Another CiF columnist accuses Jewish lobby in the U.S. of stifling debate about Israel

For the second time in as many days, the Guardian published a piece suggesting that peace and harmony between Israel and the Palestinians is being prevented by the Jewish/Israeli lobby – a force which stifles debate and prevents the U.S. President from reassessing America’s “uncritical” support for Israel.

Yesterday, Chris McGreal (“Barack Obama caught between Israel and his Palestinian promise“) characterized a former U.S. President of having “slavishly” supported the Jewish state, and advanced a broader argument about  the negative effects of Jewish power on U.S. foreign policy.

Today’s CiF piece, by Henry Porter, American veto of statehood would be a tragedy, sets the scene by decrying the criticism of a billboard campaign in America which calls for a complete end of U.S. military support to Israel – a campaign sponsored by Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine.

Writes Porter:

To the European eye, the message isn’t particularly alarming, in fact barely worth noting, but in one of the great Jewish cities of the world it is regarded as inflammatory. In no time, local Jewish leaders were on TV claiming that the poster was anti-Israel, possibly even anti-Jewish, regardless of the fact that the campaign was paid for by a group that included many Jews and it raises a legitimate issue.

Leaving aside the evidently serious suggestion that a movement couldn’t possibly be antisemitic if Jews are involved in it, Porter fails to note that the site of the campaign includes support for a one-state solution.

Moreover, the Committee for a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine acknowledges that it is affiliated with the group, US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a group which actively promotes BDS, sponsors “Israeli Apartheid” activities and calls for a one-state solution. The group’s website has a section which claims that information about Israeli Apartheid practices is not easily accessible (in the U.S.) because of the “Israeli-controlled media.”

Moving to Porter’s main argument:

One of the depressing parts of the intractable Middle East problem is the chill that descends on any discussion in the United States about the future of Palestine or, indeed, US support for Israel. Apart from occasional press comment, notably in the New York Times, the media stay clear of criticising Israel, while politicians live in fear of offending the Jewish vote in a country where elections are never more that two years away.

Of course, only a Guardian contributor – operating in a nation where anti-Zionism is the norm, and accustomed to the freedom of engaging, with impunity, in the most incendiary assaults on the Jewish state’s legitimacy – could seriously maintain that there is a dearth of criticism about Israel in the U.S.

The words Porter employs are straight out of the Walt & MearsheimerMondoweiss, and Muzzle Watch playbook – those who evoke the specter of an organized Jewish community which chills open debate and free speech, and instills “fear” in the hearts of seemingly powerful U.S. Senators and Congressmen.

Moreover, in arguing that anti-Israel views don’t have a forum in the U.S., Porter somehow ignores the consistent animosity towards Israel by the U.S blog typically rated as the #1 blog on Earth, The Huffington Post (HP).  In fact, HP, with over 35 million unique users each month, was recently named “the most powerful blog in the world” by none other than The Guardian.

(See Huffington Post Monitor and Huff-Watch for more info on Huffington Post’s Guardian-style sanctioning of commentators hostile to Israel’s very existence.)

Other bloggers routinely, if not obsessively, critical of Israel, and “the lobby”, who also garner very high web traffic include Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan, and the influential site for activists within the Democratic Party, Daily Kos.  

It seems that, somehow, despite the overwhelming power of the lobby, such pundits continue to bravely denounce Israel and her Jewish supporters.

Porter continues:

Most Americans have decided that it is simply safer to leave Israel out of the discourse. So, unconditional support continues without much review or debate or, for that matter, anyone being able to list the benefits to the American national interest that derive from this alliance.

And, then concludes:

There is no good reason for a veto and no conceivable upside. It is a tragedy to watch America, compelled by a failure of its national debate and the fear of what Israel’s supporters may do at the next election, to move unerringly towards such a disastrous action.

Again, leaving aside the suggestion that President Obama has been uncritical of Israel, the notion that the U.S. media and national political leaders support Israel, not out of what they rationally believe to be in the country’s interest, but, rather, out of  fear of the Israel/Jewish lobby endorses the classic antisemitic refrain about the danger posed by Jewish power.

U.S. Jews represent roughly 2% of the U.S. population and if Porter had cared to investigate he would have easily found that the overwhelming majority of American non-Jews are strongly supportive of Israel.  As recently as Feb. 2011, 63% of Americans expressed support Israel, while only 17% chose the Palestinians  – lopsided support for the Jewish state consistent with polling data by Gallup since 1967.

In other words, U.S. pro-Israel policy is thoroughly consistent with the political views of most Americans.  The degree to which groups like AIPAC are influential merely reflects the fact that the pro-Israel position in the U.S. organically garners wide public support.

The fact is that elitists like Porter simply can’t fathom that there are some who disagree with their anti-Zionist politics and, therefore, must attribute this simply inexplicable phenomenon to dark, conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish influence.

In the 1930s and 40s (& even the 50s and 60s) many far-right, isolationist conservatives used to blame any political dynamic they disagreed with – be it U.S. entry into WWII or the Civil Right Movement – to undue Jewish influence in the media, Hollywood, or finance.

Today, similar bigoted, conspiratorial politics are used by the far left to explain U.S. policy which offends their moral sensibilities, especially regarding U.S. foreign policy – be it the decision by the U.S. government to invade Iraq or U.S. support for Israel.

At CiF Watch we routinely expose the Guardian’s continuing antisemitic sins of omission – their unique talent for not reporting on even the most egregious examples of Jew hatred, particularly, but not exclusively, in the Arab and Muslim world – and often reach the conclusion that narratives exposing such Judeophobia simply don’t comport to their desired political narrative.

However, as Henry Porter’s CiF piece, evoking the fear of a powerful organized Jewish community, represents not the exception but, rather, the rule at the Guardian, it’s possible that a dynamic  may be present which is far more worrisome than simply a Guardian culture which sees no antisemitism.

It’s becoming more difficult to avoid reaching the conclusion that the reason why so many Guardian commentators don’t express moral outrage at antisemitism is because they, to varying degrees, have, themselves, bought into the moral logic of classic antisemitic theories regarding the injurious effects of organized Jewry. 

The Guardian’s continuing silence in the face of rank anti-Jewish bigotry may actually suggest a stubborn, if disturbing, moral consistency.

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