Monday, October 22, 2007
Lies of the Anti-Lobby Lobby
Lies of the Anti-Lobby Lobby
By Steven Plaut
FrontPageMagazine.com | 10/22/2007
There is a nefarious lobby that controls American policy and subordinates
American interests to its own narrow interests. While representing but a
tiny portion of Americans, its power is nevertheless so large that it
effectively dictates decisions and prevents adoption of any policies to
which it objects. Moreover, it is difficult to find any politician willing
to adopt positions contrary to those it advocates. It controls huge
amounts of funds. It pressures Congress to allot endless grants and
subsidies for the cause it represents. It undermines the interests of
American taxpayers and consumers. Indeed, its power is not restricted to
Capitol Hill. Its appendages control policy in Europe and in other parts
of the globe.
I am referring of course to the farm lobby.
For decades, the American consumer has been fleeced by the farm lobby.
Agricultural policy is one of the last bastions of socialist control in
America. Congress has long feared applying free market economics to
agriculture lest it enrage the Farm Lobby. Farmers are only 2% of
Americans, a number almost exactly the same as the proportion of Americans
who are Jews. And in Europe the situation is even worse. There the
European Union has been largely a program of agricultural bolshevism, with
a thin political superstructure federation grafted on top of it.
Now if the Farm Lobby is so powerful, why is the press so devoid of any
discussion of it? These are the same media who rarely miss a day in which
they are not lambasting the "Israel Lobby." There are no books by
ex-Presidents denouncing the excessive powers of the Farm Lobby.
Respectable professors at Harvard and the University of Chicago do not
churn out books and articles demonizing farmers for their lobbying
First of all, the Farm Lobby is far more powerful than the "Israel Lobby."
When was the last time you saw a Congressman espousing a position that was
deemed by the farm lobby to be hostile to farm interests? But Congressmen
and State Department officials take positions hostile to Israel and
contradicting the opinions of the "Israel Lobby" all the time. The State
Department routinely pressures Israel to agree to adopt policies Israeli
citizens oppose. The media are overflowing with articles demonizing the
"Israel Lobby" and of course also Israel itself. Google reports more than
two million web sites about the "Israel Lobby," most of them hostile to
Israel, while Yahoo lists more than 10 million. If the Israel Lobby is
supposed by its enemies to be suppressing anti-Israel criticism, it is
doing a god-awful job of it.
Second, while it would be an exaggeration to say there is no Israel Lobby
at all, it would only be a small exaggeration. The main organization of
the "Israel Lobby" is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or
AIPAC. It is indeed a registered lobby group. Its activities are all out
in the open and its rather pathetic budget publicly scrutinized. There are
of course also other pro-Israel groups who attempt to persuade Congress to
support Israel, ranging from numerous Christian groups to the Zionist
Organization of America to the AFL-CIO. That is the whole "Israel Lobby."
Third, the "Israel Lobby," to the extent that it even really exists, is
but one of thousands of lobby groups, who promote thousands of different
causes in competition with one another. Lobbying is a legitimate, indeed a
necessary and beneficial, public activity in democracies. Not only do
those whining about the power of the "Israel Lobby" have nothing to say
about the sugar lobby and the cotton lobby, but they also have nothing to
say about the countless anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups who lobby on
behalf of Arab aggression against Israel, and sometimes on behalf of
Islamofascism. Note how silent the media are about the Anti-Israel Lobby.
Fourth, why should the efforts of the "Israel Lobby" be any less
legitimate than the efforts of the Armenia Lobby or the affirmative action
lobby or the medical marijuana lobby or the gay marriage lobby?
The reason why the "Israel Lobby" is demonized is because it is associated
with Jews. In a country in which bashing blacks, Hispanics or homosexuals
is considered barbarian and uncivilized, bashing Jews is regaining its
popularity and acceptance in polite society and in academic circles. Open
anti-Semitism became unfashionable for a generation after the events of
World War II, but the Holocaust effect has now worn off.
The hysteria over the "Israel Lobby" and the efforts to paint a picture of
a Zionist bogeyman in hidden control of America is little more than a
resurgence of the old vile anti-Semitic canards and stereotypes, some
originating in the Middle Ages. The writings of the Anti-Lobby Lobby
strongly resemble the materials popular until the 1940s about a Jewish
cabal, a hidden Jewish conspiracy, secretly in control of the world,
pulling the levers of power from behind the curtain. It is only a very
short distance from the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," a forgery from
Czarist Russia about the Jewish cabal later popular among Nazis, and from
the web sites of the fruitloops screaming about the "ZOG = Zionist
Occupied Government," to the "scholarly" denunciations of the "Israel
Lobby" of recent years. While the language of the pseudo-scholars is civil
and "academic," the message is the same: those evil Jews are imposing
their power upon the rest of us and undermining governments.
To the extent that American foreign policy is pro-Israel, the "Israel
Lobby" has little to do with it. The vast majority of American support
Israel and see the Arabs as the real cause of the Middle East conflict and
as the main source for terrorism in the world. There is no question that
American interests and Israeli interests very often overlap. In spite of
decades of propagandizing by the anti-Israel Lobby and its captive media
outlets, most Americans understand that Israel is the victim of Arab
aggression and not the other way around, and that Israel is the only
country in the Middle East where human rights, including the human rights
of Arabs, are protected in a democratic regime. Moreover, few Americans
doubt since 9-11 that Arab terrorism and Islamofascism are the main
threats today to American and world security. Americans on 9-11
experienced what Israeli Jews have been experiencing since the 1920s. This
has made it far easier for most Americans to understand, identify with,
and appreciate Israel's own defense needs regarding that same terror.
The simple fact of the matter is that the demonization of the "Israel
Lobby" is little more than an attempt to demonize and smear Jews. That is
why the Anti-Lobby Lobby unites a bizarre coalition that includes David
Duke and groups from the lunatic Far Right, Neo-Nazis and Holocaust
Deniers, far leftists, "anarchists," pro-terrorists and Islamofascists of
every imaginable stripe, an anti-Semitic ex-President, and numerous
(pseudo-?) academics. True, there is also a small handful of anti-Israel
Jewish leftists who participate in the anti-Lobby Lobby, but anyone
doubting that Jewish leftists themselves can be anti-Semites has been
hibernating in recent years. It is a pretty sure bet that any leftist
professor who spouts anti-Americanism today also despises Israel and the
"Israel Lobby." Ward Churchill is but a single example.
The entire hysteria about the "Israel Lobby" bogeyman is based on a non
sequitur. The anti-Lobby bunch argue that if the US supports Israel then
ipso facto it must be because of the Israel Lobby. But if the US supports
Korea it is not because of the Korean Lobby. If the US supports the
British it is not because of the British lobby. If the US supports India
it is not because of the India lobby. Only support for Israel is because
of machinations of a lobby.
Even more absurd are the whines from the anti-Lobby Lobby that the "Israel
Lobby" is supposedly silencing anti-Israel criticism on American campuses.
This charge was widely voiced after DePaul University recently fired
Norman Finkelstein. But DePaul University is a Catholic school, hardly an
appendage of the nefarious Jewish cabal. The jihadniks and anti-Semites
recently held a convocation in Chicago in which all speakers denounced the
"Israel Lobby" for conspiring to get Finkelstein canned at DePaul.
Neo-Stalinist anti-Semite Noam Chomsky was to be the key speaker, but
stood them up. Even an anti-Israel leftist extremist from an Israeli
university was there, ritually denouncing the "Israel Lobby." All agreed
that criticism of anti-Semites like Finkelstein is illegitimate and should
NOT itself be protected speech nor part of academic freedom. All agreed
that far leftists should be permitted to voice their "criticism" without
themselves being targets of criticism.
Finkelstein was fired by DePaul and by two earlier schools in New York
because he never published a single academic paper in a bona fide academic
journal, and because he spent his university time producing vulgar
obscenities and anti-Semitic hate screeds. In a few other cases,
anti-Semitic academics have indeed been fired or denied tenure in the US,
but in all these cases this has been because they had embarrassingly thin
publication records, consisting of little more than hate screeds and
Anyone who thinks the "Israel Lobby" has silenced criticism of Israel on
American campuses must have lived on some other planet these past decades.
Bash-Israel propaganda and anti-Jewish smears are extremely common on
campuses in the US and Europe. Anti-Semitic student groups operate in the
open on the same campuses that would ban any group attacking blacks,
Asians, homosexuals or transvestites as hate groups. Countless leftist
professors turn their classrooms into political indoctrination camps, in
which anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are the dominant themes. They call
themselves "critical" analysts, but they oppose the rights of anyone else
to criticize them. Criticizing an anti-Israel critic and questioning his
real agenda is not legitimate freedom of speech in leftist academic
circles! University administrations, which are keen to adopt "speech
codes" outlawing insensitivity with regard to every other imaginable
group, have nothing at all to say about the anti-Jewish extremism common
on their campuses. Speaking out against anti-Semitism is a risky business
even for the most senior of administrators, as Lawrence Summers at Harvard
found out the hard way.
What is wrong with anti-Israel criticism and why is it not legitimate?
There is nothing illegitimate about criticism of Israel and its policies.
I criticize Israeli policies all the time and disagree with 75% of the
decisions of the Israeli government. (Of course that is because I favor
free market economics and a much more forceful defense policy by Israel.)
The problem is that the bulk of anti-Israel criticism in the media and by
leftist academics is not motivated by any desire to see Israel adopt
polices that produce improvements in the welfare and wellbeing of its
citizens, but rather by the goal of demonizing Israel, delegitimizng its
very existence, and justifying its annihilation.
The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate criticism of Israel in
the media, on campus, and elsewhere is very simple and is differentiated
using two simple litmus tests.
The first test is whether the critic is using criticism of Israeli
policies and decisions in order to justify anti-Israel military
aggression, jihad, and terrorism, and whether the critic concludes that
Israel has no right to exist and defend itself. Someone who disagrees with
US farm policy is a critic. Someone who concludes from the fact that US
farm policy is harmful that anti-American terrorism is justified, that the
9-11 attacks on the US were legitimate, or that the US has no right to
exist, is an anti-American. And a moonbat. A related version of the test
is to see what the same critic has to say about the injustices in other
Middle East regimes besides Israel. The answer, of course, is usually
nothing at all.
The second litmus test is the double standard. Is the critic applying a
standard of criticism that singles out and demonizes Israel only? Respect
for human rights inside Israel, including for Israeli Arabs, is a thousand
times better than in any other Middle East regime. It is far better than
in any Western democracy finding itself at war. Israel never placed its
Arabs in internment camps like the US did in World War II with Japanese
Americans. It does not censor the press nor jail those openly supporting
the country's enemies as Churchill did in Britain in WWII. If the critic
only denounces Israel for its human rights "abuses," real or imaginary,
having nothing at all to say about human rights abuses in Arab and Moslem
states, then the critic is a bigot. He is singling out Israel because
Israel is a country composed mostly of Jews.
Income and wealth inequality are part of the human condition.
Socioeconomic inequality exists in all countries. If a critic singles out
Israel because of socioeconomic inequality there and concludes that,
because of this inequality, Israel has no right to exist and to defend its
citizens, then that critic is an anti-Semite. Pure and simple. No other
country is deemed to lose its right to exist and use force against its
enemies because of social inequality. As it turns out of course, Arabs
live far better inside Israel, with higher levels of schooling, better
health, and better protection before the law, than do Arabs in any Arab
country. And the only place in the Middle East where Arabs enjoy freedom
of speech and the right to vote is in Israel. Actually the only place in
the Mideast where Arabs can freely demonstrate against Israel is . in
Israel. When Arabs held an "illegal" demonstration against Israel in
Jordan a few years back the Jordanian army mowed them down with gunfire.
Or take the absurd "apartheid" charge. Israel is the only Middle East
state that is NOT an apartheid regime. Every Arab country IS an apartheid
regime. Yet everyone from Jimmy Carter to the Neo-Stalinists at
Counterpunch denounce Israel daily for its "apartheid."
The anti-Lobby Lobby is not motivated by legitimate concern for human
rights, for American interests, or for peace. Its real agenda is little
different from that of other groups and people screaming about Jewish
plots and conspiracies, even if their rhetoric appears academic and