The wicked witch of Beirut nowadays talks to anyone who would listen. Literally, anyone.
On a side note, Playboy must be in REAL need these days, to engage a beauty of Helen Thomas’ caliber.
(Haaretz) Helen Thomas, former dean of the White House Press Corps, reportedly told Playboy in an interview for their April issue that Jews have power over the White House and Congress, who are in the pockets of the Israeli lobbies.
Thomas left her post at the White House after she publicly made anti-Israel comments last May, telling the Jews they should “get the hell out of Palestine.”
The former reporter told Playboy that the Israeli lobbies “are funded by wealthy supporters, including those from Hollywood. Same thing with the financial markets. There’s total control.”
When asked about her comments that ultimately cost her her job, Thomas told Playboy that “everybody knows my feelings about the Palestinians,” adding “sure, the Israelis have a right to exist—but where they were born, not to come and take someone else’s home. I’ve had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians. Why shouldn’t I say it? I knew exactly what I was doing—I was going for broke. I had reached the point of no return. You finally get fed up.”
Thomas also clarified that when she said the Jews should go back to Poland,Germany and America, that she was not referring to the concentration camps, but rather that “they should stay where they are because they’re not being persecuted—not since World War II, not since 1945.”
However, when asked about the Holocaust, Thomas told the magazine that “there’s nothing wrong with remembering it [the Holocaust], but why do we have to constantly remember? We’re not at fault.”
She then launched into criticism of Israel and its alleged oppression of the Palestinians, accusing the Jews of lacking introspection.
“Do the Jews ever look at themselves?” asked Thomas, “why are they always right? Because they have been oppressed throughout history, I know. And they have this persecution. That’s true, but they shouldn’t use that to dominate.”
The former reporter told Playboy that she is not anti-Jewish, just anti – Israel, saying she thinks Jews are wonderful people. :I’m not anti-Jewish,” clarified Thomas, “I’m anti-Zionist. I am anti Israel taking what doesn’t belong to it. If you have a home and you’re kicked out of that home, you don’t come and kick someone else out.”
This article gives a little too much ‘credit’ to one person, but to me the important point here is that we need to look into how the American college campus was lost so that we can go about trying to regain it.
How did the Jewish community, known for its rhetorical genius, lose a critically important political battle on American campuses? Here is a thumbnail sketch:
In 1990, James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, explained on Jordanian TV how the Arab Lobby can and will match Jewish political and organizational success in America. Zogby and his allies recognized that the campus and the media, unlike Capitol Hill, are two battle grounds that Arabists could win by allying themselves with the American left. In both venues they already had beachheads and feet on the ground. The campus was in transition politically, influenced by ’60s tenured radicals who had adopted the dogma of post-colonialism, and its Palestinian version, Professor Edward Said’s “Orientalism.”
Moreover, America was experiencing a significant increase in foreign born Muslim students as well as increased Muslim immigration (many from countries with a culture of vicious anti-Semitism). Zogby focused on forming alliances with Marxist professors, die-hard socialist activists, African- American student groups, gay-lesbian groups and, most importantly, Jewish progressives. He also realized that an emerging anti-Israel Left/Muslim axis on campus could be better organized and benefit from an inflow of Arab petro dollars into prestigious American universities. All this was happening while many Jewish leaders, intoxicated by the Oslo agreement, were abandoning Israel programming.
Today, we can see the brilliance of Zogby’s strategy: Anti-Israel sentiment suffuses the campus atmosphere. In the classroom, radical professors express the the dominant narrative that the Palestinians are right and the Israelis are in the wrong. In its mild form, the Palestinians suffer needlessly at the hands of Israeli occupiers; in its more vicious version, Israel is a racist, genocidal apartheid nation. Outside the classroom, anti-Israel groups hold conferences, screen films and conduct theatrical demonstrations that portray Israel in the harshest of terms. Israel’s advocates are rudely interrupted, prevented from speaking; pro-Israel events are disrupted; Jewish students are intimidated verbally or even physically, and are excluded from pro-Palestinian events. Pathetic attempts by Jewish groups to initiate dialogue with Palestinian students are rejected. Any acknowledgement of Israelis’ humanity is seen as a validation of Palestinian oppression. Our epoch’s secular religion – political correctness and multiculturalism – judges people by who they are, not what they do. Israelis are by definition always guilty, while darker skinned, impoverished, indigenous Palestinians are eternally innocent.
There’s another point that needs to be made here. For whatever reason, the vast majority of the American Jewish community is unfortunately incapable of voting Republican. As a result, the community either votes Democratic or stays home, and since most Jews don’t stay home on Election Day, the result is that the Democrat gets the Jewish vote regardless of their position on the issues. That leaves the Democrats free to do anything they want to court the Left – including abandon Israel.
The picture below thus reflects reality in today’s American Jewish community. And until that changes – until non-Orthodox Jews feel that they can vote Republican and not be deemed sinners for having done so – the Jewish community is likely to continue to be a partner in a radical Leftist agenda that includes supporting the ‘Palestinians.’
What could go wrong?
While the media and politicians engage in frenzied debate about the virtues and vices of building—or preventing the building of—a Muslim community center (cum mosque) near the “sacred ground” of 9/11, Iran continues to build a nuclear weapon, as the Israelis and Palestinians take a tentative step toward building a peaceful resolution to their age-old conflict. Inevitably, whenever Middle East issues take center stage, the question of the role of lobbies, particularly those that advocate for foreign countries, becomes a hot topic. This book by longtime Middle East authority, Mitchell Bard, is a must read for anyone who cares—and who doesn’t?—about the role of lobbies in influencing American policy in the Middle East. Its thesis, which is sure to be controversial, is easily summarized:“If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office.”
Yes Virginia, there is a big bad lobby that distorts U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East way out of proportion to its actual support by the American public. Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, author of the screed, The Israel Lobby, are right about that. But the offending lobby is not AIPAC, which supports Israel, but rather the Arab lobby, which opposes the Jewish state.
Both the pro-Israel and pro-Arab lobby (really lobbies because there are several for each) are indeed powerful but there is a big difference—a difference that goes to the heart of the role of lobbying in a democracy. Bard puts it this way:
“One of the most important distinguishing characteristics of the Arab lobby is that it has no popular support. While the Israeli lobby has hundreds of thousands of grass root members and public opinion polls consistently reveal a huge gap between support for Israel and the Arab nations/Palestinians, the Arab lobby has almost no foot soldiers or public sympathy. It’s most powerful elements tend to be bureaucrats who represent only their personal views or what they believe are their institutional interests, and foreign governments that care only about their national interests, not those of the United States. What they lack in human capital in terms of American advocates, they make up for with almost unlimited resources to try to buy what they usually cannot win on the merits of their arguments.”
This is a critical distinction for a democracy. The case for Israel (though not for all of its policies) is an easy sell for pro-Israel lobbyists, especially elected representatives. Voting in favor of Israel is popular not only in areas with a large concentration of Jewish voters, but throughout the country, because Israel is popular with Evangelical Christians in particular and with much, though certainly not all, of the public in general. Lobbies that reflect the will of the people are an important part of the democratic process. Thus, the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the principal lobbying group for the elderly, is extremely powerful because there are so many elderly people in this country who want to protect social security, Medicaid, and other benefits. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a powerful lobby precisely because so many Americans, for better or worse, love their guns. And The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful lobby because Americans, in general, support the Middle East’s only democracy and reliable American ally.
But why is the Arab lobby, and most particularly the Saudi lobby, also powerful? Saudi Arabia has virtually no support among Americans. Indeed, it is widely reviled for its export of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, its manipulation of oil prices, its anti-Christian and anti-Semitic policies, its total deprivation of any semblance of freedom of speech or dissent, and its primitive forms of punishment that include stoning and amputation. Yet, as Bard demonstrates, the Saudi lobby has beaten the pro-Israel lobby over and over again in head-to-head conflicts, such as the sale of sophisticated weapons to a regime that doesn’t even have the technical skills to use them, and the conflict over whether to move the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem. Even now, Saudi Arabia is lobbying to obtain a multibillion-dollar arms deal, and it is likely to succeed over the objections of Israel.
How then does a lobby with no popular support manage to exert influence in a democratic country? The secret is very simple. The Arab lobby in general and the Saudis in particular make little effort to influence popularly elected public officials, particularly legislators. Again, listen to Bard:
“The Saudis have taken a different tact from the Israeli lobby, focusing a top-down rather than bottom-up approach to lobbying. As hired gun, J. Crawford Cook, wrote in laying out his proposed strategy for the kingdom, ‘Saudi Arabia has a need to influence the few that influence the many, rather than the need to influence the many to whom the few must respond.'”
The primary means by which the Saudis exercise this influence is money. They spend enormous amounts of lucre to buy (or rent) former state department officials, diplomats, White House aides, and legislative leaders who become their elite lobbying corps. Far more insidiously, the Saudis let it be known that if current government officials want to be hired following their retirement from government service, they had better hew to the Saudi line while they are serving in our government. The former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, who was so close to the President George H.W. Bush that he referred to himself as “Bandar Bush,” acknowledged the relationship between how a government official behaves while in office and how well he will be rewarded when he leaves office. “If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office.”
Bard concludes from this well known quid pro quo that: “given the potential of these post-retirement opportunities, it would not be surprising if officials adopted positions while in government to make themselves marketable to the Arab lobby.”
The methodology employed by the Arab lobby is thus totally inconsistent with democratic governance, because it does not reflect the will of the people but rather the corruption of the elite, while the Israeli lobby seems to operate within the parameters of democratic processes. Yet so much has been written about the allegedly corrosive nature of the Israeli lobby, while the powerful Arab lobby has widely escaped scrutiny and criticism. This important book thus contributes to the open marketplace of ideas by illuminating the dark side of the massive and largely undemocratic Arab lobbying efforts to influence American policy with regard to the Middle East.