The Israel Lobby?

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John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt recently wrote a piece in the London Review of Books about the “Israel Lobby” that’s been making the e-mail rounds for a few weeks now (with forwards, I’m guessing, wavering somewhere between “Can you believe this anti-Semitism?” and “This is an important article!”).

The opening paragraphs set the tone:

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby, London Review of Books

It’s set off a blog-storm, Here in Cambridge there’s plenty of gossip: about the removal of the Kennedy School of Government logo from the longer working paper; about Walt stepping down as KSG dean; and about Alan Dershowitz’s response (that, among other things, Walt and Mearsheimer are “liars” and “bigots”).

Our hope is to get past the gossip — and the meta-story — and to talk about the issues themselves. More to come soon.

Update, 4/4 1:24pm

Mearshimer and Walt are staying out of the fray for the time being, but we’ve enlisted Daniel Levy of the Geneva Initiative, who wrote a critique for Haaretz and happens to be visiting the U.S. right now. Daniel Drezner offered a few critiques of his own, and he’ll also be joining us. Jon Garfunkel, a reading list is on the way.

Daniel Levy

Policy and International Director, The Geneva Initiative

Member of the official Israel negotiating team at the Oslo B and Taba talks

Contributor, Haaretz

Daniel Drezner

Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago


Steve Clemons

Director of the American Strategy Program, New America Foundation

Blogger, The Washington Note

Update, 4/4 4:44 pm
Extra-Credit Reading

Ruth R. Wisse: Israel Lobby, The Wall Street Journal oped, 3/22/06

Scott Johnson: They too dare to speak out!, Power Line March 20, 2006

David Bernstein: March 17, 2006 at 2:17pm, The Volokh Conspiracy

Peter Beaumont: Editor hits back over Israel row, The Observer April 2, 2006

Philip Weiss: Political Fear and the Limits of Public Discussion, The Huffington Post April 3, 2006

Martin Kramer: A powerful lobby, Martin Kramer on the Middle East April 3, 2006

David Adesnik: Sunday, April 02, 2006 1:03 PM, OxBlog

Chris Bertram: Smear and Distortion, Crooked Timber March 03, 2006

Related Content

  • One essential problem, i think, is that Jews are an ethnic group, a religion and a nation. And “anti-Semitism, broadly construed, often conflates these issues. Myself, I don’t have any issues with Jewish ethnicity (as with any ethnicity), find many Jewish religious superstitious and mindless (as I find most religious practices) and am mildly skeptical about the utility of our special relationship with Israel (though I don’t think it matters that much in the grand scale of things).

  • Yark

    When you use my tax money to Bulldoze 700 year old Olive Orchards, and to pay for the rockets that dismember children haplessly living next door to the SUSPECTED location of someone who the Israelis decide to slaughter without benefit of trial, then you are asking ME to support terrorism.

    Does it matter that Israelis have killed four times as many Palestinians as Palestinians have killed Israelis? No. They are both wrong. BUT: Which bunch of murders do we FUND????

    I have better uses for 4 BILLION dollars PLUS a year that Israel and their overt and covert operatives extort from the United States citizenry EVERY YEAR!!

    Does the Mossad operate with impunity in the US? Does Israel barely give lip service to requests from our state department, or from our President?


    Some of us have not forgotten, nor are we going to, forget the USS Liberty, and you cannot whitewash that blood, nor distort it into “an accident.”


    Let them do it without our money.

    With their Nuclear Weaponry, we have NO legal basis for dealing with Israel at all.

    Anyone that would authorize the destruction of a 700 year old orchard deserves to be relegated to the darkest pit of Hell. They are Terrorists against the very concept of humanity. It does not matter what their “religious persuasion” happens to be, at all. They are vile. Shun them.

  • avecfrites

    As background, here is a government summary of US foreign aid activity. It’s notable that it is much lower as a percent of the budget than it used to be, and that over the decades the destinations of the aid have shifted (less in Europe, more in the Middle East, e.g.).

  • Potter

    Now emerging into the light of day is a Christian evangelical pro-Israel lobby, potentially more powerful than AIPAC. So what do you think of that?:

  • Robin

    Potter – I think Walt & Mearsh. count the Chirstian Zionists as part of the Israel lobby

  • In all that expression of rage, Yark does have a point. It is important to separate out the religion, the ethnicity and the state. The word anti-semitism gets thrown at anyone who dares to oppose the existence or actions of the Israeli state. Its an effective way of avoiding criticism.

    I think it is essential to establish that it is NOT anit-semitism to discuss whether our government should be funding the activities of the state of Israel. The conversation can’t get very far without putting that to rest.

    That said, perhaps we could change the names, talk about what is happening and see if we would support these activities and policies under any other name.

    Why wasn’t the US outraged and withholding support when an Israeli driver bulldozed a US college student committing an act of peaceful resistance?

    When do we stop funding acts of terrorism? We have an abysmal record in Central America and the Middle East. How do we justify this?

  • Nikos

    Allison, have a look at this:

    It’s about a half-hour read.

  • Nikos– Funny I came across that article as you were posting it.

    David– With “more to come” I thought you might have posted some suggested bounds for this discussion. But, as you say, no constraints.

    Regarding Allison’s comment, I thought I’d pass along something I read in Slate years ago that I’d since forgotten the authorship of. A quick search brought me to what I was looking for, an article my Hanna Rosin, Divest Yourself: How anti-Semitism taints campus anti-Zionism.:

    There should be a way to design a movement objecting to Israel’s policies that is free of anti-Semitism. There even ought to be a legitimate way to object to Israel’s very existence on purely political grounds. But so far, it seems, no one has managed to do it.

    As to the topic at hand, I thought you might have taken the liberty to post some of the opposing analyses:

    CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) — refutes paper point-by-point

    Israeli historian Michael Oren in The New Republic on the influence of Edward Said’s Orientalism behind this paper.

    Marty Peretz, publisher of TNR,

    Christopher Hitchens in Slate: “Overstating Jewish Power: Mearsheimer and Walt give too much credit to the Israeli lobby.”

    Hitchens stands alone in the above list as he is famously anti-Zionist, and famously atheist, which in my mind mostly inoculates him against charges of anti-Semitism. And he thinks the article was crap.

  • fiddlesticks

    I am skeptical that you can raise these issues HERE without injecting anti-Semitism into the discussion, but we shall see.

    The M/W study which I read is full of errors and one sided statements, moreover in as much as it postulates a “Jewish Lobby” it invokes the specter of the “Protocols of the elders of zion,” that infamous anti-Semitic tract.

  • avecfrites

    Before we can have an intelligent conversation about Israel, we should decide whether Israel is to be held to a higher standard than other countries, and with which countries Israel should be compared.

    Israel straddles the West and the Middle East. Do we compare Israel’s treatment of its Arab minority with Arab countries’ treatment of minorities, or that of the US? Do we compare Israel’s tactics in dealing with security threats with those of Egypt, or Iran, or Syria, or Holland?

    A discussion will reveal that Israel compares favorably to the tyrants in the Middle East, and unfavorably in some ways to the most enlightened Western democracies who exist in different circumstances. We know this before any discussion begins. So the essential issue always comes down to “to whom should we compare Israel, and why?”.

  • I completely understand the sentiments of Yark. Over the years I have written many letters to my Senators, Congressman, and media including NPR (just as guilty of Pro-Israel bias as the rest) complaining about my tax money paying for Israeli violence and injustice towards Palestine. It seems we are not allowed to have any kind of criticism of Israel what-so-ever without having the label anti Semitism slapped on us. It seems like a very weak justification to me but apparently it is continually effective. When you criticize Israel you run into a brick wall. But I keep trying.

    If I went back to my European homeland and killed a whole family and took over their house and lands greeting any criticism with… “oh you are so anti-Americanâ€?… I wonder how far I’d get?

  • ginsberg

    I would like to address the responses to Walt/Mearsheimer by Chomsky (ZNet) and Massad (Electronic Intifada). Neither addresses sufficiently, if at all, how the research paper they correctly criticize as pseudo-progressive plays right into the hands of the Campus Watch types who are part of the pro-Israel lobby and are as antisemitic as their evangelical cohorts and the corporate interests they all serve. That is to say, no one is yet discussing publicly, as far as I know, just why Walt/Mearsheimer decided to forward and rehash such old arguments about the U.S. pro-Israel lobby NOW, at a time when criticizing Israeli policy has actually become LESS controversial while increasingly subject to public scrutiny and scandalization by the Right (to recall the Finkelstein argument in Beyond Chutzpah). The whole thing reeks not only of the sort of Nazi-type reaction that blames all Jews for the dire global inequalities wrought by imperialism, neocolonialism, capitalism, etc., but of the pseudo-argument which Zionists have forwarded historically in order to justify a Jewish state in Palestine: they purport that Israel is the answer to a presumed incurable diasporic antisemitism, which they will actually foster (e.g., the recent cartoon scandal [as Hamid Dabashi has described it in Al-Ahram]) if deemed insufficiently evident for their needs. In today’s scenario, “all Jews” includes especially the anti-occupationists and anti-Zionists among that grouping as well as Palestinians and other ethnic Middle and Near Easterners, not least on North American campuses, indeed Massad himself and to a lesser extent Chomsky. In short, I wonder if this latest academic scandal will serve ironically to DECREASE the already meager degree and extent of academic speech and free dissent currently permissible over the conflicts in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, and elsewhere (Iran, Central Asia, Venezuela, Sudan….), and I wonder why neither Chomsky nor Massad have seen fit to address more explicitly this particular aspect of the issue?

    To be clear, my point is not to argue with with Chomsky or Massad, much less Walt/Mearsheimer, since what I’m saying goes beyond the debate as it stands, to argue that the pro-Israel lobby will likely benefit from the Walt/Mearsheimer article, regardless of the degree and extent of influence one may attribute to the Lobby; and that both Chomsky and Massad are at least correct in their varied critiques of the limited and even reactionary character of the article’s analysis. By rehashing an old argument, that is, Walt/Mearsheimer set back the parameters of debate about the pro-Israel lobby in a way that disallows the real intellectual progress which has been made by serious scholarship on the issue, including that of Chomsky, even if one disagrees with his take on the subject, thus opening the door to further reactionary incursion into the public-political arena in which the debate has been circulating. Now THAT’S a Zionist tactic if there ever was one….

  • Nikos

    This isn’t a question with a loaded opinion lurking behind it.

    This is a simple, innocent question.

    Is it possible that:

    A state founded on shared religious identity (which has often in the past been prejudicially misunderstood as a fictional ‘race’ for cryin’ out loud!)


    humanistic, questioning, and yet unbigoted dissent over American foreign policy and spending preferences


    a sordid world history of anti-Semitism



    Is it possible that the three are linked, yet not closely enough to warrant the broad-brush application of the toxic taint called anti-Semitism?

    I don’t honestly know the answer, but I’m sittin’ here wonderin’…

  • As an American Jew moving to Israel, I feel that the most fundamental problem that Israel faces today is from American Jews. For the most part, American Jews are unable to fully understand the complex nature and fabric of Israeli society. Israel is also an aspect of ‘Jewish identity’ for many American Jews. Thus, we are left with a group that does not fully understand Israeli society (remember that they speak Hebrew in Israel not English) yet is vehement in its ‘protection’.

    Thus there are organizations like AIPAC, which in my opinion is a fundamentally anti-Zionist organization that seeks to relegate Israel to a status of being America’s baby forever.

    Eventually the United States of America being a country of 85% Christians will realize it has no need for Israel anymore and put it on the back burner like other countries that it has no need for. The aid will dry up and Israel will be left to its own accord.

    Israel must move away from its special relationship as fast as possible and begin to form alliances with other countries in the world such as China (which, incidentally, the US gets awfully upset about in the past (

    I feel that the debate regarding Israel (and the Arab countries) comes down to a fundamentally easy question; does Israel have a right to be a country where it is? This is not to say Israel should be afforded some special status. Rather, is Israel allowed to exist? If no, then most of the debate is true and especially bidding. If yes, it is useful to keep in mind that the creation of almost every country will involve the ‘transfer’ or movement of native population. (See B. Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited) Israel is not unique here. Also crucial to Israel existence is the end of the West Bank occupation because of the demographic and moral issues that arises from it.

    As soon as Israel ends its rein as America’s baby, I think that a lot of these issues will work themselves out much faster.

  • Americans such as Yark are yet another reason why Israel’s alliance with the United States will only lead to upset. Even though these views are extreme, if history is any guide, extremist views regarding Jews usually find resonance within the leadership of Christian countries. These views are bound to become the mainstay of public opionin in the US regardless of the Israeli actions or an end to the occupation (which, don’t forget, I wholeheartly support).

    This is my favortie part of the post:

    “Anyone that would authorize the destruction of a 700 year old orchard deserves to be relegated to the darkest pit of Hell. They are Terrorists against the very concept of humanity. It does not matter what their “religious persuasionâ€? happens to be, at all. They are vile. Shun them.”

  • Potter

    Robin… what’s new here I believe is a formal (and separate) Christian pro-Zionist lobby.

    I just read the paper and there is everything but the kitchen sink in it. Somethings to agree with others to argue about. To argue effectively would take a huge amount of research to quote points and time. I am hoping that this show is fair.

    I would argue that the account of history in this paper is decidedly cherry-picked in it’s points. Israeli’s are according to the telling, cold blooded murderers plain and simple. Particularly egregious is the mischaracterization of Israeli/Zionist strength from the beginning, in 1948, The War of Independence, when Israeli’s had to scramble to gather together forces and arms in order to prevail and at great cost in lives against the advancing armies of the surrounding countries. I could go on about other things as well that made me feel this piece was very slanted. (The Palestinian version that up to 700,000 Arabs were forced out by Israel in – as oppposed to the more nuanced version, including Benny Morris version cited in the article, that the reason many fled varied) The offenses against Israeli’s, israel’s survival ( massacres, wars ) and the multiple rejections of peace were never mentioned.

    I was going to post the very fair article from Haaretz by Daniel Levy linked above when I notices he is a guest. I am eager to hear him. He makes some very good points.

    I have been a very strong critic of Israel for many years, but I also want Israel to survive. I have not felt that Israel was pursuing the right policies for a long time ( especially under the Likud). Things look better now. The Likud and the Greater Israel Movement is weak and perhaps dying ( I hope). There are many like myself who have not supported or agreed with AIPAC the have waited for this moment of apparent turnaround.

    Here is a passage from the article that I hope will guide this discussion:

    Some talking points for this coming debate can already be suggested:

    First, efforts to collapse the Israeli and neoconservative agendas into one have been a terrible mistake – and it is far from obvious which is the tail and which is the dog in this act of wagging. Iraqi turmoil and an Al-Qaida foothold there, growing Iranian regional leverage and the strengthening of Hamas in the PA are just a partial scorecard of the recent policy successes of AIPAC/neocon collaboration.

    Second, Israel would do well to distance itself from our so-called “friends” on the Christian evangelical right. When one considers their support for Israel’s own extremists, the celebration of our Prime Minister’s physical demise as a “punishment from God” and their belief in our eventual conversion – or slaughter – then this is exposed as an alliance of sickening irresponsibility.

    Third, Israel must not be party to the bullying tactics used to silence policy debate in the U.S. and the McCarthyite policing of academia by set-ups like Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch. If nothing else, it is deeply un-Jewish. It would in fact serve Israel if the open and critical debate that takes place over here were exported over there.

