Last year, ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Stephen Kinzer, much like fellow contributors Glenn Greenwald and Michael Cohen, was angry at the opponents of Chuck Hagel. Hagel, you may recall, is the former (conservative Republican) senator from Nebraska who, despite being hostile to abortion rights, gay rights and civil rights, became a progressive cause celeb among the Guardian-style left upon being nominated for US Defense Secretary.
Kinzer, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, made the following argument in his Dec. 31, 2012 ‘CiF’ op-ed, adding to the chorus of voices from the Guardian Left who are convinced of the pro-Israel lobby’s sinister grip on politics, accusing the lobby and their supporters of agitating for a US war with Iran.
“What do Nebraska and Iran have in common? Not much – but enough to cause big trouble for former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, whose possible nomination to be secretary of defense is being challenged by the powerful bomb-Iran-yesterday lobby.”
“Militarists in Washington, taking their cue from pro-Israel lobbyists, are trying to derail the appointment because Hagel doubts the wisdom of starting another war in the Middle East.”
More recently, in a ‘CiF’ op-ed (‘Are Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions clouding her morals?‘, Jan. 29) criticizing former U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s apparent failure to take a position on a bill which would increase sanctions against Iran in the event negotiations with the six world powers (P5+1) fail to produce an agreement, Kinzer wrote the following:
Here lies the dilemma. A strong statement by Clinton in favor of reconciliation would be a game-changer in Washington. She would be giving a centrist, establishment endorsement of her former boss’s most important foreign policy initiative. That would provide political cover for moderate Democrats terrified of antagonizing the Netanyahu government and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is leading the anti-reconciliation campaign in Washington.
Such a statement, however, would risk outraging pro-Netanyahu groups and individuals who have been among Clinton’s key supporters since her days as a Senator from New York. Having spent years painstakingly laying the ground for a presidential campaign, she does not want to risk a misstep that would alienate major campaign contributors.
Whilst his fear mongering over the alleged toxic influence of the pro-Israel lobby (and money from “pro-Netanyahu groups and individuals”) is predictable, Kinzer takes his agitprop to the next level in suggesting that U.S. Senators are not only fearful of AIPAC, but in fact are “terrified” of the prime minister of the Jewish state.
While it’s less than clear what form of retribution the prime minister of Israel can exact on American legislators, Kinzer and his band of Israel lobby truthers never seem interested in exploring a simpler and less conspiratorial explanation for why US politicians are disinclined to support recent US overtures toward Iran: most Americans dislike Iran and don’t believe that they can be trusted to abide by any nuclear agreement.
Finally, an interesting fact about American public opinion routinely ignored by ideologically obtuse critics of Israel and the ‘Israeli lobby’ was revealed in a recent survey on U.S. attitudes toward American Jews commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League. When asked to identify which of five well-known lobby groups wields “the most influence on American government policy,” only 4% chose the pro-Israel lobby. Americans evidently consider the pro-Israel lobby to be far less powerful than the gun, oil and drug lobbies.
Here’s a chart of the data:
What such dark anti-Israel conspiracists fail to acknowledge is that whatever influence the pro-Israel lobby in Washington does have is largely merely a reflection of the popularity of Israel among the American people.
But, as this blog continues to demonstrate, when it comes to Israel related commentary at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’, facts, logic and empirical evidence take a back seat to ideology almost every time.