Tuesday, September 9, 2008

In the Struggle for Peace and Justice: Countering Jewish-Zionist Power

"In the Struggle for Peace and Justice: Countering Jewish-Zionist Power

An address by Mark Weber at a conference in suburban Baltimore on Saturday, August 16, 2008.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in March-April 2003, and the occupation of the country since then, has cost thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, and has brought death to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Why did President Bush decide to go to war? In whose interests was it launched? In the months leading up to the attack, President Bush and other high-ranking US officials repeatedly warned that the threat posed to the US and world by the Baghdad regime was so grave and so imminent that the United States had to act quickly to bomb, invade and occupy Iraq.

As we now know, those reasons were bogus. But there is still confusion and discussion about the real reasons for the invasion. We often hear that it was a war for oil. This is a popular explanation, and a simple one. But it’s also wrong.

Whatever the secondary reasons for the war, the crucial factor in President Bush’s decision to attack was to help Israel. With support from Israel and America’s Jewish-Zionist lobby, and prodded by Jewish “neo-conservatives” holding high-level positions in his administration, President Bush – who was already fervently com­mitted to Israel – resolved to invade and subdue one of Israel’s chief regional enemies.

This is so widely understood in Washington that US Senator Ernest Hollings was moved in May 2004 to acknowledge that the US invaded Iraq, as he put it, “to secure Israel,” and, he added, “everybody” knows it. He also identified three of the influential pro-Israel Jews in Washington who played an important role in prodding the US into war: Richard Perle, chair of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board; Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary; and Charles Krauthammer, columnist and author.

Hollings referred to the cowardly reluctance of his Congressional colleagues to acknowledge this truth openly, saying that “nobody is willing to stand up and say what is going on.” Due to "the pressures we get politically," he added, members of Congress uncritically support Israel and its policies.

Some months before the invasion, retired four-star US Army General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark acknowledged in an interview: “Those who favor this attack [by the US against Iraq] now will tell you candidly, and privately, that it is probably true that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the United States. But they are afraid at some point he might decide if he had a nuclear weapon to use it against Israel."

Bush spoke candidly about why the US was going to war during a White House meeting just three weeks before the invasion. In a talk with Elie Wiesel, the well-known Jewish writer, Bush said: “If we don’t disarm Saddam Hussein, he will put a weapon of mass destruction on Israel and they will do what they think they have to do, and we have to avoid that.”

President Bush’s fervent support for Israel and its government is well known. He reaffirmed it, for example, in June 2002 in a major speech on the Middle East. In the view of “leading Israeli commentators,” the London Times reported, the address was “so pro-Israel that it might have been written by [Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon.” In an address to pro-Israel activists at the 2004 convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Bush said: “The United States is strongly committed, and I am strongly committed, to the security of Israel as a vibrant Jewish state.” He also told the gathering: “By defending the freedom and prosperity and security of Israel, you’re also serving the cause of America.”

Condoleeza Rice, who served as President Bush’s National Security Advisor, and later, as his Secretary of State, echoed the President’s outlook in a May 2003 interview, saying that the “security of Israel is the key to security of the world.”

The United States is, by far, the most important and consistently steadfast supporter of Israel and its policies. For years American political leaders of both parties have routinely and emphatically pledged their loyal commitment to Israel and its security. For decades the US has, uniquely, provided the Zionist state with crucial military, diplomatic and financial backing, including more than $3 billion each year in aid.

This unparalleled level of support for Israel is strikingly reflected in the United Nations. In the UN Security Council, the United States, time and time again, has vetoed resolutions critical of Israel’s policies -- resolutions that have support from nearly the entire world community. Likewise in the UN General Assembly, the United States and Israel have, time and time again, been on one side, and virtually the entire rest of the world has been on the other.

On October 21, 2003, for example, there was a vote in the UN General Assembly on a resolution condemning Israel’s so-called “security barrier,” a grotesque thing, parts of it larger and more formidable than the Berlin Wall, that Israel has built on occupied Palestinian territory. Supporting the resolution were 144 countries, representing nearly the entire world’s population. Twelve countries abstained. Just four countries opposed the resolution. They were: Israel, the United States, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. The latter two member states, small island countries in the Pacific ocean with a combined population of 180,000, are utterly dependent on the US.

And on December 9, 2003, the members of the UN General Assembly considered a resolution re-affirming the principle of Palestinian sovereignty. It received the backing of 142 states, including all the nations of Europe and South America. In this case as well, just four countries voted against the resolution: Israel, the US, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia.

This reminds me of a story. A senior citizen whose brain didn’t work as well or as quickly as it once did, was driving on the freeway when his cell phone rang. He answered it, and heard his wife urgently warning him, “Charles, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on the freeway. Please be careful!" Charles immediately replied: “Honey, it's not just one car. It's hundreds of them!" Well, like Charles, political leaders in Israel and the US, including the leading Democratic and Republican politicians, insist that everyone else is recklessly going the wrong way.

An important book that examines the sources and consequences of US support for Israel was published last year. Entitled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, it was written by John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard. This carefully written, judiciously worded and copiously referenced work – with 355 pages of text and 106 pages of notes –found a place on the best seller lists of The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

The book is an expansion and refinement of a detailed paper issued in March of 2006, which generated wide interest and spirited discussion. Quickly, and predictably, the paper and its authors came under fierce attack from Zionist leaders and organizations – a response that underscored one of the authors’ main points. But the critics have been outnumbered by those who have welcomed this work as a landmark event and as an important breakthrough.

The authors lay out a compelling case that unswerving US support for Israel is harmful to American interests, and that the main reason for this support is the tremendous power of what they call the Israel lobby. Mearsheimer and Walt detail the terrible human and monetary cost to Americans of permitting Israel, and the pro-Israel lobby, to manipulate US Middle East policy.

Almost nothing in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper or book is new or original. Its main point about the dangerous role of the Israel lobby is well understood by informed men and women around the world who closely follow political affairs and history. The paper and the book are significant because they were written by two scholars of eminence and stature.

The Walt-Mearsheimer book is much more than a penetrating analysis or persuasive critique of a particular lobby. It is implicitly a damning indictment of the American social-political system. I challenge any caring American to read this book without feeling shame over the leadership of this country, and disgust over the immorality and corruption of the compliant politicians of both major parties.

The focus of the Mearsheimer and Walt book is, appropriately, the role of what they call the “Israel lobby” in determining US policy in the Middle East. But this focus greatly understates and, unfortunately, misrepresents the problem. The impact and influence of this lobby or power is much greater, more insidious, and more dangerous, than that of any mere “lobby.” Far beyond determining US policy in the Middle East, it has a profound impact on every aspect of American social, political and cultural life.

That’s why it’s more accurate to speak of the “Jewish lobby.” James Petras, a scholar and activist, refers to the “Zionist Power Configuration” or ZPG. I generally speak of “Jewish-Zionist power.” But whatever term is used, what we’re really talking about here is the power of the organized Jewish community.

When someone is sick, he goes to a doctor. When a patient comes in for help, the first thing the physician does is to find out what’s wrong. He makes a diagnosis, because he cannot successfully treat the problem without an accurate and factual understanding of the illness. A successful treatment requires an accurate diagnosis. In the same way, we cannot come to grips with the seemingly endless Middle East conflict, or our own nation’s social-political illness, unless we first accurately identify the source of the problem.

United States support for Israel and its policies did not come about because Americans are more intelligent, humane or enlightened than, say, Norwegians, Japanese or Irish. No, the US-Israel alliance is, rather, a consequence, a result, of the Jewish-Zionist grip on American political and cultural life.

This intimidating power is not a new or recent phenomenon. Thirty years ago, Jewish American scholar Alfred M. Lilienthal – for whom I once worked – dealt with this in his detailed study, The Zionist Connection. He wrote:

“How has the Zionist will been imposed on the American people?... It is the Jewish connection, the tribal solidarity among themselves and the amazing pull on non-Jews, that has molded this unprecedented power ... The Jewish connection covers all areas and reaches every level. Most Americans may not even sense this gigantic effort, but there is scarcely a Jew who is not touched by its tentacles…”

Alfred Lilienthal went on to say:

“The extent and depth to which organized Jewry reached – and reaches – in the U.S. is indeed awesome … The most effective component of the Jewish connection is probably that of media control … Jews, toughened by centuries of persecution, have risen to places of prime importance in the business and financial world… Jewish wealth and acumen wields unprecedented power in the area of finance and investment banking, playing an important role in influencing U.S. policy toward the Middle East … In the larger metropolitan areas, the Jewish-Zionist connection thoroughly pervades affluent financial, commercial, social, entertainment, and art circles.”

