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Forum Post: The Israel Lobby and How It Operates

Posted 10 years ago on Sept. 26, 2012, 10:50 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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The Israel Lobby and How It Operates

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:20 By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis


I. The Israel Lobby and How it Operates

Much is being made of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s involvement in the on-going American presidential campaign. His public stance has been characterized as an Israeli effort to “openly…topple [President] Obama.” The truth is that the only thing unusual about this meddling is its open and advertised nature. In a more discrete fashion, Zionist pressure bordering on blackmail and bribery goes on every day.

I have written elsewhere about this corrupting process that I call “lobbification.“ In brief, this is how it operates:

Step One: A lobbyist, in this case someone from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), approaches Congresspersons or Senators. At some point in time that means every single one of them has been approached: all 435 voting members of Congress and every one of the 100 voting members of the Senate. Party affiliation is not an issue here.

Step Two: The lobbyist offers to organize financial campaign assistance, positive media coverage, briefings on situations in the Middle East, trips to Israel, etc.

Step Three: All that is asked in return is that the recipient consistently vote in a pro-Israel way. In other words, AIPAC wants the politician to surrender a part of his or her mind to them — that part that might exercise critical and considered judgment on issues pertaining to Israel.

Step Four: There are several unspoken, but publicly acknowledged, consequences of turning down this offer, or alternatively, managing to get elected on your own and then voting the wrong way.

  1. If you say no, the same offer will be made to your opponent both at the primary and general election levels.

  2. If you are elected and vote against Israel, AIPAC will do all it can, sooner or later, to see you defeated. It has a good record of turning such people out of office.

Step Five: If you sign up for this Faustian bargain and are elected, the lobby becomes your permanent partner. It is a constant presence. Its agents are always hovering about, rating your performance, letting you know they are there. Prove yourself reliable and they will underwrite you for life.

II. The President and Red Lines

President Obama made this bargain as solidly as have most other politicians in Washington. You can witness him affirming and reaffirming this deal in front of AIPAC conventions, while addressing the United Nations General Assembly, on those rare occasions when he addresses the press, and whenever else he feels it is politically necessary. He was even willing to debase his own national party convention to make a point of his loyalty to the Israel lobby.

Yet all this has proven insufficient. The issue over which Obama has fallen short is Iran.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu (the deus ex machina of the Israel lobby) insists that Iran is preparing to build nuclear weapons and, taking that assumption on faith, their nuclear energy program should be stopped or placed under international control. It should be noted that, back in 2002, Netanyahu incorrectly made the same charge against Iraq and that today, just as in 2002, there is no real evidencefor his assertion about Iran’s aims. All U.S. intelligence agencies agree that the Iranians are not presently developing nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, Netanyahu, who appears prone to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to other people’s nuclear programs, demands that Washington set “red lines” for Tehran which, if crossed, would trigger U.S. military action. In other words, on the basis of unsupported Zionist fears, the Israeli government is trying to maneuver the United States into yet another Middle East war. To his credit, President Obama has refused to comply with the demand for “red lines.”

The standard retribution practiced by the Israel lobby against a recalcitrant American politician is to try to get him or her kicked out of office. Usually this is done in a low-key way and most Americans don’t even know it is happening. But this time the act of revenge, driven by an egocentric and bellicose Israeli Prime Minister, is being carried out in full public view. Here are some of the ways Netanyahu is doing this:

  1. Netanyahu has joined Mitt Romney in accusing Barack Obama of being too easy on Iran and too unresponsive to an ally, Israel.

  2. Netanyahu has acquiesced in the use of his image and words in a blatantly false and distorted media campaign that accuses Obama of being “cozy” with the Society of Muslim Brotherhood.

  3. Netanyahu has asserted that Obama has “no moral right” to pressure Israel not to attack Iran. What the Prime Minister leaves out is that such an attack would constitute aggression under international law and violate treaties to which both the U.S. and Israel are signatories. Under these circumstances it would be immoral if President Obama did not pressure Israel to hold its fire.

  4. When accused of interfering in the presidential elections, Netanyahu has replied, “This is not an electoral issue….I think there is a common interest of all Americans of all persuasions to stop Iran.” The bit about this not being “electoral” is clearly disingenuous. If Netanyahu wants to hold an opinion about alleged common interests that is fine. However, if as the head of a foreign government, he publicly and repeatedly asserts that opinion in ways that aid one candidate for president over another, he has certainly made both himself and his opinion, an “electoral issue.”

III. Conclusion

There is speculation that, if Mr. Obama is reelected, then Prime Minister Netanyahu’s indiscreet behavior might result in “a sea change in U.S.-Israeli relations.” Unfortunately this is highly unlikely. The system of “lobbification” is solidly in place at the national political level. When it comes to Israel, only two things are likely to change it:

  1. Meaningful campaign finance reform that would free politicians from their present reliance on lobby affiliated contributions.

  2. The Israel-American connection becomes a voting issue such that continued blind support for Israel hurts a politician’s chance of election.

Neither of these possibilities seem to be on the horizon: It is the way the U.S. political system is run that makes politicians so vulnerable to lobby power. The fact that there are some lobbies out there that have decent and humane goals is not sufficient to justify a system that otherwise does so much damage. For instance, under the present circumstances it is impossible to define the national interest in an objective way. As it stands, the national interest is replaced by the parochial interests of lobbies that are successful at suborning Congress and the White House–Zionists pushing support for a racist and expansionist foreign power, Cuban-Americans carrying on a 53 year old vendetta against the government in Havana, the NRA striving to protect the right of every American to own a submachine gun, and the like.

In large part it comes down to money and how it is used manipulate leaders and parties. There is something age-old about this situation. It was the Roman Senator and master rhetorician Cicero (108 to 43 BCE) who said “Nihil tam munitum quod non expugnari pecunia possit.” Translated as: “No fortification is such that it cannot be subdued with money.” That is still the rule by which lobbyists live.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.


Shocking Stories of Loss Motivate Mourners of Mexico's Drug War Victims to Hold the US Responsible

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 13:33 By Kristen Gwynne, AlterNet | Report


Mexicans are determined to make America hear the truth about its role in Mexico's drug war.

In Mexico, where the authorities and the drug cartels are hard to separate, finding answers is often left to the survivors of drug war violence. Some survivors have dug through mass graves, turning over mutilated bodies, half-hoping to see the face of a loved one. Others have stared their children's killers in the eye while hearing the brutal details of how their kids were murdered. They interview incarcerated drug traffickers, desperate for some kind of closure. Determined to speak for the victims who have lost their voices, some relatives of victims have joined a new movement, the Caravan for Peace with Jusice and Dignity. The Caravan has demanded justice for the dead in Mexico, and this summer, they delivered their message -- a call for accountability -- across the United States.


"Harvest of Empire": New Film Recounts How US Intervention Caused Mass Latin American Migrations

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 10:08 By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy NOW! | Interview and Video


At a time of heated and divisive debate over immigration, the new feature-length documentary, "Harvest of Empire," examines the direct connection between the long history of U.S. intervention in Latin America and the immigration crisis we face today. Based on the groundbreaking book by award-winning journalist and Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, "Harvest of Empire" takes an unflinching look at the role that U.S. economic and military interests played in triggering an unprecedented wave of migration that is transforming our nation’s cultural and economic landscape. González is a columnist at the New York Daily News and author of three other books, including "News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media." We’re also joined by the film’s co-director, Eduardo López.




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[-] 2 points by JustinDM (251) from Atascadero, CA 10 years ago

Thank you LeoYo, good post

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5909) 10 years ago

Is There Any Such Thing as Progressive US Foreign Policy in the Middle East?

Thursday, 27 September 2012 11:16 By Maryam Jamshidi, Truthout | News Analysis


The Obama administration's Mideast foreign policy has not been as progressive as promised. The US progressive movement must reconcile positions on US foreign policy that often support US imperial projects abroad with its push for social justice at home. At the start of his presidency, Barack Obama raised expectations for a more progressive US foreign policy. Many were sure his approach would break ranks with the Bush administration. Some even hoped he would set a new course for US relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

Nearly four years later, Obama's Mideast foreign policy bears little resemblance to these expectations. Sadly, many progressives seem unconcerned, a worrying but unsurprising trend.

It all began with Obama's inauguration address, which featured cautionary, though not confrontational, advice for America's adversaries: "To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." In a welcome move, Obama made a thinly veiled reference to diplomacy with Iran: "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

He quickly followed these promising words with concrete actions. In his first phone call to a foreign leader as president, Obama reached out to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. As one of his first political appointments in office, Obama named former US senator George Mitchell, the architect of the Northern Ireland peace accords, as Special Envoy for Middle East Peace.

In his first interview as president, Obama sat down with Arab television station Al Arabiya and vowed to launch a "new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest" with the Arab and Muslim world. When asked "how far" the United States would go to prevent a "nuclear Iran," Obama expressed the need for "talk[ing] to Iran, to express very clearly where our differences are, but where there are potential avenues for progress."

In early June 2009, President Obama traveled to Cairo, where he made his now famous speech to the Muslim world vowing to seek a "new beginning" and calling for a "sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground."

These gestures were unprecedented. Never before had a US president begun his first term with strong and consistent gestures of friendship to the Muslim and Arab world, given such high priority to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and clearly expressed interest in speaking directly with the Iranian government. Unfortunately, in the years since this heady start, the "spring" of Obama's presidency has taken a more discouraging turn. The Middle East peace process has stalled, and US-Iran relations are at their lowest ebb in 30 years. Coming under pressure from a Congress unhappy with his diplomatic approach, in late 2009/early 2010, Obama's unclenched hand toward Iran slowly became a fist. The administration withdrew its support from interim confidence-building measures brokered by Turkey and Brazil and began pursuing punitive sanctions against Iran in the United Nations. In June 2010, the UN Security Council gave its blessing, approving a new round of sanctions against Iran.

Tensions continued to building in 2011. By the end of the year, the president, once so circumspect about the prospect of war with Iran, was now affirmatively suggesting its possibility. Since then, the sabers have come fully unsheathed and the drums of war against Iran have been pounding in the US political sphere.

As for the Arab uprisings of the past year, US support has been inconsistent at best and woefully absent at worst. Meanwhile, in Yemen and Pakistan, Obama has taken the US drone program to new levels, resulting in concomitant increases in civilian casualties. Far from carrying the progressive mantle, Obama has adopted policies toward the region that have been anathema to the progressive movement's basic principles. Political progressivism supports the pursuit of transparent, accountable government, an end to the influence of big business and an emphasis on issues of social justice. On each of these scores, Obama's Mideast foreign policy has failed.

On the issues of accountability and transparency, the US drone program looms large; it has targeted American citizens abroad and engendered a new form of asymmetrical warfare that has thickened the fog of impunity surrounding the US military.

In terms of special interest groups, Obama's Mideast policy has hardly been spared their stultifying influence. As Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer noted in their groundbreaking book, "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," American approaches to the Middle East often "reflected Israel's preferences." At the behest of the Israeli government and the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, the Obama administration has withdrawn its demand for a halt to Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank and has all but abandoned any hope of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this term.

On issues of social justice, Obama has eschewed concerns with human rights in the region for the sake of feeding America's insatiable need for oil and maintaining a ready market for US weapons. As of June 2012, US weapons sales abroad reached a record $50 billion. Three-fifths of these sales went to Saudi Arabia alone, a country known for its repressive human-rights practices. After suspending sales to Bahrain because of crackdowns against pro-democracy protesters, the US government resumed weapons sales to the country in May 2012. Despite cosmetic gestures toward reform, the Bahraini government has continued to suppress the country's fledgling democracy movement, recently sentencing a prominent opposition activist to three years in prison for participating in anti-government protests.

Although some notable progressives, such as Salon's Glenn Greenwald, have recognized and opposed these trends in Obama's Mideast policy, many have barely batted an eyelash. While clinging to the progressive banner, numerous members of the movement have turned a blind eye to the administration's regional foreign policy and have focused, instead, on Obama's more progressive domestic policies, such as support for gay marriage and universal health care. Other progressives have actively supported Obama's foreign policy approach to the Mideast, lauding his push for the 2011 NATO offensive in Libya, among other things.

These reactions to Obama's Mideast policies reflect a deeper and more insidious phenomenon of regressive foreign policy within the progressive movement. For instance, the Truman National Security Project, a well-known DC think tank, has been lauded by many progressives as a bastion of forward-thinking foreign policymaking in the United States: the group's active promotion of continued US military interventionism abroad is neither concerning nor contradictory for these supporters.

Then there are the politicians. Aside from a few Congressional members, most nationally recognizable, progressive political figures support a Mideast foreign policy that is in step with the Obama administration, and, therefore, lacking in real progressive vision. These trends in progressive foreign policy find their roots in the very history of political progressivism. Since its inception in the late 1890s, the US progressive movement has largely been domestically focused. While it has frequently taken stances on US foreign policy issues, these positions have often contradicted the movement's domestic policy approach. As such, US progressives have at times ignored, or even supported, US imperial projects abroad while pushing for social justice at home.

For instance, during the Spanish-American War of 1898, notable members of the progressive movement supported US interventionism and resulting American control over the Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico and the Philippines. The progressive movement also largely supported President Woodrow Wilson's imperialist policies, including US intervention in the Mexican Revolution and the American invasions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This all at a time when progressives were pushing for women's suffrage, more decent labor conditions, and other prototypically "progressive" policies at home.

For many progressives, these ongoing tensions between issues of domestic and foreign policy have been mitigated through a focus on process. By pushing for certain procedural requirements in the foreign policy realm - that is, diplomacy and multilateralism - some progressives have diminished the importance of substantive content and recklessly applied the "progressive" label to unsavory policies. Political procedures cannot, however, transform regressive or conservative positions into progressive ones. Members of the movement would hardly accept the elimination of Medicare or a reduction in the minimum wage simply because electoral democracy was used to achieve the result. Similarly, while diplomacy and multilateralism remain important, issues of substance are crucial to any truly progressive foreign policy agenda.

So, what would a progressive US foreign policy toward the Middle East look like? As a first step, it would more equitably balance US interests with social justice issues. The Arab Spring has provided a unique opportunity to recast US relations with the region in terms of economic justice, human rights and civil liberties. A progressive foreign policy approach toward the region would reflect these values. It would also confront the influence of special interests that have disproportionately skewed America's regional policy toward issues of oil, nuclear weapons and terrorism.

[-] -2 points by TheRazor (-329) 10 years ago

I am fairly sure the world tried to wipe Jews from the earth. We just had a leader of Iran declare his desire to again wipe Israel from the earth.

Hold Arabs accountable for their heinous behavior and the Israel issue goes away.

[-] -2 points by alva (-442) 10 years ago

its not just the jews he wants to eliminate. its just that israel is the closest non muslim country. it s everyone that doesnt ascribe to islam and sharia law.

[-] -1 points by yobstreet (-575) 10 years ago

That's a whole lotta crap to read out about a very simple issue. There are only two places in the world that offer safe refuge to the Jew - Israel and the US. They forget also that Israel has a Muslim population, too, and that places like Baghdad also had a Christian population, prior to our invasion. Gradually both the Jew and the Christian presence in the Middle East is being reduced to that of the long forgotten graveyard.

And there is only one thing that the Left has in common with the Muslim - and that is their hatred of individualism; their hatred of the anti-statist who rejects their views in favor of a personal freedom.

It's an absurd marriage.

Progressives are whiners... they are the weak on the playground of life who shout "unfair" while the independent individualist undermines their every thought, their every attempt, to empower themselves. We are the very reason that a socialism will never be successful.

[-] 0 points by alva (-442) 10 years ago

liberals and muslims want completely control your life.liberals do with " laws", muslims do it by sharia and the sword.

[-] 0 points by yobstreet (-575) 10 years ago

Yes, that's the point - it's the one item they unite on - the desire to control people of independent mind.

[-] 0 points by bensdad (8977) 10 years ago

And the second largest share holder in fox - is a Muslim Saudi prince Everybody buys our media & government IT ALL MUST BE STOPPED