Chapter 7 - of Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War
The New Anti-Semitism
The new anti-Semitismappears in the guise of ‘political criticism of Israel’...
--Natan Sharansky, Likud Party1
I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you’re anti-Israel...
--Barack Obama, Democratic Party2
In October 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act directing the State Department to "monitor and combat acts of anti-Semitism" in foreign countries. He announced the signing during a campaign event in Florida whose Jewish population is the third largest in the world after Israel and New York. The State Department opposed the legislation, saying it already compiles such data in its annual reports on human rights and religious freedom. Sponsored by Representative Tom Lantos, the legislation included a finding that "anti-Semitism has at times taken the form of vilification of Zionism, the Jewish national movement, and incitement against Israel."3
Both the Lantos legislation and the State Department press release naming Gregg Rickman as envoy for anti-Semitism highlighted an October 2003 incident involving Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammad who told the Organization of the Islamic Conference that Jews "rule the world by proxy."4
Describing the worldwide Jewish population as between 13 and 14.6 million, U.S. diplomats mocked Mahatir’s claim that the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims "cannot be defeated by a few million Jews."
The use of anti-Semitism to discredit critics of Israeli policy dates from the 1967 Six-Day War. Prior to that conflict, the American Jewish community was not much interested in Colonial Zionism with its toxic mix of fundamentalist fervor and an expansionist agenda. A similar phenomenon emerged after the Holocaust. Though the Zionist movement had sought broader support for many years, the Holocaust was the catalyst that rallied the Diaspora around the proposal for a Jewish homeland in the Middle East with Jerusalem its capital.
Soon after the 1967 War, any deviation from the pro-Zionist "party line" was met with harsh criticism. Dissenting Jews were scorned as "self-hating" while non-Jews who criticised Zionismwere smeared as "anti-Semitic." After the Six-Day War, critics of Israeli policies faced an added barrier: Policies crafted in Tel Aviv matched those in Washington. That alliance made Zionismappear respectable, particularly with the "echo effect" of those policies being portrayed in a favorable light by mainstream media and pro-Israeli think tanks.
After President Lyndon Johnson (with the assistance of Admiral John S. McCain, Jr.) covered up Israel’s killing of 34 Americans aboard the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967, it became clear there was no extreme to which Tel Aviv could go that would endanger White House support. From a game theory perspective, the Six-Day War fulfilled its strategic purpose. It not only rallied moderate Jews who were lukewarm to Colonial Zionism but the success of that territorial expansion also confirmed throughout the Middle East that America was firmly on the side of Israeli expansionism, Zionist extremism and fundamentalist Judaism.
As moderate and liberal Jews migrated politically rightward, those involved in the U.S. civil rights movement faced a moral dilemma: How could they promote equal rights for minorities in the U.S. and fail to oppose Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians? Rather than pressure Tel Aviv to reform, many of them dropped their opposition to Zionism. Thus began a paradox for moderate Jews that remains unresolved: How to reconcile a commitment to human rights with the inhumane policies of the Jewish state and its expansionist agenda for Greater Israel?
The Internal Diaspora
Absent the horror of the Holocaust, President Harry Truman could not have recognised Zionismas a legitimate basis for a sovereign state in May 1948 over the vehement opposition of Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the State Department’s director of policy planning and the Central Intelligence Agency. Truman was lavish in his praise of Marshall, conceding: "He won the war."6
Yet in the aftermath of the Holocaust and with the Balfour Declaration having been endorsed by Democrats Wilson and Roosevelt, Truman also felt responsibility for the survivors and their claim as displaced persons to a homeland in Palestine. Critics suggest that Truman risked the welfare of the U.S. in return for pro-Israeli campaign contributions to his cash-starved 1948 presidential campaign, which he was expected to lose.
While the politics of campaign finance clearly played a role, Truman also acted out of humanitarian and moral concerns informed by his Christian Zionist upbringing in rural Missouri where he famously read the Bible cover-to-cover five times by age 15. His decision was also shaped by opinions, sentiments and predispositions developed as a young man steeped in Baptist theology that emphasised the Jews’ return to Zion as a prerequisite for the return of the Christian messiah.
In an Oval Office meeting of May 12, 1948, two days before the British mandate in Palestine expired, Marshall assured Truman that, if he followed the advice of White House counsel Clark Clifford and recognised the Zionist state, Marshall would vote against him in the November election.
After Truman recognised Israel, Marshall never again spoke to Clifford. Not until 1984 was it revealed that Abe Feinberg and a network of Zionist Jews financed Truman’s nationwide whistle-stop campaign for which Feinberg arranged to have Jewish delegations meet and financially "refuel" the train with $400,000 in campaign cash ($2.9 million in 2007 dollars).
In the minds of those who comprise the Diaspora, the Six-Day War reactivated the psychological insecurity associated with the Holocaust. In combination, those two events catalysed an internal Diaspora based on:
Nationalism--a shared emotional bond among Jews world-wide as a dispersed form of nationalism (the Diaspora) bound to Israel those who may never set foot there. After the Six-Day War, the state of Israel became the Land of Israel based on the more expansive area it occupied and the additional territory it still intends to take. Insecurity--a shared sense of vulnerability and victimhood as Jews worldwide defended themselves against anti-Semites. Whenever Israeli policies came under attack (as now), media campaigns claimed another outbreak of anti-Semitism.
Bound by a common anxiety and the allure of a "promised land" offering refuge through a "right of return," Israel emerged as a shared mental state also available as a physical "homeland" for anyone the Jewish state deemed"Jewish." In combination, the Holocaust and the Six-Day War made Zionism a geopolitical possibility. Without the Holocaust, Truman’s recognition of Zionismas a legitimate sovereign state would have proven impossible. Absent the 1967 war, moderate Jews would have continued their opposition to a Jewish state as an impediment to assimilation.
The anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism knew that an enclave of Jewish fundamentalists would subjugate the Arabs, provoking cycles of violence. They also understood that recognition of an expansionist Jewish state would imperil their faith tradition worldwide by enabling even anti-Zionist Jews to be portrayed as foreign agents of an aggressor state. Charges of "dual loyalty" could be used to impugn even those Jews most appalled at what Israel has become as pressure from the Israel lobby discredited the U.S. world-wide by ensuring official indifference to Palestinian suffering.
The Holocaust catalysed the emotional and political reaction required for Truman’s recognition of Israel as a sovereign nation. The Six-Day War re-catalysed the perception of vulnerability required to ensure that Israel became the well-armed ally of a superpower then led by Lyndon Johnson. Tel Aviv’s 1967 land grab also enabled the "Israelites"--with support from their Christian Zionist allies--to seize more territory that Jewish fundamentalists had long claimed was theirs because they are Jews.
Thus the strategic motivation fueling charges of a "New Anti-Semitism" to impugn anyone opposing the retention of occupied Palestinian land and the seizure of more territory for the steadily expanding Land of Israel. Or, as fundamentalist Jews maintain, the "redemption" of land that is rightly theirs. Thus also the need for an aggressive strategy meant to discredit, isolate, ostracise or marginalise anyone critical of Tel Aviv’s expansionist policies. With the 1967 war, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith (Hebrew for sons of the covenant) increased its funding and re-focused its operation. When Jimmy Carter published Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006), the ADL was ready. National director Abraham Foxman promptly attacked the former president, a loyal friend of Israel, as "anti-Semitic."11
Martin Peretz, editor of The New Republic, quickly claimed the Christian Zionist Nobel peace laureate "will go down in history as a Jew-hater."12
As sponsor of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace process, Carter arguably did as much as any U.S. president to improve Israeli security. Yet the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA), an AIPAC-related media watchdog, published full-page ads in The New York Times attacking Carter and urging that readers complain to the publisher whose phone number was included in the ad.
Attack on the Academies
Efforts to shield Israel from criticism routinely target not just policymakers but also professors, authors, columnists and other opinion-shapers. In an irony seldom lost on the target, the attacker typically cites the right to free speech while seeking to silence the critic. Norman Finkelstein, an anti-Zionist Jew, has long irritated the ADL. His 2000 book, The Holocaust Industry, merely rankled the ADL.
