FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

How the Israel Lobby Gets What It Wants

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.

 

More articles by:

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University in West Chester, PA.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail