Transparent Cabal Smeared as Anti-Semitic

Transparent Cabal Smeared as Anti-Semitic

Sunday, July 19, 2009 9:18 AM
From: “Stephen Sniegoski”
To: “Sniegoski, Stephen”


“The Transparent Cabal” was recently smeared as anti-Semitic (and
conspiratorial) in a review in a not-insignificant publication called “The
Public Eye.” The following is my response, which is also at my website:   I have also
included a section of the review.
The Transparent Cabal Smeared as “Anti-Semitic”: A Response to a Review by
Michelle Goldberg, “The Taboo Truths of the Conspiracy Minded,” The Public
Eye, Summer 2009,

By Stephen J. Sniegoski

My book has finally gained recognition: it has been condemned as
anti-Semitic (and conspiratorial) in a not-insignificant publication called
The Public Eye. So I now join the ranks of Jimmy Carter, James Baker, and
Pat Buchanan – well, at least as a very junior member. The Public Eye is the
publication of Political Research Associates, which describes itself as “a
progressive think tank devoted to supporting movements that are building a
more just and inclusive democratic society. We expose movements,
institutions, and ideologies that undermine human rights.” And certainly a
book that connects American neoconservatives and Israel to America’s Middle
East war policy would be regarded as a threat to “human rights,” at least in
some quarters.
The author is Michelle Goldberg, a “consultant investigating Islamophobia
and antisemitism on campuses for Political Research Associates.”  She was a
former contributing writer at and currently is a blogger at the
popular “The Huffington Post.” Her articles have appeared in Rolling Stone,
The New York Observer, The Guardian, and Newsday.  Her political views are
conventional left-liberal (“progressive”), and she has been a strong backer
of Barack Obama. One of her central concerns is the alleged danger of the
Christian Right–her book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian
Nationalism, is a New York Times bestseller.  She sees herself as an
anti-war, liberal Zionist, who is critical of the existing Israel Lobby and
the rightist Zionists who currently run Israel.

But like many liberal Jewish critics of Israel and its right-wing American
supporters, Goldberg becomes defensive when the criticism comes from
gentiles, and goes beyond certain (undetermined) bounds. For example,
Goldberg lambasted the brilliant work, “The Israel Lobby,” by John J.
Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt — so I am in good company. Regarding their
original paper, Goldberg wrote: “This is not just a case of brave academics
telling taboo truths. In taking on a sensitive, fraught subject, one might
expect such eminent scholars to make their case airtight. Instead, they’ve
blundered forth with an article that has several factual mistakes and
baffling omissions, one that seems expressly designed to elicit exactly the
reaction it has received. The power of the Israel lobby is something that
deserves a full and fearless airing, but this paper could make such an
airing less, not more likely.”
In labeling The Transparent Cabal anti-Semitic, Goldberg — at least in the
beginning of her review, charmingly titled “The Taboo Truths of the
Conspiracy Minded” — acknowledges that the “antisemitism in The Transparent
Cabal is quite subtle — so much so that many readers probably won’t see it,
and will likely dismiss criticism of it as yet another attempt by the Likud
lobby to silence its foes.” It would seem that the professional detectors of
anti-Semitism, such as Goldberg, have to be somewhat like wine tasters or,
even better,  modern art experts who must instruct the hoi polloi what to
think.  Expressions of anti-Semitism in The Transparent Cabal must be so
subtle that Goldberg does not cite any actual evidence of them, if such a
term means prejudice against Jews qua Jews.  One wonders what kind of harm
the undetectable kind of “anti-Semitism” can possibly do to Jews. Staying
within her “anti-Semitic” paradigm, Goldberg fails to mention evidence in
the book that would militate against it. For example, two of the three names
(in addition to mine) on the front cover happen to be Jewish: Paul
Gottfried, who wrote the introduction, and Mark Bruzonsky, who is described
as “former Washington rep., World Jewish Congress.” 

While failing to cite concrete examples of anti-Semitism, Goldberg exhibits
a propensity to mix truth with distortions of the truth to arrive at
numerous false attributions. For example, she writes: “Sniegoski has
fashioned a monocausal narrative in which Israel and its American supporters
are the preeminent drivers of American foreign policy and the sole font of
turmoil in the Middle East.” While it is correct that the neocons, with
Israel in a supporting role, were the “preeminent drivers” of American
policy in the Middle East in terms of the war agenda — though, as I show,
they have been checked by other forces in their drive to expand the war
beyond Iraq — I do not describe the motivation for that policy as
“monocausal.” “Monocausal,” of course, means one cause, while “preeminent”
means most important or greatest, which presupposes the existence of other,
less important, causes. I devote an entire chapter to the auxiliary causes,
which I point out were necessary for the implementation of the neocon plan
to attack Iraq. More effort needs to be devoted to investigating the
auxiliary causes. But all books have to be limited in scope. My narrative
focuses on the neocon/Israel war agenda and does not purport to thoroughly
describe the other causes.

Many of the positions that Goldberg fabricates for me are of an outlandish
variety. For example, nowhere in the book did I say or imply something as
bizarre as that “Israel and its American supporters” were the “sole font of
turmoil in the Middle East.” The book actually mentions animosities and wars
among Arab and Islamic states that were not caused by Israel and Israel’s
American supporters — the Iran/Iraq War, Saddam’s attack on Kuwait,
animosities between Shi’tes and Sunnis. In fact, the book tends to agree
with the Likudnik view that most of the Middle East countries are composed
of hostile ethnic and sectarian groups which are held together by
dictatorial regimes. While my book points out how Israel often has some type
of involvement in these conflicts, this hardly suggests that Israel caused
the conflicts or that such conflicts would not take place without the
actions of Israel. Of course, since the book has Israel, particularly
Likudnik policy, as one significant focus, it naturally deals with Israeli
involvement in war and war planning, as opposed to, let us say, comparable
activities undertaken by Egypt or Saudi Arabia. The book obviously does not
presume to be a study of conflicts in the Middle East.

Perhaps Goldberg’s need to construct straw men to slay (of which additional
evidence will be shown later in this essay) stems from the fact that she
actually expresses agreement with the book’s major points. She writes:
“Sniegoski aims to show that U.S. neoconservatives masterminded the Iraq war
in the service of Israeli hegemony, a proposition that has plenty of truth
to it.” She continues along these lines of agreement: “It is important to be
clear here. Neoconservatives inside and outside the George W. Bush
administration deserve tremendous opprobrium. They helped erect the
ideological justifications for war with Iraq and seized control of the
public discourse, bullying anyone who urged patience and diplomacy. Most
importantly, under Vice President Cheney, a group of neoconservatives played
a crucial role in distorting American intelligence to make it seem as if
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, creating a
fallacious casus belli. Neoconservatism is a movement famously founded by
ex-leftists — many of them Jewish — who lost their youthful ideals but not
their radical (and sometimes rigidly ideological) habits of mind. The
revolutionary callousness they displayed in their grandiose plan to
reshuffle the Middle East has been catastrophic for people around the

And she writes: “Nor is it any secret that the neoconservatives have
longstanding ties to the Israeli Right. Despite what Sniegoski seems to
think [incorrect mind reading here: I never even implied that “A Clean
Break” was a secret or unknown], it is well known that, in 1996, leading
neocons prepared a report for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
titled ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,’ which
advocated replacing Middle Eastern regimes hostile to Israel with more
pliant rulers. Neoconservatives are aggressive American nationalists, but
they conflate the interests of the United States and Israeli Right. The
policies they’ve pushed have undoubtedly weakened the United States and made
a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict more elusive than

Such overall agreement on a book’s major points by a reviewer would in
normal cases constitute a favorable review. But Goldberg offers a serious
caveat, in which she totally eliminates the significance of my book on the
grounds that these major points are allegedly well-known and apparently
expressed quite openly in books and the mainstream media. She contends:
“There’s nothing new in The Transparent Cabal — indeed, it’s a kind of clip
job. Most of its material about the neoconservatives derives from mainstream
media reports and well-known books.” One wonders what Goldberg expects here:
White House documents, letters from the Richard Perle Manuscript Collection?
Now, I explicitly state that I got most of my material from mainstream
sources, which include both secondary and (ignored by Goldberg) primary
sources — the writings of the neocons themselves. Goldberg, who according
to Wikipedia has a master’s degree in journalism, seems to imply that I do
not understand the proper method of writing history, though I do have a
Ph.D. in that field and though a number of history Ph.D.’s, some from
academia, actually read and approved my manuscript or book. (See:

Contrary to Goldberg’s allegations, I never claimed to be dealing with
“secret” material or even new material. What I did do was to tie all the
public material into a coherent whole and provide mounds of evidence to
show, as best as possible, the validity of this still, much-disputed thesis
regarding the seminal role of the neocons and Israel in the Bush II Middle
East policy. Clearly acknowledging that this idea did not originate with me,
I devote one chapter in the book (Chapter 2-“The ‘Neocon-Israel’ Claim: Bits
and Pieces”) to a variety of significant people who have presented this
view. Very few ideas in the field of history, or even science, are totally
new.  What The Transparent Cabal does is to provide extensive evidence to
show that these allegations are true. I explicitly state this in the book:
“As noted earlier, the thesis here presented is neither novel nor
particularly original. What is newly presented, however, is the extensive
evidence, from matters of public record, necessary to evaluate the claims .
. . [which] up to now typically been dismissed as lunacy, bigotry, or both.”
[p. 23]

