Scott Horton Interviews Jim Lobe

Scott Horton, June 04, 2008

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IPS’s Jim Lobe discusses the role of the Israel Lobby in American politics, why groups like AIPAC lean so far right compared to most American Jews, AIPAC’s immense influence, how the Christian-right’s support of Israel is simply an “instrumentalist” means to an apocalyptic end and the Lobby’s role in U.S. Iran policy.

MP3 here. (22:43)

YouTube here.

Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service‘s correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

18 Responses to “Jim Lobe”

  1. Jim Lobe continues to be an Israel lobby minimizer and an unconvincing minimizer of the danger of an Israel-driven US war against Iran.

    He shows a disturbing sympathy with, or at least respect for:

    (a) the idea that, for Israel’s security, Iran “must not” acquire nuclear weapons, [and 'must' necessarily implies that while diplomacy is preferable to war, we Americans must be willing to go to war to prevent it]; and

    (b) the idea that even Iran’s enriching of uranium – which the NPT allows – “must” be stopped [with 'must' implying the same as above] (He even tries to tell us that some “non-proliferation lobby” is the real engine behind this idea. Oh, I’m sure Washington politicians are *terrified* of the “non-proliferation lobby”!).

    He seems to try to soften the extremism of the AIPAC leadership by saying that the fact that these people mostly “prefer” settling the matter without war makes them more moderate than we might fear.

    Give me a break! It’s that “must” that makes them extremists, period. The very idea that we “must” do this is absurd.

    Furthermore, Israeli officials privately say that they do not believe that an Iran possessing nuclear weapons would launch a (certainly suicidal) first strike against Israel, or that Iran would hand off such a weapon to freelance terrorists. Yes, there is always an outside possibility otherwise, but it is not the duty of the US to undertake, regardless of any “failure of negotiations”, to make Israel safe from any *possible*, *conceivable* such harm by launching a ruinous, “preventive” war of aggression against Iran or anyone.

    No nation, not even Israel, has the right to have that kind of guaranteed safety, and *certainly* not at massive cost to another nation.

    Jim Lobe has for a long time been subtly minimizing both the rabidness of the Israel lobby’s aggressive intentions toward Iran and the massiveness of the Israel lobby’s influence.

    Regarding the latter, note that at the beginning of the interview we also see this minimizing tendency, where he tries to say that the Israel lobby is less powerful not only than the AARP and NRA but even the National Association of Manufacturers!

    Please! When — ever! — have we seen all of the presidential candidates and Congressional leaders from *both* parties assembled before the NRA, groveling to outdo each other in passionate displays of devotion? And when ever did we see video of such a display approvingly replayed on TV political commentary shows without a peep of criticism from any pundit, ‘left’ or ‘right’, uttered against a candidate for kissing up to the NRA? And at any rate, don’t these other lobbies — as bullying and over-muscled as they are – at least represent actual *American* interests, as opposed to those of a foreign country?

  2. I can’t help adding a couple of other observations:

    (1) Lobe at one point refers to “the – well OK, let’s call it the ‘Israel lobby’ “. This skeptical attitude towards the very term “Israel lobby” shows that to some extent Lobe has adopted the attitude that somehow even saying that there *is* an Israel lobby is wrong. The cruder critics just take the Abe Foxman position that to claim the existence of an Israel lobby is inherently “anti-Semitic”. Lobe seems to subscribe to some milder version of this lie.

    (2) Lobe explains that those nicer, more liberal Jews (who nevertheless are happy to retain membership in AIPAC even though it loudly espouses viciously bellicose positions that are supposedly seriously objectionable to nice liberal Jews) are, in recent years, more “reluctant to trust” the Palestinians. He implies sympathy with this position. Well, let’s look at the usual the basis for this attitude, which has been popular among pseudo- and post-liberal Jews since the second intifada broke out. What’s usually behind this attitude is the false but common wisdom, fostered by the lobby, that (a) Ehud Barak made an “extremely generous” offer that the Palestinians were crazy not to accept; and that (b) Arafat broke off these wonderfully promising peace talks. Hence this “Even the most liberal of us can’t trust them now!” complaint: “We were SOOOO generous, and they spit in our faces!!!” Those of us who have done the reading know full well that (a) the offer was completely unacceptable if we grant the Palestinians the right to any sort of self-respect, and that (b) it was Barak who broke off the talks. So where is this fresh reason to have, with sad reluctance, lost all that “trust” and good will which the liberal Israelis and liberal American Jews previously had for the Palestinians?

