To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.
--- George Orwell

Thursday, September 10, 2015

When Trope Is Truth: How 'Big Jewish Money' Is 'Buying' The White House To Make Israel 'The 51st State'

Trope is truth at this point in the US-Israel “special relationship,” as New York magazine explains in its blockbuster story by Jason Zengerle,  “Sheldon Adelson Is Ready to Buy the Presidency.” At least in terms of the corrupting influence of Big Jewish Money in the 2016 presidential campaign. You’re not supposed to talk about Big Jewish Money, it being just a straw man away from the canards contained in such classic 19th century works of anti Semitism as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. But when you have the self proclaimed “richest Jew in the world” ready to pony up even more than the $100 million he laid out in the 2012 election to ensure a Republican candidate pro-Israel enough for him, it’s kinda hard to dance around the ethnic niceties, although Zengerle does a commendable job in showing that there is really no love lost between Adleson and most of his own landsman.   

The vast majority of American Jews are not hard-liners on Israel, he notes.

Obama won 69 percent of Jewish voters in 2012, even as American conservatives accused him of purposefully undermining the country’s security and status in the region. Indeed, according to a 2013 Pew study, only one in three American Jews feel a strong emotional attachment to the Jewish state. But over the past 30 years, and especially in the last decade, the GOP’s attachment to Israel has become remarkably fierce, to an extent that is basically unprecedented in modern American politics. On issue after issue — from military aid to settlement policy — the GOP now offers Israel unconditional and unquestioning support, so much so that some Republicans now liken the country to America’s “51st state.” The person most responsible for this development is the multi­billionaire casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.

Like Connie Bruck’s New Yorker article exactly a year ago on the corrupt hold that Israel has on the US Congress, the New York magazine piece confirms what John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt argued almost a decade ago in their ground-and-taboo breaking book, The Israel Lobby. Back then, Jewish journalists got down in a “defensive crouch” about the book, the New Yorker's Jeffrey Goldberg described it at a panel at the YIVO institute, where Zionist stalwarts like The New Republic’s Marty Peretz and Holocaust author author Daniel Goldhagen made Walt and Mearsheimer seem like they were “the second coming of Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin,” as per the description of the night that blogger Phil Weiss filed. The mood was so paranoid, Weiss wrote that you would have thought "the Cossacks were just outside the doors.

The scornful, hypersensitive reception of the Israel Lobby book will go down as one of the main reasons that the political and financial power of the lobby has been so difficult to blunt, and why it took such a heroic effort on the part of Obama’s supporters to keep the lobby from defeating the Iran nuclear deal.  I’m not so sure that the lobby has suffered a lasting wound. But the power of tropes to eclipse the truth certainly has. Courageous pieces like Zengerle’s are a good start toward blocking the power of the Israel lobby in the realm of campaign finance---and an overdue acknowledgement that Walt and Mearsheimer were right ten years ago, and are even more right now.