« CIA power play ousts DIA Chief | Main | "Kremlin regrets approval of punitive operation in southeast of Ukraine - Putin spokesman" »

02 May 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



Not everyone agrees...



Crocker was my boss (as Amb.) for a one-year stint in Islamabad. Very professional & committed guy in a strange and increasingly surreal situation. A previous tour in Karachi gave me a different perspective, one that didn't blend well w/the agreed wisdom of the compound, which was Agency-driven. Still & all, one of the more honorable & capable heads of mission I ran across.
Good to hear that he's still preaching to the pig-headed and unwashed -- how else to build up treasure in Heaven?

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

You beg a crucial question – that of how significant is the gap which is palpably opening up between government policies and the views of the wider society in at least some 'Western' countries.

There have been recurrent articles, in the Israeli press, complaining about the growth of hostility to Israel in Britain – and also the reluctance of many influential British Jews to act as cheerleaders for Israeli policy.

So, for example, an article in ‘The Jerusalem Post’ from March 2012, entitled ‘Anglo Jewish leaders and “trembling Israelites”’, was subtitled ‘Candidly Speaking: London has emerged as the European hub of Israeli delegitimization.’ An excerpt:

‘Robert Wistrich, the expert on global anti-Semitism, refers to the “evil wind blowing through England’s green and pleasant land” in which anti-Israeli rhetoric has infiltrated all levels of the British intelligentsia to the extent that “it may be time to leave.”

‘Yet in this context, Anglo Jewish leadership remains in denial. In his Jerusalem Post interview, Wineman conceded that “there is an awful lot of anti-Israeli feeling which sometimes morphs into anti-Semitism.” Yet, when Robin Shepherd, a leading non-Jewish academic and friend of Israel, remarked that the dramatic upsurge of anti-Israeli feeling and boycotts suggested “that the darkness is closing in... for the Jews of Britain,” Wineman castigated him for being “misguided and alarmist.”’

The article also discusses some interesting remarks by Mick Davis, a prominent (originally South African) Jewish business figure, who heads the Jewish leadership council:

‘Davis, who also heads the United Jewish Israel Appeal, had previously created a storm by urging British Jews to criticize the Jewish state’s handling of the peace process. Employing the terminology of our enemies, he warned that Israel was in danger of becoming an “apartheid” state.

‘In remarks unprecedented for any Diaspora Jewish leader, Davis stated: “I think the government of Israel has to recognize that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London, UK. When they do good things, it is good for me when they do bad things, it’s bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel. I want them to recognize that.”’

(See http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Anglo-Jewish-leaders-and-trembling-Israelites )

It is clear that many Zionists – in Israel, the United States and to some extent in Britain, as the comments by Wistrich illustrate – cannot see what is going on. The notion that the increase in hostility to Israel here is the product of a recurrence of anti-Semitism is complete BS.

Indeed, what defines Mick Davis’s problem is precisely the fact that he knows that it is precisely many of the most traditionally philosemitic elements in British society – myself and my wife being cases in point – who have turned against Israel.

Accordingly, people like Davis – who is, incidentally, not a Sheldon Adelson figure, but a fundamentally decent and civilised man – are caught in an untenable and indeed in many ways tragic situation. It is enormously psychologically traumatic for them to abandon their commitment to Israel. But they also know that going on acting as Israel’s apologists would have no effect whatsoever in countering the shift of opinion here against the country – and would simply undermine their own position.

A question which has preoccupied me for a long time is whether similar dynamics are at work in the United States.

It now seems to me that there are three critical differences between the American and British situations – all of which relate to the complex relationship of American and British culture.

One is that the eschatological strain in Protestant Christianity, which originated in Britain, remains quite strong in the United States, but is no longer strong here, even among Evangelicals.

Another is that the American Jewish community appears to be largely dominated by people who were, and remain, fundamentally ghetto Jews. In Britain, by contrast, there is a much greater influence both of Anglo-Jewish elites some of whose members had a passionate determination to escape from the ghetto, and of German ‘yekke’ culture, which was fundamentally assimilationist.

Bound up with both these facts is what seems to me a curious phenomenon: the willingness of so many of the ‘goyim’ in the United States to be blackmailed by explicit or implicit accusations of complicity in the Holocaust. Over here, such accusations no longer cut any ice.

How the situation is developing in the countries of continental Europe I cannot say.

Margaret Steinfels

DH, It is curious, isn't it: "Bound up with both these facts is what seems to me a curious phenomenon: the willingness of so many of the ‘goyim’ in the United States to be blackmailed by explicit or implicit accusations of complicity in the Holocaust. Over here, such accusations no longer cut any ice."

Let me add to the little rundown of my perceptions of American attachment to Israel. I focused before on the dread of being labelled an anti-Semite.

A less obvious factor and one that needs some historical excavation is the tendency of many U.S. Catholics to assume responsibility for the Holocaust. Over many decades, U.S. Catholics seems to have stepped up for the German Catholic Church and Hitler (about which much has been written) and accepted a kind of vicarious responsibility. From that perspective, criticism of Israel is pretty much verboten.


In this respect I think of all these countries as failed or failing democracies.

First, the historical and current information is not widely available and is systemically distorted in its public presentation. Secondly, those who act to set the record straight are attacked and intimidated. Third, there is no party running in those countries which take a different position vis-a-vis Israel/Palestine. Fourth, the fact that there are no parties that take a different position is not a reflection of undivided popular opinion, but rather the role of an engaged and biased press, access to financial support, and acts of intimidation to stifle the debate. And fifth, perhaps most importantly: it is widely felt that the harmful effects of a misguided and sectarian Middle Eastern policy can be kept "over there".

Until there is a wide open debate with all the information available and discussed, including a frank acknowledgment of how failed Middle Eastern policy is changing daily life and legal values in the countries that pursue it, and then a vote where different options are actually available, then I think it somewhat misleading to suggest the governments are following the will of the people in this regard.

If you wish to justify yourself by saying that this can't happen, or will never happen, then I think you are joining me in my initial point that these countries currently represent failing or failed democracies.

Babak Makkinejad

All I see is a deep religious commitment from ostensibly secular polities to the religious cause of Jews.

It is amusing, you must admit, that with that religious commitment and sentiment goes, at the same time, a military alliance that seems to be itching for the next bombing and the next war - all the while upholding the Absolute Freedom of naked young women to eject eggs from the orifices of their bodies in public as expressions of Artistic and Intellectual Freedom?

Where is Petronius the Arbiter when one needs him?

Babak Makkinejad

Surely you cannot be seriously arguing that electorate in Germany or Denmark or Sweden or Italy are ill-informed?

I find your position untenable since as far as I can tell information regarding Palestine, for example, is widely available - in the age of Internet etc.

You are, in my opinion, trying to excuse the electorate and absolve them from their responsibility in all of this.

One cannot, I think, keep on saying that "I was neo-conned" for decades and be credible.

In my opinion, stating that the electorate of a billion people is in Love with Israel is a more plausible hypotheses than stating that democracy has failed among 30 states during the past several decades.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you; I did not know that US Catholics had also drunk deep at that Kool Aide fountain.


I think it important to note, briefly, that the intimidation against those who publicly question Israeli policy in the West Bank and Gaza is not restricted to accusations of being an anti-Semite, which is the public act.

People are threatened with physical harm by anonymous phone callers, and malicious representations are made to one's professional superiors, etc..

It is not pretty, nor is it in the abstract.


I was thinking more of the anglo countries: the US, Canada, the UK, Australia; those countries with media that I know and follow, and where the "democratic deficit" at the federal (or central state) level, for a number of structural reasons, is all too real.

However, even given that, my suspicion is that there is much less popular support of Israeli intransigence in Germany, Sweden and Italy (I leave out Denmark) than you seem to be suggesting. Certainly your claim of a billion people I find rhetorical.

As to your last paragraph: I really wasn't claiming 30 states, that is your number that has suddenly appeared, but limiting ourselves to the English speaking nations; we disagree.

Quoting you: "All I see is a deep religious commitment from ostensibly secular polities to the religious cause of Jews."

Perhaps that is all you see, but that is not all there is to be seen.

Babak Makkinejad

NATO consists of 28 member states, add to that Australia and New Zealand and you will get 30.

Japan and Korea are not sovereign states and their position in this is not decided by their electorates.



To get specific of what else is to be seen, and this at a most critical moment of decision, I recommend John Judis' recent book, Genesis: Truman, American Jews and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict.

A well written review of the book is to be found here: http://mondoweiss.net/2014/04/judiss-landmark-zionism.html

Quoting from that review: "... Harry Truman was opposed to establishing a religious state in Palestine out of the fear that it would lead to endless conflict, and possibly World War III. But he was overwhelmed by a Zionist lobby that corrupted the policy-making process."

Please note that this information in a concise, readable and well documented form is only coming out in 2014.

I would also point out that much of the historical print news from the Middle East came through AP, Reuters, and NYT. It would be silly to start in on the biases of these sources, but the prejudices are real and well documented. They have long term repercussions.

If I am reading you correctly – and I apologize if I am not – the point you are making is that western society (your 30 nations) are not as secular as they pretend, and act according to perceived religious affiliations. Personally, I have no argument with that as a generalization, but the actual historical decisions made regarding Israel were not made by general western populations: they were specific decisions made within specific interest groups (see above). That has not changed.

(Many non-Zionist Jews, by the way, both religious and non-religious, fought and still fight the establishment of a religious Jewish state and the theocratic ideological commitment behind it.)

I am not trying to excuse the electorate and absolve them from responsibility. I spend a good deal of time trying to help that responsibility be met. I am saying that they have not had access to informed historical interpretation, I am saying that those who have spoken out have been (and are) attacked, I am saying that one's vote on the subject is impossible to have noted as no party represents the contrary position, partially due to the bias of the press, and I am saying that one of the reasons that this "democratic deficit" is tolerated is that what happens "over there" hasn't been taken to be all that important.

However, the conflict is no longer simply "over there", and can't be kept at arms length forever. The consequences are becoming more clear, just as the democratic institutions are, for a variety of reasons, becoming ever weaker.


NATO policies are not a reflection of popular majority desires in NATO countries. You are proving my point about failing democratic institutions.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad