Stephen Walt, co-author of the odious Israel Lobby, the man that sees Jewish conspiracies under every stone, does not disappoint with his reaction to the Chas Freeman flameout. But by doing so, he has tipped his hand as an expert in smearing widely while using almost no factual information to back up his contentions. Let’s parse his arguments:
1. Do not reveal all the information that was part of the decision-making process. Dismiss all arguments but the one you’re making. Concentrate only on your point that it was the all-powerful Israel lobby. (Say, this boldface style used on Foreign Policy is so much fun, I want to share it with all of my friends.)
First, for all of you out there who may have questioned whether there was a powerful “Israel lobby,” or who admitted that it existed but didn’t think it had much influence, or who thought that the real problem was some supposedly all-powerful “Saudi lobby,” think again.
2. Use unnamed sources to back up your assertions, particularly against The Israel Lobby’s Number One Son: AIPAC. (The scary boldface below is mine.)
Although AIPAC has issued a pro forma denial that it had anything to do with it, well-placed friends in Washington have told me that it leaned hard on some key senators behind-the-scenes and is now bragging that Obama is a “pushover.”
3. Make sure you point out that The Lobby is more powerful than the most powerful man on the planet. Even the POTUS is not immune to the dread power of The Israel Lobby!
Second, this incident does not speak well for Barack Obama’s principles, or even his political instincts. It is one thing to pander to various special interest groups while you’re running for office — everyone expects that sort of thing — but it’s another thing to let a group of bullies push you around in the first fifty days of your administration.
4. Repeat the canard that The Israel Lobby is so powerful that no one ever talks about it. Make sure that all of your friends all over the blogosphere, and in the news media also make this point loudly, so that everyone knows that The Israel Lobby is so powerful, that nobody can even TALK about Israel, ever, without suffering the consequences. Say, how much you figure Walt is pulling in annually between book sales, his Foreign Policy gig, and lectures?
Fourth, the worst aspect of the Freeman affair is the likelihood of a chilling effect on discourse in Washington, at precisely the time when we badly need a more open and wide-ranging discussion of our Middle East policy.
5. Give your readers reason to hope that the dreaded, all powerful Israel Lobby—that selfsame lobby that you described as more powerful than the president, able to leap both parties at a single bound—can be defeated. Ignore the cognitive dissonance of being able to defeat the all-powerful cabal.
Yet to those who defended Freemanâ€™s appointment and challenged the lobby’s smear campaign, I offer a fifth observation: do not lose heart. The silver lining in this sorry episode is that it was abundantly clear to everyone what was going on and who was behind it. In the past, the lobby was able to derail appointments quietly — even pre-emptively — but this fight took place in broad daylight. And Steve Rosen, one of Freeman’s chief tormentors, once admitted: “a lobby is like a night flower. It thrives in the dark and dies in the sun.” Slowly, the light is dawning and the lobby’s negative influence is becoming more and more apparent, even if relatively few people have the guts to say so out loud.
And finally, pretend that you really give a damn about Israel. No, really, everything you do is because you want Israel to succeed in the world. It’s just that darned Israel Lobby—if only they’d leave Israel alone, we’d have peace in the Middle East, Islamists all over the world would lay down their arms and clasp our hands in friendship, war would cease, and the Obama Generation could grow in peace.
The irony is that people like me have more confidence in Israel than they do: I think Israel can survive and prosper if it has a normal relationship with the United States instead of “special” one. Indeed, I think a more normal relationship would be better for both countries.
But please don’t do the above without getting in one last libel against Israel:
… a military that is able to inflict more than 1,300 deaths on helpless Palestinians in a couple of weeks without much effort …
What’s that? There was a war? Thousands of rockets sent into Israeli civilian areas? And the Israelis didn’t just kill the “helpless” Palestinians? More than 800 of those deaths were Hamas? Where did you get that idea? Walt didn’t say it, so it must not be so.
I know, I know. I really am giving Walt more attention than he deserves, but, well, when the mood for juvenile scorn hits, you simply have to obey.