From character assassination to physical assassination, the Lobby and
its agents ruthlessly pursue their agenda
When John J. Mearsheimer, professor
of political science at
the University of Chicago and the heavyweight of the realist
school of international affairs, and Stephen
M. Walt, former dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government,
published their now famous essay on "The
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," the outcry
from all the usual suspects was stupendous.
After all, the professors had unapologetically said what everyone knows to be
true: that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is geared to Israeli and not
American interests. It is a case of altruism sui generis.
If anyone says that – out loud, that is – the price they pay is
exorbitant, and clearly Mearsheimer and Walt were and are prepared to pony up.
Anyone who crosses "the Lobby," as their paper puts it, risks incurring
the wrath of "the Great Silencer." This means, in plain terms, that
anyone who criticizes Israel, or, more significantly, notices the Lobby's decisive
influence over U.S. policymakers, risks their career, whether it be in politics,
the media, or academia.
In regard to this last, Mearsheimer and Walt report that the Lobby has recently
begun a campaign to "take back the campuses," and I would point out
that the latest victim is Professor Juan
Cole of the University of Michigan. Professor Cole is a Middle East expert,
a distinguished scholar, and an articulate critic of our interventionist foreign
policy. His popular blog, Informed Comment,
richly deserves its name, and he has lately become someone the more in-depth
media outlets turn to when they want knowledgeable commentary about current
events in the region. The news that he was up for an appointment at Yale University,
to head up a new department of Middle Eastern studies, was just what the Lobby
needed to hear to swing into action.
Cole's sin: he, like Mearsheimer and Walt, had noted the inordinate influence
of what The Nation magazine termed "American Likudniks" on the course
of our foreign policy, and it wasn't long before the appointment was buried
in a blizzard of outraged op-eds in the Wall
Street Journal and the New
York Sun, while the neocon
contingent of the blogosphere was frothing at the mouth. In what was quite clearly
an organized effort, Joel Mowbray, a smalltime neocon columnist who specializes
in smearing enemies of the Lobby with the tar brush of "anti-Semitism"
– his enemies list includes Gen. Anthony
Zinni and the U.S. Justice
Department, which had the temerity to prosecute admitted Israeli spy Larry
Franklin – sent a letter to a good number of Yale donors, alerting them
to Cole's pending appointment and urging action. Jewish Week reports
that "several faculty members said they had heard that at least four major
Jewish donors … have contacted officials at the university urging that
Cole's appointment be denied."
In the end, Cole's appointment was nixed – and a central contention of
Mearsheimer and Walt's analysis was confirmed. As they wrote:
"Groups within the Lobby put pressure on particular academics and universities.
Columbia has been a frequent target, no doubt because of the presence of the
late Edward Said on its faculty. 'One can be sure that any public statement
in support of the Palestinian people by the pre-eminent literary critic Edward
Said will elicit hundreds of emails, letters and journalistic accounts that
call on us to denounce Said and to either sanction or fire him,' Jonathan
Cole, its former provost, reported. When Columbia recruited the historian
Rashid Khalidi from Chicago, the same thing happened. It was a problem Princeton
also faced a few years later when it considered wooing Khalidi away from Columbia."
Yale's turn came soon enough. Whose turn will it be tomorrow?
In the Lobby's arsenal, character assassination is a major weapon of choice,
and this was wielded against Cole time and again. Michael
Rubin, a former employee of the Coalition Provisional Authority whose views
are so extreme that he now accuses the Bush administration of selling out its
original program of "regime change," wrote:
"While Cole condemns anti-Semitism, he accuses prominent Jewish-American
officials of having dual loyalties, a frequent anti-Semitic refrain. That
he accuses Jewish Americans of using 'the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha regiment'
This "Gurkha regiment" phrase, lifted out of context, occurred in
the course of Cole's analysis of the Larry
Franklin espionage case, in which Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who specialized
in Iran, admitted passing sensitive classified intelligence to Israeli officials
via Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, two top officials of the pro-Israel lobbying
group scheduled to go on trial soon. Here is the original context:
"Here is my take on the Lawrence
Franklin espionage scandal in the Pentagon.
"It is an echo of the one-two punch secretly planned by the pro-Likud
faction in the Department of Defense. First, Iraq would be taken out by the
United States, and then Iran. David Wurmser, a key member
of the group, also wanted Syria included. These pro-Likud intellectuals concluded
that 9/11 would give them carte blanche to use the Pentagon as Israel's Gurkha
regiment, fighting elective wars on behalf of Tel Aviv (not wars that really
needed to be fought, but wars that the Likud coalition thought it would be
nice to see fought so as to increase Israel's ability to annex land and act
aggressively, especially if someone else's boys did the dying)."
Franklin is not Jewish, and the Jewishness of these "pro-Likud intellectuals"
has nothing to do with Cole's opposition to their activities, which seem –
in Franklin's case, and also Rosen's and Weissman's – to include espionage
on behalf of Israel. It is typical, however, of the Lobby to smear anyone who
criticizes them as an "anti-Semite" – an accusation that, if
it sticks, effectively immunizes the neoconservatives who put Israel first from
Tellingly, Rubin doesn't reveal his own involvement in the Franklin affair,
but one of the charges against the former Pentagon analyst is that Franklin
reiterated the contents of a classified draft national-security presidential
directive (NSPD), co-authored by Rubin, in which it was proposed that the U.S.
should undertake a policy of "regime change" in Iran, just as it did
in Iraq. And Rubin, who worked with Franklin and other neocons in the infamous
Office of Special Plans – the source of much of the bogus "intelligence"
that misled Congress and the American people in the run-up to war – has
been a leading defender of his colleague, as an interesting piece
in The American Prospect pointed out:
"In the current probes of Franklin and AIPAC, Michael Rubin has led
the strident charge. On September 4, during the media flap over the investigations,
Rubin sent an e-mail memo – obtained by the Prospect – to a list
of friendly parties targeting two of Washington's more respected mainstream
journalists, calling them key players in an 'increasing anti-Semitic witch
hunt.' The memo fingered Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage as one
likely source of the leaks about the investigation, and also urged that, if
the accusations had any merit, the White House demand the evidence be made
public. 'I'm increasingly concerned about the leaks spinning off from the
Franklin affair,' Rubin wrote. 'It was bad enough when the White House rewarded
the June 15, 2003, leak by canceling consideration of the NSPD. It showed
the State Department that leaks could supplant real debate. … Bureaucratic
rivalries are out of control.'"
Cornered, the Lobby screeches "bigotry!" – but this is merely
a reflex, uttered without sincerity or any indication that even the accusers
take it seriously. It is merely meant to blacken the name of anyone who stands
up to the threats and intimidation routinely employed by a cabal of ruthless
political operatives, who have no more of a moral compass than a flamethrower.
The utter ruthlessness of the Amen Corner's tactics resembles nothing so much
as the tactics and methods of a covert action carried out by agents of a foreign
power, and, indeed, some of these people – such as Larry Franklin, for
example, along with his accomplices – are foreign agents, who would stop
at nothing to achieve their goals. Character assassination is, for them, a routine
matter – and, in certain cases, physical assassination is not out of the
news that Lebanon has uncovered an Israeli spy ring that routinely engaged
in a number of assassinations ought not surprise anyone. With all the mysterious
explosions occurring in that tortured land, and with Israel's long history of
involvement – both open and clandestine – in that country, this
hardly comes as a shock. Perhaps now the great mystery of who
killed Rafik Harriri – a heinous act somewhat dubiously
attributed by UN investigators to Syria – will be opened up to some new
interpretations. Oh, but nix that – everybody knows that
the Mossad would never,
ever engage in assassinations,
and to even imply such a thing is to confess that one's favorite reading material
is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Read from Looking Glass News
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"Nutjobs" on the Attack
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and the United States: Assassination, Inc.