Zionists seek to silence critics of Israel. Well, duh!

Here we go again. This Nov. 1 commentary from the World Socialist Web Site (which is being echoed all over the left-wing blogosphere, e.g. on San Francisco Indymedia) relishes in the latest example of censorious behavior by Israel’s apologists, under the rather obvious title “Zionists seek to silence critics of US policy toward Israel”:

Tony Judt, a noted historian and the director of New York University’s Remarque Institute, was to have spoken in New York earlier this month at a meeting called by a nonprofit organization that had rented space from the Polish Consulate. After telephone calls from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee, his lecture on “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” was cancelled barely an hour before it was scheduled to begin.

Judt, a liberal academic who writes frequently for the New York Review of Books, was born and raised in Britain. He lost many members of his own family in the Holocaust, but has aroused the ire of the Zionist public relations machine because of his sharp criticisms of Israeli policies and his charge that the Israel lobby has stifled debate on the Middle East in the US.

The modus operandi of Zionist organizations such as the ADL and the American Jewish Committee is by now a familiar one. “Inquiries” are made by one or another of these groups. The message is clear.

As the Polish Consul General said in connection with the contacts made in regard to Judt’s scheduled appearance, “The phone calls were very elegant but may be interpreted as exercising a delicate pressure. That’s obvious—we are adults and our IQs are high enough to understand that.”

Abraham Foxman of the ADL cynically insisted that he hadn’t requested that the event be shut down, but added, “I think they made the right decision.” He then spelled out the brazenly anti-democratic and thuggish attitude of himself and his organization toward anyone who criticizes Israel’s policies and Washington’s support for those policies. “He’s taken the position that Israel shouldn’t exist,” Foxman said of Judt. “That puts him on our radar.”

The really depressing thing is that this censorious behavior winds up vindicating Judt’s deeply flawed thesis that the Israel lobby controls (or wields inordinate “influence” over) US foreign policy. The weak-minded are unable to distinguish between the power to silence a critic and the power to set US foreign policy. It is especially ironic for a website which purports to be “socialist” to fail to emphasize that US foreign policy is set by the mandates of imperialism, not the supposedly inordinate “influence” of a client state. They miss the historical function of anti-Semitism as a distraction and scapegoat for real political power, and therefore wind up letting US imperialism off the hook.

Judt’s talk seems to share the same title as the controversial essay by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, which was disavowed by Harvard University (where Walt was academic dean of the Kennedy School of Government) earlier this year. The Mearsheimer/Walt thesis is dissected at length from an anti-imperialist viewpoint by our contributor “William X” in an article entitled “The Israel Lobby and Global Hegemony” in the November issue of WW4 REPORT. Again addressing the censorship issue, Mr. X writes:

Many Jews were doubtless be happy at Harvard’s capitulation on the M&W essay. They shouldn’t be. It merely confirms the myth of Jewish power in the minds of the Judeophobes. M&W’s arguments should be repudiated—not silenced through intimidation. Censorship of bad speech is worse than censorship of good speech, because it paradoxically legitimizes it. In this case, the intimidation only serves to “prove” M&W’s point—for those who do not understand the historical function of anti-Semitism. Without such blatant displays of capitulation to Jewish “influence,” Jews would not make credible scapegoats in times of crisis.

Nothing could be worse for this already bad situation than Harvard’s disavowal of the study. This not only entrenches anti-Semitic paranoia, but (perhaps even worse) also entrenches Jewish “pronoia”—the illusion that the imperial power structure will protect real Jewish interests when push comes to shove. The more deeply these twin illusions are entrenched the uglier the backlash will be when it comes. And it is coming. The M&W study was the first sign.

A final point. To return to the World Socialist Web Site—they also state:

To clarify his position toward Israel, Judt remarked, “The only thing I have ever said is that Israel as it is currently constituted, as a Jewish state with different rights for different groups, is an anachronism in the modern age of democracies.”

This is bunk. There are plenty of so-called “democracies” around the world with “different rights for different groups,” including the United States. But somehow this sort of thing seems uniquely sinister when perpetrated by Jews—to the point that it is invisible, even to a supposed liberal like Judt, when perpetrated by the world’s most powerful government. Did you ever ask yourself—why is that?

See our last posts on Israel/Palestine and “the lobby.”

  1. On the subject…
    Another tiresome if sinister example. From Reuters via Haaretz, Oct. 10:

    French embassy cancels N.Y. book launch over author’s Israel views

    NEW YORK – The French Embassy on Monday canceled a New York party for a book about Vichy France’s collaboration with Nazi Germany because of the author’s postscript that says Israel has oppressed Palestinians.

    The Cultural Services of the French Embassy’s office in New York had planned to hold a party on Tuesday to fete the September publication of author Carmen Callil’s “Bad Faith” about Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Vichy government official who organized the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz.

    Callil told Reuters on Monday that the party was canceled after complaints from “fundamentalist Jews.”

    In an e-mail obtained by Reuters, the embassy wrote to Random House publishing imprint Alfred A. Knopf, “The Cultural Services of the French Embassy has decided to cancel its participation in a reception for ‘Bad Faith,’ by Carmen Callil.

    “Although the French Embassy was looking forward to the presentation of a work exploring the darkest hours of French history, it could not endorse a personal opinion of the author expressed in the postscript of the book.”

    A source at the French Embassy’s New York office said the embassy objected to the author’s “opinion … equating what was done to the Jews of France (under the Nazi regime) with what has been done to the Palestinian people.”

    In the book’s postscript Callil writes: “What caused me anguish as I tracked down Louis Darquier was to live so closely to the helpless terror of the Jews of France, and to see what the Jews of Israel were passing on to the Palestinian people.”

    “Like the rest of humanity, the Jews of Israel ‘forget’ the Palestinians. Everyone forgets; every nation forgets.”

    In an e-mail obtained by Reuters from the French Embassy to Random House, one French Embassy official on August 22 said of Callil’s book: “It is a masterpiece.”

    “The French Cultural Attache read it and he was incredibly complimentary,” said Callil, who was born in Australia and moved to London where she founded feminist publisher Virago Press and ran publisher Chatto i Windus.

    But Callil said Tuesday’s party was canceled after “a series of letters from various Jewish fundamentalists complaining. They take a view that that no one can say anything about Jews that is not 100 percent complimentary.” She did not identify the letter writers by name.

    Callil defended the postscript to her book.

    “I think the people in Gaza live in poverty huddled up in a very small territory … because people don’t like their government,” she said. “But if you persecute people, they will rise up against you.”

    Asked if she feels the current Israeli government oppresses Palestinians, she replied, “Yes.”

    “I want people to learn from the past so the same terrible things do not happen again. If you oppress people, they will hate you and I do not want Israel to be hated,” she said.

    Random House spokesman Paul Bogaards called Callil’s book “a significant work of history,” adding, “we stand by the work in its entirety.” A spokesman for the French Embassy confirmed the e-mail canceling the party but declined further comment.