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?