Congress and the Israel Lobby
The Politics of Servility
By WILLIAM COOK
Shakespeare's Caesar caustically commented, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never taste of death but once." Curious how our lawmakers huddle behind their sophistries, their voice votes, their parliamentary play acting to avoid the daring feat that would force them to confront the moral consequences of their obsequious pandering to the lobbyists who pad their pin striped suits with the means to stay in office, all the while selling their souls to their executioners. Every day they die another death; every day a new resurrection to fulfill their obligation to their puppeteers. How different from their forebears who understood the valiant feast on liberty, even in the face of death: "Americans! Liberty or Death" rang through the hills of Massachusetts and all the colonies as the Revolution loomed, a fervor marked by foreigners because they could see the Americans really meant it. But how can our representatives be free if they are at the mercy of a foreign lobby? (David Fisher, Liberty and Freedom, Oxford University Press, 2005).
Consider the last annual gala held by AIPAC where Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. Nev.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R. Ky) appeared as keynote speakers to an audience that included half of the U.S. Senate and more than half of the House, an event that took place just as the newly constituted Congress of Democrats was asserting its response to the American electorate with a provision to require the President to get the Congress' approval before he took any action against Iran. By the end of the week AIPAC had successfully pressed for removal of this bipartisan provision from the bill ("Jewish News Weekly of Northern California," Ron Kampeas, 3/16/2007). David Corn, reporting in Nation magazine noted that keeping that provision in the bill "would not be to the liking of AIPAC, the powerhouse pro-Israel lobby, which has declared the Lantos bill a top priority (Lantos' bill pushes legislation to intensify sanctions against Iran). "In a recent speech AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr said that legislation restricting Bush's options would be 'a sign of weakness.' Asked if he can point to a political fight lost by AIPAC recently, Representative Larson replied, 'Not to my recollection.'" (Corn, Nation 4/23/2007). Pat Buchanan, four days later wrote "Why did Pelosi capitulate? Answer. She was 'under pressure from some conservative members of the caucus, and from lobbyists associated with neoconservative groups that want war with Iran and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee,' writes John Nichols in the Nation."
M. J. Rosenberg, in a commentary on the Mearsheimer and Walt study of the influence of the Israeli lobbies on our representatives offered this reflection, an observation that came from his own experience serving representatives over the years: "Once again, Presidential candidates are being told that in order to earn the 'pro-Israel' label, they must heartily endorse the status quo. That means that when asked what they would do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the candidates must state unequivocal support for Israeli policies. They must never use the words 'even-handed' or 'honest broker.' There is a script and candidates must not deviate from it." ("W-M's Best Seller: Why the Hysteria?" 09/07/07).
"There is a script and candidates must not deviate from it." So much for the valiant soul who searches his/her conscience, free in his/her mind to decide issues that send young Americans to their deaths or to varying states of dementia caused by roadside bombs that shake the brain inside the skull like a bartender preparing a cocktail. So much for the valiant legislator that hides behind the façade dictated to him or her by AIPAC extolling the desire of the Israeli government for peace with Palestine when, in fact, it desires nothing of the sort short of the slow, agonizing, and insidiously torturous ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from their own homeland. So much for the representatives of the people, who were voted into office with the expressed understanding that they would not just bring the invasion of Iraq to an end but would not create another unprovoked war with another mid-east nation that would cause the deaths of more U.S. soldiers to say nothing of the innocent people caught in the maelstrom of murderous slaughter their mild "yea" could cause even as it ushers forth from their respective mouths. So much for liberty, for the mind free to reflect, weigh and judge for self. So much for the mind Jesus sought to instill in the Christian, the true Christian who followed His teachings, not the venom hurled from the pulpit of Pastor John Hagee and his ilk, militant ministers of the AntiChrist they condemn, preaching a gospel of hate that supports the rabid minority of Zionists that debase the very beliefs of Christianity.
