Matching Grant Challenge
BruceMatch
We’re slowly making headway in our annual fund drive, but not nearly fast enough to meet our make-or-break goal.  On the bright side, a generous CounterPuncher has stepped forward with a pledge to match every donation of $100 or more. Any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more. Don’t miss the chance. Double your clout right now. Please donate.
 unnamed

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)

pp1

or
cp-store

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

Red Lines and Presidential Politics

How the Israel Lobby Gets What It Wants

by LAWRENCE DAVIDSON

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 discreet 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 the lobby — 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.

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 evidence for 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.”

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.