Anyone who cares about peace and freedom must be aware of the nefarious role of special interests in distorting the economy, limiting our civil liberties and driving us to war. Any one - activist or observer - who cared about peace and freedom during the 2001-2003 lead up to the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq will remember how those opposing the war were attacked from without as supporting terrorists bent on destroying the United States and its allies. Not a very nice reward for organizing and/or attending five or six peace protests every week, year after year. Some war lovers still attack us - even though the war has been proved to have been based on lies and has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars and still counting.
However, many of us also were attacked from within the peace movement, at least anyone who spoke up for the rights of Palestinians or even mentioned the role of pro-Israel special interest groups in beating the war drums for over two and half years. Maybe a few of you even said something in a meeting or on a mailing list about these issues, for example about the vicious 2002 Israeli bombardment of the Jenin refugee camp. Or maybe you commented on articles circulating about the Project for a New American Century or the “men from Jinsa” or the nutty Christian Zionists. (You know, the ones who want the U.S. to start Armageddon so Jesus will return and, as the “Book of Revelation” states, kill all of those - even Jews - who don’t convert to Christianity.) And if you did say or post such things, some of you - whether Jewish or gentile - doubtless were met with instant accusations of antisemitism from one or two “peaceniks.” As we all know, politically motivated false charges of bigotry taint the credibility of those who make real charges of bigotry.
In my local peace group, which had many outspoken people, one five foot six inch “progressive” Israel defender would attack me especially for criticizing Israel. He’d never attack the 6 foot plus burly guys who posted more controversial articles and opinions. I wonder why.
It was worse on the Libertarians 4 Peace and Maryland libertarian email list where conservative quasi-libertarians would “debate” (or more frequently insult) antiwar libertarians and the "free speech" moderators let them for far too long. When insults did not silence libertarians, one five foot six inch self-proclaimed Zionist from Maryland turned to gross sexual insults and even barely concealed death threats mentioning his large gun collection - mostly against me. Again, why not against the libertarian males, including from the DC area, who posted more controversial things on the subject? See this page for a list of several years of such attacks by this maniac.
In June 2003, three months after the invasion of Iraq, I was still being attacked by these two sexist Zionists. Then I made a mistake which some Israel supporters keep trying to make my fatal mistake. I angrily responded to a news story about Republican Senator Lugar suggesting the U.S. send troops to Israel to "root out terrorists" and fight Hamas in Gaza. (See the actual news post and my reply at bottom of this page.) Between the constant harassment and the criminal suggestion that American troops should be sent to kill and be killed in Israel, I lost it for the 8 minutes it took to rant in exaggerated and thoughtless language about insights from the many news and opinion pieces I’d read about the Israel lobby’s pushing the U.S. to war.
Anyway, some Israel supporters try to shut people up by claiming that any criticism of Israel is the "new antisemitism," a point hotly contested by many activists and well known writers, academics and others. Those who wish to see all critics of Israel silenced (if not dead and buried) have had some fun in the last six months circulating this email in various places that I will not dignify (or in one case embarrass) by mentioning. I won't even go into how sexist these guys are! So I decided it was time for another public comment.
Below is a lengthier commentary than one I issued in early 2004 when some neoconservative "libertarians" attacked me about the email. It is a more reasoned explanation of the points I was making, in rough order of how I made them. Most of these points are supported by the 106 articles at the libertarian “Iraq war and Israel” yahoogroup, as well as by other individuals and sources I’ll mention. (In the future I might link directly to relevant articles.) Being forced to think about that horrific 2001-2003 period makes me realize that this whole topic deserves it’s own article at a certain popular site I frequent.
*Ariel Sharon's Likkud party since the 1970s has called for ethnically cleansing Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza so that Israel can control all the land and put Jews on it. He and other Isreaeli leaders illegally put over 500,000 settlers on land it conquored by war in 1967. Lebensraum is the well known German word for such colonialist expansionism. Somebody tell me what the Israeli phrase for colonialist expansionism and I'll use that instead.
*Ariel Sharon never seemed overly concerned about the 1967 USS Liberty incident where Israeli forces killed 34 crew Americans, so would he care if U.S. troops fought and died to kill Palestinians? Would he care any more than he cared about the civilians he bombed in Jenin? Ariel Sharon during WWII belonged to organizations that explicitly said they didn't care about European Jews who didn't want to flee to Israel. (Ask Noam Chomsky and Lenni Brenner.) Did he care about those Jews who died in Israel, if terrorist bombings provided an excuse for expanding Israel’s ownership of Palestinian lands? Harsh questions, but ones that needed to be asked.
*During 2002-2003 there was a massive media and governmental presence of who? promoting an Iraq war - Oil lobbyists? Advocates of U.S. supremacy and imperialism? Maybe here and there. Mostly - as many commentators have noted - it was neoconservatives, all of whom were rabidly pro-Israel/Zionist supporters. Most inferred or stated war on Iraq would protect Israel from the evil Saddam who sent $25,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers - and might have weapons of mass destruction.
