Archive for June 2nd, 2011

Can Obama Beat the Israel Lobby?

Can Obama Beat the Israel Lobby?

How The Pro-Israel Lobby Chills Middle East Debate

Forwarded:

From: Adibsk
Subject: How the Zionist Lobby Almost Flattened Jewish Senator

Date: Thursday, June 2, 2011, 9:20 AM

This is how the super power, The United States of America, is run and

Controlled by the state it created, nursed, fed and cleaned its dirt!!!

Very instructive. This account, by one who is today a sharp critic of Israeli policy, confirms two of my personal tenets held for decades:

1)Netanyahu is a professional liar.

2)Wm. Safire(no gem), the late Likudist NYT columnist, had a personal line to the Israeli Embassy and was its conduit.

Shamir, as co-head of the Stern Gang in 1941, proposed an alliance to Nazi Germany. (See Lenni Brenner, “Zionism in the Age of the Dictators.”)  -AFS

But when a US politician respects himself:

There was one happy note that came from the whole affair: Levin backed me 100 percent. The letter did get him in trouble with donors, but he stood by it and by me, and since then he has been re-elected four times. In fact, he told me not long ago that he was proud that he wrote it. Him. Not me.

 

__._,_.___ How The Lobby Chills Middle East Debate 

May 27, 2011 12:58 pm ET — MJ Rosenberg

This week, following that tumultuous reception for Prime Minister Netanyahu at the congressional joint meeting, I want to share a personal recollection of how the Middle East status quo is preserved on Capitol Hill.

It was in 1988 and I was a foreign policy aide to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). One February day, Levin called me into his office to say that he was disturbed at a quote he saw in that day’s New York Times. An article quoted Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir saying that he rejected the idea of withdrawing from any of the land Israel captured in the 1967 war:

Mr. Shamir said in a radio interview, ”It is clear that this expression of territory for peace is not accepted by me.”

Levin instantly understood what Shamir was saying. He was repudiating U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 (which Israel had helped draft) which provided for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict” in exchange for peace and security. Those resolutions represented official U.S. and international policy then, and they still do.

But, in 1988, Shamir tried to declare them null and void. 

Levin asked me to draft a letter to Secretary of State George Shultz stating that it was the view of the Senate that the U.N. Resolutions remained the policy of the U.S. whether Shamir liked it or not. Of course, the letter wasn’t written in that kind of language. It was more than polite. Additionally, Levin wanted it addressed to Shultz, not to Shamir, to avoid ruffling too many feathers in Israel.

I wrote the draft. Levin edited and re-edited it. Then he called in the head of AIPAC, Thomas A. Dine, to run the language past him. Tom said it was “great.” Levin told Dine that he would not embarass him by revealing that he had approved the letter.

Levin then asked me to deliver it to the Secretary of State but said that first he would try to round up a few other senators to join him in signing it. In an hour he had 30. He probably could have gotten three times as many but it was Friday afternoon and most of the senators had decamped.

I delivered the letter. Because Levin wanted to avoid a brouhaha, the Levin office did no press about it. It was essentially a secret initiative.

But then one of the senators who had the letter gave it to the New York Times. And within minutes the phones started ringing off the hook. Reporters and AIPAC donors (who had no idea Dine had signed off on the letter) were going crazy. Levin was asked to appear on all three Sunday morning talk shows. He declined. In fact, he took off for Moscow, on a long-planned trip.

On Sunday, news of the Levin “Letter of 30″ was the lead story in the New York Times.

Thirty United States Senators, including many of Israel’s staunchest supporters, have written a letter criticizing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and his Likud party, suggesting they may be obstructing efforts to reach a peace settlement in the Middle East.

The extraordinary public criticism of Israel was contained in a letter addressed to Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who returned home today after several days in the Middle East. Mr. Shultz has proposed the broad outlines of an interim settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. …

The senators who signed the letter said they were dismayed at Mr. Shamir’s continued resistance to the concept of Israel’s ceding some territories it occupies in exchange for peace, a cornerstone of Mr. Shultz’s efforts. Although the letter also criticizes Arab states except for Egypt, Congressional aides said it was intended principally to send a message to Mr. Shamir and the Likud bloc.

So significant was the fact that any U.S. senator had criticized any Israeli policy in any way (albeit mildly), that the Sunday Times reprinted the whole text. 

On Monday all hell broke loose. Because Levin was in Russia, staffers had to field both the press calls and the threats from outraged donors, constituents, and “pro-Israel” organizations. 

Then some real weirdness happened. A top Israeli embassy official came to the office to deliver a protest from Prime Minister Shamir. When Levin’s chief of staff, Gordon C. Kerr, told him that it was inappropriate for a foreign official to protest a letter senators had addressed to their own government (i.e., the Secretary of State), the Israeli official insulted Levin and made ugly threats. Kerr then threw him out of the office.

