Saturday, October 31, 2009

Debusmann shills for J Street, Walt and Mearsheimer

In a column appearing yesterday, Reuters' Bernd Debusmann promotes the new political lobby group J Street as an alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and parrots the discredited claims of "political scientists" Walt and Mearsheimer to prop up his contention that support for Israel in the US Congress is due to AIPAC's "stranglehold":

Thanks largely to the enormous influence of AIPAC, which calls itself "America's pro-Israel lobby," criticism of Israel has been rare in Congress;

Debusmann's evidence for his assertion is...? [Silence] After all, it couldn't possibly be that the overwhelming support for Israel in the representative political body of the US is due to the overwhelming support for Israel in the US body politic? Nah, that would be just too facile for Debusmann's "analysis".

Debusmann then goes on to parrot another popular canard:

debate of U.S. policies towards the largest recipient [Israel] of U.S. economic and military aid even rarer.

According to the US Census Bureau, Israel placed tenth in US foreign economic aid in 2006 (the most recent year reporting), behind Iraq, Egypt and Jordan amongst others. Nice try, Bernd.

Israel was second in military assistance behind Iraq and of the approximately $2.3 billion provided, by law more than 70% of that money must be spent in the US, used to purchase military equipment from American firms and thus, directly benefiting the US economy.

For comparison, Egypt received almost $1.3 billion in arms from the US, and Saudi Arabia (which recycles just a small portion of the over $50 billion in petrodollars it collects from American consumers annually) will be spending over $2 billion on US weapons systems this year while it also benefits from de facto American defense guarantees. Debusmann has no comment on the power of the Arab lobby in the US.

Debusmann then tries to paint J Street as even-handed in its positions on the Middle East conflict:

J Street reacted to last December's Israeli attack on Gaza by criticising Hamas for raining rockets on Israeli civilians and Israel for punishing 1.5 million Gazans for the actions of extremists.

Here is what J Street actually wrote at the time:

Neither Israelis nor Palestinians have a monopoly on right or wrong. While there is nothing “right” in raining rockets on Israeli families or dispatching suicide bombers, there is nothing “right” in punishing a million and a half already-suffering Gazans for the actions of the extremists among them. And there is nothing to be gained from debating which injustice is greater or came first.

It was this absurd amorality, the incapacity or unwillingness on the part of J Street to distinguish between Palestinian efforts to murder Israeli civilians and Israeli actions to put a stop to those efforts that Rabbi Eric Yoffie was responding to when he called J Street "morally deficient".

Debusmann goes on to tout J Street as having successfully put to rest any doubt about their appeal to a select audience:

Still, the mood at J Street was upbeat. One of the reasons: an attendance that convincingly ended arguments whether there was an appetite for a left-wing organisation that shuns the reflexive Israel-right-or-wrong attitude of the established lobbies.

We would not disagree that J Street will have little difficulty attracting many (though not all) left-wing acolytes who, like the organization's Directors, are proponents of moral relativism. Unfortunately for J Street and Reuters, that list no longer includes others with the power to advance their anti-Israel agenda.

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