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I don't think Alterman knows all that much about the organized American Jewish community because, like many left-wingers, he tends to lump all of the major communal organizations together. It is not true that the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee are on the hawkish side of the debate. Both support peace negotiations and both have taken positions consistent with those held by the majority of American Jewry. The Anti-Defamation League in particular was instrumental in building consensus for Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2006. Both organizations also reflect, in their domestic policies (since both deal primarily with domestic issues) the liberalism of American Jewry. The Conference of Presidents tends to be slightly to the right of these two organizations, but hardly "hawkish."

If the voices of the right-wingers in the American-Jewish community tend to be louder than those of the left-wingers, it is because the right-wingers are more committed both Jewishly and politically than left-wingers are. They visit Israel in greater numbers, send their children to Israel to study and work hard to support Israel politically. These values are not evident among many Jews on the left, who as a group display a certain apathy about their religion and about Israel. Indeed, it often seems as if critics of Israel hypocritically cite their Judaism to lend extra credence to their political views, when the fact of the matter is they are apathetic Jews and their religion is merely coincidental. As long as this is the case, the rightward tone on Israel heard in the American Jewish community will continue to predominate.

Michael Brenner

Woodmere, NY

Feb 8 2008 - 3:33pm

Web Letter

This article seems to show political ambivalence for American Jews. What's good for the Jews are those who are a shining example as a light onto the world, while some Jews, like bad apples, leave their embarrassing stain on the Jewish community and beyond, like Rupert Murdoch and Henry Kissinger. Indeed, when one Jew impacts the world to either make or break it, the Jewish community profoundly feels it when it is heard. Each individual Jew, just as much as anyone else, has a responsibility to give back to the community, and there are plenty of Jews out there that do such wonderful things to help out the less than fortunate. Thus, the Jews must be a united front, which is possible, in order to help heal the world beyond politics.

Nicholas Rosen

Great Falls, VA

Dec 31 2007 - 11:43am

Web Letter

Eric Alterman, whom I do not frequently agree with, makes a cogent point--and more significantly one that elucidates the seminal point: that guileful corporatist Empire is operating behind the facade of both "Vichy Israel" and "Vichy America."

Yes, Alterman makes the cogent point that several patriotic-sounding groups, such as AIPAC (the American Israel Political Action Committee) and others, which are together termed "the lobby," are not really speaking for the majority of Israelis nor American Jews--but are actually speaking nearly the opposite. I have long believed and written that the acronym AIPAC should rightly stand for American-style Imperialism Political Action Committee, since it does not reflect the honest desires and needs of the vast majority of the people of Israel but the aims of a global corporate Empire, which reduces the people of both Israel and America to living in its twin facades of "Vichy America" and "Vichy Israel."

Yes, AIPAC accomplishes precisely the inverse of the noble purpose it claims to serve--to protect the people of Israel--and is instead a great danger to the people of Israel through its singular focus on the unsustainable and inevitably sorrowful strategy of militarist Empire. But AIPAC is neither the only nor the worst deceiver and denier of the aspirations of peoples whom it claims to speak for. That title of champion guileful misguider and destroyer of peoples'democratic purpose is the corporate global Empire, which has metastasized from an initial tumor in the United States itself (although it shows no nationalism nor patriotism) and which can best be described as the Empire behind the curtain of "Vichy America."

Just as AIPAC disregards the real interests of the people of Israel in favor of its own agenda of militant imperialism, so the domestic-grown pathology of the US-centered corporatist Empire even more contemptuously and arrogantly disregards the democratic and peaceful interests of all Americans and displaces their dreams with its own sordid nightmare of global domination by force of arms and economic exploitation under the false flag of "Vichy America."

At the end of the day, it needs to be understood that the global corporatist Empire which hides behind the facade of "Vichy America" is the heart of the destructive unitive Empire that "the lobby" lobbies.

Alan MacDonald

Sanford, ME

Dec 27 2007 - 11:19am

Web Letter

After reading Mr. Alterman's diatribe and the webletters, all in support, I can only papraphrase the Roman satirist Plautus: "It is difficult not to regard the majority of the Ameican Jewry as politically stupid and self-destructive."

Now for a few unpopular facts: Zionism is a convenient punching bag for all the leftist neo-anti-Semites that infest the Democratic Party and permits the useful Jewish idiots who still vote for this outfit to claim that their anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic and thus entirely justified. The "outstanding" hindsight that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was wrong, and the clamor that Iran should be permitted to continue its development of nuclear weapons, undisturbed by threats from these mean guys in the White House and in Jerusalem, reminds me of the jubilation in September, 1938, when Chamberlain returned from Munich, waving the paper with Hitler's signature and promising "peace in our time." At that time, Churchill, Jabotinsky and the like, were decried as war-mongers and mishuggenah because they dared to warn of the impending catastrophe. The "peace-loving" Palestinian leaders, above all the unlamented mass-murderer Arafat, had received numerous Israeli peace offerings over the last thirty-plus years. The results to date = zero.

Peace treaties can be concluded only if both parties are willing to live by the conditions. Contrary to all high-minded liberals in the USA and Europe, peace will never happen as long as the Arabs in Yehudah and Shomron believe that Israel can be wiped off the map. Finally, when was the last time that progressive enlightened liberal pacifists have ever achieved any tangible success in making peace anywhere in the world? The answer = never. The great peace-loving and democratic leader of the Russian Bolsheviks had a special term for all the Western supporters of Communism: useful idiots! I couldn't come up with a better term for my Jewish brethren who are still stuck in the Democratic Party of FDR, the author of this article included.

Alex Golan

Denver, CO

Dec 26 2007 - 1:43pm

Web Letter

No matter what people write about Jews, there will always be conspiracy theories, as evidenced by the web notes on this article. While Alterman is fond of flaunting his Jewish identity when it suits his purpose, like in this article, he has never had a positive word to say about Judaism.

Alterman makes a prescient point that many outspoken right-leaning pundits are Jewish, but they are not highjacking the Jewish political dialogue. Alterman would do well to attend an event at the 92nd Street Y, or a synagogue or a local college Hillel, and ask Jews there what they think of politics.

Alterman paints the picture for the anti-Semite and then the anti-Semite studies it: Jews like Kristol and Krauthammer are running the media in the name of the Jews for the sake of Israel. The truth is Jews are still overwhelmingly liberal, as the study shows, but the anti-Semite can find a Jewish case-study to hate no matter where they look on the political spectrum.

Dustin Adam Stein

Manalapan, NJ

Dec 24 2007 - 4:36pm

Web Letter

Alterman's article is very important as it speaks to a vital but often hidden truth, that the various right-wing pundits welcomed with open arms by the corporate media do in no way represent majority opinion in their respective communities. This is just as true with other groups (e.g., do Rush and O'Reilly represent majority white Christian males? Does Armstrong Williams represent blacks?).

It is important to understand that the power structure always seeks and promotes those voices that reinforce their views, while negating or silencing those that don't. Ironically, this leads to the Empire making allies of ultra-nationalist ideologies such as Zionism or Hindutva or even Islamism, as it did throughout the 1980s. Even now the right-wing governments in Europe, while pro-American, owe much of their rise to neo-fascist anti-immigrant sentiments--hence the emergence of Denmark as a staunch member of the coalition of the willing.

In terms of the Jewish community, the rise of these right-wing pundits is a double tragedy, but unfortunately has a long history. Tellingly, you have Charles Krauthammer recently speaking about "deracinated" minorities in the same vein as Hitler and even Ford and Churchill who likewise inveighed against the "International Jew" who was seen as the backbone of the Bolshevism. Churchill spoke otherwise favorably of Zionism, and hoped that "good" nationalist Jews would denounce evil internationalist (read leftist, secular and progressive) Jews. It seems that the neocons have taken up this challenge in their well-planned capture of Jewish mainstream organizations and eulogizing of Empire.

Given the baleful influence of Jewish neocons in the West (not just the US, but also Canada, the UK and France) and their cachet of street credit as members of a historically oppressed group, it is thus vital for progressive Jews to reclaim the voice of Jewry from the militaristic pro-imperialist fanatics and the "collaborator" ethic they represent. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there has never been a more profound crisis than the current challenge posed by this coterie of neocons who so dutifully serve the traditional enemies of the Jewish people and all other beleaguered and oppressed minorities, while claiming to speak on their behalf.

Rajiv Rawat

Toronto, Canada

Dec 24 2007 - 4:38am

Web Letter

Alterman dramatically concludes his column with, "It's long past time, however, for the mainstream media to recognize just how out of touch they are with the values of the American Jewish mainstream."

Eric, puh-leeeze! The mainstream media does recognize how out of touch it is with the mainstream American Jewish community; it just doesn't give a damn.

Maybe it's "long past time" for you to recognize that the MSM has nothing whatsoever to do with anything that's "mainstream."

Fred Sprouse

Breckenridge, CO

Dec 23 2007 - 1:12pm

Web Letter

You will have a hard time competing with the neocons because they are tied to the Military/Industrial complex. Some, like Richard Perle were "Scoop" Jackson's boys and still have strong ties to Boeing. In Their "Clean Break" paper, Perle and Company tied themselves and Israel to the "Star Wars" missile defense systems that have proved to be a failure but are popular with Republicans. They have big money behind them.

I was watching Larry Garber from the New Israel Fund on UCTV. His organization is attempting to push a "progressive" agenda in Israel. He was talking about a "new" relationship with Israel that is not based on myth. He was a bit vague, but he liked Carter, even if he didn't agree with all the comments in his book. I don't think he offended anyone. Polite will only get you so far in politics.

In Ha'aretz today, there was a piece about Peres apologizing for the Massacre of the Arab village of Kafr Qasem. A veteran of the Deir Yassin massacre commented that they had killed 600 men, women ,and children.

Garbar has a lot of work to do in Israel.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Dec 21 2007 - 5:18pm

Web Letter

This article was also published at Huffingtonpost. No comments were ever allowed and the article showed 0 comments. After one day the article is removed to the archives and it says that no further comments are accepted.

Huffingtonpost censors discussions big time, but that no comments are ever made is new to me. I guess the power of the Jewish Lobby prevented us from talking about this important article.

Zionism and aggressive Jewry are enemies of our democracy.

And Ariana Huffington is a suck-up.

Martin Scholl

San Juan, PR

Dec 21 2007 - 2:13pm

Web Letter

Any writer who claims to be informing us about American Jewry and its beliefs but makes only one innocuous reference to Zionist expansion in Palestine is either hopelessly ignorant or another willing agent of fanatical Zionism's vicious, murdering and destructive role.

Millions of people have already died and more are dying now in Gaza and Iraq from the relentless efforts of organized Israel-Firsters in the US Administration advancing fanatical Zionism.

But Eric Alterman, who states that he is Jewish, does not mention Zionism's inescapable role as a pre-eminent variable in all the anti-Muslim murdering occurring right in front of us.

Jewish Zionists have opened their checkbooks to fund the most elaborate propaganda and peeyar campaign in history to advance mad dog Zionist expansionist designs.

American Zionists have passionately participated and spent billions engineering the destruction of the Palestinian people for sixty years.

It is impossible to discuss the chaos and murder in the Middle East without focusing on the critical role of Zionism's racism and the fundamentalist Judaic concept of "chosen-ness."

Gerald Spezio

Willits, CA

Dec 21 2007 - 9:53am

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