The stranglehold on the US by one lobby: One minute with Glenn Greenwald

The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald is evidently traveling and has been unable to write over the last couple of days, but was decent enough to post a few clips from his appearance on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes, ‘The Israel Lobby’s smear campaign and Dark Zero Thirty, Dec. 22.

Greenwald was on the show to discuss (among other issues) the possible nomination of Chuck Hagel as US Defense Secretary.  Talk of Hagel’s nomination has come under fire due to the Nebraska Senator’s views on Israel and the Middle East. 

In this brief clip which follows (which I edited from a longer segment on the MSNBC show) Greenwald is seen reacting to a speech Hagel gave about the 2nd Lebanon War on the Senate floor (on July 31, 2006), in which he demanded that “the sickening slaughter on both sides must end”.  

Though it’s arguably true that Israel’s supporters in the US have indeed over-reacted to the possible Hagel nomination, MSNBC’s  Hayes framed the row in a manner which allowed Greenwald the opportunity to denounce the Israel lobby, and he didn’t disappoint.

What you’re “allowed” to say:

In the first 15 seconds, Greenwald claims that you’re “allowed” to criticize Israeli policy more in Israel than you are in the United States, representing one of the central conceits of such critics: that pro-Israel lobbyists stifle debate.  

Of course, Greenwald, MJ Rosenberg, Andrew Sullivan as with Chuck Hagel, Congressman Keith Ellison and Dennis Kucinich, and academics like Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, are “allowed” to be as critical as they’d like about Israel.

However, defenders of Israel are equally entitled to voice their views and use the democratic process in hopes that their side prevails over US policy decisions.  

The fact that critics of Israel face moral opprobrium doesn’t mean their voice is being silence. Freedom of speech does not require that such speech be immune from criticism.

Israel bombs ‘a longstanding ally’ of the US.

At the 25 second mark Greenwald complains how unfair it is that Senator Hagel wasn’t “allowed” to criticize Israel for bombing “a longstanding ally of the United States” – which refers to Lebanon (in the context of the 2nd Lebanon War) and conveniently ignores that Israel was at war, not with the government of Lebanon, but with the Iranian backed Islamist terror movement, Hezbollah.  

US public opinion was overwhelmingly supportive of Israel’s action, which was prompted by Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel, as well as a cross-border raid in which they killed eight Israeli soldiers and abducted two others.

Israel wasn’t bombing an ally. The citizens of an ally, Lebanon, were being held hostage to the terror committed on its soil by an illegal militia funded, armed and trained by Iran.

Israel lobby has a “stranglehold” over the American debate about Israel 

At the 40 second mark he goes even further, claiming there is a “stranglehold” over US debate about Israel.  In fact, Greenwald has used the term “stranglehold” before in the same context.

“So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.” – Greenwald,, 2009

Greenwald, in the 2009 quote, is referring to Hezbollah’s TV station, Al-Manar, which was banned by the US in 2006 – labelled a ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.  

Greenwald believes not only that the Israel lobby controls the debate about Israel in the US, but, evidently, that is also controls much of US national security policy as well.

Interestingly, Al-Manar has also been banned in France and Germany, and to varying extents in the UK, Canada, Netherlands, and Australia, which would evidently suggest, per Greenwald’s logic, that the Israel lobby has pulled off a feat that Hezbollah could not – achieving a truly global penetration.  

In fairness, Greenwald likely would not buy into theories about Zionist global conspiracies.  

However, when you carelessly use the language and tropes of those who do, you further legitimize their toxic narratives about the dangers of Jewish control. 

9 replies »

  1. Sorry, off the point, but when I watch Greenwald speak I understand why he writes as he does, quickly, without deep thought, at length and with ingrained prejudice.

    • I found it interesting when Greenwald attacked The Weekly Standard editors for not having served in the military. Yeah, as if Greenwald all of a sudden has respect for the US military, who he’s accused of being morally similar to terrorists by intentionally murdering innocent civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. All of a sudden, Greenwald’s an American patriot who’s appalled – simply shocked! – by these posers around him who are just pretending to love their country as he does.

      • Well, he hasn’t served himself, as far as I can tell.

        Was he attacking them for that, or for being armchair warriors? I’ve never seen this bit.

  2. Great counter-points to GG’s statements. Because he is part of even the leader of the group that I’ve said “cannot stand Israel and makes claims that can easily be countered but isn’t totally wrong-headed or insane a la Mondoweiss”, I’m a little surprised he put his foot that far into his mouth about Lebanon. Even Americans who love Lebanon and hate Israel were not conflating Beirut’s central government with Hezbollah in 2006 (and in a great irony, the fact that Hezbollah now holds official power in Lebanon has been a piercing pain in the ass for them, as they’ve had to act like a government rather than the terrorists they are, to often-amusing results).

  3. He is basically a conspiracy nut who sees the CIA or aliens hiding under his bed. Despite the fact that he is continually pushing to get on variuous news channels, from Al Jazeera to NPR, he insists on screaming that freedom of expression is threatened and about to be cancelled.

    His issue with Hagel is very simple – Hagel at the very least dislikes Israel (i think its more than that) so Greenwald thinks he walks on water.

    Oddly, even though Hagel apologized for his comments about a potential ambassador to Luxembourg, that enormously important country, who happened to be gay, I doubt that he has much time for gays either – and we have the weird spectacle of Greenwald, gay and bitterly opposed to the Obama administration’s actions against terrorists, loudly supporting a possibly homophobic Republican candidate for Secretary of Defense.

  4. What does Glenn have to say about the Arab cause’s stranglehold on the left?

    By the way, Lebanon allowed its territory to be used to attack a long time U.S. ally.

    Prejudice gets in the way of clear thought.

  5. “The fact that critics of Israel face moral opprobrium doesn’t mean their voice is being silence [sic]. Freedom of speech does not require that such speech be immune from criticism.”

    Free speech actually requires that such speech is not immune from criticism. It’s a necessary condition. Without it there is no free speech.

  6. It seems to me that Greenwald defeated his own argument about alleged muzzling of critics of Israeli policies by being given a free hand to say what he did. If his claim had been correct, surely the all-powerful “Lobby” would have pressured MSNBC to prevent him appearing on the show. But I don’t suppose Greenwald’s mind works that way- bias and prejudice always seem to be able to suppress logical thinking.