FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel, Big Money and Obama

by MARGARET KIMBERLEY

“Barack Obama has established a strong record as a true friend of Israel, a stalwart defender of Israel’s security, and an effective advocate of strengthening the steadfast U.S.-Israel relationship, publicly stating that Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state should never be challenged.”

– Lester Crown

Lester Crown is a Chicagoan with a net worth of four billion dollars. He owns a large stake in and is a former president and board chairman of defense contractor General Dynamics. He also has held large holdings in Hilton Hotels, Maytag (now Whirlpool), and the Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees.

Crown was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy first for the U.S. Senate, and then for president. He is one of the first and one of his most prodigious fundraisers. As the Obama presidential campaign website says, the candidate “… systematically built a sophisticated, and in many ways quite conventional, money machine.” The Crowns were an integral part of that machinery. One of Lester Crown’s children, James Crown, personally bundled $500,000 in campaign contributions for Obama and served as chairman of the Illinois fund raising effort. Lester Crown and his wife Renee hosted a fundraiser for Obama in 2007 at their home. The event invitation made it clear; their support for Obama was due to his support of Israel, its “right to exist“ and his willingness to strike militarily against Iran.

Every American president has wealthy individuals and families dedicated to getting them elected. The reliance of candidates for public office on the largesse of the rich may be common and expected, but it is nonetheless extremely dangerous. This corruption insures access for the rich, which guarantees that their interests are at the top of any president’s agenda, usually at the expense of what is good for everyone else.

For Lester Crown the top issue on his agenda is Israel. As he has said himself, “While my involvement in politics is motivated by a variety of issues, there is one issue that is fundamental: My deep commitment to Israel and to a strong U.S.-Israel relationship that strengthens both Israel’s security and its efforts to seek peace.”

According to a recently published article in The Atlantic, Israeli general Amos Yadlin traveled to Chicago in an effort to enlist Crown’s help in convincing the administration to attack Iran. White House visitor logs show that Crown did in fact visit the White House in April of this year to meet with Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applied “hidden pressure” on Obama which came “from Chicago.”

When asked about this report, Crown denied only that Yadlin traveled to Chicago. He confirmed that the two spoke and were in agreement about wanting the United States to attack Iran. “ ‘I support the president,” Crown said. ‘But I wish [administration officials] were a little more outgoing in the way they have talked. I would feel more comfortable if I knew that they had the will to use military force, as a last resort. You cannot threaten someone as a bluff. There has to be a will to do it.’ ”

Lester Crown’s opinions are not like anyone else’s two cents. He is a defense contractor, meaning he has a personal interest in maintaining the state of permanent war for the United States. He is also a very wealthy man who worked hard to get Barack Obama elected. Crown’s October 1, 2007 fundraiser was directed primarily at Jewish contributors who may have been insufficiently convinced of Obama‘s support for maintaining the status quo in America‘s relations with Israel. The event invitation read in part, “The purpose of the evening is to show Barack how appreciative we are of his steadfast, honest and proud support of Israel.”

Those are the words out of Crown’s own mouth. No one should be squeamish about questioning his actions and his motives and the very fact that a private citizen conducts foreign policy in secret. Lester Crown was not elected to any office, he was not appointed to pursue foreign policy on behalf of the government, he hasn‘t been confirmed by the United States Senate. If congress had even a small amount of courage, Crown would be subpoenaed to testify about his communications with Yadlin and with the president and his advisors.

The story of a presidential campaign contributor’s contacts with a general of a foreign nation’s military ought to be front page news. Sadly, that lack of coverage is not surprising. The corporate controlled media would reveal too much about themselves if they told us the truth about the little bit of democracy we have left. No one becomes a serious presidential contender without first passing muster with the Lester Crowns of the world. All of which means that American style democracy is little more than a sham. Iowans and New Hampshirites don’t determine who will be president. The Crowns and their ilk are the ones who get to choose before anyone pulls a lever in a voting booth.

The story of Lester Crown’s foray into foreign policy will not make headlines as it should. Congress will not question him under oath. Only individuals who are interested enough and savvy enough will know a little of the tale of how a nation’s people gave up their rights so the rich might have their way. The issue at hand for Lester Crown is Israel, but the CEOs and board chairmen of other industries hold sway in their spheres as much as Lester Crown does in his.

There will always be people of great wealth who influence what happens to people in the rest of world. Today Israel, tomorrow big pharma, and big oil the day after that. BP poisons the Gulf of Mexico with impunity and Lester Crown wants to commit a crime of his own. The only crime worse than an attack on Iran is acquiescence in the face of corporate control of our lives.

MARGARET KIMBERLEY is a columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.

Margaret Kimberley writes the Freedom Rider column for Black Agenda Report, where this essay originally appeared. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail