I Denounce the Holocaust Religion, but I am not Alone

June 29, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

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by Gilad Atzmon

‘Yeshayahu Leibowitz, the philosopher who was an observant Orthodox Jew, told me once: “The Jewish religion died 200 years ago. Now there is nothing that unifies the Jews around the world apart from the Holocaust.”’ Remember What? Remember How? – Uri Avnery

The Labour Party is now a comedy act. Even when it does the right thing, it is quick to admit it occurred by mistake. Three days ago the Party decided to let MP Chris Williamson back into its ranks, a decision that seemed to convince some that Corbyn finally grew a pair. Apparently, it didn’t take more than 72 hours for the party to humiliatingly reverse its decision and bow in to pressure mounted on its leadership by the Jewish Lobby, Labour Friends of Israel and, believe it or not, a bunch of party staffers who “demanded,” no more no less, an “immediate review” of the decision regarding Chris Williamson.

The signatories, whom according to the Jewish News included the “vast majority of remaining Jewish party staff,” wished “to remain anonymous for fear of losing their employment.” Once again we are provided with an unprecedented glimpse into the unethical nature of the Zionist operation. Our ‘anonymous’ staffers  signed on a letter demanding that the party suspends an elected MP and let him practically lose his job, yet asked to remain anonymous so that they can keep their own.

On my part, I have been entertained in the last few days seeing some of the most horrendous Labour politicians lying about me in an attempt to smear MP Williamson. Two days ago I posted a video deconstructing unfounded nonsense that MP Margaret Hodge attributed to me and also challenged the ignoramus Lord Falconer’s drivel concerning my work. Yet, I was surprised to find out that the anonymous Labour staffers actually described me accurately. The staffers demanded MP Williamson to be ejected from the party, with one reason being that “he backed a petition in support of Gilad Atzmon, who has denounced the ‘holocaust religion’ and suggested that there is a Zionist plan for world domination.”

I am here to admit that only rarely do I see my detractors referring to my words and work genuinely. However, I would like to point out to the anonymous staffers that Zionist world domination is not ‘a plan’ anymore, it is the reality in which we live. With the Zionist LFI terrorising the Labour Leadership on a daily basis, with 80% of Tory MPs being members of the Zionist CFI, with AIPAC dominating American foreign policy, with the USA and Britain launching criminal wars following Zio-con immoral interventionist mantras, Zionism dominating world politics is not an abstract ‘plan.’ It is mainstream news!

But the staffers were also genuine describing me as a person who denounces the holocaust religion.

In my work I pay great respect to the Israeli philosopher Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who coined the notion “Holocaust religion” back in the 1970s. Leibowitz detected that Jews believe in many different things: Judaism, Bolshevism, Human Rights, Zionism, ‘anti-Zionism’ but all Jews believe in the Holocaust. Leibowitz, himself an orthodox Jew, opposed the Holocaust Religion. He stated occasionally that all historical events, no matter how catastrophic, are religiously insignificant. 

 In 1987 Adi Ophir, another prominent Israeli philosopher, offered his own criticism of the Holocaust religion. In his paper On Sanctifying the Holocaust: An Anti-Theological Treatise, Ophir admitted that “a religious consciousness built around the Holocaust may become the central aspect of a new religion.”

Ophir listed the four commandments of the new religion:

1. “Thou shalt have no other holocaust.”

2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image or likeness.” …

3. “Thou shalt not take the name in vain.”

4. “Remember the day of the Holocaust to keep it holy, in memory of the destruction of the Jews of Europe.”

Though Ophir’s formulations are understandably dated, my work on Holocaust Religion is consistent with the critical discourse offered by the two Israeli philosophers. In The Wandering Who I argue that the Holocaust discourse in its current form contains numerous essential religious elements. It has priests and prophets. It has commandments and dogmas (e.g. ‘Never Again’) and rituals (memorial days, pilgrimage to Auschwitz, etc.). It has an established, esoteric symbolic order (good, evil, death, liberation). It also has a temple, Yad Vashem, and shrines – Holocaust museums in capital cities worldwide. The Holocaust religion is also maintained by a massive global financial network, what Norman Finkelstein terms the ‘Holocaust industry’. This new religion is coherent enough to define its ‘antichrists’ (i.e. Holocaust deniers), and powerful enough to persecute them (through Holocaust-denial and hate-speech laws).

