Guardian

The Guardian’s Brian Whitaker wants you to be afraid of the Israel lobby – very afraid.


AIPAC never endorsed, yet alone lobbied for, the 2003 Iraq War. 

None of the major American Jewish organizations – nor the groups’ umbrella organization, The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – ever endorsed the Iraq War.

American Jewish support for the war, based on polls in the days in 2003 leading up to the attack, was almost exactly proportional with the rest of the U.S. population – and, as the war progressed, Jewish support declined to a degree that was greater than the overall public.

And, the Israeli government not only never saw Iraq as a major threat, as they did Iran or Syria, but actually warned the U.S. against going to war in Iraq.

Yet, despite this evidence, the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker has frequently suggested that the Israel lobby wields undue influence on U.S. policy in the Middle East, including their decision to invade Iraq, and over the media’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – consistent with a long record of using the term in the pejorative.

Typical, and most recent, was the following passing reference to the lobby, in the context of an essay he wrote about the war in Libya (The liberal-left are at odds on Libya, CiF, May 5), that the liberal interventionist case for war in Iraq was “muddled” by factors such as the Israel lobby’s support.

Said Whitaker:

“There were certainly some who made a case for “liberal interventionism” in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was muddied by numerous other factors and for that reason never became very convincing. With Iraq, there was a long build-up as American neoconservatives and the Israel lobby beat their war drums…”

The hyper link Whitaker included in the words “Israel lobby linked to a piece he wrote back in 2002, where he suggested that President Bush was being pushed to war by hawks whose “roots can be traced, at least in part, to a paper (A Clean Break) published in 1996 by an Israeli think-tank”.

Said Whitaker:

“The paper set out a plan by which Israel would “shape its strategic environment”, beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the installation of a Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad.”

He then noted that individuals such as Richard Pearl, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser – several Jewish authors of the “Clean Break” – now are “holding key positions in Washington.”

Similarly, the hyper link for the word “neoconservative” linked to a Whitaker report in 2002 (“US think-tanks give lessons on foreign policy”) on the disproportionate role pro-Israel think tanks had in shaping the pubic debate in the U.S. – a story which was posted in full at the site of the explicitly anti-Semitic organization, “If Americans Knew”.  As Whitaker framed it, his report on the power of such “little networks” was vital in better understanding the “increasingly bizarre set of policies on the Middle East.”

Such a charge against the Israel lobby is more than simply a false assertion.  It echoes a persistent calumny (one which historically has been associated with the Right, but more and more has found fertile ground on the Left) about a powerful organized Jewish community plumping for war – whether in Iraq or, more recently, Iran – a narrative often suggesting that Jews put their loyalty towards Israel ahead of that of their own nation.

Whitaker, who, in a 2001 Guardian piece where he characterized the Israeli government’s treatment of the press as not unlike “the tactics of the Soviet bloc countries during the Cold War”, warned that ”the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon and the Israel lobby have stepped up their efforts against international media reporting the current crisis”, and further characterized lobbying by pro-Israel groups as a form of “intimidation” – even quoting Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger as characterizing such lobbying as “insidious”.

Just how dangerous is the lobby? Whitaker helpfully explains their insidious tactics:

“Pro-Israeli organisations have organised letter-writing campaigns to protest against articles and programmes they dislike. With the development of email, this activity has grown enormously. Websites, such as honestreporting.com, target individual journalists and provide ready-written letters of complaint for subscribers to send out.”

While it certainly is interesting, if not comical, that the mere use of legitimate democratic means to advocate for Israel (such as letter writing) is framed as something dark or sinister, Whitaker’s narrative, advanced frequently in one form or the other by the Guardian Left, about the injurious effects of the Israel lobby on the media or U.S. government, is, not unlike much of their ideologically driven reporting, impervious to facts or new information. In short, it’s something of an article of faith.

Finally, it’s instructive to note that Whitaker’s most recent reference to the “Israel lobby” was employed quite casually, in passing, as something so uncontroversial as not to require defense or edification – a careless invective about the power of organized Jewry which has become something approaching a banality in the journalistic circles where Whitaker and his Guardian colleagues travel.

19 replies »

  1. ‘And sometimes….they write to their MPs…..yet the picture gets even darker…some of these people can trace their roots to…..lobby…..whisper, whisper….some of them form organisations……..nudge, nudge…….I heard they also make use of cyberspace, to spread their opinions in the hope of changing people’s minds…..they want to change your minds…..be afraid, be very afraid……the horror, the horror……….’

    STFU!

  2. Whitaker/Al-Babler is as paranoid as the Arabs with whom he overidentifies. He is on record as being sure that the volunteers of GIYUS are paid by the Israeli government.

    He provides evidence that Jews don’t have any right to defend themselves or argue with him or others in print.

    In short, he is an ignoramus and an intellectual pygmy, which is why he is suited to CiF and it to him. Like attracts like.

  3. Mrs Whitaker is just trying to put the blame for the Iraq invasion fiasco on the Jewish Lobby to spur antisemitic sentiment. Forgetting that Bush administration was eagerly pushing towards the intervention and so called Iraqi dissidents with Ahmed Challabi provided false pre-war intelligence and made empty promises to make us overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime and get into power. The outcome …. well we still paying for this.

  4. “None of the major American Jewish organizations – nor the groups’ umbrella organization, The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – ever endorsed the Iraq War.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “endorsed”; the lobby was careful not to be too open in their support for the war but Howard Kohr, AIPAC Executive Director, interviewed by the New York Sun on 23 January 2003 said “quietly lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq” (was one of ) “AIPAC’s successes over the past year”.

    “the Israeli government not only never saw Iraq as a major threat”.

    Certainly some saw Iran as a bigger danger but on August 12 2002 Sharon told the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset that Iraq “is the greatest danger facing Israel”.

    Israeli politicians and generals were keen for the war to go ahead. See: Haaretz article of 16/02/03 http://www.haaretz.com/news/background-enthusiastic-idf-awaits-war-in-iraq-1.18896 which includes the following quotes:
    “The military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq” by Aluf Benn, the author of the piece.
    “Major General Amos Gilad, Coordinator of Government Activities in the West Bank and Gaza, expressed the army’s position Saturday, saying that a U.S.-led attack on Iraq would remove the Iraqi threat, and would be an example for “the removal of other dictators closer to us who use violence and terror.””

    • During World War II, when Jews had virtually no influence, the gentile nations of the world either displayed complete indifference as millions of Jews were murdered or actively collaborated in that genocide (I would include the US and the UK here). Not that you are correct within the particular context of this post, but Jews need influence for without it we wouldn’t last five minutes before the gentiles betrayed us once again.

      Israel exists and is compelled to take the actions she does because of the wickedness not of the Jewish world but the gentile world both Christian and Muslim. In the wickedness stakes, I would say that they almost certainly tie for first place.

    • Saddam was tossing qassam missiles into israel. even if the israelis had been clamouring for the US to attack iraq how could we possibly blame them?

    • You blithering idiot. Sharon’s quote has been taken completely out of context. But then you knew that didn’t you?

      Sharon’s statement that “Iraq is the greatest danger” was made NOT to the US in order to pressurise them to attack, but to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee of the Knesset. Why would he have said this? Because America was planning to attack Iraq, and Iraq was already making belligerent remarks about attacking Israel. The last time America and the allies attacked Iraq, in 1990/91, Israel was pounded by scud missiles for 6 weeks for the “crime” of being America’s friend. So Sharon was perfectly in order to state that at that moment in time Iraq was the greatest danger.

      I remember clearly how we were all issued with gas masks in 2003, an action reply of 1991. It was a very unnerving time. But for you, it’s all part of an Israeli/Jewish conspiracy.

      You make me sick.

      • If you had read Adam Levick’s post carefully you would have seen that there was no mention of motive behind the claim that “the Israeli government not only never saw Iraq as a major threat”. My quote from Sharon refutes the claim as a simple matter of fact; again no mention of motive.

        If you go back a little, before war was imminent, there is more of the same. On 26 February, 2001 Haaretz reported “Sharon believes that Iraq poses more of a threat to regional stability than Iran, due to the errant, irresponsible behaviour of Saddam Hussein’s regime”.

        There is plenty of evidence of other Israeli politicians pushing the case for war to the US:
        On August 16, 2002 the Washington Post reported that “Israel is urging U.S. officials not to delay a military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.”

        Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told reporters in September 2002 that “the campaign against Saddam Hussein is a must. Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors.”

        Also in September 2002 former Prime Minister Ehud Barak wrote a New York Times op‐ed warning that “the greatest risk now lies in inaction.”, and Netanyahu, published a similar piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled “The Case for Toppling Saddam.”, saying “Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do …. I believe I speak for the overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre‐emptive strike against Saddam’s regime.”

        There is more if you really want it.

    • Thank God I’m an Infidel

      I guess you voted for yourself. No-one who values reason would do so….

  5. Again:wash,rinse, repeat: AIPAC is constitutionally accepted free speech in the US. It really irks Europeans—s*cks for them.

  6. I’ve often asked posters referring to the “ziocon” conspiracy behind the Iraq invasion to a) provide evidence thereof and b) explain the reasoning behind such alleged plans.

    Never got an answer, of course.