US: Zionist Lobby’s New Orders For Obama

December 17, 2010

By Alan Hart, “Information Clearing House

— After his appointment as chairman of the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, California’s representative Howard Berman told The Forward: “Even before I was a Democrat, I was a Zionist.” This is the man, one of the Zionist lobby’s most influential stooges in Congress, who introduced House Resolution 1734 which gives President Obama his new orders.

Israel’s instructions to Obama

Thoroughly disingenuous, the resolution, which was drafted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and in my view is an indication of panic on its part, was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives on 15 December. It

  • strongly and unequivocally opposes any attempt to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations or other international forums;
  • calls upon the administration to continue its opposition to the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state;
  • calls upon the administration to affirm that the United States would deny any recognition, legitimacy, or support of any kind to any unilaterally declared ‘‘Palestinian state’’ and would urge other responsible nations to follow suit, and to make clear that any such unilateral declaration would constitute a grievous violation of the principles underlying the Oslo Accords and the Middle East peace process;
  • calls upon the administration to affirm that the United States will oppose any attempt to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations or other international forums and will veto any resolution to that end by the United Nations Security Council (my emphasis added);
  • calls upon the president and the secretary of state to lead a high-level diplomatic effort to encourage the European Union and other responsible nations to strongly and unequivocally oppose the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state or any attempt to seek recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations or other international forums; and
  • supports the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the achievement of a true and lasting peace through direct negotiations between the parties.

As M.J. Rosenberg predicted, the Berman bill passed overwhelmingly, actually unanimously, “because that is how things work in a city where policy is driven by campaign contributions – and not just on this issue”. He added:

The only difference between how AIPAC lobbyists dictate US Middle East policy and pretty much every other major lobby is that AIPAC works to advance the interests of a foreign country. In other words, comparisons to the National Rifle Association (NRA) would only be applicable if the gun owners that the NRA claims to represent lived in, say, Greece. Oh, and NRA-backed bills usually take longer than a day to get to the House floor. [My emphasis added.]

What Rosenberg thinks and writes is particularly interesting because in the early 1980s he was editor of AIPAC’s weekly newsletter, “Near East Report”.

He noted that as is usual with Berman, “his resolution exclusively blames Palestinians for the collapse of peace talks; not a word of criticism of Israel appears”.

He went on:

There is only one reason that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed. It is the power of the “pro-Israel lobby”, led by AIPAC, which prevents the United States from saying publicly what it says privately: that resolution of a conflict which is so damaging to US interests is consistently being blocked by the intransigence of the Netanyahu government and its determination to maintain the occupation. [My emphasis added.]

For now, Rosenberg says, the bottom line is money: “The US government dances to Israel’s tune because it is afraid to risk campaign contributions.” But he also gives optimism a voice (as I sometimes do):

It doesn’t have to be that way. If the administration and Congress put US interests (and Israel’s too) over the craving for campaign contributions, the United States could tell the Israeli government that, from now on, our aid package comes with strings. Like an IMF loan (although aid to Israel is a gift, not a loan), we could say that in exchange for our billions, our UN vetoes of resolutions criticizing Israel and our silence in the face of war crimes like Gaza, we want Israel to end the occupation within, say, 24 months. And Israel would have to comply because our military assistance is, as AIPAC likes to call it, “Israel’s lifeline”.

I would like Rosenberg to be right about how Israel’s leaders would respond to real American pressure, but I am very far from convinced that he is. As my regular readers know, I think there is a possibility, even a probability, that if real American push came to Zionist shove, the preference of Israel’s deluded leaders would be to tell the American president of the moment (and the whole world) to go to hell. Whether or not they would actually do so would depend, I imagine, on the state of Israeli (Jewish) public opinion at the time. If most Israeli Jews were still as brainwashed by Zionist propaganda as they are today, they would probably back the mad men who lead them.

Israel’s stooges in panic?

Question: Why do I think that Berman’s resolution is an indication of AIPAC panic?

The answer, most of it, is in my last post which was headlined “Obama’s last card: will he play it?” My main point was that because he does not have to honour the promises made to Netanyahu to secure his delivery of a 90-day freeze on illegal settlement activity on the occupied West Bank, Obama is free to discontinue the presidential practise of vetoing Security Council resolutions which are critical of Israel.

My speculation is that AIPAC drafted House resolution 1734 and then got Berman to rush it through because it feared that Obama is thinking about instructing the US ambassador to the UN to the effect that there will be no further American veto on Security Council resolutions which are critical of Israel and/or call for the recognition of a Palestinian state inside 1967 (pre-war) borders.

So the question waiting for an answer is: will Obama obey Zionism’s latest orders?

MJ Rosenberg

Senior Foreign Policy Fellow, Media Matters Action Network

Posted: December 15, 2010 03:45 PM

 

AIPAC Palestinian Bashing Bill Rushed to House Floor

 

At last the United States is responding to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s refusal to freeze settlements and re-start negotiations with the Palestinians.

Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is today rushing to the House floor with an AIPAC-drafted resolution condemning the Palestinians for publicly suggesting that, in the wake of Netanyahu’s refusal to freeze settlements and negotiate, they will consider a unilateral declaration of statehood. (As is usual with Berman, his resolution exclusively blames Palestinians for the collapse of peace talks; not a word of criticism of Israel appears.)

The Berman bill, drafted only yesterday, will be voted on today because when it comes to pleasing AIPAC there are simply no limits. (This remains true even though AIPAC is embroiled in an espionage sex scandal that has it scrambling to find $20 million to pay off a former top employee who is threatening to produce documents exposing the lobby.)