As Tom McPherren, a critic of the neocons who is quite familiar with the
general story,  puts it in a brief review on “Dr. Sniegoski has
relentlessly mined public sources to make his case, and I urge the reader to
focus on two words I’ve just used: ‘relentlessly’ and ‘public.’ If he were
investigating, for example, the causes of the Second Punic War, much less
evidence would be expected; but in light of the taboos, doublethink, and
nonthink deployed to hamper analysis of the Bush War, he has had to be
relentless in marshaling his evidence. The result is a case that is
armor-plated and triple-riveted.” Similarly, Bill and Kathleen Christison,
write in their very favorable review of my work in CounterPunch (of which
Goldberg alludes in her review): “Stephen Sniegoski has had the persistence
to ferret out mountains of impossible-to-challenge evidence that this
Israel-U.S. connection is the driving force behind virtually all Middle East
decisionmaking over the last eight

And contrary to Goldberg, the information she claims to be so well-known is
unknown to most educated Americans and completely disputed by important
intellectuals and scholars who deny the influence of the neocons, and claim
that oil and “corporate” interests or other factors played the major role in
shaping American Middle East policy. Those leading authors and intellectuals
who deny the centrality of the neocon/Israel motive include such critics of
United States  policy as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Stephen Zunes,
and Andrew Bacevich.

Some books touch upon aspects of what I write, but what other author has
compiled all the evidence I have? I did not just make assertions but
provided extensive documentation to back up my arguments. The obvious fact
is that what Goldberg claims to be well-known is not expressed in public; in
fact, many of the views I express are considered taboo. Somehow, the people
who have written extensively on the neocons — Philip Weiss, Bill and Kathy
Christison and Paul Gottfried — thought differently from Goldberg.

In discussing the neocon network, Weiss writes in his blog (May 18, 2009)
that “The best unfolding of this conspiracy inside our politics — and yes,
it is a conspiracy, in precisely the way that the slave power functioned as
a ‘conspiracy’ in American politics in the 1850s, as then-obscure Abraham
Lincoln stated when he raised up the Republican Party to smash it — is by
Stephen Sniegoski.”

Paul Gottfried, who has focused on the neoconservatives for years, writes:
“The Transparent Cabal showers its reader with a wealth of details, which
are available in the footnotes as well as in his text. . . .  In his
narrative, Sniegoski throws light on the intricacies of neoconservative
relations, which even I, perhaps the world’s foremost authority on this
world-historical misfortune, did not know until I read Steve’s galleys.”
It is not apparent that Goldberg, a few years ago, accepted what she now
claims to be so well-known and accepted as truth. In her 2006 review of
Mearsheimer and Walt’s noted essay, “The Israel Lobby,” she chastised them
for not mentioning oil, citing some (questionable) evidence that she
believed showed the importance of oil as a motive for war. She wrote that
the oil evidence “does suggest that oil was at least a factor, casting some
doubt on Walt and Mearsheimer’s assertion that ‘the war was due in large
part to the lobby’s influence, especially the neoconservatives within it.'”

So in 2006 Goldberg believed that there was some doubt that the war on Iraq
was due “in large part” to the neoconservatives, but she now claims that
such a belief is so well-known and accepted that there is absolutely no need
to try to prove it. One wonders what books came out during the intervening
two-and-a-half years (roughly the publication date of The Transparent Cabal)
that enlightened her so.
In actuality, despite her allegation that I simply parrot well-known truths,
Goldberg still seems to hold to some version of the war-for-oil thesis. I
devote an entire chapter (along with additional information interspersed
throughout the book) to disproving the oil argument, the disproval of which
is quite central to the overall neocon/Israel thesis.  She picks up only a
small part of my argument when she writes: “He dismisses the idea that oil
was part of the motive for war by arguing that if it had been, the United
States would have made more of an effort to secure [Iraq].” She leaves out
the fact that I also point out that the oil interests and the traditional
foreign policy elite were actually against the war. She holds that “the
notion that the war-planners believed their own propaganda … is somehow
impossible for Sniegoski to accept.” I assume she is equating “war-planners”
with the neoconservatives because, as I point out, expert U.S. government
opinion (and that of the Israeli Likudniks) expected post-Saddam Iraq to be
unstable, hardly an ideal environment for the American oil industry to
extract oil. The neoconservatives sometimes made utopian claims about an
instantly democratic Iraq that would welcome the United States, but they
were hardly consistent in that view, as I show in the book. (pp. 215-17)  In
all likelihood, claims about a quick emergence of a stable democratic Iraq
were intended simply as propaganda for war — just like WMD,  unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs) that would spray poison gas on American cities, and
Saddam’s nuclear program.

Goldberg argues that the book peddles conspiracy theories; in fact,
“conspiracy” is in the title of her review. A “conspiracy,” of course,
refers to something done in secret. In my book, however, I make a great
effort to show that the neocons worked in the open. For example, I write:
“The book has been entitled The Transparent Cabal because the
neoconservatives have sometimes been referred to as a cabal, and, in fact,
the term has been taken up by neoconservatives themselves. By implying
secret plotting, the aim of such a term is often to make the whole idea of
neoconservative influence appear ridiculous. For while the neoconservatives
represent a tight group devoted to achieving political goals, they have
worked very much in the open to advance their Middle East war agenda. Thus,
unlike a true ‘cabal,’ characterized by secrecy, the neoconservatives are a
‘transparent cabal’ — oxymoronic as that term might be. The
neoconservatives quite openly publicized their war agenda both before and
after September 11, 2001. In developing this history, the author has relied
heavily on published sources produced by the neoconservatives themselves. In
fact, it is the very transparency of the neoconservatives that has allowed
this work to exist.” (pp. 5-6)

In one of her few illustrations of my alleged conspiratorial mind-set,
Goldberg claims that the author “strongly suggests that the war on
Afghanistan was motivated by the United States’ desire to build a pipeline
through that country.” How that equates to a conspiracy is beyond me. In
fact, citing an economic motive for war would seem to be something with
which a “progressive” would concur and not denigrate as a conspiracy theory.
If every historian who cited unpublicized motives for government actions
were a “conspiracy” theorist, then very many, if not most, historians would
fall into that category. 
She claims that I “hold there are no accidents,”  but I certainly point out
how the neocons were obviously not fully successful in implementing their
war agenda. She claims that I “don’t bother to address” how the neocons’
desire for regional instability meshes with the “increased strength of Iran
that resulted from the Iraq war.” In actuality, I bring that out throughout
the latter part of the book. After the occupation of Iraq, the neocons
expected to take on Iran and other countries, in what they termed “World War
IV.” I show throughout the latter part of the book how the neocons have
tried and failed to get the United States to expand their war agenda beyond
Iraq, especially toward Iran. Chapter 13 is titled “Neocons’ Post-Invasion
Difficulties,” which should dispel any notions of neocon omniscience or

I do argue, however, that the neocons held quite realistic views of the
Middle East, in line with Israeli and American Middle East experts, and that
when they espoused quasi-utopian views–cakewalk victories, instant
democracy–it was generally for the tactical purpose of advancing their
agenda and not believed by them as objectively true. In short, my portrayal
of the neocons is quite different from the one that shows them as gullible
naifs whose claims and predictions ineluctably turn out to be wrong-while
their financial backers nonetheless keep supporting them to the hilt.
Goldberg sometimes makes charges that are obviously erroneous and should be
easily recognized as incorrect after even a cursory reading of the book. For
example, she writes that “The former Vice President [Cheney] is barely
mentioned.” A quick search of the e-copy of my book shows that Cheney’s name
appears 116 times, far more than that of most neocon individuals. In fact, I
observe that “it was Vice President Dick Cheney, with his long-time
neoconservative connections, who played the major role in bringing them into
the administration and thus shaping American foreign policy.” (p. 113) Of
course, my point is that Cheney simply played an important role in bringing
about the implementation of a war agenda developed by neocons, and even that
implementation would not have taken place without the powerful neocon
network, inside and outside the Bush administration.

Goldberg is not averse to sometimes tossing out gratuitous negative comments
without feeling the need for any evidence or explanation. Thus, without
offering proof or even clearly stating what she means, she simply asserts
that I have a “Manichean view of the world,” which she claims is a mirror
image of the neoconservative worldview. That alleged conflict of good versus
evil would presumably imply that I present Israel and the neocons as
all-evil (though she explicitly applies that only to my alleged view of
Israel), and that I present the neocons’ foreign policy adversaries — the
traditional foreign policy establishment and Israel’s Arab and Islamic
enemies — as being totally good. In reality, however, The Transparent Cabal
depicts the traditional foreign policy establishment as supportive of any
regime in the Middle East, no matter how dictatorial and oppressive, as long
as it promoted stability in the region, which served to facilitate the flow
of oil to the United States and the West. That included support for Saddam
Hussein against Iran in the 1980s and involved assistance in his use of
poison gas in the war. While that is the opposite of the neocons’ and
Israel’s goal of regional instability, it is not apparent that the book’s
depiction of the  traditional foreign policy approach emerges as
particularly beneficent. Moreover, the idea that I present neocons in a
totally negative light is also incorrect. For example, I mention that they
played a significant role in America’s winning the Cold War.
Regarding Israel’s enemies, it is hard to see how I present Al-Qaida, Iraq,
or Iran as being all-good. That they usually don’t do all the malevolent
deeds that neocon and Israeli propaganda allege does not make them
beneficent. My basic point is that they are too weak and too distant to be
real threats to United States national survival (though they can commit acts
of terrorism that are exacerbated by militant U.S.  policy), but I do not
deny that Israel’s enemies threaten the existence of Israel. (e.g., p. 210)
However, my contention is that the threat to Israel is of a demographic
rather than military nature, for Israel is much too strong to be threatened

Goldberg somehow thinks that I “demonize” Israel and see only the
“diabolical in Israel.” Now, the idea of “demonic” and “diabolical” implies
the doing of evil for the sake of evil. The Bush administration’s claim that
the Islamic terrorists hated the United States because of its goodness
approximated that concept. However, in The Transparent Cabal, I provide
rational reasons for the Likudniks’ actions — maintaining that they see the
survival of Israel as threatened by Palestinian demography. Nowhere do I
claim that this threat to Israel is a fantasy rather than real (see
especially pp. 210-11). No doubt I mentioned many things regarding Israel,
and especially the Israeli Right, that might have appeared baleful, but it
would have been interesting if Goldberg had cited a few of the good things I
should have included about Jabotinsky, Shamir, Begin, Sharon, Netanyahu, and
the Irgun.
Goldberg also has a tendency to deal with thoughts, including her own
imaginings,  rather than sticking to what is actually written in the book.
For example, she writes that “To read this book, one would think Israel
started every war it ever fought.” Since the book does not review Israel’s
wars over the past 60 years, I don’t know why the reader would necessarily
think this, but perhaps Goldberg has her own personal reasons.

In the thought-crime area, Goldberg ascribes “Holocaust revisionism” to me
because I tried to accurately state Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s rather
fluctuating views of the Holocaust. Can thought-policeperson Goldberg really
believe that my stating someone’s expressed views indicates assent,
especially since she applies that standard only selectively and never when
it involves the neocons or Israeli figures? My topic in this part of the
book was foreign relations, and I pointed out that Ahmadinejad’s
“inflammatory remarks” on the Holocaust and other subjects “undoubtedly
helped fuel the campaign by Israel and the neoconservatives to depict Tehran
as a dangerous ‘rogue regime.'” (p. 263) I wrote the entire book in a
dispassionate manner and did not morally condemn various crimes committed by
the United States  and Israel, such as wars of aggression (the greatest of
all war crimes according to Nuremberg), torture, bombing civilians, and mass
expulsions of civilians. Some anti-war readers (and my publisher as well)
saw that as a flaw.

Goldberg, like some others, might believe that the Holocaust is an evil
nonpareil and that its memory should be treated with the utmost reverence,
unlike the lesser mass killings and atrocities going on at present. However,
it is evident that the government of Israel itself does not allow
questioning the Holocaust to interfere with its security policy: it has
recently been close to Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate president of the
Palestinian National Authority, who, in the past, wrote a book that
questioned key aspects of the Holocaust. Abbas has never recanted. Israel,
and its supporters, including those devoted to the memory of the Holocaust,
have tended to treat Abbas’ views in a Orwellian fashion,  by essentially
throwing them down the memory hole.


If Israel can treat the Holocaust in that manner, it seems that it should be
acceptable for me to simply state the facts and avoid dwelling on the evil
of those who might intentionally downplay it.  Needless to say, as I point
out, Israeli and neocon policy has nothing to do with any malevolent ideas
of  Ahmadinejad, who has been exploited as a propaganda tool. Since the
United States in the past has conducted diplomacy with various dictators who
not only said horrendous things but did them (such as Joseph Stalin and
Mao), it would not seem that the historical views of a government figure who
does not even run his country should really have an impact on American
Instead of calmly assessing my book, Goldberg seems to have simply searched
it for anything she could twist or distort into a weapon with which to
discredit me. Sometimes she ferrets out the book’s most minor points to
achieve that purpose. For example, without any evidence whatsoever she
claims that I join “the far Left and the far Right in sympathy for Slobodan
Milosevic’s Serbia.” The only thing I write regarding Serbia is to imply
that some of the claims made about the Serbian atrocities were exaggerated
in the West, which is clearly true but does not denote sympathy for
Milosevic’s regime any more than pointing out that the Bush administration
claims about Saddam’s WMD were false denotes sympathy for Saddam Hussein’s

