What is our country based on, but freedom of expression, freedom of ideas? Seems to be a pretty important principle.
The effect of the Israel lobby is getting some coverage right now, due to the publication - in England, of course, no American outlet would touch it - of the paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy". It's by two fairly well respected professors and discusses the influence of the Israeli lobby on the American government and media.
First, a quick disclosure. I'm Jewish, and a pro-Israel sort of guy. But that country, like our own, has been hijacked by an immoral right wing group that tries to justify imperialism, brutality, and curtailment of civil liberties in the name of national security. So it's very important to be honest and not let the threat of accusations of anti-semitism suppress legitimate criticism.
I read the article, and felt that overall it was excellent and said a number of things that really needed saying. The basic points are:
- The pro-Israel lobby, and in particular AIPAC, has enormous influence on our government, to the point of being able to dictate certain policies and curtail debate.
- They also have a huge influence in the American media, which portrays an overly pro-Israel view of the middle east conflict.
Honestly, these things are fairly well known to Washington insiders and those who pay close attention. But the paper is significant exactly because what it says is quite true, and as a result of this it is difficult for respectable, objective sources to publish this kind of information. Because the influence of the lobby is not openly discussed the net effect is that there is a powerful and often hidden warping of both our foreign policy and news reporting. As the paper says, "the Lobby boasts of its own power and then attacks anyone who calls attention to it".
Nothing proves the point better than the reaction to the paper itself. As I mentioned, the authors found it virtually unpublishable in America. The American mainstream media has ignored it (with a few notable exceptions), and I don't buy for a second that it's because it's not newsworthy. The Jewish media have tried to smear it by deriding its academic qualifications and making much of the fact that David Duke likes it, an obvious attempt to taint it by association with the truly anti-semitic "Jews control the world" crowd. Harvard has already been pressured into disassociating itself from it.
What more need be said? The opponents of the paper are doing an excellent job of vindicating one of its main theses.
The paper is off on certain points. As with many analyses of this nature, it does over-emphasize its arguments. Clearly, the war in Iraq was as much for American hegemony via energy resource control as it was about Israel. All one has to do is look at the makeup of the PNAC to understand that there are a number of agendas in the neocon policies that dovetail very nicely. And the hypocrisy of the administration and the brutality of the Iraq war have had at least as much to do with the fall of America's standing in the Islamic community as our support of Israel. And finally, of course, it assumes the Western backed terrorist attacks are solely Islamist based, and so erroneously asserts our support for Israel is the cause of these.
But overall it says quite soundly something that needs to be said. And suppressing or smearing this kind of reasoned discourse merely pushes America farther down the repressive road it's already on.