Posts Tagged ‘Abe Foxman’


“How can the Jews, of all people do this?”

The West Bank Separation wall, covered with graffiti

The West Bank Separation wall, covered with graffiti

I hear this too often when discussing the dispossession and occupation of the Palestinian people. It’s a tiresome line. Sure, I understand that on the surface this seems a reasonable question. But one doesn’t have to look very far to see that it isn’t.

Oppression and suffering don’t necessarily lead to a greater sensitivity to these things. We see this on a personal level, as well as on a larger scale. The victim of child abuse may well grow up to become an abuser. The victim of sexual abuse may also react to such an experience by repeating it on someone else. Many such people do not repeat the cycle, but many do.

Similarly, some large groups of people face discrimination and then bring it to others. Puritans faced discrimination in Europe, came to “the New World” and visited worse upon the native population, on slaves, and as time went on, on various other ethnic groups. Power changed hands at different times in Eastern Europe, and discrimination against one group or another continued to flourish. Shi’a have faced great discrimination in the Muslim world, and this has not brought about an egalitarian government in Iran. Hutus were once the majority treated like a minority in Rwanda. The Nazis rose to prominence on the strength of wounded German pride after years of economic deprivation in the wake of the First World War. The examples are legion. (more…)

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Originally published at LobeLog  

In an embarrassing moment, Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Nicolas Sarkozy of France didn’t realize their microphones were turned on as they commiserated about having to deal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The political backlash, which should be a concern for an Israeli leader, is already starting to hit Obama.

Reuters reports:

“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.

“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

But rather than Israel being concerned that world powers, the US and France, find their leader an obnoxious presence, it is portrayed even here as a problem for the President. (more…)

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My latest piece for Babylon Times, hosted by Souciant, reflects on the NY Times’ Thomas Friedman surprisingly confirming the words of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in their book The Israel Lobby.

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This piece originally published at LobeLog

Yesterday, the House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearingon the future of aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Neocon all-star and convicted perjurer, Elliott Abrams

Aid to the PA is under bi-partisan attack in Congress due to the Palestinians’ campaign to somehow upgrade their standing in the United Nations. The campaign against the Palestinians, and also against the United Nations, has already gained enough momentum that yesterday’s hearing, initially to have been held in session of the Subcommittee on the Near East and South Asia, was upgraded to a hearing of the full Foreign Affairs committee.

Leading the charge, unsurprisingly, is Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who has introduced a bill threatening UN funding mainly, though not exclusively, over the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. But her predecessor as Chair, Howard Berman (D-CA) was absolutely blunt in saying: “I believe it is appropriate to point out that should the Palestinians pursue their unilateralist course, the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual assistance that we have given them in recent years, will likely be terminated.”

Four leading Democrats, Steve Israel (D-NY), Robert Brady (D-PA), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Steven Rothman (D-NJ) have sent a bill to the Foreign Affairs Committee which would “… prohibit Foreign Military Financing program assistance to countries that vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state in the absence of a negotiated border agreement between the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.”

With all this, you’d think aid to the PA was doomed, would you not?

But hold on. At the hearing, there were four witnesses, with David Makovsky of the AIPAC-created Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) being the most moderate. The other speakers were James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation, Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (which, along with Heritage, are neo-conservative think-tanks, with more info available here) and neocon all-star Elliott Abrams. (more…)

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Back in 2007, when John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt released their book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, I disagreed with many parts of their thesis. Most of the criticisms at the time attacked the authors as anti-Semites or made straw man arguments about points the authors were not making. Thus, Christopher Toensing of MERIP and I put together an article responding to Walt and Mearsheimer in what I think was a more rational manner. I later issued an update to that article.

While not agreeing with the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis, I disagree at least as much with the two major alternatives: what I’d call the Foxman thesis, and what I’d call the

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of the controversial book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

Chomsky thesis.

Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League wrote a book in response to Walt and Mearsheimer which offered very little beyond the same straw man arguments and insinuations of nefarious motives about the Israel Lobby authors. But Foxman’s case, separate from his critique of Walt and Mearsheimer, is that the Israel Lobby, as symbolized by the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) simply educates the public and Congress but is only one of many lobbying groups and, in the end, American Middle East policy was based on a careful analysis of American interests, which, to Foxman, are usually identical to Israeli ones.

Professor Noam Chomsky, well-known critic of American and Israeli policy, contends that the Lobby is very powerful as long as it goes along with extant US policies. That is, it does not play a significant role in determining those policies, but does close off debate and discussion about it.

When I wrote my own response to Walt/Mearsheimer, I was living and working on this issue in California. Having now spent three years in Washington, and having been at hundreds of meetings with Congress members and their aides, and State Department and White House staff, it’s very clear that AIPAC is always the 800-pound gorilla in the room. (more…)

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A while back, I wrote about “Giving up on Obama.” A natural corollary to that declaration is, as my friend, Rabbi Brant Rosen inquired, “what then”?

Before I answer that, I wanted to clear up a misapprehension some took from my piece. I have, indeed, lost faith in Obama’s ability to confront the considerable political forces and act in the interest of the United States, Israel and the Palestinians and put force behind the nice-sounding words about a two-solution.

But I have not given up on a two-state solution. I still feel as I always have—I’ll take whatever solution will work and will be acceptable to the people that live in the region. And the two-state solution still has the advantage of being the preferred one by the overwhelming majority of Israelis and still, from all indications, a majority of Palestinians. It is also the solution endorsed by the United States, Europe and the Arab League as well as the PLO. If a two-state solution has been rendered impossible by the massive expansion of Israel’s settlements, as many argue, that isn’t very different from one-state proposals which seem to me at least equally fanciful. And, in any case, it remains true that a one-state solution will mean a very long period of time to reorient international diplomacy towards it.

But the issue is not how many states a solution will ultimately encompass. Whatever solution finally comes about, we are very far from that point. We all knew from the first that Obama’s notions of solving the conflict within two years were ridiculous fancy or, at best, empty political rhetoric. Now we also know that he is not the president who will reverse two decades of American deferral to Israel on all central policy matters. (more…)

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My latest piece at Meretz USA looks at the shameless list the ADL has put out of its “Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups.” Incredibly, ADL puts Jewish Voice for Peace on that list (and a few others equally absurd). When looking at who is harming both Israel and the Jewish people, I suggest Abe Foxman look in the mirror.

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