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 efforts.
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 Israels 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 propaganda.
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 countrys 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 civilized.
Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his blog at www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com.