Goldberg abhors my one reference to Kevin MacDonald, and labels him an
anti-Semite. She writes: “To quote MacDonald on the subject of Jewish dual
loyalties is roughly equivalent to appealing to the wisdom of David Duke in
an argument over affirmative action.” As in a number of other cases,
Goldberg misses the context of this quote. It does not deal with “dual
loyalty” but is intended to illustrate that there was a general consensus of
opinion that the neocons transformed American conservatism. In that context,
I also cite pro-neocon figures, such as Murray Friedman, author of The
Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public
Policy, who made very favorable comments about the neoconservatives. It is
hard to believe that Goldberg actually believes that I identified with all
of the content of MacDonald’s quotation, because she does not interpret the
preceding quote by Murray Friedman in that manner. The Friedman quote reads:
“The idea that Jews have been put on earth to make it a better, perhaps even
a holy, place continues to shape their worldview and that of many of their
co-religionists.” [p. 42] Goldberg does not remark that I also exhibit
Judeophilic tendencies. It seems that instead of merely being weak in
reading comprehension, Goldberg deliberately sought to smear me as an
anti-Semite and fished through the book to find words that could be
distorted to achieve that end.

Another of Goldberg’s misinterpretations used to impute anti-Semitism to me
involves her charge that I identify “people’s Jewish heritage whether it’s
relevant or not. He [Sniegoski] notes, for instance, that British Foreign
Minister Jack Straw is ‘of Jewish ancestry.'” She points out that Straw is a
“Christian who had one Jewish grandfather, though both Islamist and White
supremacist websites frequently identify him as a Jew.” Goldberg thus
connects me with “Islamist and White supremacist” anti-Semites, although my
description of Straw was not the same as theirs, and, was, in fact,
accurate. And while I do refer to Jewish ancestry, not only in the passage
in question but throughout the book, I obviously do so to point out Jews who
were in any way hostile to the neoconservative position. I intended that as
a proactive effort to counter expected smears that my depiction of the
neoconservatives implied a monolithic Jewish conspiracy. (For example, I
also point out that neocon critics Senator Carl Levin and George Soros are
Jewish.) The reference to Straw’s Jewish ancestry is in conjunction with his
conversations with Secretary of State Colin Powell in the fall of 2002, in
which the two men expressed views that were quite contrary to the unilateral
war goal of the neocons. I see my effort to mention the existence of
anti-neocon Jews failed to achieve its intended result with Goldberg. But I
have a distinct feeling that if I referred only to neocons and their
supporters as Jewish, that would not have gone over well with her either.

In fact, Goldberg is willing to concede only that I hold that “not all Jews
support the neoconservative agenda or the Israeli Right.” Of course, I say
far more than “not all Jews support” the neocons, which literally could mean
that just one Jew does not support them. In fact, I point out that in late
2005, polls showed that a large majority of Jews opposed the war on Iraq,
and that in 2007 polls showed that a much greater majority of Jews than
gentiles believed that the war had been a mistake. (p. 371)
Goldberg then describes my publisher as an anti-Semite, in an apparent
effort to connect me to all of his possible views. “If Sniegoski has picked
up on antisemitic memes, perhaps it’s because he has placed himself in an
antisemitic milieu. The Transparent Cabal was put out by Enigma Editions, an
imprint of IHS press created specifically for this volume.” She points out
that the IHS Press “was described by The Southern Poverty Law Center as one
of the ‘most nakedly antisemitic organizations in the entire radical
traditionalist Catholic pantheon.’ Sniegoski’s book fits in there nicely.”

Goldberg, in short, makes use of the “guilt by publisher” concept. But why
would an author adhere to the views of his publisher? President Barack Obama
spent many years with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who was charged with
anti-Semitism and all sorts of unpopular views, and was his good friend.
Obama was indeed attacked for that connection. However, Goldberg, a staunch
supporter of Obama’s, has not attributed Wright’s views to Obama. It is
remarkable that she does not, for the connection of an author to his
publisher is infinitely less than President Obama’s past very close
connection to Reverend Wright. In my case, I was searching to find a
publisher for my manuscript and received very few offers — in fact, I
received no other offer to publish my entire manuscript without significant
But does the IHS Press actually focus on attacking Jews? One might look at
its website to determine how “anti-Semitic” it is. IHS Press lists
descriptions of its leading books on its home page, and the word “Jew” is
not mentioned. It does proclaim its dedication to the social teachings of
the Catholic Church. (
The publisher does not seem to have an absolute litmus test in choosing
books and authors for publication. It does not appear that all writers
published by IHS Press have been anti-Semitic, traditional Catholics, or
even Catholics. Certainly such a litmus test is lacking for the authors of
its two Neo-Conned! anthologies on the Iraq war–Neo-Conned! and Neo-Conned!
Again. The Neo-Conned! anthologies include such authors as Noam Chomsky,
Claes Ryn, Kirkpatrick Sale, Alexander Cockburn, Justin Raimondo, and Robert
Fisk. Does Goldberg regard all those men as anti-Semites? Since my book
deals with the same subject, it is those writers with whom I should be
The fact of the matter is that within IHS Press the writings of those men
are favored far more than my book. If Goldberg had done a modicum of
checking she would have seen that The Transparent Cabal is not even listed
in the IHS catalog at the IHS website. Goldberg notes the creation of a
special imprint for my book — Enigma Editions. Did she notice also that the
name “IHS” appears nowhere? There is no reference to IHS in the
bibliographical listing for The Transparent Cabal at the OCLC (Online
Computer Library Center) catalog of books (WorldCat) used by librarians and
researchers for inter-library loans among 60,000 libraries world-wide.

Perhaps Goldberg was too incurious to delve into the enigma of Enigma
Editions — or perhaps she feared finding something that would undercut her
“anti-Semitic” insinuation. The fact is that the publisher regarded my
manuscript as insufficiently critical of the neocons and too hostile to
America’s and Israel’s enemies, and sought changes and additions that I was
unwilling to make. Just before the book was supposed to be sent to the
printer, the publisher was refusing to publish the book for those reasons,
and he finally did so only after much contentious argument — and then only
with the stipulation that the book would not be identified with or promoted
by IHS Press. For Goldberg to claim that “Sniegoski’s book fits in there
[IHS Press] nicely” is an assessment that is totally contrary to the opinion
of the IHS Press publisher.
One can also wonder how my book, as Goldberg has depicted it, could fit into
the SPLC description of IHS. Early in her review she describes the
anti-Semitism in  The Transparent Cabal as “quite subtle — so much so that
many readers probably won’t see it.” In contrast, the SPLC uses the phrase
“nakedly anti-Semitic,” and suddenly, in her review, Goldberg appears to
agree with that evaluation. But “subtle” and “naked” are virtually
In conclusion, the numerous errors in the review indicate that Goldberg did
not intend to give a fair evaluation of the work, but simply sought to
discredit it by any means possible. Her misunderstandings of what I wrote —
misunderstandings not apparent to any of the many people who read the
manuscript — slant only in a negative direction, mainly toward the
ascription of anti-Semitism. That lethal designation serves to silence
rather than to foster analysis.

Goldberg accepts the fact that the designation of anti-Semitism is often
used unfairly, but she claims that it not only exists  but can be
legitimately applied to books such as The Transparent Cabal. However, she
does not show how authentic anti-Semitism differs from false charges of
anti-Semitism. She does not provide any examples of people who have been
falsely charged as anti-Semites. One wonders where someone such as Jimmy
Carter or James Baker would fit. Goldberg does not bother, either, to
furnish examples of people who make false charges of anti-Semitism, beyond
attributing such smears to the “Right.”

In point of fact, the most potent charges of anti-Semitism come not from the
Right but from leaders of major Jewish organizations. Let us look at such
charges as leveled by Abraham Foxman, national chairman of the
Anti-Defamation League. As I mention in my book, Foxman has maintained that
pointing out that the neocons played a significant role in the war on Iraq
and that they had connections to Israel is “reminiscent of age-old,
anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate
government.” [quoted on p. 20] From his description, it appears that
Michelle Goldberg herself expresses anti-Semitic views in her review of my
book! Does the head of the ADL make false charges of anti-Semitism, whereas
Michelle Goldberg’s opinion is correct? Yet, since Goldberg fails to set a
distinct boundary between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism, no one
could really address the subject with any assurance that Goldberg would not
label them anti-Semitic.
As I point in my book, “The ‘anti-Semitic’ charge is often an effort, and
usually a very effective effort, to silence public discourse on issues
displeasing to some influential Jews. But it is necessary to move away from
the question as to whether the argument (in fact, any argument) is
‘anti-Semitic,’ to the question of whether it is true. This requires free
inquiry unimpeded by prohibitions and taboos.” (p. 372)

Goldberg shows little concern about the truth content in The Transparent
Cabal, giving mere backhanded assent to what she claims everyone already
knows — material that actually encompasses the major themes of the work.
While she misrepresents various references, fabricates positions for me
(often ignoring contrary information in the book), and guesses at my
thoughts and motives, nowhere does she indicate anything actually in the
book that is factually untrue or a distortion of the evidence.

While I think I provide an accurate interpretation of the evidence, which no
one has yet shown to be false, I do not claim to provide every fact about
the neoconservative/Israel war agenda or express any ultimate, unchangeable
truth. Where freedom of inquiry is allowed, historical interpretations can,
and usually do, undergo revision. As I write in my book, “Of course, no work
can be definitive, especially one dealing with a contemporary issue that is
still unfolding. Obviously, much information is yet to come, especially with
the future release of archival collections. Evidence undoubtedly could
appear that would alter this work’s interpretations. All historical
interpretations are only tentative. However, it would seem impossible to
find new evidence that would remove the neoconservatives and Israel from the
picture concerning the American war on Iraq and the succeeding developments
in the wider Middle East. As George Packer, a staff writer for the New
Yorker magazine, asserts in The Assassins’ Gate: “The Iraq War will always
be linked with the term ‘neoconservative.'” (p. 9)

Early in her review, Goldberg provides what she anticipates as a reaction to
her review by observing that readers, not detecting the alleged “subtle”
anti-Semitism in The Transparent Cabal, “will likely dismiss criticism of it
as yet another attempt by the Likud lobby to silence its foes.”   In writing
that, Goldberg offers a near-perfect description of her review, except for
the fact that the effort to silence is not solely the preserve of the “Likud
lobby.”  We must hope, however, that many other writers, especially those
with scholarly reputations, will dare to deal honestly and openly with this
taboo topic and not be turned aside by expected charges of anti-Semitism by
people such as Michelle Goldberg.

Public Eye – Summer 2009 Vol. 24, No. 2

The Taboo Truths of the Conspiracy Minded

Reviewed by Michelle Goldberg

The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East,
and the National Interest of Israel – By Stephen J. Sniegoski (Washington,
D.C.: Enigma Editions, IHS Press, 2008).

Michelle Goldberg is the author, most recently, of The Means of
Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World and Kingdom Coming:
The Rise of Christian Nationalism. She is a  consultant investigating
Islamophobia and antisemitism on campuses for Political Research Associates,
publisher of Public Eye.

Stephen J. Sniegoski’s The Transparent Cabal is a disturbing and revealing
book, though not for the reasons the author intends. Sniegoski aims to show
that U.S. neoconservatives masterminded the Iraq war in the service of
Israeli hegemony, a proposition that has plenty of truth to it. In doing so,
though, he veers back and forth over the often-fuzzy line separating harsh
but legitimate criticism of Israel and Zionism from paranoid conspiracy
mongering. His book is an almost textbook illustration of the way far Left
anti-Zionism and far Right antisemitism can bend towards each other and
begin to overlap.

The antisemitism in The Transparent Cabal is quite subtle – so much so that
many readers probably won’t see it, and will likely dismiss criticism of it
as yet another attempt by the Likud lobby to silence its foes. Such attempts
exist, of course. The Right has often tried to smear opponents of both
American and Israeli foreign policy as bigots. One ironic effect of this is
that it offers an alibi to purveyors of prejudice, who can now cloak
themselves in martyrdom. Thus Sniegoski adopts the pose of one bravely
willing to reveal taboo truths. But the fact that many critics of Israel are
unfairly accused of antisemitism does not make all accusations of
antisemitism unfair.

There’s nothing new in The Transparent Cabal – indeed, it’s a kind of clip
job. Most of its material about the neoconservatives derives from mainstream
media reports and well-known books. From these secondary sources, though,
Sniegoski has fashioned a monocausal narrative in which Israel and its
American supporters are the preeminent drivers of American foreign policy
and the sole font of turmoil in the Middle East, which they’re said to
welcome because it serves Israel’s interests. In his telling, George W.
Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are mere supporting players, less
culpable for the catastrophe in Iraq than the editorial staff of the Weekly
Standard. Sniegoski suggests that Israeli interests drove the first Gulf War
as well. He joins the far Left and the far Right in sympathy for Slobodan
Milosevic’s Serbia, and implies that neoconservatives pushed for NATO’s
Kosovo campaign in order to weaken international law, thus setting the stage
for their war in Iraq.

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