Understanding Jewish Influence III:

Neoconservatism as a Jewish Movement

Kevin MacDonald

Over the last year, there has been a torrent of articles on neoconservatism raising (usually implicitly) some difficult issues: Are neoconservatives different from other conservatives?  Is neoconservatism a Jewish movement? Is it “anti-Semitic” to say so?

The thesis presented here is that neoconservatism is indeed a Jewish intellectual and political movement. This paper is the final installment in a three-part series on Jewish activism and reflects many of the themes of the first two articles. The first paper in this series focused on the traits of ethnocentrism, intelligence, psychological intensity, and aggressiveness.1 These traits will be apparent here as well. The ethnocentrism of the neocons has enabled them to create highly organized, cohesive, and effective ethnic networks. Neoconservatives have also exhibited the high intelligence necessary for attaining eminence in the academic world, in the elite media and think tanks, and at the highest levels of government. They have aggressively pursued their goals, not only in purging more traditional conservatives from their positions of power and influence, but also in reorienting US foreign policy in the direction of hegemony and empire. Neoconservatism also illustrates the central theme of the second article in this series: In alliance with virtually the entire organized American Jewish community, neoconservatism is a vanguard Jewish movement with close ties to the most extreme nationalistic, aggressive, racialist and religiously fanatic elements within Israel.2

Neoconservatism also reflects many of the characteristics of Jewish intellectual movements studied in my book, The Culture of Critique3(see Table 1).

Table 1: Characteristics of Jewish Intellectual Movements

However, neoconservatism also presents several problems to any analysis, the main one being that the history of neoconservatism is relatively convoluted and complex compared to other Jewish intellectual and political movements. To an unusual extent, the history of neoconservatism presents a zigzag of positions and alliances, and a multiplicity of influences. This is perhaps inevitable in a fundamentally political movement needing to adjust to changing circumstances and attempting to influence the very large, complex political culture of the United States. The main changes neoconservatives have been forced to confront have been their loss of influence in the Democratic Party and the fall of the Soviet Union. Although there is a remarkable continuity in Jewish neoconservatives' interests as Jews—the prime one being the safety and prosperity of Israel—these upheavals required new political alliances and produced a need for new work designed to reinvent the intellectual foundation of American foreign policy.

Neoconservatism also raises difficult problems of labeling. As described in the following, neoconservatism as a movement derives from the long association of Jews with the left. But contemporary neoconservatism is not simply a term for ex-liberals or leftists. Indeed, in its present incarnation, many second-generation neoconservatives, such as David Frum, Jonah Goldberg, and Max Boot, have never had affiliations with the American left. Rather, neoconservatism represents a fundamentally new version of American conservatism, if it can be properly termed conservative at all. By displacing traditional forms of conservatism, neoconservatism has actually solidified the hold of the left on political and cultural discourse in the United States. The deep and continuing chasm between neocons and more traditional American conservatives—a topic of this paper—indicates that this problem is far from being resolved. 

The multiplicity of influences among neoconservatives requires some comment. The current crop of neoconservatives has at times been described as Trotskyists.4 As will be seen, in some cases the intellectual influences of neoconservatives can be traced to Trotsky, but Trotskyism cannot be seen as a current influence within the movement. And although the political philosopher Leo Strauss is indeed a guru for some neoconservatives, his influence is by no means pervasive, and in any case provides only a very broad guide to what the neoconservatives advocate in the area of public policy. Indeed, by far the best predictor of neoconservative attitudes, on foreign policy at least, is what the political right in Israel deems in Israel’s best interests. Neoconservatism does not fit the pattern of the Jewish intellectual movements described in The Culture of Critique, characterized by gurus (“rabbis”) and their disciples centered around a tightly focused intellectual perspective in the manner of Freud, Boas, or Marcuse. Neoconservatism is better described in general as a complex interlocking professional and family network centered around Jewish publicists and organizers flexibly deployed to recruit the sympathies of both Jews and non-Jews in harnessing the wealth and power of the United States in the service of Israel. As such, neoconservatism should be considered a semicovert branch of the massive and highly effective pro-Israel lobby, which includes organizations like the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)—the most powerful lobbying group in Washington—and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Indeed, as discussed below, prominent neoconservatives have been associated with such overtly pro-Israel organizations as the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), and ZOA. (Acronyms of the main neoconservative and pro-Israel activist organizations used in this paper are provided in Table 2.)

Table 2: Acronyms of Neoconservative and Pro-Israel
Activist Organizations Used in this Paper

Compared with their deep and emotionally intense commitment to Israel, neoconservative attitudes on domestic policy seem more or less an afterthought, and they will not be the main focus here. In general, neoconservatives advocate maintaining the social welfare, immigration, and civil rights policies typical of liberalism (and the wider Jewish community) up to about 1970. Some of these policies represent clear examples of Jewish ethnic strategizing—in particular, the role of the entire Jewish political spectrum and the entire organized Jewish community as the moving force behind the immigration law of 1965, which opened the floodgates to nonwhite immigration. (Jewish organizations still favor liberal immigration policies. In 2004, virtually all American Jewish public affairs agencies belong to the National Immigration Forum, the premier open borders immigration-lobbying group.5) Since the neocons have developed a decisive influence in the mainstream conservative movement, their support for nonrestrictive immigration policies has perhaps more significance for the future of the United States than their support for Israel.

As always when discussing Jewish involvement in intellectual movements, there is no implication that all or even most Jews are involved in these movements. As discussed below, the organized Jewish community shares the neocon commitment to the Likud Party in Israel. However, neoconservatism has never been a majority viewpoint in the American Jewish community, at least if being a neoconservative implies voting for the Republican Party. In the 2000 election, 80 percent of Jews voted for Al Gore.6

These percentages may be misleading, since it was not widely known during the 2000 election that the top advisors of George W. Bush had very powerful Jewish connections, pro-Likud sympathies, and positive attitudes toward regime change in Arab countries in the Middle East. Republican strategists are hoping for 35 percent of the Jewish vote in 2004.7 President Bush’s May 18, 2004, speech to the national convention of AIPAC “received a wild and sustained standing ovation in response to an audience member’s call for ‘four more years.’ The majority of some 4,500 delegates at the national conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee leaped to their feet in support of the president…. Anecdotal evidence points to a sea change among Jewish voters, who historically have trended toward the Democratic Party but may be heading to Bush’s camp due to his stance on a single issue: his staunch support of Israel.”8 Nevertheless, Democrats may not lose many Jewish voters because John Kerry, the likely Democratic candidate, has a “100% record” for Israel and has promised to increase troop strength and retain the commitment to Iraq.9

The critical issue is to determine the extent to which neoconservatism is a Jewish movement—the extent to which Jews dominate the movement and are a critical component of its success. One must then document the fact that the Jews involved in the movement have a Jewish identity and that they are Jewishly motivated—that is, that they see their participation as aimed at achieving specific Jewish goals. In the case of neoconservatives, an important line of evidence is to show their deep connections to Israel—their “passionate attachment to a nation not their own,” as Pat Buchanan terms it,10 and especially to the Likud Party. As indicated above, I will argue that the main motivation for Jewish neoconservatives has been to further the cause of Israel; however, even if that statement is true, it does not imply that all Jews are neoconservatives. I therefore reject the sort of arguments made by Richard Perle, who responded to charges that neoconservatives were predominantly Jews by noting that Jews always tend to be disproportionately involved in intellectual undertakings, and that many Jews oppose the neoconservatives.11 This is indeed the case, but leaves open the question of whether neoconservative Jews perceive their ideas as advancing Jewish interests and whether the movement itself is influential. An important point of the following, however, is that the organized Jewish community has played a critical role in the success of neoconservatism and in preventing public discussion of its Jewish roots and Jewish agendas.

Non-Jewish Participation in Neoconservatism

As with the other Jewish intellectual and political movements, non-Jews have been welcomed into the movement and often given highly visible roles as the public face of the movement. This of course lessens the perception that the movement is indeed a Jewish movement, and it makes excellent psychological sense to have the spokespersons for any movement resemble the people they are trying to convince. That’s why Ahmed Chalabi (a Shiite Iraqi, a student of early neocon theorist Albert Wohlstetter, and a close personal associate of prominent neocons, including Richard Perle) was the neocons’ choice to lead postwar Iraq.12 There are many examples—including Freud’s famous comments on needing a non-Jew to represent psychoanalysis (he got Carl Jung for a time until Jung balked at the role, and then Ernest Jones). Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict were the most publicly recognized Boasian anthropologists, and there were a great many non-Jewish leftists and pro-immigration advocates who were promoted to visible positions in Jewish dominated movements—and sometimes resented their role.13 Albert Lindemann describes non-Jews among the leaders of the Bolshevik revolution as “jewified non-Jews”—“a term, freed of its ugly connotations, [that] might be used to underline an often overlooked point: Even in Russia there were some non-Jews, whether Bolsheviks or not, who respected Jews, praised them abundantly, imitated them, cared about their welfare, and established intimate friendships or romantic liaisons with them.”14

There was a smattering of non-Jews among the New York Intellectuals, who, as members of the anti-Stalinist left in the 1940s, were forerunners of the neoconservatives. Prominent examples were Dwight MacDonald (labeled by Michael Wrezin “a distinguished goy among the Partisanskies”15—i.e., the largely Jewish Partisan Review crowd), James T. Farrell, and Mary McCarthy. John Dewey also had close links to the New York Intellectuals and was lavishly promoted by them;16 Dewey was also allied closely with his former student Sidney Hook, another major figure on the anti-Stalinist left. Dewey was a philosemite, stating: “After all, it was the Christians who made them ‘it’ [i.e., victims]. Living in New York where the Jews set the standard of living from department stores to apartment houses, I often think that the Jews are the finest product of historical Christianity…. Anyway, the finest living man, so far as I know, is a Jew—[humanitarian founder of the International Institute of Agriculture] David Lubin.”17

This need for the involvement of non-Jews is especially acute for neoconservatism as a political movement: Because neoconservative Jews constitute a tiny percentage of the electorate, they need to make alliances with non-Jews whose perceived interests dovetail with theirs. Non-Jews have a variety of reasons for being associated with Jewish interests, including career advancement, close personal relationships or admiration for individual Jews, and deeply held personal convictions. For example, as described below, Senator Henry Jackson, whose political ambitions were intimately bound up with the neoconservatives, was a strong philosemite due partly to his experiences in childhood; his alliance with neoconservatives also stemmed from his (entirely reasonable) belief that the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a deadly conflict and his belief that Israel was a valuable ally in that struggle. Because neoconservatives command a large and lucrative presence in the media, thinktankdom, and political culture generally, it is hardly surprising that complex blends of opportunism and personal conviction characterize participating non-Jews.

University and Media Involvement

An important feature of the Jewish intellectual and political movements I have studied has been their association with prestigious universities and media sources. The university most closely associated with the current crop of neoconservatives is the University of Chicago, the academic home not only of Leo Strauss, but also of Albert Wohlstetter, a mathematician turned foreign policy strategist, who was mentor to Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, both of whom have achieved power and influence in the George W. Bush administration. The University of Chicago was also home to Strauss disciple Allan Bloom, sociologist Edward Shils, and novelist Saul Bellow among the earlier generation of neoconservatives.

Another important academic home for the neocons has been the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Wolfowitz spent most of the Clinton years as a professor at SAIS; the Director of the Strategic Studies Program at SAIS is Eliot Cohen, who has been a signatory to a number of the Project for a New American Century’s statements and letters, including the April 2002 letter to President Bush on Israel and Iraq (see below); he is also an advisor for Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, an important neocon think tank. Cohen is famous for labeling the war against terrorism World War IV. His book, Supreme Command, argues that civilian leaders should make the important decisions and not defer to military leaders. This message was understood by Cheney and Wolfowitz as underscoring the need to prevent the military from having too much influence, as in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War when Colin Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been influential in opposing the removal of Saddam Hussein.18

Unlike other Jewish intellectual movements, the neoconservatives have been forced to deal with major opposition from within the academy, especially from Arabs and leftists in academic departments of Middle East studies. As a result, neoconservative activist groups, especially the WINEP and the MEF’s Campus Watch, have monitored academic discourse and course content and organized protests against professors, and were behind congressional legislation that will mandate U.S. government monitoring of programs in Middle East studies (see below).

Jewish intellectual and political movements also have typically had ready access to prestigious mainstream media outlets, and this is certainly true for the neocons. Most notable are the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Public Interest, Basic Books (book publishing), and the media empires of Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch owns the Fox News Channel and the New York Post, and is the main source of funding for Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard—all major neocon outlets.

A good example illustrating these connections is Richard Perle. Perle is listed as a Resident Fellow of the AEI, and he is on the boards of directors of the Jerusalem Post and the Hollinger Corporation, a media company controlled by Conrad Black. Hollinger owns major media properties in the U.S. (Chicago Sun-Times), England (the Daily Telegraph), Israel (Jerusalem Post), and Canada (the National Post; 50 percent ownership with CanWest Global Communications, which is controlled by Israel Asper and his family; CanWest has aggressively clamped down on its journalists for any deviation from its strong pro-Israel editorial policies19). Hollinger also owns dozens of smaller publications in the U.S., Canada, and England. All of these media outlets reflect the vigorously pro-Israel stance espoused by Perle. Perle has written op-ed columns for Hollinger newspapers as well as for the New York Times.

Neoconservatives such as Jonah Goldberg and David Frum also have a very large influence on National Review, formerly a bastion of traditional conservative thought in the U.S. Neocon think tanks such as the AEI have a great deal of cross-membership with Jewish activist organizations such as AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington, and the WINEP. (When President George W. Bush addressed the AEI on Iraq policy, the event was fittingly held in the Albert Wohlstetter Conference Center.) A major goal of the AEI is to maintain a high profile as pundits in the mainstream media. A short list would include AEI fellow Michael Ledeen, who is extreme even among the neocons in his lust for war against all of the Arab countries in the Middle East, is “resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the AEI,” writes op-ed articles for The Scripps Howard News Service and the Wall Street Journal, and appears on the Fox News Channel. Michael Rubin, visiting scholar at AEI, writes for the New Republic (controlled by staunchly pro-Israel Martin Peretz), the New York Times, and the Daily Telegraph. Reuel Marc Gerecht, a resident fellow at the AEI and director of the Middle East Initiative at PNAC, writes for the Weekly Standard and the New York Times. Another prominent AEI member is David Wurmser who formerly headed the Middle East Studies Program at the AEI until assuming a major role in providing intelligence disinformation in the lead up to the war in Iraq (see below). His position at the AEI was funded by Irving Moscowitz, a wealthy supporter of the settler movement in Israel and neocon activism in the US.20 At the AEI Wurmser wrote op-ed pieces for the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard, and the Wall Street Journal. His book, Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein, advocated that the United States should use military force to achieve regime change in Iraq. The book was published by the AEI in 1999 with a Foreward by Richard Perle.

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the New York Times was deeply involved in spreading deception about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorist organizations. Judith Miller’s front-page articles were based on information from Iraqi defectors well known to be untrustworthy because of their own interest in toppling Saddam.21 Many of these sources, including the notorious Ahmed Chalabi, were also touted by the Office of Special Plans of the Department of Defense, which is associated with many of the most prominent Bush administration neocons (see below). Miller’s indiscretions might be chalked up to incompetence were it not for her close connections to prominent neocon organizations, in particular Daniel Pipes’s Middle East Forum (MEF), which avidly sought the war in Iraq. The MEF lists Miller as an expert speaker on Middle East issues, and she has published articles in MEF media, including the Middle East Quarterly and the MEF Wire. The MEF also threw a launch party for her book on Islamic fundamentalism, God Has Ninety-Nine Names. Miller, whose father is ethnically Jewish, has a strong Jewish consciousness: Her book One by One: Facing the Holocaust “tried to … show how each [European] country that I lived and worked in, was suppressing or distorting or politically manipulating the memory of the Holocaust.”22

The New York Times has apologized for “coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been” but has thus far refused to single out Miller’s stories as worthy of special censure.23 Indeed, the Times’sfailure goes well beyond Miller:

Some of the Times’s coverage in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq was credulous; much of it was inappropriately italicized by lavish front-page display and heavy-breathing headlines; and several fine articles by David Johnston, James Risen and others that provided perspective or challenged information in the faulty stories were played as quietly as a lullaby. Especially notable among these was Risen’s “C.I.A. Aides Feel Pressure in Preparing Iraqi Reports,” which was completed several days before the invasion and unaccountably held for a week. It didn't appear until three days after the war’s start, and even then was interred on Page B10.24

As is well known, the New York Times is Jewish-owned and has often beenaccused of slanting its coverage on issues of importance to Jews.25 It is perhaps another example of the legacy of Jacob Schiff, the Jewish activist/philanthropist who backed Adolph Ochs’s purchase of the New York Times in 1896 because he believed he “could be of great service to the Jews generally.”26

Involvement of the Wider Jewish Community

Another common theme of Jewish intellectual and political movements has been the involvement and clout of the wider Jewish community. While the prominent neoconservatives represent a small fraction of the American Jewish community, there is little doubt that the organized Jewish community shares their commitment to the Likud Party in Israel and, one might reasonably infer, Likud’s desire to see the United States conquer and effectively control virtually the entire Arab world.27 For example, representatives of all the major Jewish organizations serve on the executive committee of AIPAC, the most powerful lobby in Washington.  Since the 1980s AIPAC has leaned toward Likud and only reluctantly went along with the Labor government of the 1990s.28 In October 2002, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a declaration of support for disarming the Iraqi regime.29 Jack Rosen, the president of the American Jewish Congress, noted that “the final statement ought to be crystal clear in backing the President having to take unilateral action if necessary against Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction.”30

The organized Jewish community also plays the role of credential validator, especially for non-Jews. For example, the neocon choice for the leader of Iran following regime change is Reza Pahlavi, son of the former Shah. As is the case with Ahmed Chalabi, who was promoted by the neocons as the leader of post-Saddam Iraq, Pahlavi has proven his commitment to Jewish causes and the wider Jewish community. He has addressed the board of JINSA, given a public speech at the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, met with American Jewish communal leaders, and is on friendly terms with Likud Party officials in Israel.31

Most important, the main Jewish activist organizations have been quick to condemn those who have noted the Jewish commitments of the neoconservative activists in the Bush administration or seen the hand of the Jewish community in pushing for war against Iraq and other Arab countries. For example, the ADL’s Abraham Foxman singled out Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran, Rep. James Moran, Chris Matthews of MSNBC, James O. Goldsborough (a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune), columnist Robert Novak, and writer Ian Buruma as subscribers to “a canard that America’s going to war has little to do with disarming Saddam, but everything to do with Jews, the ‘Jewish lobby’ and the hawkish Jewish members of the Bush Administration who, according to this chorus, will favor any war that benefits Israel.”32 Similarly, when Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) made a speech in the U.S. Senate and wrote a newspaper op-ed piece which claimed the war in Iraq was motivated by “President Bush’s policy to secure Israel” and advanced by a handful of Jewish officials and opinion leaders, Abe Foxman of the ADL stated, “when the debate veers into anti-Jewish stereotyping, it is tantamount to scapegoating and an appeal to ethnic hatred…. This is reminiscent of age-old, anti-Semitic canards about a Jewish conspiracy to control and manipulate government.”33Despite negative comments from Jewish activist organizations, and a great deal of coverage in the American Jewish press, there were no articles on this story in any of the major U.S. national newspapers.34

These mainstream media and political figures stand accused of anti-Semitism—the most deadly charge that can be imagined in the contemporary world—by the most powerful Jewish activist organization in the U.S. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has also charged Buchanan and Moran with anti-Semitism for their comments on this issue.35 While Foxman feels no need to provide any argument at all, the SWC feels it is sufficient to note that Jews have varying opinions on the war. This of course is a nonissue. The real issue is whether it is legitimate to open up to debate the question of the degree to which the neocon activists in the Bush administration are motivated by their long ties to the Likud Party in Israel and whether the organized Jewish community in the U.S. similarly supports the Likud Party and its desire to enmesh the United States in wars that are in Israel’s interest. (There’s not much doubt about how the SWC viewed the war with Iraq; Defense Secretary Rumsfeld invited Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Center, to briefings on the war.)36

Of course, neocons in the media—most notably David Frum, Max Boot, Lawrence F. Kaplan, Jonah Goldberg, and Alan Wald37—have also been busy labeling their opponents “anti-Semites.” An early example concerned a 1988 speech given by Russell Kirk at the Heritage Foundation in which he remarked that “not seldom it has seemed as if some eminent neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of United States”—what Sam Francis characterizes as “a wisecrack about the slavishly pro-Israel sympathies among neoconservatives.”38 Midge Decter, a prominent neocon writer and wife of Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz, labeled the comment “a bloody outrage, a piece of anti-Semitism by Kirk that impugns the loyalty of neoconservatives.”39

Accusations of anti-Semitism have become a common response to suggestions that neoconservatives have promoted the war in Iraq for the benefit of Israel.40 For example, Joshua Muravchik, whose ties to the neocons are elaborated below, authored an apologetic article in Commentary aimed at denying that neoconservative foreign policy prescriptions are tailored to benefit Israel and that imputations to that effect amount to “anti-Semitism.”41 These accusations are notable for uniformly failing to honestly address the Jewish motivations and commitments of neoconservatives, the topic of a later section.

Finally, the wider Jewish community provides financial support for intellectual and political movements, as in the case of psychoanalysis, where the Jewish community signed on as patients and as consumers of psychoanalytic literature.42 This has also been the case with neoconservatism, as noted by Gary North:

With respect to the close connection between Jews and neoconservatism, it is worth citing [Robert] Nisbet’s assessment of the revival of his academic career after 1965. His only book, The Quest for Community (Oxford UP, 1953), had come back into print in paperback in 1962 as Community and Power. He then began to write for the neoconservative journals. Immediately, there were contracts for him to write a series of books on conservatism, history, and culture, beginning with The Sociological Tradition, published in 1966 by Basic Books, the newly created neoconservative publishing house. Sometime in the late 1960’s, he told me: “I became an in-house sociologist for the Commentary-Public Interest crowd. Jews buy lots of academic books in America.” Some things are obvious but unstated. He could follow the money: book royalties. So could his publishers.43

The support of the wider Jewish community and the elaborate neoconservative infrastructure in the media and thinktankdom provide irresistible professional opportunities for Jews and non-Jews alike. I am not saying that people like Nisbet don’t believe what they write in neoconservative publications. I am simply saying that having opinions that are attractive to neoconservatives can be very lucrative and professionally rewarding.

In the following I will first trace the historical roots of neoconservatism. This is followed by portraits of several important neoconservatives that focus on their Jewish identities and their connections to pro-Israel activism.

Historical Roots Of Neoconservatism
Coming to Neoconservatism from the Far Left

All twentieth century Jewish intellectual and political movements stem from the deep involvement of Jews with the left. However, beginning in the late 1920s, when the followers of Leon Trotsky broke off from the mainstream communist movement, the Jewish left has not been unified. By all accounts the major figure linking Trotsky and the neoconservative movement is Max Shachtman, a Jew born in Poland in 1904 but brought to the U.S. as an infant. Like other leftists during the 1920s, Shachtman was enthusiastic about the Soviet Union, writing in 1923 that it was “a brilliant red light in the darkness of capitalist gloom.”44 Shachtman began as a follower of James P. Cannon,45 who became converted to Trotsky’s view that the Soviet Union should actively foment revolution.

The Trotskyist movement had a Jewish milieu as Shachtman attracted young Jewish disciples—the familiar rabbi/disciple model of Jewish intellectual movements: “Youngsters around Shachtman made little effort to hide their New York background or intellectual skills and tastes. Years later they could still hear Shachtman’s voice in one another’s speeches.”46 To a much greater extent than the Communist Party, which was much larger and was committed to following the Soviet line, the Trotskyists survived as a small group centered around charismatic leaders like Shachtman, who paid homage to the famous Trotsky, who lurked in the background as an exile from the USSR living in Mexico. In the Jewish milieu of the movement, Shachtman was much admired as a speaker because of his ability in debate and in polemics. He became the quintessential rabbinical guru—the leader of a close, psychologically intense group: “He would hug them and kiss [his followers]. He would pinch both their cheeks, hard, in a habit that some felt blended sadism and affection.”47

Trotskyists took seriously the Marxist idea that the proletarian socialist revolution should occur first in the economically advanced societies of the West rather than in backward Russia or China. They also thought that a revolution only in Russia was doomed to failure because the success of socialism in Russia depended inevitably on the world economy.  The conclusion of this line of logic was that Marxists should advocate a permanent revolution that would sweep away capitalism completely rather than concentrate on building socialism in the Soviet Union.

Shachtman broke with Trotsky over defense of the Soviet Union in World War II, setting out to develop his own brand of “third camp Marxism” that followed James Burnham in stressing internal democracy and analyzing the USSR as “bureaucratic collectivism.”  In 1939–1941, Shachtman battled leftist intellectuals like Sidney Hook, Max Eastman, and Dwight Macdonald, who were rejecting not only Stalinism but also Trotskyism as insufficiently open and democratic; they also saw Trotsky himself as guilty of some of the worst excesses of the early Bolshevik regime, especially his banning of opposition parties and his actions in crushing the Kronstadt sailors who had called for democracy. Shachtman defended an open, democratic version of Marxism but was concerned that his critics were abandoning socialism—throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Hook, Eastman, Burnham, and Macdonald therefore constituted a “rightist” force within the anti-Stalinist left; it is this force that may with greater accuracy be labeled as one of the immediate intellectual ancestors of neoconservatism. By 1940, Macdonald was Shachtman’s only link to the Partisan Review crowd of the New York Intellectuals—another predominantly Jewish group—and the link became tenuous. James Burnham also broke with Shachtman in 1940. By 1941 Burnham rejected Stalinism, fascism, and even the New Deal as bureaucratic menaces, staking out a position characterized by “juridical defense, his criticism of managerial political tendencies, and his own defence of liberty,”48 eventually becoming a fixture at National Review in the decades before it became a neoconservative journal.

Shachtman himself became a Cold Warrior and social democrat in the late 1940s, attempting to build an all-inclusive left while his erstwhile Trotskyist allies in the Fourth International were bent on continuing their isolation in separate factions on the left. During this period, Shachtman saw the Stalinist takeover in Eastern Europe as a far greater threat than U.S. power, a prelude to his support for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the U.S. role in Viet Nam. By the 1950s he rejected revolutionary socialism and stopped calling himself a Trotskyist;49 during the 1960s he saw the Democratic Party as the path to social democracy, while nevertheless retaining some commitment to Marxism and socialism. “Though he would insist for the rest of his life that he had found the keys to Marxism in his era, he was recutting the keys as he went along. In the early 1950s he had spoken, written, and acted as a left-wing, though no longer revolutionary, socialist. By the late 1950s he moved into the mainstream of U.S. social democracy”50 with a strategy of pushing big business and white Southerners out of the Democratic Party (the converse of Nixon’s “Southern strategy” for the Republican Party). In the 1960s “he suggested more openly than ever before that U.S. power could be used to promote democracy in the third world”51—a view that aligns him with later neoconservatives.

In the 1960s, Michael Harrington, author of the influential The Other America, became the best known Shachtmanite, but they diverged when Harrington showed more sympathy toward the emerging multicultural, antiwar, feminist, “New Politics” influence in the Democratic Party while Shachtman remained committed to the Democrats as the party of organized labor and anti-communism.52 Shachtman became an enemy of the New Left, which he saw as overly apologetic toward the Soviet Union. “As I watch the New Left, I simply weep. If somebody set out to take the errors and stupidities of the Old Left and multiplied them to the nth degree, you would have the New Left of today.”53 This was linked to disagreements with Irving Howe, editor of Dissent, who published a wide range of authors, including Harrington, although Shachtman followers Carl Gershman and Tom Kahn remained on the editorial board of Dissent until 1971–1972. 

The main link between Shachtman and the political mainstream was the influence he and his followers had on the AFL-CIO. In 1972, shortly before his death, Shachtman, “as an open anti-communist and supporter of both the Vietnam War and Zionism,”54 backed Senator Henry Jackson in the Democratic presidential primary. Jackson was a strong supporter of Israel (see below), and by this time support for Israel had “become a litmus test for Shachtmanites.”55 Jackson, who was closely associated with the AFL-CIO, hired Tom Kahn, who had become a Shachtman follower in the 1950s. Kahn was executive secretary of the Shachtmanite League for Industrial Democracy, headed at the time by Tom Harrington, and he was also the head of the Department of International Affairs of the AFL-CIO, where he was an “obsessive promoter of Israel”56 to the point that the AFL-CIO became the world’s largest non-Jewish holder of Israel bonds. His department had a budget of around $40 million, most of which was provided by the federally funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED).57 During the Reagan administration, the AFL-CIO received approximately 40 percent of available funding from the NED, while no other funded group received more than 10 percent. That imbalance has prompted speculation that NED is effectively in the hands of the Social Democrats USA—Shachtman’s political heir (see below)—the membership of which today includes both NED president Carl Gershman and a number of AFL-CIO officials involved with the endowment.

In 1972, under the leadership of Carl Gershman and the Shachtmanites, the Socialist Party USA changed its name to Social Democrats USA.58 Working with Jackson, SD/USA’s members achieved little political power because of the dominance of the New Politics wing of the Democratic Party, with its strong New Left influence from the 1960s. With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, however, key figures from SD/USA achieved positions of power and influence both in the labor movement and in the government. Among the latter were Reagan-era appointees such as United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Elliott Abrams (son-in-law of Podhoretz and Decter), Geneva arms talks negotiator Max Kampelman (aide to Hubert Humphrey and founding member of JINSA; he remains on its advisory board), and Gershman, who was an aide to UN Ambassador Kirkpatrick and head of the NED.59 Other Shachtmanites in the Reagan administration included Joshua Muravchik, a member of SD/USA’s National Committee, who wrote articles defending Reagan’s foreign policy, and Penn Kemble, an SD/USA vice-chairman, who headed Prodemca, an influential lobbying group for the Contra opponents of the leftist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Abrams and Muravchik have continued to play an important role in neocon circles in the George W. Bush administration (see below). In addition to being associated with SD/USA,60 Kirkpatrick has strong neocon credentials. She is on the JINSA Board and is a senior fellow at the AEI. She also has received several awards from Jewish organizations, including the Defender of Israel Award [New York], given to non-Jews who stand up for the Jewish people (other neocon recipients include Henry Jackson and Bayard Rustin), the Humanitarian Award of B’nai B’rith, and the 50th Anniversary Friend of Zion Award from the prime minister of Israel (1998).61 Kirkpatrick’s late husband Evron was a promoter of Hubert Humphrey and long-time collaborator of neocon godfather Irving Kristol.

During the Reagan Administration, Lane Kirkland, the head of the AFL-CIO from 1979 to 1995, was also a Shachtmanite and an officer of the SD/USA. As secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO during the 1970s, Kirkland was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, a group of neoconservatives in which “prominent Jackson supporters, advisers, and admirers from both sides of the aisle predominated.”62  Kirkland gave a eulogy at Henry Jackson’s funeral. Kirkland was not a Jew but was married to a Jew and, like Jackson, had very close ties to Jews: “Throughout his career Kirkland maintained a special affection for the struggle of the Jews. It may be the result of his marriage to Irena [nee Neumann in 1973—his second marriage], a Czech survivor of the Holocaust and an inspiring figure in her own right. Or it may be because he recognized…that the cause of the Jews and the cause of labor have been inseparable.”63 

Carl Gershman remains head of the NED, which supports the U.S.-led invasion and nation-building effort in Iraq.64 The general line of the NED is that Arab countries should “get over” the Arab-Israeli conflict and embrace democracy, Israel, and the United States. In reporting on talks with representatives of the Jewish community in Turkey, Gershman frames the issues in terms of ending anti-Semitism in Turkey by destroying Al Qaeda; there is no criticism of the role of Israel and its policies in producing hatred throughout the region.65 During the 1980s, the NED supported nonviolent strategies to end apartheid in South Africa in association with the A. Philip Randolph Institute, headed by longtime civil rights activist and SD/USA neocon Bayard Rustin.66 Critics of the NED, such as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex), have complained that the NED “is nothing more than a costly program that takes U.S. taxpayer funds to promote favored politicians and political parties abroad.”67 Paul suggests that the NED’s support of former Communists reflects Gershman’s leftist background.

In general, at the present time SD/USA continues to support organized labor domestically and to take an active interest in using U.S. power to spread democracy abroad. A resolution of January 2003 stated that the main conflict in the world was not between Islam and the West but between democratic and nondemocratic governments, with Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East.68 The SD/USA strongly supports democratic nation building in Iraq.

A prominent member of SD/USA is Joshua Muravchik. A member of the SD/USA National Advisory Council, Muravchik is also a member of the advisory board of JINSA, a resident scholar at the AEI, and an adjunct scholar at WINEP. His book Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism69 views socialism critically, but advocates a reformist social democracy that falls short of socialism; he views socialism as a failed religion that is relatively poor at creating wealth and is incompatible with very powerful human desires for private ownership.

Another prominent member of SD/USA is Max Kampelman, whose article, posted on the SD/USA website, makes the standard neoconservative complaints about the UN dating from the 1970s, especially regarding its treatment of Israel:

Since 1964,…the U.N. Security Council has passed 88 resolutions against Israel—the only democracy in the area—and the General Assembly has passed more than 400 such resolutions, including one in 1975 declaring “Zionism as a form of racism.” When the terrorist leader of the Palestinians, Arafat, spoke in 1974 to the General Assembly, he did so wearing a pistol on his hip and received a standing ovation. While totalitarian and repressive regimes are eligible and do serve on the U.N. Security Council, democratic Israel is barred by U.N. rules from serving in that senior body.70

Neoconservatives as a Continuation of
Cold War Liberalism’s “Vital Center”

The other strand that merged into neoconservatism stems from Cold War liberalism, which became dominant within the Democratic Party during the Truman administration. It remained dominant until the rise of the New Politics influence in the party during the 1960s, culminating in the presidential nomination of George McGovern in 1972.71 In the late 1940s, a key organization was Americans for Democratic Action, associated with such figures as Reinhold Niebuhr, Hubert Humphrey, and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., whose book, The Vital Center (1947), distilled a liberal anticommunist perspective which combined vigorous containment of communism with “the struggle within our country against oppression and stagnation.”72 This general perspective was also evident in the Congress for Cultural Freedom, whose central figure was Sidney Hook.73 The CCF was a group of anticommunist intellectuals organized in 1950 and funded by the CIA, and included a number of prominent liberals, such as Schlesinger.

A new wrinkle, in comparison to earlier Jewish intellectual and political movements discussed in Culture of Critique, has been that the central figures, Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol, have operated not so much as intellectual gurus in the manner of Freud or Boas or even Shachtman, but more as promoters and publicists of views which they saw as advancing Jewish interests. Podhoretz’s Commentary (published by the American Jewish Committee) and Kristol’s The Public Interest became clearinghouses for neoconservative ideas, but many of the articles were written by people with strong academic credentials. For example, in the area of foreign policy Robert W. Tucker and Walter Laqueur appeared in these journals as critics of liberal foreign policy.74 Their work updated the anticommunist tradition of the “vital center” by taking account of Western weakness apparent in the New Politics liberalism of the Democratic Party and the American left, as well as the anti-Western posturing of the third world.75

This “vital center” intellectual framework typified key neoconservatives at the origin of the movement in the late 1960s, including the two most pivotal figures, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. In the area of foreign policy, a primary concern of Jewish neoconservatives from the 1960s–1980s was the safety and prosperity of Israel, at a time when the Soviet Union was seen as hostile to Jews within its borders and was making alliances with Arab regimes against Israel.

As they saw it, the world was gravely threatened by a totalitarian Soviet Union with aggressive outposts around the world and a Third World corrupted by vicious anti-Semitism…A major project of Moynihan, Kirkpatrick, and other neoconservatives in and out of government was the defense of Israel…. By the mid-1970s, Israel was also under fire from the Soviet Union and the Third World and much of the West. The United States was the one exception, and the neoconservatives—stressing that Israel was a just, democratic state constantly threatened by vicious and aggressive neighbors—sought to deepen and strengthen this support.76

Irving Kristol is quite frank in his view that the U.S. should support Israel even if it is not in its national interest to do so:

Large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns…. That is why we feel it necessary to defend Israel today, when its survival is threatened. No complicated geopolitical calculations of national interest are necessary.77

A watershed event in neoconservatism was the statement of November 1975 by UN Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan in response to the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism. Moynihan, whose work in the UN made him a neocon icon and soon a senator from New York,78 argued against the “discredited” notion that “there are significant biological differences among clearly identifiable groups, and that these differences establish, in effect, different levels of humanity.”79 (In this regard Moynihan may not have been entirely candid, since he appears to have been much impressed by Arthur Jensen’s research on race differences in intelligence. As an advisor to President Nixon on domestic affairs, one of Moynihan’s jobs was to keep Nixon abreast of Jensen’s research.80)  In his UN speech, Moynihan ascribed the idea that Jews are a race to theorists like Houston Stewart Chamberlain, whose motivation was to find “new justifications…for excluding and persecuting Jews” in an era in which religious ideology was losing its power to do so. Moynihan describes Zionism as a “National Liberation Movement,” but one with no genetic basis: “Zionists defined themselves merely as Jews, and declared to be Jewish anyone born of a Jewish mother or—and this is the absolutely crucial fact—anyone who converted to Judaism.”81 Moynihan describes the Zionist movement as composed of a wide range of “racial stocks” (quotation marks in original)—“black Jews, brown Jews, white Jews, Jews from the Orient and Jews from the West.”

Obviously, there is much to disagree with in these ideas. Jewish racial theorists, among them Zionists like Arthur Ruppin and Vladimir Jabotinsky (the hero of the Likud Party throughout its history), were in the forefront of racial theorizing about Jews from the late nineteenth century onwards.82 And there is a great deal of evidence that Jews, including most notably Orthodox and Conservative Jews and much of the settler movement that constitutes the vanguard of Zionism today, have been and continue to be vitally interested in maintaining their ethnic integrity.83 (Indeed, as discussed below, Elliott Abrams has been a prominent neoconservative voice in favor of Jews marrying Jews and retaining their ethnic cohesion.)

Nevertheless, Moynihan’s speech is revealing in its depiction of Judaism as unconcerned about its ethnic cohesion, and for its denial of the biological reality of race. In general, neoconservatives have been staunch promoters of the racial zeitgeist of post-WWII liberal America. Indeed, as typical Cold War liberals up to the end of the 1960s, many of the older neocons were in the forefront of the racial revolution in the United States. It is also noteworthy that Moynihan’s UN speech is typical of the large apologetic literature by Jewish activists and intellectuals in response to the “Zionism is racism” resolution, of which The Myth of the Jewish Race by Raphael Patai and Jennifer Patai is perhaps the best-known example.84

The flagship neoconservative magazine Commentary, under the editorship of Norman Podhoretz, has published many articles defending Israel. Ruth Wisse’s 1981 Commentary article “The Delegitimation of Israel” is described by Mark Gerson as “perhaps the best expression” of the neoconservative view that Israel “was a just, democratic state constantly threatened by vicious and aggressive neighbors.”85 Wisse views hostility toward Israel as another example of the long history of anti-Jewish rhetoric that seeks to delegitimize Judaism.86 This tradition is said to have begun with the Christian beliefs that Jews ought to be relegated to an inferior position because they had rejected Christ. This tradition culminated in twentieth century Europe in hatred directed at secular Jews because of their failure to assimilate completely to European culture. The result was the Holocaust, which was “from the standpoint of its perpetrators and collaborators successful beyond belief.”87 Israel, then, is an attempt at normalization in which Jews would be just another country fending for itself and seeking stability; it “should [also] have been the end of anti-Semitism, and the Jews may in any case be pardoned for feeling that they had earned a moment of rest in history.”88 But the Arab countries never accepted the legitimacy of Israel, not only with their wars against the Jewish state, but also by the “Zionism as racism” UN resolution, which “institutionalized anti-Semitism in international politics.”89 Wisse criticizes New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis for criticizing Israeli policies while failing to similarly criticize Arab states that fail to embody Western ideals of freedom of expression and respect for minority rights. Wisse also faults certain American Jewish organizations and liberal Jews for criticizing the policies of the government of Menachem Begin.90

The article stands out for its cartoonish view that the history of anti-Jewish attitudes can be explained with broad generalizations according to which the behavior and attitudes of Jews are completely irrelevant for understanding the history of anti-Semitism. The message of the article is that Jews as innocent victims of the irrational hatred of Europeans have a claim for “a respite” from history that Arabs are bound to honor by allowing the dispossession of the Palestinians. The article is also a testimony to the sea change among American Jews in their support for the Likud Party and its expansionist policies in Israel. Since Wisse’s article appeared in 1981, the positive attitudes toward the Likud Party characteristic of the neoconservatives have become the mainstream view of the organized American Jewish community, and the liberal Jewish critics attacked by Wisse have been relegated to the fringe of the American Jewish community.91

In the area of domestic policy, Jewish neoconservatives were motivated by concerns that the radicalism of the New Left (many of whom were Jews) compromised Jewish interests as a highly intelligent, upwardly mobile group. Although Jews were major allies of blacks in the civil rights movement, by the late 1960s many Jews bitterly opposed black efforts at community control of schools in New York, because they threatened Jewish hegemony in the educational system, including the teachers’ union.92 Black-Jewish interests also diverged when affirmative action and quotas for black college admission became a divisive issue in the 1970s.93 It was not only neoconservatives who worried about affirmative action: The main Jewish activist groups—the AJCommittee, the AJCongress, and the ADL—sided with Bakke in a landmark case on racial quota systems in the University of California–Davis medical school, thereby promoting their own interests as a highly intelligent minority living in a meritocracy.94

Indeed, some neoconservatives, despite their record of youthful radicalism and support for the civil rights movement, began to see Jewish interests as bound up with those of the middle class. As Nathan Glazer noted in 1969, commenting on black anti-Semitism and the murderous urges of the New Left toward the middle class:

Anti-Semitism is only part of this whole syndrome, for if the members of the middle class do not deserve to hold on to their property, their positions, or even their lives, then certainly the Jews, the most middle-class of all, are going to be placed at the head of the column marked for liquidation.95

The New Left also tended to have negative attitudes toward Israel, with the result that many Jewish radicals eventually abandoned the left. In the late 1960s, the black Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee described Zionism as “racist colonialism”96 which massacred and oppressed Arabs. In Jewish eyes, a great many black leaders, including Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Touré), Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, and Andrew Young, were seen as entirely too pro-Palestinian. (Young lost his position as UN ambassador because he engaged in secret negotiations with the Palestinians.) During the 1960s, expressions of solidarity with the Palestinians by radical blacks, some of whom had adopted the Muslim religion, became a focus of neoconservative ire and resulted in many Jewish New Leftists leaving the movement.97 Besides radical blacks, other New Left figures, such as I. F. Stone and Noam Chomsky (both Jews), also criticized Israel and were perceived by neocons as taking a pro-Soviet line.98 The origins of neoconservatism as a Jewish movement are thus linked to the fact that the left, including the Soviet Union and leftist radicals in the United States, had become anti-Zionist.

In 1970 Podhoretz transformed Commentary into a weapon against the New Left.99 In December of that year National Review began, warily at first, to welcome neocons into the conservative tent, stating in 1971, “We will be delighted when the new realism manifested in these articles is applied by Commentary to the full range of national and international issues.”100 Irving Kristol supported Nixon in 1972 and became a Republican about ten years before most neocons made the switch. Nevertheless, even in the 1990s the neocons “continued to be distinct from traditional Midwestern and southern conservatives for their northeastern roots, combative style, and secularism”101—all ways of saying that neoconservatism retained its fundamentally Jewish milieu.

 The fault lines between neoconservatives and paleoconservatives were apparent during the Reagan administration in the battle over the appointment of the head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, eventually won by the neoconservative Bill Bennett. The campaign featured smear tactics and innuendo aimed at M. E. Bradford, an academic literary critic and defender of Southern agrarian culture who was favored by traditional conservatives. After neocons accused him of being a “virulent racist” and an admirer of Hitler, Bradford was eventually rejected as a potential liability to the administration.102

The entry of the neoconservatives into the conservative mainstream did not, therefore, proceed without a struggle. Samuel Francis witnessed much of the early infighting among conservatives, won eventually by the neocons. Francis recounts the “catalog of neoconservative efforts not merely to debate, criticize, and refute the ideas of traditional conservatism but to denounce, vilify, and harm the careers of those Old Right figures and institutions they have targeted.”103

There are countless stories of how neoconservatives have succeeded in entering conservative institutions, forcing out or demoting traditional conservatives, and changing the positions and philosophy of such institutions in neoconservative directions…. Writers like M. E. Bradford, Joseph Sobran, Pat Buchanan, and Russell Kirk, and institutions like Chronicles, the Rockford Institute, the Philadelphia Society, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute have been among the most respected and distinguished names in American conservatism. The dedication of their neoconservative enemies to driving them out of the movement they have taken over and demonizing them as marginal and dangerous figures has no legitimate basis in reality. It is clear evidence of the ulterior aspirations of those behind neoconservatism to dominate and subvert American conservatism from its original purposes and agenda and turn it to other purposes…. What neoconservatives really dislike about their “allies” among traditional conservatives is simply the fact that the conservatives are conservatives at all—that they support “this notion of a Christian civilization,” as Midge Decter put it, that they oppose mass immigration, that they criticize Martin Luther King and reject the racial dispossession of white Western culture, that they support or approve of Joe McCarthy, that they entertain doubts or strong disagreement over American foreign policy in the Middle East, that they oppose reckless involvement in foreign wars and foreign entanglements, and that, in company with the Founding Fathers of the United States, they reject the concept of a pure democracy and the belief that the United States is or should evolve toward it.104

Most notably, neoconservatives have been staunch supporters of arguably the most destructive force associated with the left in the twentieth century—massive non-European immigration. Support for massive non-European immigration has spanned the Jewish political spectrum throughout the twentieth century to the present. A principal motivation of the organized Jewish community for encouraging such immigration has involved a deeply felt animosity toward the people and culture responsible for the immigration restriction of 1924–1965—“this notion of a Christian civilization.”105 As neoconservative Ben Wattenberg has famously written, “The non-Europeanization of America is heartening news of an almost transcendental quality.”106 The only exception—thus far without any influence—is that since 9/11 some Jewish activists, including neoconservative Daniel Pipes, head of the MEF, and Stephen Steinlight, senior fellow of the American Jewish Committee, have opposed Muslim—and only Muslim—immigration because of possible effects on pro-Israel sentiment in the U.S.107

In general, neoconservatives have been far more attached to Jewish interests, and especially the interests of Israel, than to any other identifiable interest. It is revealing that as the war in Iraq has become an expensive quagmire in both lives and money, Bill Kristol has become willing to abandon the neoconservatives’ alliance with traditional conservatives by allying with John Kerry and the Democratic Party. This is because Kerry has promised to increase troop strength and retain the commitment to Iraq, and because Kerry has declared that he has “a 100 percent record—not a 99, a 100 percent record—of sustaining the special relationship and friendship that we have with Israel.”108 As Pat Buchanan notes, the fact that John Kerry “backs partial birth abortion, quotas, raising taxes, homosexual unions, liberals on the Supreme Court and has a voting record to the left of Teddy Kennedy” is less important than his stand on the fundamental issue of a foreign policy that is in the interest of Israel.109

The Fall of Henry Jackson and the Rise
of Neoconservatism in the Republican Party

The neoconservative takeover of the Republican Party and of American conservatism in general would have been unnecessary had not the Democratic Party shifted markedly to the left in the late 1960s. Henry Jackson is the pivotal figure in the defection of the neocons from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party—the person whose political fortunes most determined the later trajectory of neoconservatism. Jackson embodied the political attitudes and ambitions of a Jewish political network that saw Jewish interests as combining traditionally liberal social policies of the civil rights and Great Society era (but stopping short of advocating quota-type affirmative action policies or minority ethnic nationalism) with a Cold War posture that was at once aggressively pro-Israel and anticommunist at a time when the Soviet Union was perceived as the most powerful enemy of Israel. This “Cold War liberal” faction was dominant in the Democratic Party until 1972 and the nomination of George McGovern. After the defeat of McGovern, the neoconservatives founded the Committee for a Democratic Majority, whose attempt to resuscitate the Cold War coalition of the Democratic Party had a strong representation of Shachtmanite labor leaders as well as people centered around Podhoretz’s Commentary: Podhoretz; Ben Wattenberg (who wrote speeches for Hubert Humphrey and was an aide to Jackson); Midge Decter; Max Kampelman (see above); Penn Kemble of the SD/USA; Jeane Kirkpatrick (who began writing for Commentary during this period); sociologists Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, and Seymour Martin Lipset; Michael Novak; Soviet expert Richard Pipes; and Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Nevertheless, “by the end of 1974, the neoconservatives appeared to have reached a political dead end. As guardians of vital center liberalism, they had become a minority faction within the Democratic Party, unable to do more than protest the party’s leftward drift.”110

The basic story line is that after failing again in 1976 and 1980 to gain the presidential nomination for a candidate who represented their views, this largely Jewish segment of political activists—now known as neoconservatives—switched allegiance to the Republican Party. The neocons had considerable influence in the Reagan years but less in the George H. W. Bush administration, only to become a critically important force in the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration where, in the absence of a threat from the Soviet Union, neoconservatives have attempted to use the power of the United States to fundamentally alter the political landscape of the Middle East.

Henry Jackson was an ideal vehicle for this role as champion of Jewish interests. He was a very conscious philosemite: “My mother was a Christian who believed in a strong Judaism. She taught me to respect the Jews, help the Jews! It was a lesson I never forgot.”111 Jackson also had very positive personal experiences with Jews during his youth. During his college years he was the beneficiary of generosity from a Jew who allowed him to use a car to commute to college, and he developed lifelong friendships with two Jews, Stan Golub and Paul Friedlander. He was also horrified after seeing Buchenwald, the WWII German concentration camp, an experience that made him more determined to help Israel and Jews.

Entering Congress in 1940, Jackson was a strong supporter of Israel from its beginnings in 1948. By the 1970s he was widely viewed as Israel’s best friend in Congress: “Jackson’s devotion to Israel made Nixon and Kissinger’s look tepid.”112 The Jackson-Vanik Amendment linking U.S.-Soviet trade to the ability of Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union was passed over strenuous opposition from the Nixon administration. And despite developing a reputation as the “Senator from Boeing,” Jackson opposed the sale of Boeing-made AWACS to Saudi Arabia because of the possibility that they might harm the interests of Israel.

Jackson’s experience of the Depression made him a liberal, deeply empathetic toward the suffering that was so common during the period.  He defined himself as “vigilantly internationalist and anticommunist abroad but statist at home, committed to realizing the New Deal–Fair Deal vision of a strong, active federal government presiding over the economy, preserving and enhancing welfare protection, and extending civil rights.”113 These attitudes of Jackson, and particularly his attitudes on foreign policy, brought him into the orbit of Jewish neoconservatives who held similar attitudes on domestic issues and whose attitudes on foreign policy stemmed fundamentally from their devotion to the cause of Israel:

Jackson’s visceral anticommunism and antitotalitarianism…brought him into the orbit of Jewish neoconservatives despite the subtle but important distinction in their outlook. The senator viewed the threat to Israel as a manifestation of the totalitarian threat he considered paramount. Some neoconservatives viewed Soviet totalitarianism as the threat to Israel they considered paramount.114

Jackson had developed close ties with a number of neocons who would later become important. Richard Perle was Jackson’s most important national security advisor between 1969 and 1979, and Jackson maintained close relations with Paul Wolfowitz, who began his career in Washington working with Perle in Jackson’s office. Jackson employed Perle even after credible evidence surfaced that he had spied for Israel: An FBI wiretap on the Israeli Embassy revealed Perle discussing classified information that had been supplied to him by someone on the National Security Council staff, presumably Helmut (“Hal”) Sonnenfeldt. (Sonnenfeldt, who was Jewish, “was known from previous wiretaps to have close ties to the Israelis as well as to Perle…. [He] had been repeatedly investigated by the FBI for other suspected leaks early in his career.”115) As indicated below, several prominent neocons have been investigated on credible charges of spying for Israel: Perle, Wolfowitz, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, and Michael Ledeen. Neocon Frank Gaffney, the non-Jewish president of the CSP, a neocon thinktank, was also a Jackson aide. Jackson was also close to Bernard Lewis of Princeton University; Lewis is a Jewish expert on the Middle East who has had an important influence on the neocons in the George W. Bush administration as well as close ties to Israel.116

 In the 1970s Jackson was involved with two of the most important neocon groups of the period. In 1976 he convened Team B, headed by Richard Pipes (a Harvard University Soviet expert), and including Paul Nitze, Wolfowitz, and Seymour Weiss (former director of the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs). Albert Wohlstetter, who was Wolfowitz’s Ph.D. advisor at the University of Chicago, was a major catalyst for Team B. Jackson was also close to the Committee on the Present Danger. Formed in November 1976, the committee was a Who’s Who of Jackson supporters, advisors, confidants, and admirers from both the Democratic and Republican parties, and included several members associated with the SD/USA: Paul Nitze, Eugene Rostow, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Max Kampelman, Lane Kirkland, Richard Pipes, Seymour Martin Lipset, Bayard Rustin, and Norman Podhoretz. CPD was a sort of halfway house for Democratic neocons sliding toward the Republican Party.

The result was that all the important neocons backed Jackson for president in 1972 and 1976.  Jackson commanded a great deal of financial support from the Jewish community in Hollywood and elsewhere because of his strong support for Israel, but he failed to win the 1976 Democratic nomination, despite having more money than his rivals. After Jackson’s defeat and the ascendance of the leftist tendencies of the Carter administration, many of Jackson’s allies went to work for Reagan with Jackson’s tacit approval, with the result that they were frozen out of the Democratic Party once Carter was defeated.117 A large part of the disillusionment of Jackson and his followers stemmed from the Carter administration’s attitude toward Israel. Carter alienated American Jews by his proposals for a more evenhanded policy toward Israel, in which Israel would return to its 1967 borders in exchange for peace with the Arabs. Jews were also concerned because of the Andrew Young incident. (Young, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN and an African American, had been fired after failing to disclose to the State Department details of his unauthorized meeting with representatives of the Palestinians. Blacks charged that Jews were responsible for Young’s firing.)

In October 1977 the Carter administration, in a joint communiqué with the Soviet Union, suggested Israel pull back to the 1967 borders: “Jackson joined the ferocious attack on the administration that ensued from devotees of Kissinger’s incremental approach and from Israel’s supporters in the United States. He continued to regard unswerving U.S. support for Israel as not only a moral but a strategic imperative, and to insist that the maintenance of a strong, secure, militarily powerful Israel impeded rather than facilitated Soviet penetration of the Middle East.”118 Jackson was particularly fond of pointing to maps of Israel showing how narrow Israel’s borders had been before its 1967 conquests. For his part, Carter threatened to ask the American people “to choose between those who supported the national interest and those who supported a foreign interest such as Israel.”119

There was one last attempt to mend the fences between the neocons and the Democrats, a 1980 White House meeting between Carter and  major neocons, including Jeane Kirkpatrick, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Ben Wattenberg, Elliott Abrams (aide to neocon favorite Patrick Moynihan120), Max Kampelman, and Penn Kemble. The meeting, which discussed attitudes toward the USSR, did not go well, and “henceforth, their disdain for Carter and dislike of Kennedy would impel the neoconservatives to turn away from the Democratic Party and vote for Reagan.”121 “They had hoped to find a new Truman to rally around, a Democrat to promote their liberal ideas at home while fighting the cold war abroad. Not finding one, they embraced the Republican party and Ronald Reagan as the best alternative.”122

Perle left Jackson’s office in March 1980 to go into business with John F. Lehman (Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan administration and, as of this writing [2004] a member of the panel investigating the events of 9/11). Quite a few neocons assumed positions in the Reagan administration in the area of defense and foreign policy: Kirkpatrick as UN ambassador (Kirkpatrick hired Joshua Muravchik, Kenneth Adelman, and Carl Gershman as deputies); Perle as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Perle hired Frank Gaffney and Douglas Feith); Elliott Abrams as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Affairs; Max Kampelman as U.S. ambassador to the Helsinki human rights conference and later as chief U.S. arms negotiator); Wolfowitz as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian affairs. Another Jewish neocon, Richard Pipes, was influential in putting together a paper on grand strategy toward the USSR. Nevertheless, Reagan kept the neocons at arm’s length and ceased heeding their advice. He favored developing trust and confidence with Soviet leaders rather than escalating tensions by threats of aggressive action.123

Bill Clinton courted neocons who had defected to Reagan. Perle, Kirkpatrick, and Abrams remained Republicans, but thirty-three  “moderate and neoconservative foreign policy experts” endorsed Clinton in 1992, including Nitze, Kemble, and Muravchik, although Muravchik and several others later repudiated their endorsement, saying that Clinton had returned to the left liberal foreign policy of the Democrats since McGovern.124 Ben Wattenberg and Robert Strauss remained Democrats “who have not written off the Jackson tradition in their own party.”125 Senator Joseph Lieberman, the Democrat’s 2000 vice presidential nominee, is the heir to this tradition.

Responding to the Fall of the Soviet Union

With the end of the Cold War, neoconservatives at first advocated a reduced role for the U.S., but this stance switched gradually to the view that U.S. interests required the vigorous promotion of democracy in the rest of the world.126 This aggressively pro-democracy theme, which appears first in the writings of Charles Krauthammer and then those of Elliot Abrams,127 eventually became an incessant drumbeat in the campaign for the war in Iraq. Krauthammer also broached the now familiar themes of unilateral intervention and he emphasized the danger that smaller states could develop weapons of mass destruction which could be used to threaten world security.128

A cynic would argue that this newfound interest in democracy was tailor-made as a program for advancing the interests of Israel. After all, Israel is advertised as the only democracy in the Middle East, and democracy has a certain emotional appeal for the United States, which has at times engaged in an idealistic foreign policy aimed at furthering the cause of human rights in other countries. It is ironic that during the Cold War the standard neocon criticism of President Carter’s foreign policy was that it was overly sensitive to human rights in countries that were opposed to the Soviet Union and insufficiently condemnatory of the human rights policies of the Soviet Union. The classic expression of this view was Jeane Kirkpatrick’s 1979 Commentary article, “Dictatorships and Double Standards.” In an essay that would have been excellent reading prior to the invasion of Iraq, Kirkpatrick noted that in many countries political power is tied to complex family and kinship networks resistant to modernization. Nevertheless, “no idea holds greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances.”129 Democracies are said to make heavy demands on citizens in terms of participation and restraint, and developing democracies is the work of “decades, if not centuries.”130 My view is that democracy is a component of the uniquely Western suite of traits deriving from the evolution of Western peoples and their cultural history: monogamy, simple family structure, individual rights against the state, representative government, moral universalism, and science.131 This social structure cannot easily be exported to other societies, and particularly to Middle Eastern societies whose traditional cultures exhibit traits opposite to these.

 It is revealing that, while neocons generally lost interest in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe after these areas were no longer points of contention in the Cold War, there was no lessening of interest in the Middle East.132 Indeed, neoconservatives and Jews in general failed to support President George H. W. Bush when, in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, his administration pressured Israel to make concessions to the Palestinians and resisted a proposal for $10 billion in loan guarantees for Israel. This occurred in the context of Secretary of State James A. Baker’s famous comment, “Fuck the Jews. They didn’t vote for us.”133 

Neoconservative Portraits

As with the other Jewish intellectual movements I have studied, neoconservatives have a history of mutual admiration, close, mutually supportive personal, professional, and familial relationships, and focused cooperation in pursuit of common goals. For example, Norman Podhoretz, the former editor of Commentary, is the father of John Podhoretz, a neoconservative editor and columnist. Norman Podhoretz is also the father-in-law of Elliott Abrams, the former head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center (a neoconservative think tank) and the director of Near Eastern affairs at the National Security Council. Norman’s wife, Midge Decter, recently published a hagiographic biography of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, whose number-two and number-three deputies at the Pentagon, respectively, are Wolfowitz and Feith. Perle is a fellow at the AEI.134 He originally helped Wolfowitz obtain a job with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in 1973. In 1982, Perle, as Deputy Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, hired Feith for a position as his Special Counsel, and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy. In 2001, Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz helped Feith obtain an appointment as Undersecretary for Policy. Feith then appointed Perle as chairman of the Defense Policy Board. This is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss is an important influence on several important neoconservatives, particularly Irving and Bill Kristol. Strauss was a classicist and political philosopher at the University of Chicago. He had a very strong Jewish identity and viewed his philosophy as a means of ensuring Jewish survival in the Diaspora.135 As Strauss himself noted, “I believe I can say, without any exaggeration, that since a very, very early time the main theme of my reflections has been what is called the ‘Jewish Question.’ ”136 

Much of Strauss’s early writing was on Jewish issues, and a constant theme in his writing was the idea that Western civilization was the product of the “energizing tension” between Athens and Jerusalem—Greek rationalism and the Jewish emphasis on faith, revelation, and religious intensity.137 Although Strauss believed that religion had effects on non-Jews that benefited Jews, there is little doubt that Strauss viewed religious fervor as an indispensable element of Jewish commitment and group loyalty—ethnocentrism by any other name:

Some great love and loyalty to the Jewish people are in evidence in the life and works of Strauss…. Strauss was a good Jew. He knew the dignity and worth of love of one’s own. Love of the good, which is the same as love of the truth, is higher than love of one’s own, but there is only one road to the truth, and it leads through love of one’s own. Strauss showed his loyalty to things Jewish in a way he was uniquely qualified to do, by showing generations of students how to treat Jewish texts with the utmost care and devotion. In this way he turned a number of his Jewish students in the direction of becoming better Jews.138

Strauss believed that liberal, individualistic modern Western societies were best for Judaism because the illiberal alternatives of both the left (communism) and right (Nazism) were anti-Jewish. (By the 1950s, anti-Semitism had become an important force in the Soviet Union.) However, Strauss believed that liberal societies were not ideal because they tended to break down group loyalties and group distinctiveness—both qualities essential to the survival of Judaism. And he thought that there is a danger that, like the Weimar Republic, liberal societies could give way to fascism, especially if traditional religious and cultural forms were overturned; hence the neoconservative attitude that traditional religious forms among non-Jews are good for Jews.139 (Although Strauss believed in the importance of Israel for Jewish survival, his philosophy is not a defense of Israel but a blueprint for Jewish survival in a Diaspora in Western societies.) 

The fate of the Weimar Republic, combined with the emergence of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, had a formative influence on his thinking. As Stephen Holmes writes, “Strauss made his young Jewish-American students gulp by informing them that toleration [secular humanism] was dangerous and that the Enlightenment—rather than the failure of the Enlightenment—led directly to Adolph Hitler.”140 Hitler was also at the center of Strauss’s admiration for Churchill—hence the roots of the neocon cult of Churchill: “The tyrant stood at the pinnacle of his power. The contrast between the indomitable and magnanimous statesman and the insane tyrant—this spectacle in its clear simplicity was one of the greatest lessons which men can learn, at any time.”141 I suspect that, given Strauss’s strong Jewish identity,  a very large part of his admiration of Churchill was not that Churchill opposed tyrants, but that he went to war against an anti-Jewish tyrant at enormous cost to his own people and nation while allied with another tyrant, Joseph Stalin, who had by 1939 already murdered far more people than Hitler ever would.

Strauss has become a cult figure—the quintessential rabbinical guru, with devoted disciples such as Allan Bloom.142  Strauss relished his role as a guru to worshiping disciples, once writing of “the love of the mature philosopher for the puppies of his race, by whom he wants to be loved in turn.”143 In turn, Strauss was a disciple of Hermann Cohen, a philosopher at the University of Marburg, who ended his career teaching in a rabbinical school; Cohen was a central figure in a school of neo-Kantian intellectuals whose main concern was to rationalize Jewish nonassimilation into German society.

Strauss understood that inequalities among humans were inevitable and advocated rule by an aristocratic elite of philosopher kings forced to pay lip service to the traditional religious and political beliefs of the masses while not believing them.144 This elite should pursue its vision of the common good but must reach out to others using deception and manipulation to achieve its goals. As Bill Kristol has described it, elites have the duty to guide public opinion, but “one of the main teachings [of Strauss] is that all politics are limited and none of them is really based on the truth.”145  A more cynical characterization is provided by Stephen Holmes: “The good society, on this model, consists of the sedated masses, the gentlemen rulers, the promising puppies, and the philosophers who pursue knowledge, manipulate the gentlemen, anesthetize the people, and housebreak the most talented young”146—a comment that sounds to me like an alarmingly accurate description of the present situation in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world. Given Strauss’s central concern that an acceptable political order be compatible with Jewish survival, it is reasonable to assume that Strauss believed that the aristocracy would serve Jewish interests.

Strauss’s philosophy is not really conservative. The rule by an aristocratic elite would require a complete political transformation in order to create a society that was “as just as possible”:

Nothing short of a total transformation of imbedded custom must be undertaken. To secure this inversion of the traditional hierarchies, the political, social and educational system must be subjected to a radical reformation. For justice to be possible the founders have to “wipe clean the dispositions of men,” that is, justice is possible only if the city and its citizens are not what they are: the weakest [i.e., the philosophic elite] is supposed to rule the strongest [the masses], the irrational is supposed to submit to the rule of the rational.147 [emphasis in original]

Strauss described the need for an external exoteric language directed at outsiders, and an internal esoteric language directed at ingroup members.148 A general feature of the movements I have studied is that this Straussian prescription has been followed: Issues are framed in language that appeals to non-Jews rather than explicitly in terms of Jewish interests, although Jewish interests always remain in the background if one cares to look a little deeper. The most common rhetoric used by Jewish intellectual and political movements has been the language of moral universalism and the language of science—languages that appeal to the educated elites of the modern Western world.149 But beneath the rhetoric it is easy to find statements describing the Jewish agendas of the principal actors. And the language of moral universalism (e.g., advocating democracy as a universal moral imperative) goes hand in hand with a narrow Jewish moral particularism (altering governments that represent a danger to Israel).

It is noteworthy in this respect that the split between the leftist critics of Strauss like Shadia Drury and Stephen Holmes versus Strauss’s disciples like Allan Bloom and Harry V. Jaffa comes down to whether Strauss is properly seen as a universalist. The leftist critics claim that the moral universalism espoused by Strauss’s disciples is nothing more than a veneer for his vision of a hierarchical society based on manipulation of the masses. As noted, the use of a universalist rhetoric to mask particularist causes has a long history among Jewish intellectual and political movements, and it fits well with Strauss’s famous emphasis on esoteric messages embedded in the texts of great thinkers. Moreover, there is at least some textual support for the leftist critique, although there can never be certainty because of the intentionally enigmatic nature of Strauss’s writings.

I am merely adding to the leftist critique the idea that Strauss crafted his vision of an aristocratic elite manipulating the masses as a Jewish survival strategy. In doing so, I am taking seriously Strauss’s own characterization of his work as centrally motivated by “the Jewish question” and by the excellent evidence for his strong commitment to the continuity of the Jewish people. At a fundamental level, based on my scholarship on Jewish intellectual and political movements, one cannot understand Strauss’s well-attested standing as a Jewish guru—as an exemplar of the familiar pattern of an intellectual leader in the manner of Boas or Freud surrounded by devoted Jewish disciples—unless he had a specifically Jewish message.

The simple logic is as follows: Based on the data presented here, it is quite clear that Strauss understood that neither communism nor fascism was good for Jews in the long run. But democracy cannot be trusted given that Weimar ended with Hitler. A solution is to advocate democracy and the trappings of traditional religious culture, but managed by an elite able to manipulate the masses via control of the media and academic discourse. Jews have a long history as an elite in Western societies, so it is not in the least surprising that Strauss would advocate an ideal society in which Jews would be a central component of the elite. In my view, this is Strauss’s esoteric message. The exoteric message is the universalist veneer promulgated by Strauss’s disciples—a common enough pattern among Jewish intellectual and political movements.

On the other hand, if one accepts at face value the view of Strauss’s disciples that he should be understood as a theorist of egalitarianism and democracy, then Strauss’s legacy becomes just another form of leftism, and a rather undistinguished one at that. In this version, the United States is seen as a “proposition nation” committed only to the ideals of democracy and egalitarianism—an ideology that originated with Jewish leftist intellectuals like Horace Kallen.150 Such an ideology not only fails to protect the ethnic interests of European Americans in maintaining their culture and demographic dominance, it fails as an adequate survival strategy for Jews because of the possibility that, like Weimar Germany, the U.S. could be democratically transformed into a state that self-consciously opposes the ethnic interests of Jews.

The most reasonable interpretation is that neocons see Strauss’s moral universalism as a powerful exoteric ideology. The ideology is powerful among non-Jews because of the strong roots of democracy and egalitarianism in American history and in the history of the West; it is attractive to Jews because it has no ethnic content and is therefore useful in combating the ethnic interests of European Americans—its function for the Jewish left throughout the 20th century.151 But without the esoteric message that the proposition nation must be managed and manipulated by a covert, Jewish-dominated elite, such an ideology is inherently unstable and cannot be guaranteed to meet the long-term interests of Jews.

And one must remember that the neocons’ public commitment to egalitarianism belies their own status as an elite who were educated at elite academic institutions and created an elite network at the highest levels of the government. They form an elite that is deeply involved in deception, manipulation and espionage on issues related to Israel and the war in Iraq. They also established the massive neocon infrastructure in the elite media and think tanks. And they have often become wealthy in the process. Their public pronouncements advocating a democratic, egalitarian ideology have not prevented them from having strong ethnic identities and a strong sense of their own ethnic interests; nor have their public pronouncements supporting the Enlightenment ideals of egalitarianism and democracy prevented them from having a thoroughly anti-Enlightenment ethnic particularist commitment to the most nationalistic, aggressive, racialist elements within Israel—the Likud Party, the settler movement, and the religious fanatics. At the end of the day, the only alternative to the existence of an esoteric Straussian message along the lines described here is massive self-deception.

Sidney Hook

Born in 1902, Sidney Hook was an important leader of the anti-Stalinist, non-Trotskyist left. Hook’s career is interesting because he illustrates an evolution toward neoconservatism that was in many ways parallel to the Shachtmanites. Indeed, Hook ended up as honorary chairman of the SD/USA during the 1980s.152 Hook became a socialist at a time when virtually all socialists supported the Bolshevik revolution as the only alternative to the anti-Jewish government of the tsar.153 As a professional philosopher, he saw his role as an attempt to develop an intellectually respectable Marxism strengthened with Dewey’s ideas. But until the Moscow Trials of the 1930s he was blind to the violence and oppression in the USSR. During a visit to the USSR in 1929, “I was completely oblivious at the time to the systematic repressions that were then going on against noncommunist elements and altogether ignorant of the liquidation of the so-called kulaks that had already begun that summer. I was not even curious enough to probe and pry, possibly for fear of what I would discover.”154 During the 1930s, when the Communist Party exercised a dominant cultural influence in the United States, “the fear of fascism helped to blur our vision and blunt our hearing to the reports that kept trickling out of the Soviet Union.”155 Even the Moscow Trials were dismissed by large sectors of liberal opinion. It was the time of the Popular Front, where the fundamental principle was the defense of the Soviet Union. Liberal journals like the New Republic did not support inquiries into the trials, citing New York Times reporter Walter Duranty as an authority who believed in the truth of the confessions.

Unlike the Shachtmanites, Hook never accepted Trotsky because of his record of defending “every act of the Soviet regime, until he himself lost power.”156 “To the very end Trotsky remained a blind, pitiless (even when pitiable) giant, defending the right of the minority vanguard of the proletariat—the Party—to exercise its dictatorship over ‘the backward layers of the proletariat’—i.e., those who disagreed with the self-designated vanguard.”157

Hook became a leader of the anti-Stalinist left in the 1930s and during the Cold War, usually with John Dewey as the most visible public persona in various organizations dedicated to opposing intellectual thought control. His main issue came to be openness versus totalitarianism rather than capitalism versus socialism. Like other neoconservatives, from the 1960s on he opposed the excesses of the New Left, including affirmative action. Sidney Hook received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan. Like many neoconservatives, he never abandoned many of his leftist views: In his acceptance speech, Hook stated that he was “an unreconstructed believer in the welfare state, steeply progressive income tax, a secular humanist,” and pro-choice on abortion.158 Sounding much like SD/USA stalwart Joshua Muravchik,159 Hook noted that socialists like himself “never took the problem of incentives seriously enough.”160

Like Strauss, Hook’s advocacy of the open society stemmed from his belief that such societies were far better for Judaism than either the totalitarian left or right. Hook had a strong Jewish identification: He was a Zionist, a strong supporter of Israel, and an advocate of Jewish education for Jewish children.161 Hook developed an elaborate apologia for Judaism and against anti-Semitism in the modern world,162 and he was deeply concerned about the emergence of anti-Semitism in the USSR.163  The ideal society is thus culturally diverse and democratic:

No philosophy of Jewish life is required except one—identical with the democratic way of life—which enables Jews who for any reason at all accept their existence as Jews to lead a dignified and significant life, a life in which together with their fellowmen they strive collectively to improve the quality of democratic, secular cultures and thus encourage a maximum of cultural diversity, both Jewish and non-Jewish.164

Stephen Bryen

Despite his low profile in the George W. Bush administration, Stephen Bryen is an important neocon. Bryen served as executive director of JINSA from 1979 to 1981 and remains on its advisory board. He is also affiliated with the AEI and the CSP. Richard Perle hired Bryen as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Reagan administration. At the Pentagon, Perle and Bryen led an effort to extend and strengthen the Export Administration Act to grant the Pentagon a major role in technology transfer policy. This policy worked to the benefit of Israel at the expense of Europe, as Israel alone had access to the most secret technology designs.165 In 1988 Bryen and Perle temporarily received permission to export sensitive klystron technology, used in antiballistic missiles, to Israel. “Two senior colleagues in [the Department of Defense] who wish to remain anonymous have confirmed that this attempt by Bryen to obtain klystrons for his friends was not unusual, and was in fact ‘standard operating procedure’ for him, recalling numerous instances when U.S. companies were denied licenses to export sensitive technology, only to learn later that Israeli companies subsequently exported similar (U.S. derived) weapons and technology to the intended customers/governments.”166

It is surprising that Perle was able to hire Bryen at all given that, beginning in 1978, Bryen was investigated for offering classified documents to the Mossad station chief of the Israeli embassy in the presence of an AIPAC representative.167 Bryen’s fingerprints were found on the documents in question despite his denials that he had ever had the documents in his possession. (Bryen refused to take a polygraph test.) The Bryen investigation was ultimately shut down because of the failure of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to grant access to the Justice Department to files important to the investigation, and because of the decision by Philip Heymann, the chief of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and later Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, to drop the case.

Heymann is Jewish and had a close relationship with Bryen’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin. Heymann’s Jewish consciousness can be seen from the fact that he participated in the campaign to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and expunge his record —a major effort by a great many Jewish organizations and Jewish activists such as Alan Dershowitz. There were reports that Heymann was attempting to bypass Attorney General Janet Reno by preparing a Justice Department recommendation for presidential clemency, and that Heymann’s behavior may have been a factor in his resignation shortly thereafter.168

Despite this history of covert pro-Israeli activism, in 2001 Bryen was appointed, at the urging of Paul Wolfowitz, to the China Commission, which monitors illicit technology transfers to China, a position that requires top secret security clearance.169 Many of the illicit technology transfers investigated by the commission are thought to have occurred via Israel.

Charles Krauthammer

In his 1995 book, John Ehrman regards Charles Krauthammer as a key neoconservative foreign policy analyst because Krauthammer was on the cutting edge of neocon thinking on how to respond to the unipolar world created by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Krauthammer has consistently urged that the U.S. pursue a policy to remake the entire Arab world—a view that represents the “party line” among neoconservatives (e.g., Michael Ledeen, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, David Frum, and Richard Perle170). In a speech at the AEI in February 2004, Krauthammer argued for a unilateral confrontation with the entire Arab-Muslim world (and nowhere else) in the interests of “democratic globalism.” He advocated a U.S. foreign policy that is not “tied down” by “multilateralism”: “the whole point of the multilateral enterprise: To reduce American freedom of action by making it subservient to, dependent on, constricted by the will—and interests—of other nations. To tie down Gulliver with a thousand strings. To domesticate the most undomesticated, most outsized, national interest on the planet—ours.”171 Democratic globalism is aimed at winning the struggle with the Arab-Islamic world:

Beyond power. Beyond interest. Beyond interest defined as power. That is the credo of democratic globalism. Which explains its political appeal: America is a nation uniquely built not on blood, race or consanguinity, but on a proposition—to which its sacred honor has been pledged for two centuries…. Today, post-9/11, we find ourselves in an…existential struggle but with a different enemy: not Soviet communism, but Arab-Islamic totalitarianism, both secular and religious…[D]emocratic globalism is an improvement over realism. What it can teach realism is that the spread of democracy is not just an end but a means, an indispensable means for securing American interests. The reason is simple. Democracies are inherently more friendly to the United States, less belligerent to their neighbors, and generally more inclined to peace. Realists are right that to protect your interests you often have to go around the world bashing bad guys over the head. But that technique, no matter how satisfying, has its limits. At some point, you have to implant something, something organic and self-developing. And that something is democracy. But where? The danger of democratic globalism is its universalism, its open-ended commitment to human freedom, its temptation to plant the flag of democracy everywhere. It must learn to say no. And indeed, it does say no. But when it says no to Liberia, or Congo, or Burma, or countenances alliances with authoritarian rulers in places like Pakistan or, for that matter, Russia, it stands accused of hypocrisy. Which is why we must articulate criteria for saying yes…. I propose a single criterion: where it counts…. And this is its axiom: We will support democracy everywhere, but we will commit blood and treasure only in places where there is a strategic necessity—meaning, places central to the larger war against the existential enemy, the enemy that poses a global mortal threat to freedom.

Where does it count today? Where the overthrow of radicalism and the beginnings of democracy can have a decisive effect in the war against the new global threat to freedom, the new existential enemy, the Arab-Islamic totalitarianism that has threatened us in both its secular and religious forms for the quarter-century since the Khomeini revolution of 1979 … There is not a single, remotely plausible, alternative strategy for attacking the monster behind 9/11. It’s not Osama bin Laden; it is the cauldron of political oppression, religious intolerance, and social ruin in the Arab-Islamic world—oppression transmuted and deflected by regimes with no legitimacy into virulent, murderous anti-Americanism. It’s not one man; it is a condition.172

Krauthammer is a Jew and his Jewish identification and pro-Israel motivation is typical of Jewish neoconservatives, as is his obeisance to the idea that America is a proposition nation, rather than a nation founded by a particular ethnic group—an ethnocultural creation of Western Europe that  should attempt to preserve this heritage. The same attitude can be seen in Irving Kristol’s comment that the U.S. is an “ideological nation” committed to defend Israel independent of national interest (see above). This ideology was the creation of leftist Jewish intellectuals attempting to rationalize a multicultural America in which European-Americans were just one of many cultural/ethnic groups.173

He is a regular columnist for the Jerusalem Post and has written extensively in support of hard-line policies in Israel and on what he interprets as a rise in age-old anti-Jewish attitudes in Europe. In 2002 Krauthammer was presented with Bar-Ilan University’s annual Guardian of Zion Award at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. His acceptance speech reveals an observant Jew who is steeped in Jewish history and the Hebrew tradition. The 1993 Oslo Accords are termed “the most catastrophic and self- inflicted wound by any state in modern history”; this disastrous policy was based on “an extreme expression of post-Zionistic messianism.”174 Krauthammer rejected the “secular messianism” of Shimon Peres as more dangerous than the religious messianism of Gush Emunim (a prominent settler group with a message of Jewish racialism and a vision of a “Greater Israel” encompassing the lands promised to Abraham in Genesis—from the Nile to the Euphrates175) or of certain followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe because of its impact on shaping contemporary Jewish history.

Krauthammer is also deeply concerned with anti-Semitism:

What is odd is not the anti-Semitism of today [in Europe], but its relative absence during the last half-century. That was the historical anomaly. Holocaust shame kept the demon corked for that half-century. But now the atonement is passed. The genie is out again. This time, however, it is more sophisticated. It is not a blanket hatred of Jews. Jews can be tolerated, even accepted, but they must know their place. Jews are fine so long as they are powerless, passive and picturesque. What is intolerable is Jewish assertiveness, the Jewish refusal to accept victimhood. And nothing so embodies that as the Jewish state.176

Another barometer of Jewish identification is Krauthammer’s take on Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. In sentiments similar to those of many other Jewish activists and writers, he terms ita “blood libel,” “a singular act of interreligious aggression,” a “spectacularly vicious” personal interpretation.177 Gibson’s interpretations “point overwhelmingly in a single direction — to the villainy and culpability of the Jews.” The crucifixion is “a history of centuries of relentless, and at times savage, persecution of Jews in Christian lands.” One gets the impression of a writer searching as best he can to find the most extreme terms possible to express his loathing of Gibson’s account of the Christian gospel.

Paul Wolfowitz

Paul Wolfowitz’s background indicates a strong Jewish identity. His father Jacob was a committed Zionist throughout his life and in his later years organized protests against Soviet treatment of Jews.178 Jacob was deeply concerned about the Holocaust,179 and, in his own reminiscences of his teenage years, Paul recalls reading books about the Holocaust and traveling to Israel when his father was a visiting professor at an Israeli university. Wolfowitz reads Hebrew, and his sister married an Israeli and lives in Israel.180 At the University of Chicago the professors mentioned in his account of the period are all Jewish:181 Albert Wohlstetter, his Ph.D. advisor; Leo Strauss (Wolfowitz’s original intent when enrolling at the University of Chicago was to study with Strauss, and he ended up taking two courses from him); Strauss’s disciple Alan Bloom, whose Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students (1987) is a neocon classic; and Saul Bellow, the novelist.

Also indicative of a strong Jewish identity is a conversation Wolfowitz had with Natan Sharansky, Israeli Cabinet Minister and leader of a right wing, pro-settlement political party, at a conference on Middle East policy in Aspen, Colorado, in 2002. The conference was arranged by Richard Perle under the auspices of the AEI. Wolfowitz and Sharansky walked to a reception, because the latter, as an observant Jew, could not drive on the Sabbath. Sharansky noted that the walk “gave us a chance to talk about everything — Arafat, international terrorism, Iraq and Iran and, of course, Jewish history, our roots and so on.”182 Wolfowitz is married to Clare Selgin, and they have three children, Sara, David, and Rachel.183

Ravelstein is Bellow’s fictionalized but essentially accurate description of Alan Bloom and his circle at the University of Chicago.184 It is of some interest because it recreates the Jewish atmosphere of Wolfowitz’s academic environment. Wolfowitz was a member of Bloom’s circle at Cornell University and chose the University of Chicago for his graduate training because of the presence there of Leo Strauss, most likely at the urging of Bloom. Wolfowitz and Bloom maintained a close relationship after Bloom moved to the University of Chicago and during Wolfowitz’s later career in the government. Wolfowitz was one of the “favored students” of Bloom described in Robert Locke’s comment that “Favored students of the usually haughty Bloom were gradually introduced to greater and greater intimacies with the master, culminating in exclusive dinner parties with him and Saul [Bellow] in Bloom’s lavishly furnished million-dollar apartment.”185 

As depicted by Bellow, Bloom emerges as the quintessential guru, surrounded by disciples—a “father” who attempts not only to direct his disciples’ careers but their personal lives as well.186 His disciples are described as “clones who dressed as he did, smoked the same Marlboros”; they were heading toward “the Promised Land of the intellect toward which Ravelstein, their Moses and their Socrates, led them.”187 “To be cut off from his informants in Washington and Paris, from his students, the people he had trained, the band of brothers, the initiates, the happy few made him extremely uncomfortable.”188 Bloom in turn is depicted as a “disciple” of the Strauss character, Felix Davarr: “Ravelstein talked so much about him that in the end I was obliged to read some of his books. It had to be done if I was to understand what [Ravelstein] was all about.”189

Bloom’s Ravelstein is depicted as very self-consciously Jewish. A theme is the contrast between “crude” Jewish behavior and genteel WASP behavior—a theme described beautifully and authoritatively in the writings of John Murray Cuddihy.190 And there is the acute consciousness of who is a Jew and who isn’t; all of Ravelstein’s close friends are Jews. There is an intense interest in whether non-Jews dislike Jews or have connections to fascism. And there is a fixation on the Holocaust and when it will happen again: “They kill more than half of the European Jews…There’s no telling which corner it will come from next.”191 Ravelstein thought of Jews as displacing WASPs: He “liked to think of living in one of the tony flat buildings formerly occupied by the exclusively WASP faculty.”192

Following Strauss, Bloom thought of Western civilization as the product of Athens and Jerusalem, and is said to have preferred the former, at least until the end of his life, when Jerusalem loomed large: Bellow’s narrator writes, “I could see [Ravelstein/Bloom] was following a trail of Jewish ideas or Jewish essences. It was unusual for him these days, in any conversation, to mention even Plato or Thucydides. He was full of Scripture now”—all connected to “the great evil,” the belief during the World War II era “that almost everybody agreed that the Jews had no right to live…a vast collective agreement that the world would be improved by their disappearance and their extinction.”193 Ravelstein’s conclusion is that “it is impossible to get rid of one’s origins, it is impossible not to remain a Jew. The Jews, Ravelstein…thought, following the line laid down by [his] teacher Davarr [Strauss], were historically witnesses to the absence of redemption.”194

Ravelstein recounts a conversation with the Wolfowitz character, Philip Gorman, which reflects Wolfowitz’s well-known desire to invade Iraq in 1991:

Colin Powell and Baker have advised the President not to send the troops all the way to Baghdad. Bush will announce it tomorrow. They’re afraid of a few casualties. They send out a terrific army and give a demonstration of up-to-date high-tech warfare that flesh and blood can’t stand up to. But then they leave the dictatorship in place and steal away….195

Wolfowitz has had a close relationship with Richard Perle beginning with their service in the office of Sen. Henry Jackson.196 He also has a long record of pro-Israel advocacy. In 1973 he was appointed to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA); Mark Green notes that “Wolfowitz…brought to ACDA a strong attachment to Israel’s security, and a certain confusion about his obligation to U.S. national security.”197 In 1978, he was investigated for providing a classified document to the Israeli government through an AIPAC intermediary, but the investigation ended without indictment. (As Paul Findley shows, leakage of classified information to Israel by American Jews is routine within the Departments of State and Defense—so routine that it is accepted as a part of life in these departments, and investigations of the source of leaks are seldom performed.198)  Later, in 1992, the Department of Defense discovered that Wolfowitz, as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, was promoting the export to Israel of advanced AIM-9M air-to-air missiles. The sale was canceled because Israel had been caught selling the previous version to the Chinese. Until his appointment as Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Bush administration, Wolfowitz was on the Advisory Board of WINEP, and was a patron of Dennis Ross, who was Ambassador to Israel in the Clinton Administration before becoming director of Policy and Strategic Planning at WINEP.

Wolfowitz wrote a 1997 Weekly Standard article advocating removal of Saddam Hussein, and signed the public letter to President Clinton organized by Bill Kristol’s Project for the New American Century urging a regime change in Iraq. Within the George H. W. Bush administration, Wolfowitz was “the intellectual godfather and fiercest advocate for toppling Saddam.”199 Wolfowitz has become famous as a key advocate for war with Iraq rather than Afghanistan in the immediate aftermath of September 11.200 Richard Clarke recounts an incident on September 12, 2001, in which President Bush asked a group at the White House for any information that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks. After Bush left, a staffer “stared at [Bush] with her mouth open. ‘Wolfowitz got to him.’”201

Former CIA political analysts Kathleen and Bill Christison note that “One source inside the administration has described [Wolfowitz] frankly as ‘over-the-top crazy when it comes to Israel.’”202 Although they find such an assessment insufficiently nuanced, they acknowledge that zealotry for Israel is a prime motivator for Wolfowitz. Journalist Bill Keller is much more cautious:

You hear from some of Wolfowitz’s critics, always off the record, that Israel exercises a powerful gravitational pull on the man. They may not know that as a teenager he spent his father’s sabbatical semester in Israel or that his sister is married to an Israeli, but they certainly know that he is friendly with Israel’s generals and diplomats and that he is something of a hero to the heavily Jewish neoconservative movement. Those who know him well say this—leaving aside the offensive suggestion of dual loyalty—is looking at Wolfowitz through the wrong end of the telescope. As the Sadat story illustrates, he has generally been less excited by the security of Israel than by the promise of a more moderate Islam.203

This is a remarkable statement. “The Sadat story” refers to Wolfowitz’s very positive reaction to Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat’s speech to the Knesset as part of the peace process between Israel and Egypt. Obviously, it is silly to suppose that this event shows Wolfowitz’s relative disinterest in Israel’s security. Moreover, statements linking Wolfowitz to Israel are always off the record, presumably because people fear retaliation for stating the obvious. Thus Bill Keller coyly manages to document the associations between Wolfowitz and Israel while finding assertions of dual loyalty “offensive” rather than a well-grounded probability. 

One of Joshua Muravchik’s apologetic claims is that “in fact the careers of leading neoconservatives have rarely involved work on Middle East issues."204 This is false. For example, Wolfowitz wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. During the Carter administration, he prepared the Limited Contingency Study, which emphasized the “Iraqi threat” to the region, and during the Reagan administration he lobbied against selling AWACS to Saudi Arabia and against negotiating with the Palestinians; during the George H. W. Bush administration he was Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, a position where he “would once again have responsibility for arms control, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, the areas to which he had devoted the early years of his career.”205

Richard Perle

Like Wolfowitz and the Strauss-Bloom nexus at the University of Chicago, for Perle

the defining moment in our history was certainly the Holocaust…. It was the destruction, the genocide of a whole people, and it was the failure to respond in a timely fashion to a threat that was clearly gathering…We don't want that to happen again…when we have the ability to stop totalitarian regimes we should do so, because when we fail to do so, the results are catastrophic.206

Richard Perle first came into prominence in Washington as Senator Henry Jackson’s chief aide on foreign policy. He organized Congressional support for the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which angered Russia by linking bilateral trade issues to freedom of emigration, primarily of Jews from the Soviet Union to Israel and the United States. In 1970 Perle was recorded by the FBI discussing classified information with the Israeli embassy. In 1981 he was on the payroll of an Israeli defense contractor shortly before being appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, a position responsible for monitoring U.S. defense technology exports.207 During his tenure in the Reagan administration Perle recommended purchase of an artillery shell made by Soltan, an Israeli munitions manufacturer. After leaving his position in the Defense Department in 1987, he assumed a position with Soltan. Like many other former government officials, he has also used his reputation and contacts in the government to develop a highly lucrative business career. For example, although he did not personally register as a lobbyist, he became a paid consultant to a firm headed by Douglas Feith that was established to lobby on behalf of Turkey.208 At the present time, Perle is on the board of directors of Onset Technology, a technology company founded by Israelis Gadi Mazor and Ron Maor with R&D in Israel. Onset Technology has close ties to Israeli companies and investment funds.209 He is a close personal friend of Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.210

Perle was the “Study Group Leader” of a 1996 report titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” published by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS), an Israeli think tank. The membership of the study group illustrates the overlap between Israeli think tanks close to the Israeli government, American policy makers and government officials, and pro-Israel activists working in the United States. Other members of this group who accepted positions in the George W. Bush administration or in pro-Israel activist organizations in the U.S. include Douglas Feith (Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy), David Wurmser (member of IASPS, a protégé of Perle at AEI, and senior advisor in the State Department), Mayrev Wurmser (head of the Hudson Institute [a neocon thinktank]), James Colbert of JINSA,and Jonathan Torop (WINEP).

 Despite Joshua Muravchik’s apologetic claims,211 the “Clean Break” report was clearly intended as advice for another of Perle’s personal friends,212 Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then the new prime minister of Israel; there is no indication that it was an effort to further U.S. interests in the region. The purpose was to “forge a peace process and strategy based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism.” Indeed, the report advises the United States to avoid pressure on the Israelis to give land for peace, a strategy “which required funneling American money to repressive and aggressive regimes, was risky, expensive, and very costly for both the U.S. and Israel, and placed the United States in roles it should neither have nor want.” The authors of the report speak as Jews and Israelis, not as U.S. citizens: “Our claim to the land—to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years—is legitimate and noble.”Much of the focus is on removing the threat of Syria, and it is in this context that the report notes, “This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right—as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”213

Proposals for regime change, such as found in “A Clean Break,” have a long history in Israeli thought. For example, in 1982 Israeli strategist Oded Yinon echoed a long line of Israeli strategists who argued that Israel should attempt to dissolve all the existing Arab states into smaller, less potentially powerful states. These states would then become clients of Israel as a regional imperial power. Neocons have advertised the war in Iraq as a crusade for a democratic, secular, Western-oriented, pro-Israel Iraq—a dream that has a great deal of appeal in the West, for obvious reasons. However, it is quite possible that the long-term result is that Iraq would fracture along ethnic and religious lines (Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds). This would also be in Israel’s interests, because the resulting states would pose less of a threat than the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. As Yinon noted, “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.”214

Former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson has suggested that the dissolution of Iraq may well have been a motive for the war:

A more cynical reading of the agenda of certain Bush advisers could conclude that the Balkanization of Iraq was always an acceptable outcome, because Israel would then find itself surrounded by small Arab countries worried about each other instead of forming a solid block against Israel. After all, Iraq was an artificial country that had always had a troublesome history.215

And as the Iraqi insurgency has achieved momentum, there is evidence that Israeli military and intelligence units are operating in Kurdish regions of Iraq and that Israel is indeed encouraging the Kurds to form their own state.216 There is little doubt that an independent Kurdish state would have major repercussions for Syria and Iran, as well as for Israel’s ally Turkey, and would lead to continuing instability in the Middle East. A senior Turkish official noted, “If you end up with a divided Iraq, it will bring more blood, tears, and pain to the Middle East, and [the U.S.] will be blamed…From Mexico to Russia, everybody will claim that the United States had a secret agenda in Iraq: you came there to break up Iraq. If Iraq is divided, America cannot explain this to the world.”

Elliott Abrams

Some of Elliott Abrams’ neoconservative family and professional associations have been described above. In December 2002 Abrams became President Bush’s top Middle East advisor. He is closely associated with the Likud Party in Israel and with prominent neocons (Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, Marc Paul Gerecht, Michael Ledeen, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Paul Wolfowitz) and neocon think tanks (PNAC, AEI, CSP, JINSA).217 Because of his reputation as a strongly identified Jew, Abrams was tapped for the role of rallying Jews in support of Reagan in the 1980 campaign.218

Abrams is also an activist on behalf of Jewish continuity. The purpose of his book Faith and Fear: How Jews Can Survive in Christian America is to shore up Jewish religious identification, avoid intermarriage, and avoid secularization in order to assure Jewish continuity. In this regard it is interesting that other prominent neocons have advocated interracial marriage between whites and blacks in the U.S. For example, Douglas J. Besharov, a resident scholar at the AEI, has written that the offspring of interracial marriages “are the best hope for the future of American race relations.”219

In Faith and Fear, Abrams notes his own deep immersion in the Yiddish-speaking culture of his parents and grandparents. In the grandparents’ generation, “all their children married Jews, and [they] kept Kosher homes.”220 Abrams acknowledges that the mainstream Jewish community “clings to what is at bottom a dark vision of America, as a land permeated with anti-Semitism and always on the verge of anti-Semitic outbursts.” The result is that Jews have taken the lead in secularizing America, but that has not been a good strategy for Jews because Jews themselves have become less religious and therefore less inclined to marry other Jews. (This “dark vision of America” is a critical source of the “Culture of Critique” produced by Jewish intellectual movements; it is also a major reason why the Jewish community has been united in favor of large-scale nonwhite immigration to America: Diluting the white majority and lessening their power is seen as preventing an anti-Jewish outburst.221)  Following Strauss, therefore, Abrams thinks that a strong role for Christianity in America is good for Jews:

In this century we have seen two gigantic experiments at postreligious societies where the traditional restraints of religion and morality were entirely removed: Communism and Nazism. In both cases Jews became the special targets, but there was evil enough even without the scourge of anti-Semitism. For when the transcendental inhibition against evil is removed, when society becomes so purely secular that the restraints imposed by God on man are truly eradicated, minorities are but the earliest victims.”222

Douglas Feith

Like most of his cronies, Feith has been suspected of spying for Israel. In 1972 Feith was fired from a position with the National Security Council because of an investigation into whether he had provided documents to the Israeli embassy. Nevertheless, Perle, who was Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy, hired him as his “special counsel,” and then as his deputy. Feith worked for Perle until 1986, when he left government service to form a law firm, Feith and Zell, which was originally based in Israel and best known for obtaining a pardon for the notorious Marc Rich during the final days of the Clinton administration.  In 2001, Douglas Feith returned to the Department of Defense as Donald Rumsfeld’s Undersecretary for Policy, and it was in his office that Abraham Shulsky’s Office of Special Plans (OSP) was created. It was OSP that originated much of the fraudulent intelligence that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have used to justify the attack on Iraq. A key member of OSP was David Wurmser who, as indicated above, is a protégé of Richard Perle.223

Retired army officer Karen Kwiatkowski describes Feith as knowing little about the Pentagon and paying little attention to any issues except those relating to Israel and Iraq.224 Feith is deferential to the Israeli military. As Kwiatkowski escorted a group of Israeli generals into the Pentagon:

The leader of the pack surged ahead, his colleagues in close formation, leaving us to double-time behind the group as they sped to Undersecretary Feith’s office on the fourth floor…. Once in Feith’s waiting room, the leader continued at speed to Feith’s closed door. An alert secretary saw this coming and had leapt from her desk to block the door. “Mr. Feith has a visitor. It will only be a few more minutes.” The leader craned his neck to look around the secretary’s head as he demanded, “Who is in there with him?”

Unlike the usual practice, the Israeli generals did not have to sign in, so there are no official records of their visits.225 Kwiatkowski describes the anti-Arab, pro-Israel sentiment that pervaded the neocon network at the Department of Defense. Career military officers who failed to go along with these attitudes were simply replaced.

Feith has a strong Jewish identity and is an activist on behalf of Israel. While in law school he collaborated with Joseph Churba, an associate and friend of Meir Kahane, founder of the racialist and anti-Western Jewish Defense League. During the late 1980s to early 1990s he wrote pro-Likud op-ed pieces in Israeli newspapers, arguing that the West Bank is part of Israel, that the Palestinians belong in Jordan, and that there should be regime change in Iraq. He also headed the CSP and was a founding member of One Jerusalem, an Israeli organization “determined to prevent any compromise with the Palestinians over the fate of any part of Jerusalem.226

He is an officer of the Foundation for Jewish Studies, which is “dedicated to fostering Jewish learning and building communities of educated and committed Jews who are conscious of and faithful to the high ideals of Judaism.”227 In 1997 Feith and his father (a member of Betar, the Zionist youth movement founded by Vladimir Jabotinsky) were given awards from the ZOA because of their work as pro-Israel activists. The ZOA is a staunch supporter of the most extreme elements within Israel. Feith’s law partner, L. Marc Zell of the firm’s Tel Aviv office, is a spokesman for the settler movement in Israel, and the firm itself is deeply involved in legal issues related to the reconstruction of Iraq, a situation that has raised eyebrows because Feith is head of reconstruction in Iraq.228

Zell was one of many neocons close to Ahmed Chalabi but abandoned his support because Chalabi had not come through on his prewar pledges regarding Israel—further evidence that aiding Israel was an important motive for the neocons. According to Zell, Chalabi “said he would end Iraq’s boycott of trade with Israel, and would allow Israeli companies to do business there. He said [the new Iraqi government] would agree to rebuild the pipeline from Mosul [in the northern Iraqi oil fields] to Haifa [the Israeli port, and the location of a major refinery].”229 Another partner in the law firm of Feith and Zell is Salem Chalabi, Ahmed Chalabi’s nephew. Salem Chalabi is in charge of the trial of Saddam Hussein.230

Abraham Shulsky

Abram Shulsky is a student of Leo Strauss, a close friend of Paul Wolfowitz both at Cornell and the University of Chicago,231 and yet another protégé of Richard Perle. He was an aide to neocon Senators Henry Jackson (along with Perle and Elliot Abrams) and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and worked in the Department of Defense in the Reagan administration. During the George W. Bush administration, he was appointed head of the Office of Special Plans under Feith and Wolfowitz. The OSP became more influential on Iraq policy than the CIA or the Defense Intelligence Agency,232 but is widely viewed by retired intelligence operatives as manipulating intelligence data on Iraq in order to influence policy.233 Reports suggest that the OSP worked closely with Israeli intelligence to paint an exaggerated picture of Iraqi capabilities in unconventional weapons.234 It is tempting to link the actions of the OSP under Shulsky with Strauss’s idea of a “noble lie” carried out by the elite to manipulate the masses, but I suppose that one doesn’t really need Strauss to understand the importance of lying in order to manipulate public opinion on behalf of Israel.

 The OSP included other neocons with no professional qualifications in intelligence but  long records of service in neoconservative think tanks and pro-Israel activist organizations, especially the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Examples include Michael Rubin, who is affiliated with AEI and is an adjunct scholar at WINEP, David Schenker, who has written books and articles on Middle East issues published by WINEP and the Middle East Quarterly (published by Daniel Pipes’ MEF, another pro-Israel activist organization), Elliott Abrams, David Wurmser, and Michael Ledeen. The OSP relied heavily on Iraqi defectors associated with Ahmed Chalabi, who, as indicated above, had a close personal relationship with Wolfowitz, Perle, and other neocons.235

Michael Ledeen

Michael Ledeen’s career illustrates the interconnectedness of the neoconservative network. Ledeen was the first executive director of JINSA (1977–1979) and remains on its board of advisors. He was hired by Richard Perle in the Defense Department during the Reagan years, and during the same period he was hired as special advisor by Wolfowitz in his role as head of the State Department Policy Planning Staff. Along with Stephen Bryen, Ledeen became a member of the China Commission during the George W. Bush administration. He was also a consultant to Abraham Shulsky’s OSP, the Defense Department organization most closely linked with the manufacture of fraudulent intelligence leading up to the Iraq War. The OSP was created by Douglas Feith, who in turn reports to Paul Wolfowitz. As noted above, he is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at AEI.

Ledeen has been suspected of spying for Israel.236 During the Reagan years, he was regarded by the CIA as “an agent of influence of a foreign government: Israel,” and was suspected of spying for Israel by his immediate superior at the Department of Defense, Noel Koch.237 While working for the White House in 1984, Ledeen was also accused by National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane of participating in an unauthorized meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres that led to the proposal to funnel arms through Israel to Iran in order to free U.S. hostages being held in Lebanon—the origins of the Irangate scandal.238

Ledeen has been a major propagandist for forcing change on the entire Arab world. Ledeen’s revolutionary ideology stems not from Trotsky or Marx, but from his favorable view of Italian fascism as a universalist (nonracial) revolutionary movement.239 His book, War on the Terror Masters, is a program for complete restructuring of the Middle East by the U. S. couched in the rhetoric of universalism and moral concern, not for Israel, but for the Arab peoples who would benefit from regime change. Ledeen is a revolutionary of the right, committed to “creative destruction” of the old social order:

Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our own society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity, which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. Seeing America undo traditional societies, they fear us, for they do not wish to be undone. They cannot feel secure so long as we are there, for our very existence—our existence, not our politics—threatens their legitimacy. They must attack us in order to survive, just as we must destroy them to advance our historic mission….

Behind all the anti-American venom from the secular radicals in Baghdad, the religious fanatics in Tehran, the minority regime in Damascus, and the multicultural kleptomaniacs in the Palestinian Authority is the knowledge that they are hated by their own people. Their power rests on terror, recently directed against us, but always, first and foremost, against their own citizens. Given the chance to express themselves freely, the Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian people would oust their current oppressors. Properly waged, our revolutionary war will give them a chance.240

Bernard Lewis

The main intellectual source for imposing democracy on the Arab world is Bernard Lewis, the Princeton historian who argues that Muslim cultures have an inferiority complex stemming from their relative decline compared to the West over the last three hundred years. (Such arguments minimize the role of Israel and U.S. support for Israel as a sourse of Arab malaise. However, there is good evidence that the motives of Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 conspirators derive much more from U.S. support for Israel than a general anti-Western animus.241) He contends that Arab societies with their antiquated, kinship-based structure can only be changed by forcing democracy on them.242 Wolfowitz has used Lewis as the intellectual underpinning of the invasion of Iraq: “Bernard has taught how to understand the complex and important history of the Middle East, and use it to guide us where we will go next to build a better world for generations to come.”243 During the 1970s Lewis was invited by Richard Perle to give a talk to Henry Jackson’s group, and, as Perle notes, “Lewis became Jackson’s guru, more or less.” Lewis also established ties with Daniel Patrick Moynihan and with Jackson’s other aides, including Wolfowitz, Abrams, and Gaffney. One of Lewis’s main arguments is that the Palestinians have no historical claim to a state because they were not a state before the British Mandate in 1918.

Lewis also argues that Arabs have a long history of consensus government, if not democracy, and that a modicum of outside force should be sufficient to democratize the area—a view that runs counter to the huge cultural differences between the Middle East and the West that stem ultimately from very different evolutionary pressures.244 Lewis, as a cultural historian, is in a poor position to understand the deep structure of the cultural differences between Europe and the Middle East. He seems completely unaware of the differences in family and kinship structure between Europe and the Middle East, and he regards the difference in attitudes toward women as a mere cultural difference rather than as a marker for an entirely different social structure.245

Lewis’s flawed beliefs about the Middle East have nevertheless been quite useful to Israel—reflecting the theme that Jewish intellectual movements have often used available intellectual resources to advance a political cause. Not only did he provide an important intellectual rationale for the war against Iraq, he is very close to governmental and academic circles in Israel—the confidant of successive Israeli Prime Ministers from Golda Meir to Ariel Sharon.246

Dick Cheney

By several accounts, Vice President Cheney had a “fever” to invade Iraq and transform the politics of the Middle East and was the leading force within the administration convincing President Bush of the need to do so.247 As with the other Jewish intellectual and political movements I have reviewed, non-Jews have been welcomed into the movement and often given highly visible roles as the movement’s public face. Among the current crop in this intellectual lineage, the most important non-Jews are Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom have close professional and personal relationships with neoconservatives that long pre-date their present power and visibility. Both Cheney and Rumsfeld have been associated with Bill Kristol’s PNAC (which advocated a unilateral war for regime change in Iraq at least as early as 1998)248 and the CSP, two neocon think tanks; Cheney was presented with the ADL’s Distinguished Statesman Award in 1993 and was described by Abraham Foxman as “sensitive to Jewish concerns.”249 When Cheney was a Congressman during the early 1980s, he attended lunches hosted for Republican Jewish leaders by the House leadership. Cheney was described by Marshall Breger, a senior official in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush  administration as “very interested in outreach and engaging the Jewish community.”250 He was also a member of JINSA, a major pro-Israel activist organization, until assuming his office as vice president.

Cheney has also had a close involvement with leading Israeli politicians, especially Natan Sharansky, Secretary of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs in the Likud government and the prime architect of the ideology that the key to peace between Israel and the Arab world, including the Palestinians, is Arab acceptance of democracy. When President Bush articulated the importance of Palestinian democracy for the Middle East peace “roadmap” in his June 2002 policy speech,

Sharansky could have written the speech himself, and, for that matter, may have had a direct hand in its drafting. The weekend prior to the speech, he spent long hours at a conference [organized by Richard Perle and] sponsored by the AEI in Aspen secluded together with Vice President Cheney and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. The Bush speech clearly represented a triumph for the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz axis in the administration over the State Department, which was eager to offer the Palestinians a provisional state immediately.”251

Both Cheney and Rumsfeld have close personal relationships with Kenneth Adelman, a former Ford and Reagan administration official.252  Adelman wrote op-ed pieces in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in the period leading up to the war, and he, along with Wolfowitz and Irving Lewis “Scooter” Libby (Cheney’s chief of staff), were guests of Cheney for a victory celebration in the immediate aftermath of the war (April 13, 2003).253 Adelman has excellent neocon credentials. He was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger in the 1970s and UN Ambassador during the Reagan Administration, and worked under Donald Rumsfeld on three different occasions. He was a signatory to the April 3, 2002, letter of the Project for a New American Century to President Bush calling for Saddam Hussein’s ouster and increased support for Israel. The letter stated, “Israel is targeted in part because it is our friend, and in part because it is an island of liberal, democratic principles—American principles—in a sea of tyranny, intolerance, and hatred.”  The advocacy of war with Iraq was linked to advancing Israeli interests: “If we do not move against Saddam Hussein and his regime, the damage our Israeli friends and we have suffered until now may someday appear but a prelude to much greater horrors…. Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight. Israel’s victory is an important part of our victory. For reasons both moral and strategic, we need to stand with Israel in its fight against terrorism.”254 Adelman’s wife, Carol, is affiliated with the Hudson Institute, a neoconservative think tank.

Cheney’s role in the ascendancy of the neocons in the Bush administration is particularly important: As head of the transition team, he and Libby were able to staff the subcabinet levels of the State Department (John Bolton) and the Defense Department (Wolfowitz, Feith) with key supporters of the neocon agenda. Libby is a close personal friend of Cheney whose views “echo many of Wolfowitz’s policies”; he “is considered a hawk among hawks and was an early supporter of military action against terrorism and particularly against Iraq.”255 He is Jewish and has a long history of involvement in Zionist causes and as the attorney for the notorious Marc Rich. Libby and Cheney were involved in pressuring the CIA to color intelligence reports to fit with their desire for a war with Iraq.256 Libby entered the neocon orbit when he was “captivated” while taking a political science course from Wolfowitz at Yale, and he worked under Wolfowitz in the Reagan and the Bush I administrations.257 He was the coauthor (with Wolfowitz) of the ill-fated draft of the Defense Planning Guidance document of 1992, which advocated U.S. dominance over all of Eurasia and urged preventing any other country from even contemplating challenging U.S. hegemony.258 (Cheney was Secretary of Defense at that time.) After an uproar, the document was radically altered, but this blueprint for U.S. hegemony remains central to neocon attitudes since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Donald Rumsfeld

As noted above, Rumsfeld has deep links with neoconservative think tanks and individual Jews such as Ken Adelman, who began his career working for Rumsfeld when he headed the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Nixon administration. Another close associate is Robert A. Goldwin, a student of Leo Strauss and Rumsfeld’s deputy both at NATO and at the Gerald Ford White House; Goldwin is now resident scholar at the AEI.

Rumsfeld also has a long history of appealing to Jewish and Israeli causes. In his 1964 campaign for reelection to Congress as representative from a district on the North Shore of Chicago with an important Jewish constituency, he emphasized Soviet persecution of Jews and introduced a bill on this topic in the House. After the 1967 war, he urged the U.S. not to demand that Israel withdraw to its previous borders and he criticized delays in sending U.S. military hardware to Israel.259 More recently, as Secretary of Defense in the Bush II administration, Rumsfeld was praised by the ZOA for distancing himself from the phrase “occupied territories,” referring to them as the “so-called occupied territories.”260

Despite these links with neoconservatives and Jewish causes, Rumsfeld emerges as less an ideologue and less a passionate advocate for war with Iraq than Cheney. Robert Woodward describes him as lacking the feverish intensity of Cheney, as a dispassionate “defense technocrat” who, unlike Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Feith, would have been content if the U.S. had not gone to war with Iraq.261

Daniel Pipes

Many neoconservatives work mainly as lobbyists and propagandists. Rather than attempt to describe this massive infrastructure in its entirety, I profile Daniel Pipes as a prototypical example of the highly competent Jewish lobbyist. Pipes is the son of Richard Pipes, the Harvard professor who, as noted above, was an early neocon and an expert on the Soviet Union. He is the director of the MEF and a columnist at the New York Post and the Jerusalem Post, and appears on the Fox News Channel. Pipes is described as “An authoritative commentator on the Middle East” by the Wall Street Journal, according to the masthead of his website.262 A former official in the Departments of State and Defense, he has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the U.S. Naval War College. He is the author of twelve books on the Middle East, Islam, and other political topics; his most recent book is Militant Islam Reaches America (published by W.W. Norton, 2002), a polemic against political Islam which argues that militant Islam is the greatest threat to the West since the Cold War. He serves on the “Special Task Force on Terrorism and Technology” at the Department of Defense, has testified before many congressional committees, and served on four presidential campaigns.

Martin Kramer is the editor of the Forum’s journal. Kramer is also affiliated with Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. His book, Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, has been a major impetus behind the recent effort to prevent criticism of Israel on college campuses. The book was warmly reviewed in the Weekly Standard, whose editor, Bill Kristol, is a member of the MEF along with Kramer.  Kristol wrote that “Kramer has performed a crucial service by exposing intellectual rot in a scholarly field of capital importance to national wellbeing.”

The MEF issues two regular quasi-academic publications, the Middle East Quarterly and the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, the latter published jointly with the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon.  The Middle East Quarterly describes itself as “a bold, insightful, and controversial publication.” A recent article on weapons of mass destruction claims that Syria “has more destructive capabilities” than Iraq or Iran. The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin “specializes in covering the seamy side of Lebanese and Syrian politics,”263 an effort aimed at depicting these regimes as worthy of forcible change by the U.S. or Israeli military. The MEF also targets universities through its campus speakers bureau, seeking to correct “inaccurate Middle Eastern curricula in American education,” by addressing “biases” and “basic errors” and providing “better information” than students can get from the many “irresponsible” professors that it believes lurk in U.S. universities.

The MEF is behind Campus Watch, an organization responsible for repressing academic discussion of Middle East issues at U.S. universities. Campus Watch compiles profiles on professors who criticize Israel: A major purpose is to “identify key faculty who teach and write about contemporary affairs at university Middle East Studies departments in order to analyze and critique the work of these specialists for errors or biases.” The MEF also develops “a network of concerned students and faculty members interested in promoting American interests on campus.”264

Again we see the rhetoric of universalism and a concern with “American interests” produced by people who are ethnically Jewish and vitally concerned with the welfare of Israel. Recently Campus Watch has decided to discontinue its dossiers because over one hundred professors asked to be included in their directory of suspicious people. Nevertheless, Campus Watch continues to print names of people whose views on the Middle East differ from theirs. The MEF, along with major Jewish activist organizations (the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League), has succeeded in getting the U.S. House of Representatives to overwhelmingly approve a bill that would authorize federal monitoring of government-funded Middle East studies programs throughout U.S. universities. The bill would establish a federal tribunal to investigate and monitor criticism of Israel on American college campuses.

Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA)

Rather than profile all of the many neoconservative think tanks and lobbying groups, I will describe JINSA as a prototypical example. JINSA attempts to “educate the American public about the importance of an effective U.S. defense capability so that our vital interests as Americans can be safeguarded [and to] inform the American defense and foreign affairs community about the important role Israel can and does play in bolstering democratic interests in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.”265  Typical of Jewish intellectual movements is that Jewish interests are submerged in a rhetoric of American interests and ethical universalism—in this case, the idea that Israel is a beacon of democracy.

In addition to a core of prominent neoconservative Jews (Stephen D. Bryen, Douglas Feith, Max Kampelman, Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, Richard Perle, Stephen Solarz), JINSA’s advisory board includes a bevy of non-Jewish retired U.S. military officers and a variety of non-Jewish political figures (e.g., Dick Cheney) and foreign policy analysts with access to the media (e.g., Jeane Kirkpatrick) who are staunch supporters of Israel. As is typical of Jewish intellectual movements, JINSA is well funded and has succeeded in bringing in high-profile non-Jews who often act as spokesmen for its policies. For example, the former head of the Iraq occupation government, General Jay Garner, signed a JINSA letter stating that “the Israel Defense Forces have exercised remarkable restraint in the face of lethal violence orchestrated by the leadership of [the] Palestinian Authority.”

JINSA reflects the recent trend of American Jewish activist groups not simply to support Israeli policies but to support the Israeli right wing. For JINSA, “‘regime change’ by any means necessary in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority is an urgent imperative. Anyone who dissents—be it Colin Powell’s State Department, the CIA or career military officers—is committing heresy against articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East—a hegemony achieved with the traditional Cold War recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action.”266 Note the exclusionary, us versus them attitude typical of the Jewish intellectual and political movements covered in The Culture of Critique.

Part of JINSA’s effectiveness comes from recruiting non-Jews who gain by increased defense spending or are willing to be spokesmen in return for fees and travel to Israel. The bulk of JINSA’s budget is spent on taking a host of retired U.S. generals and admirals to Israel, where JINSA facilitates meetings between Israeli officials and retired but still-influential U.S. flag officers. These officers then write op-ed pieces and sign letters and advertisements championing the Likudnik line. In one such statement, issued soon after the outbreak of the latest intifada, twenty-six JINSAns of retired flag rank, including many from the advisory board, struck a moralizing tone, characterizing Palestinian violence as a “perversion of military ethics” and holding that “America’s role as facilitator in this process should never yield to America’s responsibility as a friend to Israel,” because “friends don’t leave friends on the battlefield.”267 Sowing seeds for the future, JINSA also takes U.S. service academy cadets to Israel each summer and sponsors a lecture series at the Army, Navy, and Air Force academies. 

JINSA also patronizes companies in the defense industry that stand to gain by the drive for total war. “Almost every retired officer who sits on JINSA’s board of advisers or has participated in its Israel trips or signed a JINSA letter works or has worked with military contractors who do business with the Pentagon and Israel.”268  For example, JINSA advisory board members Adm. Leon Edney, Adm. David Jeremiah, and Lieut. Gen. Charles May, all retired, have served Northrop Grumman or its subsidiaries as either consultants or board members. Northrop Grumman has built ships for the Israeli Navy and sold F-16 avionics and E-2C Hawkeye planes to the Israeli Air Force, as well as the Longbow radar system to the Israeli Army for use in its attack helicopters. It also works with Tamam, a subsidiary of Israeli Aircraft Industries, to produce an unmanned aerial vehicle.

JINSA is supported not only by defense contractor money but also by deeply committed Zionists, notably Irving Moscowitz, the California bingo magnate who also provides financial support to the AEI. Moscowitz not only sends millions of dollars a year to far-right Israeli West Bank settler groups like Ateret Cohanim, he has also funded land purchases in key Arab areas around Jerusalem. Moscowitz provided the money that enabled the 1996 reopening of a tunnel under the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, which resulted in seventy deaths due to rioting. Also involved in funding JINSA is New York investment banker Lawrence Kadish, who also contributes to Republican causes. Again, we see the effects of the most committed Jews. People like  Moscowitz  have an enormous effect because they use their wealth to advance their people’s interests, a very common pattern among wealthy Jews.269

The integration of JINSA with the U.S. defense establishment can be seen in the program for its 2001 Jackson Award Dinner, an annual event named after Senator Henry Jackson that draws an “A-list” group of politicians and defense celebrities. At the dinner were representatives of U.S. defense industries (the dinner was sponsored by Boeing), as well as the following Defense Department personnel: Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz; Under Secretary of Defense Dov Zakheim (an ordained rabbi); Assistant Secretary of the Navy John Young; Dr. Bill Synder, the Chairman of the Defense Science Board; the Honorable Mark Rosenker, Senior Military Advisor to the President; Admiral William Fallon, Vice Chief of Naval Operations; General John Keane, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; General Michael Williams, Vice Commandant of the Marines; Lieutenant General Lance Lord, Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Also present were a large number of U.S. flag and general officers who were alumni of JINSA trips to Israel, as well as assorted Congressmen, a U.S. Senator, and a variety of Israeli military and political figures. The 2002 Jackson Award Dinner, sponsored by Northrup Grumman, honored Paul Wolfowitz. Dick Cheney was a previous recipient of the award.

JINSA is a good illustration of the point that whatever the deeply held beliefs of the non-Jews who are involved in the neoconservative movement, financial motives and military careerism are also of considerable importance—a testimony to the extent to which neoconservatism has permeated the political and military establishments of the United States. A similar statement could be made about the deep influence of neoconservatism among intellectuals generally.


The current situation in the United States is really an awesome display of Jewish power and influence. People who are very strongly identified as Jews maintain close ties to Israeli politicians and military figures and to Jewish activist organizations and pro-Israeli lobbying groups while occupying influential policy-making positions in the defense and foreign policy establishment. These same people, as well as a chorus of other prominent Jews, have routine access to the most prestigious media outlets in the United States. People who criticize Israel are routinely vilified and subjected to professional abuse.270

Perhaps the most telling feature of this entire state of affairs is the surreal fact that in this entire discourse Jewish identity is not mentioned. When Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Michael Rubin, William Safire, Robert Satloff, or the legions of other prominent media figures write their reflexively pro-Israel pieces in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Los Angeles Times, or opine on the Fox News Network, there is never any mention that they are Jewish Americans who have an intense ethnic interest in Israel. When Richard Perle authors a report for an Israeli think tank; is on the board of directors of an Israeli newspaper; maintains close personal ties with prominent Israelis, especially those associated with the Likud Party; has worked for an Israeli defense company; and, according to credible reports, was discovered by the FBI passing classified information to Israel—when, despite all of this, he is a central figure in the network of those pushing for wars to rearrange the entire politics of the Middle East in Israel’s favor, and with nary a soul having the courage to mention the obvious overriding Jewish loyalty apparent in Perle’s actions, that is indeed a breathtaking display of power.

One must contemplate the fact that American Jews have managed to maintain unquestioned support for Israel over the last thirty-seven years, despite Israel’s seizing land and engaging in a brutal suppression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories—an occupation that will most likely end with expulsion or complete subjugation, degradation, and apartheid. During the same period Jewish organizations in America have been a principal force—in my view the main force—for transforming America into a state dedicated to suppressing ethnic identification among Europeans, for encouraging massive multiethnic immigration into the U.S., and for erecting a legal system and cultural ideology that is obsessively sensitive to the complaints and interests of non-European ethnic minorities—the culture of the Holocaust.271 All this is done without a whisper of double standards in the aboveground media.

I have also provided a small glimpse of the incredible array of Jewish pro-Israel activist organizations, their funding, their access to the media, and their power over the political process. Taken as a whole, neoconservatism is an excellent illustration of the key traits behind the success of Jewish activism: ethnocentrism, intelligence and wealth, psychological intensity, and aggressiveness.272 Now imagine a similar level of organization, commitment, and funding directed toward changing the U.S. immigration system put into law in 1924 and 1952, or inaugurating the revolution in civil rights, or the post-1965 countercultural revolution: In the case of the immigration laws we see the same use of prominent non-Jews to attain Jewish goals, the same access to the major media, and the same ability to have a decisive influence on the political process by establishing lobbying organizations, recruiting non-Jews as important players, funneling financial and media support to political candidates who agree with their point of view, and providing effective leadership in government.273 Given this state of affairs, one can easily see how Jews, despite being a tiny minority of the U.S. population, have been able to transform the country to serve their interests. It’s a story that has been played out many times in Western history, but the possible effects now seem enormous, not only for Europeans but literally for everyone on the planet, as Israel and its hegemonic ally restructure the politics of the world.

History also suggests that anti-Jewish reactions develop as Jews increase their control over other peoples.274 As always, it will be fascinating to observe the dénouement.


I thank Samuel Francis for very helpful comments on the paper. I am also grateful to an expert on Leo Strauss for his comments—many of which were incorporated in the section on Leo Strauss. Unfortunately, at his request, he must remain anonymous. Finally, thanks to Theodore O’Keefe for his meticulous editorial work and his monumental patience.

Kevin MacDonald is Professor of Psychology, California State University (Long Beach), and the author of A People That Shall Dwell Alone (1994), Separation and Its Discontents (1998), and The Culture of Critique (1998), all published by Praeger.


Abrams, E. (1997). Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in a Christian America. New York: The Free Press.

Bamford, J. (2004). A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies. New York: Doubleday.

Bellow, S. (2000). Ravelstein. New York: Viking.

Besharov, D. J., & T. S. Sullivan. (1996). One flesh. New Democrat 8(4), 19–21.

Brenner, L. (1997). The Forward is backward: New York’s unclassifiable Jewish weekly. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June/July, 79–80.

Brownfield, A. C. (2003). Examining the role of Israel and its American friends in promoting war on Iraq. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May, 54, 57.

Buchanan, P. J. (2003). Whose war? A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest. American Conservative, March 24.

Buchanan, P. J. (2004). Going back where they came from. Antiwar.com, April 23. http://www.antiwar.com/ http://www.antiwar.com/pat/?articleid=2371

Christison, K., & B. Christison. (2003). A rose by another other name: The Bush administration’s dual loyalties. Counterpunch, Dec. 13. www.counterpunch.org/christison1213.html

Clarke, R. (2004). Against All Enemies. New York: Free Press.

Cockburn, A. (2003). My life as an anti-Semite. In A. Cockburn & J. St. Clair (eds.), The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Oakland, CA: Counterpunch/AK Press.

Cuddihy, J. M. (1974). The Ordeal of Civility: Freud, Marx, Levi-Strauss, and the Jewish Struggle with Modernity. New York: Basic Books.

Curtiss, R. H. (2003). The Pentagon’s dynamic duo: Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. Washington Report on  Middle East Affairs, April, 14–15, 90.

Dannhauser, W. J. (1996). Athens and Jerusalem or Jerusalem and Athens? In D. Novak (ed.), Leo Strauss and Judaism: Jerusalem and Athens Critically Revisited, 155–171. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Decter, M. (2003). Rumsfeld: A Personal Portrait. New York: Regan Books.

Dershowitz, A. (1994).  The betrayals of Jonathan Pollard. Penthouse, June.

Dizard, J. (2004). How Ahmed Chalabi conned the neocons. http://www.salon.com/, May 4.

Diggins, J. P. (2004). How Reagan beat the neocons. New York Times, June 11.

Draper, H. (1956). Israel’s Arab minority: The beginning of a tragedy. New International 22, 86–106.

Draper, H. (1957). The great land robbery. New International 23, 7–30.

Draper, H. (1990). Zionism, Israel, and the Arabs, preface to the 1990 ed. Berkeley, CA: s.n.; originally published, 1967.

Drew, E. (2003). The Neocons in power. New York Review of Books 50(10)(June 12); www.nybooks.com/articles/16378

Drucker, P. (1994). Max Shachtman and His Left: A Socialist’s Odyssey through the “American Century.”  Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International.

Drury, S. (1997). Leo Strauss and the American Right. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Easton, N. J. (2000). Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade.  New York: Simon & Schuster.

Ehrman, J. (1995). The Rise of Neoconservatism: Intellectuals and Foreign Affairs 1945–1994. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Ephron, D., & T. Lipper. (2002). Sharansky’s quiet role. Newsweek, July 15.

Findley, P. (1989). They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby, 2nd ed. Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books.

Francis, S. (1999). Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham. London: Claridge Press.

                     Rev. ed. of: Power and History, 1st ed. 1984.

Francis, S. (2004). The neoconservative subversion. In B. Nelson (ed.), “Neoconservatism.” Occasional Papers of the Conservative Citizens’ Foundation, Issue Number Six, 6–12. St. Louis: Conservative Citizens’ Foundation.

Friedman, M. (1995). What Went Wrong? The Creation and Collapse of the Black-Jewish Alliance. New York: Free Press.

Friedman, M. (2002). Democrats, maybe, but fewer liberals. Forward, June 7.

Frum, D. & R. Perle. (2003). An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror. New York: Random House.

Gerson, M.  (1996). Security and freedom: Making the world safe with Ronald Reagan. In M. Gerson (ed.), The Essential Neoconservative Reader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 161–162.

Glazer, N. (1969). Blacks, Jews and intellectuals. Commentary, April.

Goldberg, J. (2003). Jews and the war. National Review Online, March 13. www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg031303.asp

Green, S. (2004). Serving two flags: Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush administration. http://www.counterpunch.org/, February 28–29.

Hersh, S. M. (1982). Kissinger and Nixon in the White House. Atlantic Monthly 249(5), 35–58.

Hersh, S. M. (2003). Selective intelligence. New Yorker, May 12.

Hersh, S. M. (2004). Plan B: As June 30th approaches, Israel looks to the Kurds. New Yorker, June 28.

Hilzenrath, D. S. (2004). The ultimate insider. Washington Post, May 24, E1.

Himmelfarb, M. (1974). On Leo Strauss, Commentary58 (August), 60–66.

Hirsh, M. (2003). The Mideast: Neocons on the line. Newsweek, June 23.

Hollinger, D. A. (1996). Science, Jews, and Secular Culture: Studies in Mid-Twentieth- Century American Intellectual History. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 158.

Holmes, S. (1993). The Anatomy of Anti-Liberalism, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Hook, S. (1987). Out of Step: An Unquiet Life in the 20th Century. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.

Hook, S.  (1989). On being a Jew. Commentary 88 (October), 28–36.

Jaffa, H. (1999). Strauss at one hundred. In K. L. Deutsch & J. A. Murley (eds.), Leo Strauss, the Straussians, and the American Regime, 41–48. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Jones, N. (1996).  U.S. Jewish leaders decry Clinton refusal to free Pollard. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October.

Kamen, A. (2003). Feith-based initiative. Washington Post, Sept. 10, A17.


Kaplan, L. F. (2003).  Toxic talk on war. Washington Post, Feb. 18.

Kaufman, R. G. (2000). Henry M. Jackson: A Life In Politics. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Keller, B. (2002). The sunshine warrior. New York Times Magazine, Sept. 22. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30D13FE3C540C718EDDA00894DA404482

Kessler, E. J. (2004). Campaign confidential. Forward, March 19.

Kirkpatrick, J. (1979/1996). Dictatorships and double standards. Commentary, November. Reprinted in Gerson, M. (ed.) (1996). The Essential Neoconservative Reader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 163–189.

Klehr, H. (1978). Communist Cadre: The Social Background of the American Communist Party Elite. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press.

Krauthammer, C. (2002). Please excuse the Jews for living. Jerusalem Post, April 29.

Krauthammer, C. (2004a). Gibson’s blood libel. Washington Post, Mar. 5, A23.

Krauthammer, C. (2004b). Democratic Realism: An American Foreign Policy for a Unipolar World. DC: The AEI Press.

Kristol, I. (2003).  The neoconservative persuasion. Weekly Standard, August 25.

Kwiatkowski, K. (2004a). Open door policy. American Conservative, January 19.

Kwiatkowski, K. (2004b). The new Pentagon papers. www.Salon.com, March 10.

Laughland, J. (2003). Flirting with fascism: Neocon theorist Michael Ledeen draws more from Italian fascism than from the American right. American Conservative, June 30.

Ledeen, M. (2002). War on the Terror Masters: Why It Happened, Where We Are Now, Why We’ll Win. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Levine, D. L. (1994). Without malice but with forethought. In Deutsch & Nicgorski (eds.), Leo Strauss: Political Philosopher and Jewish Thinker. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Liebman, A. (1979). Jews and the Left. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Lind, M. (2003). I was smeared. History News Network, June 30.  http://hnn.us/articles/1530.html

Lindemann, A. (1997). Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews. New York, Cambridge University Press.

Lobe, J. (2002a). The anniversary of a neo-imperial moment. AlterNet.org, September 12. www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14099

Lobe, J. (2002b). Bush’s trusty new Mideast point man. Asia Times, Dec. 19. www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DL19Ak01.html

Lobe, J. (2003a). All in the family. Inter Press Service News Agency, March 7. www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=16545

Lobe J. (2003b). Pentagon office home to neo-con network. Inter Press Service News Agency, August 7. www.ipsnews.net/login.asp?redir=http://domino.ips.org/ips\eng.nsf/vwWebMainView/2F8D888E164F32B7C1256D7B001BB6F0/?OpenDocument

Lobe, J. (2003c). What is a neoconservative anyway? Inter Press Service News Agency, August 12; www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=19618

Locke, R. (2002). Leo Strauss, conservative mastermind. FrontPageMagazine.com. May 31.

MacDonald, K. B. (1998/2002). The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. Paperback edition of the 1998 Praeger edition, with a new preface. Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library.

MacDonald, K. B. (1998/2004). Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism. Paperback edition of the 1998 Praeger edition, with a new preface. Bloomington, IN: 1stbooks Library.

MacDonald, K. B. (2002). What makes Western culture unique? Occidental Quarterly 2(2), 9–38.

MacDonald, K. B. (2003a). Understanding Jewish activism I: Background traits for Jewish activism. Occidental Quarterly 2(3), 5–38.

MacDonald, K. (2003b). Understanding Jewish activism II: Zionism and the internal dynamics of Judaism. Occidental Quarterly 3(3), 15–44.

MacDonald, K. (2003c). Thinking about neoconservatism. http://www.vdare.com/, Sept. 18; www.vdare.com/misc/macdonald_neoconservatism.htm

MacDonald, K. (in press). Jews, blacks, and race. In S. Francis (ed.), Race and the American Future: Essays on the Racial Realities of Our Nation and Our Time. Augusta, GA: Washington Summit Press.

Mann, J. (2004). Rise of the Vulcans. New York: Viking.

Marshall, R. (2004). Sharon offers the Palestinians a prison camp and calls it peace. Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, March, 6–8.

Massing, M. (1987). Trotsky’s orphans. New Republic, June 22.

Massing, M. (2002). Deal breakers, American Prospect, March 11. www.prospect.org/print/V13/5/massing-m.html

Miele, F. (2002). Intelligence, Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur Jensen. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Milbank, D. (2002). A sound bite so good, the president wishes he said it. Washington Post, July 2. A13. www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A11253-2002Jul1&notFound=true

Milstein, M. H. (1991). Strategic ties or tentacles? Institute for National Security Affairs. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, October 27.

Moore, J. (2004). How Chalabi and the White House held the front page: The New York Times has burned its reputation on a pyre of lies about Iraq. Guardian, May 29. www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1227334,00.html

Morris, S. L. (2003). Shipwrecked: Swimming with sharks in a sea of arts funding, LA Weekly, June 27–July 3. www.laweekly.com/ink/03/32/news-morris.php

Moynihan, D. P. (1975/1996). Statement by Ambassador Daniel P. Moynihan, United States Representative to the United Nations, in Plenary, in Response to the United Nations Resolution Equating Zionism and Racial Discrimination, November 10, 1975. Reprinted in M. Gerson (ed.). The Essential Neoconservative Reader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1996, 93–99.

Muravchik, J. (2002). Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. San Francisco: Encounter Books.

Muravchik, J. (2003). The neoconservative cabal. Commentary, September.

Neuringer, S. M. (1980). American Jewry and United States Immigration Policy, 1881–1953. New York: Arno Press, 1980.

North, G. (2003). An introduction to neoconservatism. LewRockwell.com, June 10 www.lewrockwell.com/north/north180.html.

Oberg, J. (2003). Do you want to know who the Americans running Iraq really are? The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research, May 14. www.transnational.org/pressinf/2003/pf183_AmericansInIraqPart2.html.

Okrent, D. (2004). Weapons of mass destruction? Or mass distraction? New York Times, May 30.

Patai, R., & J. Patai (1989). The Myth of the Jewish Race, first edition published in 1975. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.

Paul, R. (2003). National Endowment for Democracy: Paying to make enemies for America. www. antiwar.com, Oct. 11.   www.antiwar.com/paul/paul79.html.

Pincus, W., & D. Priest. (2003). Some Iraq analysts felt pressure from Cheney visits. Washington Post, June 5.

Pipes, D. (2001). The danger within: Militant Islam in America. Commentary, November.

Prometheus Research Library (2002). Dog Days: James P. Cannon vs. Max Shachtman in the Communist League of America 1931–1933. New York: Prometheus Research Library.

Risen, J. How pair’s finding on terror led to clash on shaping intelligence. New York Times, April 28.

Rosenblum, J. (2002). The power of an idea. Jewish Media Resources, July 5. www.jewishmediaresources.com/article/488/

Rosenblum, J. (2003). A vision in tatters. Jewish Media Resources, June 20. www.jewishmediaresources.com/article/591/

Rothman, S., & S. R. Lichter (1982). Roots of Radicalism: Jews, Christians, and the New Left. New York: Oxford University Press.

Saba, M. P. (1984). The Armageddon Network. Brattleboro, NH: Amana Books.

Samber, S. (2000). Cheney has earned Jewish leaders’ respect. Jewish World Review, July 26. www.jewishworldreview.com

Schlesinger, A. (1947). The Vital Center: The Politics of Freedom. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Sims, B. (1992). Workers of the World Undermined: American Labor’s Role in U.S. Foreign Policy. Boston: South End Press.

Steinlight, S. (2001). The Jewish Stake in America’s Changing Demography: Reconsidering a Misguided Immigration Policy. Washington DC: Center for Immigration Studies.

Steinlight, S. (2004). High noon to midnight: Why current immigration policy dooms American Jewry. Center for Immigration Studies, April. www.cis.org/articles/2004/back404.html#Author

Strauss, L. (1952). Persecution and the Art of Writing. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Strauss, L. (1962/1994). Why we remain Jews: Can Jewish faith and history still speak to us? In K. L. Deutsch & W. Nicgorski (eds.), Leo Strauss: Political Philosopher and Jewish Thinker, 43–79. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (Based on a lecture given on February 4, 1962, at the Hillel Foundation, University of Chicago.)

Svonkin, S. (1997). Jews against Prejudice: American Jews and the Fight for Civil Liberties. New York: Columbia University Press.

Tarcov, N., & T. L. Pangle. (1987). Epilogue: Leo Strauss and the history of political philosophy. In History of Political Philosophy, 3rd ed., L. Strauss & J. Cropsey (eds.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 909–910.

Tifft, S. E., & A. S. Jones. (1999). The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family behind the New York Times. Boston: Little Brown & Co.

Tucker, R. W. (1999). Alone or with others: The temptations of post-cold war power. Foreign Affairs78(6).

Vann, B. (2003). The historical roots of neoconservatism: a reply to a slanderous attack on Trotskyism. World Socialist Website, May 23. www.wsws.org/articles/2003/may2003/shac-m23_prn.shtml.

Vest, J. (2002). The men from JINSA and CSP. Nation, Aug. 15, 2002. www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020902&c=1&s=vest

Wald, A. (2003). Are Trotskyites running the Pentagon? History News Network, June 23.  http://hnn.us/articles/1514.html 

Waldman, P. (2004). An historian’s take on Islam steers U.S. in terrorism fight: Bernard Lewis’ blueprint—sowing Arab democracy—is facing a test in Iraq. Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3.

Wattenberg, B. (1984). The Good News Is the Bad News Is Wrong. Washington, DC: AEI Press.

Wattenberg, B. (2001). Melt. Melting. Melted. Jewish World Review, March 19. www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/wattenberg031901.asp

Whitaker, B. (2002). US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy. Guardian, Aug. 19. www.sovereignty.org.uk/siteinfo/newsround/iraq4.html

Wilson, J. C. (2004). The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity—A Diplomat’s Memoir. New York: Carroll & Graf.

Wisse, R. (1981/1996). The delegitimation of  Israel. Commentary, October. Reprinted in M. Gerson (ed.), The Essential Neoconservative Reader. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 190–208.

Woodward, B. (2004). Plan of Attack. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Wrezin, M. (1994). A Rebel in Defense of Tradition: The Life and Politics of Dwight Macdonald. New York: Basic Books.

Yinon, O. (1982). A strategy for Israel in the 1980s, trans. and edited by I. Shahak. Belmont, MA: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, Inc.  www.geocities.com/alabasters_archive/zionist_plan.html.


1. MacDonald 2003a.

2. MacDonald 2003b.

3. MacDonald 1998/2002.

4. Muravchik (2003) describes and critiques the idea of Trotsky’s influence among neoconservatives.

5. Steinlight 2004.

6. Friedman 2002; Young Jewish Leadership Political Action Committee (http://yjlpac.org/dc/fyi.htm).

7. Kessler 2004.

8. Horrigan, “Bush increases margins with AIPAC.” United Press International, May 18, 2004.


9. See  Buchanan 2004.

10. Buchanan 2004.

11. B. Wattenberg interview with Richard Perle, PBS, November 14, 2002 (www.pbs.org/thinktank/transcript1017.html). The entire relevant passage from the interview follows. Note Perle’s odd argument that it was not in Israel’s interest that the U.S. invade Iraq because Saddam Hussein posed a much greater threat to Israel than the U.S.

Ben Wattenberg: As this argument has gotten rancorous, there is also an undertone that says that these neoconservative hawks, that so many of them are Jewish. Is that valid and how do you handle that?

Richard Perle: Well, a number are. I see Trent Lott there and maybe that’s Newt Gingrich, I’m not sure, but by no means uniformly.

Ben Wattenberg: Well, and of course the people who are executing policy, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Connie Rice, they are not Jewish at last report.
Richard Perle: No, they’re not. Well, you’re going to find a disproportionate number of Jews in any sort of intellectual undertaking.

Ben Wattenberg: On both sides.

Richard Perle: On both sides. Jews gravitate toward that and I’ll tell you if you balance out the hawkish Jews against the dovish ones, then we are badly outnumbered, badly outnumbered. But look, there’s clearly an undertone of anti-Semitism about it. There’s no doubt.
Ben Wattenberg: Well, and the linkage is that this war on Iraq if it comes about would help Israel and that that’s the hidden agenda, and that’s sort of the way that works.
Richard Perle: Well, sometimes there’s an out and out accusation that if you take the view that I take and some others take towards Saddam Hussein, we are somehow motivated not by the best interest of the United States but by Israel’s best interest. There’s not a logical argument underpinning that. In fact, Israel is probably more exposed and vulnerable in the context of a war with Saddam than we are because they’re right next door. Weapons that Saddam cannot today deliver against us could potentially be delivered against Israel. And for a long time the Israelis themselves were very reluctant to take on Saddam Hussein. I’ve argued this issue with Israelis. But it’s a nasty line of argument to suggest that somehow we’re confused about where our loyalties are.

Ben Wattenberg: It’s the old dual loyalty argument.

12. Chalabi’s status with the neocons is in flux because of doubts about his true allegiances. See Dizard 2004.

13. MacDonald 1998/2002, Chs. 3, 7; Klehr 1978, 40; Liebman 1979, 527ff; Neuringer 1980, 92; Rothman & Lichter 1982, 99; Svonkin 1997, 45, 51, 65, 71–72.

14. Lindemann 1997, 433.

15. Wrezin 1994.

16. MacDonald 1998/2002, Ch. 7; Hollinger 1996, 158.

17. In Hook 1987, 215. For information on Lubin, see: http://centaur.vri.cz/news/prilohy/pril218.htm.

18. Mann 2004, 197.

19. “Not in the Newsroom: CanWest, Global, and Freedom of Expression in Canada.” Canadian Journalists for Free Expression: www.cjfe.org/specials/canwest/canw2.html; April 2002.

20. Bamford 2004, 281.

21. Moore 2004.

22. In B. Lamb interview of Judith Miller on Bootnotes.org, June 17, 1990. www.booknotes.org/Transcript/?ProgramID=1008.

23. The Times and Iraq. New York Times, May 26, 2004, A10. Okrent (2004) notes that the story was effectively buried by printing it on p. A10.

24. Okrent 2004.

25. See examples in MacDonald 1998/2002, Preface to the first paperback edition.

26. Tifft & Jones 1999, 38.

27. MacDonald 2003b; Massing 2002.

28. Massing 2002.

29. Cockburn 2003.

30. Cockburn 2003.

31. Massing 2002.

32. Jerusalem Report, May 5, 2003. http://www.adl.org/anti_semitism/as_simple.asp

33.ADL Urges Senator Hollings to Disavow Statements on Jews and the Iraq War. ADL press release, May 14, 2004; www.adl.org/PresRele/ASUS_12/4496_12.htm.  These sentiments were shortly followed by a similar assessment by the American Board of Rabbis which “drafted a resolution demanding that Senator Hollings immediately resign his position in the Senate, and further demanded that the Democratic Party condemn Hollings’ blatant and overt anti-Semitism, as well” (USA Today, May 24, 2004) www.capwiz.com/usatoday/bio/userletter/?letter_id=92235631&content_dir=congressorg; the American Board of Rabbis is an Orthodox Jewish group that regards Sharon’s policies as too lenient and advocates assassination of all PLO leaders: see www.angelfire.com/ny2/abor/  An article of mine on this issue (MacDonald 2003c), published by Vdare.com, was also said to be “anti-Semitic” by the Southern Poverty Law Center: “Civil rights group condemns work of CSULB professor”; Daily Forty-Niner (California State University–Long Beach) 54(119), May 16, 2004. www.csulb.edu/~d49er/archives/2004/spring/news/volLIVno119-civil.shtml

34. Daily Google-News searches from May 6, 2004 to May 29, 2004. During this period, several articles on the topic appeared in the Forward, and there were articles in the Baltimore Jewish Times and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Summary articles written in the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz more than three weeks after the incident focused on anxiety among American Jews that Jews would be blamed for the Iraq war. (J. Zacharia, “Jews fear being blamed for Iraq war,” Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2004; N. Guttman, Prominent U.S. Jews, Israel blamed for start of Iraq War,” Ha'aretzMay 31, 2004).There were no articles on this topic in Hollinger-owned media in the United States.

35. www.wiesenthal.com/social/press/pr_item.cfm?itemID=7323

36. Morris 2003. 

37. Goldberg 2003; Kaplan 2003; Lind 2003; Wald 2003.

38. Francis 2004, 9.

39. In Francis 2004, 9.

40. Buchanan 2003.

41. Muravchik 2003.

42. See MacDonald 1998/2002, Ch. 4.

43. North 2003.

44. In Drucker 1994, 25.

45. Cannon was not Jewish but lived his life in a very Jewish milieu. He was married to Rose Karsner.

46. Drucker 1994, 43; “A younger, Jewish Trotskyist milieu began to form around him in New York” (35).

47. In Drucker 1994, 43.

48.  Francis 1999, 52.

49. Drucker 219.

50. Drucker, 261.

51. Drucker, 179.

52. Drucker, 288.

53. In Drucker, 305.

54. Vann 2003.

55. A short history of the Socialist Party USA. http://sp-usa.org/spri/sp_usa_history.htm As with everything else, there was an evolution of their views on Zionism. The Shachtmanite journal, the New International, published two articles by Hal Draper (1956, 1957) that were quite critical of Israel; this journal ceased publication in 1958 when the Shachtmanites merged with the Socialist Party USA.

56. Brenner 1997.

57. Massing 1987.

58. This led to the resignations of many and the eventual reconstruction of the Socialist Party USA with the left wing of the former organization.

59. Sims 1992, 46ff.; Massing 1987. 

60. Sims 1992, 46.

61. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, AEI biography: www.aei.org/scholars/filter.all,scholarID.32/scholar2.asp

62. Kaufman 2000, 296

63. Forward, August 20, 1999.

64. C. Gershman. A democracy strategy for the Middle East. www.ned.org/about/carl/dec1203.html; Dec. 12, 2003.

65. C. Gershman. After the bombings: My visit to Turkey and Istanbul’s Jewish community. www.ned.org/about/carl/dec2703.html Dec. 27, 2003.

66. Massing 1987.

67. Paul 2003.

68. For democracy in Iraq and the Middle East. Resolution of January 2003. http://www.socialdemocrats.org/Iraq.html.

69. Muravchik 2002.

70. M. Kampelman. Trust the United Nations? Undated; available at www.socialdemocrats.org/kampelmanhtml.html as of May 2004. The article has the following description of Kampelman: Max M. Kampelman was counselor of the State Department; U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe; and ambassador and U.S. negotiator with the Soviet Union on Nuclear and Space Arms. He is now chairman emeritus of Freedom House; the American Academy of Diplomacy; and the Georgetown University Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

71. Ehrman 1995.

72. Schlesinger 1947, 256.

73. Hook 1987, 432–460; Ehrman, 47.

74. Ehrman, 50.

75. Tucker (1999) later argued that the United States should avoid the temptations of dominion in a unipolar world. It should attempt to spread democracy by example rather than force, and should achieve broad coalitions for its foreign policy endeavors.

76. Gerson 1996, 161–162.

77. Kristol 2003.

78. See Ehrman 1995, 63–96. Moynihan was especially close to Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary, who was Moynihan’s “unofficial advisor and writer” during his stint as UN ambassador (Ehrman 1995, 84).

79. Moynihan 1975/1996.

80. Miele 2002, 36–38.

81. Moynihan 1975/1996, 96.

82. See MacDonald 1998/2004, Ch. 5; MacDonald 2003.

83. See MacDonald 1998/2004, Ch. 5; MacDonald 2003. 

84. Patai & Patai 1989. See discussion in MacDonald 1998/2004, Ch. 7.

85. Gerson 1996, 162.

86. Wisse 1981/1996.

87. Wisse 1981/1996, 192.

88. Wisse 1981/1996, 193.

89. Wisse 1981/1996, 193.

90. Wisse singles out Arthur Hertzberg as an example of an American Jew critical of Begin’s government. Hertzberg continues to be a critic of Israeli policies, especially of the settlement movement. In a New York Times op-ed piece “The price of not keeping peace” of August, 27, 2003, Hertzberg urges the United States to cease funding the expansion of Jewish settlements while also preventing the Palestinians' access to foreign funds used for violence against Israel:

The United States must act now to disarm each side of the nasty things that they can do to each other. We must end the threat of the settlements to a Palestinian state of the future. The Palestinian militants must be forced to stop threatening the lives of Israelis, wherever they may be. A grand settlement is not in sight, but the United States can lead both parties to a more livable, untidy accommodation.

91. Reviewed in MacDonald 2003.

92. See Friedman 1995, 257ff.

93. Friedman 1995, 72.

94. MacDonald, in press. In recent years mainstream Jewish groups such as the AJCommittee have supported some forms of affirmative action, as in the recent University of Michigan of 2003 case.

95. Glazer 1969, 36.

96. Friedman 1995, 230.

97. Liebman 1979, 561; MacDonald 1998/2002, Ch. 3.

98. Ehrman 1995, 38.

99. Ehrman 43.

100. Ehrman, 46

101. Ehrman, 174.

102. Francis 2004, 7.

103. Francis 2004, 9.

104. Francis 2004, 11–12.

105. MacDonald 1998/2002, preface to the paperback edition and Ch. 7.

106. Wattenberg 1984, 84.

107. Pipes 2001; see also Pipes’ Middle East Forum website: http://www.meforum.org/; Steinlight 2001, 2004.

108. In Buchanan 2004.

109. Ibid.

110. Ehrman, 62.

111. In Kaufman 2000, 13.

112. Kaufman 2000, 263.

113. Kaufman 2000, 47.

114. Kaufman 2000, 295. Kaufman footnotes the last assertion with a reference to an interview with Daniel Patrick Moynihan, July 28, 1996.

115. Hersh 1982.

116. Kaufman 2000, 172; Waldman 2004.

117. Z. Brzezinski, in Kaufman 2000, 351.

118. Kaufman 2000, 374. Despite his strong support for Israel, Jackson drew the line at support for the Likud Party, which came into power in 1977 with the election of Menachem Begin. Whereas the Likud policy has been to seize as much of the West Bank as possible and relegate the Palestinians to isolated, impotent Bantustan-like enclaves, Jackson favored full sovereignty for the Palestinians on the West Bank, except for national security and foreign policy.

119. Kaufman 2000, 375.

120. Moynihan was expelled from the movement in 1984 because he softened his foreign policy line (Ehrman 1995, 170).

121. Kaufman 2000, 308.

122. Ehrman 1995, 95.

123. Diggins 2004.

124. Kaufman 2000, 446.

125. Ibid., 447.

126. It’s interesting that Commentary continued to write of a Soviet threat even after the fall of the Soviet Union, presumably because they feared a unipolar world in which Israel could not be portrayed as a vital ally of the United States (Ehrman 1995, 175–176).

127. Ehrman 1995, 181.

128. Ehrman 1995, 182.

129. Kirkpatrick 1979/1996.

130. Ibid., 71.

131. MacDonald 2002.

132. Ehrman 1995, 192.

133. Ehrman 1995, 197.

134. Lobe 2003a.

135. Strauss 1962/1994. 

136. Ibid., 44.

137. Dannhauser 1996, 160.

138. Dannhauser 1996, 169–170; italics in text. Dannhauser concludes the passage by noting, “I know for I am one of them.” Dannhauser poses the Athens/Jerusalem dichotomy as a choice between “the flatland of modern science, especially social science, and the fanaticism in the Mea Shaarim section of Jerusalem (incidentally, I would prefer the latter)” (p. 160).

139. Strauss 1962/1994;Tarcov & Pangle 1987; Holmes 1993, 61–87.

140. Holmes 1993, 63.

141. In Jaffa 1999, 44.

142. Himmelfarb (1974, 61): “There are many excellent teachers. They have students. Strauss had disciples.” Levine 1994, 354: “This group has the trappings of a cult. After all, there is a secret teaching and the extreme seriousness of those who are ‘initiates.’” See also Easton 2000, 38; Drury 1997, 2.  

143. Strauss 1952, 36.

144. Drury 1997; Holmes 1993; Tarcov & Pangle 1987, 915. Holmes summarizes this thesis as follows (74): “The good society, on this model, consists of the sedated masses, the gentlemen rulers, the promising puppies, and the philosophers who pursue knowledge, manipulate the gentlemen, anesthetize the people, and housebreak the most talented young.”

145. Easton 2000, 45, 183.

146. Holmes 1993, 74.

147. Levine 1994, 366.

148. Strauss 1952, Ch. 2.

149. MacDonald 1998/2002.

150. See MacDonald 1998/2002, Ch. 7.

151. MacDonald 1998/2002, passim.

152. Massing 1987.

153. Hook 1987, 46.

154. Hook 1987, 123.

155. Hook 1987, 179.

156. Hook 1987, 244.

157. Hook 1987, 246.

158. Hook 1987, 598.

159. Muravchik 2002.

160. Hook 1987, 600.

161. Hook 1989.

162. MacDonald 1998/2002, Ch. 6.

163. Hook 1987, 420: Anti-Semitism in the USSR “had a sobering effect upon intellectuals of Jewish extraction, who had been disproportionately represented among dissidents and radicals.”

164. Hook 1989, 480–481.

165. Saba 1984.

166. Green 2004.

167. Saba 1984; Green 2004.

168. Dershowitz 1994; Jones 1996. 

169. Green 2004.

170. Frum & Perle 2003.

171. Krauthammer. Democratic realism: An American foreign policy for a unipolar world. Irving Kristol lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, Feb. 10, 2004.

172. Ibid.

173. See MacDonald 1998/2002, Chaps. 7, 8.

174. Krauthammer. He tarries: Jewish messianism and the Oslo peace. Lecture given at Bar-Ilan University, June 10, 2002; www.biu.ac.il/Spokesman/Krauthammer-text.html; see also Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2002.

175. See MacDonald 2003a, 2003b.

176. Krauthammer 2002.

177. Krauthammer 2004a.

178. Mann 2004, 23.

179. Hirsh 2003.

180. Mann 2004, 23, 30.

181. Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz interview with Sam Tannenhaus of Vanity Fair, May 9, 2003. United States Department of Defense News Transcript.


182. Ephron & Lipper 2002.

183. Curtiss 2003.

184. Locke 2002.

185. Locke 2002.

186. Bellow 2000, 27.

187. Bellow 2000, 56.

188. Bellow 2000, 103.

189. Bellow 2000, 101.

190. Cuddihy 1974. See Bellow 2000, 57–58.

191. Bellow 2000, 174.

192. Bellow 2000, 61. 

193. Bellow 2000, 178–179.

194. Bellow 2000, 179.

195. Bellow 2000, 58.

196. Keller 2002.

197. Green 2004.

198. Ibid., 139–164.

199. Woodward 2004, 21.

200. Mann 2004, 302.

201. Clarke 2004, 32.

202. Christison & Christison 2003.

203. Ibid.

204. Muravchik 2003.

205. Mann 2004, 170; see also 79–81; 113. 

206. Perle interview on BBC’s Panorama, in Lobe 2003c. 

207. Findley 1989, 160; Green 2004.

208. Hilzenrath 2004.

209. Oberg 2003.

210. Brownfield 2003.

211. Muravchik, 2003.

212. Hilzenrath 2004.

213. A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies Report, 1996. http://www.iasps.org/; see: www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm.

214. Yinon 1982.

215. Wilson 2004, 484; Wilson suggests that Scooter Libby or Elliott Abrams revealed that his wife, Valerie Plame was a CIA agent in retaliation for Wilson’s failure to find evidence supporting purchase of material for nuclear weapons by Iraq.

216. Hersh 2004.

217. Lobe 2002b.

218. Ehrman 1995, 139.

219. Besharov & Sullivan 1996, 21; Besharov apparently did not take a position as moderator of a debate between Elliott Abrams and Seymour Martin Lipset on whether the American Jewish community could survive only as a religious community (the Diamondback, student newspaper at the University of Maryland, College Park, MD, Dec. 9, 1997; www.inform.umd.edu/News/Diamondback/1997-editions/12-December-editions/971209-Tuesday/NWS-Flagship). Another prominent neocon, Ben Wattenberg, who is a senior fellow at AEI, is very upbeat about interracial marriage and immigration generally—the better to create a “universal nation” (Wattenberg 2001). Wattenberg’s article notes, with no apparent concern, that Jews have high rates of intermarriage as well.

220. Abrams 1997, ix.

221. See MacDonald 1998/2002, preface to the First Paperback Edition and chap. 7.

222. Abrams 1997, 188.

223. Risen 2004.

224. Kwiatkowski 2004b.  

225. Kwiatkowski 2004a.

226. Bamford 2004, 279.


228. Kamen 2003.

229. Dizard 2004. Dizard notes:

Why did the neocons put such enormous faith in Ahmed Chalabi, an exile with a shady past and no standing with Iraqis? One word: Israel. They saw the invasion of Iraq as the precondition for a reorganization of the Middle East that would solve Israel’s strategic problems, without the need for an accommodation with either the Palestinians or the existing Arab states. Chalabi assured them that the Iraqi democracy he would build would develop diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, and eschew Arab nationalism. Now some influential allies believe those assurances were part of an elaborate con, and that Chalabi has betrayed his promises on Israel while cozying up to Iranian Shia leaders.

230. Friends of Israel are turning up in the strangest places. American Conservative, May 24, 2004, 19.

231. Mann 2004, 75.

232. Kwiatkowski 2004b. Hersh 2003: “‘They [the CIA] see themselves as outsiders,’ a former C.I.A. expert who spent the past decade immersed in Iraqi-exile affairs said of the Special Plans people.”

233. Lobe 2003c.

234. Marshall 2004: “Shlomo Brom, a former Israeli intelligence officer now at the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, has confirmed that Israeli intelligence played a major role in bolstering the administration’s case for attacking Iraq. The problem, Brom maintains, is that the information was not reliable.”

235. E.g., Hersh 2003; Bamford 2004.

236. See Green 2004.

237. Green 2004.

238. Milstein 1991.

239. Laughland 2003.

240. Ledeen 2002.

241. See Bamford 2004, 96–101, 138–145.

242. Waldman 2004.

243. Waldman 2004.

244. See MacDonald 2002.

245. Lewis 2002.

246. Waldman 2004.

247. Woodward 2004, 416

248. PNAC Letter to President Clinton, Jan. 26, 1998 www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm;  PNAC Letter to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, May 29, 1998 www.newamericancentury.org/iraqletter1998.htm

249. Samber 2000.

250. Ibid.

251. Rosenblum 2002. See also Milbank 2002. In a later column, Rosenblum (2003) noted,

Now [Sharansky] delivered the same message to Cheney: No matter how many conditions Bush placed on the creation of a Palestinian state under Arafat, any such announcement would constitute a reward for two years of non-stop terror against Israeli civilians. The normally laconic Cheney shot to attention when he heard these words. ‘But your own government has already signed off on this,’ he told Sharansky, confirming the latter’s worst suspicions. Sharansky nevertheless repeated, as Cheney scribbled notes, that without the removal of Arafat and the entire junta from Tunis, the creation of an atmosphere in which Palestinians could express themselves without fear of reprisal, and the cessation of incitement against Israel in the Palestinian schools and media peace is impossible. President Bush’s upcoming speech had already undergone 30 drafts at that point. It was about to undergo another crucial shift based on Sharansky’s conversation with Cheney. Two days later, on June 24, 2002, President Bush announced at the outset, ‘Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership.’ He did not mention Yasir Arafat once.

252. Drew 2003. 

253. Woodward 2004, 409–412.

254. www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter-040302.htm; other signatories include William Kristol, Gary Bauer, Jeffrey Bell, William J. Bennett, Ellen Bork, Linda Chavez, Eliot Cohen, Midge Decter, Thomas Donnelly, Nicholas Eberstadt, Hillel Fradkin, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Charles Hill, Bruce P. Jackson, Donald Kagan, Robert Kagan, John Lehman, Tod Lindberg, Rich Lowry, Clifford May, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Richard Perle, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Stephen P. Rosen, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, William Schneider, Jr., Marshall Wittmann, R. James Woolsey.

255. United States National Security Background Guide; University of Chicago: Chicago Model United Nations VI, Feb. 13, 2001; http://chomun.uchicago.edu/committees/NSC_back.pdf


256. Pincus & Priest 2003; Bamford 2004, 368–370.

257. Keller 2002; see also Woodward 2004, 48.

258. Lobe 2002a; Mann 2004, 208–210.

259. Decter 2003, 41–43.

260. ZOA news release, Aug. 7, 2002. ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said:  “Israel has the greater historical, legal, and moral right to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.  At the very least, those areas should be called disputed territories, not occupied territories, since the term ‘occupied’ clearly suggests that the ‘occupier’ has no right to be there.  We strongly applaud Secretary Rumsfeld's courageous and principled stance in distancing himself from the ‘occupied territory’ fallacy.” www.zoa.org/pressrel2002/20020807a.htm.

261. Woodward 2004, 416.

262. http://www.danielpipes.org/.

263. Whitaker 2002.

264. http://www.campus-watch.org/.

265. http://www.jinsa.org/.

266. Vest 2002.

267. Vest ibid.

268. Vest ibid.

269. See MacDonald 2003a.

270. Findley 1989; MacDonald 2003a.

271. See MacDonald 1998/2002, preface.

272. MacDonald 2003a.

273. MacDonald, 1998/2002, chap. 7.

274. MacDonald 1998/2004.