Juan Cole on Israel and its Lobby: Ideological Blinders or Hidden Meaning

Juan Cole on Israel and its Lobby: Ideological Blinders or Hidden Meaning?

Thursday, February 25, 2010 6:06 PM
From: “Stephen Sniegoski”
To: “Sniegoski, Stephen”

Friends,

In this article I am going to critique some fundamental views expressed by a
staunch opponent of the US wars in the Middle East, Juan Cole, who has
performed extremely valuable and courageous service in opposing US war
policy in the Middle East. I should add, and will discuss at greater length
at the end of this piece, that I am not absolutely certain whether Cole
actually believes all of what I criticize or whether some of it merely
serves as PC cover, and the better-informed are expected to read between the
lines

Cole, who is a college professor, dares to do what few of his peers are
willing to do: present his views (most frequently on his weblog, “Informed
Comment”) on current Middle East issues which necessarily touch the taboo
topic of Israel and contradict the position of the Israel lobby. As a
Middle East specialist, Cole is capable of writing very informative pieces
on that region, which go into far greater depth than I have the expertise to
do. It is certainly not in his view of the Middle East per se where I find
flaws in his interpretation, but in his assessment of the United States
policy, especially the role of the neoconservatives and the broader Israel
Lobby, an area in which I have done considerable research (e.g. my book,
“The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East,
and the National Interest of Israel”), and where my Ph.D. background in US
diplomatic history would be of some relevance.

Although mentioning the role of some American Jews in regard to shaping
American Middle East policy, Cole still tends to downplay it. The flawed
elements in his thinking on this crucial area are especially encapsulated in
his recent article, “The Decline of the Israeli Right and the Increasing
Desperation of the ‘Anti-Semitism’ Charge.”

http://www.juancole.com/2010/02/decline-of-israeli-right-and-increasing.html

Now we are dealing with a very sensitive subject here where heterodox
thinking brings on the lethal, career-destroying charge of anti-Semitism,
and in some Western democracies can actually lead to legal punishment as a
“hate crime.” The now unacceptable, anti-Semitic view of Jews, which was
once widespread among Western educated gentiles until the realization of
Hitler’s genocidal actions, is that Jews are very powerful in society and
that they are very ethnocentric, acting to advance their own group’s
interests, often at the expense of gentiles. Many people in the Third World
still think this way, and it seems to be quite prevalent in the Islamic
Middle East. The counter view which prevails in the West today, in public
at least, is that Jews have been and are largely powerless victims of
others and that they are basically benefactors of humanity championing
universal principles that help everyone.

Now, I have put forth very broad, archetypal terms, and one sometimes
encounters slight variations from those pure forms. Even so, very mild
deviation in public from the current theme of Jewish beneficence and
powerlessness can lead to significant problems. One such moderate but
perilous deviation is to recognize that there actually is an Israel Lobby
promoting the interests of Israel, which go against the interests of the US.
(Jewish individuals have a little more leeway in deviating from this
archetypal paradigm, and can actually produce books such as J.J. Goldberg’s
“Jewish Power” or Yuri Slezkine’s “The Jewish Century.”)

I am not going to make any broad assessment of American Jews as a group;
instead, I will argue that the current archetype and the demonization of any
straying from it prevents an accurate assessment of American policy in the
Middle East, given the involvement of Jews, Jewish groups, and the Jewish
state in this issue. And a flawed assessment of the problem militates
against the achievement of a good solution. Professor Cole’s views on the
U.S. Middle East policy, if taken at face value, illustrate these problems.

Cole is obviously a sincere opponent of US/Israel wars in the Middle East
and of the American-supported Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, but
since he is operating from within the current paradigm-Jewish powerlessness
and universalistic Jewish beneficence-his analysis, despite his expertise
and honesty on the Middle East developments, has significant flaws.

To Cole, at least in his explicit writing, the culprits of the pro-war
policy are on the Right-the acceptable demons of American liberals. This
includes the Likudniks (and other parties of the Israeli Right), the
neocons, and the American right, along with assorted oil people, the
military-industrial complex, etc. But this rightist attitude, he maintains,
is quite contrary to the liberal views of most Jews and is actually harmful
to the real interests of Israel. Cole writes that the “divide between
liberal Jewish Americans and the Israeli Right has lurked as an issue since
the Likud Party first challenged Labor dominance in the late 1970s. It is
now coming to a boiling point, even as Israel’s reputation in the world is
sinking. As rightwing policies more visibly fail, the Likudniks are flailing
around making fools of themselves by smearing critics of those policies as
racists.” Cole continues along this vein: “The reactionary parties of
Likud, Shas, and Yisrael Beitenu have nothing in common with the vast
majority of Jewish Americans, who voted for Barack Obama and are generally
more progressive than non-Jewish Americans. The establishment of a liberal
Jewish lobby, J Street, which supports a two-state solution (Israel and
Palestine side by side), is a manifestation of the increasing unease of
progressive Jewish Americans with the policies and aggressive wars of
rightwing Israeli governments. Jewish Americans have been key to the
securing of many of our civil liberties in this country and a major voice
for peace and for culture and the arts, and a thug like Avigdor Lieberman as
foreign minister surely makes many of them uneasy.”

While his writing here contains elements of the truth, it would seem that
most national security policies pushed by the Israeli Right have substantial
support from mainstream American Jewish organizations, which consist of
numerous individuals who are considered liberals or progressives. And it
should be added that the use of the anti-Semitic smear is nothing new, but a
long-time staple of mainstream Jewish groups, such as the Anti-Defamation
League. In May 2003, for example, the ADL’s national chairman, Abraham
Foxman, wrote an essay, “Anti-Semitism, Pure and Simple,” hurling that
lethal charge against those who saw the Jewish neoconservatives as being a
significant factor in bringing about the US invasion of Iraq. Obviously, if
a substantial proportion of politically-active, moneyed Jews were opposed
to Israel’s oppressive policies, Congress would not act the way it does in
supporting all of Israel’s policies-including the Gaza invasion– with
near-unanimous votes.

Jews who support “progressive” measures in the US do not necessarily apply
a comparable “progressive” universalist standard to Israel’s actions. Cole
criticizes the smearing of Jimmy Carter as anti-Semitic by “the likes of
Alan Dershowitz,” and it is quite obvious that the insignificant role that
Carter was allowed to play in the 2008 Democratic Party Convention because
of his critical views of the Israeli occupation had nothing to do with the
Israeli or American Right but rather liberal Democrats’ desire for the
votes and money from liberal American Jewry. Obviously, there were no votes
or money to be had from right-wing Jewish pro-Israel conservatives who were
going to support McCain with his gaggle of pro-Likudnik neocon advisors.
In using Alan Dershowitz as an example, Cole is explicitly referring to an
American Jew who justifies almost every oppressive move made by Israel but
is, nonetheless, known as a liberal civil libertarian. Cole does the same
when he lambastes “Leon Wieseltier’s unsubstantiated and shameful attack on
Andrew Sullivan” for anti-Semitism; Wieseltier, the literary editor of The
New Republic, is an American liberal in good standing. In short, the very
examples that Cole chooses to provide serve to disprove his contention that
Israel’s hard-line policies are opposed by progressive Jews. This is an
oddity since Cole could have easily chosen right-wing American Jews to back
up his point.

“J Street” represents those Jews supposedly most critical of Israel’s
policies and does not encompass all liberal Jews, many of whom remain
committed to AIPAC. But how different is J Street from AIPAC? J Street’s
executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, castigates as anti-Semitic Mearsheimer
and Walt’s portrayal of a powerful Israel Lobby. Ben-Ami also rejects the
UN-sponsored Goldstone report’s critical depiction of Israeli war crimes in
the December 2008-January 2009 incursion into Gaza-a report that was
endorsed by the overwhelming majority of countries of the world.

My Problem with J Street

http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2009/10/28/my-problem-with-j-street/

The False Hope of J-Street and the Gentile Problem

http://america-hijacked.com/2009/11/11/the-false-hope-of-j-street-and-the-gentile-problem/

Ben-Ami, however, was less severe here than Dershowitz, who referred to
Richard J. Goldstone, the UN report’s author, as a “moser”-a Jewish
traitor-who deserves to be killed by loyal Jews. (The late Yitzhak Rabin was
branded a “moser” by leading Israeli rabbis before his assassination by a
Jewish extremist.)

Regarding the “two state solution,” J Street specifically talks about
incorporating the major West Bank Jewish settlements into Israel, instead of
having Israel return to its 1967 borders. In short, there is no evidence
that J Street is willing to support any type of Palestinian state that
differs in any significant way from what Israeli governments have proposed
in the past, which essentially is a non-viable state that is,
understandably, completely unacceptable to the Palestinian people. It
should also be observed that J Street differs but slightly from AIPAC on
Iran. If diplomacy and UN sanctions fail to bring concessions, J Street
advocates the strong sanctions advocated by Congress, which could likely
serve as a step toward war.

Now Cole essentially rejects all the aforementioned positions that the
liberal J Streeters explicitly support. Yet he wants to believe, or
pretends to believe, that they are on his side. (There are organizations of
Jews who seriously oppose Israel and America’s war policies in the Middle
East, such as the American Council on Judaism, but individuals in this
category are not politically powerful and are ignored by the mainstream
media.)

It is not my intention to be negative toward Professor Cole who in the
context of other major critics of US Middle East war policy is actually
quite hard-hitting. He provides significant elements of truth that others
ignore. For example, Cole is quite willing to point out that it was the
neocons together with the Israel Likudniks who played a role in leading the
US to war on Iraq, a crucial fact which some anti-war luminaries on the
harder Left, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, are loath to
acknowledge. Cole even points out the critical significance of the neocons’
presenting their war agenda, intended to enhance Israeli interests, to the
Israeli government and later working to implement it when ensconced in the
Bush administration. About this, Cole writes: “This Iraq strategy, which
intended to stop the Rabin peace process and prevent the return of Gaza and
the West Bank to the Palestinians for their state, was laid out by Richard
Perle, Douglas Feith, and other Neoconservatives in a white paper for Bibi
Netanyahu in 1996. Many of the authors were subsequently put in high office
by Bush-Cheney and pushed for an American war on Iraq with dirty tricks and
false propaganda in 2002-2003. They included Canadian gadfly journalist
David Frum, who authored Bush’s 2002 ‘Axis of Evil’ speech in consultation
with Perle.” Now to point out that some of the neocons successfully
persuaded the US to go to war to aid the interests of a foreign country is a
very strong charge, and the specifics cited by Cole make this activity more
extreme and more obvious than anything alleged about Alger Hiss, Harry
Dexter White, Owen Lattimore, or any other presumed agent of Stalin, who as
far as I know were never accused of making actual open contact with the
unlamented Soviet dictator.

