Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Distinct Odour of Panic in The Israel Lobby

Someone recently referred to the posting of full page ads in the New York Times by those who oppose the boycott of Israeli academicians as having "the distinct odour of panic."

That is similar to the feeling I had when I was invited to attend this program.

"A Conversation with Former (Israeli) Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich"
Past President of Tel Aviv University, and currently a lecturer at Harvard.

Monday, October 15
Temple Ohabei Shalom
1187 Beacon Street, Brookline
7:15 PM

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council's Israel Action Center, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, and the Consulate General of Israel to New England. Cosponsors of the event include AIPAC-The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, American Jewish Committee-Greater Boston Chapter, Anti-Defamation League-New England Region, Boston-Haifa Life Sciences Initiative, Bureau of Jewish Education, CAMERA-Committee for Accuracy for Middle East Reporting in America, The David Project, Hadassah
NorthEast, Israel Aliyah Center, Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism-New England Region.

RSVP Required. To register, contact or 617-457-8650

I do not recall a recent program in which so many of these Boston area Jewish organizations who almost always support any action taken by the Government of Israel have gathered together to co-sponsor a program. I may be wrong in assuming that Mr. Rabinovich will not talk about the torture of, and extensive violations of international law by the Government of Israel in its treatment of, Palestinians but I don't think so.

Whats happening?

The Israel Lobby, that's what's happening.

The Mearsheimer/Walt highly researched, well documented book has hit the best-seller list and deservedly so. It is a tough read. I am half way through and have not even looked at any of the citations in the over 100 pages of footnotes.

What strikes me the most is the depth and extent of the joint effort on the part of many Jewish individuals and groups: to prevent any criticism of the Government of Israel by individuals, organizations and Members of Congress and to ensure that there is no open thoughtful discussion anywhere in this country about the relationship between the United States and Israel.

What brought this home to me, and should have been obvious to me at the time, took place last year when the Government of Israel decided, as usual, to pursue a military solution to its conflict with Hezbollah (which had been formed in reaction to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982), using as its pretext this time the firing of a rocket into Israel.

(The following is excerpted from Wikipedia) The Government of Israel attacked with a combination of massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon, which damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport, an air and naval blockade, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions. The conflict killed more than a thousand people, most of whom were Lebanese civilians; severely damaged Lebanese infrastructure; and displaced 974,184 Lebanese. After the ceasefire, some parts of Southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to unexploded cluster bombs.

What was the reaction of the Congress of the United States which has been in gridlock for years with intense bitter debates over hundreds of controversial issues from children's health to abortion to education to the environment to stem cell research to the war in Iraq to the minimum wage to the Armenian genocide?

Wouldn't you expect an outcry from many liberal progressive Democrats who, I have to assume, believe that this action of the Government of Israel to be an overreaction, brutal, barbarian, inexcusable, unjustified, another illegal invasion of Lebanon, a humanitarian crime, and another reliance on the military rather than the negotiation route to end a conflict??

Sorry to disappoint you.

On July 20, 2006, the United States Congress called the Question on House Resolution 921 "On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Agree to a Bill Title: Condemning the recent attacks against the State of Israel, holding terrorists and their state-sponsors accountable for such attacks, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, and for other purposes - the yeas were 410 and the nays were 8. No question that there are many congressman who could be given "profiles in cowardice" awards for this action.

Overwhelming, no debate, no opposition.


As thousands who are now reading The Israel Lobby will find out, AIPAC is either the most effective lobbying organization or second to AARP and/or the NRA. Over the years it has been able to use the carrot of financial support and the threat of withdrawing financial support to ensure that Congressmen become and remain "Friends of Israel".

"The Israel Lobby" is now in the public domain and has ended, perhaps forever, the effectiveness of the intimidation and pressure of certain Jewish individuals and organizations to prevent an open discussion about the actions of the Government of Israel and the relationship between Israel and the United States.

(If you want to some extremely well written articles about John Mearsheimer/Stephen Walt/The Israel Lobby, I suggest you go here to the Book Category of Mondoweiss, scroll down to the article "Anticipating Walt and Mearsheimer" written by Philip Weiss on August 2, 2007, and scroll back up for more articles about The Israel Lobby and its authors.)

Back to the "the distinct odour of panic."

But I do not expect those who participate in what is referred to as The Israel Lobby to sit back and ignore what is happening. What you can expect is an onslaught of public presentations by Israeli officials and others "justifying" the actions of the Government of Israel, more full-page ads screaming out about anti-semitism of critics of policies of the Government of Israel, more whispering about "self-hating Jews", more subtle anti-Arab anti-Muslims crusades, more secret threats to Congressmen of being called "Enemies of Israel".

This panic is, I hope, a justified response. We may be seeing the end of the darkness. Time to listen again to the song from the play - Time to "Let the Sunshine In".

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