Phil Weiss writes here that at a recent roundtable, his co-editor Lizzy Ratner blamed that amorphous blob, the military-industrial complex, for suppressing the Goldstone Report. That annoyed him. I’m with him. One can acknowledge that it doesn’t take much for the US government to suppress a report condemning an ally for human rights violations while also noting that the agent responsible for that suppression is the Israel lobby. One can also note the quietude of the American left on the lobby while noting that groups were organizing against AIPAC on the left for over a decade and that the Marxist MERIP was talking about “domestic considerations” over 30 years ago. One can knock the errors of the American left without resorting to straw-men.
Ratner makes our job harder in that respect. Nonetheless, what one cannot do is try to retail the lobby line to the American left by saying that the “US has lost national sovereignty to Israel and its US supporters,” so that we can return to the Edenic days of destroying Vietnam, Japan, and the Philippines. It will never work, for obvious and defensible reasons, and those who want the left to incorporate the lobby thesis should understand that. Finally, though, there is something leftists should learn from the right-wing lobby folk: the preference for agents over abstractions.
As Corey Robin writes in The Nation, “We must, in other words, change the argument from the abstractions of the free market to the very real power of the businessman.” Or, for us, “We must, in other words, change the argument from the abstractions of the military-industrial complex to the very real power of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman and their executives,” Robert J. Stevens and Wesley Bush, over our lives. Which includes, too, moving from the abstraction of a trans-national class fragment — AKA, the lobby — to Haim Saban’s incessant stuffing of the stockings of Hillary Clinton.