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The Jewish entity, lobby, Israel & Iraq
April 12, 2006 10:44 AM   Subscribe

A Powerful Lobby The Middle East scholar Martin Kramer takes on the various writers, sites, that proclaim that the American invasion of Iraq is but one more indication of the Jewish/Israeli Lobby influence in America. One of the nuttiest passages in "The Israel Lobby," the co-production of professors Stephen Walt (Harvard) and John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago), occurs in the very first footnote. (It's in the full version, on the website of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.)... and, in addtion addresses our involvement in Iraq, caused, claim some, by "Jewish/Israeli interests." [more]
posted by Postroad (64 comments total)

 
Oy.
posted by keswick at 10:49 AM on April 12, 2006


First link is a good criticism on one of the footnotes. Second link, not so much. A lot of quotes of people's opinions.
posted by destro at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2006


Jews, Christians and Muslims are all warmongering monotheists, and are completely indistinguishable from where I'm standing.

(Offended yet?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:09 AM on April 12, 2006


So who is Martin Kramer? Care to tell us? Who does he work for? A think tank founded by a research director of the American Israeli Political Action Committee.
posted by raysmj at 11:11 AM on April 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, Public Affairs Committee, rather (AIPAC).
posted by raysmj at 11:12 AM on April 12, 2006


Next time you do your trade-marked one-link-w/text-from-link post, could you format it so quotes and statements are clearly delineated, postroad?
posted by docgonzo at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2006


Mearsheimer is brilliant.
posted by trinarian at 11:19 AM on April 12, 2006


My lobbying efforts have gone into making knish our national food. And hamatashen.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:21 AM on April 12, 2006


So, we're supposed to listen to what Martin Kramer -- an Israeli-American Washington beltway thinktank, Daniel Pipes hate speech supportin', neocon lobbyist crank -- thinks about the pro-Israel lobby in the US?

Fuck 'dat Semite! How about an opinion from someone who isn't hopelessly biased on the subject instead? Like an ordinary non-neocon American, perhaps?
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:30 AM on April 12, 2006


In September 2002, Martin Kramer assisted Daniel Pipes in the launching of a website called Campus Watch that posted dossiers on academics, a kind of "they don't like Israel, so they must hate Jews" witchlist. This attempt to blacklist and intimidate scholars provoked a harsh reaction and Pipes and Kramer later removed the dossiers, but the website still invites students to report ‘anti-Semitic’ activity.
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:47 AM on April 12, 2006


Indeed, the mere existence of the [pro-Israel] Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about. But because Israel is a strategic and moral liability, it takes relentless political pressure to keep U.S. support intact.

Other commentators have pointed to the absurdity of this statement, since every conceivable special interest has a lobby in Washington, and they can't all be working against the national interest.


So is there a pro-France lobby? Or would that be called a "foyer"?
posted by uosuaq at 11:56 AM on April 12, 2006


*rimshot*
posted by keswick at 11:59 AM on April 12, 2006


since every conceivable special interest has a lobby in Washington, and they can't all be working against the national interest

They can't? What naive planet did this idiot come from?
posted by doctor_negative at 12:03 PM on April 12, 2006


1> All lobbyists work to promote and defend their own interests.

2> To the extent that a lobby's interests are different than the interests of the government, a lobby works against the national interest.

3> A lobby that supports education within the US is likely to have more coinciding interests with the US government than a lobby which supports wars against foriegn powers and violations of international law.

4> The negative impact of providing too much support for education is, essentially "too much of a good thing". Funds are taken away from other important national priorities.

5> The negative impact of providing too much support for a pro-Israel lobby is an increased chance of war and terrorist attacks on our citizens, as well as a plundering of the national coffers to support military adventurism.

6> A minor act of working against the national interest by the pro-education lobby is not equivalent to a major act of working against the national interest by the pro-Israel lobby.

7> Judging from Mr. Kramer's writing, he clearly does not believe in moral equivalence -- Israel's evils are justified by greater evils performed by those who oppose Israel. By that standard, he would have no reason to complain about pro-education lobbies vs. pro-Israel lobbies unless he actually believed that supporting Israel in the US is more important than supporting the education of our children and citizens. Surely, as an unbiased American, Kramer couldn't believe such a thing, right?!

8> So... what was Kramer's point again?
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:05 PM on April 12, 2006


Previous thread.

Regardless of Kramer's affiliations, his points are reasonable: the existence of a powerful lobby is not in itself evidence that its goals are not in the national interest, and Israeli public opinion did not favour war with Iraq as overwhelmingly as presented by the Mearsheimer/Walt paper.