In the meantime, Levin heard from President Ronald Reagan, who thanked him for organizing support for the administration’s position. Meanhile, Shamir began calling senators to express “astonishment“ that his policies had been criticized.

Then came a moment that was, for me, the most shocking experience I ever had during my years working for the United States government.

William Safire, the most influential New York Times columnist, phoned me in a rage. He told me that he knew for a fact that neither Levin nor I had drafted the letter. He said that he knew that the letter was written by an aide to the leader of the Labor Party opposition in Israel, Shimon Peres. He said that aide, one Yossi Beilin, had hand-delivered the text to me, and that I had convinced Levin to circulate it. He said that my goal was to unseat Shamir and replace him with Peres.

I almost laughed. The very idea that a Senate aide had such power was astounding. But then Safire asked if I thought it was appropriate for a Senate aide to be the agent of a foreign political party, and what would Levin think when he read about that in Safire’s column.

That was scary. As a Senate aide, I had sworn allegiance to the United States and the Constitution. I also had a security clearance. This could be serious.

I told Safire that I had written the draft and that Levin had (as is his wont) extensively edited it. I told him I had no idea who Beilin was (which was the truth). Safire then got really nasty and told me that he knew I was lying because he had the story on good authority (Israeli U.N. ambassador Binyamin Netanyahu and AIPAC’s number two guy, Steve Rosen, who was subsequently indicted for espionage). I said I didn’t care who he heard it from, it was a lie. Additionally, Levin had undertaken the initiative to help Israel because he thought that if Israel ruled out territorial withdrawal, the conflict would never end.  

The call concluded with Safire backing down after warning me that if he ever found out I was lying, I would be “finished.” He said he would not write the column because — get this — in the end he believed me more than his sources. 

And that was that. Nothing more happened with the Letter of 30, except that after the vicious attacks on Levin, few senators have challenged the Israeli government or AIPAC since.

So what’s the moral? It is this: Criticizing Israel is dangerous business. On what other issue would a New York Times columnist call a Senate staffer and threaten to destroy his career? None. And why was a New York Times columnist acting as if he was working for the Israeli government? Safire wasn’t a journalist that day; he essentially was a representative of the Israeli government. 

Accordingly, is it any wonder the whole Congress abased itself the other day by jumping up and down and hurling love at Netanyahu? Who wants to mess with an 800-pound gorilla? Certainly not members of Congress.

There was one happy note that came from the whole affair: Levin backed me 100 percent. The letter did get him in trouble with donors, but he stood by it and by me, and since then he has been re-elected four times. In fact, he told me not long ago that he was proud that he wrote it. Him. Not me.

——————————————————————————————–

 ‘Pro-Israel lobby has stranglehold on US political system’

http://www.presstv.com/usdetail/181337.html

Additional via http://tinyurl.com/AIPACStrangleholdonUS

The Tie that Binds

The Tie that Binds

http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2011/06/01/the-tie-that-binds/

Posted By Philip Giraldi On June 1, 2011 @ 11:00 pm In Uncategorized | 13 Comments

The recent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  was a personal triumph for him and a disaster for the United States. Since the 1960s, if not before, Israel has sought to bind the United States to her by maintaining that the two countries have identical interests worldwide.  In reality, this has never been true, even during the cold war when the Soviets were actively engaged in a number of Arab states, but it is a lie that has been assiduously promoted by Israel’s friends in Washington.  The false narrative has been used to justify extraordinary levels of taxpayer-provided aid to Israel as well as unlimited political cover in international organizations like the United Nations, where the US Security Council veto has been regularly deployed to negate possible consequences whenever Israel attacks one of its neighbors.

The Bush Administration used to refer to “narrowing the playing field” to eliminate alternative strategies whenever it was planning something particularly nasty or illegal.  Israel’s latest initiatives are cut from the same cloth, the culmination of years of effort to reduce the options for independent action by the United States to such an extent that there would be no wiggle room over issues that Tel Aviv considers to be important.  For the past twenty years, for example, Washington has embraced the Israeli definition of terrorism, that all groups hostile to the State of Israel are terrorists and cannot be dealt with except by killing them.  That has meant that groups that do not threaten the United States including Hamas and Hezbollah have been declared terrorists even though they started out as resistance groups in Lebanon and Palestine opposing the respective Israeli occupations and have now morphed into political parties.  Israel, which actually helped create Hamas as a counter to Fatah, has piled on the confusion by regularly and inaccurately referring to al-Qaeda presence in Gaza and by conflating Hamas with al-Qaeda.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did so several times in his speeches last week.  The confusion has apparently worked judging by Congress’s serial standing ovations when Netanyahu piled lie on top of lie on top of lie.

