Posts Tagged ‘israel Lobby’

Paul Craig Roberts: Israel Rules

December 30, 2009

By Paul Craig Roberts, Information Clearing House, Dec 29, 2009

On Christmas eve when Christians were celebrating the Prince of Peace, the New York Times delivered forth a call for war. “There’s only one way to stop Iran,” declared Alan J. Kuperman, and that is “military air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Kuperman is described as the “director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas at Austin,” but his Christmas eve call to war relies on disinformation and contradiction, not on objective scholarly analysis.

Continues >>

Advertisements

For Palestinians, Every Day Is Kristallnacht

December 17, 2009
Foreign Policy Journal, December 15, 2009
by Paul Craig Roberts

Israel_stealing_palestine“Settlers attack West Bank mosque and burn holy Muslim books” was a London Times headline on December 11, 2009.

These attacks, together with the demolition of Palestinian homes, the uprooting of Palestinians’ olive groves, the innumerable checkpoints that prevent Palestinians from accessing schools, work, and medical care, the Israeli Wall that denies Palestinians access to the land stolen from them, and the isolation and blockade of the Gaza Ghetto, are part of the Israeli government’s policy of genocide for the Palestinians.

The Israel Lobby has such power over America that even former President Jimmy Carter, a good friend of Israel, is demonized for using the polite term–apartheid–for the genocide that has occurred over the decades during which American “Christian” preachers, together with bought-and-paid-for politicians, justified Israel’s policy of slow genocide for Palestine.

Israelis who still have a moral conscience–a small part of the population–endeavor to use moral protests against the inhumanity of the Israeli government. Israelis Jeff Halper and Angela Godfrey-Goldstein lead the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD), a non-violent, direct-action group established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territories.

Under international law an occupier by military force is forbidden to steal the occupied land. The US, however, has protected Israel’s violation of international law for decades by vetoing UN resolutions. Israel has been able to steal Palestine from the Palestinians, because the US government used its power to prevent Israel from being held accountable under international law.

In March 2003 American citizen Rachel Corrie stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer, made by Caterpillar and sent to destroy a Palestinian home. Her courageous act of defiance was regarded as an annoyance, and she was run over and murdered by the Israeli bulldozer operator. Israel suffered no consequences for its murder of an American citizen who had a moral conscience.

In the Israeli-controlled American media, we hear endlessly that Palestinians are terrorists who strap on explosives in order to kill innocent Israelis and who terrorize Israeli towns by firing rockets into them. One look at the maps above is enough to make clear who the real terrorist is. The success of Israeli propaganda in the face of totally obvious facts damns the ignorance and unconcern of the American people.

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, which also has a moral conscience and is intelligent to boot, wrote on December 4, 2009: “Every appointee to the American government must endure a thorough background check by the American Jewish community.” Haaretz notes that any American that the President of the United States proposes for an appointment to his government is subject to the approval of the Israel Lobby, which can blackball appointees at will.

Haaretz gives the example of Charles Freeman, whom President Obama intended to appoint as head of the National Intelligence Council. The Israel Lobby proved, again, that it was more powerful than a mere American President and prevented the appointment, citing Freeman’s “anti-israel leaning.” In other words, because Freeman was not an overboard apologist for Israel’s crimes he was unacceptable to the Israel Lobby.

Haaretz reports: “The next attempt to appoint an intelligence aide, in this case, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, also resulted in vast criticism over his not having a pro-Israel record.” The Israel Lobby has blocked Hagel’s appointment by President Obama. Hagel doesn’t want to start a war with Iran for Israel’s benefit and was blackballed by Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America. Hagel, it seems, “refused to sign a letter calling on then-president George Bush to speak about Iran’s nuclear program at the G8 summit that year.”

Now it is a Jewish daughter of a Holocaust survivor, Hannah Rosenthal, whose appointment to head the US Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, an office that is another indication of America’s puppet state status, is under attack. Rosenthal was the head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs during 2000-2005. Her black mark came from serving on the advisory board of the J Street Lobby, a recently-formed American Jewish organization formed in opposition to AIPAC’s murderous militarism.

The Israel Lobby’s opposition to Hannah Rosenthal shows that no moral person can survive the Israel Lobby’s blackball.

The US, “the world’s only superpower,” has no independent voice in Middle Eastern affairs. The real power rests in the hands of the settler thug, Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of Foreign Affairs. This is the man who controls the Obama government’s Middle East policy. Lieberman forced the “all-powerful President of the US, Barack Omama,” to rescind his order to Israel to halt the illegal settler settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Obama was given the bird and submitted to his master.

Macho Americans who prance around as if they owned the world are nothing but the puppets of Israel. The US is not a country. It is a colony.

