Barack Obama supporter accuses Jewish lobby members of McCarthyism
By Alex Spillius
A foreign policy expert consulted by Senator Barack Obama, the leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, has accused members of the American Jewish establishment of “McCarthyism” in its attitude towards critics of Israel.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, a former national security adviser, said that the pro-Israel lobby in the US was too powerful, while the slur of anti-Semitism was too readily used whenever its power was called into question.
Presenting a solution for the Middle East, he listed historical compromises that had to be made by Israelis and Palestinians but accused the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) – the largest and most influential Jewish lobby group – of obstructing peace efforts.
He said: “Aipac has consistently opposed a two-state solution and a lot of members of Congress have been intimidated and I don’t think that’s healthy.”
He added that other country-specific lobbies, such as the Cuban-Americans, the Armenians and the Irish, had also exerted undue influence in Washington.
Mr Brzezinski, who served under President Jimmy Carter, was a key player in the 1978 Camp David Accords and remains an important voice in the US foreign policy establishment.
An active author and analyst at 80, he is close enough to Mr Obama that his remarks may feed fears in the American-Jewish community that the senator would soften America’s traditional strong pro-Israeli stance if he became president.
This perception has been created in part by Mr Obama’s professed willingness to talk to Iran and partly by other foreign policy associates.
In recent weeks, Mr Obama has courted the Jewish vote and, on Israel’s 60th anniversary, underlined the need for the US to show “unshakeable” support.
Mr Brzezinski has been accused of being “anti-Israel” by some Jewish academics, writers and bloggers after criticising Israel for excessive use of force and unwillingness to compromise.
Last year, censure of him reached new heights when he defended John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, two academics who had criticised the pro-Israel lobby and were accused of questioning the right of the state of Israel to exist.
Mr Brzezinski said “it’s not unique to the Jewish community – but there is a McCarthyite tendency among some people in the Jewish community”, referring to the Republican senator who led the anti-Communist witch hunt in the 1950s.
“They operate not by arguing but by slandering, vilifying, demonising. They very promptly wheel out anti-Semitism. There is an element of paranoia in this inclination to view any serious attempt at a compromised peace as somehow directed against Israel.”
Although Mr Brzezinski is not a formal day-to-day adviser and stressed he doesn’t speak for the campaign, he said that he “talks to” Mr Obama.
He endorsed the Illinois senator, lauding him as “head and shoulders” above his opponents. He said that he was the only candidate who understood “what is new and distinctive about our age”.
In turn, Mr Obama has praised Mr Brzezinski as “someone I have learned an immense amount from” and “one of our most outstanding scholars and thinkers”.
They share very similar views on the folly of the Iraq war.
Robert Malley, a Middle East expert, recently quit as an Obama adviser after it emerged that he was talking to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group, as part of his work for the International Crisis Group.
Senator John McCain, who would be Mr Obama’s Republican opponent for the White House, is expected to focus on the 46-year-old senator’s lack of foreign policy experience and supposed weakness towards enemies.
But as president, he will need the support of Aipac and other groups, which may be hard to achieve given his associations.
In Mr Brzezinski’s view, whoever is the next US leader must persuasively propose the following dramatic steps to peace: a) Palestinians give up the right of return from Jordan b) demilitarise of the Palestinian state c) Israel share Jerusalem d) Israel return to its pre-1967 war borders with “equitable adjustments”.
If this agenda is pursued, in time “Israel and Palestine could be the Singapore of the Middle East and that is in the interests of the US”, he said.
Source. / Telegraph, UK / May 27, 2008
Thanks to David Hamilton / The Rag Blog