When asked what he thought about the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, an Israeli Minister told the press that "this is very good." That day, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon renewed his attacks on Palestinian territories,killing nearly a dozen Palestinians. Another Israeli government official gloated to the press that it appeared America no longer cared if Israel shot Palestinians dead in the streets. In the US, Israel's domestic lobby almost celebrated the attacks -- in fact, five Israeli nationals were arrested in New York after the FBI found them dancing in the streets -- and public support for US Aid to Israel jumped from hovering around 40% to nearly 55% in a CNN opinion poll.
But days afterwards, the picture was not so clear.
On September 20, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the US must not just wage war on Afghanistan, but that it must bomb Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran as well. The cry to do so was picked up immediately by American "neo-conservative" commentator William Kristol, who in an open letter to the President, an in an unsigned lead editorial in the Washington Times, the major American conservative newspaper, called on Congress to make invasion of Iraq a priority. Israel's supporters in the Pentagon agreed -- Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz demanded a US attack on Iraq, and Defense Policy Board Chairman Richard Perle went even further -- demanding that the US include "parts of Egypt" as targets for bombings in its impending war.
But sitting here on October 3, more than three weeks after the attack, America has still not responded. The Bush government has gone so far as to last week ask Congress to lift sanctions against Syria and Iran, to allow Bush to sell them weapons and military equipment in exchange for their involvement in the "coalition". American Jewish commentators immediately denounced the move -- but the Bush administration did not respond.
And today, a report that aired on Col Yisrael radio stated that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has been at the throat of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. "Don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it," the station alleged Sharon screamed at Peres during discussion of perceived Israeli decline, but Peres was not sure for how much longer Sharon's words would be prove to be true.
Unlike the days of the Clinton administration, where any need to distract the public was enough to send missiles flying, with Jewish officials such as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger picking the targets, the Bush administration has shown remarkable restraint, and has largely ignored the cacophony of voices demanding a general war on Islam. It is clear that a fundamental change in American politics is taking place -- and it hasn't taken long for news publications to pick up on it.
As Kristol and others launched attacks on Colin Powell, and the National Review, a conservative Republican publication, printed an op-ed suggesting George Bush was a "shrub" if he didn't start dropping bombs soon, other publications, such as the international intelligence publication StratFor, began publishing lead articles on the "decline of the American Jewish lobby." And while the decline starts in American foreign policy, as Pravda has discovered, its range extends much further.
On September 13, 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell was set to declare American support for a Palestinian state. On October 3, George Bush did exactly that. Though his speech was delayed by the September 11 attack, the initiative, which in practice may not mean more than some of the final proposals made by the Clinton administration, was intended to signal growing American government solidarity with the Palestinian people -- and a move to distance America from the extremist Zionist government of Ariel Sharon and his backers in the United States.
Prior to September 11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney, both affiliated with America's powerful oil lobby, had been pushing some changes in American Middle East policy of their own. Oil companies that the two affiliate with are said to have obtained contracts for the reconstruction of the Iraqi oil infrastructure. The enactment of such contracts, however, requires the lifting of sanctions by the United States. Thus both of them are said to have been quietly pushing Bush to find an excuse to release the US sanctions, and to form a new policy of engagement with Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Such a move by Big Oil should not come as a surprise -- the interests of American companies in building pipelines in Iran formed a large part of the movement to lift sanctions on that country as well -- but the conflict between overwhelmingly white Big Oil magnates and America's Jewish lobby add a significant new dimension to MidEast foreign policy that the country hasn't seen since the days of Bush, Sr.
While Clinton figures such as Madelaine Albright were used to giving interviews to the American press claiming that the lives of half a million dead children in Iraq were "worth it" for the achievement of larger "American" interests, such voices of hate have now been pushed out of the limelight. When the media demanded in 2000 that Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz be given the top post in the civilian side of the Pentagon, they were rebuffed. Now, the influence of their chosen sons has so diminished that their actual voice in policy decisions appears to lie between little and nil.
In the wake of the September 11 bombings, the American left, and their base of support among youth and university students, have moved even further into the pro-Arab camp, with most leftist groups strengthening ties to Palestinian Arab and Islamic associations, and increasing the denunciations of Israel in their press. At a recent Washington demonstration against the Bush's reputed war plans, the International Action Center, a radical communist dominated group headed by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, worked with groups like the Al-Awda Right of Return Coalition and the Committee for a Democratic Palestine. And Clark's involvement in Middle Eastern affairs goes beyond that -- he is also the official legal counsel of the government of Iraq in the United States, and a liaison between the Iraqi government and its American backers.
After the bombing, groups such as the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith condemned the response of leftist activist groups on the same pages where they attacked the anti-Israel statements of America's right wing. And in Canada, where the Student Union of Concordia University has stood up against criticism from the Canadian branch of B'nai B'rith, the situation has gotten even uglier.
"The Concordia Student Union (CSU) ... inculcate[s] a culture of violence [and] incite[s] hatred" a B'nai B'rith press release reads, as it demands a law enforcement investigation. The Concordia Student Union has proven itself "virulently anti-Israel" by referring to "Israeli Independence Day" as "al-Nakba" ("the disaster" in Arabic), and by launching a "potentially libelous diatribe against B'nai B'rith." The Canadian Jewish group called for believed anyone with audacity to criticize it was obviously in need of detention by the Canadian police.
And Rather than backing down, in response, the CSU stated that it was B'nai B'rith itself which was the "hate group", accusing the Jewish society of "irresponsible rhetoric" which was fostering a "racist and xenophobic backlash" that puts "all Muslims and Arabs (activist or not) at an increased risk from ... violent backlash." The group suggested that perhaps it was B'nai B'rith itself that was violating Canadian speech laws.
Thus, we have the spectacle of two self-proclaimed "anti-racist" organizations each demanding that the other's leadership be arrested for fostering "hate". While in the past a group of students dedicated to anti-racism would've been expected to do little but follow B'nai B'rith's anti-hate line, in the post September 11 world they are at B'nai B'rith's throat. And if this confrontation was isolated in context, it might be written off as a freak incident. But Frank Dimant, feels that this is just the tip of something more. Dimant, an official with B'nai B'rith, stated in his press release his concern that the confrontation "threatens to be a blueprint for campuses not just in Canada, but throughout North America" -- and that the growing American sympathy for the Palestinian cause in those areas of American life in which individual thought is most carefully regulated -- American universities -- may be signaling a growing decline of the influence of the Jewish anti-"hate" and speech regulating programs on a continental scale.
Unlike in Germany and Britain, where the social democratic governments have almost totally suppressed all of their citizens' democratic rights, the anti-speech lobby in America has always stumbled against the American First Amendment, which prohibits the government from making any law "abridging the freedom of speech". But a new stumbling block, the growing activism and resistance of the American people, seems to be emerging.
When the Million Mom March came on the scene in early 2000, it appeared to be riding the crest of a wave of gun control that threatened to strip Americans of their right to the private ownership of firearms. In America, every citizen is free to purchase handguns, rifles and shotguns without license or registration, and even military weapons, such as hand grenades and machine guns, can be purchased with approval of the federal government. And while spokeswomen like Rosie O'Donnell presented the public face of the march, it was no secret that America's Jewish lobby had heartily endorsed the effort.
Skimming down the list of original Million Mom March endorses, one found names like the Anti- Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, Hadassah, a Jewish woman's organization, and the national organization representing America's Reform Jewry. Jewish charitable foundations provided significant grants to the group, and even the president of the group, Mary Leigh Blek, was herself a Jew. This reflected the overwhelming feeling of Jews in America -- as many as 80% in some gun rights surveys -- that the private ownership of weapons, considered by many Americans to be the foundation of American liberty, should be regulated or banned.
Only a year later, in 2001, the Million Mom March, which drew less than 40,000 to Washington in 2000, despite having massive media support and the official nod of the Clinton Administration, drew less than 200 supporters to its sequel rally. It was soon revealed in National Rifle Association publications that the group had been abandoned by its financial backers for failing to win the support of the American people, and had been forced to fire almost 90% of its headquarters staff. A little over two months ago, it was forced to shut down operations and merge with the much larger and better funded Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence.
But the tie between the Million Mom March and America's official Jewish Lobby had already been made by activists such as Colorado gun shop owner Bob Glass, himself a Jew, and the founder of a radical gun rights group called the Tyranny Response Team. In May of this year the Anti-Defamation League launched an attack on Glass, claiming he was a "potential anti-Semite" and that his group was being "monitored". Glass' crime? He and his supporters had launched a series of protests outside of the ADL's Denver, Colorado headquarters. Glass accused the ADL of being linked to gun control, and stated that it is "philosophically, historically and morally bankrupt", and that its arguments against its opponents amounted to little more than "character assassination."
Glass' arguments, that the official Jewish lobby in America was linked to gun control, were quickly picked up by other groups. Another official with a group of American Jews who are opposed to the official Jewish lobby's assertions of representing them, Jews for the Protection of Firearm's Ownership, issued an open letter stating, that "I have now learned of the June 1999 ADL press release, in which the ADL 'reaffirms support for gun control initiatives' and in which the ADL proudly asserted its long-term commitment to gun control. ... [It] is more than I can stomach."
A flipside of the Jewish lobby who's existence has been lost on many Americans is the group of Jewish Republicans who call themselves "neo-conservatives". Though only a tiny fraction of those who vote Republicans are Jewish, by gaining prominent positions in a number of opinion and commentary publications, and by getting recognition as "the" voice of the Republican Party from their counterparts on the left, this handful of the Jewish population has gained a disproportionate influence in the affairs of America's Republican Party. Charles Krauthammer, Irving and William Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg, and David Horowitz are some of the more prominent names in this set, though it should be mentioned that neo-conservatism is not an exclusively Jewish doctrine -- figures like William Buckley, publisher of National Review, a Republican commentary magazine, and Francis Fukuyama, who predicted that history would end with the conversion of the world to social democracy, play a prominent role in it as well.
Lately, the neo-conservatives have found themselves under increasing intellectual attack from libertarian-leaning circles within their party, as well as those headed by outsiders like Lew Rockwell and AntiWar.com columnist Justin Raimondo, and while it is clear these challengers do not have the same access to the media as Charles Krauthammer, who is published regularly in the Washington Post, or Jonah Goldberg, who is a columnist for the Washington Times, from the number of recent commentaries denouncing them, authored by former comrades like Myles Kantor, and published in placed like Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com, it is clear that they are making the kind of impact that five years ago would have been unthinkable.
Even better evidence of the decline of the official Jewish lobby, both Republican and Democrat, comes not from the intellectual challenges being raised to the neo-conservative elite, but in the recent increase in viciousness that the neo-conservative group has played in launching slander attacks on alternative voices, both within the Jewish community and without, who have questioned the motives or challenged the platform of the official lobby in Washington.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has born the brunt of many of the attacks and the attacks George Bush in the context of the Israel question have already been discussed, but one recent vicious character assassination that had to catch the eye was one launched by writer Werner Cohn on MIT Professor and anti-war activist Noam Chomsky, which was launched in the wake of a controversial interview he gave to Belgrade's independent radio station B92 after the September 11 attacks, which was published recently by Horowitz's web 'zine.
In his largely ad hominem attack, Cohn accuses the ultra-liberal Chomsky of being an admirer of Hitler, and accuses the Jewish professor of collaboration with French neo-Nazi and "Holocaust denial" movements. His evidence is scarce and amounts to little more than the fact that Chomsky made a defense of the right of Frenchmen to free speech when one right-winger was charged with the nonsense of "defaming the memory of the dead" twenty years ago. His motivation though is clear -- Chomsky is seen by the official Jewish lobby as a "Fifth Column" within their Jewish community, a voice which threatens to win away from them hearts of America's Jews, and something to be disposed of.
As an interesting footnote to the discussion of the hysterical reaction of the neo-conservative branch of the American Jewish lobby, we have the recent dismissal of National Review Assistant Editor Ann Coulter from her position with their publication after she made extremist Christian statements. Coulter was accused, by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an "anti-hate" organization headed by accused child rapist (http://www.deeswatch.com/court.html) Morris Dees, of being "hateful" in a column she wrote for National Review, calling on America to invade the entire Muslim world and force the entirety of the Muslim population to convert to Christianity or be killed. While there is no question that her words were extreme and hateful, her firing from the publication by online editor Jonah Goldberg was utterly hypocritical, given that only a year ago Goldberg had authored a similar piece calling on the United States to invade Africa, starting with Sierra Leone, and to force the black population of that continent to either convert to both Christianity and Western culture, or to face extermination.
But it seems neo-conservatism can always find a place for racism, as long as it is directed against those Arabs that women like Ms Coulter label as "swarthy", and not against Israel, its interests, or the lobby that protects it. Two days after her dismissal, Coulter was hired by Horowitz's competing opinion 'zine.
While it is clear that the influence of America's Jewish lobby -- that small group of men and women who head influential Jewish organizations and who lobby in Washington in the name of all Jews -- has not evaporated or been extinguished (America still provides over five billion dollars in aid to Israel annually) there is also no question that the power of the lobby is in decline. The inability of Jewish groups to translate their very powerful influence in the American media and their dominant influence over many American politicians into concrete policies promoting the interests and causes they have chosen to align with, from gun control to speech regulations, and particularly their desire for a Third World War to be fought between America and the Islamic world, is evidence that a power shift is occurring in Washington that may become evidenced in a shift in policy direction over the next few years. rowing protests against Jewish organizations, including protests originating in sections of the population, such as the university student left, which were once thought to be strongly behind the agenda adopted by the Jewish lobby, also indicate that the revitalization of the lobby may not be in sight for the near future.
As the destruction of September 11 has led more and more Americans come to reject the arguments of this radical minority, and choose to adhere to their Constitution and the vision of American liberty promoted by their founding fathers, the question of the continuing role of Jewish organizations and Jewish interests in America are suddenly cast into doubt.
Bill White for Pravda.ru