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March 14, 2012 3:15 pm

America’s Left No Longer Holds the Anti-Racist Baton

avatar by Adam Levick

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Twitter exchange between myself and Guardian reporter Chris McGreal. Photo: Twitter.

Guardian “reporter” Chris McGreal has finally answered the question I posed after his Tweet (you can view part of the exchange to the left) while covering the AIPAC convention.

“Please enlighten us & don’t be politically correct.  What’s congressional support of AIPAC telling of, Chris,” I wrote on Twitter.

My Tweet to McGreal was just one in a long exchange with him, in response to a series of Tweets by the paper’s Washington correspondent, which simply dripped of contempt for Israel, and the Israel lobby – whose convention he was “objectively” covering as a “journalist” for the Guardian.

Among his opinions, suggested by his Tweets, are that Israel is “psychotic”, and the charge that Israel’s supporters at the AIPAC convention are adolescent, “testosterone-soaked”, dim-witted teenage boys. Well, on March 9, McGreal – whose characterization of the U.S. (in a Nov. piece) as “subservient” to Israel was even deemed antisemitic by the Guardian  (and later removed by editors), published, “Obama emerges from Israel talks with precious commodity“, which clarifies his view of the Israel lobby. Regarding Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu, McGreal writes:

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Obama…established a position his critics may find hard to assail. He forced those many members of Congress and beyond who have conflated America’s interests with Israel’s on to the back foot by saying that on Iran there are differences – and he will serve US interests first.

This is truly a remarkable passage. A Guardian Leftist like McGreal, an ideology which typically holds American nationalism in contempt, is accusing members of Congress of putting the interest of a foreign nation (the Jewish state) over that of the United States – implicitly questioning the patriotism and national loyalty of Congressional supporters of Israel. McGreal also adds:

Netanyahu was confident. At his back was the US’s most influential pro-Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), which had been instrumental in whipping up demands in Congress for stronger sanctions against Iran and resolutions that looked mighty close to authorisations for war.

For McGreal, the U.S. Congress and Senate members are being manipulated to support the policies of the unimaginable political and financial power of the Israel lobby. Such conspiratorial narratives about the power of the Israel lobby to shape public policy – which fly in the face of polls demonstrating that Israel is wildly popular among the American public – have taken on an almost religious intensity within McGreal’s Guardian-left style of politics.

Such commentators, a few years ago, were convinced that non-Jewish leaders (President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, etc.) of the most powerful nation on earth invaded Iraq due, not on what they believed to be the national interests of the United States, but in service of Israel – a policy dictated by the sinister dealings of Jewish (Israel-Firster) “neocons” under-secretaries like Richard Pearl and Paul Wolfowitz. Such classically antisemitic arguments about Jewish power, and its injurious effects on the U.S. political establishment, typically associated with the far right, and conspiratorial far left, at first took root on the extreme fringes of the American media.  But, eventually it became something approaching conventional wisdom, especially after publication of the best-selling book, “The Israel Lobby” by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer (which contends that Israel’s American supporters are powerful enough to subvert the U.S. national interest).  Such arguments can be found both below the line at ‘Comment is Free’, as well as above the line, often by veteran Guardian journalists.

Other mainstream “left” proponents of this charge include MJ Rosenberg (of Media Matters), and bloggers associated with Center for American Progress. Mainstream liberal journalist Seymor Hersch goes even further, contending that “Jewish money“ is driving the war against Iran. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asserted that the standing ovation Israeli PM Netanyahu received from Congress in February was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby”. Time columnist Joe Klein weighed in against sending “American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel’s national security.” Writes Ben Cohen in his masterful diagnosis of the mainstreaming of the new antisemitism on the Left:

Bistro anti-Semitism [as opposed to a cruder, often fascist inspired Jew hatred] sits in a higher and outwardly more civilized realm, providing what left-wing activists would call a “safe space” to critically assess the global impact of Jewish cabals from Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem. Anyone who enters the bistro will encounter common themes. These include the depiction of Palestinians as the victims of a second Holocaust, the breaking of the silence supposedly imposed upon honest discussions of Jewish political and economic power, and the contention—offered by, among others, Mearsheimer’s co-author, Stephen Walt, of Harvard—that American Jewish government officials are more suspect than others because of a potential second loyalty to Israel.

The Guardian’s Washington correspondent, Chris McGreal, to be clear, has essentially argued that US policy towards Iran, including possible military action, is being driven in large measure by a Congress which is subservient to an all-powerful lobby – one which puts the interests of Jews, and the Jewish state, ahead of the national interest. A left which can’t agree that McGreal’s conspiratorial assertions about the dangers of Jewish power represents antisemitism is a movement simply no longer worthy of its progressive, anti-racist mantle.

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  • salvage

    Shorter verison:

    Pointing out the fact that the Israeli lobby has a great deal of influence on the American government means that you hate Jews.

    • salvage,

      McGreal does more than dryly note the influence of the Israel lobby, but clearly implies that the lobby controls congressional support for Israel – a classic antisemitic trope about Jewish control. (And, as I pointed out, ignores the fact that, based on polls conducted for the last 40 years, Israel is extremely popular with the American public.)

      Further, he argues that the influence is injurious to the U.S.

      And, broadly, questioning the loyalty of American Jews who support and lobby for Israel is indeed antisemitic.

  • LC

    In the end, all these conspiracy theories are simply modernized versions of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

  • steve

    The article is on target. This message needs to get out. McGreal has been defaming Jews for a long time. Describing people like him as being on the “left” has served as a useful cover for this vicious anti-semite.

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