Be Careful What You Wish ForRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: Syria, AIPAC
Murray Polner, whose column Keeping Score appears here regularly, was editor of Present Tense, a magazine published from 1973-1990 by the American Jewish Committee. He wrote Rabbi: The American Experience and No Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran.
As the saying goes, there’s an “800- pound gorilla” now in the “Will We or Won’t We Bomb Syria” mix. The congressional vote may be more problematical now that AIPAC, Israel’s very influential voice in Washington, and the Presidents Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations–some of its members have few or no members at all– have openly joined the pro-war crowd. The Times has somehow missed the full impact of the story unfolding in Washington and its possible effect on the coming congressional vote since its reporters rely too often on the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and dependable think tankers while rarely if ever having in-depth interviews with American Jewish dissenters.
MJ Rosenberg, one of the more prolific dissidents, worked for some ten years for AIPAC. His commentaries today have a decidedly different perspective than his former employers and he is anything but diffident.
By going all-out in support of a U.S. attack, “AIPAC,” he writes, “is taking an incredible risk by making an unprecedented full court press to pass the bomb Syria resolution.” Because of their power in Washington, backed in this fight by the usual crowd of bellicose neocons, AIPAC stands out among Washington lobbies. Not many groups can recruit a parade of top politicians, from the President on down, to come before it and declare their eternal fealty to Israel, right or wrong.
Both the Times and Politico, which regularly scores well in investigative journalism, reported that the word “Israel” never appeared in AIPAC’s pro-bombing statement. But Politico explained that it was due to the fear that favoring the attack might be interpreted as advancing Israeli, not American national interests, a very serious concern as exemplified by still-undecided Rep. Niki Tsongas’ (Dem-Mass) remark to Politico: “For me it’s about what makes sense for this country.” Organized Jewry in general has a long tradition of avoiding chancy situations lest Jews be blamed if things go awry....
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