pageok
pageok
pageok
Israel and the Iraq War:

Tony Judt in the New York Times: "Prominent Israeli leaders ... pressed very hard for the invasion of Iraq." Is there any evidence that this is true? Certainly, Israelis of just about every ideological stripe were happy to have Saddam taken out, given that, among other things, he financed suicide murderers, and had launched missles at Israel in 1990. But that's very different from suggesting that Israeli leaders lobbied the Bush Administration to invade Iraq. Israeli leaders can't even persuade Secretary of State Rice that it needs to keep the crossing between Israel and Gaza closed for security reasons; why would they bother trying to lobby the Bush Administration on an Iraq invasion (especially when any leak of such pressure would make it much more difficult for the Administration to invade Iraq?) I've certainly seen many, many, indications that before and after the Iraq war, Israel has pressed the U.S. to do something about Iran [with the implicit threat that Israel might be forced to do something drastic otherwise], but other than consistent repitition on the Left, is there any actual, documented evidence, that Israeli officials lobbied the administration to invade Iraq, as opposed to just cheering from afar? This is not a rhetorical question; I'm open to correction on this, and I hope the Times is, too, if Judt's claim is not supportable.

Judt has a lot more to say about the Walt-Mearsheimer paper, much of it foolish, but I'm getting tired of the topic; how much more "ink" must we waste on a screed so poorly done that even Noam Chomsky disavows it? But here's a critique from a Ha'aretz columnist, who notes that quoting the most left-wing sources in a left-wing Israeli newspaper does not exactly constitute a fair sampling of Israeli opinion.

UPDATE: In the Comments, Frank Cross points to this well-documented critique of the thesis that Israel pushed for war with Iraq, by Martin Kramer.

Meanwhile, so far (3:40 p.m.) no one has provided contrary evidence.

laurence rothenberg:
and don't forget that Tony Judt called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a bi-national Arab-Jewish state in an article in the New York Review of Books. Leon Weiseltier of the New Republic called the idea "genocidal liberalism." Interesting choice for the Times's op-ed page to publish Judt's thoughts on this subject.
4.21.2006 11:59am
Tamara (mail) (www):
I don't know whether it is or not. But what's more important is that it's absolutely irrelevant. Offering any credence whatsoever to the flagrantly agenda-driven authors of "The Lobby" - or any "scholarly article," for that matter - is pretty foolish, isn't it?

But even more important is I'm sure you're highly critical of Chomsky - yet you're willing to use his opinion when it's convenient as a means of saying, "Hey, look! Even Chomsky doesn't fully agree!"

Which strikes me as highly disingenuous, and even dishonest. Either Chomsky is credible, or he's not, in which case it's damning for you to use him period.
4.21.2006 12:02pm
davidbernstein (mail):
You are completely missing the point. I don't give Chomsky any points for credibility. However, he's a reasonably smart tactician. If he thought the M &W paper was remotely useful, he'd be praising it to the heavens. But he understands that even in his circle, anyone who praises the M &W paper (e.g., Juan Cole) is discrediting himself, because it's just that bad.
4.21.2006 12:09pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
I find Chomsky's article pretty much unreadable. I think his point is that the Lobby exists in the same conspiratorial sense as in M-W, and it is evil in the same sense, and all the existing criticisms of M-W have been evil and conformist and are essentially part of the Lobby. Chomsky's problem with M-W appears to be that in exaggerating the power of the Lobby over the U.S. government and industry (the Corporations), M-W are in effect minimizing the evil of the U.S.
4.21.2006 12:15pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Very well, but does anyone actually know whether Judt's claim about Israeli officials is true? Let's try to stick to that.
4.21.2006 12:17pm
J..:
I don't know if this qualifies for whatever type of evidence you'd be looking for (that exists in the public), but Peres helped the public relations efforts for war before invasion. Here is one representative article.
4.21.2006 12:26pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
and don't forget that Tony Judt called for the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a bi-national Arab-Jewish state

Defining "destruction" down a bit, aren't we?

Are we sure that Iran's mullahs aren't just avid readers of the NYRB?
4.21.2006 12:30pm
davidbernstein (mail):
J, that constitutes "cheerleading from afar," not pressing for an invasion.
4.21.2006 12:31pm
Justin Kee (mail):
Interesting. I just heard another piece on NPR about the Walt-Mearsheimer paper this morning. There is a discussion of the subject on NPR's Web site which had degenerated into a pathetic excuse for a debate.
4.21.2006 12:39pm
Disgruntled:
That's it. I'm not sending any more dues to the Elders for their Lobby. These guys suck at stifling debate, and I never really read the newsletter anyway.

Maybe a lawsuit...yeah, that's the ticket...

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3511
4.21.2006 1:00pm
frankcross (mail):
A pretty well-supported and persuasive critique of the thesis can be found at

http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/2006_04_12.htm
4.21.2006 1:10pm
J..:
David - actually, I'm not sure what side of the fence you want to call it. Here is the Israeli PM with the Sec of St for the US saying we should invade a country. I suppose you could say it is cheerleading from afar -- but it seems a little "close" to say it is "afar" -- I mean, the PM was with Rice, not on his own.

Now, the real question is was Peres helping Rice do a tough sell (merely cheerleading) or was Peres attempting to try and sell Rice. I don't think we'll know that, however, without some inside story. But, I don't think we know that it was mere cheerleading or actual advocacy unless someone tells us one way or the other.

Either way, I'm not sure why it matters. I would want the US to invade Iraq if I were the Israeli PM and I though that stability might come out of it (it is the latter proposition that is harder to swallow, I guess, but then Israel would be trusting the US, which appeared to think stability would flow rather quickly). But, no one -- no one -- thinks that there is a secret "Kuwati lobby" that gets the US to do its bidding whenever it wants and that is why the first gulf war started -- even they did request help. The fact of the matter is that the US is a rather big boy and makes its own decisions, thank you very much. If those decisions are good or bad is another question, but the buck really does stop here.
4.21.2006 1:16pm
rbj:
If the Elders pulled every string of the US government, why is Jonathan Pollard still in jail. Heck, why would he be arrested in the first place.
4.21.2006 1:17pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
From personal experience, I wouldn't rely on Tony Judt for facts. About a year or so ago he wrote an article about Europe and America diverging. I blogged about it here: The centrality of coffee?

In fact I was curious about just one of his remarks — it was about Starbucks and probably one not essential to his article, I'd concede — and so I wrote to him, specifically mentioning my blog post. His email back to me was not reassuring as to the quality of his research, putting it politely. I mentioned in my return email that I would be blogging about his response. Well that did it! He read me the riot act about private correspondenec and so forth. I didn't want to make a big issue out of nothing. I had (I thought) put him clearly on notice that I had already publicly commented on his article, and was now looking for his return comment. Nevertheless I decided not to use his "clarification" out of courtesy, which may have been a mistake on my part as I remember that it was a flimsy answer, at best. Hard to know about how to handle these things but I thought to err on the side of courtesy. But let me simply say that I was not impressed with his research technique.

(The issue was Starbucks' expansion in Europe and how it was doing. Judt said poorly. I was curious to know the source of information. I was disappointed in learning his source.)
4.21.2006 1:54pm
djd (mail):
J

Why do you say that the PM was with Rice? Peres was not the PM nor was he with Rice.
4.21.2006 1:58pm
Jeek:
Frank Cross points to this well-documented critique of the thesis that Israel pushed for war with Iraq, by Martin Kramer.

Oh, suuuuuure.... what else do you expect the Lobby to do but deny the accusation that Israel is behind everything!
4.21.2006 2:40pm
jota:
Professor Bernstein--Do you speak Hebrew? Do you visit Israel often? Do you have family there? While I find much to admire about your general concern with anti-semitism run rampant, I also find your take on some Israeli issues to be informed by one-sided information. I was in Israel during the run-up to the Iraq war. The politicians, the newspapers, everyone but a few retired generals (sound familiar?) was gung-ho for the war. The retired generals warned that a weak Iraq would embolden and strengthen Iran, but alas to no avail. To say that Israel lobbied the US government for war may be a stretch. But to say that Israel supported the war, was desirious of it's prosecution by the US, was cheerleading from the sidelines, and made sure the US heard only "good" things about the ramifications of invasion from Israeli politicians, is not a stretch at all. Without a doubt, Israelis should be pleased Saddam is gone. He sent scuds and financed suicide bombers after all. But the contention that Israel in no way advocated for (the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, remember?) and influenced, in part, the decision to go to war is simply false. To admit this is not to admit some jewish cabal is running D.C. behind the scenes. It's never so black and white after all.
4.21.2006 2:47pm
msmith (mail):
...Certainly, Israelis of just about every ideological stripe were happy to have Saddam taken out, given that, among other things, he financed suicide murderers, and had launched missles at Israel in 1990. But that's very different from suggesting that Israeli leaders lobbied the Bush Administration to invade Iraq....

In light of that fact, should we have expected a very vocal and visible Israeli campaign for the invasion of Iraq? What would be the point of that, with Mr. Bush's and friend's views well known by all? Maybe the Israelis are a little more sophisticated than that?

The dismissal of the Harvard paper strikes me a bit as "they doth protest too much". AIPAC, for example, makes no bones about the power of its lobby. All you have to do is check out their site and the high quality videos.

On the other hand, there are other lobbies like the powerful Kingdom of Saudi Arabia lobby. A lobby so powerful that George W. Bush issued a public statement, on April 25, 2005, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia "recognizes" the freedoms enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. I'll be darned. The Cuban lobby? So Israel isn't the only country, even in the MiddleEast, that has alot of influence in Washington and a "fair and balanced" view would do well to remember that.

Just had influence in mind in reading some of the tut-tutting and dismissal of concerns regarding Catholic judges. Right out of the box one acknowledges that there are thousands of Catholic judges that serve this nation responsibly every day. On the other hand, review the statement of (as he was then) Cardinal Ratzinger on the responsibility of Catholics in public life regarding laws relating to the central issue of abortion, and the issue doesn't seem so ridiculous and unworthy of any discussion as some would have it. How would this apply to politicians nominating judges?

