Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE LOBBY....Is New Republic editor-in-chief Marty Peretz one of the most grating writers on the planet? You bet. Is he a grating racist writer as well? It sure seems like it, but since I do my best to avoid reading anything he writes I'm not in the best position to say. However, if you're interested in further opinions on this subject check out Chait, Yglesias, Greenwald, and Klein. And Ogged, who says:

Yglesias deserves a ton of credit for taking on Peretz and people who are quick to charge anti-semitism. Only a smart, tough Jew could have done it, and Yglesias has been up to the task.

Right. But this is kid stuff. Discussing Marty Peretz's personal demons is certainly entertaining for us onlookers, but what started this whole fracas was Matt's original column, which defended Wesley Clark's belief that war with Iran is becoming increasingly inevitable because, even though the broad Jewish community is divided on the issue, "there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers." Matt concurs that the Jewish community is divided, and goes on to back Clark on the issue of rich money men as well:

It's also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country. Furthermore, it's true that major Jewish organizations are trying to push the country into war.

But is it? It sure seems like a topic that deserves more than some casual drive-by character assassination (e.g., "no offense, but you remind me of Charles Lindbergh," which is very close to a Godwin's Law violation from Jonah Goldberg). If this is really the topic at hand, then let's hear the arguments from all sides. 5,000 words from all contestants by Monday, please.

POSTSCRIPT: I also have a related question. When Clark talked about pressure being channeled to "office seekers," I assume he was making a claim about pressure on Democratic office seekers, who might otherwise be expected to form a stronger counterweight to hawkish Republican policy. Is this everyone else's assumption too?

Kevin Drum 1:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Webb!!

Posted by: Ghost of Tom Joad on January 27, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

every americam knows this is happening but most are afraid to say it.
Doesn't it seem awfully strange that Schumer and Clinton dont come out more vocally for anti-war positions. What about Jonathan Edwards shameless pandering in Israel this past week - he disgusts me?
Please, this the biggest no-brainer of all time.

Posted by: jman_nyc on January 27, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Webb!!

Yeah!

Posted by: macaca on January 27, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

When Clark talked about pressure being channeled to "office seekers," I assume he was making a claim about pressure on Democratic office seekers, who might otherwise be expected to form a stronger counterweight to hawkish Republican policy. Is this everyone else's assumption too?

That's how I read it. I just figured a democratic office seeker would be plugged into the machinations of the democratic party. If he meant pressure behind the scenes on republican office seekers, well, I might question his motives for putting this idea out there...

Posted by: Matt on January 27, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

well, i don't know if this qualifies as hard evidence, but the american jewish committee published an alarmist ad, one of many they publish, a map with concentric circles radiating out from tehran, claiming that a nuclear iran threatens EVERYONE (booga booga).

that's pretty much the public face of it. internally, it gets dirtier and dirtier. there's a lot of stovepiped intelligence coming from israel straight into american jewish organizations. how do i know? i worked for one. and i had the good fortune of watching no fewer than two israeli intelligence officials come into the office to give briefings on iran. (i say no fewer than two, because israeli diplomats of all manner were regularly shuffling in and out. they may have been providing intelligence as well.) this was a full year ago incidentally, so the drumbeat has been consistent.

so you have organizations receiving intelligence directly from the party most interested in war with iran, who also happen to have tons of money and political views that tilt rightward on the very issue of greatest importance to them. are politicians going to be affected by this? you betcha.

Posted by: joe on January 27, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

oh, and the ad was publishe din the Times, the financial times, the IHT, and one other paper

Posted by: joe on January 27, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Is he a grating racist writer as well? It sure seems like it

Kevin, might you throw a bone and post at least a couple of examples of such alleged racism? Seems to me clear that Goldberg's got the better of the argument as to your post if you aren't even going to give ONE example of Peretz's alleged racism.

"there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

Ah, Kevin. So now you claim a small number of Jews have the power to force America into war. That's classic anti-semitism. Of course, I guess I shouldn't be surpised since you're friends with the anti-semites Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein.

Al

..

Posted by: Real Al on January 27, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Curse you, Balfour!

Al-bot, you continue to entertain! :-)

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on January 27, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Take one look at our Cuba policy, and you learn all you need to know about how our government is for sale.

It is certainly no different with AIPAC and our Mideast policy. In fact its worse. It's abetted by oil and defense industry lobbying that have a mutual confluence of interests, and a kids-playing-cowboys Executive Branch.

This government doesn't represent "the people" of the United States. It's a policy store for lobbying and special interests, and a services organization that then sells those policies to the people.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on January 27, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

from the Huffington Post, this is what Clark said:

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table -- but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, What will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq? It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."
...
When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

Is it indefensible to assert that, for a supposedly experienced man who has been thinking a lot about these issues, that was a pretty stupid thing to say? The comment about diplomacy isn't so bad (though diplomacy is possibly futile in light of Iran's announced ambitions), but the point seems to be that Bush is committed to bombing Iran because of the pressure from New York money people. Don't we expect Wesley Clark to be smarter and more thoughtful than Patrick Buchanan?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 27, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, this will be a little long, but here goes.

What you have here is a confluence of interests, none of them good. On the Jewish side, you do have a host of organizations that view the United States not simply as Israel's defender but as an instrument with which to crush their enemies. Since Iran is viewed by the most vocal of these groups as the most threatening enemy of Israel, it would be great for those groups if the U.S. took out Iran.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., you have a legion of lunatic evangelical groups that view Israel and Jerusalem as the keys to the Second Coming. In their view, as long as Israel is threatened there is no hope of the Temple being rebuilt. Without the Temple, Jesus won't come. So, again, since Iran is the greatest threat to Israel, these evangelical groups think it would be great if the U.S. took out Iran. (Note also that many of the extreme orthodox Jewish communities believe that Moshiach, the Jewish messiah, cannot come without the Temple and a secure Israel--leading the extreme orthodox groups to ally with U.S. evangelical fundamentalists.)

And, finally, there are all the ancillary players who would benefit enormously by the U.S. attacking Iran. Think of every defense contractor, the entire oil industry, services groups like Halliburton, and so on. That's a pretty powerful group of moneyed interested arrayed right there.

So, yeah, Matt and Clark are right. It's just not a situation that can be encapsulated in a few sound-bite sessions.

Posted by: Derelict on January 27, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Also, Matt brings up a good point.

The Democratic party is perhaps the most whored out on this front and have been since Clinton. Trusting them to not to be "under the influence" is silly.

This is why Clark, should he run, will probably get my vote. At the very least he has the cojones to point this out.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on January 27, 2007 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's true, but it's not even pejorative. Americans have been trying to influence foreign policy based on their ties to the old (or in Israel's case, new) country since Washington was president. Irish-American influence kept this country out of WWI until 1917, to our very great advantage, I might add.
No one should begrudge others their efforts to shape policy towards their desires. The Israeli lobby's attempt to deny it even exists, however, makes their efforts seem more sinister than they are. What are they afraid of?
The answer, of course, is the majority of their fellow citizens get nothing, repeat nothing out of our goverment's policy-rubber-stamping the actions of whatever Israeli government holds power there.

Posted by: JMG on January 27, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks to Derelict for filling in the details I forgot.

Dwight Eisenhower's warning about the Military Industrial Complex and its influence on our government didn't foresee that equally powerful and dangerous lobbying groups, representing foreign powers and/or religious interests.

Look, it doesn't have to take the form of something so sinister as cigar chomping whispers in a backroom. This is upfront repetition, and continuous face time with legislators by the lobbyists who can bring significant weight down to influence our these so-called representatives. There is no need for a conspiracy when they have been doing this out in the open for years.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on January 27, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I do have to wonder what might be going on to influence the decisions of Schumer and Clinton, among others, with regard to Iran. If there's an epicenter of the AIPAC demography, that would have to be in New York, one would expect. To be perfectly candid, I think that is where the most radicalized, right wing American Jews choose to live.

For many of this group, despite their inclination to right wing hyperaggression and punishment of "evildoers", at least when it comes to Israel, they also like to fancy themselves as liberals. They are no doubt great supporters of Schumer and Clinton (as they were of Lieberman, in the neighboring state of Connecticut).

Schumer, Clinton, and Lieberman were of course supporters of the Iraq war when it commmenced. Schumer and Clinton have seemed very slow to back off their positions, and of course Lieberman never has.

Now supporting the Iraq war back in 2003 was barely tolerable for the larger Democratic Party, and Schumer and Clinton have mostly been spared the wrath of Democratic activists because of that context.

