Greg Palast, the left wing of the Lobby

I always had a problem with Greg Palast. Apparently this critic of Bush and Blair, an opponent of the war in Iraq, who wrote for the Guardian and the Observer is a man on our side, a good left-wing guy. He is apparently against the corporations, against the neoliberal setup; some of his ideas are surely good. He is considered “Chomsky for Dummies” [“more accessible than Chomsky”, a newspaper wrote in a polite way] and he has a good class attitude, for instance: “The world’s three hundred richest people are worth more than the world’s poorest three billion. The market’s up, but who is the market? The Gilded One Percent own 4/5th of the nation’s stocks and bonds.” His philippics against Bush (“an evil sonovabitch”) are as fiery as those of a preacher in a mosque in my neighbourhood, and this is not a fault in my eyes. He is equally outspoken against the war in Iraq. What else could one ask from a guy?

But at the second sight, there were small alarums. He was against Bush and passionately – for Gore and Kerry. As if Gore and Kerry would keep the US troops out of Iraq. As if Gore and Kerry would pass the spoils of three hundred richest men to the poorest three billion. He claimed that Bush administration covered up… “Saudi financing of terror”. This smacked of a familiar claim – that the US made a mistake to attack Iraq – instead of Saudi Arabia, or Iran. He disliked America, his native land, with too strong a passion. “Antisemite is one who dislikes Jews too much”, quipped Yael Lotan, an Israeli writer. The same goes about America: it’s quite all right to dislike the superpower, but do not dislike it too much, it’s bad for your karma.

Palast wrote: “The United States is ugly. [It is] a numbing repetitive vortex of sprawled Pizza Huts, Wal-Marts, Kmarts, the Gap, Jiffy Lubes, Kentucky Fried Chickens, Starbucks and McDonald’s up to and leaning over the Canyon wall.” In my view, this is too much. Even if your mother – and one’s native land should be as important as your mother – is ugly, you do not say it, not even think it.

Palast’s unequivocal support for unlimited immigration was not inspired by his compassion to les miserables of the Third World (also an erroneous position, in my view, but still comprehensible), but by his profound disdain of the ordinary local indigenous native. Characteristically, in his Best Democracy Money Can Buy Palast argues with a London cockney cabby, whether England should accept millions of refugees and asylum seekers. The cabby was horrified by his multiculturalist attitude, by his indifference to local culture and tradition. But Palast pooh-poohed “the cabby’s fear of losing his English identity. Face it, Shakespeare’s dead. England’s cultural exports are now limited to soccer hooligans, Princess Di knickknacks and Hugh Grant.” Face it, Palast, “England’s cultural exports are now limited to soccer hooligans” because England’s cultural imports were limited to Greg Palast and others of your ilk. A new Shakespeare may be alive in England, as well as a new Melville in the US, but you won’t recognise him for he won’t fit your ideas. For you, ordinary people are “brown-shirted antiforeign electoral mobs”, for us – the sovereign people.

Palast is obsessed with money, as evident from his title Best Democracy Money Can Buy. He is not even aware of other motives, whether noble or vile. For him, “the number one question on the minds of Americans was not, “Does Saddam really have the bomb?” but “What’s this little war going to cost us?”

I have no idea of Palast’s ethnic background, but ideologically, nobody can be more Judaic than this man, who worships money, despises the native and wishes to bomb some place in the Middle East. These are classic Judaic attitudes, so I was not surprised when Palast emerged as an apologist for the Jews and an accuser of greedy WASPs and Arabs. In his Was the Invasion of Iraq A Jewish Conspiracy? essay published in the Jewish ‘progressive’ magazine Tikkun, Pallast pulls usual ropes; for him, whoever thinks that the Jewish establishment pushed for the war on Iraq (including Mearsheimer and Walt, apparently) must adhere to the Elders of Zion and Christ-killers paradigm. He writes: “after killing Jesus, did the Elders of Zion manipulate the government of the United States into invading Babylon as part of a scheme to abet the expansion of Greater Israel?” Not surprisingly, he finds the Jews “not guilty”. The bad guys are “a devout Christian, Norquist [who] channeled a million dollars to the Christian Coalition”, and “the Houston-Riyadh Big Oil axis”. The Jews? Forget it: “Wolfowitz and his neo-con clique— bookish, foolish, vainglorious—had their asses kicked utterly […] A half-dozen confused Jews, armed only with Leo Strauss’ silly aphorisms, were no match for Texas oil majors and OPEC potentates.”

