Archive for January 17th, 2013

It Is All About Israel

It Is All About Israel

Posted By Philip Giraldi On January 16, 2013 @ 10:00 pm In Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Something curious is taking place. The nomination of Chuck Hagel as Secretary   of Defense came under fire from the friends of Israel even before it was certain   that President Barack Obama would name him to the post. Hagel demonstrably   has no particular animus towards Israel but he, while senator, refused to kowtow   to the Israel Lobby, failing to sign on to letters and position statements,   saying that he was first and foremost a United States Senator, not a representative   of a foreign power. He also favors negotiations with Iran to end the nuclear   standoff, which critics immediately latched onto as a sign of weakness and a   further indication that he did not have Israel’s back. Bill Kristol, head of   the Emergency Committee for Israel, quickly piled   on to the Hagel nomination, followed by the Washington Post’s Jennifer   Rubin and Charles   Krauthammer, convicted Iran contra felon Elliot   Abrams, reliably liberal Rachel   Maddow, Harvard’s own Israel   firster Alan Dershowitz, Mitt Romney adviser   Dan Senor, and Johns Hopkins’ Professor Eliot   Cohen. Several critics, including the American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle   Pletka, accused   Hagel of being anti-Semitic and Islamophobe Pamela Geller described   him as a “Jew hater.” Transplanted American now-living-in-Israel   Caroline Glick somewhat more confusingly wrote   that he “hates Jews that think that Jews have rights.” Major Jewish   organizations including the Anti-Defamation League and The American Jewish Committee,   quickly followed suit, with ADL’s Abe Foxman saying   “the sentiments he’s [Hagel’s] expressed about the Jewish lobby border   on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt   and former president Jimmy Carter” while the AJC’s David Harris added “We’re   not in the opposition camp, we’re in the concerned camp. We’re going to count   on the Senate to examine, as it must, key issues of concern.”

At that point a number of prominent American Jews who normally avoid any open   criticism of the Israel Lobby became concerned and began to push back, noting   that there was nothing to be alarmed about in Hagel’s record and that the perception   that Jews as a group were blocking a qualified presidential appointment might   create an unwelcome backlash. The counter-critics included   prominent spokesmen like Thomas Friedman, Richard Haas, Joe Klein, Richard Cohen,   Nick Kristof, David Ignatius, Aaron David Miller, and Peter Beinart and their   view would appear to reflect the majority opinion of American Jews, though characteristically   not the views of the leading Jewish organizations which are closely aligned   with Israel’s right wing government and to major donors like Sheldon Adelson.   To provide some space for the counterattack and to steer it away from being   a Jewish issue, some Hagel supporters began to note   that much of the opposition to the appointment was also coming from other sources,   including disgruntled Republicans out to “get” Obama and defense contractors   fearing budget cuts. Christian Zionists, whose unflinching   support for both Israel and military spending is linked to their desire to hasten   the end of the world and bring about the battle of Armageddon preceding the   second coming of Christ, are also on the list.

While applauding the efforts of many Americans to pull out the stops in support   the Hagel nomination, I would nevertheless argue that the attempt to identify   some kind of rainbow coalition in the opposition to Hagel is pretty much a canard.   It really is all about Israel, at least in the minds of most of those who seriously   are seeking to block the nomination. Consider for a second whether Hagel would   be facing any serious opposition at all if it were not for the claim that he   is anti-Israel and not predisposed to use force against Iran. And bear in mind   that Iran is really a subset of the Israel issue since it is Benjamin Netanyahu   who is driving the belligerency even though the Iranians do not actually threaten   the United States in any serious way. Consider also who is providing the muscle   and the money to attack Hagel. It is organizations like Bill Kristol’s the Emergency   Committee for Israel that was able to place a full page ad in the New   York Times on Tuesday denouncing Hagel as the “anti-Israel nominee   for Secretary of Defense.” The ad was signed by former New York City Mayor   Ed Koch as well as two currently serving Democratic Congressmen, Shelley Berkley   of Nevada and Eliot Engel of New York.

Christian Zionists might not like the Hagel nomination but they are not to   my knowledge placing similar full page ads in leading newspapers, nor are they   appearing on television talk shows, to which they have little or no access.   Nor do they have the political pull to command the presence of hundreds of congressmen   at their annual conference, as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee   (AIPAC) is able to do. Defense contractors likewise are not attacking Hagel   because they know that it will be a collective White House decision where and   when to cut spending and Hagel will merely be the implementer of the policy.   They also understand that while budget cuts are coming no matter who is Secretary   of Defense because the government is running out of money they will continue   to benefit from large military appropriations, even if the spending will not   be growing dramatically as it has for the past eleven years.

