The Israeli Lobby, US Foreign Policy And the Middle East
In a pluralistic society such as that prevailing in the United States, the organization, presentation and attainment of the group’s varied interests is entirely dependent on the ability of the concerned group to manipulate the active principles of democracy. If contending groups have equal or preponderance power of organization and presentation, the US system allows for compromise, achieved in political terms, on solutions to problems of domestic and foreign policy. In the same token if there exists a sharp disadvantage of one group versus another, the results are always entirely lacking consonant with the principles of democracy.
Those that have invented the term democracy and advocated principles associated with it have had concern about the size of the political entity adopting democracy. The smaller the political entity is, the easier to achieve democracy. In the same token, the larger the political entity the harder it is to achieve the noble principles of democracy. In the United States, society and government have become so large and complex to the point where an individual citizen-voter in an electorate of over 100 Millions has limited capabilities or even motivation for making his or her voice heard. The only way to be heard in the USA is when you organize. Only sound organizations have access to governmental apparatus.
For those who know how to play the game of politics in the USA, the first thing that they do is the formation of organizations. These organizations assume different titles and names – parties, interest groups, lobby…etc.
Viewed in the context of political processes, organizations are formed to attempt to influence the decision-making process of governments. As a given fact, the understanding of American politics is based on the political organization (group) as a unit of analysis. The American political environment is explored to ascertain how society is organized and power utilized.
In marshaling their resources for political combat, political organizations must prepare for action in several theaters of operations: relations with many facets of government servicing their policy goals; competition with other sympathetic or antagonistic groups; and in-house membership monitoring, to keep the constituents informed, supportive, and readily available for referenda and popular support when a show of strength is indicated.
Political organizations in the United States have the lobby as their most efficient utility for achieving objectives. In Washington alone there are about 2,000 registered lobbyists whose main occupation is lobbying the government. The number of unregistered lobbyists is unknown, but they are presumed to be between 8,000 and 10,000 individuals.
A model Washington lobby would have between 100 and 600 employees and 10 to 30 or more professional lobbyists, with several field offices around the nation to coordinate the activities of the organization. It goes without elaboration that every organization has its own administrative structure and bureaucratic hierarchy. What is important to this article is the lobbyist who provides the direct contact between the organization on the one hand and the legislators and powerful politicians on the other. A principle task of the lobbyist is to carry the organization’s message to Congress and other governmental agencies. This is accomplished most successfully through personal, social relations. American lobbyists are trained, highly specialized and experienced. Many are lawyers associated with prestigious legal firms. There are over 30,000 members of the Washington, D.C., bar. Some are former representatives, consultants, and government officials who have previously served in the regulatory or other agencies that they are lobbying.
The Jewish/Israeli Lobby, Brief History
Jewish immigration to America was motivated by the same pressures that brought other people - primarily religious and political persecution. The difference however was the magnitude of the persecution visited upon European Jewry. Most of the early immigrants were of German and Portuguese/Spanish origin. Russians began coming in significant numbers in 1881 with the assassination of Czar Alexander II. Subsequently, in concert with the genocidal activities of Hitler in the 1930’s and during WW II, more Germans and eastern Europeans, primarily Poles left to the USA. Today it is estimated that between 5 and 6 million people who consider themselves Jews reside in the United States. [Goldberg, 1996, 57].
Most American Jews are “liberal” in their domestic political tendencies. They vote for the Democratic party and are not especially religious. Concerning day-to-day politics, they are often described as “assimilated” (religion playing only a small role in their lives). Of the three branches of Judaism, the Reform members, and to a lesser extent the Conservative branch, are generally considered liberal. The Orthodox branch (fundamentalist in nature) takes it’s religion very seriously, but this segment represents less than 10% of the total Jewish community in the U.S. However, like their Christian and Muslim counterparts, they are conservative and sometimes militant. Accordingly, their zealotry and willingness to sacrifice for the “cause” provide them with an inordinate amount of power, especially when it comes to matters affecting religion and Israel. The schism between the devout and the less religious is one of several factors that divides the so-called Jewish community.
Irrespective of their level of religiosity, Jews brought with them to America a sad legacy of persecution at the hands of Christian Europe. Their plight in America was better but they still faced significant levels of bigotry and prejudice well into the late 20th Century. Their struggle for survival provided the impetus for the establishment of a variety of Jewish organizations. What was once a docile, low-key set of communities slowly but surely began to assert itself in a fight for social, economic and religious might. This struggle occurred both as it related to themselves and on behalf of other minorities. Aggressive legal and social actions against those who would attempt to deny them power resulted in confrontation, in which most of the time they prevailed. Jewish organizations have always claimed that they are working for the interest of all communities and not only for their own. The “good work” propagated by Jews both as individuals and as organizations in defense of constitutional and basic human rights have had an immeasurably positive impact on the American landscape.
A few of the causes alluded to, include:
• Freedom of religion and the strict separation of church and state – Jews played the key role in helping defeat the School Prayer Amendment of 1994, which would have legalized school prayer.
• Black Civil Rights – Jews headed the NAACP until 1975 and half of the white civil rights workers who went south in the sixties are estimated to have been Jews. [Goldberg, 1996, 24] (Two of the three activists murdered in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan were Jews.)
• Abortion Rights and Women’s Rights
• Constitutional Rights – The absolute right for freedom of expression and assembly (including the right of the Ku Klux Klan to march peacefully).
• World Human Rights – Human Rights Watch and Helsinki Watch
Jewish scholars in the USA consider that the contributions of Jews have had an enormous impact on the very fabric of American society. They assert that the Jewish legacy is one of striving for equality and basic human dignity through dedication and keen sense of social justice. In their opinion no grouping of individuals has made a more important contribution to protecting and expanding the liberties provided by the founding fathers, which Americans today take for granted.
The decades of struggle for various causes (not necessarily their own) taught Jews how the legal and political system works and how best to use it to benefit themselves. When Zionist (people who support the state of Israel) aspirations began to coalesce in the aftermath of WW II, American Jews played a significant role in facilitating the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine in 1948. The state of Israel was born, and Jewish American support for the fledgling entity started to accelerate.
Jewish American Support of Israel
Jewish support for the state of Israel is an extension of a general Jewish solidarity that existed long before Israel came into being in 1948. This solidarity arose in spite of the disparate nature of the various Jewish communities that immigrated to the United States. German, eastern European and north African Jews had very little in common except “religion” and that they all shared a common heritage of persecution primarily at the hands of “Christians”. Goldberg comments.
Jews usually consider themselves part of a worldwide ethnic group, usually called “the Jewish people,” though it also has been called a nation, a tribe and even a race. They are bound together by common ancestry, a shared history, and a common cultural heritage, along with religion. Most of all Jews feel bound together by a sense of shared destiny: a legacy of persecution and mutual duty to help one another, while seeking some moral meaning in it all. [Goldberg, 1996, 58]
Thus, in spite of their differences, the persecution commonality had many Jews feeling that they are one people who had to unconditionally stick together in order to survive. World Jewry came to experience a psychological state of mind marked by deep-seated feelings of insecurity some times reaching neurotic levels. These insecurities while less “rational” in a relatively tolerant American society have nonetheless been passed on from one generation to the next.
Zionism, as previously defined (support for the creation of a Jewish state), can therefore be thought of in psychological terms as one compensation device for these feelings of insecurity. Today Zionism can be defined as support for the maintenance of the state of Israel and its policies, and can be viewed as a modern manifestation of Jewish feelings of fear. Having survived more than a thousand years of persecution, Russian pogroms and Germany’s “Final Solution”, Israel has come to symbolize the very existence of Jews as a whole. Thus in spite of the fact that few Jewish Americans or their ancestors had ever been to Israel/Palestine it became a “symbolic homeland” for them. Jews of German, Polish or Russian origin have no affinity for those countries that played key roles in the attempt to annihilate them.
Most Jews have repressed their actual ancestry in favor of a mythical one. This myth is psychologically more acceptable to them. Judaism came from Israel/Palestine therefore, to the Zionists the rationalization meant “Jews” belong there. As such, American Zionists feel compelled to have a high degree of affection for Israel and care deeply for its well -being.
A wide variety of surveys have shown that three fourths affirm that “caring about Israel is a very important part of my being a Jew.” Two thirds affirm that “if Israel were destroyed I would feel as if I had suffered one of the greatest personal tragedies of my life”. [Goldberg, 1996, 70].
While initially perceived as an insignificant entity in the Middle East, the success of Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War transformed the minds of many American Jews from thinking of Israel as a tiny country always in need of assistance, to a powerful force in the Middle East politics. It became a source of great pride to Jews worldwide. Jews became intoxicated with their success. Abba Eban, Israel’s foreign minister, told the U.N General Assembly on June 19, 1967. “So long as men cherish freedom, so long as small states strive for dignity of existence, the exploits of Israel’s armies will be told from one generation to another with the deepest pride.”
Israel’s continued existence became of increasing importance to American Jews. Feelings of insecurity were transformed into gushes of pride as Israel proved it’s mettle on the battlefield. Friedman writes in his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, that the American Jews said to themselves;
My God, look who we are! We have power! We do not fit the Shylock image, we are ace pilots; we are not the cowering timid Jews who get sand kicked in their faces, we are tank commanders; we are not pale faced wimps hiding in yeshivas, we are Hathaway Men, handsome charismatic generals with eye patches. [Friedman, 1990, 455].
While nascent feelings of pride arose for most Jewish Americans, the success of their “mystic worrier” became a burning passion for many and a life’s dedication for thousands. While other ethnic groups have a core component of 10%-15% who are politically active, with American Jews this number is closer to 50%. Shahak comments.
Israel wields a tremendous influence in the US……, there is no doubt in my mind that its primary reason is the role performed by the organized Jewish community in the US in backing Israel and its policies. The proportion of organized Jewry can be roughly estimated as close to 50 per cent. [Shahak, 1997, 125].
In addition to some of the richest and most influential people in American society, there also exists a veritable legion of devoted followers who are at the beck and call of the leadership. As a very prominent Israeli activist, Richard Altman put it: “Jews agree on little else, but there is a total consensus on the survival of Israel.” [Curtiss, 1996, 123] .
The devotion of some American Jews to Israel is so strong that it could be described as militant. Certain very influential supporters in fact find themselves in conflict with the Israeli leadership over what is best for the Jewish State (like relinquishing all or part of the Occupied Territories). Shahak, an Israeli, goes as far as to say:
The bulk of the organized US Jewish community is totalitarian, chauvinistic and militaristic in its views. This fact remains unnoticed by other Americans due to its control of the media, but is apparent to some Israeli Jews. [Shahak, 1997, 139].
Israel, was a long overdue source of pride for most American Jews, filling a psychological void. In many ways however it has become a religion unto itself for a very high percentage of the community who have adopted the support of Israel as their life’s passion. This has provided an interesting mix of non-religious “secular” nationalists with the devout, if not fundamentalist-oriented, religious orthodox. Together they have skillfully exploited the enormous resources and dedication of the interested and the acquiescence of most of the rest. They have achieved their goal of a strong and unchallenged Israel, albeit in spite of the cost in money or morality. Israel has managed to manipulate its adversaries while evolving into a regional superpower both militarily and economically.
Influencing Policy for Kith and Kin
American foreign policy is formulated by the office of the President in concert with his advisors at the State Department, National Security Council, the Pentagon, CIA and other contributing organizations. When spending or legislation is involved, Congress is involved since it appropriates all funds and is responsible for passing laws. When therefore, elected officials are ultimately responsible for decisions, those decisions are subject to the whims of the American political process. Politicians want to stay in office and to do so they try to please those who vote and those who donate money (to influence those who vote). This has never changed.
What has changed over the last couple of decades, especially since the end of the Cold War, are the issues about which an increasingly affluent and secure American voter, cares. Containing communism and the threat of nuclear war are not major concerns any longer. While domestic considerations like crime, health care, social security and environmental issues remain important, on the international front, Americans are now able to turn some degree of their attention to their perceived country or countries of origin. This is especially true if the ethnic kin used to be in the Soviet sphere of influence.
While it is impossible to measure precisely the degree of ethnic affinity a group of people feels for their culture or country of origin, it is usually a core group of 10% or less who are the driving force behind ethnic politics. They can usually count on support from a secondary group of between 10%-30% for some money and a minimum of political activism. The vast majority however, (70% and more), are too assimilated to care, except when issues of sovereignty or safety (wars) are at hand or there is a particularly volatile issue, like apartheid in South Africa.
This core 10% or so may be classified by use of the term “diaspora”. This term applies primarily as function of how individuals perceive them-selves with regard to their ancestral “homeland”. They may be a for example: newly naturalized citizen from China with many family members still in the country; an African American whose ancestors came to American 300 or more years ago but was outraged over the former apartheid policies of South Africa; or even a Jewish American with strong feelings toward Israel as the perceived “Promised Land” from which their religion sprang some 3, 000 years ago. Regardless of the nature of the group’s affection, there exists an ethnic affinity based on race, culture, religion, national origin or a mix of all above.
These various groups have become increasingly active in American politics in an attempt to influence American policy as it might relate to their “homeland”. A few notable examples follow:
• The mobilization of the African American communities efforts to ensure the passage of the 1986 Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act (CAAA) that led to the release of Nelson Mandela and the establishment of a democratic multi-racial system in South Africa.
• The Greek community lobbying Congress to impose sanctions on Turkey after their invasion of Cypress in 1974.
• The 1974 passage of the Jackson-Vanik amendment which made US-Soviet trade relations conditional on Soviet treatment of Jews in the former Soviet Union.
• The recognition by the Bush administration for the independence of Ukraine in 1991 to score points with the 1.5 M Ukrainian Americans.
• The on-going support and eventual recognition of independence of the Baltic States of Lithuanian, Latvia and Estonia.
• The Armenian American’s successful lobbying of congress to block aid to Azerbaijan in 1992.
• Mexican American support for the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993.
• The passage of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 that tightened the grip of the American embargo of Cuba
• The anti-Marcos campaign to unseat his non-democratic regime in the Philippines followed shortly thereafter by the actions of Korean Americans who organized protests of Chun Doo Hwan’s authoritarian practices. Both leaders were subsequently unseated.
What follows is an attempt to explain this trend via an examination of four critical factors as it relates to ethnic politics and the resultant “domesticization of American foreign policy”.
The End of the Cold War
The first explanation for this phenomenon lies in the ending of the Cold War itself. The overwhelming priority of American foreign policy since the end of WW II has now ceased to exist. The Soviet Union is no more and the threat of communist hegemony is on the “ash heap” of history. This has had a profound impact on the psyche of many Americans and has greatly impacted the formulation of American policy. Shain observes,
….the ability of the U. S. diasporas to affect American foreign policy toward their homeland has grown (and is likely to expand) because of the greater complexity in distinguishing between America’s friends and foes after the collapse of communism. [Shain, 1994, 812].
Prior to the demise of the Soviet Union it was generally recognized that the majority of American resources most be devoted to face the communist threat. It was very difficult to argue to the administration or a member of congress that a particular country needed more aid or support, unless one could demonstrate an anti-Communist criterion. Requests to help poor countries in the Caribbean or South America fell on deaf ears in the absence of a clear correlation to the Cold War. Its termination therefore made it possible all interest groups to feel freer to lobby for their cause.
In concert with this newly realized freedom of expression resulting from the defeat of communism was the issue of America’s anti-Soviet partners, many of whom were even more unsavory than the Soviets themselves. Throughout the sixties and especially during the Reagan administration, the U.S. policy, was to look the other way with respect to the domestic affairs of regimes as long as they were helping the U.S. fight the “Evil Empire”. The appeal of many authoritarian regimes was lost as their usefulness ran out and their lack of “American values” was exposed to the light of the post Cold War. The U.S. government was now more disposed to hear concerns about democracy and human rights abuses than it might have been when a foreign regime was helping the U.S. fight communism. This list would include the regimes in the Philippines, South Africa, Korea, Iran, Chile, Iraq, Pakistan and even Israel.
The highly publicized fall of the Berlin Wall and the striving for independence in many regions of the former Soviet Union also brought a new level of awareness to many Americans. A whole new geographical vocabulary arose with such emergent entities as the Ukraine, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Serbia, Albania etc. etc. not to mention the liberated former states of the eastern block like Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia. Americans who claimed ancestry from these regions developed a newly energized sense of affinity. These states were no longer pawns of the Soviet Union but seen as brave little countries who fought gallantly for freedom and democracy. As such they became more than worthy of igniting a latent ethnic pride.
These new or reconstituted states were also now seen as more than worthy of support. With people now energized from the new awareness, it became a much simpler task to work on behalf of nations who were struggling to maintain their newly realized freedoms. Asking congress or the administration to support Poland, Hungary or Estonia during the Cold War was problematic at best. But once viewed as liberated lands, struggling to perpetuate freedom and democracy, it was a much easier task to request support for these previously beleaguered countries. In the former Soviet bloc and elsewhere, American ethnic groups are using the “American values” argument to lobby the foreign policy establishment to support democracy and self-determination around the world. This tactic is reinforced when astute leaders of these once captive states come to the U.S. to make appeals to their diaspora communities (that percentage of the ethnic group that feels very strongly about their country of origin) for economic and political support.
Perhaps as an outgrowth of the psychological impact of the ending of the Cold War, there came about a term popularized by Samuel Huntington called “multiculturalism”.
Now, however, the end of the Cold War and social, intellectual and demographic changes in American society have brought into question the validity and relevance of both traditional components [creed and culture] of American identity. Without a sure sense of national identity, Americans have become unable to define their national interests, and as a result subnational commercial interests and transnational and nonnational ethnic interests have come to dominate foreign policy. [Huntington, 1997, 821].
Huntington suggests that foreign policy is a function of national interest and national interest is a function of national identity. Historically, America’s identity was based on an ideology of liberty, equality, democracy and private enterprise. These American values in combination with the perceived security threat from the Soviet Union served to coalesce one of the most diverse populations in the world, into a single like-minded entity.
In many respects, the Soviet “threat” provided the glue that kept Americans united. With the glue now diluted things are rapidly changing. A constant flow of new immigrants and the ensuing political tactics used to attract their support have accelerated the degree to which American society is metaphorically “coming apart at the seams”. Politicians, ever interested in pandering to groups who will vote for them are promoting ethnic identities in what has become known as “multiculturalism”. President Bill Clinton with his proclivity to label groups of people in the name of “diversity” has become the unwitting champion of this tactic. Huntington explains,
They [politicians and elites] deny the existence of a common culture in the United States, denounce assimilation, and promote the primacy of racial, ethnic, and other subnational cultural identifies and groupings. They also question a central element in the American Creed by substituting for the rights of the individuals the rights of groups, defined largely in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual preference.
He laments further, “… ethnic identities are becoming more meaningful and appear to be increasing in relevance compared with national identity.” Culture, he maintains, “…has supplanted ideology in shaping attitude in diaspora populations.” [Huntington, 1996, 39]
As such, ethnic elites are less inhibited by charges of dual loyalties and politicians are eager to exploit the “ethnic card”, only increasing its significance. As a result domestic political considerations have become increasingly more relevant to the making of decisions in the international realm. Getting votes and campaign money by playing on people’s feelings of ethnic affinity thus becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. The more it is done, the more people take on ethnic affinities. National interests are increasingly taking a back seat to the new ethnic politics. With the Cold War won, what harm could possibly come from politicians promoting “diversity” in a country of hundreds of ethnic groups, over the unifying ideology of the American Creed?
Technology has played no small role in the reinforcing of links to the homeland and the feeling that people’s identities are more than merely American. The computer age beginning in the early 1980’s has ushered in a new paradigm in the means by which people are informed. This information has greatly enhanced the ethnic links to the old country.
Television coverage of world happenings has truly become ubiquitous with satellites literally spanning the globe to bring coverage of world events into our homes. The networks, CNN, and Fox today employ staffs in most major cities of the world. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism, the accounts of these historic events became part of the lives of all Americans who owned a television. Americans could not help but feel a great sense of affinity for the newly liberated societies of Eastern Europe, especially if they could trace any degree of their ancestry to these lands.
In addition to the direct coverage of such events, there has been subsequent discussion and promotion using various forms of information television over the past decade. The proliferation of channels, primarily in the Cable TV realm, has brought all sorts of information about these once secluded peoples and places into the homes of the American public. Many found an enhanced level of awareness and interest in ones land of their ancestors.
The internet has greatly enhanced the acquisition of information about world events and conditions in the various countries. In addition to the news available via the Net (AOL, for example provides, specific news on 200 countries worldwide) there is a web site (and chat room) for virtually every ethnic and national group on earth. If so inclined, one can learn and get involved in the events of other countries in a manner completely impossible only ten years ago.
Finally, enhanced and inexpensive telephone service, in combination with cheaper and faster transportation, has served to facilitate the maintenance of transnational identity. The end result being, that ethnic links have been greatly served by technological links.
The final reason for the rise in ethnic politics is based on the extraordinary success of one of the pioneering groups, America Jews. Based on an unprecedented level of U.S. support and aid for Israel over the past five decades, other groups are now attempting to emulate the tactics and success of the so-called Jewish (Israeli) lobby: a lobby, it will be argued, that has won considerably more favors for its symbolic homeland than all other ethnic groups combined. The following is an abbreviated list of favors and “forgivenesses” that illustrate the magnitude of this success.
• Israel has consistently received (post 1967) at least a quarter of all U.S. foreign aid and Egypt receives another 20% to essentially keep the peace with Israel. Since its inception Israel has received direct aid from the United States government in excess of $100 billion. This is significantly more aid than was given by the United States to reconstruct Europe in the aftermath of WW II (even adjusted for inflation).
• Unlike Iraq, Libya or South Africa, Israel has been able (“allowed” by the U.S.) to ignore numerous U.N. Security Council Resolutions including (SCR 194) regarding the repatriation and/or compensation of Palestinian refugees in 1949. SCR 242 and 338 regarding the return of land occupied in the 1967 war and; SCR 425 and 520 regarding the occupation of south Lebanon.
• Israel has violated international law by the continued illegal occupation, settlement and expropriation of land confiscated by wars. The West Bank, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon.
• Israel was able to have the Arab Boycott (under which Arab countries would not do business with any company that did business with, or in, Israel while Arab territory was under Israeli control) effectively negated by the passage of an American law that prohibited U.S. companies from respecting it.
• Israel has repeatedly ignored U.S. restrictions on the use of its weapons for offensive purposes.
- Attacking PLO targets Tunisia in 1985
- Invading Lebanon in 1978 and 1982
- Attacking the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981
- Regularly bombing civilian targets in Lebanon
- Using of anti-personal “cluster” bombs during the 1978 and 1982 invasions of Lebanon, including their use in “carpet bombing” of refugee camps in south Lebanon.
• Israel modifies and then sells arms and U.S. military technology in competition with the United States, including sales of advanced technology to China.
• Israel refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in spite of the fact that the U.S. touts its signature as a prerequisite for U.S. assistance to other countries.
• Jewish American spies, Jonathan Pollard and his wife, passed along top secret information to Israel over a number of years before finally being caught in 1985. Pollard turned over strategic information relative to the American targeting of Soviet nuclear and military installations and other capabilities. Israel in turn “sold” this vital information to the Soviets, in order to extract concessions on the emigrations of Soviet Jews to Israel. Israel incurred no loss of assistance, was not censured and refused to return the stolen documents.
• In spite of trade prohibitions and an arms embargo in force against South Africa (pre-1992), Israel maintained a vibrant trade all the while apartheid was in affect (exacerbating tensions in Black-Jewish relations in the U.S.). This included arms made in America and then sold to South Africa via Israel. [Ball, 1992, 291].
• Israel maintained nuclear and long-range missile testing activity in concert with South Africa in opposition to both trade and weapons prohibitions against South Africa.
• Israel via its lobbies regularly undermined the sales of U.S. arms to Arab governments estimated to be valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars and costing hundreds of thousands of American jobs. [Ball, 1992, 273-275].
While the “successes” of the Israeli lobby are of an ethically questionable nature with regard to American interests, other ethnic groups cannot help but be impressed with its ability to influence, if not completely control Congress. Perhaps the best example of this influence was not related to foreign policy per se but a domestic issue involving the case of the USS Liberty1 .
On June 8th 1967 in the early hours of the Six-Day Arab-Israeli war, the U.S. spy ship USS Liberty was patrolling the waters off the coast of the Sinai Peninsula. The Israeli military detected the vessel and began intense low-level photo-reconnaissance by aircraft. After six hours of such scrutiny, Israel initiated a two-hour assault, which included barrages from fighter aircraft, helicopter gun ships and a submarine, all in a vain attempt to sink the ship. The vessel was severely damaged but did manage to limp out of the area and survive. However, the 34 American sailors who perished and the 171 who were wounded from the attack were not so fortunate.
Despite the flying of a new American flag, the Israelis claimed they had mistaken the ship for an out-of-service Egyptian freighter. Overwhelming evidence, however, indicates that Israel knew full well that the Liberty was a U.S. spy ship but they simply did not want the information being collected (their intent to capture of the Golan Heights most probably), to be disseminated. Quoting an excerpt from a USS Liberty web site.
The story has continued to fester for nearly thirty years. During that time numerous senior members of the Lyndon Johnson administration, in office at the time, have come forward to say that the attack was no accident. These include former Secretary of State Dean Rusk; former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Tom Moorer; former NSA chief General Marshall Carter and his deputy, Dr. Lou Tordella; former White House Press Secretary George Christian; former US Ambassador to Lebanon Dwight Porter who heard some of the radio conversations at the time, and theirs. Two former Israeli military officers have come forward to tell their inside stories confirming survivors' charges that the attack was no accident. Despite these reports, and despite charges by survivors that the official Israeli story is untrue, Congress has for thirty years refused to conduct a public investigation. The attack on the USS Liberty remains the only major maritime incident in all US history that has not been publicly investigated by the United States Congress. [www.halcyon.com/jim/ussliberty].
When it is possible for a foreign country to intentionally kill and maim Americans with absolutely no negative consequences (quite the contrary in fact as US aid to Israel rose dramatically post-1967), the level of political influence of the “Jewish lobby” can be fully comprehended. No ethnic group or any other force in domestic politics has been more effective at influencing American foreign policy than that group of people who support the state of Israel. It will be the intent of the next section to explore the motivations for the “Lobby” and explain the mechanics behind how their attachment to Israel is translated into influence over American foreign policy implementation, primarily as it relates to the Middle East.