A more nuanced approach to the terrorism issue would be for the United States to step back from entering into new quarrels on behalf of its friends and associates internationally.  Director of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano perfectly illustrated the perils of that kind of groupthink when she declared last week that the Pakistan based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is “as dangerous” as al-Qaeda.  Lashkar is active in Indian-occupied Kashmir and also was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but it does not threaten the United States.  Napolitano’s singling out of the group was in front of an audience in New Delhi which might well lead one to question why she was over there and what homeland she was protecting. And her remarks could, of course, produce a bad result.  They could suggest to LeT’s leaders that some targeting of Americans might be desirable.

Overall, the adoption of an Israeli-influenced counter-terrorism policy was a great success that was cast in concrete by the events of 9/11, which Bibi Netanyahu welcomed, knowing that Washington would be bound even more tightly to Tel Aviv.  But there still remained that old nagging peace process to be dealt with.  The United States had sent off former Senator George Mitchell to the region in an attempt to promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, or at least take a couple of baby steps in that direction.  For Israel, peace would require fixed borders and it would also mean that the expansion of the illegal settlements would have to stop and might even be reversed.  That was not a good outcome in the view of Netanyahu, who relies on right wing extremist parties for his governing majority. 

Completely frustrated by his experience as peace negotiator, George Mitchell resigned shortly before Netanyahu appeared in Washington to attend the AIPAC conference and also to lecture President Obama.  Obama’s eagerly awaited speech on the Middle East delivered the night before Netanyahu’s arrival was actually reviewed by the Israeli Prime Minister before it was given, demonstrating clearly whose foot was on whose neck.  Netanyahu reportedly responded angrily to any mention of the 1967 borders in a phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the speech was delayed for forty minutes while the president and his staff worked in other rewrites demanded by the Israeli Prime Minister.  But it was not enough.  The Obama suggestion that the old lines between Israel and the West Bank might serve as a basis for negotiations to decide on respective territorial claims became the president’s “macaca” moment. “No to 1967″ emerged as the rallying cry for Netanyahu and his friends in Congress and the media, enabling them to completely humiliate the American president.

At the end of the week in Washington the process was complete.  Obama was forced to back away from his comments about the former borders.  Netanyahu was able to affirm without any challenge from the Administration that Israel would never return to something “indefensible,” a curious assertion given Israel’s lack of any evident vulnerability when it attacked and defeated three of its neighbors simultaneously from those borders back in June 1967. And all of that was before Tel Aviv had acquired a nuclear arsenal which further tipped the balance of power in its favor.

Netanyahu also stated the following: that the West Bank is not occupied because it is really Judea and Samaria and therefore the patrimony of the Jewish people, that Jerusalem will remain under complete Israeli control, that any Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized and not even control its own airspace, that there would be an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River, that Israel will never talk with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas, and that no Palestinian would ever be allowed to return to his former home in Israel.  Netanyahu knew full well that he was denying that the Palestinians have any rights at all and even suggesting that they do not exist as a people but rather as some sort of terrorist entity.  Netanyahu’s formulation would lead at best to the creation of a helot Arab state that could not possibly engage in any sustainable peace agreement unless compelled by brute force at the point of Israeli bayonets. Shouting and cheering congressmen endorsed every detail of the hateful Israeli program, supporting a foreign leader against their own president.  It was a shameful moment.

In return for considerably less than nothing, the Obama Administration committed itself to an “ironclad” guarantee of Israeli security, the precise details of which are apparently to be determined by Netanyahu.  It also rejected Palestinian plans to declare statehood at the United Nations in September and implied that it would veto any such attempt. The White House added that it would oppose any steps taken to isolate Israel in any other international fora.  Israel’s $3 billion-plus each year from the US taxpayer was also untouched.

So what does it all mean? It means that the Obama Administration has no leverage whatsoever against Netanyahu.  It has de facto accepted that there will be no peace process in the Middle East because Israel does not want there to be one.  It means that the United States will use its veto at the UN as well as other forms of suasion internationally to make sure that Israel is neither criticized nor isolated, no matter what Netanyahu and his colleagues do.  It means that largesse from the US taxpayer will continue, with plans afoot to budget the money out of the annual Pentagon appropriation so it will untouchable in any future debate over foreign aid packages.  It also means that the United States is part and parcel to the ongoing system of apartheid practiced by the Israelis.  To further punish the Palestinians there is even considerable talk in Congress about cutting US aid in response to the formation of a unity government between Fatah and Hamas. 

Taken all together it means that the United States has absolutely no wiggle room in terms of its relationship with Israel.  Israel has tied the US Congress and media so tightly to it that President Obama could do little but agree.  When Israel attacks Gaza or Iran or Syria, as it surely will, Washington will be the accomplice to the act both factually and in the eyes of the world.  Hillary Clinton should resign in shame, but she appears to have no self respect in her, having spent last week again threatening the hapless Pakistanis.  Someone should remind her that Secretaries of State once represented Americans around the world in an honorable and forthright fashion.  Hillary and her boss have demonstrated clearly that Israel’s all-embracing and constantly expanding “security concerns” trump the United States’ interests every time.

Read more by Philip Giraldi


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