Weinberg vs. “self-haters”: you decide

There is a vigorous if not always civil debate going on in WW4’s weblog over the Israel lobby. See here, and here.

Part of the debate is over referring to the US Congress as “Israeli occupied territory” or “Likud occupied territory.” WW4 Report editor Weinberg maintains that referring to Congress as “Israeli occupied territory” is anti-Semitic. According to Wikipedia, “Zionist Occupied Government,” also known as “ZOG,” is neo-Nazi terminology:

The term is believed to derive from the text “Welcome to ZOG-World”, written by the American neo-Nazi Eric Thomson in 1976. It appears to have first been brought to widespread attention in a December 27, 1984 article in the New York Times about robberies committed in California and Washington state by a white supremacist group, The Order. According to the newspaper, the crimes “were conducted to raise money for a war upon the United States Government, which the group calls “ZOG,” or Zionist Occupation Government.”

The following editorial ran in the New York Times on May 9:

A No-Confidence Vote for Mr. Abbas

A few months ago, President Bush announced that he would ask Congress for $350 million to support Palestinian political, economic and security reforms. Following on his word, he did just that, in his budget proposal to Congress.

But last week when the House approved $200 million of the aid, it
attached enough strings to strangle those good intentions. President
Bush had requested that the first $200 million go directly to the
Palestinian Authority, whose new president, Mahmoud Abbas, has been
struggling to rein in extremist factions. But in what one Palestinian
advocate correctly called a “vote of no confidence” in Mr. Abbas, the
House stipulated that no money could go to the Palestinian Authority.
It approved $150 million, to be channeled instead through American aid
agencies, nongovernmental organizations and philanthropic groups.

Adding insult to injury, the House then gave $50 million to Israel to
build terminals for people at checkpoints surrounding Palestinian
areas. House lawmakers directed an additional $2 million to Hadassah,
the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. So a quarter of Congress’s
Palestinian aid disbursement so far is actually going to Israel.

The Senate should turn this around. If not, we sincerely hope that the
administration figures out a way to get some of the remaining $150
million in promised aid – to be sought in a separate budget bill later
this year – to actual Palestinians.

The vote in the House is large enough to override a presidential veto. Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab has an excellent commentary on the House bill in the center-right Jerusalem Post.

A Feb. 15 in the Jewish Telegraphic Agency described how Congress went about considering Bush’s original aid proposal:

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Operations Subcommittee — which has the final say on the request — rushed into the end of a Feb. 9 Capitol Hill lunch for Natan Sharansky, the Israeli Cabinet Minister who has the president’s ear with his theory that stable peace can be made only with democratic regimes.

Lowey apologized for being late and asked Sharansky how he thought the request should be handled. Sharansky said the money should go to NGOs.

“That’s one of the most important things — to make sure it goes straight to people and not to bureaucracies,” Sharansky said.

The spectacle of one of the most powerful Democrats in Washington chasing a foreigner for advice underscored the degree to which members of Congress felt the need to fill in the gaps in Bush’s vision.

In the April/May 1994 issue of the Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, former US ambassador Eugene Bird wrote an article titled “White House is Occupied Territory Until Some Officials Choose Recusal.” Bird wrote that during a Georgetown seminar, one of the speakers said that

Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular considered the White House occupied territory. The occupiers, he explained, are Israel-oriented advisers, and this is becoming more and more of a problem.

Bird continues:

It was a clear and credible call for a more objective, unbiased and fair-minded team to handle Middle East affairs at the White House. This is not the first time that White House advisers on a particular area or country have been accused of conflict of interest. There was Korea-gate during the Nixon administration. Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser had to resign only weeks after taking office because he was seen as too close to Japan.

Do we have a Tel Aviv-gate on our hands now, with top U.S. advisers too close to Israel to have a credible perspective on the Palestinian cry for United Nations protection from daily police killings of stone-throwing youths? Should Martin Indyk in the White House and Dennis Ross in the State Department step back and let a more neutral group of advisers work on peace between Palestinians and Israelis after the Hebron massacre?

Bird also notes,

Keeping U.S. policy making in the hands of parties with no interest but the national interest used to be a national goal. That, however, was before foreign diplomats, scholars and journalists could casually refer to the White House and Congress as “Israeli-occupied territory” with no rebuttal by their American colleagues.

Ross now heads WINEP, the research arm of AIPAC started by Indyk. Bird points out that “Indyk’s entire U.S.-employment history has been with the Israel lobby and a lobby off shoot think tank.” Bird also notes that Indyk — who was born in Britain and raised in Australia — was a US citizen for less than a month before being put in charge of Middle East policy in the White House. In July 2000 Indyk and Ross, along with Rob Malley and Aaron Miller, were the main US negotiators at Camp David, which failed and were followed by the second intifada. At Camp David, the Palestinian side famously turned down Israel’s “generous offer.”