    Fourth, the Lobby even denies Israel a luxury that so many other countries benefit from: of having the excuse of external encouragement to do things that are domestically tricky but nationally necessary (remember Central Eastern European economic and democratic reform to gain EU entry in contrast with Israel’s self-destructive settlement policy for continued U.S. aid).

    Visible signs of Israel and the Lobby not being on the same page are mounting. For Israel, the Gaza withdrawal and future West Bank evacuations are acts of strategic national importance, for the Lobby an occasion for confusion and shuffling of feet. For Israel, the Hamas PLC election victory throws up complex and difficult challenges; for the Lobby it’s a public relations homerun and occasion for simplistic legislative muscle-flexing.

  • Nikos

    btw: it occurs to me that the way I framed the question at 12:41 PM might be misconstrued as rhetorical trickery (which I freely admit that I commonly employ). However, the recent and exhausting-to-follow (and highly illuminating) discourse on the ‘Israel Face to Face With Hamas’ thread taught me that many subtleties and nuances lurk below the surface of the nasty phenomenon called anti-Semitism.

    I allow the possibility that my question is ignorant, not ‘clever’. After all, as H.L. Mencken said: “To every complex problem there is a simple solution…and it’s wrong.�

    You can say that again, H.L.!

    So I do allow that anti-Semitism may play a lurking role in this new fracas…even though I’m at least somewhat skeptical of the premise.

    Feel free to illuminate me.

  • Potter

    Avecfrites I agree with your post. Another issue is that when we speak of Israeli’s, particularly the first Israeli’s we have to take into account the trauma and the desperation.

    Peggysue, when you say If I went back to my European homeland and killed a whole family and took over their house and lands greeting any criticism with… “oh you are so anti-American�… I wonder how far I’d get? you are skipping over a lot of history, including the horrors of contemporary history and buying a compassionless version of the story which is surprising to me. I am a very strong critic of Israel, I do not like the destruction of old olive trees, or lives, but I would never put it quite that way.

  • fiddlesticks

    “If I went back to my European homeland and killed a whole family and took over their house and lands greeting any criticism with… “oh you are so anti-Americanâ€?… I wonder how far I’d get?”

    This post is what makes me doubt that we can have a real discussion about Israel, here.

    Vile accusations, no matter how false will always play well among a certain percentage of the population. Especially true I am sad to say among people who call themselves leftists.

  • fiddlesticks

    “I am a very strong critic of Israel, I do not like the destruction of old olive trees, or lives, but I would never put it quite that way.”

    Settlers who destroy Palestinian Arab property should be tried and jailed. In fact one settler just got a couple of years for shooting a Palestinian.

    I like to know where in the Arab world anyone has been jailed for killing Jews?

  • fiddlesticks

    There is hope though, within the Leftist community there is a conference being held about anti-Semitism in the left.


    A Progressive Scholars’ and Activists’

    Conference on Anti-Semitism* & The Left, East Coast

    Don’t know how much good it will do, but I suspect that it may awaken some people to the problem.

  • Nikos

    fiddlesticks, I fear that in your 2:54 PM post you might be overstating the case that Arabs wouldn’t jail murders who target Jews – HOWEVER: if anyone doubts the existence of deep-rooted anti-Semitism in Muslim cultures, or wonders over its sources, have a look at this: Arab Muslim Anti-Semitism, By Andrew G. Bostom | November 25, 2002

    It’s real, folks, and it’s religiously endorsed.

  • fiddlesticks

    Then there is this:

    “Study shows Sweden applied Nazi race laws during WWII”

    By Reuters

    why is it that countries that are the most hostile to Israel also harbor a “secret” Nazi past?

    Sweden, btw, as the article shows is one of the most anti-Semitic countries in Europe today.

    “But a recent study by the Living History Forum shocked Jews in Sweden by suggesting that one in 20 Swedes still has strong anti-Semitic views and over a third were “ambivalent” towards Jews.”

  • fiddlesticks

    “fiddlesticks, I fear that in your 2:54 PM post you might be overstating the case that Arabs wouldn’t jail murders who target Jews ”

    Maybe Nikos, but can you show me one Arab country were any one was jailed for killing Jews?

    It’s not as if such things didnt’ happen.

  • Nikos

    My self-admitted ignorance is why I come here, fiddlesticks. I seek the wisdom of others.

    Even so, I can’t quite believe that ‘all Arab countries’ turn a blind eye to the murder of Jews.

    But don’t think for a minute that I’m a typical American Pollyanna when it comes to Muslim anti-Semitism. We want to ‘excuse’ or at least overlook it, because it comes wrapped in a veneer of ‘Islamic scriptures’ — but that’s no excuse. Not in my opinion.

    I know it’s heresy to mutter it aloud: but what if Mohamed misspoke a time or two while his body was serving as Allah’s earthly mouthpiece?

    What if his followers didn’t quite understand the implications of their God’s designs?

    We shouldn’t be abashed to ask such questions. Not in this day and age.

  • fiddlesticks

    “Even so, I can’t quite believe that ‘all Arab countries’ turn a blind eye to the murder of Jews.”

    I know, I don’t believe in absolutes myself, but I;ll be glad to read of such a case.

  • maotalk

    By writing this paper, Walt and Mearsheimer may have set a trap for the Israel lobby movers and shakers. Look at the avalanche of organized criticism aimed at these guys who are just sharing what is inside their heads. The working paper is hardly an anti-Jewish tirade, but pro-Israel forces are striking with precision.

    And so what if there is a pro-Israel lobby–mazeltov, I say. Others should take a lesson and learn to be as effective. After-all, Walt and Mearsheimer said there was nothing illegal about such lobbying.

    Dershowitz, CAMERA and NewYork Sun: Lighten up!!!

  • Potter

    Maotalk– I agree. One of my differing reactions reading through the paper was “so what?” Another was how out of hand lobbying in general has gotten.

    I admire Israeli’s for all the criticism ( some of the harshest) they take and provide amongst themselves. This criticism (the give and take) is important and healthy. Still I want to read Dershowitz’s response.

  • Potter: I do not think that I am compassionless. I just happen to have compassion for Palestinians, which tends to get me labeled as anti-Semitic, which is not true at all and which I deeply resent. That some people cannot (or will not) separate criticism of Israeli policy from anti-Semitism is pure frustration to me. Not only is my point of view discounted but I am also being slandered. If my above post seems overly snide I apologize for that, my snippiness is born out of a very deep frustration.

  • Potter

    Peggysue: I did not label you anything. I said you are expressing a compassionless point of view ( of returning remnant refugee Jews/Israeli’s) which you admit. I thought the quote I posted from you was very harsh and I wanted to comment on it. This surprises me in the light of your others posts on ROS. One can have compassion for both sides, but you do not. Okay fine. I would not call that sentiment alone anti-semitic.( I despise the indiscriminate use of that term. I have been called anti-semitic myself unjustly.) But when you express yourself in that one-sided manner what do you expect?

    Where is the slander?

  • No Potter, I know you didn’t… I did not mean YOU were labeling me I meant in the history of my arguments on this issue.. I’m sorry I did not make that clear.

  • Yes, the quote you quoted from me was harsh. What I was trying to explain in my next post was the level of frustration it was born of. I do consider being called anti-Semitic slander. You did not call me anti-Semitic but I have been called that… and I hate it because it is not true, simply because I sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians.

    It isn’t true either that I have no compassion for Israelis – I do. Nor do I condone Palestinian killings of innocent Israelis (and I find it further frustrating that I feel like I have to explain this). I know that there are plenty of Israelis and Jewish people worldwide who also do not approve of Israeli policy. If I have more sympathy for Palestinians than I do for Israelis it is because I see the situation especially in terms of American media and policy as being very heavily banked toward Israel.

  • Ben

    The conflict is grotesque and it is amazing that the belligerents on either side are getting any support from the international community at all beyond dispute mediation. Why are those who fund violence on either side not more properly exposed as profiteers and accessories to crimes against humanity? All of the belligerents in the conflict are guilty of this, what justification is there to fund or support any of them until they change their methods?

  • Potter

    Peggysue: Okay settled. Peace. I can undestand you view in the light of the fact that Israeli’s hold the upper hand now ( even if some do not believe this is ultimately so or that they are out of danger). I think it is becoming more and more clear that Palestinians have to also have a home of their own and that Israel has to quit the occupation. This will take a little time and partience.

    If you do not want to be attacked you really do have to couch your remarks in my opinion. Those kind of remarks make some Jews feel very defensive and justified that they need to protect themselves and Israel. They do not feel safe enough. If you want justice for the Palestinians, then you have to also work towards Israel’s/Israeli’s/Jewish security. That is two sides of the same coin.

  • Potter

    I can live with Ben’s “a pox on both your houses POV”.

  • Potter

    ‘scuse my typos again. Nikos.. glad you are still posting.

  • Nikos

    same to you, sweetie 😉

  • dayan

    I just wanted to say this is for the most part the most balanced, sensitive, sometimes insightful, thread on this issue I have read anywhere. Congrats. Usually discussions of the Israeli Palestinian conflict are alot more vitriolic. This is great.

  • Nikos

    Peggy Sue, to borrow a page from another thread: I think it’s vital that when we Americans – especially those of us who’ve never had the chance to visit Israel or Palestine – contribute our opinions, we mustn’t give the impression that we’re awarding a ‘free pass’ to one side or faction or another. Criticism is valuable (and necessary), but in this domain, where three different faith traditions feel they each have ‘rights to the land’, extra effort spent in diplomatic wording is more than advisable.

    I learned this lesson the hard way about three months ago in a late night exchange with d.c. He helped me discern the fine line between careful wording and accidentally inflammatory wording – which I think several folks in this thread are learning now. (So don’t feel bad! I feel it with you!) 🙂

  • nancyk

    I have been listening to the show, and what amazes me is that I dont think the work “Palestinian” has been uttered once yet despite 45 minutes of discussion. Part of the point of the M/W paper is that the US should not consider Israeli interests as the only relevant factor in its foreign policy. What about the terrible plight of the Palestinian people? What about the effect on American security of US aquiescence and indeed bankrolling of Israel’s occupation ?

  • Potter

    The W/M paper practically blames Israel for the US war in Iraq.

  • Potter

    Levy is right— the war in Iraq may very well make Israel less secure.

    A point about democracy promotion: there could be no better example than Israel, especially if Israel ends the occupation. The Palestinians are very tuned into the Israeli example.

  • Nikos – Ah yes, learning to temper that flame throwing response is a constant challenge. The biggest part of the lesson perhaps being that it is not the most successful way to convince others of your point of view. And of course it is always so much easier to see the futility of vitrolic discourse in someone eles! Point taken. I will try to behave.

  • Nikos

    I haven’t read it yet Potter. But since you have, is there a chance — even a slim and inexcusable one — that they were overstating the case in an attempt to make a larger point? Or are they simply fools? Or worse?

  • Nikos

    Peggy Sue: “I will try to behave” — you and me both, hon. Your ‘point taken’ is every bit as relevant for me, too! 😉

    Later, all!

    Oh — and: Great Show!

  • Potter

    Well the thing is if you grossly imbalance your case you miss making the point altogether. Those who need to consider the W/M points had their fur up ( I have cats) about so much in the article that was either one sided, or facts cherry picked to suit, you name it. (The foot notes are very lengthy btw ) The issue that I had was that they threw everything including the kitchen sink into the paper and if you needed to hear this criticism you would have to get over a whole bunch of things (portrayed from one side of the conflic)t to begin to open up to it. Only the most self-critical and open of those who care deeply about Israel will allow this to penetrate. I understand Alan Dershowitz is doing a paper on this – probagbly rebuttal. I am interested. The guests tonight were very good. Drezner was good. I can’t believe he has never been to Israel.

    I recommend the Haaretz talkback to the various articles to get a good idea of a debate that goes on daily amongst not only Jews but Arabs and others from around the world. There are some pretty sharp regulars.

  • Ben

    Potter: thanks for the props, am thinking more of “a pax on both your houses.” A great and insightful show / posting this evening, very cool heads. -b

  • pabelmont

    I heard no-one mention the interest that Americans (and the whole world) should IMHO have in an international Rule Of Law rathe4r than today’s Rule of Power (by Israel and USA). I speak now for that interest. I speak also for Palestinian human rights.

    The settlements should be cleared of people (the settlers repatriated out of the occupied territories) in compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention (and *NOT* in connection with any sort of final status negotiation). The buildings might be left for use by the Palestinians or demolished. The WALL should be pulled down (as the International Court of Justice ruled in 7/2004) and might be re-built, if Israel so chooses, within pre-1967 Israel.

    These simple steps, if done in the name of Compliance With International Law, would be to the benefit of the entire world. They would also greatly improve the human rights situation for Palestinians and would give Israel a chance to contemplate a return to the pre-1967 lines. these steps would *NOT* be part of any negotiation.

  • fiddlesticks

    Except for Peggy Sue the posts here are exemplary of how a debate about this conflict should be conducted.

    The show too was very enlightening. The issues are complex, but the solution isn’t. A two State solution is the only way to go. Sometimes I feel that the simplest goals are the hardest to reach. (Think, rational health care system, etc.)

  • peoplestank

    I’m wondering how much damage has been done, both within Israel, and by it’s supposed “allies” in US like the Christian evangelicals. Beyond the Israeli-Palistinean conflict, there is the Israeli identity as a modern, sophisticated democratic state. How much has support from U.S. groups contributed to the growing power of nationalists and religious extremists w/in Israel?

    On the flip side, I’m also worried about the “Palistinean” lobby that is growing in the American left. They’re not exactly the most liberal group out there…

  • Nikos


    Okay fiddlesticks:

    Has it ever occurred to you that if there were an ongoing and growing number of uninvestigated murders of Jews in ‘all Arab countries’ this would likely be a major international news story?

    Has it ever occurred to you that if there were a growing number of uninvestigated murders of Jews in ‘all Arab countries’ the global human rights community would be in an uproar?

    Now, I regularly and freely admit that I am more ignorant than enlightened, so, I invite you to prove me wrong.

    If your allegation that Arabs are free to shoot Jews with no possibility of prosecution is true, then convince me.

    Provide us evidence.

    If you can’t meet this challenge, then your intellectual honesty is highly suspect.

    In fact, if you can’t provide us evidence, then we have good cause to question the motives of your allegations.

    Allegations made without evidence are slander.

    Not ‘exemplary’.


    Until you provide us evidence to support your allegations, I submit that at least two of your posts here today are a good deal less ‘exemplary’ than any of Peggy Sue’s.

  • w f bloxom

    wait. what lobby isn’t insidious? the military-industrial complex has found another victim in the jewish people! how much foreign aid is war materiel? see i am sick of it!

  • fiddlestix: Hmmmmm, too bad I just promised to behave.

  • Nikos

    Wow! Likkud is down to twelve seats??? That’s astounding.

    I missed it while avoiding the pledge drive last week…

  • fiddlesticks

    “Has it ever occurred to you that if there were an ongoing and growing number of uninvestigated murders of Jews in ‘all Arab countries’ this would likely be a major international news story?

    Has it ever occurred to you that if there were a growing number of uninvestigated murders of Jews in ‘all Arab countries’ the global human rights community would be in an uproar?”

    Nikos, do some research. Read some history.

    Most Jews fled the Arab lands in the early to late 40’s. Until then in countries like Yemen Jews were regularly beaten and killed.

    True for other parts of the Arab world. I know that in Egypt the Jews who wanted to stay after 48 and become good Egyptian citizens had to keep a low profile and in the mid 50’s were arrested and thrown out. Some were killed.

