Friday, August 6, 2010

Dissecting MJ Rosenberg's Latest Comment

MJ Rosenberg, in his most recent post, wrote an interesting comment in the talkback section. The context is a post by me asking “Whose Congressional careers has AIPAC ‘destroyed’?”

So let’s dissect this comment for a minute (it has since been deleted because of an abusive comment higher up the chain).

Rosenberg declares that every Congressperson fears AIPAC will fund their defeat, and thus do not say what they really think about the ME. This is an incredibly convenient setup for Rosenberg’s position. 

Congresspeople do not support the Palestinian cause to the extent Rosenberg would like them to. Why? It must be because of AIPAC. If any Congressperson supports Israel, it’s only because AIPAC told them to. If any Congressperson supports the Palestinians, they are breaking away from AIPAC and their career is on the line. Is there any other issue in America where this double bind is placed on Israel’s supporters, where they have to prove they support Israel of their own convictions?

Next, Rosenberg has an appeal to authority, namely, his own. That’s all well and good for him, but notice how he calls AIPAC, an organization made up entirely of Americans, “a foreign government’s lobby”. Just another dual loyalty accusation, implying AIPAC members are more loyal to Israel than America.
Rosenberg then makes the incredible claim that no member of Congress supports the policies they publicly enunciate. This makes no sense. Congresspeople are, at the most basic level, self serving. They do not vote for policies that have a good chance of losing them an election, no matter how much money they will get. If the American people do not support Israel, the Congress would not either. I have that much faith in American democracy to make that claim.

At the bottom of his comment, Rosenberg admits he left the Hill in 1993, but sarcastically guesses that now, after “Gaza”, people must really love Israel now. I think Rosenberg’s departure in the 1990s is significant to why his opinion of life on the Hill is so jaded, because there are two significant events that might have possibly changed the US-Israel relationship: The Second Intifada and 9/11. The Second Intifada showed the US government (if not the US people) that the Palestinians don’t actually want peace and a two-state solution after all, and 9/11 woke Americans up to the kind of pain, fear and suffering Israelis at that time were dealing with on a daily basis. If there’s any question about whether America and Israel were on the same page, those went away after those two events.

But the basis of Mr. Rosenberg’s argument, the way it always is, is about money. Rosenberg advocates that because AIPAC has lots of money, they can make the Congresspeople do what they want. Let’s put aside the obvious anti-Semitic implications of the statement and look at it from a rational point of view.

Let’s take a look at the statement “Lobby group X pushes their policies through the US Congress without any trouble because of all of their money” outside of the context of AIPAC. Let’s say, for example, Lobby group X is the gun lobby. The gun industry is a multi billion dollar industry. They have a lot more money than AIPAC. By Mr. Rosenberg’s rationale, there should be pro-gun legislation passed through the Congress at a mile a minute. But there aren’t. In fact, there are gun control laws (perhaps not as many as there should be) passed through Congress fairly regularly. How is this possible?

Ditto with the smoking and alcohol lobby. Those industries produce hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, and you better believe some of those funds are heading to Congress. But the warning labels on cigarette packs are getting bigger all the time, and the drinking age is still 21.

What can we conclude from these examples? It takes more than money to make a Congressperson support your issue. Money alone will not pass a law. Congresspeople support one side of an issue because, at the most basic level, their constituents either support that side as well, or their constituents don’t care. Seeing as how a poll in February showed American support for Israel is at an all time high, I don’t think it’s the latter case.

It’s really pathetic that Mr. Rosenberg ignores all the evidence and other explanations about why Congresspeople support Israel in favor of a ZOG myth. It’s sad when you can’t accept the fact that your views are not shared with your countrymen, but most of us just get over it.

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