Saturday, January 20, 2007

Get Carter! Iran, Too!

By Alexander Cockburn
The Nation

"Suppose the movers and shakers in the Israel lobby here--Abe Foxman, Alan Dershowitz and the rest of the crew--had simply decided to leave Jimmy Carter's Palestine Peace Not Apartheid alone. How long before the book would have been gathering dust on the remainder shelves? Suppose even that Dershowitz had rounded up his unacknowledged co-authors in all their tens of thousands and sallied forth to buy up every copy of Carter's book and toss each one into the Charles River . Would that have not been a more successful suppressor than the blitzkrieg strategy they did adopt?

Of course it would. For weeks now the lobby has hurled its legions into battle against Carter. He has been stigmatized as an anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier, a patron of former concentration camp killers, a Christian madman, a pawn of the Arabs who "flatly condones mass murder" of Israeli Jews. This last was from Murdoch's New York Post editorial, relayed to its mailing list by the Zionist Organization of America .....

But the assault on Carter is all to no avail. With each gust of abuse, Carter's book soars higher and higher on the bestseller lists, reaching number four on Amazon itself. This doesn't prove the lobby has no power. It proves the lobby can be dumb. Adroit lobbying consists in preventing unpleasing material from reaching the light of day. Lobbying thrives in furtive darkness: slipping language into a bill at the last moment, threatening to back a campaign opponent, making quiet phone calls to the Polish Embassy. Pressure is now being exerted on Farrar, Straus & Giroux to abandon its impending publication of Mearsheimer and Walt's attack on the lobby.....

The trouble with the lobby and the Christian zealots who act as its echo chamber is that they believe their own propaganda about Israel 's equitable social arrangements and immaculate political and legal record in its relations with the Palestinians. Use the word apartheid and they howl with indignation. The shock is about thirty years out of date. Israeli writers have used apartheid to describe arrangements in the occupied territories for years. Hundreds of prominent South African Jews issued a statement six years ago making the same link......

But if the lobby is fighting rear-guard and increasingly futile actions to suppress all discussion here of what Israel is doing to Palestinians, it continues to exercise very serious clout in such enclaves of timidity as the US Congress. Bush was not foolish in singling out Iran for threats in his January 10 address. The Democratic reaction to Bush's escalation against Iraq and Iran has mostly been confined to nervous talk of "symbolic votes." This emperate posture is surely not unconnected to the fact that the lobby's prime foreign policy task, joined by Israeli hawks like Bibi Netanyahu, has been to rally support for an assault on Iran.

What an irony! Desperate for an end to the war, the voters hand Congress to the Democrats. Barely more than two months later Bush is kidnapping Iranian diplomats from their consulate in Erbil , Iraq --a calculated provocation arousing scant tumult here. Bush is also deploying a larger naval force to the Persian Gulf, as Israel plants stories about its possible recourse to nuclear weapons. Some provocation, maybe a seizure by the United States of an Iranian tanker, is easy to imagine in early February. In Congress, there's barely a whimper out of the Democrats amid these terrifying prospects. It may have made a mess of its war against Carter's book, but as a ferryman across the Styx toward Armageddon the lobby is doing a competent job."

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