Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Silencing America’s Jewish Voice

Posted by minsky on May 11, 2007

Dutch anti-AIPAC video

A recent Dutch documentary, gaining ground in the US through YouTube and GoogleVideo, makes some astonishing accusations about the “Jewish lobby in America”, as represented by AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee). If its arguments gain traction, they will significantly impact the public debate on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the fall of 2006, Harvard posted a work by two prominent International Relations professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, arguing that American Middle Eastern policy is excessively influenced by AIPAC and hence unfairly biased in favor of Israel. Following a public outcry, Harvard removed its emblem from the article’s cover, but an edited version was reprinted in the London Review of Books (LRB). The LRB then went on to sponsor an inconclusive debate between AIPAC representatives and the authors of the article.

Now the Dutch are pitching in, with a documentary made and broadcast in Holland, but not featuring a single Netherlander. Sandwiched between interviews with a former general, a disgruntled Congressman, a neo-con, and a slew of journalists, Mearsheimer and Walt amplify their original thesis. Their message is clear and simple, and since it is breaking records on YouTube, Oy-Bay readers shouldn’t wait to learn about it second-hand.

Already there is a dummy version out there. Opening with a crude anti-semitic statement made by the Prime Minister of Malaysia at an Islamic Summit, the full documentary is reduced to just ten minutes in length, beefed-up with redundant slurs, and elegiac footage of Palestinian terrorists. This is the version to avoid. The original version, is best viewed on its original host, as it does not feature a Dutch narrator found in the recent update on Google Video.

The reason we need to take note of this film, is that as it gains ground its arguments will gain traction, and will significantly impact the public debate. Without some Jewish participation, this impact will be entirely negative. Get ready to participate. Watch the film. Note its arguments.

  1. That the influence of AIPAC in Washington D.C. is awesome.
  2. This influence is possible only in an atmosphere of threat and intimidation of any criticism of AIPAC.
  3. That AIPAC represent Israeli, and American Jewish interests.
  4. These interests, and their influence in Washington, bias American foreign policy in favor of Israel.
  5. This bias is not in America’s national interest.
  6. In fact, it is a direct threat to America’s national security.
  7. An example of this: Iraq. The war in Iraq, was impossible without AIPAC’s lobbying. The war is costly and seemingly intractable. America is paying the price. American national interests suffer. This is an example of AIPAC’s detrimental influence on the Hill.

The documentary will leave many convinced, as it is slick, boasts respected scholars and public figures, and goes to some length to prove each argument. What’s worse, it isn’t the last of its kind; its authors are already promising op-eds, and an entire book. In the meantime, BBC World has already aired a public debate on AIPACs ability to censor in the US, and the audience voted for who it considered the debate’s winner. Sixty-four percent sided with the poorly articulated anti-AIPAC position.

Walt and Mearsheimer march on. As their positions drift into the mainstream, they risk becoming ‘common sense’. Ignoring, marginalizing, or even lambasting such common sense, will no longer be an option. If the accusation is one of censorship, refusing discussion will simply prove the point.

Lobbying is by definition anti-democratic, focus centered, and lacks republican mechanisms of representation. Many groups outstrip AIPAC in the size of their budgets, constituency, and prowess. But as a vehicle for Jewish opinion on the Hill, are they relevant? Can the same be said for AIPAC?

Walt and Mearsheimer have dropped the gauntlet, and are pushing for an American Middle East policy nominaly free of AIPAC. Their core assumption is that AIPAC represents American Jewry. If this were the case, then their goal amounts to silencing America’s Jewish voice in politics.

Walt and Mearsheimer need to be proven wrong, and the best way to begin, is by involving ourselves in the debate by seeing just exactly what is being said. Please view the Dutch version of the documentary linked above.


One Response to “Silencing America’s Jewish Voice”

  1. […] Silencing America’s Jewish Voice […]

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