How They Do/Did it
Influence in virtually any context is a function of two key components; capacity and will. Both are required to realize maximum influence, be it athletic competition, business, politics or war. The struggle of American ethnic groups to influence their government is no different. Capacity deals with such tangibles as position (e.g. government, industry and media), income and relations with powerful people. Will, has more to do with intangible, human behavior qualities, oriented toward issues like organization, cooperation and dedication to a cause.
Certainly it could be argued that WASP’s (White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants) have an enormous capacity to influence but their will to act as an “ethnic group” is virtually non-existent in modern America. African Americans have a large amount of capacity but are lacking in any particular cause that would imbibe them with the will to assert themselves. The Christian “Right” has a medium amount of capacity and a large amount of will, which explains their ability to so strongly influence the Republican Party. Arab-Americans have perhaps a medium amount of capacity but a low amount of will in light of the many divisive issues that are allowed to undermine the will of that “community”.
What follows in the remainder of this treatise is an attempt to explain how American Jews bring together a wholly unique combination of high capacity and great will that facilitates a level of influence on the American government that is unrivaled by all other groups combined. Influence that has been applied to vault Israel to a stature within the domain of the federal government that in many respects exceeds that of any of the fifty American states let alone any other foreign country.
The 1947 United Nations partition of Palestine (biblical Israel), to which hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees had fled in the aftermath of WWII, was a direct manifestation of the world’s feelings of sympathy and guilt over the Holocaust. The primary legal and ethical issue with this seemingly magnanimous gesture (pushed through by the U.S.) was that Palestine and its inhabitants had nothing to do with the Holocaust and therefore should not be asked to pay the price for Europe’s transgressions. Muslim and Christian Arabs who owned 95% of the land, were told by the United Nations to vacate the majority of their property holdings to accommodate the European refugees. To make matters more complicated, the ensuing struggle (a.k.a. Israel’s “War of Independence”) left most of the native inhabitants (the Palestinians) expelled from their ancestral homeland. Palestine was vanquished and the exclusively Jewish State of Israel was born. (Exclusive in the sense that only those deemed “Jews” are accorded all the rights of citizenship and only Jews can immigrate.)
Thus in spite of the tragic consequences of a long and unparalleled history of Jewish persecution it was this very persecution that has proven to be Israel’s greatest asset, primarily as a function of the Hitler inspired Holocaust. The world recoiled in horror over the carnage, which evoked an outpouring of positive feelings for “the Jews”. Zionists strategists in the U.S. have been exploiting these feelings of sympathy and guilt ever since. Their unassailable status as “victims” provided the cover that has enabled Israel to take more than a few liberties with the accepted norms of international behavior. People, who had suffered so much as the rationale went, deserved to be coddled and forgiven for being overly “security conscious”. Even the suggestion that people who had been so terribly abused were now the abusers seemed antithetical to common sense. The sympathy/guilt “syndrome” to elicit goodwill thus became one of the two cornerstones of the strategy to facilitate American political support for Israel. The other cornerstone took the opposite approach: suppress any manifestations of negative feelings toward Israel.
Anti-Jewish feelings and open discrimination were not limited to Europe prior to the Holocaust but the use of the term “anti-Semite” only came to have a highly negative connotation after the full impact of the Holocaust came to be known. In light of the Jewish experience, no label came to conjure up more feelings of loathing and contempt upon its ignominious recipient. The Holocaust thus provided the necessary impetus to change the demonstration of anti-Jewish feelings in America from the socially “tolerable”, to the realm of the morally reprehensible. Non-Jews who displayed such feelings took on pariah status as social norms evolved to make it completely taboo to be an “anti-Semite”. Once again a conscious effort was made to take full advantage of this “weapon” by expanding the definition of the term anti-Semitism to include anti-Zionism; anybody who spoke critically of Israeli policies were now by default also an anti-Semites. Those who dared to question Israeli behavior, stand up for Palestinian rights or even promote America’s own interest in the region (that were not in line with Israeli objectives) risked being so characterized thus putting their relations with Jewish friends, their reputation and even their career in peril. The tool liberally employed by Zionists ever since, has served as an extremely effective mechanism to silence criticism of Israeli practices, regardless of the legal or moral consequences. The accusation that the survivors of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty are anti-Semites for pursuing the prosecution of the case is but one example of the absurd levels to which the tactic has gone. The Balls comment:
Viewed objectively, it seems astonishing that Jewish organizations and Israeli spokesmen should employ the charge of “anti-Semitism” so carelessly as to trivialize it. “Anti-Semitism,” is a term freighted with a long and ugly history. It conjures up images of vicious civic discrimination, the religious persecutions of the Inquisition, the Russian pogroms, and the ultimate horror of the Holocaust. Any Jewish American who equates that term with critical comments on transient Israeli policy implicitly acknowledges that he cannot defend Israel’s practices by rational argument. [Ball, 1992, 217].
In spite of the Balls admonitions, using the anti-Semite accusation to discredit honorable people and squelch objections to Israeli policies has proven quite successful. Israel’s long list of international crimes, apartheid like human rights practices and its own brand of “ethnic cleansing”, has elicited little in the way of condemnation which would otherwise be associated with such policies (e.g. South Africa). The American government is not only prepared to shield their petulant “friend” from political fallout but is the primary donor to a country that receives more aid than any other country in the world. So, in spite of a nuclear arsenal and one of the most sophisticated armed forces in the world, Israel to a great extent owes its success and very existence to sympathy, guilt and the now dreaded anti-Semitism appellation. These are the tools that have provided Zionists the capacity to quell most criticism of Israel, irrespective of the nature or magnitude of their many transgressions.
Having said this however, the reality of the American landscape is that there are in fact few anti-Zionist forces to be silenced. Americans in general are so ignorant with regard to the history and issues of the region that it has been a relatively easy matter to portray Israel as the “good guy” in the region. Zionist propagandist have most Americans believing that Arabs have been fighting Jews for the land of Palestine/Israel for thousands of years and that it is basically a religious war pitting intractable Muslims against peace loving Jews. Few know that the current land of Israel, just a hundred years ago (then the province of Palestine under Ottoman Turkish suzerainty), had only a few thousand Jewish inhabitants who lived peacefully with tens of thousands of Christians and hundreds of thousands of Muslims. Distortions and misinformation dispensed to a naïve American public over many decades (see Media Control in the next section) created grass roots support for Israel which then facilitated the unrivaled American political backing to the Jewish State. Arab-Americans, the logical counterweight to Jewish influence have been relatively ineffective in this role due largely to the various national, religious and tribal divisions that keeps their will to cooperate, in check.
The Arabs governments themselves have also made “making the case” for Israel in America a fairly easy matter. Authoritarian regimes, human rights abuses, terrorism, fundamentalism are all easy targets for those interested in portraying the neighbors of Israel in a negative light. So Israel takes a few liberties with international law, as the argument goes, when you look at their unsavory neighbors, who can blame them? Additionally, Israeli spokes people are invariably articulate, western looking (many are in fact Americans), understand the dynamics of American culture and invariably present their “cause” in a positive way. Arab regimes, busy fighting amongst themselves are seemingly hard pressed to find anybody who can plead their case in intelligible English, let alone amalgamate their seemingly formidable resources. The inescapable image that Americans form therefore (certainly augmented by Zionist propagandists), is that Arabs are quite foreign in nature if not bordering on barbaric and as such undeserving of U.S. support.
Finally, the extent to which Arab regimes turned to the Soviet Union for defense against Israel was then used against them in the theatre of American public opinion. In spite of being wholeheartedly in opposition to “Godless” communism, the Arab states were compelled to seek Soviet assistance. This began in the 1950’s when the U.S. backed out of a pledge to help construct the Aswan Dam in Egypt. The Soviets were very willing to exploit this opportunity to gain a foothold in the region. While Zionists had initially sought to justify aid to Israel on humanitarian grounds, after the 1967 war, this strategy shifted to portray Israel as a bulwark against the spread of communism in the Middle East. The “spin” being that Israel was curtailing Soviet influence as well as Arab (and Islamic) radicalism, protecting the oil fields and being the general surrogate for America interests in the Middle East.
In reality however the limited Soviet presence in the region was a direct response to counter U.S. support of Israeli aggression. In addition, the various forms of Arab radicalism have been greatly exacerbated by the heavy-handed Israeli policies. In the post Cold War era, the Zionist propaganda machine has skillfully changed the focus of American security concerns from that of communism to the looming zealotry of “Islamic fundamentalism”. While greatly contrived, Zionists were more than happy to portray the situation as they saw fit and the Arab regimes guilty of a litany of their own human rights abuses have been impotent to provide any balance. In the aftermath of Israel’s impressive military victories and the defeat of communism, Israel was now marketed to America as an extension of their own security forces thus having strategic value to American national interests.
The foregoing provides the context in which American political support for Israel can be viewed. The activities, organization, tactics and subtler means of facilitating political support for Israel, primarily by Jewish Americans, can thus be better understood. The will to perform a task starts with organization, thus activities and actions flow from the associated communication, coordination and collaboration enabled by effective organization.
The American Jewish Yearbook lists about three hundred national organizations and close to two hundred local federations of Jewish charities with a combined annual budget in the vicinity of $6B. This represents a higher figure than the individual GDP’s of half the members of the UN. There are, however, only about ten main organizations which have political activities and their budgets are estimated to be about $100M annually. [Goldberg, 1996, 39] The following is a list of the more prominent groups.
National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council – (NCRAC) Central policy council of the organized Jewish community. It works by coordinating the policies of the major organizations. It membership includes
The three main synagogues Unions - Reform, Conservative and Orthodox.
The main “Defense Agencies”, who for the most part have been responsible for the promotion of civil rights, fighting discrimination and keeping a firm separation of church and state are:
1. Anti-Defamation League – Attempts to stamp out anti-Semitism by legal means.
2. American Jewish Committee – Fights racism, and prejudice and publishes the most widely quoted organ of Jewish opinion in America – Commentary.
3. American Jewish Congress.
The three largest Jewish women’s groups are:
1. Hadassah – originally created to support hospitals and children’s shelters in Israel.
2. National Council of Jewish Women.
3. Women’s American ORT – Supports a network of trade schools serving poor Jews abroad.
World Zionist Organization – Serves as Israel’s link to the Jewish diaspora.
United Jewish Appeal (UJA) -A community chest of sorts that ostensibly provides social services. With close to a $1B annual budget it is larger than the Red Cross. Half of all Jewish households in America make a donation every year. In 1994, 906 individuals gave over $100,000 each. The actual role of UJA is political: “it helps AIPAC (see below) and other bodies of organized US Jewry to force the 97 per cent of the non-Jewish US citizens to contribute to Israel indirectly through the medium of their federal taxes.” [Shahak, 1997, 135].
The two main foreign policy political arms of the organized Jewish community are:
Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations – “The Presidents Conference” – lobbies the White House and the world at large to express American Jewry’s “consensus support for Israel.”
American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – its sister organization, lobbies congress on issues that impact Israel.
These final two organizations constitute what is generally known as the Israeli or Jewish “Lobby”. With Congress controlling funding appropriations to foreign governments, AIPAC is today the most important organization influencing American Middle East policy. AIPAC is an autonomous organization vis-a-vis other prominent Jewish organization and it is run by a select group of very wealthy and very influential individuals. Their goals have historically been quite simple: the acquisition of aid and political favors for Israel and the prevention of aid and arms to any Arab country who does not recognize Israel. These goals are realized through AIPAC’s influence on the voting patterns of members of congress.
With over a $15M annual budget and 150 or so staff members, AIPAC’s clout arises from its ability to mobilize Jewish groups and individuals as a disciplined army of volunteer lobbyists across the country. Goldberg elaborates:
AIPAC staffers run regional training sessions for members, teaching them campaign skills and showing them how to leverage their money, thereby maximizing the political impact of each donation.” [Goldberg, 1996, 224].
Inherent in its strength to mobilize grass roots support is not only the people component of AIPAC itself, but the orchestration of the cash flow derived from other groups and individuals. Their primary objective therefore is to funnel the various sources of “Jewish money” to where it will be used most effectively. Simply put, money is spent on congressional political campaigns to elect candidates whose unequivocal support for Israel is the only criterion. It amounts to unabashedly asking the American Congress to vote positively on behalf of all matters that benefit Israel. Implicit is the message that if they want to get elected or stay in Congress, their first priority better be to represent the interests of Israel. The interests of their district, state or even the U.S. itself are secondary.
Israel’s apologists and supporters have a stake in creating and maintaining certain “perceptions” in support of their cause. The following section illuminates the enormous potential (capacity) that American Jews have to do so. The extent to which they actually exercise this power (will) is open to debate, but readers can draw their own conclusions based on the evidence presented and their own personal experiences.
Jewish Americans completely dominate the various forms of media that educate, inform, and entertain their fellow Americans. It could certainly be argued that as a function of Jewish sensitivities, much good has come from this inordinate level of influence as it relates to race relations, ethnic stereotyping and religious tolerance. All are based on a sense of fairness and justice, with one exception: the portrayal of the history, events, issues and peoples involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The overwhelming presence of Jews in the media has had a profound effect on the way Americans have come to view the Arab-Israeli conflict. This came about as a function of the Zionist’s interest in providing a naïve American viewing public with pro-Israel and anti-Arab themes in movies, TV shows, books, magazines, newspapers and other mass media. If this tactic is ever in jeopardy of not being sufficient to maintain the bias (for example when Americans watched Israel bombard a defenseless Beirut with American weapons for days on end in 1982), the obligatory Holocaust movie or TV special will air to remind us all how unfortunate a time Jews have had of it. The sympathy-guilt card is played and the ominous specter of the anti-Semite label is made to loom ever closer to the collective consciousness.
While the number of movies that have portrayed Arabs or Muslims in a positive light are virtually non-existent, it is well beyond the scope of this paper to prove this bias. A general assumption from the outset has been that Jews are inclined to support Israel. As such, the ubiquitous presence of Jews in key media positions is only meant to validate their potential to influence the understanding and images of the American public, especially as it relates to the one subject that Jews are generally in agreement on, that being support for Israel.
The themes perpetuated by the not-so-subtle Jewish media bias in favor of Israel include:
• The Arabs are fanatical Muslim fundamentalists and terrorists.
• Islam is an aberrant faith that is out to destroy Christianity.
• Palestine was virtually uninhabited until the Jews arrived, except for a handful of Bedouin who can easily graze their camels elsewhere.
• Israel is just a tiny little country for the Jews. The Palestinians can easily go live with their fellow Arabs in neighboring countries like Jordan, Syria or Lebanon.
• The Arabs are out to finish what the Nazi’s started.
• Israel was the bulwark against communism when the Soviet Union backed the Arabs.
• Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.
• The Arabs are a bunch of rich, greedy oil sheiks with little else to do other then gamble, womanize and seek Israel’s demise.
The outcome of such views impact the Arab-Israeli conflict is that Americans came to consciously or otherwise feel positively toward Israel and negatively to the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular. These perceptions are critically important to the political process. Members of congress can much more easily defend their sycophantic support for Israel by virtue of having so many of their constituents feeling favorably toward it. When for example, Israel uses American supplied weapons to bomb a village in Lebanon, it is much easier to deflect criticism and rationalize such acts when Americans believe the dozen or so villagers killed were “terrorists” as Israel would claim, as opposed to simple farmers tending their fields.
Ownership of the main media opinion molders
Jewish ownership of important media outlets include:
• The New York Times
• Washington Post
• St Louis Post Dispatch
• Philadelphia Inquirer
• TV Guide
Key Positions in media
Goldberg writes: “… they [Jews] make up one fourth or more of the writers, editors, and producers in America’s “elite media”, including network news divisions, the top newsweeklies and the four leading daily papers (New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal). [Goldberg, 1996, 280].
These key positions have some (or total) veto power over what gets written, published or aired. A glance at the names in the attribution section of other such important publications as The International Herald Tribune, Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report further reveals the ubiquity of Jewish presence.
In the fast-evolving world of media megacorporations, Jews are even more numerous. In an October 1994 Vanity Fair feature profiling the kingpins of the new media elite, titled “The New Establishment,” just under half of the two dozen entrepreneurs profiled were Jews. [Goldberg, 1996, 280].
In addition to the key executive positions at these, the most important newspapers and magazines, Jews are also highly represented on the most influential editorial boards. Goldberg continues.
The case for the pro-Jewish bias rests largely on the works of a handful of influential writers who regularly take it upon themselves to defend Jews and Israel and to attack their enemies. The short list begins with a trio of columnists most often fingered as defenders of Israel and Jewish interests: William Safire, and A. M. Rosenthal of the New York Times and Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. Most versions of the list also include Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post and Frank Reich of the New York Times, along with New Republic editor Martin Peretz and literary editor Leon Wieseltier. [Goldberg, 1996, 290].
Israeli writer Yoav Karni goes so far as to say the following:
Safire is but one in a group of Jewish columnists and publishers who wield enormous influence over the American media, and who are prepared to automatically defend every Israeli policy measure, except for the peace initiative of the Rabin government which they were quick to condemn and to consign to the grave. [Shahak, 1997, 143].
Non-Jewish journalists, who have no stake in what is happening in the Middle East conflict, would be very reluctant to upset the sensibilities of friends and superiors who display a passion for such issues. Nor would they be expected to imperil their journalistic careers for issues of such seemingly minor scope. As such, a decidedly pro-Israel bias is ever-present in what Americans turn to for their daily information.
Jews own or control many of the most important publishing houses in America including:
• Random House
• Viking Press
• Simon and Schuster
• Van Nostrand
• Lyle Stewart
I.F. Stone expressed in “Confessions of a Jewish Dissident” published in the The New York Review of Books, March 9, 1978,
…..finding an American publishing house willing to publish a book which departs from the standard Israeli line is about as easy as selling a thoughtful exposition of atheism to the Osservatore Ramano in Vatican City.” [Lilienthal, 1982, 301]
CBS, NBC, ABC are dominated by Jewish executives. Lilienthal states,
Try to get something that is anti-Zionist much less pro-Arab, through the blockade of the three networks and you will quickly find out just how many producers and assistants are of the chosen faith. [Lilienthal, 1982, 221].
He goes on to mention, “It has been estimated that close to 70 % of the important posts in the media are held by Jews.” [Lilienthal, 1982, 221]
The Motion Picture Industry
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Universal and United Artists have been headed, founded and controlled by well know Jews such as Goldwyn, Fox, Laemmle, Schenck, Lasky, Zukor, Thalberg, Cohen, Mayer and Warner. [Lilienthal, 1982, 222]
And in a few key sectors of the media, notably among Hollywood studio executives, Jews are so numerically dominant that calling these businesses Jewish-controlled is little more than a statistical observation. [Goldberg, 1996,280]
Virtually all senior executives at the major studios are Jews. Writers, producers, and to a lesser degree directors are disproportionately Jewish – one recent study showed the figure as high as 59 percent among top grossing films. [Goldberg, 1996, 288].
Likewise, the American theatre headed by Broadway-and this has been true of the entire entertainment world, including music and other forms-has been dominated by Jewish names, too numerous to list. [Lilienthal, 1982, 222]
Arabs and Muslims are seemingly the last group that it is not politically incorrect to vilify. In Hollywood, they have become obvious targets for use as “bad guys”. The list of movies and TV shows with such themes is so long as to make it apparent that Hollywood has made a conscious effort to create an image of both Arabs and Islam as wicked. It is a cruel fate for the Palestinians in particular, for having resisted their own eradication they are portrayed by the American media not for their struggle, but as murderers, kidnappers and terrorists. An unknowing American public has little choice but to form an inaccurate impression.
Thus, the domination of the media by Zionists facilitates the perpetuation of the sympathy-guilt-anti-Semitism “triad” via Holocaust and Jewish persecution programming. Maintaining the high levels of exposure keeps these weapons constantly at the ready. It also enables them to manipulate perceptions of the Arab-Israeli conflict that contributes to the justification for the enormous levels of charity bestowed on Israel by an eager U.S. Congress. The explanation for this seemingly anachronistic level of political devotion is outlined in the following section.
The most direct manner in which American Jews influence American foreign policy is by the effective exploitation of the American political process. The first and most conventional of which is via the ballot box, voting for candidates who pledge their support of Israel. Jews perhaps more than any major ethnic group are single-issue voters and that issue is Israel. However their relatively small percentage in the overall populace (2.5%-3%) would seem to belie any major impact upon an election outcome. Further scrutiny shows this to be far from the case. By virtue of the fact that 80% of Jews are registered to vote and Jews are nearly twice as likely to vote as non-Jews, the significance of their numbers is doubled. [Goldberg, 1996,30]
A congressional race that would otherwise be even, can therefore be significantly impacted by the Jewish vote. If for example the preponderance of Jewish voters, vote for senatorial candidate A, the greater Israel supporter, in a state where they constitute 4% of the population, they could change the outcome from say 50%-50% to 52%-48%. And when you consider the voting twice as much as non-Jews factor, the numbers now go to 54%-46%. Candidates more often than not, win or lose by much smaller margins.
In presidential elections, the Electoral College process in which a candidate only needs to win over 50% of a state’s vote to win the entire number of electoral college “points”, Jewish single-issue voters have tremendous power. Jewish populations in America are concentrated in seven of the largest states. The number of Electoral College votes and the ranking are shown as follows: Californian (54 - #1), New York (33 - #2), Florida (25 - #4), Ohio (21 - #7), New Jersey (15 - #9), Massachusetts (12 - #13), Maryland (10 - #18).
The same formula used for the hypothetical senatorial campaign can be applied to a presidential campaign. If Jews vote for president based on the Israel issue alone, then they can swing any of the states illustrated above by the few percentage points necessary for the more pro-Israeli presidential candidate to carry the state. The Electoral College working as it does (i.e. winner take all in a given state) emphasizes the winning in the big states (where Jews are concentrated) and augments the power of the “Jewish vote” even more.
Campaign finance reform is a major topic of discussion by presidential candidates for the year 2000 election. This is because there are numerous ways to get around the existing well-intentioned limitations on financial influence. The current law places a $1,000 restriction on the amount an individual can donate to the campaign of a congressional candidate and $5,000 on the amounts provided by Political Action Committees (PACs).
First, since individual PACs can only donate $5,000, there has been a proliferation of PAC’s (from 608 in 1974 to 4,681 in 1990). Pro-Israel PACs were no exception and adopted nondescript names like Badger PAC, Desert Caucus and Goldcoast PAC. Curtiss calls them “Stealth PACs”. By the 1986 congressional elections there were over ninety pro-Israel PACs who distributed over $4M by the end of that year. [Ball, 1992, 219] They selectively determine who has demonstrated their allegiance and lavish money on these chosen candidates from the combination of all the Stealth PACs. So while the American Medical Association for example, is limited to giving $5,000 to their candidates of choice in the various races, Israel’s PACs can essentially give a hundred times that amount to theirs.
It must also be emphasized that the money is not dolled out on every congressional race for every two-year election cycle. Only the most important of the 33 senatorial contests (they have more power) and the few key House of Representative races, where a pro-Israel candidate may be in jeopardy, actually receive money. While it is technically illegal for different PACs to coordinate their donations, with the network of organizations and publications, it is a relatively easy matter for AIPAC to make it very well know to their minions, (the 100 or so Stealth PACs) where to focus the giving.
Just doing the math shows that a highly desirable candidate could theoretically get upwards of half a million dollars for his or her campaign use from Zionist PACs. According to Curtiss however, “AIPAC officers are fond of saying that contributions by pro-Israel PACs are only the “the tip of the iceberg” perhaps no more than 10% of Jewish campaign donations that an AIPAC recommendation can mobilize.” [Curtiss, 1996, 78] .
Second, individuals can give $1,000 so again, once the word is out on who is to be supported (AIPAC’s job), the checks start rolling in. Philip Stern, author of the 1992 book Still The Best Congress Money can Buy, reported that in the 1990 election campaign over $4M was donated by pro-Israel PAC’s. In addition however another $3.5 M was given directly to candidates by individual donors who had already given to one of the pro-Israel PACs, thus almost doubling their “investment”.
Then there is the issue of the so-called “soft money” where-by individuals and groups can give as much money as they like to their political party. The Parties in turn, primarily use the money to buy various forms of advertising in support of their candidates. Joseph Alsop, a long time supporter of Israel said: “With the possible exception of Senator Edward Kennedy, no liberal democrat gets less than 50 % of his campaign financing from the Jewish community. In certain cases, the percentage reaches a very much higher figure.” [Lilienthal, 1982, 264].
The Balls go even further by suggesting that upwards of 90% of campaign money raised for the Democratic Party and nearly 60% for the Republican Party stems from Jewish contributions. [Ball, 1992, 218] Goldberg holds the figure closer to the 50% mark. Since Jewish money provides the majority of the funding for the Democratic party and a significant amount to the Republican Party, it is not difficult to figure out where candidates must stand on the Arab-Israeli conflict and aid to Israel, if they are to enjoy funding from the party apparatus.
Finally on the issue of campaign money there is the First Amendment right of free speech. Individual are free to spend as much of their own money to promote a given candidate without restriction. In 1984 for example, one Israel supporter spent $1.1M of his own money on television and billboard advertising to back the senatorial candidacy of Paul Simon of Illinois because Charles Percy, the incumbent, was determined to be “unfriendly” to Israel. (See subsequent section)
In addition to raising and channeling money, AIPAC supervises a litany of other activities, which are focused on facilitating the ultimate goal; having congress vote affirmatively on all matters that help support the policies of the Jewish state.
AIPAC staffers engage in such activities as:
• Monitoring the press for anti-Zionist information. Having found such material, a campaign would be mounted to discredit or harass the writer, the publication, or at a minimum, require the printing of a counter argument.
• Funding a “Speakers Bureau” to “educate” the American public on the benefits that Israel brings to America.
• A research bureau which provides all kinds of printed material and information made available to politicians, libraries, media people, schools and universities, all in an effort to get out the word on how important Israel is to America.
• Publishing the biweekly newsletter Near East Report. It summarizes news and provides policy analysis on the Middle East. It cleverly disguises Israeli propaganda as scholarship. It is distributed to all members of Congress and is oftentimes their sole source of “information” on a given issue.
• Promoting carefully orchestrated visits to Israel, to show Americans how the Israelis “made the dessert bloom”. Politicians are the main target of such efforts. The condition of the Palestinians, living under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, is discretely left off the agenda.
Finally there are a host of other activities under the heading of “Special Projects” which include such things as:
• “Reach out” programs to churches and universities.
• A radio and TV committee, which works to get programs, aired that reflect positively on Israel and/or negatively on the Arabs.
The effective lobbying of politicians is primarily a function of how much money you or your organization has donated to a particular candidate. AIPAC, being the largest single source of this money to many of the politicians, works the corridors of the Congress on a regular basis in order to “inform” representatives about pending issues affecting the state of Israel. If they determine that a congressman or senator is not in line with their thinking, they put out what is referred to as an “Action Alert”. Such a notice can go to more than 1,000 influential Jewish leaders nation-wide prodding them to “weigh-in” with a particular congressman. A list of key contacts is maintained of people who personally know, or have contributed significantly to, every member of congress.
As necessary, the call filters down to the average Zionist American citizen who is encouraged to make phone calls, send letters, e-mails, and even protest and harass as necessary. They can and do make the life of any politician who opposes “pro-Israel” legislation miserable.
In 1974 for example, Charles Percy then Chairman of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee from Illinois, made remarks to the effect that, “…there were limits to US support for Israel and that the Israeli leaders were being unrealistic in believing they could avoid contact with the PLO”. This resulted in the speedy receipt of 20,000 pieces of mail and six months later he was still receiving fifty letters a week. [Lilienthal, 1982, 266]
The Balls summarize how AIPAC lobbies Congress.
AIPAC provides ongoing intelligence about congressional activities. It keeps track of how every congressmen and senator votes, and it concentrates on the chairman and other leading members of key committees that pass on legislation which affects Israel.
As a result:
- it can and does target available resources through political action committees;
- it provides speech materials and background guidance for sympathetic legislators during relevant committee hearings; and
- it systematically provides election-year help to marginal members and discourages backsliding by threatening to support rival candidates against congressman who do not toe AIPAC’s line. [Ball, 1992, 211]
AIPAC’s channeling of campaign funds to friendly candidates and lobbying of Congress for legislation favorable to Israel is but the final output of having done their homework on these issues. Prior to these activities, they were busy determining who has been naughty and who has been nice. They produce various “black-lists” of people and organizations who are considered anti-Israel. Curtiss illustrates.
Before each election, AIPAC issues a selectively distributed “little black book” to some 150 top members who include the officers of major pro-Israel PACs. The book provides data on all of the upcoming congressional races.
The booklet also contains a checklist going back to 1978 on votes by incumbents of interest to AIPAC on foreign aid, arms sales to Arab states, the proposal to shut down the PLO mission to the U.N. and the proposal to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. [Curtiss, 1996, 129].
AIPAC even goes so far as to publish a roster of unfriendly administrators and teachers at colleges across the country. A similar, McCarthy-like “enemies list” has been circulated by the Anti-Defamation League (an organization that was founded to combat such activity). It mentions thirty-one organizations and thirty-four congressmen. [Ball, 1992, 217]
The bottom line is that federal politicians who are not staunchly pro-Israel are black-listed by the “Lobby” and every effort is then made to see that they do not get elected or re-elected. This is done via the cutting off of Jewish campaign funds, funneling funds to the other candidate (who is more than happy to receive such largesse), organizing “volunteers” to campaign on behalf of their candidate and, when necessary, employing the obligatory smear campaign of labeling such dissenters as anti-Semites. For as columnist Joe Sobran recently suggested, “in America you are not anti-Semitic if you hate Jews but if Jews hate you” [for speaking out against Israeli abuses].
Using their logic, a Congressman who for example took umbrage with Israel’s continued occupation and expropriation of Arab territory, or supported the sale of the AWAC airborne defense system to Saudi Arabia to boost exports from his district, is an anti-Semite and therefore has no place in the U.S. Congress. A few notable examples include:
1974 William Fulbright (Arkansas) - Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stated on October 7, 1973 on the CBS show Face the Nation, “The Israelis control the policy in the Congress and the Senate. Somewhere around 80% of the senate of the United States is completely in support of Israel – anything Israel wants…”
The Near East Report, the publication of AIPAC, according to Lilienthal;
…assailed the Senator for questioning the motives of his colleagues (for caving into AIPAC pressure). The Zionists were determined to “get” Senator Fulbright, and they poured money into Arkansas for his rival, Governor Dale Bumpers, in the May 1974 primary. Senator Fulbright was subsequently defeated in the primaries and returned to private life. [Lilienthal, 1982, 256].
1984 Charles Percy (Illinois) – A subsequent Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, who had the audacity to suggest that Israel should deal with Arafat and the PLO, and he supported the sale of AWAC planes to Saudi Arabia. Jews promptly contributed $3.1M for his defeat in the next election. [Ball, 1992,22].
Thomas Dine, the head of AIPAC at the time boasted: “All Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy. And American politicians-those who hold public positions now, and those who aspire to -got the message.” [Findley, 1985, 133].
1982 Paul “Pete” McCloskey – Congressman (California) - In spite of having a pro-Israel voting record was defeated in his run for the Senate for questioning AIPAC’s activity on ethical grounds.
1982 Paul Findley - Congressman (Illinois) – Met publicly with Yasser Arafat in 1980 and supported the recognition of the PLO. Israel’s supporters promptly labeled him a “practicing anti-Semite” and called him “one of the worst enemies that Jews and Israel have ever faced in the history of the US Congress.” [Ball, 1992, 223]
The case of North Carolina Senator Jessie Helms did not end in his defeat but is illuminating nonetheless. Helm’s voting record had been describe by AIPAC executive director Thomas Dine prior to the 1984 election as the “worst” in the Senate. He was therefore marked for defeat and the full force of the Lobby was put behind his opponent, Governor Hunt. Nonetheless, as Richard Curtiss describes it.
Helms squeaked by with a victory over Hunt, and at first it seemed that AIPAC’s vow to “get” him had failed. After his narrow election victory, however, Helms was a changed man. With Jewish constituents, Helms flew off to Israel, had himself photographed wearing a yarmulke and kissing the Wailing Wall, and bombarded the media with pro-Israel statements.
In the Senate, he has been a zealous supporter of Israel ever since, building a record of 100 percent compliance with AIPAC recommendations, and in a few cases seeming to go beyond them. He has also demonstrated consistent support in subsequent election years for a proposal to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. [Curtiss, 1996, 56].
Senator Helms and basically everyone else in Congress has now got the message and as a result there has not been a lot of activity to “get” candidates in the 1990’s. They have all pretty much made the decision to “tow the Israel line” irrespective of American interests. For as the Balls point out, “Because AIPAC has managed to defeat or harass candidates so successfully, it operates a virtual reign of terror among congressional members.” [Ball, 1992, 221]
1991 President George Bush – In September, President Bush held up approval of a $10B loan guarantee for Israel that was ostensibly going to be used to re-settle Soviet émigrés until Israel agreed to participate in peace talks. In light of the fact that Israel had historically spent U.S. aid to illegally build settlements in the occupied territories in the past, and a peace deal would be in Israel’s best interest, it seemed like a reasonable approach. He made mention of being “up against some powerful political forces”, a veiled reference to the Jewish lobby. More than the initiative itself, the reference to the power of the Lobby was to lead to his political demise.
“September 12 will go down in Jewish history as the day of the great betrayal,” said Jacqueline Levine, a senior American Jewish Congress leader.
“His statement was a disgusting display of, if not anti-Semitism, then something very close to it.” [Goldberg, 1996, xxii].
In spite of overseeing the final demise of the Soviet Union, handling the Gulf War with great deftness and riding an unprecedented approval rating of 70% at the time of his comments, come November 1992, George Bush was defeated by the staunchest pro-Israel president in American history, Bill Clinton.
The Take-Over of the Foreign Policy Establishment
The Balls quote, former AIPAC staff member Richard Straus: “State Department Arabists acknowledge that Arab interests hardly get a hearing today in Washington.” [Ball, 1992, 215]
That was 1986 under a Republican administration. As amazing as it may sound, things have significantly improved for Israel sympathizers at the State Department, especially since the coming of Democrat Bill Clinton.
Israel appears to have a one-way strategic relationship with the United States: No American official can expect to survive in his job if he applies the same rules to Israel as to other countries. If application of U.S. Law harms Israeli interests, as defined by the Israeli government, time and time again U.S. officials have been forced to back down. This has little to do with the pressures from members of congress, and much more to do with pressures from the White House, where key Israel-oriented policy makers now are situated. [Bird, 1994, 12].
To whom might Mr. Bird be making reference with regards to key policy makers from the White House? To understand his perspective it becomes necessary to look at the foreign policy establishment that has the most influence on matters affecting the Middle East. As will be seen there exists an inordinate Jewish presence in these key positions. This is not to suggest that being Jewish is being a Zionist, but I have tried to establish that being Jewish, does fundamentally affect how one feels toward the state of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Lets begin at the top with the Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright.
Albright came to the United States in 1951. Her father, Joseph Korbel, was a Czech diplomat. Because the family was Jewish, when Adolf Hitler’s forces occupied Czechoslovakia, the family fled first to Yugoslavia and then to London to escape Nazi persecution. Daughter Madeleine went to school in Switzerland. After the communists took over Czechoslovakia in 1948, Korbel settled permanently in the United States, where he became a professor at the University of Denver.
Unfortunately, her experience as a refugee from foreign military occupation has not translated into sympathy for the Palestinian victims of just such an occupation. Observers say that as the representative of the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history, she exhibited much more interest in the domestic political implications of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute than in actual events on the ground. Other U.N. delegates joke that during her tenure the policy of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. seemed more obdurately pro-Israeli than that of the Israeli mission itself. [Curtiss, 1997, 6].
Next in line would be Albright’s foreign policy opposite number at the White House Samuel Richard Berger, who moved up from deputy director to director of the National Security Council. Berger is Jewish, and has more familiarity with South Asia than other members of the top team, and has been involved in Americans for Peace Now, a U.S. Jewish group affiliated with Israel’s peace movement and supportive of a land-for-peace settlement. While difficult to say without being involved in NSC activity, it would appear that Berger is on the moderate side of the Zionist scale.
James Rubin, “Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and State Department Spokesman” is the primary mouth-piece for his boss Dr. Albright, he too is Jewish.
Next is the Secretary of Defense William Cohen. Curtiss writes:
.. in his 18 years as a Republican senator from Maine he accepted $162,462 in campaign contributions from pro-Israel political action committees, and earned every bit of it with his votes for foreign aid and on other matters in which the Israel Lobby was interested.
… Cohen was born to an Irish Protestant mother and a Jewish agnostic father who worked as a baker. Raised as a Christian, he has followed the independent family tradition by listing his own religion as Unitarian, which is neither specifically Christian nor Jewish. [Curtiss, 1997, 6].
Again as with Berger, it would appear that Cohen is not a zealot, but then one does not have to be in order to have inclinations towards the State of Israel. Having said this however, there are two remaining high ranking individuals in the middle east foreign policy establishment who easily qualify as hard core Zionists and have to a great extent dedicated their lives to the support of Israel. These would be in the persons of Martin Indyk and Dennis Ross.
Martin Indyk, “Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs” who is Jewish, a former AIPAC official and of Australian citizenship until coming to the U.S. to pander for Israel. (Now U.S. Ambassador to Israel.)
Dennis Ross, “Special Middle East Coordinator” with Ambassador status, who is Jewish and a former fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the “think tank” spun off by AIPAC.
While it may stretch the realm of credulity to the limit, the United States is essentially asking the Arabs to deal with a foreign policy team that at a minimum could be described as very sympathetic to Israel. The rhetoric about being an “honest broker” in the peace talks and other matters effecting the region, rings a bit hollow to those involved in such discussions on the Arab side.
Charley Reese wrote on January 16, 2000 in the Orlando Sentinel. “The Israelis have indicated that if they sign a peace deal with Syria, they expect the U.S. taxpayers to ante up about $17 billion.”
The next day the CNN ran an article from their web site regarding the current Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations.
Israel's price for making peace with Syria could mean obtaining some of the most sophisticated weaponry in the United States arsenal. CNN has learned that during the peace negotiations at Shepherdstown, West Virginia Israel asked for radar- evading stealth technology, which the Pentagon has not shared with anyone until now.
Israel also argued that if it gave up the strategic Golan Heights, it would need U.S. satellites to better detect any mobilization. One source suggests that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak wants the satellite intelligence that Washington does not even share with its NATO allies.
... For Israel to obtain cruise missiles would require a change in U.S. law. But Congress rarely says no to Israel, which already receives 26 percent of all U.S. international aid.
The grip that the Jewish Lobby has on the U.S. Congress and the Administration does not appear to be in any jeopardy. Requesting access to top secret weapons and asking for additional money that is more than the amount of funding to NASA might be considered remarkable were it not measured against their previous “successes”. What perhaps is more remarkable however, is the fact that the Lobby is able to wield such enormous influence on American governance yet do so in almost total anonymity; only a tiny percentage of the American public has any idea it goes on. As alluded to earlier this is to a great extent a function of American ignorance and apathy but Zionist forces themselves work vigilantly to maintain its concealment. As Shahak comments.
The topic is taboo in the US (although not in Israel), with all major American Jewish organizations exerting themselves to maintain the taboo, often with the help of philosemitic Christians, who delude themselves that by gagging discussion of Jewish affairs, and in particular about Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism, they ‘atone’ for the Holocaust. [Shahak, 1997, 141].
For the few who are informed and compelled to expose the insidious affect that the pursuit of Zionist aims has had on American values, finding a medium (other than an academic paper) of mass communication is problematic. While the American media is supposed to expose corruption, tyranny and injustice especially as it relates to the political process, to a great extent, the “Fourth Estate” is the very source of the misinformation and the cover-up. Even where such an effort is made, the threat of Zionist “pressure” including but not limited to the anti-Semite label, quite effectively keeps most such undesirable topics out of the realm public scrutiny. For this reason, the Israeli Lobby is as impressive for the enormity of its influence as it is for the fact that few know it exists. What however, are the consequences of such an exercise of power, on America, Jewish Americans and Israel itself?
Ethnic politics that demand favors for foreign countries in exchange for votes and other support corrupts the making of foreign policy. In order to maximize America’s resources and serve its interests, foreign policy is supposed to be made by professionals who are working for the benefit of America as a whole. This policy making is an extensive process that is designed to serve U.S. national interests and project to the world American values, like democracy, free market capitalism, respect for human rights, equality and justice for all. The precedent set by the Israeli Lobby, in addition to making a mockery of these values, has the potential to turn the American political system into a band of quarreling ethnic groups all bent on serving the interests of foreign countries. (e.g. Black-Jewish tensions in the 1980’s over Israeli cooperation with the apartheid regime in South Africa)
Should German-Americans ask that the U.S. pay for the absorption of East Germany? Should Irish-Americans expect the U.S. to pay for the peace in Northern Ireland? Should Arab-Americans ask their government to repatriate the two million Palestinians now living as refugees throughout the world? Russian-Americans could make a great case for bailing out Russia whose potential instability threatens the entire world. Mexico, the poor southern neighbor, gets comparatively little from the U.S. Their poor economy provides the impetus for a constant stream of immigrants that costs the American taxpayer untold billions: what about them? Subjecting American foreign policy to the vagaries of the domestic political process, as so effectively exploited by the Israeli Lobby, makes for incoherent policy formulation and perhaps more importantly, has onerous implications as it relates to inter-ethnic group relations in America.
Jewish American support of, and acquiescence to, Israeli policies have betrayed a Jewish humanitarian legacy unrivaled in the 20th Century. What happened to those eloquent and determined voices that have spoken so strongly against unethical political practices, social injustice and human rights abuses? Most such voices of liberty have been eerily silent on these and a multitude of issues related to Israel policies. The brave Jews who have been willing to stand up to the criticism, intimidation and worse are dismissed as self-loathing Uncle Tom’s. Nonetheless, the realities of the Arab-Israeli conflict are slowly coming to light. Through their maniacal efforts to facilitate security for Jews via the establishment of an all-powerful Israel, American Zionists have created an environment rife for the germination of anti-Semitic feelings.
And what about Israel? The power that American Zionists have bestowed on Israel has seen a once beleaguered people turned into a country that is so intoxicated with its power that it has sown death, destruction and misery on all who would challenge the exclusive right of Jews to live and act as they see fit in the Middle East. Addicted to American aid and its unlimited power, the Israelis lost most incentives to act as a responsible member of the international community, be a good neighbor, or have any interest in anything resembling a just and comprehensive peace. Bullying has been “successful”, and a state of continued belligerence provides the justification for the billions in U.S. aid. Thus in spite of being to a great extent, a ward of the American taxpayer, Israel continues to project a militant posture further engendering contempt from its Arab neighbors and much of the rest of the world. As such, even if “peace” came tomorrow, what Israeli citizen would be safe to travel or work in the region without fear of reprisal for the untold suffering inflicted by their government? More foreboding however, is the prospect of some weapon of mass destruction, concocted by a desperate regime or any one of the millions of people, whose lives they have vanquished, brings their blind ambitions to a cataclysmic end.
Jews have nothing to fear from men and women of conscience who question Israeli behavior or that of their Lobby, on ethical or humanitarian grounds. Rather it is AIPAC’s manipulation of Congress, the deceit inherent in the American media and Israel’s belligerent policies themselves, which invite feelings of antipathy. Rather than demanding more missiles for Israel to fend off enemies they themselves created, perhaps they and their American Zionist facilitators would be well served to look in the mirror to locate what constitutes the actual threat to the security Jews in general and Israel in particular..