However, after making this very extreme, but true, anti-PC statement, Cole,
so as to avoid violating the taboo about Jewish influence and power,
explicitly denies the primary role for the neocons in bringing about the war
on Iraq. He writes: “The mostly Jewish Neoconservatives were only one
faction in the Bush-Cheney coalition that wanted regime change in Baghdad,
which included the Christian Right, Big Oil, and the military-industrial
complex. However influential, they were not ‘in control’ and most Jewish
Americans opposed their ideas and policies.” In reality, however, while the
neocons did not represent a majority of American Jews, they were certainly
the driving force for war. It was their war agenda and they promoted and
implemented it through their bogus war propaganda. The other groups cited
by Cole were, at most, simply supporters of the war. The Christian Right,
for example, definitely provided support for the war once it became an
issue, boosting poll numbers in the pro-war direction, but it would be hard
to name one Christian Rightist who played a role in developing and
disseminating the Middle East war agenda before it reached the national
spotlight, and then promoted and implemented it from within the Bush
administration, whereas the number of neocons involved at these key levels
was legion.

Even more can be said against any Big Oil role, the rationale for which has
never been even spelled out in a consistent fashion. Some proponents of
this view claim that Big Oil wanted to gain control of Iraqi oil, while
others maintain just the opposite, that Big Oil wanted to eliminate this
supply in order to raise oil prices. As philosopher of science Karl Popper
commonsensically pointed out, any theory that cannot be falsified by
empirical evidence is ipso facto invalid. Furthermore, the proponents of
the Big Oil argument are loath to point out any alleged Big Oil person not
intimately connected with the neocons-such as Cheney-who was significant in
pushing for war. However, the cronies of the elder Bush, such as Brent
Scowcroft and James Baker, who have been traditionally tied to Big Oil, were
cool towards or opposed to the attack on Iraq. And, of course, prior to
9/11 when the neocons were promoting a war on Iraq, Big Oil was trying to
eliminate the sanctions on Iraq.

Regarding the military-industrial complex, this argument could presumably be
trotted out for any war since large sums of money are always spent as a
result of war. But why was Iraq targeted? Why not just have a war scare
with Russia or China since war scares always bolster military expenditures?
Moreover, not every major war industry actually benefited from the Iraq War
since expenditures on some sophisticated weapons systems were reduced as
defense money was shifted to more mundane military needs for the occupation.
Actual evidence showing that a consensus of major defense industries was
pushing for the war on Iraq before the build-up for war occurred is not
available, as far as I know. Further, the military brass were rather
hesitant to launch a war (and significant retired military leaders took even
a dimmer view); they consequently came in for strong criticism from neocons
such as Richard Perle.

None of what I have said is intended to imply that the neocons
singlehandedly brought the United States to war. They initiated and
promoted the war agenda but they needed supporters for the war’s
implementation. And they could not have attracted the popular support they
did had not the 9/11 terrorism created a climate of hate and fear of Middle
Easterners which allowed their war propaganda to flourish and take root.

While Cole accepts the fact that the neocons and Likudniks planned for and
promoted the war on Iraq, he maintains that this policy has been an utter
failure, writing: “Meanwhile, the main strategy of the Israeli and
Jewish-American Right to preserve Israeli capacity to continue the
colonization and to act belligerently in the region had been the overthrow
of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. That stratagem has failed, as I argued in Salon.
The Shiite fundamentalists who have taken over Baghdad are pro-Hizbullah and
pro-Palestinian. . . . Moreover, Baghdad has ceased helping contain Iran for
the Sunni Arab world and the West, and is now a close ally of Tehran. The
prospect of a well-armed, 250,000-man Iraqi army now being reconstituted,
and riddled with agents of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, must be a
matter of consternation for Israelis. Only Jordan separates them from Iraq,
now an outpost of the Shiite religious parties allied with Khamenei. The
Neoconservatives, such as Richard Perle, David Frum, Paul Wolfowitz, Irv
Lewis Libby, Michael Rubin, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Larry Franklin and
others thus not only shot themselves in the foot, but they shot Israel in
the chest.”

The failure of this strategy is hardly evident. The neocon agenda assumed
that Iran would be the next target after Iraq. Due to opposition in the US,
largely from the traditional American foreign policy establishment and
various economic interests (and those who held this viewpoint within the
Bush and Obama administrations), the attack on Iran has not yet
materialized, despite the pro-war efforts of the broader Israel lobby (which
transcends the neocons) and Israel itself. However, the US is certainly
edging closer to war on Iran-and Professor Cole seems to see such a war as
a definite possibility in his writings on his “Informed Consent” weblog.

Regarding the current situation in Iraq, although the Shiites are in charge,
the country is not a unified pro-Iranian state, with resistance from the
Sunnis resurfacing-giving definite indications of a possible civil war.

Fragmentation of Iraq Was Israel’s Strategy

http://america-hijacked.com/2010/02/18/fragmentation-of-iraq-was-israels-strategy/

Moreover, Israel has gained strong influence in quasi-independent Kurdistan.
In short, what has emerged in the once anti-Israel, unified country of
Iraq is an ethnically fragmented state, just as the Likudnik planners of the
strategy had foreseen, with one element being strongly influenced by Israel.
Iraq’s army will likely be preoccupied with maintaining domestic order, or
engaged in internecine struggles, and will not have the time nor capability
to threaten the IDF. In short, I would judge the Iraq part of the
neocon/Likudnik war agenda to have been close to a total success as it
achieved the expected ends.

Now Cole might regard the entire neocon/Likudnik plan to destabilize Iraq
and to do the same to Iran (and ultimately to all of Israel’s Middle East
enemies) to be mistaken. But there is a definite rationale for this
neocon/Likudnik approach-not only to eliminate Israel’s external enemies
but, by so doing, also eliminate the existential Palestinian demographic
threat, since the Palestinian resistance depends upon the material and moral
support provided by Israel’s external enemies. Although, like all plans,
the neocon/Likudnik plan is not guaranteed success, it is not apparent that
Cole, or any outsider, would have a better understanding of the situation
than the neocons and the government of Israel, who devote far more time and
effort trying to determine what policy is best for the Jewish state.

As I was getting to the end of Cole’s article, I began to wonder if I was
missing something. Was Cole providing a hidden message between the lines,
as writers have been wont to do in situations where censorship exists? A
few things just didn’t add up. Why would Cole say the problem is
restricted to Likudniks, whom good progressive Jews supposedly repudiate,
and then cite as examples progressive Jews such as Dershowitz and
Wieseltier? And then he moved on to a real zinger. When criticizing
pro-Zionist neocon David Frum, who happens to have been born and raised in
Canada, Cole writes: “But I will complain about David Frum’s dual loyalties.
I am very suspicious of a rightwing Stephen Harper-style Canadian becoming
so influential in the United States. I like my Canadians in their normal,
sane estate. I fear he may be influencing my country in directions that
benefit rightwing Canadian politicians and war industries in Ottawa.” Yes,
of course, “Canadian” David Frum, author of Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech,
is obviously trying to influence American foreign policy for the benefit of
“rightwing Canadian politicians” to help well-known “war industries” in
Ottawa. Such dual loyalty is obviously disturbing. This would be a good gag
for Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, if Stewart were willing to go out this far
from PC.

And digging beyond the obvious, Frum is actually not much of a conservative;
in fact, he maintains that conservatives need to modernize and not be so
fixated on such outdated things as the Constitution.

http://www.frumforum.com/mt-vernons-conservative-dead-letter

Right or wrong, this position, needless to say, is about the polar opposite
of American conservatism, though it fits in with the thrust of
neoconservatism, as well as much of modern liberalism. Frum also illustrates
his divergence from American conservatism in his Time Magazine article (Feb.
15, 2010) entitled “Republicans Must Embrace the Vital Center,” which
trashes the hard-line conservatism of CPAC (the Conservative Political
Action Conference) whose attendees had the audacity to give the most votes
in their presidential poll to Ron Paul, who happens to oppose the wars in
the Middle East. Frum writes: “The time has come to restore the center to
the center-right coalition. Maybe it’s even time to start a new convention
so the centrists can meet face to face at least once a year, just as their
conservative colleagues do.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1960311,00.html#ixzz0gAi9UzL7

Before becoming an American citizen, newcomer Frum, in his 2003 article
“Unpatriotic Conservatives: A war against America,” condemned as
anti-American those individuals who had labored in the conservative
vineyard for decades, such as Pat Buchanan, because they now dared to
oppose the war in Iraq. It is apparent that Frum’s conservatism is not
attuned to what has passed in the US as conservatism; rather, his
“conservatism” is neoconservatism which has as its litmus test an Israel
First foreign policy (in contrast to the traditional conservative penchant
for “America First.”) As an aside, I must add that, in a sense, I agree
with those who hotly dispute the charge of “dual loyalty” when applied to
individuals such as Frum: it would seem apparent that his national loyalty
is entirely singular.

So I don’t really know what to say. Is Professor Cole prevented by
ideological blinders from seeing full reality on this subject? Or does he
realize that he can’t present the entire truth directly because of the taboo
nature of not-so-free modern-day America? Does he believe that in order to
get an anti-war message across he must cover up the full truth by spouting
obvious falsehoods and contradictions, which will be spotted as such by
those in the know, but which serve to protect him from the lethal charge of
anti-Semitism, and enable him to be followed by a vast number of PC
liberals who would eschew the entire truth about this taboo subject? Certainly, his approach enables him to effectively disseminate his anti-war message to a much larger audience than would be the case if he provided the unadulterated truth in a direct fashion. Maybe we need some neocon
Straussians to ferret out Professor Cole’s hidden meaning, if there is any;
it’s certainly beyond my ken.

Transparent Cabal Website:
http://home.comcast.net/~transparentcabal/

Amazon listing of The Transparent Cabal:

http://tiny.cc/zNV06

Best,
Stephen Sniegoski

________________________________________________-

http://www.juancole.com/2010/02/decline-of-israeli-right-and-increasing.html

Informed Comment
Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion

Thursday, February 18, 2010
The Decline of the Israeli Right and the Increasing Desperation of the
‘Anti-Semitism’ Charge

Juan Cole

The great divide between liberal Jewish Americans and the Israeli Right has
lurked as an issue since the Likud Party first challenged Labor dominance in
the late 1970s. It is now coming to a boiling point, even as Israel’s
reputation in the world is sinking. As rightwing policies more visibly fail,
the Likudniks are flailing around making fools of themselves by smearing
critics of those policies as racists. (Anyone who knows how Likud supporters
talk among themselves about Arabs and other outsiders can only be amused at
their impudent hypocrisy in playing the race card.)

The mess that Mossad’s mercenaries (some of them possibly from the Fateh
Palestinian faction also opposed to Hamas) made of a routine political
assassination in Dubai of a Hamas agent funneling arms from Iran is a blow
against Ithe image of daring, stone-cold competence cultivated by the
Israeli security establishment. The killing went smoothly, but it transpires
that the assassins had not only stolen the passport identities of British
and Irish citizens, but those of several Israeli dual citizens originally
from the UK, as well. Mossad thus made potential problems for those passport
holders for the rest of their lives, since Interpol will be interested every
time the numbers pop up at an airport check-in.

The incident has roiled diplomatic relations with Ireland and the UK. But it
is also controversial in Israel (not the assassination but the bumbling
clumsy identity theft against Israeli citizens). After all, branding an
innocent Israeli an assassin is a sort of blood libel. Indeed, casual
political assassination as a routine Israeli method of statecraft makes many
Jews uncomfortable, as is visible in Steven Spielberg’s film, Munich.

But the harbingers of isolation are numerous. The Netanyahu government has
largely defied President Obama’s requests for a halt to the colonization of
the West Bank (a freeze on building new settlements in part of the West
Bank, while existing settlements are expanded and Palestinians are thrown in
the street in Jerusalem does not count).

The Israeli siege of the children of Gaza, some of whom are looking
skinnier, is impossible to justify and provoked even a US congressman to
urge a forceful breaking of the blockade. The Goldstone Report on Israeli
war crimes (and which also acknowledges Hamas war crimes) for the United
Nations is likely to attain an official status of a sort denied to previous
such clear-eyed examinations of Israeli military action. (Israel’s
leadership suffered not the least from dropping nearly a million cluster
bombs on the civilian farms of southern Lebanon in the last 3 days of the
2006 Lebanon War, though this targeting of civilians was illegal and the US
Congress had stipulated that the weapons could not be used that way).

The reactionary parties of Likud, Shas, and Yisrael Beitenu have nothing in
common with the vast majority of Jewish Americans, who voted for Barack
Obama and are generally more progressive than non-Jewish Americans. The
establishment of a liberal Jewish lobby, J Street, which supports a
two-state solution (Israel and Palestine side by side), is a manifestation
of the increasing unease of progessive Jewish Americans with the policies
and aggressive wars of rightwing Israeli governments. Jewish Americans have
been key to the securing of many of our civil liberties in this country and
a major voice for peace and for culture and the arts, and a thug like
Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister surely makes many of them uneasy. It
is no accident that the Likud government has snubbed a delegation of US
Congress members to Israel who support J Street. The Netanyahu government is
all about colonizing more of the West Bank and preventing the rise of a
Palestinian state.

Then you have Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein supporting the movement to
break the Israeli blockade of Gaza civilians, including children.

The Israeli occupation and colonization of the West Bank provoked former
president Jimmy Carter to warn of an Apartheid situation. Although he was
viciously attacked by the likes of Alan Dershowitz and subjected to the
typical dirty tricks deployed by fanatical nationalists of all stripes, he
has been vindicated by remarks of Israeli politician Ehud Barak, who just
said the same thing Carter had.

The occupation is also provoking an increasing move to boycott Israel,
especially firms and concerns based in the West Bank settlements or
connected to the Lebanon and Gaza Wars. The second largest union of Canadian
federal employees has joined such a boycott. During the Gaza War,
Scandinavian grocery chains cancelled their orders for Israeli fruit, and
the South African longshoremen declined to unload Israeli ships.

It is anxiety over the prospect that the current far-right Netanyahu
government is becoming increasingly isolated from the world community,
including the Obama administration in the US, and from a new generation of
progressive Jewish Americans that explains the rash of scurrilous charges of
‘anti-Semitism’ being thrown around by the ‘Israel-can-do-no-wrong’ crowd in
recent days.

You had Leon Wieseltier’s unsubstantiated and shameful attack on Andrew
Sullivan, which Sullivan effectively refuted — as did Glenn Greenwald,
Matthew Ygglesias, and a number of others. As Greenwald points out, the use
of the ‘anti-Semitism’ charge against ordinary every day non-bigotted people
who just don’t agree with some policy of Israel or of the American
Enterprise Institute risks making the term meaningless and cheapening it,
which can hardly be good for the Jews.

Meanwhile, the main strategy of the Israeli and Jewish-American Right to
preserve Israeli capacity to continue the colonization and to act
belligerently in the region had been the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in
Iraq. That strategem has failed, as I argued in Salon. The Shiite
fundamentalists who have taken over Baghdad are pro-Hizbullah and
pro-Palestinian. (Hizbullah was in part set up by the Islamic Mission Party,
Da’wa, of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Da’wa supported Hamas in
the recent Gaza War). Moreover, Baghdad has ceased helping contain Iran for
the Sunni Arab world and the West, and is now a close ally of Tehran. The
prospect of a well-armed, 250,000-man Iraqi army now being reconstituted,
and riddled with agents of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, must be a
matter of consternation for Israelis. Only Jordan separates them from Iraq,
now an outpost of the Shiite religious parties allied with Khamenei. The
Neoconservatives, such as Richard Perle, David Frum, Paul Wolfowitz, Irv
Lewis Libby, Michael Rubin, Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Larry Franklin and
others thus not only shot themselves in the foot, but they shot Israel in
the chest.

This Iraq strategy, which intended to stop the Rabin peace process and
prevent the return of Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians for their
state, was laid out by Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and other
Neoconservatives in a white paper for Bibi Netanyahu in 1996. Many of the
authors were subsequently put in high office by Bush-Cheney and pushed for
an American war on Iraq with dirty tricks and false propaganda in 2002-2003.
They included Canadian gadfly journalist David Frum, who authored Bush’s
2002 ‘Axis of Evil’ speech in consultation with Perle. The mostly Jewish
Neoconservatives were only one faction in the Bush-Cheney coalition that
wanted regime change in Baghdad, which included the Christian Right, Big
Oil, and the military-industrial complex. However influential, they were not
‘in control’ and most Jewish Americans opposed their ideas and policies.

Frum, a Canadian who only became naturalized as a US citizen in 2007, was
important in the early years of the Bush presidency and crafted many of the
falsehoods and propaganda points that got up the Iraq War. He bears a heavy
responsibility for the unnecessary deaths of over 4000 US military
personnel, for the deaths of some 600,000 Iraqis, and for the displacement
of nearly 4 million Iraqis. In a just world, David Frum would be on trial
for his role in severe violations of international law, as would Bush,
Cheney, Perle, and the rest of those bald-faced liars and warmongers.

To cover his prevarications and failed policies, Frum joined Wieseltier in
playing the anti-Semitism card at CNN this week, piling on Sullivan but also
smearing yours truly. His exhibit A was a passage in which I complained
about supporters of the Israeli Likud party attempting to enlist the US
military to fight wars on behalf of that party’s platform. The column was
mainly about Larry Franklin, a Catholic, who went to jail on espionage
charges for passing classified Pentagon documents to AIPAC and the Israeli
embassy.

Since supporters of the Likud government, Christian and Jewish, are even now
attempting to foment a US war on Iran on behalf of rightwing objectives in
Israel (Iran is no more a threat to the United States than Iraq had been), I
rather stand by my condemnation of them.

As someone who travels to Israel, collaborates on research with Israeli
colleagues, supports Israelis’ right to live normal and fulfilling lives in
security, and recently stayed in a kubbutz, I am puzzled by Frum’s innuendo.
I am critical of Israeli policy in Gaza and the West Bank, but then so are
former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak; I think I probably
haven’t said anything on the issue that clear-eyed Israelis haven’t already
said themselves.

But I will complain about David Frum’s dual loyalties. I am very suspicious
of a rightwing Stephen Harper-style Canadian becoming so influential in the
United States. I like my Canadians in their normal, sane estate. I fear he
may be influencing my country in directions that benefit rightwing Canadian
politicians and war industries in Ottawa. Although Canada has also leant us
treasures like William Shatner, Dan Akroyd and Paul Schaeffer, for which I’m
grateful, the latter never became ensconced in the halls of power or
encouraged anyone to fire a shot in anger off the set.

End/ (Not Continued)

posted by Juan Cole @ 2/18/2010 02:08:00 AM

10 Responses to “Juan Cole on Israel and its Lobby: Ideological Blinders or Hidden Meaning”

  • Patriot says:

    Liberal Richard Cohen Advocates Craziness in an Israel First War Policy (by Dr. Stephen Sniegoski)

    http://tinyurl.com/israelfirstwarpolicy

    http://america-hijacked.com/2010/02/28/liberal-richard-cohen-advocates-craziness-in-an-israel-first-war-policy/

    Former CIA Bin Laden unit head Michael Scheuer conveyed (on C-SPAN’s ‘Washington Journal’) that the US was fighting wars for/because of Israel:

    http://tinyurl.com/daretodiscuss

    Entire C-SPAN ‘Washington Journal’ segment with Michael Scheuer linked at following URL:

    http://tinyurl.com/michaelscheuer

    US support for Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians PRIMARY MOTIVATION for tragic attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and earlier in 1993 as well (look up ‘Israel as a terrorist’s motivation’ in the index of James Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book and take a look at the following URLs as well):

    What Motivated the 9/11 Hijackers? See testimony most didn’t:

    http://tinyurl.com/911motivation

    Israel Attacks Gaza, Silence from Mainstream Media about Israeli Violations of International Law

    http://neoconzionistthreat.blogspot.com/2009/01/israel-attacks-gaza-silence-from.html

    I also saw on CNN moments ago how Israel is pushing for sanctions against Iran which has been pushed for by AIPAC as well (on behalf of Israel yet again of course!):

    The Israel Lobby. Portrait of a Great Taboo:

    AIPAC’s Push for War with Iran:

    Here is a Google video for the English version of that Dutch AIPAC documentary (must watch especially for what Lawrence Wilkerson mentions about WW 3 at the end!):

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3994543425032066015&q=&hl=en

    Additional at following URL:

    http://tinyurl.com/motivation911

  • alex ajay says:

    Steve Sneigowski is right about the power of the Jewish financial oligarchs,and that J St is merely a softer form of AIPAC,
    but his remarks about the role of oil and military establishment are less convincing..
    those who represent the monopoly oil interests would love to regain their control over Mideast oil and edge out their competitors… supply becomes a weapon,gluting the market till prices negatively effect Iran ,Saudia Arabia,and Russia. (Consider also that potential oil reserves can lie dormant under the control of monopoly groups -and that suits them fine,since its THEY who will have potential access)..
    I suggest its an error to focus on companies oil or defense,in isolation and overlook the banks who control the stocks in these firms…(e.g. Barclays)…
    Finally I still hold the view that zionist ideology takes the form of pro Israel support on all social -political-cultural levels
    but also has an important economic basis in investments in Israel.
    (In other words,people can have little interest in Israel on a value level,but be effected materially by what happens to Israel. )