America, Israel’s Lackey

November 12, 2009
by Paul Craig Roberts, Antiwar.com,  November 12, 2009

It did not take the Israel Lobby long to make mincemeat out of the Obama administration’s “no new settlements” position.  Israeli prime minister Netanyahu is bragging about Israel’s latest victory over the US government as Israel continues to build illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

In May President Obama read the Israelis the riot act, telling the Israeli government that he was serious about ending the Israeli conflict with the Palestinians and that a lasting peace agreement required the Israeli government to abandon all construction of new settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Continues >>

 

At What Cost the Israel Lobby?

October 13, 2009

As during the Kennedy era, Tel Aviv remains focused on a single goal: ensuring that its ally and patron (the US) continues a six-decade policy ensuring that Israel is not held accountable—for anything, notes Jeff Gates.

Jeff Gates, Middle East Online, Oct 13, 2009

More than 46 years ago, President John F. Kennedy sought to preclude a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. In June 1963, he wrote the last in a series of insistent letters to Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Those letters sought what Israel now demands of Iran: international inspections of its nuclear facilities. The key difference: Kennedy knew for certain that Israel, while portraying itself a friend and ally, repeatedly lied to Kennedy about its nuclear weapons development at the Dimona reactor in the Negev Desert.

Continues >>

How Israel Lobby Took Control Of US Foreign Policy

July 19, 2009

AIPAC becomes foreign agent dominating American foreign policy while disguised as domestic lobby.

By Jeff Gates | Information Clearing House, July 19, 2009

LOUISIANA – In the early 1960s, Senator William J. Fulbright fought to force the American Zionist Council to register as agents of a foreign government. The Council eluded registration by reorganizing as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC has since become what Fulbright most feared: a foreign agent dominating American foreign policy while disguised as a domestic lobby.

Israelis and pro-Israelis object when they hear that charge. How, they ask, can we so few wield such influence over so many? Answer: it’s all in the math. And in the single-issue advocacy brought to bear on US policy-making by dozens of ‘domestic’ organizations that now compose the Israel lobby, with AIPAC its most visible force.

The political math was enabled by Senator John McCain whose support for all things Israeli ensured him the GOP nomination to succeed Christian-Zionist G.W. Bush. McCain’s style of campaign finance reform proved a perfect fit for the Diaspora-based fundraising on which the lobby relies. Co-sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, this change in federal election law typifies how Israeli influence became systemic.

‘McCain-Feingold’ raised the amount (from $1,000 to $2,300) that candidates can receive from individuals in primary and general elections. A couple can now contribute a combined $9,200 to federal candidates: $4,600 in each of the primary and general elections. Primary elections, usual low-budget, are particularly easy to sway.

Importantly for the Diaspora, this change also doubled the funds candidates can receive without regard to where those contributors reside. A candidate in Iowa, say, may have only a few pro-Israeli constituents. When campaign support is provided by a nationwide network of pro-Israelis, that candidate can more easily be persuaded to support policies sought by Tel Aviv.

Diaspora-based fundraising has long been used by the lobby with force-multiplying success to shape US foreign policy. Under the guise of reform, John McCain doubled the financial resources that the lobby can deploy to elect and retain its supporters.

Fulbright was Right

The influence-peddling process works like this. Candidates are summoned for in-depth AIPAC interviews. Those found sufficiently committed to Israel’s agenda are provided a list of donors likely to “max out” their campaign contributions. Or the process can be made even easier when AIPAC-approved candidates are given the name of a “bundler.”

Bundlers raise funds from the Diaspora and bundle those contributions to present them to the candidate. No quid pro quo need be mentioned. After McCain-Feingold became law in 2003, AIPAC-identified bundlers could raise $1 million-plus for AIPAC-approved candidates simply by contacting ten like-minded supporters. Here’s the math:

The bundler and spouse “max out” for $9,200 and call ten others, say in Manhattan, Miami, and Beverly Hills. Each of them max out ($10 x $9,200) and call ten others for a total of 11. [111 x $9,200 = $1,021,200.]

Imagine the incentive to do well in the AIPAC interview. One call from the lobby and a candidate can collect enough cash to mount a credible campaign in most Congressional districts. From Tel Aviv’s perspective, that political leverage is leveraged yet again because fewer than ten percent of the 435 House races are competitive in any election cycle (typically 35 to 50).

Additional force-multipliers come from: (a) sustaining this financial focus over multiple cycles, (b) using funds to gain and retain seniority for those serving on Congressional committees key to promoting Israeli goals, and (c) opposing any candidates who question those goals.

Jewish Achievement reports that 42% of the largest political donors to the 2000 election cycle were Jewish, including four of the top five. That compares to less than 2% of Americans who are Jewish. Of the Forbes 400 richest Americans, 25% are Jewish according to Michael Steinhardt, a key funder of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC was led by Jewish Zionist Senator Joe Lieberman when he resigned in 2000 to run as vice president with pro-Israeli presidential candidate Al Gore.

Money was never a constraint. Pro-Israeli donors were limited only by how much they could lawfully contribute to AIPAC-screened candidates. McCain-Feingold raised a key limit. The full impact of this foreign influence has yet to be tallied. What’s known, however, is sufficient to apply the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Of the top 50 neoconservatives who advocated war in Iraq, 26 were Jewish (52%).

Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, remains one of the more notable recipients of funds. In 1948, he was trailing badly in the polls and in fundraising. His prospects brightened dramatically in May after he recognized as a legitimate state an enclave of Jewish extremists who originally planned to settle in Argentina before putting their sights on Palestine.

That recognition was opposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the bulk of the diplomatic corps, the fledgling Central Intelligence Agency and numerous distinguished Americans, including moderate and secular Jews concerned at the troubles that were certain to follow. Not until 1984 was it revealed that a network of Jewish Zionists had funded Truman’s campaign by financially refueling his whistle-stop campaign train with $400,000 in cash ($3 million in 2009 dollars).

To buy time on the public’s airwaves, money raised from the Israel lobby’s network is paid to media outlets largely owned or managed by members of the same network. Presidents, Senators and Congressmen come and go but those who collect the checks rack up the favors that amass lasting political influence.

The US system of government is meant to ensure that members of the House represent the concerns of Americans who reside in Congressional districts—not a nationally dispersed network (a Diaspora) committed to advancing the agenda of a foreign nation. Federal elections are meant to hold Senators accountable to constituents who reside in the states they represent—not out-of-state residents or a foreign government.

In practical effect, McCain-Feingold hastened a retreat from representative government by granting a nationwide network of foreign agents’ disproportionate influence over elections in every state and Congressional district. Campaign finance ‘reform’ enabled this network to amass even more political clout—wielding influence disproportionate to their numbers, indifferent to their place of residence and often contrary to America’s interests.

This force-multiplier is now wielded in plain sight, with impunity and under cover of free speech, free elections, free press and even the freedom of religion. Therein lies the perils of an entangled alliance that induced the US to invade Iraq and now seeks war with Iran. By allowing foreign agents to operate as a domestic lobby, the US was induced to confuse Zionist interests with its own.

Jeff Gates is a widely acclaimed author, attorney, investment banker, educator and consultant to government, corporate and union leaders worldwide. Gates’ latest book is Guilt By Association—How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War (2008). His previous books include Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street From Wall Street and The Ownership Solution: Toward a Shared Capitalism for the 21st Century. For two decades, he was an adviser to policy-makers worldwide and Counsel to the US Senate Finance Committee (1980-87)—working with Senator Russell Long of Louisiana.

AIPAC’s Hidden Persuaders

May 18, 2009
The Israel lobby is aiming to soften up US public opinion for an attack on Iran. Americans should resist its propaganda

by Richard Silverstein | The Guardian, UK, May 18, 2009

Despite the ballyhoo of the recent Aipac national policy conference in Washington, when Israel-US bonds were feted, relations between the two countries are currently more strained than at any time since 1991. That was when the elder George Bush, as US president, fiercely lobbied Yitzchak Shamir to join in the Madrid peace conference. Relations then reached their nadir when James Baker uttered his infamous remark about Israel’s American-Jewish supporters: “Fuck the Jews, they don’t even vote for us.”

If relations continue to deteriorate in coming months, we might have to go back in time to the Suez crisis of 1956 to find a time when relations were this fraught.

A case in point is Iran. That bogey-nation was everywhere at the Aipac conference. Every keynote speech – if they weren’t directly written by that group’s staff – seemed unmistakably scripted and “on message”, dedicated to the existential threat that Iran poses not just to Israel, but the entire world.

A glossy brochure distributed at the Aipac meeting showed a map (pictured below) centred on Iran and beyond, with a dark ominous ring around Iran’s neighbours and as far away as India, Russia, Africa and eastern Europe. The message: these are the countries under imminent threat of Iranian ballistic missiles.

Aipac map
A map contained in a brochure distributed at an Aipac meeting

The brochure copy even intimates that the next step for Iran is “building a missile with range to reach US territory”. (Never mind that Iran doesn’t yet have any ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, nor will it have the bomb itself for anywhere from a year to five years depending on which you source you choose to believe.)

Israel is in the midst of a massive diplomatic, political and intelligence campaign, both public and covert, that could lead – if those officials behind it have their way – towards a military strike on Iran. It is a war for the hearts and minds of Americans. Or you might call it the war before the war. In intelligence circles, this Israeli project is known as perception management and defined by the department of defence as:

Actions to convey and/or deny information … to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives and objective reasoning as well as to intelligence systems and leaders … ultimately resulting in foreign behaviours and official actions favourable to [US] objectives. In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover and deception and psychological operations.

The Israelis are following the template of the Bush administration’s run-up to the Iraq war. First, the US government advocated half-hearted efforts at diplomatic engagement. Then it ratcheted up pressure through sanctions and UN resolutions. That is where the Israeli campaign stands now.

Aipac’s members carried a unified message to Capitol Hill during their lobbying of US senators and members of Congress. They demanded that Congress pass the most draconian sanctions ever proposed against Iran. They demanded that Iran be offered a limited time in which to respond to an ultimatum insisting it drop its nuclear programme.

