Saturday, October 14, 2006

Here's the vile Andy Robinson, New York correspondent, in his blog for La Vanguardia.

It's possible that after publishing this post I will receive indignant e-mails and commentaries in various blogs accusing me of holding questionable attitudes about the Jews...My best American friends are Jews.

Thanks for letting us know that, though I'm a bit surprised they'll socialize with you. Must be pretty tolerant folks. Either that or Andy considers the Jewish bartender at his watering hole his best friend, since he hasn't got any others.

I'm glad to announce two pieces of very good news from downtown Manhattan. One is that, finally, the play "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" by the Britons Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman about the valiant pro-Palestinian activist who was run over and murdered by an Israeli bulldozer while protesting against the demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza Strip in March 2003.

The Israelis are murderers, huh? Gee, I'm not Jewish and I'm already pissed off.

The play was a box-office and critical success at the Royal Court theater in the West End of London. But the New York production at the New York Theater Workshop was suspended before opening night from fear--according to the authors and others--of offending the patrons of the theater, who in many cases are steely defenders of the Israeli "right to self-defense" (it's a saying) in the Palestinian territories.

And, of course, "the authors and others" are trustworthy sources. Meanwhile, no theater has any obligation to put on any play, whether it might offend people or not.

Newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal wouldn't have liked it very much either.

Because they're Jewish-controlled?

The director of the theater, James Nicola, said the decision was because of Hamas's victory in Palestine and a tight production schedule. Rickman, an actor from the Harry Potter series, responded then, "I don't want to underestimate the difficulties of financing in a theater in New York, but that doesn't stop this from being censorship."

1. Another reason to boycott Harry Potter movies.
2. Censorship is when the government says you can't put on your play, not when a private organization decides it would be better not to.

At that time, many said that nobody in New York would dare to "bite the hand that feeds them" with an anti-Israeli production. But things change, and now the off-Broadway Minetta Lane Theater will premiere the play on October 15.

And if I were in New York I'd be out front with a protest sign. Note that Andy himself calls the play "anti-Israeli."

The second piece of good news from New York, with its powerful Jewish community, is that, after being a taboo subject for so long, a minefield for those who fear being accused of anti-Semitism, is that it is beginning to be openly questioned whether the pro-Israel lobby exercises too much influence over American foreign policy.

Yep, it's them damn Jews again, they run everything, and so we all live in fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.

A couple of weeks ago at the Cooper Union in Manhattan, at an auditorium full of people, a panel of experts--composed of two diplomats from the Clinton administration, an Israeli ex-foreign minister, two academics who denounced the existence of a lobby, and a Palestinian intellectual--held an unprecedented debate on the question, sponsored by the British literary weekly London Review of Books.

1. Of course there's an Israeli lobby. It's called AIPAC. Every other group you can possibly think of, including the Arab-Americans, has one too. The question is whether AIPAC has too much influence over American foreign policy. My question is, since the Saudis and Taiwanese and British and Poles all have powerful lobbies in Washington, why are we all so concerned about the Israelis and only the Israelis?
2. What do you mean unprecedented? This question has been debated over and over, and every time it gets debated, we all end up deciding that America is not too pro-Israeli, if such a thing were possible. Except for Pat Buchanan and David Duke, who are in full agreement with Andy.
3. Note that Andy only considers stuff from England to be really intellectual.

That magazine published a long essay titled "The Israel Lobby" in March by two prestigious foreign policy experts, Stephen Walt,. professor at Harvard's Kennedy School, and John Mearshimer, from the University of Chicago, who participated in Thursday's debate. The Atlantic Monthly had commissioned the article but decided not to publish it at the last moment. "The significant thing is that the authors are not Noam Chomsky but from the conservative mainstream," said Roane Carey, staffer at the weekly The Nation, after the debate.

Walt and Mearsheimer demolishingly criticized the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel, and a pro-Israeli lobby that includes--according to the authors--pressure groups in Washington such as the powerful AIPAC--it has 100,000 members and spends $47 million on its activities--and the neoconservatives in the Bush administration, including commentators in various newspapers and even Christian evangelists, now fervently pro-Israeli.

1. The term "special relationship" is, as far as I know, applied only to that between the US and the UK.
2. You mean the Jews can buy America for a measly $47 million? Boy, they must be even cleverer and sneakier than we thought.
3. And you know, of course, that if the neocons in the Bush administration and the Christian conservatives agree with a policy, then it must be evil.

According to Mearsheimer, the influence of this heterogenous group of steely defenders of Israel explains the privileged treatment that successive administrations, both Democrats and Republicans, have granted to the Jewish state. Israel is the principal beneficiary of American economic and military aid--more than $2.5 billion this year, $140 billion since the Second World War--despite being a rich economy and despite the fact that its policies in the Palestinian territories violate international law.

1. "Privileged"? Does that imply that Israel is undeserving of its status as a close American ally? Or does the fact that Israel is the only Middle Eastern democracy have something to do with it?
2. "Violate international law"? You mean like suicide bombers and rocket attacks and stuff like that?

The authors of the article state--more arguably--that the Iraq War has been fought principally because it is in Israeli interests. "The US has a terrorism problem largely because it is so closely allied to Israel," they say. For the pro-Israeli lobby, "It is essential to control the debate," say the authors--"because if there were a frank discussion on the Israel-US relationship, the Amjericans might decide they want to change it."

Yep, those damn Jews started the Iraq war, too, and it's their fault all those people got blown up at the World Trade Center. And, besides, they control the media, so the rest of us can't express our real opinions.

Curiously, according to members of the panel, it is easier to speak openly and without fear about Israel in Tel Aviv than New York, if one compares the press in the two cities.

In America you can't criticize Israel without being afraid? What, is the AIPAC Gestapo going to knock on your front door and haul you away some dark midnight?

Predictably, the essay was explosive in the American universities and communications media, setting off a series of accusations of anti-Semitism. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, author of Case for Israel (sic), called it "an article that stinks with the desire to segregate the Jews." The Anti-Defamation League, a group that constantly warns about an alleged intensification of anti-Semitism, which is not visible to the rest of us, called the article anti-Semitic. Harvard professor Michael Oren said in the Washington Post that the two authors, and not only their article, were anti-Semitic.

Yeah, that's what we call "free and open debate." These guys have the right to spout off about the Jews, and their opponents have the right to call them anti-Semites. Note that Andy doesn't mention any of these critics' arguments or reasoning.

At last Thursday's debate Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Tel Aviv during the Clinton administration, returned to the attack, accusing Mearsheimer of "descending to the level of anti-Semitism." Indyk is a former director of AIPAC. Shlomo Ben Ami said that the article has "anti-Semitic connotations." Dennis Ross, another ex-diplomat with the elder Bush and Clinton and an ex-director of AIPAC, called it "dangerous."

Gee, think any of these guys might know what they're talking about? Again, Andy doesn't explain why these people believe the article is anti-Semitic.

But these accusations back up the thesis of the article, Mearsheimer said. "It's almost impossible to have a free and open conversation about Israel without being accused of anti-Semitism," he said on Thursday. Tony Judt, NYU historian, said that his own article in defense of Mearsheimer and Walt ("A lobby, not a conspiracy," April 19) was about to be rejected by the New York Times. "They asked me if I was Jewish and only published it because I said I was." Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab studies at Columbia, said, "This debate is not carried on rationally, either in the media or in the Capitol."

1. Not even I believe Judt's charge against the NYT, that you must be a Jew to criticize Israel in its pages. And I hate the New York Times.
2. Khalidi accuses the Jews of running not only the media but also the legislature, and then he's surprised he gets called an anti-Semite.
3. Seems to me this little debate demonstrates that freedom of speech in the US is alive and well. Hey, Andy, you think Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, or Al Fatah would allow you to trash their system while living inside their territory?

Walt told me that since publishing his article, "a few invitations made to me by politicians in Washington have been canceled." But several large publishing houses seem willing to break files for the first time. Farrar Strauss & Giroux will publish a longer version of Mearsheimer's essay. In addition, last week a new book by the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Stephen Schwartz, on the alleged crisis inside the pro-Israeli lobby--"Is it good for the jews?: the crisis of the Israel lobby" (Doubleday, 2006) (sic)--after the case of espionage which involved neoconservative members from the Defense Department.

Andy, publishing companies have been coming out with books critical of Israel for decades. I'm surprised you didn't know that. Maybe you should go down to the library or something.

Here's the original Walt and Mearsheimer article from the London Review of Books, along with a video of the debate held on September 28.

This is CAMERA blasting Judt and the New York Times.

Alan Dershowitz's response is here.

The American Thinker's response is here.

Here's James Taranto from the WSJ's Opinion Journal.

This is a piece in Spanish from El Mundo on the controversy.

By the way, part of the fun here is that the Mearsheimer-Walt essay came out in March and the controversy was over by the end of April--but Andy's all over it in October. Just six months too late.

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