Well, Richard Dawkins turns out not to be a god after all, since he said a very stupid thing. (Hey, maybe he is a god). This is what it was, as quoted in The Guardian:
When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told — religious Jews anyway — than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place.Dawkins, I suspect, will be painted as an anti-Semite, which isn’t necessarily true based on what he said. He is, however, misinformed, and jumps to an erroneous conclusion.
Yes, Dawkins qualifies his statement by saying “as far as many people can see,” but those are just weasel words. He would not have made the claim were he not one of those people. So let’s not let him off the skyhook just because of a phrase he throws into his assertion to give him a retreat position.
Is There a Religious Jewish Lobby in America?
It should be clear that Dawkins’s “American foreign policy” is a reference to U.S. support of Israel, and all the ramifications of that support. And, indeed, there are a number of lobbying groups — most members of which are Jews — that do urge support for Israel. But those groups do not represent all religious Jews. Many of the ultra-orthodox , including the numerous Satmar Hasidim, are anti-Zionists, because they believe that the state of Israel should not have been formed until the arrival of the Messiah. There are also plenty of less fanatic religious Jews who deplore the theocratic flavor of Israel’s government.
One religious group that is gung-ho about American support for Israel is the collective of fundamentalist Christians. Fundies make all kinds of noise about the “Holy Land,” but they’re not really tolerant of religious Jews (or any Jews, for that matter). So Dawkins can’t have it both ways; either religious Jews “monopolise” American foreign policy or they don’t.
Look, the world’s anti-Semites love to spout nonsense about the Jews’ desire for global domination, an idiotic conspiracy theory, rooted in fear of "the other," that has been tossed around for centuries. It took serious hold in America when Henry Ford paid to have The Protocols of the Elders of Zion published in the United States. References to a fictitious, super-powerful “Jewish Lobby” are variations on that theme. But the ultra-rationalist Dawkins ought to know that the book was a propagandistic hoax. Perhaps his hunger for evidence doesn’t extend beyond science.
What Is a Jew?
Not clear. The word “Jew,” as commonly used, has two meanings. One, of course, is “a person who practices Judaism.” People who dislike those "Jews" should be labeled as “Anti-Judaists,” not “Anti-Semites.”
The other meaning is “anyone descended from a distinctive ethnic group called ‘Jews’ who were never fully assimilated, for one reason or another, in any country.” In this sense, a Jew is someone whose mother, father, or both referred to family ancestors as “Jews.” A Jew, therefore, could be an atheist, a Hindu or a Buddhist or a Muslim, a Wiccan or a believer in fairies at the bottom of the garden, or even a practicing fundamentalist Christian. People who dislike these "Jews" should be labeled as “Anti-Semites.” Anti-semitism is about genetics; anti-Judaism isn't.
Is Supporting Israel the Same as Supporting Jews?
Many people believe, erroneously I think, that support for Israel is somehow support for “Jews,” under whichever definition you like. But let’s look closely at Israel. There’s no denying that it often seems to be controlled by ultra-nationalists, and that it’s a quasi-theocratic state. However, there’s another fact that is frequently ignored. Regardless of its location, Israel is a Western nation. The founders of modern Israel were Europeans, who brought their interpretations of Western Civilization to the Middle East. A large part of the anti-Zionist mentality in the area has to do with the hatred of Western ideas. If Israel were a state of mixed religions, or no religion, it would still be loathed by its neighbors. It’s easy to pin on “Jews” the entire phenomenon of Israel’s conflict with the Muslim world. But that’s a tunnel-vision approach. Lots of folks who are highly critical of Israel’s sometimes thuggish policies nevertheless favor the spread of 21st-century knowledge over the retention of 12th-century ignorance. It’s not difficult to find the Israelis’ basic acknowledgement of democracy and rationalism preferable to the region’s glorification of feudalism (our allies) and/or enforced superstition (all others). This preference is certainly not unique to a nonexistent "Jewish Lobby."
The Nightmare Upshot of Dawkins’s Comments
I strongly suspect that Richard Dawkins is not an anti-Semite, although he has apparently bought into the delusion that there's a "Jewish Lobby." But in the next few days, weeks, and months, he will definitely be given that label by a media hungry for sensationalism. Since Dawkins is perceived by many religionists as a major spokesperson for atheism, we nonbelievers may all have to fend off similar charges of bigotry.
I think Dawkins deserves credit for using his high-profile persona to warn the world of the god delusion. But he has hurt the atheist “movement” by his ill-considered statement. By suggesting that atheists emulate the mythological Jewish Lobby, he has given propagandistic fodder to the theistic masses. Those who know that there is no Jewish Lobby will dismiss Dawkins as a fool; and, people being what they are, will then feel free to reject everything he has ever said or written as equally unfounded in reason. On the other hand, those who believe that there is an international Jewish conspiracy for world domination, as manifested in the Jewish Lobby, will be delighted to demonize atheists whose “leader” clearly wishes to set up a similar cabal.
(H/T Atheist Revolution)