What then? If you review Aipac’s literature and the various commentaries published either by Israeli diplomats or their supporters in the US media, they don’t specify what comes next. But any sensible person can guess that the final step will be war: “Israeli leaders have … hinted at pre-emptive military strikes if they decide that diplomacy has failed.”

The Israelis surely know that the Obama administration will never go to war against Iran. In fact, they know that Obama would not approve of Israel doing so. But I’ve become convinced, in doing the research and speaking to knowledgeable sources, that Israel is prepared at some date in the near future to attack Iran itself, even against the wishes of the US.

This of course will put Obama in an untenable position: do US forces attack the Israelis (in effect defending the Iranians) and risk the fallout that would occur in relations between the Democratic administration and American Jews? Or does he allow the Israelis to carry on to their targets and bomb Iran, accepting the bloodletting and mayhem that will inevitably result? If Israel wishes for the latter outcome, they must lay the groundwork here in the US for tacit acceptance by the American people of a third-party attack on Iran.

Indeed, they are already a good deal of the way toward this goal, as the latest polling from Rasmussen Report reveals. According to it, 49% of Americans believe that if Israel attacks Iran then the US should help Israel.

Some readers may say this is alarmist. Before I learned some of the information I gathered from sources both public and not, I also would have labelled this as overly dramatic. But Israel hasn’t shrunk, for example, from drafting opinion columns for US newspapers on the menace posed by Iran, and telling the editor that a local Jewish community leader would be attaching his name to it.

Within the US Israel exploits a willing circle of Likudist advocacy groups and thinktanks – such as the Washington Institute for Near East Peace, the Israel Project, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs as well as Aipac itself – that are closely scripted and co-ordinate their political message with Israeli diplomats. While some of these groups deny such a close affiliation, there is proof of scripting and amplification of the Israeli government’s agenda. And of course there may be cases in which the organisations know the needs of their patron so well that they need no prompting.

In another example, Israeli diplomats monitored and encouraged a member of Congress to host an anti-Iranian conference that would advocate Israel’s message of sanctions (and more).

Israel, along with enablers like Aipac, has not shrunk from hounding its critics. One peace activist in the US so angered Israeli authorities that he was driven from a job through a whispering campaign in the community, which also included a disparaging article leaked to a willing reporter.

The level of hubris necessary to pull this off is astonishing. Fresh off the dismissal of the Rosen-Weissman spy charges involving its own employees, Aipac is flexing its political muscle and reminding the world of its resurgence. It does this through a combination of manipulation, public lobbying and punishment of its enemies.

We in the US must be prepared to resist. We must protect ourselves from Israel’s propaganda offensive ginning up war with Iran. We must encourage President Obama to stay strong in his commitment to Israeli-Arab peace, whether or not Israel is a willing partner. Keeping our eyes on the prize of peace is going to be the hardest challenge of all, because the Netanyahu government is doing everything it can to divert the world’s attention.

Obama and the Middle East

May 13, 2009

By Gilbert Achcar | ZNet, May 12, 2009

Whether the election and inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States will qualitatively alter U.S. Middle East policy and the regional situation remains to be seen. The fact is that Barack Obama has been much bolder with regard to U.S. relations with Latin America than he has been with regard to the Middle East during the 100 first days of his administration. This is despite the fact that, as a presidential candidate, Obama emphasized much more his difference with the Bush administration on Middle East issues, especially Iraq, than on South American issues.

Beyond the various electoral statements, the truth is that Obama ran as a candidate dedicated to bipartisan consensus in the realm of foreign policy, and singularly with regard to the Middle East. His critique of the Bush administration was restricted to the extent to which it did not fully comply with this consensus as expressed in the report of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group. To put it more precisely, Obama supported the “surge,” which conformed to the recommendations of the report, and announced that he would stick to the exit (from Iraq) strategy that it envisaged. On this, he had nothing very original to say when compared to what the Bush administration was already doing since it implemented the “surge.” Hence, the very symbolic as well as significant fact that he asked Robert Gates to remain at the helm of the Pentagon — thus repeating the kind of bipartisan gesture with regard to “Defense” that Bill Clinton made when he appointed to the same position another Republican, William Cohen, for his second term.

Where Obama differed from Bush in public statements was mainly with regard to Iran: whereas the Bush administration never really agreed to comply with the recommendation of talking to Iran that was expressed in the Baker-Hamilton report, Obama made clearly the point that this was what he would do if elected, and he got attacked for precisely that reason by all the friends of the Israel Lobby. However, since his inauguration, Obama, and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have made no real substantive changes in that respect. One explanation for this is that they fear that engaging in talks with Iran at this stage might impact the forthcoming presidential election in that country in a way that would be contrary to what they deem to be U.S. interests. If this explanation is true, it implies that they will continue to “wait and see” until the election in June 2009, that is due to be held five weeks from the time of writing these lines.

After the Iranian presidential election, the Obama administration will probably move to a more serious opening in the direction of Iran, applying a carrot and stick policy — with a big carrot whereas the Bush administration only carried a big stick. They will hope for a deal with the Iranian leadership, a deal whereby Tehran would cooperate with them in stabilizing Iraq and the Middle East, each side acknowledging the interests of the other, in the same way that they are actually doing presently in Iraq, where both sides sponsor the same Maliki government in Baghdad. Such a conciliatory policy has been imposed on the U.S. government by the dire condition in which it found itself in the Middle East as a result of the disastrous policy of the Bush administration. Basically, the Obama administration faced with the Iraqi semi-debacle, at a time when its room for maneuver has been narrowed by the global economic crisis, is contemplating a reaction similar to that of the Nixon administration when it faced the Vietnam debacle. The exit strategy then was: “Vietnamize” the war, get all the troops out of Vietnam, cut a deal with Moscow and Beijing. The strategy now is: “Iraqize” the war (done through the “surge” and its reliance on the buying off of major chunks of what used to be the Sunni “insurgency” in the form of the “Awakening Councils”), get most of the troops out of Iraq (planned until 2011), cut a deal with Tehran. Both policies take place against a backdrop of severe global economic crisis.

In a sense, the new policy, if fully implemented, will require much less boldness than the one implemented by the Nixon-Kissinger team: withdrawing from Vietnam against the background of the ongoing Cold War was much more spectacular than withdrawing from Iraq in the absence of any “peer” global challenger of the United States; talking to “Red China” was much more spectacular than any conciliatory gesture toward Iran could be, all the more that it cannot be expected that Obama-Clinton will go to the same extent of sudden warming up with yesterday’s enemy as Nixon-Kissinger did in their relation with China. One important difference is that the Nixon team could play on the “triangulation” of its relations with Moscow and Beijing in light of the enmity between the two “communist” capitals. There is no situation of this kind with regard to Iran.

But the key difference is, to be sure, the role of Israel. For the Zionist state, Iran is the main enemy in the whole region, and the nuclear issue is a “red line” that would prompt the Israeli state to act militarily if it deemed that the line was crossed. We know from the revelation by The New York Times last January (David Sanger, “U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site,” NYT, January 10, 2009) that the Olmert government already asked the Bush administration for a green light to attack Iranian nuclear facilities with air strikes flying through Iraqi air space. The Olmert government wanted to take advantage of the remaining time in office of this American administration that was most cooperative with the worst plans and deeds of the Israeli state. The green light was not granted, however, for a variety of reasons related to the highly risky and uncertain character of the operation and its potential consequences in a time of unfolding global economic crisis.

The Obama administration will indeed be clearly less amenable to Israel’s hardliners than the Bush team was. And tensions between the two countries are all the likelier to unfold given that their political evolutions are presently going in opposite directions: whereas the last U.S. presidential election started a pendulum backswing after eight years of the most reactionary administration in U.S. history, the recent Israeli parliamentary election only carried on further the swing to the right that started with the election of Ariel Sharon in February 2001 in the wake of Bush’s presidential inauguration.

These are the main elements of the present picture in the Middle East: to get into other developments — the efforts of Washington’s Arab friends to foster reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’s “Palestinian Authority,” the forthcoming parliamentary election in Lebanon, etc. — would take longer than the space of this article. However, the whole policy of the Obama administration is a pragmatic and cautious move within the guidelines described above.

Gilbert Achcar is a Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London. This article is based on the preface to the Iranian edition of Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy. Dialogues on Terror, Democracy, War, and Justice by Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar, edited by Stephen R. Shalom. The updated English paperback edition was published in 2008 by Paradigm Publishers.

Criminalizing Criticism of Israel

May 10, 2009

By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS  | Counterpunch, May 10, 2009

On October 16, 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Israel Lobby’s bill, the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act.  This legislation requires the US Department of State to monitor anti-semitism world wide.

To monitor anti-semitism, it has to be defined.  What is the definition?  Basically, as defined by the Israel Lobby and Abe Foxman, it boils down to any criticism of Israel or Jews.

Rahm Israel Emanuel hasn’t been mopping floors at the White House.
As soon as he gets the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 passed, it will become a crime for any American to tell the truth about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and theft of their lands.

It will be a crime for Christians to acknowledge the New Testament’s account of Jews demanding the crucifixion of Jesus.

It will be a crime to report the extraordinary influence of the Israel Lobby on the White House and Congress, such as the AIPAC-written resolutions praising Israel for its war crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza that were endorsed by 100 per cent  of the US Senate and 99 per cent  of the House of Representatives, while the rest of the world condemned Israel for its barbarity.

It will be a crime to doubt the Holocaust.

It will become a crime to note the disproportionate representation of Jews in the media, finance, and foreign policy.

In other words, it means the end of free speech, free inquiry, and the First Amendment to the Constitution. Any facts or truths that cast aspersion upon Israel will simply be banned.

Given the hubris of the US government, which leads Washington to apply US law to every country and organization, what will happen to the International Red Cross, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and the various human rights organizations that have demanded investigations of Israel’s military assault on Gaza’s civilian population?  Will they all be arrested for the hate crime of “excessive” criticism of Israel?

This is a serious question.

A recent UN report, which is yet to be released in its entirety, blames Israel for the deaths and injuries that occurred within the United Nations premises in Gaza.  The Israeli government has responded by charging that the UN report is “tendentious, patently biased,”  which puts the UN report into the State Department’s category of excessive criticism and strong anti-Israel sentiment.

Israel is getting away with its blatant use of the American government to silence its critics despite the fact that the Israeli press and Israeli soldiers have exposed the Israeli atrocities in Gaza and the premeditated murder of women and children urged upon the Israeli invaders by rabbis.  These acts are clearly war crimes.

It was the Israeli press that published the pictures of the Israeli soldiers’ T-shirts that  indicate that the willful murder of women and children is now the culture of the Israeli army.  The T-shirts are horrific expressions of barbarity.  For example, one shows a pregnant Palestinian woman with a crosshairs over her stomach and the slogan, “One shot, two kills.”  These T-shirts are an indication that Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians is one of extermination.

It has been true for years that the most potent criticism of Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians comes from the Israeli press and Israeli peace groups.  For example, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz and Jeff Halper of ICAHD have shown a moral conscience that apparently does not exist in the Western democracies where Israel’s crimes are covered up and even praised.

Will the American hate crime bill be applied to Haaretz and Jeff Halper?  Will American commentators who say nothing themselves but simply report what Haaretz and Halper have said be arrested for “spreading hatred of Israel, an anti-semitic act”?

Many Americans have been brainwashed by the propaganda that Palestinians are terrorists who threaten innocent Israel.  These Americans will see the censorship as merely part of the necessary war on terror.  They will accept the demonization of fellow citizens who report unpalatable facts about Israel and agree that such people should be punished for aiding and abetting terrorists.

A massive push is underway to criminalize criticism of Israel.  American university professors have fallen victim to the well organized attempt to eliminate all criticism of Israel.  Norman Finkelstein was denied tenure at a Catholic university because of the power of the Israel Lobby.  Now the Israel Lobby is after University of California  (at Santa Barbara,) professor Wiliam Robinson.  Robinson’s crime:  his course on global affairs included some reading assignments critical of Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

The Israel Lobby apparently succeeded in convincing the Obama Justice (sic) Department that it is anti-semitic to accuse two Jewish AIPAC officials, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, of spying.  The Israel Lobby succeeded in getting their trial delayed for four years, and now Attorney General Eric Holder has dropped charges.  Yet, Larry Franklin, the DOD official accused of giving secret material to Rosen and Weissman, is serving 12 years and 7 months in prison.

The absurdity is extraordinary.  The two Israeli agents are not guilty of receiving secrets, but the American official is guilty of giving secrets to them!  If there is no spy in the story, how was Franklin convicted of giving secrets to a spy?

Criminalizing criticism of Israel destroys any hope of America having an independent foreign policy in the Middle East that serves American rather than Israeli interests.  It eliminates any prospect of Americans escaping from their enculturation with Israeli propaganda.

To keep American minds captive, the Lobby is working to ban as anti-semitic any truth or disagreeable fact that pertains to Israel.  It is permissible to criticize every other country in the world, but it is anti-semitic to criticize Israel, and anti-semitism will soon be a universal hate-crime in the Western world.

Most of Europe has already criminalized doubting the Holocaust.  It is a crime even to confirm that it happened but to conclude that less than 6 million Jews were murdered.

Why is the Holocaust  a subject that is off limits to examination? How could a case buttressed by hard facts possibly be endangered by kooks and anti-semitics?  Surely the case doesn’t need to be protected by thought control.

Imprisoning people for doubts is the antithesis of modernity.

Dr Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

The Lobby Falters

March 23, 2009

John Mearsheimer| London Review of Books, March 26, 2009

Many people in Washington were surprised when the Obama administration tapped Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, the body that oversees the production of National Intelligence Estimates: Freeman had a distinguished 30-year career as a diplomat and Defense Department official, but he has publicly criticised Israeli policy and America’s special relationship with Israel, saying, for example, in a speech in 2005, that ‘as long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected.’ Words like these are rarely spoken in public in Washington, and anyone who does use them is almost certain not to get a high-level government position. But Admiral Dennis Blair, the new director of national intelligence, greatly admires Freeman: just the sort of person, he thought, to revitalise the intelligence community, which had been very politicised in the Bush years.

Predictably alarmed, the Israel lobby launched a smear campaign against Freeman, hoping that he would either quit or be fired by Obama. The opening salvo came in a blog posting by Steven Rosen, a former official of Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, now under indictment for passing secrets to Israel. Freeman’s views of the Middle East, he said, ‘are what you would expect in the Saudi Foreign Ministry, with which he maintains an extremely close relationship’. Prominent pro-Israel journalists such as Jonathan Chait and Martin Peretz of the New Republic, and Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, quickly joined the fray and Freeman was hammered in publications that consistently defend Israel, such as the National Review, the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard.

