General Antisemitism

Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill sees Obama’s Israel support, in State of Union, reflecting need of Jews’ money


Ewen MacAskill is far from the first commentator to evoke the specter of the influence of Jewish money on American politics.

Unapologetically antisemitic sites often complain that Jewish money distorts U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and warn of the broader danger posed by Jewish influence in politics – narratives which can be found on the extreme left, the Jewish far left, the extreme right and Islamic sites.  (And, the Arab world is simply saturated with such antisemitic displays.)

Such a narrative could reasonably be seen as having been popularized over the last several years by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s book on the harmful influence of the Jewish lobby, and the manner in which, they claim, it “distorts” U.S. foreign policy.

Within the respectable far left of the American political spectrum, Glenn Greenwald trades in classic antisemitic stereotypes about the injurious effects of organized Jewry, and the associated charge that Jews aren’t sufficiently loyal, with abandon.  In a blog post in 2007, Greenwald wrote:

It is simply true that there are large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups which are agitating for a U.S. war against Iran, and that is the case because those groups are devoted to promoting Israel’s interests and they perceive it to be in Israel’s interests for the U.S. to militarily confront Iran

However, such memes have recently become so mainstream that, on Dec. 13, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, in attacking Israel and its supporters, wrote: “The standing ovation (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) got in Congress this year was … bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”

Here’s E in today’s Guardian, commenting on Obama’s State of the Union address: 

On foreign policy, a president who has been at loggerheads with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, over a Middle East peace process promised unflinching support for the state. With an election looming and in need of votes and funds from American Jews, some of whom have been unhappy over his approach to Israel, Obama referred to “our iron-clad, and I mean iron-clad, commitment to Israel’s security”.

First, such tropes about of the centrality of Jewish votes (and money from the Jewish lobby) typically ignore the fact that Jews make up merely 2% of the American population, and that strong support for Israel among the non-Jewish electorate has been demonstrated in annual polls conducted by Gallup going back to 1967. 

The degree that Obama is sounding more pro-Israel merely reflects something of a pro-Israel consensus across the American political spectrum. 

Moreover, Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008, and current polls show that Jewish support for the President is considerably higher than the national average.

More importantly, the notion that Jews manipulate the levers of power in Western societies, through their money, is probably the most enduring of all the West’s Jew-hating myths, and it seems that a genuinely liberal paper would strenuously avoid even the suggestion of such historically dangerous stereotypes.

But, it seems that MacAskill’s Judeo-centric analysis reflects a deeper issue at the Guardian: their failure to understand why others don’t share their institutional hostility towards Israel, reflecting, perhaps, the broader tendency among a percentage of the Western electorate to seek simple (and, at times conspiratorial) answers to complex problems, and any political phenomena they find disagreeable.

In searching for common denominators which explain the U.S. War in Iraq, or the threat of war with Iran (or even the 2008 American financial meltdown, in which nearly 1/3 of all Democrats polled blamed Jews for the crisis) citing the disproportionate political influence of U.S. Jews provides a convenient and increasingly acceptable explanation.

MacAskill’s passage is far from the most egregious example of such calumnies about excessive Jewish control, but the odious pedigree of such a charge demands that such rhetoric simply can not be taken lightly.  

20 replies »

  1. Obama received 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008

    And if it plummets to 77.5% in the autumn (and Obama loses), just wait for Richard Silverstein to blame it on the “all-powerful” Israel lobby.

  2. Ewen MacAskill is a big time Arabist.
    I’ll never forget after Israel killed Arab mass murderer Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in 04.
    Here’s what wrote.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/apr/19/usa.israel
    Many Arab countries yesterday accused the US president, George Bush, of giving Israel the go-ahead last week for continuing its assassination policy. They linked the US to the death on Saturday of the Hamas leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi.
    The attack was widely condemned elsewhere as contrary to international law and unhelpful in the search for peace. Most of Europe, including Britain, joined Russia, China and the United Nations in criticising the attack.

    This just shows what a fool MacAskill is. He writes the article and uses his own Arabist opinion by saying killing Rantissi was unhelpful in the search for peace.
    Earth to MacAskill, what do you think Israel should have done, seeing there civilians are being blown to bits by Palestinian suicide bombers ordered by Rantisi to slaughter elderly Holocaust survivors at Passover Seders, teenagers in pizza parlours, buses, disco’s, cafe’s and restaurants.

    Do the Palestinians expect not to be fired back on? Its ok for them to blow up school children and civilians intentionally? Someone please explain to me how the Israelis could possibly live next to such a violent people. I personally don’t see how it can be done at this point. All I see is the Palestinians provoking war and using any method they can to get all of Israel.

    • “Its ok for them to blow up school children and civilians intentionally?”

      That is what the anti-Zionists believe. For the “original sin” of establishing a “white colonial outpost” on the soil of Palestine, suicide-murder terrorism is nothing but “comeuppance.” They don’t condone it, no, no, no, they’re just saying it should be shown “understanding in light of the situation.”

      • Who says its “ok for them to blow up school children and civilians”?
        Who calls Israel a “white colonial outpost”?

        Guardian correspondents??

        • The Far (=Marxist) Leftists and their Islamic imperialist allies. As members of the former: Many Guardian writers, usually by subtle implication, occasionally explicitly (as in the case of Honderich).

          • “Many Guardian writers” say its “ok for them to blow up school children and civilians” and call Israel a “white colonial outpost”?

            Name them.

            • “Name them.”

              The entire CiFWatch website lies before you, my friend. I’m not going to duplicate their excellent work. Were it not for the egregious pronouncements of judgment delivered by the Guardian writers, CiFWatch would never exist in the first place.

              Plus, I already named Honderich, an example that stands out only for its candor.

              • So basically you can’t name a single Guardian writer who says its “ok for them to blow up school children and civilians” and calls Israel a “white colonial outpost”.

                i.e. you’re just making it up.

        • Pretzelberg: These are the main points routinely made in any anti-Zionist screed. Hence, the empty morality equated with being a pro-Palestinian pundit. When pro-Palestinian equates anti-Israel, nothing short of war, blood, and dead children will do.

          • But no Guardian writer makes such points, do they? And this website is supposed to be about the Guardian.

    • A post calling the Palestinians “a violent people” a) is not deleted and b) gets the full thumbs-up BTL.

      If someone were to call Israelis “a violent people” over at CiF, a) the post would likely be deleted and b) if not there’d probably be a complete article here condemning it.

    • This is what never fails to amaze me whenever there is mention of the “Israel lobby” or the “Jewish lobby”. Of course there is an Israel lobby in the US, the UK and pretty much everywhere else, attempting to influence government policy and trade relationships and it is quite open and transparent.

      Why on earth would there not be, given there is also an Arab lobby, a French lobby, a Japanese lobby, a Brazilian lobby, an animal rights lobby, a gun lobby, an anti-gun lobby, a fellwalkers’ lobby . . .

      The insidious and absolutely antisemitic part of talking about an Israel or Jewish lobby is the inference by omission of reference to any other opposing lobby efforts that Jewish/Israeli groups are somehow unique, or somehow devious, underhand, secretive, sly or disproportionately successful.

      Given the abysmal voting record at the UN on all matters to do with the I/P conflict, and the stream of misguided or blatantly anti-Israel guff that spews from the mouths and pens of ministers, diplomats and presidents throughout the world, I would think it is absolutely clear to any rational observer that the Israel lobby is far LESS influential than it ought to be, not the other way around!

      • The trouble is that to the ignorant or ill-intentioned – or the bought – the “Jewish Lobby” locks right into the Protocols.

        And they must have to indulge in very strong denial to hold down that impossibly incompatible reality,

  3. As compared to the Iranians, muslims,Arabs and palestinians who influence the rest of the world by sheer terror…………….