  3. wow, Jim Lobe really does chose his words carefully while trying to paint AIPAC with the broadest brush possible. Every large organization has factions and the importance aspect of any organization is the dominant faction. The peaceful groups are most certainly not vocal and marginalized. Lobe acts as if they are important members of the Israeli lobby.

    On the Iran issue he clearly minimizes Israel’s role. I have not read as much of his work lately and I was reminded why I slowly stopped to read him.

  4. Thank you Eric and Michael above, whose views are mine. I hope Jim Lobe reads/hears you and soon changes his tune.

  5. i m a native born American who was adopted by a jewish immigrant who fled veinna because of ww2. i have 23 years of intensive hebrew yeshiva(school) i spent 2 years studying in isreal and that is where i became an atheist. with that said the situation in israel is very different from a few years ago and it is very unfavorable.
    firstly to address scotts point about being a jew shielding someone from retaliation for voicing decent against Israel is completely the opposite israel does not care about decent from Christians or muslims it jews who are the most harshly targeted for being viewed as insiders committing treason.(just like any group the apostate is worse than the infidel)
    as far who is really pulling the stings one has to look at the situation not from the sectarian conflicts (witch are real and there but by there nature very confined and more about negotiation then violence for violence sake) the real thin you have to look at is who is profiting from the material conditions and one thing i was always amazed at was the amount of candor idf officers and soldiers alike will admit to the fact that they are nothing more than the greatest weapons and tactics testing ground. while most countries that receive us weapon do take them apart and learn anything they can the israelis take nothing with about complete modification. and so just like the nuclear weapons industry cant stand having to relie on computer simulated testing no weapons manufacture want to take new production lines with out field testing and not just test ranges.

    iran
    iran from israel’s p.o.v. having the bomb is unacceptable to israel because it is veiw as the end of zionism becuase the scatter masses of jews will no longer be drawn to immigrate to israel
    from the arabs states point of view iran is not so much a threat to the “arabs” as it is to the current us backed status quo and a nuclear armed iran would create a pivot where arab states that wanted independence from usa and our installed dictators will have a power to turn to for support.
    this is the problem with the recent widespread use of the term “hamastan” by israeli officials (mp haim roman last sat, near east institute washington) is that by internationalizing gaza they are turning a local dispute that i believe is not that difficult to solve(if there was any reason for israel to do so) in to an international one where larger powers might actually back hamas with “real support” rather that the bs we call sopport today.
    in my view since isreal used the un partition plan as one of its justifications for independence is the only just solution since in my mind the if it is the law of the international community that a state may not obtain land threw war. so even though our country and many more have alot of land to be returning. we at the very least did not use a un resolution to declare a state and having done so one would think they would give slightly more respect to the institution that while a failure atm could have done great thing(non proliferation, ie).
    so like i said israel is no longer on the high ground that it thinks and it is tied to the hip with us and if the don’t start cleaning up there act and start pushing us to do the same i don’t see the future for israel where a large scale war engulfs the region and a large pissed off population of palistinain refugees witch are in every major city near israel oman damascus and many more making and crescent across isreals entire border.
    so in my opinion when every single major American leader has to go before aipac and espouse garbage that help not americans not israelis and not palistinians. just think about the start of our democracy when a group that at the very most represented 6 million people(and i know plenty of jews who don’t vote) and i wear a keffiya so i don’t think they are counting me, also try and remember which way allot of these groups work they are top down the point is not representing jews but framing policies in a way to be view with favor by particular groups
    the people who have the power do not want to be seen so be for you say its the jews remember that the children being born in illegal settlements who have no chance of staying there if there is ever to be peace, are taught that it is the moral duty and the greatest good possible to stay on that land… that child abuse in my mind
    i

  6. spot on eric
    the question of trust has been moved from the realm of fact and record to one of rhetoric where the one actor who consistently does not abide to agreements can stand there and say “that they’d love to do something but who can they trust” well i guess it hard to trust people you repeatedly screw

  7. I find Lobe to be pretty informative and objective
    on the subjects of the Israel lobby and neoconservatism
    and very much appreciate his insights.
    If you want something with more teeth in it, read Jeffrey Blankfort.

