Jeff Blankfort: There have, in fact, been very few books or articles in either the mainstream or alternative media that have attempted to expose the inner workings of the Israel lobby and when they have appeared they have largely been ignored by the US Left. When they have been mentioned, it has been largely to refute them. Moreover, the issue is never on the agenda in pro-Palestinian conferences or mentioned at any of the anti-war rallies that call for an end to Israeli occupation.
Here Massad disingenuously conflates Washington's corrupt allies in the Arab world with those of who have made serious, factual criticisms of the role that the Israel Lobby has played in influencing America's Middle East policies. None of the latter have advanced the notion that without the lobby, America might, at best, be the “the Arabs' and the Palestinians' best ally and friend.” While this might be the position held by a few former members of the Foreign Service, it has never been advanced by the lobby’s Left critics. They have no illusions about the evils of US imperialism that have and will continue to exist, irrespective of the lobby, although the lobby has been useful in pushing the US political agenda elsewhere.
The authors are not absolving the US of its own responsibilities but trying to explain how US Middle East policies came to be formed. They are not saying that without the interference of Israel and the Israel Lobby that the US would not pursue its imperial interest in the Arab world, but that it would do so without generating the problems that US support for Israel has engendered and which have been so costly in lives and money.
Again, Massad is creating a straw man. The authors are not blaming the entirety of US policies on either Israel or its lobby, but dealing with specific issues in which US support for Israel has had negative effects on the region and US relations in the region.
The authors are essentially correct. Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.
One must ask, where has Prof. Massad been? While it was not well known, but no secret, that the Lobby played a key role in getting the votes for the first Gulf War, the reporting of which resulted in the firing of the Washington Jewish Week’s Larry Cohler at the behest of AIPAC inductee Steve Rosen, the orchestration of the current war by a handful of Jewish Likud-connected neocons with the support of the Israel Lobby was widely reported in the mainstream press. If there was a question as to who was the chief architect, it was a choice between Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Scooter Libby.
Those diplomats probably telling the truth as they saw it as statements many have made, after leaving the Foreign Service, attest. As far as using ethnic terms, in Israel they refer to it as “the Jewish Lobby.” Is that what he means? Does that imply if a non-Jew uses the term it is “anti-Semitic?”
Yet another straw man. It is not a question of supporting a national liberation struggle but determining overall policy for the region, in general. It should have been clear that a Palestinian mini-state run by Yasser Arafat or any of his cronies would have been no threat to the US at all, in fact, it would have been useful since its reactionary policies would have had a crushing effect not only on the Palestinians themselves, but on those peoples in the Middle East and around the world that have supported the Palestinian struggle for so many years. Moreover, it would have been economically dependent on both Israel and the surrounding reactionary Arab states.
Africa has fared much worse in the last four decades, as have many countries in Asia. Why would the United States support nationalist regimes in the Arab world who would nationalize natural resources and stop their pillage by American capital absent the pro-Israel lobby also remains a mystery unexplained by these studies. Finally, the United States government has opposed and overthrown or tried to overthrow any regime that seeks real and tangible independence in the Third World and is especially galled by those regimes that pursue such policies through democratic elections.
Massad presents a long history of US depredations of the Third World countries that has no relevance to this issue. Mearsheimer and Walt do not state or imply that, absent the Israel Lobby, the US would support nationalist regimes in the region. In 1958, Pres. Eisenhower sent the Marines to Lebanon to prevent what was thought to be a radical nationalist move against the status quo, but the US has only invaded Arab countries twice, Kuwait in 1991, to oust the Iraqis and in 2003. As pointed out earlier, the first required the assistance of the Israel lobby capped by the phony incubator story that was orchestrated by Rep. Tom Lantos, an author or co-sponsor of numerous Iraqi and Syria sanction bills and anti-Palestinian legislation. (According to the Jerusalem Post, Lantos represents Israel in countries where it has no diplomatic recognition.)
From the end of the Vietnam War to the beginning of the first Gulf War, the profits of the weapons industry continued to soar, proving that an actual shooting war was not necessary for the arms manufacturers to make windfall profits or the capitalist system to survive. Given that both US political parties are committed to what is euphemistically called “national defense,” there is no debate in Congress over the size of the military budget. Consequently, except for the Middle East, what the US has sought politically has been stability, the kind of stability that provides a ready source of raw materials and an outlet for US products. Those products include, of course, US weaponry, some of which may be used to quiet domestic rebellions, and some, like fighter jets, for national pride and kickbacks on both sides. It is only in the Middle East where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own, where there is continued instability, and that is what both Mearsheimer and Walt correctly contend is the fault of Israel and the Israel Lobby.
Israel did provide training to US troops on the techniques used to occupy and repress a hostile Arab population, only too pleased to have the US join it as the only foreign occupier of Arab soil which I believe was one of the reasons the Israeli government (as well as the lobby) wanted the US to invade Iraq. With the US taking the same kind of harsh measures to repress the Iraqis, it would be less likely to complain about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and this has proved to be the case. Israel has been called by Chomsky America’s “cop on the beat” in the Middle East, but when military intervention has been thought necessary it has always been American soldiers that have done the fighting. In fact, US soldiers were sent to Israel during the first Gulf War to operate the Patriot missile batteries to defend the Israelis.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
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