A Conspiracy Theory that Weakens the MovementBut the article doesn't quite accuse them of conspiracy theorising, well not in the worldwide Jewish sense of the expression but it is unduly dismissive. The SWP's position on why America supports Israel is a standard Leninist anti-imperialism position. What I object to in Chris Harman's article is that he is so blunt in his dismissal of M & W. I am not a "my enemy's enemy is my friend" sort of a person but I think that M & W article has a usefulness beyond that. Let's look at what Harman says. I'm skipping to the last paragraph (naughty I know):
People who see the "Israel lobby" as being behind US imperialism get things completely the wrong way round. They believe that US capitalism could strive for its worldwide interests without militaristic, imperialist adventures — without watchdogs. And that opens the door to those who want to absolve capitalism from blame for its crimes by talking of conspiracies by religious or ethnic minorities.Now this is an expression of the standard leftist view, I know, but do we really want to dismiss an argument because it might lead to another nastier worldview? This isn't a million miles from an American Friends of Peace Now argument that says we should never discuss American support for Israel for fear of what might be unleashed. And look how gleeful the zionists are every time an anti-zionist is quoted on a right wing hate site. The fact is that all criticism of Israel will be music to the ears of antisemites and we can't restrict our arguments because of that.
The article does get into some of the facts that M & W quote:
It says that the US gives aid to Israel which "dwarfs that given to other states", amounting to "$140 billion dollars since World War Two". It adds that since 1982 the US has vetoed 32 UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.It doesn't, however, discuss the Lobby's role in the media and in various thinktanks. It's true that Pinochet would have had his advocates in America's imperialist thinktanks but they wouldn't have sought to justify Pinochet's rule by reference to the ideological-cum-emotional baggage that zionism mobilises in America. So I feel that Harman has missed some things out of his article that would have been fair and useful to cover. I agree broadly that America isn't being led by Israel but there is an ideological commitment to Israel that is lacking in America's dealings with other states and this needs to be explained. Don't look at me, I don't know why it is.
The other thing is that M & W should be thanked for their efforts even if they are wrong. Their article didn't posit a conspiracy theory but an idea on the results of lobby activism for Israel. The debate and the campaign against zionism can and should be carried on simultaneously.