The Jewish Lobby


Does a “Jewish lobby” exist?
That question had seemed somewhat academic to me,
not worth taking my time to argue about, one way or the other.
However, when Chuck Hagel was floated as a possible Obama nominee to be secretary of defense in December 2012,
the opponents of such a nomination dredged up a quotation from a book by Aaron David Miller, where Miller quoted Hagel as alluding to the existence of such a lobby, which caused, if not terror, at least profound fear in the U.S. Congress on the consequences of flouting the goals of such a lobby.
Some opponents of the nomination took great offense at such a statement, whether by Hagel or anyone else, with some claiming that even to assert the existence of such a lobby was an act of rank anti-Semitism.

But what if such a lobby actually exists, at least in the minds and words of some noted observers of the American Jewish community who are themselves Jews?
Let’s take a look.

Perhaps Mr. Bret Stephens,
one of those complaining about use of the phrase “Jewish lobby”,
has heard of a Mr. J. J. Goldberg, who wrote a book titled
Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment,
published by Addison-Wesley in 1996.
Let’s take a look at the index of that book.
On page 412 of the first, hardcover, print edition, in the index,
appears an entry which I attempt to reproduce in the box below:

Jewish lobbying groups
AIPAC's preeminence among, 199-202, 223-225
Arab economic boycott and, 176-180
AWACS campaign and, 197-199, 213
foreign aid to Israel and, 4-5, 13, 222, 248
political alliances of, 213-214, 220-221
political clash between, 54-55
political influence of, 4-5, 13-18, 22-23, 97-98, 110-117, 156-159, 174-176, 364-367
on Soviet Jewry, 163-172
Zionist voice in, 156-159

But now let’s go inside the book
and see what J.J. Goldberg actually has to say about the lobby,
and if he uses the dreaded, hateful phrase “Jewish lobby.”
Starting on page 4 of the book, we find the following
(I have added emphasis and some comments in this font and color:

[W]hen diplomats and journalists spoke of Jewish power in the late twentieth century,
they were usually speaking of the American Jewish community.
It was here that the Jews had truly emerged as a power in their own right,
acknowledged and respected around the world.

From the Vatican to the Kremlin, from the White House to Capital Hill,
the world’s movers and shakers view American Jewry
as a force to be reckoned with.
At home the Jewish community is sought out as an ally—
or confronted as a worthy rival—
by political parties, labor unions, churches, and interest groups
as diverse as the civil rights movement and the Christian Coalition.
The New York offices of the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League
have become obligatory stops
for presidents and prime ministers visiting the United Nations
or passing through en route to Washington.
More than a dozen foreign embassies in Washington
have diplomats assigned to a semi-official “Jewish desk,”
in charge of maintaining friendly ties with the Jewish community.

“Part of the new mythos of American Jess is that
we’re not a minority anymore—
we’ve become part of the majority,
and psychologically, that means something fantastically subtle,”
says political scientist David Luchins,
a vice president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations in America
and senior aide to New York’s Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
“We are accepted now.
We have access.
The president of the United States
meets regularly with the Jewish leadership.
There’s an incredible thing.
You look back on the last twenty-five or thirty years
and you have to stand in awe that this really has happened—
in my life time, it really happened.
We have arrived.”

[And America will never be the same.]

As for concrete evidence of the Jewish community’s clout,
it is not hard to find.
There is, to begin with,
the $3 billion foreign-aid package sent each year to Israel.
Fully one fifty of America’s foreign aid has gone
to a nation of barely 5 million souls,
one tenth of 1 percent of the world’s population.
Analysts commonly credited this imbalance to the power of the Jewish lobby.

[There it is.
J.J. Goldberg, at least, can explicitly talk about “the Jewish lobby,” in a published book, without being accused of “anti-Semitism”.
If J.J. Goldberg can do it, why can’t Chuck Hagel????]

Coupled with financial aid is the familiar fact of
Washington’s staunch support for Israel in the diplomatic arena,
at what sometimes seemed like great cost to America’s own interests.

there have been threats to those in Washington who opposed Israeli policy:
the senators and representatives sent down to defeat,
like Charles Percy and Paul Findley,
for defying the Jewish lobby.

[Compare carefully what J.J. Goldberg wrote, and had published,
to the statement attributed to Hagel that has gotten so many Jews upset,
that "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here".
It seems Hagel only echoed the sentiment Goldberg wrote.]


Jewish power is felt, too, in a wide variety of domestic spheres:
immigration and refugee policy,
civil rights and affirmative action,
abortion rights,
church-state separation issues,
and much more.
Local Jewish communities from New York to Los Angeles
have become major players on their own turf,
helping to make the rules and call the shots
on matters from health care to zoning.

Yes, by the end of the twentieth century,
American Jewry has come to be viewed around the globe
as a serious player in the great game of politics,
able to influence events,
to define and achieve important goals,
to reward it friends and punish its enemies.

[What I find upsetting is that so many Jews, and their allies,
seem to deny the reality described by those last three lines.]

In fact, just about everyone seems to take the Jewish community seriously.
Everybody, that is, except the Jews.

[End of excerpt from Goldberg's Jewish Power.]

What Hagel really said:
Chuck Hagel and Israel in context:
A guide to his controversial statements

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post, 2013-01-07

“The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here….
I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.”

— from a 2006 interview with former Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller


Here is slightly less than half of what Bret Stephens blogged on 2012-12-17:
Chuck Hagel's Jewish Problem
by Bret Stephens
Wall Street Journal, 2012-12-18 (the date it appeared on page A15 of the U.S. print edition)

[I include the relevant part of the article here,
because I think it is important to see exactly what Mr. Stephens said
concerning Mr. Hagel.
I have inserted some comments of my own, in this font and color,
and added some emphasis.]

Prejudice—like cooking, wine-tasting and other consummations—
has an olfactory element.
[What a ridiculous assertion.
But one common not only to Stephens but to many others who want to smear
those who dare to challenge the Jewish lobby.
To bad they have to resort to such imagery rather than
sticking to objective factors.]

When Chuck Hagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska
who is now a front-runner to be the next secretary of Defense,
carries on about how "the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,"
the odor is especially ripe.

Ripe because a "Jewish lobby," as far as I'm aware, doesn't exist.
No lesser authorities on the subject than
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors of "The Israel Lobby,"
have insisted the term Jewish lobby is "inaccurate and misleading,
both because
the [Israel] lobby includes non-Jews like Christian Zionists
and because
many Jewish Americans do not support the hard-line policies
favored by its most powerful elements."

Ripe because,
whatever other political pressures Mr. Hagel might have had to endure
during his years representing the Cornhusker state,
winning over the state's Jewish voters—
there are an estimated 6,100 Jewish Nebraskans
in a state of 1.8 million people—
was probably not a major political concern for Mr. Hagel
compared to, say, the ethanol lobby.

Ripe because
the word "intimidates" ascribes to the so-called Jewish lobby
powers that are at once vast, invisible and malevolent;

That’s not the dictionary definition of “intimidate”.
Google, e.g., defines it as:
“Frighten or overawe (someone), esp. in order to make them do what one wants.”
I don’t see the words, or synonyms, “vast”, “invisible”, or “malevolent.”
In fact, it seems possible that intimidation
could be practiced by “good guys” against those who are malevolent.
But for Stephens, like for Humpty Dumpty,
evidently words mean just what he chooses them to mean,
whatever is most useful for his purpose at hand.
Like reading more into Chuck Hagel's statement than was necessarily there.]

and because it suggests that
legislators who adopt positions friendly to that lobby
are doing so not from political conviction but out of personal fear.
Just what does that Jewish Lobby have on them?

Ripe, finally, because Mr. Hagel's Jewish lobby remark
was well in keeping with the broader pattern of his thinking.
"I'm a United States Senator, not an Israeli Senator,"
Mr. Hagel told retired U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2006.
"I'm a United States Senator.
I support Israel.
But my first interest is
I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States.
Not to a president. Not a party. Not to Israel.
If I go run for Senate in Israel, I'll do that."

Read these staccato utterances again
to better appreciate their insipid and insinuating qualities,
all combining to cast the usual slur on Jewish-Americans:
Dual loyalty.
Nobody questions Mr. Hagel's loyalty.
He is only making those assertions to question the loyalty of others.


Here are some more examples of what clearly is a Jewish lobby
(in fact, proving that to deny that such exists is the worst form of deceit and hypocrisy).

Jewish Coalition Rejects Lobbying Group’s Bid to Join
New York Times, 2014-05-01

American Jewish leaders on Wednesday voted to deny membership in an influential national coalition to a lobbying group that has at times criticized the Israeli government.

The decision by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to reject the dovish lobbying group, J Street, was closely watched because it comes as many Jewish institutions face controversies over how much debate over Israel they are willing to tolerate within their ranks. Supporters of J Street argued that the group’s occasional differences with Israeli policy, over Gaza, Iran and other matters, were well within the mainstream of American Jewish thought and common in Israel itself.

The vote was held at the Conference’s Manhattan offices, and it was not open to the public. But participants said that 42 of the conference’s 50 voting members were represented at the meeting, and that 17 voted in favor of J Street, while 22 voted against and three abstained. To become a member of the Conference, J Street would have needed support from two-thirds of the conference, or 34 votes.

The vote took place after a brief and collegial debate — lasting less than an hour — during which speakers were each allowed 90 seconds to make an argument. The ballots were secret, but several of those present said that it appeared, based on public statements made before Wednesday as well as comments made during the debate, that the voting broke down in large part along ideological and religious lines, with Orthodox and multiple affiliated organizations opposing J Street, and the non-Orthodox members supporting the group’s application.

J Street, based in Washington, was formed six years ago as a counterpoint to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the longstanding lobbying organization advocating American support of Israel.

J Street has differentiated itself, and attracted both support and criticism, by adopting a less hawkish tone toward Middle East policy, and by steadfastly supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The president of J Street, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in an interview after the vote that he was “deeply disappointed,” and added, “We would have liked to be a part of this communal tent.”

A poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center found that a plurality of American Jews did not believe the Israeli government was making a sincere effort to reach a peace settlement. Mr. Ben-Ami said the vote sent a “terrible message” to those who have concerns about aspects of Israeli policy.

“This is what has been wrong with the conversation in the Jewish community,” he said.

“People whose views don’t fit with those running longtime organizations
are not welcome, and this is sad proof of that,”
he added.
“It sends the worst possible signal to young Jews
who want to be connected to the Jewish community,
but also want to have freedom of thought and expression.”

[And also proves how wrong the ADL is to claim that
(a) the mainstream organized American Jewish community
is anything other than a front for Israel, and
(b) Jews don't work together to advance Jewish interests.]

The Conference,
which already includes groups with a broad range of ideological and religious viewpoints,
is an influential organization,
in part because its longtime leader, Malcolm I. Hoenlein,
is frequently consulted by political leaders as a representative of the American Jewish community.

Critics of J Street approved of the Conference’s decision
to exclude a group whose views on Israel they viewed as problematic.

“We’re very pleased and relieved, because
J Street’s positions
were not within the mainstream of the Jewish community,”

said Farley I. Weiss,
the president of the National Council of Young Israel,
which is an association of Orthodox synagogues.
“On virtually every single issue,
their position is contrary to
that of anything that would be considered pro-Israel,
they don’t represent the rank and file
of the Jewish community in America.”

J Street’s bid for membership was supported by major liberal and centrist Jewish groups,
including the Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform movements,
as well as the Anti-Defamation League.

The leaders of many of those groups have had disagreements with J Street,
but argued that it represented the views of a significant number of American Jews
and deserved to be part of the discussion that takes place
among major Jewish institutions.

“A mistake was made today,” said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld,
executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly,
which represents Conservative rabbis.
“It is of crucial importance to the future of the Jewish community
that a full range of views is represented,
and that we be part of a robust dialogue
to achieve what we are all committed to,
which is a safe, secure and thriving Israel.”

Rabbi Schonfeld said the vote would undoubtedly prompt
an examination of the conference’s membership rules and voting procedures, noting that
“one of the anomalies of diaspora leadership is
we are not elected by the Jewish community,
but we earn the right to be leaders,
and it’s moments like this that call upon us to think creatively and openly and earn that leadership.”

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