April 14, 2005

by Joe Sobran

[Originally published in THE WANDERER, June 13, 1996.]

     One isn't supposed to say this, but many people 
believe that Israel now holds the White House, the 
Senate, and much of the American media in its hands. This 
is what is known as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

     The odd thing is that it is held by many Israelis. 
In an essay reprinted in the May 27, 1996, issue of the 
NEW YORK TIMES Ari Shavit, an Israeli columnist, 
reflected sorrowfully on the wanton Israeli killing of 
more than a hundred Lebanese civilians in April. "We 
killed them out of a certain naive hubris. Believing with 
absolute certitude that now, with the White House, the 
Senate, and much of the American media in our hands, the 
lives of others do not count as much as our own ..."

     In a single phrase -- "in our hands" -- Mr. Shavit 
has lit up the American political landscape like a flash 
of lightning.

     Notice that Mr. Shavit assumes as an obvious fact 
what we Americans can say publicly only at our own risk. 
It's surprising, and refreshing, to find such candor in 
an American newspaper (though his essay was reprinted 
from the Israeli paper HA'ARETZ).

     The prescribed cant on the subject holds that Israel 
is a "reliable ally" of the United States, despite 
Israel's long record of double-dealing against this 
country, ranging from the killing of American sailors to 
constant espionage and technology theft. The word "ally" 
implies that the relationship exists because it's in the 
interests of this country, though Israel's lobby is 
clearly devoted to the interests of Israel itself, and 
it's childish to suggest otherwise.

     You expect that from the Israel lobby; lobbies are 
lobbies, after all. But it's unnerving that the White 
House, the Senate, and much of the American media should 
be "in our hands," as Mr. Shavit puts it. Bill Clinton, a 
lover of peace since his college days, raised no protest 
when the Israelis drove 400,000 innocent Lebanese out of 
their homes this year in "retaliation" for rockets 
launched into Israel (wounding one Israeli) by a faction 
over whom those 400,000 had no control.

     Congress of course, was supine as usual at this 
latest extravagance of Israeli "defense." Congress too is 
"in our hands."

     A recent article in the WASHINGTON POST likened the 
Israel lobby's power to that of the gun and tobacco 
lobbies. But there is one enormous difference. Newspapers 
like the POST aren't afraid to criticize the gun and 
tobacco lobbies. They will say forthrightly that those 
lobbies seek goals that are dangerous for this country. 
They don't dare say as much of the Israel lobby.

     But much of the press and electronic media are "in 
our hands" in a more active sense: they supply misleading 
pro-Israel propaganda in the guise of news and 
commentary, constantly praising Israeli democracy and 
ignoring Israel's mistreatment of its non-Jewish 
minorities -- mistreatment which, if any government 
inflicted it on a Jewish minority, would earn it the 
fierce opprobrium of our media.

     No decent American would think of reducing American 
Jews to the status of Palestinians in Israel. The idea is 
almost absurd. Yet Americans are taxed to subsidize the 
oppression of Palestinians, on the flimsy pretext that 
they are helping an "ally" in America's own 
self-interest, as if it were in our interest to be hated 
and despised by the whole Muslim world.

     All this is interesting less for what it tells us 
about Israel than for what it tells us about America. 
Frank discussion of Israel is permitted in Israel, as Mr. 
Shavit's article illustrates. It's rarely permitted here. 
Charges of anti-Semitism and a quiet but very effective 
boycott will be the reward of any journalist who calls 
attention to his own government's -- and his own 
profession's -- servitude to Israeli interests.

     Very few in America are doing anything to change 
that sorry state of affairs. Mr. Shavit wrote his article 
in the desperate hope of turning back his countrymen and 
his government from a morally and politically perilous 
course. At least he can hope. It's harder for us, when 
our own government isn't in our hands.


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