The lobby squirts squid-ink at Steve Walt
This is a good fight. Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy adopts an Alfred-E-Newman like cluelessness in saying, What possible attachments to foreign countries can Steve Walt be talking about–Morocco? Jordan? Turkey?–when he criticizes the Washington Institute and Dennis Ross, who once worked there before going to the Obama administration. As if Satloff does not care about Israel in the morning and in the afternoon and at night too.
WINEP is funded and led by individuals who are deeply committed to defending the special relationship [to Israel], and promoting policies in Washington that they believe will benefit Israel. Its board of advisors is populated with prominent advocates for Israel such as Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, and Mortimer Zuckerman, and there’s no one on this board who is remotely critical of Israel or inclined to favor any other country in the “Near East.”
Although WINEP employs a number of legitimate scholars and former public officials, its employees do not question America’s special relationship with Israel and Satloff himself has a long track record of defending Israel against criticism. That’s his privilege, of course, but why does he get so angry when someone points out that WINEP is not neutral, and neither are the people who work there?
In short, Satloff doth protest too much, and I think I understand why. He knows that what I am saying is true; he just doesn’t like anyone calling attention to the elephant in the room. Plus, he knows that plenty of other people can see the elephant too, and are beginning to realize that the lobby is pushing an agenda that is not in America’s interest. No wonder he’s so upset.
The last point may be the best one. People are waking up, and this is pretty straightforward. Someone who was head of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute in Jerusalem, warning against intermarriage in the U.S.–Dennis Ross–shouldn’t be guiding our Iran policy. And why is he? Because of the lobby.
I like the dual loyalty concept. So does Eric Alterman of the Nation. So too does John Judis of the New Republic. It gets at the matter of Jewish nationality that Zionists sought to create in an era of nationalism. And today when Israeli interest and American interest are so wildly divergent, it is a big issue. A year back in a reflective moment, Jeffrey Goldberg said that the Iran issue gave him conflict on this very question.
His love for Israel conflicted with the interests of the U.S. I wonder the same about Tariq Ramadan’s Muslim religion and Swiss nationality. Swiss when I vote, Ramadan said the other night; but there wasn’t another Swiss moment all night. The American public, the American elite, deserve this discussion of religion and the Middle East, conducted with sincerity.