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From free trade to the Kosovo crisis.
Israel's 'Lobbification' of Congress
Editor’s Note: Today’s neoconservative dominance of Official Washington has further pushed outside the realm of acceptable debate any evenhanded discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. There is deep-seated fear that criticism of Israel will bring accusations of anti-Semitism.
Even selective criticism of some Likud policies by J Street, a liberal Jewish organization, recently prompted retribution from Israel, a Knesset hearing decrying J Street as “anti-Israel.” It is in that context of intolerance that Lawrence Davidson assesses a congressional hearing:
Lobbification is a word I have just coined for the corruptive process that bends politicians to the will of special interests – that is to the will of lobbies.
The result of lobbification can be seen in the stilted and fawning behavior ofthe lobbified political brain. Politicians with lobbified brains become the obedient instruments of the lobbies which have captured their political souls. Below are a few examples of the results of lobbification.
The majority of the politicians who sit on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee are victims of lobbification. Among the major lobbies that have, over the decades, carried out this corrupting process are the Zionist organizations in their various Jewish and Christian manifestations.
In their present state, the lobbified minds of these committee members, so influential in the foreign policy formulation process of our country, are utterly incapable of questioning, much less defying, the hypnotic power of either American Zionists or the Israelis.
Here is just one illustration of the resulting mental paralysis:
On April 5, three Israelis appeared before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Two were retired IDF generals and one was Dore Gold, the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold is one of those transplanted Americans who have chosen careers as Israeli spokesmen. (As an aside, he is also an Inspector Clouseau look alike).
He served as Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations and political adviser to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Among other dubious accomplishments it was Gold who convinced the Clinton administration not to press Israel on the issue of the Golan Heights.
The Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan once described him as "simply hatred’s scribe." Here is some of what Gold and his fellow Israelis told the Foreign Affairs Committee:
1. Israel is confronting a new diplomatic assault that could well strip it of territorial defenses in the West Bank that have provided for its security for over 40 years."
2. "The 1993 Oslo Agreements envisioned a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with borders to be decided by the parties themselves and not imposed by international coalitions or by unilateral acts."
3. "Traditional U.S. policy recognized that Israel is not expected to withdraw from all territories it captured in the 1967 Six Day War. This was enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 242."
4. "The entire Middle East is engulfed in flames. Just as Israel faces complete strategic uncertainty...it is being asked to acquiesce to unprecedented concessions that could put its very future at risk." Therefore, "to agree to a full withdrawal from the West Bank and to acquiesce to the loss of defensible borders pose an unacceptable risk for the Jewish state."
During this lament, our congressional representatives sat there, in their collective lobbified frame of mind, and swallowed it all in as if it were gospel. This was completely predictable.
The Foreign Affairs Committee is chaired by Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, an ardent anti-Castro Cuban-American who has spent her political life doing two things: first, distorting U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba so that no vestige of national interest can be found therein, and second, promoting a tactical alliance between reactionary Cuban-American groups and the Zionists.
Ros-Lehtinen has recently confirmed her lobbified status by demanding that Congress "make it U.S. policy to demand that the U.N. General Assembly revoke and repudiate the Goldstone Report." She did this despite the fact that three of the four signatories of the Report have avowed its accuracy and continued relevance.
The ranking Democratic on the committee is Howard Berman who has never been able to figure out who he should represent more diligently, his California district constituents or Israel.
Both these leading committee members clearly suffer from lobbification and most of the other standing members also display this condition to one extent or another. As a result, when it came to the discussion that followed the Israelis’ presentation, all the possible probing questions remained unasked.
Here are some of those unasked questions:
--What do you mean by "diplomatic assault," "imposed by international coalitions," and "unilateral acts"? Do you mean the rather feeble U.S. and European suggestion that your country negotiate in good faith and cease its own series of illegal unilateral acts such as the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem?
--And how is it that you are now telling us that, for the last 40 years, your "territorial defenses" have made you secure? For the past 40 years you have been telling us how insecure you are! Are we to understand that your constant claim of insecurity was a gross exaggeration? Perhaps nothing more than an addictive frame of mind? Or has it been just a facade behind which you carry on expansion in violation of international law?
--Why do you bring up the Oslo Accords? For the last few decades you have been telling us that they are dead letters, irrelevant to current circumstances. You seem to trot them out when they serve your purposes and cast them into oblivion when they do not. Also, are you not aware that in the past your country has violated these accords at will?
--Is Israel’s determined refusal to negotiate rational concessions really a function of the assertion that the "entire Middle East" is allegedly "engulfed in flames"? If we simply go back to a period when there was no "complete strategic uncertainty," we find that Israel’s position on compromise was exactly the same as it is today. So isn’t this new concern really a contrived excuse to justify your country’s refusal to come to just and fair settlement with the Palestinians?
--Why are you bringing up the possibility of "full withdrawal" from the West Bank as if it was a specter gazing over your shoulder? When is the last time the U.S. government or the European Union demanded this of you? Is not the present understanding of the final character of borders based upon the 1967 Green line one that includes mutually agreed upon and equitable land swaps? Is not this the recognized contemporary understanding of U.N. Resolution 242?
--And what is this business of "defensible borders"? When was the last time your country’s borders proved indefensible to conventional military attack? Isn’t it true that, even without the West Bank, your borders have never been seriously crossed by such forces? Your vulnerability lies in your inability to counter guerrilla and terrorist attacks, and to prevent missile penetration. Ultimate security against these threats does not rest in a policy of colonial expansion but rather in an equitable peace agreement.
What a memorable and actually useful committee meeting it would have been if these or similar questions had been posed. But alas, the lobbified brain functions something like Israel’s apartheid wall. Meaningful questions about Israel and doubts about the real consequences of Zionism cannot easily get over or around the nine-meter high conditioning that is lobbification.
The on-line magazine Politico reports tells us that "even as they push for huge cuts, 11 freshman GOP senators say the U.S. must continue to provide foreign aid to its strongest ally in the Middle East: Israel." In a letter to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, the security conscious eleven stated, "as we work to reduce wasteful government spending....we must continue to prioritize the safety of our nation and the security of our allies, including Israel."
Only the thoroughly lobbified brain can advocate cutting $500 million from federal programs for health and nutrition for women, infants and children and simultaneously insist on continuing to give Israel $3 billion a year – and, do so in the name of "prioritizing the safety of our nation"!
The Senator who organized the letter to McConnell is Marco Rubio of Florida (a male version of Ros-Lehtinen) and he sits on what committee? The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of course.
His lobbified state of mind apparently makes it impossible for him to see the connection between U.S. open-ended support of Israel, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and America’s insecurity. It should come as no surprise that Sen. Rubio has said that the U.S. must "stand with Israel without equivocation or hesitation" and cease pressuring Israel over its settlement policies.
As the approximately 206.8 million adult Americans go about their daily lives most probably do not realize that they, or at least the approximately 57 percent who bother to vote in federal elections, have placed into positions of power individuals who have been corrupted by lobby power.
This is due to the fact that most Americans do not understand and/or pay attention to how their own political system works. Few and far between are the school "civics" courses that, in theory, explain its intricacies. And, once the Republicans get done gutting the education budgets, those remaining courses will most likely disappear.
Ignorance is not bliss. It is often the prelude to sudden destruction. It is not bliss to be ignorant of the corruption that is undermining your government.
Lobbification is synonymous with just that – a dangerous form of political corruption. The U.S. political system is riddled with it. It has been so for a long time and the situation is not improving.
This condition has recently manifested itself in Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Ohio and a host of other states in the form of feverish acts of self-destruction. And, as we have seen, Congress has no immunity.
Yet the citizenry goes blissfully about its business. To quote the immortal Samuel Johnson, "Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate, roll darkling down the torrent of his fate? (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 2001, p. 411, No. 19). Perhaps it is so.
Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest; America's Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.
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