Jeff Blankfort and the Tender Embrace of Opportunism

Opportunism makes strange bedfellows. How else can Jeff Blankfort’s prominence in what is supposedly a Palestinian solidarity movement be explained?

 The Lobby Hypothesis

Blankfort’s basic claim is that a Jewish Lobby has absolute control over US policy in the Middle East. This is hardly a novel claim – it’s been advanced by various congressional Republicans and mainstream hawks like Walt and Mearsheimer, who claim that The Lobby is the reason that the US deviate from their general foreign policy of support for “democracy” when it comes to the Middle East, and that the Lobby is harming “national interests”.

There are, however, some obvious problems with this theory, which I will outline only briefly, as they have been discussed in great detail elsewhere. If we are to assume that The Lobby is the driving force behind US Mid-East policy, in particular of US support for the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, it is useful to ask a few basic questions:

  1. Does US policy in the Middle East differ in any fundamental, qualitative way from US policy anywhere else in the world (i.e., is US policy towards Israel, Palestine, and the rest of the region unique in the annals of US foreign policy)?
  2. Are there any other interests within the US that might benefit from US support for Israeli militarism?
  3. What happens when Israeli policies conflict with US strategic interests?
  4. Based on the overall US record, could we reasonably expect the US to pursue a policy of supporting the human rights of Palestinians if it were not for The Lobby?

One might further ask how one defines “national interests”, and whether a discourse of “national interests” is necessarily a good thing for Palestinian rights.

The answer to the first question is a resounding NO. The essentials of US Middle East policy – supporting murderous dictators, racist regimes, illegal military occupations, rampant violations of human rights and international law, and acts of aggression and genocide – characterise not only US policy in the Middle East, but US policy virtually everywhere else. The US installed and decisively supported the genocidal Suharto regime in Indonesia, which celebrated its inauguration by slaughtering between half a million and a million Indonesian peasants (often based on US-supplied hit lists), and went on to invade and occupy East Timor, carrying out a decades-long bloodbath (politely ignored in the US corporate media) that killed as much as one fifth of the population of that small, defenceless country. US support for genocidal regimes includes decisive support for Saddam Hussein’s slaughter of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s, Turkey’s ethnic cleansing of Kurds in the 1980s and 1990s, the mass slaughter of the indigenous people of Guatemala (lasting almost half a century), and its own genocidal warfare against Indochina, from which that region has yet to recover. Clearly, then, US policy towards Israel and Palestine is best characterised as highly consistent with US policy elsewhere. It is hard to sustain the idea that the dark machinations of an all-powerful lobby are the driving force behind a policy of doing basically the same thing everywhere in the world.

The answer to the second question is an obvious YES. Certainly, the US has an interest – going beyond the obvious commercial benefits – in controlling the Middle East’s oil reserves, which have been deemed by US planners to be the key to world domination going back to the end of the Second World War. Obviously, US oil corporations aren’t exactly hurting from this arrangement, either. Additionally, US military aid to Israel – 75% of which ends up in the pockets of US arms manufacturers – helps spur on a regional arms race, ensuring constant demand, and thus constant profits. Moreover, Israel is virtually the only state in the region that has little to no danger of being “infected” by “radical [i.e., independent] Arab nationalism”. Mubbarak & Co. might be overthrown tomorrow, but there’s no chance of Israel being a base for resurgent Nasserism.

As for the third question, when US interests conflict with Israeli policies, US interests consistently prevail. It is first important to remember that US interests do not include “ideological slogans about human rights”, as George Kennan put it half a century ago. From a strategic standpoint, the US couldn’t really care less what happens to the Palestinians. However, the US does care – to name just one example – about whether the Chinese government get their hands on classified US technology, and when Israel tried to make a deal to do just that, the US put a stop to it with a few phone calls and a well-timed snubbing. A deal like this is not a small matter for Israel. Israeli strategists have long been ambivalent about the exclusivity of the US-Israeli “special relationship”, and Israel certainly has a long-term interest in reducing its dependency on US armaments in order to ensure maximum manoeuvring room on policy. Losing the China deal, thus, was a real blow. One might have expected The Lobby to attack the US government for doing such harm to Israeli interests. One would have been wrong.

If The Lobby is truly the driving force behind US support for the oppression and dispossession of Palestinians, the answer to the fourth question – whether the US would truly support Palestinian human rights if it weren’t for The Lobby – would have to be YES. This does not rise to the level of a bad joke, as even a cursory glance at US policy elsewhere demonstrates. The US has enthusiastically supported and engaged in genocide and ethnic cleansing all over the world, from the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, to the Timorese, to the Mayas of Guatemala, to the indigenous peoples of Paraguay, to the people of Indochina, and, last but not least, the genocide by which ‘The West [not to mention the East, South, North, and Midwest] Was Won’. Proponents of the Lobby Hypothesis do not even attempt to explain why the US would care more about Palestinians than about the millions of others whose slaughter they have supported.

