Friday, June 02, 2006

Another thought experiment

From an article on the Israel Lobby thesis by Stephen J. Sniegoski (my emphasis in red):

“It seems perfectly plain that the Israel lobby has had significant influence in shaping American foreign policy. Let us conduct a brief thought experiment. Assume that the positions of Jewish-Americans and Palestinian-Americans were reversed, and that Palestinian-Americans were disproportionately wealthy, disproportionately influential in the media and academia, and had established a powerful lobby with numerous well-funded think tanks to advance the interests of the suppressed Palestinian people. Palestinians use the term ‘Nakba’ to refer to their brutal expulsion from Israel in 1948, so let us imagine that Nakba education courses had been established in most schools and that a U.S. Nakba Memorial Museum had been created near the Mall in Washington, D.C. Of course, anyone who disputed the Palestinians' description of their suffering, attested to by eyewitness accounts, would be labeled a ‘Nakba denier’ and would suffer severe career consequences resulting from that lethal designation.

In such an environment it seems hardly likely that Israel would be supported by the United States or that it would have elicited the necessary aid to develop its highly sophisticated military arsenal, which includes nuclear weapons. Few people would support the double standard on international law favorable to Israel. Israel would be expected to abide by all UN resolutions, including the Palestinian ‘right of return.’ The rights of the Palestinian people would be seen to mesh with the interests of the oil lobby. In such a situation, it is easy to imagine that Israel would be treated by the United States and the rest of the world as a pariah state and would go the way of white South Africa, with the establishment of a single Palestine of Jews and Palestinians and with Palestinians receiving reparations for the harm done them by the Zionist takeover, analogous to the reparations provided to Jews for Nazi oppression. Certainly this is a totally imaginary alternate history; but I would add that elsewhere in the world, especially where Jewish power is negligible, the population, especially the intellectual population, favors the rights of the Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Evidence for that may be found in the voting at the UN.

If the United States were willing to support Israel at the current level without the efforts of the Israel lobby, there would be no need for that lobby. As Mearsheimer and Walt point out: ‘Indeed, the mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about. But because Israel is a strategic and moral liability, it takes relentless political pressure to keep U.S. support intact.[48] Really, it is piquant to hear members of the Israel lobby, who devote their careers to promoting Israel, proclaim their uselessness and lack of influence.”

The thought experiment – and I refer you to my own Syrian thought experiment, which I think proves conclusively that the Lobby promotes policies that do not benefit the United States but only Israel -  demonstrates how the Chomsky thesis, that support for Israel masks support for American Establishment interests, is completely, and rather obviously, backasswards.  The fact that somebody of Chomsky’s moral and intellectual stature would risk his reputation in order to provide cover for the Lobby is another demonstration of the lengths that Lobby members have to go to in order to support a program that is against the interests of both the American Establishment and the American people. 

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