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There is No “Israel Lobby”

 

By Kim Petersen

 

04/26/06 "ICH" -- -- Notable writer William Blum Blum hinted acknowledgement of the power of an “Israeli lobby” in a 2004 article. [1] In his most recent Anti-Empire Report, Blum discusses again the entity that doesn’t exist: the “Israel Lobby” or the permutations of that wording, “Israeli Lobby” and “pro-Israel Lobby.” [2]

 

The paper entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by professors John Mearsheimer Stephen Walt has pushed the topic of the “Israel lobby” and its influence over US foreign policy into a more prominent spotlight. [3]

 

Prominent scholar Noam Chomsky is a steadfast denier of the efficacy of such a lobby -- so much so that he entitled his rejoinder to Marsheimer and Walt: “The Israel Lobby?” [4] Chomsky circumspectly stays away from defining “the lobby” and refers to it as such throughout his article. In his book, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians, Chomsky devotes a section of a chapter to “Domestic Pressure Groups and their Interests,” but only by way of quoting Seth Tillman does he use the wording: “Israeli Lobby.” [5]

 

Chomsky discusses ‘Jewish interests’ being ‘Israel’s interests’ but only through quoting others. [6]

 

One is hard-pressed to find instances of Chomsky, himself, using the wording “Israeli lobby.” In a personal communication to Jeff Blankfort, a staunch critic of the lobby, Chomsky does, however, acknowledge such a lobby by name. [7] 

 

Skirting the issue of whether the state designated “Israel” is legitimate or not (is there a legal or moral basis for one group of people to claim another people's homeland based on spurious historical rights? The present author maintains there is not), there is still the matter of what “Israel” is. Conventionally, a state is constituted as a geographic entity and its population. Disregarding the fact that the state of “Israel” has refused to define its borders, it must be noted that the population of “Israel” is heterogeneous. Although it defines itself as a Jewish state, approximately 20 percent of its population is Arab and practices mainly Islam.

 

Given that most of Palestine has been annexed to the state of “Israel” through violent force and that the Palestinians who were not ethnically cleansed had “Israeli” citizenship bestowed upon them, it seems rather a leap of folly to refer to an “Israel Lobby.” No one will argue that the “Israel Lobby” is representing the interests of “Arab-Israelis.” As well as being inaccurate, to refer to an “Israel Lobby” is disingenuous or worse.

 

“Israel” has been declared a Jewish state by its Zionist rulers. But Jews are not a monolith and neither are “Israelis.”

 

Since the “Israel Lobby” does not represent “Arab-Israeli” interests, and since it represents Jewish interests worldwide, the label “Jewish lobby” (there is no need to capitalize the “l”) would be much more accurate. Also, “Zionist lobby” would seem to be less accurate because the lobby’s goals are not limited to Zionism but include policies dedicated to the interests of certain Jewish “elites.” So long as it is not implied that all Jews (since modern Jews never formed a coherent ethnic or national group, but are peoples who have shared somewhat the same religion, how can one address them as a homogenous group? For instance, if a Ukrainian Jew renounces Judaism and declares atheism, then why should he be treated as Jew that he is no longer?) are included as lobby members, then there is no reason not to label the “Jewish lobby” for what it is. Most people would not, after all, object to the label “Catholic lobby” or “Arab lobby,” so why should the label “Jewish lobby” be controversial?

 

Regarding the labeling, Blum responds, “I used ‘Israel Lobby’ because that’s what the authors of the report I referred to used. And the purpose of the lobby is to help Israel, not Jews per se.”

 

With all due respect to the incisive anti-imperialist Blum, he is remarkably off base when he says: “the purpose of the lobby is to help Israel.” Since, as stated, approximately one-fifth of “Israelis” are Arabs, and since the lobby has no intention of helping them whatsoever, the purpose as stated by Blum is, intentionally or not, fallacious. To be factually accurate, one should state that the intention is to help the “Jews of Israel” and not “Israel” per se. Blum, however, does see merit in changing the designation of the “Israel lobby.”

 

Why the reluctance to clearly and accurately apply labels to crime-sanctioning entities? In the case of “Israel,” Chomsky noted the “general and often effective” Zionist use of ad hominem to silence dissent. [8] Those people of conscience who dare to rebuke the crimes committed by the Zionists must not cower at the insidious Zionist tactic of smearing its critics as “anti-Semites.”

 

Caving in on a more accurate wording of a lobby that, among its positions, advocates ethnic cleansing and killing of an indigenous people, and practices racism against those indigenous remaining in their homeland, is complicity through silence.

 

 

ENDNOTES

 

[1] William Blum, “The Anti-Empire Report: What Would Royko Write? CounterPunch, 6 April 2004.

 

[2] William Blum, “All War, All the Time,” Anti-Empire Report, 22 April 2006.

 

[3] John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” KSG Faculty Research Working Paper Number: RWP06-011, 13 March 2006

 

[4] Noam Chomsky, “The Israel Lobby?ZNet, 28 March 2006. James Petras wrote a compelling refutation to Chomsky on this topic. See “Noam Chomsky and the Pro-Israel Lobby: Fourteen Erroneous Theses,” uruknet.info, 3 April 2006.

 

[5] Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1983, 1999), 13.

 

[6] Ibid., 15.

 

[7] Jeffrey Blankfort, “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict,” Dissident Voice, 25 May 2005.

 

[8] Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, op. cit., 15.

 

 

Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives in the traditional Mi'kmaq homeland colonially designated Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. 

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