Personally, I think it's too early to say exactly why the Bush administration decided on war with Iraq. That's a job for historians to untangle.

The idea of unleashing a wave of democracy in the Middle East (derided by military analyst Anthony Cordesmann prior to the war as "crossing the line between neo-conservative and neo-crazy") was a factor--see David Frum, Paul Wolfowitz--and it may have been related to the idea that the root cause of hostility to Israel in the Middle East is the lack of democracy in the region. (Which is wishful thinking, IMHO; democracies can be even more nationalist and jingoist than dictators.) But it's only one factor.

The belief that Saddam had WMD programs, he was just doing a good job of hiding them, was also a factor. There was also the momentum towards war, the fact that the US had built up a large military force in the Gulf that it couldn't keep there for a long time. And the existing sanctions against Iraq were already a major grievance against the US in the Arab world; blinded by wishful thinking, Bush and his advisors appear to have believed that once Saddam was overthrown, Iraq would become a normal country again.

George Packer (The Assassins' Gate) provides more evidence in favor of Mearsheimer and Walt's argument that the Israeli lobby was a major factor in the war. But I still think it's too early to say.
posted by russilwvong at 12:12 PM on April 12, 2006


I really thought war with Iraq was driven by African-American interests. I mean both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice were prominent adminstration architects and apologists for the war.

Snark aside, Kramer's job is to protect the interests of the very lobby which is under attack here, so he's got a pretty high hurdle to overcome if he wants to argue convincingly that "The Israel Lobby" is full of it.
posted by OmieWise at 12:18 PM on April 12, 2006


I saw most of Protocols of Zion last night and while the film was flawed in some ways IMO, it raised some issues related to this thread. If you think there's an Israeli national cabal dictating important parts of US foreign and military policy, they sure are doing a shitty job of it. Iraq is now Indian territory and Iran is bolstered with Shia support from Iraqis and diplomatic support from Russia and China. By no ojective standard is Israel any safer than it was before the American occupation of Iraq. With shadowy black-bag guys like these, who needs enemies?

Then again, the dangerous mixture of hubris and incompetence in Bush and his neocon followers makes me think it might be possible.
posted by bardic at 12:35 PM on April 12, 2006


Kramer is a Middle East scholar and often attacked by the very strong anti-Israel scholars in that field at many universities. Whatever you may think of his arguements, this should at least prove that he is hardly a lightweight in achievement:

http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/webcv2.htm
posted by Postroad at 12:45 PM on April 12, 2006


Fuck 'dat Semite! How about an opinion from someone who isn't hopelessly biased on the subject instead?
posted by insomnia_lj at 11:47 AM PST on April 12 [!]

How about another bias instead?
posted by semmi at 12:48 PM on April 12, 2006


Blech.

The United States is opposed in the Arab world as elsewhere because it has pursued and continues to pursue policies that are inimical to the interests of most people in these countries and are only beneficial to its own interests and to the minority regimes in the region that serve those interests, including Israel.

Whatever, dude. Who was it who forced Britain, France, and Israel out of Suez in 1956?

William Polk, writing in 1958:
What, in effect, do we want from the Middle East? Any answer must be tentative and subject to revision periodically. At the present, the answer seems to me to be sufficient peace to prevent a world war and a sufficient flow of oil to maintain the European economy. The first is the common interest of most Arabs, who are in earnest when they insist on "positive neutralism." Of the second, two points must be made: on the one hand, Europe now depends for 80 per cent of her oil on the Middle East, but she could be supplied, admittedly at greater cost, from other sources. On the other hand, the sale of oil is the major source of revenue for many of the Arab countries and is the only hope for those who plan, as does the new generation of nationalists, large-scale development programs--and the only customer for all of the Middle Eastern oil is Europe. Let us not forget that our essential policy interests are identical with those of the Arabs.
posted by russilwvong at 12:55 PM on April 12, 2006


short summary of the "another bias" link:

"Sure, Israel 0wnz y00, but really, it's the oil, stupid!"
posted by insomnia_lj at 12:57 PM on April 12, 2006


Intelligent design people are regularly attacked by academics (also known as "scholars."). This doesn't make them heavyweights.
posted by raysmj at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2006


A heavyweight scholar with naught but a Geocities page? Ceci n'est pas un Pipes.
posted by greatgefilte at 1:21 PM on April 12, 2006


If you think there's an Israeli national cabal dictating important parts of US foreign and military policy, they sure are doing a shitty job of it.

