“Is It Good for the Jews?” by Stephen Schwartz

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Is It Good for the Jews?

In 2005, two then-officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee were indicted for handing over classified information to a foreign power. That the power in question was assumed to be Israel brought fresh credibility to a conspiracy theory that had been floating around Washington for years: that a powerful “Jewish lobby” controls U.S. policy in the Middle East. The run-up to the Iraq war had provided new grist for this theory. A group of largely Jewish neoconservatives were among the architects of the war, and their motivations for removing Saddam Hussein were alternately ascribed to oil interests and the need to protect Israel. The allegations against these neoconservatives—especially former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz—echoed the case of the notorious Jonathan Pollard who pled guilty of spying for Israel in 1986. In this biting and incisive polemic, journalist and author Stephen Schwartz confronts the myth of a Jewish lobby head on, asking questions that no one else has dared to pose. What is the “Jewish lobby”? How powerful is it? What was its involvement in the preparations for war in Iraq? Was there really a “cabal” of neoconservative Jews in the administration of George W. Bush? How did AIPAC officials come to be accused, in 2004, of espionage? Above all, what is good for the Jews, and who decides it? Many of us forget that in the 1930s, a genuine home-grown fascist movement arose in America. At that time, Schwartz reminds us, it was not the official representatives of the Jewish community that stood up to the fascist goons of New York City, but Jewish socialists—the antecedents of today’s neoconservatives. Likewise, today, it has not been the meek and timid leaders of the supposedly all-powerful Jewish Lobby that have defended the Jews but the reviled “neocons” in the Bush Administration. Their strategic vision projects a foreign policy that is both good for America and good for the Jews. As a result, Schwartz predicts an increasing turn for Jewish voters away from their dysfunctional marriage with the Democratic Party and toward the Republicans. Ultimately Schwartz concludes that in today’s America, a “Jewish lobby” may no longer be necessary. In the face of the threatened collapse of the Lobby, he argues, American Jews should openly and proudly assume their proper role as moral and religious exemplars for their fellow Americans and cease acting like a frightened minority.

About the Author
Stephen Schwartz was staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1989 to 1999. In 2000–2001, he was Washington bureau chief for the Forward. He has also been a frequent contributor to The Weekly Standard and a writer-expert for the National Endowment for the Arts. He resides in San Francisco, Washington, and Sarajevo.

About Scrollmotion
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“Is It Good for the Jews?” by Stephen Schwartz, Doubleday, September 19, 2006

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From “Publishers Weekly” via Amazon

In this broadside against conventional American Jewish political thinking, Schwartz (The Two Faces of Islam) repeatedly poses the question “is it good for the Jews?”—concluding that neoconservativism would be, but the Democratic Party isn’t. Schwartz (a convert from Judaism to Islam) argues that the community’s leadership, including pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC, has let down its constituency by failing to embrace neoconservativism’s “universal, humanistic and liberal values” and inadequately responding to the “tidal wave of Jew-baiting” he believes preceded the Iraq war. Yet he backs his claims with speculative statements, while dismissing others’ positions as “mak[ing] no sense” or insulting the messengers (e.g., “incompetent Western journalists and bought-off policy experts” are behind the dubious notion of an al-Qaeda/Saddam Hussein connection). The last sentence declares AIPAC to be “on the edge of its demise,” but Schwartz provides no data to support such a prediction. He offers only an account of the spy scandal in which AIPAC has been embroiled since 2004, which led to tension with the administration, but which, Schwartz admits, also led to “an exceptional upsurge in donations” to the organization. Though the book has little to recommend it, it’s likely to make waves regardless. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From “Booklist”  via Amazon

The so-called Israel lobby has recently become a favorite whipping boy of both the extreme Right and the extreme Left (and occasionally the less-extreme Left) in American political discourse. Schwartz is a former staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and has been an editor of the Jewish periodical Forward. He offers an analysis of the lobby and its critics and considers both the current effectiveness and utility of the lobby. Schwartz is quite strident in his criticisms of Jewish organizations for their passivity during the Holocaust. He is equally severe, and perhaps unfair, in his attacks on those who today criticize the influence of Jewish groups on American policy in the Middle East. Schwartz correctly emphasizes the distinction between influencing government policy and controlling it. But when he constantly labels those who question the influence of the Israel lobby as anti-Semitic and calls their criticism “filth,” he precludes serious discussion of the issue. Still, in describing the history and process of Jewish efforts to influence American foreign policy, Schwartz sheds light on a topic that has been subject to distortion and misunderstanding. Jay Freeman
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