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27 April 2006
Lobbies, & the
Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know
'The Israel Lobby' Paper Keeps On Ticking
MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 27 April.
It's hard to remember any 'academic paper' that has unleashed such a
firestore of interest, applause, and vilification. The two highly
respected academic authors no doubt knew they were walking on eggshells
and about to hit sensitive political/social nerves, but it's doubtful
they realized how abusive, slanderous, and sustained the mudslinging
would become. Originally commissioned by The Atlantic Monthly,
which now has taken an oath of silence and apparently gotten the
Professors to agree it seems, the article didn't find a major publisher
in the States where it is most relevant and timely. It ended up in a
late March issue of The London Review of Books, but in the age of the Internet it quickly got extraordinary circulation far beyond. Robert Fisk takes it from there in his insightful article published today:
Breaking the Last Taboo
Walt towers over me as we walk in the Harvard sunshine past Eliot
Street, a big man who needs to be big right now (he's one of two
authors of an academic paper on the influence of America's Jewish
lobby) but whose fame, or notoriety, depending on your point of view,
is of no interest to him. "John and I have deliberately avoided the
television shows because we don't think we can discuss these important
issues in 10 minutes. It would become 'J' and 'S', the personalities
who wrote about the lobby - and we want to open the way to serious
discussion about this, to encourage a broader discussion of the forces
shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East."
John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago.
Walt is a 50-year-old tenured professor at the John F Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard. The two men have caused one of the most
extraordinary political storms over the Middle East in recent American
history by stating what to many non-Americans is obvious: that the US
has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its
allies in order to advance the interests of Israel, that Israel is a
liability in the "war on terror", that the biggest Israeli lobby group,
Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the
agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress - so
much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there - and that
the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel.
who criticises Israel's actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have
significant influence over US Middle East policy," the authors have
written, "...stands a good chance of being labelled an anti-Semite.
Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israeli lobby runs
the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism ... Anti-Semitism is
something no-one wants to be accused of." This is strong stuff in a
country where - to quote the late Edward Said - the "last taboo" (now
that anyone can talk about blacks, gays and lesbians) is any serious
discussion of America's relationship with Israel.
already the author of an elegantly written account of the resistance to
US world political dominance, a work that includes more than 50 pages
of references. Indeed, those who have read his Taming Political Power:
The Global Response to US Primacy will note that the Israeli lobby gets
a thumping in this earlier volume because Aipac "has repeatedly
targeted members of Congress whom it deemed insufficiently friendly to
Israel and helped drive them from office, often by channelling money to
many people in America are putting their own heads above the parapet,
now that Mearsheimer and Walt have launched a missile that would fall
to the ground unexploded in any other country but which is detonating
here at high speed? Not a lot. For a while, the mainstream US press and
television - as pro-Israeli, biased and gutless as the two academics
infer them to be - did not know whether to report on their conclusions
(originally written for The Atlantic Monthly, whose editors apparently
took fright, and subsequently reprinted in the London Review of Books
in slightly truncated form) or to remain submissively silent. The New
York Times, for example, only got round to covering the affair in depth
well over two weeks after the report's publication, and then buried its
article in the education section on page 19. The academic essay,
according to the paper's headline, had created a "debate" about the
say that again. Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the UN, who now heads
an Israeli lobby group, kicked off by unwittingly proving that the
Mearsheimer-Walt theory of "anti-Semitism" abuse is correct. "I
believe," he said, "that anti-Semitism may be partly defined as
asserting a Jewish conspiracy for doing the same thing non-Jews engage
in." Congressman Eliot Engel of New York said that the study itself was
"anti-Semitic" and deserved the American public's contempt.
no time for this argument. "We are not saying there is a conspiracy, or
a cabal. The Israeli lobby has every right to carry on its work - all
Americans like to lobby. What we are saying is that this lobby has a
negative influence on US national interests and that this should be
discussed. There are vexing problems out in the Middle East and we need
to be able to discuss them openly. The Hamas government, for example -
how do we deal with this? There may not be complete solutions, but we
have to try and have all the information available."
doesn't exactly admit to being shocked by some of the responses to his
work - it's all part of his desire to keep "discourse" in the academic
arena, I suspect, though it probably won't work. But no-one could be
anything but angered by his Harvard colleague, Alan Dershowitz, who
announced that the two scholars recycled accusations that "would be
seized on by bigots to promote their anti-Semitic agendas". The two are
preparing a reply to Dershowitz's 45-page attack, but could probably
have done without praise from the white supremacist and ex-Ku Klux Klan
head David Duke - adulation which allowed newspapers to lump the name
of Duke with the names of Mearsheimer and Walt. "Of Israel, Harvard and
David Duke," ran the Washington Post's reprehensible headline.
Street Journal, ever Israel's friend in the American press, took an
even weirder line on the case. "As Ex-Lobbyists of Pro-Israel Group
Face Court, Article Queries Sway on Mideast Policy" its headline
proclaimed to astonished readers. Neither Mearsheimer nor Walt had
mentioned the trial of two Aipac lobbyists - due to begin next month -
who are charged under the Espionage Act with receiving and
disseminating classified information provided by a former Pentagon
Middle East analyst. The defence team for Steven Rosen and Keith
Weissman has indicated that it may call Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley to the stand.
third of the Journal's report is taken up with the Rosen-Weissman
trial, adding that the indictment details how the two men "allegedly
sought to promote a hawkish US policy toward Iran by trading favours
with a number of senior US officials. Lawrence Franklin, the former
Pentagon official, has pleaded guilty to misusing classified
information. Mr Franklin was charged with orally passing on information
about a draft National Security Council paper on Iran to the two
lobbyists... as well as other classified information. Mr Franklin was
sentenced in December to nearly 13 years in prison..."
Street Journal report goes on to say that lawyers and "many Jewish
leaders" - who are not identified - "say the actions of the former
Aipac employees were no different from how thousands of Washington
lobbyists work. They say the indictment marks the first time in US
history that American citizens... have been charged with receiving and
disseminating state secrets in conversations." The paper goes on to say
that "several members of Congress have expressed concern about the case
since it broke in 2004, fearing that the Justice Department may be
targeting pro-Israel lobbying groups, such as Aipac. These officials
(sic) say they're eager to see the legal process run its course, but
are concerned about the lack of transparency in the case."
As far as
Dershowitz is concerned, it isn't hard for me to sympathise with the
terrible pair. He it was who shouted abuse at me during an Irish radio
interview when I said that we had to ask the question "Why?" after the
11 September 2001 international crimes against humanity. I was a
"dangerous man", Dershowitz shouted over the air, adding that to be
"anti-American" - my thought-crime for asking the "Why?" question - was
the same as being anti-Semitic. I must, however, also acknowledge
another interest. Twelve years ago, one of the Israeli lobby groups
that Mearsheimer and Walt fingers prevented any second showing of a
film series on Muslims in which I participated for Channel 4 and the
Discovery Channel - by stating that my "claim" that Israel was building
large Jewish settlements on Arab land was "an egregious falsehood". I
was, according to another Israeli support group, "a Henry Higgins with
fangs", who was "drooling venom into the living rooms of America."
nonsense continues to this day. In Australia to launch my new book on
the Middle East, for instance, I repeatedly stated that Israel -
contrary to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists - was not responsible
for the crimes of 11 September 2001. Yet the Australian Jewish News
claimed that I "stopped just millimetres short of suggesting that
Israel was the cause of the 9/11 attacks. The audience reportedly (and
predictably) showered him in accolades."
untrue. There was no applause and no accolades and I never stopped
"millimetres" short of accusing Israel of these crimes against
humanity. The story in the Australian Jewish News is a lie.
So I have
to say that - from my own humble experience - Mearsheimer and Walt have
a point. And for a man who says he has not been to Israel for 20 years
- or Egypt, though he says he had a "great time" in both countries -
Walt rightly doesn't claim any on-the-ground expertise. "I've never
flown into Afghanistan on a rickety plane, or stood at a checkpoint and
seen a bus coming and not known if there is a suicide bomber aboard,"
Chomsky, America's foremost moral philosopher and linguistics academic
- so critical of Israel that he does not even have a regular newspaper
column - does travel widely in the region and acknowledges the
ruthlessness of the Israeli lobby. But he suggests that American
corporate business has more to do with US policy in the Middle East
than Israel's supporters - proving, I suppose, that the Left in the
United States has an infinite capacity for fratricide. Walt doesn't say
he's on the left, but he and Mearsheimer objected to the invasion of
Iraq, a once lonely stand that now appears to be as politically
acceptable as they hope - rather forlornly - that discussion of the
Israeli lobby will become.
in a Malaysian restaurant with me, patiently (though I can hear the
irritation in his voice) explaining that the conspiracy theories about
him are nonsense. His stepping down as dean of the Kennedy School was a
decision taken before the publication of his report, he says. No one is
throwing him out. The much-publicised Harvard disclaimer of ownership
to the essay - far from being a gesture of fear and criticism by the
university as his would-be supporters have claimed - was mainly drafted
by Walt himself, since Mearsheimer, a friend as well as colleague, was
a Chicago scholar, not a Harvard don.
But something surely has to give.
United States, there is growing evidence that the Israeli and
neo-conservative lobbies are acquiring ever greater power. The
cancellation by a New York theatre company of My Name is Rachel Corrie
- a play based on the writings of the young American girl crushed to
death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 - has deeply shocked
liberal Jewish Americans, not least because it was Jewish American
complaints that got the performance pulled.
the West condemn the Islamic world for not accepting Mohamed cartoons,"
Philip Weiss asked in The Nation, "when a Western writer who speaks out
on behalf of Palestinians is silenced? And why is it that Europe and
Israel itself have a healthier debate over Palestinian human rights
than we can have here?" Corrie died trying to prevent the destruction
of a Palestinian home. Enemies of the play falsely claim that she was
trying to stop the Israelis from collapsing a tunnel used to smuggle
weapons. Hateful e-mails were written about Corrie. Weiss quotes one
that reads: "Rachel Corrie won't get 72 virgins but she got what she
Makdisi - a close relative of the late Edward Said - has revealed how a
right-wing website is offering cash for University of California at Los
Angeles (UCLA) students who report on the political leanings of their
professors, especially their views on the Middle East. Those in need of
dirty money at UCLA should be aware that class notes, handouts and
illicit recordings of lectures will now receive a bounty of $100. "I
earned my own inaccurate and defamatory 'profile'," Makdisi says,
"...not for what I have said in my classes on English poets such as
Wordsworth and Blake - my academic speciality, which the website avoids
mentioning - but rather for what I have written in newspapers about
Middle Eastern politics."
and Walt include a study of such tactics in their report. "In September
2002," they write, "Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately
pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website
(www.campus-watch.org) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and
encouraged students to report behaviour that might be considered
hostile to Israel... the website still invites students to report
the most incendiary paragraph in the essay - albeit one whose contents
have been confirmed in the Israeli press - discusses Israel's pressure
on the United States to invade Iraq. "Israeli intelligence officials
had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq's WMD
programmes," the two academics write, quoting a retired Israeli general
as saying: "Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture
presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq's
he might take a year's sabbatical - though he doesn't want to get
typecast as a "lobby" critic - because he needs a rest after his recent
administrative post. There will be Israeli lobbyists, no doubt, who
would he happy if he made that sabbatical a permanent one. I somehow
doubt he will.
* Robert Fisk writes for The Independent. - April 27, 2006
The United States of Israel?
By ROBERT FISK
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Silverman - Salamanca, Spain
IRAN Crisis and Military Preparations Escalating
(April 29, 2006)
The 'Revolt of the Generals' out-front target Rumsfeld wasn't really payback for the past, it was and is growing apprehension about the future. Bush 'The Decider' is much more boxed in than he has ever been, the Americans far weaker geostrategically and geopolitically than they are willing to admit (not only to others but to themselves). Impending defeat in the mid-term election and a possible serious impeachment attempt are looming large now in everyone's calculations. This is the context in which the war clock is ticking closer to midnight than in a long time and more ominously than since the face-offs between the U.S. and the Soviet Union that almost destroyed the world.
'The Israel Lobby' Paper Keeps On Ticking
(April 28, 2006)
It's hard to remember any 'academic paper' that has unleashed such a firestore of interest, applause, and vilification. The two highly respected academic authors no doubt knew they were walking on eggshells and about to hit sensitive political/social nerves, but it's doubtful they realized how abusive, slanderous, and sustained the mudslinging would become. Originally commissioned by The Atlantic Monthly, which now has taken an oath of silence and apparently gotten the Professors to agree it seems, the article didn't find a major publisher in the States where it is most relevant and timely. It ended up in a late March issue of The London Review of Books, but in the age of the Internet it quickly got extraordinary circulation far beyond. Robert Fisk takes it from there in his insightful article published today:
Chomsky - American on the road to being a 'Failed State'
(April 26, 2006)
In his new book Professor Noam Chomsky examines how the United States is beginning to resemble a failed state that cannot protect its citizens from violence and has a government that regards itself as beyond the reach of domestic or international law. In the book, Chomsky presents a series of solutions to help rescue the nation from turning into a failed state.
Apocalypse Then....and Now
(April 23, 2006)
Since writing this article nine years ago Edward Said has himself passed away, taking from us all one of the most eloquent and passionate voices of truly expert and courageous thought and analysis. Said was partially compromised and straight-jacketed by his associations with the major Arab regimes, which at the time of this article he was relying on for publication of his regular column. Even so Said's penetrating commentaries and often biting insights were among the best of his day and provide considerable insight now upon reflection many year and many terrible events later.
Bush/Cheney - Worst Ever?
(April 23, 2006)
"George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace." So declares ROLLING STONE magazine in a major cover story just out.
Fortress America on the Tigris
(April 22, 2006)
Fortress America in the 'Green Zone' and huge 'permanent' military bases around the country are the realities on the ground in America's Iraq no matter what the rhetoric. This article was published by the Associated Press earlier this month focusing on the world's largest super-Embassy-CIA-Occupation complex now emerging alon the Tigris.
Bush: Worst President in History?
(April 19, 2006)
"George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace." So declares ROLLING STONE magazine in a major cover story that hits the streets this Friday.
Get Ready For International Political/War Hurricanes
(April 19, 2006)
Hurricane force geopolitical winds are in the
forecast for the rest of the year -- and beyond.
Corrupt Bought-And-Paid-For Washington
(April 18, 2006)
Modern-day Rome, Washington, D.C., has become a kind of political cesspool corrupting so many elected officials through the legalized loop-holes the big corporations, lobbyists, and power-brokers have themselves created. Former White House Press Secretary Bill Moyers has long been, since his White House days, one of the great American champions explaining how bad things have become and crusading for serious reforms. No single thing would in fact change the nature of Washington and the policies that emerge from Washington than "Getting Money Out of Politics", the theme of this recent Moyer's article that has not received nearly enough attention.
US and Israel - Bring Down or Take Down IRAN
(April 12, 2006)
Israel’s...three Dolphin-class nuclear submarines already on standby in the Straits of Hormuz had been brought to one level below launch to fire their guided missiles into predetermined Iranian rocket sites. The air force was at “take-off readiness” to launch air strikes. The Sholdag unit, modelled on the SAS, was ready to launch an aerial assault on the prime nuclear target of Natanz where the Taepodong-1 rockets were being assembled.
Neocons Take Pentagon To War With Internet and Media
(April 11, 2006)
This article was published a few days ago in the SUNDAY HERALD in Scotland. It reports on a very important and new aspect of the American NEOCON agenda now being implemented by the Pentagon with its whopping budget and capabilities. The CIA and other U.S. departments are thought to be involved though stealth tactics make it difficult to penetrate to the core of what is really happening. Bottom line: This is INFORMATION WARFARE and deception not only against the perceived enemies of the Americans but against their own citizens and allies as well.
TARGET IRAN - Washington Readies
(April 9, 2006)
'TARGET IRAN' is something MER has been reporting and emphasizing and warning about for some time now. The powerful combination of Israeli Lobby, largely Jewish Neocons, and Christian Evangelicals continues to work its will through the Bush/Cheney administration in 'New World Order' Washington. From the start Afghanistan and Iraq were never the end-goals -- that has always been U.S. imperial domination of the critical Middle East region in tandem with Israel. And as much as the Europeans often pretend to protest the underlying reality is their own involvment, complicity, and often under-the-table acquiescence if not outright support for the American/Israeli determination to control the region on behalf of the judeo-Christian 'civilized' Western world. These three telling and insightful articles appear today in the British media about 'Target Iran'
IRAN as 'October Surprise' 2006?
(April 8, 2006)
Thus a pre-emptive war on Iran, while a political triumph for the president this fall, could, like the invasion of Iraq, prove a long-term disaster.
Israel's Vast Arms and U.S. Policies Fuel Iranian Crisis
(April 6, 2006)
The Americans and the Europeans helped arm Israel over the years, so much so in fact that Israel today is far stronger militarily than all the Arab countries combined. And this is the geo-political military context for the crisis with Iran and for all the war quite public war threats from all sides.
TARGET IRAN - More Threats, Counterthreats, and Preparations
(April 4, 2006)
In recent days article after article and interview after interview have underscored the very real danger that the U.S. and Israel are in fact, not just in threat, preparing to attack Iran and attempt to destroy Iranian weapons capabilities. Also in recent days the Iranians have very publicly 'tested' and announced new weapons that if actually developed and deployed could be used to greatly harm the U.S., Israel, and allies as well as possibly cripple the world economy through blocking the Straits of Hormuz...all with unforetold but sure to be historic consequences.
Articles about publication of 'The Israel Lobby' and Professor Stephen Walt the principle author
(April 3, 2006)
Iran Attack Preparations
(April 2, 2006)
"It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is 'inevitable'..."
With Washington politics in slow-motion meltdown, the Iraq war bordering on historic catastrophe, and an impeachment attempt possibly looming, preparations for attacking Iran are very real. A few days ago a quarter-page ad on the Op Ed Page of the New York Times loudly warned this is what is coming. Furthermore both Washington and Israel may actually be attempting to provoke Iran and supporters, or at least prepare the public climate to blame them for anything that may happen, in order to create the excuse and momentum to unleash the wider war long sought by the Neocons, the fundamentalist Evangelicals, and the hardline Israeli Lobby.