The Lobby, Unmasked

by , November 01, 2007

Progressive writer Philip Weiss reports on his excellent blog a speech by Andrea Levin, president of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA):

“The fact is, you know, we may be unhappy with the New York Times from time to time, and we at CAMERA have been, but I have to say we are fortunate. The American media is much, much more geared to understanding that there is an unwritten contract between them and us, and that is, that things should be factually accurate, and we get corrections all the time. Those corrections are very meaningful sometimes. We can prevent the repetition of serious errors. … So there is that give and take here in the States.”

What is this "unwritten contract"? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s an agreement to censor anything and everything that offends the Lobby and its glorified, sanitized view of Israel. Here, after all, is a country that practices apartheid, imprisons children, and was founded on ethnic cleansing and bigoted religious obscurantism – and yet they present themselves to the world as a valiant little "democracy," a beleaguered outpost of "the West" in the midst of an Arab sea. It takes a lot of cosmetics to hide the true face of this dog, and that’s what CAMERA is all about – prettifying an increasingly ugly reality. The Lobby reserves the right to censor any material that presents Israel in a more realistic light, and anyone who opposes them in their mission on behalf of a foreign power is smeared as an "anti-Semite."

When National Public Radio refused to kowtow to their demands for more favorable coverage of Israel, they mounted a vicious campaign of demonization that led to huge financial losses to the station. NPR, which CAMERA called "National Palestine Radio" – a bit of racist snark that they feel powerful enough to get away with – soon mended its ways. At a moment’s notice, CAMERA can unleash its winged monkeys to bury an offending media outlet in an avalanche of phone calls, e-mails, and angry missives via snail mail taking the "anti-Semitic" offender to task.

Weiss recorded Levin’s comments at an unusual event: a CAMERA conference on "Jewish defamers of Israel." Among the speakers, aside from Levin, were Indiana University professor Alvin Rosenfeld, whose "study" [.pdf] of the "Jewish defamers" targets Jews who question the Lobby’s motives and "unwritten contracts" with the American media. Among the alleged "defamers": former New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis and Henry Siegman, director of the U.S./Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Why single out Jews – a tactic that would get any other organization in a whole lot of trouble, at least from a public relations point of view? Because that’s precisely what Israeli ultra-nationalists like CAMERA can’t abide – someone they can’t smear as an anti-Jewish bigot raising his or her voice against the Lobby and speaking truth to the gathering power of the Israeli state. The "anti-Semite" canard doesn’t work when applied to, say, Michael Lerner or Philip Weiss. And that’s their only defense: these days, it’s the only way they can prevent a real discussion about Israel’s relations with the U.S. and the Lobby’s distortion of American foreign policy. So when that fails, they’re essentially left without any arguments, except the sort of special pleading that any advocate of dual loyalties engages in – and that is no longer quite enough. Not when the price we must pay for our "loyalty" to Israel is yet another Middle Eastern war, this time with a much more populous nation, and at a moment when our military has been exhausted almost beyond repair.

That’s why the Lobby is getting desperate: what with the publication of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s magisterial The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy and the increasingly vocal "Jewish defamers," WASPy types like James Fallows feel empowered enough to write the following:

"To the (ongoing) extent that AIPAC – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself ‘America’s Pro-Israel Lobby’ – is trying to legitimize a military showdown between the United States and Iran, it is advancing its own concerns at the expense of larger American interests. The people who are doing this are not from one ethnic group in the conventional sense but are mainly of one religion (Jewish)."

That Fallows was discussing the power of ethnic lobbies in general, including the Cubans and the Armenians, did not spare him the slings and arrows of the real defamers:

"Today Gabriel Schoenfeld of Commentary Magazine quotes only the part about AIPAC – and then asks why I am singling out the Jews!?!?! ‘Why is this game played only one way, with America’s Jews the primary target?’ … This makes me nostalgic for the comparative ‘honesty’ of the Chinese state media I’ve been dealing with recently."

The Chinese state media has nothing on the Lobby’s mouthpieces, which are much more vicious and single-note than anything put out by the ChiComs: the only difference is that they don’t wield state power. Not that they aren’t trying, as Weiss reports:

"Someone in the audience asked if the Israeli government couldn’t take action. ‘Good question,’ Levin said. ‘Many many times we have urged in regard to American coverage – to really, really serious defamatory reports in the American media – we have urged the Israel government, whether it was the IDF or some other components of officialdom, to be involved. Times that we thought that legal actions could be taken.’ But evidently that couldn’t happen in Israel, where they have a ‘very free press.’"

Here is the totalitarian mentality of fanatic nationalists like Levin exposed for all to see: she and her fellow fifth columnists are lobbying a foreign government to interfere with freedom of the press in America, on behalf of foreign interests. It doesn’t get much more disgusting than that, now does it?

Yeah, they have a "very free press" in Israel – much freer than our own, thanks to groups like CAMERA. In Israel, of course, newspapers like Ha’aretz regularly report on matters that offend the Lobby – such as, for example, the existence and unmitigated power of the Lobby itself – and CAMERA can’t do a damn thing about it because their influence there is minimal. It’s only in the U.S. – where they are bold enough to have called on the Israeli government to take legal action against American media – that they have the kind of power they need to close down debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Here we have the truth coming out of their own mouths – so now do you believe in the decisive power and influence of the Israel lobby?

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

Over at Taki’s Top Drawer, I’m bashing the fake "libertarians" who are snarking at Ron Paul, and here I talk about how Ron Paul is not only rising in the polls, he’s rising in the estimation of even the most hidebound pundits of the "conventional wisdom."

Read more by Justin Raimondo