How so? Iraq has more or less been reduced to a Gaza strip, with no effective central authority whatsoever, hence, no real ability to mobilize against Isreali interest in the region. And with American committment for a decade or so to come -- the US taxpayer shouldering the burden -- that'd be a pretty nifty trick, IMO.
posted by undule at 1:52 PM on April 12, 2006


How so?

The idea promoted by people like Wolfowitz was "an Iraq not merely purged of cataclysmic weaponry, not merely a threat disarmed, but an Iraq that becomes a democratic cornerstone of an altogether new Middle East." Frum: "If the United States overthrew Saddam Hussein next, it could create a reliable American ally in the potential superpower of the Arab world. With American troops so close, the Iranian people would be emboldened to rise against the mullahs. And as Iran and Iraq built moderate, representative, pro-Western regimes, the pressure on the Saudis and the other Arab states to liberalize and modernize would intensify."

This isn't policy, it's fantasizing.

Contrast with Kissinger. "Kissinger admired the great diplomats of the 19th Century: Metternich, Bismarck, etc. Bismarck in particular never thought that events could be predicted with precision. When a policy was pursued a range of outcomes could be expected. The trick was to develop policy where the minimum outcome (today we might call it a worst case scenario) was acceptable. If a triumph ensued, great. If it was something in between, don't die of surprise."
posted by russilwvong at 2:11 PM on April 12, 2006


You're assuming Saddam was a credible threat to Israel before the second invasion, and he wasn't. I mean, at the height of his powers the best he could do was a few Scuds into Jerusalem. By 2001? He wasn't a threat to anybody except his own people.

The Gaza analogy doesn't work at all. Were Iraqis blowing themselves up in Tel Aviv Sbarro's?
posted by bardic at 2:12 PM on April 12, 2006


(Again, I defer to russilwvong's eloquence.)
posted by bardic at 2:13 PM on April 12, 2006


Thanks, bardic.
posted by russilwvong at 2:15 PM on April 12, 2006




You're assuming Saddam was a credible threat to Israel before the second invasion, and he wasn't.
A destabilized mideast is a mideast a region more focused on killing one another than killing the Jews.

But the real question is, what's the Israeli lobby's position on the coming war with Iran?
posted by kgasmart at 2:34 PM on April 12, 2006


Huh? When missiles and bullets and suicide bombers fly they tend to ignore national boundaries. And not all middle-eastern Jews live in Israel. A minority, no doubt, but Israel can't claim to speak for all Jews--some even live in Iran.
posted by bardic at 2:45 PM on April 12, 2006


Homeskillet Freshy Fresh, did you notice the header in the Dershowitz paper?

L:\Research\Sponsored Research\WP RR RAO\WP response paper\Dershowitz.response.paper.April 6.doc

Clearly his paper was "sponsored" by nefarious forces. If "WP" is "white paper," then who -- or what -- is "RR RAO"?!?!?!?!?!?!?! THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE!
posted by subgenius at 2:56 PM on April 12, 2006


But the real question is, what's the Israeli lobby's position on the coming war with Iran?

Well, this was the AIPAC audience's reaction to Cheney's speech:

The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose meaningful consequences. (Applause.) For our part, the United States is keeping all options on the table in addressing the irresponsible conduct of the regime. (Applause.) And we join other nations in sending that regime a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

I don't think you'd hear many complaints from that quarter if the bombs started to fall.
posted by Dasein at 3:20 PM on April 12, 2006


"
The Gaza analogy doesn't work at all. Were Iraqis blowing themselves up in Tel Aviv Sbarro's?"

Yes, with subsidies and incentives, like $25K per-suicide bomber.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:21 PM on April 12, 2006


PP, thanks for not reading the thread. I was responding to the idea that Iraq is now a new Gaza, and that that's a good thing for Israel. My point is that, indeed, it's restive Palestinians from places adjacent to Israel like Gaza that commit these acts--surely more pissed off, radical, and unemployed Arab muslims would be a problem. Saddam's support for the families of these bombers? A problem for sure, but a drop in the bucket compared to the rampant, wild-west atmosphere we now get to witness.

But how silly of me to think you were interested in serious dialogue. Please go away and let the adults talk now, mkay?
posted by bardic at 3:30 PM on April 12, 2006


*get to witness in Iraq.* My point, while somewhat contored, being that a de-stabilized Iraq is not good for any country in the region except for, perhaps, Iran, but there's other cans of worms there as well, e.g., Arab-Persian animosity, jihadists entering Iran, etc.

Among the many glaring blindnesses in American policy as of late, the one that really stands out is the notion that dictatorships are unstable. Historically, it's quite the opposite--they're horrible and oppressive, but quite stable. Stability =/ progress in and of itself. It's the reason why America propped up Iraq in the 70's and 80's, etc.
posted by bardic at 3:34 PM on April 12, 2006


Waitaminute whoa...Israel is a whole other country and they have...their...own...interests? Weird.
And some of these interests might not mirror our own?
How can that be?
Maybe I don’t understand how countries interact with each other but doesn’t being allied mean you do whatever we say and don’t attempt to interest us in supporting your goals?

/please excuse me, I can’t help making fun...

gotta go with bardic.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:54 PM on April 12, 2006


bardic, a false statement was made, and I corrected it. Will Iraq become another Yasserland? I doubt it. It will stablize, probably in the next five years or less. Will it be Sweden, then? No, but better than today, and better than under Saddam.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:16 PM on April 12, 2006


Dershowitz is a legal scholar who specializes in civil liberties. Who really cares what he thinks here?
posted by raysmj at 4:20 PM on April 12, 2006


No, my statement was not false. I just neglected to mention that there is evidence that Saddam was paying off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. Then I did.

As for Iraq? No, not Yasserland. But rather, Mullahstan, with someone like Sadr in charge. This might be the one sort of thing that can actually unite Arabs with Persians.

Only one thing is certain PP--you won't be there, but ensconced in your Park Slope bunker you malignant coward.
posted by bardic at 4:23 PM on April 12, 2006




actually, i have plans to visit Iraq this fall. Join me!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:30 PM on April 12, 2006


Previous comments on Dershowitz's response.

actually, i have plans to visit Iraq this fall. Join me!

Green Zone meetup?
posted by russilwvong at 4:31 PM on April 12, 2006


LOL. Actually, I misread the comment above. I had thought it asked, rhetorically, whether Saddam was promoting suicide bombers in Israel.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:39 PM on April 12, 2006


Martin Kramer, Posty? Kramer?

if he's a "Middle East scholar" then Karl Rove is an "American History scholar".

this post is beneath even your standards, Posty.
posted by matteo at 4:40 PM on April 12, 2006


PP, please flickr photos of yourself wearing an LGF t-shirt and handing out copies of the Federalist Papers to smiling Iraqis that we've liberated. Preferably from the streets of Fallujah. There just aren't enough of those in the MSM.
posted by bardic at 4:41 PM on April 12, 2006


If you think there's an Israeli national cabal dictating important parts of US foreign and military policy, they sure are doing a shitty job of it. Iraq is now Indian territory and Iran is bolstered with Shia support

that's why rational Israelis (ie the vast majority of them) were quite wary of the Messianic neocon Pentagon boys Iraq plan in 2002/2003. and they're obviously very worried of Iraq Attaq's disaster now
posted by matteo at 4:43 PM on April 12, 2006


OK, where can we contribute to the "ParisParamus goes to Fallujah" fund? I may be ready to put some money to see that.
posted by Skeptic at 4:51 PM on April 12, 2006


that's why rational Israelis (ie the vast majority of them) were quite wary of the Messianic neocon Pentagon boys Iraq plan in 2002/2003. and they're obviously very worried of Iraq Attaq's disaster now

That brings me to something I've been wondering about, matteo: AIPAC used to have close ties with Likud. Have they transferred their allegiance to Kadima now that Likud has basically been nuked, or are they sticking with Netanyahu?
posted by Skeptic at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2006


I have a suspicious feeling that the SS Iraq is a cruise ship purchaed by LGF and Free Republic for a "Freedom Cruise." They'll anchor in Kuwait City and listen to Christopher Hitchens and Bill Kristol give lectures on how well everything is going. All proceeds go to PNAC. As party favors, they'll each get a pair of leftover "John Kerry Flip-Flops."

But honestly PP, I'm quite curious--in what capactiy are you attempting to visit Iraq?
posted by bardic at 4:56 PM on April 12, 2006


bardic, it will be with a Congressman, and very low key.

I wish more of you had a nationbuilding attention span that wasn't measured in months, but rather years--like 5-10, at least.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:56 PM on April 12, 2006


I wish more of you had a nationbuilding attention span that wasn't measured in months, but rather years--like 5-10, at least.
And I wish you had had a diplomatic attention span that wasn't measured in months, but rather years--like 5-10, at least--back in 2003.
posted by Skeptic at 4:59 PM on April 12, 2006


What is PNAC?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:00 PM on April 12, 2006


Saddam had diplomacy at his beck and call from 1991-2003.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:05 PM on April 12, 2006


AIPAC used to have close ties with Likud. Have they transferred their allegiance to Kadima now that Likud has basically been nuked, or are they sticking with Netanyahu?

