Ok, I grant you, I’m a little behind in posting this; censorship last Tuesday, I was listening to NPR on my way to a doctor’s appointment, and since recently someone commented on one of my other posts how nice Jewschool has been since Mobius and his self-hating self was gone (although thankfully, he wasn’t and proceeded to prove it by commenting himself) and with him apparently all dissent in favor of sweetness and light and imbecility, I feel very fortunate to have caught this pair of interviews on Fresh Air (here’s the other). These two interviews are those of Stephen Walt of the infamous Walt and Mearsheimer, commenting on their book The Israel Lobby, and Abe Foxman, being interviewed on his rebuttal of their book in his book, The Deadliest Lies.
Now before I begin, I have to admit that I have read neither of the books in question, neither Walt and Mearsheimer’s, nor Foxman’s (which I should do, and will), and so I have to grant that how incredibly reasonable and even-handed Walt came off, and how frothing and foolish Foxman sounded, could simply be, for either, or both, of them, a matter of presentation or an artifact of the medium, or a coincidence of a bad (or good) confluence of the type of questions they were asked.
But I don’t think so. Walt was interviewed first, which in theory (assuming the interviews were actually in real time) ought to mean that Foxman should have heard what he said and been able to respond to it. But in truth, there wasn’t really all that much to respond to. Oh, I could certainly wish that W&M knew more about the various organizations in the Jewish community opposed to the policies of the Israel right or wrong no criticism crowd. But it was clear that he had heard of them. And, on the other hand, Walt certainly made it clear that he was aware that the organizations that support the “pro-Israel lobby” (*quotes, because I understand that those so called, are not necessarily those who are bringing about results beneficial to Israel) don’t actually represent the majority of Jews in the USA. He said so outright. He was also clear that although there are certainly Jews in the political allies of the so-called Israel lobby, Jews are not the only ones who are pushing for the policies which he is analyzing as problematic (and which many , many Jews have also called on for analysis, too) -and he names names, off the top of his head, of non-Jews and some non-Jewish organizations who fall into that category, as well. So the charge of antisemitism is hard to make stick, especially when he also noted that there is nothing wrong with lobbying-that Greeks and Poles and Irish, and Airline pilots and teachers all do it, and that it’s a part of our political system and perfectly okay, but that that is also why it is so essentially important that no one be above the possibility of analysis and critique. If whenever one questions any policy decision, for any reason, one is labeled as an anti-Semite, that can be no good for anyone in a free society.
Walt also stated, correctly, that anyone trying to make hay out of the connection between the neo-cons and the Jews was off in left field, given that Jews were less likely to support the Iraq war than the general population, making any accusation of Jews responsibility for the war completely absurd. In fact, his main point seemed to be that, although they believe themselves to be acting for the benefit of BOTH the USA and Israel, this group of conservatives that he is calling the Israel lobby are quite likely not doing any favors for either.

Now, I know that the received wisdom is that W&M are anti-semitic and that the fact that they use the term “Israel lobby” at all is evidence of this (which seems to be Foxman’s point, although he starts out by denying it, only to end up there later) and so I’m sure I’ll be labeled a self-hater too for saying so, but if that’s all the guy has to say, then not only is it hardly antisemitic, it’s not even particularly novel. Hell, there have been Jews -granted Jews who have been vilified by lots of people who have a stake in the status quo- and Jewish organizations saying this for years. There’s nothing shocking -for those of us living in the real world- about asking whether aid unburdened by any requirements or even movement, to Israel, regardless of their actions, is worth discussing as a matter of political significance. Nor is it problematic to question whether such free handedness is actually efficacious in promoting peace. If the policies that have been engaged in, over and over, without resolution have not concluded in the expected results, it is madness not to at least insist on examining why, and whether there might be some more effective means of achieving one’s ends.
In contrast, Foxman got pretty hysterical right away. Within moments, he had played the Hitler card, mentioning that W&M has made discussing whether the Jews are in control of everything a respectable thing to do, and noting that the Nazis didn’t start out big, either, but worked themselves by increments to make the awful respectable. Unfortunately however, this doesn’t appear to bear any relation to what Walt, at least, said on the air. Unfortunately what we heard from Foxman, was the same crazy talk that we’ve always heard from this handful of Jewish organizations who purport to speak for the Jews, while benefiting from scare tactics (after all, fear pays their paychecks, or at the very least, they seem to be under the impression that fear will keep “young folks” from intermarrying, a dubious proposition at best, but one which said groups can’t let go of whatever the evidence), and silencing any voices that suggest there might be other ways to go about things, or who dare contradict them; not to mention ensuring that if a speaker who says such heresies is well known enough, they will behind-the-scenes (unless it gets out, like in the Judt case) arrange for their speaking forum to be taken away…by the threat of tarring the forum with the epithet of anti-semitism.
Then the next trick is to say that if you point out that they’re doing these things, they call you an anti-Semite for saying such a thing. After all, aren’t you now accusing the Jews of a conspiracy?
IN short, I am looking forward to actually reading these books just to see if W& M are actually the bogey man everyone in the Jewish world seems to think they are. I don’t know why I am continually surprised by how vehement the Jewish organizational establishment is in protecting its own turf to the detriment of the Jewish community, let alone the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel; to me it seems very difficult to see how they can believe that what they are doing actually protects Israel, but I am sure that they do. I say this wihtout a touch of sarcasm. I do believe that they believe this, but nevertheless, I also believe that they are wrong, and perhaps since within the Jewish community, anyone who dares to say so is immediately persona non grata, perhaps it will have to be our friends outside the community working together with those of us who are desperate to see Israel survive as the holy nation God commanded it to be, and not just as a piece of earth to fight over water rights, perhaps it will be those friends, who in the end, will be seen as truly our friends, because they stood by us in the hour of need we did not know that we had.