The real heat, however, came from Congress, where Aipac (which describes itself as ‘America’s Pro-Israel Lobby’) wields enormous power. All the Republican members of the Senate Intelligence Committee came out against Freeman, as did key Senate Democrats such as Joseph Lieberman and Charles Schumer. ‘I repeatedly urged the White House to reject him,’ Schumer said, ‘and I am glad they did the right thing.’ It was the same story in the House, where the charge was led by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Steve Israel, who pushed Blair to initiate a formal investigation of Freeman’s finances. In the end, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, declared the Freeman appointment ‘beyond the pale’. Freeman might have survived this onslaught had the White House stood by him. But Barack Obama’s pandering to the Israel lobby during the campaign and his silence during the Gaza War show that this is one opponent he is not willing to challenge. True to form, he remained silent and Freeman had little choice but to withdraw.

The lobby has since gone to great lengths to deny its role in Freeman’s resignation. The Aipac spokesman Josh Block said his organisation ‘took no position on this matter and did not lobby the Hill on it’. The Washington Post, whose editorial page is run by Fred Hiatt, a man staunchly committed to the special relationship, ran an editorial which claimed that blaming the lobby for Freeman’s resignation was something dreamed up by ‘Mr Freeman and like-minded conspiracy theorists’.

In fact, there is abundant evidence that Aipac and other hardline supporters of Israel were deeply involved in the campaign. Block admitted that he had spoken to reporters and bloggers about Freeman and provided them with information, always on the understanding that his comments would not be attributed to him or to Aipac. Jonathan Chait, who denied that Israel was at the root of the controversy before Freeman was toppled, wrote afterwards: ‘Of course I recognise that the Israel lobby is powerful and was a key element in the pushback against Freeman, and that it is not always a force for good.’ Daniel Pipes, who runs the Middle East Forum, where Steven Rosen now works, quickly sent out an email newsletter boasting about Rosen’s role in bringing Freeman down.

On 12 March, the day the Washington Post ran its editorial railing against anyone who suggested that the Israel lobby had helped topple Freeman, the paper also published a front-page story describing the central role that the lobby had played in the affair. There was also a comment piece by the veteran journalist David Broder, which opened with the words: ‘The Obama administration has just suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the lobbyists the president vowed to keep in their place.’

Freeman’s critics maintain that his views on Israel were not his only problem. He is said to have especially close – maybe even improper – ties to Saudi Arabia, where he previously served as American ambassador. The charge hasn’t stuck, however, because there is no evidence for it. Israel’s supporters also said that he had made insensitive remarks about what happened to the Chinese protesters at Tiananmen Square, but that charge, which his defenders contest, only came up because Freeman’s pro-Israel critics were looking for any argument they could muster to damage his reputation.

Why does the lobby care so much about one appointment to an important, but not top leadership position? Here’s one reason: Freeman would have been responsible for the production of National Intelligence Estimates. Israel and its American supporters were outraged when the National Intelligence Council concluded in November 2007 that Iran was not building nuclear weapons, and they have worked assiduously to undermine that report ever since. The lobby wants to make sure that the next estimate of Iran’s nuclear capabilities reaches the opposite conclusion, and that would have been much less likely to happen with Freeman in charge. Better to have someone vetted by Aipac running the show.

An even more important reason for the lobby to drive Freeman out of his job is the weakness of the case for America’s present policy towards Israel, which makes it imperative to silence or marginalise anyone who criticises the special relationship. If Freeman hadn’t been punished, others would see that one could talk critically about Israel and still have a successful career in Washington. And once you get an open and free-wheeling discussion about Israel, the special relationship will be in serious trouble.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Freeman affair was that the mainstream media paid it little attention – the New York Times, for example, did not run a single story dealing with Freeman until the day after he stepped down – while a fierce battle over the appointment took place in the blogosphere. Freeman’s opponents used the internet to their advantage; that is where Rosen launched the campaign. But something happened there that would never have happened in the mainstream media: the lobby faced real opposition. Indeed, a vigorous, well-informed and highly regarded array of bloggers defended Freeman at every turn and would probably have carried the day had Congress not tipped the scales against them. In short, the internet enabled a serious debate in the United States about an issue involving Israel. The lobby has never had much trouble keeping the New York Times and the Washington Post in line, but it has few ways to silence critics on the internet.

When pro-Israel forces clashed with a major political figure in the past, that person usually backed off. Jimmy Carter, who was smeared by the lobby after he published Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, was the first prominent American to stand his ground and fight back. The lobby has been unable to silence him, and it is not for lack of trying. Freeman is following in Carter’s footsteps, but with sharper elbows. After stepping down, he issued a blistering denunciation of ‘unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country’ whose aim is ‘to prevent any view other than its own from being aired’. ‘There is,’ he continued, ‘a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.’

