AIPAC rallying pressure on Obama over Israel

AIPAC rallying pressure on Obama over Israel

http://www.presstv.com/detail.aspx?id=122089&sectionid=3510203

Wed, 31 Mar 2010 05:37:34 GMT
The influential pro-Israeli lobby in the United States is mobilizing US lawmakers to pressure the White House to soften its stance on Tel Aviv.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has circulated a letter on Capitol Hill, urging members of Congress to pressure the administration of President Barack Obama to end its public criticism of Israeli policies.

The open letter, signed by more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives, urges the administration to reinforce its relationship with the Israeli regime.

The apparent disagreement between the US and Israel was sparked after Tel Aviv’s announcement of 1,600 new Jewish settlement units in the occupied East Jerusalem (al-Quds), which undermined the Washington-sponsored “proximity talks” with Palestinians.

After the Israeli announcement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express the US frustration. She told the hard-line Israeli premier that the latest settlements announcement was “a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach” to relations with the US, State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters on March 12 in Washington.

The Palestinians have been demanding an end to Israeli settlements constructions on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, which the international community also deems as illegal.

The recent settlements expansion plan is even more provocative as it targets east al-Quds, which was annexed by Israel during its 1967 invasion of its Arab neighbors. East al-Quds has long been designated by Palestinians as the capital of their future state and it includes the al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest place.

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Israel lobby presses Congress to soften Obama’s tough stance on Netanyahu

American Israel Public Affairs Committee circulates letter urging White House to ‘reinforce’ relationship with Israel

Chris McGreal in Washington Tuesday 30 March 2010 19.24 BST
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/30/us-israel-lobby-pressure-obama

Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel. Photograph: Pete Souza/AP

America’s main pro-Israel lobby group is mobilising members of Congress to pressure the White House over its bitter public confrontation with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.

The move, by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), appears aimed at exploiting differences in the Obama administration as it decides how to use the crisis around settlement building in Jerusalem to press Israel towards concessions to kickstart peace negotiations.

Aipac has persuaded more than three-quarters of the members of the US House of Representatives to sign a letter calling for an end to public criticism of Israel and urging the US to “reinforce” its relationship with the Jewish state.

The open letter, which has been circulating among members of Congress for the last week, says that while it is recognised that there will be differences between the two countries, they should be kept behind closed doors. “Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence,” it says.

The public differences, and revelations of Obama’s private snubs of Netanyahu at the White House last week, have proved embarrassing to the Israeli leader at home, where he has been accused of undermining Israel’s most important relationship.

Signatories to Aipac’s letter include Steny Hoyer, the Democrat majority leader, and Eric Cantor, the Republican whip. The wording is similar to an email Aipac sent out during Netanyahu’s visit, describing Obama’s criticisms of the Israeli government as “a matter of serious concern” and calling on the US administration “to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish state”.

But while Aipac has for years influenced US policy on Israel, by targeting members of Congress who criticise the Jewish state, it may no longer have the same impact.

Robert Malley, a former special assistant to President Bill Clinton for Arab-Israeli affairs, said the administration’s decision to take a once routine disagreement over settlement construction in East Jerusalem and turn it in to a confrontation is a reflection of the determination in the White House.

“This episode tells us more about the past and the future than the present. It’s a reflection of the accumulated frustration and mistrust of the Netanyahu government by the White House. For the future, they’re headed for a collision on the pace and nature of peace negotiations,” he said. “We’re seeing determination.”

A source, who is consulted by administration officials on Israel policy but did not wish to be named, said that having chosen to take Netanyahu on, Obama cannot afford to back away. “The administration’s credibility is at stake – in Israel and the Arab world. Netanyahu thought he had the better of it last year after he humiliated the president by rejecting his demand for a settlement freeze. If the administration does not follow through on this, or reaches some compromise that takes the heat off the Israelis, I suspect it will be almost impossible for us to get anything off the ground,” he said.

Netanyahu appears to have been caught off guard by Obama’s stand, perhaps because he was overconfident of being able to bypass the administration by relying on strong support for Israel in Congress. But while Aipac has been able to mobilise support for its letter, Congressional leaders have remained largely silent on the substance of the dispute.

