Sometimes even a single comment by a CiF reader needs to be analyzed to better understand and contextualize the frequent manifestations of ant-Semitic tropes employed by the largely progressive readership who post on the CiF comment thread.
From Simon Tisdall’s “Obama faces humiliation over Middle East Talks“, Oct. 4, there was this comment, which has not been deleted.
Translation: Obama is no match for the power of Jewish Americans to subvert efforts at bringing peace to the Middle East.
It is important to understand the history of this idea: that Jews (representing less than 2% of the American population) can single-handedly thwart the desires of the President of the strongest nation on earth; and, that such American Jews are in the pockets of Israel – meaning, more loyal to a foreign power than to the country where they are citizens.
Here are passages from my post at the blog, Z Word, on a similar subject – written about such dual loyalty charges by blogger, Glenn Greenwald.
Even before the birth of the modern state of Israel, Jews have stood accused of not possessing sufficient loyalty to the nations where they reside. Its contemporary manifestation however almost always centers around the notion of dual loyalty – a charge that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own nation. Often, such charges of dual loyalty are infused with a narrative imputing enormous power to Jewish communities which typically represent a tiny fraction of the overall population. Such a synthesis of disloyalty on one hand and exaggerated power on the other allows the accuser to charge the Jewish community of working to undermine their nation – often alleging that such Jews are dangerous aliens who represent nothing short of a Fifth Column.
One of the earliest examples of this fusion of “Excessive” Jewish Power with Dual Loyalty was the suspicion in parts of medieval Christian Europe that Jews were in league with some Muslim powers. The charge of dual loyalty could be seen in the Dreyfus Affair through the Nazi’s rise to power – and, indeed, this notion in large measure underlay the failure of European emancipation. Closer to home, in the 1920s Henry Ford published The International Jew: The World’s Problem where it was asserted, along with other calumnies, that Jews were pushing the United States towards war for financial reasons and to achieve world domination.
While, after WWII, manifestations of this charge often remained on the fringes of American society, Paul Findley, a former Republican U.S. Congressman whose 1985 They Dare to Speak Out, an attack on the “Israel lobby,” became a best-seller. In it, Findley maintained that many American Jews utilized “tactics which stifle dissent in their own communities and throughout America” to benefit Israel.
More recently, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, wrote of the “stranglehold” which the Israel “Lobby” exercises over Congress; of the “manipulation of the media”; and of a “Lobby” working hard to “squelch debate”. They argued that the 2003 Iraq war wouldn’t have been possible without the influence of the Israel lobby.
While Paleoconservative commentators, not surprisingly, have championed this narrative – Pat Buchanan wrote in 2008 that “Israel and its Fifth Column in [Washington , DC] seek to stampede us into war with Iran” – some Liberal columnists have engaged in similar rhetoric. For instance, Joe Klein assertedon Time Magazine’s ”Swampland” blog that Jewish neoconservatives “plumped” for the war in Iraq and is now doing the same for “an even more foolish assault on Iran” with the goal of making the world “safe for Israel.” In the ensuing controversy, many progressive bloggers jumped to Klein’s defense.
The anti-Semitic nature of such charges have been codified by both the U.S. State Department and the EU Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia – the former defining as anti-Semitic: “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
It is clear that such narratives are increasingly advanced by those who take cover behind a progressive veneer.”
People often ask where mere criticism of Israel ends and anti-Semitism begins. I think this is a valid question in the context of CiF Watch’s ongoing efforts to expose anti-Semitism at the Guardian – one which this post, I hope, will help to clarify.