Pappe refutes Chomsky on Israel Lobby

Israeli historian Dr. Ilan Pappe of Haifa University takes issue with Noam Chomsky’s reaction to the Mearsheimer and Walt article on the Israel lobby:

So what do we learn from the Chomsky reaction?: We can find out what Noam has missed in his analyses in the last twenty years – as this was clear before the LRB article: Chomsky never paid too much and enough attention to the impact of AIPAC on American policy. He identified other factors and grounds, but failed to highlight something which was next door. Nor did he ever write anything of significance of the Christian Zionists. Chomsky also claims that a two state solution is still viable and opposes sanctions on Israel. Interesting positions but hardly ones the invalidate the counter positions.

Now the most strange paragraph in his argument is ‘When we do investigate (1), we find that US policies in the ME are quite similar to those pursued elsewhere in the world, and have been a remarkable success, in the face of many difficulties: 60 years is a long time for planning success. It’s true that Bush II has weakened the US position, not only in the ME, but that’s an entirely separate matter’.

Now this is utterly wrong – the US position shifted in the ME since Kennedy’s death, whereas it remained the same elsewhere. Only in the ME did the US alienate regimes that were pro-American and were supported by all the traditional groups that inform and form US Policy.

The rest of the arguments seem to stem from this faulty assumption and hence comes another unsubstantiated assumption that the ‘As noted, the US-Israeli alliance was firmed up precisely when Israel performed a huge service to the US-Saudis-Energy corporations by smashing secular Arab nationalism, which threatened to divert resources to domestic needs’.

Performed or was seen to perform? Nobody thought in Riyadh that this is what Israel was doing – in fact the Saudi stance became more anti-Israel at that time. It was AIPAC that made it seem like it.

It is not that Israel is a sui generis case. But due to the Zionist Lobby and Jewish money in the US it appears to be so and no other regional case of the many cases we learned so much from Chomsky’s excellent journeys into the past has ever constituted such a place in US policy. You probably have to be on the receiving end of the US-Israel special alliance to understand why it is not a typical American stance and why for re-formulating that policy you need a special campaign and effort; one that is focused on the unprecedented power Jews and Zionists have on America policy in the Middle East in general and Palestine in particular. Unpleasant maybe, but nonetheless the only valid target if indeed one believes US policy should change before peace can come to this area. (Received by e-mail)

See our last post on the Lobby article controversy.

  1. Score one for the Chom
    Chomsky has got some big problems of his own (as we have noted), but he is closer to the mark than Pappe here. The problem with too many who are immersed in the Palestine issue is that they are so awed by Israel’s Washington political machinery that they lose sight of the inevitable and over-arching context for this privileged position within the beltway elite: US imperialism. It isn’t surprising: almost everybody has an interest in upholding the myth of decisive Jewish “influence.” It keeps a client state happy and compliant if it is allowed to cultivate the illusion that its lobby bends the empire to its will. So AIPAC itself believes in its own mysterious powers. On the other hand, it allows the Jews to serve as convenient scapegoats for imperialism’s aggressions and debacles. Bush (as we have noted) plays this card subtly, and perhaps not entirely consciously. Pat Buchanan does so blatantly. So, shamefully, do Alex Cockburn and too many on what is still called (with ever less reason) “the left,” who maintain websites with names like

    Pappe is not one of the worst offendors here, and others on the Israeli left have a clearer picture of the satellite-metropolis relationship between Tel Aviv and Washington—e.g. Uri Avnery, who noted that the US is using Israel as a “Rottweiler on a leash” to intimidate Iran with bellicose threats. This has always been the relationship—at least since 1967, and arguably since 1956. But in order for the propaganda charade to work, the illusion must be maintained that the dog is independent of (or even superior to) the master. If Israel were really acting in ways counter-productive to US imperial interests, it would be cut off at the teat toot sweet. Instead, the illusion is cultivated that US interests are held hostage to its own client state’s lobby—a circumstance without precedent or even remote analogue in all of human history.

    The US position has only “shifted” since Kennedy’s death in that by humiliating Nasser (and, by extension, all radical Arab nationalism) in 1967, Israel has proved itself a worthy client to the US. Pappe should recognize the Saudis’ outrage at the Arab defeat that year as at least somewhat feigned for public consumption. The fact that the defeat came at the hands of the Jews put them in an uncomfortable position, but how could they have not been relieved at Nasser’s humbling? Back in those days, Nasser-inspired Arab nationalism was the biggest threat to the conservative Arab monarchies, and Nasser and the Saudis were fighting a brutal proxy war over Yemen. Remember?

    Israel’s aggression actually gave the client monarchies a new lease on life—ironically, not only by humbling Arab nationalism, but by doing so while conveniently providing an outside enemy on whom popular rage could be deflected. Even if this wasn’t entirely consciously realized in Riyadh, you can bet that it was, by many at least, in Washington.

    As for alienating oil-rich clients by affording privileges to rival, more compliant clients—the US makes such strategic sacrifices elsewhere in the world, and nobody attributes this to the mysterious “influence” of the clients. Venezuela has more oil than any other nation in South America (some geologists argue than any nation in the world outside the Persian Gulf). Instead of wooing Caracas back into the US fold, Washington has seen fit to groom Colombia (with smaller oil reserves) as a regional Rottweiler. The aim is to intimidate Venezuela, but meanwhile it has obviously had the effect of hardening Venezuelan anti-imperialism, and spreading it to Brazil, Argentina and, most recently, Bolivia (with the continent’s greatest natural gas reserves). Colombia’s Uribe is locally known as “the Sharon of the Andes.” But the difference is that nobody accuses Bogota of controlling the US.

    The big struggle on the planet now is for strategic control of oil as the ticket to continued US dominance, and Israel is just a pawn in this struggle. It is unfortunate that Pappe has allowed his powers of analysis to be overwhelmed by the myth of “the Zionist Lobby and Jewish money in the US.”

    1. Weinberg, Chomsky lock arms with AIPAC
      While Weinberg’s investment in the theory that Israel is supported
      by the US on the basis that it is a strategic asset and that AIPAC and the scores of Jewish organizations and hundreds of federations
      that make up the lobby play only a secondary role is not as deep as
      that of Chomsky but it certainly is as intense and even Chomsky isn’t
      reduced to depict those who blame the lobby as the latest example of “scapegoating” Jews which is akin, on this issue, to accusing the
      lobby’s critics of being “anti-semitic.”

      Since I have already disposed of the rubbish that Weinberg presents as
      an argument in past articles, I will only note that like the writings
      of Chomsky, Zunes, and more recently, Massad, his arguments read like
      an AIPAC press release with only slight modifications. I find it ironic that the strongest defenders of the lobby’s activities (and if denying its importance is not a form of defense, I don’t know what it), apart from the lobbying organnizations themselves, with but a handful of exceptions, turn out to be Jewish activists who claim to be anti-zionist which in this case is what is really irrelevant.

      What the position of Chomsky and Weinberg reflect is either (1) misplaced Jewish ethnic loyalty or (2) surprising ignorance of how Washington works. Neither is very appealing, but then neither are their arguments.

      1. Bogus arguments
        To say that I am “defending” AIPAC or Israel by denying that they control US imperialism is like saying I am defending the Nazis by denying that Hitler is cyrogenically preserved at a secret saucer base in Antarctica. I oppose Israel’s real crimes (theft and colonization of Palestinian land, bellicosity against its neighbors)—not its imagined ones.

        My “Jewish ethnic loyalty” is not misplaced. Every other ethnic group in the world is permitted and encouraged to defend its enlightened self-interest in leftist discourse. Only Jews are denied this right.

        It is arguable which one of us is ignorant of how Washington works. Decisions of vital geo-strategic import are not, ultimately, left to the vagaries of Congress, much less to pressure groups.

        And as long as we are playing the guilt-by-association game, how does it feel to be “locking arms” with Pat Buchanan and David Duke, Blankfort?

          1. No, neither are Counterpunch,, etc.
            I wasn’t aware that Duke was behind it, but it sort of proves my point that the supposed “left” has capitualted to right-wing xenophobia and conspiracy theory on this issue. How does it feel to have a picture of Rachel Corrie above the caption “Martyr for Peace” on a neo-Nazi website?

      2. This “criticism of Chomsky
        This “criticism of Chomsky is tantemount to a vulgar ad hominem attack. To say one agrees with AIPAC simply because they disagree about the extent of their influence over US Middle East policy is ignorant. There is much of this nonsense going on in our national discussion about the Middle East. I’ve been told I am a Zionist simply because I stress that the Iraq War is mostly about Oil and not Israel. I guess this would make the likes of Palestinians like Rashid Khalidi a Zionist because he happens to hold the same view. People who make arguments like the one made by Blankfort are right wing populists who want to hide the truth and blame all the ills of imperialism on the Jews in order to take the focus off the real culprits.

        1. At last, somebody gets it!
          We generally discourage re-opening discussions that have been inactive for many months, but this post wins a big “amen!” from Weinberg.

          BTW, please note you forgot to close the quote you opened.

      1. cash is king
        I think that speech was for the profiteers. Iraq has to dry up at some point but don’t worry fellas cash will still flow into aerospace during an Obama administration. The Jerusalem ref was pure theater, though not very competent politically.

  2. What about culture?
    I agree that the idea of powerful individuals like Cheney and Bush being forced to act against their own best interests by some lobby is absurd. But does that mean that we have to have to look for purely economic reasons for the US to support Israel? People in the west feel bad about the Holocaust; Christians like the idea of the Old Testament world coming back to life through a Jewish state; most mainstream people are revolted by terrorism against Israeli civilians; overblown rhetoric from places like Iran makes the Palestinian cause look bogus. Like it or not, these are the lenses through which many people view the conflict. This cultural perspective surely has an effect on policy?

    1. Key word is “purely”
      “Purely” economic? No. But I would argue that (the exploitation of) Western guilt about the Holocaust, the power afforded Christian Zionism, and “mainstream” abhorrance of Palestinian terrorism and Ahmadinejad’s blood-lust are all properly viewed in the context of the global war for control of oil. Cheney and Rumsfeld don’t give a hoot about the Holocaust, the Old Testament, or even Israelis getting blown up in pizza parlors. But they understand that they can use all that to build a powerful political coalition to acheive their Kissingerian aim of assuring US global dominance in the coming century. That doesn’t make the “cultural” factors irrelevant by any means. But nor, ultimately, are they determinant.

      1. Ash weighs in
        Gabriel Ash weighs in on the question of the Israel Lobby issue, especially its importance in driving the Iraq war by using the stock markets to quantify the different gains made by Israel, the oil industry and the defense industry. He concludes that the war in Iraq has been a measurable success to all its backers. See ( This unusual approach, based on the research of economists Nitzan and Bichler, puts Ash at ods with both the Chomskian position that the Lobby is irrelevant and the opinion of those who see Israel as the real force and beneficiary of the Iraq war.

        1. I can’t speak for Chomsky…
          …but I certainly never argued that “the Lobby” is “irrelevant.” But the fact that the Tel Aviv stock market has been on the upswing since the Iraq invasion says nothing about Israel’s degree of culpability in bringing it about. The same is true of the oil and defense industries’ profits. I have never argued that the Iraq adventure is about oil company profits, or the “pork barrel” thesis that it’s all been a big excuse for defense contracts—even if the unimginative have interpreted my arguments that way, much to my frustration. Sure, the war shot up oil prices, which has been good for Exxon—but the cartel has not been able to effectively exploit Iraq’s reserves (as the opponents of the “war-for-oil” thesis always point out with glee). I have always argued that the corporate windfall is an auxiliary motive at best, like the supposed need to protect Israel. Fundamentally, this adventure has been a strategic gambit for control of oil as a means to assure continued US global dominance. As I have pointed out, the Pentagon/PNAC policy documents have always been quite clear on this. It is only the left, perhaps paradoxically self-conscious about association with too Marxian an analysis, which fails to “get it.”

          1. war for oil, rightttt.
            war for oil, rightttt. That’s why neocon zionists who were the prime planners of the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq were Jews and Israeli-firsters.. Bill Crystal, Perle, Wolfowitz, Leiberman, et al, are all in it for oil profits, righttt… I guess it’s also oil profits that made Bush and McCain pray so emphatically to the Wailing Wall, you know cause of all the oil and “strategic dominance.” Or Why Shillary promised to “obliterate” Iran if it attacks Israel, what a ludicrous suggestion. REAL US dominance in the Middle East ENDED when JFK was killed because of his staunch opposition to Israeli nuclear empowerment, thus opening the way for Israeli hegemony and military and nuclear hypocrisy with Iran and Iraq. How come Bush doesn’t talk about Israeli nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and torture rooms (Israeli nuclear whistleblower imprisoned for 12 years)? Or Israel’s secrecy and resistance to international oversight, that’s because of US strategic dominance I guess… I guess the traitorous and shameful false-flag operations of King David Hotel bombing, Lavon Affair, USS Liberty and John Pollard were all for US strategic dominance right? To this day the USS Liberty is refused to be investigated. 34 sailors died and the rest forever betrayed and forgotten…Oh yeah it’s US strategic dominance again!

            Oh and Bush and Cheney not caring about the holocaust? Doesn’t matter, McCain sure does, calling Ahmadinejad a “holocaust denier”. What a retarded law and double standard, why not “russian revolution holocaust denial” where Jews Trotsky, Marx, Lenin, Jacob Schiff, Yagoda, etc… exterminate tens of millions of Russian gentiles and christians?

            Or how about the Israeli establishment’s ordering of their lap dog Pelosi to allow the invasion of Iran without congressional approval? Must be the ole’ US dominance again!

            1. What, no anti-Semitism here
              I hadn’t heard that Marx “exterminated tens of millions of Russian gentiles and christians.”

              Once again, are you guys happy at the noxious flies your rhetoric attracts?

              1. Marx called Moses Hess his
                Marx called Moses Hess his “communist rabbi”. If you were HONEST, you would realize that I never said Marx killed millions of Russians, but that Marx certainly paved the way for the extermination of tens of millions of Gentile Russians and Christians. It only took a few other JEWS such as Lenin, Trotsky, even maybe Stalin, Jacob Schiff, Yagoda, et al list goes on, to finish the job. Jacob Schiff was a big Jew New York banker, you think Trotsky was against capitalism when he got $20 million from this capitalist banker? He was against gentile capitalism not Jewish capitalism of course.

                No, it’s you who are the noxious flies that constantly pollute the world with lies and rhetoric. Just read at some of the gems your own leaders had to say about “anti-semitism” the biggest smear word in linguistic history:

                “It is essential that the sufferings of Jews. . . become worse. . . this will assist in realization of our plans. . .I have an excellent idea. . . I shall induce anti-semites to liquidate Jewish wealth. . . The anti-semites will assist us thereby in that they will strengthen the persecution and oppression of Jews. The anti-semites shall be our best friends”.

                — (Herzl’s Diary, Part I, pp. 16)

                “We Jews are aliens… a foreign people in your midst and we… wish to stay that way. A Jew can never be a loyal German; whoever calls the foreign land his Fatherland is a traitor to the Jewish people“.

                — Jacob Klatzkin, the second of two political Zionist ideologists in Germany at the time

                “If I knew it was possible to save all the children in Germany by taking them to England, and only half of the children by taking them to Eretz Israel, I would choose the second solution. For we must take into account not only the lives of these children but also the history of the people of Israel.”

                — Ben-Gurion

                and so on and so on, gentiles have known for centuries how this peculiar and (for the most part, with a few notable exceptions) morally degenerate group works and networks with itself

                The Old Testament and Talmud is filled with non-Jew and gentile hatred. Judaism rejects Jesus and calls Christianity idolatry and blasphemy, and look at the sympathy they get from Zionist Christians

                1. I wonder why I waste my time arguing with wackjobs?
                  There’s a sucker born every minute, I guess.

                  Excuse me, you wrote that “Jews Trotsky, Marx, Lenin… exterminate[d] tens of millions of Russian gentiles and christians.”

                  So once again, Bloom & Blankfort—I’m talking to you guys. Are you happy with the noxious flies your rhetoric attracts?

                  1. Your reply doesn’t have any
                    Your reply doesn’t have any real arguments against my case. Marx indirectly led to the genocide of millions of Russians, that’s not hard to realize. Trotsky, Lenin, and Stalin all had Jewish roots and were supported by Jewish bankers such as Jacob Schiff. The Jewish origins of the Bolshevik revolution is quite obvious and damning

                    1. Take a hike
                      I have no respect for anyone who cannot see through your “case,” and I will no longer provide a platform for your propaganda. You’ve made your “case.” Have a nice life.

                    2. how typical! I wish I’ll
                      how typical! I wish I’ll be alive when the whole world finally admits the centuries’ old Jewish menace. My first post wasn’t even all the facts, here’s more menacing Jews who conspire against humanity: Paul Warburg (funded Hitler), worked with Kuhn Loeb & Co, who Jacob Schiff worked in. Warburg helped create the Federal Reserve, which to this day is dominated by the Jewish parasites of Volcker, Greenspan, Bernanke, Kozsner, Mishkin, Kohn, et al… Open Immigration Law enacted in 1965 which helped destroy America was spearheaded by Jews. Etc etc the list never ends

                    3. The USSR was highly anti-semitic
                      If Lenin, Stalin, and the rest of the Bolsheviks were indeed Jewish or part of the great Jewish conspriracy, how can you explain the virulent anti-semitism that existed in the USSR (particularly during Stalin’s reign) up to and including the so-called “Doctor’s Plot”?

                    4. Leave it to those wiley Jews…
                      …to persecute themselves so as to hoodwink the world. How insidious.

  3. Chomsky sees Israeli actions and BDS as immoral.
    Chomsky thinks the occupied territories are worse than South Africa, noting that unlike the Occupation, South Africa wanted Africans to stay as a workforce. (

    Then he says: “Boycotts… against South Africa were effective”.

    But then he judges that it’s sinful to boycott what he sees as the client Israeli state like South Africa:
    “There are no calls for boycotting the US, not for reasons of principle, but because it is simply too powerful — facts that raise some obvious questions about the moral legitimacy of actions targeting its clients”.

    So in Chomsky’s mind it’s good to boycott South Africa because it was effective, it’s ineffective to boycott the US because it’s too powerful, and that it’s sinful to boycott a South Africa-like US client state although effective like with South Africa, because why?

    Chomsky fails to give an explanation why it would be sinful to take actions that would correct what he emphatically denounces as a sin.

    Chomsky’s interview raises questions about his own morality when it comes to the issue of actions targeting the client.