That is, in part, because there is little enthusiasm for Jewish settlements. In addition, the White House has played an unusual card in suggesting that Netanyahu’s intransigence is endangering US interests in the Middle East, and the lives of US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“So far, I’ve been surprised by how muted congressional reaction has been,” said Malley. “It may come, but if the administration manages to portray this as an issue of US national interest, it may be able to sustain a level of criticism.”

However, there are reports of divisions within the administration on how to proceed. The US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, and the national security adviser, James Jones, believe Israeli governments respond to pressure. Last year an Israeli diplomatic memorandum described Jones as having told European officials that the US administration would take a hard line with the government in Jerusalem. Some officials favour mapping out a blueprint for peace and pressing both sides to adopt it.

But other officials argue against forcing Netanyahu to make compromises that will bring down his rightwing coalition. There has been criticism from Dennis Ross, who served as Bill Clinton’s Middle East envoy. Now a Middle East strategist for the Obama administration, he is reported to be arguing for the White House to ease up on Netanyahu. However, Ross is regarded by some sceptics as too close to Israel. He has publicly argued that Jerusalem must remain undivided and is regarded with suspicion by the Palestinians, who saw him as effectively negotiating on Israel’s behalf, rather than as a neutral mediator.

Malley says that whatever the Obama administration does it is almost certain to lead to further confrontation with the Israeli government. “The next crisis is more or less inevitable, given the diverging views of the Israeli and US governments on the pace and direction of the emerging talks,” he said.

War of words

“We must not be trapped by an illogical and unreasonable demand.”

Binyamin Netanyahu, below, on Obama’s demand for an end to settlement construction in East Jerusalem.

“I think at one point the [Israeli] prime minister added that he did not see a distinction necessarily between building in Jerusalem and building in Tel Aviv. We disagree with that.”

White House spokesman on Netanyahu’s reaction to the demand for an end to settlement construction.

“We recognise that, despite the extraordinary closeness between our country and Israel, there will be differences over issues, both large and small. Our view is that such differences are best resolved quietly, in trust and confidence, as befits long-standing strategic allies.”

Letter signed by members of Congress pressing the administration to avoid such public disagreements.

7 Responses to “AIPAC rallying pressure on Obama over Israel”

  • Patriot says:

    Kevin MacDonald: The Netanyahu-Obama Flap

    http://theoccidentalobserver.net/tooblog/?p=1269

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    US Explicitly Opposes Palestinian Right to Self-Determination (by Dr. Stephen Sniegoski)

    http://america-hijacked.com/2010/03/26/us-explicitly-opposes-palestinian-right-to-self-determination/

    http://tinyurl.com/usopposespalestinians

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    US Politicians are not going to put their office on the line for Palestine. Look what has happened to those who have (Paul Findley, Cynthia McKinney, Earl Hilliard, etc.):

    AIPAC went after Earl Hilliard:

    http://www.blackcommentator.com/8_hilliard_interview.html… See More

    Listen to what Hilliard had to say in the following Dutch made documentary on AIPAC which the producer couldn’t even get to air on any US network (the interviews are in English):

    Must watch Dutch documentary on the Israeli Lobby (the interviews to include with John Mearsheimer are in English):

    The Israel Lobby. Portrait of a Great Taboo :

    AIPAC’s Push for War with Iran

    Here is a Google video for the English version of that Dutch AIPAC documentary (must watch especially for what Lawrence Wilkerson mentions about WW 3 at the end!):

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3994543425032066015&q=&hl=en

    http://freedocumentaries.org/film.php?id=173

    The Israelis Next Door — Hustler Magazine

    http://america-hijacked.com/2010/04/01/the-israelis-next-door-hustler-magazine/

    http://tinyurl.com/Israelisnextdoor

    AIPAC Conference Highlights US-Israel Relations:

    http://america-hijacked.com/2010/03/24/aipac-conference-highlights-u-s-israel-tensions/

  • Robert L. Stebbins says:

    Jerusalem is not only sacred to Jews; it is sacred to Christians because Jesus led his followers, with their demands for justice, into the city during the week of “passover”, and to Muslims because Mohammad went to Jerusalem before ascending to Heaven. The Government of Israel should build equal-sized apartment complexes not only for Jews but also for Christians and Muslims. It should also build a single social center for use by members of all three apartment complexes. Then it should require that only residents who are willing to live in peace with members of the other two faiths, and to make social contact with them, be allowed to live there. This would demonstrate to the whole world that persons of these three faiths, who claim a common spiritual ancestor, Abraham, can live together in peace.

  • Hugh Bruce says:

    Robert Stebbins makes a thoughtful and sane plea. Unfortunately such a truly humane and charitable approach will fall on the deaf ears of the successors to the Stern Gang and the Irgun. President Obama will face a campaign of villification that will make the recent Health Care opus look like a walk in the park should he choose the morally right path of making continued American largesse dependent upon civilized behavior by the Zionist state. Meanwhile the stupified goyim in the U.S. will watch in awe as the only real semites in the land of Palestine are murdered by our “special” friends.

  • Ron says:

    Mr. Bruce makes some very honest and truthful comments, but I doubt if the
    three fourths of congress that signed the letter to Obama will even understand comments such as this. I do and come by it quite honestly. I
    am one of the survivors of the deliberate attack on the USS Liberty June 8,
    1967. Our own government condoned this attack that killed 34 American Sailors,Marines,and civilians.

  • Patriot says:

    The Lobby vs. America: Netanyahu’s Lies and the Spineless Politicians

    Israeli war crimes were made possible because of American funds.

    http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=15857

    By Ramzy Baroud

    As I listened to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address an animated crowed of supporters on March 22, I felt physically sick. The man has already displayed time and again a complete lack of moral sense or ethical framework in his words and actions. In his recent arguments, he once again twisted history, manipulated facts and fabricated his own selective, self-interested and highly questionable narrative. Netanyahu, a colonialist from a faraway land, also had the audacity to convince himself and a few others that he had legal, moral and historic rights over my land. While I am the son of a Palestinian family rooted in Palestine since time immemorial, Netanyahu is the son of an immigrant from Lithuania. While he giddily robs more Palestinian land in Jerusalem, I live in exile.

    Netanyahu was addressing the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The ‘powerful’ lobby group encompasses a large conglomerate of rightwing Zionist politicians and lobbyists and is seen by many as the most instrumental platform that influences – and, to a large degree, controls – US foreign policy regarding Palestine, Israel and the entire Middle East.

    AIPAC is dangerous for many reasons. For one, it’s not a lobby group in the conventional sense – meaning a group of well-paid lobbyists harassing US Congressmen with telephone calls with the hope of advancing the agenda of their benefactors (in this case, the state of Israel). The pro-Israel lobby has actually grown and morphed into a political body that is embedded within all branches of the US government, as well as the media, academia and elsewhere. It is no secret that the neo-conservative cliques of politicians who engineered, steered and to an extent continue to influence US war policy are in fact a mere component of the same ‘lobby’.

    While Jewish communities in the US may not be united in their support of the largely rightwing and hawkish Zionist lobby groups, both major political parties in the US and all branches of the government stand in complete support of Israel. The AIPAC annual conference is almost mandatory for them. Sadly, Netanyahu’s speech before AIPAC is of equal, if not of greater import to some of them than the State of the Union address. Following Obama’s address in 2010, many US politicians openly voiced criticism of his take on many issues. But few dare challenge Netanyahu on much of the malice he spewed on March 22.

    Americans need to realize that this is no longer about Palestine and Israel. It is now about their own country, their own sovereignty and the future of their own democracy. They must ask hard questions and refuse to settle for sentimental answers. How could America be so divided on so many issues, yet so united on the ‘cause of Israel’? Where does a feeble politician like Netanyahu find the courage to defy the president of the very country that supplied his own with many billions of taxpayer dollars? Of course, we know that much of the fund was used to occupy, torment and wage war on Palestinians for many years. This is the atrocious fact that Americans need to understand fully: Israeli war crimes were made possible because of American funds, weapons and political cover. America is not an outside party to the conflict. It has done more than its fair share in the ongoing Palestinian tragedy.