With its extended critique of Chutzpah by Harvard-Zionist Professor Alan Dershowitz, Finkelstein’s 2005 book, Beyond Chutzpah--The Misuse of Anti-Semitism, caused Zionists to hit the panic button.
Dershowitz, a self-described loyal defender of human rights, sought to halt the book’s publication.
Finkelstein, 55, recently was denied tenure at Chicago’s DePaul University following pressure from Jewish organizations and individuals, including Dershowitz. On May 23, 2008, Israel’s Shin Bet security service detained Finkelstein for 24 hours at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Akin to behavior found in Soviet bloc countries, entry was denied an outspoken critic of state policy. Though Jews worldwide are assured a right of return to the Jewish homeland, this Jewish son of Holocaust survivors reports he was told that he could not return for 10 years.
None of this is new. In They Dare to Speak Out (1985), former Congressman Paul Findley devoted an entire chapter to attacks on academics who criticise Israeli policies.
As the target of a successful AIPAC congressional campaign in 1982, Findley is an experienced veteran of such attacks. In detailing coordination among AIPAC, B’nai B’rith and ADL, he described how Hillel Foundation student groups target on-campus speakers known to be critics of Israeli policy.
Findley quotes a professor who encountered the "silent covenant within the academic community concerning Israel" and the costs imposed on those who criticise its policies. He described how a Middle East studies program was discontinued in a campaign organised by ADL, the Jewish Relations Council and Ira Silverman of the American Jewish Committee. One observer compared their intimidation campaign to "the Great Fear sweeping across France during the French Revolution."17
In a chilling account of an early 1980s campaign meant to intimidate academics nationwide, a network of pro-Israeli organizations targeted Mazher Hameed, a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Though the scholar’s report on Saudi Arabian oil field security was widely praised, Tel Aviv sought to discredit the author in order to halt the sale to Saudi Arabia of a high-tech AWACS airplane featuring the U.S. Air Force’s most sophisticated airborne radar.
The analysis pointed out the risk that Israel could mount a preemptive attack, roiling world oil markets. Since 1976, Israel Defense Forces had routinely engaged in practice bombing runs over the Saudi airbase of Tabuk, dropping empty fuel cannisters to prove their point. Tel Aviv also let it be known they could create their own "oil embargo" by disrupting Saudi oil operations.
The Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) offers a plane-mounted radar system designed to detect aircraft from hundreds of miles away. With an AWACS deployed over that theater of operations, it would be far more difficult for Tel Aviv to induce policymakers to believe that Israel was not an agent provocateur but a perennial victim living in an anti-Semitic neighborhood.
Not only did the scholar lose his job, The New Republic threatened to publish a series alleging petrodollar donations to CSIS, insinuating the research was biased and "fixed" and challenging its tax-exempt status. In response, CSIS retroactively amended the researcher’s contract to withdraw budgeted funds and force his departure.
Shortly after learning that CSIS had been successfully intimidated and his position terminated, Hameed returned to his office to find it had been burgled. The next day his personal post office box was broken into. To ensure he had no doubt that he was being stalked, items that were not his began appearing in his home.
The Intimidation Effect
Intimidation is routinely deployed against critics, whether Jewish or otherwise. Abe Rosenthal, for years the managing editor of The New York Times, sought to protect U.S. military technology when, in October 1999, he wrote a column exposing Israeli collaboration with their counterparts in Beijing. Citing "obsequious Israeli speeches praising the Chinese minister of defense," Rosenthal described Tel Aviv’s visitor as "one of the ranking Tiananmen killers" who sought Israeli assistance to upgrade Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jets for the Chinese military.
Though a staunch supporter of Israel, Rosenthal cautioned that Tel Aviv’s transfer of U.S. military technology to China could endanger U.S. interests and make Israel an American political target. After putting U.S. national security ahead of the Zionist state’s geopolitical agenda, he abruptly left the Times in a public dispute with Max Frankel, his successor as executive editor.
For 17 years, the nation’s most influential editor, Rosenthal was a key architect of the modern New York Times and was then writing a popular column for the paper.