pageok
pageok
pageok
Brzezinski and Obama:

Barack Obama has been criticized by pro-Israel forces (undoubtedly egged on by the Hillary team) for naming Zbignew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security advisor, as one of his foreign policy gurus. Ezra Klein links to, and endorses, a post by one Matthew Duss, relying on a story from the Politico website, suggesting that the "Israel lobby," writ large, and Alan Dershowitz personally, are upset about Brzezinski because he wrote an essay last Summer defending Mearsheimer and Walt's "Israel Lobby" essay.

This is a good an example of the dangers of blogging about things that one doesn't know much about. Anyone who is reasonably familiar with the history of U.S.-Israel relations knows that the pro-Israel community (and the organized Jewish community writ large, for that matter) has despised Brzezinski for at least thirty years. And it wasn't just Brzezinski's policies, deemed by many to be anti-Israel, it was the way he promoted them, and the way he interacted with Jewish community activists who sought to engage him--much worse, for example, than Bush I Secretary of State James "Fuck the Jews" Baker, who has few friends in the pro-Israel world.

For example, the New York Times reported on March 10, 1978, that Rabbi Alexander Schindler, President of the Conference of Major Jewish Organizations (and a very liberal fellow, both religiously and politically), thought that Carter's Middle East policy was a "question mark," largely because of Brzezinski. Schindler told the Times that among Jewish leaders "All of the anger and mistrust is toward the National Security Council and toward Brzezinski." Schindler explained that in a meeting with Jewish leaders, Brzezinski was "antagonistic, blustering, threatening." Brzezinski, for his part, acknowledged to the Times "strong resentment toward him personally expressed by some Jewish leaders."

Brzezinski denied being anti-Israel, and for all I know, he was sincere. But even though I was not even bar mitzvah age at the time, as a reader of Jewish newspapers that came to our home I remember the deep hostility and mistrust many Jews felt toward Brzezinski at the time. Brzezinski likely played a larger role than anyone but Carter himself in the fact that in 1980, Jewish activists largely preferred Kennedy to Carter, and Carter ultimately received less than 50% of the Jewish vote in the general election (compared, for example, to 80+% for recent Democratic presidential candidates).

So for Klein to attribute anti-Brzezinski sentiment to, for example, the fact that he "calmly defend[ed] and contextualiz[ed] a book by two leading international relations scholars, or because Brzezinski denies that "this Israel Lobby which is currently planting stories to attack and embarrass Obama doesn't exist," [as I've noted before, and despite Matthew Yglesias's continued insistence to the contrary, NO ONE denies that an Israel lobby exists, they just quarrel with absurdly expansive definitions of that lobby, and exaggerated notion's of that lobby's power], without any hint that Klein is aware of the longstanding feud between Brzezinski and the organized Jewish community, is just kind of embarrassing.

UPDATE: Hmm, just noticed that the original Politico article that prompted Duss's post notes that "Brzezinski has been at odds with elements of the American Jewish community since the Carter administration." But why let such details get in the way of a good "the Israel lobby is out to get someone because he defended Mearsheimer and Walt" story (adopted by M.J. Rosenberg, who clearly does know better, as well)? The article does quote one observer as claiming that Brzezinski had kept a low profile on the Middle East over the years, and that the source of controversy over him was thus his defense of M & W. But Brzezinski has not, in fact, kept a low profile; he was, for example a leading critic of Israel's action re Lebanon last year, and a Google search for Brzezinski and Israel results in approximately 650,000 hits.

Two more things: First, I don't know enough about Brzezinski to have a strong personal opinion about him. I do recall that he was considered something of a right-wing hardliner in the Carter Administration, especially compared to the more liberal, and far more pro-Israel, Cyrus Vance. Second, wow, the anti-Semitism you see in the comments pages of liberal blogs (just a sample from one thread: a commenter tying the Israel lobby controversy to the "Jewish conspiracy" to turn over atomic secrets to the Soviets; and "let me congratulate you for once again showing the legendary Jewish ability to make most peoples who encounter Jews eventually detest a good portion of them for their famous arrogance and condescension") whenever subjects like this come up! I don't know what these blogs' moderation policy is, but I wonder if similar sentiments were expressed regarding other groups, the authors, and their readers, would be so indulgent. (Not that I think Klein, et al., endorse anti-Semitism, but if you're bending over backwards to show that you're not part of the evil "Israel lobby," you may be more hesitant to "censor" anti-Semitic comments, especially because we all know that anti-Semitism plays virtually no role in debates over Israel.)

Tony Tutins (mail):
Wait a minute, didn't Brzezinski have a lot to do with the Camp David accords and the Israel-Egypt peace treaty? Wasn't that good for Israel?

I wonder how much of this antipathy to Brzezinski is ingrained anti-Slavic prejudice.
9.14.2007 1:54am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I've consistently argued that critics like M&W make the mistake of thinking that because the Iraq War had some benefits for Israel, that means that pro-Israel people in the Bush Administration supported the Iraq war primarily to benefit Israel (obviously, benefiting Israel, as a U.S. ally, is a legitimate side benefit).

Similarly, the Carter Administration was involved in Camp David, which benefited Israel. That doesn't mean that anti-Israel (or indifferent to Israel, or for that matter pro-Israel) people in the Carter Administration supported Camp David because it benefited Israel, as it was clearly in the U.S. interest.

If George Bush was vehemently anti-Israel, I have no doubt that he would still have invaded Iraq. Israel would have benefited from Saddam's ouster. That would not make Bush pro-Israel, any more than Bz's support of Camp David made him pro-Israel.

But the fact that Bz was Polish, and a lot of American Jews think Poland to be the epicenter of European anti-Semitism certainly didn't win him any bonus points with the Jewish community.

Finally, if it wasn't for Camp David and the bonus points that gave Carter, he would have done even worse with Jewish voters.
9.14.2007 2:09am
Golda Meir (mail):
But Brzezinski has not, in fact, kept a low profile; he was, for example a leading critic of Israel's action re Lebanon last year

Doesn't that show Brezezinski is a strong supporter of Israel? That Lebanon invasion was a disaster and an embarrasment for Israel, as it showed her military forces were not up to the task of defeating Hezbollah. I believe Israeli politicians were all but crucified for the fiasco.
9.14.2007 3:41am
Frater Plotter:
Dude. Yes, there are people who claim the Israel lobby doesn't exist ... just as there are people who claim that criticism of Israeli policies is antisemitism.

Just because you (that's a generic "you") don't happen to agree with those positions, does not mean that nobody actually takes them. Just because your support of Israel is nuanced and liberal, does not mean that there aren't also knee-jerk and reactionary supporters too.
9.14.2007 4:11am
Gaius Marius:
News flash for everyone: Brzezinski was "antagonistic, blustering, and threatening" toward everyone during the Carter administration and not just toward the leaders of any select special interest group or constituency in the United States.
9.14.2007 6:30am
John McCall (mail):
I'm curious what Prof. Bernstein thinks of Brzezinski; he's usually not reserved about criticizing people in his own voice, but here he's just citing the criticism of others. Obviously, his original post was not about his personal opinions, but I'd still be interested in them.

All I can tell from his Wikipedia entry, and from reading a 1997 NPR interview, is that he believes that American pro-Israel posturing has undermined our ability to broker peace in the region, which is true. Otherwise, he doesn't seem to advocate any particular policy towards Israel, which isn't much of a sign of anything, really.
9.14.2007 6:59am
John McCall (mail):
Erk. Awkward antecedent shift, sorry.
9.14.2007 7:00am
LM (mail):
Frater Plotter:

Dude. Yes, there are people who claim the Israel lobby doesn't exist ...[.]

There are also people who believe that global warming is caused by cosmic rays from the Crab Nebula. That doesn't make them representative of a relevant constituency.
9.14.2007 7:51am
Tom952 (mail):
Surprising that Obama is willing to associate himself with the Middle Eastern policy record of the Carter Administration.
9.14.2007 9:39am
Mitchell J. Freedman (mail) (www):
Allow an "old man" (age 50) an observation or two:

1. I have viewed Zbig as more Kissingerian in outlook than anything else--and like Kissinger, came from as much an academic background as anything else. I recall him as a right wing leaning foreign policy advocate during Carter's time. I never detected anything anti-Semitic about Zbig, though I'm sure he's had his fill of the Wolfowitzes and Feiths at cocktail parties they likely attended together over the years, which probably made him want to defend fellow academicians like M&W.

2. I was a supporter of Ted Kennedy in the primary of 1980 more on domestic issues than foreign policy issues with the Carter administration. My being Jewish did not at least consciously enter into the equation--and I was already saying the Israelis should withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza at the time, which does not make one anti-Semitic, except in the fevered minds of the leading Jewish organizations at the time.

One should be careful not to judge Zbig on what leaders of Jewish organizations say, as they are the extremists in the foreign policy debate compared to most Jewish and non-Jewish Americans.
9.14.2007 10:42am
Ken Arromdee:
he was, for example a leading critic of Israel's action re Lebanon last year

Doesn't that show Brezezinski is a strong supporter of Israel? That Lebanon invasion was a disaster and an embarrasment for Israel


If I oppose the Republican-led invasion of Iraq, and argue that the invasion was a disaster and embarassment for Republicans, does that make me a strong supporter of the Republicans?

Criticizing someone can mean you're a supporter who thinks they got things wrong and don't want to see them hurt. But it could also--and in modern politics, often does--mean that you're an opponent who wants to criticize them for everything (and happened to get lucky this time), or who just likes to oversimplify and overemphasize any genuine failures in order to make them look bad.
9.14.2007 10:51am
factory123 (www):
Neither the TAPPED piece nor the Politico piece argue that Brzezinski's defense of M&W is the sole cause of dislike for Brzezinski. In fact, Klein doesn't even say that the M&W defense is the sole cause. Klein is being taken to task for his failure to give a complete history of the tension between Brzezinski and the "pro-Israel world." For this he should feel embarrassed?

I also disagree with taking blogs to task for failure to censor their comments. And it doesn't always cut in favor of anti-Semites. Yglesias' blog, for instance also has comments calling people "antisemitic fascist whores", which is both sexist and tasteless.
9.14.2007 12:13pm
anonCVcommenter (mail):
C'mon, Klein writes that Brzezinski "is to be rendered untouchable for calmly defending and contextualizing a book by two leading international relations scholars."
9.14.2007 12:30pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
Reasonable post but I'd just like to point out (not that you necessarily disagree) that you could say the same thing about conservative blogs and anti-homosexual rhetoric. The difference is just that in circles most conservatives travel in suggesting that gays are significantly more likely to molest children or just that they are immoral is much more acceptable than suggesting jews are controlling things or what not.

Now of course there are reasonable views in both directions. There are people who just think that Israel is a country like any other and that pro-israel forces in the US encourage us to support it too much. I'm sure there are some similar reasonable but also mistaken views against homosexuality. However, in both case there are plenty of people who believe some outrageous things contrary to evidence often do to dislike of some group. In fact since in the states homosexuals are currently less protected and more vulnerable to abuse there is a good case this is even the greater harm.

Anyway as I said I don't necessarily disagree with you but I just want to point out the danger of bias in one's reaction of being shocked.
9.14.2007 12:49pm
cvt:
You should read the NY Sun article. It clearly supports the idea that Dershowitz was specifically upset about Brzezinski's defense of W&M. Referring to Obama's decision to pull the ad for the Israel Lobby book from his web site, Dershowitz added:

"I'm glad he's done that, but now he has to dissociate himself from Brzezinski," Mr. Dershowitz said in an interview yesterday. He said the Mearsheimer-Walt book was "a bigoted attack on the American Jewish community" and that Mr. Brzezinski's comments in Foreign Policy last year amounted to an endorsement.
9.14.2007 1:35pm
ray_g:
Even ignoring Brzezinski's position on Israel (whatever it is), it is a bad choice by Obama. Brzezinski is a relic of the Cold War, basically "Henry Kissinger-lite". IMO the post 9/11 world needs new viewpoints.
9.14.2007 1:40pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
The Sun also says that Dersh's "criticism of Mr. Brzezinski extended beyond the Mearsheimer-Walt book to what he said was Mr. Brzezinski's broader 'anti-Israel' rhetoric in recent years." Even if the Sun didn't add that, that's exactly the point; Klein, et al. are relying on newspaper stories but don't have the background knowledge to fully understand the context.
9.14.2007 1:54pm
David M (mail) (www):
Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 09/14/2007
A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
9.14.2007 2:04pm
Roach (mail) (www):
It's remarkable that this one issue consumes so much energy by political candidates, particularly Democrats, but it's understandable since Jews contribute more than 50% of the total contributions to Democratic Candidates. You can talk all day about the rights of indigenous people, and the UN, and all the rest with respect to every single other country on earth, but on this issue you need to sound like an uber-hawk. It's a pretty obvious contradiction, no?
9.14.2007 2:07pm
cvt:
Now you're backing away from what you wrote in your own post:

Ezra Klein links to, and endorses, a post by one Matthew Duss, relying on a story from the Politico website, suggesting that the "Israel lobby," writ large, and Alan Dershowitz personally, are upset about Brzezinski because he wrote an essay last Summer defending Mearsheimer and Walt's "Israel Lobby" essay.

This is a good an example of the dangers of blogging about things that one doesn't know much about.