I also argue that the Holocaust religion is the conclusive and final stage in the Jewish dialectic; it is the end of Jewish history. The new religion allocates to Jews a central role within their own universe. In the new religion: the ‘sufferer’ and the ‘innocent’ march toward ‘redemption’ and ‘empowerment.’ God is out of the game and has been sacked, having failed in his historic mission. He wasn’t there to save the Jews, after all. In the new religion ‘the Jew’, as the new Jewish God, redeems himself or herself.

I indeed denounce the new religion and for the obvious ethical and humanist reasons. The holocaust religion adheres to the primacy of one people. It is an anti-universal precept that offers no hope, mercy or compassion. It instead produces a rationale for more oppression, global conflicts and havoc. It is hardly a surprise that the many people who adhere to the holocaust are engaged in the destruction of Palestine and its indigenous people. As far as I can say, the Holocaust religion is a blind, non-empathic precept. If the Holocaust is the new global religion all I ask is for the British Labour Party, its staffers and councilors to respect my right to be agnostic, a non-believer, an atheist.

And if MP Williamson is expelled from the Labour party for me upholding such views, maybe MP Williamson should consider giving me a call and thanking me for liberating him from his reactionary Zionised party.


More (A Must see Video) Here

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How many British MPs are working for ‘israel’?

Israeli London embassy spy Shai Masot

By Jonathan Cook

Aljazeera is to be congratulated on an undercover investigation exposing something most of us could probably have guessed: that some Israeli embassy staff in the UK – let’s not pussy around, Mossad agents – are working with senior political activists and politicians in the Conservative and Labour parties to subvert their own parties from within, and skew British foreign policy so that it benefits Israeli, rather than British, interests.

One cannot really blame Israel for doing this. Most states promote their interests as best they can. But one can and should expose and shame the British politicians who are collaborating with Israel in further harming Britain’s representative democracy.

It is not as though these people cannot be easily identified. They even advertise what they are up to. They are members of the Conservative and Labour Friends of Israel (CFI and LFI respectively). They dominate both parliamentary parties, but especially the Conservatives. According to the CFI’s figures, fully 80 per cent of Tory MPs belong to the party’s Friends of Israel group.

Traitors?

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. And yet, as Aljazeera’s secretly filmed footage shows, Israeli spies like Shai Masot can readily meet and conspire with a Tory minister’s much-trusted aide to discuss how best to “take down” the deputy foreign minister, Alan Duncan, over his criticisms of Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied territories. Maria Strizzolo, Education Minister Robert Halfon’s assistant, suggests engineering a “little scandal” to damage Duncan.

Once, no one would have hesitated to call British politicians acting in the interests of a foreign power, and very possibly taking financial benefits for doing so, “traitors”. 

Masot and Israel’s intelligence services cannot influence British foreign policy through the opposition Labour party, but that doesn’t prevent them from also taking a keen interest in Labour MPs. Masot is filmed talking to Labour Friends of Israel’s chair, Joan Ryan, about “lots of money” – more than GBP 1 million – he has received from the Israeli government to send yet another batch of Labour MPs on an all-expenses-paid trip to Israel, where they will be wined and dined, and primed by top officials to adopt even more extreme pro-Israel positions. LFI is known for sending the largest proportion of MPs to Israel on these kinds of trips.

Labour MP Joan Ryan with Israeli spy Shai Masot

Labour MP Joan Ryan was told by the Israeli spy Shai Masot at the meeting that she could go on an expenses paid trip to Israel

Does that have an effect on British domestic politics. You bet it does! Israel isn’t a charity.

A large number of those who have been making Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s life a misery belong to Labour Friends of Israel. They are the same MPs who have been talking up an “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour party – based on zero tangible evidence – since Corbyn became party leader. Were they following the dictates of their conscience? Did they really fear an anti-Semitism plague had suddenly beset their party? Or were they playing deeply cynical politics to oust a leader who supports justice for the Palestinian people and is considered by Israel’s right wing government, which has no interest in making peace with the Palestinians, to be bad news for Israel?

Al Jazeera’s investigation has not been shown yet, so we can rely only on the snippets released so far, either by Aljazeera itself or additional leaks of the investigation provided by the Mail on Sunday.

It is worth listening to a Tory minister in the government of recently departed David Cameron, who writes anonymously in the Mail on Sunday. S/he warns of a double whammy to British politics caused by Israel and its British partisans – one that is starting to approach the damage done to the US political system by Israel.

Agents of Israel

The British government skews its foreign policy to avoid upsetting Jewish donors, s/he says. MPs, meanwhile, act like agents of a foreign power – s/he generously assumes unwittingly – rather than representatives of the British people. Forget international law, these politicians are not even promoting British interests.

Here is what the minister writes:

British foreign policy is in hock to Israeli influence at the heart of our politics, and those in authority have ignored what is going on.

For years the CFI and Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) have worked with – even for – the Israeli government and their London embassy to promote Israeli policy and thwart UK government policy and the actions of ministers who try to defend Palestinian rights.

Lots of countries try to force their views on others, but what is scandalous in the UK is that instead of resisting it, successive governments have submitted to it, taken donors’ money, and allowed Israeli influence-peddling to shape policy and even determine the fate of ministers.

Even now, if I were to reveal who I am, I would be subjected to a relentless barrage of abuse and character assassination…

It now seems clear people in the Conservative and Labour parties have been working with the Israeli embassy, which has used them to demonise and trash MPs who criticise Israel; an army of Israel’s useful idiots in Parliament.

This is politically corrupt, and diplomatically indefensible. The conduct of certain MPs needs to be exposed as the poisonous and deceitful infiltration of our politics by the unwitting agents of another country …

We need a full inquiry into the Israeli embassy, the links, access and funding of the CFI and LFI.

It is rare that I agree with a Tory government minister, but such an inquiry cannot come too soon.

An indictment of the UK media

Note too that it is an indictment of the UK media that Aljazeera, rather than the British fourth estate, has exposed Israel’s moves to subvert the British political system. It is not as though reporters from the BBC, the Guardian, the Timesand the Mail haven’t had ministers like the one above complaining to them for years about interference from Israel. So, why did they not long ago send in undercover teams to expose this collusion between Israel and British MPs?

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. Will we… have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

We have had weeks of stories about the supposed efforts of Russia and Putin to subvert the US election, without a hint yet of any evidence, and based on a central allegation against the Russians that they compromised the election result by releasing truthful information about wrongdoing in the Democratic Party. Russian diplomats have been expelled based on these evidence-free claims, and President Obama has vowed to take other, covert action against Russia.

Here we have documented evidence of the Israeli government secretly plotting with “friendly” British MPs to oust a British government minister. If that isn’t interference in the British political system, I don’t know what is. Will we similarly have weeks of coverage of this story in the UK media, or will it be quickly filed away and forgotten?

And will any action beyond the removal of Masot be demanded by the British government? It seems unlikely. The Foreign Office has already issued a statement saying that, following Masot’s dismissal, it considers the matter closed.

How Much Pro-Israel Money Politicians Attacking Ilhan Omar Received

March 31, 2019  /  Gilad Atzmon

How Much Money Israel Lobby Gave Politicians Attacking Ilhan Omar. You watch this entertaining video and make up your mind as to whether it is about the ‘Benjamins’ or not…

Kamala Harris skips AIPAC conference — but AIPAC comes to her! — Mondoweiss — Rebel Voice

Democratic Senator, Kamala Harris, is a presidential candidate for the next run out. She is making waves with her apparently fearless desire to take on the corrupt status quo. But is she all that she would like us to believe? Harris has stated that she will not be prostrating herself (Rebel Voice‘s words) before AIPAC, […]

via Kamala Harris skips AIPAC conference — but AIPAC comes to her! — Mondoweiss — Rebel Voice

Gaza Bombs Tel Aviv Again: “Israel” on Alert

By Staff, Agencies

‘Israeli’ authorities confessed that a long-range rocket launched from the Gaza Strip has struck near Tel Aviv in the center of the occupation entity, wounding seven Zionist settlers. 

The early morning operation on Mishmeret, an agricultural town north of Tel Aviv, came a day after Zionist warplanes bombed the besieged enclave ahead of the anniversary of Gaza border protests at the weekend.

In this respect, the Palestinian Information Center reported that two missiles struck the heart of the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories early on Monday. The attack destroyed a building, leaving at least seven ‘Israeli’ settlers injured.

‘Israelis’ reported an explosion, highlighting the failure of the Zionist entity’s much-hyped Iron Dome missile system to intercept the rocket, with ‘Israeli’ media reporting wide complains among settlers because sirens didn’t go off before the rocket hit its target.

The multi-billion-dollar system was dealt another blow during the latest military flare-up in November, when Hamas fired more than 460 rockets at the occupied lands in less than 24 hours in response to ‘Israeli’ aggression.

Tel Aviv and outlying towns had last come under such an attack during the 2014 war on Gaza. A week and a half ago, two rockets were fired at Tel Aviv from the Gaza Strip but the ‘Israeli’ military said they had been launched accidentally.

In wake of the operation, Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is seeking a fifth term in next month’s ballot, was in Washington on Monday for the annual AIPAC conference and due to meet US President Donald Trump.

However, after he was informed about the rocket fire, his office announced that he is planning to cut short his trip after his meeting with Trump later on Monday.

He called for a consultation with chiefs of the military, Shin Bet and other senior security officials via telephone, according to his office.

Earlier on Sunday, ‘Israeli’ tanks shelled Gaza after “incendiary balloons” were launched across the fence throughout the evening, the military said. The day before, ‘Israeli’ warplanes struck southern Gaza Strip.

Gaza has been under ‘Israeli’ siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards. The Zionist entity has launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans and shattering the impoverished territory’s already poor infrastructure.

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Talking About Israel

By Philip Giraldi
Source

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recent article by Andrew Sullivan in the New York magazine considers how one might discuss the issue of Israel and its powerful domestic lobby without being accused of anti-Semitism. Sullivan is a keen observer of the dynamics of American political power and the article pretty clearly lays out why the relationship with Israel is poison for the United States, but he cautions that words matter and one has to be careful about the packaging surrounding any critique of the Israel Lobby and its American Jewish supporters.

Sullivan begins with:

“Let’s get this out of the way first: Using the phrases ‘all about the Benjamins’ and ‘allegiance to a foreign country’ when referring to the Israel lobby in D.C., as freshman Democratic representative Ilhan Omar recently did, is anti-Semitic. It should be possible to criticize Washington’s relationship with Israel without deploying crude and freighted language like this.”

And that is precisely where some critics of the Israel-America relationship might have a problem with observers like Sullivan as what for him passes as “crude and freighted” is for others frankness. Okay, “all about the Benjamins” is slang and the implication is that Jewish money is what has corrupted American politics and the media to stifle any honest discussion on Israel-Palestine and to skew U.S. government activity in the Middle East so that it favors what Israel perceives to be its own interests. This process operates right out in the open with Israel-firster Jewish billionaires Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban respectively serving as principal donors for the Republican and Democratic parties.

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This flood of Jewish money into foreign policy generation has done incalculable damage to the actual interests of the United States as Sullivan, to his credit, makes clear in his article. The point is that politics in America is all about money and Ilhan Omar was quite right to make that connection. Most congress-critters do not love Israel because they honestly like the hordes of lobbyists that it is able to send their way. In fact, many of them privately complain about the pressure, but they do love the campaign donations and the lucrative sinecure jobs in the financial services industry that come with their retirements. And they also know that if they cross Israeli interests while in office they will soon be unemployed.

And as for the “allegiance to a foreign country,” how else does one describe doing everything possible to favor a foreign state at the expense of the nation where one lives? Sullivan himself provides ample evidence in his article that the one-way relationship with Israel inflicts major damage on the United States and that the enabling of that process comes from a disciplined and well-funded lobbying effort that operates at all levels of government and also through the media. Is that not allegiance to a foreign country?

After expressing the “thou shalt nots” regarding Israel, Andrew Sullivan pulls no punches in his article, which should be read in extenso. He writes “The basic facts are not really in dispute. A very powerful lobby deploys the money and passions of its members to ensure that a foreign country gets very, very special treatment from the U.S.” and then goes on to detail exactly how Israel is a major liability to America. He discusses the $3.8 billion it receives annually in spite of the fact that is a wealthy country, its failure to support U.S. foreign policy objectives, its unwillingness to curtail a brutal occupation of the West Bank, its humiliation of President Obama because he entered into an agreement with Iran, and its nearly complete subjugation of Congress, congressional leaders and the White House.

Sullivan fails to mention how Israel also spies on the United States, steals U.S. developed technology and benefits hugely from beneficial trade agreements that kill American jobs. And there are also the “suspected but not proven” issues like Israel’s role in 9/11, its apparent manipulation of Jewish American officials in the Pentagon to start the disastrous 2003 war with Iraq, and its current clandestine agitation for Washington to attack Iran. Jewish billionaires also are the prime sources of “charitable” contributions that feed the illegal settlement outposts on the West Bank populated largely by fundamentalist Jews whose prime mission is to make the lives of their Palestinian neighbors so miserable that they will emigrate. That is sometimes referred to as ethnic cleansing. Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman, the key components of the Trump Administration Middle East “peace” team, are all passionate about Israel and have all supported the illegal settlements. Friedman, in particular, has sought to eliminate the word “occupation” from official U.S. government descriptions of the Israeli activity in Palestinian areas.

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And then there is the Israeli predilection to use unarmed Palestinian demonstrators for target practice and to bomb schools and vital infrastructure in Gaza, which once upon a time most Americans would have considered war crimes or crimes against humanity. Sullivan does mention how Congress is willing to pass legislation to restrict freedom of speech if such speech involves criticism of Israel, noting that the very first bill to come up in the Senate after the recent shutdown was supporting the punishment of those who advocate nonviolent boycotting of Israel. He might have added how Israel’s friends at state and local levels are pushing to rewrite world history texts to eliminate any references to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. And holocaust study is becoming mandatory in many U.S. school systems without any suggestion that the standard narrative might be in large part bogus. And then there are the holocaust museums springing up like mushrooms at the taxpayers’ expense. Is it all driven by money and enabled by the power that money buys to propagandize for Israel? And is it maybe just a bit of allegiance to a foreign country? Yes indeed, thank you, Ilhan Omar, for saying so.

All of this warm and fuzzy feeling about Israel did not happen by magic. By one estimate there are 600 Christian and Jewish organizations in the United States that have at least part of their agendas the promotion of the relationship with Israel. Christian Zionists are formidable in numbers but the money, as well as the political and media access that drive the so-called Israel Lobby process, is Jewish. The directors and presidents of those organizations meet regularly and discuss what they can do to help Israel. How does one describe such collusion? Some might prefer to call it a conspiracy.

So how should one view the dystopic nature of the relationship with Israel? No one has ever described it better than America’s first president George Washington. In his Farewell Address he wrote:

“The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest…So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.”

Andrew Sullivan concludes with some optimism and also a warning, which should be heeded: “Can our current controversy lead to a less inhibited debate? I sure hope so. Will that actually happen? All I can say is that AIPAC will wield all the power it can muster to prevent it.” It is, to be sure, AIPAC versus all decent Americans and one has to hope that this time the voice of the people will be heard in defense of the actual interests of the United States of America rather than those of Israel.

This Is How AIPAC Really Works

This Is How AIPAC Really Works
by M.J. Rosenberg

An AIPAC and Capitol Hill veteran explains the lobby’s tactics of reward and retribution.

Senators at AIPAC

US. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (right) join hands as they take the stage to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, on March 1, 2015. (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

One thing that should be said about Representative Ilhan Omar’s tweet about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (more commonly known as AIPAC, or the “Israel lobby”) is that the hysterical reaction to it proved her main point: The power of AIPAC over members of Congress is literally awesome, although not in a good way. Has anyone ever seen so many members of Congress, of both parties, running to the microphones and sending out press releases to denounce one first-termer for criticizing the power of… a lobby?

Somehow, I don’t think the reaction would have been the same if she had tweeted that Congress still supports the ethanol subsidy because the American Farm Bureau and other components of the corn/ethanol lobby spend millions to keep this agribusiness bonanza going (which they do). Or that if she had opposed the ethanol subsidy, she would have been accused of hating farmers.

That’s American politics; the only difference between all the domestic lobbies that essentially buy support for their agenda is that AIPAC is working for a foreign government, a distinction but not much of a difference when the goal is to maintain a status quo that is not necessarily in the national interest.

What did Omar tweet that was so terrible, anyway? Actually it was two tweets that produced the unsettling but oh-so-telling coming together of President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in common denunciation of the first-term member of Congress. Omar’s crime: daring to suggest that campaign contributions orchestrated by AIPAC play a large part in achieving bipartisan support for anything proposed by the Israeli government and/or its lobby, AIPAC.

This is, of course, something everyone knows and which even a former president of AIPAC once admitted in a conversation that was recorded by an interlocutor. In fact, as early as 1988, 60 Minutes did a segment on how AIPAC divvies up the money. (Moreover, I, as an employee of the lobby from 1973 to 1975 and 1982 to 1986, repeatedly and personally witnessed the whole process of funding and defunding, which is anything but a secret within the organization. Additionally, I spent close to 20 years as a legislative assistant to Democratic House and Senate members and saw AIPAC’s tactics of reward and retribution from that vantage point too.)

Officially, of course, AIPAC does not engage in political fundraising; it would be illegal for it to do so, and the lobby is vehement on the point that it doesn’t. And it is true that, to my knowledge, it does not directly raise money to support or defeat candidates. But that is just a technicality. Political fundraising is a huge part of AIPAC’s operation. One of the three top positions in its massive Washington, DC, headquarters is that of political director, who runs both the Washington political operation (his annual salary is over $450,000) and deputy regional directors around the country. Here is how AIPAC describes what these officials do, as described in a “help wanted” description for a Los Angeles deputy regional political director:

  • Help track House and Senate races in the region
  • Assist with planning and executing local Congressional Club events and Congressional Club components in local events
  • Attend and assist in regional events
  • Establish and maintain contact with House and Senate campaigns to assist in the scheduling of candidate meetings and facilitate the submission of position papers
  • Solicit financial support for AIPAC’s Annual Campaign
  • Conduct candidate meetings
  • Research, track and record FEC and polling data
  • Work with colleagues to increase pro-Israel political participation in the region (Solicit Congressional Club commitments)
  • Assist with AIPAC legislative grassroots mobilizations
  • Assist with scheduling and organizing of caucuses in the regions and lobbying appointments during the AIPAC Policy Conference
  • Assist with the integration of AIPAC’s activist bases in the Jewish and Outreach communities
  • Promote participation at local and national AIPAC events including regional events and national political training conferences
  • Research, gather and deliver information requested by pro-Israel political activists
  • Other duties as assigned

Not mentioned is what all the information is used for: political fundraising. That means making sure that pro-Israel PACs know what to do with their money. And making sure that individual donors know what to do with theirs. That is why AIPAC has a large national political operation. If it were not in the money-distribution business, it would simply rely on its legislative department to lobby for and draft legislation for members of Congress. Nor would its political director make a half-million dollars a year. In short, AIPAC’s political operation is used precisely as Representative Omar suggested.

