Friday, December 11, 2009

Who Decides in the United States Government?

by Kim Petersen

It has been a contentious issue among progressives as to what explains the Israel-United States dynamic. Linguistics professor Noam Chomsky has insisted that the US calls the shots and that the US plays a rejectionist role in moves toward Middle East peace.1 Chomsky is joined by a number of other progressives in this camp. There are a number of progressives in another camp that argue organized Jewry has gained preponderant influence in the world’s superpower. Some argued that Israeli influence was preeminent while being quite uncritical of Zionist crimes against Palestinians — for example, professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.2 Others were primarily concerned with the influence of a Jewish Lobby in perpetuating the ongoing dispossession of and slow-motion genocide against the Palestinians.3

A report in Israeli media yesterday boasts that Jews are vetting appointments to the US government. Haaretz claims, “Every appointee to the American government must endure a thorough background check by the American Jewish community.”4

The article in Haaretz is another nail in the coffin of adducing Jewish (mainly Zionist) influence over the US government.

For many people this will be unsurprising. When US President Barack Obama pledged fealty to Israel at the AIPAC policy conference in June 2008, when he surrounded himself with arch-Zionists Rahm Emanuel, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, etc., when he backed down to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on the building of illegal colonies (euphemistically called “settlements”) in occupied Palestinian territory (which all Israel is), he merely affirmed genuflection that had been observed in predecessor presidents.5

A segment of organized Jewry has gained an influential political foothold in the US, although this is not confined to the US and neither is it confined to politics.

Jews have also gained influence in Canadian6 and British politics.7 They have gained influence in business, media, and academia. This is not unusual as there is competition for influence and dominance, and other groups dominate in other sectors of society. Is domination of a sector by one group beneficial for society? Should certain sectors be kept open? These questions need to be answered. I submit that when influence supports the oppression of any group of humans, then that influence must be ended.

The segment of Jewry that seeks to dominate and dispossess Palestinians creates an image that tarnishes, wrongly, the entire community of Jews. Israeli Jews, by virtue of the fact that they live on occupied land, elect governments that carry out apartheid and racism, and support massacres of Palestinians (94 percent reportedly backed the slaughter in Gaza8 ) are morally challenged.

There is opposition from some Israeli Jews, but clearly, a multitude of Israeli Jews is supporting war crimes and oppression. Zionism, along with its ideology of oppression, has extended its influence overseas which makes other nations complicit in the oppression. All humans must denounce the occupation of Palestine.9

Much of the discussion over who wields the preponderant influence in the US-Israel relationship has focused on denouncing persons holding to a certain view. This is unhelpful. It is sufficient to refute the erroneous position of another person by citing superior facts and proffering superior reasoning. The focus must be on ending the oppression of Palestinians and enforcing human rights.

Others may obstinately profess otherwise, but clearly, there is a pressure exerted by a pro-Zionism lobby. That, however, must not detract from the righteousness of seeking social justice for the Palestinians. Support for freeing peoples from oppression must be advocated for oppressed peoples everywhere with the onus being on advocating on behalf of people where one resides.

Simple advocacy is not enough, however. Morality demands an active adherence to principles. It is through solidarizing and committing to actively opposing oppression that people become the deciders.

  1. See Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel & The Palestinians (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1983, 1999). []
  2. See John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books, 28(6), 23 March 2006: 3-12 []
  3. Jeffrey Blankfort, “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict,” Dissident Voice, 25 May 2005; James Petras, Zionism, Militarism, and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008). []
  4. Natasha Mozgovaya, “American Jews eye Obama’s ‘anti-Israel’ appointees,” Haaretz, 4 December 2009. []
  5. See Grant F. Smith, Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal (Washington, DC: Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, 2007); Grant F. Smith, America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israeli Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government (Washington, DC: Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, 2008). []
  6. Kim Petersen, “Zionist Appeasement: A Blight on the Canadian Political Landscape,” Dissident Voice, 11 February 2007. []
  7. William A. Cook, “Zionist Control of Britain’s Government: 1940-2009,” Dissident Voice, 20 November 2009. []
  8. Etgar Lefkovits, “Overwhelming Israeli support of Gaza op,” Jerusalem Post, 14 January 2009. []
  9. Non-Israelis must not feel smug in this denunciation, as Canadians, Americans, Australians, Aotearoans, and non-Indigenous peoples throughout the western hemisphere also live in states wrought through dispossession of the Original Peoples. Original Peoples, especially, must also oppose the oppression of brothers and sisters elsewhere, such as in historical Palestine. To not do so would undermine their own struggles against oppression. Yet there was little outcry heard when the Assembly of First Nations aligned itself with Israel rather than the Palestinians. See: Announcements, “Canadian Jewish Congress, Assembly of First Nations travel to Israel for educational mission,” AFN, 17 February 2006. []
Source: Dissident Voice
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