    In Baghdad in the early 60’s the remaining Jews also had to flee. Some were hanged in public.

    None of the perpetrators in any of the countries to my knowledge were ever tried. There wasn’t even a scandal.

    It’s up to you to do the research and reading though otherwise it’s just me talking.

  • Nikos

    Don’t worry Peggy Sue: the burden of proof is on him. It may be true (or not) that many Muslims live in societies that are more medieval than modern, but this is a Western society, and here the accusers must provide the supporting evidence. Otherwise they are punishable as slanderers.

    And it’s not like I didn’t give him a chance to recant. For that matter, he had several hours, even after my first suggestion that he should.

    So, I think you can relax. Someday our pal fiddlesticks will learn not attack the persons, but simply the opinions he doesn’t agree with.

    Maybe it will be tonight.

    It wouldn’t hurt to offer a ‘mea culpa’, fiddlesticks. I do it plenty myself — and sleep better afterewards too.

  • Nikos

    No dude: it’s up to you. You show me the evidence, not apocryphal stories from years ago (which I believe, btw), and I’ll tell you I’m sorry.

    Prove it.

  • Nikos

    Oh, and fiddlesticks: don’t forget the details of your original allegation: any Arab country — which means all of them.

    Good luck with your research.

  • Nikos

    Fiddlesticks: don’t think I’m discounting or devaluing the historical evidence you cite in your 11:28 PM — my heart burns with shame that our fellow humans were so execrably barbaric to other humans called Jews — especially the incomprehensible atrocities in Baghdad that you mention.

    But that’s not the allegation you made.

    There’s a lot of Arab countries pal — and some of them employ Jews. I hardly think they’d tolerate shootings like what the Europeans did to the Tasmanians and Bushmen.

    If I’m wrong, it’s up to you to prove it.

    Not me.

  • dayan

    Pabelmont, I agree with you that the settlements, or at least most of the settlements, need to go, but about the “wall” (it is in fact a chain link fence for the most part) I have to disagree with you. You cited the ruling of the ICJ, however this ruling should hold no weight in this matter. The reasons for this are as follows. First, Israelis are barred from sitting as judges in the ICJ. Because of this, it seems to me, Israel is not morally bound by the courts decision, just as blacks, say, were not objectively morally bound by the decisions of courts in Mississippi in 1935 given that the courts did not represent them. Furthermore, the decision of the ICJ in this matter made no mention whatsoever of Palestinian terrorism, the ostensible reason for the fence in the first place. This casts doubt on the evenhandedness of the court’s ruling. A better ruling, I think, is that of the Israeli High Court of Justice, a court that includes Arab judges and which frequently rules against the Israeli government. The decision of the Israeli court found the security fence to be consistent with international law in principle, but demanded that the route of he fence be changed to reflect only demonstrable security needs. Thus the Israeli court attempted to take seriously both the Israeli need for security against terrorists as well as the rights and dignity of Palestinians. Obviously the fence imposes hardships on many Palestinians, but it also saves countless lives, and while barriers can be moved you cannot bring the dead back to life. As for the fence being built not wholly on the green line, my understanding is that there are real security reasons for this, and that it is consistent with UN resolution 242, which recognizes Israel’s right to alter the 1948 armistice lines to provide for their security needs. This being so, to build the fence along the green line would be a political statement that Israel cannot be willing to make if they hope to alter the final borders in the West Bank to meet their security needs. An interesting point in closing, I haven’t seen the data for myself, but I’ve been told by a reliable source that there was a study done that showed that 85% of the time the decisions of the judges in the ICJ correspond exactly with the policies of their home countries, which suggests that the ICJ is not so much a valid court as an instrument of the UN.

  • dayan

    Nikos, while I can’t provide you with the hard and fast proof you are demanding of fiddlesticks, I can say that anyone taking a look and the Arab states as they now exist can see easily enough the deplorable lack of human rights in all of them. People are killed all the time in these states and no one lifts a finger, either because those doing the killing do so with the governments blessing, or the life of the person killed simply isn’t valued enough to warrant the effort. Given that this is the state of affairs for relations between Arabs, I doubt that their would be many who would care if a Jew was killed, especially given the rampant anti-Semitism that pervades Arab societies. You are right to say that their would be an outcry, but it would come from the West, not from within Arab society. Furthermore, to reiterate Fiddlestick’s point, there are hardly any Jews left to kill in Arab countries. Their persecution became so intolerable that they simply fled, many of them to Israel. Today, I believe, only Morrocco retains a Jewish population even a fraction of its former size.

  • Nikos

    dayan: I’m troubled by your closing point – though only because it strikes me as a sound rebuttal of the ICJ, and therefore illustrates that the ICJ might need a longer gestation. Regardless, I’m grateful for your points about the wall/fence. You presented it dispassionately, which is a virtue in this volatile mega-debate. Thanks.

    Anyway, we at least can still hope (however naively), that the wall/fence won’t have a lengthy lifespan. A permanent and mutually enriching peace might render it a museum piece.

    And who could argue with that?

  • ladyingreen

    It is too later here on the West Coast to read all of the responses and comment individually. I applaud this discussion.

    The Neocons in the Bush administration are linked at the hip with the pro Israeli and Zionist faction. Look at the charter list for the Project for A New American Century and note that Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith and others are right up there with Rumsfeld and Cheney. To say, as I heard one person state, that the administration is not linked with a pro Isaeli group if not lobby is absurd.

    According to Halper and Clarke in “America Alone”, in the 1990’s this very group was working behind the scenes to discourage Israel from engaging in any treaties with the Palestinians when our elected government at the time was trying to broker a deal. Objecting to policies that are not best or the US and possibly Isreal and being labeled antisemetic evades the discussion and is not constructive.

    I have encountered Christian Zionists and find their politics repugnant. They would like nothing more than to engage in WWIV to spread Christianity.

    It is time to get this group of crazies out of our government and repaire the damage done to our standing in the world and foreign relations. Encouraging Isreal to depend less on the US and become more independent in international relations would be a good first step.

  • Nikos

    dayan: I can’t and don’t want to argue the basic sordid truth of Muslim and Muslim Arab anti-Semitism – and I deplore it (see my posts above). Fiddlesticks and I agree wholeheartedly that this phenomenon is much more than merely reprehensible – and that it’s flatly inexcusable that it’s sanctified in Islamic religious scriptures.

    But fiddlesticks made a very sweeping condemnation of the Arab Muslim states that I think overly broad to the point of being provocatively slanderous. Such talk is hardly constructive or wise. This is an international forum. We’ve had bloggers from Dubai who might care to differ with fiddlesticks. In fact, although I can’t cite evidence off the top of my head, I’m pretty damned sure that some Jews – not many – but some – are employed in the less benighted Arab states.

    If fiddlesticks is right, I’ll eat my words and laud him to kingdom come.

  • I have to agree with those who would prefer to broaden this debate to the operations of powerful lobbies and political corruption in general. To mention the pro-Israel lobby alone, no matter how influential, does reveal a bias. Some may say that this bias is warranted in lieu of the lobby’s power, and there is merit in this argument on strictly the physics of it. But the more critical question is how a democracy can flourish when money interests can buy off directly and in subtle ways the people’s representatives and silence the critical voice of the media. What needs to be examined and exposed is the whole workings of this process, starting with the oil lobby, the nuclear lobby, the gun lobby, the fast-food lobby and so on. If as part of this critical investigation the pro-Israel lobby or pro-Saudi lobby took a turn under the heat-lamp, then there should be no cause for calls of anti-Semitism or the After all, power has many masks but only one face.

  • Nikos

    Sidewalker: Right. And I heard a characterization today on NPR that made my blood run cold: Lobbying is now the ‘fourth branch of (American) government’.


    It’s well past time to revisit the 18th century constitution and forge a new one.

