James Zogby continues to promote racist, Zionist groups on his website. This isn’t the first time Zogby has promoted or worked with J-Street, but it is another example of Arab-Americans trying to prove they’re not “radicals”, “fanatics”, and “anti-Semites” by reaching out to anti-Arab bigots, and promoting self-described supporters of Israel.
The fictional Zionist narrative must be accepted by all Washington Arabs as the point of reference for the Arab-Israeli conflict before being granted permission to hover around the fringes of Washington officialdom. The narrative which we’re all familiar with presents Israel as a small, democratic, civilized state that seeks only to live in peace in a tough neighborhood. Unfortunately for Israel, it’s surrounded by a sea of hostile Arabs and Muslims driven by a violent religion and culture, and determined to “push the Jews into the sea.”
Beginning with this narrative as a starting point, establishment Arab-Americans then move on to prove their civility, opposition to racism, and non-violent disposition by reaching out solely to Israel’s supporters, and ignoring everyone else including anti-Zionist Jewish-Americans. The Arabs’ view of the illegitimate, Zionist entity in Palestine is then evaluated to determine if the Arab is violent, fanatical, and anti-Semitic, thus placing him/her beyond the pale, or, on the other hand, a reasonable, peaceful, and moral person worthy of acceptance among the “civilized” members of humanity.
It’s only within this context that Zogby’s promotion of J-Street can be explained. And it’s not just Zogby. The formation of J-Street was a source of great celebration among members of the “Arab Lobby.” Finally, after spending decades ludicrously claiming they are on the verge of supplanting AIPAC as the premiere lobby (the actual and sometimes exaggerated role of AIPAC in US foreign policy making is beyond the scope of this article) in Washington, they quickly threw themselves into the arms of the new “moderate Zionists” that would help them provide a counterbalance to the power of AIPAC. Never mind that J-Street is committed to the colonial Zionist project, and the “legitimacy” of the racist, exclusivist state in Palestine. J-Street provided an opportunity to cling onto a “new” type of “good Zionist”, and provided a fig leaf to justify their relations with Zionist organizations. Of course, this was not even necessary for the two-man outfit at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). The empty tuxedo Ziad Asali, and his ghost writer and tutor Hussein Ibish never had any qualms about dealing with AIPAC.
At the end of a Washington day, it doesn’t really matter anyway. This is all about proving they’re one of the “good Arabs”deserving the right to pursue comfortable, air-conditioned careers on the outer fringe of the US political establishment. Given the definition of what makes a “good Arab” we clearly do not fall in that category. We maintain Zionism is a racist, illegitimate, colonial project that must be defeated. Just in case that’s not clear enough, Israel has no right to exist in Palestine. We also don’t make any false distinctions between “good Zionists” and “bad Zionists”, and consider the notion of a “moderate Zionist” as ludicrous as that of a “moderate fascist.”
Zogby and the other self-appointed representatives of Arab-Americans in Washington do not speak for the Arab community, or even a segment of the community. More importantly, the legitimacy that Israel so desperately wants the indigenous population of Palestine to bestow on the Zionist project does not derive from anyone in Washington, and the acceptance it seeks from the Arab world can’t be provided by anyone in the United States.