camp David took most of its cues from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, coordinated negotiating positions with Israel in advance, and did not offer its own independent proposals for settling the conflict ... As another member of the U.S. team later admitted, Israeli proposals were often ‘presented [to the Palestinians] as U.S. concepts, not Israeli ones’, a subterfuge that fooled no one and reinforced Palestinian suspicions. Not surprisingly, Palestinian representatives protested that they were ‘negotiating with two Israeli teams – one displaying an Israeli flag, and one an American flag.’ ”
    • “… the problem … even more pronounced in the second Bush administration, whose ranks have included staunchly pro-Israel neoconservatives like Elliott Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, Aaron Friedberg, John Hannah, I. Lewis Libby, William Luti, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and David Wurmser ... These officials consistently pushed for policies favored by Israel and backed by key organizations in the lobby.
    • “... groups in the lobby also try to make sure that people who are seen as critical of Israel do not get foreign policy jobs ...” M & W give instances.

    The Operation Of The Lobby To Ensure Favourable Public Discourse
    Strategies
    M & W state, as noted above, that the groups and individuals who make up the lobby pursue two broad strategies to encourage steadfast support for Israel. One of these is to exert influence on the Washington policy-making process, and has been discussed above. The other is for the lobby to “go to great lengths to ensure that public discourse about Israel is favourable.”

    M & W continue: “... Its [the lobby’s] various elements do this by constantly reaffirming Israel’s strategic value, by repeating one-sided accounts about Israel and its founding, and by defending Israel’s actions in policy debates. The goal is to convince the public that America’s and Israel’s interests and values are one and the same.”

    They go on: “At the same time, groups in the lobby try to marginalise anyone who criticises Israeli policy or challenges the ’special relationship’, and try to prevent that person’s views from getting a fair hearing in the public arena. To do this, the lobby sometimes employs heavy-handed tactics to silence critics, accusing them of being anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.”

    And, further, they say, “Channeling public discourse in a pro-Israel direction is critically important, because an open and candid discussion of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, Israeli history, and the lobby’s role in shaping America’s Middle East policy might easily lead more Americans to question existing policy toward Israel and to call for a relationship with Israel that more effectively serves the U.S. national interest.” Given Israel’s history as we have referred to it above, and even taking into account that M & W are American (they describe themselves as ‘American realists’), this is a remarkably restrained comment in the circumstances. However, this controlled, even muted, language, adds authenticity to their book – no one can accuse them of going over the top.


    The Media: Managing The Debate
    M & W examine the American media, noting that “Pro-Israel forces are well aware that dominating discussions about the Jewish state is essential to their agenda”, and that “these efforts do not always succeed, of course, but are still remarkably effective.” They make the following points:
    • “The American media’s coverage of Israel tends to be strongly biased in Israel’s favor, especially when compared with news coverage in other democracies”
    • M & W stress that they are not asserting that “Jews control the media”. They point out that “there are certainly owners, publishers, editors, columnists and reporters who have no special feelings for Israel and would feel comfortable criticizing its policies ... It is  therefore wrong - and objectionable – to argue that Jews or pro-Israel forces ‘control’ the media ... In fact, the reason that the lobby works so hard to monitor and influence what the mainstream media says about Israel is precisely that the lobby does not control them ... If the media were left to their own devices, they would not serve up as consistent a diet of pro-Israel coverage and commentary. Instead, there would be a more open and lively discussion about the Jewish state and U.S. policy towards it, as there is in virtually every other democracy of in the world. Indeed, that debate is especially lively in Israel itself, the one state where the Jews clearly do ‘control the media.’ ”
    • M & W note that the lobby’s perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media:
      • in part [our italics] because a substantial number of American commentators who write about Israel are themselves pro-Israel”
      • “In a 1976 comparison of domestic interest groups and U.S. Middle East policy, Robert H. Trice found that ... ‘one of the most serious political handicaps of pro-Arab groups during the 1966-1974 period was their inability to gain support from any of the best-known and nationally-syndicated columnists.’ Trice also found that ‘pro-Israel groups could count on media support not only from national columnists but also from the editors of some of the country’s most widely read newspapers.’ ”
      • M & W note that “matters have not changed much since then. The debate among Middle East pundits, wrote the media critic Eric Alterman in 2002, is ‘dominated by people who cannot imagine criticizing Israel.’ He listed fifty-six ‘columnists and commentators who can be counted on to support Israel reflexively and without qualification.’ Conversely, Alterman identified only five pundits who consistently criticize Israeli behaviour or endorse pro-Arab positions ...”
      • M & W themselves consider the major American newspapers:
        • New York Times and Washington Post – “in recent years ... William Safire and A. M. Rosenthal were passionate defenders of Israel (and in Safire’s case, especially favorable toward Ariel Sharon) ... today, David Brooks consistently defends Israel’s position. Thomas L. Friedman is more moderate; he has been critical of some of Israel’s policies (and occasionally the lobby itself), but he almost never takes the Palestinian’s side or advocates that the United States distance itself from Israel. Nicholas D. Kristof is frequently critical of various aspects of American foreign policy, and wrote one controversial column in March 2007 decrying the lack of serious public discussion of U.S. relations with Israel. But the Middle East is not a frequent theme in his commentary and he certainly did not take a pro-Palestinian position. Maureen Dowd has been sharply critical of pro-Israel neoconservatives, but like Kristof, she rarely writes about the Jewish state or U.S. policy toward it. No-one in the stable of regular columnists is a consistent defender of the Palestinians, or even as evenhanded as former columnist Anthony Lewis, who retired in 2001.”
        • Washington Post - “it has had several columnists in recent years who consistently supported Israel: Jim Hoagland, Robert Kagan, Charles Krauthammer, and George Will. It used to feature two others: the late Michael Kelly and William Kristol, who runs the Weekly Standard and has a column in Time. Not only were these individuals staunchly pro-Israel, they tended to favor the ideas and policies of the hawkish Likud party rather than Israeli moderates. Richard Cohen also writes about the Middle East for the Post, but he has the same profile as the Times’s Friedman: attached to Israel but willing to offer qualified and intelligent criticism. Neither of these papers – which are arguably the two most influential daily newspapers in the United States – employs any full-time commentator who consistently favors the Arab or Palestinian side.”
        • “in recent years, the only prominent columnist who has frequently criticized Israel is Robert Novak, whose column is syndicated by the Chicago Sun-Times and regularly appears in the Post. Still, Novak is hardly a champion of the Palestinian cause.”
        • “The fact is that the ‘other side’ has no equivalent of Safire and Krauthammer, or even Friedman and Cohen, at either the New York Times or the Washington Post, or any other major American newspaper, for that matter.”
        • The Los Angeles Times ... regularly publishes three opinion columnists who are staunch defenders of Israel: Max Boot, Jonathan Chait, and Jonah Goldberg. It employs no columnist who is critical of Israel, much less anyone who routinely defends the Palestinian cause against the Israelis.”
        • “Although these papers occasionally publish guest op-eds that challenge Israeli policy, the balance of opinion clearly favors Israel. There is no American commentator comparable to Robert Fisk or Patrick Seale, who are often sharply critical of Israel and who publish regularly in British newspapers, and no one remotely like Israeli commentators Amira Hass, Akiva El-dar, Gideon Levy, and Bradley Burston, all of whom are openly critical of particular policies that their country pursues ... Voices like theirs are almost entirely absent from major American newspapers.”
      • Noting that, unsurprisingly, this pro-Israel bias is also reflected in editorials, M & W continue:
        • “Robert Bartley, the late editor of the Wall Street Journal, once remarked, ‘Shamir, Sharon, Bibi – whatever those guys want is pretty much fine by me.’ ”
        • The Journal”, they assert, “along with other prominent newspapers like the Chicago Sun-Times, the New York Sun, and the Washington Times, regularly runs editorials that read as if they were written by the Israeli prime minister’s press office: To its credit, the New York Times’s editorials sometimes criticize Israeli policies, and in recent years, the criticism has occasionally been strongly worded. The Times recognizes that the Palestinians have legitimate grievances and a right to have their own state. Still, its treatment of the two sides over the years has not been even-handed. In his memoirs, Times executive editor Max Frankel recounted the impact his own pro-Israel attitudes had on editorial choices: ‘I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert ... Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.’ ”
      • M & W note that “the media’s reporting of news events involving Israel is less slanted than their editorial commentary, in part [our italics] because most reporters strive to be objective, but also because it is difficult to cover events in the Occupied Territories or in Southern Lebanon without acknowledging Israel’s actual behaviour.”
    • M & W consider pro-Israel magazines [it is clear that they do not consider these to be ‘mainstream media’, but part of the lobby itself]: “Magazines like Commentary, the New Republic, and the Weekly Standard also zealously defend Israel at every turn. Indeed, Commentary’s former editor, Norman Podhoretz, once told a gathering of journalists in Jerusalem that ‘the role of Jews who write in both the Jewish and general press is to defend Israel, and not join in the attacks on Israel.’ Martin Peretz, the long-time editor of the New Republic, once proclaimed, ‘I am in love with the state of Israel’, and admitted that ‘there’s a sort of party line on Israel’ at his journal.”

    The Media: Lobby Tactics To Manage The Debate
    M & W note the tactics of the Israel lobby to influence the media:
    • (also from the 1976 Trice study, see above): “Pro-Israel groups were more active shaping media coverage than pro-Arab groups were; in 1970, for example, the Conference of Presidents [of Major American Jewish Organizations] distributed press kits (complete with photos and feature stories) to more than seventeen hundred newspapers and to major wire services. In Trice’s words, ‘At virtually every level of media organization – from local communities, syndicated columnists, and major national papers, to the international news services that supply the country with information – pro-Israel groups were more successful than pro-Arab groups at getting their side of the story transmitted to both the articulate and mass publics.’ ”
    • “... to discourage unfavorable reporting on Israel, groups in the lobby organize letter-writing campaigns, demonstrations, and boycotts against news outlets whose content they consider anti-Israel”.
    • “As the Forward reported in April 2002, ‘Rooting out perceived anti-Israel bias in the media has become for many American Jews the most direct and emotional outlet for connecting with the conflict 6,000 miles away.’ ”
    • “one CNN executive has said that he sometimes gets six thousand e-mail messages in a single day complaining that a story is anti-Israel.”
    • “... papers such as the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Enquirer, and the Washington Post have faced consumer boycotts over their Middle East reporting.”
    • “One correspondent told the journalist Michael Massing that newspapers were ‘afraid’ of AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups, saying that ‘the pressure from these groups is relentless. Editors would just as soon not touch them.’ ”
    • “As the former spokesman for the Israeli consulate in New York, Menachem Shalev, once put it, ‘Of course, a lot of self-censorship goes on. Journalists, editors, and politicians are going to think twice about criticizing Israel if they know they are going to get thousands of angry calls in a matter of hours. The Jewish lobby is good at orchestrating pressure.’ ”
    • “One of the lobby’s most energetic media watchdog groups – though not the only one – is the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA)”:
      • “It has been especially critical of National Public Radio, which it sometimes refers to as ‘National Palestine Radio’. ”
      • “... maintaining a website to publicize alleged [our italics] examples of media bias ...”
      • “CAMERA organized demonstrations outside National Public Radio stations in thirty-three cities in May 2003, and it tried to convince contributors to withhold support from NPR until its Middle East coverage became more sympathetic to Israel. One of Boston’s public radio stations, WBUR, reportedly lost more than $1 million in contributions as a result of these efforts.”
      • “In 2006, CAMERA ran expensive full-page advertisements in the New York Times and New York Sun criticizing Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, ads that included the publisher’s phone number and encouraged readers to call in and complain.”
    • “Additional pressure on NPR comes from Israel’s friends in Congress. In March 2003, for example, a group of congressmen – whose ranks included staunch defenders of Israel such as California Democrats Tom Lantos, Brad Sherman, and Henry Waxman – wrote a letter to NPR President Kevin Klose, asking for an internal audit of its Middle East coverage. Klose refused, but he also began reaching out to various Jewish groups in an effort to deflect the pressure.”
    • M & W note that the lobby’s efforts to gain favorable coverage take other forms as well:
      • “In August 2003, for example, the writer Ian Buruma wrote an article in the New York Times Magazine titled ‘How to Talk About Israel’. He made the obvious point that it is sometimes difficult to talk ‘critically and dispassionately’ about Israel in the United States and pointed out that ‘even legitimate criticism of Israel, or of Zionism, is often quickly denounced as anti-Semitism by various watchdogs’. In response, Bret Stephens, then the editor of the Jerusalem Post and now a columnist and editorial board member at the Wall Street Journal, published a vitriolic open letter in the Post that began by asking Buruma, ‘Are you a Jew?’ Two paragraphs later, Stephens declared, ‘What matters to me is that you say, ‘I am a Jew’’. Why did this matter? Because in Stephen’s view, ‘One must be at least a Jew to tell the goyim how they may or may not talk about Israel.’ ” M & W continue: “The message of this remarkable letter was, in short, that non-Jews should talk about this subject only in ways that Jews deem acceptable ...”
      • M & W continue: “Sensitivity on this point may also explain why an editor at the New York Times asked the historian Tony Judt to identify himself as Jewish in an op-ed he had written defending our [M & W’s] original London Review of Books article.
      • M & W go on, noting that Stephen’s views “are undoubtedly anathema to many people – including most American Jews – but the fact remains that some leading figures in the lobby are uncomfortable with a free and open discussion of issues related to Israel. ADL head Abraham Foxman told New York Times Magazine writer James Traub that it is ‘naïve’ to think that the ‘free market of ideas ultimately sifts falsehood to produce truth.’ As Traub recounts, ‘Experience ... has taught [Foxman] that the truth does not win on its own merits; the market for falsehood is too powerful.’ ” M & W note that “Falsehood, in this view, is what would follow from a serious interrogation of the United States-Israel relationship and Israel’s strategic and moral standing. Groups like the ADL want to make sure that critics of Israel ... remain on the margins of public discourse, and that their views about Israel be regarded as illegitimate.”
    • “the final way to encourage favorable coverage of Israel is to co-opt prominent commentators ... Toward this end, the Conference of Presidents [of Major American Jewish Organizations] helped establish America’s Voices In Israel, a non-profit group whose purpose, according to the Conference’s website, is ‘to strengthen American understanding of and support for Israel by inviting U.S.-based radio talk show hosts to see Israel and broadcast their programs live from Jerusalem.’ The America’s Voices website describes the organization as being ‘on the forefront of Israel’s hasbara (public relations) efforts’, and Conference of Presidents head Malcolm Hoenlein (who is also president of the America’s Voices board calls it ‘one of the most important, exciting, and effective hasbara initiatives. ... The campaign helps ensure that a growing array of talk show hosts will purvey a pro-Israel message to their listeners.’ ”
    • M & W note that America’s Jewish press is not exempt from pressure, either: “In 1989 ... AIPAC’s media director, Toby Dershowitz, asked Andrew Carroll, the editor of Washington Jewish Week, not to assign the reporter Larry Cohler to an ongoing story about AIPAC, because his earlier reports – which had been somewhat critical of AIPAC – were supposedly ‘inaccurate’. When Cohler received the assignment anyway, Dershowitz and AIPAC legal counsel David Ifshin called Carroll. Ifshin said that if Cohler remained on the assignment, AIPAC would reexamine his earlier stories ‘with an eye toward litigation.’ This not-too-subtle attempt to pressure Carroll did not succeed, but in 1991, AIPAC’s foreign policy director, Steven Rosen, sent several board members of Washington Jewish Week an internal AIPAC memorandum arguing that Carroll was too sympathetic to the political left and ‘sought to bring down the organized Jewish community.’ In April 1992, a new editor with no professional newspaper experience was hired over Carroll, who resigned three months later and was replaced by the former editor of the AIPAC newsletter Near East Report.”
    Political Think Tanks: The Lobby’s Influence
    M & W next examine, in a section headed ‘Think Tanks That Think One Way’, political think tanks, noting that:
    • “Pro-Israel forces ... wield significant influence in think tanks, which play an increasingly important role in shaping public debate as well as actual policy on key issues. Instead of relying on government officials or academics to provide analysis and commentary, news media increasingly depend on experts from Washington-based think tanks, most of which have energetic public relations and media relations and media relations offices designed to promote their experts’ views in the public arena.”
    • “Many think tanks also distribute brief and easily digested policy memorandums to legislators and other government officials; organize seminars, working breakfasts; and briefings for officials and their staffs; and encourage their own analysts to publish op-eds and other visible forms of commentary, all with the goal of shaping the prevailing climate of ideas.”
    • “Think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute or Brookings supply advisers to presidential campaigns and officials to new administrations, offer the same people a safe haven when they are out of power, and provide them with platforms from which they can continue to influence debate inside and outside the Beltway.“
    • “... they serve as incubators for new policy ideas and are a critical part of the web of power in Washington.”
    • M & W consider the Israel lobby’s influence in a number of think tanks:
      • Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) - “... recognizing the need for a prominent but seemingly ‘objective’ voice in the policy arena surrounding Israel, former AIPAC president Larry Weinberg; his wife, Barbi Weinberg; AIPAC’s vice-president; and AIPAC deputy director for research Martin Indyk founded [WINEP] in 1985. Although WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims that it provides a ‘balanced and realistic’ perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case. In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to advancing Israel’s agenda. Its board of advisers includes prominent pro-Israel figures such as Edward Luttwak, Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Mortimer Zuckerman, but includes no-one who might be thought of as favoring the perspective of any other country or group in the ‘Near East’. Many of its personnel are genuine scholars, but they are hardly neutral observers on most Middle East issues and there is little diversity of views within WINEP’s ranks.”
      • the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs - “... over the past 25 years, pro-Israel individuals have established a commanding presence [in these bodies]. These think tanks are all decidedly pro-Israel and include few, if any, critics of U.S. support for the Jewish state.”
      • the Brookings Institution - “... another indication of the lobby’s influence in the think tank world is the evolution of the Brookings Institution. For many years, its senior expert on Middle East issues was William B. Quandt, a distinguished academic and former NSC official with a well-deserved reputation for evenhandedness regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the mid-1970’s, in fact Brookings released an influential report on the Middle East that emphasized the need for Israeli withdrawals, Palestinian self-determination (including the possibility of an independent state) ... Today, however, Brookings work on these issues is conducted through its Saban Center for Middle East Policy, which was established in 2002 with a $13 million grant, primarily advanced by Haim Saban, an ardent Zionist. The New York Times described him as ‘perhaps the most politically connected mogul in Hollywood, throwing his weight and money around Washington and, increasingly, the world, trying to influence all things Israeli.’ This ‘tireless cheerleader for Israel’ told the Times, ‘I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.’ His efforts led Ariel Sharon to describe him as ‘a great American citizen and a man who always stood by Israel and the Jewish people in time of need.’ The man chosen to run the Saban Center was Martin Indyk, the former Clinton administration official who had previously served [at AIPAC] and helped found WINEP. It is hard to imagine that a research institute funded by Saban and directed by Indyk is going to be anything but pro-Israel. To be sure, the Saban Center occasionally hosts Arab scholars and exhibits some diversity of opinion. Saban Center fellows – like Indyk himself – often endorse the idea of a two-state settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. But Saban Center publications never question U.S. support for Israel and rarely, if ever, offer significant criticism of key Israeli policies. Moreover, individuals who stray from the Center’s line do not remain for long, as former NSC official Flynt Leverett’s brief tenure there illustrates ... The Center’s ... 2006 Forum ... Pro-Arab voices ... were conspicuously absent.”
      • Council on Foreign Relations - “... prestigious ... based in New York City ... Its impressive staff of  experts has a more diverse range of views than  the leading think tanks in Washington, for many years hosting both visible critics of Israel such as Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress, along with ardent pro-Israel figures like Max Boot. But the Council is not exempt from pressure, as the reaction to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in September 2006 illustrates. Prominent Jewish organizations angrily protested the invitation and an effort to organize a set of high-profile resignations was headed off only when Council President Richard Haass agreed to downgrade the session from a dinner to a ‘working meeting’. As the ADL’s Abe Foxman told the New York Times Magazine, ‘To break bread with the guy ... was crossing the line.’ Given Ahmadinejad’s offensive remarks about Israel and the Holocaust, this reaction is understandable. Yet it demonstrates once again the lobby’s efforts to ensure that the various institutions that shape public discourse remain sensitive to its concerns.”
    • “given the important role that these institutions play in shaping ideas and policy, the balance of power inside the Beltway strongly favors Israel. There are a few smaller think tanks that are not reflexively pro-Israel – like the New America Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Middle East Research Institute.”
    Academia: The Lobby’s Policing Of Academia
    M & W then deliberate, in a section headed ‘Policing Academia’, the lobby’s campaign to mold the debate about Israel in academia. They note that here the lobby “has faced the greatest difficulty”, because of adherence to the “core” values of intellectual freedom and  a deep-seated commitment to freedom of speech. It is another unedifying tale where, “predictably, the most important organization in the effort to win back the campuses was AIPAC”. 
    • M & W stress that “lobbying on Israel’s behalf is wholly legitimate, as are overt [our emphasis] efforts to shape public perceptions by participating in public discourse about matters relating to Israel.”
    • They point out that “We do not think the lobby’s current influence serves the interest of either the United States or Israel, but most of its tactics are reasonable and simply part of the normal rough-and-tumble that is the essence of democratic politics.”
    • They continue: “Unfortunately, some pro-Israeli individuals and groups have occasionally [occasionally!] taken their defense of Israel to illegitimate extremes, attempting to silence individuals who hold views they dislike. This endeavor can involve intimidating and smearing critics of Israel, or even attempting to damage or wreck their careers.” M & W then refer to a number of examples of this kind of behavior, “which has no place in a democratic society.”:
      • “efforts to influence university faculty and hiring practices ... In the early 1980’s ... AIPAC recruited students to help it identify professors and campus organizations that might be considered anti-Israel ... the ADL, which was compiling files on individuals and organizations it considered suspect regarding Israel ...” Both organizations, note M & W, published details.
      • “This effort intensified in September 2002, when Daniel Pipes established Campus Watch, a website that posted dossiers on suspect academics and ... encouraged students to report comments or behavior that might be considered as hostile to Israel. This transparent attempt to blacklist and intimidate scholars prompted a harsh reaction and Pipes later removed the dossiers, but the website still invites students to report alleged anti-Israel behavior at U.S. colleges.”
      • “Pipes ... began encouraging Congress to curtail or at least closely monitor the ... funding that the federal government gives to Middle East and other area studies programs ... The aim is to silence or at least inhibit critics of Israel and as a result force universities to hire scholars whose views are more in line ...” At the time M & W’s book went to press, this attempt to produce “ideological conformity” was unresolved.
      • “in 2006 ... the Department of History and Sociology at Yale University voted an appointment for ... a distinguished historian [who] has been critical of a number of Israeli policies ... Pro-Israel columnists in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times attacked [his] appointment, and the newspaper Jewish Week reported that several prominent Jewish donors had called Yale officials to protest the decision, which was subsequently overturned by Yale’s appointments committee. The actual impact of donor pressure is unknown ...”
      • “Efforts to protect Israel ... have also targeted individual speakers, visiting professors, and guest lecturers ... In 1984, a student group at Stanford University invited ... former Congressman Pete McCloskey to teach as a visiting lecturer ... McCloskey was a prominent critic of unconditional U.S. support for Israel, having proposed an amendment in 1980 that would have reduced American aid by the amount that Israel was spending annually on it’s West Bank settlements. His actions led to charges that he was an anti-Semite and helped ensure his defeat in his 1982 Senate campaign ... the controversy did not stop there; the director of Stanford’s Hillel chapter said his appointment was ‘a slap in the face of the Jewish community’, and members of the student governing council threatened to reduce his compensation or terminate his appointment if he did not [remove an article from his course, add materials reflecting pro-AIPAC views, schedule sessions with guests representing alternative perspectives] ... A faculty review found the student group guilty of ‘serious abridgements’ of academic freedom and McCloskey eventually received a formal apology from the Stanford provost.”
      • M & W relate their own experience in early 2006: “We were each independently invited to appear on a panel at the U.S. Naval War College’s annual Current Strategy Forum ... The topic of the panel was ‘The Nature of Power’, which ... had little to do with Middle East politics ... Following the publication of our original article, ‘The Israel Lobby’ in 2006, the president of the War College received phone calls from several members of Congress who questioned whether it was appropriate to have us speak at the conference. To his credit, the president took no action ... a subsequent invitation to Walt to speak in a lecture series at the University of Montana also provoked heated denunciations by several faculty members, who began a protracted but unsuccessful campaign to have the faculty coordinator of the lecture series removed from his post.”
      • In 2007, Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah: on the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, and a popular professor at DePaul University in Chicago, was forced to resign. Finkelstein argued in his books that accusations of anti-Semitism are used to silence criticism of Israel. In Beyond Chutzpah he was particularly scathing about the tactics used by Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and staunch Zionist, and Dershowitz’s book, The Case For Israel. Dershowitz led the months-long campaign to oust Finkelstein and succeeded.
      • “The latest, barely credible example comes from Minnesota, where the Catholic University of St. Thomas has rescinded an invitation [early in 2007] to the Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu, after pressure from the Zionist Organisation of America accusing him of anti-Semitism. The university’s vice-president explained: ‘We had heard some things he said some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy … He compared the state of Israel to Hitler and … making moral equivalences like that are hurtful to the Jewish community.’ That is the extent of Tutu’s ‘moral equivalences’, for which he is branded an anti-Semite.”
      • “... a number of pro-Israel academics and groups have tried to suppress publication of scholarly works that challenged their views.” M & W give instances.

    M & W conclude that “pro-Israel groups have fought a multifront battle – against students, professors, administrators and the curriculum itself – to shape discourse on campus. Their efforts have not been as successful in academia as they have been on Capitol Hill or even in the media, but their work has not been in vain ... there is less criticism of Israel on college campuses today than there was five years ago.”

    The Lobby - Objectionable Tactics
    The Lobby’s Resort To Objectionable Tactics
    In a section headed ‘Objectionable Tactics’, M & W consider behaviour of the lobby which they judge to be unacceptable in a democratic society. They are careful to first state that “As we have repeatedly emphasized, lobbying on Israel’s behalf is wholly legitimate, as are overt [our italics] efforts to shape public perceptions by participating in public discourse about matters relating to Israel.” M & W continue:
    • “We do not think the lobby’s current influence serves the interest of either the United States or Israel, but most of its tactics are reasonable and simply part of the normal rough-and-tumble that is the essence of democratic politics.”
    • “Unfortunately, some pro-Israel individuals and groups have occasionally taken their defence of Israel to illegitimate extremes, attempting to silence individuals who hold views they dislike. This endeavor can involve intimidating and smearing critics of Israel, or even attempting to damage or wreck their careers.”
    • M & W go on: “The previous discussion of the lobby’s actions in academia [see above] provides a number of examples of this kind of behavior, which has no place in a democratic society.”
    • “The lobby, however, does not confine its strong-arm tactics to the academic world.” M & W go on to quote some by now well-known cases:
      • That of Tony Judt, a New York University lecturer who is Jewish but frequently critical of Israel’s actions. It has been alleged that, in October 2006, in order to prevent a lecture at the Polish consulate in New York City, the consulate, which had merely rented its facilities for the event, was ‘leaned on’ by officials from two groups in the lobby, ADL and the American Jewish Committee. The consulate cancelled Judt’s lecture at the last minute. Judt has apparently reported receiving death threats against him and his family on other occasions, inspired by his previous criticisms of Israeli policy.
      • M & W again: “A similar incident occurred later that same month, when the French embassy in the United States scheduled a reception to celebrate the publication of Carmen Callil’s Bad Faith, a widely hailed examination of the role that a scurrilous French official (Louis Darquier) had played in the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz. Although the book is a passionate and moving indictment of French complicity in the Holocaust, the embassy reportedly received complaints about a brief passage in Callil’s postscript: ‘What caused me anguish, as I tracked down Louis Darquier, was to live so closely to the helpless terror of the Jews of France, and to see what the Jews of Israel were passing on to the Palestinian people.’ Bowing to the pressure, the French embassy said that ‘it could not endorse a personal opinion of the author expressed in the postscript of the book’ and cancelled the reception.”
      • M & W: “An even more prominent case involved My Name Is Rachel Corrie, a play about the young woman who was killed in March 2003 by an Israeli bulldozer when she was attempting to prevent the IDF from demolishing a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. The play, which was based on Corrie’s diaries and e-mails, opened in April 2005 ... in London and was widely acclaimed. It was scheduled to open in March 2006 at the New York Theater Workshop, which has a well-established reputation for staging controversial productions, only to be postponed about a month before its scheduled opening. The New York Times reported that the workshop’s artistic director has decided to postpone the play ‘after polling local Jewish religious and community leaders as to their feelings about the work’ ... (The ... play was eventually brought to New York in the fall of 2006 for a limited run of eighty performances) A similar occurrence took place in Canada in December 2006 when that country’s largest not-for-profit theatre cancelled a scheduled production of the play, due to fears that it would anger Toronto’s Jewish community. And the same thing happened again in April 2007, when Miami’s Mosaic Theater cancelled plans to mount the play after protests from what the Miami Herald called an ‘impassioned, vocal minority’ of subscribers and outside individuals.”
      • M & W: “The over-zealous pursuit of supposedly ‘dangerous critics’ has even landed one prominent group in the lobby in a courtroom. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the ADL enlisted the services of a private investigator named Roy Bullock who also did intelligence gathering for the apartheid government in South Africa. Bullock, in turn, obtained information from a Los Angeles police intelligence officer who allegedly removed confidential documents from the police department and the Department of Motor Vehicles. In all, the two reportedly maintained files on some twelve thousand individuals and six hundred organizations in California, some of which were provided to the ADL. In addition to white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups, the targets of this surveillance included a number of Jewish dissidents, Arab-American groups, and other critics of Israeli government policies. The San Francisco district attorney launched a criminal investigation, and the police officer ultimately pleaded no contest to the unauthorised use of a police computer. But the district attorney was reluctant to prosecute the ADL because he thought it was a force for good. Instead, the district attorney accepted an offer by the ADL to pay $75,000 to fight bigotry in the local area, and no charges were filed against the organization or Bullock. There was, however, a civil suit brought by three of the targets, two of them Jewish. The ADL eventually agreed to settle out of court and to pay each $50,000 plus court costs. ADL head Abraham Foxman denied that the ADL spied on anyone, but defended its practice of investigating groups critical of Israel by saying ‘a viable, safe, secure haven’ in Israel is ‘part and parcel of the safety and security and survival of the Jewish people.’ ” M & W give their verdict: “The ADL was not protecting the community from anti-Semitism or bigotry, which is its stated mission; it was simply targeting individuals thought to be critical of Israel or of U.S. support.”
    Reaction In America To Mearsheimer And Walt’s Book
    Controversy And (Standard) Accusations Of Anti-Semitism
    The furious and vitriolic reaction in the American media to M & W’s article (in March 2006) and subsequent book (in September 2007) is itself a perfect demonstration of the lobby’s readiness to use objectionable tactics against its critics, and considerable proof of the extensive influence of the lobby in the mainstream media, which their book had discussed.

    The Atlantic magazine, which had commissioned the original article, got nervous and withdrew from publishing it. Tellingly, another US publisher could not be found, and the article subsequently appeared in the London Review of Books. The US mainstream media, according to Robert Fisk (who characterises them as “as pro-Israel, biased and gutless as the two academics infer them to be”), “did not know whether to report on their conclusions, or to remain submissively silent.” He cites “the New York Times, for example, which “only got round to covering [the article] in depth well over two weeks after the reports publication, and then buried its article in the education section on page 19.”


    The article and subsequent book provoked considerable criticism and accusations of anti-Semitism:
    • A column in the Washington Post by the historian and neoconservative Eliot A. Cohen, headed “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic”, declared that the article displayed “obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews.”
    • In the Wall Street Journal, the neoconservative pundit William Kristol accused the authors of “anti-Judaism”.
    • The New York Sun typically (and disgracefully) linked them with the white supremacist David Duke.
    • The historian Benny Morris wrote in the New Republic: “Were ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’ an actual person, I would have to say that he did not have a single honest bone in his body.” Martin Peretz, the magazine’s editor, called the authors “obsessives with dark and conspiratorial minds.”
    • Professor Walt’s fellow Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz – criticized in the article as an “apologist” for Israel – denounced the authors as “liars” and “bigots” in the university’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, and compared the article with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
    • The Anti-Defamation League insisted that it was “a classic conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish control”, and the book has already spurred Deadliest Lies, a 256-page counterblast from Abe Foxman, head of the fiercely pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League, attacking “paranoid fantasies that reinforce anti-Semitic myths.”

    Walt himself said in an interview after the book’s publication: “It is striking, and it is probably something one would predict, having read our book, that virtually all of the mainstream reviews in the United States have been either somewhat negative, or harshly negative. And many have included many personal attacks on us – not all, but the vast majority.”

    Mearsheimer made a telling point about those who wish to attack the detailed arguments of people like himself who attack the lobby: “But that is not because we were on thin ice, it’s because the arguments on the other side are so weak. They can’t beat us with facts and logic, so they misrepresent our arguments and then attack the arguments that we did not make.”

    M & W’s article and subsequent book provoked a wider debate about the limits of permitted criticism of the state of Israel. The distinguished British-born historian Tony Judt said: “All Jews are silenced by the requirement to be supportive of Israel, and all non-Jews are silenced by the fear of being thought anti-Semitic, and there is no conversation on the subject.”


    The Effect Of The Israel Lobby On American Foreign Policy
    America: Israel’s Great Benefactor
    In a chapter headed ‘The Great Benefactor’, M & W examine in detail the remarkable levels of U.S. economic aid, military assistance, and diplomatic support to Israel. It is worth reading this chapter in full to completely appreciate the fine details of this extraordinary story. Two subsequent chapters entitled ‘Israel: Strategic Asset or liability?’ and ‘A Dwindling Moral Case’ examine these questions. Briefly, they conclude:
    • “Israel now receives on average about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, an amount that is roughly one-sixth of America’s direct foreign assistance budget and equal to about 2 per cent of Israel’s GDP ... In recent years, about 75 per cent of U.S. assistance has been military assistance, with the remainder broken down into various forms of economic aid. In per capita terms, this level of direct foreign assistance amounts to a direct subsidy of more than $500 per year for each Israeli. By comparison, the number two recipient of foreign aid, Egypt, receives only $20 per person, and impoverished countries such as Pakistan and Haiti receive roughly $5 per person and $27 per person respectively ... the canonical figure of $3 billion omits a substantial number of other benefits, and thus significantly understates the actual level of U.S. support ... Remarkably, Israel is the only recipient of U.S. economic aid that does not have to account for how it is spent ... this exemption makes it virtually impossible for the United States to prevent its subsidies from being used for purposes that it opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank ...”
    • M & W note that “in addition to government subsidized aid and loan guarantees, Israel receives an estimated $2 billion annually in private donations from American citizens.”
    • “This flow of [aid] money to Israel has been a crucial boon to the general economy ... All of this largesse is especially striking when one realises that Israel is not a poor or devastated country ... On the contrary ... its per capita income in 2006 was twenty-ninth in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund, and is nearly double that of Hungary and the Czech Republic ... and far outstrips every country in Latin America and Africa ... yet this comparatively prosperous state is America’s biggest aid recipient, each year receiving sums that dwarf U.S. support for impoverished states such as Bangladesh, Bolivia and Liberia ...”
    • “... the bulk of US [aid] support is now committed to preserving Israel’s military supremacy in the Middle East ... Israel [receives] access to top-drawer U.S. weaponry ...”
    • “... the United States provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Between 1972 and 2006, Washington vetoed forty-two UN Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel ... There were also numerous resolutions focusing on Israel that never reached a vote in the Security Council due to the threat of an American veto ... Outside the Security Council, the United States routinely backs Israel whenever the UN General Assembly passes one of the many resolutions condemning Israeli behavior or calling for action on behalf of the Palestinians. Although these resolutions are non-binding and largely symbolic, Washington’s stance often puts it at odds with most of its allies and in the company of a tiny handful of other states ...” M & W also note significant and sometimes crucial U.S. support for Israel in its wars and conflicts, and in its illegal settlement policy.
    • M & W: “Today, America’s intimate embrace of Israel – and especially its willingness to subsidize it no matter what its policies are, is not making Americans safer or more prosperous. To the contrary: unconditional support for Israel is undermining relations with other U.S. allies, casting doubt on America’s wisdom and moral vision, helping inspire a generation of anti-American extremists, and complicating U.S. efforts to deal with a volatile but vital region. In short, the largely unconditional ‘special relationship’ between the United States and Israel is no longer defensible on strategic grounds.”
    • M & W consider the dwindling moral case for supporting Israel. The arguments are substantially covered, and demolished, in Michael Neumann’s book The Case Against Israel referred to above and there is no need to repeat them here.

    American Foreign Policy: The Lobby’s Damaging  Influence
    The entire second part of M & W’s book is devoted to an examination of some of America’s major relationships in the Middle East, and the effect of the lobby on these, particularly in more recent years. There are two important points to note. First, their book was published in September 2007 and therefore their account is not up-to-date. Second, they naturally write as Americans, and therefore from an American point of view – they describe themselves as ‘American realists’– and it would be fair to say that they do not write from a left-wing point of view. That being said – and while some like ourselves would differ over various emphases and assumptions, we would not differ too significantly over their overall historical conclusions, and not at all with their contention that the effect of the Israel lobby’s influence has been detrimental to America’s interests, and to Israel’s real interests . In an introduction to the second part, M & W note that:
    • “The Israel lobby’s influence would not be especially worrisome if its agenda were limited to making sure that Congress continued to provide foreign aid to the Jewish state. Although there might be better uses for this money, the United States is a wealthy country and can afford the $3 billion-plus that it annually provides to Israel.”
    • “But the lobby’s efforts have not been limited to foreign aid. Like a number of other special interest groups, it also works to influence various aspects of U.S. foreign policy, in its case focusing primarily on the Middle East. These efforts are understandable: although material aid is valuable, it is even more helpful to have the world’s only superpower bring its vast capabilities to bear on Israel’s behalf.”
    • “Even so, this aspect of the lobby’s agenda would be of little concern if it encouraged policies that were obviously in America’s best interest ... we show that this is not the case ... There are instances where the lobby has supported policies that advanced these interests, but many of the policies that organizations in the lobby have promoted over time have ultimately left the United States worse off. That was not their intention, of course, and the groups and individuals who pushed for these policies undoubtedly believed that the actions they favored would be good for the United States. They were wrong. Indeed, although these policies were intended to benefit Israel, many of them have damaged Israel’s interests as well.”

    Before looking at M & W’s examination, we can note in passing the observation made in Jeffrey Blankfort’s article on The Israel Lobby and the Left referred to above:  “There is, as yet, no record of a single Israeli soldier shedding a drop of blood in behalf of US interests, and there is little likelihood one will be asked to do so in the future. When US presidents have believed that a cop was necessary in the region, US troops were ordered to do the job ... in 1991, President Bush told Israel to sit on the sidelines.”

    In the chapter headed ‘The Lobby Versus The Palestinians’, M & W examine America’s relationship with the Palestinians, and the effect of the lobby on that relationship. It is important to note that their account begins only in 2001, and that the long history of the Zionist project which first created Israel and then sustained it, which we have referred to above, is therefore missing. They conclude:
    • “Absent the lobby, the Bush administration almost certainly would have been much more self-interested and hard-nosed in pushing for peace between Israel and the Palestinians ... The United States has enormous potential leverage at it’s disposal ... it could threaten to cut off all economic and diplomatic support for Israel ... If that were not enough, it would have little difficulty lining up international support to isolate Israel ... Regarding the Palestinians, the United States could hold out the promise of fulfilling their dream of a viable state ... Given the political divisions within Israel ... as well as the presence of violent rejectionists on both sides, achieving a final settlement would not be easy. But doing nothing, or backing Israel so consistently has not made things better. On the contrary, this policy has almost certainly made things worse ... and continues to erode America’s reputation in the world ...”

    In the following chapter, headed ‘Iraq, and Dreams of Transforming The Middle East’, M & W discuss the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the wider scheme, and the lobby’s involvement, and conclude:
    • “the Bush administration’s plans for Iraq and the wider region have been a stunning failure. Not only is the American military stuck in a losing war, but there is little prospect of exporting democracy across the Middle East anytime soon. Iran has been the main beneficiary of this ill-conceived adventure and it seems as determined as ever to acquire a nuclear capability. Syria, like Iran, remains at odds with Washington, and both states have a powerful interest in having the U.S. military bogged down in Iraq.”
    • “The war in Iraq has not been good for Israel either, especially because it has strengthened Iran’s hand in the region. Indeed, the Forward reported in early 2007 that there is a ‘growing chorus’ of voices in Israel who are saying that the Jewish state ‘could find itself in more danger’ now that Saddam has been removed from power.” M & W also note that “... we should not be surprised that some Israelis and their American allies have tried to rewrite the historical record to absolve Israel of any responsibility for the Iraq disaster ...”

    The next chapter, headed ‘Taking Aim at Syria’: M & W discuss  the relationship of the U.S. with Syria, and the lobby’s involvement, and conclude:
    • “Unfortunately, Washington’s confrontational approach to Damascus has produced nothing but negative consequences for the United States and undermined Israel’s long-term interests too ... Syria has stopped providing Washington with intelligence about Al-Qaeda. Assad has done little to help the United States shut down the insurgency in Iraq ... Damascus has continued to support Hezbollah in Lebanon and has formed a tacit alliance with Iran, which makes it harder to maintain peace in Lebanon and to discourage Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons.”
    • “Although these developments are not good for the United States, hard-liners in the lobby remain committed to a policy of confrontation and are quick to criticize anyone who suggests a different course.
    • But Israeli leaders, who appear to be determined to hold on to the Golan Heights, have no interest in seeing the United States establish cooperative relations with Syria ... The result is that the United States continues to pursue a strategically foolish policy toward Syria and will in all likelihood continue to do so until Israel gets a prime minister like Yitzhak Rabin, who understood that exchanging the Golan Heights for peace with Syria would leave Israel in a substantially better strategic position.”

    In the chapter headed ‘Iran in the Crosshairs’, M & W discuss America’s relationship with Iran, and the lobby’s input, and conclude:
    • “American policy toward Iran has been harmful to the national interest”
    • “By opposing any detente between Iran and the United States, much less cooperation, the lobby has also strengthened Iran’s hard-liners, thereby making Israel’s security problems worse”
    Lastly, in the chapter headed ‘The Lobby and the Second Lebanon War’, M & W discuss Israel’s second invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 2006, and the lobby’s involvement. After discussing the invasion in detail, they conclude:
    • “... Nor can one find a compelling strategic or moral rationale that explains why the United States provided Israel with unyielding support while the rest of the world harshly criticized Israeli behavior. In fact, the lobby played the critical role in keeping the United States firmly aligned with Israel during the conflict, despite the strategic costs and dubious moral position this entailed.”
    • “Hezbollah is more powerful than ever in Lebanon ... The war in Lebanon has been a disaster for the Lebanese people as well as a major setback for the United States and for Israel ... The lobby enabled Israel’s counterproductive response by discouraging the Bush administration from exercising independent judgment and influence either before or after the war. In this case, as in so many others, the lobby’s influence has been harmful to U.S. as well as Israeli interests.”

    M & W conclude that “Until the lobby begins to favor a different approach, or until its influence is weakened, American policy in the region will continue to be hamstrung to the detriment of all concerned.”

    What Is To Be Done?
    Combating The Lobby: What Is To Be Done
    In the final chapter, entitled ‘Conclusion: What Is to Be Done’, M & W identify what U.S. policy ought to be, and discuss how the lobby’s negative impact might be mitigated or modified. They conclude that the obvious way to reduce the lobby’s influence:
    • is campaign finance reform. Public financing of all elections would seriously weaken the link between the lobby and elected officials. M & W believe that, unfortunately, the prospects for meaningful campaign finance reform are dim.
    • is to encourage a more open debate about Middle East issues in order to correct existing myths about the Middle East. Americans, say M & W, need to better understand the real history of the creation of the Israeli state, and the true story of Israel’s subsequent conduct.
    • is to force groups in the lobby to defend their positions.
    • is to encourage editors, journalists, scholars, and Americans of all backgrounds to resist the lobby’s efforts to shape public discourse, and to reject the silencing tactics that some lobby groups employ, so that Americans get a more accurate picture of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. M & W note that “stifling debate” and “smearing opponents” is inconsistent with the principles of vigorous and open dialogue on which democracy depends. They imply indirectly (and correctly), that the smear most often used is a false accusation of anti-Semitism, and note that “once virtually any criticism of Israel becomes equated with anti-Semitism, the charge itself threatens to become meaningless.” They add that continued reliance on such undemocratic tactics runs the risk of generating a hostile backlash at some point in the future.





    Part III:
    A Call For Peace In Palestine, And Messages To Those Involved

    A Call To Everyone – Don’t Be Fooled By Zionist Myths
    Zionist Myths
    There are a number of myths which are propagated by Zionists and their apologists. Don’t be fooled by them. Those detailed below consist of our own interpretation of ideas principally taken from Michael Neumann’s book The Case Against Israel, Uri Avnery’s article Manufacturing Anti-Semitism, and the late Edward Said’s article Dignity, Solidarity and the Penal Colony, both articles in The Politics of Anti-Semitism. They do not necessarily reflect the thinking of these writers.

    False Accusations Of Anti-Semitism
    Zionists, as fervent and uncritical supporters of Israel, often, as noted above, make false accusations of anti-Semitism to silence Israel’s critics.
    • The “anti-Semite” libel when wrongly applied is harmful because it denies free speech and censors debate about Israel’s racism and human rights abuses.
    • Whilst the false application of the “anti-Semite” label may have sometimes been successful in the past in silencing Israel’s critics, there may well be a backlash. When, as has happened recently, individuals such as Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter are accused of being anti-Semitic, people begin to realise what is going on, and these disreputable tactics will become less and less effective as more and more people refuse to be intimidated.
    • There is a danger that the most angry denunciations of anti-Semitism, when falsely applied, may actually encourage anti-Semitism in the long run, because people see through it and direct their disgust at the accusers.
    • We have already shown, as above, that Zionism is a racist creed. So it is a case of Zionist racists falsely accusing Israel’s critics – of racism! Now that’s chutzpah!

    Zionist Misuse Of The Holocaust
    Ardent pro-Israelis frequently bring up the Holocaust in order to deflect criticism. This is a dishonest tactic, it should fool no one, and it should be resisted:
    • Michael Neumann: “Let no one throw up the Nazi era as some excuse for Israel … The situation is urgent, and dangerous to all involved. The lies, obfuscations, and self-deceiving nonsense that sustain Israel’s occupation – something it could end tomorrow – cost Jewish as well as Palestinian blood.”
    • And Norman Finkelstein, in his article Counterfeit Courage: Reflections on “Political Correctness” in Germany in The Politics of Anti-Semitism: “The Nazi Holocaust, however horrific … is – except for a handful of survivors – fundamentally a historical question. The persecution of the Palestinians is, by contrast, an ongoing horror … In the first instance, moral action is no longer possible; in the second, it plainly is.”
    • Or Jeffrey Blankfort, in his article in the same book: “ … constant reminders of the Jewish Holocaust that, by no accident, appear in the movies and in major news media on a regular basis.” This can contribute to anti-Semitism in the long run because constant appeals on spurious pretexts  become irritating and then cause anger when it is realized that the intention is to prevent useful criticism of Israel.

    Zionist Myths: Israel’s “Humane” Occupation
    Forget talk of Israel’s ‘humane’ occupation – it is mere propaganda, which most people in the world now comprehend. There are the massive human rights violations described in the Brief History Of Modern Palestine referred to above; there are the war crimes; there are the assassinations; there are the terrible effects of assault and siege; there is the degradation, suffering and want that is the daily lot of the Palestinians. Neumann again: “… after the Nazi era, it is small comfort indeed to know that Israel could have done even worse”.

    Zionist Myths: Palestinian Violence (In Contrast To Israeli Peacefulness)
    Forget also the argument of some impassioned Zionists that the Palestinians opted for violence long before the occupation – so they did, but it is necessary to consider both past, pre-1967 violence related to resistance to the creation of Israel, and current violence related to opposition to illegal Israeli settlement, two responses to two different situations. Past Palestinian violence was a valid resistance to the colonialist project for the creation of Israel described in the Brief History Of Modern Palestine referred to above. Current Palestinian violence as also depicted in that brief history is, as discussed in detail below, the response of a people without other options, forced to do so by Israeli settlement and other actions. In both cases - the Zionist project, then the Israeli state - initiated the violence by their actions, causing a justified Palestinian response. The charge against the Palestinians is untrue - it is a shoddy attempt to muddy the waters and deflect blame from Israel.

    Zionist Myths: Unfathomable Arab/Palestinian Hatred
    Zionists sometimes talk of Arabs and Palestinians eternally plotting Israel’s destruction, consumed with a burning hatred that will not die (they’ll always hate us, so peace is impossible, why bother to try). This is a shabby excuse normally trotted out to sabotage any moves towards peace. As regards the wider Arab world, it should be pointed out that peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have held. On the basic point, of course many Palestinians and Arabs do hate Israelis, and this is unsurprising given the history of the conflict. As Neumann says: ”What bred Palestinian hatred of Jews and Israelis was just like what bred Israeli and Jewish hatred of Palestinians”. The hatreds were a normal consequence of war and conflict, not the cause of the conflict. One may say that the Zionists and the Israeli government exacerbate Palestinian/Arab hatred against ordinary Israelis in their pretence that they represent the entire Jewish people, Israelis and the Diaspora. As to undying hatred, there is absolutely no reason to suppose that there is something historically unique and different in kind about current Arab/Palestinian hostility and hatred of Israel, brought on by war and conflict, which has never happened in the world before. Consider Allied hatreds against Germany and Japan after World War II – while some may persist in a very few (very old) old men, current generations of British and American children seem to be entirely free of it – Germans are the same as other Europeans, and Japanese just like other Asians. Given the history of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, it will take time to abate, but surely it will abate. It is hysterical nonsense to claim otherwise, used by Zionists with base motives. But, in any case, if the ‘unquenchable hatred’ theory is true, then improved security through Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories (as argued for in detail below) is even more desirable. Neumann in addition makes another point which he considers even more important – after a conflict, often when there is continued animosity there is virtually no violence – he gives as one example the likelihood of the Vietnamese or Cambodians or Laotians wreaking vengeance on the Americans for those who died in Indochina. As he says; “It is not just that hatred dissipates; it is also that it often ceases to be a danger.”

    Zionist Myths: Palestinians Can Just Leave
    The myth that the Palestinians can just leave if the occupation is so bad. There is a Zionist myth, widely propagated, that the Palestinians can just pack up and leave if they don’t like the brutal occupation in the Occupied Territories – there are, it is said, some 40 million fellow Arabs in neighbouring countries to which they can go. For sheer Zionist effrontery this takes some beating - the thief is grumbling that the victim should stop complaining and just get out – why should the Palestinians do this? In fact, as Neumann demonstrates in great detail in the chapter of his book on The Settlements, this is not a Palestinian option – they have nowhere else to go. Neumann argues that, though their fellow-Arabs are truly sympathetic to their cause, there are limits, practical and otherwise, to their generosity. In particular, a refuge in Jordan, as is most often cited, Neumann describes as “fatuous” in its impracticality, the equivalent of the USA taking in 180 million people.

    Zionist Myths: It’s Not Israel’s Zionist Policies That Are Making Israel Unsafe
    Myths that deny that it is Israel’s Zionist policies which are making Israel unsafe. The myth is that Israel is a safe haven for all Jews, and must therefore be protected at all costs. In his article Manufacturing Anti-Semites in The Politics of Anti-Semitism referred to above, the Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery speaks of Zionist myths he grew up with, and which are now turned upside down. One is that Israel is a haven for all the Jews in the world – Jews, the myth goes, live in perpetual fear that a cruel persecutor will arrive, as happened in Germany. Israel is the safe haven, to which all Jews can escape in times of danger. Then, says Avery, Saddam [Hussein] came along and proved the opposite. All over the world, Jews live in safety, and only in one place on the planet are they threatened: Israel. Avery says that many Israelis are already planning to escape to communities in the Diaspora – end of myth. What Avnery implies is that Israeli policies are making Israel unsafe

    Zionist Myths: It’s Not Israel’s Zionist Policies That Are Feeding Anti-Semitism
    Myths that deny that it is Israel’s Zionist policies which feed anti-Semitism. Another Zionist myth, Uri Avnery relates in his article in The Politics of Anti-Semitism, is that the Diaspora creates anti-Semitism – everywhere the Jews are a minority, and a minority inevitably attracts the hatred of the majority. Only when the Jews gather in the land of their Forefathers and constitute the majority will anti-Semitism disappear throughout the world. Nowadays, the very opposite is happening: the state of Israel is causing the resurrection of anti-Semitism all over the world, threatening Jews everywhere. The Sharon government [he was writing at that time] is a giant laboratory for growing the anti-Semitism virus and exporting it to the whole world, and anti-Semitism is now riding on a great wave of opposition to Sharon’s policy of aggression. One could disagree slightly with Avnery, and say that perhaps, for some, Israeli policies have led to anti-Semitism, but perhaps for others, it has just led to revulsion and anger and opposition to Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians. Either way (and this is Avnery’s point), it is not good for the state of Israel. His message to the Diaspora: break the habit of automatic identification with everything the Israeli government does – let your conscience speak out. We agree.

    Zionist Myths: Israel’s “Right” To Palestine
    Apologists for Israel often make spurious claims of Israel’s “right” to Palestine (the Holy Land):
    • It is said that the Jews have a historical claim, on the basis that they inhabited the place more than 2,000 years ago. On this basis, are the Saxons entitled to parts of England, or the Normans? Can the native Indians reclaim the whole of America? The argument is absurd.
    • Alternatively, the claim is made on a biblical basis – that God gave Israel to the Jews. To the vast majority of the world’s people (those who are not Jews, and religious Jews at that) this claim means nothing, and will not be accepted.
    • Or it is sometimes said that, because of the growing Nazi menace in Europe, which culminated in the Final Solution, the Jews had a need for refuge. This is demonstrably true, and such a refuge could have been demanded from the whole world. Since the world, particularly the major powers, did not respond, it could be argued that the Jews had a right to take refuge wherever they could, including Palestine. However, once the danger passed (that is, once the Hitler regime was defeated in 1945), the right to refuge ended. Certainly the time-limited “right to refuge” argument does not give the Zionists any right to take over, permanently, any part of Palestine.
    • A variant of the “refuge” claim is that the Jews needed their own state because only in this way could they have a truly safe haven from persecution. There were certainly real threats, in the late nineteenth century, and in the Hitler period (1933-45), as noted in the attached short history, but the Jews could have done what they had done in past centuries – just leave, get out, anywhere, as a matter of self-defence. However, the Zionists insisted that they go only to Palestine, their insistence being not for the express purpose of saving Jewish life, but primarily to help in the Zionist project of taking over someone else’s country.
    • But what of protection from (undefined) future threats? Again, there was always an alternative available to the Zionist project - the historical one of just leaving in the event of any sufficiently threatening situation in the future – just leaving for any suitable place, and assimilating there. Moreover, since many peoples and groups are always imagining looming threats, perceived more or less vaguely – the world would be in chaos if all such groups were allowed to take their own “Zionist” option, and similarly take over someone else’s country. Vague, undefined future threats are insufficient reason for the Zionist project.
    • Those interested in a comprehensive refutation of all of the above arguments should refer to Michael Neumann’s book The Case Against Israel, where a whole chapter is devoted to them.

    Zionist Myths: Palestinian Terrorism Prevents Peace
    The myth that peace cannot be obtained because the Palestinians will not give up terrorism:
    • Michael Neumann points out that, unless the Palestinians assent to the continuing encroachment of the settlements, and the mortal threat these represent – that is, unless they acquiesce to their own continuing dispossession and possible ultimate destruction, they have no other option but to resist – what else can they do? Their options are limited therefore to the form that resistance will take.
    • Ignoring the Israelis’ own massive use of violence before, during, and after the creation of the Israeli state right up to the present day, indignant Zionists sometimes assert that the Palestinians have “failed” to use non-violent resistance – the cheek of these people, the argument goes, it’s all their fault then, we’ll just leave them to stew until they get more sense. However, the option of non-violent resistance alone doesn’t work – historically, on its own, it never has. Neumann, in the chapter of his book describing Palestinian and Israeli Alternatives, demonstrates this, discussing in detail the often-quoted examples of Gandhi’s independence movement, the U.S. Civil rights campaign, and the South African campaign against apartheid – indeed, in the South African case, he shows that, on the contrary, violence did help. The Palestinians, who in fact have always used a mixture of violent and non-violent action, are, in the circumstances of the conflict, justified in a violent resistance. As Neumann says, “the notion that a people ... can free itself literally by allowing their captors to walk all over them is in historical terms a fantasy.” On the other hand, the Israelis do not have to use violence – they can end the whole, long, tragic story whenever they wish, by withdrawing from all of the Occupied Territories and then making a permanent peace, as described in the section below headed ‘A Call To The Israeli People - A Vision For Peace’.
    • Neumann, after observing that not so long ago, the Zionists were themselves terrorists, then goes into a long discussion about terrorism and “state terrorism”. Terrorism, he argues, involves arbitrary attacks against civilians (that is, non-combatants). He notes that the object might not be to instill terror, but to attempt to get the targeted population to make rational calculations about the success or otherwise of  their government’s policies. Further, he says, there are two related questions which must be asked; is terrorism better or worse than other practices, such as, for example, “state terrorism”, or are the two “morally equivalent”; whether “terrorism” is sometimes justified. Neumann’s argument is that, if terrorism is morally equivalent to some other brutal practice such as “state terrorism”, it is still necessary to ask if it is nevertheless justified.
    • Neumann then asks specifically whether Palestinian terrorist attacks are morally different in any significant way from the tactics employed by the Israelis, whose government claims to abhor terror. Israel has employed “state terrorism” in that it, for example, uses air strikes, which do kill civilians. This is still different to Palestinian terrorism, because Israel says it does not deliberately kill civilians (though Neumann is not so sure about this [and in the recent assault on Gaza, Israel has been accused of deliberately killing civilians]) – they are “collateral damage”, whereas Palestinian terrorism deliberately kills civilians. However, Neumann asserts, the issue is not whether a distinction can be made between collateral damage and terrorism, but whether the distinction has any moral importance. Neumann points out that when the Israelis speak of collateral damage, they are not speaking of some unexpected civilian casualties – on the contrary, they in general know with certainty – the commanders, the soldiers, the decision-makers – that civilians are in the firing line, and that they will be killed. Thus, collateral damage involves knowingly killing innocent civilians, and terrorism involves deliberately killing innocent civilians. Neumann notes that, while the conceptual difference is discernable, the moral difference is too academic even for an academic, and that, certainly to the dead, the difference doesn’t matter.
    • Neumann then goes on to point out that, in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the assumption is that, if actions can be classified as terrorism they must be wrong. This is false, he says – by commonly accepted standards, some of these acts can be right:
      • First, there is the question of justification. Conventional morality, even restricted by the concerns expressed in international conventions, does in actuality sanction horrible violence, perhaps even against civilians. Neumann asks whether, in a war, it is in fact so very much worse to kill civilians rather than combatants, and gives several examples, including the saturation bombing campaign against German cities in the Second World War, and the use of the atomic bomb against Japan. These campaigns were perhaps justified because the intention was to end the war and avoid even greater loss of life – some may disagree – but, as Neumann says, the situation is
      • Second, there is the question of good intentions to avoid collateral damage, as is commonly (indeed invariably) claimed by the Israelis – we always try our best to avoid civilian casualties, they say, in a pained way, why can’t the rest of the world understand? This, as Neumann says, is a non-runner – if you know in fact that you will kill civilians as collateral damage, then you are knowingly committing “state terrorism” - you are knowingly killing civilians
      • Thirdly, there is the question of reasons for accepting brutality against civilians – Neumann points out that in fact we’re pretty relaxed about standards for killing and mutilating civilians – that we don’t seem to require great certainty that they are absolutely necessary – that we don’t really feel that you must not make mistakes when it comes to reasons for war, and are very charitable about such mistakes. He quotes the First World War, the Korean war, and the Vietnam war, and contrasts our woolly moralising about war with the crystal clarity about our moralising on, say, the rape of a child. We do lower our standards when it comes to war – the brutalities of war affect us less - we expect countries to act like vicious beasts – the other guy’s atrocities horrify us, not our own.
      • Finally, he comes to terrorism. Like war, and killing, terrorism is sometimes justified, sometimes not. What is crucially clear, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that we all accept the mutilation and killing of civilians as a means to certain political ends, and that no self-serving revulsion against terrorism will change this.
    • In the case of Palestinian terrorism, the Palestinians have no obviously viable non-violent alternatives. Anyone who believes that the Palestinians should renounce terror ought at least to provide a plausible argument that some other strategy will be more effective – and, Neumann notes, he doesn’t see any such argument on the horizon.
    • The Israelis, on the other hand, have alternatives. They can, as described in the section below headed ‘A Call To The Israeli People - A Vision For Peace’, end the whole, long, tragic story whenever they wish, by withdrawing from all of the occupied territories and then making a permanent peace.

    Zionist Myths: Palestinians Don’t Want Peace
    The Zionist myth that Palestinians would never accept any peace offer. Peace offers, they say, have been made to them in the past, but could not be agreed upon because the Palestinians are committed to the destruction of Israel. Therefore, peace is unattainable. The suspicion is that this Zionist claim is made because it is the Zionists who do not want peace – they want it all, including the West Bank:
    • The Palestinians could not have done so prior to the occupation. Until 1967, Israel had nothing to offer the Palestinians unless it was willing to cease being a Jewish state and permit unlimited right of return. Only this could have ended the sovereignty of Jews over Palestinians which was at the heart of the dispute. Israel never dreamed of making such an offer, so the Palestinians never dreamed of a peaceful settlement.
    • After the Israeli victory in the Six Day War in 1967 and the resulting occupation, Israel was now in a better position to resolve the Palestinian question. There was indeed a chance of peace because the Israelis now had something to offer the Palestinians - the Gaza strip and the West Bank in which to create a sovereign state of their own. Neumann claims that such a proposal seems to have been contemplated but never seriously considered. Dayan and his military advisers recognised the potential of a settlement with the Palestinians on the West Bank immediately after the war when the Palestinians still felt that that they had been liberated rather than conquered by the Israelis. The Palestinian leaders telephoned their desire for an immediate settlement. About 40 of the West Bank notables put their names to a call for a provisional Palestinian Assembly. But there was no reply, despite the fact that at that time the Palestinians regarded the Israelis as liberators [this is Neumann’s claim] because they hoped for an independent state, free from the rule of King Hussein (word had got round that, by agreement with the Israelis, King Hussein was coming back to the West Bank) The chance of a peace settlement was lost when the Israeli government turned to  Hussein instead of inviting the Palestinians to come home and take over their rightful heritage as of right and not on sufferance – that is, to establish their own state in Palestine alongside the Jews. Very quickly, the settlements began. They represented a decisive rejection of peace. Israel, Neumann claims, had been wavering between sponsoring a Palestinian state and giving the Occupied Territories back to Jordan. Now, there would be no Palestinian homeland, nor even any attempt to work out some arrangement between the Palestinians and King Hussein. Whatever their words, by their actions the Israelis had declared unequivocally their studied lack of interest in a Palestinian state or indeed of any accommodation with the Palestinians.
    • After the occupation, and especially after the settlement movement, there could be no peace without a sovereign Palestinian state that could plausibly provide protection from settler ambitions. Other matters, such as the problem of Jerusalem, the right of return, or even the legitimacy of the Israeli state, are secondary to sovereignty, and therefore need not be considered if peace offers did not include sovereignty as a minimum – if Palestinians were not offered real sovereignty, Neumann says, they were offered nothing. The complex issue of negotiations and peace offers now reduces to something much simpler. Israel’s offers supposedly reached some climax of generosity in 1999-2001 – so we can concentrate on that period. We can simply ask – were the Palestinians offered a sovereign state? They were not. Neumann quotes Professor Menachem Klein, Senior Scholar at the Jerusalem Institute for Israeli Studies, Professor at Bar Ilan University, who served as advisor to the Israeli delegation to the Camp David Summit in July 2000. Professor Klein, as Neumann notes, is “not much given to jargon or circumlocution: he dismisses the pro-Israeli claims of generous offers and Palestinian intransigence as ‘nonsense’, and is very clear on one crucial point: “Israel presented a map to Yasir Abd Rabbo and then presented this orally in Stockholm and at Camp David. It was leaked to [the Israeli newspaper] Yediot Aharanot. It shows Israel controlling a Greater Jerusalem that goes to the Dead Sea and connects with the Jordan Valley where Israel would have sovereignty over a strip of land west of the River, and thereby keep control over the external borders of the Palestinian state.” As Neumann says, what happened at the borders of the Palestinian “state”, in other words, would be entirely at the discretion of the Israelis. He notes other state-destroying defects – a territory riddled with settlements and Israeli-controlled access roads, with supervised ports, immigration, and airspace. But, as he says, “the border restrictions alone represent the starkest, clearest denial of Palestinian sovereignty.” You do not have sovereignty, a state, unless you control its territory, and you do not control its territory if you do not control its external borders. It doesn’t matter, therefore, whether what you are being offered represents 80 or 90 or 95 or 98 per cent of the Occupied Territories – to be offered territory you do not control is to be offered nothing.
    • Neumann continues the narrative: after Camp David, Barak resigned, there was an election, and Sharon was elected – just before he took over, there were more negotiations at Taba, at which the Israeli side made much improved, though vague, proposals. Taba is generally conceded to represent the furthest negotiations have advanced towards peace, the contours of a settlement to which both sides might have assented – a demilitarised but sovereign Palestinian state with full control of its borders and a contiguous territory produced in part by land swaps. However, as Neumann notes, the “progress from Camp David to Taba was the progress from a clearly unacceptable offer to a possibly not unacceptable non-offer” - when the Sharon government took power, the Taba proposals, unsurprisingly, never gained official status.
    • The current situation is that, given the settlements, the intentions of the settlers, and Israeli settlement policy, it presently appears crystal clear that Israel will not give the Palestinians room for a sovereign state – it could not do so, given  the Israeli agenda. Since Israel instituted the settlements, it is Israel that currently denies the possibility of peace.
    • Neumann also makes one last, obvious point - if the Palestinians were ever to accept some unsatisfactory offer, this would not produce peace – Palestinian resistance would just continue.
    • Finally, here is the late Edward Said’s assessment of the Bush ‘road map’, from his article Dignity, Solidarity and the Penal Colony in The Politics Of Anti-Semitism. “Anyone who believes that the road map devised by the Bush administration offers anything resembling a settlement or that it tackles the basic issues is wrong. Like so much of the prevailing peace discourse, it places the need for  restraint and renunciation  squarely on Palestinian shoulders ... the road map ... is not about a plan for peace so much as a plan for pacification ... hence the repetition of the term ‘performance’ ... in other words, how the Palestinians are expected to behave ... no violence, no protest, more democracy, better institutions, all based on the notion that  the underlying problem has been the ferocity of Palestinian resistance, rather than the occupation that has given rise to it. Nothing comparable is expected of Israel ...” One wonders if the present Obama/Mitchell approach is in any way significantly different from this.
    Zionist Myths: Claims Of Common Values
    Zionist claims of common values. Nowadays, the American alliance with Israel is typically defended on nebulous grounds: Israel is “our friend”, it “shares our values”, it is a staunch ally in the “war on terror”. These phrases disguise the fact that, in contrast to most alliances, there is virtually no confluence of American and Israeli interests:
    • That Israel is “our friend” implies an affection for which there is little evidence: even discounting spy scandals and the USS Liberty incident, the relationship is certainly prickly enough. So, the only sense in which Israel is truly “our friend” is that Israel is America’s ally. This of course begs the question at hand. No one would dispute that Israel is America’s ally in the sense that America has allied itself with Israel; at issue is whether this alliance is to America’s advantage.
    • As for “sharing our values”, this is too nebulous to take seriously. Alliances involve common interests, not common mentalities. In the Second World War, France and Italy probably shared more values than France and Russia; the alliances did not reflect these facts. And it must be said that, though Israel does indeed claim to believe in democracy, the American conception of democracy would not permit territorial control of 3 million Palestinians for 40-plus years without any role in the election of their ultimate rulers, the Israeli government. Furthermore, Israel is a democracy for Israeli Jews only, not for the 1.5 million Israeli Arabs comprising some 20 per cent of the population who are second-class citizens, as noted in the brief history referred to above. If the U.S. is to have good reason to ally itself with Israel, that alliance must have shared objectives rather than a mere appearance of shared values.
    • With communism no more a common enemy, the Israelis had to worry about the appearance of a common cause.
      • In this respect, 9/11 was a godsend because it enabled the Israelis to present themselves as a comrade in the “war on terror” The Israeli government, their Zionist apologists, and the now-discredited-and-out-of-office Bush administration, with its American neocons (mostly Zionists by another name), have dishonestly confused and conflated Israeli and American problems with terrorism as a way of falsely boosting the need of the USA to have Israel as a partner and comrade in the “war on terror”. In fact, the terrorist enemies of each are different and have different motivations. America and Israel do not have common terrorist enemies, and therefore America has no need of Israel in its fight against terrorism. Al-Qaeda is an enemy of America – it is unnecessary to go into the many reasons for this, since it is sufficient only to note that it is not an Israeli enemy – although it has made sympathetic noises to the Palestinian cause, it has done nothing useful for the Palestinians. And Hezbollah and Hamas are enemies of Israel, but not the US. (We have already made this point in great detail about Hamas, in a previous article ‘Hamas and Palestinian-Israeli Peace Negotiation’, which can also be seen on South Tyneside STWC’s website at www.northeaststopwar.org.uk
      • On the other hand, Israel does nothing but harm the strategic and political position of the United States. This is apparent whether one looks at the purported advantages of the alliance, or at its known disadvantages:
        • It is often claimed that the U.S. alliance with Israel is motivated by oil politics. This is implausible. In fact, were it not for that alliance, the US would be able to apply much more direct and finely-tuned pressure on oil-rich governments, if one is to take a Machiavellian view of geopolitics. Israel is best positioned to pressure states which are not significant oil producers – Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, utterly superfluous for pressuring feeble Gulf states, and politically unsuitable, as the Gulf wars showed, for pressuring militarily strong producers like Iraq under Saddam, and Iran. Israel is more of a hindrance than a help
        • The portrayal of Israel as America’s stationary aircraft carrier is equally unconvincing. Again taking a Machiavellian view of geopolitics, the U.S. does not need Israel to strike through Jordan and Syria to Gulf oil fields. This ‘solution’ would be much more of a problem than simply occupying the oil fields with American troops. The one thing that might conceivably come in handy – lots of ground troops – only friendly Arab governments, not Israel, can supply.
        • As for more immediate objectives, there is no common interest at all. America (apart from that tiny but very influential piece of it which is the lobby) has absolutely no desire for Israeli settlers to dispossess the Palestinians of the little that remains to them, no desire whatever to persecute the Palestinians in any way. Israel (apparently) benefits from these activities; America merely pays the price, in dollars and lives.

    There are a number of reasons why the alliance should end:
    • Neumann notes that, despite the air of unshakeable piety that surrounds the U.S.-Israel alliance, it has never been, even at its height, the sacred bond that it is habitually supposed to be. Even after the Yom Kippur war, when the U.S. replenished Israel’s arsenal, U.S. aid to Egypt was very substantial and preceded the Camp David agreements of 1977. Saudi Arabia, still at war with Israel, is armed by the United States. And how soon the fact is forgotten, that in 1990, the U.S. and Syria were military allies.
    • In fact, Neumann continues, America would be better off on the other side of the Israel-Palestine conflict:
      • It would instantly gain the warm friendship of Arab oil producers.
      • It would obtain greater cooperation from Muslim governments in its fight against terrorism, and reduce the ranks of Muslim extremists.
    • It has already been noted in the section headed ‘American Foreign Policy: The Lobby’s Damaging  Influence’, that America has tremendous leverage to pressure Israel into a peace settlement with the Palestinians. If it were to do so, a conflict that has simmered and broken out sporadically since 1948 in a strategically vital oil-rich region of the world could at last be ended.

    A Call To The Jewish Diaspora, And All People Of Goodwill
    Speak Out Against Israeli Oppression And Intransigence, And Take Action
    Israeli intransigence has allowed an occupation of the West Bank, and (until recently) the Gaza Strip to drag on for more than 40 years, in which the Palestinian people have been savagely persecuted, and now appear to be slowly being strangled out of existence. In this situation, it is not enough for the Jewish Diaspora, especially in America, and indeed all Jews everywhere, to merely refrain from supporting Israel no matter what it does. All people of goodwill everywhere, including Israeli Jews and the Jewish Diaspora must speak out:
    • Michael Neumann again:
      • “... no nation and no person of any ethnicity should support Israel. Nor is that nearly enough. They should work to isolate that nation and, by marshaling the most extensive international sanctions possible, to force Israel out of the Occupied Territories. That is not an extreme proposal but the bare minimum that the current situation demands.”
      • “... no one should be deterred from vigorous anti-Israeli action by the horrors of the Jewish past. On the contrary: Israel’s current policies are themselves an insult and a threat to Jews and Israelis everywhere. Concern for the past requires a quite different attitude. When it comes to the lessons of history, we can do no better than heed the words of Irena Klepfisz, who was born in Warsaw in 1941 and whose father died in the Warsaw uprising:
        • ‘Am I to feel better that the Palestinians ... were not shot by the Israelis but merely beaten? As long as hundreds of Palestinians are not being lined up and shot, but are killed by Israelis only one a day, are we Jews free from worrying about morality, justice? Has Nazism become the sole norm by which to judge evil, so that anything that is not its exact duplicate is considered by us morally acceptable? Is that what the Holocaust has done to Jewish moral sensibility?’ ”
    • This is Neumann again, taken from his article What Is Anti-Semitism in The Politics Of Anti-Semitism referred to above. He speaks of complicity in crimes: “... for denying the horror unfolding around them, for failing to speak out and resist, for passive consent ... If many Jews spoke out, it would have an enormous effect. But the overwhelming majority of Jews do not, and in the vast majority of cases, this is because they support Israel.”
    • Another point – it is entirely insufficient to only demand, for example, a “two-state solution”, in circumstances where America and Israel call the shots and appear to be doing nothing effective. Groups like J.Street in America, and Independent Jewish Voices in the UK need to go beyond that and actively criticise Israel’s behaviour. They have made a start.
    Action, too, is necessary. All people of goodwill can take part in boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns.

    In April, an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Jeff Halper, a visiting Israeli peace activist, discussed some vital questions for the Jewish Diaspora everywhere. Extracts are reproduced here: “ … Diaspora Jewry uses Israel as the lynchpin of its ethnic identity, mobilising around a beleaguered Israel as a way of keeping the community intact … Israel cannot be held up as a voyeuristic ideal by people who, though professing a commitment to Israel’s survival … the vast majority … are not going to emigrate to Israel, actually need an Israel at conflict for their own community’s internal survival … Israel must change in ways David Ben-Gurion and Leon Uris never envisioned, even if that is hard for Diaspora Jews to accept … I can envision an Israel at peace …it is precisely such a normal state at peace with its neighbours that is so threatening to Jews abroad, because it leaves them with no external cause around which to galvanise … Diaspora Jews need to revalidate Diaspora Jewish culture (that Zionism dismissed as superficial and ephemeral) and find genuine, compelling reasons why their children should remain Jewish … Blindly supporting Israel’s extreme right-wing and militaristic policies is not the way to do that. Such uncritical support contradicts the very liberal values that define Diaspora Jewry, driving away the younger generation of thinking Jews … [the Diaspora] must let Israel go, get a (Jewish) life of its own, and return to its historical commitment to social justice and human rights. It may wish Israel well, but it must support an end to Israel’s occupation and a just peace with the Palestinians.”


    A Call To The Israeli People- A Vision For Peace
    A Call To The Israeli People – Act To Bring Peace To The Middle East
    Michael Neumann’s book contains a vision for peace involving withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. The ideas which are detailed below consist of our own interpretation of his ideas. Though they are similar, they do not reflect his own thinking.

    It has been argued in the section above headed ‘Zionist Myths: Palestinian Terrorism Prevents Peace’ that the Palestinians have no alternative but violent resistance.


    It is often said that Israel also has no alternative other than a military response to such resistance; that Israelis and Palestinians are locked together in some fatal struggle. This is incorrect. Israel does have an alternative – unilateral withdrawal from all of the Occupied Territories, both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, since Israel does have this alternative, a military response to Palestinian resistance is not justified. Though an Israeli unilateral withdrawal is currently out of the question given the nature of the Netanyahu government, it is nevertheless discussed in detail below because of its insights and possibilities, and because governments change:
    • Michael Neumann points out that unilateral withdrawal “has been recommended since 1998 by the Council for Peace and Security, an organisation originally headed by Aharon Yariv, who joined the Haganah (the main Zionist armed force) in 1939 and was at various times a general, the first commander of the IDF staff college, head of military intelligence, and cabinet minister in the Meir and Rabin governments. The group comprises some 1,000 ‘security experts’, including ex-army and intelligence officers with impressive credentials. Some of its members want to hang on to some of its settlements, but on the whole something very close to complete withdrawal is contemplated.”
    • Neumann noted that “In the opinion of this group, withdrawal will improve, not harm Israel’s security.” The main reasons are obvious:
      • Vast resources are currently needed to defend the settlements because it is more difficult to protect civilians scattered all over the landscape than to protect a single border.
      • Because of the settlements, the existing border cannot be properly sealed; this constraint would vanish on withdrawal. It is eloquent testimony to the desirability of this option that almost invariably, when Israel is really concerned about its internal security, it does in fact temporarily close the border, roughly along the pre-1967 ‘Green Line’ Within its borders, Israel could erect whatever barriers and fortifications it liked to tighten its frontiers.
      • Palestinians in the Occupied Territories [both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip] will be able to establish a state of their own. Most will no longer have a motive for engaging in violence. The extent to which withdrawal would reduce Palestinian attacks is the subject of much speculation, but it would be unreasonable to suppose that withdrawal offered no grounds for expecting a reduction.
    • The chief disadvantage alleged is that Israel will ... lose its ‘buffer’ of the Occupied Territories, so that Palestinians or conceivably neighboring states would be in a better position to mount attacks. Many, both Israelis (see the quote below) and non-Israelis, suspect that this alleged disadvantage – the loss of the “buffer” - is in fact an excuse used to hide the real intention – to preserve, and even extend, the settlements. Nevertheless, the alleged problem of the loss of the “buffer” is considered below. As Neumann says, “This problem is vastly overblown”. Neumann again:
      • “Buffer zones need not be within one’s own borders. States do on occasion announce that military operations close to certain vulnerable borders would not be tolerated. Israel is more than powerful enough to do the same.”
      • “Nothing would prevent Israel from making retaliatory or even pre-emptive strikes across its borders if genuinely necessary. This is in fact the strategy that Israel has in the past employed against neighbouring states, with considerable success.”
      • “Only on the most pessimistic analysis can it be supposed that the government of a [new] Palestinian state would not want to restrict terrorism against Israel: with a state, the Palestinians would have much to lose in such attacks, and, given military realities, virtually nothing to gain.”
      • “There is a good chance that international forces could be enlisted to monitor the border.”
      • “In the worst case, the decision would not be irrevocable. If Israel really did find itself in an intolerable security situation as a result of withdrawal, there is little doubt it would have the power to reoccupy the territories, particularly if it did so before allowing a buildup of forces on the other side.”
      • [There is Israel’s preponderance of military power, at least in the short and medium term.]
    • On the other hand, the risks, particularly the long-term ones, of leaving the situation unchanged have also to be considered:
      • The difficulty of defending settlements scattered all over the landscape, as noted above.
      • Continuing Palestinian violence.
      • The possibility of increasing levels of anti-Semitism around the world because of Israel’s behaviour towards the Palestinians – as Israel becomes more and more unpopular, the perceived identification of Jews with Israel could invigorate an unacceptable ideology that fell into disrepute after the Holocaust. This would have adverse repercussions for Israel (as well as the Jewish Diaspora).
      • Increasing anger in the Arab and Muslim world, and in Europe too, matched by Israel’s increasing diplomatic isolation, with the possibility, at some time or other, of European economic and other sanctions, cannot be good for security in the long-term.
      • Continued reliance on large-scale American support, which, even if currently available, cannot be guaranteed in the long-term – the world is ever-changing, new global powers are emerging, and the global geopolitical picture could look very different in a decade or two.
    • What makes the withdrawal option so significant is that it is instantly available –  it requires no negotiations, no change in Palestinian attitudes, no trust, and no improvement in the effectiveness of the Palestinian authority” Neumann quotes an Israeli major in the Israeli armored corps who “showed an appreciation of the situation when he said that:
      • ‘Make no mistake, Israel has no other reason for remaining in the Occupied Territories than to preserve the existing settlements, even when they are deep within Palestinian centers of population. Maybe the Palestinians are not interested in peace – one of the most commonly heard justifications for our recent invasions – and truly want to push us into the sea. Even then, we would be much better off defending ourselves from the 1967 borders rather than from inside the narrow alleys of Jenin, Ramallah, and Bethlehem. This is why I think that the occupation runs against the most basic interests of the state of Israel, even to the extent of threatening its very existence.’ ”
    • Concerning the settlements, the political difficulties involved in getting Israelis to accept the withdrawal are irrelevant to its viability: they simply mean that Israel might not choose it, and that decision would remain Israel’s responsibility. As for the settlers, Israel could arrange for their removal as it did recently when it previously withdrew from the Gaza Strip – despite settler threats, they were removed without too much trouble. Although the numbers (roughly half a million, around 200,000 in East Jerusalem and 250,000 in other parts of the West Bank) are much bigger, the task is by no means impossible.
    • A unilateral withdrawal would enable peace negotiations to subsequently take place. Neumann in fact argues that negotiations after withdrawal make more sense, because there could then be a sovereign Palestinian state to negotiate with. Neumann also points out that Israel would not lack negotiating chips, such as the possibility of a land corridor between the West Bank and Gaza, negotiated after the withdrawal, to produce a contiguous Palestinian state.
    Over the years, you have elected a succession of governments, each one of which has been indifferent, to a greater or lesser degree, to the human rights of the Palestinians, and has in fact savagely persecuted them, and killed them in their thousands – your present right-wing government is no exception. Those governments have frequently used fear as a means of keeping the Israeli people in line. The consequences are:
    • You have become a pariah state around the world:
      • From early on (1948 and earlier), you have been opposed, not only by the Arab and Muslim worlds, but by virtually all of the so-called developing countries, many of whom had their own bitter colonial experiences to draw on.
      • Increasingly, the so-called developed countries, in Europe and elsewhere, are turning against you. There is a long line of UN resolutions where you have been supported by America almost alone. It may be that much of Europe’s support is only because European governments felt, subserviently, that they had to toe the American line (certainly, this was the case in the UK). That support may be eroding.
    • To date, you have been able to count on massive American support, not least due to the efforts of the Israel lobby. But, as noted above, continued reliance on large-scale American support is not a wise security policy - even if currently available, it cannot, in an ever-changing world, be guaranteed in the long-term.
    • Fearful damage to the national psyche, as a result of the local, regional and worldwide effects of the actions taken by the state in your name. It must be enormously difficult to live at ease in Israel – psychological ease, that is - to the detriment of all its inhabitants.
    • The likelihood of more conflict, due to increasing capabilities in neighbouring Arab countries, and in the Arab and Muslim world at large, coupled with their increasing anger due to the failure to find a solution.
    A peaceful solution to the conflict with the creation of a Palestinian state (whether involving a prior unilateral withdrawal or not) would finally bring peace and true security to yourselves, the Palestinians, and the whole region. The long cycle of violence would end, and long-held hatreds on both sides would subside over the years. We urge those of you who are not Zionists to put the maximum pressure on your government to change course and help bring about a viable Palestinian state, rather than the poor collection of dependent Bantustans assembled in some pitiable non-state, which is what your Prime Minister envisages. Netanyahu’s solution, even if successfully forced on the Palestinians, won’t work because it won’t bring peace – the Palestinians just wouldn’t accept it, and the conflict would continue.

    We stress again that we are not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Zionist. To all Israelis who are not Zionists, we hope that you too, can, like the Palestinians, live in peace and security.


    To The New American Administration – Bring Peace To The Middle East
    Stop Treating Israel As Special, And Demand A Viable Palestinian State
    President Obama, newly arrived six months ago at the White House, carried the world’s hopes for a historic change in American policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During that time, he has done nothing of the scale and scope required to effect a viable settlement. If he had acted as though both sides in the dispute were equals – equal in terms of the moral rightness of their position, and, more crucially, equal in terms of their military strengths – then this would have been bad enough, since patently this is not the case. But he has done worse than this – while doing nothing to help the besieged Palestinians in Gaza, he has worried excessively over the security of the illegally-occupying power, the racist Israeli state, whose moral position, as witness the past and recent histories detailed above, is, to be plain, disgusting. Furthermore, he has done this knowing that the military strengths of the two sides are vastly disparate, due almost entirely to the past and continuing one-sided support of Israel by the United States itself - so that, without American help, the Palestinians will find it difficult to avoid a solution dictated by Israel – a state noted for its previous intransigence, whose current government is certain to be at least as awkward, unyielding, and prevaricating as Israel has ever been in the past. There are many who believe that this and all past Israeli governments, with the vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ (of undefined borders) in mind, have never intended that there be a viable Palestinian state, have never intended that (if they are forced to allow something) there be any more than the pretence, the façade, of a Palestinian state – not a state, not defensible, nothing - a mere collection of Bantustans entirely dependent on Israel for their very existence. Obama must have been very well aware of this special danger – yet his actions to date show that he has done nothing to avoid it – indeed, they seem designed, principally through his appointment of George Mitchell to carry out peace negotiations, to produce just such a pitiable, non-viable non-state for the Palestinians. Such a non-state will not bring peace, since the Palestinians (or significant sections of them) will not accept it. Therefore, the whole American peace effort, as currently constituted, is a waste of time.

    The consensus among the various powers involved (as opposed to the Palestinians themselves) is a “two-state solution”; its essence (give or take some minor land swaps) is that Israel withdraws to its pre-1967 borders, and that the new Palestinian state is formed from the West Bank (currently occupied by the Israelis) and the Gaza Strip (currently under siege by the Israelis). The crucial point is that if the Palestinians were to accept this, then they would be accepting the loss of almost four-fifths (79%) of historic (mandate) Palestine on the practical, realpolitik basis that, whether legitimate or not, Israel is a de facto state whose existence and territory could very plausibly be disputed legally, but would be hard to dispute in terms of power, since such a dispute could only be by force and, thanks to America, Israel has very powerful armed forces. Thus, a two-state solution as envisaged, represents a substantial territorial loss to the Palestinians, and they cannot realistically be expected to bear any greater loss than this. Furthermore, anything less than the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip (the remaining 21% - for example, by excluding some or all of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank) would render a viable Palestinian state unfeasible in purely territorial terms – for what state worthy of the name could exist with islands of the territory of another state either embedded within it, or (alternatively) existing as spear-like projections into it. It follows therefore that, at a minimum, a future Palestinian state would require Israeli withdrawal from all of the illegal settlements on the West Bank. It is also essential, for the same reason, that there is a swift halt to the creation of any further settlements, and an absolute ban on any extension of existing settlements.

    In such circumstances, it was entirely insufficient for Obama to appoint a special envoy, George Mitchell, to start peace negotiations with Israeli and Palestinian representatives. What was needed, and needed swiftly, was of such magnitude and scope that it could only be done by the President of the United States himself, namely a call to the Israelis to accept a two-state solution, with the proposed Palestinian state constituting, at a minimum, all of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and an Israeli state constituting, at a maximum, of an Israeli state based on its pre-1967 borders. This could have been coupled with a further stipulation for satisfactory arrangements as to both Jerusalem, and the Palestinian refugees, a demand for the immediate end to all settlement activity, and a start on dismantling existing settlements. Finally, Obama should have told the Israelis that peace negotiations must begin without any pre-conditions for either side. He needed furthermore to issue a non-negotiable demand that the Israelis unconditionally end the siege of Gaza immediately. He should then have made it crystal clear to the Israelis that if they were not to accept these provisions within a fairly short period of time, then drastic US sanctions would follow – a withdrawal of all economic and military aid and diplomatic support, and, if that were not enough, a concerted US diplomatic effort to isolate Israel. All of this would have required a determined and hard-nosed stance towards Israel, which in turn would have meant taking on America’s pro-Israel lobby in an uncompromising way.

    Obama has done nothing like this. What, in detail, then, has he done and not done? Most importantly, Obama has appointed George Mitchell as his special envoy to carry out peace negotiations between the two parties. Since he has not previously demanded that the Israelis accept a two-state solution, with the proposed Palestinian state constituting, at a minimum, all of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, then any such negotiations can, realistically, only produce a Palestinian state with less than this, in the form of various settlements which the Israelis refuse to give up. That is, they can only produce, firstly, a territorial loss to the Palestinians which is greater then they can realistically be expected to bear, and secondly an area of land which, as noted above, is such as would render a viable Palestinian state unfeasible - a recipe for a non-state which will not bring peace. But what if the envoy were to prevent the concession to Israel of any of the existing settlements, or only such very minor settlements as made no practical difference? – then Obama may as well have stipulated at the outset the minimum Palestinian state depicted above. The only other possibility is significant concessions on settlements, and a Palestinian non-state as already described.


    Furthermore, Mitchell himself is not the pro-Palestinian horror that the pro-Israel lobby hints at – indeed, he is to some extent one of their children. His details set out below raise considerable doubts as to whether he would prevent the retention of considerable areas of existing Israeli settlements in the west Bank:
    • He became a Senator after receiving significant help from AIPAC in scoring an upset victory in 1982. After the brief term following his appointment, he won election to a full six-year term, AIPAC having arranged for various political action committees to help finance his campaign. Perhaps even more significantly, the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported in February (just prior to the Israeli election) that Mitchell had “told Israeli officials that the new administration … would take into consideration facts on the ground, meaning large settlement blocs would remain in Israeli hands [our italics].”
    • In 2000, Mitchell headed a committee set up by Bill Clinton with the object of saving the faltering “peace process”. The following year, Mitchell’s committee published a report which (among other things) called on the Israelis to freeze their settlements in the occupied territories – it did not call for them to be removed. The report also ignored the fact that all of the settlements are illegal under international law, and that UN Security Council resolutions, adopted unanimously with U.S. support, already call for Israeli withdrawal – but hell, when has the trivial matter of illegality bothered the good ol’ USA?
    In short, it appears that the situation which the Obama administration has set up appears likely, if nothing is changed, to produce a repeat of the past Clinton administration’s efforts – that is, will similarly dither (amidst detailed and time-consuming arguments) over which particular settlements can be retained, and which cannot, in the face of the inevitable Israeli procrastinations, and end up, like Clinton, cruelly prolonging Palestinian suffering for years, only to finally offer a pathetic and pitiful non-state, not viable, not independent, not a state, nothing – with the difference that this time Israel’s slow and cruel strangulation of the Palestinian people, so far advanced today, may by that time have been virtually completed – a genocide in slow motion.

    Briefly, what else has the Obama administration failed to do, despite the massive economic, military, and diplomatic leverage they have over Israel?
    • Although Obama has talked sweetly to the Muslim world, effective action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been almost non-existent.
    • He has failed to end the crippling siege on Gaza, with its terrible effects on the Palestinians there.
    • Not only have the Americans failed to pressure the Israelis to start dismantling settlements, but, despite repeated protestations, they have even failed to stop them creating new ones.
    • He has allowed Netanyahu to tie the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the question of Iran and nuclear weapons. He should decisively reject such linkage – Israel’s failure to give up occupied Palestinian lands is the major cause of tension in the Middle East. Also, and worryingly, after warning Israel not to attack Iranian nuclear installations, his administration has more recently been sending more equivocal signals. American hypocrisy over this issue is breathtaking – Iran is to be forced, one way or another, to conform, while no mention is made of the hundreds of nuclear weapons that Israel possesses.
    • He has failed to adjust to the reality of Hamas, and the depleted appeal of  Fatah and Abbas.
    • In June, Obama said “The United States can’t force peace upon the parties”. This is exactly the point – faced with Israeli intransigence, this is precisely what he will have to do.
    Obama needs to do what he should have done in the first place, as noted above, that is:
    • personally demand the Israelis accept a two-state solution with the proposed Palestinian state constituting, at a minimum, all of the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
    • make appropriate stipulations as to Jerusalem, and the Palestinian refugees
    • demand the immediate end to all settlement activity, and a start on the dismantling of all existing settlements, including those in East Jerusalem.
    • demand that peace negotiations begin without any pre-conditions for either side.
    • require that the Israelis unconditionally end the siege of Gaza immediately
    • decouple the Iranian question, and make it clear that any Israeli attack on Iran would not be tolerated, and would have the gravest consequences.
    • tell the Israelis that a failure to accept these provisions within a fairly short period of time will  result in drastic US sanctions – a withdrawal of all economic and military aid and diplomatic support, and, if that were not enough, a concerted US diplomatic effort to isolate Israel.
    • stop treating Israel as a ‘special’ state -  it must no longer be given complete license to escape criticism.
    As we have already noted in a previous article, the likelihood (some would say the near-certainty) is that Obama and his people in the Home Of The Brave and The Land Of The Free won’t have the bottle or the political will to take on the pro-Israel lobby and end America’s long-time and amoral support of the Israelis no matter what they do. His administration, like several previous American administrations, will persist in ignoring the human rights of the Palestinian people, and their continuing and brutal oppression at Israeli hands. Given the current American approach, as described above, there is a distinct possibility (again, some would say a near-certainty) that, like the avidly pro-Israeli Clinton administration of former days, Obama’s administration will similarly dither in the face of the inevitable Israeli procrastinations, haggling over this settlement or that settlement, and end up, as noted above, like Clinton, cruelly prolonging Palestinian suffering, only to ultimately offer a pitiful non-state – except that by that time Israel’s asphyxiation of the Palestinian people, so far advanced today, may by then be total – a genocide. If such a terrible end-game were to occur, the Americans would bear a heavy, not to say major, responsibility, since without their massive and long-term military and economic aid and diplomatic support, Israel’s expansionist wars, and its continuing illegal settlements, would not have been possible. Everyone knows that the Israeli air force consists of American planes, financed by America, with Israeli pilots (by contrast, the Israelis build their own tanks, although America still pays for them). The moral position of the Americans over the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is now widely perceived throughout the world to be down there in the gutter with the Israelis. Unless they decisively change tack, American pretensions over human rights, freedom and democracy will be seen throughout the world for what they are – as so much bullshit.

    To The American People
    They’ve Never Told You The Truth – Otherwise, You Wouldn’t Unconditionally Support Israel
    People such as ourselves are very often characterized here in the UK, by uncritical supporters of America (with an axe to grind), as anti-American. We are not – we are against the American administration in its present stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Governments, in America and elsewhere (and not least that of the UK) often act, to a greater or lesser degree, in a pragmatic, not to say cynically expedient way that considers only what they consider the realpolitik of the situation. Ordinary people, on the other hand, perhaps only because they remain uncorrupted by power, are more likely to act in a fundamentally decent way. We believe that the American people, if only they were told the truth about Israel’s history, both past and present, would exert irresistible pressure on the American government to change course, and end its zealous support for an Israeli regime which cruelly suppresses the Palestinians. Mearsheimer and Walt obviously believe the same thing (despite calling themselves ‘American realists’, they do look in detail at the moral aspects of the situation) – and, moreover, they believe that, even on realistic, self-interested grounds, America is harming its real interests (and those of Israel, too), by its amoral support for the Israeli state.


    However, for the American people to act, they first need to know the truth about Israel’s past and current history, and this, as Mearsheimer and Walt make abundantly clear, is near to impossible given the skewed and untruthful version of the conflict, past and current, presented to them by the American media:
    • Here is what we said concerning a previous article on the subject: “[Here] is a short history of Israel and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a history which … you will never come across in the mainstream American media. The short history is related in the same manner as it is told by those Israeli “new historians”, who, in the 1990’s, attempted to set out the true history of Israel in direct contradiction to the cosy lies of Israel’s foundational myths. It is the history of Israel which Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, in their book The Israel Lobby And US Foreign Policy wanted to be revealed to the American public. If they are correct, it is a history which you will never read in the New York Times, or the Washington Post, or the Chicago Sun-Times, or the Los Angeles Times, or any of the mainstream print media. If they are correct, it is a history which you will never see on the major networks ABC or CBS or NBC ... ”
    • Here also, as an example, is a report in London’s Guardian newspaper on 27 January, shortly after the Gaza assault ended: “The New York Times editorial page was subdued … It took over a week into the war before it allowed an Arab voice to weigh in on the opinion page. Its correspondents pulled their punches, attempting to bend over backwards to "understand" the Israeli position. Whenever they reported on war crimes charges they were careful to convey Israel’s defence, no matter how lame. If a reporter doubted an Israeli claim, it had to be tweezed out by reading between the lines. Coverage overseas was much more straightforward with this report in the Times [a link here to the report concerned] typifying coverage which openly questioned the basic premises of Israeli strategy.”
    The American media, and their highly-paid stooges and front men, bear a heavy responsibility for what they have done. The British journalist Robert Fisk called them “as pro-Israeli, biased and gutless as the two academics [M & W] infer them to be”. He was right.

    Nevertheless, we do believe that, even in America, the truth will out, and that the American people will then act.


    The ‘Quartet’
    Act Independently Of The Americans, And Press For Swift Action To Bring Peace
    The Special Envoy to the Middle East for the ‘Quartet’ (the US, Russia, the EU, and the UN) is, of course, Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister. Blair owed his appointment as envoy to pressure from the previous American regime of George. W. Bush, who, together with the neocon clique around him, wanted someone to do their bidding. It is difficult, with Obama’s administration in place, to think of a more ill-suited person:
    • second only to the now-gone-and-forgotten Bush himself, Blair must be the most hated man in the Middle East (except, that is, for his Israeli friends). Why? Because of his record on the Iraq war, his record on the second Lebanon war (where, to our shame and disgrace, he allowed the UK to stand, almost alone in the world, with America in steadfast support of the Israelis), and because he is rightly seen throughout the Arab world as a creature of the blatantly pro-Israeli and now discredited Bush regime.
    • Bush never actually trusted Blair with a role in any (non-existent) peace process – his sphere of action was basically limited to helping the Palestinians improve their economy, and he achieved nothing. In fact, Blair had been advocating, presumably on behalf of his Zionist Israeli friends, that Hamas had to be severely weakened to achieve any progress. He did his bit, therefore, towards the Israeli assault on Gaza. Furthermore, when the Gaza assault was in progress, he said there could only be a ceasefire when the supply of arms and money to the Palestinians was cut off – no similar demands regarding the Israelis, of course. Blair also said that there had to be Palestinian unity to achieve a Palestinian state, conveniently forgetting the central role the US, the EU, and the UK, played in destroying it, and their attempts to destroy Hamas.
    • Having groveled to Bush, Blair changed tack when Obama took power, making his first belated visit to Gaza in March (despite having been the Quartet’s envoy since June 2007), called belatedly for a new approach (the two-state solution), for the lifting of the siege, and for Hamas to be brought into the peace process, and said belatedly that he was “appalled” at what was going on (though he still refrained from criticizing his Israeli buddies). Later, in April, we heard of Blair’s “understanding” of Netanyahu’s unwillingness to declare support for a Palestinian state until “circumstances become right” – the man just can’t give up his unadulterated support for his Israeli friends.
    • Blair has disturbing connections, too – his personal bagman, his financier, was Lord Levy, who is Jewish and, apparently has excellent access to the (Zionist) great and the good in Tel Aviv – Blair subsequently ennobled him. In May, Blair received a million dollar prize from a foundation set up by an Israeli Zionist (some of his best friends are Zionists). The prize (the money was passed on to Blair’s religious foundation) was apparently awarded for "achievements having an outstanding scientific, technological, cultural or social impact on our world."
    • Blair, the values-free opportunist, has certainly made an impact on our world! His messianic and dangerous ‘clash of civilisations’ message has, with others of a like mind, opened a Pandora’s box of worldwide violence from which the world will not easily recover. An (as yet) untried war criminal who, we hope, will in the relatively near future be hauled before the Iraq war inquiry (which he has partially succeeded in hobbling – more on that later).
    We should remember that the Quartet itself was set up under Bush to give the false appearance that, internationally, something was being done to help the Palestinians. It has been a Bush creature, and a singular failure, existing only as a cover for the Bush regime’s misdeeds. It might perhaps just be disbanded. But if it is not, and is rejuvenated under Obama, Blair must be summarily dismissed – he, like Bush, is a discredited has-been from a murderous past.

    To The European Union
    Take A Robust And Independent Line From The US, And Use Europe’s Leverage
    Back in mid-2008, Jimmy Carter urged Britain and other European governments to split with America, describing the EU’s stance over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as "supine". He also noted the Quartet’s (and thus the EU’s) failure to criticise the Israeli blockade of Gaza: "To see Europeans going along with this is embarrassing". Carter said, on the prospect of Europe breaking away from the position of the United States: "Why not? They’re not our vassals. They occupy an equal position with the US." Carter also noted the Quartet’s/EU’s policy of not talking to Hamas unless it recognised Israel, renounced violence, and accepted previously-signed peace agreements. In short, the EU’s cringing stance was a carbon copy of Bush’s fervently pro-Israeli policy.

    It will be recalled that a survey carried out in late 2003 in the then 15 member states of the EU found that nearly 60 percent of European citizens believe Israel poses the biggest threat to world peace. However, the European Union has never been notable for considering the opinions of its own citizens.


    The EU continues to more or less slavishly follow the US line, this time of the new Obama administration, which, as noted above, is currently wholly inadequate to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are, however, some stirrings for change. Points to note:
    • during the Israeli assault on Gaza, the EU was hopelessly split between those states that condemn Israel for disproportionate use of force (notably, France, Ireland and Luxembourg) and those that put all the blame on Hamas (notably Germany and the Czech Republic).
    • Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was only made after the US had agreed to provide intelligence and equipment to help prevent Hamas smuggling weapons into Gaza, and similar assistance from the EU. As a result of that deal, however, it appears that Israel decided it did not need to lift the Gaza siege after all.
    • the EU-Israel Association agreement continues to give Israel preferential access to EU markets, despite the fact that it contains a provision that allows for its suspension in the event of human rights abuses. Apparently, EU council members refuse even to think about a suspension.
    • In June 2008, the EU had said a "closer partnership with Israel" (an upgrade of Israel’s trade and economic relations with Europe, which would give Israel better access to EU markets, closer cooperation in areas such as energy, environment, battling crime and terrorism, and more educational exchanges) must happen in parallel to "the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the implementation of the two-state solution." The Palestinians have repeatedly urged Europe to freeze the upgrade. An EU diplomat said there is a "complete standoff" in the EU on the issue, since any upgrade would require a unanimous decision. The issue remains in abeyance.
    • In March, a confidential EU report on East Jerusalem accused the Israelis of using methods including settlement expansion as a way of  “actively pursuing the illegal annexation” of East Jerusalem
    • EU states continue to sell military equipment to Israel, and buy military equipment from it.
    The Europeans are not bondsmen of the Americans. The European Union needs to take a much more robust, and completely independent line (and why not poll its citizens again), and:
    • press the United States to take those adequate steps to resolve the Israeli-Palestine question which are set out in the section headed “To The New American Administration – Bring Peace To The Middle East”
    • publicly suspend any upgrade of relations with Israel, and immediately suspend the EU-Israel Association agreement, until America has taken those adequate steps referred to in the sub-paragraph above, and Israel has accepted them
    • use trade sanctions against Israel, including the possibility of a complete trade ban, and ban all arms sales to Israel, in the event that adequate steps are not taken by the United States, as referred to in the first sub-paragraph above, and accepted by Israel.
    • Press the United States to decouple the Israeli-Palestinian question from that of Iran’s nuclear facilities, and make it clear to both Israel and America that any Israeli attack on Iran would not be tolerated, and would have the gravest consequences. One doesn’t have to believe that Iran has a perfect political system to nevertheless want to prevent their being attacked by the Israeli bully, with or without a nod from the Yankees. It is extremely disturbing that Dennis Ross, former Middle East envoy for Bill Clinton, is now the Obama administration’s most senior Middle East and Iran adviser. Ross is a long-time Jewish Zionist with close ties to WINEP (a think tank at the core of the pro-Israel lobby, which often reflects the Israeli government’s views). During the Camp David negotiations in 2000 he was seen to have been consistently and resolutely pro-Israel. Ross endorsed an early draft of a report published in March by WINEP, which included the statement, "If the international community appears unable to stop Iran’s nuclear progress, Israel may decide to act unilaterally."

    To The British Government
    Act Independently Of The Americans, And Press For Swift Action To Bring Peace

    Once upon a time, a Labour government would have had a sizeable portion of the parliamentary party who were almost automatically on the side of any oppressed peoples anywhere, and who could therefore be counted on to take the side of the Palestinians in the conflict with Israel. But that was in the time of Old Labour, when the party had a big heart. Today, with New Labour, that heart is more like a dried peanut, and the voices within the parliamentary party who support the Palestinians, though they still exist, are few and far between. 

    It is therefore impossible to feel confident over the British government’s stance for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Over the years, UK governments have something of a record of acceding to demands of the American superpower, sometimes more so, sometimes less. No one has been more subservient than former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who, by aligning the UK so firmly to the United States over the Iraq war, by doing so again (almost alone in the world) over the second Lebanon war, and by not acting firmly and independently over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has damaged the UK’s reputation around the world, and especially in the Arab and Islamic worlds.

    The present New Labour government has links to prominent Jewish organizations here in the UK, to important Jewish donors to the party, and to strongly pro-Israeli media organizations, in a less than fully transparent, and disturbing echo of the ‘Israel lobby’ in America. None of this will make it any easier to assert a strong and independent line from America’s position in any attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestine dispute.

    David Miliband’s position as Foreign Secretary is unfortunate. Miliband is Jewish, has relatives who are (illegal) settlers in the West Bank, and has even visited them. Miliband’s pronunciations since the Gaza assault betray an evident desire to toe the (new) American line. Although Miliband is said to be ‘progressive’ over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Obama line, while not as ardently pro-Israeli as that of Bush, still leans very definitely towards the Israelis, and for the most part, Miliband does not contradict it. Miliband has, valuably, stressed the importance of an Arab league solution, pointing out that the Palestinians “simply do not have enough on their own to offer the Israelis to clinch a deal”. He has also said “We will not allow Israel to perpetuate the occupation in the West Bank under the guise of economic gestures of good will.” And he has stated that talking to Hamas was the “right thing to do” – but that Egypt and other parties were best placed to do this. On the other hand, prior to the Gaza ceasefire, Miliband stressed that a ceasefire would involve finding ways to curb the smuggling of weapons to Hamas. Just like Blair, then – it’s all the fault of the Palestinians. And he takes the American line on Hamas: “Hamas have shown themselves over a number of years ready to be murderous in word and deed … Their motif is ‘resistance’ and their method includes terrorism.” And he apparently swallows the ‘wonderful Israeli democracy’ line: “Israel is [in contrast to Hamas] … a thriving, democratic state … As a beacon of democracy in the Middle East, Israel’s best defence is to show leadership in finding a political solution …” And, on the volume of recent UK trade union resolutions on Palestine, he said that the government was “dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer.”

    Nevertheless, even if he could achieve feats of impartiality which are not given to most of us, that is not the point. He will not stand up to the Americans over their inadequate approach as described above, and he will never be perceived by the Palestinians as unbiased. He is an apparatchnik, a ‘yes’ man who first toed the Bush/Blair line on Israel-Palestine, and now toes the Obama line. Miliband needs to be replaced by someone who can take a strong line against the Americans, and who will be unbiased in his judgements on the dispute.

    A fair resolution of the conflict, where the UK is seen to have taken a proper consideration of the Palestinian side, and is not automatically pro-Israeli, will help considerably to restoring the UK’s reputation in the Arab and wider worlds. The UK should press the Americans to take the actions recommended above in respect of the US, and similarly press the European Union to take the actions recommended above in respect of the EU.


    To The Palestinians – We Wish You Well, And You Have Our Support
    It’s Your Choice In The End – We Wish You Well
    As Michael Neumann indicates in his book, a peace based upon Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories to the 1948 borders does not represent a just solution. Full justice would require the abolition of Jewish sovereignty in Israel (the “one-state” solution), as well as a full right of return, with compensation, for Palestinians, and the eviction of Jewish inhabitants occupying Palestinian property. The realpolitik, ‘consensus’ two-state solution referred to in detail above represents, if accepted, a considerable forfeiture by Palestinians, giving them only 21% of historic [mandate] Palestine. Then there is the “one-state solution” already referred to, which currently seems wildly unrealistic for decades. Then there is the two-state solution which makes provision for an eventual one-state solution some distant time in the future. Intermediate prescriptions are also thinkable, if impractical - why not the original UN partition plan adopted as resolution 181? Why not a revised UN partition which takes relative populations more fairly into account? And so on. The following points need to be made:
    • There are many, probably most, people around the world who would agree with you that the original creation of Israel in 1948 was a crime.
    • Ultimately, it is not up to the rest of the world to ‘decide’ what is good, or what is not good, for you.
    • If you wish to continue the struggle to reverse the creation of Israel, there are many people who will sympathise, and others who will not. The question is in any case irrelevant, since, in the end, no one can force you to acceptance of anything against your will.
    • As a matter of hard realpolitik, in so far as there is any consensus at all, it is on the lines of a “two-state solution” as set out in detail above. It may be possible to muster greater support for a one-state solution outside your own community, but it does not appear likely, at least at present.
    • You are the wronged party in this terrible and tragic conflict. You have our support whether you accept a “two-state solution”, or struggle to try for a, “one-state solution”, and we wish you well.


    John Tinmouth
    South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition
    Tuesday, 11th August, 2009
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