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James Petras seems to overlook the fact that quite a few Arabs are engaged in a continuing war against Israel, and that the goals of many of them are to get rid of Israel as a sovereign state in order to remove the human rights of the Jews in the region.
In this article, he dwells on what he calls the "Zionist power configuration," as if the victims of this Arab aggression are in fact the problem and as if it is the victims who desire injustice!
At the start of the article, Petras acknowledges that "the interests of big oil" are thought by some to be influencing American foreign policy. But he then dismisses this idea and says that we need to condemn Israel and its supporters.
I am for human rights for all. And that makes me a Zionist. I think we need to condemn human rights violations. I do not think we ought to be arbitrary and let terrorist groups off the hook. Petras, however, wants to turn all this around and find excuses to do just that.
I'm not trying to excuse human rights violations by China, Belgium, Serbia, France, Israel, Iran, or any other state. Petras is. And he's accusing Zionists of manipulating the United States into pursuing counterproductive policies. And he doesn't stop there. He says that "while the US Congress, media, academics, retired military and public figures are free to criticize the President, any criticism of Israel, much less the Jewish Lobby, is met with vicious attacks in all the op-ed pages of major newspapers by an army of pro-Israeli `expert' propagandists." And he continues by claiming that "by denying free speech and public debate through campaigns of calumny and real and threatened repercussions the Jewish Lobby has denied Americans one of their more basic freedoms and constitutional rights."
Well, that's preposterous. We've seen enormous criticism of Israel, much of it almost unchallenged. And we've also seen quite a bit of seriously counterproductive demonization of Israel. I'm not arguing in favor of banning such stuff, but I think such propaganda needs responses. And I am proud to support human rights by responding! In no way am I denying Americans free speech by doing that. Quite the contrary.
Israel is a small and land-poor nation that is being strongly attacked by some rather vicious opponents of human rights. Israelis know that if there is no war, it will survive and prosper. The Israelis want that. Yes, the United States sometimes supports Israel. For goodness sakes, we supported Kuwait when Kuwait was attacked! And Kuwait was the one nation on this planet that had been the least supportive of the United States in the United Nations. But there is nothing sinister about occasional American support for a democratic ally. Nor is there anything sinister about support for human rights and opposition to terrorist thugs.
Petras says that the "Jewish Lobby" is "eroding our domestic political freedoms" and "our warmaking powers." And that while Israel does not have "the worst human rights agenda" in the world, "the Lobby puts the military and budgetary resources of the Empire at the service of Greater Israel, and that results in the worst human rights in the world."
Petras is wrong. And I think we need to let him say what he pleases. But there is no First Amendment right to be free from criticism. If one wants to say that pi equals five, one has a First Amendment right to do so. But if one does that on a mathematics test, one has to be prepared to suffer the consequences: a low grade! Petras has made use of his First Amendment right to free speech. Now I'd like to see those of us who disagree with his misstatements exercise our First Amendment rights as well.
I do not recommend this article.