But I guarantee this: if Schumer and Clinton or any other Democrat of significance comes out in favor of an intervention against Iran while Bush is still in power, they will be savaged by the larger Democratic Party.

Any Democrat who gives cover for Bush to go into Iran had better resign themselves to unending revulsion and hatred from the broader Democratic Party and, indeed, directly from the American people more largely speaking.

2007 is NOT 2003, and Iran is NOT Iraq.

While I think that Iran alway presented a far greater problem than Iraq for both the US and Israel, it is unthinkable that any Democrat would support a near term intervention against Iran while under the leadership of George W Bush.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 27, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?"

Yeah, what is Iran anyways -- Serbia?

Posted by: smedleybutler on January 27, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Well this is all well and good, but look at what is happening to Jimmy Carter. He simply points out the inhumane treatment of Palestinian civilians and he is being accused of everything pro Israeli brown shirts can throw at him.

And where is the liberal blogosphere on this? Wunderkind Yglesias has not felt a blow. Carter on the other hand is being labeled as a anti-Semitic lying senile plagiarizer.

Kevin, where do you come down on this?

Posted by: Keith G on January 27, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and real Al, you lazy f*ck, click the Greenwald link and you will find so many examples of Peretz's dirty racism that you will have to weigh them with a DOT roadside scale.

Posted by: Keith G on January 27, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

The answer is very simple: push a bill declaring that Congress does not yet authorize war against Iran, and see where the resistance lies.

Posted by: Boronx on January 27, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Also, if all this were true, this would be simply a case of money buying influence, since these organizations would not be able to lead the very liberal Jewish population to defeat a wayward politician.

In otherwords, reduction in the effect of money on politics reduces this problem and a host of others just like it.

Posted by: Boronx on January 27, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

Those tough smart jews; always getting the jewish jobs!

Posted by: Matt on January 27, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.

This is it? Wesley Clark says when he reads the Israeli press, he reads articles saying there is pressure on politicians? And Clark is anti-semitic, but the Israeli press isn't?

At the same time, doesn't everyone agree that AIPAC is one of the most powerful lobbys in the country?

Shouldn't Chait, Yglesias, and you be looking in the Israeli press? Was Clark accurate about those articles or not?

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/27/MNG9DNQ8TC1.DTL

"It's not a fantasy that there's anti-Semitism on the left," said Rabbi Michael Lerner, a leader of progressive faith politics. But he said conservative groups oversimplify the debate.

"The ADL and other Jewish establishment groups have been part of the problem," Lerner said. "They draw the line in such a way as to identify as 'anti-Semitic' or 'self-hating Jews' those who are critical of Israeli policy.

"That freezes debate and then makes it easy for the real anti-Semites on the left to say, 'Anyone who makes a criticism of Israel is (called) an anti-Semite,' " said Lerner, who said he loves Israel and endorsed his son's service in the Israeli defense force.

Neither Lerner, the founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Tikkun magazine, nor several other well-regarded leftist Jewish organizations were invited to help shape the conference.

The disagreement is especially lively in the Bay Area, where liberal activism is strong.

Stanford Professor Joel Beinin's picture was plastered on the cover of the book "Campus Support for Terrorism," by conservative author David Horowitz, and Beinin was called a "self-hating" Jew for his critiques of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

"But this is kid stuff."

No, it isn't. Goldberg's insinuation that Yglesias is an anti-semite is terrorist-baiting, and it's intended precisely to render impossible any discussion of the merits of a positions such as Yglesias'.

In other words, there's nothing casual at all about the character assassination here. The character assassination is precisely the point. It's *intended* to forestall the discussion you're asking for, Kevin.

Posted by: Scott E. on January 27, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

AIPAC: Iran: The Core of Middle East Instability

Posted by: jerry on January 27, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Some unpleasant stuff above... although I've seen a lot worse.

Peretz certainly has strong opinions. Some I agree with, some I don't. And he often expresses himself ineptly. I think the racism charge is inaccurate, and given the incendiary nature of such a charge, borders on slander.

I don't think Clark is an anti-Semite, but there's no question that he expressed himself using an anti-Semitic trope.

Finally, one need not agree with a nut like Horowitz to think that people like Yglesias (or Eric Alterman) are more than a little naive about where some of the thinking and speaking they are defending on this subject is coming from, or where it might lead. I'd say dangerously naive, in fact. That doesn't make them self-hating Jews. More like self-deluded.

