This article is © 2011 by Stephen J. Sniegoski.
All rights reserved
by author. Page published June 29, 2011 by WTM Enterprises.
No place at anti-AIPAC conference
for the author of Transparent Cabal
By STEPHEN J. SNIEGOSKI
|If you find this article of value, please send a donation of $3 to TLD. More information appears below.|
It was good to hear that AIPAC's 2011 conference in Washington during the latter part of May faced a counter-conference and demonstration, Move Over AIPAC, organized by Code Pink: Women for Peace, a group that has protested America's wars in the Middle East. It was the first time any large group had dared to make such a protest against AIPAC, and Code Pink deserves much credit for its effort.
Unfortunately, however, the restrictions placed on the criticism of the Israel lobby were such that my book, The Transparent Cabal, was apparently beyond the pale. As Harry Clark points out in his CounterPunch article, "Move Over, AIPAC," "There was an 'upstairs, downstairs' feel to the discussion of AIPAC." John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt spoke "upstairs" in the plenary session. Since Mearsheimer and Walt are prestigious academics (who dared to write about the "Israel lobby"), Code Pink apparently felt safe in featuring them. Relegated to a "downstairs" workshop were some non-mainstream hard-line critics of Israel and its lobby Jeff Blankfort, Janet McMahon of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and Grant Smith.
Alison Weir, president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew (which deals with the plight of the Palestinians), moderated the downstairs workshop and provided a list of speakers for the conference, with my name included. But, as Clark points out, I was rejected. He likewise observes that liberal Jewish pressure caused the outspoken Helen Thomas to pull out.
I asked Weir why I had been rejected, and she replied that she had not been told. Over a
month before the AIPAC event, I had been contacted by a Move Over AIPAC
representative, and I sent the group a link to my website and an e-copy of The
Transparent Cabal, after which I never heard from them again. The question here is
not simply why I was rejected but why my rejection was not explained.
Clark implies, correctly I believe, that Code Pink wanted to play it safe and thus kept the more controversial, hard-line people out of the limelight or rejected them entirely. As pointed out earlier, Mearsheimer and Walt could be seen as safe because of their mainstream credentials and, as Clark points out, because of their tendency to mitigate some of their criticism.
Blankfort, an excellent speaker who certainly pulls no punches on the issue of Israel and its U.S. minions, was probably deemed safer than I because of his Jewish ancestry. Since it is widely believed among cautious gentiles that people of Jewish backgrounds should be immune from the lethal charge of anti-Semitism, reliance on their criticism of Israel and its supporters is often preferred as a means of smear protection. In that regard, Clark points out that the Move Over organizers made a strong effort to showcase Jewish opposition to AIPAC. He writes that "there were assurances that 'AIPAC is bad for the Jews' as if this makes protest permissible, as if protest is not an obligation of U.S. citizens."
This is hardly the first time that I have been rejected or ignored without any reason being
given; indeed, it is the norm. For example, more than a few critics of U.S. Middle East
wars have declined to comment at all on my work, even in private, when it has been
presented to them. And journals that express anti-war opinions have refused to review
my book without offering any reasons reflecting on the quality of the work. If my work
were regarded as defective, one would think that at least a few of those individuals and
journals would be willing to point out its flaws in private or perhaps even in
public, adversely critical book reviews hardly being unknown. It is that experience that
enables me to reach the following conclusion regarding the Move Over AIPAC event: The
organizers ignored the merits of what I have written simply because they deemed me to
be one whose presence might negatively stigmatize their whole event. They could not,
however, openly say such a thing: hence the lack of any explanation for their decision.
Naturally I find such treatment disconcerting, though I must add that it was not unexpected. However, the significance of this approach far transcends its negative effects on the dissemination of my book and my personal success. For the underlying fear of being smeared as anti-Semitic limits the criticism of Israel and its American supporters in terms of who can make it, where it can be presented, and what can be said to such an extent that such criticism becomes largely ineffective.
In fact, it becomes something akin to the official opposition that is often allowed to exist in authoritarian, and even totalitarian, states. The existence of such an official opposition allows critics to blow off steam without having any real impact; it creates the pretense of freedom without the reality. Ω
June 29, 2011
© 2011 by Stephen J. Sniegoski. All rights reserved by author.
This page was published in 2011 by WTM Enterprises.
If you found this article to be interesting, please donate at least $3 to our cause. You should make your check or m.o. payable in U.S. dollars to WTM Enterprises and send it to:
P.O. Box 224
Roanoke, IN 46783
Thanks for helping to assure a future for TLD! Please let me know if you'd like to receive TLD Update Notices by e-mail.