No, the heart of the opposition to Hagel is in the hands of the ad hoc   groups pulled together by Bill Kristol and others, to include fellow travelers   in congress like Senator Mark Kirk, who explains why he will oppose Hagel while   trying to appear high minded: “I am concerned about his past record and   statements, particularly with regard to Iran and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”   Kirk’s staff assistant Richard Goldberg has meanwhile been running an email   campaign against Hagel consisting of multiple messages sent daily to fellow   congressmen   and friends in the media while Senator Lindsey Graham, who has already described   Hagel as “very antagonistic toward the state of Israel,” leads the   charge openly from the friends-of-Israel right where he is joined   by a “deeply troubled” Senator Kelly Ayotte who wants to see a “fearful”   Iran. It is Kristol and company as well as the politicians they have in their   pockets who have the ability to appear on television to tell the American people   why they should reject Chuck Hagel. They are the ones with the money, the organization,   and the media savvy to lead the fight against someone whose fealty to Israel   is not sufficiently established, not Pastor John Hagee and his mewling evangelical   flock in Texas. For Kristol and his associates it is indeed all about Israel   and it always has been. Every nominee to a senior defense, intelligence, or   security council position must be vetted and judged by whether or not they are   completely committed to support the Israeli government, no matter what it does   and no matter what the impact would be on American interests. That is what Bill   Kristol and his friends are all about.

And for those who still doubt that it is all about Israel, I would suggest   a little history lesson. In 2004 Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11   Commission, admitted   that the Iraq war was fought to protect Israel, which he described as “the   threat that dare not speak its name.” He meant that if there had not been   the connivance of the Pentagon’s friends of Israel in creating a false weapons   of mass destruction narrative coupled with the fulsome support of the Lobby   a war on behalf of Israel would never have been endorsed by the American people.   And it is also useful to review what   happened to the last brave soul who dared to put American interests ahead   of those of Israel. That was Chas Freeman who was proposed as Chairman of the   National Intelligence Council during President Obama’s first term in 2009. Freeman   had an exemplary record as a public servant and was known to be an independent   thinker willing to reconsider and challenge orthodox policies. Freeman had served   as Ambassador to China and Saudi Arabia and was regarded as something of an   Arabist, which immediately made him suspect to the usual crowd in congress and   the media. For that he was immediately   attacked by Israel’s friends, in what was described as a “thunderous,   coordinated assault.” The critics frequently pretended that they were actually   opposing Freeman’s views on China and his close personal ties to the Saudis,   just as Hagel is now being falsely pilloried because he lacks management experience   and because his wartime service in Vietnam will color his judgments. But no   one was really fooled regarding Chas Freeman – it was all about Israel. Freeman,   realizing that the debate over his views would become a distraction, asked that   his name be withdrawn.

What it comes down to is that we live in a country where nearly everyone is   willing to sell out if the price is right and, for the moment, Israel’s friends   hold many of the cards. Being openly and enthusiastically a friend of Israel   is a sine qua non on the path to power in Washington. In fact, Chuck   Hagel recognizes that reality. He has recently apologized   for his “errors” on Israel and Iran in an attempt to defuse the opposition   to him. And only last week Senator Rand Paul, who some of us had hoped might   break with the foreign policy consensus, visited Israel to burnish his presidential   credentials. While there he did everything that he was expected to do and more,   saying   that Israel’s settlement policies are “none of our business” before   adroitly backing away from cutting aid to Tel Aviv by noting that a bankrupt   America would not be a good ally. “This does mean that we have to reassess   who to give aid to, and when we do reassess that, I would begin with countries   that are burning our flag and chanting ‘Death to America.’ No one is accusing   Israel of that.” So if Rand has his way a gaggle of Muslim countries will   get the boot while aid to “good ally” Israel will be untouchable.

Far better that Senators Paul, Lindsay Graham and Ron Kirk should stop worrying   about what is good for Israel. They might instead emulate the Chuck Hagel who   once upon a time was willing to declare that he was actually an elected official   representing the United States and its people. Congress is the heart of the   problem, funding and providing political cover for Israel’s completely illegal   settlement policies as well as the iron fist apartheid-like control of the West   Bank and Gaza. As a consequence, the U.S. is widely and rightly blamed for underwriting   what Benjamin Netanyahu does and is no longer respected or considered credible,   but I guess for all politicians who want to become president real bad it’s considered   worth it. Well, I won’t be voting for any of them. The Israel Lobby wields enormous   power in Washington, but many Americans are becoming tired of having their affairs   micro-managed in Tel Aviv. Blowback is beginning and I would hate to see a bunch   of esteemed Senators finding themselves on the wrong side of history. That would   be a real shame.

Read more by Philip Giraldi


Neocons vs Chuck Hagel: