Tagged: Israel Lobby

Bad Company: Chuck Hagel vs the ‘New’ Foreign Policy Establishment

By Will Banyan (Copyright © 25 February 2013 & 01 March 2013)

Author’s note: On 24 November 2014, Chuck Hagel resigned as Secretary of Defense. The circumstances of his retreat from public office were contentious; Obama’s claims that Hagel had determined that it was “appropriate time for him to complete his service” was greeted with derision by most Beltway observers. Most reporting suggested that Hagel’s apparent decision was driven by his failure to penetrate Obama’s inner circle, his frustration with being micro-managed by Obama and his aides, and for finding himself repeatedly “out of step” with the White House on many issues. The irony of this situation is that by the end of his brief tenure, Hagel had earned the affection of those whom had opposed his confirmation (as detailed below), particularly Israel and pro-Israel forces in the US. Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Yalon praised the outgoing Secretary as a “true friend of Israel” and Abraham Foxman, National Director of the US-based Anti-Defamation League likewise lauded Hagel’s “energetic stewardship of America’s commitment to Israel’s security.” It would seem that Hagel had demonstrated fealty to the wrong master…

President Obama’s decision to replace his outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with former Senator Charles (Chuck) Hagel has rapidly proved to be one of his most difficult and controversial Cabinet-level appointments. At least since Obama’s attempt to nominate US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, as the next Secretary of State ended in tears – and the elevation of Senator John Kerry, the Skull and Bonesman Democrat presidential candidate of 2004, into that feted position. Senator Hagel’s primary sin, in the eyes of his Republican interrogators in the Senate, and his detractors amongst the neo-conservative punditocracy, was that this prospective US Defense Secretary was insufficiently pro-Israel.

Ahead of his confirmation hearings in January this year, for example, Hagel was repeatedly accused by neo-con gadfly, William Kristol, writing in the Weekly Standard, of having “anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona fides” (Dec 24, 2012); “dangerous views on Iran” and an “unpleasant distaste for Israel and Jews” (Jan. 4, 2013). Kristol also attacked Hagel for making the apparently “vulgar and disgusting charge” that the US invasion of Iraq was a “war for oil” (Jan. 5, 2013). Heaven forbid! In the same august publication (Jan. 7, 2013), former Bush Administration official Elliott Abrams, a presidentially pardoned felon, casually implied that Hagel was anti-Semitic because of his allegedly “hostile” attitude towards the Jewish community of Nebraska in 1989 over the closing of a USO facility in Israel.

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The ‘Israel Lobby’ Controversy: Elite Factionalism or Elite Conspiracy Theory?

by Will Banyan © 2008

Author’s Note: This is an extended and slightly revised version of an article which originally appeared in PARANOIA (issue 44) Spring 2007.

The publication in March 2006 of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, as a working paper for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and as an article in the London Review of Books, aroused much comment in the American media and academia—most condemnatory. The authors, academics John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt from Harvard University, have had their work widely dismissed as being both conspiratorial and anti-Semitic.

“[T]his paper is anti-Semitic” declared Professor Eliot Cohen from Johns Hopkins University, in the Washington Post (April 5, 2006); nor was it “research in any serious sense,” claimed Marty Peretz in The New Republic, but “the labor of obsessives with dark and conspiratorial minds.” According to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, the authors shared with white supremacist David Duke “the same interest in vilifying Jewish leaders and spouting conspiracy theories about Zionist plots against American interests” (Dershowitz, p.41). Even Stephen Zunes, a left-wing critic of U.S. support for Israel, implied that in subscribing to an “exaggerated claim of Jewish clout,” Mearsheimer and Walt were “flirting with anti-Semitism” (Zunes 2006b, p.15).

At the same time, there were some observers who were clearly overjoyed at the appearance of The Israel Lobby as it seemed to confirm their belief that the U.S. is, in fact, ruled by a “Zionist Occupation Government,” or some other sinister Jewish cabal. David Duke, for example, praised it for having “told the truth about the proverbial gorilla in the room: the Zionist lobby and its enormous political and media power” (Duke 2006). The Israel Lobby, claimed a commentator for Rense.com, left “absolutely no doubt that Israel not only controls our entire government, our Pentagon, our foreign policy and our political parties, but our media as well” (Lang 2006).

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