United States of Israel?
Robert Fisk does it again, this time meeting up with one of the authors of the recent study on the Israeli Lobby's influence on American foreign policy. The two professors have tried to stay out of the spotlight and instead respond to attacks against them through academic means. Not surprisingly, they have been attacked as anti-Semites because they dared to state the obvious: American foreign policy is heavily influenced by a pro-Israel lobby that pressures the US into making decisions that do not benefit the short or long term interests of Americans. On the contrary, this influence has had a consistently negative impact on America's relations with the rest of the world, and in particular, the Arab and Muslim world. More on the report in this earlier post.
The full text of Robert Fisk's article can be found on this great new blog, or on the Independent's website if you have access to the Portfolio accounts.
"Anyone who criticizes Israel's actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy," the authors have written, "...stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israeli lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism ... Anti-Semitism is something no-one wants to be accused of." This is strong stuff in a country where - to quote the late Edward Said - the "last taboo" (now that anyone can talk about blacks, gays and lesbians) is any serious discussion of America's relationship with Israel.In the article, also Robert Fisk discusses the biased reaction of the American press to the release of the Walt & Mearsheimer study.
For a while, the mainstream US press and television - as pro-Israeli, biased and gutless as the two academics infer them to be - did not know whether to report on their conclusions... or to remain submissively silent. The New York Times, for example, only got round to covering the affair in depth well over two weeks after the report's publication, and then buried its article in the education section on page 19. The academic essay, according to the paper's headline, had created a "debate" about the lobby's influence.The infamous Harvard professor and staunch pro-Israel advocate, Alan Dershowitz, naturally felt compelled to attack the study arguing that the professors "recycled" bigoted "accusations", in other words, he played the anti-Semitic card. The professors are working on a response to his baseless accusations.
Robert Fisk recalls his own experiences in speaking out against Israeli policies and the pressure he faced from US to Australia throughout his career.
I'll leave you with the last section of the article as I don't think there's much to add.
Across the United States, there is growing evidence that the Israeli and neo-conservative lobbies are acquiring ever greater power. The cancellation by a New York theatre company of My Name is Rachel Corrie - a play based on the writings of the young American girl crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 - has deeply shocked liberal Jewish Americans, not least because it was Jewish American complaints that got the performance pulled.[technorati tags: Israel, lobby, politics, US, Palestine]
"How can the West condemn the Islamic world for not accepting Mohamed cartoons," Philip Weiss asked in The Nation, "when a Western writer who speaks out on behalf of Palestinians is silenced? And why is it that Europe and Israel itself have a healthier debate over Palestinian human rights than we can have here?" Corrie died trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. Enemies of the play falsely claim that she was trying to stop the Israelis from collapsing a tunnel used to smuggle weapons. Hateful e-mails were written about Corrie. Weiss quotes one that reads: "Rachel Corrie won't get 72 virgins but she got what she wanted."
Saree Makdisi - a close relative of the late Edward Said - has revealed how a right-wing website is offering cash for University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) students who report on the political leanings of their professors, especially their views on the Middle East. Those in need of dirty money at UCLA should be aware that class notes, handouts and illicit recordings of lectures will now receive a bounty of $100. "I earned my own inaccurate and defamatory 'profile'," Makdisi says, "...not for what I have said in my classes on English poets such as Wordsworth and Blake - my academic speciality, which the website avoids mentioning - but rather for what I have written in newspapers about Middle Eastern politics."
Mearsheimer and Walt include a study of such tactics in their report. "In September 2002," they write, "Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (www.campus-watch.org) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel... the website still invites students to report 'anti-Israel' activity."
Perhaps the most incendiary paragraph in the essay - albeit one whose contents have been confirmed in the Israeli press - discusses Israel's pressure on the United States to invade Iraq. "Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq's WMD programmes," the two academics write, quoting a retired Israeli general as saying: "Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq's non-conventional capabilities."