All three prime ministerial candidates (Olmert, Netanyahu, Peretz) spoke at AIPAC's March policy conference. According to the Forward, Netanyahu was the most warmly received.

The Forward:
The enthusiastic support for Netanyahu and Bush administration hawks underscores what appears to be a widening gap between pro-Israel activists in Washington on the one hand and the Israeli and American publics on the other. Polls show Netanyahu trailing Olmert and Peretz in Israel at the same time that support for Bush and the Iraq War are plummeting in America. Some political observers have suggested that Bush's declining political fortunes would make it harder for him to follow through on the hawkish rhetoric cheered by pro-Israel activists, but participants at the Aipac conference who were interviewed by the Forward voiced no such concerns.

Aipac also appears to be out of step with the American Jewish community on Iraq. Like many other American Jewish organizations, it supported the Iraq war. But 70% of American Jews oppose the Iraq war, according to a poll commission by the American Jewish Committee at the end of 2005.
On the other hand, AIPAC's website appears to be supportive of Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza.

PNAC.
posted by russilwvong at 5:09 PM on April 12, 2006


Former premier Netanyahu, however, was cheered enthusiastically when he spoke about the need to push the West Bank security fence eastward, deeper into the Palestinian territory, to create a broader buffer against Palestinian terrorism.

Oh for crying out loud. loquax, if you're reading this, remember how I was saying that the US isn't obligated to stand by an irresponsible ally?
posted by russilwvong at 5:14 PM on April 12, 2006


this post is beneath even your standards, Posty.

Well, well, so a fly CAN attract turds.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:06 PM on April 12, 2006


PNAC sounds pretty cool to me. By the way, This is interesting.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:35 PM on April 12, 2006


"and Israeli public opinion did not favour war with Iraq..."

And yet, the pro-Israel lobbyists in Washington DC clearly did favor and beat the drums for war in a very reactionary way, which is what the point of the original article really is all about... not some sort of bullshit game of Semitic semantics.

From AIPAC's Near East Report:

"The United States is determined to continue the war against al-Qaeda until it is defeated. President Bush has expressed equal determination in seeking to remove from power Saddam Hussein and his unconventional weapons." - Sept. 9, 2002

"Iraq is maintaining contact with the vile perpetrators of 9/11." - October 7, 2002

"Iraq has worked with Palestinian terrorists . . . to divert attention from itself, thus attempting to impede an American military campaign." - October 7, 2002

"we, together with our allies, must act against Iraq before Saddam can strike us first" - Nov. 4, 2002

"Saddam’s personality traits will inevitably lead to an ongoing nuclear crisis, and very possibly, to a nuclear war if fused with possession of nuclear weapons." - Oct. 23, 2002

"Perhaps the single clearest and most comprehensive accounting to-date of Baghdad's military capabilities was contained in an intelligence report released in September by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The analysis, deemed credible by Israeli intelligence officials, revealed that Iraqi missiles with chemical or biological warheads could be launched with as little as 45 minutes preparation, and that Saddam is no more than two to three years from completing a nuclear weapon." - Nov. 4, 2002.

AIPAC is citing the "Dodgy Dossier", in which distorted intelligence was patched together with a college thesis written by a California student.

AIPAC's beliefs are typically far to the right of not only mainstream Jewish Americans, but even Israelis themselves. They have, in short, been hijacked.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:22 AM on April 13, 2006


"I wish more of you had a nationbuilding attention span that wasn't measured in months, but rather years--like 5-10, at least."

But we do. First, we vote out the Republican Congress, and then we elect a Democratic president, and then we spend the next eight years trying to fix what the neocons broke.
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:01 AM on April 13, 2006


Your problem, PP, is that you never seem to see a nation in this world that you *don't* want to see attacked... and you rarely see a nation you wouldn't like to rebuild... except, of course, for the United States.

Lesse... there's Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, China, Lebanon, Palestine, Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, North Korea, journalists... and let's not forget France!

I suspect that the people of these coutries are looking forward to your invasions. They're even planting flower gardens so that they'll be ready for your arrival, I'm sure...
posted by insomnia_lj at 5:00 AM on April 13, 2006


Salon's Michelle Goldberg and Juan Cole on the Mearsheimer/Walt paper.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2006


Thanks, kirkaracha. Michelle Goldberg's article mentions a 2002 article on AIPAC and the Presidents Conference by Michael Massing.
posted by russilwvong at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2006


Latest roundup from Daniel Drezner. Apparently Mearsheimer and Walt are planning to discuss the response to their article in the next issue of the LRB.
posted by russilwvong at 12:00 PM on April 21, 2006


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