Justice Roberts dismissed the issue, doesn't seem so black and white to me. Cardinal Ratzinger's memorandum seems pretty darn clear as instruction for the Catholic public servant.

http://www.wf-f.org/Catholics_and_Politics.html

Cardinal Ratzinger's Memorandum
Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion - General Principles

...2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorise or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propoganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it" (no. 73). Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it" (no. 74).
4.21.2006 4:02pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Jeek, nothing you say below is false, but there is a difference between saying Israel was in favor of the war and what Judt actually wrote, whuich is that "Prominent Israeli leaders ... pressed very hard for the invasion of Iraq."

Similarly, there is a big difference between saying that there is a powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington, which no one denies, and making a host of broader incorrect claims, as M&W do, about the scope of the lobby and its power.

The trick both Judt and M&W are playing is to assert things that sound close to what is true, but is actually quite false.
4.21.2006 4:31pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Which strikes me as highly disingenuous, and even dishonest. Either Chomsky is credible, or he's not, in which case it's damning for you to use him period.
Not at all, Tamara. It's a statement against interest.

Ted Kennedy saying "Taxes need to be raised" (or George Bush saying "taxes need to be cut," depending on your partisan identification) may be completely non-credible, but that doesn't mean that Kennedy saying "Taxes are too high" is non-credible.

If even Noam Chomsky says that an indictment of Israel is too harsh, then we know it must be way beyond what's reasonable.
4.21.2006 4:53pm
Tamara (mail) (www):
But the contention that Israel in no way advocated for (the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, remember?) and influenced, in part, the decision to go to war is simply false.

How did Israel influence the decision to go to war?
4.21.2006 5:03pm
Tamara (mail) (www):

If even Noam Chomsky says that an indictment of Israel is too harsh, then we know it must be way beyond what's reasonable.


I can't stomach the whole read, to tell you the truth, but from the ending paragraph...


The thesis M-W propose does however have plenty of appeal. The reason, I think, is that it leaves the US government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility, "Wilsonian idealism," etc., merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape. It's rather like attributing the crimes of the past 60 years to "exaggerated Cold War illusions," etc. Convenient, but not too convincing. In either case.


I think it's quite clear that, as always, Chomsky's criticism of M &W is founded on his belief that it doesn't go far enough. He's alleviating too much of the blame from the US government, in his opinion.
4.21.2006 5:11pm
Hoosier:
jota--

OK. You've got Israeli affairs, since you've been there and know Hebrew. So you've talk to a representative sample of Israelis, since people tend to associate with a random sample of nationals when abroad, and not primarily people who are pretty much like them. So you get the "I've been there and you haven't" trump card.

If it sounds like I'm being sarcastic, please don't take it that way. I'm not. Rather, I'm trying to define the rules very clearly, 'cause . . .


I call Germany, France and Russia! Based on jota's standards. I claimed them first! So they're mine.

Wow. Feels good to be a gatekeeper.
4.21.2006 5:49pm
jota:
Hoosier:

Sometimes its as simple as speaking the language, the most prominent example being Arafat, who said one thing to the west, in english, and quite another to the Palestinians and the Arabs, in Arabic. First hand info is always better then second hand accounts, filtered by others for you.
4.21.2006 6:22pm
jota:
Tamara:

If you want a dossier filled with smoking gun documents, I can't supply that. However, my reference to the "truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" may shed some light. Maybe someone isn't vociferously advocating result X. However, he has information that shows result X is bad for whatever reasons. This information does not make its way to the relevant people. Has this person actively misled, i.e. actively influenced? No. Has he not told the whole truth? Yes. Can not telling the whold truth be a means of influence? Yes. Its not the formalistic connotation of "influence" that's important. Its the more nuanced understanding of the term that's relevant. Can you prodive the line distinguishing apathy and complicity?

Of course, given that the Bush administration was so hell-bent on war, whatever the costs, its doubtful whether Israeli countpoints would have made it anywhere.

And come on people, the monolithic Anti-Israel=Anti-Jew meme has got to go. Let's assume Israel wasn't primarily Jewish, but primarily Black, all other things, i.e. relations w/Palestinians, influence in the US, equal. Are we now all magically racists because we disagree with Black Israel's policies and would like our fundie American government to reappraise its approach? Of course not. In fact, we'd disassociate with the country in a second, to curry favor with Oil possesing countries (i.e. Arabs). This hypoethtical alone should tell us something, but that's for another post.

Of course, some use anti-israelism as a proxy for jew-hating. But its a bit of a stretch to claim all anti-israel also anti-semitic.
4.21.2006 6:36pm
Vovan:
Wow. Feels good to be a gatekeeper.

See Hoosier,

If I wanted to know about country A's affairs, I would trust a person who actually SPEAKS country A's language, a little bit more. As to your assertion that a person will have like minded friends in that country - in your case, расширь свой кругозор
4.21.2006 6:44pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Oh, for what it's worth, I do speak Hebrew well enough for basic conversation, I do visit Israel frequently (twice a year for the last several years), and my in-laws live there. What that has to do with whether Judt is right or not, I don't know.
4.21.2006 6:57pm
Tamara (mail) (www):

Of course, some use anti-israelism as a proxy for jew-hating. But its a bit of a stretch to claim all anti-israel also anti-semitic.


I fully agree with you on this point: however, I challenge you to offer me one valid reason for being "anti-Irael."

Oh, and DB, I'm quite fluent in Arabic - the Palestinian dialect, even - I've visited Israel several times in my life (although I haven't been there in many years), and virtually my entire family has lived on the land since the 1700's.

Unfortunately, I'm far from representative of mainstream thought in Palestinian society, and having been born and raised in America sets me even further apart from the modern mindset of many.

But not all.

So if Jota's not claiming the "Been there and done that" card, I certainly am.
4.21.2006 10:11pm
David in DC:
Jota,

And come on people, the monolithic Anti-Israel=Anti-Jew meme has got to go.

The problem with W&M's paper is that they identify "the Lobby" variously as "American Jews", or with the implcation that the the majority of American Jews belong to the Lobby.

When you couple that with their other assertion - that the case that our relationship with Israel is so obviously against our interests that without the Lobby it would not exist as it does - it crosses a line IMO. Because if it is so obviously against our interests, then the Lobby should see this as well, yet are still pushing their point of view despite that (i.e., disloyalty to this country's interests).

One of the memes that W&M are setting up is that American Jew = part of the Lobby. This is what some people are addressing when they call the paper anti-Semitic, not just the fact that it is an incredibly biased and poorly researched anti-Israel paper. You can easily get around it by saying pro-Israel instead of Jew, which they chose not to do. (This would also be a poor definition when talking about lobbying power, but at least it would categorize people based on their views rather than their religion.)

I fully agree with you that anti-Israel does not necessarily equal anti-Jew. I believe you would get those charges regardless, but you could lessen them by not being anti-Jew. I side towards believing that W&M did not intend this. What I don't understand is that they knew they were going to get reamed, so why weren't they especially careful with their language and why did they put out such a shoddy paper?
4.22.2006 11:34am
Raw_Data (mail):
"...anti-Israel does not necessarily equal anti-Jew."

"...not necessarily " but hard to find decent examples of it.

Hard to credit that one in practice. One can find fault with Israel as one can find with any nation. And of course there is vigorous criticism of Israeli policies with Israel itself.

But it's really prety transparent to say that one can be against the entire state of Israel and not be anti-Jewish. It may make people better to say it but it's really not very credible. Anti-Israel is the polite western form of anti-Semitism. Why should one be anti-Israel in the first place if not because one doesn't think Jews have a right to a homeland? That dog don't hunt as anything but anti-Semitsim. That's just the way it is.
4.22.2006 10:27pm
picpoule:
If Israel was worried about Iran before the Iraq war, they're probably overjoyed that we invaded Iraq with the result that the Shi'ites in Iraq are more empowered than ever, an outcome that probably heartens the Iranians mightily.
4.23.2006 12:25am
Bill Woolsey (mail):
"Why should one be anti-Israel in the first place if not because one doesn't think Jews have a right to a homeland?"

Why is the view that Jews have no right to a homeland anti-Semitic?

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights and among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.....To secure these rights, governments are instituted among men...

To me, this perspective is inconsistent with the view that communities of religious faith or ethic groups have a _right_ to a homeland.

Jewish people have a right to live in freedom and equality anywhere in the world, but they have no right to a special homeland--and in particular, no right to a state defined in terms of their religion or enthnicity.

The same is true of the French, the Baptists, or any other religious or ethnic group. There may well be states for many such groups, but none of those communities has a "right" to have such a state.

While the Jewish people living in what is now Israel have a right to a secular liberal state aimed at defending the rights of all its people--regardless of their ethnic or religious background, and no right to a state whose purpose is to create a homeland for Jews, it is not a very good neighborhood for the securing of individual rights. It seems that the vast majority of inhabitants of the region very much support the concept of a "right" to a state promoting some ethnic or religious group. Some have even said they have no problem of there being such a state for Jews. Just not in what they take to be their proper territory. Of course, I disagree with those views as well.

Well, that is what I think about the matter. And I don't believe it amounts to being anti-semitic--against the Jews. It rather amounts to supporting equal rights for all individuals, regardless of ethnic or religious background.
4.23.2006 9:20am
Raw_Data (mail):
"Why is the view that Jews have no right to a homeland anti-Semitic? "

Woolsey,
Are you f--- serious?
You are kidding yourself.
Go look in the mirror and say what you said about ANY ethnic/national group.
4.23.2006 11:06am
David Sucher (mail) (www):
Raw Data,
I think that Woolsey is against ALL states, though where such a stance gets us now is unclear to me. His remark might make some sense if the dissolution of states based on race, religion, ethnicity and language was in the offing anywhere. But it's not at all. So for him to peg his anti-Israel stance on an abstract and very far-away goal of the dissolution of states does seem a little silly. And in particular to start anti-statism with Israel at this point in the history of the Jewish people is hardly a credible as anything but velied anti-semitism.

•••

Woolsey, in your view, who, then, has a "right" to a state? What other states are you against? Which ones are "legitimate?"

If are you truly against all national states then we are both wasting our time talking to each other.
4.23.2006 11:46am
Bill Woolsey (mail):
I am not an anarchist. I favor limited government. All governments should be limited to appropriate functions. Promoting religions or ethnicity are two things beyond the proper limits of any government. Nearly all governments do many things beyond proper functions.

I am not particularly interested in "starting" with Israel. I am not proposing that the U.S. go to war with Israel and compel it to become a secular state that is not based on enthnicity. (I don't propose that the U.S. invade Saudi Arabia to force it to stop being a theocracy or Syria to force it to stop being a secular state based upon Arab ethnicity. I don't think the U.S. needs to reinvade Japan to straighten them out on these matters.)

I am just making the point that rejecting the right of the Jewish people to a homeland doesn't mean that one is against Jewish people. While I do think the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine have a right to live in a secular, nonethnic state that fully respects their rights, I would prefer that they all move to the U.S. There are some vacant homes in my neighborhood. I am sure they would be wonderful additions to my community. I rather like Jewish people.

I believe that there is some odd assumption that every ethnic group has a right to a homeland or a state. It seems to me to be based upon a 19th century notion that it is a good thing for every ethnic group to have a state. Being a part of some entity steering ones ethnic group is supposed to be important in some kind of mystical way that I don't really understand.

I don't believe that. No religious or enthic group has a _right_ to a homeland or a state. I don't think it is desirable for states to be based upon religion or ethnicity. For example, I oppose the occcassional efforts to somehow recognize that the U.S. is a Christian nation. Efforts to recreate or avoid further diluting British ethnicity in the U.S. would be deeply offensive to me. The think the U.S. model is correct, not just for the U.S., but for the entire world. Efforts within the U.S., especially in the 19th century, to make the U.S. more like, say, France, were wrong.

Governments are instituted among men to secure rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness independent of the religious views or ethnic background of the individuals involved.

I don't favor having the U.S. serve as world policeman to enforce this scheme on the world. Such efforts would surely do more harm than good. But serving as world policeman to enforce the purported right of each ethnic group or religion to have a state of its own is worse. That would be enforcing the wrong model.

I just went to the mirror. I said it. "Baptists have no right to their own state."

By the way, the claim that the Zulus or the Xhosa have no right to their own state would be quite popular in the Republic of South Africa. In Africa, nationalism is identified with colonial borders and the "language group" approach is called tribalism. The Congress Party in India took a very dim view of the "sectarianism" that resulted in the loss of what they thought should have been part of a unified India.

Of course, I don't favor this "modern" view of nationalism any more than pan-germanism of the 19th century. I would suggest looking at Mises' Liberalism to at least get a feel for the libertarian or classical liberal view of these matters.
4.23.2006 4:29pm
jota:
Raw_Data:

You're attacking a straw man. I said nothing about Israel as a concept. I contend only that criticzing Israel's fence policy, targeted assisinations, isolation of Arafat in the Muqata till he croaked, etc., are not anti-semitism. Your argument itself proves too much. Are the israeli jews who critcize their government also anti-semitic?

As for Mr. Woolsey's point, again, this is not a black and white discussion, so apoplectic reaction to his contention is unwarranted. Jews are not a nation per se, have not been so since the destruction of the second temple and the diaspora. They are not specifally an ethnic group either, but i won't get into the he said she said of genetics, inter-marriage, and Khazars. They also are not strictly a religion. They are all three of these things, and perhaps even a mind-set for some. Realistically, Israel received its "special" state because of the Holocaust. No holocaust, no Israel, simple enough. And realistically, they are the only "religio-ethno-cultural" group that lost its historical homeland to return from diaspora to that homeland in modern history. This, of course, has certain geopolitical ramifications that I'm sure we can all discuss civilly without resorting to the rhetoric of anti-semitism. I, as a jew, believe my fellow jews are safer in this world becuase I have a state asserting itself in [what it perceives to be] my interest. No israel means no Jewish renaissance in American and a decline in my secure autonomy. But I as a political science "realist" may not think that establishing a Jewish state was such a good idea. Discussing either point of view is not anti-semitic.
4.23.2006 4:49pm
Raw_Data (mail):
And with your last stament, Woolsey, I can't keep a straight-face. Clearly you must be one of those agent provocatreurs sent by AIPAC to illustrate the absolute stupidiity and brain-dead state of so many self-proclaimed friends of the Jewish people. I was almost taking you seriously there for a second. Well done!

As to Jota, what are you talking about? What straw man? Obviously guys like Woolsey think it's possible. And in any case I was commenting on ONE phrase in someone else's comment. What's it got to do with you? And while I admire your objectivety....no I don't really admire it at all. I can't say that with a straight-face. I think it's self-deluding tripe. You sound like one of those people who would advise the hangman on how best to tie the knot. I can't even pretend to respect such "objectvity.".
4.23.2006 5:51pm
jota:
Raw_Data: you said "But it's really prety transparent to say that one can be against the entire state of Israel and not be anti-Jewish."

I responded that this proves too much. There are many in Israel (hassidic jews for example) against the existence of the state of israel. Are they anti-semitic? Hardly.

But more to the point, criticizing the existence of the state of israel, under its special circumstances, in terms of its founding's effect on the geopolitical state of the world IS NOT anti-semitic. Israel is unique in that it is the only state in modern history founded in the fashion that it was. What's wrong with discussing the ramifications or the possibility that a special jewish state may not portend only good things for jews and the state of global relations. Are you suggesting that discussing the pros and cons of establishing the state of israel in an objective manner is anti-semitic? That the only "acceptable" viewpoint is that Israel can do no wrong? That any discussion of context and history is impermissible? Come now, who's really deluding himself? The person who acknlowdges there are two sides to every story, or the person (i.e. you) who, instead of responding objectively to my contentions, resorts to ad hominem attacks?
4.23.2006 6:33pm
David Sucher (mail) (www):
"I am just making the point that rejecting the right of the Jewish people to a homeland doesn't mean that one is against Jewish people. While I do think the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine have a right to live in a secular, nonethnic state that fully respects their rights, I would prefer that they all move to the U.S. There are some vacant homes in my neighborhood. I am sure they would be wonderful additions to my community. I rather like Jewish people."

Woolsey, Is this meant to be taken as a serious statement?
4.23.2006 7:06pm
Bill Woolsey (mail):
What a brilliant refutation! You can't keep a straight face? I must work for AIPAC as an agent provocateur?

Is it necessarily anti-semitic to hold that the Jews have no right to a homeland? I denied that it was so.

I have seen no argument from you that any ethnic group has a right to a state. It looks to me that you are simply assuming that is true and then using some kind of equality principle to deduce that every ethnic group has that right, which would include Jews. To leave out Jews, then, requires that one be especially against Jews.

I am example of someone who takes the oppositive view. No ethnic group has a right to a state. Because states can use force, their proper role is very limited. And being "for" a specific ethnic group (or religious faith) is outside of that proper role.

So, I have made an argument, based upon what I believe are standard liberal principles, that argues that the Jews have no right to a homeland, but isn't biased against Jews. How can it be clearer. Jews are just one of the many ethnic groups (all of them) that have no right to a homeland or a state.

It seems obvious to me that the U.S. is a state that is not the homeland of any specific enthic group and doesn't establish any religion. This approach is certainly a model that could apply all over the world. I don't think that my view that it _should_ apply all over the world is obviously incorrect. If it is incorrect, provide some argument. (I think that the U.S. approach exemplifies liberal principles, I am a "classical" liberal, and am a quite proud of the American approach along these lines.)

As far as I know, the Baptists have no state. I don't think they have a right to a state. But then, they aren't an ethnic/national group. Let's then try the French. The French have no right to a state.

Suppose one day, France is no longer indepedent but just a portion of the European Union. People of French decent live all about Europe and there are lots of former Poles and Greeks living in what was France. Has some injustice been done? Do the "French" have a right to a state? I don't think so. People who think of themselves as French have a right to live in freedom and equality. But there is no right to have a special state for the French, especially not one devoted to promoting Frenchness.

Of course, we libertarians have always had trouble communicating with nationalists. We don't see the problem with ethnic-oriented activities being entirely part of civil society, that is, voluntary association. (I can go to NASCAR races or blue grass festivals or my local Episcopal church.)

Hey, I'm an American of British decent. And I don't consider the existence of "Great Britan" as a homeland for the Anglo-Saxons to be of any importance to me. I just can't understand how anyone would care about it. And I certainly have no interest in living in a state devoted to the values and interests of British Americans. There are people like that. Most of them are in the Ku Klux Klan.

Look, I don't think the minimum wage is a good idea. I think imports are a benefit and exports are a cost. I have all sorts of unusual ideas. One of them is that it isn't to role of government to be about particular ethnic groups or religions. Perhaps the view is wrong. But it isn't anti-semitic.
4.23.2006 7:08pm
Trevor Hill (mail) (www):
This is just the sort of thing that angers those who seek rational debate about real issues every day. Criticism in any way of a nation is distinct from any racist prejudice one might hold against its people or their religion.

Would you say that those who deny the legitimacy of the US are anti-white? Or anti-anglo-saxon or something? There are certainly things people can take issue with regarding the founding and the policies of the US throughout its history. But criticism of any of that, or even of the people who were involved, is a far cry from any sort of racism or bigoted anti-groupism.

I happen to think it was a major mistake to attempt to create a nation based on a religion with ethnic aspects. Due to simple demographic changes, we know this can be extremely unstable in the long term. And when religious idealism hits demographic reality, you can have the worst kinds of violence and strife.

The genius of the US is that people can belong here without adopting any particular religion, and without having any particular culture or race.

If Israel succeeds in excising enough Arabs to remain predominately Jewish, it will eventually become more and more like the US -- Judaism may be a backdrop to the national culture, but will be steadily removed from institutions to make room for other cultures and beliefs.

If they don't, we might see a much more violent and stark sort of change.
4.23.2006 8:13pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Woolsey,
Do you reject the right of the Saudi people to have a state of their own?
Do you reject the right of the Palestinian people to have of a state of their own?
Do you reject the right of the Japanese people to have a state of their own?
etc. etc. etc.
4.23.2006 8:39pm
Trevor Hill (mail) (www):
Raw Data: I don't know where you got this idea of a right to a state.

There's no international constitution, and we haven't all agreed on any authority who can tell us that every homogeneous ethnic group somehow deserves to have a nation specifically geared to their own needs.

Nations are created through wars, alliances, etc. Is there a 'right' to win a war? The mere thought of it is ludicrous. Nations are created and destroyed anarchically.
4.23.2006 8:55pm
Raw_Data (mail):
First of all Trevor, I wasn't talking to you. I was repeating back to Woolsey something he had said about the Jews.

But now that you have butted-in, of course you are right. No people -- including the Palestinians or the Saudis or anyone anywhere -- have a natural law "right" to a state. Their "right" grows out of the barrel of a gun. So why all the fuss about Israel? Why are you even commenting? What is your dog in this fight? It is an anarchic world and Israel exists through force of arms. Don't like it? Go to war with Hamas. I can't quite figure out why the subject even interests you since we agree that the litmus test is force. No people have a "right" except insofar as they can force others to recognizethem. That is what you are saying. Right?
4.23.2006 9:07pm
Trevor Hill (mail) (www):
Raw: You appeared to be arguing that it was anti-Semitic to be anti-Israel, and that the Jews had a right to a state. I disagree with this, but I do agree with your last post.

BTW, I don't think there's any 'butting in' in a blog. People comment when the spirit moves them. ;)
4.23.2006 9:12pm
Bill Woolsey (mail):
Woolsey,
>Do you reject the right of the Saudi people to have a >state of their own?

>Do you reject the right of the Palestinian people to >have of a state of their own?

>Do you reject the right of the Japanese people to have a >state of their own?

I posted in this thread only to point out that one can oppose the right of the Jewish people to have a homeland (which I understood to be a state of their own) without being anti-semitic.

As I explained, liberal principles suggest that states should not be based upon ethnicity or religion. They should instead be like the U.S. Not based upon any specific ethnic group or religion.

If one takes the view (as I do) that the entire world should be made up of states following that policy, then there is no room for states 'for' ethnic groups or religions.

This would, of course, include the Palestinians, Saudi Arabians, or Japanese. As far as I can tell, only the Japanese count as specific ethnic group.

There is no problem with there being independent states in Japan, Saudi Arabia, the occupied territories of Israel, or Israel proper. All of them, however, should be secular and not for any specific ethnic group.

I am not making any claims about whether borders between states should change or whether larger states should break into smaller parts. What I am claiming is that all states should be secular and not for any specific ethnic group. And, further, while sometimes it might be a good idea for one part of a state to break off and become idependent, the supposed "right" of some ethnic group to have its own state isn't a good reason. That is, the new smaller state should be secular and not for any specific ethnic group.
4.23.2006 9:41pm
Raw_Data (mail):
So Trevor Hill,
You would agree with the statement "The Palestinians have no right to a state."
Correct?
4.23.2006 9:52pm
Trevor Hill (mail) (www):
Definitely.
4.23.2006 10:28pm
jota:
You're both anti-semites. And not the jew hating kind.
4.24.2006 2:28am
Raw_Data (mail):
Jota,
What do you mean?
(If anything.)
4.24.2006 8:16am
David in DC:
Jota,

I am curious if you have anything to say in response to my post. Will you acknowledge that W&M used some unfortunate descriptions and deserve at least some of the criticism they are getting (re: anti-Semitism), or will you make excuses for them?

And if you do acknowledge it, will it be with a "yes, but..." or not?
4.24.2006 12:01pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Btw, how does Jota get away with no email address?
4.24.2006 12:40pm
jota:
Raw_Data: Apparently irony is lost upon you. So i'll spell it out, in your words. If denial of the right to a jewish state (e.g. Mr. Woolsey) or criticisms of that state (our discussion) is anti-semitic, then stating, as you did, that "The Palestinians have no right to a state," must also be anti-semitic, or if you'd prefer not to conflate anti-arabism with anti-judaism, racist towards Arabs. Can we come back to earth now?

David: I disagree strongly with the methods of the W&M paper and i agree that it smells of anti-semitism insofar as it invokes the same conspirational Protocols of Zion/Illuminati/Free Mason shibboleths that have served as reason to kill jews for centuries in supporting its conclusions. However, and here's your yes, but, I don't read the paper as broadly as you seem to in that I don't see it as a condemnation of all Jews as involved in the alleged conspiracy. Perhaps you have some specific lines that can correct my perception. I see the paper as a hamfisted attempt at forcing dialogue on the issue. And that's exactly what it's done. Our middle-east policy is very black and white. If you're against terror, we're with you. And if you're Saudi, we're with you. If a result of this paper, once the anti-semitic furor dies down, is that policy-makers stop and reappraise our one-sidedness when it comes to Israel, then I'm all for it. The paper's focus, after all, was our relations with Israel. So it doesn't botther me that they didn't--as some critics argued they should--discuss the Saudi lobby or other powerful lobbies that may influence our policy. Whether or not AIPAC actually plays marionettes with the white house isn't the issue. You aren't going to get a smoking gun. The important question is how the unfortunate current confluence in thought--or marriage of convenience--between the Likud and the Fundies in the white house, and the lack of critical debate over the merits of that confluence, affects the United States' geopolitical position. I.e., we come back again to the question--is supporting Israel unilaterally, without any of the restraint of previous administrations (recall Bush Senior's revocation of aid contingent on not building settlements in the west bank) good for America? The possibility that the answer is no is not anti-semitic. But to return to W&M, if you wish to condemn their means as anti-semitic, I have no quarrel with you.
4.24.2006 3:34pm
Meryl Yourish (www):
Let's not start the old "anti-Semitism" means anti-Arabism, too.

The word was invented by Wilhelm Marr specifically to mean Jew hatred.

