Commentary Magazine


A New Low for The Nation

It’s always worth mentioning — and bears repeating — that The Nation magazine’s chief national security reporter, Robert Dreyfuss, was the former Middle East Editor of Executive Intelligence Review, the newspaper of fringe-movement leader and convicted tax felon Lyndon LaRouche. Now, youthful political dalliances should not prevent one from being taken seriously in the court of public opinion. But what makes Dreyfuss’s history relevant is that his contemporary writings are indistinguishable from the sort of bile you’d find in a LaRouchite tract.

Anyway, Dreyfuss sinks to a new low in the current issue of The Nation. There’s nothing wrong with using the phrase “Israel Lobby” to describe the constellation of organizations (all supported by American citizens, something that can’t be said of the Lobby whose pecuniary courtesies got Chas Freeman into so much trouble) committed to supporting strong U.S.-Israel ties. But use of “Zionist Lobby” is the sort of terminology that one finds only in the precincts of the isolationist Right, the Arab press and, apparently, within the pages of The Nation magazine. “The Zionist lobby roared–and President Obama blinked,” Dreyfuss writes. In certain circles — the ones Dreyfuss travels in — “Zionist” is a slur, an insult, not a term of pride. Stripped of its ulterior meanings, “Zionist Lobby” is such an imprecise term that it naturally includes the sorts of peacenik groups that The Nation loves (hey, even J Street claims to be Zionist).

Are we to believe that these groups are implicated in Dreyfuss’s attack? Dreyfuss is dog-whistling to his conspiratorial followers who believe Zionism itself to be a crime, and to Jews on the soft-left who are willing to believe that what he really means by “Zionist Lobby” is the collective influence of  right-wing Jewish organizations or AIPAC. But given Dreyfuss’s history in the  LaRouche movement there’s little question about what he’s doing. He’s consciously using the phrase as a slur.

The Nation wasn’t always this way. For more on the magazine’s history in regard to  Zionism, be sure to read Ron and Allis Radosh’s excellent piece from last summer’s World Affairs Journal.