As for “national interests”, the first problem is conceptual. Can we really claim, with any validity, that all people within “the nation” have the same interests, that unemployed auto workers have the same interests as the owners of auto companies, that the working class base of the US military has the same interests as the CEO of Halliburton? Of course not. “National interests” is a meaningless, obfuscatory concept. However, even if it were not, a discourse of “national interests” would be of little help to the Palestinians. What benefit do they confer on “the nation”? Moreover, if we accept “national interests” as the basis of the Palestinian solidarity movement, the movement would, by definition, have to end if it were ever conclusively proven that “national interests” are harmed by enforcing the human rights of Palestinians. Clearly, the Palestinians cannot hope to find reliable friends amongst those who base their advocacy on imagined “national interests”.

In other words, in order to sustain the Lobby Hypothesis, we must essentially forget all we know about US history and foreign policy. This sort of willful ignorance, while not particularly helpful to the Palestinians, is quite useful for those who simply want to improve the effectiveness of US imperialism. By placing all of the blame on an all-powerful lobby, they give US planners a ready-made alibi for their crimes against the Palestinian people: “The lobby made me do it!” Moreover, this hypothesis ensures that activism will miss one of the most important targets: the US government, and focus instead narrowly on Israel. This would be a serious tactical error – if activism is aimed solely at increasing the cost of the occupation for Israel, the US can easily find ways of counteracting those costs through extensive aid. Only by targeting not only Israel, but also the US government – without which none of these crimes would be possible – and US institutions that profit directly from the oppression of Palestinians can we hope to be effective in our work for Palestinian rights.

Blankfort’s Dishonesty

Blankfort’s contribution to this rather dubious theory – though even it is hardly original – is to respond to those who take issue with his claims by suggesting that they are of Jewish ancestry.

And yet, Blankfort is given a forum by blogs that otherwise seem to have some degree of quality control. MondoWeiss, for example, which often publishes quality material on the Israel-Palestine conflict (apart from Weiss’ obsession with “dual loyalty” and the Lobby Hypothesis) even went so far as to suggest that an interview between Ali Abunimah and Blankfort signified “a sense of a torch being passed here, or of the older left not being suited for the new conversation about Israel/Palestine.”

It is perhaps worthwhile to ask to whom this metaphorical torch is being passed.

Blankfort has made attacking Chomsky his life’s work. By this, I do not mean criticising Chomsky’s views, but actively, consistently, and knowingly misrepresenting them. In the torch-passing interview, for example, Blankfort claimed that Chomsky had never written about the role of US trade unions in calling for US support for Israeli militarism. This claim, as anyone who has read up to page 30 of The Fateful Triangle will know, is patently false. In that 1983 book, Chomsky discusses the role of trade unions at some length, and points out the flaws in the Lobby Hypothesis, which Blankfort also claimed Chomsky hasn’t written about. In other words, there are only two possibilities: Either Blankfort makes claims despite being ignorant of the facts, or he makes claims knowing full well that they contradict the facts.

Since this was my first encounter with Blankfort, I became curious, and discovered that his misrepresentations in the Abunimah interview were not isolated. Jeremy Hammond – whose masochism in delving into the Blankfort Bog greatly outstrips my own – has documented extensive distortions of Chomsky’s actual record that Blankfort demonstrably knows to be false. For example, that Blankfort has distorted Chomsky’s statements about Salam Fayyad’s pursuit of “sound and sensible policies” that seek to lay the groundwork for a de facto Palestinian state (something Chomsky describes, using a popular Zionist expression, as “creating facts on the ground”) to claim that Fayyad is “a favorite of both Washington and Israel and, it would appear, Chomsky”.

What is the proof that Blankfort knew that he was misrepresenting Chomsky’s statement in the interview? ‚Blankfort himself participated [in the interview in question] as well, having called in to the live program.‘

In order to support his claims that Chomsky is involved in ‚damage control‘ for Israel, Blankfort has quoted that statement by Chomsky in an interview on Israeli TV that ‚I don’t regard myself as a critic of Israel. I regard myself as a supporter of Israel.‘ When Hammond noted in comments to a piece defending Blankfort on Dissident Voice that “Chomsky means he is opposed to Israeli crimes against Palestinians when he says he is “a supporter of Israel”, Blankfort’s terse response, in its entirety, was:

“DON’T AGREE. HE DID NOT QUALIFY HIS STATEMENT TO THE ISRAELI INTERVIWER [sic] BY SAYING THAT WHEN HE COULD HAVE.”

The problem is that Chomsky did qualify it, in the very next sentence:

“The people who are harming Israel, in my opinion, it’s what I’ve said many times, are those who claim to be supporting it. They are helping [to] drive Israel towards moral degeneration and possible ultimate destruction. I think support for Israel should be support for policies which are for its benefit.”

This distinction, of which Blankfort must certainly be aware if he is as familiar with Chomsky’s work as he claims to be, dates back at least to a passage in the first chapter of The Fateful Triangle (p. 4 of the 1999 updated edition), which merits quoting in full:

These remarks will be critical of Israel’s policies: its consistent rejection of any political settlement that accommodates the national rights of the indigenous population; its repression and state terrorism over many years; its propaganda efforts, which have been remarkably successful – much to Israel’s detriment in my view – in the United States. But this presentation may be misleading, in two respects. In the first place, this is not an attempt at a general history; the focus is on what I think is and has been wrong and what should be changed, not on what I think has been right. Secondly, the focus on Israeli actions and initiatives may obscure the fact that my real concern is the policies that have been pursued by the U.S. government and our responsibility in shaping or tolerating these policies. To a remarkable extent, articulate opinion and attitudes in the U.S. have been dominated by people who describe themselves as “supporters of Israel,” a term that I will also adopt, though with much reluctance, since I think they should more properly be called “supporters of the moral degeneration and ultimate destruction of Israel,” and not Israel alone. Given this ideological climate and the concrete U.S. actions that it has helped to engender, it is natural enough that Israeli policies have evolved in their predictable way. Perpetuation of these tendencies within the U.S. and in U.S.-Israel relations portends a rather gloomy future, in my view, for reasons that I hope will become clearer as we proceed. If so, a large measure of responsibility lies right here, as in the recent past.


(emphasis supplied, footnote omitted).

In other words, Chomsky’s distinction between what he considers real supporters of Israel (i.e., critics of criminal Israeli policies) and those who “should more properly be called ‘supporters of the moral degeneration and ultimate destruction of Israel’ is not a new point. Just to hammer this home, Chomsky puts the phrases ‘support for/supporters of Israel’ in inverted commas throughout the book.

Now, it is certainly possible that Blankfort is simply not as familiar with Chomsky’s writings as he holds himself out to be, and that he was just unaware of Chomsky’s deconstruction of the notion of ‘support for Israel’ at the very beginning of his best-known book on the subject, but the fact remains that Chomsky made the very same point, albeit more briefly, in the very next sentence in the very interview that Blankfort quotes. Thus, Blankfort’s claim that Chomsky “DID NOT QUALIFY HIS STATEMENT” can only be characterised as a lie.

Why, then, to return to the initial question, do people who otherwise show some discernment in their editorial decisions, associate themselves with the likes of Blankfort? Blankfort’s writings contain nothing novel, original, unique, or even intellectually honest. He has an irrational vendetta against Chomsky for reasons unknown, and is willing to lie outright in order to discredit him. One of Blankfort’s most common responses to criticism is to make insinuations about his critics’ ancestry, deflecting, for example, from Jeremy Hammond’s questions about obvious contradictions in Blankfort’s claims with the following remarks:

You know how it is with names. Hammond could be Protestant, Quaker, Methodist, Catholic, or, in this case, I suspect Jewish. And why? It seems that only Jews, thus far, have become hysterical over my critique of Chomsky which will come back to haunt them when they wish people to take them seriously.


Blankfort is, to be blunt, an asshole, and arguably a racist one at that. The only explanation why an unoriginal, dishonest, racist asshole like Blankfort is allowed to bring discredit on the Palestinian solidarity movement is that the movement (or at least some segments of it) has developed something of a habit of embracing assholes. When you’re already embracing imperialists like Walt and Mearsheimer, as well as racists like Pat Buchanan (who regularly excoriated opponents of original-flavour apartheid), Gilad Atzmon, and Paul Craig Roberts, what’s one more addition to the list? The response one invariably gets when this issue is raised is that “We may not agree on everything, but [whoever it is] opposes the occupation, and that’s all that matters”.

No, it bloody well isn’t. It’s one thing to encourage a healthy pluralism within a movement; it’s quite another to align oneself with people whose goals and ideologies (one hopes, anyway!) are diametrically opposed to one’s own, just because of an agreement-in-principle on one part of an overall issue. While this is quite beneficial to people like Blankfort and Buchanan, who would much prefer to be thought of as supporters of human rights than as proto-fascist reactionaries, it is toxic to a movement that is based on human rights and opposition to racism. While Buchanan, Roberts, Blankfort et al. get a reputation upgrade by association with the movement for Palestinian human rights, the movement itself can only be harmed by association with people like Buchanan, Blankfort, and Roberts. Assholes get legitimised, the movement gets delegitimised, everybody – especially the Palestinians – loses. That is the danger of opportunism.

36 comments ↓

#1 Ellen Cantarow on 08.07.10 at 20:19

Terrific deconstruction and badly needed. Thanks for writing it.

#2 Jeff Blankfort on 08.08.10 at 08:36

You write, „Opportunism makes strange bedfellows. How else can Jeff Blankfort’s prominence in what is supposedly a Palestinian solidarity movement be explained?“
While I do have many supporters in virtually every community involved in the struggle for justice for Palestine, you are first to describe me as „prominent.“ If you didn’t follow with an ad hominem attack on me [Ed. Note: Blankfort needs to look up „ad hominem“ – pointing out using evidence that a person is a liar isn’t ad hominem.] I might even thank you. The highest rank I have achieved publicly is that of a Limited Purpose Public Figure which the 9th District Court declared me to me in my suit against the Anti-Defamation League for spying me and others. As for some of what I have done on behalf of Palestine for close to 40 years you might consult the ADL or Google my name.
You then write, „Blankfort’s basic claim is that a Jewish Lobby has absolute control over US policy in the Middle East. This is hardly a novel claim – it’s been advanced by various congressional Republicans and mainstream hawks like Walt and Mearsheimer, who claim that The Lobby is the reason that the US deviate from their general foreign policy of support for “democracy” when it comes to the Middle East, and that the Lobby is harming “national interests”.
First, neither I nor Mearsheimer and Walt have claimed any such thing. Although we disagree on certain points, I think they would acknowledge that if the pro-Israel lobby, as they and I refer to it, had complete control over US Middle East policy the US would have long ago bombed Iran. Taking down Iran has been the number one item on the The Lobby’s agenda since its most right-wing elements pushed us into the war with Iraq.That it has not been able to get its way with Iran, as of this moment, is because of resistance within the Pentagon and the intelligence community which are well aware of the global catastrophe such an attack would engender.
I’ll skip most of the rest since it represents not a bit of original thinking on your part down to this:
You write, „Blankfort has made attacking Chomsky his life’s work. By this, I do not mean criticising Chomsky’s views, but actively, consistently, and knowingly misrepresenting them. In the torch-passing interview, for example, Blankfort claimed that Chomsky had never written about the role of US trade unions in calling for US support for Israeli militarism. This claim, as anyone who has read up to page 30 of The Fateful Triangle will know, is patently false. In that 1983 book, Chomsky discusses the role of trade unions at some length, and points out the flaws in the Lobby Hypothesis, which Blankfort also claimed Chomsky hasn’t written about. In other words, there are only two possibilities: Either Blankfort makes claims despite being ignorant of the facts, or he makes claims knowing full well that they contradict the facts.“
First, of all, I am 76 years old and have been a political activist since I was ten. In that time I have written exactly two articles on Chomsky, neither of which you have the decency to provide the links, so I will do it, so readers, if they wish, can see for themselves my arguments and my refutations of Chomsky’s. The first, in 2005: http://www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html and the second,last month: http://pulsemedia.org/…stine-asset-or-liability/
Now, as for Elise’s statement that by p.30 in Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle, he discusses the role of US Labor unions at some length. I have the same edition and I am unable to find such a discussion of any length [Ed. Apparently, Blankfort didn’t make it to page 13 of Fateful Triangle, updated 1999 edition, where Chomsky discusses this. Reading what you’re criticising generally helps get it right.].
Now what is also curious is that Elise fails to mention the subject of the most recent article and that is Chomsky’s opposition to boycott,divestment and sanctions targeting Israel, on the basis that he believes that they are harmful to the Palestinians (who have called for such sanctions) and that those in the US and presumably elsewhere who call for them are „hypocritical“since they should be sanctioning the US instead [Ed. I didn’t address this lie because others, including Chomsky himself, have already debunked the false claim that he opposes boycott, divestment, and sanctions targeting Israel.]. Since mounting such a campaign within the US would not only hurt support for the Palestinians but would be totally unworkable–since no country can boycott itself–Chomsky is essentially telling to drop the subject or limit our campaign to wither goods produced in the West Bank or to US companies that invest in Israel. But what should Israel itself be considered off-limits and who is Chomsky, after all,to set the moral limits on what Palestinians and their supporters wish to do? (And, yes,he has suggested that sanctioning Israel is immoral).
Elise complains that I make „insinuations“ about my critics‘ ancestry and she’s right. I do. I do not think it a coincidence that all of those who have launched attacks on me for my most recent article happen to be Jewish (as I am myself, although that is not the part of my identity that it once was). I am not sure at the moment is whether their overheated attacks on me which, in Elise’s case,leads her to call me „asshole“ and „racist asshole“ several times [Ed. Something Blankfort just admitted is true.] is because I have had the temerity to challenge their icon, or because their connection to the tribe supersedes their intellectual honesty.
It is quite likely both. That Elise chose to launch an attack on me on this site and not the ones where the article appeared would seem to be an example of intellectual dishonesty [Ed. This is rich. A documented liar is saying that it’s „intellectually dishonest“ to publish an article on one’s own blog.]. That is the thread that connects Chomsky to his admirers. That will be the subject of my next article.

#3 Élise Hendrick on 08.08.10 at 12:34

It appears, Jeff, that most of the outlets that publish you you aren’t terribly keen on printing rebuttals (shocking, I know). I would, of course, be happy to have this reprinted on Counterpunch or Mondoweiss if you’d assist me in doing so. Anything to avoid the „intellectual dishonesty“ of publishing on one’s own blog.

#4 David Green on 08.08.10 at 17:35

My article that Elise links to on Max Ajl’s site was indeed submitted to both Weiss and Counterpunch. Counterpunch has published several of my articles, but has consistently refused to publish my critiques of Blankfort and the anti-Lobby. Weiss was quite honest with me. He told me that he disagrees with my point of view, and won’t post it. His colleague Adam Horowitz said that he simply missed me e-mail, and I believe him.

#5 Jeff Blankfort on 08.08.10 at 21:03

First of all, I have written nothing about Chomsky on CounterPunch. Secondly, your „rebuttal“ is largely bullshit, regurgitated Chomskyism and as repelling as any tends to me, it was not a response to the theme of my article and contained personal insults which have no place in what one presumes is an intellectual discourse [Ed. I wasn’t referring to any particular article, but to the general tendency of Blankfort to misrepresent what Chomsky has to say and to substitute Jew-sniffing for actual argument when called on it.]. Somehow you Chomskyites (a term I prefer to Chomskyists since it rhymes with Trotskyites) are so bankrupt and historically challenged that you are forced to end up name calling when your arguments are so weak. And BTW, please cite a page reference in Fateful Triangle where I can find Chomsky speaking at length about the AFL-CIO and Israel, besides an insignificant one on p. 107 [Ed. I already did. See Blankfort’s first bullshit comment.]. You are very lucky, BTW, that you did not post elsewhere because your errors would have reached a wider public and you would end up looking as big a fool as Jeremy Hammond.

#6 Peggy McCormack on 08.08.10 at 21:07

it is clear that none of the attackers of Jeffrey Blankfort have a clue about how the US Congress functions, or how people get elected. Having worked inside the beltway for more years than I care to admit, he is right on [Ed. Apart from the fact that Congress has no real power when it comes to foreign policy, and, obviously, from his tendency to lie in stupidly obvious ways about Chomsky. The Executive Branch does constant end runs around them, as when the US used Israel as a conduit to avoid congressional restrictions on aid to the genocidal junta in Guatemala or the apartheid regime in South Africa]. Get inside the pit, read Antonio Gramci, understand how space is created inside the Empire, and how it gets closed. Talk about sitting back and feeling good about one’s self is the epitome of ranting about US Empire. Trying to create space to fight it is indeed hard work [Ed. And it’s made no easier by associating with sources of discredit like Blankfort.]. Peggy McCormack

#7 Élise Hendrick on 08.08.10 at 22:08

In his first comment, Blankfort admitted that he is a racist, and provided a demonstration of how he prefers Jew-sniffing to actual arguments or evidence when dealing with those who have committed the cardinal sin of actually being familiar with the writings of the people he attacks.

In his second comment, he admits to having lied when he claimed that Chomsky had never written anything about the role of the trade unions, pointing out himself that it is referred to on page 107 (in addition to the discussion on page 13, which I already mentioned and he ignored).

#8 Élise Hendrick on 08.08.10 at 22:44

Interestingly, the place where Blankfort does admit to finding a reference to US trade unions, page 107 of the 1999 edition of Fateful Triangle, does not actually contain a reference to US trade unions. There is a reference on that page to the Israeli Labour party and a remark about „democratic socialists who were singing hymns of praise to Israel while denouncing anyone who dared raise questions about these policies as anti-Semites, bloody-minded radicals who support terrorism and hate democracy, etc.“, but no specific reference to trade unions, unlike chapter 2.1.

#9 Jeff Blankfort on 08.09.10 at 08:48

Elise, David, Emma, Max, Jeremy, my god, it’s worse than I thought. You folks are nothing but a pseudo left version of the Jewish Defense League and if nothing else, my article on Chomsky has exposed you to the sunlight [Ed. Blankfort is delusional. He seriously thinks that an article that is only credible to those completely unfamiliar with Chomsky’s work – as Blankfort himself, who didn’t make it to page 13 of Fateful Triangle, would seem to be – exposed anyone but himself to the sunlight.]. Maybe the reason your so-called „rebuttals“ have not been accepted on these important other sites is that they are not rebuttals but ad hominem attacks in which even Dershowitz, after a few drinks, might be happy to claim his own [Ed. For future reference, the preceding sentence is an example of ad hominem.]. Now, you have me angry, not for what you have said about me but for what your providing cover for the Israel Lobby AKA Jewish establishment has contributed to the utter failure of the Palestinian cause in this country and that will be the subject of an upcoming article [Ed. Unsupported accusation combined with delusional ad hominem. It keeps getting better.]. You all have provided fine quotes. Grazie tanto [Ed. It’s tante grazie, you illiterate coot.]. Danke!

#10 Peggy McCormack on 08.09.10 at 21:32

Someone posted something in my name that I did not write. Here is what I wrote:
As a person who has worked inside the beltway and in politics for 40 years, I find the arguments of those who oppose Blankfort, Walt and Mersheimer woefully apolitical. How do they think the American electoral system works? How do they find space within the American Empire to oppose its hegemonic control, destruction and oppression [Ed. If she really doesn’t know this, then perhaps she should spend more time looking at what is being done and less time posting inane comments]? It is one thing to sit comfortably in an academic tower tossing the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict into the cauldron of American Hegemonic Empire Building, portraying poor Israel as being used by American Elite’s interest [Ed. An empirical question. McCormack wants us to make an a priori assumption that contradicts the facts. Meanwhile, she misrepresents what myself and others have written on the issue with this nonsense about „poor Israel“.].
It is quite another to understand that space does exist within all the classes of the American electorate. It is the goal of activists to widen those spaces, and the BDS movement is certainly doing that [Ed. What this has to do with Blankfort’s dishonesty is anyone’s guess].
What the opponents of Blankfort seem to gloss over was the consistent opposition from a significant section of elected officials to intervene in the relentless human rights tragedies in Latin America, in Southeast Asia, and South Africa [Ed. Because it was never a „significant“ section. US crimes worldwide have had unflagging support from the political class.].
I suspect that Blankfort’s opponents have never engaged in a political campaign, not been inside the legislative halls in their states or in their Congress, nor attempted to find out how all that works [Ed. Her suspicions are convenient, but wrong.]. Why can’t we find the Tip O’Neil who took on El Salvador’s killers supporting Palestinians [Ed. Evidence would be nice. But evidence isn’t the speciality of these circles.]? Why are there no Senator Church’s introducing legislation similar to his legislation on Vietnam? Where is the Black Caucus speaking about BDS as they spoke on South African Apartheid? The answer is not so much the money that the Lobby has, it is the ability and technology to conduct elections nationally backed up by coordinated national financial support [Ed. Financial support that is minuscule compared to the oil and weapons industries, and is even smaller than that of organised labour. And, of course, there’s still the problem that Congress has very little real power over foreign policy.]. Oh, you don’t know what that is? Well, I have conducted and worked in campaigns, worked in the legislative halls of the State and the US Congress since 1968, and believe me, the lobby is there at every turn, every utterance, every nuance, campaign firm, and PR firm.
No one is denying that the US is a vast Capitalistic Empire, what I am saying that there are few ways to struggle against that empire, and to have any spokesperson glibly dismiss focused work to open space among the electorate, to open space within the elected, as „feeling good“ (as Noam Chomsky referred to the BDS movement) is destructive, plain and simple [Ed. Which is of course not what Chomsky did.].
If you want to know more about the expensive technology that elects members to congress, and how dozens of campaign firms have mastered the art and their clients, I’ll send you my book when it is finished [Ed. If the attention to facts is equivalent to these posts, I can hardly wait.].
Peg McCormack
Chico, California

#11 Élise Hendrick on 08.09.10 at 22:24

If I were as mean-spirited and fact agnostic as Blankfort, I’d suggest that he and his ignorance groupies were actually paid by the Reut Institute to discredit the Palestinian solidarity movement as delusional, ignorant, dishonest, and racist. However, I have no evidence to back up that claim, and, unlike Blankfort, that matters to me. So I will simply point out that Blankfort really ought to be sending them invoices – no one should debase themselves this much without anything to show for it.

#12 David Green on 08.10.10 at 03:15

A couple of more things. I was accused by Blankfort of not notifying him of the publication of my article on Max’s website; he always gives Chomsky notification, he claims. So it’s really hard to know the rules of etiquette, even with a liar like Blankfort.

On a more academic point, I’ve also been meaning to respond to JB’s insistence that his touting of Wawro has to do with Wawro’s being a „realist“ who questions Israel’s strategic value. Like with everything else that the critically-challenged JB says, this is just nonsense. It’s like a reverse ad hominem (look it up, JB): you don’t get to assume that a claim is correct just because of who says it. Even a realist. The point is, there is disagreement among „realists.“ Most of the disagreement is on specific issues. Almost none of it is on the overall value of Israel to USFP in the ME. Shouldn’t Wawro, with the credentials of a military historian, be able to get a few corporate executives together and explain to them how their interests are being damaged? They would, by and large, laugh themselves to death. The point is that the pro-Israel view is dominant for a reason. The people who run this country know their shit. They know what’s good and bad for their bottom line. The war in Iraq isn’t a failure for them, it’s a success. They don’t care about lost lives in either side, any more than Vietnam or the U.S.S. Liberty. And JB, the great leftist trade unionist, doesn’t have a clue to how USFP, and trade unions support for it in general, has been so destructive in the class struggle in this country. No, he wants the „realists“ to help us realize how to promote out true „interests.“

JB, I can’t wait for your upcoming article. I just can’t wait. You’re on life support.

#13 Élise Hendrick on 08.10.10 at 03:30

I’m beginning to think that Blankfort is a believer in the idea of using a new word or expression a certain number of times in order to „make it yours“. He does, however, seem to have skipped the bit about learning what it means.

A case in point is Blankfort’s use of the term „ad hominem“. To those who are „in the know“, „ad hominem“ refers to an argument or assertion that goes „to the person“, impugning a person’s character rather than addressing the actual subject matter.

Blankfort, however, seems to think it is a more general term of abuse. Thus, it is „ad hominem“ in Blankfortese to use evidence to prove that Blankfort is a liar in an article that advances the central thesis that Blankfort is a liar.

As amusing as it is to suppose that Blankfort just gets drunk and throws a dart at a wall covered by random insults from the „Big Book of Bad Things to Say About People“ or somesuch, it seems to me that this is actually a case of what psychologists call „projection“.

Projection refers to the process of attributing feelings and behaviours of ones own that one feels ashamed of to other people rather than oneself. For example, when responding to critics who point out the evidence that Blankfort is a liar and a racist, Blankfort does not attempt to rebut the evidence. Instead, he resorts to ad hominem, attempting to impugn the character of the source of the evidence by claiming that the source is a person who engages in ad hominem and that the source just might have a Jewish ancestor somewhere in the family tree.

Though I may be giving him too much credit. I see no evidence that Blankfort has the capacity to be ashamed of anything.

#14 David Green on 08.10.10 at 04:09

But there’s something else going on here. JB has chosen to project onto Noam Chomsky! It’s kind of like me projecting basketball criticism onto Michael Jordan. Michael! You left the Bulls for 2 years, just to show that they couldn’t win a championship without you! I assume that Attilla the Hun didn’t project onto Aristotle. But JB projects onto Chomsky all of his own tawdry, slimy, stupid, lazy tactics. And he accuses others of making Chomsky an icon. OK, JB. Now you’re my icon. Of what, I’ve already said.