The Berman bill will pass overwhelmingly because that is how things work in a city where policy is driven by campaign contributions — and not just on this issue.

The only difference between how AIPAC lobbyists dictate U.S. Middle East policy and pretty much every other major lobby is that AIPAC works to advance the interests of a foreign country. In other words, comparisons to the National Rifle Association would only be applicable if the gun owners that the NRA claims to represent lived in, say, Greece. Oh, and NRA-backed bills usually take longer than a day to get to the House floor.

And here you have the root of the problem. And it’s not just an American problem. It is just as much an Israeli problem, a Palestinian problem, and an international problem.

There is only one reason that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations collapsed. It is the power of the “pro-Israel lobby” (led by AIPAC) which prevents the United States from saying publicly what it says privately: that resolution of a conflict which is so damaging to U.S. interests is consistently being blocked by the intransigence of the Netanyahu government and its determination to maintain the occupation.

This is not a situation where responsibility attaches equally to both sides. The Israelis hold all of the disputed territories. Yes, the Palestinians have administrative control of some parts of the West Bank but its authority — and it is very small — derives from the Israelis.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas but it is a reservation or ghetto, not a free entity. Its borders are entirely blocked by the Israelis (and the Egyptians who do whatever Israel demands on its border with Gaza). It remains under Israeli blockade, lightened only a bit since Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted that the blockade was not necessary for Israel’s security. And then there is Arab East Jerusalem, where the Netanyahu government has expanded efforts to push Palestinians out of their homes and replace them with settlers.

The Palestinians have no power at all although they have done everything that Israel and the United States demanded. The PLO fully recognized Israel and pledged itself to fighting terrorism and resorting exclusively to negotiations to achieve a state. They agreed that their state would be limited to the 22% of historic Palestine that is the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem — recognizing that Israel would have the other 78%. Even Hamas, which still insists that Israel has no right to be there, says that if the Palestinian Authority negotiates a deal with Israel that is accepted by the Palestinian people, it too will join in and end its war with Israel.

And what has Israel offered in exchange for these historic concessions? Absolutely nothing.

Yes, it has played at negotiations.

Its advocates argue that, at Camp David in 2000, it offered the Palestinians 94% of the 22% or 98% or whatever.  (Netanyahu’s current offer is 60% of the 22%.) But the supposed offer came with the standard conditions and caveats when there should be only one condition. In exchange for a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the Palestinians must agree to absolute security for Israel with ironclad guarantees backed up with surveillance systems to ensure that there are no violations.

In fact, the Palestinians agreed to those terms as far back as the Yasser Arafat era, when, in the late nineties, Israelis and Palestinians adopted a security plan brokered by the CIA to combat terrorism. President Arafat’s efforts were so thorough, fighting a virtual civil war with Hamas, that  Prime Minister Netanyahu personally told Arafat both in person and by telephone how much he appreciated Arafat’s help.

But neither Arafat nor his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, got anything in return.

That nothing is easily defined. During the entire 17-year period since the historic Rabin-Arafat agreement — and the famed handshake on the White House lawn — the Israelis never ceased confiscating land and building settlements in the areas that are supposed to constitute the Palestinian state. That was and is the clearest measure of Israel’s intentions. The Israeli government does not intend to give up territory it wants; it gave up Gaza because it decided that it better served Israeli interests to just blockade it.

Why would Palestinians believe that Israel is negotiating seriously when it keeps building inside the future Palestinian state?

All this is obvious to anyone paying attention — especially since Prime Minister Netanyahu absolutely refused to freeze settlements for even 90 days in exchange for the United States doubling the aid package. Really, if he won’t freeze for 90 days for $3.5 billion, only a fool would believe that he would ever actually give up any land permanently.

And yet the United States government keeps playing this game. No matter what Israel does, it’s fine with us.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If the administration and Congress put U.S. interests (and Israel’s too) over the craving for campaign contributions, the United States could tell the Israeli government that, from now on, our aid package comes with strings. Like an IMF loan (although aid to Israel is a gift, not a loan), we could say that in exchange for our billions, our UN vetoes of resolutions criticizing Israel, and our silence in the face of war crimes like Gaza, we want Israel to end the occupation within, say, 24 months. And Israel would have to comply because our military assistance is, as AIPAC likes to call it, “Israel’s lifeline.”

If we did that, many Israelis would be very angry (just as many would appreciate America forcing an end to the occupation). But the lobby would be furious because, above all else, it needs to feel that it controls U.S. policy in the Middle East. Not for America’s sake. Not for Israel’s. But for its own. As with most Washington lobbies, it is not in business to make the world a better place. It is not pro-Israel; it is pro-AIPAC.

When will all this change? Who knows?

The AIPAC scandals are weakening the group (although not enough to prevent Congress from passing its latest bill condemning Palestinians). And younger American Jews, especially progressives (which is most of them), simply don’t buy the AIPAC line. American Jews are, after all, Americans.

But, for now, the bottom line is money. The U.S. government dances to Israel’s tune because it is afraid to risk campaign contributions from a few dozen fat cats. That is the whole story.

Meanwhile, as General Petraeus told us, U.S. interests — including the lives of our men and women in uniform — are threatened by the belief in the Middle East that United States is Israel’s puppet. Petraeus’ view is common throughout the military which, unaffected by politics, manages to actually see the obvious. When will the rest of our government allow itself to do the same?

 

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