    But what is rarely noted is Marx’s point in “On the Jewish Question”
    about how developing capitalism converts the world view of society to the material/practical outlook of Judiasm

    from On The Jewish Question:
    (note that Marx means enshrinement of private property when he refers to ‘civil society’)
    “Since in civil society the real nature of the Jew has been universally realized and secularized, civil society could not convince the Jew of the unreality of his religious nature, which is indeed only the ideal aspect of practical need. Consequently, not only in the Pentateuch and the Talmud, but in present-day society we find the nature of the modern Jew, and not as an abstract nature but as one that is in the highest degree empirical, not merely as a narrowness of the Jew, but as the Jewish narrowness of society.

    Once society has succeeded in abolishing the empirical essence of Judaism – huckstering and its preconditions – the Jew will have become impossible, because his consciousness no longer has an object, because the subjective basis of Judaism, practical need, has been humanized, and because the conflict between man’s individual-sensuous existence and his species-existence has been abolished.

    The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/jewish-question/index.htm

  • It is just not apparent to me that oil, the military, or bankers have been pushing for war in the Middle East. The evidence has not been provided despite the popularity of the claim. If specific evidence of particular individuals from these groups were provided, as I did for the neocons, I would consider changing my mind.

    I would also point out that if all these powerful groups were in support of war, why has the United States not already attacked Iran? The fact of the matter is that representatives of these groups have, in the main, advocated caution, fearing the terrible ramifications of war. It would seem quite understandable that the wealthy don’t want the economy—in which they have the most to lose– to be destroyed by wars.

    Of course, wealthy Jews who are ardently Zionist support wars to advance the security of Israel. Certainly, wealthy Jews provide much of the funding for neocon groups. However, George Soros, who is not an ardent Zionist Jew, opposes these wars.

  • a says:

    The reason Juan Cole pretend J street is different because he wants to create an illusion that NOT all zionist Jews are criminal, which is a faulse statement. I don’t know if you know Juan Cole is a Bahai. Majority of Bahai are coming from Jewsih background and majority of them support state of Israel and zionism. Many Bahai psychologist are helping the US war criminal and are designing how to turture innocent people and are directly involved in turture of the detainees in the secret and overt bases.

  • Patriot says:

    Published on Monday, March 15, 2010 by TruthDig.com
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/15-0

    Israeli Crackdown Puts Liberal Jews on the Spot
    by Chris Hedges

    The Israeli government, its brutal war crimes in Gaza exposed in detail in the U.N. report by Justice Richard Goldstone, has implemented a series of draconian measures to silence and discredit dissidents, leading intellectuals and human rights organizations inside and outside Israel that are accused-often falsely-of assisting Goldstone’s U.N. investigators. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to shut down Israel’s premier human rights organizations, including B’Tselem, the New Israel Fund (NIF) and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. It is busy expelling or excluding peace activists and foreign nationals from the Palestinian territories. The campaign, if left unchecked, will be as catastrophic for Palestinians as it will be for Israel.

    The Goldstone report, which is over 500 pages, investigated Israel’s 22-day air and ground assault on Gaza that took place from Dec. 27, 2008, to Jan. 18, 2009. The United Nations and the European Parliament have endorsed the report. The report found that Israel used disproportionate military force against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip while failing to take adequate precautions to protect the civilian population against the military assault. The Israeli attack killed 1,434 people, including 960 civilians, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. More than 6,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, leaving behind some $3 billion in destruction in one of the poorest areas on Earth. No Israelis were killed by Hamas rockets fired into Israel during the assault. The report did not limit itself to the 22-day attack; rather, it went on to indict the occupation itself. It examines the beginning of the occupation and condemns Israel for the border closures, the blockade and for the wall or security barrier in the West Bank. It has two references to the right of return, investigates Israeli torture and criticizes the willful destruction of the Palestinian economy.

    “The impact of the Goldstone report is tremendous,” the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein said when I reached him in New York. “It marks and catalyzes the breakup of the Diaspora Jewish support for Israel because Goldstone is the classical Diaspora Jew. He is a lawyer and upholder of human rights and a liberal. He has distinguished himself in the field of law and he is also a lover of Zion. He calls himself a Zionist. His mother was an activist in the Zionist movement. His daughter did aliyah. He sits on the board of governors of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has an honorary degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has said over and over again that he is a Zionist. He believes Jews have a right to a state in Palestine. His is a mostly emblematic profile of the classically liberal Jew.”

    “Liberal has a distinct connotation,” Finkelstein went on. “It means to believe in the rule of law. It means to believe in international institutions. It means to believe in human rights. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are liberal organizations. What the Goldstone phenomenon registers and catalyzes is the fact that it is impossible to reconcile liberal convictions with Israel’s conduct; too much is now known about the history of the conflict and the human rights record and the so-called peace process. It is impossible to be both liberal and defend Israeli policy. That was the conflict that confronted Goldstone. I very much doubt he wanted to condemn Israel.”