#15 Jeff Blankfort on 08.10.10 at 05:36

Emma, Noam Chomsky’s picture may adorn the web page of the Palestine Chronicle but this article from the site will not sit well with him, nor I am sure with loyal Chomskyites:
At an anti-war conference in NY last month with 850 attending, a resolution was passed that included the following text:
– To endorse the call of Palestinian Civil Society, as expressed in its July, 2005 Call, signed by hundreds of Palestinian refugees, human rights and cultural organizations and unions, to support a world-wide campaign of “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights”.
http://www.palestinechronicle.com/….php?id=16174

[Ed. This isn’t Emma’s blog. You might want to try to reach her at her blog.]

#16 Jeff Blankfort on 08.13.10 at 09:26

[Do your advertising elsewhere, Blankfort.]

#17 Jeff Blankfort on 08.16.10 at 21:26

Do my advertising elsewhere? What does that mean? I don’t recall what message is that you censured from your insignificant site. Was it links to other article of mine that might enlighten the minds of your handful of readers? It is interesting that the ChomskyWatch site allows for a free wheeling discussion of Chomsky and his points of view and I even get a note, as I do from Emma, that there is a mention of me or a new post on the site. Perhaps, you don’t provide such a service and I am forced to rely on Google Alerts. So be it.

[Ed. It’s one thing to post comments, even as full of racism and intellectual dishonesty as Blankfort’s. But Blankfort’s last post was nothing but a plug for his radio show. It is interesting how someone like Blankfort will happily post false smears and racist innuendos about people, and then harps on about etiquette when he doesn’t get a personal note that someone’s calling him on it.]

#18 Local Dem trio, GOP talk up ‘open government’ | tea house on 08.17.10 at 09:42

[…] Meldungen aus dem Exil » Blog Archive » Jeff Blankfort and the Tender Embrace of Opportu… […]

#19 Mondoprinte on 08.29.10 at 04:06

Hallo, was fuer ein interessanter Artikel (NEIN, dies ist KEIN Spam!!! ;-)). Hat mich zum Nachdenken gebracht – die Israel Lobby, die genauso existiert wie die Kongo Lobby et al. Die Frage ist in der Tat, was man daraus macht. Deine Dekonstruktion der Blankfort-Thesen sind fuer mich, der ich das von Dir genannte Chomsky-Buch ebenfalls fuer ein massgebliches Werk halte, Labsal. Hast Du Deinen Artikel zufaellig auch auf deutsch vorraetig und waerst Du evtl. bereit, ihn mir zur Veroeffentlichung in meinem Blog zu ueberlassen? Das waere coool!

#20 elisehendrick on 09.01.10 at 18:19

Eine Übersetzung könnte ich gerne anfertigen und zur Verfügung stellen. Es wird allerdings ein bißchen dauern, denn ich hab noch ein paar andere Sachen, die ich zum Abschluß bringen muß.

#21 Tweets that mention Meldungen aus dem Exil » Blog Archive » Jeff Blankfort and the Tender Embrace of Opportunism -- Topsy.com on 09.02.10 at 01:16

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by heywho and Sydney Homeless, uruknet. uruknet said: Jeff Blankfort and the Tender Embrace of Opportunism by @translator_eli http://bit.ly/8YP4d0 […]

#22 Jeff Blankfort on 09.05.10 at 15:16

I just received an email from someone who came across your article attacking and wondered why she „has it in for you, since both of you are on the same side.“ I will reply that, when push comes to shove, we are not.“ [Ed. He’s got that right. I’m on the side of facts and justice for the Palestinians. Blankfort is on the side of dishonest self-aggrandisement at the expense of the Palestinians.] You, Elise, appear to be a Jewish tribalist or a Chomskyite or both, and I am neither. There is no other way to explain your attack on me. [Ed. Of course, one might explain it based on the fact that Blankfort is an avowed racist and a liar – and he’s provided more proof of that here. Note that he still hasn’t even attempted to respond to the very clear evidence of dishonesty I have presented, and has repeatedly falsely claimed that I provided no evidence from his own writings – either he hasn’t read the article he’s responding to, or he hopes that those reading his comment haven’t done.]
BTW, out of the purest coincidence, the last guest that I had on my radio program before your attack was Ellen Cantarow, speaking about the oil leaks in the Niger Delta and Ecuador. When I saw that she was the first person to send a comment saying, „Terrific deconstruction and badly needed,“ I recalled that she had objected to my first Chomsky article. Well, nobody’s perfect. [Ed. Yes, some people have a weird quirk that makes them object to racism and dishonesty.]

#23 Mondoprinte on 09.07.10 at 11:25

Mach Dir bitte keinen Stress, ich bin nur sehr angetan von Deinem Artikel – er hat mir neue Perspektiven auf die Art und Weise, wie ich mit Material von Mondoweiss umgehen kann, eröffnet.

#24 elisehendrick on 09.07.10 at 17:52

Es gibt in der Tat einige sehr guten und wichtigen Sachen auf MondoWeiss, aber das wird eben gewissermaßen ausgeglichen durch diese Lobbybesessenheit von Phil Weiss, die ihn dazu bringt, immer wieder individuelle Bösewichte auszumachen und von den imaginären „Nationalen Interessen“ zu faseln, statt sich mit dem eigentlichen Charakter der US-Außenpolitik wirklich auseinanderzusetzen.

#25 Mark Richie on 09.09.10 at 17:19

I’m not allowed to post anything any longer on either CAfe Intifada nor Dissident Voice. My post that apparently got me silenced was the following:

No one on this thread or on PULSE or DV has engaged on Chomsky’s position that a boycott of Israel could harm Palestinians.

So far BDS victories, while psychologically and politically important, can fairly be described as symbolic in terms of financial impact.

Is there ANY doubt that, if BDS succeeds to the point of seriously impacting Israel..if, for example, Intel were to pull out of Israel!!….the FIRST response from the apartheid state would be to make the Palestinian population pay, by reducing still further their access to power, water, and state services of all kinds, crippling still more their agriculture and industry with any sort of tax or regulatory vindictiveness an apartheid mentality can conceive?

Isn’t that just common sense? I don’t understand why Blankfort and his ‚public‘ radio clique (DV) can get so upset over this statement.

#26 Über Solidarität, dummes Gesprächsverhalten, Ehrenmorde und Diskurshoheit | MondoPrinte on 09.19.10 at 04:40

[…] Nun mag man einwenden(bei aller Wertschätzung für die Arbeit von Phil Weiss), dass wo die wirren Ideen eines Jeff Blankfort dankbare Abnehmer finden, man sich nichtallzu sehr wundern sollte, […]

#27 Mark Richie on 09.20.10 at 01:28

Jetzt wird die anti-Chomsky Besessenheit und dazu Falschung seiner Denken von Mary Rizzo (Palestine Think Tank) wiederholt–ein Artikel einer gewissen Jay Knott urde am 19 September veroffentlicht aud Palestine Think Tank.

#28 Tayna Moscaritolo on 09.20.10 at 15:30

Laurence J. Peter~ Slump and the world slumps with you. Push and you push alone.

#29 Pokerspiel on 09.20.10 at 16:17

I should digg your article therefore more people are able to see it, very useful, I had a hard time finding the results searching on the web, thanks.

– Norman

#30 Mark Richie on 09.23.10 at 18:06

Similar ignorant attacks on Chomsky by Blankfort’s media network co-maven, Mary Rizzo, alter ego of Palestine Think Tank, was published last week. Hardly worthy of comment or analysis, Part of some sort of propaganda war to discredit Chomsky, for motives that are murky.

#31 Mark Richie on 09.29.10 at 00:34

The blog team (same people comment) of Palestine Think Tank-PULSE-Dissident Voice mostly won’t print any or very few rejoinders on this.

In fact, their posting of sincere articles seems just a smoke screen for their agenda of trying to discredit Noam Chomsky, who, regardless of his limitations, is best known and most incisive analyst of US imperialism..and also, the #1 enemy of US imperial policy on the US academic/intellectual scene without doubt!

Also Israel’s enemy #1 in the media..evidently they believe that too, won’t even let him into the West Bank.

These three blogs are pursuing a pro Israeli agenda under the cover of printing some good articles that are available on many other agenda-free blogs!

[I don’t think it’s accurate to say that these blogs are pursuing a „pro Israeli agenda“. I certainly haven’t seen any evidence that would lead me to believe that those are their intentions. I think it’s more to do with a fundamental unwillingness/inability to engage in a fundamental critique of US policy, which would go beyond individual bad actors and acknowledge the basic continuity of US policy throughout the world.

It’s easier to convince oneself that „We“ are the Good Guys, but that somehow we’ve fallen under the spell of some really bad dudes (The Lobby, etc.) who are diverting our energies from the great things we really ought to be doing.]

#32 Chomsky über seine zionistischen Wurzeln und religiöse Herkunft | MondoPrinte on 11.18.10 at 10:37

[…] Blog bietet – Elise Hendricks hat eine so überfällige wie in vielerlei Hinsicht treffende Abrechnung mit Blankfort geliefert. Wundervoll! Ich habe immer das Gefühl, dass sich Weiss aus Gründen, die bei ihm bzw. […]

#33 The Greanville Post » Ron Paul and the Dysfunction of the American Left on 05.30.11 at 21:46

[…] same thinking that has people in the Palestine solidarity movement approvingly quoting the likes of Jeff Blankfort, Paul Craig Roberts, and Gilad […]

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#35 Interview with Elise Hendrick on Liberal Naivete and Entryism. « The (Dis)Loyal Opposition to Modernity: on 02.16.13 at 19:03

[…] racism of the sort promoted by Rizzo, Atzmon, the misleadingly named “Deir Yassin Remembered”, Jeff Blankfort, and others, we see another important factor at work: The accusation of antisemitism has been used […]

#36 Interview with Elise Hendrick on Liberal Naivete and Entryism. | Symptomatic Commentary on 09.21.14 at 14:24

[…] racism of the sort promoted by Rizzo, Atzmon, the misleadingly named “Deir Yassin Remembered”, Jeff Blankfort, and others, we see another important factor at work: The accusation of antisemitism has been used […]

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