An April 29 Ha’aretz article, “U.S. accused of pro-Israel bias at Camp David talks in 2000,” described a seminar that took place in DC which included Indyk, Ross, Malley and Miller. “Far too often, we functioned in this process, for want of a better word, as Israel’s lawyer,” said Miller, who now runs Seeds of Peace. Miller maintained the US should not have accepted Ehud Barak’s offer as “generous.” Malley has similarly critiqued the US position.

Question to Bill Weinberg: is Ambassador Bird’s characterization of the US Gov’t as “Israeli-occupied territory” anti-Semitic?

  1. To ask such questions is to answer them.
    Do you think if you reach a critical mass of “respectable” voices spewing such evil shit, I am suddenly going to decide its kosher? “Sanity is not statistical.” Read your Orwell.

    Bird’s own analogies betray his double standard. Did anyone talk about “Occupied Washington” during the (now nearly forgotten) Korea-gate and Japan-gate scandals? It sucks that the White House is covering for Israeli state terror. One of the reasons it sucks is because it opens the door for the insidious mainstreaming of Nazi rhetoric.

    1. Terminology
      I’m not sure you can compare the rhetoric to Korea-gate and Japan-gate. There’s no “Japanese occupied territory” or “Korean occupied territory” on the maps or in the media. Is Bird mainstreaming The Order’s rhetoric, or does it derive from “Israeli occupied territory,” the common parlance used to refer the West Bank and Gaza for years? When Bird mentions the foreign press, diplomats, and Arab commentators using “Israeli occupied territory” to refer to Congress, how likely is it they are aware of what the Aryan Nations has said? Do you think the foreign press is really familiar with “ZOG?” Is it possibly your own awareness of the etymology of ZOG that is making you ascribe the worst of motives to Bird?

      1. Naivete or disingenuity?
        I always have a hard time figuring it out.

        The West Bank and Gaza are Zionist-occupied territory. Washington DC is not. Classical European anti-Semitism has spread to the Arab world–a paradoxical and painful reality, but an unavoidable one, after Egyptian TV has run a series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and Arabic translations of The Eternal Jew can be found from Riyadh to Atlantic Avenue. Are you really that dense, or are you just baiting me? The latter I hope, for your sake. (Not my own, God knows.)

        Oh, and ask the Chinese if the term “Japanese-occupied territory” has any particular resonance for them.

        1. Not trying to be disengenuous
          I’m sure “Japanese-occupied territory” does have resonance for the Chinese. It also has not existed for 60 years now, whereas Israeli occupied territory is an ongoing reality. Obviously I’m aware of the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Obviously, the Aryan Nations and The Order using ZOG and any use of that specific term is anti-Semitic conspiricy theory and noxious. My question is, given that there is currently actual Israeli occupied territory and it is common parlance, are Bird and the foreign press and diplomats he cites cynically mainstreaming anti-Semitic rhetoric as you charge, or are they merely referencing Israel’s actual occupation? And are Blankfort, Seth et al doing the same thing, rather than being self-hating or employing anti-Semitic rhetoric? If the Aryan Nations had never adopted the term “occupied,” would you still find Bird’s use of it offensive?

          1. Jesus man, what don’t you get?!
            The West Bank and Gaza are Zionist-occupied territory. Washington DC is not. I think Mr. Bird should be smart enough to tell the difference. This conversation is over.

            1. can’t we all just…
              If I’m not mistaken, the origin of the “occupied territory” jab at Congress can be traced to Pat Buchanan. It’s a formulation of the isolationist/xenophobic right. I’m with Bill — I think validating this sort of rhetoric is a huge intellectual and moral mistake.

              Let me also say I’m appalled by the abuse some respondents have hurled at Bill, and I think these folks have shown their true colors, as they always do. I’ll also add that the sobriquet “Whineberg” is offensive, and perhaps also revealing.

              1. Although, in fairness…
                I did call Blankfort “The Blank” before he called me Whineburg. Still, my adversaries dramatically escalated the level of incivility. I appreciate your support. I am more appalled that my supposed “leftist” comrades are adopting a Buchananite line than I am at the verbal abuse. We New Yorkers are pretty thick-skinned about rudeness, but we don’t suffer fools gladly.

                1. On Buchanan
                  Steve Rendell of FAIR compiled this dossier on Buchanan. It includes the following:

                  Buchanan referred to Capitol Hill as “Israeli-occupied territory.”
                  (St. Louis Post Dispatch, 10/20/90)

                  During the Gulf crisis: “There are only two groups that are beating
                  the drums for war in the Middle East — the Israeli defense ministry and
                  its ‘amen corner’ in the United States.” (“McLaughlin Group,” 8/26/90)