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Petras - The Power of Israel in the United States (2006) - Synopsis

Petras - The Power of Israel in the United States (2006) - Synopsis

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Published by Mark K. Jensen
Synopsis of James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States (Atlanta & Halifax: Clarity Press, 2006). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on May 14, 2007.
Synopsis of James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States (Atlanta & Halifax: Clarity Press, 2006). Discussed at Digging Deeper (www.ufppc.org) on May 14, 2007.

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Published by: Mark K. Jensen on Jun 03, 2009
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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper XXXI: May 14, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
 James Petras,
The Power of Israel in the United States
(Atlanta & Halifax:Clarity Press, 2006).Introduction.
The suppression of Hamas’s democratic victory on Jan. 25,2006, and the “Israeli state terror”unleashed after a Palestinian suicideattack on Apr. 17, 2006, were supportedby propaganda of “the Jewish Lobby” —“as practically all Israeli commentatorsfondly refer to it” (11-12)
[Comment:This is an exaggeration. Haaretz andYediot Aharonot do not appear to use theterm “the Jewish lobby”; the JerusalemPost does (e.g., most recently, YossiKlein Halevi of the Shalem Center, in aforum published by Shira Teger as“Coming Together, Falling Apart,”  Jerusalem Post, Apr. 23, 2007: “What weknow today as the Jewish lobby largely owes its empowerment to the Six Day War.”]
“This book is about the power of the Jewish Lobby to influence US MiddleEastern policy” (13). “[T]he majority of 
fundraisers
for the Democratic Party andthe minority financiers of the RepublicanParty” are “Jewish-funded Political ActionCommittees (PACs),” citing J.J. Goldberg,
 Jewish Power: Inside the JewishEstablishment 
(Basic Books, 1997) and“[a] more recent survey by RichardCohen of the
Washington Post 
” (13).
[Comment: The former source is nocited by Mearsheimer & Walt; noreference for the latter is given by Petras, but he may be referring to anarticle cited by them, entitled “GOP UsesRemarks to Court Jews,” WashingtonPost (March 13, 2003), Page A01, inwhich Thomas B. Edsall and AlanCooperman wrote that “In presidentialelections, Democratic candidates dependon Jewish supporters to supply as muchas 60 percent of the money raised from private sources.”]
Petras insinuates thatU.S. aid to Israel is recycled into thepolitical fundraising (14). “The basis of the Lobby’s PAC power is rooted in thehigh proportion of Jewish families amongthe wealthiest families in the UnitedStates” and Canada (14). “The tyrannyof Israel over the US” results in gravethreats to world peace (14). Intellectualshave a responsibility to confront this(15). “More specifically, activistintellectuals must challenge peacemovements that refuse to criticize theLobby or Israel’s militarist policies” (15).Outline of book (15-16).
[Comment:“The tyranny of Israel over the US” and“the Jewish lobby” are terms that areinadequately justified here and are not supported by the available evidence.]
PART I: ZIONIST POWER IN AMERICACh. 1: Who Fabricated the IraqWar Threat?
“[T]he OSP [thePentagon’s Office of Special Plans] andits directors, Feith and Wolfowitz, werespecifically responsible for the fabricatedevidence of the ‘Weapons of MassDestruction’ that justified the war on Iraq(20). The OSP was part of a “network” of “political appointees” who “shared arightwing pro-militarist ideology andwere fanatically pro-Israel” (20). Big Oildid not promote the war on Iraq (21).Iran warmongering demonstrates that“the US-Jewish-Israeli lobby” is actuallyacting “counter to the interests of all theworld’s major oil companies” (22).Attacks “Zionist policymakers” in U.S.government (23-24). Minimizes thenumber of “progressive Jews” critical of “Zionist zealots in the Pentagon” (25).
Ch. 2: The US-Iraq-Israel-ZionistConnection.
[At 35 pp., the longestchapter in the book.] “The only majorbeneficiary of the war has been the Stateof Israel” by eliminating an importantopponent of “Greater Israel” (27-28).Israel was “able to influence the USimperial state” through “key pro-Zionistofficials in and around the most
 
important policy making positions in theBush administration,” with “the powerfulsupport exercised by Sharon’s acolytes inthe major Jewish organizations in theUS . . . [t]he Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, andthousands of their activists” (29). Israelhope to have access to oil via a Kirkuk-Haifa pipeline; three U.S. bases in Iraqare being situated along the potentialconstruction line (29-30). That U.S. is a“colonized empire” in “subservience toits supposed ally” is supported by U.S.behavior in incidents like the
USS Liberty 
bombing in 1967, the Jonathan Pollardcase in 1968, and the Marc Rich pardonin 2000 (31-33). U.S. politicians make“numerous annual pilgrimages” to Israel(33). The U.S. votes to protect Israel inthe U.N. (33). Israel may have failed toshare 9/11-related intelligence (33-35).“The power of Israel” is grounded in “theDiaspora, the highly structured andpolitically and economically powerful Jewish networks which have direct andindirect access to the centers of powerand propaganda in” the U.S. (36-37).“Colons” brazenly and irrationally assertthe superiority of Israel’s security policies(37-39). Israel’s economy is sustained byoutside support (39). U.S. support comesfrom: 1) Wealthy organizations (40-41);2) U.S. government support (41-46); 3)influence in media (46-47); 4) civilsociety organizations like trade unions(47). Wolfowitz and Feith, the architectsof Iraq war, are examples of the “ZPC inaction” (48-54). Campaign against thepaper by Mearsheimer and Walt (55-56). Tirade provoked by insufficient criticismof Zionist policies (55-57).
[Comment:Petras glides from “Zionist” to “Jewish” again and again; leaves some assertionsundocumented; introduces a key term,“[t]he Zionist power configuration (ZPC)” (46) surreptitiously; uses exaggeratedterms like “subordinated” (46),“pervasive . . . influence” (46), “captureof US foreign policy” (49); “the Jewishauthoritarians” (55); “ever protective of everything Jewish” (56). He exaggeratesthe critical response to the Mearsheimer-Walt essay (55); there were, in fact,many prominent Jewish Americans whodefended the two scholars.]
 
Ch. 3: The Libby Affaire and theInternal War.
Discussion of Libby trialhas failed to address a key point: I.Lewis “Scooter” Libby was “a member of an ideologically cohesive group” (61).Review of the neoconservatives’ risinginfluence; Petral admits this came aboutin a “very open and direct way” (62). The FBI has been engaged in “permanentwarfare” with Mossad (63-64).Resistance to Israel lobby compared toresistance to McCarthyism (64).
[Comment: Petras introduces the term ZionCon (62) without comment.Misspells Gen. William Odom’s name as“Oden” (62). Petras uses exaggeratedterms: “overweening drive for totalcontrol of government policy, motivatedby their fanatical loyalty to Greater Israel” (63); “the ZionCon juggernaut” (64). No sources given for this chapter.]
Ch. 4: Exposing the Exposé:Seymour Hersh and the MissingZionist-Israeli Connection.
Denounces Hersh’s account as“selective,” protective of Feith andWolfowitz, neglecting Israeli sources fortorture techniques, being “empire-centric” (68), too focused on Rumsfeldand Cambone (69-70). Charges he isengaged in “attempts to head off theanti-Zionist headhunting coalition byfocusing on the two Goyim—Rumsfeldand Cambone” (70). Chapter’s“conclusion” forgets entirely about Hershand rails against AIPAC (71-72).
[Comment: Petras becomesconspiratorial, making unfoundedcharges about motives (Hersh’s andRumsfeld’s, for example) though in other contexts he acknowledges how open the process has been. His rhetoric becomesmore and more violent (e.g. “It wasalmost a perverse pleasure to watch
 
Sharon smear the muck and gore of Rafah on the groveling faces of US politicians” (72).]
Ch. 5: The Spy Trial: A PoliticalBombshell.
Makes broadgeneralizations about Israeli spying inU.S. (73-74). Cites unnamed “sources”saying that the Mossad threw U.S.investigators “off the track” “just prior tothe [9/11] attack” (74). Asserts thatMossad fed disinformation many journalists in 1980s and 1990s butnames no sources (74). Vague accountof FBI efforts against Israeli spying (75-76). Account of investigation of LarryFranklin and his arrest, followed by pro-AIPAC declarations by leading membersof Congress (76-77). Public opinionsupports (61% of likely voters) havingAIPAC register as an agent of a foreignpower (78). Resignation of Steven Rosenand Keith Weissman of AIPAC; theirsubsequent indictment (79). Muchpropaganda related to this “major
causecélèbre
” (80-81).
[Comment: Thischapter gives few details about the factsof this case.]
PART II: ISRAEL AND MIDDLE EASTWARFARE Ch. 6: The House of Horrors: Torture, Assassinations,and Genocide.
The U.S. empire hasbeen built on “military violence” (82-83). Torture and violence against civilianshave been necessary to sustain U.S.power (83-84). The U.S. has adoptedMossad’s policy of targetedassassinations (84-86). The U.S. is using“the Salvador option” to attack Iraqi civilsociety institutions like universities andcultural institutions in a policy thatamounts to collective punishment and ismodeled on “Israeli policy towardPalestinians” (89; 86-89). Zionistinfluence asserted (90-91).
[Comment:Thin documentation; exaggeratedrhetoric (“Today it is the extremist  Zionist militarists in the Pentagon whodirect the US Horror Show in Iraq” [90]). And Petras is inconsistent: though thishas long been U.S. state practice, heasserts the importance of a specialIsraeli role.]
Ch. 7: Israel’s Final Solution: TheAssault on Gaza.
Israel’s assault onGaza beginning Jun. 28, 2006, was aimedat the Palestinian leadership (93-96). Itdestroyed six myths: 1) that Israelsupports democracy (97); 2) that Israelseeks peace (97-99); 3) that Israel isinterested in a two-state solution (99); 4)that Israel supports human rights (asopposed to state terror) (99-100); 5) thatthe Israel Lobby advances Americaninterests, as opposed to Israeli statepolicy (100-02); 6) that Israeli policy onprisoner exchanges has integrity (102-04). Analysis of BBC coveragedemonstrates success in influencingmass media (104-07). Conclusionreprises charge of ethnocide’ (116) (107-09; cf. 94).
[Comment: The term ‘FinalSolution’ is used in quotes (94, 108)without explanation—an objectionable practice that weakens what is one of thebetter-argued chapters of the book.]
Ch. 8: “Mad Dog” Ravages Lebanon.
 The 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflictillustrates the influence of the IsraelLobby (110-19).
[Comment: Petrasabsurdly charges that “the military attack was directed toward destroying allof Lebanon” (113; emphasis in original).Exaggerated rhetoric: “the JewishLobby’s monopoly of the mass media” (118).]
 
Ch. 9: Israel’s War with Iran: TheComing Mideast Conflagration.
Lobby promoting war with Iran (122).Unprecedented advance publicity (122-23). Use of March 2006 “deadline” toincrease pressure (123-24). Disputeswithin U.S. establishment; lobby citesdangers to U.S., not Israeli, security (124-28). Notes that “[o]nly 29 percent of 
[American?—probably, but not clear fromcontext]
Jews are active promoters of Israel. . . . It is important to note that the

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