Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ex post facto anti-Zionist rationalizations

Ex post facto anti-Zionist rationalizations happen so frequently yet the phrase is so unwieldy.  The uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia are eliciting ex post facto anti-Zionist rationalizations with Pavlovian inevitability.  (Now say that three times quickly.)

On C-SPAN's Washington Journal call-in program this morning, a caller pointed out that Egypt's dictatorship was kept in place by the U.S. to protect "the 5 or 6 million Jews who are occupying Palestine", by which the caller meant the State of Israel.  The logic behind that accusation was so tenuous that the host had to ask for the connection between Israel and the Egyptian uprising.  The caller was at a loss to explain what seemed so self-evident to him.  The host dismissed the caller and moved the conversation back to the realm of real events.

Columnist MJ Rosenberg is a step up from C-SPAN callers raving against Israel, so it's disappointing to see him taking a not entirely dissimilar position in a column titled "Thank AIPAC for Placing USA on Wrong Side in Egypt".  He writes

Few would argue that the imminent collapse of the Mubarak regime (and other Middle East dictatorships) derives from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Neither Egyptians nor Tunisians are risking and losing their lives for Palestinians. They are doing it for themselves. They want freedom.  But the hatred for America that the revolutionaries feel stems in large part from our support for the occupation and the regional dictators who help enable it. And that support stems entirely from the lobby's power to intimidate policymakers.

Rosenberg thus takes the entirely contradictory positions that the revolutionaries in Tunisia and Egypt both are and aren't motivated by opposition to Israel.  Let's backtrack.  When Rosenberg writes about "the occupation" and "the lobby", he assumes that his reader understands that he refers to Israel because Israel's occupation and Israel's lobby are the only occupation and lobby in the world worth commenting on.  Rosenberg himself acknowledges that he is

often accused of harping on the lobby's baleful influence. I plead guilty.

I am not Rosenberg's attorney, but I do think that his guilty plea would be better received if he didn't make it in the course of continuing to commit the offense. He argues that this harping is defensible: it has both a pedigree and a virtually prophetic imperative.  He writes

But it's my obligation because (1) I know from personal experience -- 15 years on Capitol Hill and four at AIPAC -- how it operates, (2) I know how little it really cares about Israel, and (3) I am free to tell the truth about it. If I worked in the mainstream media or in the U.S. government, I wouldn't be.

Another area where the lobby has done so much damage is in our relations with Iran.

Those lines contain a great deal of information, albeit in a condensed and somewhat disordered form.  Their author wants to show his expertise.  He has a unique knowledge of the evils of AIPAC -- that they really don't care about Israel.  So while he can't really explain why he believes this to be true, it has the air of an ineffable and deeply profound insight.  Based on the subtle truth that's been somehow revealed to him, he must save Israel from itself, and save the world from Israel.  That brings him to his real subject: the threat posed to world peace by Israel's opposition to Iran's nuclear program.

AIPAC is dedicated to "crippling" sanctions and eventually war with Iran if sanctions don't bring down the regime. Later this spring, AIPAC will host its annual conference which will, as has been the case for a decade, feature mind-numbing warnings about the danger posed by an Iranian nuclear bomb.
Unfortunately for the lobby (and happily for everyone else), there probably won't be an Iranian bomb anytime soon, thanks to the Stuxnet worm which, somehow, the Israelis devised to rip the guts out of Iran's centrifuges.
Israeli officials say that any Iran bomb will be delayed for years and maybe forever.  One would think that the lobby would be ecstatic, but it barely mentions the Stuxnet triumph. Why is that?  Because it was never really worried about an Iranian bomb (especially since Israel has 200 nuclear weapons) but worried that a nuclear-armed Iran would challenge Israel's regional hegemony. (It's the same reason the lobby despises Turkey.) So the lobby pretends as though Stuxnet didn't happen. We need more "crippling sanctions" and then possibly war, they maintain.

Rosenberg claims that the Israeli government is somehow upset about Stuxnet's success because it removes their excuse for going to war against Iran, which is what they really want.  He claims, again without any attempt at substantiation, that the Iranian nuclear program has virtually come to an end as the result of Stuxnet, and that Israel feigns concern about Iranian nukes out of sheer malice. 

The face of that malice is Benjamin Netanyahu, who Rosenberg claims

is angry that Stuxnet removed his pretense for war. And that means Congress, pushed by AIPAC, will keep passing sanctions bills that punish not the Iranian regime but the Iranian people. And Iranians will always remember it and hold it against us.

In addition to unjustifiably impugning the motives for Israeli concerns about Iran's nuclear program, Rosenberg's argument conflates his assertions concerning the purported end of Iran's nuclear program with humanitarian questions about the effects of sanctions.  MJ Rosenberg has somehow reached the conclusion that Israel, far from wishing to protect itself against real threats, actually wishes to harm the Iranian people, as they have already purportedly harmed the Tunisian and Egyptian people, in order to "establish regional hegemony".  To my mind, that puts him on much the same level as that fellow raving about Jews on C-SPAN.  Unfortunately, there's no one to hang up on him.  The people at Talking Points Memo don't seem notice that he's raving.  (Or maybe they think that he's "only half-joking", as said he was when he somehow connected AIPAC with Bernie Madoff and the craisglist killer.)

I have a question for Rosenberg and his editors at TPM.  If, as he now claims, AIPAC is somehow responsible for Mubarak's being in power, why has he only gotten around to writing about that after the fact?  He touts his 15 years of experience on Capitol Hill. According to his Huffingotm Post bio, he edited AIPAC's weekly newseletter 25 years ago. He worked as the Director of Policy at the Israel Policy Forum from 1998- 2009.  In the course of his career, he has  written many columns, given speeches, attended conferences and met with political leaders including the president.  In all that time, he somehow neglected to point out that AIPAC was oppressing the people of Egypt.  Now, after the fact, after the revolution has possibly begun, Rosenberg has finally revealed the Zionist hand behind Egypt's suffering.  He owes the people of Egypt an apology for, until now, having participated in this cover-up.

Read Rosenberg's column here: Thank AIPAC For Placing USA On Wrong Side In Egypt | TPMCafe

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