Interview with Stephen Schwartz

In Shmuel Rosner’s column in Ha’aretz. You absolutely have to read this. For example:

On the relative dangers from Shia and Sunni Jihadists:

the claim that Iran has been supporting Sunni terrorism in Iraq holds no water. It is a media legend, based, it seems, on the presumption that the Iranians are so insane that they would pay Sunni terrorists to kill Shias. The Iranians do not support the killing of Shias, except in judicial executions in Iran, anywhere, and there is no serious evidence to support the claim that they do…

It is true that the Iranian authorities, attempting to outdo their Sunni rivals in supporting the Palestinian Arabs, have subsidized Palestinian Islamic Jihad and given aid to Hamas, the latter which does not seem to have been taken very gracefully, since Hamas, as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, is anti- Shia. The PIJ example is unique…

I am also repeatedly amazed by the unanswered argument in Western media that clericalist Iran will take over a Shia-majority regime in Iraq. Iraqi Shias never accepted Khomeini’s scheme for clerical rule. Nobody in the West seems interested in the probability that the consolidation of a non-clerical, Shia-majority regime in Iraq, based on parliamentary elections supported by Ayatollah Sistani, would have a positive effect in encouraging the reform movement in Iran…

If one combines the Ahmadinejad gang with the fascist Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, radical Shi’ism may appear as a much bigger threat than it is. But when compared with the worldwide threat of Wahhabism it remains, in my view, secondary. As for the nuclear threat, Pakistan, which plays the same role vis-a-vis the Saudi Wahhabis that East Germany did with the Soviet Union, already has the so-called “Islamic bomb,” and since they are only interested in cash, the Pakistani regime of Mush-head Musharraf has already sold nuclear technology to the Iranians, so would presumably sell them bombs as well. Wiping out the Pakistani nuclear facilities would seem to me an urgent task…

On the AIPAC prosecution:

I don’t think the Jewish leadership in America – which many would conflate with “the Jewish lobbies”– is on the edge of its demise, but I think “America’s Israel Lobby,” the official descriptive of AIPAC, is in much deeper trouble than many people realize, especially since the trial of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman will go ahead, beginning June 4.

There are elements in the AIPAC proceeding that should be deeply alarming to the Jewish or pro-Israel community. The first is the language employed by the prosecution and judge in court filings leading up to the trial, in which AIPAC has been effectively equated with Soviet spies and even with agents for Iran. If the trial finds that AIPAC is indeed a foreign lobby and must be subjected to U.S. government oversight as such, its situation will be very grave, and its capacity to garner donations and other support will be reduced. Those who reply by saying that AIPAC now gets more contributions than ever are whistling in the dark. A judgment against AIPAC could easily result in the demise of AIPAC.

By the way, I am not a Zionist myself in the strict sense of the term, I am not an uncritical supporter of the dominant Israeli leaders, and I happen to like the main prosecution figure and respect the judge in the case. But I fear they have been swept up in a phenomenon larger than them and not of their making. The second troubling aspect of the trial somewhat recapitulates the latter point: there are many indications that the AIPAC proceeding is the result of some kind of anti-AIPAC machination within the U.S. government.

On the developing antisemitic climate in the US and the Jewish establishment’s response:

The Iraq war produced a new and vicious form of Jew-baiting in America. Where in the past it was alleged by a minority within the mainstream that a Jewish interest along with others (e.g. the British in the second world war) influenced U.S. foreign policy, an unchallenged argument emerged in mainstream American media that a Zionist “cabal” – an illegitimate, Jew-baiting term in itself – had seized control of the Defense Department and invaded Iraq to support Israel. This represented a new and deeply shocking development. The established Jewish leadership made no effort whatever to counter these claims, mainly because said leadership were and are mainly Democrats, and the neoconservative victims of this smear were Republicans. This represented an extraordinary abdication by the Jewish leadership…

The Smearsheimer-Walt Dizzy pamphlet, reminiscent of German academic “anti-Semitismus” of the 19th century, is scheduled for publication by a mainstream New York house with a “Jewish history” – Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. This is appalling to an extreme.

[All emphasis above is mine — ed.]

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