*Smart people know that total Jewish control of the media is a myth. Some Jews may exercise ownership or percentages of managers and employees in media way out of proportion to their tiny percent of the population, but that does not mean they have total control. This point has been made even by strong Israel partisans like Alan Dershowitz, J.J. Goldberg (page 280 in Jewish power: inside the American Jewish establishment) and an Antidefamation League report. But such ownership and occupational imbalance can lead to undue influence in some situations influencing some issues. Sure some Jews in media work together, and with non-Jewish pro-Zionists, to put Israel’s case before the American public, and even to stifle opposing voices. This is true about many powerful special interest groups' political lobbies. However, that should not lead to grand conspiracy theories about Jewish control. And note that none of the efforts by pro-Israel media or lobbying yet have been able to convinced either Presidents Bush or Obama to launch a war on Iran.
*Are some Americans "Israel firsters" who put the interest of Israelis above that of Americans; who will hurt America if it benefits Israel? Sure. That's true of some members of any group that has foreign ties. (Look at all the American Irish who supported Provisional Irish Republican Army bombmakers against U.S. allies in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s.) Were most of the Jews and other Israel supporters calling for war against Iraq "Israel firsters"? I bet a hundred or thousand or so were at the time and they should have been called out for it. But to say all Jews put the interests of Israel first, then or now, would be blatant bigotry.
*In the buildup to the Iraq war there was lots of evidence of undue political influence in the Republican-run congress, including congressional subcommittees which featured almost exclusively neoconservative individuals testifying for war on Iraq. (And you can bet some of those same people will be coming back in the new Republican-controlled congress to push for war against Iran!)
*Pro-Zionists reamed Bush for the TINY little bit he is doing to try to stop Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians; and he stopped trying. (I can’t remember the details but I bet there’s some article on the yahoogroup list about that series of incidents.)
*I do want to emphasize that it is not only gentiles who are called antisemites for criticizing Israel. I know dozens of righteous Jews who also have been and still are so slandered and libeled and I apologize for not acknowledging the fact!
*Many people were upset that the same neocons pushing war on Iraq were the same people pushing the Patriot Act and surveillance of all Americans. (And they still do it today, though more quietly.)
*In 2003 I remember getting a couple of private emails from individuals embarrassed about Buddhist's charging criticis of Israel with antisemitism on the local Buddhist groups’ email list. However, the group, which had almost a majority Jewish membership, did eventually have internal discussions about the issue and came to a better understanding among themselves, ending the insults.
*In 2003 Howard Dean was running for President on a theme of "let's take America back." One of his campaign co-chairs was the former head of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and he boasted about having met with Ariel Sharon. I remember discussing this around the peace group one night, including whether his having a Jewish wife and kids would make it harder or easier for him to work for peace. Would all the closet antisemites in the Republican party attack her? Late that summer it was reported that Dean told Sharon that as president he would do what he had to force Israel come to a fair agreement with the Palestinians.
*Busy producing nuclear weapons since 1969, Israel is estimated to now have more than 400. And too many of its leaders and supporters have inferred and even stated that it will use them freely - including against Europe and Russia - should it ever feel that it is being forced to give up too much of its land, especially through military action. Details at my article on Israeli threats to use the Samson Option:.
*I opined for years that dealing with the Israel Lobby has to be a prime goal of the peace movement - and eventually they listened. See list of these protests and events we organized in DC, just up to 2006. There have been dozens since then not catalogued there. (Like Code Pink protesting Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech inside the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's 2010 conference.) The 2006 publication of Walt and Mearsheimers’ article (and later book) the Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy which describes the lobby's role in promoting the Iraq war was a great boost to peace activists, encouraging them to speak out and act. (2012 update: In 2011 dozens of national groups organized a "Move Over AIPAC" conference and protest during AIPAC's annual convention in DC; in 2012 these groups organized a similar "Occupy AIPAC" conference and protest. Both were attended by over 500 activists.)
*Finally, like many other libertarian and progressive secessionists, I think we need secession from special interest controlled big government. But there are many special interests - corporations, labor unions, government bureaucrats, the military-industrial-media complex, campaign managers and staffers for political candidates, employees of organizations that feed on minorities fears of hate groups, and of course, foreign lobbies, be they Israeli/Zionist, Arab oil barons, Cubans in Florida, Taiwanese, Chinese state capitalists, etc.
To end, in June of 2003 after the U.S. just had launched a horrible war, it certainly looked to millions of Americans like the pro-Israel lobby led all the other pro-war special interests. Today, the special interests are fighting among themselves, though they may yet unite for another war, against Iran or maybe even China. There is no doubt special interests will always fight for control of the government, the people, their lives and their money. Americans who want to be free, including secessionists, cannot be intimidated by harassment and threats from any special interest group that is pressing its advantage at any particular time or on any particular issue. Nor can we be intimidated by special interest group hacks, flaks, flunkies and supporters, especially those looking for someone to hate and crucify to make their own sad lives of slavery to the special interests seem meaningful. We cannot be intimidated if we are to remain a free people.
And don't forget that once in a while THE PEOPLE are a powerful special interest! Ask Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak - for starters.
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