Jota, your bringing in the lie of the Khazars tells me exactly where you stand. And it's not on the side of truth.
4.24.2006 3:38pm
jota:
Meryl:

You shouldn't seize on one word in my numerous responses as means to descredit my argument, especially when that word--"khazar"- was used as a tangential aside that does not at all diminish my main point: being "jewish" is not, as striclty defined, a nationality, an ethnicity, or a religion. Do you deny this? Nor, it seems, did you pick up on the intended irony of my use of the term "anti-semitism." In fact, I caveated the statement to avoid responses such as yours, but to no avail. The irony is lost.

Again, instead of attacking me, or the periphery of my argument, attack my position. Tell me again why it's anti-semitic to discuss Israel critically? I am a Jew who loves Israel and believes Jews are safer in the world with a state acting in their interests. Thus I find it confusing when people react to my comments by claiming my beliefs, ipso facto, mean i am anti-semitic. We reach the bizarre conclusion that I must hate myself. Quite logical.
4.24.2006 4:52pm
David in DC:
Jota,

Thanks for your reply.

I don't read the paper as broadly as you seem to in that I don't see it as a condemnation of all Jews as involved in the alleged conspiracy. Perhaps you have some specific lines that can correct my perception.

When they define "the Lobby"...


The explanation is the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby. We use ‘the Lobby’ as shorthand for the loose coalition of individuals and organisations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. This is not meant to suggest that ‘the Lobby’ is a unified movement with a central leadership, or that individuals within it do not disagree on certain issues. Not all Jewish Americans are part of the Lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them. In a 2004 survey, for example, roughly 36 per cent of American Jews said they were either ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ emotionally attached to Israel.

Jewish Americans also differ on specific Israeli policies. Many of the key organisations in the Lobby, such as the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations, are run by hardliners who generally support the Likud Party’s expansionist policies, including its hostility to the Oslo peace process. The bulk of US Jewry, meanwhile, is more inclined to make concessions to the Palestinians, and a few groups – such as Jewish Voice for Peace – strongly advocate such steps. Despite these differences, moderates and hardliners both favour giving steadfast support to Israel.


Here the implication is that the majority of Jews are part of the Lobby. Some aren't. Why? Because for that minority Israel is not a salient issue for them.

But of those for whom Israel is a salient issue, regardless of their feelings about the Isreal/Palestinian conflict, all "favour giving steadfast support to Israel".

An instance where they identify the Lobby as consisting, in part, of "American Jews"...


...the Israel Lobby is no different from the farm lobby, steel or textile workers’ unions, or other ethnic lobbies. There is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway US policy...


The paper's focus, after all, was our relations with Israel.

The paper's focus was the reason for the current state of our relationship with Israel (ie., the Lobby). Since the authors had a conclusion in mind that depended on that relationship being harmful to our interests, that is the picture they painted (using falsehoods, quotes taken out of context, omitting evidence contradictory to their case, etc, etc.)

Whether or not our alliance with Israel[/having Israel as a client state] is against our interests or not is a big topic in its own right and one that deserves an honest treatment, not just handwaving and and foregone conclusion in order to lambaste those who have a different opinion about that relationship than the authors and who express that opinion. One would expect better from a professor holding a chair at Harvard.

So it doesn't botther me that they didn't--as some critics argued they should--discuss the Saudi lobby or other powerful lobbies that may influence our policy.

That's fine, and I see where you are coming from. But this particular criticism was aimed at the paper, and I think it is a valid one. You can see that W&M actually do mention the Arab lobby, but wave it away as being weak:


In its basic operations, the Israel Lobby is no different from the farm lobby, steel or textile workers’ unions, or other ethnic lobbies. There is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway US policy: the Lobby’s activities are not a conspiracy of the sort depicted in tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For the most part, the individuals and groups that comprise it are only doing what other special interest groups do, but doing it very much better. By contrast, pro-Arab interest groups, in so far as they exist at all, are weak, which makes the Israel Lobby’s task even easier.


They mischaracterize the Arab lobby as being weak (obviously it's not).

I think the reason they feel the need to do this comes back to the bottom line - if there were two strong competing lobbies, then it becomes even more probable that the one coming out on top is doing so because that is the one that is winning in the marketplace of ideas. I said something similar in a previous thread:


Occam's Razor suggests that the simplest explanation is the most compelling. Rather than all of the contradictory definitions W&M need to make their case, how about this instead - people don't agree with them, and are vocal about it. The "anti-Lobby" has the exact same opportunity as "the Lobby". Let them spread their lobbying money around and debate their point of view in the marketplace of ideas. In my opinion they have tried that, found that it isn't enough, and so resort to these "they are trying to stifle debate"/"you called me an anti-Semite" tactics. If they aren't anti-Semites, ignore the morons calling them such, address the valid criticisms of their work, and the best ideas will win the day.


I said it about a point above, but it is also true in general - I see where you are coming from. What really matters is whether the relationship is harmful to our interests. The more I read this paper the more I realize that bringing up the so-called Lobby is somewhat gratuitous. It wasn't "the Lobby" that caused them to put out such a poor paper. The Lobby almost seems to be an excuse as to why the majority don't agree with them.

BTW, Dershowitz has an open challenge to debate them. I'd pay for those tickets :-).
4.24.2006 6:34pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Duh....Jota,

I made no such statement as "The Palestinians have no right to a state."

I was asking a QUESTION in order to determine the bounds of Woolsey and Trevor's thinking.
4.24.2006 7:38pm