    I’ve learned a lot from both without having to go to some hate site.

  8. Look, Mr. Lobe, let’s not pussyfoot around the issue, huh? The Israel Lobby exists; it controls “American policy” in the Middle East; and it wants America to fight Israel’s war(s) in the Middle East. The Lobby pulls the strings on its puppets Mad Bomber McInsane, “Commando Hillary” Clinton, and (possibly) Barak Obama.

    Representative Ron Paul, God bless him, is about the only man in Washington who isn’t bought and bossed by the Lobby.

  9. In the past no one would have taken Hagee and his ilk seriously. I believe the reason he is getting press today is that he provides a cover, a sort of target for leftist, liberal Israeli supports to blame and wring their hands over while the process of Palestinian displacement continues.

  10. Read Justin Raimondo’s trenchant piece today, “Obama Capitulates – to the Israel Lobby”. Read Raimondo’s deadly wise warning that our bizarre enthrallment to Israel is about to lead us into a catastrophic war against Iran. Consider how right Raimondo has been so far in every important respect about what is happening in this country, and how well he always supports his assertions with solid sources and damning quotations from the very mouths of the fanatics who misrule us and the cowards who go along with them.

    Now compare this with the tone and content of Jim Lobe’s pieces over the past year or two, which call us not to a properly appalled appreciation of the facts, but to paralysis and even complacency as we behold carefully contrived and utterly phony complexities and uncertainties – (“Well, it looks like we’re probably not going to attack Iran …. but maybe we will … but probably not … but Israel’s supporters don’t really want war … or some of them do, but it’s really deeper than that .. oh, have you fallen asleep? … well, that’s fine, too … because there’s really nothing to be done at this time … it’s all so complicated, best to wait and see …”).

    It reminds me of what Norman Finkelstein writes in “Beyond Chutzpah”, on p. xxvi of the preface, under “Mystifying the Conflict”:

    “It is often alleged that the Israel-Palestine conflict is so complex that a knowledge on the order of rocket science is need to penetrate its mysteries….”

    And later, on page 2 of the introduction: “Looking back after two decades of study and reflection, I am struck most by how *un*complicated the Israel-Palestinian conflict is.”

    Finkelstein talks a lot about how the manufacture of phony complexities serves the purpose of Israel’s defenders, including the “liberal” ones, who want us to keep giving Israel lavish financial, military, and even emotional support while refraining from trying to put any conditions on Israeli behavior, because we Americans, especially if we’re not Jewish, can never hope to understand how complicated it all is.

    (And of COURSE, the threats of war against Iran have NOTHING to do with the incredibly steep and massive spike in oil prices we’re seeing, threatening to wipe us out economically before we even start the next insane war. It’s all only because of our “addiction to oil” which we should even use, because Arabs sell it, and Israel doesn’t have any. And by the way, we need to send more money to Israel, because the oil WHICH THEY BUY FORM IRAN is getting so very expensive….)

  11. Iran poses zero threat to the US. Iraq posed zero threat to the US. There is no evidence Iran is currently developing a nuclear weapon. Iran is a signatory to the NPT.

    Israel is not a signatory to the NPT. It is israel that developed atomic weapons in the 1960′s under the guise of a civilian reactor at dimona. What we see now is Israeli paranoia and projection of their own duplicity. In addition to nuclear weapons, Israel has active and ongoing chemical and biological weapons programs.

