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   Vol. 70/No. 24           July 3, 2006  
On ‘Israel lobby,’ Jew-hatred
(Reply to a Reader column)
WASHINGTON—In a letter published in the column below, reader Anna Fierling takes exception to the article “More middle-class radicals promote Jew-hatred” (May 15 Militant). “Your efforts to portray the entire middle-class Left as ‘anti-Semitic’ (or worse) are unpersuasive,” she says. The author of the article “should have availed himself of a wider selection of literature from the liberal/radical Left.”

The article in the May 15 issue showed that the paper by Harvard academic dean Stephen Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” promotes “the false and reactionary theory that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is manipulated by a Jewish lobby with support from a network of ‘neoconservative gentiles.’” It also noted that others, like the editors of the London Review of Books, a biweekly oriented to the bourgeois left; Perry Anderson, editor of the New Left Review; and left-wing academic James Petras, who is widely published here and in Latin America, have endorsed this view.

What Walt and Mearsheimer presented is little more than repackaging, with some academic gloss, of the longtime “amen corner” analysis of ultrarightist Patrick Buchanan. During the U.S. military buildup for the 1991 Gulf War, Buchanan said on the McLaughlin Group TV news program that “there are only two groups that are beating the drums for war in the Middle East—the Israeli defense ministry and its ‘amen corner’ in the United States.”

Petras outlined a similar view, only more starkly, earlier this year in an article headlined “The Tyranny of Israel over America,” written for and reprinted in the Spanish-language daily Granma in Havana. “The onset and immediate aftermath of the Iraqi war and the subsequent occupation was the highpoint of Israeli tyranny over Washington,” he said. In the May 15 article we pointed out that Petras expressed views bordering on Jew-hatred.  
A wider selection of views in middle-class left
Now let’s do what Fierling suggests, take a look at a wider selection of views on the matter among the middle-class left.

The Communist Party USA tries to have it both ways with regard to the Walt/Mearsheimer paper. An article by Susan Webb in the May 25 issue of the People’s Weekly World, which reflects the views of the CPUSA, praises the paper for helping to “open up mainstream discussion” on the Bush administration’s policies in the Middle East (meaning discussion to help elect a Democratic majority in this year’s U.S. congressional elections and a Democratic White House in 2008). Referring to “well-financed right-wing Jewish groups,” Webb says, “The power these groups exercise in U.S. political life, including in electing or defeating candidates, has been written about and documented in progressive publications.” At the same time, Webb adds that “loose characterizations” of these organizations by Walt and Mearsheimer “have an unpleasant ring for many Jewish readers.”

An article in the May 19 issue of the Socialist Worker, which reflects the views of the International Socialist Organization, talks about “defending Mearsheimer and Walt’s description of the Israel lobby from Israel boosters,” while offering a friendly critique on a number of points.

An article in the April 8 issue of In These Times by Salim Muwakkil, a senior editor of the social-democratic publication, says the “furious response from critics” of the Walt/Mearsheimer article is “an eerie confirmation of the paper’s point” on the domination of U.S. foreign policy by the “Israel Lobby.”

And the June 9 issue of CounterPunch, self-described as “America’s Best Political Newsletter” and edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St.Clair, says the following in advertising an article on the subject: “Read how U.S. presidents from Wilson, through FDR to Truman were manipulated by the Zionist lobby; how Israel bent LBJ, Reagan and Clinton to its purpose; how Bush’s White House has been the West Wing of the Israeli government; how Washington’s revolving doors send full-time Israeli lobbyists from think-tanks to the National Security Council and the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans.”

Even Noam Chomsky who criticizes Walt and Mearsheimer in his article “The Israel Lobby?” tips his hat to his academic colleagues for taking a “courageous” though not a very convincing stand.

Space is the only limitation in citing more such quotations. The main thing these individuals and groups do is not promoting anti-Semitism, which many do, even if willy-nilly. They all try to slide around the reality that the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie is advancing its own interests in the Middle East, regardless of Tel Aviv’s interests. They try to skirt the fact that working people have to overthrow the rule of this capitalist class and replace it with a government of workers and farmers in order to end war and national oppression of Palestinians or any other peoples.  
Anti-semitism and Jew-hatred
One final point. Reader Debbie Delange asks for clarification on the use of “anti-Semitism” versus “Jew-hatred.” Anti-Semitism is a milder and more ambiguous term. Original usage of the term “Semites” encompassed a wider range of people beyond Jews, including Arabs and Assyrians whose languages have roots in a common Semitic tongue. Jew-hatred is unambiguous. It more clearly illustrates the danger for working people of views promoted by “socialists” like Petras who dovetail the views of incipient fascist politicians such as Buchanan.  
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