By Dan Lieberman
Imagine you are a representative of the highest government agencies. You encounter a group that places a foreign power above your own government’s interests and redirects and undermines your policies. Would you go to their convention, popularize them, obsequiously placate them and demonstrate you mean no harm to their sinister behavior? Sounds incomprehensible?
United States State department officials and congressional leaders have been doing the incomprehensible for years. U.S. State Department officials, senators and house representatives have regularly attended the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) conventions. Although the U.S. Executive Department signaled a hardening of relations with Israel, its officials spoke to and listened to AIPAC during the week that inaugurated the new spring of 2010.
Why and for what reason do government officials cater to AIPAC? Don’t they know AIPAC’s inglorious history and its one-sided purpose? Actually, government officials have many reasons to distance themselves from AIPAC and no reasons to associate themselves with an organization whose thrust depends upon spurious reasoning and outrageous statements.
The Dwight Eisenhower and Jack Kennedy administrations and the 1964 Fulbright Investigation Committee tried to declare groups representing Israel’s interests to be foreign agents. Deceptive maneuvers, ambiguous and modified election laws dragged charges through the courts and temporarily resolved the issue in favor of AIPAC. Nevertheless, government officials should realize there is meaning and significance to the charges and any support for an accused agency undermines reputable administrations.
Then we have the perception of an organization using its resources to engineer defeats of popular congressional leaders based upon an issue that usually doesn’t concern the American electorate; foreign policy. Four of the Senate’s more popular leaders, Percy from Illinois, Abdnor from South Dakota, Stevenson from Illinois and Fulbright from Arkansas were defeated when PAC funds poured in to assist their adversarial candidates, simply because AIPAC categorized the incumbent Senators’ supports for Israel as insufficient. Add Representatives Paul McCloskey 1982, Paul Findley 1983, Earl Hilliard (2002), and Cynthia McKinney (2006) to those who ran afoul of AIPAC, and by coincidence, suffered defeat.
Is AIPAC a strong factor in determining elections? This is more likely true when the candidate is already in a weak position. Nevertheless, why do the national political Parties approve their candidates’ attachments to the Israel friendly PACs? Isn’t the electorate more concerned with domestic issues than with foreign nations, and doesn’t it abhor PACs? Nevertheless, the political Parties reinforce an organization which skews voter intentions and masks the principal issues. Something is wrong with the voters’ inability to recognize and react to candidates who benefit from accepting funds from a PAC whose only mission is to assist a foreign nation. And why does the State Department bother with AIPAC? Its officials are not elected and AIPAC is a hindrance to its mission. Strange!
Let’s not forget the espionage scandal. Defense department policy analyst, Larry Franklin, was sentenced in January 2006 to thirteen years of prison for passing information describing U.S. intended policy towards Iran to AIPAC employees, Steve J. Rosen, AIPAC’s then-policy director, and Keith Weismann, a senior Iran analyst. Franklin’s sentence was reduced to 10 months of house arrest and the two AIPAC employees were never prosecuted due to the government’s inability to show their activities had harmed the United States.
AIPAC as an organization was not accused. Nevertheless, AIPAC critics, including its former policy director, the accused Steve Rosen, have claimed that AIPAC has served as a conduit for ‘espionage-like’ efforts with near impunity. Rosen’s filing asserts that at AIPAC he "was one of the principal officials who, along with Executive Director Howard Kohr and a few other individuals, were expected to maintain relationships with [government] agencies, receive such information and share it with AIPAC Board of Directors and to Senior Staff for possible further distribution."
AIPAC is too delicately tied to Israel and to suspicions that its members go far to assist Israel. Why would any government official demonstrate unusual approval for an organization that is circumspect and shades the line between being too friendly to a foreign nation and too inattentive to its own nation?
Should AIPAC be taken seriously? It’s composed, similar to the Neocons, of an assortment of persons with one-sided views who fabricate and relate fantastic stories to defend positions. Take the latest AIPAC convention.
We have Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu telling a roaring crowd:
"The attempt by many to describe the Jews as foreign colonialists in their own homeland is one of the great lies of modern times. In my office, I have on display a signet ring that was loaned to me by Israel’s Department of Antiquities. The ring was found next to the Western wall, but it dates back some 2,800 years ago, two hundred years after King David turned Jerusalem into our capital city. The ring is a seal of a Jewish official, and inscribed on it in Hebrew is his name: Netanyahu. His name was Netanyahu Ben-Yoash."
Found near the Western Wall after 2,800 years. Haven’t they cleaned the area in the last twenty eight centuries? Two hundred years after King David turned Jerusalem into our capital city? A little exaggerated. No history, archaeology or written record, other than the unverified Bible, reports any King David attached to a capital city called Jerusalem. Archaeological digs during the 10th century B.C. demonstrate the area was almost uninhabited – a few shards of pottery.
Note the claims of racial purity, irredentism and virulent nationalism, transgressing 3000 years (based on one ring). Didn’t the western nations fight WWII against a nation that professed similar claims?
Actually PM Netanyahu proved what he attempted to disprove. The early Zionists settled along the coast and that area was eventually awarded to the new Israeli state. However, no archaeology, history, written record, oral record or unverified Bible indicates any Hebrew administration of the coastal plain. Therefore, the early Zionists did not arrive to reinvigorate an ancient homeland that contained early Jewish people. The new Israelites inhabited foreign lands that did not contain many ancient Jews, and by doing so, behaved as foreign colonialists.
