Monday, January 30, 2012

Decades ago, Old Right, patriotic Jewish Americans were first to raise "dual loyalty" specter of dangerous "Israel first" Jewish Zionists

Putting Israel First

The War Party's Achilles' heel
( -- by Justin Raimondo --

...Today’s war propagandists have figured out a way to make the issue of American interests, as opposed to Israeli interests, go away, and that is by policing the language of the debate. Are you calling someone who wants to pursue Israeli interests over and above those of his or her own country an “Israel firster”? Well, then, you are “anti-Semitic,” you are employing the oldest “anti-Semitic tropes” and echoing “neo-Nazis,” who – James Kirchick assures us – are the originators of the phrase. This is the argument made by “progressive” Spencer Ackerman in a recent issue of the Tablet, in which he joins the neoconservative assault on Glenn Greenwald, M.J. Rosenberg, and four bloggers over at the Center for American Progress who got slapped down for daring to wield (or imply) this supposedly “toxic” phrase.

There’s just one problem with this argument: it isn’t true. Ackerman cites Kirchick as the authority in this matter, but as a researcher the man Time columnist Joe Klein called a “dishonest prick” and a cheap “propagandist” leaves much to be desired. Kirchick claims the phrase originated with Willis Carto’s Spotlight newspaper, a cesspool of anti-Semitism, but this is false: it originated, as one can see here, with Alfred M. Lilienthal, an anti-Zionist Jew who wrote several books in the early 1950s and 1960s, notably What Price Israel? Lilienthal’s 1953 book was brought out by Henry Regnery, the noted conservative publicist and pioneer publisher, whose press also printed a number of other anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian works, including Freda Utley’s Will the Middle East Go West? – which presciently argued American support for Israel would alienate the Arab world – Road to Beersheba, a novel by Ethel Mannin which dramatized the plight of a conquered people imprisoned in their own land, and a collection of photographs and text by the Swedish photographer Per-Orlow Anderson, They Are Human Too, which, in Regnery’s words, “brought us face to face with the tragedy of the Arab refugees, whom he photographed crowded into the inhospitable Gaza strip.” Which brings to mind the old saw about “the more things change.” Yet another example of the changeless nature of our politics was described by Regnery, who reported in his Memoirs of a Dissident Publisher:

“One unexpected consequence of the book’s publication was the visit from an agent of the FBI, who had been sent to make some inquiries about its author.”

“This was,” continues Regnery, “one of the less serious calls by government agents of one kind or another that frequently followed the publication of a book that displeased some group or individual of influence.” Our witch-hunters will surely characterize Regnery’s sardonic remark as evidence that he, too, was another one of those awful “anti-Semites” – after all, he was implying the Zionist lobby had enough influence to call out the dogs of the FBI and sic them on a mere photographer.

Yet Regnery’s views, and those of his attendant authors, were hardly considered “subversive” back then: indeed, theirs was the standard conservative position on the state of Israel, which, back in the day, was an ally of the Soviet Union and a proudly socialist state. It is inconceivable, of course, that the Regnery Publishing Co. of today would put out anything remotely resembling Lilienthal’s work: not with the conservative movement of 2012 dominated by warmongering neoconservatives and nutty Christian Zionists who see support for Israel as divinely ordained. In 1949, however, when Lilienthal wrote “Israel’s Flag is Not Mine” for Readers Digest, his critique of Zionist propaganda was shared by mainstream conservatives as a matter of course...

It wasn’t any neo-Nazis, but Lilienthal, a political conservative and a devout Jew, who was the first to raise the question of “dual loyalty.” The “Israel Firster” meme originated, not with the neo-Nazi fringe, but with conservative Jews who, like Lilienthal, objected that:

“My one and only homeland is America. I am proud of my belief in the age-old Judaic concept of one God in Heaven and one Humanity here below. But my faith does not pull me into a feeling of narrowly tribal kinship with all others who worship God in this way. Whenever I read of Americans singing the Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, or see youth groups raising Israel’s flag beside the Stars and Stripes. I am outraged. For Israel’s flag and anthem are symbols of a foreign state; they are not mine.”

The Kirchicks, the Ackermans, the Goldbergs – and also the Cartos – want us to forget this heritage, which has been buried under the landslide of pro-Israel propaganda, because it challenges the premises of both the Israel-Firsters and the anti-Semites.

Lilienthal was no fringe character: a diplomat who worked in the State Department during the war, he served in the US Army in the Middle East, and was later a consultant at the founding conference of the United Nations. His opposition to Zionism as a political movement was initially shared by many if not most American Jews: see Jack Ross’s new book, Rabbi Outcast, for a biography of the most well-known figure in this movement, Rabbi Elmer Berger, which also serves as a detailed history of the American Council for Judaism, the organizational expression of this tendency. These Jews did not think it extraordinary that they would oppose the claims of a foreign government on their loyalties, and they warned – presciently, as it turned out – that American Jews would face charges of harboring dual loyalties because of the Zionists’ insistence that all Jews somehow owed allegiance to Tel Aviv...MORE...LINK

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