Posted by: larry birnbaum on January 27, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Larry for taking a step-down from the ad-hominem.

Now, if you care to expand on your "naive" argument, the next step might actually create a discussion on the merits of policy. And that would be the point of the entire thread in case you missed it; Those too afraid to discuss/argue their policy goals and the methods they use to achieve them openly and honestly.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on January 27, 2007 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I was at a small lunch (about 20 people) with Madeleine Albright in a Smith Barney conference room in midtown Manhattan last month. That is, I think I was in the middle of "New York money people," Jews and non-Jews. I can tell you that the general sentiment in the room was strongly opposed to continued or expanded U.S. military involvement in the Middle East - Albright herself may have been the biggest hawk there. So I honestly think Wesley Clark (and Matt Yglesias) have it wrong on the facts - you can't say that "New York money people," on any reasonable interpretation of that phrase, mean to drive us to war with Iran, to protect Israel or for any other reason. I really wonder where Clark is coming from.

Posted by: Richard Riley on January 27, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's also true that most major American Jewish organizations cater to the views of extremely wealthy major donors whose political views are well to the right of the bulk of American Jews, one of the most liberal ethnic groups in the country.

Trying to come up with a list of extremely wealthy Jews who are also Republicans. Can somebody help me out?

Posted by: mel on January 27, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Clark is an anti-Semite, but there's no question that he expressed himself using an anti-Semitic trope.

Yes, but, what if the "anti-semitic trope" is true in this instance? What if, in other words, significant and very wealthy people who also happen to be Jewish do favor war with Iran, and are vociferously doing their utmost to advance this as a policy option (which is, after all, their right)?

Is Clark supposed to refrain from asserting things he belives are true (or are true) because someobody in the past has used, for evil purposes, stereotypes about Jews and money and influence?

Posted by: Jacob Marley on January 27, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Hey folks, wake up--last war it was Wolfowitz and his notion that the road to peace in the Middle east runs through Baghdad.

Now the neo-cons/AIPAC see the road to peace in the Middle East running through Tehran.

And after that the Road will run through Cairo, then Damascus, Amman. More roads here than in a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby movie.

A million Muslims in the world; so many roads.

Get real America and Israel! Too many Arabs,, too many roads. Work out a deal now or we're all on the road to oblivion.

Posted by: Dr Wu -I'm just an ordinary guy on January 27, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

"...close to a Godwin's Law violation..."

Since Godwin's Law, in its original formulation, is descriptive, not proscriptive, the only way to violate it would be to avoid any mention of the Third Reich in any discussion of any length.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 27, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Washington, Hamilton, and Madison foresaw the present day clearly in Washington's Farewell Address:

"Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite [foreign country] are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests."

Posted by: Steve Sailer on January 27, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't we just hear the Democratic office seeker, John Edwards, make a speech that sounded like he was ready to go to war with Iran?

Is there a risk that people like Hillary and Edwards might take us into such a war out of gratitude to their backers? Hopefully not, but I assume that's what such pressure groups would be anticipating.

Posted by: catherineD on January 27, 2007 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

Derelict on January 27, 2007 at 2:24 PM

I think that you went a good ways to showing that the quote from Clark was wrong. There's an array of interested parties who want Bush to take strong military measures against Iran, just as there is an array of interests who don't want Bush to take strong military measures. Clark would have been better served had he addressed the variety of pressures instead of focusing on unnamed New York moneyed interests.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 27, 2007 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

The aggression so many people want to use against Iran is baseless, so the motives have to be found elsewhere. I think it is true many Jewish people have sympathies with Israel, as do many other Americans, but I cannot believe religion informs them to make war against Iran in order to make Israel more secure from that phantom. The influence of media and finance from New York City, containing the world's largest Jewish population, does have greater influence than most any other geographical location and does influence the politicians from that area. There are groups who manipulate Jewish sympathies for the state of Israel. There are groups who manipulate the press to influence popular opinion for the state of Israel and groups who manipulate finances to influence politics in favor of the state of Israel. These groups and the individuals who manage them may or may not be doing so for the militant hegemony of the state of Israel, but clearly some do. I think some are motivated from a genuine belief that Israel must be always militarily superior to prevent another Holocaust. They are deluded, but influenced by the horrific past of the European Jews. However, I think most who advocate for a hegemonic Israeli state do so for personal power and enrichment and are happy to manipulate their sympathizers and intimidate their opponents with as much power and influence they can muster. Since that power and influence mostly derives from the richest and most media-centric city in the country, it succeeds too well at providing American tax payer gifts of economic and military aid, as well as national policy that does not serve the best interests of the nation or the Middle East. Unfortunately, it also serves narrow interests for the defense and oil industries, who have an even great ability to influence politics, the economy and the media message. These forces create a great barrier to honest debate and, worse, can actually drive policy without benefit of being for the national well being. I think that is where we are now with all of the talk of a preemptive strike against Iran, a country that poses no real national security risks to Israel or the US, even if it acquires nuclear weapons.

Iran's risks to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are political. The militant leaders of the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the oil companies do not want other Middle Eastern countries to have the kind of democratic self-determination that Iran offers as an example, and they are willing to destroy it with war. We should be very afraid they will succeed. I think they will.

It is easy to undertand why the oil dominated nations like the US and Saudi Arabia are afraid of Iran's limited democracy, the people might decide their natural resources should be used for their benefit. The militant Israelis' objection must come from a fear that if all of the surrounding Arab world were to be democratic they would be voted off of the island, so they want to keep the Arab world in chaos or at least under the thumb of reliable tyrannies. I cannot say what will happen in the future if the Arab world should obtain popular governments, but I can easily predict that oppression will eventually be overthrown and that then the popular will may very well be extremely hostile to its rulers and their enablers. I think Israel's best chance for long term survival is to seek peace with compromise. At this time Israel's rulers and greatest supporters are unable to reach that conclusion, and instead argue war fought with the wealth of the US is the way to national security. National security bought with preemptive war will not secure the kind of peace worth having.

Posted by: Brojo on January 27, 2007 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

This isn't a left/right issue.

AIPAC funnels money to both sides of the Congress. They really don't care if the recipients are Repubs or Democrats as long as they toe the Israeli line.

This is why you won't see ANY major candidates taking a stand against attacking Iran. They know where the money's coming from. No money. No campaign. No campaign, no win, no win, no power. no power, no money.

Speaking of coming, obviously some sort of Israeli military action is planned fairly soon. You can usually tell when Israel is planning an attack by watching what the American media is fronting.

In fact, I just saw the Israeli PM on American TeeVee a few hours ago complaining about how the world not doing enough to prevent another 'Holocaust'. The remarks were stuffed into some pseudo-news coverage about a 'Holocaust Opera'.

If history is any guide, the upcoming action will be fairly big if the Israelis are playing the holocaust victim card. They usually reserve it for justifying major military adventures like invasions.

For example, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin justified the invasion of Lebanon by saying that it was to prevent another Treblinka.

IMHO: Better buy some oil futures soon. Halliburton stock would be a good pick too.

Posted by: Buford on January 28, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure this will be a very interesting thread, and I'll try and contribute tomorrow.

Until then:

Like many American Jews, I was brought up to believe that if I pulled the Republican lever on the election machine my right hand would wither and, as the Psalmist says, my tongue would cleave to the roof of my mouth.

According to the Bible, of course, these are the feared consequences of forgetting Jerusalem. Now although there are many reasons one might want to vote for John F. Kerry, remembering Jerusalem remembering to stand up for the state of Israel is not among them.

What if you've decided that "standing up for Israel" means waging war against Iran to prevent it from going nuclear (something Israel absurdly still won't admit itself, even though everyone knows and they undermine the NPT by doing so)?

What if you're the editor of a widely-circulated magazine...how would you stand up for Israel? Would you encourage dissenting opinion, or the opposite, condescending and/or attacking opinion against dissent?

What if you are a major political donor, and don't expect to just give large sums without communicating one's ideas and opinions for policy? How do you stand up for Israel then, if you feel war would be preferable to Iran going nuclear, would you only give your money to candidates who concur or appear sympathetic to the notion?

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2007 at 12:26 AM | PERMALINK

Ironic because Peretz's endorsement of Gore in 2000 was such a thing of beauty that I started subscribing to TNR right away. Only to find that Peretz is really a bigot

Posted by: bob h on January 28, 2007 at 7:43 AM | PERMALINK

Buford --

I hope you are wrong, but I recently read about Israel conducting long range bombing runs over the Mediterrean.

Links from TPM suggest that Iran's actual nuclear potential are about nil, but the lack of WMDs in Iraq simply spurred the rush to war lest the truth some out.

Again, I really hope that we are all wrong about strikes (especially nuclear strikes) againt Iran.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on January 28, 2007 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

This is why you won't see ANY major candidates taking a stand against attacking Iran. They know where the money's coming from. No money. No campaign. No campaign, no win, no win, no power. no power, no money.

Be that as it may, if Democratic candidates give aid and succor to any attempt by Bush to conduct an intervention in Iran, they will earn only the undying hatred of Democratic activists and Democratic voters, not to mention a majority of the public at large.

Money can buy some things, but others it can't.

Nobody but nobody is going to believe that Iran is a country we must attack immediately or the sky will fall.

Israel, may, of course, act as usual like a rogue state and decide on its own it's not going to wait a single moment longer before launching an attack.

But that's a different question from whether Bush himself joins in on the action, and whether he gets the support of Democratic politicians.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 28, 2007 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

You know, reading Peretz's comments above, I'm just struck by how absurd it is that he and others are so quick to condemn the assertion that at least a number of American Jews have dual loyalties.

He clearly wants the decision to vote for an American President to rest on nearly a single issue: whether it is good for Israel or not.

How can one interpret that statement without saying it implies that for Peretz at least, and for those whom he thinks he's appealing to, loyalty to Israel is and should be at the very top of their concerns? How can we even pretend to ourselves that he's saying something else?

How can you twist the obvious assumptions of his own argument here into something that doesn't imply the very thing that he would assert is outrageous: namely, dual loyalties in a number of American Jews? For God's sake, he's exactly assuming dual loyalties in his audience, otherwise there would be no point to his argument!

This is really as Orwellian as anything that comes out of the Bush administration.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 28, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

I assume he was making a claim about pressure on Democratic office seekers, who might otherwise be expected to form a stronger counterweight to hawkish Republican policy. Is this everyone else's assumption too?

Yes, that too is my assumption, or at least my guess. And my guess is that Clark himself experienced this.

One current phenomena that is striking to me is the attack of so many Jewish activists and writers on Jimmy Carter’s most recent book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. Carter argues that its almost as if there are two Israels: Israel Proper as opposed to Israel in the occupied territories. Carter finds the behavior of Israelis in the territories pretty bad and also the policies that recent Israeli governments have implemented in the occupied territories. He very clearly states that there are plenty Israeli citizens who agree with him.

Yet, Carter is being attacked rather viciously by right-leaning supporters of Israel, both Jewish and non-Jewish.

It’s very curious to watch. Carter is very specific with his criticisms and makes it clear that he thinks Israel’s Palestine policies are bad for Israel itself. He has been saying the same thing for many years. Yet, his critics level charges that he is anti-Israel and pro-Palestine. They insinuate bigotry. They take statements from the book out of context. They do all the bad things right-wingers do.

I would much rather hear a discussion of the very specific descriptions offered by Carter. I don’t need to be told that there have been terror attacks against Israel by Palestinians. I don’t need to be told that some Israelis have done bad things to Palestinians. I need to go much deeper than that. Carter is trying to take me deeper. His critics do not impress me with their ridiculous personal charges.

Typical is Jeffery Goldberg and his review (strangely, prominently displayed with the editorial review in Amazon.com) which insultingly sets up the following strawman: Carter claims Israel is an apartheid state. False. Carter claims apartheid exists in the territories. Dispute that for me Mr. Goldberg because I am interested in the truth, not your strawmen.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2007 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

Lot's of loose talk. Some posters here would lead you to believe that the Clintons favored invading Iraq and that there is, at most, a dime's worth of difference in the Clintons and GWB.

For those of you a little bored with Republican talking points and interested in what Hillary Clinton has recently said about Iran and other issues:

http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=265807

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

little ole jim,

I did read the portions of the Hillary's speech that pertained to Iraq. While most of it is sensible, there's nothing in it to suggest one way or another that she wouldn't support an incursion into Iran under the leadership of Bush. She simply asserts that we should be in process of talking to them at this stage.

But what if Israel attacks Iran, and asks for backup from the US, and Bush, as one would expect, chips in?

That's where the shit hits the fan for Clinton and Schumer. They will be caught between their local, uncritically pro-Israel constituencies and a hard place. Israel, of course, will offer all manner of "proof" that they couldn't wait another day without a mushroom cloud appearing over Tel Aviv. Would Clinton and Schumer endorse the bullshit?

I see nothing in Clinton's speech to indicate she would not.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 28, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Oops, I meant

I did read the portions of the Hillary's speech that pertained to Iran

Posted by: frankly0 on January 28, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

..and this is really the ultimate legacy of Bush' Iraq clusterfuck.

Who is going to trust the government in the future about what is or isn't really a threat?

WMD?

US National Interests?

Spreading Democracy?


This administration has shit that bed for a long time.

Posted by: Ten in Tenn on January 28, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think Israel will attack Iran without prior approval of the United States. That would really be going out on a limb, all alone.

And, I think every single Democrat running for President would tell Israel no. Period.

I do not have that kind of confidence in the Republicans. Witness how GWB backed down to Sharon after initially talking tough about Sharon's military imprisonment of Arafat.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 28, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

And, I think every single Democrat running for President would tell Israel no. Period.

I'm not so convinced.

I see a different scenario. I see Israel deciding by itself for its own reasons that it is going to attack Iran, period. Israel, by its recent history, clearly regards itself as in no important way beholden to the interests or politics of the US, and believes it can dictate what it wants. It will simply inform its people in the US that that is what they must make all the politicians they have effectively controlled to get on board, or else.

Many of these politicians are Democrats, including both Schumer and Clinton.

That is when the shit hits the fan. If, say, Clinton criticizes Israel, she will be torn limb from limb by the Israel lobby. If she uncritically supports Israel, she will be torn limb from limb by Democratic activists.

It's not implausible that Israel will indeed simply attack Iran in the next year or so.

But there will be absolute hell to pay politically, and the rift between the Democratic powers that be in Washington, who will support Israel, and the rest of the Democratic party will be complete and permanent.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 28, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and one further point about my little scenario.

If Israel does indeed attack Iran, and push its bought and sold Democrats to support that action uncritically, then that will leave a major opening for some Democrat with national ambitions to come down hard against the idea that the US should support Israel on that. All the money in the world and Washington influence is not going to stop Democratic activists from rallying around that Democrat.

And THAT will be the end of the complete domination of AIPAC in American politics regarding issues having to do with ME. Once politicians realize that they can achieve great success by bucking AIPAC and Israel, the spell will be broken.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 28, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

The Pro-Israel Lobby (1994)

Another important reason to doubt the importance of Israel's strategic asset role in explaining the pro-Israel policy and intellectual bias is the character and evident impact of the pro-Israel lobby. If scores of Democratic politicians take large sums from the lobby, and speak and vote in ways consistent with its demands, we may reasonably doubt whether this political behavior results from a considered judgment of Middle East issues. Long-time Democratic congressman (and economist!) Clarence Long acknowledged to Paul Findley that "Long ago I decided that I'd vote for anything that AIPAC [American Israel Public Affairs Committee] wants. I didn't want them on my back....I made up my mind I would get and keep their support." Long, of course, rationalized his submission and could not comprehend why David Obey would raise questions about the level of Israel's aid. A colleague chided Long: "Maybe he's thinking about our own national interest."

...

The basis of the lobby's power is political resources, intelligently and aggressively deployed, strong media and pundit representation and support, a well developed and powerful system of grassroots activism, and the absence of any seriously contesting opposition. Affluent Jews have responded generously in support of pro-Israel lobbying groups, especially in times of perceived threats to Israel. The leading U.S. lobbying group, AIPAC, with an annual budget of some $15 million in the early 1990s, is widely thought to be the most influential lobbying body in the country. There are more than 60 pro-Israel PACs, most of them closely linked to AIPAC, whose resources (supplemented by individual contributions) has made this collective the largest dispenser of single-issue money in U.S. politics. It is deployed aggressively and with sophistication, and its threat terrifies politicians, especially Democrats. They have seen what happens to a Charles Percy or Paul Findley, among many others.

According to political analyst Stephen Isaacs, the Democratic National Committee gets about half of its money from Jewish sources, and he reports one non-Jewish strategist as saying: "You can't hope to go anywhere in national politics, if you're a Democrat, without Jewish money." Republicans have been less dependent on this source, but many of them (and their Christian right supporters) have been keen on Israel because of its harsh policies and support of U.S. militarism.

Just wondering, and I don't know the certainty of the claim that the DNC gets 1/2 its money from Jewish sources, but with the new reality of the netroots and raising money online through more individual contributors, how do you think this new reality will influence the direction of organized Jewish political fundraising?

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

What did y'all change with your website Kevin? I'm getting some weird posts here, and it's starting to look like I can't blockquote without previewing first (which has never been the case).

Sorry for the double post, and I'm going to have to drop one more to fix the other post (I won't bother fixing the one from yesterday that I just noticed also was messed up).

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2007 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Holocaust To Center Stage

In the 1960s, the Holocaust slowly began to move to the center stage of American Jewish life and consciousness. The Eichmann trial raised awareness of and interest in the Holocaust and the prelude to the Six Day War of 1967 fed fears of a renewed Holocaust among some American Jews—fears heightened further during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

After 1967, Israel moved to the top of the agenda of the organized Jewish community. Oscar Cohen, a long-time official of the ADL, wrote to a friend that by the 1970s organized American Jewry had become "an agency of the Israeli government...following its directions from day to day." The hallmark of the good Jew, Novick writes, "became the depth of his or her commitment to Israel...the Six Day War offered a folk theology of ‘Holocaust and Redemption."’

After the Six Day War, and particularly after 1973, Novick writes, "much of the world came to see the Middle East conflict as grounded in the Palestinian struggle to, belatedly, accomplish the U,N.’s original intention. There were strong reasons for Jewish organizations to ignore all this, however, and instead to conceive of Israel’s difficulties as stemming from the world’s having forgotten the Holocaust. The Holocaust framework allowed one to put aside as irrelevant any legitimate grounds for criticizing Israel, to avoid even considering the possibility that the rights and wrongs were complex...

There's plenty of room for disagreement and debate in this country, but we should never accept denying reality, or disparaging those who raise uncomfortable or cognitively dissonant subjects. And, when I say "uncomfortable and cognitively dissonant", that's the generous attribution, whereas the less generous one, but probably more honest, would include those like Marty Peretz who know damn well why they deny certain elements of reality, and attack those who do not, in direct violation of the principles this nation is founded upon (and presumably stands for).

Posted by: Jimm on January 28, 2007 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

The manipulation goes both ways in the US-Israel relationship.

The US has a good cop-bad cop thing going where we use the threat of Israel's military and their settlement/Palestinian policy as leverage to get concessions from Iran, Syria, Lebanon & others. Then we always have Israel to use as a sheild in case a nuclear development facility happens to get bombed.

This is why supporters of Israeli foreign policy are trying to isolate Carter -- Carter's views could drive a wedge between Israel's military and their traditional supporters in Congress.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 29, 2007 at 5:15 AM | PERMALINK

Israel, by its recent history, clearly regards itself as in no important way beholden to the interests or politics of the US...

I agree with that part of your comment frankly0, and I don’t even think it’s an overstatement. And I’m glad you further specify what you mean here by the “Israel lobby” is AIPAC and the like (which Kevin probably should have done just to be safe) because there are a large number of people in Israel, and Israel supporters in the United States, who disagree vehemently with AIPAC.

But we have different guesses on how certain Democrats would respond. I note that the Olmert government did (allegedly) have the tacit support of the Bush Administration when it recently invaded Lebanon. And Israeli military action, especially unilateral, will be even harder to justify (much harder, I think) against Iran than Lebanon.

But, like you I’m sure, I will feel better if and when I hear this explicitly expressed by Presidential candidates.

Posted by: jackohearts on January 29, 2007 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

"Trying to come up with a list of extremely wealthy Jews who are also Republicans. Can somebody help me out?"

I can think of two: Ronald Lauder and Michael Bloomberg. There are doubtless many others who do not have high public profiles, because that's just the way people are.

Posted by: Brittain33 on January 29, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

"Israel, by its recent history, clearly regards itself as in no important way beholden to the interests or politics of the US, and believes it can dictate what it wants."

Nonsense. "Recent history" involves the Bush Administration, whose stated policy is to let Israel do what it wants and even to push it further (cf. Lebanon) in order to serve what Bush thinks are his interests. Israel has been extremely beholden to Bush's interests in this matter, which may be the source of the confusion, as it's not serving America's interests well.

In the past, when Clinton called on the phone, Barak came running.

Posted by: Brittain33 on January 29, 2007 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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