Sometime around the 1940s or 1950s it was cool to talk about the capitalist power structure, and in the 1960s to speak of a white power structure. In both cases one could say, in annoying-geezer talk, “Now that was a power structure!” Because if you looked at what the capitalists or the whites controlled, well heck, it was everything! And as a measure of just how everything it was, both the capitalist and the white power structure contained the entire Jewish power structure. Has something changed? Have the white folks been dethroned by the Jews?
Talk of a Jewish power structure is increasing at two levels. In the nether regions of the internet, there’s more about Jewish control of the US’ Israel policy, or perhaps of the US itself. Higher up, one hears about a Jewish lobby, or a Jewish-Israel lobby, or, more often, about mean-spirited, unpleasant people who control the government, and who, it is said or coyly suggested, are Jews.
There is inconclusive but considerable evidence to support these claims. Jews loom large among the high ranks of government policy advisers, and in influential non-governmental policy organizations. Most media push a Zionist line; many are owned by Jews. And there are well-documented cases of senators and congressmen who have learned to regret, come election time, wavering in their support for Israel. Some suggest that Jewish pressure groups had a role in the downfall of Bush the First.
It is clear that American Jews are deeply involved in the formation of US policy towards what they call the Jewish homeland, the self-styled Jewish state of Israel. It is also clear that the interests of Israel are not identical with those of the United States. This naturally raises questions about the ultimate loyalties of these policy-makers, so the collection and distribution of such evidence is quite justified.
But another question arises: evidence for what, exactly? To my mind, it is evidence for the enormous, disgraceful complicity of American Jews in Israeli crimes, a complicity which includes very serious sins of omission throughout the Jewish left. The evidence also supports the notion that Jews have considerable political influence. But it does not support the claim that Jewish power somehow amounts to Jewish control of America or Americans, or even of American foreign policy. Whether or not the claim is antisemitic, it is annoying, because it lets the real culprits for American policy off the hook. Their identity is no dark secret. They are the Americans.
The notion that Jews control America stems from a couch-potato school of political analysis. If your world is the TV screen, the Jewish-control theory makes some sense, because Jews really do pervade the entire range of your remote. And if you should look at the newspaper during commercials, you may find something similar. But contrary to popular belief, the sinews of reality are not found in the media. They reside in armies, oil fields, auto plants, factories, farms, mines, forests, oceans, roads and airports. Here the Jews do not prevail, nor do they prevail even in the financial world. Even in the media, their power is exaggerated.
The exaggeration comes from looking only at the activities and assets of Jews, which is a bit like looking at Paris and saying, correctly, that it contains a large number of Arabic-speakers: yes, but what about the French-speakers? It is not just that there are other powerful lobby groups like the Christian coalition. It is also that one needs to ask: what proportion of the “petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining” sectors of the economy–the list is from an almanac–is owned or controlled by gentiles? I await a table with two columns,
Jewish control non-Jewish control
sector1 xx yy
sector2 zz vv
arranged by market capitalization of firms or by some other significant indicator of control, which indicates that Jews dominate in any sector. Until then, I can’t help noticing that most of the captains of industry I hear about aren’t Jewish. They have many times more dollars to spend than the Jews have put into influencing US policy.
One might reply: ah, but the Jews control such crucial elements of American life. This is another couch-potato hypothesis, that media control is all. The claim would be that, despite non-Jews and like Ted Turner, Steve Chase and Rupert Murdoch, Jews control enough of the media to control our minds and their decisions.
The inherent implausibility of this hypothesis has two components. The first is that it must postulate Jewish control over all the gentiles in a position to have some media influence of their own. Oil company execs, agri-business magnates and lumber potentates must have succumbed to the subtle messages of Seinfeld re-runs and become incapable of pursuing their own interests, unable to withstand Jewish media despite all their riches. If so, one can only marvel at the merciful generosity of the Jews, who appear from the goodness of their heart to have left non-Jews with an inexplicably enormous remnant of power and wealth.
The second implausibility lies in the presupposition that Americans are deluded media slaves. (Saying this to a leftist is like telling Virginia there is no Santa Claus.) Briefly–the issue is too large to cover here–media bias does not take the form of censorship as often as many love to think. The mainstream media, for instance, provide more than enough information to build a conclusive case for Israel’s criminality, and no one has to stick to the mainstream media. Equally important, the media may at times play a role in forming opinion, but at least as often they are anxious or happy or simply so unoriginal as to reflect opinion. Perhaps the reason so many people believe what the media tells them is that the media tells them what they already believe. Finally, there is a huge difference between media influence and media control. SUV ads may make some men (and perhaps some women) fantasize that they have a large penis, and desire to purchase 4-wheel proof of this, but it never makes them actually believe they have a large penis. Similarly, teenagers know that smoking won’t make them as cool as Joe Camel, and that cigarettes aren’t risk-free fun. No guy thinks that drinking Pepsi really gets you a shot at Britney Spears. So the idea that Jewish influence in the media could turn us into helpless robots is simply a non-starter. Were Jewish media influence as important as many would have us believe, the Jews have had done with it a long time ago. Israel would already have wiped out or expelled every single Palestinian. A Zionist US government would have suppressed all anti-Israel material as ‘hate literature’ or terrorist propaganda, overthrown every pro-Palestinian Arab government, and used American troops to deal with the consequences. That this hasn’t happened is symptomatic of a deep incoherence within the view that Jews don’t control everything, but only the crucial things. If the things were really crucial, Jews really would control everything after all.
Jewish control was no more telling in the past than it is in the present: when they worked to turn America towards Israel, the Jews never overcame any serious opposition. The historical record shows that, far more than Jewish lobbyists or the Jewish vote, worries about communism pushed the US into an alliance with Israel. The alliance developed in lock-step with growing alarm about Soviet inroads in the Middle East.
From before 1948 on, the US was concerned to counter Soviet influence by helping BOTH Zionists AND Arabs. This was the objective of all US policymakers regardless of their religion or personal sympathy for Zionism. The Soviets initially did the same. The shifting alliances had everything to do with great power rivalries, and very little to do with the machinations of American Jews or with any concern for the fortunes of Israel.
In the early 1950s, Israeli-Soviet relations soured and Arab-Soviet relations prospered. But despite Zionist pressure, the US did not rush to back Israel, nor indeed the Soviets to abandon her. As late as 1956 the Soviet Union was supplying Israel with cheap oil to circumvent the Arab boycott, and Israel refused to supply NATO with military bases to counter a Soviet threat. The US imposed an arms embargo on Israel in 1948, and maintained it with minor exceptions until the Hawk missile sale of 1962. (Even then, according to some authorities, the sale was to be linked to the repatriation by Israel of some 100,000 to 150,000 Palestinian refugees!) The American-Israeli alliance was forged only when American attempts to keep the Arab world onside foundered.
The great motivator in this process was not love or fear of the Jews. It was fear of Nasser. (Who? For judaeocentric Americans, the idea that an Arab or Egyptian could put his stamp on modern history just isn’t on the radar.) He sought, quite naturally, to improve his position by exploiting great power rivalries. In March 1955, he refused to join the anti-communist Baghdad Pact. A month later, at the Bandung Conference, he moved to form a neutral bloc of exactly those nations the West was trying to recruit against the Soviet Union. Immediately after the conference, he announced a sale of cotton to Communist China, a country then embroiled in a frightening confrontation with the US over Quemoy and Matsu. Next he built on barter agreements with the Soviet bloc to conclude, in September, a major arms deal whose impact was felt throughout the Arab world and beyond.
In May 1956, while the Quemoy-Matsu crisis was still smouldering, Nasser recognized China. With his modern weaponry and vigorous diplomacy, he was widely seen as the leader of the entire Arab world. The West became dismayed enough to withdraw financing for his most important development project, the Aswan Dam. In response, Nasser nationalized the Suez canal. In the 1956 Suez war, America sided with Egypt, but only to co-opt the Soviet Union, which had stated that any further Franco-British advances into Egypt would be met *by force*. This was the end of attempts by the great powers to play both sides of the street.
The 1956 war for the first time showed Israel as a militarily capable power which could, on its own, defeat Arab forces armed with Soviet weaponry. And to the US, communist-backed Arab forces began to seem worth defeating. Nasser maintained increasingly close relations with the Soviet Union, and the launch of Sputnik in October 1957 increased American anxieties about a worldwide Soviet threat. Egypt’s union with Syria in February 1958 made its ties will the USSR all the more disturbing.
By October 1958, when the Soviet Union announced it would provide financing for the Aswan Dam, the lines were clearly drawn. The Arabs, led by Egypt, were on the Soviet side, and the Israelis became the very useful proxies of the West. (One of the first services Israel rendered to the West was when, in July 1958, it allowed “a British and American airlift of strategic materials through Israeli airspace to prop up the embattled Jordanian monarchy that was being challenged by a radical nationalist uprising fomented by Egypt’s Nasser.”*) This is the origin of the United States’ deep commitment to Israel. Though Zionist influences were at work throughout this process, they were never decisive, and in the end it was American security concerns that cemented the US-Israel alliance. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the rationale for the alliance ceased, but the alliance itself rolls on, its inertia abetted by the disinclination of Americans to put any obstacle in its course.
None of this changes the facts that (a) Jews, either individually or through their ‘leaders’ or collectively or in some combination of these, play a huge role in the making of policies that consistently and blindly favor Israel, (b) anyone anywhere in government who opposes these trends seems to get dumped or ignored. To explain this it is helpful to conceive of Jewish power in America somewhat like eunuch power in the Ottoman Empire.
In the Ottoman Empire, eunuchs were of course slaves or servants, yet at times their influence was pervasive. Sometimes they became key government advisers, sometimes even generals and admirals. At times it would not have been at all implausible to suggest that eunuchs were ‘running things’. But in the end, no one could take such a claim too seriously. The Ottoman Empire never looked like some great machine turning out treats for eunuchs. The eunuchs simply took a certain limited advantage of the power vacuums appeared in a decaying, increasingly ignorant and feckless ruling circle. If anyone trembled before these neutered potentates, it was only at the good pleasure of the society that bought or castrated them in the first place.
No, the Jews aren’t quite the eunuchs of the American Empire. But Jewish power does exist at the good pleasure of non-Jewish Americans, both in government and throughout the general population. This holds even where Jews exercise the most effective control, in Hollywood. That’s why you don’t see Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the widowed, retired Israeli paratrooper, raining fire and death on the leering Palestinian thugs who killed his children and gang-raped Selma Hayek, their beloved Israeli Arab nanny. Max Weber said that “‘power’ [is] the chance of a man, or of a number of men to realize their own will in communal action even against the resistance of others who are participating in the action.” Whatever sway Jewish Hollywood moguls hold over their actors, elsewhere they have much influence, but little power. Jewish lobby groups constitute, not a separate power structure, but the department of Jewish affairs within the American power structure. Their will is realized, and the will of Jews is realized throughout the US government, but it is not “against the resistance of others”. What resistance? By and large, American gentiles have either been pushing in the same direction, or watching from the sidelines.
It is not, after all, as if America aches with compassion for the Palestinians, but has been crushed by the mighty Jews. If the Jewish lobby has defeated a few maverick black congressional candidates, it is not because mountains of American dollars have been dwarfed by even bigger mountains of Jewish shekels. And if non-Jewish leftists have failed to condemn the diffidence of their Jewish counterparts, it is not because the Big Jewish Money police are prowling around in black leather trench-coats. The real culprits in the story of Jewish influence in America are the people who let it all happen. These are the non-Jewish Americans who, in their opposition to Israel, are so timid that a couple of words from Alan Dershowitz would send them all scuttling like cockroaches back to their dark corners. The few who go further are not ‘silenced’ by Jewish power. One hears from them all the time: ask a Chinese or Iraqi or former Chilean dissident what ‘silenced’ means. They are ineffective because they haven’t even tried to organize themselves, shrinking from the unpleasantness of offending the ‘courageous’ Jewish left. One thinks of the immortal words of George Carlin: “Take a fucking risk, for Christ’s sake!”
That Americans have let the Jews have their way doesn’t mean that reporting on Jewish activities in America should stop. But what is needed is not yet another list of the Jewish court jesters hired by the American establishment, or the groups that lobby for policies the US government anyway wants to promote. Nor do we need more dark hints based on collections of scattered facts rather than serious comparative data. Far more revealing and just as damning would be the story of how ordinary Jews either applaud the worst Israeli crimes, or deplore them and support Israel anyway, or denounce them with rhetoric that somehow never gets around to advocating anything that would stop them. It is a story that just lies there, ready and waiting to be told.
Jewish tribalism is real and strong, but it does not enslave Americans. For all its prestige, it is not something ‘special’ or specially powerful. It is just another instance of the ordinary, vulgar racism and nationalism found all over the world. It is immoral, but not as contemptible as the whining of those who supposedly want to do something about Israel, yet are astounded to encounter Jewish opposition and slink off, muttering about ‘being in the grip of Jewish power’. These people should themselves get a grip, and do something about it.
Do what? How about an experiment? It involves an unprecedented and essential first step towards real change in America’s Middle East policies–actually asking for measures that would hurt Israel.
Right now, what passes for radicalism is a call to stop military aid to Israel, despite the fact that hardly any country in the world is more capable of doing its killing unaided. That this represents the most daring opposition to the American-Israeli alliance is both shameful and absurd. It all but proclaims to the whole world that even the American left would rather moan about the agony of the Palestinians than try to stop it. Publishing something like the following statement would test for the presence of a backbone among American radicals:
Israel has, on many well-documented occasions, committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. It has violated international law and defied numerous UN resolutions. It manufactures chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, as well as a sophisticated technology for delivering them anywhere in the world. Its settlement policies in the illegally occupied territories endanger the continued existence of the Palestinian people. For all these reasons, Israel is a rogue state and should be treated accordingly. We therefore demand that all nations should:
— immediately cease all assistance to Israel, military, economic, and ‘humanitarian’;
— impose a total trade embargo, including a ban on all transfer of funds to Israel;
— freeze all Israeli accounts abroad;
— sever diplomatic relations;
— cut air links;
— and cut all cultural, academic, and scientific exchanges.
The United States should inform the Israeli government that any use of nuclear weapons, strategic or tactical, will be met by an overwhelming response in kind.
The United States should form a coalition including Arab and Muslim states to contain Israel along the lines of the coalition to contain Iraq during the Gulf War.
Notice how moderate this is: nothing questioning Israel’s right to exist, nothing about the Palestinians’ right of return, nothing about prosecutions for war crimes, no endorsement of Palestinian violence. How many leftish Jewish notables would sign such a statement? My guess is two, at most. But how many non-Jewish notables would do so? My guess is ten, proportionately fewer than among the Jews. If so, it is a testimony, not to Jewish power, but to American insularity, laziness and cowardice.
MICHAEL NEUMANN is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(*) Michael Rubner, review of Decade of Transition: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Origins of the American-Israeli Alliance, by Abraham Ben-Zvi. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998, Middle East Policy, Volume VI, Number 3, February 1999.