Ahmed Amr, in an article titled “Netanyahu’s Ring and the Legitimacy of Zionism” in the Palestine Chronicle gave Netanyahu’s comment the correct interpretation.
"Before Bibi’s daddy immigrated to Palestine from Lithuania, the family name was Milikovsky. There you have it folks. If your name is Benjamin Netanyahu, what more justification do you need to expropriate land from the native Palestinians? What’s all this fuss about international law and the indigenous rights of the native inhabitants of Palestine? When will the Palestinians stop ranting about their bonds to the land of their ancestors?"
Another Milikovsky exaggeration:
"The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied.
The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today."
Nobody denies that Jews inhabited parts of the ancient Levant, as did many other peoples. History indicates an overwhelming number of Jews, several million, scattered throughout the Roman Empire and only a minority of them in Jerusalem and its outlying regions. The argument is that where a minority of a people lived 3000 years ago is not important today, especially since few of them congregated or owned property after 200 A.D. to modern times in the self-claimed area.
Bibi has disclosed the truth: Israel lives by myth and therefore is a mythical nation without law. We know of Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Arab and Crusader constructions. Where are any major Hebrew constructions in Jerusalem? Who are the famous Hebrew architects?
Another Netanyahu whopper:
"In the past year, my government has removed hundreds of roadblocks, barriers and checkpoints in the West Bank. As a result, we have helped spur a fantastic economic boom there."
In a circumscribed and somewhat perverted sense, Netanyahu claims credit for the Palestinian initiatives. It’s not the Palestinian energy and wisdom that spurred the economic boom; it’s the beneficial removal of Netanyahu government’s whip and the movement of rocks that have caused the partial prosperity. Now we can certify the reason for the roadblocks, barriers, and checkpoints in the West Bank. Israel has intended to suffocate the Palestinians. After all, doing away with just hundreds of obstacles has unleashed the power of the Palestinian people to a fantastic economic boom.
Not to be undone, Colonel Richard Kemp, Former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, topped Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu fantasies. From his rendition of the Gaza incursion, the former British commander spoke as if reading a screen play by Ehud Barak of a film produced by Tel Aviv studios. He described a brave Israel army fighting through ranks of Hamas fighters, all of whom used civilians as human shields. The Hamas leadership was guilty of severe war crimes, while the intrepid Israelis sacrificed themselves to prevent harm to the civilian population.
The intrepid Israeli army protected civilians by killing 1400 Gazans, including entire families by missiles or point-blank shooting after their surrender, and destroying agriculture, animal husbandry, industry, and fruit trees, while suffering only five (5) deaths from insurgent weapons. Israeli tanks, warplanes, drones, phosphorous bombs and long distance shelling faced a terrible enemy, heavily armed with…with what?
Without facts, Kemp proclaimed that Hamas rounded up civilians and dispersed the populace to homes, mosques and schools. No record that this happened. Nevertheless, if an invading army enters a city where would the population go but to buildings unlikely to be in the conflict – homes, schools, mosques. That didn’t matter. Kemp holds Hamas responsible for a war crime because innocent women and children, who sought temporary shelter in a school, were killed by the Israeli army and relieves Israel of any responsibility for the crime. The victims are guilty of the war crime and the perpetrators of the crime are heroes.
The former British officer also claimed that the Goldstone report validated terrorist tactics because it did not strongly condemn Hamas by its statement that insurgents positioned themselves in proximity to civilians. Note the word proximity and not together. Isn’t it natural that when an invading army enters a city, the defenders will have to be in proximity to the civilian population to defend that population?
Question for a British commander?
As a commander of an army, would you start a war with the stated missions of ending missile strikes, overthrowing a government and defeating forever a militia, but end the war after killing 1400 persons, wounding magnitudes more and destroying an area’s livelihood and infrastructure while not accomplishing any of your missions? Doesn’t that make your intentions suspect if not illegitimate?
Government officials have a multitude of valid reasons to distance themselves from AIPAC. Do they have any reasons to associate themselves with AIPAC?
Evidently, lawmakers assume loyalty to AIPAC guarantees campaign contributions and helpful media attention. The electorate gasps at PAC contributions and representatives who align themselves in Faustian bargains with drug companies, tobacco companies, defense industries and a host of lobbying groups. What can be worse than bargaining with an organization that skews U.S. foreign policy in order to benefit a foreign nation in its endeavors? If relations with any PAC is considered dubious, isn’t a relationship with AIPAC shameful? Why aren’t the super patriots, who guard America’s interests, complaining about this subordination of their nation to the exigencies of a foreign nation?
The Executive Department does not need to be lobbied. It does not gather its resources or information from lobby groups. So, why do Executive Party leaders cozy to AIPAC? Do they believe AIPAC influences Israel’s policies? Isn’t it the other way – Israel determines AIPAC’s policies?
Government departments don’t realize that cooperation with AIPAC reinforces the belief that Jewish groups influence U.S. policies for their own advantage. By promoting AIPC the government officials stimulate anti-Jewish feeling. Is that responsible behavior?
Considering the ample reasons for any government agency to distance itself from AIPAC, and the lack of sufficient reasons to be engaged with the lobby, what is the attachment that government officials have with AIPAC? Love is strange and this is one of the strangest love affairs.
– Dan Lieberman is editor of Alternative Insight, a monthly web based newsletter. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: email@example.com