This is not the place to repeat the discussion of the Jewish Lobby. This was done by many people, including Mearsheimer and Walt (their recent response to Lobby’s attacks is here), by Philip Weiss (whose blog makes more and more sense – actually, this man grew a lot since his triumphalist pieces of 2001, and I read him with great interest), by our friend Jeff Blankfort, whose emailing list scans much of American and British media, and even by my humble self.

The conclusions we reached are only fortified by the massive apology for the Lobby coming from various Trots, from Socialist Viewpoint, from Greg Palast and others. The Jewish Lobby is like a Stealth jet, and these guys provide it with invisibility. Palast will have to live many more years if he wants to see us weeping over the “neo-con leader of the pack Wolfowitz being cast out of the Pentagon war room and tossed into the World Bank”. We know of worse fate. And he will have to live as long as Methuselah to see us feeling sorry for General Jay Garner, the first Gauleiter of occupied Iraq sacked by his superiors –see item 4.

In short, we went part of the way with Mr. Palast, but what’s enough, enough. Let him prefer General Jay Garner to Paul Bremer III, Kerry to Bush, Jews to Texans and Saudi Arabia to Iraq as a good place to bomb. Coprophagi may choose between various kinds of excrements, but we are free from this worry.

Like Shamir, this writer also had nagging doubts about Palast. So I emailed him a straight question some months ago. Like Shamir, I did not know whether Palast was Jewish or not and it’s not the point anyway. The question asked in several emails was: did Palast support Zionism?

He never replied, which this writer now takes as an affirmative to the question. Like Noam Chomsky, who recently addressed students at West Point Military Acadamy. And Micheal Moore, who despite making a film about the gun lobby’s hypocracy, is protected by an armed bodyguard, Greg Palast seems to be working to another agenda altogether. Ed.

2. Here is a response of Jeff Blankfort:

This is an interesting article by investigative journalist Greg Palast who has, in the past, has avoided any mention of Israel or the Israel lobby even in his book, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” when, if he really wanted to know who the biggest buyers were, he could have readily found them in the internet among the Mother Jones 400, and the big donors from the Communications and Finance industries on the Center for Public Integrity site, and they are not oil men. Of the 400 top donors to the 2000 election cycle, 7 of the top 10, 12 of the top 20 and at least 125 of the top 250 were Jewish. Haim Saban, an Israeli-American, and a big backer of AIPAC, gave to the Democrats in 2002, $12.3 million, which is two million more than Ken Lay and Exxon gave to the Republicans over a 10 year period but strangely, it didn’t get the same media attention.

On the other hand, this article of his bears out what I have been saying for the three years, that the neo-con notion to take over and privatize Iraqi oil was nonsense and flied in the face of how the oil industry operates, that the neo-cons were no longer running the show, but what Palast doesn’t deal with is the initial opposition to the war on the part of Bush Sr., as well as James Baker, and oil company executives including Phillip Carroll of Shell, nor does he, once again, mention that not only were the neo-cons the main tub thumpers for the war, it was also supported by the major organizations of the Israel lobby, led by AIPAC and the parade of pro-Israel Jewish columnists who are nationally syndicated and led by Tom Freedman, William Safire (since replaced by David Brooks), Charles Krauthammer, Jeff Jacoby, and all the publications of Rupert Murdoch and Mortimer Zuckerman. The war was also called for by the major principals of both Likud and Labor in Israel, Sharon, Netanyahu and Peres, as well as Chef of Staff Shall Mofaz who said that after taking care of Iraq, the US should do the same with Syria and Iran.

If Palast was not so intent on shielding Israel and its American supporters from scrutiny, he would have acknowledged that the reason that the Democrats joined the Bush administration in supporting the war was that the majority of their funding comes from pro-Israel lobbyists which makes the Party, as Prof. Francis Boyle recently said, “a front for AIPAC.” Now that the war has taken out Saddam and literally destroyed the country, the Democrats are allowed to criticize the conduct of the war, but not so directly the war itself, and will be ready to serve the lobby’s call when it comes to taking on Iran. They have already overwhelmingly approved the Iran Freedom Act, the latest AIPAC war-mongering effort.

It is a shame that Palast has not employed his excellent investigative skills to examine this aspect of American society and instead has allowed them to play second fiddle to his attachment to Israel. Otherwise, he would not also be trying to convince us that both Bolton and Wolfowitz have important roles still to play for the Bush regime.

I have sent a copy of this to Greg Palast, with whom I have had two superb interviews on my radio program, but not on this subject. I am hoping that he will reply and, if so I will forward it to my list.

3. Frankly speaking, Greg Palast is a slim version of Michael Moore. Here is a very relevant piece: Wendy Campbell vs. Michael Moore

4. Was the Invasion of Iraq A Jewish Conspiracy?
Did the Jews do it?

The US Congress will open hearings this week on the War in Iraq — a wee bit late one might think. But one question at the forefront of the minds of many on both the Left and the Right is sure not to be asked: Did the Jews do it? I mean, after killing Jesus, did the Elders of Zion manipulate the government of the United States into invading Babylon as part of a scheme to abet the expansion of Greater Israel?

The question was first posed to me in 2004 when I was speaking at a meeting of Mobilization for Peace in San Jose. A member of the audience asked, “Put it together- Who’s behind this war? Paul Wolfowitz and Elliott Abrams and the Project for a “Jew” American Century and, and, why don’t you talk about that, huh? And ….”

But the questioner never had the full opportunity to complete his query because, flushed and red, he began to charge the stage. The peace activists attempted to detain the gentleman-whose confederates then grabbed some chairs to swing. As the Peace Center was taking on a somewhat warlike character, I chose to call in the authorities and slip out the back.

Still, his question intrigued me. As an investigative reporter, “Who’s behind this war?” seemed like a reasonable challenge-and if it were a plot of Christ-killers and Illuminati, so be it. I just report the facts, ma’am.

…It was more like a corporate takeover, except with Abrams tanks instead of junk bonds. It didn’t strike me as the work of a Kosher Cabal for an Imperial Israel. In fact, it smelled of pork-Pig Heaven for corporate America looking for a slice of Iraq, and I suspected its porcine source. I gave it a big sniff and, sure enough, I smelled Grover Norquist.

Norquist is the capo di capi of right-wing, big-money influence peddlers in Washington. Those jealous of his inside track to the White House call him “Gopher Nose-Twist.”

A devout Christian, Norquist channeled a million dollars to the Christian Coalition to fight the devil’s tool, legalized gambling. He didn’t tell the Coalition that the loot came from an Indian tribe represented by Norquist’s associate, Jack Abramoff. (The tribe didn’t want competition for its own casino operations.)

I took a chance and dropped in on Norquist’s L Street office, and under a poster of his idol [“NIXON- NOW MORE THAN EVER”], Norquist took a look at the “recovery” plan for Iraq and practically jumped over my desk to sign it, filled with pride at seeing his baby. … The very un-Jewish Norquist may have framed much of the U.S. occupation grabfest, but there was, without doubt, one notable item in the 101-page plan for Iraq which clearly had the mark of Zion on it. On page seventy-three the plan called for the “privatization….[of] the oil and supporting industries,” the sell-off of every ounce of Iraq’s oil fields and reserves. Its mastermind, I learned, was Ariel Cohen of the Heritage Foundation.

…”It’s a no-brainer,” Cohen told me, at his office at Heritage. It was a dim little cubby, in which, in our hour or two together, the phone rang only once. For a guy who was supposed to be The Godfather of a globe-spanning Zionist scheme to destroy the Arab oil monopoly, he seemed kind of, well…pathetic.

And he failed. While the Norquist-promoted sell-offs, flat taxes and copyright laws were dictated into Iraqi law by occupation chief Paul Bremer, the Cohen neo-con oil privatization died an unhappy death. What happened, Ari?

“Arab economists,” he hissed, “hired by the State Department — the witches brew of the Saudi Royal family and Soviet Ostblock.”

Well, the Soviet Ostblock does not exist, but the Arab economists do. I spoke with them in Riyadh, in London, in California, in wry accents mixing desert and Oxford drawls. They speak with confidence, knowing Saudi Arabia’s political authority is protected by the royal families — of Houston petroleum.

So there you have it. Wolfowitz and his neo-con clique- bookish, foolish, vainglorious-had their asses kicked utterly, finally, and convincingly by the powers of petroleum, the Houston-Riyadh Big Oil axis.

Between the neo-cons and Big Oil, it wasn’t much of a contest. The end-game was crushing, final. The Israelites had lost again in the land of Babylon. …The State Department’s knuckle-dragging enforcer of neo-con orthodoxies, John Bolton, was booted from Washington to New York to the powerless post of U.N. Ambassador. Finally, on March 16, 2005, second anniversary of the invasion, neo-con leader of the pack Wolfowitz was cast out of the Pentagon war room and tossed into the World Bank, moving from the testosterone-powered, war-making decision center to the lending office for Bangladeshi chicken farmers.

“The realists,” crowed the triumphant editor of the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, “have defeated the fantasists!”

So much for the Big Zionist Conspiracy that supposedly directed this war. A half- dozen confused Jews, wandering in the policy desert a long distance from mainstream Jewish views, armed only with Leo Strauss’ silly aphorisms, were no match for Texas oil majors and OPEC potentates with a combined throw weight of half a trillion barrels of oil.

5. Palast’s apology for Gauleiter Garner:

Greg Palast, author of Armed Madhouse, noticed: why Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fired General Jay Garner on 21 April 2003. Garner, appointed by Bush, made the mistake of “taking the US president at his word”. He thought that his job was to keep the peace and bring democracy. Then he was given a plan. It was a 101- page document to guide the long-term future of Iraq. There was nothing in it about democracy or elections or safety. There was, rather, a detailed schedule of selling off “all of Iraq’s state assets,” “especially” said the plan, “the oil and supporting industries.”

The plan, according to Garner, included the sale of Iraq’s banks and, curiously, changing copyright laws; “items that made the plan look less like a programme for getting Iraq on its feet than a programme for corporate looting of the nation’s assets.”

Garner did not think much of the plan. He had other priorities like food distribution and preventing famine. “Seizing title and ownership of Iraq’s oil fields was not on Garner’s must-do list. He let it be known to Washington that ‘what we need to do is set an Iraqi freely elected government represent the will of the people. It is their country, their oil.'”

Apparently, Rumsfeld disagreed. “Worse,” writes Palast, “Garner was brokering a truce between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. They were to begin what he called ‘big tent’ meetings to hammer out the details and set a date for elections. But quick elections would mean the end of the state-asset sell-off plan. An Iraqi-controlled government would never go along with it. Garner had spent years in Iraq in charge of the Northern Kurdish zone and knew the Iraqis well. He was certain that an asset-and-oil-grab, ‘privatisations’, would cause a sensitive population to take up the gun. ‘That’s just one fight you don’t want to take on right now.'”

But that’s just the fight the neo-cons wanted. Palast continues: “And in Rumsfeld’s replacement for Garner, they had a man itching for the fight. Paul Bremer III had no experience on the ground in Iraq, but he had one unbeatable credential that Garner lacked: Bremer had served as managing director of Kissinger and Associates.” General Garner, watching the insurgency unfold from the occupation authority’s provocations told Palast: “I am a believer that you don’t want to end the day with more enemies than you started with.” Such words seem from a different era to ours. As Palast concludes, “You can’t have a war president without a war. And you can’t have a war without enemies. “Bring ’em on,” our commander-in- chief said. And Zarqawi answered the call”

Israel Shamir is a critically acclaimed and respected Russian Israeli writer. He has written extensively and translated Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa, is a Christian, and an outspoken critic of Israel and Zionism.