The NY Sun article shows that they did know what they were talking about because Dershowitz was upset that Brezezinski defended W&M. It may be true that Dershowitz has other reasons not to like Brezezinski, but the focus of the article was the book controversy.
9.14.2007 2:10pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
You still miss the point. Klein asserts that opposition to Brzez is motivated by his defense of M&W. Even Duss acknowledges much deeper issues, and even the Sun notes Dersh's much deeper concerns. Klein wants to tell the story: "look how unhinged the 'lobby', as represented by Dersh is, they want to punish Obama for merely associating with a foreign policy expert who defended M&W." That story is clearly inaccurate, and reflects either ignorance or malice, or both. Charitably, I went with ignorance, but given that Rosenberg is a long-time Jewish activist who clearly knows better, I wouldn't rule out malice.
9.14.2007 2:24pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
Even ignoring Brzezinski's position on Israel (whatever it is), it is a bad choice by Obama. Brzezinski is a relic of the Cold War, basically "Henry Kissinger-lite". IMO the post 9/11 world needs new viewpoints.

Hopefully Obama is listening to what he can use and disregarding the rest. The foreign policy expertise of even an abrasive A-hole can be useful if you sift it. You just have to keep realizing the expert's POV. Although, after watching how W. treated Colin Powell and C. Rice, I wonder how much advising the President is just providing cover for letting him do what he wanted, anyways.

It's a good point that Zbig is the Democrats' Kissinger. Kissinger has been giving Bush helpful advice like this from a year ago: Henry Kissinger has been advising President Bush and Vice President Cheney about Iraq, telling them that "victory is the only meaningful exit strategy," author and journalist Bob Woodward said.
9.14.2007 2:28pm
Richard Riley (mail):
David, what's your thinking on how this controversy might impact AIPAC and other groups supporting Israel? Lobbyists and other supporters of a cause like to trumpet their successes, and sometimes exaggerate their influence. Will any perceived need to defend against M&W's charges push AIPAC and allied groups the other way? (Has it already?)
9.14.2007 2:34pm
Jweaver (mail) (www):
It seems that Obama wants to bring us back to the Carter years in many ways, attacking our allies and appeasing our enemies. I cannot wait to vote against this man.
9.14.2007 3:11pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
attacking our allies

Really? Do you think our relations with say, Canada and Japan will suffer if Obama is elected?
9.14.2007 3:23pm
Anthony C (www):
Brzezinski is a smart man and I think does deserve teh respect he is given. While I have never interacted with him, it would not surprise me if he can be abrasive, really smart people often feel that no one is listening to them.

Two things about him. (1) I wonder at times whether Brzezinski was not really anti-communist, but anti-Russian, or simply pro-Polish. he does seem somewhat pro-China. (2) Brzezinski used to center in a lot of conspiracy theories. However, once he came out against the Bush administration, that seemed to disappear.
9.14.2007 3:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
I don't have much of an opinion about Zbig, except that I admire his daughter Mika a lot as a newswoman who refuses to do fluff, I know that he was right about the Iraq War in a lot of ways, and I know that despite that he was quite hawkish in the past. I also hate typing his last name.

But what bothers me about this whole thing is the preemptiveness of the attack, based solely on whether Obama associates with the man. I do understand that there are known anti-semites like David Duke and even perhaps Pat Buchanan where there is a very legitimate argument that any association should be taboo, but Zbig isn't anything like that. So this is a huge overreaction by Dershowitz and others.

And that raises the question-- overreaction to what? And that brings us back to Walt and Mersheimer. Believe me, I am not one to believe the thesis of an all-powerful Israeli lobby (and I am fearful about stereotypes of powerful Jews which have justified a lot of evil over the centuries), but I have to say that the community's out-of-proportion responses over the past year isn't exactly doing anything to disprove their point.
9.14.2007 4:01pm
DG:
Dilan: Thats the old "if he doesn't admit it, he's in denial" logical fallacy. If Jews don't fight the absurd M-W ideas about the Israel Lobby, we're admitting its true. If we fight it, we're over-reacting. Please.

In this case, anyone who reeks of Carter will be highly scrutinized by Jews. Why? What about Camp David? Well, Camp David has led to a somewhat acceptable "Cold Peace", but not much else. Carter was not the hero - Sadat was. Most Jews think Carter is an old fashioned Christian anti-semite, of a sort not seem too much in the US these days, and that anyone connected with his administration is highly suspect.
9.14.2007 4:11pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
It's sort of amazing that American Jews are so supportive of Democrats -- but it's even more amazing that anyone can claim Bush is in the pocket of a group that voted against him.
9.14.2007 4:30pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Dilan, the whole M&W controversy started because after the original paper was published, the "Arab Lobby," such as it is, started circulating the paper all over the place, with commentary that this paper by a Harvard professor "proves" that the Israel lobby control U.S. foreign policy. If the Arab lobby hadn't promoted the paper, it would have been ignored, and received about as much public attention as M&W's other writings have recived.
9.14.2007 4:36pm
wb (mail):
DB, you seem to hate to hear that there is another side to the argument. As a litigator once said, "even the thinest pancake has two sides." You don't have a monopoly on truth.
9.14.2007 4:54pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
DG and David:

It's not the fact that W&M are being opposed-- it's the vehemence and amount and coordination of opposition.

Really, if Helen was the face that launched a thousand ships, this is the article that launched ten thousand blog posts. And blast faxes. And letters to the editor. And op-ed pieces, etc. You would have think they wrote the sequel to "Mein Kampf".

The funny thing is that Dershowitz, an old First Amendment hand, should of all people know better. The biggest favor you can do to authors is one of these all-hands-on-deck opposition campaigns.

The "Arab lobby" (whatever that means) didn't make W&M stars-- they could have. But their opponents did.

So the answer to DG is that the Goldilocks porridge principle was applicable here. Not too little criticism, not too much.
9.14.2007 4:54pm
hey (mail):
Given his economic and foreign policy team, Obama is very likely to anatgonise Japan and Canada. Cutting off Taiwan would not make the Japanese happy, while there are an essentially infinite number of protectionist measures that are likely to be enacted in an Obama administration that will severely diminish the relationship with Canada. Limits on softwood imports, non-tariff barriers to agricultural imports (especially beef), posturing about the seal hunt, polar bears, and grizzlies, and a LNG port in Maine are all issues where Obama is likely going to aggravate Canada. The current administration is fixing/not hurting all but the LNG terminal.

We really need a better opposition. For the "smarter, more informed, more sensitive" party, Democrats/liberals/progressives are sure a bunch of ignorant and insensitive &*#@.

It wasn't just Israel that Carter screwed - he washed his hands of the Shah and got the mullahs, his weakness led to the destruction of Afghanistan (a fairly successful country at the time), rampant leftist insurgencies in Latin America... But I forgot, only Jews and Americans committ war crimes (even when following Geneva conventions to the letter), while liberation movements can do anythign because they are for "the people".
9.14.2007 5:18pm
Mark Field (mail):

We really need a better opposition.


Well, you know what they say: you don't run a democracy with the people you wish you had, but with the people you actually have. Strange that it works that way.

At this stage of the Bush Administration, it's pretty remarkable that anyone would complain about the opposition.
9.14.2007 5:32pm
LM (mail):
DG:

Most Jews think Carter is an old fashioned Christian anti-semite[...].

Links please.
9.14.2007 6:17pm
Dan Cole (mail):
For whatever it's worth, Dr. Brzezinski is a member of the Honorary Board of American Friends of Rabin Medical Center in Isreal and a member of the International Honorary Committee of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.
9.14.2007 6:32pm
TallDave (mail) (www):
It's not the fact that W&M are being opposed-- it's the vehemence and amount and coordination of opposition.

When one writes something really really wrongheaded and ridiculous, one can expect a lot of opposition.

The biggest favor you can do to authors is one of these all-hands-on-deck opposition campaigns.

A whole bunch of people saying your thesis is ridiculous can't be much of a favor. If that's the case, the whole principle of free societies arriving at truth through debate is fundamentally flawed. Oh, and the 9/11 Truthers must really be on to something.
9.14.2007 7:02pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
TallDave:

The 9/11 Truthers, for the most part, are ignored. Quite rightly.

I don't think it can be denied that W&M have gotten far more attention and will sell many more books thanks to the organized opposition to them. Not only that, but they end up looking like martyrs.

But worst of all, it makes their thesis look more plausible, because it makes it look like THERE IS an organized campaign to silence anyone who expresses disapproved sentiments about Israel. Further, it makes it look like the alleged "Israel lobby" is quite a bit more powerful than other lobbies, because, face it, we don't see this sort of media blitz when someone says something that anti-Castro Cubans in Florida, for instance, disagree with.

There really is a middle ground where you criticize ideas you disagree with without mounting a full blown huge media and public relations campaign. This has really backfired and has probably succeeded in convincing a fair number of people who weren't convinced before that some very inflammatory ideas might be true.
9.14.2007 7:21pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
I'm feeling silly on a Friday afternoon:

#1 - The first rule of Israel Lobby is, you do not talk about Israel Lobby.

#2 - The second rule of Israel Lobby is, you DO NOT talk about Israel Lobby.
9.14.2007 7:34pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
What hotel is the Jewish Lobby in?

Those Jewish girls are really hot.
9.14.2007 8:08pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The Negro Lobby seems to do quite well in America.

Where are the books?

Heck, the Chinese lobby seems to be very busy.

And how about the Saudi Lobby? I never saw Bush traipsing around holding hands with any Jewish lobbiests.
9.14.2007 8:16pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Dilan Esper,

Yep. You got it.

If Jews defend themselves it gives voice to the charges.

If they stay in their place, well aren't we all better off?

==

The difference between the "Jewish Lobby conspiracy" accusations and the 9/11 Truthers is the number adherents.

It is not the doctrine that gets respect. It is the number of followers.

Islam anyone?
9.14.2007 8:20pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Dilan says:

It's not the fact that W&M are being opposed-- it's the vehemence and amount and coordination of opposition.

You know it is just amazing the number of people who stand up for the Jews. It just goes to show what spreading a little Jewish money around can accomplish.

You know if people just kept quiet about the subject, Jews wouldn't seem so powerful in the minds of many.

I know who is behind it though. Andrew Grove. Blame him.
9.14.2007 8:31pm
cvt:
Dilan:

Let me try to deny what you think is undeniable. W&M have gotten some attention because of the strength of the opposition to them, but they have gotten much more attention because of the frustration of many people with the taboo that W&M have flouted (discussing the Israel Lobby). When their original article came out it was circulated very quickly by what David Bernstein disparagingly and misleadingly (and probably sarcastically) calls the Arab Lobby (which of course were not Arabs, mostly).

What makes W&M unique is that the chorus of criticism has not completely marginalized them. In Jimmy Carter's case, for instance, the criticism tended to marginalize him more than it gave him free publicity. He is, after all, a former US President making an important point about an important issue, and he probably sold alot of books, but he was not successful in generating a public discussion because his critics successfully convinced the public that he was a crank.

So in Carter's case the criticism was successful. In W&M's case, it hasn't been as successful, but it was not as counterproductive as you seem to think. Their ideas themselves have alot of merit and persuasive power, and that is why people like Dershowitz are so hysterical.
9.14.2007 8:40pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
M. Simon:

Dilan Esper,

Yep. You got it.

If Jews defend themselves it gives voice to the charges.

If they stay in their place, well aren't we all better off?


and

You know it is just amazing the number of people who stand up for the Jews. It just goes to show what spreading a little Jewish money around can accomplish.

Wow. Just wow.

I think you are just willfully distorting my point now to try and make me look like an anti-semite. It is despicable, you should stop, and that's probably all I should say about it.

But being the masochist that I am, I will try one more time.

I am making a prudential point. I certainly think that if opponents of W&M's thesis (and by the way— in a bit of apparently unconscious ethnocentrism, YOU said "Jews"; I said opponents of W&M's thesis, which presumably include some gentiles and does not include all Jews) want to have a coordinated media campaign, that's their right.

But this argument reminds me of a big demonstration that Mexican-Americans had here in Los Angeles in advance of the election day for anti-immigrant proposition 187 in 1994. They had this huge protest and waived all these Mexican flags. Now was it their right to waive thousands of Mexican flags? Of course! Do I have a problem with them waiving Mexican flags? Not at all! Do I think it was monumentally stupid and gave their opponents ammunition to waive Mexican flags? Almost certainly.

Seriously, M. Simon, you might consider (especially given the VERY temperate argument I have made on these comment thread) that there are people who disagree with your position who don't "have it in for the Jews".
9.14.2007 9:00pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What makes W&M unique is that the chorus of criticism has not completely marginalized them. In Jimmy Carter's case, for instance, the criticism tended to marginalize him more than it gave him free publicity. He is, after all, a former US President making an important point about an important issue, and he probably sold alot of books, but he was not successful in generating a public discussion because his critics successfully convinced the public that he was a crank.

Actually, I think it's somewhat different. Carter was already famous, people had the opinions they had about him, and the controversy over "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" didn't change it.

In contrast, only a few specialists knew who the heck W&M were before they published their paper. And the first that many people heard about them was that they wrote this paper about the "Israel lobby" AND there was what appeared to be an organized pressure campaign to denounce them. That's exactly what led to the dynamics I discussed in this thread-- they got far more attention than they would have otherwise, they looked like martyrs, and people assumed from the extent of the pressure campaign that they must have had a point.

This would all be academic if it weren't for the fact that it is very dangerous for lots of people to be running around believing conspiracy narratives about how outsized the power of "the Jews" is. Way too many people have lost their lives because of such thinking.
9.14.2007 9:05pm
SenatorX (mail):
Anyone that spends any amount of time in the comments of blogs realizes that anti-semitics run rampant. Fortunately (or by their very nature?) they create their won nooses. Does anyone even read a commenter who uses the word Zionist or Amerikan? I suggest over time everyone eventually stops even glancing at these comments on any blog that aren't niche to this sort of thing.

As for Brzezinski I'm surprised nobody has brought up his role in the CFR and Trilateral Commission...
9.14.2007 9:29pm
neurodoc:
cvt: In Jimmy Carter's case, for instance, the criticism tended to marginalize him more than it gave him free publicity. He is, after all, a former US President making an important point about an important issue, and he probably sold alot of books, but he was not successful in generating a public discussion because his critics successfully convinced the public that he was a crank.

So in Carter's case the criticism was successful.
When you say, "In Jimmy Carter's case,...his critics successfully convinced the public that he was a crank," are you alluding to the time since his book came out or the prior 30 or so years? It seems to me that recent critics of his can claim no great credit for convincing the public that Carter is a crank, since the public was persuaded of that by Carter himself no later than November of 1980 at the latest, and probably not very long January 1977. True, many, including me, are greatly impressed that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (as well as a humanitarian award and $500K from the late great antisemite Sheik Zayed of the UAE), though in very different ways.
9.15.2007 1:20am
neurodoc:
cvt: In Jimmy Carter's case, for instance, the criticism tended to marginalize him more than it gave him free publicity. He is, after all, a former US President making an important point about an important issue, and he probably sold alot of books, but he was not successful in generating a public discussion because his critics successfully convinced the public that he was a crank.

So in Carter's case the criticism was successful.
When you say, "In Jimmy Carter's case,...his critics successfully convinced the public that he was a crank," are you alluding to the time since his book came out or the prior 30 or so years? It seems to me that recent critics of his can claim no great credit for convincing the public that Carter is a crank, since the public was persuaded of that by Carter himself no later than November of 1980 at the latest, and probably not very long January 1977. True, many, including me, are greatly impressed that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (as well as a humanitarian award and $500K from the late great antisemite Sheik Zayed of the UAE), though in very different ways.
9.15.2007 1:20am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
David Bernstein,

You are really hung up on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And many of your posts about this subject are about political rather than legal issues and so are not even appropriate for a law blog.

The image of Israel as a tiny, beleaguered nation surrounded by millions of seething Arabs who are eager to drive the Israelis into the sea has no connection with reality.

None of the other 14 members of the UN Security Council ever voted in support of any of the approx. 40 US vetoes of proposed resolutions aimed at Israel in the period 1972-2006. In the period 1988-1997, there was an unbroken string of ten 14-1 votes against US vetoes, with no abstentions. In some cases, the US vetoed resolutions charging Israel with violations of international law. And we wonder why they call us "The Great Satan." This sad record of US vetoes is all the proof I need that US policy has been too one-sided in favor of Israel.
9.15.2007 9:01pm
Yankev (mail):
Well, the thread is complete, now that Farfaman the admitted Holocaust denier is back once again with his distorted description of Security Council resolutions that he thinks the US should have been ashamed to veto.
9.16.2007 12:04pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Well, the thread is complete, now that Farfaman the admitted Holocaust denier is back once again with his distorted description of Security Council resolutions that he thinks the US should have been ashamed to veto.

No, the thread was not complete until Yankev made his ad hominem attack on Larry Fafarman.
9.16.2007 3:41pm
Yankev (mail):
Ah, yes. Pointing out what Farfaman has posted before is an ad hominem attack. As I recall, others have pointed out why he misunderstands what ad hominem means, and why pointing out his past postings is not an ad hominem attack. I will therefore not bother to do so, nor will I engage with an admitted Holocaust denier who has posted that the Holocaust could not have occurred because the Nazis had no way of knowing who the Jews were. Tell it to David Irving.
9.16.2007 4:16pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
As I recall, others have pointed out why he misunderstands what ad hominem means, and why pointing out his past postings is not an ad hominem attack.

You're the one who doesn't know what "ad hominem" means. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as,

2 : marked by an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made

That exactly describes what you are doing here. Instead of addressing the issue at hand, the USA's vetoes of proposed UN Security Council resolutions aimed at Israel, you are attacking my holocaust revisionism.
9.16.2007 6:54pm
Milhouse (www):
Fafarman wrote:
The image of Israel as a tiny, beleaguered nation surrounded by millions of seething Arabs who are eager to drive the Israelis into the sea has no connection with reality.

None of the other 14 members of the UN Security Council ever voted in support of any of the approx. 40 US vetoes of proposed resolutions aimed at Israel in the period 1972-2006. In the period 1988-1997, there was an unbroken string of ten 14-1 votes against US vetoes, with no abstentions. In some cases, the US vetoed resolutions charging Israel with violations of international law.
The odd thing is that he seems to think the second paragraph disproves what he asserts in the first paragraph to be a fallacy, when in fact it does just the opposite. I could hardly do a better job than that second paragraph in demonstrating that Israel is, as the Jewish nation has always been, "a sheep among 70 wolves".
9.17.2007 1:05am
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
The odd thing is that he seems to think the second paragraph disproves what he asserts in the first paragraph to be a fallacy,

No, I did not mean to imply that at all. You are putting words in my mouth.
9.17.2007 11:04am
Soccer Dad (mail) (www):
In his classic "Joining the Jackals," Daniel Patrick Moynihan attributes the lack of Jewish support for Carter in the NY primary (against Kennedy) to the administration's support of UN Resolution 465.
I took a quote from Joining the Jackals in an article I wrote that summed up the issue nicely:

On March 1, 1980, a resolution (465) was submitted to the Council that was as viciously anti-Israel -- and as destructive of the Camp David accords -- as any that has ever been encountered or could readily be devised. Israel was found to be in "flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention": the first nation in history to be found guilty of behaving as the government of Nazi Germany had behaved.... In a word, according to resolution 465, Israel is an outlaw state, guilty of war crimes. (Not the Vietnamese invaders of Cambodia or the Soviets in Afghanistan. Israel!) Its alleged capital is not its capital at all -- 'Jerusalem or any part thereof' -- and it is in illegal occupation of territory now for the first time designated "Palestinian." Here, then, was the triumph of everything the Soviets and the rejectionists had stood for: the repudiation of everything Sadat, and for that matter Begin and Carter, had sought. Yet the United States had voted in favor of this resolution."


(Commentary only has a preview of Joining the Jackals available for free.)

The fault for that specific action would be attributed to Donald F. McHenry (Andrew Young's successor) rather than Brzezinski.
9.17.2007 2:11pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Soccer Dad wrote,
The consistency with which the Bush Administration has fought the UN's stance on Israel has led to what Jerusalem Post writer Evelyn Gordon called the "Frequent Abstainers Club." Gordon argued that the certainty of an American veto of unbalanced resolutions emboldened other countries to join the United States in the veto or simply abstain.

"Emboldened other countries to join the United States in the veto"? As I have frequently pointed out, none of the other 14 members of the UN Security Council ever voted "no" in support of any of the approx. 40 US vetoes of proposed resolutions aimed at Israel in the period 1972-2006.

"Or simply abstain"? There was an unbroken string of ten 14-1 votes against these US vetoes in the period 1988-1997, with no abstentions.

The Fourth Geneva Convention was not the only international law that Israel was charged with violating. Here is a resolution -- drafted by France, Portugal, Sweden and UK -- which charged Israel with other violations of international law as well. This resolution was vetoed by the US, with the vote 14-1.
9.17.2007 5:25pm
Yankev (mail):

The Fourth Geneva Convention was not the only international law that Israel was charged with violating. Here is a resolution -- drafted by France, Portugal, Sweden and UK -- which charged Israel with other violations of international law as well. This resolution was vetoed by the US, with the vote 14-1.

Israel has also been charged by various spokesmen for the PA, Arab states, or Islam with creating a biological weapon that detects and kills Arabs while leaving Jews untouched, injecting AIDS into Arab babies in Israel's hospital, having destroyed the town of Jenin and massacred its civilian population, fabricating any archaelogical or historical evidence that Jews lived in Israel or had their Holy Temple in Jerusalem, distributing gum and toys that render Arab children sterile as adults, running the world trade in drugs and pornography, manipulating world history for centuries, and killing non-Jews in order to make pastries out of their blood.

Not to overlook distracting mankind from the deadly risk of global warming by their stubborn refusal to commit suicide.
9.17.2007 7:24pm
Larry Fafarman (mail) (www):
Please note that this resolution was drafted not by Arabs and/or Muslims but by France, Portugal, Sweden, and UK -- and that all Security Council members except the USA voted in favor of it.
9.17.2007 7:44pm