  • Potter

    Eliot Cohen wrote an opinion piece in today’s Washington Post making the case that this paper is anti-Semitic.

    It’s interesting that the W/M Harvard paper mentions “the Protocols” a well known anti-Semitic work designed to stir up Jew hatred by describing an outrageous improbable Jewish plan to dominate the world. see

    ( quote from the W/M/ paper : “The Lobby’s activities are not the sort of conspiracy depicted in antiâ€?Semitic tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. )

    Yet this paper can be ( is already) so interpreted by those so inclined to swallow it whole: that there is Jewish cabal (consisting of neocons and lobbyists)that have taken over the US government an have forced it to go to war in Iraq. Add to that the rumors that Jews perpetrated the 9/11 attacks (to have an excuse to attack Arabs and invade Arab countries).

    Singling out the Israel lobby and connecting it with every Jewish neocon or near neocon name avoids the important questions about our foreign policy that should be asked; why was this administration was so hell-bent on going to war?, what did oil and oil interest have to do with it?, what did politics have to do with it?. The paper avoids as the above posts indicate the excess influence of all lobbies and money politics.

    I hate the abuse of the term anti-Semitic. And I am not here saying this paper is, but the Eliot Cohen op-ed makes enough of a case that causes me to bend in that direction this morning .

    quote Eliot from Wapo ( linked above) “Inept, even kooky academic work, then, but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information — why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic.”

    The danger and harm ( of interpretation and misuse) of this paper is already happening. It will be one more example to paranoid Jews of how the world is against them. And for those who are so inclined to to hate or mistrust Jews or assign extra powers to them it will be swallowed whole as proof.

    The net result of this paper, essentiaolly because of it’s own excesses and biases. it seems to me, is negative. The show last night, in it’s fairness was admirable. Too bad Walt and Mearsheimer are lying low ( maybe they have to). When they emerge, it would be good to hear from them ( as well as Dershowitz). That is a show I want to hear.

  • reality_bytes_it

    Despite all the “noise” from large groups like the sub-culture found here, big time Lobyist are the only thing keeping the Liberal / Left / Dems from disapeering from view. See George Soros et al.

  • reality,

    to view the Dems as Left suggests your swallowing the rhetoric of conservative talk-show hosts (please correct me if I am wrong). Yes they are Liberal, but in the older meaning of the term that is still used in Britain (Thatcher is considered Neo-liberal). This would explain why some are dipping their hands in lobbists’ pockets, as you mention, and why Nikos is so correct in calling for the need to forge a new constitution that is by the people for the people.

  • fiddlesticks

    “No dude: it’s up to you. You show me the evidence, not apocryphal stories from years ago (which I believe, btw), and I’ll tell you I’m sorry.

    Prove it.”

    Sorry, Nikos, it’s up to you to get your butt to some decent academic library to do some research.

    The evidence available on line are from “zionist” sources so I am sure you will not accept them. Hence do you own research or stay ignorant as you wish.

    As for generalizing about a whole culture, I plead guilty.

    There have been unsavory cultures that one could generalize about.

    White Southern treatment of Blacks is one example.

    So is Nazi Germany, or even Soviet Russia. These latter two had no system of law we could recognize as such.

    As for Muslim culture I would go even further as speak of tratment of non Mulsims in general, however, I am not familiar with their treatment of say Hindus, so I will refrain from talking about it.

    It’s up to you do some research and stop playing naif. I expect Peggy Sue to hold rigid views on the subject, but not you.

  • Just to clarify, what I apologized for was my sarcasm… not my opinion.

  • Nikos

    “As for generalizing about a whole culture, I plead guilty.�

    That’s all I was after, fiddlesticks.

    And I would have let the slander sit unanswered until your cheap shot attack on Peggy Sue. I’ve been called a hypocrite before and for less egregious sins than patting myself on the back for ‘exemplary’ behavior while simultaneously engaging in slander, so maybe my radar is a bit too highly tuned.

    Look, I agree with you that Muslim Arab anti-Semitism—and fundamentalist Islamic prejudice against other religions and even its loathing of modern science—is a plague and a pox on the world – but slandering every Arab country is similarly egregious.

    Are they so hopelessly medieval that should we just nuke the lot of ’em?

    I don’t think so.

    And as for your notion that ‘the jury’ must do the research: this is a modern society, not a medieval one. The accusers and their prosecutorial advocates shoulder the responsibility of proving their allegations.

    Not the jury. And not the accused.

    If you want us to take your future posts seriously and not dismiss them as bigoted propaganda, you must support your allegations with evidence. Otherwise we’ll be left with no choice but to judge that you’re simply a repetitive slanderer.

    Which makes Peggy Sue’s regrettable omission of equally compassionate and diplomatic ‘framing’ pale in comparison.

    Oh, and she apologized for it too.

    Et tu, fiddlesticks?

  • Potter

    Can we stop bashing Peggysue? She has apologised all she should and I for one thought this was over way back in the thread. There is no need, and it’s counterproductive to keep this up.

    If one wants forgiveness, one has to give it– and all of us need it.

    Fiddlesticks: As for generalizing about a whole culture, I plead guilty.

    There have been unsavory cultures that one could generalize about.

    You are guilty of exactly the same thing that you are complaining about. They generalize, you generalize. It’s dumb.

    By the way many who sit here in the USA surrounded by oceans and armed to the teeth with a bully president and a bully foreign policy are much less aware of the need (for survival purposes) to build bridges where and when and with whom we can. Israeli’s ( Europeans as well) are of necessity much more interested in building bridges to the Arab world than making accusations. Certainly there is enough material on all sides to delve into.

  • fiddlesticks

    “And I would have let the slander sit unanswered until your cheap shot attack on Peggy Sue.”

    cheap shot, my foot. nikos, the lady posts anti-Jewish comments no matter what she or her defenders say. Do though go to the library and don’t relay solely on the web for your information.

    “You are guilty of exactly the same thing that you are complaining about. They generalize, you generalize. It’s dumb.”

    hey potter, this standard, quoque tu, argument.

    Will you tell me that Nazi Germany, the whole culture, was not evil? What about a system that sent millions to siberia, or one that keeps women as virtual prisoners in the Muslims world.

    give me a break.

    no matter, though, really my last post on this thread.

  • Potter

    Fiddlesticks: The “tu quoque” label does not protect or defend it merely categorizes.

    Are you part of the problem or the solution? If you feel that all Jews, all Israel’s are being unfairly attacked by Muslims is the answer to attack all Arabs/Muslims? You then become them.

    And then you wonder why this thing goes on and on and on. So what have you accomplished other than generating bad feeling?

    In Nazi Germany, by the way, there were some people who were not evil in fact who saved a lot of people.

    If you want to fight for human rights the name calling and generalizations will get you nowhere. This is an example. … you leave in a huff.

  • Nikos

    This is why I never like to cross you, Potter. Arguing with you is as painful, shameful, and fruitless as arguing with Mom. 😉

    Thanks for being kind but firm — as you have been with me before, too!

  • Carroll

    I find the “Israel Lobby” paper to be accurate and factual according to my own observations and research and nothing anti semitic about it at all.

    I am a plain American, my citizenship is American, my former nationality is exactly that… “former”. I have no loyalty to any other country, my religion and/or race and my country are two seperate things that I don’t confuse. My religion is not identified with or tied to a specific country or my country identified with any one religion or race.

    I don’t believe “dual loyalty” is acceptable or workable and is in fact a dangerous and slippery slope for those who use the myth of “sameness or shared interest” to work for the benefit of a foreign country, whether it be friend or foe.

    This campaign to “Isrealize” America will end badly..I suggest all Americans read George Washington’s farewell address to the nation, warning on the pitfalls of “favored nations”..and the use of our own “democratic tools” against us by special interest to led astray and to usurp the common good of the nation.

    It is very timely to the Israeli lobby debate and many other special interest elements operating in this country and influencing our goverment today.

  • To be anti Israeli policy is not the same thing as being anti jewish. I have never been and I am not anti jewish. I am opposed to current Israeli policy especially regarding the American role in it. (didn’t I already say this?) I understand that some people have a hard time grappling with complexity so I hope I have clarified my position.

  • avecfrites

    I’m having trouble biting my tongue. The idea that a substantial portion of American Jews are confused about their loyalty is incredible to me. Of all the Jews I know, NONE would hesitate to say that they are Americans through and through with no conflicted loyalty at all.

    If American Jews have any misgivings about America, it is only from fear that fundamentalist Christians will exercise ever-increasing control over the country until they ultimately try to force Jews and other minorities into official second-class status. This may sound far-fetched, but it has happened all through history, in almost every country, until very recently. And the all-too-famiilar noises in France, Russia, the US, and elsewhere now are not helpful.

  • Potter

    I agree Avecfrites and thanks for saying so. I did not even know where to begin or if …

    What constitutes “loyalty” anyway in a world where everything is more and more interconnected?

    I actually love it when people have connections to another country. This is what makes us strong. We are a country of hyphenated Americans, Americans who are happy to be here but have a a little part of themselves. their hearts,elsewhere as well. Irish Americans, Latin Americans, Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, Greek Americans. I made a list not long ago of all the nationalities we have right here in little old Worcester… amazing. Brazilians, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Lithuanians. Some of them erect their own churches. George Washington would be amazed. The foreign entanglements have come to us. The world is much smaller than it was back then.

    Exhibit A: If the paper was not anti-Semitic then where did this business about ‘Israelizing America” come from?

    I’ll repeat: The danger and harm ( of interpretation and misuse) of this paper is already happening. It will be one more example to paranoid Jews of how the world is against them. And for those who are so inclined to to hate or mistrust Jews or assign extra powers to them it will be swallowed whole as proof.

    The net result of this paper, essentially because of it’s own excesses and biases. it seems to me, is negative.

  • Potter

    I forgot Italian American, African American, Polish-American (KIelbasa factory in Worcester) Armenian-Americans

  • Potter

    We have a lot of Indians too.


    Not funny. Rachel Corrie was a dedicated and peace activist who risked and sacrificed her life for others.

  • dayan

    Yes, but she was also a member of an organization that has been accused of harboring terrorists who murdered Israelis in a Tel Aviv cafe, an organization that makes a point of interfering with the Israeli army in the field, and which shows no nuance in its understanding of this conflict. This is not to say that these jokes are funny or in good taste. They are not. But I have to admit that I am no fan of Corrie, and find her martyrisation troubling. But again, just so I am not misunderstood, the jokes are in bad taste.


    No, bad taste was Corrie supporting the killing of Jewish children. Jokes are nothing comapared to the Corrie terrorist agenda.

  • dayan

    Guy, I agree that Corrie is not someone to be praised, but she wasn’t a terrorist, even if she supported terrorists. She was infuriatingly misguided, in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean you should treat her death the same way you would the death of a true murderer. If we were talking about Arafat, I might be with you. I gotta say I was pretty happy when he passed, but Corrie is not the same sorta figure. Attack her politics but have a little more respect for the dead.

  • dayan

    Oh yeah, and your right that supporting the killing of Jewish children is in bad taste. In fact it’s simply wrong. But just cause she did something wrong doesn’t give you license to do the same thing. I mean do you really want to sink to Corrie’s level, or would you rather stake out the moral high ground?


    Sink to Corrie’s level? Corrie enabled the killing of Jewish children. Think before you speak.



    What was your favorite Rachel Corrie joke? Mine is: “I am looking all over town for Caterpillar hats. I want to see the play and root for the bulldozer.”

  • dayan

    All right listen. I’m Jewish, I’m religious. I’m a Zionist. I lived in Israel for all of last year, and before that for half of 2002. In 02′ I lived through the worst couple months of terrorist attacks Israel’s seen. I was there when they bombed Moment, and the seder in Netanya. I had friends who were called into the reserves for Defensive Shield and served in Jenin. I’m probably gonna move to Israel in the next couple of years, and I intend to do my time serving as well. I’ve thought about this stuff every day of my life since I was fifteen, so don’t tell me to think before I speak. I’m no lover of lefties (for everyone I’m not addressing forgive the term) who condemn Israel at every turn cause that’s what you’re supposed to do. I know that Israel has the moral high ground in this conflict. That doesn’t mean that I’m an unthinking idiot incapable of seeing shades of grey. Israel has acted much more morally in this conflict, but it is by no means perfect. Corrie was a fool because she could only see the wrong Israel did, and was blind to the much greater wrongs the Palestinians did. But I’m not going to dance on her grave just because she doesn’t share my politics. If someone wanted to celebrate her life I’d probably have a real problem with that, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna stoop low enough to make jokes about her death. Sorry everyone for the rant. I get pissed off when ppl from my own camp say stupid stuff.


    The only rant going on here is the one comparing jokes to killing Jewish children. Nice moral equivalency there Dayan! Corrie chose death by bulldozer. If that is not funny, I do not know what is.

  • fiddlesticks


    “Your reader is fairly off in his description of of Islamic pluralism.

    Turkey was forced single-handedly by Ataturk into a militantly secular society, literally at the barrel of a gun: the military has had a strong role in Turkish government and only in recent years has their iron grip relaxed (and in fact strains are beginning to show).

    As for India, Aurangzeb was a vicious ruler, and tried to impose a ‘sharia’ tax on the Hindus, thereafter spending most of his time putting down (mostly Hindu) rebellions. Aurangzeb had a particular hatred for the Sikhs, and in fact brutally murdered some of their ‘gurus’, or great wise men. Other Mughal rulers before him, (Akbar mostly) were more enlightened, although except for Akbar, they made no serious attempt to engage with the Hindu community, spending most of their time fighting battles with other Muslim fiefdoms.

    India could never be ruled as an Islamic republic because of the huge majority of Hindus. The wiser Muslim rulers realized this and backed off, but not for want of trying.

    What your reader does correctly suggest though is that there was a time when it was possible for Muslim rulers to rule without sharia, and without causing deep internal conflicts: the Middle Ages was after all part of the Islamic golden age. But that time is long gone, and that view of the religion is long gone as well.”

  • reality_bytes_it

    Sidewalker – you and others talk of forming a new constitution are nothing more than warmed over paleoliberal crap from the ’60’s. Grow up man, join the now.

  • dayan

    Alright, you got me. Killing Jewish children is worse than making jokes about Rachel Corrie. I’m sorry but come on. Does this really have to be said? I never compared one with the other. You brought up killing children. (although I did note her support for terrorists, so either you didn’t read that post, or you just want to be provocative) All I’m saying is that it would be better to not gloat over fallen enemies, if that is how you choose to view Corrie. If you disagree with what has been said in this thread than engage in debate and try to change people’s minds. But if all you want to do is be obnoxious, and provoke people than I’d say you should grow up. As for moral equivalency, Palestinian terrorists are evil. That’s a fact. And those that support them out of hatred for Israel are just as bad. Anybody who tries to murder innocent people on a bus, or in a cafe, etc. deserves to be thrown away, or killed if the situation demands it. Rachel Corrie was dumb. She had no understanding of the complexities of the situation she put herself in. But she was there because she honestly believed she was doing the right thing. You need to distinguish between people that support terrorism out of their own hatred, and those that have simply been duped into it because of their bloated idealism.

  • Can a moderator do something about about contributors who add nothing to the discussion but insults and bad taste. I don’t want to be reading a toilet stall wall.

  • Nikos

    Don’t fret it sidewalker. One of ’em is just digital commuter back in a new disguise. The snideness is an unmistakable stylistic giveaway.

  • Nikos, I wondered if that was the case.

    The reason for my post above is that I sometimes pick up the headlines in Japan on the site linked below and the comments in this thread are dipping to the level found there. So far, ROS has not been so burdened by hate speech and I’m sure it would break all of our guttersniping hearts if these threads were so degraded.

  • Carroll


    Coming back and looking over commets here several things stand out:

    # Many who claim to be zionist or jewish or israeli supporters display a great deal of racism and are clearly bigots concerning the Arabs and anyone else including gentiles who critize Israel or their lobby and well known academic jews writting factually about Israeli and the Israeli lobby that they slur as “self hating” jews.

    # Most proporting to support Israel also do not have any factual understanding or education on the history of the region from the inception of zionism in the late 1890’s to the creation of israel by the UN thru the mid 20th century to the present conditions. They should go to the trouble of reading the offical documents and memos and papers in the British National Archive and thru the Presidential libaries starting with Truman’s to understand the formaton of jewish/israeli political movement in america, as well as the UN resolutions against israel concerning international law and occupations.

    # It is also obvious that some jews and others such as evangelicals fall into the “communal neurosis” described by Jacqueline Rose, herself a jew, in her book “A Question of Zion” ..which is an excellent look at how some jews and other religious are attracted to the “victimhood” and “seperateness” of the jewish history and find a home for their individual neurosis in the collective neurosis of Zionism as they feel it puts them in a “special” catagory and makes their personal neurosis legitmate. She shows zionism attracts people, as any cult does ,who are already predeposed to a movement that gives a home to their feeling of victimhood and desire to “become strong and agressive” to make up for the previous history of powerlessness and weakness that they identify with. Much like the weakling who finally attaining some muscles goes back to the beach to kick sand in the burly lifeguard’s face. This is a trait in any race or religion that person can fall into as witnessed by the many christian cults that exist. The current claim of certain christians groups in america that they are being “perscuted” is a an excellent example of this type of identification.

    # Just as nazi Germany was an abboration of society, radical Israel is also an abboration of victimhood morphed into “violence as revenge for past powerlessness”, just as the movement to intertwine American and Israel as one will be viewed as an political abboration in history.

    And it is worth stating that all abborations eventually fall apart because the individuals it attracts are at heart self destructive as neurotics are when their tendencies and behavior are not checked and controlled.


    Dayan: Your description of Corrie could fit Arafat as well. He also thought he was doing the right thing by killing Jewish children. Corrie actually referred to the Palestiinas as practicing Gahndi like non-vilonece. Huh? Also, Corrie’s ISM friends are happy she is dead too, they say very openly she is much better to them dead. Well, truth be told, she is better for Israel as dead too. Even Jews are aloud to “gloat” when a navie, hurtful, angry, misguided enemy kills herself. Rachel Corrie chose to be a human shield for people who want to kill children. Corrie chose not to notice the 90 smuggling tunnels she was protecting. I a choose to make of her death. And truth be told, once the ISM advertised a Memorial Pancake breakfast for Corrie, well, they just started it!



    You write: “Most proporting to support Israel also do not have any factual understanding or education on the history of the region from the inception of zionism in the late 1890’s to the creation of israel by the UN thru the mid 20th century to the present conditions”

    But Carrol, once one understands this issue, it is clear that many, many Jews returend to Israel during this time to join the many Jews who had never left. I mean, if Arabs have the right of return, then don’t Jews? Or do you hold Jews to a different, less standard then Arabs and act in anti-Semitic ways?

    So ok, now there is population with an Arab majority and a HUGE Jewish minority, around 33-35%. So, the UN decides to investiage because the Brits announce they can’t handle the scene anymore and are giving it to the UN. The Arabs (future Palestinians) boycott all contact with the UN and the Jews show the UN all of their schools, hospitals, irrigations, farming, science labs, etc. So, the UN rightly decides, two people, two states. The Jews accept and the Arabs declare war. Jews know how to share, the future Palestinians did not and still do not know how to share.

    Come check out my site to learn more about hisotry.

  • Potter

    My my, the seas have gotten choppy.

    Nikos– Thanks for that link to the article on Rachel Corrie. Here it is again if anyone is interested. It’s good.

    No moral high ground there for anybody. But that was 2003. Since then Israel has withdrawn from Gaza.

    WPGIT– to speak only of killing Jewish children I find immoral. Children have been killed on both sides and the numbers tell a story. Every single child lost to this war (or any war) is sorrowful. What if someone set up a web site that “whyIsraelisJewsgetitwrong” and made crude jokes about the death of Tali Hatuel and her four children or the Passover suicide bombing in Netanya? Beyond the pale? You bet. Yet you allow yourself this exceptionalism with all sorts of rationalizations. This passtime is puerile in my opinion, detrimental to your cause and in the end reflects on you . The lesson, the point, that Rachel Corrie may have been naive and misguided or plain wrong gets lost since the focus seems to be your “sense of humorâ€? which does not generate peaceful responses.

    I am also struck that the Rachel Corrie story seems to have resonated so on both sides. It’s ironic that ostensibly her cause was peace but her actions and the resistance actions of the ISM did not result in much progress towards that end, in fact the opposite may be the case. She and her group simply took sides.

    WPGIT There were not many Jews who never left although there was enough of a presence. Arabs do not have the right of return to Israel as it stands now- nor will they ever as far as I can see ( nor perhaps should they). Jews do and will. So what are you arguing (complaining) about? That some feel that this is not fair or right?

    In the telling of history you have to take into account that Jews were seen by Arabs and Muslims as European invaders, colonizers. Arabs then were not about to or ready to simply move over one notch. Jews were more desperate as they were chased from place to place over time. Some even here and now don’t see or want to know about this history and the perennial attitudes towards Jews- so the defending, so the paranoia.. Thus as they returned to Zion, determined not to take it anymore and declare a homeland in their ancient one, you have the wars and the massacres.

    When you read history from both sides, you can see that there has been quite a lot of movement towards accepting Jewish presence/existence as a state. There come a point even just in a discussion where you have to let go of history too. It informs but exerts a drag as well.

    You should check out David Grossman’s book “Death as a Way of Life”. It’s a small book, easy read but the case he makes is a powerful one.

    Dayan, thanks for your honesty. Israel had much more moral high ground in this conflict, many years ago but it was always going to be difficult. Maybe things are moving in that direction again. But good luck to you. I hope you keep your heart open. Many hearts have closed forever and worse, there are generations coming with the effects transferred down (like blacks here in the USA).

    Carroll-You ( Jacqueline Rose) make some good points. There is no more valuable criticism than self-criticism. Israelis and Jews have plenty of it. Playing the underdog does not work so well. Maybe the self-criticism is a sign of success, not feeling so besieged, powerless. Neurosis on both sides fuels the conflict. I think this conflict can be (probably best) seen as psychological problems.

    I hope, when you do your historical research, which should go back further than the late 1890’s if you want to understand roots, you take in more than one point of view on it as well. The UN resolutions and the various British documents are not a be-all end-all. (Look at the politics in the UN itself!) From your wording I already sense a bias which is always troublesome to me. I admire those who are inclined in one direction but stretch themselves a bit to see hear feel the other. For me, that spells hope. But again- your points are taken.

    Sidewalker We have more posters popping in “to say hello� and will have as the show catches on. Get your disinfectant and rubber gloves ready.

    Digitalcommuter? Is that you? (Speaking of neurosis.)

  • David

    As Potter wrote, the seas have gotten choppy… and have been getting so for a while. We try to err on the side of staying out of the way in most threads, but at a certain point — and I think we’ve passed that point — when they’re so full of sound and fury, they don’t benefit anybody. (Not to mention the fact that this thread isn’t about the “Israel Lobby” any more, anyway.)

    So we’re closing this thread to more comments. Any leftover sermons and ire can be directed at tonight’s Immigration show… or at Beckett. He can take it.