    Israel is responsible for the greatest terror attack of the last 40 years which is the destruction of nearly 20,000 palestinian homes on the west bank during the illegal occupation and settlement. Iran has not occupied or attacked any nation as far as I know. Iran has done nothing to the US since 1979. Nothing. Same as Iraq. Our foreign policy is not directly related to US interests. We could easily be friends with Iran and benefit. We could use our friendship with iran to influence policies in lebanon and palestine. The problem is the israelis fear a powerful or developed islamic nation. It is paranoia. This is not directly about nuclear weapons, it is the israelis wanting to use the US to weaken islamic development. Illusory weapons programs are an excuse.

    The Israeli lobby is a parasite. Huge percentages of the funding of both parties comes from these lobbies and the wealthy militaristic racist jews who support it. It is this money which is corrupting the process. The only way out is for the leaders of both major parties to agree to no longer allow this money to influence their platforms.

  12. Laurie, you would believe that, because you don’t want to get your hands dirty by supporting the less worse factions in zionism against the worst.

  13. The antiwar movement will not be an antiwar movement until the political or world zionist government is out of it. That the management of antiwar.com, is jewish, and pro zionist, should not surprise you. i stopped supporting http://www.antiwar.com, when i found this out. http://www.lewrockwell.com, is another pro israel, antiwar, zionist phony, antiwar site. google ‘dancing israelis’. http://www.antiwar.com, is zionist misdirection. start your own news site, getting to the bottom of world zionist government and all its wars. http://www.antiwar.com, is just another jewish propaganda arm.

  14. I don’t believe in “lesser” degrees of evil especially when the shared goal is displacement and/or ghettofication of the Palestinian people.

  15. there are not factions in lobbies they are not representative organization they are privately owned and run group devoted to framing issues in ways that are acceptable to the groups they claim to represent the was no vote of jews to decide aipacs agenda. so supporting members of aipac who disagree with there policies would be like trying to fight al qaeda by finding the pacifist members. you do not automatically join aipac igf you are a jew. but if you do you are subscribing to there policies. so find me a member of aipac that soppurts the un partions plan and i’ll give them alll the sopprt you want

  16. AIPAC is a lobby for the MIC and Israel is its medium. The ATC does the same thing and it really has nothing to do with Turkey. Hoiwever AIPAC’s supporters rang form Christian and Jewish Zionists to ignorant Americans who wrongly believe they are supporting Jews in general.

    Israel has nothing to do with American Jews. Israel is a fascist apartheid regime which hides behind the cloak of religion and ethnicity to avoid critiques. The Jews don’t whole a common belief any more than the “whites.” and its misleading even on the macro level because many Jews (esp antiwar) are actually atheist but call themselves Jewish. Just think on the top of your head some of the most famous anti-war people who are Jewish and count the number of atheists. Chomsky, Jon Stewart, Mhar, etc.

    Hagee is wrong For the record Hitler was not part Jewish (Stalin was though) and he was 100% Christian and Marx may have been ethnically Jewish but was an Atheist.

    The Bible is mythology but according to the story actually the 140k people and all from the 12 tribes of Israel who get saved and everyone else is screwed.

    Cheney is part of the Institute for Jewish affairs. (which also has nothing to do with Jews). Cheney is a Zionist. (He also has financial overlaps)

    War with Iran will be terrible for Israel but again AIPAC doesn’t give a shit about Israel they use the religious dupes as useful idiots. AIPAC cares about generating conflicts because that is what is best for the MIC.

    Yes Scott you defined Neocon correctly. That is how we define it on Anti-Neocons.com as well. Poeple need to realize that organized religions are multinational billion dollar companies that don’t pay taxes. AIPAC does not register itself as a foreign agent unlike all other foreign lobbies. Churches are and always have been part of financing and profiting from war. From the days of killing “Indians” to now that is what they have pushed for. When it came to other Christians like Central and South America the new pretext became the war on drugs. And its the same kooks supporting that too.

  17. I agree Laurie. I think the right in this country will serve as a firewall for Obama against the left here. It is the extreme, outlandish attacks on the right that diffuses focused energies on the real problems and their root causes.

    The same is true, as you say, with Hagee’s otherworld remarks that keep the power elites – where the real power resides – driving forward and controlling the dominant American narrative.

  18. Tex Marre ( got his name right? ) is right, they’ve turned our military into mercenaries for Israel.

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