    Even if one is somehow convinced by the most recent and unusually strong stance taken by the Obama administration regarding Israel’s settlement policy in East Jerusalem, there still remains the question of what comes next. When the President of the United States articulates a seemingly unmovable US position that rejects the building of more illegal settlements that would preclude any possible peace talks, and yet he fails to weaken Israel’s resolve even by an iota, some questions must be asked. Will the US use its leverage to twist Israel’s arm to respect international law? Will it at least hold on to some of the billions of dollars of funds that it continues to pour into Israel – especially as the US undergoes an unprecedented financial crisis, resulting in growing poverty and homelessness?

    The answer might be in the UPI report on March 26, citing Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz:

    “Despite the sharpest rift in decades between Israel and the United States, the Pentagon is reported to have given the green light to the $250 million sale of C-130J transport aircraft to Israel…The deal…involves three ‘Super Hercules’ aircraft manufactured especially to the Israeli air force’s requirements. (The report) indicates that despite the belief among the United States’ top military commanders that Israel’s failure to reach a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians is undermining U.S. influence and standing in the Muslim world and thus endangering its forces, the Pentagon is prepared to maintain Israel’s military superiority in the Middle East.”

    The timing and the nature of the ‘sale’ signify the following: first, if the US government was ready to actively back up its supposed disagreement with Israel, it would have stopped this unwarranted sale. Second, considering that the deal was made through the Pentagon, the very platform used to express concern and call for at least a reconsideration of US policy in the region, the sale is both a slap on the face of the US military, and a veiled apology to Israel. Third, if the failure to reexamine this absence relationship continues, then there is absolutely no doubt left that US foreign policy in the Middle East is indeed held hostage to Israeli, not American priorities, misguided at times as they maybe.

    Those individuals in the US government, military and media that have the courage and the platform to confront Israel must take the opportunity. They should not succumb to intimidation or fear, nor should they be swayed by Netanyahu’s lies. The fact is, Netanyahu will continue to lie; it’s what he does best. The onus is on those US politicians who readily and barefacedly continue to give the professional liar a standing ovation following every statement he utters. And it is only really they who give any power to the ‘powerful’ lobby.

    – Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

  • DyingTruth says:

    MAN SCREW Resident Obama, WHEN JEWS DECLARED WAR ON GERMANY IN 1933 THROUGH the American Jewish Congress AT LEAST HITLER STOOD IN DEFENSE FOR HIS COUNTRY. WHILE OBAMA ON THE OTHER HAND GIVES AID AND SUPPORT TO THESE UNCIVILIZED CREATURES FINANCIALLY, MILITARILY, POLITICALLY AND IN THE UNJUSTIFIABLE ATTEMPTS TO ESTABLISH A NONEXISTANT STATE(ISRAEL) IN THE STATE OF PALESTINE. AND STILL WITH NO SHAME OBAMA STILL PROVIDES FUNDING AND AID TO THESE OBAMINATIONS ON TO PLANET EARTH IN HELPING THEM WITH THEIR HOPES OF PERMENANTLY OCCUPYING PALESTINIAN LAND THAT NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE THE STATE OF ISRAEL, THE SAME WAY HE’S HELPING ALL THE BANKS FRAUDULENTLY FORECLOSE ON AND UNLAWFULLY EVICT FAMILIES FROM THEIR HOMES IN THE USA. BUT FACTS ARE FACTS AND WHEN SOMETHING IS STOLEN BY A THIEF, THE THIEF IS STILL A CRIMINAL AND THE ORIGINAL OWNER IS STILL ITS RIGHTFUL ONE NO MATTER HOW MUCH AIPAC LOBBYS CONGRESS(MOSTLY JEWISH ANTI-AMERICANS) MUTATE THE LAW TO THAT OF SOMETHING SIMILAR OF ZIONISTS THEMSELVES AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE THAT PLAGUES HUMANITY.

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