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Playing With Fire

When the comments on the blogs of Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, and Glenn Greenwald turn ugly, who should be held accountable? Plus: A Jew-baiter’s lexicon.

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(Photoillustration: Tablet Magazine; photos: iStockphoto)

Last week this column argued that major media organizations were mainstreaming the opinions of anti-Semitic commenters in the hopes of boosting traffic on their websites. Some of my critics mistakenly believed that I was accusing specific journalists and academics—Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, and Glenn Greenwald—of being anti-Semites. Some also charged that I had smeared these writers by incorrectly holding them accountable for the hate that appears in the comments section of their blogs.

These detractors missed the point of my article, which had nothing to do with the indiscernible beliefs of individuals; rather, I was instead illustrating that these pundits, their audiences, and the major media companies hosting their blogs, are complicit in the common work of mainstreaming the kind of anti-Semitic language, ideas, and discourse that were once confined to extremist hate sites on the far right.

Let’s start with a very recent example: After I contacted Foreign Policy’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Glasser for comment before publication of last week’s column, quickly excised dozens of the most egregiously anti-Semitic comments that stuck to Walt’s posts. Perhaps they should have also vetted some of the links that Walt himself embeds for the edification of his readers. Consider this recent post where Walt has inserted a link under the name Ariel Sharon, which leads to a 2002 article on the Media Monitors Network website:

The name Safire, as in William Safire of the New York Times, is a name they recognize well at the State Department. He is one of the high priests of Sulzberger’s New York Times empire which has a franchise to dictate terms to the State Department. Of course, it is Safire himself who appears to be taking in dictation work these days from his old pal, Ariel Sharon. Before you read on, note that the Boston Globe is also a publication owned by Sulzberger. Is their a civil war breaking out among the Yiddish Supremacists? Or is Sulzberger trying to deflect some of the damage that is bound to come his way as a result of transforming his media empire into just another corner of the Israeli Lobby? Who cares? Let Sulzberger explain his shadow government’s antics.

With this link Walt shows that he hangs out in the same fetid places as some of his most paranoid commenters. And yet it is true, as some of my critics, including Walt, contend, that he and his colleagues are not responsible for the views of their readers. Walt is not accountable for the rabble that hang on his every word and who feel vindicated by the fact that their dark fantasies about Jews are enhanced by a veneer of academic reasoning from a Harvard professor. Nor can Walt be blamed for the fact that David Duke lauded his work on the Israel lobby’s machinations in pushing the United States to war in Iraq. (“It is quite satisfying,” wrote the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, “to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started.”) Even though a sewer follows Walt wherever he goes, he is not that sewer’s keeper.

I did not feel the need to make the case that Walt himself is an anti-Semite. There are plenty of credible voices who have pursued that line of argument. They have made a case that the book he co-authored with John Mearsheimer, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, was an anti-Semitic tract. Still others equally credible believe that Walt simply flirts with anti-Semitism. Andrew Sullivan has also been called to account, more than once, for combining his strident, conspiratorial denunciations of Israel, “Jewish neocons,” and “the Israel Lobby,” with his pronounced obsession with circumcision. Even as Glenn Greenwald and Philip Weiss have both been accused of obscuring the plain facts behind their frothing rhetoric about Israel, I never claimed that they were of the hothouse flower variety of anti-Semite known as the self-hating Jew.

Whether or not these bloggers are anti-Semitic is precisely the argument Walt and the rest want to have and precisely the one I do not. Anti-Semitism is an idea held in the mind that finally can only be confirmed—and can always be denied—by the mind holding it. I can no more discern what these bloggers really think about Jews than I can know whether they are thinking about the color blue or green. To get bogged down in this argument deflects attention from the issue that I am interested in here, which is not a mental state, but a process, an activity in which all four men openly engage: Jew-baiting.

Everyone knows that the media is reeling. For instance, New York Times staffers recently took a 5 percent pay cut after a hundred of their colleagues were laid off. And yet, compared to their colleagues at the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, both of which have been gutted after sliding into bankruptcy, journalists at the Times are clearly the lucky ones. None of the big media companies has figured out how to make their Internet presence into a profit center that can sustain operations, even as they turn their hallowed brand-names over to opinion bloggers who can generate copy at a tiny fraction of the cost of traditional reporting. The Israel, or rather anti-Israel, market is one of the most attractive niche markets in this trade because it taps into a passionate audience that is interested in news and can generate immediate and measurable results—page views, hits, and comments. Even on his best days, Stephen Walt can’t hold a candle to premier sports, shopping, or pornography websites traffic-wise. But he can tap into the prurient passions of a niche market.

If Walt and the others may be acquitted of responsibility for their cesspools, what blame lies with their employers? It is hard to believe that if an author had a written a book, like Walt’s, that had been similarly branded as “nasty,” “paranoid,” and “riddled with errors of fact,” and the book was about, say, African-Americans, or Latinos, or gays—and endorsed by David Duke—that the author would be embraced by the U.S. intelligentsia in the name of open debate. Only their employers know why Walt and the others were hired or remain on staff—the editor of The Atlantic, James Bennet, declined comment through the magazine’s spokesman, while Salon editor Joan Walsh and The Nation Institute’s Taya Kitman did not respond to requests for comment—but it’s not outlandish to imagine that the number of commenters and pageviews these writers’ polemics draw would be a factor. Whether Foreign Policy knew they were getting the public sewer Walt elicits, or just a public intellectual, is unclear. (Foreign Policy’s Susan Glasser did not respond to a request for comment.) What is clear is that they decided to host Walt’s blog, give it prominent billing, and tolerate its commenters.

As was the case with Walt’s blog, Weiss’ sponsor must have brought him aboard fully aware of his anti-Israel sentiments (Mondoweiss was hosted by the New York Observer before the Nation Institute), but Greenwald was already on the Salon site before he turned his baleful attention to anti-Zionist polemics, and The Atlantic bought The Daily Dish before Sullivan started ranting about circumcision and the Jews. Unlike the rest, Sullivan doesn’t allow comments, but we still know what his readers think, because he publishes examples of their work. These published emails are scarcely different from the comments published under the posts of Walt, Greenwald, and Weiss, whose arguments serve as a dog-whistle, calling out the pack of haters whose remarks make explicit what was merely hinted at in the original, (usually) more respectable post. The commenters, many of them known to each other from like-minded Internet sites, feed off of each other’s semi-literate rage, elaborating upon their colleagues’ lies, myths, and slanders and serving up anti-Semitic invective. As the Jews, and sometimes non-Jews, arrive on the site to dispute the calumnies, the cyber-sport of Jew-baiting begins, driving up comments and traffic to heretofore-unreachable heights. Even as Sullivan’s technique to summon the mob seems slightly more sophisticated, it still uses a strategy that allows him to walk away with more traffic—he is currently ranked 15th in “standing & influence” in the entire blogosphere—but a little less of the stench.

In his review of The Israel Lobby, Walter Russell Mead explained how Jew-baiting has historically functioned: “Jews are in a double bind: refrain from responding with outrage and the charge becomes accepted as a fact, express utter loathing at the charge and give anti-Semites the opportunity to pose as the victims of a slander campaign by venomous Jews.” For the purposes of driving Internet traffic, it is helpful if Jews respond, but not necessary, as anyone who has waded through the cesspool knows. In this column last week the subject alone, without the rhetorical energies of Walt and company, also brought a record number of comments for this site, thanks to the efforts of commenters migrating from their own safe havens of invective in order to shout down reasoned debate.

To advertising salesmen and advertisers, of course, the subject of any given blog post is presumably immaterial: What matters are the numbers. But is targeting Jews that much more profitable than going after African-Americans or gays and lesbians or women? The answer is simple. People know they can get away with Jew-baiting because history shows that it has been done before and no one did anything to stop it.


Jew-baiting is simply one way that the new old media and old new media are trying to find their collective footing in a changing press environment and a bad economy. So, in the interests of sharing my understanding of this successful recipe with my colleagues in the opinion press, these are some notes on how to increase traffic to your struggling website.

The Jew-baiter’s Lexicon

Here are some of the euphemistic catchphrases that will cover your ass with your queasier colleagues in the press corps while announcing to those in the know that your cesspool is open for business, with examples drawn from top anti-Israel blogs:

1. “The Israel lobby”

A conspiracy theory by any other name, the “Israel lobby” has long been invoked to explain unconditional U.S. support for the Jewish state. This conceit hit the mainstream in 2007 with publication of the Walt-Mearsheimer book explaining that a broadly inclusive coalition of U.S. citizens of Jewish descent ranging from the far left to the far right are subverting U.S. foreign policy on behalf of Israel. Walt and Mearsheimer deny that what sounds, looks, and smells like a conspiracy theory about Jewish power is in fact one. Why? Because conspiracies about Jewish power are for anti-Semites, and they, by contrast, are tenured professors at two of the most esteemed universities in the United States, men who are simply trying to explain the mysterious forces that have poisoned the U.S. public so much that it overwhelmingly supports the Jewish state in poll after poll, subverting rational U.S. interests in the Middle East through a uniquely irrational process that is applicable to the behavior of no other state on the planet. That’s why.

Here, for instance, Stephen Walt finds the proof vindicating his claim that it was indeed the Israel lobby that drove the United States to make war on Iraq—Tony Blair says so! The problem however is that Tony Blair said no such thing. Walt not only wrenches Blair’s quote out of context, he also wildly twists the evidence surrounding the run-up to the Iraq war to fit his theory. In Walt’s account, the fact that Israel was vocal in its opposition to the Iraq war, until it eventually fell in line behind the George W. Bush Administration’s democracy-promotion crusade like a good ally, was a feat of astonishing misdirection, which appears to have fooled even Stephen Walt himself (as well as Mearsheimer). By the end, it appears, the United States was taken to war not by the Bush Administration but by a remarkably complete list of nearly every Israeli and American Jewish politician, journalist, activist, and thinker, liberal and conservative alike, including Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, “Every Israeli politician who Bill Clinton knows … and he knows a lot,” Howard Kohr of AIPAC, Nathan Guttman of The Forward, Michelle Goldberg of, John B. Judis of The New Republic, Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker, the Brookings Institution, Martin Indyk, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Mortimer Zuckerman, Matthew Berger of the Jewish Telegraph Agency; Dr. Mandell Ganchrow, executive vice president of the Orthodox Religious Zionists of America; Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee; Gary Rosenblatt, the editor of The Jewish Week; and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

So how does Jew-baiting work in practice? Let’s look at the comments on this particular post.

“Bush and Cheney only had to walk down the hall to consult with Israel, considering how many in their cabinet and appointees have dual citizenships with Israel and were already actively involved with the Israeli government… All roads lead to PNAC, AIPAC, JINSA, ZOA, AEI, etc.” says one commenter, leaving out only ZOG in his paranoid alphabet soup. Another writes: “Everybody knows that many (not all) Jewish Americans care more about the security and preservation of the Israeli state than they do about the safety of American citizens.”

A commenter named Jacob, whom the other commenters appear to believe is Jewish, remarks that among other troubling issues with Walt’s argument is that his list of Jews responsible for the war seems to include virtually every public figure in the American Jewish community. Once baited, the mob zeroes in: “Calm down Jacob.” “Stop whining and make your point.” “Stick to the point and ease up on the histrionics.” “[Y]ou are, unfortunately, indicative of the sickness called Zionism that has perverted the Jewish community. It’s time to start to take RESPONSIBILITY for the actions of YOUR community. Get some help, Jacob.”

2. “Neocons”

This is a synonym often used to designate the kind of American Jew who has forced Washington officials to sacrifice U.S. interests, as well as U.S. blood and money, in order to make war on behalf of Israel’s desire to gobble up Muslim and Arab lands. First, the neocons slipped something into the well that Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and other policymakers drank from before they made war on Iraq; now the neocons are eager to push the U.S. into a conflict with Iran. If Weiss is to be believed, Washington Times reporter Eli Lake and a bunch of other Jewish journalists with no evident influence on the decision-making process are in fact setting the agenda for the entire Barack Obama Administration. To the Mondoweiss audience, it appears to make perfect sense that the decision on how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program will not be shaped by administration principals like Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Vice President Joe Biden but rather by Sen. Joe Lieberman’s op-ed in the Jerusalem Post. “[W]ith the neocons and aipac’s plugs in congress/media calling openly for war,” writes one commenter, “and with zionist liberals and fake leftists/progressives demonizing Iran more subtly to pave the way, how much longer before zionism, inc. gets their way on this?”

3. “Good Jews” vs. “Bad Jews”

If you give evidence that you have a problem with all Jews, you’re identifying yourself as an anti-Semite. It’s important then to make a distinction between two kinds of Jews—the “good Jews,” who agree with your conspiratorial views, and the “bad Jews,” who are often referred to with the shorthand term “Likudnik.” John Mearsheimer makes the distinction a bit more baldly, calling the bad Jews the “New Afrikaaners” and the good ones, “righteous Jews,” a cleverly nasty twist on the Jewish concept of the righteous gentile.

“Most American Jews,” writes Andrew Sullivan, “retain a respect for learning, compassion for the other, and support for minorities. But the Goldfarb-Krauthammer wing—that celebrates and believes in government torture, endorses the pulverization of Gazans with glee, and wants to attack Iran—is something else. Something much darker.” In other words, the “Krauthammer/Goldfarb wing” represents the bad Jewish thoughts of U.S. Jewry. As Leon Wieseltier put it in The New Republic, “[Sullivan’s] assumption, in his outburst about ‘the Goldfarb-Krauthammer wing,’ that every thought that a Jew thinks is a Jewish thought is an anti-Semitic assumption, and a rather classical one.”

4. “Conflict of interest”

Stephen Walt coined this phrase himself as a substitute for “dual loyalty,” which as he concedes, “has a regrettable and sordid history, given its origins as a nasty anti-Semitic canard in old Europe.” What he means by conflict of interest is in effect the same thing, but purged of that nasty history. It is not someone’s racial or ethnic background that should exclude them from policy-making roles in the U.S. government, writes Walt, but rather when “an individual’s own activities or statements give independent evidence of strong attachment to a particular foreign country” that they should be excluded from “an influential role in shaping U.S. policy towards that country.” Who qualifies as a source of independent evidence? According to Walt, working at AIPAC, or the Washington Institute for Near East Policy is sufficient proof of conflict of interest. That is to say, that the many hundreds of scholars, military officials, and policymakers who have worked at the Washington-based think-tank that reflects the bipartisan Israel-friendly position of the U.S. government should—uniquely—be disqualified from working on U.S. Middle East policy.

Walt claims that he’d have similar concerns about “key figures” “from the American Task Force on Palestine or the National Iranian-American Council.” And yet when President Obama named Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council, Walt defended a man reported to have done advocacy work on behalf of Saudi Arabia and to have sat on the advisory board of a state-owned Chinese oil company. As Freeman’s nomination began to unravel, thanks in part to the revelation that a former U.S. diplomat tapped to play a central role in the intelligence community believed U.S. support for the Jewish state was responsible for 9/11, Walt likened criticism of Freeman to McCarthyism, and adduced yet more evidence for the awesome power of the Israel lobby.

5. “No one can criticize Israel without being labeled an anti-Semite.”

This slogan entitles its speaker to slander Israel in any fashion without having to worry about being called an anti-Semite. Walt often makes the claim that critics of Israel are intimidated into silence, despite the fact that The Israel Lobby, published by one of the country’s most prestigious houses and home to 22 Nobel Prize in Literature winners, was widely reviewed in the national media and even hit the New York Times best-seller list. What this statement really means is that Jews control the media.

According to Glenn Greenwald, for the Israel lobby, “The real goal, as always, was to ensure that there is no debate over America’s indescribably self-destructive, blind support for Israeli actions.” Moreover, Greenwald explains, the Israel lobby has overpowered the American legal system: “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”

6. “Hasbara”

Here’s another new entry in the lexicon, perhaps related to the fact that given the capricious nature of its one-time allies around the world, its virtual isolation from the international community and, of course, the anti-Israel press, Israel has of late devoted more of its human and financial resources to public relations. While it is true that all states engage in a range of activities to make its case to the rest of the world—from public diplomacy to propaganda—and some Middle Eastern countries are famous for spending hundreds of millions of dollars on such efforts, the use of the Hebrew word hasbara (meaning “explanation”) indicates that the Jewish state is engaging in a dark conspiracy to pull the wool over the eyes of the public in order to justify its crimes. After all, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it still isn’t kosher. Or, as Weiss notes before quoting a writer from The Guardian, “Why do they persist in trying to defend the indefensible?”

“I single out Israel in part because of the lies, because the lobby has gotten away with this since Truman’s day,” writes Weiss. And a commenter responds: “Also because they threaten the livelihoods of those who criticize them.”

7. The Awesome Power of Jewish Mind-Control

Remember that one aspect of The Israel Lobby’s central thesis is that marching orders for the war in Iraq were whispered into the ears of key Bush Administration decision-makers—Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Rice—by Jews. In this view, because Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith were working under Rumsfeld at the Pentagon they must have exercised their mesmeric powers of Jewish mind-control to bend the U.S. government to their will. In a separate example, Andrew Sullivan wrote—with no actual evidence to support his pretty loaded claim—that his arch-nemesis Sarah Palin was being “indoctrinated by Joe Lieberman and AIPAC as we speak.”

What happens if you don’t read the script the Jews have handed you? They’ll silence you, says Walt’s co-author John Mearsheimer. “[T]here’s no accountability for Israel on any issue,” the University of Chicago professor recently told a Washington audience. “If I went to the Middle East, and visited Israel, and I was killed, somebody shot me, do you think there would be any accountability? The Israelis can do almost anything and get away with it.”

One way to avoid the awesome power of the Jews is to link to truth-sites beyond their control, as Stephen Walt does in the example I cite at the beginning of this piece, and allegedly to even more extreme hate sites which will gladly receive readers who might have previously been a little too timid to explore the darkest parts of the web without an escort.

8. I like Jews. I just don’t like Zionists

In rationalizing the excesses of your blogger or his more voluble commenters, explain that they are simply critical of Zionism, which is different from anti-Semitism. Even as Martin Luther King explained that, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism,” this particular trope has become so naturalized that no one will think to ask why Jewish nationalism, among all the varieties of nationalism promoted by the world’s myriad of ethnic, racial, and religious groups, is singled out for opprobrium.

In fact, there is no apparent contradiction in loathing Zionism and at the same time celebrating opposing forms of nationalism. Palestinian national aspirations remind Philip Weiss “of the life-and-death struggle for freedom our brave ancestors experienced during the Revolutionary War.” In Weiss’ view, anyone—like himself, for example—who stands against Israeli aggression and with the resistance partakes of that heroism. In this inversion of reality, it is not Hezbollah and Hamas who use Arab civilians as human shields, but Israel.

9. The uniquely evil evil that is Israel

Here we move from the merely tactical use of loaded vocabulary to the conceptual level. Israel is so extraordinarily beyond the pale that its behavior does not even merit comparison with states like China, which brutally occupies Tibet, or India, which occupies Kashmir, or Poland, which stands on parts of what used to be eastern Germany, or Sri Lanka, which recently extirpated the secessionist Tamil Tiger movement after a brutal three-decades long civil war, or the United States of America, which annihilated the Native American peoples. Indeed, the only states that resemble Israel are Nazi Germany and South Africa’s apartheid regime, neither of which exists any longer. Get it?

Watch the comments section fill to the brim at Mondoweiss when Israelis are likened to Nazis: “It’s not so much the methods but the ideology,” writes commenter “Shingo.” “The racial and ethic supremacy. The belief in maintaining bloodlike purity and opposition to mized [sic] marriages.” Another argues, in response to a different post that, “Israel threatens world peace like no other country.” That’s not quite right, as Weiss explains in the post: “I constantly compare the conflict with the battle over slavery in this country in the 1850s.”

While sweeping and unsubstantiated rhetoric has its place, it is best at times to use a more subtle approach. Consider a recent Robert Mackey post from the New York Times’ Lede Blog, which regularly appears on the front page of the Times website, concerning the story of the Arab man found guilty of rape by deception. Never mind that rape by deception statutes—however stupid they may be—are also on the books in California and Tennessee. Mackey portrays this episode as yet another instance of Jewish supremacism. Perhaps if this were in the print edition of the New York Times, the reporters or their editors might have been obliged by normal reporting standards at the very least to read to the end of the Haaretz piece they link to, which explains that two Jewish Israelis have been sentenced under the same law. But, it’s not a newspaper; it’s a blog.

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Barry Meislin says:

Brace yourself, Mr. Lee.

Many of the people you are referring to seem to be deaf to appeals (and analyses) such as yours while being very tolerant of lies and quite open to repeating them.

And very uninhibited when it comes to expressing their extreme displeasure.

In fact, the phenomenon you describe has spun totally out of control.

If the past is anything to go by, the depth and public acceptability of such intellectual perversion must necessarily lead to the dire weakening of the body politic, political cohesion and political will, as efforts—fanned by the media and too many in the blogging universe—to automatically blame the State of Israel and its supporters for the problems in the US, in Europe, in the Middle East, and around the world reaches critical mass.

Barry Meislin says:

Should be, “Mr. Smith”. Sorry

David says:

Mr. Smith, stop while you’re ahead.

“I didn’t mean to say that Walt et al were anti-Semites. I REALLY meant to say that they *AND* the media who publish them are anti-Semites.”

As one who has struggled to introduce facts and reason to Walt’s blog, only to be repeatedlly ejected, I have come to the conclusion that both Walt and his fans belong to the “my mind is made up; don’t confuse me with facts” school of discourse.

Since Walt has tenure and his more offensive readers don’t care, the only remedies are shame and marginalization.
At the risk of violating Godwin’s law, many otherwise intelligent academics and public intellectuals supported Mr. ‘may his name be erased’ of a successor government to the Weimar Republic. In the end, they became both irrelevant and pariahs.

Perhaps Walt’s descendants, like Henry Ford’s, will end up taking out ads in Commentary wishing us all a Happy Passover.

David says:

Mr. Smith, keep up the good work and don’t let hater’s stop you from reporting the truth. You hit nail right on the head, that one of the main reasons why newspapers and bloggers go after Israel so much because it drives traffic. It’s shame that the old hatred won’t die. So many Jew-haters out there (that includes the self-haters too) think that they are so savvy attacking Israel.

I would take their comments slightly more seriously if they were even remotely passionate about real abusive across the world, from Africa, to the Middle East (not Israel), to China, to Burma, to North Korea, etc. But most of these anti-Semites are mute when it comes to these places. These left-wing ‘do-gooders’ only come out of the woodwork to express how outrageously outrage they are when Israel does well, anything.

So the commentators that plan on whining about my post, I don’t give a hoot what you think, cause I know what you are. This isn’t about Israel, its about Jews and Jewish self-determination, which you believe we have no right.

Israel is like African-Americans of the Jim Crow era. We got one set rules for us, and another for everyone else.

So to reiterate. Mr. Smith keep exposing the truth to world, and keep shining the light on what is the real problem in the Middle East peace process. Not Israel, but left-wing fanatics and Arab hatred of Jews and Israel.

What was Andrew Sullivan doing when he began routinely labeling circumcision as the ‘mutilation of boys’? Did he have some geopolitical objection to it, that had nothing to do with Jews, as Jews?

Mike Murray says:

Mr. Smith, I think you know that there are prominent commentators in the United States who would resort to anything, anything, to push us into a war with Iran despite the fact that we already have two wars in the Middle East that are not going well. Is it antisemitism, by definition, to oppose these people?

ARPIT says:


I hereby introduce the comment above by Mike Murray, posted at 10:53 AM, as Exhibit A for the prosecution.

A wonderfully written article!

Nick says:

A very powerful article. Thank you.

Glenn Greenwald hate Jews? He had to leave his law practice after he got caught smuggling out messages from prison for Nazi Matt Hale, who he was representing. He hates Jews cause the Old Testament is down on gays. He was represented skin heads on Long Island who beat up Mexicans.

Very impressed with this. Totally redresses the charges of insufficient evidence made by certain frothing-at-the-mouth commenters about your last piece.

Would Lee Smith and David Sternlight please explain in a reasonable way which of the following organizations should *not* be designated as members of the Israel lobby?

1. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
2. Atlas Shrugs
3. Birthright Israel
4. CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)
5. Commentary
6. CUFI (Christians United for Israel)
7. ECI (Emergency Committee for Israel)
8. JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
9. Likud
10. MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute)
11. NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council)
12. Norpac
13. One Jerusalem
14. RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition)
15. Saban Center for Middle East Policy
16. Shalem Center
17. Stand With Us
18. The David Project
19. The Israel Project
20. WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
21. ZOA (Zionist Organization of America)

And is it possible for Americans, Europeans and other thoughtful people all around the world to disagree with the policies advocated by these members of the Israel lobby on reasonable and principled grounds?

HaSoferet says:

I already know the answer to this question, but I’ll ask it anyway because it bears repeating:

Why are the individual actions, thoughts etc of individual Jews ALWAYS referred to collectively THE JEWS? Why aren’t the actions of people such as Wolfowitz and Feith just attributable to their individual thoughts and analysis? Why is it that Jewish individuals are ALWAYS thought to be part of some conspiratorial hive mind? And why is there never a WASP conspiracy referred to in the halls where conspiracy paranoia thrives?

Has Lee Smith ever spoken out about the torrents of hate speech originating from pro-Israel activists on Usenet, various blogs and the comments sections of Haaretz, Jerusalem Post, Ynet News and many other mainstream publications? Has he criticized those publications for their responsibility in hosting and broadcasting that hate speech?

See Pamela Geller’s “Atlas Shrugs” for many hundreds of examples of the kind of clear hate speech to which I am referring. Is everyone who has been associated with Geller, or who has supported her, also responsible for her hate speech?

Perhaps he has: I look forward to pointers to his writings on that problem.

HaSoferet: do some simple data mining: identify all the passages in writings by neoconservatives at Commentary (and other neocon media outlets) which refer to “the Jews.” This is of course highly misleading and dangerous language — most Jews do not support the neoconservative agenda. But it shouldn’t be surprising that some non-Jews who disagree with the neocons are confused by this language and come to wrong and pernicious conclusions.

My ethnicity is Anglo-Irish. If I ever encountered members of my ethnic group making grandiose proclamations about the views of “the Anglo-Irish,” I would be disgusted and speak out strongly against them. But that is not a problem that comes up often — in fact, ever in my experience. (Exception: white nationalists often make grandiose proclamations about “whites” — that is why they have been justifiably marginalized in American and European politics, although pro-Israel activists like Pamela Geller are trying to revive their fortunes.)

HaSoferet says:

There are similar organizations for virtually every other country that has dealings with the United States. Yet oddly very few speak about the Russia lobby or the French lobby or the UK lobby or the Irish lobby. Or indeed the meta-national oil lobby, which has more to do with the abominable invasion of Iraq than anything else.

HaSoferet: One sees the oil lobby, the arms lobby, the China lobby, the Saudi lobby, the pharmaceuticals lobby, the Christian evangelical lobby and many other lobbies discussed all the time in American politics.

I haven’t seen much discussion of the Irish lobby lately, although it was much discussed when the IRA was active and prominent. Which contemporary organizations would you designate as members of the Irish lobby, and in which American political controversies are they embroiled? What is the Irish equivalent to AIPAC?

HaSoferet says:

“What is the Irish equivalent to AIPAC?”


HaSoferet: Your attempt at humor is acknowledged. But to be serious: for what controversial foreign policies has the Boston Irish lobby been agitating for lately? Most Bostonians (including Irish and Jewish Bostonians) are ardent individualists and are difficult to pigeonhole. Few of them are ethnic nationalists. The presence of leading educational institutions in the area, like MIT and Harvard, helps account for the independent and anti-herd style of thinking.

Zelda says:

Mr. Smith,
With all due respect this article is what I’d call “goyim nachess”.
We in Israel are extremely alert to foreign anti Semitism, the media reported yesterday that 2009 had over 1000 cases of anti Semitic harassment registered in the US… If some moron somwhere behind the seventh moon paints – god forbid – a swastika on a gravestone, the local media will go on about it for days… Gewald, anti semitism is indeed on the rise… new boards of experts on the matter will be built, the members will take extended trips abroad to study this phenomenon and new academic positions will be created to reward the experts when they return, if they do…
When **** hits the fan we are fast to put the blame on the foreign media, on anti Semitism and if nothing helps, we still have the Shoa to do the trick. But Israelis have turned into their own worst enemy, daily destroying from the inside every last vestige of morality and decency, of mutual respect left. It isn’t a joke anymore that if only the Arabs would bear with us long enough we will do the job ourselves…

I think Smith’s point, although poorly articulated, is this: The crazies find comfort in some blogs because they so often traffic in themes that confirm the anti-Semite’s world view.

Marc says:

Extremely well written article. Anybody who tires to justify the screed that Walt and mearhsheimer and their ilk spew out on the rationalization taht its academic-oriented is sinking right into therir hole.

Ken Besig Israel says:

The ones who really suffer the most from anti Semitism are the anti Semites themselves. Their foolish belief in the myth of an all powerful, all clever, all manipulative Jewish cabal reduces their already limited chances at success even further.
The damage they do to the Jewish People is pretty negligable, although the argument can be made that the damage these anti Semites have done to Israel is significant, it is largely in the realm of slandering the Jewish State as opposed to physical damage where this group has had it’s greatest success.
Anti Semitism is perhaps the only constant in an ever changing, ever growing world. Anti Semitism is so viral, that it can even exist where there are no or at least very few Jews.
Not that this phenomenon should be taken lightly but neither should it be given too much weight, only a small number of academics can be said to be anti Semitic, and not too many businesses base their activities on it. Most governments are unconcerned about a person’s religion and base their foreign policy on what is good for their country, not what would hurt Israel.
Anti Semitism is just one of those things we have always had around us and probably always will.

Floyd says:

In the 2002 article by Walt cited above:”Is their a civil war……”
These so-called writers are also soft on grammar. Sign of the times.
NYT had an automobile article by a writer who discussed “the car’s breaks”.

David says:

Sean McBride, thanks for making Lee Smith’s point.

David: what point do you think I made? Can you be specific? I made several substantive points in my comments, and I haven’t seen any substantive replies yet.

asherZ says:

Israel is hated not for her vices but her virtues. If the haters had knowledge of Israel’s contributions to medicine, technology, communications, etc. they would quickly turn the page and continue their hate. Per capita Israel has contributed as much or more to humanity as any other nation. But none of this matters. Jew hatred makes the hater feel better about himself. Push down to lift himself up. Perverse but tragic.

HaSoferet says:

Mr. McBride, I’d like to digress for just a moment and ask you a question: what brought you to Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life? I don’t begrudge Tablet their traffic mind you, but non-Jews are not exactly the target audience here. Of course most of us read publications for which we are not the target, but I still find myself curious as to how Sean McBride ended up here.

Marc says:

Message to Sean: If you can’t see the connection btwn this article and your crazed world view, then you are rolling in the gutter with the dirtiest of them.

HaSoferet: what brought me here was an interest in the netwide controversy that Lee Smith has whipped up over Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, Glenn Greenwald, Stephen Walt and other writers. Are you suggesting that non-Jews are unwelcome here and shouldn’t join the discussion? Is there an unwritten policy in place at Tablet Magazine of which I should be informed?

And is there any chance that you will respond to the points in my previous comments to you?

To refresh your memory: many pro-Israel activists themselves (and quite a few neoconservatives and Christian Zionists) use the term “the Jews” in way that is problematic, to say the least. Your thoughts? You are the one who raised this topic.

Marc: can you be specific? With which particular statements do you disagree and why?

David says:

Sean, let me count the ways. Well your first rant showed us how unhinged you are. Plus, these are the following points you fall under when it comes to Lee Smith’s thesis.
1. “The Israel lobby”
2. “Neocons”
3. “Good Jews” vs. “Bad Jews”
5. “No one can criticize Israel without being labeled an anti-Semite.”
7. The Awesome Power of Jewish Mind-Control
8. I like Jews. I just don’t like Zionists
9. The uniquely evil evil that is Israel

But I have to ask two things about your first post. First, the Likud? Are you kidding me. Let me rephrase that, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Do you even know what you are talking about when post stupid s*** like that? I guess I didn’t know that the Likud is only Zionist Party in Israel with these special Zionist super mind-control powers? I hate to break the news to you buddy, put all Jewish political parties in Israel are Zionist. Signaling out the Likud shows us how extra special unhingy you are. Second, Pammycakes of Atlas Shrugs? I didn’t know this small time blogger had so much power over US foreign policy? If you believe she has any influence outside her very small audience, I believe you should check yourself into a mental hospital pronto.

HaSoferet says:

Sean McBride: “Are you suggesting that non-Jews are unwelcome here and shouldn’t join the discussion? Is there an unwritten policy in place at Tablet Magazine of which I should be informed?”

No and no. I was just curious.

And no I don’t want to get into pissing contest with someone who has determined the parameters of the argument as well as its conclusions. I choose not to play the game. I have to get back to work promoting ZOG.

David: I didn’t make any of the statements you attributed to me, and I now have to wonder about your general level of literacy. Try quoting my specific statements, respond to them in a coherent way (if you can), and I will respond.

Is it your argument that there is no such thing as an Israel lobby, and that organizations like AIPAC shouldn’t be designated as components of the Israel lobby? Which of the organizations I mentioned do you believe should *not* be designated as components of the Israel lobby, and why?

HaSoferet: you ducked all the specific points in the discussion which *you* initiated. Duly noted.

David says:

Um, why does the Likud get singled out as part of the Pro-Israel Lobby, but not Labor, or Kadima?

Why are you mentioning Atlas Shrugs but no one else? There are A LOT of other Zionist blogs out there, that actually focus on Israel, not Islamic misogyny. Seems kind of random and unhinged in my opinion. But hey, I’m not the one that is taking the crazy pills here.

So I hate to break the news to you, but you do fall under most of Lee Smith’s categories. So do us all a favor and read the definitions.

David: I didn’t “single out” Likud. I mentioned Likud as one of 21 components of the Israel lobby. I could have easily mentioned 100 components. You are missing the point of the exercise: is it fair to designate those 21 organizations (or ANY organizations — they are merely examples) as members of the Israel lobby? Most reasonable people would agree that it is.

With regard to Pamela Geller: she is far more influential than the commenters that Lee Smith has focused on in his attacks on Walt, Greenwald, Weiss, Sullivan, Lobe, etc. Her blog is widely read, and she is affiliated with Newsmax, Fox News and some leading neoconservatives. Why does Lee Smith think that marginal commenters are a more important topic than haters with much greater influence, like Pamela Geller and Michael Savage? And what of all the pro-Israel hate commentary in mainstream media outlets like the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Ynet News? Are those publications responsible for all the hate speech in their comments sections?

Anti-Semitic comments are possible only if advertisers are willing to tolerate the appearance of their advertisements beside such purportedly “moderated” comments. After The New York Times refused to delete a comment alleging that Jews are the “most arrogant tribe on the face of the earth,” I have been contacting companies whose advertisements continue to appear beside this offending comment, providing them with additional examples of rabid anti-Semitic comments posted by the “moderators” (an oxymoron) of The New York Times over the past year, and asking that they stop advertising with The Times until this outrage ends. See:

David: here is an exercise for you: since you are an expert on this subject, why don’t you list the ten most important organizational components of the Israel lobby, in order of importance. You seem to be preoccupied with sorting out these groups by power and influence (which was not my original intent when I introduced this topic). Lay it out for us.

Marc says:

Hey Sean: You are so caught up in trying to show how “straight” you are that you don’t even realize that your “slip” (outright hatred/hostility) is being worn right on your sleeve!! You want examples?? How about elucidating at least 1 item for starters. Can you elaborate on your statement regarding “… being designated a member of the Israel Lobby…” IS that a cause for condemnation? Please answer that simply- yes or no.
Why did you use the word “designated”? What elitist has the foresigfht to bestow this prestigous designation?
And what do those “members” (do these individuals or groups need a card to gain membership?) do exactly do as part of this lobby? Are J Streeters part of this Lobby? How about Peace Now?
You, Sean, are the poster child for this article.

Marc: I didn’t say anything about “condemnation” — that’s a thought in your own head. I asked a simple question: is it fair to describe those groups as components of the Israel lobby? If not, why not? I don’t seem to be able to get a straight answer to a straight question.

We could add a few more groups if you’d like (or many):

1. ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
2. AJC (American Jewish Committee)
3. Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

Are they organizational components of the Israel lobby or not?

Are Americans and Europeans and the rest of the world free to agree or disagree with the beliefs and policy positions of these groups on a reasonable and principled basis or not?

Are we free to agree or disagree with any lobby — foreign, ethnic, religious, industry-oriented, etc.? I had always presumed that the freedom to disagree with special interest lobbies was a fundamental American and democratic right. That attitude practically defines what Americanism is all about.

Marc says:

You are so, so out of touch. Your entire diatribe was full of perjorative terminology. Both The ADL and AJC are primarily concerned with domestic issues- taking on unpopular positions concerning constitutional law and hate crimes. And if a group corresponds with legislators that allows them learn of other sides of issues, why does that get you so riled up?

Marc: provide some examples of “pejorative terminology.” I’ve noticed that you have a strong tendency to project your own emotional excitement and stridency on others. My language has been strictly neutral and low-key.

The ADL and AJC have spoken out on Israeli issues many times — it is easy to turn up a long list of examples. They are key components of the Israel lobby by any reasonable definition. And you still haven’t offered any challenges to the 20+ other organizations on that list.

And you still haven’t answered the main question: are Israel lobby outsiders well within their rights to differ with the lobby on reasonable and principled grounds over particular issues? Isn’t that the American way?

For instance, some leading members of the Israel lobby are agitating for an American/Israeli war against Iran. Many informed Americans believe that such a policy would be a disaster for American interests. Surely you must agree that they have every right to express their views — correct? In fact, it is the patriotic thing to do.

Marc says:

Your list of “members of the Israel Lobby” is so ridiculous. But here are a few more that you can investigate thru you websites:
1) Hillel 2) Dorot 3) Chabad 4) Brandeis University (now here’s a few you can sink your teeth into). Start up your conspiratorial engines!!
Your hatred of anything that promotes a vision of ISrael that doesn’t conform to yours is rife with ridicule and outright spitefulness. Its up articles like this one htat you should be studying religously.

Marc: would you please explain why you think that list of Israel lobby members is “ridiculous”? What names would you remove from the list?

And who said anything about hatred and conspiracies? You are projecting again.

Do you reserve the right to disagree with the China lobby, the Arab lobby, the Muslim lobby, the Saudi lobby, the Turkey lobby, the Roman Catholic lobby, the oil lobby, the Mormon lobby, etc.? And how would you respond to any excited verbal abuse directed at yourself from any members of those lobbies? Would you feel more inclined to support them?

Barry Meislin says:

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates would like to have the US (and if not the US, then Israel) neutralize Iran.

Does that make Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Emirates members of the Israel Lobby?

Just wondering….

Side comment: this is fairly slick forum software — I like it. Easy to read and post. Two items on the wish list: 1. an RSS feed for comments on specific articles and 2. the option to receive new comments on specific articles in email.

Barry Meislin: lobbies often engage in shifting alliances and conflicts according to their respective interests at the moment — standard international behavior.

The main question for Americans: would an American or Israeli war against Iran be good or bad for American interests? The American military and intelligence establishments so far have made clear their opposition to such a war. We are already being bled dry by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the United States may be on the verge of an economic collapse as matters stand already.

Barry Meislin says:

So then they are members of the Israel Lobby?

At least for now?

Barry: temporary allies, in my humble opinion — one could argue that Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been de facto allies of Israel and the Israel lobby for several decades now. They share certain pragmatic common interests, despite their ideological differences.

asherZ says:

Sean: Would American interests be served if Iran is not stopped from acquiring a nuclear weapon? Think of the implications if they were successful. It would start a nuclear arms race, and proliferation of WMD would abound. The Persian Gulf would fall under the hegemony of Iran and oil prices would skyrocket. U.S. influence in the region would plummet. We already have seen Turkey change its allegiance from NATO to its new ally to its east. Sean, you aren’t doing the correct analysis because you are probably one of the objects of Smith’s excellent article.

This may be off topic but can anyone define Semitism for me?

asherZ: the United States, Europe, Russia and China have been able to live successfully with MAD for quite a few decades now. Most experts on this subject believe that it will be impossible to prevent other nations in the Mideast from acquiring nuclear weapons over the long run, and far too expensive, from the standpoint of American interests, to use military force against Iran under the present circumstances.

Which lobbies in the United States are agitating for an American war against Iran? Not the oil lobby. Not the military establishment. Not the intelligence establishment. Not Americans as a whole, who have much more pressing issues on their mind. Think about it.

hexag1 says:

I say this is by and large a job well done, Lee. I have one small disagreement with your last comment about the rape by deception law. Sullivan had an excellent rebuttal to a reader that made the same point (that two Jewish Israeli men had been convicted under the same law):

“I am unaware of any law in the West that treats racial or religious deception as the equivalent of rape that requires incarceration. I am unaware of any prosecution of Israeli Jews for rape posing as Arabs in order to get laid (if someone has such evidence, please let me know). As for the other Western cases cited, they are about doctors using their practice to sexually abuse women, a man somehow passing himself off as his own brother to have sex with his brother’s girlfriend, and another bizarre story about a man posing as a doctor, citing intercourse as a form of treatment for vaginal infection!

This is not the same as suddenly realizing your lover is, say, a Mormon and thereby accusing him of rape-by-deception, or, say, a light-skinned black man being convicted of rape because he told his partner he was white. This is racial and religious bigotry, a form of Jim Crow-style racism, upheld by the Israeli courts. I notice my reader does not defend it. Who could? And I was careful in my post to assert that Israel is indeed far more Western than its neighbors. Just weirdly different at times – in this case, repulsively so.”

Sully is absolutely correct about this. The cases cited are not morally or factually comparable to the original one, except that they fell under the same law. You are dodging the question: would a Jewish Israeli have been sent to prison if he had pretended to be a Muslim man to get laid? Actually, in the case cited, the Muslim man didn’t even pretend – the two had voluntary sex first, and then she asked him and found out that he was a Muslim and called the cops.

Barry Meislin says:

That does rather open up quite a few interesting possibilities (though I don’t really think either Egypt or Saudi Arabia would appreciate your humble opinion): most countries being members of the Israel Lobby, at least at some point (but when?).

Interesting, indeed, in that such a formulation would appear to erase any doubts regarding the awesome power of the Lobby—though one should always keep in mind that in spite of this power, the Lobby has been in favor of a Palestinian State (albeit with certain qualifications); and that hasn’t quite happened yet….for which, almost everyone blames—that’s right—the Israel Lobby!!

Yes, a power so awesome, that, in fact, John Mearsheimer’s fears for his own safety may not be the hallucinatory hyperbole that lesser mortals seem to believe (and unfairly scoff at): if Israel can, at one time or another, count countries from Albania to Zambia as members of the conspiracy, I mean club–make that Lobby, what can’t it do?

One of my favorite “interesting possibilities” actually concerns Charles Freeman. The Lobby really blew it with Chuck. If he had been nominated successfully, you can bet that he would have worked 24/7 for his Saudi, um, friends to persuade Washington to thwart the Iranian threat. True, at the same time, he would have blamed the Israel Lobby vociferously for trying to foment war against a peaceful Iran, castigated the Lobby for trying to force the US to act against American interests, and lambasted the Lobby for trying to suborn the US to the interests of the nefarious Likud, etc., etc.

Indeed, the rhetoric would have been more than a bit discomfiting for people like Abe Foxman, but Chuck would have delivered the goods: Iran neutralized, Israel blamed—a perfect twofer for the Kingdom of Saud; but a welcome result for Israel, too (and Egypt and most of the world, well, except for Iran itself, Syria, Hezbullah and Hamas)…

A lost opportunity (proving that the Lobby may not be all it’s cracked up to be?)

steve says:

Hi Sean,

Let me try to answer your specific post about the Jewish organizations you listed. Let’s go with the fact that those organizations share a common purpose which is to represent various interests of Israel, but more importantly, tax paying americans who believe that Israel should exist and exist in peace. Second, the issue that many of us have is that the tone and verbiage of critics aren’t criticism but rather they tie into the centuries old anti semitic panic as that the Jews are controlling something. And because they supposedly have that control, millions of Jews have been killed for that reason (this has nothing to do with the holocaust, Sean, this is about 2000 years of jew blaming. Now, the tone of those that hurl the Jewish lobby insults is really different from the drug lobby, the oil lobby etc. The patriotism of Jewish americans is always questioned (like JFK would obey the Pope) and the conservative political beliefs of some Jewish Americans was likewise convoluted by the groups Miller mentions as though they were servants or payees of Israel rather than their belief something was good for the USA. So it takes a moniker and distorts it into a persistent, pervasive pattern of Jew hating. One more point: you mentioned in a post above a list of organizations that are part of this lobby. Most of your supporters at least define the israel lobby as us organizations that blindly follow Israeli interests. It’s insuling to jewish americans, but getting past that little antisemitic point, you Sean, have expanded the definition of the lobby broader than anyone has. Frankly, some of the ones you list are absurd. Likud was discussed earlier but it is an israeli political party. Birthright Israel is not a political organization, and you know it. It’s constituency is Jewish teenagers. But what really got me going was your list of pro-israel publications, that “spew hate”. I am constantly amazed at the hate comments in Ha’aretz that are directed toward Israel,

steve says:

in fact, haaretz runs a counter on like/dislike. and honestly Sean, any hate comment directed TOWARD Israel outnumbers the contra, by 20 to 1. Clearly, you have not read Ha’aretz or you too would note the overwelming hatred it spews toward Jews and Israel.

Marc says:

Good analysis by Steve. Many of the groups tarred by Sean’s brush are far removed from politics, lobbying, etc.

ahad ha'amoratsim says:

Where does “We are criticising Israel and not China or Sri Lanka because Israel receives much more money from the US, support for Israel endangers the US, and the Jews, having undergone the Nazi holocausst (because of course everything was hunky dory for the Jews but for that single abberration) should be more sensitive than other nations, and you are simply trying to distract attention from Israel’s misdeeds” fit into the lexicon?

Marc said: “Many of the groups tarred by Sean’s brush are far removed from politics, lobbying, etc.”

Name specifically and individually the “many groups” that “are far removed from politics, lobbying, etc.”

And how did I tar these groups with any brush? I simply asked if it was fair to classify them as organizational components of the Israel lobby. Apparently it is indeed fair, since no one here has offered any reasonable objection to classify them as such.

Here is the updated list of Israel lobby member organizations (and thanks for the help from others here in pulling it together):

1. ADL (Anti-Defamation League)
2. AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
3. AJC (American Jewish Committee)
4. Atlas Shrugs
5. Birthright Israel
6. CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America)
7. Chabad-Lubavitch
8. Commentary
9. Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
10. CUFI (Christians United for Israel)
11. ECI (Emergency Committee for Israel)
12. Israpundit
13. Jerusalem Post
14. JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
15. JPPPI (Jewish People Policy Planning Institute)
16. Kadima
17. Labor
18. Likud
19. MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute)
20. Middle East Forum
21. NJDC (National Jewish Democratic Council)
22. Norpac
23. One Jerusalem
24. RJC (Republican Jewish Coalition)
25. Saban Center for Middle East Policy
26. Shalem Center
27. Simon Wiesenthal Center
28. Stand With Us
29. The David Project
30. The Israel Project
31. WINEP (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
32. WJC (World Jewish Congress)
33. WZO (World Zionist Organization)
34. ZOA (Zionist Organization of America)

We are still waiting for David to list the ten most influential organizations within the Israel lobby from the above list, by order of influence. This is a subject on which he possesses considerable knowledge apparently.


I’m not sure if I understand your comments. Are you arguing that the Israel lobby is the *only* special interest lobby in American politics (and a foreign lobby at that) with which Americans are *not* permitted to express disagreements? I hope not. Because that is an oppressive belief and proposition that would indeed provoke suspicions and bad feelings among many Americans who value independent thinking and free speech.

Regarding Likud: it cooperates closely with AIPAC and other components of the Israel lobby — it is itself one of the most powerful components of the Israel lobby, and even has an official American branch.

You missed the point about hate speech: torrents of hate speech from pro-Israel activists have been visible in numerous major media and Internet outlets for decades now. With regard to Israeli newspapers, I was referring to the *comments* sections, not to the newspapers themselves. Lee Smith led us down this path by trying to smear Walt, Sullivan, Weiss, Greenwald, Foreign Policy, etc. with the extremist remarks of some *commenters* on their platforms. People who understand the Internet don’t go down that path.

If you have a disagreement with a blogger, address the posts of the blogger in a direct and fair-minded way.

One of Lee Smith’s fans and commenters today posted an incitement to murder Mearsheimer, Walt and Sullivan, and another commenter is a leader of the JDO. We shouldn’t blame Lee Smith for those commenters and their beliefs and associations.

David says:

Jesus Sean, its almost hilarious that you don’t consider an anti-Semite. I mean look at you, you have an unhealthy relationship tracking all these Jewish organizations stating, “Jooos, Jooos, Jooos! They control everything!”

Just because you read something on the internet, doesn’t make it true. If you think you converted anyone to your side from this ‘debate’, you are only kidding yourself. Get yourself some help, bigot.


I haven’t mentioned any “Joos” — that is your preoccupation and projection. I simply inquired if it was fair to classify the above organizations as components of the Israel lobby. But I do notice that the subject seems to make you uncomfortable: you are basically just hurling verbal abuse now without offering any factual, reasonable and useful insights into understanding the Israel lobby.

Which organizations would you list as the ten most influential member organizations of the Israel lobby?

And should Americans be concerned that some leading members of the Israel lobby are trying to push them into a war with Iran that the American national security community believes would be disastrous for American interests? Do Americans have a right and obligation to stand up for their own interests and values against the operations of foreign lobbies?


Go and read the blog Elder of Ziyon, you might actually learn something.

And who are the organizations that you would be thinking are pro Iran? Pro Saudi? How about any other countries? Egypt? anyplace else got you all spun up? I think its only Israel and the virus of stereotyping Jews.

A million thanks to Smith for your courage in this article. Good for you, you have guts to say what many people know and are afraid to say. You are so right and anyone in the Jewish press who wants to stick their head in the sand is just fooling themselves. I spend a good deal of time online, and I can say you are so right. So right.

Also Smith has an excellent point when he points to the article Walt links to under the name Sharon, clearly a hate site! Go and see it, your stomach will turn, its revolting. Walt should lose his job at Harvard.

I love it. When I moved to Ormond Beach, FL and had a letter to the editor published the Jewish Federation wanted me to join their monitoring group. What’s that? The Jews monitor the letters they consider anti-Jewish, not anti-Semitic,remember don’t use that anti-Jew term. What do they do with their monitoring? NOTHING. I told them where to go and that’s the same thing I’m reading with this Tablet.

The biggest enemy that Jews have is each other and this article proves it. Stop being THE PERFECT ENEMY and make your enemies afraid of you.

Bill Levy

Wow! That guy Sean is a real nut! I mean how much of an obsession with Jews can someone have! I have been on the board of Hillel at college, went to Jewish summer camp, was active in USY, and am now also active in Jewish political and community life.

I have NEVER HEARD of most of those groups, this guy must spend his whole life being spun up about Jews and Israel. Really this is scarey I have never imagined people like that existed outside of Nazi Germany.
This is a real awakening moment for me I can tell you all, this is creepy stuff here.

The author should keep writing about this.

vered wrote:

“And who are the organizations that you would be thinking are pro Iran? Pro Saudi? How about any other countries? Egypt? anyplace else got you all spun up? I think its only Israel and the virus of stereotyping Jews.”

I read your post five times, slowly and carefully, and still have no idea of what you are talking about.

The issue on the table is this: which lobbies in American political life have been agitating for an American and Israeli war against Iran, a policy which the American national security community has strongly opposed? Not even Bush and Cheney were foolish enough to go down that route, even under the heavy prodding of Norman “World War IV” Podhoretz.


How are we supposed to make our enemies afraid of us? We are not stooping to the level of those who try to trade on bigotry like Walt and Sullivan.

And Isreal has done a good job of showing its enemies that it will not just let them murder them and shoot rockets at the civilian centers and look at the international community.

Sean you say that you read my post five time and have no idea what I am talking about? I understand it must be hard to concentrate with all that Nazi marching music blaring in the background.

Think what countries are you worried about? Do you have concerns about the US relationship with any other nation? South Korea? Always wants us to defend against the North…any worries there?

No only Israel worries you to the point where you put together a huge list and spend what is clearly a huge amount of your life reading nutty internet sites on it. Get a life! Jews are just people, we aren’t a lobby, we don’t have magic powers, we don’t have horns.

Obama doesn’t call me about Iran and neither does Hillary. Sorry to disapoint you but your world view is nuts.

Turn off your computer, go and make some real life friends and get a new productive hobby like helping the poor or the aged. Do something else with your time. You are getting crazy.

vered: I am beginning to wonder about the level of discussion at Tablet Magazine. I assumed that at least some readers here were well-infomed about Mideast politics, and were capable of discussing the subject at a graduate school level. Perhaps not.

If you have any insights or observations about which organizations should or should not be classified as components of the Israel lobby, be sure to pipe up.

I do in fact worry a fair amount about North Korea. But there is no lobby on the American scene at the moment agitating to ignite a war between the United States and North Korea. Some leading members of the Israel lobby, on the other hand, have been highly conspicuous in trying to drive Americans into a war against Iran. Many foreign policy experts and economists believe that such a war could lead to the economic collapse of the United States, among other problems, as the result of skyrocketing oil prices. It’s a front-burner issue — every American should be thinking about it if they care about their future.

Barry Meislin says:

1. Is Iran a threat?
a. Is it doing anthing that might be considered threatening?
b. Has it said anything that might be considered threatening?
c. Has it done anything in the past that might be considered threatening?
d. Does it represent anything that might be considered threatening?
e. Does it threaten its own neighbors?
f. Does it threaten its own citizens? or certain elements of its citizenry? or certain groups of its citizenry?

2. If Iran is not a threat, (or if Iran’s threats should not be taken seriously), end of discussion.

3. But if Iran is indeed a threat, then:
a. Who (and what) is Iran threatening?
b. What is the nature of those threats?
c. Should those threats be taken seriously by only those who feel threatened, or by others as well?
c. Has Iran done anything already to lend credence to those threats?
d. Is Iran doing anything currently to lend credence to those threats?
e. What should be done, and by whom, do deal with those threats?
f. What might be the repercussions if Iran acts on those threats?
g. What might be the repercussions if Iran threatens but doesn’t act?
h. How might one know the difference between ‘f’ and ‘g’?

4 (Extra credit). If country ‘x’ consistently threatens country ‘y’, provides its allies with massive quantities of weapons and training with which to attack country ‘y’ and subordinates its entire economy (and social order) to producing weapons of mass destruction with which to attack country ‘y’, and country ‘y’ tries to prevent ‘x’ from fulfilling its threat, are both equally responsible? Or only country ‘y’?

Sean, now thats comedy. You are scolding and deciding that people who question your psychotic obsessive paranoia are not up to your ‘graduate school level’ of insanity?

Again, you claimed to have trouble with reading comprehension so allow me to type more slowly.

There are about 13 million Jews in the world today. The numbers are a bit down thanks to the love of our Christian and Muslim sisters and brothers but some of us were hoping history might not repeat itself and the lunatic fringe you so comically represent would find something or someone else to obsess about. Clearly, Mr Lee points out that we might just have been wrong about that and that Abe Foxman was right.

The most entertaining part is that Sean seems to have spent the time to actually put the jewish groups he thinks are so evil and sinister into alphabetical order.

hey Sean, you forgot to put the Jewish Homes for the Aged on your list or the Hillel Elementary Schools. They too may be part of the evil Zionist plot.

Joo-liz says:

Sean McBride, I think one of the major problems with your “simple question” is that it is predicated on the assumption that there IS an organized, coordinated Israel lobby.

“If you have any insights or observations about which organizations should or should not be classified as components of the Israel lobby, be sure to pipe up.”

The way this is phrased in such a way that leaves no room for someone to disagree with your premise… if somebody disagrees, they are deviously avoiding your “simple” question.

I don’t understand why you cannot accept the idea that these organizations operate completely independently, and disagree on some issues while agreeing on others. By trying to pigeon-hole them and ‘identify’ them as components of a nefarious lobby, I would argue that it is YOU and those who promote the idea of a “coordinated lobby” that are really going against the core American principle of freedom of speech and open debate.

For example, take your statement:
“The issue on the table is this: which lobbies in American political life have been agitating for an American and Israeli war against Iran, a policy which the American national security community has strongly opposed?”

What you have tried to do here is construct a paradigm in which Americans who oppose attacking Iran are the “legitimate” national security community, while anyone who supports an attack on Iran must have been subverted by a foreign agent.

The very fact that you view American politics through the prism of “Which ‘lobbies’ can I blame for policy I think go against American interests” is extremely troubling. This takes disagreement to a whole new level, in which you and those who share your views are true Americans, and those who oppose you have been duped by nefarious forces.

Some asides:
Excellent post Lee Smith, very well written and thought out.

To Vered, love the shout-out to ElderofZiyon — despite the name used for anonymity, he keeps an excellent blog, indeed.

Joo-liz says:

Forgive the bad editing in my above post — it’s late where I am and I’m quite tired.

steve says:

Dear Sean,

And first let me say to everyone, he really got us going didn’t he. Not that I am calling for the suppression of speech, but after this I am going to ignore him and contribute the time it would take to respond to helping say Birthright Israel promote its programs.

ok, back to Sean but for only a moment. After stating you didn’t understand my post you set up a straw man then attacked it. What I stated I thought was clear was that what makes much criticism (and the type Lee Smith astutely highlighted) anti-Jewish is that any political discourse I may state that supports the Israeli govt is deemed disloyal to the USA. I never suggested the words you “put in my mouth”

For example, as an American I believe that Hezbollah, for its involvement in the death of more than 240 marines should be punished.We never did. The Walt, Jute, Sullivan group would in certain circumstances accuse me of trying to start a war to support Israel. I believe as an American we must preven,t using any means, Iran from going any further with its nuclear ambitions. The subject of Lee’s articles would say I am a “neocon” wanting to sacrifice American blood and treasure. But in this instance, the King of Saudi Arabia and the Quatar govt, and a majority of Americans, are as vociferous as the Israelis. But as a Jew, the Walt boys will try to delegitimize my free speech, as purely an Israeli goal.

Your comments about Likud and AIPAC, unless you are a participant in either is purely speculation. AIPAC as an organization that supports American-Israel relations also worked with Kadima and Labor,BTW, the New York City Police Anti Terrorist Squad has a branch in Israel, conversely would it be part of the Israel Lobby? What about the CIA? So why can’t Likud have an office here? Do you begin to understand it is the double standard that leads one to accuse one of antisemitism?

Two last quick points: I did understand what you said about hate speechby the commenters and I meant it: Ha’aretz has

steve says:

ha’aretz has more virulent anti-Israel (govt) comments than almost anywhere. However, the Walt, FP, even Huffington Post all tend more to go after American Jews and de-legitimize their right to speech.

Yes, you might have found a comment about someone wanting to kill someone, but you didn’t source it, and I assure you, there are far more people who make anti Jewish hate comments than the ones that go the other way. I read them all. Finally, I did treat your comments in a direct and fairminded way,I just dont think you are educated about 20th century Jewish history enough to go shooting off the way you did.The list you made above, while I won’t go through them all, ADL, AJC, Chabad,birthright israel and the wiesenthal Center could hardly be termed an Israel Lobby.The ADL was founded in 1913 (the Balfour Declaration was 1926) and while israel is one of its topics there are a dozen more. It’s rather busy with discrimination against Jews and other groups in this country.go visit their site. The history of the AJC is mixed and one need only read recent books about Einstein to understand this. Chabad’s focus is hardly on Israel.It is a worldwide Chassidic organization that focuses more on Diaspora Jews. The Wiesenthal Center was formed for completely different reasons and it’s work while supportive of Israel transcends politics. Birthright Israel was founded to introduce Jewish kids to other Jews who live in Israel. So by finding this vast Jewish conspiracy, you overreach to defeat your own argument. May I suggest you go read FP, or even where I found today more than 50 vicious anti Israel and anti Jewish posts. And Mondoweoss, they now have (thank you Lee) a commenters code against racial slurs…but the articles they post are pure propaganda. So on them, it is now the fault of the wirter, not the blog. Good luck on you Sean and shalom!!

Great comments from Barry Meislin and Joo-Liz. Sean, you are working within a conspiratorial paradigm. The idea that there is an “Israel Lobby” or a Catholic Lobby or even an Oil Lobby is problematic for many of the reasons already mentioned, and is also the consequence of sloppy, improperly categorized thinking. You rightly note that there are myriad organizations with similar stances on similar issues, which can casually be described as a lobby. However, the way you use the term conflates it into something else far more unified in its power, yet simultaneously aqueous in the evidence of the unity (see your responses to Barry’s questions on Saudi becoming part of the Israel Lobby).

When you conflate individual or institutional interests into a unified entity and then ascribe to that entity tremendous power, you are working within a conspiratorial paradigm. This paradigm is common and quite popular. Dan Brown would not have sold books without it. Freemasons, the Illuminati, the Catholic Church, Communists, “Big Business,” and Jews are regularly depicted as possessing tremendous secret and transnational power to influence world events for their own benefit and the detriment of the rest of us.

In some cases, the conspiracy actually is a conspiracy, and the power is very real. The Soviet Politburo really did meet in smoke filled rooms and decide the fate of nations. The Catholic Church sparked wars for their own benefit (both religious and financial), and it is currently involved in a transnational conspiracy to protect clergymen accused of heinous crimes. However, only bigots and racists ever blamed individual citizens of the Soviet Union or practicing Catholics of holding this power and profiting from it.

The Catholic Church and (formerly) the Soviet Union actually are unified, top-down, hierarchical organizations with a surfeit of satellites around the world promoting their interests and taking orders from the top.

Oil companies have similar interests, and we can casually call that unity “Big Oil” or the Oil Lobby. The CEOs of the major American oil companies might actually meet in smoke filled rooms in Houston conspiring about ways to make more profits at the expense of the taxpayer. These companies really do control a huge amount of power and money transnationally. They exist and lobby for one primary purpose, and their interests can be both good and bad for American citizens depending on where one stands (cheap oil: great for economy, bad for environment, and probably also bad for foreign policy).

The NRA and AARP are so powerful we rarely hear the terms Gun Lobby or Big Elder. These organizations really do exist for one primary purpose.

No one really talks about the Cuba Lobby, but there are many groups united in their support for a continued US embargo: many (not all) Cuban Americans, human rights advocates, anti-Communists (the John Birch Society is back), church groups, etc. Individuals who support opening relations with Cuba generally blame Cuban Americans for the US position, often calling them fascists, racists, and fanatics. However, the hatred is nowhere near as widespread or venomous as hated for pro-Israel organizations, even though one can argue that the US is and has been the primary contributer to harming Cuba.

American support for Israel is much more popular than American support for an embargo on Cuba, and people are far more passionate about it.

Sean, one thing that strikes me in your Israel Lobby “members” list is the lack of non-Jewish organizations. Polls show that a vast majority of Americans support Israel. Why does the Reverend Hagee not make your Lobby list? You know a lot about Jewish organizations. Why no list of churches, tea party organizations, etc. that support Israel? Many Palestinian friends of mine do have very long lists of people and organizations supporting Israel. They boycott Boeing, Caterpillar, McDonalds, and more, which can barely be conceived of as pro-Israel or Jewish.

The idea that there is an Israel Lobby with a capital L is disturbing because, as in the cases of the Soviet Union, the Catholic Church, and “Big Oil,” it presumes a center of power, coordination, conspiracy, and an element of working against the common good. In fact, Walt’s book “The Israel Lobby” specifically argues that the eponymous entity perverted the common good resulting in horrible consequences: wars, billions of dollars, 9/11.

The Catholic Church is in Vatican City and right down the street from you; the latter being the reason for many of the conspiracy theories in the past. “Big Oil” is in Houston, and on your street. Anti-Castro Cubans are in Miami, and you don’t have to interact with them. What is the address of the Israel Lobby? As your list manifests, the Israel Lobby is in Israel, in synagogues and Jewish organizations, and in individual Jews, and those Jews are all around you. According to Walt, “they”‘ve caused wars and 9/11 that killed patriotic Americans, and have cost the taxpayer billions for their “pathetic” little interest. “They” use money, bribes, and the media to “hoodwink” honest, unsuspecting Americans.

Why use the term “Israel Lobby”? We don’t usually say, “Cuban Lobby.” We say, “The Cubans. Florida.”Why not say,”The Jews. Jews support Israel”?

Well, that’s because there is a history there, and one doesn’t want to appear anti-Semitic. Why not use a term like “the Israel Lobby” that can (but does not always) imply the exact same thing as anti-Semitism?

If someone wrote about a Catholic Lobby or an Irish Lobby or any other sort of ethnic lobby, that community would be up in arms. One might create a term like “the Anti-Contraception Lobby,” and write about how bad it is, how it is harming American citizens, harming other countries, and how it costs too much money (all valid points). Devout Catholics would be up in arms, but could ideologically/religiously disagree with the author. However, they would be extremely upset if the author used historically anti-Catholic tropes to make his point. If the author then started a blog in which the majority of his articles were not overtly anti-Catholic, but were about the horrors of anti-contraception policies internationally (a very valid point of view), and his commenters used it as a Catholic-bashing forum (ie, bigoted), one would imagine that the Catholic would accuse the author of providing a platform for bigotry (which would be true).

Sean, all of the organizations you mention support Israel. They lobby on behalf of Israel. Sometimes, they lobby in coordination. Implicit in Walt/Meirsheimer’s thesis and their term, “Israel Lobby,” is the idea that it is bad and harming American interests. This is fine, and well within the American tradition. In the minds of many Americans, lobbies, lobbyists, and special interests are inherently bad for America.

However, there are other implications. This debate occurs within a centuries old narrative. The term “Israel Lobby” implies a nefarious cabal, and the dangers of its use are made manifest most evidently in comment sections.

John WV says:

Jews have always been persecuted. Israel continuously provides evidence of the causal Jewish behavior. Did German Jews acquire disproportionate media, financial and political control as they have in the United States? Did they then collectively act to the detriment of Germany and thereby precipitate the Holocaust? America’s multiple and continuing mid east wars have all been initiated with the urging of AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents, and other Israeli agencies. All have benefited Israel at our expense. American Jews were central to, and grossly enriched by, the Wall Street obscenity. Israel is a Jewish state, a racist apartheid state by, of, and for the chosen people. It feigns and exploits alliance, but an ally Israel will never be.

Responding to Charles:

“If someone wrote about a Catholic Lobby or an Irish Lobby or any other sort of ethnic lobby, that community would be up in arms.”

Ethnic, religious and national lobbies play a major role in American politics and are openly and widely discussed, and especially at elite academic institutions like Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley. I can easily point you to thousands of articles in mainstream American publications which analyze the African-American lobby, the Arab lobby, the British lobby, the Catholic lobby, the Christian evangelical lobby, the China lobby, the European lobby, the Hispanic lobby, the Ireland lobby, the Italian-American lobby, the Irish-American lobby, the Japan lobby, the Muslim lobby, the Saudi lobby, etc.

I am not in the least offended if others discuss lobbies related to my ethnic and religious identity in an analytical way — why should I be? Other Americans are also free to disagree with the policies, agenda and activities of any lobbying organizations associated with my ethnicity and religion. That’s the American way — we live in a complex society of competing and conflicting interests of many kinds — ethnic, religious, regional, economic, etc. No one is obligated to support or humor the agenda of any particular lobby or special interest group, and this is especially true with regard to lobbies and special interest groups organized the interests of *foreign* governments. Foreign lobbies are skating on thin ice from the get-go.

Continuing with Charles:

But I am beginning to realize that quite a few pro-Israel militants, especially religious Zionists associated with Likud, do not really understand or appreciate American democratic values of diversity and free speech. There is a strong authoritarian, and even totalitarian strain in their version of messianic ethno-religious nationalism which makes them completely tone deaf to the concerns and sensibilities of anyone outside the narrow cult. It’s no wonder that Israel’s relations with most of the world are falling apart and are in a steep spiral.

In the real world you have lost this argument, Charles: Googling “Israel lobby” turns up 1,390,000 results. Discussion and analysis of the Israel lobby is fair game, and the issue is going to heat up in a big way if the Israeli government, with the support of the Israel lobby, continues to agitate for a war against Iran and refuses to stop building new illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories. You ain’t see nothing yet on this front. Lee Smith is going to have his hands full attacking all the “antisemites” in the American political mainstream.

Charles wrote:

“Sean, one thing that strikes me in your Israel Lobby “members” list is the lack of non-Jewish organizations. Polls show that a vast majority of Americans support Israel. Why does the Reverend Hagee not make your Lobby list?”

I mentioned CUFI (Christians United for Israel) — John Hagee’s organization — on my list. Go back and check. John Hagee is a Christian Armageddonist, a deranged extremist who hopes to instigate world destruction and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Hagee does not represent the views of most Americans or most Christians. It says a great deal about the character of the Israel lobby that the largest component of that lobby, as measured by number of members, is led by a lunatic.

Most of the posts by pro-Israel activists here on the subject of the Israel lobby are so emotional, so defensive, so abusive and so intellectually confused that I doubt that any useful discussion on this topic is going to occur on Tablet Magazine. The interesting analysis of this issue is occurring in other more literate venues, by Peter Beinart, Philip Weiss, M.J. Rosenberg, Tony Judt, Richard Silverstein, Antony Loewenstein, Bernard Avishai, David Bromwich, Max Blumenthal and many other bright minds (many of them Jewish).


“Yes, you might have found a comment about someone wanting to kill someone, but you didn’t source it…”

A death threat was issued *here*, in this comment section, by a Lee Smith fan against John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan and anyone who shares their views.

Not only can I source the comment, I can quote it in full here and now. But Tablet Magazine has requested that I not do so.

I have never seen death threats posted on Walt’s, Weiss’s and Greenwald’s blogs, but Lee Smith had no trouble inspiring one.

It’s useful to remember that an Israeli prime minister was assassinated by a pro-Israel militant who had smeared Yitzhak Rabin as an antisemite and self-hating Jew. Messianic ethno-religious nationalists tend to run off the rails on a regular basis.

Joo-liz: “I don’t understand why you cannot accept the idea that these organizations operate completely independently, and disagree on some issues while agreeing on others.”

But those organizations do in fact closely coordinate their activities and march in lockstep, taking their marching orders from AIPAC, which in turn takes its marching orders from the Israeli government.

When Obama expressed strong disagreement with the most extreme right-wing regime in Israel’s history over the continued building of new illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the Israel lobby came down squarely on the side of Netanyahu and forced Obama to retreat. Even Martin Indyk, one of the most important leaders of the Israel lobby, has admitted that this is the case.

Why don’t you specify some examples in which members of the Israel lobby, as identified on that list, have acted independently and disagreed on key issues with regard to Israel?

Now, J Street, the new kid on the block, does indeed express disagreements with the AIPAC constellation of pro-Israel lobbying organizations. But it is still so relatively powerless in contrast to AIPAC and its friends and associates that I didn’t even mention it. It is a gnat on an elephant.

Joo-liz says:

“When Obama expressed strong disagreement with the most extreme right-wing regime in Israel’s history over the continued building of new illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the Israel lobby came down squarely on the side of Netanyahu and forced Obama to retreat.”

You mean, after he praised the decision by the “most extreme right-wing regime in Israel’s history” to institute a 10 month building moratorium everywhere in the West Bank EXCEPT Jerusalem, and then proceeded to publicly chastise Israel for approving of a plan for future construction in Jerusalem several months later, many of these organizations pointed out his diplomatic duplicity and the harm he could cause to both the peace process as well as the strong alliance between the two countries by staying on that track?

Again, I would point out that these American organizations have every right to disagree with the policy and diplomatic choices of their government, and are free to offer their alternative point of view. It is that very diversity of opinion which makes America so great. Calling everyone who agrees with a view a “lobby” is both misleading and factually incorrect.

Joo-liz says:

“Why don’t you specify some examples in which members of the Israel lobby, as identified on that list, have acted independently and disagreed on key issues with regard to Israel?”

I don’t obsessively study the various groups you listed (should we assume that you do, and that you have exhaustively noted that they never differ?), so I’m afraid I can’t oblige your request.

As I said before, what you have done is collected a group of independent organizations that happen to agree on a particular set of views vis-a-vis Israel. Then you declare that because they voice the same view on the issue when it becomes relevant to the public, that they must receive marching orders from AIPAC and the Israeli government.

There is a difference between an organized lobby which petitions government officials (AIPAC), and the broader section of society which supports views that the lobby promotes. The whole point of having a lobby (any lobby) is to provide a means for the people to voice a set of views to government. That those views are popular amongst the public (and across a swath of think tanks and other intellectual groups) should not be surprising, or offensive, or indicate a conspiracy. If anything, the flow goes in the other direction, from the grassroots support of these ideas, to the lobby, to the government.

Here is the most crucial point of all, which the Jew-baiters Lee Smith discusses refuse to acknowledge: If Americans on the whole did not support the US-Israel alliance, no amount of “Jewish influence” would be able to force the American government to go against its own interests.

The reason the “lobby” and the American peoples support for Israel is so strong, is that there are compelling, reasonable, factual arguments for doing so.

J Street, for its part, functions as a lobby supporting any and every proposal opposite to AIPAC.

Both lobbies gain their power from the corresponding grassroots support amongst the American people, it doesn’t work the other way around


I fully support the right of the dozens of components of the Israel lobby to engage in activism on behalf of Israel, and I also support the right of Americans to engage in activism to oppose the Israel lobby or any other lobby on the American scene. That is what democracy is all about.

By the way, it’s important for me to acknowledge that indeed there has been a long history of brutal antisemitism that is connected with suspicions and theories about all-powerful Jewish cabals. These are dangerous memes indeed, and it is understandable that Jews are wary of any open discussion about Jewish power. I get it.

But given this history, doesn’t it seem unwise for Netanyahu and Lieberman to flaunt their power over a sitting American president, and to boast about their dominating influence over most of the American political system, including both the Republican and Democratic Parties?

And is it very smart for the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to be agitating for Mideast wars that could cause the economic collapse of the United States? Whom do you think will be blamed if a war against Iran turns out to be a bigger disaster than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined?

Joo-liz wrote: “I don’t obsessively study the various groups you listed (should we assume that you do, and that you have exhaustively noted that they never differ?), so I’m afraid I can’t oblige your request.”

I read Forward, JTA, Commentary, the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, Ynet News and quite a few other related publications on a regular basis, as do many people with a strong interest in Mideast politics. I have a good sense of how the organizational components of the Israel lobby interact and interlock on the basis of that reading. I can’t think of a single exception in which “the lobby” — AIPAC and all its satellites — didn’t speak with a unified voice on Israeli issues.

With regard to the grounding of the Israel lobby in American interests: many highly placed American government officials and Mideast experts over decades have complained about the destructive effects of the Israel lobby on American interests. If they are wrong, you have nothing to worry about. If they are right, you have a great deal to worry about. I am betting that you have a great deal to worry about, and I rarely misplace my bets.

My sense is that the discontent with the Israeli government and the Israel lobby among a critical mass of powerful Americans and Europeans is far more intense than you imagine. Look around you: Israel is on a rapid downward political spiral, with little chance of recovering. The hold of Greater Israelists and religious settlers over the Israeli government seems to be permanent and unshakable. They are probably going to take down Israel.

Sean, are you concerned with religious extremism in, say, Saudi Arabia and Iran? Is it something that Americans should be concerned about, from either a moral or a practical point of view?

RJ: I think Americans should be gravely concerned about religious extremism erupting among all strains of the Abrahamic tradition — in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These maniacs well succeed in destroying our planet.

Mike says:

Lee Smith’s piece practically refutes itself.

He is arguing that any criticism of Israeli policy is antisemitism. If you use the term neocon, which neocons themselves use to describe themselves, you are an anti semite.

You can’t say you like some Jewish thinkers and not others. You must like them ALL. Otherwise you are an anti semite.

Lee’s goal is to make it unacceptable to criticize Israeli policy. He is afraid of open debate.

Needless to say this kind of criticsm cannot be taken seriously in a free society.

Sean, I’m curious to know how much time you spend on the comments section of websites concerned with Saudi extremism, complaining about the oil lobby and oil money fueling Wahhabism, etc., railing against political correctness stifling free debate about the threat that Wahhabism and extremist Islam poses to to our culture, and complaining about the fact that the Saudis have bought and paid for all of the Saudi expertise in the United States, at universities as well as think tanks. Is your commitment to that endeavor anything like the time that you have devoted to unmasking the Jewish lobby?


I keep having this vision that Zionists (and I am not using the term pejoratively — I am using it in a strictly neutral, academic and descriptive sense) are going to wake up one morning and suddenly realize that they have been taken in by a con game on a much greater and more destructive scale than anything hatched by Bernard Madoff.

Anyone familiar with the long and endlessly fascinating history of Jewish civilization is familiar with the tradition of disastrous false messianic movements in Jewish history. When I take a close look at the religious settlers, and the dominating role they are playing in Israeli politics, I see false messianism written all over the entire Zionist project. I see a catastrophe looming on the horizon.

And the glimmerings of this insight are beginning to awake in some of the best minds in the Jewish world.

RJ — why did you just try to change the terms of the discussion from the Israel lobby to the Jewish lobby? I haven’t mentioned “the Jewish lobby” once in these comments. The Israel lobby and the Jewish lobby are not remotely synonymous. But are they synonymous in your mind, and, if so, why?

The largest component of the Israel lobby in numbers are Christian Zionists. Not only are they not Jewish, but they are ferociously antisemitic in their fundamental ideological outlook.

With regard to Saudi Arabia: the United States has cultivated close and friendly relations with the Saudis since at least the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt, for reasons of American economic self-interest. American prosperity has been dependent on access to Saudi oil. Israel for the same reason — national self-interest — has over the years cultivated close relations with apartheid South Africa and Iran. Which nation do you think engineered Iran-Contra?

Sean give me one example in which the Jeruselum Post takes ‘marching orders’ from AIPAC.

Also, another point is that you are incorrect these groups have a number of disagreements on many issues including Israel.

You have a theory that echoes a book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery that has been refuted many times. There is not a Jewish conspiracy to run the world or American politics. None. Trust me I would know if there were. Its an absurd and toxic claim with no basis in fact. The number of times something comes up on google doesn’t make it true, the Lockness moster comes up millions of times too, doesn’t make it any more real than the ‘Lockstep Jewish Lobby’ you rant about.

callie: Provide some examples of when any of the key members of the Israel lobby have *not* been on the same page, marching in lockstep.

Both AIPAC and the Jerusalem Post are Likud-centric in outlook, and have been pushing the same Likud agenda since Netanyahu and Lieberman came to power.

Regarding the Protocols: you are just indulging in the usual smear tactics that lost their effectiveness years ago in debates about Israeli politics. You’ll have to do better than that if you want to make any impact in this discussion.

What news sources do you follow on a regular basis in analyzing Mideast politics?

You can quickly scan some of my news sources here:

Regarding attacks by pro-Israel activists on American presidents, a most fateful trendline to watch, here is Pamela Geller today:

Obama’s use of Cameron as his sock puppet points once again to Obama’s obsession with destroying the Jewish state. Obama is doing nothing less than warring against Israel. When Sean Hannity asked me on his show Tuesday night if I thought Obama was an anti-semite, I said yes. He is. It sounds harsh. But the evidence is clear and extensive: it’s all meticulously researched and set out in my book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War On America, which is just out this week.

In the book I profile Obama’s many, many anti-Israel playmates: not just Jeremiah Wright, but also Rashid Khalidi (who is also tied to the jihad flotillas and just named a new one after Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope) and William Ayers: in the book also I expose the blatant Judeophobia of the terrorist couple Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn in their book Prairie Fire.

It is increasingly clear that the Islamic anti-Semitism taught in the Koranic classes of Obama’s youth in Indonesia and the subsequent adult years he spent with the likes of demagogues and Jew-haters like Wright, Ayers, and Louis Farrakhan have made him the man he is.

What do you want to bet that this relentless pattern of attacks on prominent Americans and Europeans by pro-Israel activists like Geller are going to backfire big time against Israel?

Andrew Sullivan nicely deconstructs, dismantles and demolishes Lee Smith in a blog post today:

Lee Smith Ups The Ante

Smith is a Likudnik crank, who even finds the NYT’s Robert Mackey’s coverage of the Israeli rape-by-deception case a form of anti-Semitism. But what his little essay reveals, it seems to me, is a panic that the discourse about Israel has indeed shifted in Washington. Thanks to the blogosphere and the taboo-breaking Walt-Mearsheimer book, we are having a discussion about US-Israel relations that is now out of the control of those who used to dictate its terms and police its boundaries.

They don’t like that, especially when some of the critics have very solid and long records of strong support for Israel, like myself and Peter Beinart. So they smear. Which suggests to me they’re worried that reason and realism may prevail.

I doubt that Lee would survive very long in a debate with Andrew (or with Walt, Greenwald or Weiss), but he is free to demonstrate otherwise. Go for it, Lee.


For a huge collection of documentation outlining the activities of the ADL, AJC, Birthright Israel, Chabad-Lubavitch and the Simon Wiesenthal Center in lobbying for Israel, browse the following Google searches:

Where do you want to begin in parsing this mother lode of evidence?

Mondoweiss has been exceptionally insightful in chronicling the Birthright Israel angle:

Can you point to any instances in which these organizations have deviated from the AIPAC party line?

Sean, you made the assertion that the JP takes its orders from AIPAC. Now you cannot give even one example.

Its disapointed you cannot discuss the Mideast on a serious informed level.

The Protocols claim a Jewish conspiracy and so do you. Both are facts.

However Sean, you get lots of points for being good at alphabatizing lists. That was the most impressive thing you have done here, wow, that must have taken up a good deal of time and effort.

Still can give a simple example of your claim? Seems you are just like the protocol authors on that score.

No vast Jewish conspiracy then, no vast Jewish conspiracy now. Show a single example of AIPAC giving orders to the JPost. One example. Or shut up and go back to the hate sites where you have an echo chamber.

callie: AIPAC doesn’t need to issue orders to the Jerusalem Post: they share the same Likud agenda. I asked you to provide examples in which they deviated from one another on American policy towards Israel, and you couldn’t name a single instance.

J Street *has* deviated from the AIPAC party line on American policy towards Israel. J Street would be an example of diversity and dissent within the overall Israel lobby. But it is a relatively weak player — inconsequential, in fact.

I am still curious about which news sources you rely on for understanding and analyzing Mideast politics. Can you share? In your estimation, which news sources should we be paying attention to?

callie: by the way, you are the one who is excited and overheated about “Jewish conspiracies,” and who is introducing crude and inciting antisemitic rhetoric into the discussion. Why are you doing that?

Hey, let’s give Tablet Magazine a little love — it deserves it.

M.J. Rosenberg today on the ADL:

Anti-Defamation League Joins The Bigots..Opposing Ground Zero Mosque

The ADL has joined some of the worst bigots in America and is opposing construction of the Islamic community center at the site of the World Trade Center.

I have nothing to add to this story from The Tablet. (The Tablet, a Jewish publication, clearly is disgusted by ADL’s action. Bravo).

For those who will say “what else is new,” the answer is “a lot.” Although the ADL has switched from being a civil rights organization to a subsidiary of LIKUD USA, this is a new low.

ADL has been around since 1913 (it was created following the lynching of Leo Frank). I guess it has decided that a century of opposing bigotry is enough.

Leo Frank must be spinning in his grave. (As for Abe Foxman, the ADL chieftain, he should be ashamed. Rest assured, he’s not).


A special note to Steve: Rosenberg is a former AIPAC insider who knows that organization and the Israel lobby inside and out. Notice that he refers to the ADL as “a subsidiary of LIKUD USA.” I suspect he knows what he’s talking about. And that’s what I’ve been talking about.

David says:


You are still ranting and raving around here aren’t ya? I had the unfortunate pleasure at looking at your source material for ‘information’ on the Middle East. All I can say is that you really like the crank websites don’t you. It’s not like I had any faith in what you are talking about anyway, but when you when you ‘like’ an article from a website called Judeofascism you might as well go to Stormfront for your information too. And please don’t give me that, “I’m just looking at all the angles” crap. You have a sick pseudo-intellectual obsession with Israel and with Jewish people in particular. You think you are some amateur academic here debating everyone under the sun, but in reality you are just a sad individual. But I do have answer for one of your question you have posed to this forum. “Why do the Jews wield so much power and influence for their size?” Answer: Because people like yourself, believe it to be true.

Oh, btw, The New Republic has a nice takedown on your precious Andy “Trig Truther” Sullivan.

One last thing, I noticed you also like LGF. Chuckie like yourself is completely unhinged. But there is one thing he still doesn’t tolerate and that is Antisemitism. So if you post anything remotely what you have posted here on Tablet, get ready for the ban hammer.

David: You entirely missed the point of that collection of news sources: it covers the entire spectrum of important Mideast news and opinion channels, from the far right to the far left, and everything in between. The inclusion of those sources in no way constitutes agreement with them or approval of them. In fact, I disagree with most of them. I read Atlas Shrugs and Israel National News, but obviously I don’t agree with their point of view. But I make every effort to understand their belief system and where they are coming from.

If you had any academic background in analyzing the big picture on political movements, you would have gotten it right away — but you didn’t.

Which new sources on Mideast politics do you follow on a regular basis, and which do you recommend?

David: are you and David Sternlight different persons, or the same person? Sternlight seems to have disappeared after his initial comment.

Regarding the Leon Wieseltier smear job on Andrew Sullivan: Wieseltier did enormous damage to his reputation with that emotional and flailing outburst. Opinion among the enlightened sector of the blogosphere has run strongly against Wieseltier. Do you have any thoughts about Sullivan’s latest response to Lee Smith?

And can you provide an example or two of any “antisemitic” statements here that you think should be censored? Direct quotes, please: no malicious “paraphrases” about “Jewish conspiracies.” Let’s take a look at them and see if you are making any sense.

David: Little Green Footballs on the ADL

For a civil rights organization to take the position that feelings are more important than civil rights is, frankly, stunning.

And it’s even more stunning that the ADL acknowledges the open bigotry of many Park51 opponents, but still very publicly supports them.

Humorist Will Rogers once said about the repeal of Prohibition, “Repeal is all right, but the wrong people are for it.” The wrong people are against Park51, and if Abe Foxman and the ADL can’t keep their personal feelings out of the issue, they should have just kept quiet instead of handing the Bigot Brigade a public relations gift. What a disgrace.

Do you agree or disagree?

David says:

First off, how do you have time to read all of these sites. Don’t you have a job? You obviously spend to much time focusing on fringe websites left and right and give them way too much importance. If you really wanted my advice, I would stick with Commentary (natch!), The New Republic, The Atlantic (minus Crazy Andy), Tablet and The New Ledger for commentary. If you want just straight news on Israel just read JPost, Haaretz, YNetNews.

You read peoples blogs and you think they are being fair and honest. But in reality all the blogs you have mention all have a motive. So what if a lot of the anti-Israel blogs you read are Jews themselves. They hate Israel, Zionism and all the rest. These people have no use for Israel or for any nation-state in general.

On top of that, you got to stop equating peoples comments on websites and then try connect them to a larger picture of what people in general think. Read this
This definition fits you like a tee.

And since you are so interested in what academics have to say about the MidEast conflict, Aaron David Miller is another good one. Where once he was a true believer, he is not anymore.

David: *Everyone* has a motive in politics, and to understand what is going on in political conflicts one needs to know all the players — including the extremists — and their motives and belief systems. For instance, religious extremists in Israel, in the settler movement, are largely driving Israeli politics these days (and have been doing so for decades, even under Labor — perhaps *especially* under Labor). Religious extremists dominate the Christian Zionist movement in America, which is enormously influential. I pay attention to these people.

I’ve been reading Commentary for quite a few years — that is why I know a great deal about the neoconservative mind and how it works. I also read the other publications on your list. If I restricted myself only to your news sources, however, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of what was really going on the world. I like to look at the whole chessboard.

You didn’t produce any direct quotes which demonstrate the “antisemitism” you alleged — no surprise there. You also didn’t clear up the issue of whether you are David Sternlight.

A bit more on this subject: “liking” an item in that Friendfeed group I pointed to doesn’t signify that one approves of the item. It simply means that it is an item of interest, a data point to add to one’s model of the world. One might well intensely dislike the item.

Pamela Geller reads closely and cites many Muslim extremist publications — one doesn’t infer from that fact that she is a Muslim extremist. Truly, you are not the brightest bulb on the chandelier. I wouldn’t place you in the Einstein strain of Jewish civilization. More in the Jabotinsky strain, perhaps.

What now??? says:

Reading your below quote in the comments section of the above article is irony at its most delicious.

“On top of that, you got to stop equating peoples comments on websites and then try connect them to a larger picture of what people in general think. Read this
This definition fits you like a tee.”

You do realize that your “False Consensus Effect” is the entire basis for Lee Smith’s accusations, yes?

Steve says:

>”To get bogged down in this argument deflects attention from the issue that I am interested in here, which is not a mental state, but a process, an activity in which all four men openly engage: Jew-baiting.”

Is there any critical commentary with respect to Israel or Jewish influence in America which you would NOT describe as “Jew-baiting”? Most of what you want to rule out of bonds is perfectly normal political argument.

Steve says:

>”If you give evidence that you have a problem with all Jews, you’re identifying yourself as an anti-Semite. It’s important then to make a distinction between two kinds of Jews—the “good Jews,” who agree with your conspiratorial views, and the “bad Jews,” who are often referred to with the shorthand term “Likudnik.” John Mearsheimer makes the distinction a bit more baldly, calling the bad Jews the “New Afrikaaners” and the good ones, “righteous Jews,” a cleverly nasty twist on the Jewish concept of the righteous gentile.”

What exactly is “nasty” about it? And it’s amusing that you make it so clear that ANY criticism of ANY Jews is what irks you. The only thing Mearsheimer could do to meet with your approval is to shut up entirely on the topic of Jews and Israel.

Steve says:

In his review of The Israel Lobby, Walter Russell Mead explained how Jew-baiting has historically functioned: “Jews are in a double bind: refrain from responding with outrage and the charge becomes accepted as a fact, express utter loathing at the charge and give anti-Semites the opportunity to pose as the victims of a slander campaign by venomous Jews.”

There are other options besides the two presented. For instance, consider the possibility that “the charge” (whatever it may be) has some merit and then act accordingly.

Implicit in the Mead claim above is the idea that Jews are never, ever in the wrong. Which would defy the laws of the universe.

Why does this cretin keep ranting about ‘academic background’ and ‘graduate school’? Could Walt be over here playing sock puppet?

You ask me my sources Sean, I also read a wide variety of news sources including the BBC, the JPost, WaPo, and I check Al Jazeera here and there too, also read the Iranian and Palestinian sources too, and check Islam online for a dose of reality when I start thinking the relentless thirst for bloood might be behind us. I would urge anyone thinking we can all sit round a camp fire and sing peace songs together go read the comments at Islam online, it will make Walts fans look sane.

Paul Freedman says:

of course they’re anti-semites,and of course the anti-semites who drool all over their red meat are also Jew-baiters–the question is whether they genuinely believe the talmudiic mish-mash of cut and paste neologisms they splish splash around in (i.e., they genuinely believe themselves to be “good anti-semities”–fighting an actual Jewish web of conspiracies–that is, they are naively psychotic) or if they spout this vitriol and cabal-ism in bad faith (i.e., they don’t actually believe it but can’t help themselves from sort of believing it even though they know it is malarky–they are maladjustedly psychotioc).

But you can’t argue with anti-Semites any more than you could argue, say, with Black September.

Paul Freedman says:

Jews are of course, wrong btw–but the crimes imagined by the anti-semites who are fans of Jew-baiting semi-literate poseurs like Walt & Weisenheimer are imaginary. Jews are “wrong” but they don’t run America like the masturbatory fingers manipulating a sock puppet. Again, this is all irrelevant, as for all the so-called “expertise” claimed by Jew-haters about the “Jewish problem” it is the expertise of nudnikkiim and second-raters, factoids and snippets of quotes. But then it comes down to the “banality of evil”–Eichmann thought he was a pretty smart dude too, well studied up on Jews who are “wrong”–but he was a nothing. Anti-semitism is the glorious pseudo-Wagnerian grail mythos non-entities adopt to distract themselves from their own crushing mediocrity. Aside from reminding them of their gaping personal null-set voidness, there is nothing to be gained by “debating” them.

Dear Lee Smith,

You seem to be unaware that American evangelicals such as Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee have been, for years, broadcasting conspiracy theories identified by the ADL as “Classic Anti-Semitic Myth” literally around the world on Christian broadcast networks: to millions of people. Neo-Nazis can only dream of having such influence.

If you are indeed concerned about anti-Semitism your energies are absurdly mis-directed.

Bruce Wilson

David says:

Whatever Sean, you can believe anything you want about me. You’re right about one thing. You haven’t said anything that was outright anti-Semitic. But you’ve made plenty of accusations about Jews, and how dozens of Jewish organizations are work ‘together’ for the Israeli agenda.

But you keep on wondering why I’ve been attacking you harshly, well I’ll repeat myself for the umpteenth time. Your first posting. What does the ADL have to Likud? Nothing. What does NJDC have to do with CAMERA? Nothing. As a matter of speaking, NJDC has been completely mute over Obama’s stance toward Israel. And what h*ll is NORPAC?.After going to their ‘website’ it was obvious how powerful they are! (sarcasm) I just want to add that the website looks like it was made by a 10 year old. Grand conspiracy indeed.

Secondly, unless you live in your parents basement, how do you have time to read everything under the sun. Don’t you work? Yeah at one time I could waste my whole day reading blogs too, but then I decided I wanted a job.

Another problem I have with your analysis, is that you make way to assumptions about how American Jewish Organizations work. You think since they are Jewish and support Israel, they are part of the Likud conspiracy. And why only mention Likud, they aren’t the only party in Israel. And whats with your obsession with religion in general? Cause Fascism/Nazism and Communism are secular ideologies that murdered a lot more people than any religious ideology has done the last 500 years.

So you want more names to read. I’ll give you two reporters that are honest to good people, Khaled Abu Toameh and Michael Totten. Why don’t you try them out you might actually learn something.

Average American Citizen says:

Lee Smith is a hasbarist extraordinaire, kudos, dude — you’ve captured every intellectual honest way of criticizing of Israel and perverting it into anti-Semitism. Amazing, what a great contributor to Tablet. But, um, Palestinians are subject to apartheid conditions and tell me, Lee, how does Stephen Walt criticize that policy in a way that’s not offensive to your neo-con sensibilities?


Wikipedia entry here:

It’s one of the key cogs of the Israel lobby, and one of a network of PACs, quite a few of which go under deceptive and misleading names.

Mission to Washington

Each year, NORPAC sends an ever-larger group of active members to meet with Senators and Members of Congress to discuss the U.S.-Israel relationship. The most recent mission, on May 20, 2009, brought approximately 900 participants to meet with more than four hundred Senators and Members of Congress.

This year’s trip showed a dramatic increase in the number of participants then past years, and participation has been consistently increasing.

Political fundraising

NORPAC frequently hosts fundraisers for various political candidates who are supportive of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

NORPAC has supported candidates including Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), Rep. Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), and Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), among many others.

David: I am going to let you in a little secret: I haven’t really been interested in Mideast politics for quite some time. I’ve explored every corner of the topic, sucked it dry, and it now bores me to tears. I know every important move that every party to that brain-damaged melodrama is going to make well in advance of the move, and I am fairly certain that I know the end game, climax and denouement. (See my previous remarks on false messianic movements.)

So, why would someone, whose real interest is European and American intellectual history, filtered and amped up by text mining, data mining, the Semantic Web, social network analysis, content analysis, sentiment analysis, machine translation and related topics, still hang around that neck of the woods? See if you can figure it out. A hint: low-hanging semantic fruit, and tons of it, all neatly defined. An exquisite lab for pushing AI to the next level. All that lunatic passion brings out basic human and social psychological patterns in bold relief, where you can easily get your hands on them and tinker with them in computer models.

The rhetorical excesses of Mideast political and religious militants on various net forums and platforms constitute a gold mine for corpus linguistic analysis.

These discussions we’re having and the topic in general? It occupies about 5% of mind or less. And it’s because I no longer feel any emotional excitement about the topic that I think I can analyze it with more objectivity and accuracy than neocons (some of whom were my professors and classmates) and wound-up political militants on all sides of the various conflicts in that region — people like yourself, Lee Smith and callie, who have gotten everything wrong about the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, the Global War on Terror, and every other harebrained neocon crusade and scheme.

Sean, I am a graduate student myself and let me let YOU in on a little secret ok? Something coming up on a google search doesn’t make it real ok?

Check this out next time you start getting obsessed with Jews and conspiracy theories ok?

There are over 800000 entries for the Lock Ness monster. Doesn’t make Nessie real. Am I typing slowly enough for you yet?

One more point before I bag this attempt to converse with you. Have you ever been to a meeting of a Jewish organization? Like a temple youth committee or a Jewish Federationn meeting or a Hillel service board meeting? Jews cannot march in lockstep on anything so the whole idea of there being some kind of organized effort to run the rule via AIPAC would be funny if there weren’t so many dangerous crazy people who actually believed it. Jews can’t agree on anything, and the JPost has a very wide range of views. They don’t agree with Judeofacist that Jews are evil so thats where most of us get off. I strongly suggest you get interested in something else and more rewarding.

Go read the Elder of Ziyon blog, you will like talking to the people there. They are much smarter than me and much saner than you.

Good night.

Dani Levi says:

The irony of Lee Smith’s article and these comments is of course that the Jew-baiters are out in force. It is again, all about influence, planning war’s, and Zionism. Mr. Lee’s point is proven with the very vehicle he pointed out. Oy Vey!
But since Smith dissected, very well, his main points and the conspiracy doctors came out and could not help themselves, despite the fact he just wrote it all down for them. I like to think that I mainly see a gross misunderstanding of Zionism and it’s place in history, and Judaism in general. Judaism is something so vast and rather all encompassing, that it overburdens nearly all left wingers in their attempt to fathom the scope of what they are attempting to criticize. It goes beyond, way beyond the conflict or Wolfowitz hypnotizing Cheney. I have learnt a great deal about the dynamic of anti-semitism and really just plain f’ing ignorance here. Great writing. Thank you.
I had written to the NYT about the blog The Lede and it’s blatant Jew-baiting. It seems to have slowed a little. The Ledes Mackey is of course a former Guardian writer. The Guardian and it’s Comment is Free section being a well oiled Left wing conspiracy sphincter defecating anti Israel vitriol 24/7. The UK left and their UK Muslim friends ever active.

shavit says:

Lee – excellent article.

callie: I asked you to cite some instances in which the 34 leading organizational components of the Israel lobby mentioned above disagreed with one another over American policy on Israel. You couldn’t mention a single instance.

The truth is that these organizations (and many others — this is only the tip of the iceberg) DO march in lockstep and follow the AIPAC party line to the letter. You can talk about the loch ness monster, the Elders of Zion and “Jewish conspiracy theories” all you like, but your excited distractions will not alter the truth that there exists on the American scene a very powerful Israel lobby, with dozens (hundreds?) of closely coordinated components, which is working 24×7 to embroil Americans in self-destructive wars with the enemies of Israel in the Middle East and all around the world.

Americans would have to be crazy not to examine closely the operations of this foreign lobby, and to strongly challenge it when it advocates policies (like an American war against Iran) which could be severely damaging to American interests and the well-being of Americans.

By the way: can you name 34 component organizations of the Ireland lobby which are trying to push Americans into foreign wars against the enemies of Ireland? Can you name 10 such lobbying organizations? How many such organizations can you name? How about conducting the same exercise for the Italy lobby? The Sweden lobby? The France lobby? Are you beginning to get the picture?

How many Irish Americans, Italian Americans or Swedish Americans are embroiled in ugly controversies about their ethnic nationalist politics with their fellow Americans?

Also: have you taken a close look at the central role that JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) played in agitating for the disastrous Iraq War, and have you analyzed the connections of its members to other components of the Israel lobby? Doing so is an eye-opener. You might begin by profiling Michael Ledeen.

Mondoweiss on the ADL

Has Lee Smith yet spoken out against the ADL on this issue? Have any of the 34 component members of the Israel lobby mentioned above?

Here is Philip Weiss on the subject:

‘ADL’ statement rationalizing bigotry draws wide scorn

It’s happened: the Anti-Defamation League has overplayed its hand (in this case, neoconservative Islamophobia) in such a glaring manner that it is being condemned at every quarter– a statement from the group opposing the construction of a mosque near Ground Zero in New York. The statement openly abandons civil rights, standing for no principle at all except majoritarian intolerance:

MJ Rosenberg says that ADL has joined the bigots. Joshua Holland at AlterNet: “I guess the once-important ADL is admitting that it’s an organization dedicated not to combatting hatred and bigotry, but simply another organ pushing far-right, Islamophobic conspiracy theories.” Krugman at the Times has also landed on the ADL: “One thing I thought Jews were supposed to understand is that they need to be advocates of universal rights, not just rights for their particular group.”


Would if be fair to describe Haim Saban as a leading member of the Israel lobby? Your thoughts? Saban is the founder and funder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, the policy center which exerts the greatest influence on the Democratic Pary concerning American Middle East policy.

See this, from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles:

“Billionaire Haim Saban crusades against Oliver Stone”

The Israeli-American billionaire is reportedly campaigning among Hollywood’s higher-ups to have Stone—and his upcoming 10-part series, “A Secret History of America,” blacklisted. According to, Saban called CBS chief Les Moonves to urge him to cancel the Showtime series, becoming the first industry figurehead to criticize the director’s controversial remarks from earlier this week.

“This guy should be helped in joining Mel Gibson into the land of retirement, where he can preach his anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in the wilderness where he belongs,” Saban told TheWrap…

Saban, who is a huge supporter of Israel and a major donor to the Democratic party, told The by email that he had also called William Morris Endeavor chairman Ari Emanuel to help pressure CBS. Emanuel famously castigated Mel Gibson, calling for an industry-wide boycott of his work in the wake of Gibson’s 2006 anti-Semitic rant.

That Saban is launching a crusade against Stone isn’t surprising: In a New Yorker profile of Saban published last May, Saban said, “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

Is Saban threatening to destroy the career of Oliver Stone (and Mel Gibson as well)?

How powerful would you say that Haim Saban is in the Democratic Party? Which of the 34 organizational components of the Israel lobby mentioned above have ever challenged Saban regarding American policy towards Israel?

Nina says:

After reading these post with casual interest, could any of you tell me if you ARE indeed Jewish? I am just curious. And while I do agree that just because it is on the net does not make it true, a lot of people do believe it. As for me I am a 50 year old Jewish woman with one PhD, four minors, and another Masters degree. And to reiterate, I am just curious as to know how many of you are indeed Jewish.

Nina I am Jewish. No Phd, a grad student tho. I am doing ESOL and teaching English in a refugee resettlement center.

Ok Sean, Saban has no more influence than any other donor. If he is so powerful how come Gilad Shalit isn’t on the front burner for Obama? Thats a number one issue for Israeli’s.

And also just an FYI you won’t find all that many passionate supporters of Israel amoung American Jews, if you read the pew report we support Isreal in the same numbers as other white Americans. Its the Christian Zionist in the South East who are the Israel supporters and the one true thing you said is that they have a very scarey view of Jews.

Trust me Sean, I would know if there was a Jewish conspiracy. All kidding aside, I am very plugged into Jewish life. I would know. You said you are getting bored with the Middle East I can understand that since its all so depressing.

I work with refugees from east Africa, the Congo, Burundi, Riwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and have learned alot about the area’s politics.
You would find it facinating and a whole new world of interest. Few Americans understand it. Read about that for a bit, get away from sites like Judeofacist and start to see the politics of genocide in East Africa and it makes the Middle East look like Disneyland.

Ok really, got to break this off Sean, but thats my advice to you. Stop with the Israel stuff, you are scaring people.

Saban isn’t doing anything you have to worry about. Stone and Gibson are crazy people, you don’t want to be counted with them do you?

If you are interested in international politics, as I am, work with refugees and hear their stories. Its all about original sources, you can learn so much that way.

We Jews are a tiny people, we don’t have any major influence here or anyplace else. We make alot of noise but we are all bluster. We can’t agree on anything, we can’t get anything done. Just worry about something else.

Bye and Shalom!

LazerBeam says:

I posit that a significant percentage of the anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, world Jewish conspiracy theorist rhetoric is being carefully orchestrated and paid for by the Wahhabi Lobby, whose professed goal is the destruction of the Christian West. Israel’s occupation of Palestine is not the cause of the Islamist hate for the Christian West, it is a convenient excuse. Spiro Agnew’s polemics against the left(read Jew)-dominated press began before he registered as a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, but they took on a nastier, more conspiratorial tone after.

For the Islamic Fundamentalists this is a wedge issue. If they can turn the Christian fundamentalists against Israel and then the U.S. Jewish community, they will have won the war against the Judaeo-Christian West. This will concurrently keep the spotlight of the international community off of their failing economies, political repression, and government-controlled press, in contrast to Israel, with its thriving economy, democracy, and free press.

Netanyahu is to Israel what G.W. Bush was to the U.S.: an extremist adventurist oblivious to the facts on the ground or the long-term consequences of his actions. The anti-Zionist rhetoric coming from the U.S. left, right, and center only strengthens Netanyahu’s hand and encourages further militaristic adventurism. If you want to do the bidding of the Islamic Fundamentalists and destroy America from within, then join the anti-Zionist movement and, if that’s a comfortable fit, slide down into the anti-Jew world domination conspiracy theory movement. There’s plenty of room at the bottom.

If Tablet wants to make an important contribution on this issue, it should pursue the Wahhabi Lobby connection and publish continuously on the subject until it gets to the bottom of the origin of the real conspiracy against the America we love and then forces the mainstream press to publish the truth.


You wrote: “Ok Sean, Saban has no more influence than any other donor.”

This is difficult to believe: Saban is a billionaire, one of the biggest donors to the Democratic Party (some say he is the single biggest donor), and the founder and funder of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy — the think tank that is more influential on the Democratic Party and the Obama administration regarding American Mideast and Israeli policy than any other. Given these facts, how can you argue that Saban is “has no more influence than any other donor”? Your statement is absurd on its face.

Saban is also threatening to destroy the careers of Oliver Stone and Mel Gibson. Stone and Gibson are no crazier than Saban, and they have made much greater contributions to American culture than Saban. Are you actually siding with Saban against Stone and Gibson?

Should every American celebrity and public figure who has indulged in anti-Arab or anti-Muslim hate speech be destroyed? How are Stone’s and Gibson’s remarks any more bigoted or offensive than those of, say, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Michael Ledeen, Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller? And now one of the leading member organizations of the Israel lobby (*and* the Jewish lobby) is siding with the haters on the mosque controversy in New York — I am referring to the ADL.

Nina says:

Hi Callie…It is a very noble thing you are doing…And I am very proud of you. However, I never made a comment as to the way I feel politically. I do not support the way Israel is behaving and I definitely do not support any extremist group or people. I am very sorry if I ruffled your feathers. I am just very curious when these dialogues ensue….it is the scientist in me. And we are a tiny ( however, I do hope proud) people, and a lot of times we are all bluster…but sometimes, just sometimes, I believe we all bluster. Again, please accept my apology.

Inside the Israel lobby: Norman Podhoretz

Podhoretz was the editor of Commentary, the fountainhead of neoconservativism, for many years, and Podhoretz is considered to the co-godfather of neoconservatism (along with Irving Kristol). Commentary for many years (from 1945 to 2007) was published by the AJC (American Jewish Committee), an organization which Steve unconvincingly tried to dissociate from the Israel lobby.

Here is the New York Times today on one of the most influential leaders of the Israel lobby:

In 1972 Podhoretz broke from the Democratic Party to vote for Nixon. By the end of the decade, he was an enthusiastic supporter of Ronald Reagan. But it wasn’t long before he was taking to the pages of The New York Times Magazine to assail Reagan for insufficient toughness in confronting the Soviet Union and defending Israel.

By 2002, Podhoretz had moved so far right that he thought George W. Bush’s bellicose response to the 9/11 attacks was merely a good start; in addition to attacking all three members of Bush’s “axis of evil” (Iraq, Iran and North Korea), Podhoretz insisted that the United States needed to prepare for military assaults on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Libya. Today he believes Sarah Palin would make a perfectly fine president.


You didn’t respond to most of the key points in my last post.

1. You couldn’t name any instances in which any of the 34 leading organizational components of the Israel lobby disagreed with one another over American policy on Israel.

2. You didn’t address the point that Americans have very good reasons to be concerned about the efforts of the Israel lobby to embroil Americans in foreign wars on behalf of Israel.

3. You were unable to list any member organizations of the Ireland lobby, the Italy lobby, the Sweden lobby, the France lobby, etc. Not even a few. No wonder: these lobbies are nearly invisible on the American scene — they are not hotbeds of ugly controversy. Irish Americans, Italian Americans, Swedish Americans and French Americans are not mired down in ethnic nationalist politics. They are fully focused on the American interest — on the interests of Americans as a whole.

4. You didn’t respond to the fact that JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) played a leading role in engineering the disastrous Iraq War, and that JINSA is a leading member of the Israel lobby.

Your answer to all these important questions? Don’t discuss them. Don’t mention them. Good luck with sticking your head in the sand.

Inside the Israel lobby

More on Podhoretz from today’s New York Times review of Thomas L. Jeffers’ “Norman Podhoretz: A Biography”:


How could a once thoughtful man spend the past 40 years transforming himself into a commissar? In his 1979 memoir, “Breaking Ranks,” Podhoretz himself described his initial lurch to the right as a perfectly sensible reaction to the excesses of the counterculture, the rise of a black power movement tainted by anti-­Semitism, the descent of the antiwar movement into nihilistic violence and the Democratic Party’s embrace of left-wing isolationism in 1972. Jeffers accepts this account but adds a surprising theological twist, telling us that in February 1970, Podhoretz experienced a mystical vision in the woods of upstate New York that convinced him “Judaism was true.” Jeffers has difficulty explaining precisely what this revelation meant, and how it inspired Podhoretz to change his political views, no doubt in part because it had no discernible effect on his observance of Jewish law and rituals. As Podhoretz himself puts it, he felt it unnecessary, both before and after the vision, “to go to services, eat kosher, all that stuff.”

To grasp the true significance of the vision, the reader must skip ahead about 120 pages in Jeffers’s narrative to a 1985 speech in which Podhoretz spoke of his pride at using Commentary to defend “my own” — “my own country” and “my own people.” In light of these comments, Podhoretz’s revelation appears to mark the moment in his life when he began to “unlearn” what, he said, he had been educated to believe as a liberal — namely, “that it was more honorable and nobler to turn one’s back on one’s own and fight for others and for other things in which one had no personal stake or interest.” Beginning with his vision in the woods, Podhoretz would devote his life to standing up for himself as a Jew and as an American against an ever lengthening list of those he deemed to be mortal enemies.


So, the godfather of neoconservatism is a religious Zionist (although one who is not diligent about observing religious practices). I am a bit unclear about which country Podhoretz is referring to when he uses the phrase “my own country” — I will have to consult the book. I assume that the phrase “my own people” doesn’t refer to the American people, but I will have to check to be sure.

Podhoretz is essentially an ethno-religious nationalist — many of the neocons are.

Fnord says:

So, let me sum up: Recognising that there exists a pro-Israeli lobby wich exerts quite a lot of power in US politics makes me a anti-semite? WHen the ADL goes after a muslim building project, I am not allowed to point out that its a part of this lobbys increasing radicalization without being a Jew-hater? Damn, I thought the muslims were whiny over the drawings of the prophet. But now I find out that I and all my frinds (including the jewish ones) are guilty of thought-crime and are Jew baiters and racists.

I guess the message is: Any person who is not a rightwing fanatic is a anti-semite. Anyone who does not believe in the godgiven right of the holy people to Judea and Samaria is a anti-semite. In fact, everybody but Lee Smith and his friends are anti-semites. QED.

M.J. Rosenberg, a former AIPAC and Israel lobby insider, says that the ADL and AJC are functional arms of the Israel lobby:

“The Real Reasons ADL Joined The Bigots”


I don’t know why it should be a surprise that the Anti-Defamation League joined the rightist haters in opposing the mosque at Ground Zero.

The fact is that neither the ADL or its twin, the American Jewish Committee (the other old, established Jewish anti-discrimination organization) has been about opposing bigotry or even anti-Semitism for at least a decade.

They now are entirely about defending Israel — or, at least their right-wing version of Israel. That is why you are infinitely more likely to hear Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, or David Harris, chief of the American Jewish Committee talk about Ahmadedinejad, the Goldstone report, the Turkish flotilla, or the “campaign to discredit Israel” than about hate crimes against Americans (which is what they used to be about).

Even anti-Semitism is of little interest to them — unless it is connected to Israel. In fact, Harris and Foxman have redefined anti-Semitism as opposition to Israeli policies (the Gaza war, the blockade, the occupation) rather than contempt and hatred of Jews for for simply being Jews.


TheDevilCanDance says:

Stop climaxing over so called antisemitism.
1) more than 80% of world Jews are not even Semites, only a tiny portion of Middle Eastern & North African Jews are….
2) Jew is not a race, but at best a religious cultural community,I can convert to Judaism tomorrow. This will not affect me “racially” or genetically. This concept of Jew as race is a ridiculous pseudo scientific mumbo Jumbo
Scandinavian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Middle eastern Jews, Eastern European Jews constitute a “race” ?.
The notion of Jew as race was the original philosophy of contemporary European antisemitism,which is not being held as ” le cheval de bataille” of modern Zionism. What an irony……

larry davidson says:

Sean give me one example in which the Jeruselum Post takes ‘marching orders’ from AIPAC

I’ll fill in for sean and snswer everyday . Well everyday I look at it. I’m here in israel for 2 months and since I read the hebrew papers I only look at the post when it is lying around in the local coffeeshop while iread the real israeli newspapers and I would never buy the thing.

It’s views are uniformly that of the official line or to the right of it. Their fantasy world of what is going on presented in their analysis is unlike anything that appears in any of the media including the govt run radio and tv stations

Good news: no Israeli ever reads it. Bad news: some americans including olim actually use it as a primary news source. Apparently these people have so swallowed the jpost right wing diatribes they wont even look at the english haaretz in print or on the web or even ynet website. Both carry news and opinion pieces israelis actually read and that influence israeli politics.

sorry for the buzzword folks but the jpost is part of the hasbara machine

Gentile Zionist says:

The “Israel Lobby” is not AIPAC but (according to polls) is the majority of the US electorate.

But the Mearsheimers and Sean McBrides of this world cannot help but blame the Jews.

They’ve been taking lessons from Torquemada, Voltaire, and Father Coughlin.

Gentile Zionist says:

Devil is ignorant. A number of modern genetic studies have found both Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews to be Semites and closer genetically to each other than to the next closest group (non-Jewish Mideasterners). Even among Ashkenazim the Semitic genetic component was over 70%.

It is disappointing to see Tablet taken over as a platform by those like Devil and Sean.

Terrific and thought provoking article. I think the author has shown that indeed bashing Israel and being anti-semetic or “anti-zionist” as they like to call it can pay off. Regarding Israel itself, there’s actually a media war being waged.

One result of this practice of jew-baiting has become the transformation of the word zionist into a racial slur.

The media has long become corrupt. It has lost its ethics. It now touts opinion as fact, and technology has also contributed to the situation where a readers attention span is 140 charaters meaning, that a title of a story is often all people will read.

Gentile Zionist,

The majority of Americans (both non-Jewish *and* Jewish) barely think about Israel at all — they have much more important issues on their mind that are directly and immediately relevant to Americans.

Most Americans (both non-Jewish *and* Jewish), when they do think about Mideast politics and Israel, support the Mideast peace process and the two-state solution — a policy which the most extreme right-wing regime in Israeli history is trying to thwart and obstruct by every means available.

And you just did it: you used the phrase “the Jews” — all of them, collectively. Very few critics of the Israel lobby and the Israeli government ever use that grandiose and quite insane phrase. Sane people recognize and honor the wide and vigorous diversity which prevails in the Jewish world, and which is the core strength of Jewish civilization.

TheDevilCanDance says:

Gentile Zionist says:

“It is disappointing to see Tablet taken over as a platform by those like Devil and Sean”.

What is that supposed to mean?, are you accusing me of something in particular.You have no idea who I am, I would suggest you to refrain from making any specific accusation. Freedom of speech works both way my dear friend.Silencing and slandering those who may disagree with you is a totalitarian strategy that has place in the great tradition of Spinoza.

2)I want to see the sources and scientific reviews of your so called ” A number of modern genetic studies….”.

3) I was not debating the “Semitic” gene,but the notion that Jewishness is racial.

having opinions & convictions is not enough to make it academic or scientific,any imbecile can have opinions on his own & I could easily return the “ignorant” epithet on you, but I wont, just to teach you a lesson in tolerance and intellectual superiority.

LazerBeam says:

The U.S. domestic economy is being held hostage by and its foreign policy in the Middle East has been hijacked by Big Oil and the Arab Oil States via the Wahhabbi Lobby, not America’s Jews or Israel via the Zionist Lobby. It was the unholy trinity of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, not a Jew or Jew-lover amongst them, that planned the preventative war with Iraq long before 9/11 gave them a convenient excuse. They did so at the behest of Saudi Arabia, because the Saudis believed Saddam Hussein’s bluster about reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction. On this one the House of Bush walked hand-in-hand, figuratively and literally, with the House of Saud, not the House of David. And British politics is not immune to this unholy influence, as BP’s alleged involvement in the freeing of the Lockerbie Bomber to close an oil deal with Libya will attest.

The unholy trinity of misguided neocons, Wolfowitz, Pearle, and Feith, may have been convinced that the preventative war with Iraq was in Israel’s interest, but they did not have the clout in the Bush Administration to influence its foreign policy in this regard. In any case, Israel was not convinced of this, recognizing that weakening Iraq would strengthen Iran. No, if the House of Bush supported Israel, it wasn’t because of the undue influence of the Zionist Lobby, but rather because of his fealty to Big Oil and the House of Saud. Of course we cannot forget the collateral benefit of the votes from the Christian Right, whose support for Israel is unthinking and unwavering. Nevertheless, the neocons used the Iraq War as a wedge issue to try to chip away at Jewish support for the Democrats with only limited success, may the names of Lieberman and Koch live in infamy.

Because of its location, U.S. support for Israel makes good strategic sense, irrespective of the influence of the Zionist Lobby, real or imagined, and contrary to what the Wahhabi Lobby and its anti-Semite co-conspirators want you to think.


You are offering a conspiracy theory unsupported by any facts. You remind one of those conspiracy theorists who argue that the Vatican was behind the Iraq War — even though the Vatican *opposed* the Iraq War.

Anything to take the focus off the Israel lobby, eh?

By the way, Bush 41’s inner circle, including James Baker and Brent Scowcroft, also opposed the Iraq War, as did leading members of the US oil industry. They believed that the war could undermine American interests in the Mideast, and they were right. Most of the prime oil contracts in Iraq went to China, Russia and Europe, not to the United States.

Lazerbeam you are so right.

Nina thanks, and I don’t always agree with Isreal either and really don’t think that what they do or don’t do is worth all the ink they get, but look at the obsessed crazies like Sean and you see why Smith’s article makes such sense.

I like my work, and I think its too bad more isn’t written in the human rights and left press about Africa but it seems Israel Palestine is what people want to read about. Go figure.


Who are the “obsessed crazies” here: the members of a foreign lobby (like Lee Smith) who have inflicted their narrow ethnic nationalist obsession on Americans as a whole, or those Americans who have been forced to confront these lobbyists in order to stand up for the interests and values of their own nation?

As I pointed out to you earlier (and you have still failed to respond), there are no current controversies about the Irish, Italian, Swedish or French lobbies in American political life because those lobbies barely exist. Most Irish, Italian, Swedish and French Americans are entirely focused on the American interest, with no distractions. They are not mired down in ugly arguments with their fellow Americans about ethnic nationalist issues.

Most of the enlightened world moved beyond ethnic nationalism decades ago. Nazi Germany and apartheid white South Africa gave ethnic nationalism a bad name, and the behavior of Israel has done nothing to restore its reputation.

Left coast says:

It’s ironic to see the Jew-baiting commenters here using each and every one of the techniques described in the article above — without any apparent awareness.

LazerBeam says:

Follow the oil money. Is it a conspiracy theory that the Turkish Lobby fought off an attempt by Congress to label as genocide its murder of more than 1 million Christian Armenians and 600,000 Christian Assyrians during WWI? If you think that that is old news, why does the Western media underreport today’s burning of churches, killing of priests, pastors, and ministers, even in Iraq, and the continuing decline of the Christian Arab population throughout the Middle East? Is it a conspiracy theory that the Arabs and Nazi’s found common cause during WWII in their commitment to the destruction of the Jews? Do you think Iran has forgiven us for using the CIA to topple Mossadeqh in 1953 because he wanted to nationalize the oil industry in Iran? Who do you think has the gelt to mount a world-wide disinformation campaign aimed at exposing the undue influence of Israel and the Zionist Lobby on U.S. foreign policy? Follow the oil money.

Israel may be led by militaristic adventurists whose stupidity does not deserve U.S. support, but unlike the Wahhabi Lobby, Israel and the Zionist Lobby are not committed to the destruction of the Christian West. Don’t let our enemies choose our friends or enemies for us.

Yes, Bush I’s cronies were against the Iraq War, because it was strategically stupid, and they told GW so, but he knew better.

Don’t believe what the oil companies say, watch what they do. BP said it was going Beyond Petroleum and committed to safety and the environment, but those commitments were hollow and their words rang false. BP’s alleged involvement in the Lockerbie Bomber release deal rings truer.

If you are concerned about foreign influence over our foreign affairs, apply the same level of effort at inquiry and the same criteria to the influence of Arab Oil via the Wahhabi Lobby that you apply to the Zionist Lobby and see where that leads. Follow the oil money. Their disinformation campaign is slick and effective, but the strings are not invisible.

Martin K says:

Let me see if I get this right: Noone can discuss the policies of Israel or jewish organizations inside the UK unless they are A) Zionists or B) Pro-Israel. Radical jews like Greenwald are selfhaters and Jew-baiters, and anyone goy who protests this is an anti-semite, just as J-Street are self-haters. In fact, anyone who doesnt support the new ADL – Pamela Geller alliance and thinks racism and bigotry towards muslims in the name of the holocause is wrong, is an anti semite too I guess?

Guys, you folks are soon defining yourself out of the mainstream and into a cult. A nuclear armed cult, true, but still a cult. Youve gotten so caught up in your games of definition that you fail to see that youre having the opposite effect of that wich you intended. But saying that makes me an anti-semite too, I guess, so I dont expect anyone to listen.

Martin K says:

*inside the US*, I mean, sorry. Though the same goes for Uk too, according to Melanie Phillips.


By all means point us to hard data in your possession about the Wahhabi lobby — I am very curious. What are the top 50 or so organizational components of the lobby? What specific links do they have to American and British critics of Israel? I doubt that Walt, Mearsheimer, Sullivan, Weiss and Greenwald have received any money or incentives from that source.

One reason the Israel lobby has come under such intense scrutiny is that it has left vast data trails behind it that are easy to pick over and data mine. Pro-Israel activists (especially neoconservatives) tend to be unbelievably verbose. There is very little that is secretive about them — quite the opposite. They are maximally conspicuous, by their own choice (or compulsion).

The Turkish lobby has had intimate connections to the Israel lobby — have you taken a good look at Sibel Edmonds’ revelations on that point?

That the Saudi lobby (and Arab oil money) exerts enormous influence on American politics I don’t doubt for second — that is a well-documented fact.

80 percent of American Jews opposed the war in Iraq. The overwhelming majority voted for Obama and not for the far more pro israel McCain Palin.

There is no locksteop. None. And the most entertaining part of this very funny thread is the defense of Mel Gibson and his ‘contributions to American culture’!

Sean there is no Jewish conspiracy. Get a life, read about other stuff.

Answer me this would you? Why if the Israel and Jewish lobby is so all powerful why has Gilad Shalit had no contact with the Red Cross in his four years of captivity? Why is he still here? Answer me that.

The Isreal lobby you rant about is not all powerful. Most Jews hate the Iraq war. I for one believe it was a terrible mistake that took away the checks and balances and stopped Saddam from breathing down Iran’s neck. If Saddam were there it would be better for Israel and for the US>


You are conceptually confused, in the extreme, and I sometimes find it difficult to believe that you are a graduate student at a first-class university. I really doubt that you are.

I have pointed out many times myself that a large majority of Jews opposed the Iraq War, and have wanted nothing to do with the neocon agenda. The Israel lobby does not equal “the Jews” — not even close. And the Israel lobby includes many non-Jews (mostly Christian Zionists).

The Israel lobby does indeed mark in lockstep, but it is out of step with most Jews.

So the interesting question is this: why do you keep trying to conflate the Israel lobby with “the Jews”? What’s up with that? Is it that you need an easy straw man to knock down? Or is it that you are cognitively incapable, for emotional reasons, of drawing any distinctions between the Israel lobby and all Jews?


Correction: “The Israel lobby does indeed march in lockstep, but it is out of step with most Jews.”

You still haven’t been able to come up with any instances or evidence to refute this obvious truth. I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t have the kind of mind that deals in empirical data of any kind. Mostly you just emote in an excited way, and rely heavily on verbal abuse.

Did you read Peter Beinart’s groundbreaking essay on this subject, by the way?

LazerBeam says:

So unless the world-wide Islamist-sponsored disinformation campaign of fearmongering about the alleged undue influence of the Zionist Lobby on U.S. foreign policy reveals its funding sources and points of contact with the virulent anti-Semites in the blogosphere, it doesn’t exist? … or is it just all the more dangerous because of its clandestine nature? Driving a wedge between the Christian Right and the Jews on the Israel issue would be quite a coup, no? Why would they pass up the chance, especially when the blogosphere gives them such a big bang for the buck?

I don’t recollect the Nazi Minister of Information telling the German people they were being manipulated or who was the money behind the Nazi disinformation campaign. The Nazis were very careful about not leaving a paper trail. They even ordered all of the notes burned from the Wannsee Conference where the work plan for the Final Solution to the Jewish Question was presented, discussed, and ordered implemented. But the transcript of the discussion was reconstructed from written snippets and recollections. So, recognizing the clever enemy you are dealing with, one who does not want to reveal its presence, because it is your real enemy, do your homework and put the pieces together.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to gather the evidence and make the case, because I am not obsessed with the alleged hijacking of American foreign policy by the Zionist Lobby on behalf of Israel. So continue unmasking that which is in plain sight and a known commodity to stir the pot while ignoring the real enemy whose funding sources and contacts are much harder to detect but whose influence can be felt nonetheless. I “see” the Islamists’ shadow on the floor, even if he has not announced his presence, because I detect the well-funded wedge being driven between Christians and Jews, with the witting or unwitting help of the blogosphere anti-Semites, ranging from the casual to the virulent. Follow the oil money.

Deergal says:

Hello, VERY INTERESTING and WELL-DETAILED article by author.
THANK YOU! After reading ALL of the previous comments, I would like to say, “PLEASE do NOT GET LOST” folks, STICK to OBJECTIVITY…READ and LEARN. INSIGHTS are IN this article that we SHOULD BE AWARE OF for OUR OWN moral and valued “PERSONAL SAFETY!” Because,IF these writers are “COMING FOR” this particular group TODAY..WHAT WELL BE the NEXT “BIG PROFIT” motive TOMARROW??? HUH? YOUR group, MINE???

walt kovacs says:

recent polling show that despite their beliefs that there will be a lasting peace in the middle east…67 percent of americans support israel

the jew hating bloggers are losing…just as the bds movement is losing

so please…keep it up

the more you attack, the more america and the free world (socialist europe is no longer free) will come to the israeli side

TheDevilCanDance says:

If you believe the US cares about Israel (& about the Jews as such), you are delusional. The US only has national interests & geopolitical strategies that change on daily base….Jews represent 3% of US citizens,do you honestly believe that US politicians express such unconditional love for Israel & the Jews because they have the best sentiments in mind?. What did the US do for Israel & the Jews prior to 1968?. Nothing….

When my relatives were engaged in the resistance against the Germans in Norway, the US congress was passing new immigration laws, to prevent German & Eastern European Jews to immigrate to the United States, one notorious & infamous example came with the Ship St Louis, who carried Jews fleeing Europe. After being refused to disembark in Cuba the passengers sent cables to Roosevelt, asking for refuge, Roosevelt never responded…..

Most of American “die hard” pro-Zionist & pro-Israeli activists & supporters are opportunistic dirt bags. Not one of them wants to live in Israel or move to Israel, even less of fighting in the IDF,they don’t even have the courage to fight for the flag of their own country.

Giving Israel crocodile tears,lip service & unconditional support from the safety of their lobby group ?. trained monkeys can do that…..

TheDevilCanDance says:

Shlomo Ben Ami was right when he said that,the individual who express their “love & support” for the Jewish people today, were the same majority who were complicit in the persecution & slaughter of the Jews during WW2, because of their silence & indifference,if not because of their dislike & hatred of Jews at the time….
Americans & American Jews cannot wash away the infamy of “what they did not do” during those years. The US entering the war with Germany to save the Jews is another socio-political myth, but the predominant hypocrisy in the US has the best interest at believing its own bullshit.

I know some Israeli arch Zionists, behind their appreciation for what the American pro-Zionist brigade does, they have the deepest contempt for them. This is how they describe them, “Born as Pisher, live as shlemiel…” and the poster (walt kovacs ) above is the personification of it…..

Gentile Zionist says:

If Walt and the others may be acquitted of responsibility for their cesspools, what blame lies with their employers?

Will Tablet take responsibility for the anti-Semitic cesspool into which its blog has degenerated?

MarinaNY says:

I think, these two articles by Lee Smith about mainstream anti-Semitism are among the most brilliant things he wrote. I like the “lexicon” here the most: the gallery of standard fig leafs intended to cover regular racism, anti-Semitism.

Thank you, Lee Smith! And please, read comments on this article – you will enrich your lexicon by plenty of new pearls. Here are some of them
-“drawing distinctions between the Israel lobby and all Jews”
-“Silencing and slandering those who may disagree with you is a totalitarian strategy that has place in the great tradition of Spinoza (sic!).”

TheDevilCanDance says:

Gentile Zionist

You speak like a true Shabbos Goy,I am confident you are not even Jewish. Do you speak or read Hebrew? What do you know of Eretz history ?. What are you doing to fight antisemitism?.Cheer leading like the rest of the hysterical Internet fighters…You are as irrelevant & hysterical as the antisemitic crowd. You want to do something useful, Shin Beth is always looking for young brave souls like yourself who are willing to die for the cause.
But I am not holding my breath….Lol

TheDevilCanDance says:


Like I previously stated, my relatives were fighting in the resistance in Norway, against the Germans,My maternal grand mother gave refuge in Stockholm Sweden, to members of Goldhagen family who flew persecutions from Holland, while you Americans were busy passing new laws to prevent European Jews from coming to the US. I am not taking lessons from individuals who have a conscience dirty & stained as a rubber toilet seat…..

LazerBeam wrote: “I have neither the time nor the inclination to gather the evidence and make the case…”

Good luck selling your conspiracy theory then.

Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s book has had a major impact because it is packed with thousands of well-documented facts. To make an effective case in arguing about any particular political lobby or power bloc, you need to get all your ducks (facts) in a row.

Regarding Israeli/Christian relations: Israel significantly damaged its credibility among mainstream Christians when it began to court the Armageddonist fringe in a big way (John Hagee, Pat Robertson, Mike Evans, Sarah Palin, etc.). Israel has significantly undermined the sympathy and support of that sector of the Christian world that matters the most — well-educated moderate Christians who hold positions of influence in elite institutions. Trading off that support for the mindless backing of mostly neo-Confederate hillbillies was a huge political error. You can’t blame this state of affairs on the Wahhabi lobby.


I just did 10 minutes of quick and dirty data mining with Google to try to get a rough handle on the Wahhabi lobby meme. This is what I discovered:

Pro-Israel militants and neocons like Daniel Pipes and Stephen Schwartz have been trying to promote the meme since at least 2003 through some of the following neocon and Likudist propaganda outlets:

1. American Thinker
2. Campus Watch
3. Center for Security Policy
4. Daniel Pipes
5. Fox News
6. Free Republic
7. Frontpage Magazine
8. Israpundit
9. Middle East Forum
10. National Review
11. Stephen Schwartz
12. Weekly Standard
13. Worldnetdaily

They have enjoyed very little success: Google turns up only 9, 360 hits on “Wahhabi lobby” compared to well over a million hits on “Israel lobby.” Apparently this particular project hasn’t panned out very well for the neocons. Few of their projects do pan out.

Gentile Zionist says:

Devil wrote, “My maternal grand mother gave refuge in Stockholm Sweden, to members of Goldhagen family who flew persecutions from Holland.”

And collabrating with the Germans in providing them raw materials and allowing their troops passage across Sweden to conquer Norway.

Sean has this bizarre thing about alphabetizing lists its quite entertaining.

Very funny, this guy is a net junkie with no life at all.

Gentile Zionist says:

Lazer wrote, “So unless the world-wide Islamist-sponsored disinformation campaign of fearmongering about the alleged undue influence of the Zionist Lobby on U.S. foreign policy reveals its funding sources and points of contact with the virulent anti-Semites in the blogosphere, it doesn’t exist?”

Lazer is correct. One can start with the Islamist funding of HRW, AI, J-Street, etc.

One can add to that the considerable power and monies of the “Arab Lobby,” ranging from the oil industry to the Saudi-bribed Arabists at the State Deartment.

Gentile Zionist says:

callie, good posts.

“Sean has this bizarre thing about alphabetizing lists its quite entertaining.”

Sean has this bizarre thing about Jews and Israel and it’s quite disgusting. He has dominated this thread and turned it into a cesspool.


Some of the most interesting and cutting-edge political research projects happening these days involve manipulating interactive lists of millions of items per list. Some leading-edge AI researchers have figured out that nearly all human conceptual knowledge can be represented by a single list that can be data mined in many ways to automatically generate new knowledge. There is much more to lists than meets the eye in the world of the Semantic Web. In the right hands, well-structured lists are pure magic and are powerful keys to uncovering the deepest truths in any domain.

In any case, nearly all the lead propaganda outlets pushing “the Wahhabi lobby” are neoconservative and Israel lobby ops, as you can check for yourself. The meme hasn’t acquired much traction after years of effort — nearly none, in fact.

Gentile Zionist says:

Hmmm. Devil seems to be making a lot of claims – including at once to have heroic relatives of Norwegian and Swedish backgrond, and also to be an Israeli fluent in Hebrew. Those combinations are unlikely; he’s most likely making it up.

Nor, of course, are any of his fabricated claims about himself relelvant to the subject at hand, Smith’s excellent article. What odd ducks Tablet attracts.

Gentile Zionist says:

Callie is correct about the Iraq war; as a whole, neither American nor Israeli Jews supported it.

Hi, Lee. Your post is spot-on. Thanks.

TheDevilCanDance says:

Gentile Zionist

You have some entertainment value for a poodle.
You have nothing but slander & baseless accusations to offer,you are desperate to silence anyone who is exposing you as a ridiculous agi- prop. You discuss issues you know absolutely nothing about. You have the ethics of a colostomy bag,& the way you react tells more about you than it does about me. You are like the majority who look at the direction the wind is blowing before adopting a position.You probably used to dislike Jews before you decided to support them…..

As an American you are the last person on earth who has credibility to speak for & in the name of the Jews. Up to 1943, American bankers were doing business with Nazi bankers, American factories were doing business with Nazi industrials,prominent US personalities were supportive & enthusiastic of Hitler’s regime. Americans in large majority were against Jewish immigration even at the peak of persecutions….

Hypocrisy is what motivates you today to act as a Pro-Zionist attack poodle. You can scream antisemitism as much as you want, You are irrelevant, get use to it

TheDevilCanDance says:

Gentile Zionist

Just to expose the depth of your ignorance & sheer stupidity, I have a question for you.

Tell me if you think I am a pro-Zionist or an Anti-Zionist, or even a Jew hater?.

The fact is you can’t,because I haven’t stated anything yet in that regard….

Game over, you may go back to your Playstation….

Allen Roth says:

The writer is still living in some ghettoed town in Poland or Russia in the 1920s, it seems. By now, it should be obvious and expected that, in a land where the framework of law, and indeed the views of the vast majority of citizens, support legal equality, and freedom of worship, for Jews, coupled with the First Amendment, that people will have differences of opinion, sharp differences, at times. Criticism of policies of Israel, or of the Jewish people directly, does not necessarily imply that the speaker is an “anti-Semite” (whatever that may mean in 2010). Anyone with close gentile friends ought to know the difference between humorous criticism, sincere criticism, slightly resentful criticism, and outright bigotry. If one can’t understand that all these four exist, and that, unless one has an intimate acquaintance with the speaker/writer, one cannot determine which one may be voiced. William Buckley’s “In Search of Anti-Semitism” is an excellent book in this regard (although I don’t agree with everything he writes). Basically, it is high time that Jews, especially in the United States, ought to have learned and accepted that equal rights will confer both privileges and responsibilities that do not accompany open inequality. Get over it! Let them criticize Israel; you have the right to respond with equal fervor. Following Alexander Bickel, the marketplace of ideas will render the verdict(s). I suspect that what happens to many American Jews when they read articles critical of them, is not an intellectually-based reaction, moderated by our cerebral apparatus, but is more of a visceral, physical, reaction. One final word: the question that the writer asks–rhetorically–regarding comparing criticism of gay people, etc. is outrageous, considering we are unable to marry–a situation very similar to the legal disabilities suffered by Jews in Old-Regime Europe.
If anyone is wondering, my father was a survivor of the Budapest ghetto, and I grew up in anOrthodox home.

David says:

Sean, you do realize that ‘Zoinist’ Stephen Schwartz, is actually a Sufi Muslim. But you already knew that, since you are the smartest person ever to walk the Earth. So I’m not sure how you correlate him as being a Zionist, since he usually writes exclusively on Muslims issues involving the Wahhabi strain of Islam buying off the local population and changing regions of the Ummah that were once tolerate of other people. But you already knew that since you are in grad school or something. I do fine it funny that you use Google as your source for ‘data mining’ instead of actual scholarly databases. But whatever…

David says:

tolerant not tolerate


Yes, I knew all those facts about Stephen Schwartz. I also know that he describes himself as a neoconservative (see his Wikipedia entry).

I Googled around a bit more on “Wahhabi lobby” and edited the previous list of propaganda outlets for the term:

1. American Thinker
2. Campus Watch
3. Center for Security Policy
4. Fox News
5. Free Republic
6. Frontpage Magazine
7. Israpundit
8. Jihad Watch
9. Middle East Forum
10. National Post
11. National Review
12. New York Post
13. New York Sun
14. Weekly Standard
15. Worldnetdaily

All of these entities are closely connected to the Israel lobby.

If you Google [ “wahhabi lobby”] you won’t produce a single hit — the New York Times hasn’t used the term even once.

Using the Timeline view of a Google search on [“israel lobby”] is also revealing: the expression has been in wide usage in the mainstream media for quite a few years — long before Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s book.

Google is a superb data mining tool for resolving all kinds of subtle questions in the social sciences and humanities, particularly relating to language usage over time.

David that was my point exactly. Graduate school teaches us that one must look to peer reviewed documents. Walt’s nonsense on the Lobby didn’t cut that.

Its actually funny that someone would claim to be an intellectual and use Google search hits as evidence of the truth.

I came up with close to a million google hits for the Loch Ness monster, doesn’t make it so! How about Santa? The Tooth Fairy?

Anyhow this thread was educational in a sense since it really proved Lee’s point.


The discussion concerning the use of Google as a data mining tool is going way over your head. Sheer number of hits doesn’t tell one a whole lot about a topic. Examining the patterns within those hits can tell one a very great deal.

Try viewing a Google search on [“israel lobby”] with the Timeline filter, and study the evolving usage on the expression *in context* over time. You’ll learn something.

You still haven’t addressed most of the points I raised with you. Why is there so little controversy in American politics about the Irish, Italian, Swedish or French lobbies? Think about it. You’re underwater. You need to wake up.

Gentile Zionist,

You wrote: “One can add to that the considerable power and monies of the “Arab Lobby,” ranging from the oil industry to the Saudi-bribed Arabists at the State Deartment.”

The American government has cultivated close relations with Saudia Arabia since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt for reasons American national *self-interest*. Do you realize what an economic disaster for the United States it would be if it lost access to Saudi oil? Do you know anything about the history of American relations with the oil-producing nations in the Mideast?

Did you say that you are not even an American citizen, by the way?

David says:

“Yes, I knew all those facts about Stephen Schwartz. I also know that he describes himself as a neoconservative (see his Wikipedia entry).”

Seriously Sean, wikipedia? Are you kidding me? Come on man, I almost was taking you seriously (just kidding) about your scholarly research practices. Wikipedia is the WORST place go to go for scholarly research since anyone can write anything about anybody. If you wrote a paper for a class and used Wikipedia as your reference source I would hope to G-d your prof would knock you down a grade (or just failing you) for using them.

“If you Google [ “wahhabi lobby”] you won’t produce a single hit — the New York Times hasn’t used the term even once.”

Gotcha, since the NYT doesn’t use the term ‘Wahhabi lobby’ that means it doesn’t exist. Glad to know that, I’m sure Marc Tracy would agree with you. Whether you want to believe it or not Saudi Arabia’s greatest export hasn’t been oil, but their extreme strain of Islam. Just because the liberal intelligentsia doesn’t want to discuss the issue, doesn’t mean Saudi’s proselytizing doesn’t exist.

David says:


You would think Sean and all of his great wisdom he would want to use academic databases instead of Google. I mean its a known fact that most Middle East departments are completely hostile to the idea of Israel actually existing. So he could rant and rave about the Neo-Con/Israel lobby under the guise of academic research all he wanted. Then he could go on and say these people are the experts in the field and know more any than anyone else about ‘the truth’ of Israel and the Jewish people and we have no idea what we talking about since neither of us have PhD in a Near East subject.

Using Google as a sociolinguistics data mining tool

1. How often was it said?

2. Where was it said?

3. When was it said?

3. Who said it?

5. How was it said?


1. Which religious tradition has most influenced your thinking about Mideast politics?

2. Which authors have most influenced your thinking about Mideast politics?

3. Which books over your lifetime have most influenced your thinking about Mideast politics?

4. Which books have you read recently about Mideast politics?


I don’t deny that there is a strain of Saudi-based Wahhabi proselytizing that bears inspection and investigation.

What I find preposterous is the suggestion that Wahhabism has had a significant influence on American and European critics of Israel. Most of them despise all forms of religious fundamentalism — Muslim, Christian and Jewish.

Gentile Zionist says:

Devil wrote: “As an American”

Fools make assumptions.

For the rest, Devil’s rage means I have hit the mark in challenging his fabricated self-history.

David, your posts are good but debating Sean is a waste of time.

Allen, French, English, and Turkish Jews are all buying bolt-holes in Israel. Your post is ludcrously self-centred.

Gentile Zionist says:

Sean wrote: “What I find preposterous is the suggestion that Wahhabism has had a significant influence on American and European critics of Israel. Most of them despise all forms of religious fundamentalism — Muslim, Christian and Jewish.”

What idiocy. The Euroleft-Islamofascist alliance is well-entrenched. Respect is just an arch-typical example.


What I find troubling about your posts is your lack of intellectual precision and general flailing about, which strikes me as being very un-Jewish. (I associate Jewishness with the very highest intellectual standards.)

If you had taken the trouble to read the Wikipedia entry on Stephen Schwartz, you would have been pointed to his article “Trotskycons?” in National Review from June 11, 2003:

In that article we find the following revealing passage by Schwartz:

“We are almost alone among younger neoconservatives in boasting such credentials.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth: Schwartz identifies himself as a neoconservative.

Schwartz also seems to be a die-hard admirer of Leon Trotsky:


To my last breath I will defend the Trotsky who alone, and pursued from country to country, and finally laid low in his own blood in a hideously hot little house in Mexico City, said no to Soviet coddling of Hitlerism, to the Moscow purges, and to the betrayal of the Spanish Republic, and who had the capacity to admit he had been wrong about the imposition of a single-party state, as well as about the fate of the Jewish people. To my last breath, and without apology. Let the neofascists, and Stalinists in their second childhood, make of it what they will.


Schwartz is a neoconservative in the Trotskyite tradition apparently.

I share his concerns about Muslim fundamentalism (if not his neoconservatism or Trotskyism), but those concerns extend to problems with Abrahamic fundamentalism in general — Muslim, Christian and Jewish.

Gentile Zionist,

Do you use the handle JSLeFanu on Friendfeed?

What I would like to see is some evidence that Wahhabism has influenced the thinking of John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, Glenn Greenwald or Jim Lobe. The notion is absurd on its face.

They are all hardcore Americanists, firmly situated within the Western Enlightenment tradition.

David says:

Yes the origins of the Neoconservative moment did come from Trotskyite acolytes. Or in my opinion proto-Neocon Leo Strauss (the leading intellectual source of the new conservative 20th century movement). But that’s no here nor there. Things evolve, people change.

Funny though, the quote you state, it seems Mr. Schwartz is still a Trotskyite at heart which wouldn’t make a him a true ‘Neocon’ since all the self-avowed ‘Neocons’ from Podhoretz to Kristol have renounce Trostsky.

BTW, Christopher Hitchens was a Trotskyite too and he would not consider himself a Neocon and if you call him one to his face he probably knock you to the ground. Game, set, match.


I didn’t describe Christopher Hitchens as a neocon — I don’t think he is. You are playing on a tennis court against yourself.

Stephen Schwartz, on the other hand, describes himself as a neocon, and I think we can take him at his word. If you have a problem with his self-description, take it up with him.

But you are losing sight of the main line of debate here: I don’t think that Wahhabism has had any influence whatever among the group of intellectuals that Lee Smith singled out for attack. They are all hardcore Americanists in the tradition of Jefferson, Paine, Madison, Franklin, Washington, etc.

Israel (and Zionism) face a much greater challenge from Americanism and the Western Enlightenment tradition than they do from Wahhabism. Deal with it. Get real. Show some Jewish intellectual seriousness for once and stop flailing around.

Nearly all the harsh criticism of the ADL emanating from Jewish circles in recent days has been motivated by Americanism, not Wahhabism. See, for instance, Paul Krugman’s article in the New York Times on the subject, and the commentary which follows.


Provide some examples of American oil industry leaders who been agitating for an American or Israeli war against Iran. Curiously these lobbyists (if you can name them) have had no influence on the American military and intelligence establishments, which have repeatedly expressed their opposition to such a war.

On the other hand, one can easily turn up dozens of statements from neoconservatives and pro-Israel activists agitating for a war against Iran.

How well do you think the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan have gone? Have Americans been net beneficiaries of those wars? How do you think a war against Iran would turn out?

TheDevilCanDance says:

Gentile Zionist

1)”Fools make assumptions”
You are protecting…..

2)”For the rest, Devil’s rage means I have hit the mark in challenging his fabricated self-history”
You are protecting…..again

Lol, do I look angry to you?, I am ridiculing you, its priceless. Besides Shabbos Goy, I know exactly how funny little characters like you operate & what they expect. I won’t give you the pleasure of getting into a pissing contest with you.The name calling game, the slander and the baseless accusations, that’s your cup of tea.

How entertaining the average moron who toils in obscurity.

Googling and data mining the Israel lobby

For those who might need more details about how to use Google to analyze the use of that phrase in mainstream American politics, and in the New York Times in particular:

1. Google [ “israel lobby”]“israel+lobby”

2. Click on Show Search Tools

3. Click on Timeline

4. Browse the phrase in context from 1969 to the present

5. Zero in on a particular year, say 1975

6. One will notice items like this:

a. 1975: Jun 30, 1975 – While their efforts have not yet approached the effectiveness of the pro-Israel lobby….

b. 1975: Aug 8, 1975 – The Israel Lobby in Washington Is Small and Effective

A small observation: the term “pro-Israel lobby” (instead of the more simple “Israel lobby”) was often used in previous decades in media outlets like the New York Times.

One could perform the same exercise with a wide variety of mainstream publications for this historical period.

Note: Tablet’s forum software doesn’t correctly render this type of URL, which is perfectly legal on Google:“israel+lobby”

A fix would be welcome.


Regarding sorted lists — anyone involved with developing data mining methods and technologies deals with sorted lists all the time. In fact, sorted lists are the heart and soul of data mining.

I don’t know what text editor you are using, but I favor Textpad — it can sort long
lists of items in a split second, the blink of an eye. Almost no effort required — just a keystroke or two.

Sorted lists are a method for cutting through huge swathes of messy text to the clear, crisp heart of the matter.

Clearly your mind doesn’t work this way, but don’t presume that others should operate within your mental boundaries.

If you would like to learn more about the list-based approach to information processing in general, take a look into the history of the AI-oriented programming language LISP. Lists rule.

Greg Blum says:

Point 9.

Really comparing China/Tibet to Poland/Germany? Would love to see that.

And of course Americans/natives, at this point I think you have been sipping too much kool-aid.

Your points are defined well, but your inability to state clear examples makes me wonder about your other references you make.

Clearly Sean if you have used the number of times something comes up on Google hits to prove that it exists your basic logic is very flawed. While looking at the Lock Ness moster, why not use that logic to prove the reality of the tooth fairy or the easter bunny?

A peer reviewed journal of internatinal relations would probably be above your reading level since simple lists and sites like Judeofacist are more your cup of tea but you prove nothing.

And you never answered my question, you are playing a game of childhood Candy land with yourself on this thread just talking about your own strawman points.

If the Israel lobby is so powerful why is Gilad Shalit in the situation he is in? My guess is that the vast majority of Americans have never heard of him let alone realize he has not been allowed Red Cross visits since his kidnapping. Why is that?

The silence is deafening. There are lobby groups for Israel. They all have different ideas.

You need some new hobbies. I am sure your friends are getting worried about the obsessive posting online. You might want to get some help from the health center of the college you are at. You really need it!

Sean poor thing, I looked back at how many times you have posted on this thread alone and its quite alarming. How many other sites are you on doing the same thing?

Why? Is it your job? What are you doing with yourself and your life? Turn off your computer, get a girlfriend, make yourself some dinner, watch a movie.

make a grocery list, walk your dog. Turn it off, its over the top!

TheDevilCanDance says:

Gentile Zionist

Yes indeed, we all know there is some cosmic antisemitic conspiracy, the secular “Euro Left” and the dark armies of
Islamo Fascists have joined hands in their crusade against the Jewish people. Do you also believe in alien abductions?.

The universe is expanding & its is antisemitic…..Lol

TheDevilCanDance says:

Israeli government Classifies it’s Past as Top Secret.

The government of the great leader Bibi is expanding to 70 years the prohibition of secret archives release. (ref: Le Monde,a notorious antisemitic newspaper…)

The Nazis, the antisemitics, the Islamo-Fascists, the secular lefties & everything in between, are going to claim that “they” (the Israelis) have something to hide.
Which is of course ludicrous and antisemitic…

LazerBeam says:

The Islamists have means, motive, and opportunity. Now they have a proxy protagonist in the form of the so-called Americanists: anti-Semites obsessed with the Zionist Lobby and its alleged undue influence on U.S. Foreign policy. Why not cut to the chase and quote from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion about the Jewish plan for world domination?

The issue isn’t whether there is an Israel Lobby but whether it has hijacked American foreign policy regarding Israel and the Middle East. The reality is that our foreign policy has been hijacked by Arab Oil. The petro dollars that are not spent on the upkeep of the palaces of the House of Saud or gifts for the House of Bush are diverted to the Wahhabi schools and their teaching of hate for and the inevitable jihad against the Judaeo-Christian West. Why stop there when you can attack America on the cheap using the anti-Semites in the blogosphere to drive a wedge between the Jewish Left and the Christian Right over the one issue on which they agree — Israel’s right to exist?

Ignorance of the existence of the Wahhabi Lobby and its alliance with their Americanist anti-Semite fellow travelers in the blogosphere is no excuse. You are pawns in their game. To play their game is to commit Judaeo-Christian suicide. Connect the dots and get out of their game.

Sean you posted the same repsonse to me word for word twice. Are you a bot? Its odd. Very odd. Why would someone do that? Clearly its well planned thing you have going on here. Its interesting to see, and some other commenter here wondered if there weren’t people who did this for a living……you so prove Lee’s point.

You never answer anyones questions but just spout the same kind of automated answers again and again like a bot.

To explain further, your comment on my reference to your listing things was word for word done twice in different places. You never answered about Shalit? Why? Did that go off your script?

Pablo Schwartz says:

All of this talk about Israel by the likes of Lee Smith and Andrew Sullivan is so much red herring! The issue at hand – the issue that no one dare raise – is the increasing dominance of American media by the Saudis. Does no one remember the Saudis? Sponsor of the 18th century Wahhabi cult (cousin-in-law to the Taliban and al-Qaeda)? Is it a coincidence that the leading cheerleader for Bombing Iran (the Saudi’s regional rival) is .. FoxNews (7 percent owned by a Saudi prince)? Consider as well the firing of Octavia Nasr by CNN for lamenting the death of a Shi’ite cleric on her Twitter. Who is it that hates the Shia as much as they hate Christians and Jews? the Saudis, that’s who! Continuing to speak of Israel as if that tiny nation far away were some kind of den of intrigue serves but one purpose: to mask the very real evil that is Saudi Arabia, the chief sponsor of terrorism in the mideast (the endless campaign against the Iraqi Shia by Saudi suicide bombers, etc).

TheDevilCanDance says:


Your Blog is quite interesting. Nice revisionism history.
Are you for real? Or do you assume most people outside your cocoon do not have basic grasp of XX century history and you are trying to basically rewrite history as it suits you.

“Morality is not an outdated concept”, quite a problematic statement when you play the role of the victim.
But, You are not a dishonest individual, Callie. Calling you dishonest is like saying Hannibal Lecter had an eating disorder. …..
By the way, I have a scoop for you, “‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion'”, No one takes this crap seriously

David says:

“By the way, I have a scoop for you, “‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’”, No one takes this crap seriously”

Except of Arabs, fringe left/right wing-nuts and other people in the Third world who know nothing about Jews and Israel. Other than that you are right.

David says:

for not of


You gave up engaging in substantive discussion and debate days ago — you haven’t answered any of the points in my last posts. If you continue directing vague and insulting comments towards me with no content, I will respond with more evidence demonstrating the reality of the Israel lobby.

Notice this passage from a Dana Milbank article in the Washington Post from July 7, 2010 — he is not referring to the Loch Ness monster, the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy. Milbank (and the Washington Post) are asserting that a unified Israel lobby forced Obama to back off from his confrontation with the Israeli government over settlements:


A blue-and-white Israeli flag hung from Blair House. Across Pennsylvania Avenue, the Stars and Stripes was in its usual place atop the White House. But to capture the real significance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit with President Obama, White House officials might have instead flown the white flag of surrender.

Four months ago, the Obama administration made a politically perilous decision to condemn Israel over a controversial new settlement. THE ISRAEL LOBBY reared up, Netanyahu denounced the administration’s actions, Republican leaders sided with Netanyahu, and Democrats ran for cover.

So on Tuesday, Obama, routed and humiliated by his Israeli counterpart, invited Netanyahu back to the White House for what might be called the Oil of Olay Summit: It was all about saving face.


Perhaps you could write a note the Washington Post complaining about their use of the term “the Israel lobby” which makes repeated references to the Loch Ness monster. I am sure they will be impressed. Good luck.


Why are you accusing Americanists of being antisemites? What is antisemitic about Americans revering the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights and focusing like a laser beam on the American interest in the making of American foreign policy all around the world?

My main point stands: leading American and European critics of Israel, like Sullivan, Walt, Weiss, Greenwald and Lobe, are not the least bit influenced by Wahhabism. What drives them is a strong commitment to basic American and Western Enlightenment values, and a concern for the American interest on the international stage.

A mention in the paper like that doesn’t make it so Sean. Sorry.

And once again, if the so called Israel Lobby is all powerful why is Shalit not being seen by the Red Cross? Why? You make no sense.

I am not ‘vaguely’ insulting you, I am telling you that you are an obsessed person who needs help.

also elder of ziyon is not my blog its a friends, just thought you all might like to take a look at it.


1. Please explain why you disagree with Dana Milbank’s statement: “Four months ago, the Obama administration made a politically perilous decision to condemn Israel over a controversial new settlement. THE ISRAEL LOBBY reared up, Netanyahu denounced the administration’s actions, Republican leaders sided with Netanyahu, and Democrats ran for cover.”

You must at least admit that the use of the term “the Israel lobby” is common in mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post.

And why did Milbank use the expression “politically perilous decision” in the above passage?

2. You keep mentioning Gilad Shalit, like that is supposed to be a big deal of some kind. Americans are dying and suffering grievous injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan every day. There are no conceivable circumstances under which they would *ever* become focused on the Shalit story. The Israel lobby hasn’t tried to push that story among Americans, and never would.

3. The Israel lobby continues to be the only major lobby in American politics that is agitating for a war against Iran that would probably be catastrophic for Americans. It’s a very big story. Americans are going to discuss it, regardless of offenses to your sensibilities.


Tips on effective debating:

1. Focus on high quality and carefully documented sources and facts.

2. Don’t engage in personal attacks.

The more you emphasize 1. and de-emphasize 2., the more effective you will be in making whatever points you want to make. I trust you will instill these values of effective communication and writing in the the minds of whatever students you teach. Several memorable professors of mine took care to drill these basic principles into the heads of their charges.

Most of your posts so far would receive failing grades at any first-class graduate school, without exception. They do not even rise to the level of an undergraduate effort.

Sean very funny indeed! You are on a comments board day and night scolding perfect strangers and making nonsensical lists.

Its been enlightening and certainly proves the point of the original author.

Pablo I agree that the Saudi lobby is quite powerful. I know in Afghanistand from speaking with my students they are building ‘school’s’ or madrasses all over Afghanistan and Pakistan and now are making serious inroads in East Africa in places like Uganda and Tanzania. Very its discussed very little. I had never thought of that before, you made an excellent point that Fox news does indeed seem focused on that from what I hear. Good point.

David says:

Not surprisingly Lee Smith’s argument falls apart before it gets started. The comments of a blog, Smith says,
are the responsibility of the pundits, the audience and the major media companies hosting the blog. Just reading anti-Israeli blogs and their comments makes one complicit in an attempt to destroy Jews and Israel.

The trouble is that the comments to anti-Israeli posts are like all other comments on the web. They are anonymous .
And being anonymous, they can not be said to represent real views. To coin a term, they could be “comment provocateurs.” Anti-Israeli screeds written by pro-Israeli writers so that Lee Smith can write even more pro-Jewish hatred.l

Far fetched? Are we not now living in the age of Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe? There’s no doubt there’s going to more to come.where we’re were headed. Keep you’re airplane sickness bag handy.

David says:

Not surprisingly Lee Smith’s argument falls apart before it gets started. The comments of a blog, Smith says,
are the responsibility of the pundits, the audience and the major media companies hosting the blog. Just reading anti-Israeli blogs and their comments makes one complicit in an attempt to destroy Jews and Israel.

The trouble is that the comments to anti-Israeli posts are like all other comments on the web. They are anonymous .
And being anonymous, they can not be said to represent real views. To coin a term, they could be “comment provocateurs.” Anti-Israeli screeds written by pro-Israeli writers so that Lee Smith can write even more pro-Jewish hatred.

Far fetched? Are we not now living in the age of Andrew Breitbart and James O’Keefe? There’s no doubt there’s going to more to come. Keep you’re airplane sickness bag handy.

LazerBeam says:

If the ability to get the Obama Administration to back down is a measure of its influence, then the Israel Lobby has the same influence as Andrew Breitbart.

Are ultra-conservatives who advocated for Israel and against the Obama Administration on the settlement expansion issue, the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, and Liz Cheney, also dupes of the Zionist Lobby? If that is so on this issue, how much of the fog they are spewing on other issues is being programmed by the Jews to confuse otherwise clear-thinking Christians? Who can you trust? Where does classic Western anti-Semitism leave off and Wahhabi-influenced Eastern anti-Semitism begin? Can’t tell your friends from your enemies in the anti-Semitic blogosphere? Precisely!

One wonders if the Americanists of which we speak are truly committed to protecting and defending the U.S. Constitution as a beacon of Western Enlightenment. Or is that code for committed to defending Christian America from all enemies, foreign and domestic, by purging the U.S. of those not fully inculcated in the philosophy and embracing the values of the Western Enlightenment, e.g., those who have rejected Christ and are under the influence of the Torah, Talmud, or the works of Baruch Spinoza?

Not all Americanists are anti-Semites, but all anti-Semites empathize with, if not actively support, the Americanist agenda as it regards the alleged threat posed by the Zionist Lobby. Many commenters seem to enjoy blurring the distinction between unbiased and biased commentary. Sadly, all they are doing is advancing the Wahhabi Lobby agenda by driving a wedge between the Jewish Left and the Christian Right on the one issue on which there is now general agreement– Israel’s right and need to exist.

Follow the Big Oil money trail, and connect the dots. Until you can do that, trust the motives and agenda of no one in the anti-Semitic blogosphere. Using enlightened Western logic, the enemy of your enemy is not always your friend.

lovelyisraelis says:

The Israelis are, like the lunatic cult of Scientology they emulate, their own worst enemies. Now they are deporting 400 children born in israel because, as their leader declares, these children of foreign workers threaten the Jewish state’s ‘racial purity.’

People loathe Israel because Israel, to any right thinking human being, has made itself utterly loathsome.

Their tastelessness and stupidity, their clumsy lies, their tiresome howls, of “anti-Semitism” will not change that fact.

LazerBeam says:

Regarding Israel’s decision to deport 400 children of foreign workers with legal work visas but who were not admitted as permanent residents, it has nothing to do with ‘racial purity’ and everything to do with regulating legal immigration. The author of the anti-Semitic screed omits the other relevant fact that 800 children will be allowed to stay if they meet certain criteria. Here’s the rest of the story:

“According to the new criteria, children will be allowed to remain in Israel if their parents entered the country legally, they were born in Israel or arrived in the country before the age of 13 and have lived in Israel for five years continuously, they learned in the Israeli school system in the most recent academic year and are registered to continue their studies in the 2010-2011 year, and they speak Hebrew.”

In other words, if their parents were in Israel legally, even if they were not admitted for permanent residency, and their children, even those not born in Israel, have been integrated into Israeli society, they can stay. If not, not.

Now does the U.S. treat the children of temporary workers born outside the U.S. any better? No. Worse. They are all subject to deportation, and many of them are deported. However, the story is under-reported here, because it makes the U.S. look bad. So, as usual, the anti-Semites are applying a double-standard to Israel. No surpise.


By “Americanism,” I am referring not to the crude jingoism of Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, John Hagee or Glenn Beck, but to the thoughtful defense of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights by voices like Michael Bloomberg (see his speech on the Park51 controversy) and Glenn Greenwald.

Israel’s problem is that it has formed a close alliance with un-American and anti-American players in American politics — neo-Confederates and white nationalists essentially who have never gotten over losing the Civil War and the institution of slavery. Christian Zionism is an Old Testament cult which is associated mostly with embittered Southern white Christian males who hate our freedoms. In the 19th century, this cultural bloc attempted to destroy the United States of America.

Ethnic nationalism is out of step with the culture and values of all modern Western democracies. Unfortunately, Israel is a stridently ethnic nationalist state. It is increasingly turning to the most reactionary and anti-Enlightenment forces in American and European politics to shore up its dwindling international support.

Israel (and Likud in particular) has done an excellent job of alienating Americans and Europeans from its cause without the need for sinister machinations from the Wahhabi lobby to explain its political decline.



Israel will expel 400 native-born children of non-Jewish foreign workers to help safeguard the country’s JEWISH IDENTITY….

”On the one hand, this problem is a humanitarian problem, we all feel and understand the hearts of children,” Mr Netanyahu said. ”But on the other hand, there are Zionist considerations and ensuring the JEWISH CHARACTER of the state of Israel.”


How are Netanyahu’s views any different from those of KKK members who want to ensure the WHITE CHARACTER of the United States or Nazis who want to safeguard the GERMAN IDENTITY of Germany?

Israel is a stridently ethnic nationalist state that is radically out of step with modern Western democracies. It is circling the same drain as the Confederacy and apartheid white South Africa.

David says:

Sean McBride

I would love to hear your thoughts on Japanese immigration policy. I’m sure you are just a vicious toward them as are Israel. Right?


How is it “vicious” to defend fundamental principles of modern Western democracies and Americanism?


1. checks and balances
2. due process
3. entrepreneurialism
4. ethnic tolerance and diversity
5. free enterprise
6. freedom of assembly
7. freedom of religion
8. freedom of speech
9. government accountability
10. government transparancy
11. individualism
12. meritocracy
13. reason
14. religious tolerance and diversity
15. universalism

And didn’t you take great pride in Michael Bloomberg’s defense of Americanism in his recent speech on the mosque controversy?

Japan’s policies are not presently embroiling Americans in self-destructive trillion dollar wars — I haven’t paid any attention to Japan’s immigration policies. I will try to inform myself about them.

(I hope callie enjoys the list.)

This is a good article…  I think that there is a group that is trying to legitimize a more socially acceptable form of anti-semitism and you have done a good job of cataloging it.  


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Playing With Fire

When the comments on the blogs of Stephen Walt, Andrew Sullivan, Philip Weiss, and Glenn Greenwald turn ugly, who should be held accountable? Plus: A Jew-baiter’s lexicon.

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Klinghoffer at the Met

By Paul Berman — John Adams’s masterpiece is about an American Jew murdered by Palestinian terrorists, but the real opera is off stage