Although Jews make up only about two or three percent of the US population, they wield immense power and influence — vastly more than any other ethnic or religious group. As Jewish author and political science professor Benjamin Ginsberg has pointed out:

“Since the 1960s, Jews have come to wield considerable influence in American economic, cultural, intellectual and political life. Jews played a central role in American finance during the 1980s, and they were among the chief beneficiaries of that decade's corporate mergers and reorganizations. Today, though barely two percent of the nation's population is Jewish, close to half its billionaires are Jews. The chief executive officers of the three major television networks and the four largest film studios are Jews, as are the owners of the nation's largest newspaper chain and the most influential single newspaper, The New York Times ... The role and influence of Jews in American politics is equally marked ...

“Jews are only three percent of the nation's population and comprise eleven percent of what this study defines as the nation's elite. However, Jews constitute more than 25 percent of the elite journalists and publishers, more than 17 percent of the leaders of important voluntary and public interest organizations, and more than 15 percent of the top ranking civil servants.”

Two well-known Jewish writers, Seymour Lipset and Earl Raab, went into this in their 1995 book, Jews and the New American Scene. They wrote:

“During the last three decades Jews [in the United States] have made up 50 percent of the top two hundred intellectuals ... 20 percent of professors at the leading universities ... 40 percent of partners in the leading law firms in New York and Washington ... 59 percent of the directors, writers, and producers of the 50 top-grossing motion pictures from 1965 to 1982, and 58 percent of directors, writers, and producers in two or more primetime television series.”

The influence of American Jewry in Washington, as the Israeli daily Jerusalem Post has noted, is “far disproportionate to the size of the community, Jewish leaders and U.S. official acknowledge. But so is the amount of money they contribute to [election] campaigns.” One member of the influential Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations “estimated Jews alone had contributed 50 percent of the funds for [President Bill] Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign."

Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said during a speech in Boston in 2002: “But you know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic … People are scared in this country, to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful - very powerful.”

In Britain, a veteran member of the House of Commons candidly declared in May 2003 that pro-Israel Jews had taken control of America’s foreign policy, and had succeeded in pushing the US and Britain into war in Iraq. Tam Dalyell, a Labour party deputy known as “Father of the House” because he is the longest-serving Member of Parliament, said: “A Jewish cabal have taken over the government in the United States and formed an unholy alliance with fundamentalist Christians … There is far too much Jewish influence in the United States.”

The prime minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohammed, pointedly declared during an address in October 2003 that “Jews rule this world by proxy.” In the global struggle against Jewish power, he said, “we are up against a people who think... We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also … The Europeans killed six million Jews out of twelve million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.”

Americans have already paid a high price for the US alliance with Israel. This includes tens of billions of dollars in economic and military aid to the Jewish state, the cost of the Iraq war and occupation, now hundreds of billion of dollars, and the deaths there of several thousand Americans. Directly and indirectly, America's "special relationship" with Israel has also generated, around the world, unprecedented distrust, fear and loathing of the United States.

To sum up here: Jews wield immense power and influence in the United States. The "Jewish lobby" is a decisive factor in US support for Israel. Jewish-Zionist interests are not identical to American interests. In fact, they often conflict.

By supporting Israel and its policies, the United States betrays not only its own national interests, but the principles it claims to embody and defend.

The only country in the world that has a nuclear weapons arsenal, that occupies territory of its neighbors, and which is in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions – is Israel. In fact, if the United States were to hold Israel to the same standards that it has applied to Iraq, Serbia, and other countries, American bombers and missiles would be blasting Tel Aviv, and American troops would seize Israel’s leaders and punish them for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the years to come, the cost of the US alliance with Israel is certain to rise much higher. Today the danger is perhaps greater than ever. Israel and Jewish organizations, in collaboration with this country's pro-Zionist "amen corner," are prodding the United States into new wars against Israel's real or perceived enemies, above all, Iran.

There are some who object to the power of the “Israel lobby” because it supports, or, rather, makes possible, Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. Others object because they are unhappy with this or that aspect of the lobby’s agenda.

But to me this seems beside the main point. Apart from the harmful consequences of this or that particular policy enforced by the Jewish lobby is the injustice and danger inherent in permitting any minority group or special interest to wield immense, disproportionate power and influence -- and especially in the country that is the world’s foremost military, economic and financial power, and most important cultural factor.

The Jewish-Zionist grip on our nation is an expression of a profound and deeply rooted problem. Such a lobby or power – particularly one that represents the interests of a self-absorbed community that makes up no more than two or three percent of the population – could only gain such a hold on the governmental machinery of a society that is fundamentally sick and corrupt. No healthy society would permit a small minority to gain and hold such power, and wield it for its own particular interests.

Throughout history Jews have time and again wielded great power to further group interests that are separate from, and often contrary to, those of the non-Jewish populations among whom they live. This creates an inherently unjust and unstable situation that, as history shows, never endures.

The most direct and obvious victims of Jewish-Zionist power are, of course, the Palestinians who live under Israel’s harsh rule. But we Americans are, to some degree, also victims. Through the Jewish-Zionist grip on the media, and the organized Jewish-Zionist corruption of our political system, we are pressured, seduced, cajoled, and deceived into propping up the Jewish state, providing it with billions of dollars yearly and state-of-the-art weaponry, and even sacrificing American lives.

But it is also the truth that we Americans share some responsibility for all this. We have allowed immense power, affecting every aspect of our lives and our future, to be wielded by members of an ethnic-religious minority group who view the American people as potential enemies. Put another way, Americans have permitted people who regard them with profound distrust to play a major role in determining how we live our lives, and in determining our future both as individuals and as a nation. To permit such power to pass into the hands of people who clearly do not have our best interests at heart – indeed, do not even trust us – is, to put it mildly, irresponsible.

In recent years, across America, and around the world, awareness of the Jewish-Zionist role in the Iraq war, of the reality of Jewish-Zionist power, and of its hold on US policy, has been growing. And this awareness, once grasped, is obvious, and is constantly reconfirmed with the unfolding of daily events.

The work of professors Mearsheimer and Walt is both a contributing factor, and an expression of, this growing awareness. Another contributor has been former president Jimmy Carter. In his recent book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, and in statements made in connection with the book’s appearance, he has spoken pointedly and critically about the pro-Israel lobby and its role in shaping US policy to support Israeli oppression and war.

Immediately following the publication of his book, the former president was predictably assailed with the usual smears, and by the usual crowd. Jewish writer David Horowitz, for one, wrote a widely-circulated essay entitled “Jimmy Carter: Jew-Hater, Genocide-Enabler, Liar,” a vicious piece that reflects his outlook and the attitude of many other pro-Israel activists.

As it happens, I had a run-in myself with David Horowitz when I appeared with him as a fellow “guest,” if that’s the right word, on the nationally-broadcast radio show of Sean Hannity. I won’t go into details of that raucous appearance, except to mention that both Horowitz and Hannity were as ignorant and as bigoted as they were rude.

Last September, Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, was a guest on the Bill Maher television show. After the subject of Israel came up, Scheuer surprised the host, and many viewers, when he said: “I hope Israel flourishes but I don't think its worth an American life or an American dollar.” His remark prompted a round of approving applause. It’s hard to believe that even two years ago Scheuer would have made such a statement, much less that his words would have gotten such spontaneous approval.

I want to emphasize here that to deal candidly with the reality of Jewish-Zionist power is not, as some claim, “anti-Semitism” or “hate.” We should not, and we do not, wish harm to any individual because of his or her ancestry, ethnic background, religion or privately held beliefs. At the same time, we should not – we must not -- let smears or malicious name-calling keep us from saying the truth, or doing what is right.

Michael Scheuer put it this way just a few weeks ago:

“The invocation of the anti-Semite epithet by the Israel-firsters should be ignored. To be silenced by the slurs of the Israel-firsters is to ignominiously invite the end of American independence by subordinating U.S. interests to those of a foreign nation, as well as to forget the warning of the greatest American ... As long as the Israel-firsters can define the limits of acceptable public discourse, Americans are on their way to the slaughter.”

For all of us here this weekend, and for everyone who cares about the future, a vital question is this: How we can build an effective movement for peace. Whatever tactics and methods we choose, it is very important that we remain focused.

In today’s America, far too many people – even many activists for peace -- are unable or unwilling to forthrightly identify the forces for war. It’s not enough to speak out against war. We must identify and counter those who foment and push for war.

One person who has spoken eloquently and pointedly on this matter is James Petras, a former professor of sociology at Binghamton University, and a self-described “revolutionary and anti-imperialist.” For decades he has been a leftist scholar and activist. He is also the author of many articles and several books, including The Power of Israel in the United States.

In recent years, he has written widely about the scope and impact of what he calls the “Zionist Power Configuration” He also scathingly rebukes those who, out of fear or ignorance, decline to acknowledge the power and role of the pro-Israel lobby. He writes:

“… The power of [the Zionist Power Configuration] ZPC far exceeds the political lobbying of AIPAC. It extends to every realm of US cultural and intellectual life … The role of the pro-Israel repressive cultural-ideological hydra especially finds expression among the great majority of ‘progressive’ critics. ‘Marxist’ ideologues and ‘peace’ advocates deliberately and totally ignore the ZPC’s influence in Congress, the Executive and in cultural life. Instead they repeatedly criticize Bush, Cheney, the Republicans and Democrats without mentioning their prime movers among the hundreds of thousands of Zionist zealots and thousands of prime political donors. It is no wonder that the Zionist power configuration has greater power than any other lobby in Washington – they are the only power group which has no opposition, no organized group willing to name them, let alone challenge and fight their stranglehold over Congress. Worse still, some of the most influential critics of the war in Iraq provide ideological cover by denying the ZPC’s dominant role and deflecting attention to either non-existent war-makers (Big Oil) or to secondary political actors, who carry out Lobby initiatives.

“No other country, abuser or not, of human rights, with or without electoral systems, has the influence over our domestic and foreign policy as does the state of Israel. No other Lobby has the kind of financial power and organizational reach as the Jewish Lobby in eroding our domestic political freedoms or our war-making powers. For those reasons alone, it stands to reason, that we Americans have a necessity to put our fight against Israel and its Lobby at the very top of our political agenda.”

In every society, it is quite normal that most people are concerned essentially with the happiness, interests and well-being of themselves, their families, and their friends. In any society, only a small number of men and women have the wit and awareness to understand the social, political and cultural forces that shape the present and the future. Only a small minority has the soul or temperament to care about, and be seriously concerned for, the long-term health and well-being of the world, or even of their country.

Normally, and understandably, we expect – and have every right to expect – that our political leaders are mindful of and planning for the long-term interests of the nation. Tragically, our leaders have proven themselves grossly derelict. With very few exceptions, our political leaders – Republican and Democrat alike – show far more concern for their own welfare and for the outcome of the next election, than for the long-term interests of our people and the world.

That’s why the committed work of the dedicated, idealistic men and women here this weekend so important. We seek to raise public awareness of the great issues that confront us, that impact every aspect of our lives, and which have the most profound consequences for the future. We realize, of course, that our words will reach the minds and hearts of only a few. We know that we cannot hope to match the financial resources, influence and outreach of our adversaries. We cannot hope to compete, much less offset, the great power and influence of the media giants who control most of what we read, hear and view.

Our great task is to reach those who, first, think about the present and the past, and second, who care about our future. That is, we work to reach men and women, especially younger men and women, of unusual awareness and a higher sense of responsibility – the men and women who will be the leaders of the future, who can, and, if our children and grand-children are to live in a decent world, must assume power, replacing the failed leaders who have betrayed the people’s trust.

A few of those who are here this weekend have come, perhaps, out of simple curiosity, or to meet with others who are attending. But most of us are here today because we care. We care about what is right and wrong. We care about what is true and not true. We care about the past and, more importantly, we care about the future. We care about the world we live in.

We feel a sense of responsibility for the world we’ve inherited, and for the world of the future. We want to make a difference – to make this a better world – a world that, even beyond our own lifetimes, is more just and right.

Many of those here today are men and women of deep religious sensibility. Others may feel a special concern for the cause of peace, mindful of the terrible destruction, suffering, and death of war. Some may have a special concern for the welfare and future of his or her own cultural, national or religious heritage, while some may regard ourselves as citizens of the world, with feelings of responsibility for the future of all mankind. Some may be moved by a strong concern for justice, perhaps especially for the people who have lived for decades under Zionist occupation.

Regardless of the particular cause or principle that most moves each of us, that is closest to our heart, no issue is of greater urgency than exposing and breaking the Jewish-Zionist grip on American political, social and cultural life.

As long as that power remains entrenched, there will be no end to the systematic Jewish-Zionist distortion of history and current affairs, the Jewish-Zionist corruption and domination of the US political system, Zionist oppression of Palestinians, the bloody conflict between Jews and non-Jews in the Middle East, and the Israeli threat to peace.

We are engaged in a great, global struggle – one in which two distinct and irreconcilable sides confront each other – a world struggle that pits an arrogant and malevolent power that feels ordained to rule over others, on one side, and all other nations and societies – indeed, humanity itself – on the other.

This struggle is not a new one. It is the latest enactment of a great drama that has played itself out again and again, over centuries, and in many different societies, cultures and historical eras. In the past this drama has played itself out on a local, national, regional, or, sometimes, continental stage. Today this is a global drama, and a global clash.

It is a struggle for the welfare and future not merely of the Middle East, or of America, but a great historical battle for the soul and future of humanity itself. A struggle that calls all of us – those here this weekend, and men and women across the country and around the world – who share a sense of responsibility for the future of our nation, of the world, and of humankind.