Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
CounterPunch Diary

An American Jew Laments Decline in Jewish Influence; Roe v. Wade: Nixon’s Ultimate Dirty Trick? Gonzo Exit? Shanley DA Aims Higher in Hate-filled Massachusetts

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Across the world the Jewish lobby in America is accorded extraordinary power, almost to the mythic levels of guileful effectiveness once attributed to the British Secret Service. And in truth, MI6, as the Secret Service was also known, never approached the Jewish lobby in overall clout. But these days, if you read analyses by American Jews of where their power is headed, the tone is often dour and the forecast grim. They say, in the words of the American anti-Arab fanatic Daniel Pipes, "the golden age of the Jews" in America has passed its zenith.

This may seem strange when there is universal recognition that George Bush may well be the most pro-Israel president in the nation’s history, when the role of the so-called "neocons", usually short-hand for the more fanatical supporters of Israel in American public life, is identified as crucial in pushing for the war on Iraq and now on Iran, when pro Israel votes in the US Congress sweep through by margins of over 90 per cent.

But listen to a man like Illinois-based political analyst Richard Baehr, writing in American Thinker. Baehr could fairly be described as a Zionist ultra. He can also read numbers objectively. Recently he outlined in a speech and then in his publication the reasons he sees for concern.

The indices of dismay for Baehr show most clearly in population statistics. From 1990 to 2000, he points out, the Hispanic population grew by 13 million. just over 50%. The black population grew by 4 million, or 11%. The Asian
population grew by 4 million, or over 60%. The population of non-Hispanic whites grew by 6 million or 3%. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 22% of the country’s population growth during the ten year period, Hispanics for half of it. Non-Hispanic whites are now 70% of the population, headed for 50% by 2050.

Meanwhile, from a peak of 6 million American Jews, or 4% of the US population in 1950, Jews are now just about 5.2 million in number, according to the latest Jewish population surveys, or a bit less than 2% of the US population, and the trend points down to maybe three million in the next but one generation.

Baehr laments that "With an intermarriage rate around 50%, and a fertility rate of 1.6 children per Jewish woman, Jews are committing population suicide." He takes a swipe at liberal American Jews, most of them supporters of legal abortion: "American Jews marry late and often never marry, and have fewer children as a result. The commitment to abortion rights as a pre-eminent political issue strikes me a particularly odd, with Jewish numbers declining at an accelerating rate. Rather than being aggressive advocates of abortion rights, Jews might more rationally be advocates of carrying unwanted pregnancies to term, and then giving up the babies for adoption. This is especially the case since many Jewish women marry late and have difficulty conceiving."

Reading Baehr you might even conclude Planned Parenthood is not a Malthusian plot sponsored by the Rockefellers, but Nixon’s deftest dirty trick, fixing the Supreme Court to pass Roe v Wade in 1973. Huh? Listen to Baehr: "In fact, if no abortions had occurred in the last 30 years, and the total number of abortions were added to the populations of each state since Roe v Wade was adopted, Al Gore would have been running for re-election in 2004, since the states he won in 2000, such as California, and New York, would have had several more electoral votes in that year, and Bush’s states fewer. Gore would have been elected regardless of the Florida outcome." Kevin Phillips, move over! This makes the southern strategy look like chickenfeed. That’s why Nixon needed the hundred grand from Howard Hughes, to bribe Harry Blackmun. You don’t think Nixon would have figured this out? One of these days I bet we’ll find Operation Herod buried in Nixon’s papers.

Back to Baehr’s nightmare of Muslim breeders. As Jews decline in number, he points with a quivering finger at the Arab and Muslim population in America heading in the other direction. Baehr cites two academic studies putting the US Muslim population at between 1.8 and 2.9 million, with the total Arab/Muslim community "probably about 3.5 million, two thirds the size of the Jewish community."

Turning to political influence in the form of financial contributions, Baehr notes that in the 2004 campaign, four Jews – George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steven Bing and Herbert Sandler – gave over $80 million to Democratic political funds. While "this level of political giving by a few individuals has never happened before in the history of the countryIsrael is not the leading agenda item for any of them. They were Bush-haters, pure and simple. This is true of much of the political money that comes from Jews in Hollywood (from where Bing hails). Israel is not the motivator for their contributions."

Baehr goes on to portray, somewhat fancifully, the Democratic Party as increasingly falling into the clutches of what he sees as the ultra, Israel-hating left, headed by Michael Moore, the movie director. I seem to remember Moore taking enormous pains last year to absolve Israel from any unpleasing role in Fahrenheit 911, by the simple tactic of not mentioning that troublesome nation. By "Israel hating" Baehr appears to mean anyone who speaks up in any way for justice for Palestinians or criticizes Ariel Sharon. Seeing the Democratic Party as a lost cause for Israel over the long term, and on the decline as a political force in America, he extols the alliance between Christian Evangelicals and Orthodox Jews and the Republican Party.

To anyone used to lamenting the overwhelming tilt towards Israel in intellectual circles and the media it is bizarre to find Baehr writing that he sees a "Distancing of media, academic and intellectual elites from Israel" and to hear him citing Frank Luntz, a pollster, as saying "there is great danger ahead, because American elite opinion is not sympathetic to Israel, and it is getting worse. Elites view Israel as aggressive and warlike and Palestinians as victims. Academia is the community that is the least sympathetic to Israel, since lefty radicals from the 60s run the faculty at most schools."

Happily for the blood pressure of his audience, Baehr did open his often gloomy survey with these words: "There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the reports of the decline of Jewish and pro-Israel influence, and the rise of Arab/Muslim influence in the American political system are at the moment greatly exaggerated. The bad news is that change is underway, and the relative shift described above is occurring."

Hunter Thompson’s Final Exit

Getting back to Hunter Thompson, whom I wrote about last week you really think this was a considerate goodbye to his family? Here’s the latest AP story:

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) – The widow of journalist Hunter S. Thompson said her husband killed himself while the two were talking on the phone.

"I was on the phone with him, he set the receiver down and he did it. I heard the clicking of the gun," Anita Thompson told the Aspen Daily News in Friday’s editions.

She said her husband had asked her to come home from a health club so they could work on his weekly ESPN column – but instead of saying goodbye, he set the telephone down and shot himself.

Thompson said she heard a loud, muffled noise, but didn’t know what had happened. "I was waiting for him to get back on the phone," she said His son, daughter-in-law and 6-year-old grandson were in the house when the shooting occurred.

Anita Thompson, 32, said her husband had discussed killing himself in recent months and had been issuing verbal and written directives about what he wanted done with his body, his unpublished works and his assets.

His suicidal talk put a strain on their relationship, she said. "He wanted to leave on top of his game. I wish I could have been more supportive of his decision," she said. "It was a problem for us."

Suicides leave the family survivors devastated, often forever. Yet some Thompson fans, in toto never a discriminating gang at the best of times, have been cheering the manner of his departure as fitting and even uplifting gonzo-closure. To me it looks more like a terrible terminal act of aggression, that he wanted that final explosion to echo in his wife’s brain for ever.

Honderich and SOAS

From London Omar Waraich writes to tell me that his terrific story last week on the framing of George Galloway elicited around 500 emails from around the world, pouring into his inbox. I told him the truth, that CounterPunchers are responsive readers. Then, next day he put on his hat as one of the organizers at the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies and wrote to usw about a piece on this site last week by the philosopher Ted Honderich, also based at the University of London:

Dear Alex and Jeffrey,

You know how we revere your pages, so you can imagine our consternation upon being misrepresented in Honderich’s piece last weekend.

It’s rather churlish of him to claim that we had invited him to speak, only to knock him of the bill later. In actual fact, we never invited him, so his name was never on "the list" he mentions. The meeting didn’t even take place at SOAS.

Then Honderich plunges to greater depths by suggesting that the SOAS Palestine Society may have been the ones "barracking" him at LSE. Another falsehood.

Best,
Omar Waraich,
Chair – SOAS Palestine Society.

Here Comes Martha Coakley, an HRC Look-Alike

Paul Shanley, 72, now sits in prison, in the first days of his twelve to fifteen year sentence. By all accounts he’s bearing up well, even though shamefully convicted by a jury solely on the basis of the "recovered memory" of one accuser, whose supposed recollections were not corroborated, indeed were contradicted by all witnesses. Meanwhile the triumphant DA, the ghastly Coakley, readies herself for higher things.

Dear Alex,

You were quite right in your piece on the conviction of Paul Shanley ("Back to Salem", www.counterpunch.org/cockburn02192005.html) to name Martha Coakley, current Middlesex county DA, as the lead villain in the terrible legal travesty that was visited upon the Amirault family in Massachusetts. I had nothing to do with the case, do not even live in Massachusetts anymore, but I graduated from the same college, in 1983, that the criminal prosecutor graduated from in 1975, Williams College.

Martha Coakley’s unwavering role in prosecuting Gerald Amirault, despite the waves of revelations about child abuse prosecutorial fraud, marks her as one of the most shameful examples of the immorality of elite-tax-bracket American higher education. And yet, as any attentive Boston Globe reader may surmise, Coakley ­ a DLC Democrat ­ has copied all of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s moves, down to same hairstyle, same public waxiness, same upward-career trajectory, and is poised to become a major candidate for governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts. Williams styles itself the greatest college in the world, and invited Coakley in 2003 to be its convocation speaker. She’s on all manner of boards and conferences on "Protecting our Youth" and other soccer-mom drivel. Should she answer for the decades Gerald Amirault lost to be inside prison because of her uneducated zeal to witch-hunt? Of course. Will she? Not given our track record of protecting scheming "elite" college maniacs.

Martin White

"Perhaps the Shanley affair is part of some very long-term trend", writes another CounterPuncher:

"I grew up in Brookline, and remember reading about local murder cases in the Globe. It struck me, forcefully at the time that there never seemed to be much evidence against those convicted. I don’t know if this was a local phenomenon, even whether my perceptions were correct, but over the years I have come to feel that people just don’t have any conception of evidence any more. The WMD scandal is just the political manifestation of a trend already recognizable in the criminal justice system, most prominently with the recovered memory nonsense. Indeed even the growth of Christian fundamentalism pretty well requires such a trend."

By coincidence, just before I read this note, I had been reading a posting by Jude Wanniski on his Polyconomics site about the origins of anti-Semitism where he mostly quotes some racy stuff about the 13th century by Will Durant and was brooding on how the accusations of ritual murder by Jews of Christian kids echo in the frenzies about ritual penetration of children in day care centers in the US in the 1980s and 1990s, with consequent life sentences for many including the Amiraults.

So there’s the historical conjuncture, and in the case of Massachusetts a long term local conjuncture going back to the Salem trials.In many criminal matters, our courts are definitely swinging towards some new form, in which emotional factors are being given pride of place, and sentencing is placed in the hands of the victim, most egregiously in the case of Shepard’s father in Wyoming in 1998 who told the accused in the courtroom that he held power of life or death over them, a claim that had some validity. "I am going to grant you life," Matthew’s father declared in court, and as JoAnn Wypijewski pointed out here last November this was the ultimate expression of privatized justice.

The same CounterPuncher remarked, apropos, Durant,

I can’t see much mystery about the origins of anti-Semitism. The Jews made themselves unpopular by rejecting Roman syncretism, so Rome was hostile to the Jews before Constantine. He just took over that hostility and added to it the doctrinal squabble between Christian and Jewish Jews, itself exacerbated by the institutionalization of the Church. In short the origins were purely religious.

The economic forces which led to the decay of first Hellenistic and then Roman society, also opened the gates to anti-social, otherworldly religions; their jockeying for position lead to religious anti-Semitism. I know about all this stuff about how it was usury and the Jews were estate superintendents and so forth. All true, I suppose, but without the eschatological propaganda of the Church it would never have come to anything.

The anti-Semitic outbreaks were, after all, not directed against usurers in general. The Fuggers never got trashed. Durant et al. have to explain why the peasants didn’t just have good old peasant revolts or the city folk riot against usurers – it’s not as if these tactics were unknown to them. It won’t do to say the Jews were scapegoats – why settle for a scapegoat when you can just kill the moneylenders and superintendants?

John Edwards Drops Everything: How A Politician Defines "Focus"

"Since this election, I have been so focused on Elizabeth and on doing the work that I’m going to be doing here, I haven’t even made a decision about what I’m going to do," Edwards told ABC News "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

For the record (as assembled by CounterPuncher Michael Donnelly): since the ABB loss, Edwards has been very busy politicking. Just a sample of his "focus on Elizabeth": 12/14 Charlie Rose Show; 12/19 Larry King; 2/5 New Hampshire speech; 2/20 Stephanopoulos show ABC; 2/26 Florida Democrat Dinner speech; 3/4 Kansas Democrat Speech.

And the topper, he was named Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, a non-profit Dem think tank at the University of North Carolina.