Again, I know this because I witnessed it over and over again. I sat in AIPAC staff meetings at which the political director discussed whom “we” would be supporting in this campaign and whom “we” were going to “destroy” in that one. I also sat in on meetings at AIPAC’s huge annual policy conference, attended by as many as 20,000 AIPAC members and virtually the entire Congress, at which fundraising pitches were made.

AIPAC, of course, denies that anyone raises money at its policy conference. And it’s true. No one does… in the official AIPAC rooms. However, there are also the side rooms, nominally independent of the main event but just down the hall, where candidates and invited donors (only the really wealthy donors get the invites) meet and decide which candidate will get what. This arrangement is almost a metaphor for the whole AIPAC fundraising operation. The side rooms are nominally not AIPAC, so AIPAC can deny that any fundraising takes place at their conference. But in fact, they are the most exclusive venues in the country for candidates to raise money in the name of advancing the AIPAC cause.

AIPAC denies fundraising precisely the way Captain Renault in the film Casablanca declared he was “shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on” in his establishment. As he is saying it, one of the club’s crooks hands him a wad of cash, saying, “Your winnings, sir.”

Same with AIPAC: “We don’t donate to campaigns. Here’s your check.” Or, more usually, a bundle of checks that are not traceable back to AIPAC because, on paper at least, they come from individuals who like a candidate’s stand on Israel or Iran sanctions (as told to them by AIPAC’s political operatives).

So enough about AIPAC’s fundraising denials, which insult the intelligence of anyone who hears them. Except, check this out: Political activist Ady Barkan describes how a congressional candidate he worked for scored $5,000 from an AIPAC representative just by promising to support AIPAC’s pet issues. Easy money!

Back to Representative Omar. The first tweet, which resulted in ominous storm clouds over her head, was her response to a journalist who asked, by tweet of course, what accounted for such fierce defense of a foreign country by US political leaders even if it meant attacking the free-speech rights of Americans. Omar responded, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” breezily referring to $100 bills. This was bad enough, suggesting that campaign contributions plays a part in AIPAC’s success at garnering support for legislation that reads like it’s written by the Likud Central Committee.

But that was nothing compared to the monsoon of invective produced by her response to a reporter from the Jewish newspaper Forward, Batya Ungar-Sargon, who (again in a tweet) disingenuously asked Omar who she thought is “paying American politicians to be pro-Israel.”

Even before Omar responded “AIPAC!” Ungar-Sargon had resorted to the lobby’s (and its media friends’) favorite tactic when exposed or criticized: charging Omar with anti-Semitism; specifically, for using what Ungar-Sargon described as an “anti-Semitic trope.” That opened the floodgates for the full “she’s an anti-Semite!” onslaught. One by one, other Jewish organizations weighed in (AIPAC is designated by virtually all the mainstream Jewish organizations as their official lobby, and they invariably jump when AIPAC tells them to). And then AIPAC’s congressional enforcers weighed in, led by Steny Hoyer, the House majority leader, who has been AIPAC’s man on the House floor for decades, Pelosi, and others. They all said the same thing: that Omar’s tweet was anti-Semitic, with many adopting Ungar-Sargon’s characterization of Omar’s words as “an anti-Semitic trope,” by which they seem to mean using the words “Jewish” and “money” in the same tweet.

But that is not what Omar said. She wasn’t even talking about Israel per se. When asked whom she is accusing of buying members of Congress, Omar responded with one word: AIPAC. Period.

And here’s the thing: AIPAC is not synonymous with Jews. By its own admission, AIPAC has 100,000 members out of an American Jewish population of about 6 million. Of that number, most are Jewish but, as it proudly proclaims, many are evangelical (and other) Christians. Implying that criticizing the power of a predominantly Jewish organization is anti-Semitic is like saying that those who point to the Catholic Church’s pedophile scandal are anti-Catholic, or that condemning violent Islamist extremists is tantamount to hating Muslims. It is ridiculous. It is also clever, because it deters legitimate criticism of Israel or, God forbid, of the lobby by sending a clear message to politicians that any such criticism will cost them mightily. Watching what the lobby and its acolytes, in Congress and out, are saying about Omar would cause anyone in politics to think long and hard before saying anything at all about Israel, other than the effusive statements of praise AIPAC wants. And that is the lobby’s goal: to ensure that Congress never questions Israel about anything, that it just shuts up and keeps the billions of dollars in aid coming. And above all, without conditions, like requiring Israel to take steps to end the occupation, the blockade of Gaza, or to grant equal rights to Palestinians inside Israel and in the occupied territories.

The only thing wrong with Ilhan’s tweets about AIPAC is the seeming suggestion that money is all there is behind US support for Israel. There are many, many reasons why the United States supports the existence of the State of Israel and the security of its people. One of them has always been the Holocaust, which demonstrated that Jews do need a secure refuge because, as has been dramatically illustrated in the United States since the rise of Donald Trump, anti-Semitism remains a contagion that can infect a xenophobic population anywhere. Tell me that there is no need for a Jewish state anymore, and I’ll point to the massacre at the kosher supermarket in Paris or, even more frightening, the slaughter of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh (the worst act of anti-Jewish terrorism in the history of the United States).

But believing that Israel has every right to exist in peace is not the same as saying that it should continue to occupy or blockade Palestinian lands or deny full democratic rights to the people who live there. It does not mean that we should enact laws that penalize people who choose to boycott Israel because they oppose its policies toward the Palestinians. It does not mean that we should continue to support members of Congress who refuse to put conditions on our aid to Israel, just as we impose conditions on other congressional appropriations, including those that go to our own states and local governments. It certainly does not mean that we have to embrace AIPAC’s number-one priority of recent years: preventing and then destroying President Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran simply because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers to deter an Iranian nuclear bomb through war (preferably an American attack) rather than diplomacy.

No, supporting Israel has very little, if anything, to do with keeping quiet about the dangers represented by its out-of-control lobby. In fact, it more likely represents the opposite. AIPAC is bad for America, but it could well be catastrophic for Israel, if it hasn’t been already. This is something more and more Jews (particularly the young) now understand, which is why groups like J Street, IfNotNow, Americans For Peace Now, and Jewish Voice for Peace have come to the fore in recent years and have grabbed their share of the congressional turf, which was once exclusively owned by AIPAC. Joining them are the newly energized Arab American Institute and a significant new player, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, as well as various Palestinian student groups which are ensuring that Palestinian voices are heard, sometimes in concert with the progressive Jewish groups and sometimes on their own. But finally heard.

The bottom line is that despite all the congressional denunciations of Omar and the hysterical denials that AIPAC buys support for Israel with its “Benjamins,” the times are changing. On February 5, when AIPAC’s “Combating BDS” bill passed the Senate, 22 Democrats voted against it. That is a decent number, but the real sign that AIPAC’s power is on the wane is that every Democratic senator who is a candidate for president (except Amy Klobuchar) voted No. They voted No because they are seeking to win support from the Democratic grassroots, which, naturally enough, skews younger and younger, more and more progressive, and less and less white, leading naturally enough to more sympathy for Palestinians and less for Netanyahu’s Israel. That wouldn’t have happened before 2016, when Bernie Sanders embraced Palestinians and their cause as part of his coalition and not only did not lose support because of it but gained it. By 2020, it will be close to impossible for any Democrat to claim the progressive mantle while aligning with AIPAC.

For now, with the Baby Boomers still the most influential segment of the population, AIPAC is holding its own, even happily raising money over the whole Omar incident. But its future looks dim, especially its post-Trump future. And that is very good news.

 

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