The power of the mythical ‘Israel lobby’ on Michael Cohen’s political imagination

‘Comment is Free’ analyst Michael Cohen seems to be cut out of the same ideological cloth as Glenn Greenwald, imputing enormous power to the ‘Israel lobby’ – an evidently quite dangerous network of Americans who are more concerned about the interests of a foreign country than those of the United States.

The lobby’s use of smears and intimidation to coerce the US Congress into towing the pro-Israel line explains, for Cohen and his fellow political travelers at the Guardian, the difficulties Chuck Hagel has experienced during confirmation hearings in the Senate over his nomination to be Defense Secretary. 

Cohen, who’s been contributing to CiF since December, 2012, has already penned two pieces at CiF on the Hagel nomination, and the alleged hold the pro-Israel lobby has exerted on the process.  And, in his most recent post, Chuck Hagel’s confirmation and the orthodoxy of US debate on Israel‘, Feb. 14, Cohen positively cites the sage analysis of Stephen Walt, who noted that the Hagel row proved ‘the lobby’s iron grip on Congress – an influence which grossly distorts the debate over important foreign policy debates.

Cohen writes the following:

“Part of what is going on here is obviously politics. As Harvard Professor Stephen Walt has repeatedly argued, this is demonstrative of the extraordinary power that the Israel lobby holds over Congress and official Washington.”

Walt, in the Feb. 1 post linked to by Cohen, crows that the Hagel debate proves the wisdom of what he wrote – in a book on the ‘Israel Lobby’ –  when he warned “that AIPAC…has an almost unchallenged hold on Congress“.

So, is it true that Hagel’s troubles during the confirmation hearings prove AIPAC’s suffocating control over congress?

Interestingly, Cohen, in the very next line of his CiF essay, does a 180.

“But in the case of Hagel, the strongest pro-Israel lobby, Aipac, has been silent on the nomination.”

So, Cohen, over the course of two consecutive sentences in the same passage, approvingly cites Walt’s argument on AIPAC’s power over the Hagel process, and then makes an admission which completely contradicts Walt’s thesis.

How can an organization which has been “silent on the [Hagel] nomination” concurrently be exercising an “unchallenged hold” on the process?

Since it is uncertain, based on the passage, whether Cohen thoroughly read the short blog post which he cited, my guess is that he’s likely also unaware that Walt has defended John Mearsheimer, the co-author of his book on the Israel lobby, from charges of endorsing antisemitism.

Of course, the “smears” against Mearsheimer are based largely on his endorsement of a quite well-known Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier:

atzmon

Perhaps critics of the ‘Israel lobby’ would cause pro-Israel Jews a bit less “anguish” if they would not impute such a farcical degree of power to Americans who support the Jewish state and, at the very least, studiously avoid associating with those so clearly compromised by such deep-seated Judeophobic antipathies.  

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