Freeman’s remarkable statement has shot all around the world and been read by countless individuals. This isn’t good for the lobby, which would have preferred to kill Freeman’s appointment without leaving any fingerprints. But Freeman will continue to speak out about Israel and the lobby, and maybe some of his natural allies inside the Beltway will eventually join him. Slowly but steadily, space is being opened up in the United States to talk honestly about Israel.

John Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.

The Israel lobby tightens its stranglehold on American politics

March 14, 2009

Editorial

Nothing disturbs Washington’s political culture more than uninvited honesty.

Chas Freeman’s eloquent yet blunt explanation of why he has decided not to take up the post of chairman of the National Intelligence Council was described as “intemperate” by the ever-temperate James Fallows and as “a bit too hot, for my taste” by Joe Klein. (Both Klein and Fallows, I should note, were not among Freeman’s critics.)

To those who regard Freeman’s statement as somehow an affront to the decorum that Washington expects I would ask this: Is it better to apply make-up over a festering boil, or is it better to lance it?

Joe Klein, even now unwilling to acknowledge the existence of an “Israel lobby,” insists that Freeman was the victim of an attack by a mob — a largely Jewish neoconservative mob — but not a lobby. That strikes me as merely a semantic quibble. If Israel “lobby” sounds too dignified, I have no problem with calling it the “Israel mob” — it is indeed a kind of political mafia.

But however anyone wants to characterize or label the Israel lobby, no one can dispute that it is tenacious. Freeman’s assessment that were he to take up the intelligence position he would remain “under constant attack” is most likely accurate. His choice to remain in private life is understandable. If anything constructive is to come out of this episode — and I think it can — it is that the workings of the Israel lobby are now more transparent than ever.

The campaign against Freeman was led by the indicted former director of AIPAC, Steven Ros en. While the victory champagne was no doubt still flowing, the editors of the Washington Post saw fit — with amazing timing — to add their own toast by calling on the Attorney General to drop the case against Rosen in which he has been charged under the Espionage Act. The Post argues:

The government has the right to demand strict confidentiality from government officials and others who swear to protect its secrets. The Justice Department errs egregiously and risks profound damage to the First Amendment, however, when it insists that private citizens — academics, journalists, think tank analysts, lobbyists and the like — also are legally bound to keep the nation’s secrets. The prosecution in effect criminalizes the exchange of information.

I’m no legal expert, but it would seem that the case hinges not on whether individuals outside government can legally be the recipients of classified information. Rather, the case would seem to rest on a determination of AIPAC’s actual nature.

Even if it is not registered as an agent of a foreign government, if AIPAC can be demonstrated to have been functioning as such, then as an AIPAC official, Rosen could presumably be shown to have been acting on behalf of the Israeli government.

As Douglas M. Bloomfield, a former legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC, writes: “The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and its leaders could be the biggest losers in a case that threatens to expose the group’s inner secrets.”

He continues:

Although AIPAC claims it has nothing to do with the convoluted case, it is also on trial, in a way. The organization fired the pair [Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman] and said they were rogues acting beneath the group’s standards. That will be shot full of holes from all directions in court, whether in the criminal case or in a likely civil suit by the defendants claiming damage to their reputations and careers.

The mere threat of a multimillion-dollar civil suit could prompt a very generous settlement offer from AIPAC in exchange for a vow of silence from the former staffers. But don’t worry; AIPAC can easily afford it.

Soon after the FBI raided AIPAC offices, the organization launched a fund-raising campaign to defend against any charges, and the appeals for money didn’t stop when it fired the pair. Since the scandal broke in 2004, AIPAC’s fund-raising juggernaut has hauled in so much dough that one senior staffer told me that “it’s coming in faster than we know what to do with it.”

JTA quoted tax records showing AIPAC raised $86 million in 2007, doubling 2003’s $43 million. Not all of that money was a result of the espionage case, but many millions were.

In cutting loose the pair, AIPAC insisted it had no idea what they were doing. Not so, say insiders, former colleagues, sources close to the defense, and others familiar with the organization.

One of the topics AIPAC won’t want discussed, say these sources, is how closely it coordinated with Benjamin Netanyahu in the 1990s, when he led the Israeli Likud opposition and later when he was prime minister, to impede the Oslo peace process being pressed by President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.

That could not only validate AIPAC’s critics, who accuse it of being a branch of the Likud, but also lead to an investigation of violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Clearly, nothing worries AIPAC and its supporters more than the possibility that the organization — and by extension the Israel lobby as a political force — might face wider public scrutiny.

The campaign against Chas Freeman was not driven by an exaggerated estimation of his importance; it was a strategic battle in defense of the lobby’s deeply entrenched political authority. The importance of the fight was evident by the fact that it was fought in the open. But having come right out into the open, it is now that much more difficult for the lobby to retreat into the shadows.

And as Steven Rosen once wrote in an AIPAC internal memo: “A lobby is like a night flower. It thrives in the dark and dies in the sun.”


%d bloggers like this: