According to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the U.S. government “is controlled by the wealthy Zionist individuals and corporate owners,” while Khamenei’s supposedly moderate foreign minister Javad Zarif has tweeted that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) “dictates U.S. and Western policy in the Middle East.” Such assertions of nefarious “Zionist” power have had much purchase in the Middle East since the early 20th century, and have long been present in America as well. If anything, Mark Dubowitz writes, they have become more mainstream in recent years:
The idea that the “Israel Lobby” runs Washington was made semi-respectable over a decade ago by Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer, two professors at the summit of U.S. academia. To this day, it is Jewish policymakers such as Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle who are widely blamed for drawing the U.S. into the Iraq War, despite their being (respectively) second-, third-, and fourth-tier officials in the Bush administration, while all the principals—George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, et al.—were Christians. The Obama administration did much the same when its chief spin-doctor Ben Rhodes decried Jewish-American opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal. One leading American broadsheet lent a helping hand when it listed the Jewish religion of those Democratic lawmakers who opposed the deal—with graphics to match.
Who can blame Khamenei and his minions for believing in cosmic Jewish powers when so many respectable Washington insiders, in government and the media, seem to believe in them as well?
Yet the malignant perception of overwhelming Jewish power comes with a hidden but potent benefit. . . . If Khamenei, Hamas, and Hizballah prefer to believe that Jews pull all the big levers of American might, it only feeds a mindset of paranoia and illogic that is usually self-defeating. It might even give them more reason to fear us than to fight us.