An Israel lobby? So what if there is one?


By Miriam Shaviv
November 17, 2009
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Last night's Dispatches, about the so-called Israel lobby, was repulsive on several different levels, not least because it heavily promoted the antisemitic stereotype of Jews with money manipulating the political system.

The main problem for me, however, was that it turned perfectly normal political activity into something sinister.

Lobbying is part and parcel of a healthy political system. There are thousands of different groups pushing for some agenda, or interest, or another. Israel supporters asking politicians to understand Israel's motivations better are no different to any other group pressing for their pet cause.

Any claims of 'Zionists' gaining power through contributions to political parties make no sense whatsoever unless compariative figures are given for pro-Arab contributions - and contributions by other lobby groups (such as unions). Any talk of Zionist 'influence' makes no sense without a proper discussion of the influence of pro-Palestinian groups etc - a far more important group in electoral terms.

When the BBC and Guardian complained about the unbearable pressure put upon them by Israel supporters, did Dispatches ask what kind of pressure was put upon them by Palestinian supporters? Different media organisations routinely complain that the reason reporting on the Middle East is so difficult is that they are attacked equally - by both sides.

In short, where was the context? 

The sad truth is that Israel's supporters - a motley collection of groups and individuals with different purposes, politics and operations, not by any means one coordinated effort, as Dispatches would have you believe - have very little power or influence in this political system, and even less in the media. I wish they had more.

For effective deconstructions of the programme, check out Jonathan Hoffman on CiFwatch; Melanie Phillips; Robin Shepherd; and Tom Gross.

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 13:11

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Well said Miriam


iainlrabbak

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 13:24

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Dispatches was a total damp squib. If you look for antisemitism in programmes about Israel, you will find it. Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf so many times, no one paid any attention when a real one came along. And it is still unclear who actually funds CFI, LFI, Bicom and the JLC--an unelected body purporting to represent British Jews. I'm more worried about the arrogance of wealth than third-rate, cut-and-paste TV programmes on a minority channel.


Benio

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 13:26

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They've clearly gotten to Shaviv. There's no evidence and I'm not alleging any conspiracy but I just know they have. [unrelated images from Gaza follow].


iainlrabbak

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 14:01

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Let's stop crying wolf every time Israel is mentioned in the press. Neither of Cris Morris's nor Chas Newkey-Burden's blogs is a good piece, because they turn the programme into a report about a "Jewish conspiracy". This is a straw man argument, since no such claim was made. But let's get some transprency: who does fund CFI, LFI, Bicom and the JLC--an unelected body purporting to represent British Jews. I'm more worried about the arrogance of wealth than third-rate, cut-and-paste TV programmes on a minority channel.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 14:20

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What would really be good if some looked beyond their own daled amot (the six-feet squared of comfort zone). Having non-Jewish friends gives one a totally different perspective on the world, I find.


Phoenix

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 18:44

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Whether a political lobby is good or evil in intent depends entirely on whether you are for its cause or against it.

If you are against Israel you see a Jewish conspiracy, if for then you see patriotic support for the Jewish homeland.

Again critics of Israel can be condemned as anti-Semites or self-hating Jews while supporters are obviously Arab hating colonialists.

What bothers me sometimes about the pro-Israel lobby is the noise to signal ratio, given that we are all boringly familiar with the story, although it is often much distorted in the telling, on both sides.

I do also wonder why so many of our MPs are "Friends of Israel". Difficult to appear impartial in peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, or when making war against Muslim countries.


vortigern (not verified)

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 22:29

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Yesterday's programme was a very courageous expose by Channel Four, although really it only highlighted that eternal curse about which everyone knows but yet dare not speak: Jewish Supremacism. It is a shame for the Channel that it will now be bombarded by the usual abuse, hate mail and threats from all the nasty people mobilised throughout the world by the Lobby. Further, I wouldn't be surprised if the programme makers are now taking precautions regarding their personal security in the light of the Lobby's known criminal expertise.


Phoenix

Wed, 11/18/2009 - 16:21

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vortigern
By EU definition your comment is ant-semitic. There is no such thing as "Jewish supremacism". There may be supremacist Jews, just as there are supremacist English and Americans but is is totally wrong to lump everybody together under one name and one term of abuse.


vortigern (not verified)

Wed, 11/18/2009 - 22:30

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Phoenix:
One can talk about, for example, 'white supremacism' without necessarily implying that all whites are supremacists. Jewish supremacism does exist - just as white supremacism does - and its adherents, who I believe are a minority within world Jewry, do not do the position and reputation of their compatriots any favours.

As for the charge of being 'anti-semitic', this term of abuse is banded about so much these days, often by paranoid commentators in the tabloid press in an attempt to silence all and any criticism of Israel, that its meaning has wearily become so diluted as to render it almost meaningless.

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