Listen to the voice of Christ that our representatives have buried under their fear of AIPAC retribution lest they have to confront the reality of Jesus' teachings, not the "reality on the ground" that the AIPAC vultures peck at them day in and day out. Hear the words of Jesus, words never uttered by Hagee who would find no peace in the inclusiveness they extol:
"He made strangers his own;
In their differences, they manifested his will." (Plate 99: 9)
"The Truth is one and many,
So as to teach us the innumerable One of Love." (Plate 102:12)
"So it is with the sons of God; wherever they are
They are just as precious to their Father." (Plate 110:48)
"Whoever is free of the world
Can no longer be made into a slave there." (Plate 113)
(from the Gospel of Philip, Jean-Yves LeLoup, Inner Traditions, VT)
Christ's intent, as expressed here as it is in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is to show humans that they can be one with him by comprehending what he says and does to see in the differences of people, including strangers, the Truth that there is in all diversity One Love that binds because all are precious to their Father. This is a gospel of inclusiveness, not divisiveness. But to attain that Truth, each must abandon the "wills" of the Hagee's and AIPAC that seek to force their intents on our representatives by coercion through money and fear through controlled power that destroys the politician. Our representatives must be free in mind and spirit, not slaves to the fanatics of Dominionism and Zionism.
There is an untold irony behind the research that Mearsheimer and Walt brought to light, a story that goes back to the years preceding the UN creation of the state of Israel. As early as 1941, and obviously for some years preceding that date, Jews living in Palestine found themselves under the total control of the "gangs" of Zionists who dictated the allegiance they must have to the establishment of the Zionist state they were determined to bring into existence. That allegiance they ensured through coercion and fear. These are the words of the British High Commissioner for Palestine, Harold MacMichael, addressed to the Secretary of State, dated 16th of October, 1941.
3. A second matter which deeply impresses me is the almost Nazi control exercised by the official Jewish organizations over the Jewish community, willy nilly, through the administration of funds from abroad, the issue of labor certificates in connection with the immigration quota, the forced contribution of funds and the power of the Histadruth. The Royal Commission were, in my view, fundamentally at error in describing the Jewish community in Palestine as "intensely democratic' (chapter V, paragraph 7). The Zionist organization, the whole social structure which it has created in Palestine, has the trappings but none of the essentials of democracy. The community is under the closed oligarchy of the Jewish official organizations which control Zionist policy and circumscribe the lives of the Jewish community in all directions the Mapai, the Histadruth, the Vaad Leumi and the Jewish Agency. The reality of power is in the Agency, with the Hagana, the illegal military organization, always in the background. (copy of dispatch, Reference No. 0.8.573, Rhodes Library Archives, Bodleian Library, Oxford University).
The irony of course is that the Jewish people, roughly 500,000 in 1941, were, in the opinion of the High Commissioner for the British Mandate government, controlled by the Zionists by methods not dissimilar to those being used on Jews and legislators alike in our government today. M and W have recounted the techniques used to subdue criticism of the state of Israel so that our representatives fear even the use of "even handed" or "balanced broker" that might imply the need for some measure of justice by Israel for the Palestinians. MacMichael's report establishes the truth about the military power Zionists had at their disposal even as early as 1941. He notes they could field approximately 30,000 well trained and experienced troops, and in numbers and caliber they are a "formidable adversary." Yet, then as now, the Zionists proclaim that it is the Jews who are in danger, who are the victims despite their evident superiority then as now.
The issue is not that our representatives obsequiously cater to the desires of AIPAC and the Israeli lobbies; a brief recounting of the constant flood of resolutions and acts passed in support of their desires is sufficient to show that reality (this is not a complete list, only a smattering): HR 311, 371, 390, 398, 615, 617, 4235, 4681 (the Palestine Anti-Terrorist Act, not yet passed in the house but passed in the Senate as S2370), the Syrian Accountability Act, HR 1828 passed 398 to 4, and, perhaps the most cowardly resolution of all, one in direct opposition to the expressed condemnation of every nation in the UN, the one that endorsed Israel's ravaging of Lebanon, its unparalleled invasion of a nation that had done nothing to Israel in the late summer of 2006, a vote that effectively left every congressmen stark naked before the moral outrage of the world's community, and, one more that sets their cowardice before the public as if it glowed in florescent lights, one in striking contradiction to the reversed action under way on the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, HR 52 paying tribute to Rev. Waitstill Sharp and Martha Sharp in commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust, passed unanimously 413-0, and HR583 which recognizes the 6 million Holocaust victims passed this year, September 17. Why do they have trouble remembering the Armenians?
And, finally, we must consider HR 2464 and HR 2953 to direct the Secretary of Education to provide grants to promote Holocaust education and awareness in K-12 in all states. This legislation does not promote the Holocausts most relevant to the American people, the holocaust against the Native indigenous peoples that lived on this land when Europe invaded or the Holocaust that our forebears and citizens executed through the "institution" of slavery where millions died at sea and millions more were buried in unmarked graves. It does not include the Armenian Holocaust or the Bosnian Holocaust of recent years or that in Darfur presently, or Rowanda, or our own taking place in Iraq where over a million civilians have died or in Palestine which is currently in its 60th year of genocide.
I would commend the learning outcomes that should result from study of the Holocaust, outcomes that are pertinent to all such barbaric behavior by humans against their brothers and sisters. "Teaching about Holocaust allows students to consider such issues as indifference toward suffering, use and abuse of power, prejudice, racism, and the disintegration of civilized values" (The Holocaust Education Project," Margnet Lincoln). Indeed, all our representatives might benefit from such study, but not by isolating it to the tragedies suffered by one group with no mention or concentration on others. Perhaps the heinous actions of the state powers that exist and terrorize their citizens and those under occupation, as in Darfur, Iraq, and Palestine, might force our legislators and those in the UN to intervene and stop the slaughters, not with military force, but moral force, that the teachings of Jesus as noted above, teachings now embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, become the shield of Justice for all.
But this is not to be. Our legislators hide behind their feigned love of Israel as dictated to them by the lobbies, feigned because they proclaim the friendship for that democratic state, the only one in the mid-east when they know in their heart of hearts that Israel is not a democracy, not in its constitution (which it does not have even after 60 years of existence), not in its apartheid restrictions imposed on its Arab (read Palestinian) citizens (which it proclaims are equal in all respects to Jews though Jews alone can purchase land in Israel), not in its moral adherence to international law or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (although it is a signatory to that document even as it defies 160 UNGA resolutions asking that Israel abide by international law). No, our legislators will continue to grovel before the lobby, to speak the script, to assure themselves the continued support of those who dictate how they will vote despite the consequences to the best interests of the United States.
Let's consider the consequences and weigh them before the "One Love" that Christ suggested might be a way to everlasting peace. I'm not going to relate a series of statistics that demonstrate the idiocy of the lobby's line that Israel is in danger of "being wiped off the map." Any staff member can be sent to gather that information should the congressman wish to contrast the enormity of the evidence that shows that the state of Israel dominates in all respects the reality on the ground over a population, an indigenous population, that has nothing no army, no weaponry of consequence, no control of its own territory, no air force, no navy, no Revolutionary Guard, no tanks, no F-16s, no planes period, no water, no roads, no electricity, even no garbage pickup, except as Israel may grant in its largesse it has only the force of moral superiority to throw against the occupiers, the oppressors who have been condemned by the international community over and over again, and but for the fawning obedience of our representatives as they cast their lone veto in the Security Council, Israel might have been forced to accept its moral responsibility before the world's communities and grant a tinge of justice to the people of Palestine.
Instead, let me offer a few images of the reality they allow to happen in the name of America, the land that in its foundational documents extols equality for all people, the Bill of Rights for all people, justice before the courts regardless of privilege, a voice in the government that is granted the right to govern by the consent of the people, and from these basic rights, the moral foundation that requires each and every citizen, most certainly our legislators, responsibility to ensure that justice for all is served. Instead, we are placed under the pall of a small group of our citizens who manipulate our legislators to their own ends by coercion and fear, and, in that control, they deny the rights of the American people to determine their own fate.
This is the same reality that Akiva Elder, the prominent journalist for Ha'aretz, the moderate Israeli newspaper, notes, in an interview with Amy Goodman, is his lot when covering military affairs in Israel. He and his colleagues must endure the review of their reporting by the military before it is published and any reporting on Israeli military actions must be seen through the lens of external newspapers, "the New York Times reported that." "The policy is that we have an Israeli military censorship, and there is an agreement between the military censor and the editors of the Israeli papers that when it comes to sensitive issues, we have to submit every story to the censor " When Amy Goodman asked, "You're in the United States now. Do you still have to abide by " "I'm afraid so." "Why?" "You don't want to put me into trouble, right? I have to go back to Israel. Well, if you offer me asylum, then I will consider it. But my children are waiting for me at home, so I you'll have to forgive me." "What would happen if you defied the censor?" "My editor on my newspaper will be fined." Such is the state of open dialogue and investigative reporting in that democratic state. But then one might argue that our own press operates under similar restraints imposed by its corporate owners. (see interview with Amy Goodman on "Democracy Now," 10/8/2007). How similar Elder's comments to those made by Rosenberg that are imposed on our legislators. How similar the means of control imposed on the Jews in 1941 by the ruling oligarchy of "the Agency and Hagana."
Perhaps if our legislators had fought in the military, (there are some exceptions), they might envision the enormity of the contrast on the ground. The reporting talks about battles with Palestinian militants, about terrorist attacks against IDF forces, about military engagements with Hamas fighters, (the primary source of our main stream media information as it comes from Israeli officials), but does not mention that one side has tanks and humvies, a network of highways for military transport, satellite surveillance, F-16 fighter jets for air cover support, helicopters with missile launchers, state of the art machine guns for its soldiers, and night goggles while the Palestinian insurgent has spit and stones, homemade Qassam rockets, and ancient rifles. How difficult can it be to hurl such weaponry, $300,000 dollar missiles at paraplegic men in wheelchairs? How difficult can it be to drop 500 pound bombs on apartment tenements in refugee camps? How difficult can it be to prevent ambulances from taking injured people to hospitals? How difficult can it be to deal with children that throw stones at tanks and use them as target practice? How difficult can it be to prevent fishermen from catching a few fish off Gaza when the Israeli Navy controls the shore with state of the art ships? How difficult can it be to control the lives of all Palestinians when the state can field 700 checkpoints throughout the West Bank and Gaza, surround the entire area with a cement and steel and electric wall that literally imprisons the entire people, imposes identification systems that control movement throughout the occupied territory with IDs and colored license plates, and controls all legal matters of recourse to justice by courts totally controlled by the Israeli state? This is justice? This is the American way? This is the best use of our 3 to 5 billion dollars every year to ensure peace in Palestine? What hypocrisy. What mockery of our purported democratic system. What a way to ensure that America is hated around the world. Yet this is what our legislators have bought for the American people by fawning before their benefactors at AIPAC.
You have heard of the injustice done to Israel by the "kidnapping" of three soldiers, the ostensible cause of Israel's invasion of Lebanon? Strange that word "kidnapping." Israel has over 11,000 Palestinians, hundreds of them children, incarcerated without charge. They have not been kidnapped. They are potential terrorists. Yet according to Geneva Conventions, occupied people can legally fight against their occupiers. "Kidnapping" becomes "capturing" an enemy soldier. States negotiate the exchange of prisoners, they do not attack an innocent nation. You have heard that individual Palestinians attack Israelis, even commit suicide to destroy innocent people, yet we never hear that Israel daily commits crimes against humanity as declared in the Geneva Conventions and in the UN Charter against masses of Palestinians by collective punishment, house demolition in the thousands, confiscation of homes and land, stealing of natural resources to supply the settlements, torture of prisoners, extrajudicial executions, all illegal, all done with the complicity of our Congress, in our name.
These are the representatives that are devoted to America's security, its standing before the international community, and human rights. They like the first lady last month (USA Today, October 10, 2007) proclaim their intense desire to ensure that human rights are protected in Burma, in Darfur, in Pakistan, in all the hot spots on the globe, but not in Palestine. The only human rights we protect in Palestine are those of the occupiers.
We overlook how the occupiers train their teenage troops to act against the people they oppress. Dalia Karpel reported in Haaretz' Hebrew Weekend Supplement September 21, 2007 the nature of that training based on interviews with former IDF soldiers. Needless to say it was not reported in the American press. This report describes the research of Psychologist Nofer Ishai-Karen and Psychology Professor Joel Elizur of the Hebrew University. "We Israeli Soldiers were put there to punish the Palestinians, says Ilan Vilenda, an Israeli soldier who served in Rafah during the first Intifada." "The soldiers enjoyed the 'intoxication of power', and had pleasure from using violence," according to the researchers. "What is great is that you don't have to follow any law or rule. You feel that YOU ARE THE LAW; you decide. Once you go into the Occupied Territories YOU ARE GOD." "We drove through Rafah. A man of 25 walked nearby. He didn't hurl a stone at us or anything. Then without any reason "X" shot him in the stomach. We left him lying on the sidewalk." "He captured a kid and broke his elbow. Broke the kid's elbow! Damn me if I'm not telling the truth! Then the NCO treaded on the kid's stomach three times, before he moved on. We couldn't believe our eyes But the next day we went on patrol with that guy and the soldiers started to imitate him." "A woman threw a stone at me. I kicked her with my foot at her crotch. I broke her. She can't have children any longer. Next time she won't throw sandals at me and when another woman spat at me she got the butt of my gun in her face. She can't spit now." "He was real big, some 30 years old. He refused detention. We hit him but couldn't force him down. We beat him and told him to lie down. Till he finally did. We drove to the base with him. By that time he had lost consciousness. He died some days later." These are the compassionate humanitarians that oversee the International laws that govern the responsibilities of the occupying forces. These are the soldiers we support. This is the way we protect America.
And so our legislators, fearing their own potential loss of their House or Senate seat, continue to support the desires of the Neo-cons and AIPAC and its fellows despite the condemnation of the world's communities that see nothing but hypocrisy in their behavior. What the world sees is simple enough if Americans were given the truth by its main stream media: "700 checkpoints that strangle the Palestinians' freedom of movement, 68 women forced to give birth at checkpoints since the year 2000, half of the babies died and four of the women, 18,000 houses have been demolished by Israel since 1967, often over the heads of their inhabitants In the old city of Hebron, 400 fanatical settlers protected by Israeli Defense Force soldiers hold 30,000 Palestinians to ransom. They stone and kick the inhabitants, while the Israeli army forbids Palestinians to drive in some areas, even to walk on the streets. I saw for myself the concrete blocks, rubbish and human excrement thrown down onto passing Palestinians by the illegal settlers occupying the flats above Arab shops.. The racist graffiti is shocking " ("Go and See the Truth for Yourself, I Did," Asad Khan, Special Registrar, Respiratory Medicine Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, UK, British Medical Journal, October 7, 2007).
So while our legislators dress appropriately in their double breasted suits, with their American flag lapel pins glowing in the ballroom lights at the AIPAC gala, as they grovel before the keypad denizens of the posh offices that turn out the legislation they will vote on in the following weeks, the people of Palestine suffer the humiliation, the suffering, the agony of the occupation, the illegal occupation, that our friends on K street impose on people they do not know or could care less about. Yet there are those in the Jewish community who suffer a like humiliation as they watch their compatriots commit their non-Jewish atrocities to further their rapid Zionist ends, and they, like us, must endure the corrosive rot of our constitution and Bill of Rights as the cowards in our Congress convince themselves that they are obedient to the word of their Christ and uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights even as they lift their cocktail glass in celebration of the latest resolution they've passed for their masters.
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Depception: Bush's Mideast Policy. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU