The Times States There Is an Israel Lobby, Then Demonstrates Its Strength

Hat’s off to the New York Times. Yesterday’s front-page profile of Philip Zelikow, a top aide to Condoleeza (help me, spellcheck) Rice and the head of the 9/11 Commission, referred baldly to a fundamental divide among policymakers between “realists” (Zelikow) and “neoconservatives and the pro-Israel lobby.” This is great news. The Times accepts the existence of the lobby in its news columns. Who knows, before long they may take out the “pro” and start capitalizing it.

Indeed, Zelikow’s emphasis on the Israel/Palestine issue as the key to dealing with the Arab world is the leitmotif of the article. About time.

There the candor ends. You’d think that Times reporters Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger might have gotten to the heart of the matter, and said that Zelikow has specifically charged the pro-Israel neocons with deceiving the public about an important motivation for the invasion of Iraq, their concerns for Israel’s security. Here is what Zelikow said during the runup to the war (as reported by the Inter Press Service):

The unstated threat—and here I criticise the [Bush] administration a little, because the argument that they make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States. And then everybody says: ‘Show me an imminent threat from Iraq to America. Show me, why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?’ So I’ll tell you what I think the real threat is, and actually has been since 1990. It’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it’s not a popular sell.

Iraq is now burning, and people are trying to figure out who got us into this mess and why, yet the Times can’t report this. (Presumably out of the fear that People will blame The Jews. Well, maybe some Jews deserve some of the blame). Let’s be clear: we still can’t have an open argument about the Israel lobby in the pages of our leading newspaper, which has also suppressed the raging controversy over the LRB article on the lobby by realists Walt and Mearsheimer (which first brought Zelikow’s comments to my attention last March).

How vast and controlling is the Israel lobby? I sure don’t know. People imagined the giant squid as taller than the Chrysler building until one was brought to the surface at last, at something under 100 feet, I think. The Times should shed light.