With a presidential election a mere one year away, and with seemingly half the population clamoring to be the chosen candidate of one party or the other, the adoration of AIPAC and Israel has hit a fever pitch.
OPINION | KITCHENER, Ontario — In any oligarchy, as an election approaches, government officials seeking re-election, and those hoping to replace them, all seek out the potential donors with the deepest pockets and most ample checkbooks. This, of course, is true in the United States, where no one can reasonably be expected to win an election without the backing and financial support of the country’s most prominent lobby groups. These organizations know that candidates auction themselves off periodically, and the highest bidder wins the prize of having an elected official who will serve the dictates of the winning bidder.
In the U.S., no candidate worthy of even calling him or herself a candidate would consider ignoring one of the most powerful special interest groups, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This group has funnelled millions of dollars to candidates who will worship appropriately at its unholy altar, and overlook all human rights abuses and violations of international law committed by Israel. And their name is legion.
Writing for Arab News in November of 2012, Tanya Cariina Hsu, a British Saudi-U.S. political analyst, asserted:
“… no politician can be elected into office without AIPAC’s support. No president can take the White House without affirming unbreakable allegiance to Israel, and attendance at the annual AIPAC meeting is mandatory. Once in office every member of Congress is expected to act, vote and defend the state of Israel on almost every issue, or face the consequences.”
In fact, when it comes to matters relating to the Middle East and Israel, MJ Rosenberg, a former AIPAC employee, revealed: “AIPAC writes the legislation (or letters, resolutions, etc) which are then handed over to legislators to drop in the hopper, gather cosponsors, and get it passed or sent.“
The GOP’s devotion to Israel
With a presidential election a mere one year away, and with seemingly half the population clamoring to be the chosen candidate of one party or the other, the adoration of AIPAC and Israel is at fever pitch. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, has no less than 69 press releases on his campaign website, praising Israel, discussing the need for the U.S. to strengthen its bonds with that regime, or criticizing either President Barack Obama or the United Nations for any tepid reproach of that nation. Between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2015 Mr. Cruz received $100,354 from various Israeli lobbies. Shortly after being elected to his first term, Mr. Cruz intensely interrogated Chuck Hagel, who had just been nominated as Defense Secretary, asking particularly about Mr. Hagel’s past comments critical of Israel. Mr. Cruz then voted against Mr. Hagel’s confirmation, thus satisfying his Israeli masters.
Another candidate for the Republican nomination, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, “only” has about 30 press releases supportive of Israel on his site, which is puzzling, since Israeli lobbies have donated $147,430 to him in the same period mentioned above. But perhaps Mr. Cruz recognizes that he simply needs to work harder to please this particular master.
In a post on “supporting and safeguarding Israel,” Mr. Rubio argues: “We have a national security interest in making sure Israel is strong,” and, further, “Israel deserves our support and respect.” He does not elaborate on either of these bizarre statements on his website, but let us look at them in some detail. What, one wonders, does Israel have to do with U.S. national security? Israel does nothing for the U.S., except embarrass it on the world stage and use it as its very own cash cow. And with billions of dollars in annual aid, much of it in military equipment, Israel has become the fourth most powerful country militarily in the world. It would seem to many people that Israel is strong already.
But an even more puzzling question is why “Israel deserves our support and respect.” For decades, Israel has occupied Palestine in violation of international law. There are separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank, with the Israeli roads being far better maintained. Collective punishment for Palestinians is commonplace. The killing of unarmed Palestinians is routine. It appears that Israel, rather than deserving “our support and respect,” deserves international sanctions and disdain.
Other candidates also appear to have Israel’s interests front and center. On Dec. 3, referring to the first day of the administration resulting from his most unlikely election, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told the Republican Jewish Coalition: “On day one I will work with the next attorney general to stop the BDS [Boycott, Divest and Sanction] movement in the United States.” A study on what this would mean for freedom of speech in the U.S. is a topic for another essay.
Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas in April, New York Gov. George Pataki said: “BDS is not a human rights movement. It is an anti-Semitic movement. And it must be stopped,” demonstrating his apparent ignorance of BDS, human rights and anti-Semitism — all in three short sentences.
Businessman and entertainer Donald Trump and retired surgeon Ben Carson both announced trips to Israel, which may be more important for Mr. Trump, who hasn’t exactly toed the Israeli party line. Mr. Carson has said, “Israel will have a very strong friend if I am president,” so his trip is probably more to cement his Israeli credentials. For Mr. Trump, he must prove them.
Contributions to and statements by the above-referenced candidates are just a random sample, giving the reader an idea of the value inherent in — how shall we put this — kissing up to the Israeli lobby. Never mind that the U.N. has issued more resolutions critical of Israel than of all other nations on the planet combined! Pay no attention to the Israeli bombing of U.N. refugee centers, press vehicles, residential neighborhoods and hospitals in Palestine! When hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in campaign contributions are at stake, what do international law, human rights or even common human decency have to do with it?
But what about the Dems?
Now let’s move across the aisle, and look at the Democratic side. Despite any personal animosity that President Barack Obama may harbor toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has consistently protected Israel from accountability at the U.N., and continued the flow of money and arms to Israel. Yet despite this, the president has always had to watch his step. During a speech to AIPAC in 2011, prior to his re-election campaign, Mr. Obama was not sufficiently deferential. As a result, one prominent Israeli leader speculated that he lost $10 million in political contributions.
Looking ahead, the picture doesn’t change.The nomination of Hillary Clinton is said by many to be all but assured. And as with all the other candidates, when seeking office in an oligarchy, one must look for where one can get the biggest bang for the buck. Why contact a million people for a few dollars each, when one can contact just a few people to obtain millions from each? Mrs. Clinton knows this well. One of her most ardent fans is a gentleman by the name of Haim Saban, who holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship.
Mr. Saban has proclaimed: “I’m a one-issue guy and that issue is Israel.” In July of 2014, Mr. Saban, who has a personal fortune estimated at $3.6 billion, was asked how much he intended to contribute to Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign. His response was simple: “As much as is needed.”
Mrs. Clinton’s admiration of Israel is well-known. In a letter to Mr. Saban, she bemoaned the growing success of the BDS movement against Israel, sought ways of countering it, and said that peace between Israel and Palestine could only happen through negotiations. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton is unaware that negotiations can only be successful between two parties which possess something the other wants, something which can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes whatever it wants from Palestine with complete impunity. Why should Palestine negotiate? Israel will simply continue to take whatever it wants.
During her 2006 Senate campaign, Mrs. Clinton received the seemingly paltry sum of $83,000 from Israeli lobbies. However, when one considers her fawning adoration of Israel, along with her name recognition and incumbency, and compares that to her little-known opponent, John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, New York, that money can be seen as symbolic, merely a token to let her know of better things to come.
Some Democrats see in Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders the savior they expected Mr. Obama to be in 2008. Yet one wonders why it is so hard for people to learn that politicians are just that: politicians. Mr. Sanders dances around the Israel-Palestine issue, for one thing, and faults Hamas for shooting rockets into Israel, rockets that Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and an outspoken critic of Israel, refers to as “enhanced fireworks.” While he himself doesn’t accept money from AIPAC, he must be careful not to alienate that lobby, or his opponent will reap the financial benefits.
Peeking through the cracks of a once-impenetrable wall
There are signs, however, that the stranglehold that the AIPAC had for decades on U.S. governance may have loosened, if only just a bit. AIPAC spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress to oppose the agreement between the U.S., Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany (the P5+1) with Iran, to regulate Iran’s nuclear development, an agreement that has now passed into law. For years AIPAC purported to represent all U.S. Jews, but other Jewish organizations, including J Street, another Israeli lobby group, supported the agreement with Iran.
Progress in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress is slow, to put it mildly. No one is suggesting that the U.S. do anything so rash as follow the example of 134 countries, and recognize Palestine.
The candles at the AIPAC altar still burn brightly for those seeking campaign funds who are willing to compromise their principles for the almighty dollar. Yet a crack in a seemingly impenetrable wall has appeared, and people are peeking in and seeing apartheid on the other side. The vise-like grip AIPAC has had for decades on the U.S. Congress has slipped just a little, and it will be next to impossible for all the Zionists in the world to retighten it.
A small but significant step was taken in September, when the U.N. approved a resolution to raise the Palestinian flag at the U.N. The Palestinian representative to the U.N., Riyad Mansour, said: “It is a symbolic thing, but another step to solidify the pillars of the state of Palestine in the international arena.”
This is all good news for Palestine; it is only to be wished that the process would accelerate.