Manufacturing the Next Big Lie: The “Israel Lobby,” Jews & Iran
A Convergence of the Antiwar and Anti-Israel Movements
Posted: November 11, 2008
When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the far left antiwar and anti-Israel movements quickly united to condemn the war and to accuse the “Israel lobby” of forcing the U.S. into it. Now that tensions with Iran are escalating, these movements have similarly sought to blame the “Israel lobby” for trying to force the U.S. to go to war against Iran.
In fact, some of the most virulent charges about the “Israel lobby’s” role in pushing for a war against Iran come from the antiwar movement. Antiwar.com, a Web site that regularly posts articles criticizing the “Israel lobby,” features articles written by individuals who are critical of U.S. foreign policy both on the left and right-wing ends of the spectrum, including Patrick Buchanan, Michael Scheuer, and Juan Cole, a history professor at University of Michigan and political blogger.
In several articles, the site’s founder, Justin Raimondo, alleges that the “Israel lobby” is compelling the U.S. to wage war against Iran just like it did with Iraq. For example, in a November 2007 article that was also published on Press TV, the Iranian international news network, Raimondo wrote, “Beating the drums for war, the Israel lobby is pulling out all the stops, and this time they are out in the open about it. The fear that the Lobby would be too visible in promoting Israel's interests motivated them to keep a relatively low profile during the run-up to war with Iraq, but it isn't holding them back now.” Similarly, in a January 2007 article on Antiwar.com Raimondo had warned that the “power of the Lobby is being mobilized, and not quietly” to convince the U.S. to start a war with Iran.
Several antiwar events have provided a platform to link the antiwar and anti-Israel movements and to accuse the “Israel lobby” of controlling U.S. foreign policy. At the National Antiwar assembly, a conference held in late June 2008 in Cleveland, a resolution was passed explicitly linking the antiwar and anti-Israel agendas. Prior to the conference, Mazin Qumsiyeh, an anti-Israel activist and co-founder of Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, had promoted the event as an opportunity to “support a principled stance that Palestine and the anti-war movement are one and the same” and to convince the antiwar coalition to “connect Palestinian oppression and Israeli militarism to the wars against Iraq and likely war on Iran.”
Resolutions passed during the assembly that were drafted by the Connecticut-based Middle East Crisis Committee linked Palestine with the “broader antiwar struggle” and expressing strong opposition to any attack, intervention or sanctions against Iran.
Stanley Heller, chairman of the Middle East Crisis Committee, wrote an article about the conference that was published in CounterPunch in July 2008. In the article, titled “A Damned Good Assembly,” Heller praised MECC for getting the Palestinian “cause” on the conference’s agenda and noted that the MECC had also submitted language to the assembly criticizing the “Israel lobby’s” alleged influence in the decision to go to war with Iraq, adding that “Israel looms large among millions of Christians and Jews” and that pro-Israel Americans were taking orders from right-wing “reactionaries” in Israel.
Another attempt to link the antiwar and anti-Israel movements occurred on August 2, 2008, when a loose network of antiwar activists called StopWarOnIran.org organized protests in opposition to a possible war against Iran in over 80 U.S. cities. Several anti-Israel groups, including Al-Awda and Adalah-NY, helped organize and sent representatives to the protests. A flier for the event included the outrageous allegation that Israel and the U.S., not Iran, are the real “nuclear dangers,” and that U.S. tax dollars finance “Israeli repression of the Palestinians, to keep the area ‘safe’ for U.S. oil companies…Support the Palestinian people’s right to return!”
At the New York protest held in Times Square, several anti-Israel signs were displayed, including: “End the Occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine;” “Free Palestine;” “Cut All Ties to Israel/Outlaw the Jewish Lobby/No More War/ Dump Israel/ Remember the U.S.S Liberty;” and Al-Awda’s slogan, “Free Palestine From the River to the Sea,” an outright rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
Posters held at the StopWarOnIran.org event in Chicago’s Thompson Center were even more troubling. At the rally, one anti-Israel sign on display read “Bush-Cheney: Keep your bloody hands off Iran” and included two pictures, one of a crossed-out Israeli flag that had droplets of blood on it, and another of a bloodied hand that had an Israeli flag in its palm. After the rally, participants marched to the Israeli Consulate in further protest of a possible Israeli military offensive against Iran.
The signs at these rallies, which advocated for an end to Israel’s existence and alleged that Israel secretly manipulates U.S. policy, and the subsequent march to the Israeli consulate, are just several examples of the grotesque and offensive anti-Israel sentiment that has crept its way into the antiwar movement’s mission to prevent a war against Iran.
Online efforts that hold Israel responsible for pushing for a war against Iran - such as StopWarOnIran’s Web site and StopTheWarNow.net, which advocates ending aid to Israel as a means to a “Nuke-Free Mideast” - lend the anti-Israel protest movement an additional means to convey its views.