    “Israeli liberalism always had a function in Israeli society,” said Finkelstein, whose new book, “This Time We Went Too Far,” examines the Israeli attack a year ago on Gaza. “When I talk about liberals I mean people like A.B. Yehoshua, David Grossman and Amos Oz. Their function was to issue these anguished criticisms of Israel which not only extenuated Israeli crimes but exalted Israeli crimes. ‘Isn’t it beautiful, the Israeli soul, how it is anguished over what it has done.’ It is the classic case of having your cake and eating it. Not only were any crimes being committed extenuated, but they were beautiful. And now something strange happened. Along comes a Jewish liberal and he says, ‘Spare me your tears. I am only interested in the law.’

    “Goldstone did not perform the role of the Jewish liberal,” Finkelstein said, “which is to be anguished, but no consequences. And all of a sudden Israeli liberal Jews are discovering, hey, there are consequences for committing war crimes. You don’t just get to walk into the sunset and look beautiful. They can’t believe it. They are genuinely shocked. ‘Aren’t our tears consequences enough?’ Aren’t our long eyes and broken hearts consequences enough?’ ‘No,” he said, ‘you have to go to the criminal court.’ ”

    The campaign against Israeli dissidents has taken the form of venomous denunciations of activists and jurists, including Justice Goldstone. It includes a bill before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, which will make it possible to imprison the leaders of Israeli human rights groups if they fail to comply with crippling new registration conditions. Human rights activists from outside Israel who work in the Palestinian territories are being rounded up and deported. The government is refusing to issue work visas to employees of 150 NGOs operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). The new tourist visas effectively bar these employees from Palestinian territory under Israeli occupation. Professor Naomi Chazan, the Israeli head of the NIF, which has donors in the United States, is being publicly vilified by ultranationalist groups such as Im Tirzu. Foreign donors to the NIF, as well as other human rights groups, are being pressured by Israeli officials to halt contributions. Billboards have sprouted up around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with a grotesque caricature of Chazan, who has been branded by groups such as Im Tirzu as an agent for Hamas and Iran, with a horn growing from her forehead. “Naomi-Goldstone-Chazan” the caption on the billboard reads. Im Tirzu, the front organization behind many of the attacks, includes among its financial backers the John Hagee Ministries and the New York Central Fund, which also support extremist settler organizations.

    The purge is under way because of the belief within the Netanyahu government that these groups and activists provided evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza to Justice Goldstone. Israel has no intention of lifting the blockade on Gaza, halting settlement expansion, including the 1,600 new homes to be built in East Jerusalem, or reversing its division of the West Bank into impoverished ghettos of Palestinians. The growing brutality and violence of the occupation, no longer easy to deny or hide, coupled with Israel’s growing status as an international pariah, have unleashed a crackdown against all those within the Jewish state who are blamed for the bad publicity. Yuli Edelstein, the Diaspora affairs minister, summed up the witch hunt when he announced that the Cabinet had been “concerned for a time with a number of groups under the guise of NGOs that are funded by foreign agents.”

    The Knesset bill, if passed, will force human rights groups to register as political bodies and turn over identification numbers and addresses of all members to the government. These groups will lose their tax-exempt status. Most governmental organizations, such as the European Union, which is a large donor to Israeli human rights organizations, cannot legally pay taxes to another government, and the new law will effectively end European Union and other outside funding. The groups will be mandated to provide the government with the records of all foreign donations and account for how these donations were spent. Any public statement, event or speech, even if it lasts half a minute, by these groups must include a declaration that they are being supported and funded by a foreign power. Those who fail to follow these guidelines, including local volunteers, can face a year in jail.

    “This is the first time the human rights dimension of the Israel Palestine conflict has moved center stage,” Finkelstein said. “It has temporarily displaced the fatuous peace process. It is the first time that human rights reports have counted. There are literally, because I have read them, tens if not hundreds of thousands of pages of accumulation of human rights reports condemning Israel going back roughly to the first intifada to the present. The human rights organizations since the 1990s have been quite sharp in their criticism of Israel human rights policy, but nobody ever reads the reports. They are never reported on, with maybe a couple of exceptions, in the mainstream media. The Goldstone report was the first time the findings of these human rights organizations moved center stage. People stopped talking about the peace process and started talking about Israel’s human rights record.”

    There is a growing disenchantment among Israelis with the endless occupation of Gaza and the West Bank as well as endemic government corruption. Maj. Gen. Avi Zamir, the head of the Israeli military’s Personnel Directorate, admitted recently to UPI that increasing numbers of Israelis are refusing to serve in the occupied territories. “Taking into consideration Israeli Arab youth, we’re facing a situation in which 70 percent of youths will not enlist in the military,” the general told the news agency. The discontent, along with the international condemnation, is inhibiting Israel’s ability to muster international support for further attacks.

    “Israel attacked Gaza to restore what it called its deterrence capacity, its ability to terrorize the Arab world into submission,” Finkelstein said. “But it actually diminished its deterrence capacity because it can’t attack. If they were to attack now, anywhere, all hell would break loose and they wouldn’t get sympathy.”

    The numbers of so-called refuseniks are proliferating with groups such as the Courage to Refuse, Shministim and New Profile supporting those who will not serve in the Israeli Defense Forces. It is not that many Israelis lack a conscience, it is not that many cannot delineate right from wrong; it is that the Netanyahu government is determined to see that these courageous voices within Israel will be silenced along with those of the Palestinians.

    Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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