Writers who chronicle the history and evolution of political thought may one day look back at our era and marvel over the increasing popularity, among presumably “enlightened” progressive voices, of narratives which impute to organized Jewry both immense power and disloyalty – tropes typically associated with traditional right wing Judeophobia.
A case in point is the Guardian’s Simon Jenkins, who published an essay at CiF, Jan. 3, “Why is Britain ramping up sanctions against Iran?” – a title meant as a rhetorical question, a vehicle to decipher political phenomena he finds disagreeable in a manner consistent with his biases and lazy intellectual assumptions.
Jenkins introductory passages go beyond merely questioning the wisdom and efficacy of economic sanctions imposed by the US and UK to confront the Iranian nuclear threat, but suggests that any such attempt to coerce Iran is obviously doomed to fail.
Having established what every sane, reasonable person must surely know – that attempts to thwart the Islamist state’s nuclear ambitions, and quest for regional hegemony, will not succeed – Jenkins then pivots to the question of why, precisely, the U.S. has announced new commercial and financial sanctions on Iran:
“President Obama must show America’s pro-Israel lobby that he is tough somewhere in the Middle East.”
Of course, for Jenkins, the U.S. President’s policy towards Iran isn’t the result of in-depth analyses of the situation with his top foreign policy advisers. It also couldn’t possibly be dictated by national security interests, nor reflect the values of the commander-in-chief of the most power country on earth.
But, rather, such a sanctions regime must be the result of pressure exerted by pro-Israel American Jews, which, per Jenkins, represents “belligerence that makes some western leaders vulnerable to the inevitability of war.”
The Israel lobby isn’t merely behind Western sanctions against Iran. They’re prodding an unwilling, feckless American President to a disastrous military confrontation.
Economic sanctions are coward’s diplomacy. They purport to high moral stance but are merely a low-risk way of bullying the world. The danger is that they encourage militarist lobbies to escalate the steps that lead to open conflict.
Let’s be clear. By “militarist lobbies” he’s referring to organized American Jewry. And, by advancing a canard regarding the injurious effects of such “lobbies” he veers directly into the territory of xenophobia and nativism which he, as a liberal, presumably opposes.
The most prolific paleoconservative and unabashedly antisemitic voice in the U.S., Pat Buchanan, wrote in 2008 that “Israel and its Fifth Column in [Washington , DC] seek to stampede us into war with Iran”.
For the sake of clarity, a “fifth column” refers to a group of people (typically ethnic minorities) who are perceived as clandestinely undermining a larger a nation from within.
When it comes to employing tropes regarding the nefarious influence of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy, Guardian Left commentators such as Simon Jenkins are increasingly indistinguishable from the those who explicitly advance the classically antisemitic view that Jewish citizens of the U.S. (or other Western countries) are more loyal to Israel than to the interests of their own nations.
That Jenkins could simply be ignorant of the lethal history of this facile narrative about Jewish power is certainly possible.
But, one thing is certain. Sixty-five years after the Holocaust, with Jews representing less than 2% of the American population, it is horribly dispiriting that the charge that organized Jewry is too powerful (and is pushing the United States unwillingly to war) is not only fashionable and respectable but, evidently, considered consistent with “liberal” thought.