Over at Haaretz, blogger Bradley Burston has come up with “Ten reasons the left hates Israel – five good, five bad.”
His five “good reasons”:
1. Because Israel’s policies are frequently marked by gratuitous humiliation of and disdain for the Palestinians.
2. Because Israelis can live with this.
3. Because Israel, in practice, values settlements more than it values social justice.
4. Because Israel, even in withdrawing from Gaza, has left it to die.
5. Because of the propensity of Israel’s leaders to demonstrate arrogance, claim a monopoly on the moral high ground, set non-negotiable demands to which Palestinian politicians cannot agree, then condemn Palestinians for intransigence.
His five bad reasons:
1. The Palestinian cause is inherently progressive.
As currently constituted, Palestinian governance is marked by institutional graft, widespread human rights violations, curbs on press freedoms, tribalism, blood feuds, murders of women on the basis of contentions of preservation of family honor, and celebration of the targeting and killing of non-combatants as a legitimate form of resistance to occupation.
2. Israel remains the sole root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the reason it remains unresolved.
As root causes go, both sides have demonstrated profound intransigence, both sides have violated agreements with abandon, both sides suffer from extremists whose power to destroy a peace process far outweighs their proportion of the population.
3. Israel is a Jewish state.
For a vocal minority of leftists, this fact alone – coupled with the following two arguments – is enough to call into serious question Israel’s right to exist.
4. Israel is an apartheid state.
5. Israel’s actions are comparable to those of Nazi Germany.
This contention may be the genuine litmus test for anti-Semitism on the left. In the end, the compulsion to accuse Israel of genocide, while turning a blind eye to wholesale slaughter in Darfur and elsewhere, tends to say a great deal more about the accuser than the accused.
An interesting list, though incomplete. In my view, there are several other “bad” reasons why the Left hates Israel:
– Neocons and “The Lobby”
Israel’s alleged “fifth column” in the United States is why we went to war in Iraq, and supposedly the driving force behind alleged plans to bomb Iran. If the Left’s motto during the Gulf War was “No blood for oil,” then the motto this time around is “No blood for Israel.”
– Anti-imperialism and Anti-Americanism
The mirror-image of the Neocon-Israel Lobby axis. They believe that Israel was created to do the bidding of the Western powers and serve their interests in the region. Thus quoth George Galloway: “You make a monster for your own use and then you discover that actually it is beyond your control. They [the West] found this with Zionism, which they encouraged and helped and made powerful to serve their interests in the Middle East….”
– Capitalism is Evil
Israel isn’t just a Western, imperialist creation — it’s a capitalist enclave! In the words of French activist Jose Bove: “They [the Israelis] are also putting in place – with the support of the World Bank – a series of neoliberal measures intended to integrate the Middle East into globalized production circuits, through the exploitation of cheap Palestinian labor.” (See also the “Cairo Declaration” against “Capitalist Globalization and U.S. Hegemony in the Middle East.”)
– Gold Told Us to So It
Leftist Christians see Israelis through the prism of the Bible–except this time around, we’re the Romans. (How many editorials cartoons have we seen depicting the IDF “crucifying” Palestinians?) Or, as Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in his review of Jimmy Carter’s book: “And then there are the accusations, unsupported by actual evidence, that Israel persecutes its Christian citizens. On his fateful first visit to Israel, Carter takes a tour of the Galilee and writes, “It was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities — the same complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier.” There are, of course, no references to “Israeli authorities” in the Christian Bible. Only a man who sees Israel as a lineal descendant of the Pharisees could write such a sentence.”
– The Source of All that Ails the Middle East
I never can quite follow the logic, but Israel is apparently the underlying reason for the lack of democracy and economic growth in the Arab world. Case in point, this speech by Joyce Chediac to the Workers World Party conference on socialism:”Israel stopped a revolutionary upsurge, it stopped oppressed countries in the region from seizing their own gas and oil resources and using them for development. This has stifled, stunted and warped any independent bourgeois development and left workers in the Middle East locked in poverty. “
Folks on the Left never tire of telling us how much they love Jews, and how it pains them to see how Zionism has corrupted the Jewish soul. Bonus points if you’re an aggrieved Jewish Leftist struggling to come to terms with your own identity. As Emanuele Ottolenghi writes: “Jewish intellectuals who rise as Israel’s accusers claim to be doing so in order to save Judaism from Israel and Zionism. In effect, their crusade against Israel is less about justice for the Palestinians than about coming to terms with their own tortured Jewish identity. As Jerome Segal — whom Jacob Neusner tears apart in The Jewish Divide — admits, his “engagement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict turns on an essentially conceptual point: Jewish identity and Jewish history have become hostage to this conflict. Who and what we are will be determined by this conflict and the relationship we bear to it.” He is not involved, in other words, to save the Palestinians and restore justice and dignity to an oppressed people. He is involved because he fears his own self-image as a Jew will be tarnished, unless he can influence the outcome of the conflict in moral ways.”
– Rooting for the Underdog
Hey, when Jews were struggling for an independent state, they actually had the sympathy of the Left. (See, for instance, this lengthy article [pdf] in The Nation.) But, now that Israel is a strong, independent nation, those sympathies have shifted. An interesting commentary in the The Volokh Conspiracy notes: “At least in modern times in the Western world, perpetual victimhood has its advantages and thus attractions–it allows one to claim the moral high ground, and to claim special insight into the woes of the world. (I still remember a bizarre scene at Yale Law School during a “student strike for diversity” in which Yale Law students–overall a rather privileged lot–one by one strode to a speaker’s podium to explain their personal victim status, including such gripping tales as being a first generation professional who wasn’t sure how to dress for an interview at an elite New York firm. The horror of being on the cusp of a six figure job, but needing to ask the sales clerk at Brooks Brothers for advice!) The problem such [Leftist] Jews have with Zionism is that having a nation-state for the Jews necessarily implies that the nation-state will sometimes misbehave (as all nation-states do). This in turn implies that to maintain Jewish victimhood, the sense that Jews are to play their assigned role as the Jiminy Cricket speaking to the world’s conscience, that Jews, uniquely, may never have a nation-state.”
So, that’s my list. Have I left anything out?
A few weeks back, Iran launched Press TV, which it describes as a “satellite English news channel to respond to the propaganda against the country….We also intend to express stances and views of the Islamic Republic of Iran, make the audience familiar with the Islamic Revolution principles and Islamic tenets, and inform them of regional issues.”
Leupp’s article is a rant against the “Israel Lobby’s” propaganda campaign against the peace-loving Islamic Republic.
Ironically, after ranting about Jewish power in the United States, Leupp claims that fears of Jewish power will prompt an anti-semitic backlash among Christian fundamentalists:
One’s disinformation with its murderous results in the Muslim world might just produce the ignorant conclusion that could sweep Middle America down the road: “The Jews made us do it.” That’s what the red-necks including a whole lot of today’s brain-dead Christian Zionist fundamentalists will say as soon as everything goes wrong in the Middle East, Jesus doesn’t come back and is nowhere in sight, and the three U.S. troops killed per day becomes six or ten for no good goddamned reason. “They have the money, they control the media and the politicians. They made us attack Iran and now look what’s happening.” That’s what the ignorant who can one day cry “Nuke ‘em all!” referring to Muslims, and the next day swear “… Christ-killers” will say. Is the Lobby’s paranoia about Iran’s uranium enrichment so severe as to risk that kind of assessment, that kind of blowback bigotry?
Well, thanks Gary for looking out for our best interests.
(By the way, Gary Leupp’s CV indicates that his research specialties include “Male Homosexuality in Early Modern Japan” and “The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan.” Good luck teaching that curriculum at Tehran University.)
Oh, and one more random fact about Press TV. I performed a large number of keyword searches on their site. But only one word, “Holocaust”, produces this message: “An error has occured in the application. This event has been logged and will be addressed by the site administrator. In the meantime you can attempt to link to a different section of the site or try again later. We appreciate your patience.”
I guess at Press TV, certain topics are off-limits.
Writing in Slate, Timothy Noah discusses a new book by journalist Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, His Fall, and and Catastrophic Legacy.
One of the fascinating insights to emerge from the book is that, as of 2004, President George W. Bush (Bush 43), didn’t seem to know what a “neocon” was. So, he consulted with his father, Bush 41:
One day during that holiday, according to friends of the family, 43 asked his father, “What’s a neocon?”
“Do you want names, or a description?” answered 41.
“Well,” said the former president of the United States, “I’ll give it to you in one word: Israel.”
And there you go. Our former president reduces the definition of “neocon” to “Jewish cabal.”
Equally disturbing is Timothy Noah’s commentary:
Let’s set aside the question of whether it’s fair to describe neocons as caring only about Israel. (My own view is that it would have been unfair, and possibly anti-Semitic, 20 years ago, but that the neocon agenda has since dwindled to such an extent that by now it’s an acceptable shorthand, if slightly risqué.)
Slightly risqué? What is this, a burlesque show? It’s official. We’ve reached an all-time low in political discourse when pegging an ideological movement as an ethnic group with dual-loyalties is deemed “acceptable shorthand.”
It bears repeating, but here’s a 2004 commentary by Max Boot responding to the charge that neocons are Jews who serve the interests of Israel:
With varying degrees of delicacy, everyone from fringe U.S. presidential candidates Lyndon LaRouche and Patrick Buchanan to European news outlets such as the BBC and Le Monde have used neocon as a synonym for Jew, focusing on Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Eliot Cohen, and others with obvious Jewish names. Trying to resurrect the old dual-loyalties canard, they cite links between some neocons and the Likud Party to argue that neocons wanted to invade Iraq because they were doing Israel’s bidding.
Yes, neocons have links to the Likud Party, but they also have links to the British Tories and other conservative parties around the world, just as some in the Democratic Party have ties to the left-leaning Labour Party in Great Britain and the Labor Party in Israel. These connections reflect ideological, not ethnic, affinity. And while many neocons are Jewish, many are not. Former drug czar Bill Bennett, ex-CIA Director James Woolsey, the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, social scientist James Q. Wilson, theologian Michael Novak, and Jeane Kirkpatrick aren’t exactly synagogue-goers. Yet they are as committed to Israel’s defense as Jewish neocons are-a commitment based not on shared religion or ethnicity but on shared liberal democratic values. Israel has won the support of most Americans, of all faiths, because it is the only democracy in the Middle East, and because its enemies (Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, and Syria) also proclaim themselves to be the enemies of the United States.
The charge that neocons are concerned above all with the welfare of Israel is patently false. In the 1980s, they were the leading proponents of democratization in places as disparate as Nicaragua, Poland, and South Korea. In the 1990s, they were the most ardent champions of interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo-missions designed to rescue Muslims, not Jews. Today neocons agitate for democracy in China (even as Israel has sold arms to Beijing!) and against the abuse of Christians in Sudan. Their advocacy of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan is entirely consistent with this long track record.
Writing in the Winter issue of Dissent, Brandeis professor Eugene Goodheart takes the London Review of Books (LRB) to task for its constant drumbeat of egregious, one-sided attacks against Israel. (Recall, also, that it was the LRB that “dared” to publish Walt and Mearsheimer’s screed on the “Israel Lobby.”)
One illustrative episode concerns this article on Hezbollah by Charles Glass, titled “Learning from its Mistakes.” As Goodheart notes:
Missing from this article is any reference to its anti-Semitism. In a letter to LRB printed in the September 7, 2006, issue, I pointed out that Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is not simply a resistance fighter, he is also an anti-Semite with genocidal fantasies. I cited the following statements attributed to him: “If they [the Jews] all gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” “They [the Jews] are a cancer which is liable to spread at any moment.” I also noted that the name “Party of God,” should worry anyone of enlightened, democratic persuasion, but does not seem to bother Glass. (Would he be equally indulgent of the religious fanatics in Israel who assert their divine right to Greater Israel?)
His response, printed in the October 5, 2006, issue, focused on the anti-Semitic statements attributed to Nasrallah, which he dismissed as fabrications, “circulated widely on neo-conservative web sites.”….To clinch the argument, Glass cites a spokeswoman for Hezbollah who denies that such statements were ever made.
I wrote back to the LRB, first noting that in invoking the nefarious neocons as the vehicles of fabrication, Glass reminded me of the apologists for the Soviet Union who denied the existence of anti-Semitism in their beloved country, because the reports of its existence came from the bourgeois press. I challenged the LRB to make a disinterested effort to determine whether these statements were fabrications. Its animus against Israel was clear and bad enough; a willingness to indulge anti-Semitism, a much more serious matter. If they are not fabrications, the journal has a moral obligation to say so and to repudiate the kind of article that Glass has written.
So far there has been no reply from Glass, nor any statement from the LRB editors on the matter.
Bad news for our favorite Talibanette, Yvonne Ridley. Just four years after she was booted off Al Jazeera for her “overly-vocal and argumentative style,” she has learned that her public affairs show, “The Agenda,” has been pulled of the air by the Islam Channel.
The reasons for this cancellation are a subject of controversy. The comrades over at the Socialist Worker claim: “The channel’s spokesperson insists the show was pulled due to pressure from the Government TV regulatory body Ofcom, but a spokesman there vigorously denied any involvement. Apparently hundreds of angry viewers have sent emails to Ofcom and its CEO Ed Richards demanding to know why Ofcom ordered The Agenda off the air. A spokesman for the regulatory body confirmed it was investigating two complaints but insisted it had not interfered with programme scheduling.”
Meanwhile, an official statement on the Islam Channel’s discussion board says: “We did not state that OfCom informed us to remove the Agenda from our channel. The pressure from them is real, they are now seeking imposing sanctions on us which could range from requesting an apology to revoking licence….Removing the Agenda was clearly a management decision based on risk assessment as we are now concerned about the fate of the channel as a whole, we decided to take Ofcom to court and in the due process we don’t want to be in a vulnerable position.”
(This prompted one loyal fan to comment: “Ofcom does nothing about BBC and [the] rest, but hey a few islamaphobist Jewish complaints and IC is immediately edited.”)
Predictably, John Rees, the national secretary of George Galloway’s Respect Party has sent a letter of complaint to the Islam Channel: “This would be a serious blow for all those struggling against war and for social justice and it would be a victory for all those who have backed the war-mongers and racists in recent years. I know that you share the values of the anti-war movement and I hope that you will be able to reassure us all the The Agenda will be making the earliest possible return to our screens.”
Yes, we are all familiar with Yvonne Ridley’s sterling record in promoting peace and social justice. In the meantime, take heart Yvonne! I can think of at least one TV network that would be willing to syndicate your program.
Stay tuned for further developments–same moonbat-time, same moonbat-channel.
As I’ve noted before on this blog, Walt and Mearsheimer tend to be rather ambiguous when it comes to their definitions.
For instance, as Marc Landy at Boston College once wrote:
They offer contradictory definitions of the lobbying entity, the Israel Lobby, that serves as their independent variable. Despite their use of capital letters, they first define the Israel Lobby, not as a formal organization, nor even a “unified movement with central leadership,” but rather a “loose coalition.” Yet, over the next seventeen pages this loose coalition constricts into a centralized hierarchical organization worthy of capital letters. It acquires leaders, representatives and carefully scripted coordination.
The ambiguity resulting from this dual definition is purposeful because it enables the authors to exaggerate both the reach and power of the Lobby. In order to brand anyone they choose as being part of the Lobby, they treat it as a loose coalition. To make it appear conspiratorial and powerful, they depict it as a tightly knit organization. When they are discussing its efforts to influence public opinion, the lobby is all-inclusive….On the other hand, when Mearsheimer and Walt are eager to show organizational muscle, they hone in on AIPAC.
Now, it seems, Walt and Mearsheimer also have rather ambiguous ideas about what constitutes America’s “national interest.” Over at YouTube, I stumbled across this interview that the two professors gave in the aftermath of their infamous CAIR event in Washington.
First off, Mearsheimer makes the following observation:
If you look at American foreign policy today, the Middle East is at the center of our foreign policy. And if you look at the Middle East, inside the Middle East, Israel is the centerpiece of our foreign policy. So not understanding U.S.-Israeli relations makes it almost impossible to understand overall American foreign policy.
Hmmmm….Israel is the centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East? I dunno, I would have thought that oil, terrorism, nuclear Iran, and the war in Iraq might also fit in there somewhere. And indeed, Mearsheimer then contradicts himself and offers this observation:
We have three goals in the Middle East. First of all, we’re interested in combating terrorism, especially Al Qaeda.
Second, we’re interested in dealing with the so-called rogue states, like Iran and Syria, and we’re especially interested in getting Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
And third, we’re fighting what appears to be a losing war in Iraq and we’re very interested in making sure that we don’t lose that war….I think that the recent war in Lebanon damaged us with regards to all three of those goals…I think it’s going to make our terrorism problem worse because it inflamed anti-Americanism, it’s increased the number of peope who are willing to die to kill Americans, it’s created greater sympathy for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, and Hezbollah.
And with regard to dealing with rogue states, if anything we’ve driven the Iranians, Syrians, and Hezbollah closer together…Syria and Iran are likely to continue supporting Hezbollah. And, moreover, Iran will continue to pursue nuclear weapons, they’d be foolish not to given the way the United States has been behaving and talking about Iran itself.
And finally, we didn’t make the war in Iraq any better. Iraq as you well know is dominated by Shia, and those Shia in Iraq, including the ruling elites are deeply committed, and at least have a powerful sense of allegiance to the Shia who comprise Hezbollah. So, if anything, we’ve angered our allies in Iraq, and that’s not going to make a bad situation better.
Wow. Where to begin? First, I’m intrigued that Mearsheimer has belatedly recognized that it’s in America’s best interests to get “Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.” Contrast that statement with what he wrote in his original paper:
As for so-called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital U.S. interests, apart from the U.S. commitment to Israel itself. Although the United States does have a number of disagreements with these regimes, Washington would not be nearly as worried about Iran, Ba’thist Iraq, or Syria were it not so closely tied to Israel. Even if these states acquire nuclear weapons—which is obviously not desirable—it would not be a strategic disaster for the United States. Neither America nor Israel could be blackmailed by a nuclear-armed rogue, because the blackmailer could not carry out the threat without receiving overwhelming retaliation.
Indeed, Mearsheimer has long been a nuclear hawk, opposed to both a nuclear weapons freeze and a critic of U.S. nonproliferation efforts. But, now that the “Israel Lobby” is involved, the equation has changed.
And, what about his contention that the war with Lebanon will make it harder to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program? Subsequent events have proven otherwise: The UN Security Council actually found common ground to impose sanctions, which has emboldened Tehran’s domestic critics.
Next, we have this assertion from Mearsheimer: “If anything we’ve driven the Iranians, Syrians, and Hezbollah closer together…Syria and Iran are likely to continue supporting Hezbollah.”
Uh, I hate to break it to Mearsheimer, but the war this summer came about, in no small part, because Iran and Syria were actively arming Hezbollah and empowering it as a dominant political force in Lebanon. (I mean, dude, how much closer together can they get?)
And while Walt and Mearsheimer argue that so-called rogue states in the Middle East “are not a dire threat to vital U.S. interests, apart from the U.S. commitment to Israel itself,” Joshua Landis, an expert on Syria and Lebanon, offers a different view over at the Council on Foreign Relations:
The drawn-out Iraq conflict has fed an image of declining U.S. influence in Lebanon, and this has led Hezbollah to try to weaken, if not overthrow the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. U.S. power in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion enabled it to pry Lebanon away from Syria’s sphere of influence “But now as America’s authority starts to drain out of the region because of the Iraq debacle, Syria and its allies in Lebanon are trying to capitalize on a weakened America.”
And what about Mearsheimer’s accusation that Israel’s conflict with Hezbollah made the situation in Iraq worse? I think he’s got cause and effect a bit backwards here. Consider this report:
U.S. officials said Hezbollah operatives from Iran and Lebanon have been in Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s fall, and they function openly in the towns where branches have been set up with the tacit approval of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
U.S. intelligence officials said there also was evidence during this summer’s armed conflict with Israel that Iraqi Shiites – trained in Hezbollah camps along the Iraq-Iran border – were fighting Israeli troops.
Many have returned home and have been active in the sectarian violence that has engulfed portions of Iraq, these officials said.
Facts are indeed inconvenient things.
Apologies…I’ve been overwhelmed with work and family obligations, so I haven’t had any time to blog. As of today, I’m back in the blogosphere.
The growing number of “radical traditionalist Catholics,” men and women who angrily reject many of the Vatican’s core teachings, may form the single largest group of hard-core anti-Semites in America.
With more than 100,000 U.S. followers, famously including actor Mel Gibson’s father Hutton Gibson, the radical traditionalist movement embraces a series of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, has significant financial and publishing resources, and, in a growing number of cases, is interacting with white supremacist and Holocaust denial extremist groups. Movement leaders routinely pillory the Jews as “the perpetual enemy of Christ” and worse.
“Most Americans know very little about the world of radical traditionalist Catholics,” said Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report and director of the Center’s Intelligence Project. “But the reality is that it is a grossly anti-Semitic movement that is thriving despite the fact that mainstream Catholics entirely reject its teachings and the Vatican has excommunicated many of its leading activists and ideologues.”
The report identifies as hate groups a dozen radical traditionalist Catholic institutions in California, Indiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.