February 8, 2002

Israel and the U.S: Petras replies to his critics

James Petras

The letters written by Srs. Almeyra, El Fisgon and Petro Miguel and Arnoldo Kraus in La Jornada criticizing my article, "Israel and the United States: A Unique Relation", are full of distortions, fabrications and slanderous accusations.

(1) I wrote that U.S. policy toward the Middle East and its relationship to Israel was heavily influenced by the Israeli lobby and influential and wealthy Jews in the U.S.. I did not write of a world-wide Jewish conspiracy. The title of my paper was the U.S. and Israel and the explicit reference to U.S. Jews who are unconditional supporters of Israel. I wrote that U.S. policy in the Middle East ( not in the world ) is strongly influenced by Israel through the pro-Israel lobby and leading Jewish organizations. Almeyra falsified my discussion by accusing me of writing that the U.S. is an "agent" of Israel.

(2) None of the three letters addresses the facts presented by my article: that Israel receives $2.8 billion a year from the U.S., over $84 billion over 30 years, more than all of Africa and Asia put together; the U.S. government has vetoed every resolution condemning Israel's mass murder of Palestinians in Lebanon and the Occupied Territories; and the U.S. government supplies Israel with the most modern weapons of mass destruction, which are raining death on hundreds of Palestinian children, women and activists.

The power of the Israel lobby on questions pertaining to the Middle East is evident precisely in the Bush Administration. Despite Bush's long-standing ties with the petroleum industry of Texas, he has backed Sharon's terror, condemned Arafat for seeking arms to protect his people from Israeli attacks, while supplying Israel with Apache helicopter gunships. The U.S. petroleum companies support the conservative Arab regimes, like Saudi Arabia which opposes Sharon's violence. Yet Bush takes the side of Israel against the Saudis and their allies among the U.S. petroleum companies. Why? The answer is clear to any one who has actually interviewed U.S. business groups, military officials, religious leaders and politicians: the pro- Israel lobby is the most powerful group in Washington on Middle East questions. I listed a number of major areas of policy to illustrate the U.S.-Israel relationship: the U.S. foreign aid budget, money laundering, the Israeli military attack on the U.S.S. Liberty, espionage, votes in the United Nations, extradition processes, pardoning of wealthy Jewish fugitives ( Marc Rich ). None of the letter writers address of challenge my facts. Instead they engage in ugly and pernicious calumnies comparing my empirical analysis to the "Protocols of Zion". The good doctor Kraus apparently has never looked at the U.S. foreign aid budget, never read anything about the Israeli lobby's financing of political candidates, never looked at the United Nation's voting records of the U.S. on questions pertaining to the Middle East. He prefers to preach the ethics of slander and worse the "ethics" of political censorship of those who document the record of Israeli influence over U.S. policy in the Middle East via its powerful pro-Israel lobby.

Doctor Kraus, your not too subtle defense of censorship is now practiced in the U.S., but no longer in Mexico. It is increasingly resisted in Israel, where hundreds of soldiers and officials are rejecting the genocidal politics of Sharon, Bush and the pro-Israeli lobby in the U.S.

The only error in my article was a mistake by the translator of La Jornada who translated my half a century into a century of Israeli influence over Washington. Otherwise the translation is excellent.

My article never refers to all Jews in the U.S. ( let alone the world ). It clearly refers to those Jews who are unconditional supporters of Israeli state policy in the U.S. My comments on the presence of numerous Israeli spies in the U.S. prior to and after September 11 is based on an article by respected journalist, Carl Cameron, in a Fox News report ( December 12, 2001), and reports from the General Accounting Office of the U.S. Congress. A number of these spies were arrested and expelled quietly without any official protest or media publicity. I cited Cameron's article and his claim to have interviewed numerous U.S. intelligence officials and their reports that the Israelis may have had prior knowledge of the event of September 11. These are legitimate questions worth exploring.

U.S. intellectuals of Jewish background, like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Edward Herman and Howard Zinn, who are critical of Israel and the Israeli lobby in the U.S. are denied access to the mass media and have no influence on U.S. policy. Frequently they are attacked by the pro-Israeli colons as "self-hating anti-semites" for their honest and forthright criticism of the Israeli state, with the same ugly virulence as these letter writers. It is a sad commentary when individuals who supposedly speak from the Left engage in polemics reminiscent of what Leon Trotsky referred to as the Stalinist School of Falsification. I welcome debate and criticism of my writing, but based on the facts and theories that I present, not on the basis of calumnies directed as silencing voices of reasoned and measured arguments.

Calumny is the last resort of ignorance. Let us continue to debate by all means. But above all, let us reject the authoritarian voices who would turn a dialogue into a monologue via censorship and libelous accusation. For those interested in my analysis, they can consult my web-site: or

They will find a class analysis completely and thoroughly refuting the slanders of Almeyra, Kraus, etc.