Tag Archives: America

An Education in American Jewish power politics by the BBC’s Andrew Neil.

Last Wednesday I got a real education. I had asked Andrew Neil, presenter of the BBC’s political satire show This Week, on Twitter whether he would apologise on this week’s This Week for his insinuation on last week’s This Week that American Jews control America’s foreign policy and that America might get dragged into war with Iran because of it.

Andrew Neil had asked ex-Conservative politician Michael Portillo for his “moment of the week”. The exchange went like this (see above for the short clip):

Michael Portillo: “Mark Mardell, who’s the America editor of the BBC, produced a report, I think on Tuesday, in which he said that the White House now believes that Israel will attack Iran during the course of this year, possibly as early as the Spring, certainly before the Presidential election. The reasoning is that before long the nuclear weapons’ programme of Iran will be beyond reach. But also if you were to launch an attack before the Presidential election, both Presidential candidates, Republican and Democrat, would have to support Israel in an election situation so it’s a good time to launch an attack.”

Andrew Neil: “Because of the Jewish vote?”

Michael Portillo: “Because of the Jewish vote, of course. So, this appears to be the betting. Now if this happens, of course this may lure the United States in in one way or another. But it is a transformational occurrence if it happens. Iran could be expected to retaliate in all sorts of ways, possibly against Saudi Arabia, for example, possibly against the Sixth Fleet in Bahrain. I mean it’s going to make most of the things we are talking about at the moment seem pretty much like a Sunday picnic.”

Andrew Neil: “I’m sure Mr Obama needs that like a hole in the head as he tries to get re-election.”

Michael Portillo: “Well, on the other hand Presidential incumbents tend to do quite well in a war situation.”

Incredibly, Andrew Neil seems more concerned for Obama than Israel’s security in all this, but the above exchange also raises the tired, old slur of dual loyalty; that Jews are more loyal to Israel’s concerns than their own country’s interests.

After that my brief Twitter exchange with Andrew Neil last Wednesday went as follows:

Me: “are you going to apologise tomorrow night for talking about “the Jewish vote” in America or are you going to let it slide?Shameful”

Andrew Neil: “Bit hard since we’re not on. But no anyway. Jewish vote has been feature of US politics for over 100 years. Studied it at uni!!”

Me: “American Jews r 1.5% of American population. How can such a tiny vote affect American election?What about the Christian\Muslim vote?”

Andrew Neil: “Because Jewish turnout is huge, concentrated in key states and tends to vote in unison. Go get a book on US psephology.”

Me: “They always tend to vote Democrat whatever! You insinuated Jews control American foreign policy! Disgraceful. You should apologise.”

Andrew Neil: “I’m trying to educate you not offend you! But clearly not getting anywhere. There is no apology and no point in prolonging this”

It was disappointing that Neil didn’t wish to prolong the exchange as he may have learnt something. In last December’s article Why Republican efforts to corral Jewish vote may come up short Nathan Guttman is quoted as saying:

“Poll after poll, survey after survey, show that Jewish Americans love Israel and want their elected officials to support Israel, but don’t view this issue as decisive. Topping the Jewish voter’s priority list are economic and social issues. Israel is somewhere in the middle.”

As of a few months ago, there were 6,588,065 Jews in America out of 308,745,538; just some 2.1% of the American population. Tiny!

These Jews are mainly based in New York
which has 1,635,020 Jews representing 8.4% of New York’s population, California (1,219,740 @ 3.3%), Florida (638,635 @ 3.4%) and New Jersey (504,450 @ 5.7%). These states represent respectively 29, 55, 29 and 14 of the 270 electoral votes needed to secure a Presidential win.

New York (29) has voted Democrat in the last six Presidential elections, California (55) has voted Democrat for the last five as has New Jersey (14). Admittedly, Florida (29) is a major swing state having vote Republican in seven out of the last 10 Presidential elections; although it voted for Obama in 2008.

Jews have overwhelmingly vote Democrat historically: 78% of them voted for Obama in 2008, 76% for Kerry in 2004, 79% for Bush in 2000, 78% for Clinton in 1996, 80% for Clinton in 1992, 64% for Dukakis in 1988, 67% for Mondale in 1984, 45% for Carter in 1980 and 71% for Carter in 1976.

Meanwhile, a Pew Poll released a few days ago shows that only 5% of the American public thinks that America should not support Israel if it attacks Iran, while 39% think it should support Israel. 51% think America should remain neutral. The Poll also found:

“Fully 64% of white evangelical Protestants say that the U.S. should support Israel if it attacks Iran in an effort to stop their nuclear weapon program. That compares with 42% of white mainline Protestants and 41% of white Catholics.”

It isn’t just about religion either. The Poll suggests that “There are large demographic differences in views about what the U.S. should do if Israel attacks Iran”, for example depending on whether you are male or female, young or old.

But in all of the categories listed far more Americans think that if Israel attacks Iran then America should support Israel (see results of Pew Poll below).

So, in conclusion, it isn’t, as Michael Portillo thinks, that Presidential candidates “would have to support Israel” but that Americans generally identify with Israel. America, like Israel, is also under attack and America was created in the same way as Israel; in both cases mostly uninhabited land was colonised. In the 1880s when Jews started to return to the area that was eventually to become Israel there were only some 550,000 Arabs and Jews in an area that now holds seven million in Israel.

And Andrew Neil’s claim that “Jewish turnout is huge, concentrated in key states” is wrong. The Jewish vote is tiny and not in key states, apart from Florida. It’s the American Christian evangelical vote that is huge, there being some 50 – 80 million of them in America.

The only claim Neil gets right is that Jews tend to vote in unison. But they vote on a range of issues, only one of which is Israel, which is why they vote mainly Democrat.

Finally, an American President is going to do what is in the best interests of America and not just America’s Jews. In 1980 Reagan received 39% of the Jewish vote, which was relatively high for a Republican, but in 1981 he forced through Congress the sale of Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) to Saudi Arabia despite fierce pro-Israel lobbying against the sale.

Reagan’s Jewish vote did fall back to 31% in the 1984 election, but it didn’t stop him getting re-elected.

So, it really isn’t about “the Jewish vote” at all, although the likes of Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo, in their ignorance, will continue to tell you that it really is.

Pew Research Center Poll

Pew Research Center Poll

George Galloway: “Iran ready to fight to the last drop of blood”.

Shirin Shafaie, Chris Nineham, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Abbas Edalat prepare to spout nonsense.

Shirin Shafaie, Chris Nineham, Tony Benn, Lindsey German, Abbas Edalat prepare to spout nonsense.

George Galloway gave warning that should Iran be attacked by Israel then “the Persian Gulf will be on fire, the Straights of Hormuz will be on fire and the allies of America in the Gulf will be on fire” and Iran will also answer “inside Iraq”.

And he said that Iran is ready to fight to the last drop of blood.

He called on Muslims not to “fall for this gigantic fraud in which the imperialist countries who were bombing and murdering one kind of Muslim in Iraq now want to mobilise that kind of Muslim against another kind of Muslim on a sectarian basis dividing the Muslim world” and he warned that “once they’ve dealt with the Shi’ites, they’ll deal with you”:

Galloway was the final act in Monday night’s Don’t Attack Iran meeting in London organised by The Stop The War Coalition, a coalition that is against any war (unless it’s against Israel, of course), even the war in Libya which would have left possibly thousands to be massacred in Benghazi by Gaddafi’s forces had NATO not intervened.

And only a dunce from the Green Party could invoke the Nazis like Darren Johnson AM did when he warned that attacking Iran would unite the whole of Iran just like attacks by the Nazis even united the Conservatives and the Communists in this country:

Well, that wasn’t the case in Libya was it! NATO’s attacks on Gaddafi’s troops strengthened the opposition leading to Gaddafi’s downfall. And, likewise, I am sure that the good people of Iran would welcome an attack on their own cruel regime that still stones women to death and hangs gays for being gay. Johnson should stick to dealing with matters to do with London as he obviously hasn’t a clue about foreign affairs.

And then there was Tony Benn, the President of The Stop The War Coalition, claiming that the only reason America wants to attack Iran is because of its oil. Oh come on, Tony, you can do better than reel off that tired old line:

Benn disappeared early after the usual announcement that he had to be up early to give yet another talk, although it was more likely the lure of a hot cup of cocoa and a pair of warm slippers that sent him on his way.

Other speakers told us how cuddly and peaceful today’s Iran, basically, is. It had never attacked anyone, don’t you know!

Abbas Edalat, a professor in Computer Science at Imperial College, thought the war against Iran had started in 1979 after the Revolution, while Shirin Shafaie, a researcher at SOAS, claimed it started as far back as 1953 with the overthrow of Mossadeq.

Edalat claimed there was even a self-imposed fatwa against Iran possessing nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction and that the aim of the West was to recolonise Iran like it did in 1953.

These people honestly believe the rubbish that pours out of their mouths. It is a remarkable sociological study to hear such delusion and to see how an audience, albeit a small one, laps up this rhetoric.

Oh, and just in case there wasn’t enough instability in the Middle East I was passed a leaflet detailing how Palestinians living inside Israel and those from the West Bank and Gaza are due to be joined by Palestinians and others from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan for a Global March to Jerusalem arriving in Jerusalem on “Land Day” (30th March 2012 to you and me).

For an organisation that claims to want to stop war The Stop The War Coalition tries its damned hardest to encourage as much bloodshed in the Middle East as it possibly can.

Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury: “Many Jews may be deeply prejudiced”

Banned! The (blurred) photo of Lord Phillips they didn't want you to see.

Banned! The (blurred) photo of Lord Phillips they didn't want you to see.

“The Jews” were once again singled out by one of our lawmakers last night in the shape of Lord Andrew Phillips. Not Israel, not Israelis, not Israeli Jews, but “the Jews”.

Phillips was chairing a Middle East Monitor event at Senate House; The Palestine Papers: Under the Spotlight.

Lord Phillips has form. He has not denied that he previously said that “America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby”.

Kathleen Christison, former CIA political analyst and author of Palestine in Pieces, told us how Obama is unbelievably craven in the face of the Israel lobby.

The example she gave was last friday’s US veto of the UN resolution on the illegality of settlements when Susan Rice, America’s UN ambassador, told the UN that America thought the settlements are illegal but America couldn’t vote for the resolution because the Israeli lobby and Israel wouldn’t like it. Lord Phillips responded (listen to audio at end):

“Everything I hear from the platform speakers makes me think that the world we are now moving into has been turned upside down and that, er, the Jews aren’t lacking in intelligence, they may be deeply prejudiced, many of them, but they are going to be saying the same sort of thing as you on the panel are saying. It seems to me that it is not at all safe to rely on the past to interprete the future and that American, indeed American Jewry, quite apart from the progressive elements within Israel, who have been overshadowed in recent years, all of this could change quickly and rapidly in the face of a Middle East that suddenly becomes hostile.”

The anti-Israel rhetoric was slightly diluted due to the absence of Clare Short (broken bone) and Seumas Milne (ill). Some might call it divine intervention but Christosen more than made up for their absence.

Christosen told us that everything America does in the Middle East it does to safeguard Israel from its Arab and Muslim neighbours who don’t like Israel’s treatment of its subjects.

She said that the Palestine Papers showed that the Palestinian Authority treated the Palestinians with humiliating derision and that America represents Israel in negotiations despite claiming to be an honesy broker: “The Palestine Papers laid bare the Israel-America relationship in all its obscenity”.

She said that people can’t even mention Israel in America for fear of being called “anti-Semitic”. Lord Phillips agreed. He said it was like McCarthyism and a good way to silence people. “We have a bit of that starting here, I’m afraid,” he said.

In answer to a question on the viablitity of the one state solution Christosen felt it was “the only just solution” and called for the dismantling of Israel as an “exclusivist Jewish state” and for the “Jewish exclusivist government” to be dismantled. But, she said, she had nothing against Jews as individuals.

Even J Street came in for criticism from her because its logo is “Pro Israel, Pro Peace”.

Tim Llewellyn, a former BBC Middle East correspondent, said he supported boycotts. He said that if Israel wants to be accepted as a European state it must be told that it is a pariah state: “The government is uncivilised and Israelis who support it take part in that uncivilisation. Israel is a rogue state in the Middle East,” he said.

Clayton Swisher, an Al Jazeera reporter, felt sanctions won’t work because the EU and America are feckless but the Arabs could make it difficult for Israelis as many travel on Arab airlines and if, after looking at their passports, they find they live in the settlements they should not allow them to travel.

The only conciliatory voice came from Oliver McTernan, director of Forward Thinking, who felt that sanctions were hypocritical as he has worked to remove the sanctions against Gaza. He also felt that the price of the one state solution would be too great, although he thought that Hamas should be brough into the negotiating process.

The story of the photo above was that we were told that there was to be no photography or filming unless authorised. There were about four or five photographers and the event was being filmed. Towards the end, and in light of the comments by Lord Phillips, I thought I would try to sneak a photo after seeing a woman behind me taking one on her IPhone.

But as I snapped away I was surrounded by two men from the World Ju-Jitsu Federation who stopped me, one of whom snatched by audio recorder and wanted my camera also. I managed to grab back the recorder.

So there we were in a British University discussing the leaked Palestine Papers, which have basically killed off any hope of peace in the Middle East for a generation, listening to a rant about Jews from one of our lawmakers, yet I was harassed when wanting to take one lousy photograph of the event (which came out blurred anyway).

Lord Phillips talks about “the Jews” at 12 minutes.

Reset Stephen Kinzer.

Stephen Kinzer believes that the best way forward for America on foreign policy is for it to listen to its friends in the Middle East that share America’s basic principles.

One of those potential “friends” is Iran (sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you hear this kind of thing).

Kinzer, an American journalist and author, was at SOAS, London last night promoting his new book Reset Middle East, with its brand new cover (below) which includes Israel this time (always bound to add to sales).

Kinzer has great sympathy with Iran as a country.

He acknowledges its democratic history and even the love that the Iranian people have for everything American.

He told us that when he was standing in Shiraz, Iran all the Iranians shook his hand when they discovered he was American. When Sean Penn visited Iran Penn was asked by an elderly Iranian gentleman what it was like being married to Madonna.

Kinzer seems to have a rare easy access to Iran, unlike most.

I would love to visit Iran. The Iranians I have met have been the politest, warmest and most articulate of people.

But I can’t imagine walking the streets for too long before being picked up as a Mossad spy. Even in the UK I get accused of that (see clip).

An American woman has just been arrested on spying charges and Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal still languish in an Iranian prison after being picked up as “spies” when they hiked a bit too near the Iranian border.

I can’t believe I would escape the same fate, unless, like Kinzer, I can rustle up a book or two favourable to such an oppressive regime.

First, Kinzer likes Turkey because it is a longstanding NATO ally, is the most democratic country in the Middle East and has a booming capitalist economy. It is also becoming more religious under President Erdogan which proves its credentials to other Muslim countries.

And because it tried to do a deal with Brazil on Iran’s nuclear programme and also condemned Israel over the Mavi Marmara tragedy it won’t be viewed as America’s lackey.

And Turkey’s advice to America on Iran? Stop with the confrontational rhetoric and try to compromise more.

Second, Kinzer describes Iran as having an open, vibrant and democratic society; a society as democratic as its government is undemocratic.

But he sees America as the the main stumbling block as it is still angry over the Iranian hostage crisis of 30 years ago and, therefore, reacts too emotionally on Iran.

But, he continued, Iran, being an enemy of the Taliban and Al Qaida, is America’s way out of Iraq and Afghanistan as long as America can prove to Iran that it won’t use Iraq as a base from which to attack Iran.

So how to achieve peace with Iran?

Kinzer says America must conduct broader negotiations with Iran than just on the nuclear issue. And it must allow Iran to bring its concerns to the table.

Kinzer compares the America-Iranian animosity to that once between America and China and says the latter was far worse.

But he thinks that America doesn’t wish to sign a similar accord with Iran as it would make Iran a regional power (which, says Kinzer, it is anyway).

Oh, and there must be incorporated into any American-Iranian agreement a deal on human rights in Iran.

I pushed him on the latter point suggesting that I couldn’t see Iran giving way on that at all and that any deal with Iran would only entrench such a brutal regime. Surely, it is the human rights abuses that keeps the current regime in power. Without the economic control of the IRGC (Iranian Republican Guard Corps.) and brutality of both the IRGC and the basij militia the regime would crumble quickly.

In reply Kinzer, bemusingly, cited photos of liberated Iranian women from the fifties. He failed to address the brutal Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime.

And eventhough America made peace with China that didn’t stop China going on to massacre hundreds of its own civilians in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and continuing to hang thousands of political opponents each year.

Similarly, an American peace with Russia hasn’t stopped the latter murdering anti-government journalists (Anna Politkovskaya shot dead on her way up to her appartment) and political dissidents (Alexander Litvinenko poisoned in London) and locking up its political opponents on trumped-up charges (Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev in prison since 2005 and who have just had their sentences arbitrarily extended).

Kinzer lives in Disneyland. He should realise that once a brutal regime, always a brutal regime.

The Ahmadinejad/Khamenei regime really needs to be ousted before his nice theory on American-Iranian relations can take root.

The War You Don’t See

Did you see The War You Don’t See on Tuesday night on ITV1?

This John Pilger film is the finest example of how the left has truly lost its way.

It was also an opportunity for journalists like Dan Rather and Rageh Omaar to admit that they failed to do a proper job of scrutinising events in the build up to the invasion of Iraq; proof that some journalists like to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Pilger hardly bothers with sources which, for a self-proclaimed “world-renowned journalist”, is pretty poor.

For example, he tells us that 90% of those killed in Iraq are civilians. No sources are given.

And he doesn’t mention the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians massacred by Sadaam.

On to Israel.

Pilger starts off by comparing the proposed Palestinian state’s 1948 borders to an extreme version of what they look like now under a “military occupation that defies international law and is backed by one of the world’s most sophisticated propaganda machines”.

No mention is made of the incessant Palestinian terrorism against Israel since Israel’s creation.

Pilger then claims that ten journalists have been killed by Israel since 1992 and many more injured. Yet again no sources are given.

He puts it to Fran Unsworth, BBC Head of Newsgathering, that the newsroom at BBC television centre is “intimidated” into not telling the truth about Israel’s “military occupation”.

Unsworth denies this but then she would wouldn’t she if she was being “intimidated”.

Greg Philo, author of More Bad News From Israel, then claims that a senior news journalist told him:

“We wait in fear of the telephone call from the Israelis.”

As ever this source is not named.

But ITV wasn’t so “in fear” that it wouldn’t show this two hour hatefest about America, Britain and Israel and BBC Radio 5 wasn’t so “in fear” that it wouldn’t allow Pilger to advertise the film on Tuesday morning and two major London cinemas aren’t so “in fear” that they refuse to currently show the film.

Pilger then moves on to the deaths on the Mavi Marmara. He didn’t like the way Mark Regev, who he describes as the “Chief Israeli propagandist”, was given prime billing in the BBC 10 O’clock News’ headlines on June 1st.

Unsworth replies that Regev is a government spokesman who is entitled to put his government’s point of view and that the BBC has a duty to report that view.

But Pilger just inanely complains that that view wouldn’t be accepted by the relatives of the nine dead on the Mavi Marmara.

Pilger then asks where is the Palestinian equivalent of Mark Regev who can speak so articulately in the headlines of the BBC News.

Unsworth agrees but explains that it isn’t her job to go out and appoint a Palestinian spokesperson equivalent to Regev, but that the BBC still allowed all views to be expressed across their range of output. Pilger disagrees that the BBC did do this.

Next Pilger criticises ITV for its coverage of the Mavi Marmara. He claims that the Israelis supplied ITV with “doctored film, even with captions, which was widely used across ITV and BBC” and that the Israeli “propaganda” of their soldiers being attacked as they landed on the boat dominated the news.

Again, Pilger offers zero evidence that the Israeli footage was “doctored”.

David Mannion, Editor-in-Chief of ITV News, disagreed that Israel’s version dominated but, incredibly, goes on to say that “the Israeli propaganda machine, as you well know, is very, very sophisticated”.

Mannion then explains that newsrooms do sometimes fall in to traps laid for them and that it is only after the event that one can look back and write a definitive history, but that the newsrooms have to report the news as it happens.

Pilger complained that the Palestinians have no time for a definitive history to be written.

Pilger then goes on to show “independent” footage of events on the Mavi Marmara, which, although consisting of images of lots of bloodied passengers, proves nothing.

But blood is what Pilger and his cohorts on the left do so well.

In The War You Don’t See you do see lots of dead children. He uses them very effectively.

All sides have dead children but America, Britain and Israel don’t use them as propaganda tools. We bury them and let them rest in peace instead of parading their tragically broken bodies.

The War You Don’t See is one man’s biased view of the world and is a rehash of old news, old footage and old lies.

But then what do you expect from someone who equates “the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity”.