Anarchists and the Israel Lobby

A year ago, a group of activists and anarchists held a meeting in Portland to discuss the Iraq war and other issues. I made a presentation on the Iraq war, arguing that it was largely a product of Israeli influence on American foreign policy. This argument was met with a variety of responses:
  1. It's ridiculous
  2. You're mad
  3. You're a Nazi
Recently, two academics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government produced a paper [1] arguing, in a more moderate form, the same thing: the USA is not pursuing its own interests in the Middle East, but those of Israel. The paper explains, cautiously but convincingly, how various pro-Israel organizations have a stranglehold on the US government. The influence of these racist war criminals on the media is also clear. A recent study of reporting on the conflict in Palestine showed that, for example, in the US media, "100 percent of the Israeli children's deaths and 18 percent of the Palestinian children's deaths were reported" [2].

The reaction to the Harvard paper from the Israel Lobby simply proved the authors' point. They were accused of anti-Semitism. This is one of the ways, the authors argue, the Israel Lobby succeeds - making false allegations of anti-Semitism against its critics [3].

The Israel Lobby tries to make something of the fact that extreme right-wing types, like David Duke, the ex-Klansman, agree, in their own distorted fashion, with some of what the Lobby's critics say. This argument is a logical fallacy. But the Portland anarchists used exactly the same argument against me. There is a difference between saying that the Israel Lobby is disproportionately powerful, and kvetching that Jews have too much power, which is what Duke and co. say. Duke probably agrees with me that the earth is round, but this doesn't make me a fascist. You could argue just as logically that since Duke agrees with some of what I say, he is a radical anti-capitalist.

The American left, including the anarchists, is not as critical of Zionism as it might be. There are a few honorable exceptions, for example, the International Solidarity Movement, or the website Counterpunch. But it is no more possible to discuss the issue of Israel rationally with anarchists than it is with the Democratic Party. The magazine Anarchy accused Counterpunch of anti-Semitism [4].

I go a bit further than Mearsheimer and Walt. They are not anti-Israel. They say that the Israel Lobby is bad for Israel's security - for example, the war in Iraq is making things worse for the Jewish state's prospects. But that is because any policy is bad for Israels' security. War, torture, murder, allegations of anti-Semitism - all these follow from defence of Israel. Israel is based on a failed policy of ethnic cleansing. It does not make sense to support Israel and criticize some of its policies. What part of ethnic cleansing don't you support? The Israel Lobby's fanaticism is understandable. It knows that, once the rest of the American ruling class start to doubt the wisdom of subordinating its foreign policy to a foreign power, the writing will be on the wall.

  1. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, Harvard University, March 2006. (PDF file - download it from here: rwp_06_011_walt.pdf. If you need Adobe Acrobat to read it, get it from Adobe Free Download Page).
  2. Pro-Jewish, anti-Palestinian bias in the US media:
  3. The web blog 'Jews Sans Frontieres' 2006_03_01_jewssansfrontieres_archive.html contains a summary of the various attacks made on Mearsheimer and Walt by the Israel Lobby.
  4. Review of The Politics of Anti-Semitism, Anarchy 58, 2004-2005.