Yes, the israel Lobby drives U.S. policies. The parasitic enemy within

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IF AMERICANS KNEW – Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.

Yes, the Israel Lobby drives U.S. policies

 When reports of Israel’s siege of Beirut were becoming too much to ignore, Reagan asked Sharon to call a halt. Sharon’s response was to bomb the city at 2:42 and 3:38 the next afternoon, those hours, coincidentally, being the numbers of the two UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories. When Reagan, like Carter, also publicly called on Begin to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister announced the building of new settlements and sent the president a “Dear Ronnie,” letter letting him know who was making those decisions.

By Jeffrey Blankfort

Excerpted from “Yes, Blame the Lobby,” published by Dissident Voice, April 11, 2006

In March 2006, the London Review of Books published “Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” an article by Professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Steven Walt, Academic Dean of the Kennedy Center at Harvard University, two nationally known academic figures with impeccable credentials. (The authors afterward wrote an even more thorough book on the same topic.)

This article, critical of the Israel lobby in the US, propelled into the mainstream an issue that had long been confined to the margins. This issue had been avoided not only by the efforts of the Israel lobby itself, but also by those on the Left who prefer to view US foreign policy as being determined by corporate elites and who had long worked to prevent public awareness of the Israel lobby and its role in driving U.S. policies. 

Jeffrey Blankfort provided a detailed response to claims minimizing the role of the Israel lobby. Below are some of the facts that he provided:

Israel lobby critics do not deny US imperialism

Critics of the Israel lobby have no illusions about the evils of US imperialism that have and will continue to exist, irrespective of the lobby… Serious critics of the Israel lobby do not in any way exonerate the US from responsibility for its actions; however Middle East policies were formed under immense Israeli pressure. Israel and its lobby have pushed the US to launch policies that not in its own interest; US support for Israel has generated serious problems in the region, and has been costly in lives and money.

All presidents told Israel to end the occupation

Every US president since Richard Nixon, with the Rogers Plan in 1969, has made an effort to get Israel to withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, not out of any love for the Palestinians, but because Israel’s continuing occupation of those lands, from the Sinai to the Golan Heights, was creating unnecessary problems in a region where maintaining stability of the regions’ oil resources was and remains a necessity. Every one of those plans was undermined by the lobby.

Gerald Ford

In 1975, Gerald Ford, upset because Israel was refusing to disengage from areas it had taken in the Sinai during the 1973 war, halted aid to Israel and publicly let it be known that he was going to make a major speech that would call for a downsizing of US-Israel relations and demanding that Israel to return to its 1967 borders. Within three weeks, AIPAC presented Ford with a letter signed by 76 senators, from liberal Democrats to extreme right wing Republicans, warning him not to take any steps that would jeopardize Israel’s security. Ford did not make the speech.

Jimmy Carter 

Ford’s successor, Jimmy Carter, was repeatedly in conflict with both Israel and the lobby. Neither wanted the Camp David treaty but Carter doggedly pushed it through, although it required a multi-billion dollar bribe to get Begin’s signature. In 1978, before the treaty went into effect, Begin invaded Lebanon, hoping, some speculated, that Egypt would react and the treaty would be nullified since Israel did not want to give up the Sinai. Carter further angered Israel and the lobby by demanding that Begin withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon three months later.

When UN Ambassador Andrew Young violated an Israeli demand and lobby-enforced rule that prohibited US officials from meeting with the PLO, (much like the lobby imposed rule about US officials meeting with Hamas officials today), he was forced to resign.

Andrew Young – When he told Begin, publicly, to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister responded by announcing the start of 10 new settlements while the lobby criticized Carter for bringing up the subject. When UN Ambassador Andrew Young violated an Israeli demand and a lobby-enforced rule that prohibited US officials from meeting with the PLO, (much like the lobby imposed rule about US officials meeting with Hamas officials today), he was forced to resign. When Carter, like Ford, was considering giving a televised speech in 1979 in which he planned to outline the divergence of interests between the US and Israel and denounce Israeli intransigence on the Palestinian issue, he was warned by the lobby, as one Jewish leader put it, that he would be the first president to “risk opening the gates of anti-Semitism in America.” Carter decided not to give the speech.

Donald McHenry – There was an exception to all those US vetoes and it came during the Carter administration. In March 1980, Young’s successor, Donald McHenry, also an African-American, voted to censure Israel for its settlement policy, including Jerusalem. The lobby was outraged and Carter was forced to apologize. The last straw for the lobby was when Carter called for an international conference in Geneva to settle the Israel-Palestine question that would include the Soviet Union. It didn’t matter that he was forced to apologize for that, too. In 1980, he received 48% of the Jewish vote, the poorest showing of any Democrat since they began counting such things.

Ronald Reagan

When Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, both houses of Congress roared their approval, it being, after all, an election year. When the reports of the siege of Beirut were becoming too much to ignore, Reagan asked Sharon to call a halt. Sharon’s response was to bomb the city at 2:42 and 3:38 the next afternoon, those hours, coincidentally, being the numbers of the two UN resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories. When Reagan, like Carter, also publicly called on Begin to halt settlement building, the Israeli prime minister announced the building of new settlements and sent the president a “Dear Ronnie,” letter letting him know who was making those decisions.

In Reagan’s second term, he tried again to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict with what came to be known as the Shultz Plan, named after his Secretary of State, George Shultz. It called for an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who had replaced Begin, was having none of it. One cartoon of the day depicted Shamir sitting in a chair, cutting up pieces of paper while Reagan and Shultz looked on. “How cute,” said Reagan, “he’s cutting up paper dolls.” “Those aren’t paper dolls,” responded Shultz. “That’s our peace plan.” Another showed Reagan and Shamir sitting in armchairs across from one another with Shamir holding a smoking gun in his hand while a dove falls from the sky. Reagan says, “You didn’t have to do that.” Shamir’s intransigence finally provoked 30 senators, including some of Israel’s biggest supporters, into sending him a letter asking him to be more cooperative. They were hardly prepared for the firestorm from the lobby that followed that sent each of them stumbling to apologize. The Shultz Plan was effectively dead.

George Bush Senior

When George H. W. Bush succeeded Reagan, he made it clear that he wanted a halt to the settlements and for Israel to get out of the OT, as well. He arranged for the Madrid Peace Conference over the objections of the obstinate Shamir, making concessions as to the composition of the Palestinian delegation to appease both Israel and the lobby. Was this conference, like the one called for by Carter, like the one planned by Reagan just a charade? Before the conference took place, Shamir asked the US for $10 billion in loan guarantees. Bush made compliance with that request contingent on Israel agreeing to halt all settlement building, its agreement not to settle any Russian immigrants in the West Bank, and to wait 120 days, to see if the first two requests had been complied with. An enraged Shamir decided to go over his head to the lobby-controlled Congress.

After receiving a letter signed by 242 members of Congress urging the swift passage of the loan guarantees, Bush realized that the Lobby had enough votes to override his threatened veto of the request. This led him to take the unprecedented step of calling a national press conference on the day when an estimated thousand Jewish lobbyists were on Capitol Hill pushing for a swift passage of Israel’s request. In the press conference, Bush denounced the arrogance of the lobby and told the American people how much aid each Israeli man, woman and child was getting from the US Treasury. The polls the next day showed that 85% of the American public was with him and a month and a half later only 44% of the public supported giving any aid to Israel at all while over 70% supported giving aid to the former Soviet Union.

AIPAC, in the face of Bush’s attack, pulled back, but then launched a steady attack against him which began to be reflected in the US media where even old friends like the NY Times columnist William Safire would eventually desert him for Bill Clinton. Under tremendous pressure and with the election approaching, Bush finally consented to the loan guarantees, but it was too late. The Lobby blamed him for Shamir having been defeated by Rabin and his goose was cooked.

Pro-Israel Neocons

It is no secret that pro-Israel Jewish neocons have been heavily involved in creating the structural adjustment policies of the World Bank and the IMF. Indeed, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the Gulf War, is now the head of the World Bank.

Starving and then invading Iraq, threatening to invade Syria, raiding and then sanctioning Libya and Iran, besieging the Palestinians and their leaders must also be blamed on the Israeli lobby and not the US government.

While it was not well known, but no secret, that the Lobby played a key role in getting the votes for the first Gulf War, the reporting of which resulted in the firing of the Washington Jewish Week’s Larry Cohler at the behest of AIPAC inductee Steve Rosen, the orchestration of the current war by a handful of Jewish Likud-connected neocons with the support of the Israel Lobby was widely reported in the mainstream press. If there was a question as to who was the chief architect, it was a choice between Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Scooter Libby.

Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission, admitted that the war in Iraq was for “the security of Israel”: but that would have been a “hard sell” to the American people.

The “Clean Break” paper that Perle, Feith, and Meyrav Wurmser wrote for Netanyahu in 1996 called for the overthrow of Iraq, Syria and Iran, which Mearsheimer and Walt mention. The “Project for a New American Century,”  was another document drawn up by pro-Israel Jewish neocons. The Office of Special Plans, set up by Feith and run by another Jewish neocon, Abe Shulsky, was directed to provide the phony intelligence that would justify the invasion when the CIA staff was not prepared to do it. Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9-11 commission, admitted that the war in Iraq was for “the security of Israel”: but that would have been a “hard sell” to the American people. And, as for implementing and maintaining the sanctions, the advocacy of the lobby was equally evident.

Lebanon, Iraq, Syria

In 1958, Pres. Eisenhower sent the Marines to Lebanon to prevent what was thought to be a radical nationalist move against the status quo, but the US has only invaded Arab countries twice, Kuwait in 1991, to oust the Iraqis and in 2003. The first required the assistance of the Israel lobby capped by the phony incubator story that was orchestrated by Rep. Tom Lantos, an author or co-sponsor of numerous Iraqi and Syria sanction bills and anti-Palestinian legislation. (According to the Jerusalem Post, Lantos represents Israel in countries where it has no diplomatic recognition.)

Israel and the lobby had anticipated that the Senior Bush would remove Saddam as called for in the Clean Break and when he didn’t they started criticizing him and planning for a future administration that would do the job and the record on that is very clear. AIPAC took credit for writing the anti-Syrian legislation that led to the withdrawal from Lebanon of the relatively small number of Syrian forces that were in the country and more recently the Lobby has been the only sector of US society actively calling for what is unmistakably an armed confrontation with Iran.

Weapons industry does not drive the policy

The Middle East is the only region where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own. The Middle East is also the only region where there is continued instability. The US has sought political stability, the kind of stability that provides a ready source of raw materials and an outlet for US products.

From the end of the Vietnam War to the beginning of the first Gulf War, the profits of the weapons industry continued to soar, proving that an actual shooting war was not necessary for the arms manufacturers to make windfall profits or the capitalist system to survive. Given that both US political parties are committed to what is euphemistically called “national defense,” there is no debate in Congress over the size of the military budget.

Other countries too prioritize national defense, and buy US-made weaponry, some of which may be used to quiet domestic rebellions, and some, like fighter jets, for national pride and kickbacks on both sides. It is only in the Middle East where a stable environment is required to maintain the oil that fuels much of the world’s economy, including our own, where there is continued instability, and this is the fault of Israel and its lobby.

Cuban Lobby

The Cuba lobby which is, in fact, more properly called the anti-Cuba lobby, not coincidentally, has a strong working relationship with AIPAC for their mutual benefit, but it doesn’t begin to compare with the Israel Lobby’s power although it has seen to it that Florida will stay in the Republican column. Of course, if Israel was a communist or anti-imperialist country, the Jews in the US would no doubt be like the anti-Castro Cubans, calling on the US to liberate it.

Support for Israel endangers Americans

Regarding the families of the marines, soldiers and sailors killed in the bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, as well as American diplomats who have been targeted in the region over the years: Had Israel not invaded Lebanon, these American servicemen killed in their barracks might still be alive, as well the members of the CIA who were wiped out in an earlier bombing of the US embassy in Beirut. Furthermore, without getting into the serious questions that remain unanswered about the 9-11 attack, it has been accepted by those who believe the official narrative that US support for Israel was one of the reasons behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. If the authors and others, including this writer have argued are correct, a significant portion of the responsibility for the dead and wounded on both sides in Iraq can be laid at the feet of Israel and the Israel Lobby, but the latter, in particular.

The US, as a country, is not loved or well liked anywhere except, perhaps, Israel. Much depends, of course, on an individual’s political consciousness, but most of the peoples of the world have had a love-hate relationship with the US, despising its policies but colonized by its materialism. The war on Iraq and the US voters’ re-election of Bush have put more weight in the “hate” column, and in Latin America, Bush has proved to be the most unpopular US president since they started taking polls. It is not unlikely that as the war continues and the US continues to make threats against Iran, again pressured by the Lobby, the degree of antagonism towards the US and US products is certain to increase.

Egypt

Israel has never seen the US as its master. Not a single Israeli soldier has shed a drop of blood for US interests and as Ariel Sharon said on Israeli army radio several years ago, the US knows that no Israeli soldier ever will. At the time of Israel’s attack on Egypt in 1967, France was the major arms supplier and the certain sectors of the US government were engaged with members of Egypt’s military. To describe the defeat of Nasser as a service done by Israel for the benefit of the US, is a both an oversimplification as well as a distortion of history. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1973 war, when Israel, under attack by Egypt and Syria, threatened to use its nuclear weapons unless the US came through with a massive conventional arms airlift, that US support for Israel really took off. So did the oil prices as an Arab oil boycott was implemented in response. Was the very real threat of a nuclear war, which would have brought in the Soviet Union, in the US interest? Was the Arab oil embargo?

Latin America and South Africa

Israel’s arms sales in Latin America and South Africa were done to benefit Israel’s arms industry and that they were useful to the US was a secondary factor. What the Lobby was able to do was keep members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the notable Ron Dellums, from publicly condemning Israel’s arms sales to South Africa in violation of international sanctions, and to silence those members of Congress who were quick to condemn US actions in Central America but afraid to do so when Israel was the malefactor. That fear is no less prevalent in Congress today where any member can get up to criticize George Bush but none dare say a negative word about the Israeli prime minister, irrespective of who holds that office.

Jordan & Syria

Israel’s role in the Jordanian-Palestinian conflict in 1970 is always raised by those who argue for Israel’s usefulness. We are told that Israel was acting at the behest of the US when it threatened to intervene if Syrian tanks moved south to defend the Palestinians under attack by Jordan’s King Hussein and that this prevented the possible overthrow of the US-friendly Hashemite regime. This fits neatly fits into the client state scenario, except it is missing a key element. What was crucial in that situation was the refusal of Hafez Al-Assad, then head of the Syrian air force, and not a supporter of the PLO, to back up the Syrian tank force that had entered Northern Jordan. Shortly thereafter, Al-Assad staged a coup against the pro-Palestinian president Atassi and proceeded to throw hundreds of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian Syrians in prison and break up the radical Syrian-supported militia group, Al-Saika. This bit of history has apparently now been written out of history.

When Israel neutralized the PLO in 1982, it was appreciated in the beginning by many Lebanese, particularly in the south who found some elements of the PLO heavy-handed and were tired of having a liberation war fought on their soil – until they began to experience Israeli occupation for themselves and began to resist. The Israeli attack violated an 11-month cease-fire that had been negotiated by Ambassador Philip Habib and to which the PLO had strictly adhered. The Senior Bush, then vice-president, opposed the Israeli invasion and wanted Israel to be censured and was overruled by Reagan and Alexander Haig. A year before Bush Sr. was angered by Israel’s attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor and wanted Israel censured at that time, but was again overruled.

Israel did provide training to US troops on the techniques used to occupy and repress a hostile Arab population, only too pleased to have the US join it as the only foreign occupier of Arab soil which may have been one of the reasons the Israeli government (as well as the lobby) wanted the US to invade Iraq. With the US taking the same kind of harsh measures to repress the Iraqis, it would be less likely to complain about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and this has proved to be the case. Israel has been called by Chomsky America’s “cop on the beat” in the Middle East, but when military intervention has been thought necessary it has always been American soldiers that have done the fighting. In fact, US soldiers were sent to Israel during the first Gulf War to operate the Patriot missile batteries to defend the Israelis.

AIPAC 

Read our history and see what has befallen those politicians who have challenged the lobby and were subsequently targeted and defeated beginning with Sen. J William Fulbright who in the early 60s sought to restrict the lobby’s growing power. There are several books written by both supporters of the lobby and its critics that clearly demonstrate its influence as well as the tales of former members of Congress who were its victims.

Edward Said on the Israel lobby

“What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the ‘peace process’ has never been sufficiently addressed…”

Every two years, one hears or reads, regarding some issue that deals with Israel, that “the president” or “Congress” “is not likely to act [against Israel] due to domestic political considerations in an election year.” To a great extent, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a domestic US issue. That the Palestine solidarity movement has ignored that fact is a primary reason that to this point in time it has been an utter failure. This should be a source of embarrassment and reflection, but it so far there is no sign of it.

There was another Columbia professor who had a more profound understanding of the situation who is sorely missed and, perhaps, never more so than at this moment. I refer to the late Edward Said. In his contribution to The New Intifada, entitled, appropriately, “America’s Last Taboo,” he did not mince words:

What explains this [present] state of affairs? The answer lies in the power of Zionist organizations in American politics, whose role throughout the “peace process” has never been sufficiently addressed — a neglect that is absolutely astonishing, given the policy of the PLO has been in essence to throw our fate as a people into the lap of the United States, without any strategic awareness of how American policy is dominated by a small minority whose views about the Middle East are in some ways more extreme than those of Likud itself. (Emphasis added)

And on the subject of AIPAC, Said wrote:

[T]he American Israel Public Affairs Committee – AIPAC — has for years been the most powerful single lobby in Washington. Drawing on a well-organized, well-connected, highly visible and wealthy Jewish population, AIPAC inspires an awed fear and respect across the political spectrum. Who is going to stand up to this Moloch in behalf of the Palestinians, when they can offer nothing, and AIPAC can destroy a professional career at the drop of a checkbook? In the past, one or two members of Congress did resist AIPAC openly, but the many political action committees controlled by AIPAC made sure they were never re-elected… If such is the material of the legislature, what can be expected of the executive?

Although it is trying, the Israel Lobby does not yet control our academics. On the critical issue of the lobby’s power, it is time they stop acting like it does.


Jeffrey Blankfort is former editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin, long-time photographer, and has written extensively on the Israel-Palestine conflict. He can be reached at: jblankfort@earthlink.net

Inner and Outer Ugliness: Congress Proves Once Again it is Occupied Territory

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By Richard Edmondson

In the photo above we see US Congressman Ed Royce of California discussing HR 11, a resolution he introduced condemning the UN Security Council for its recent action on Israeli settlements. You’ll also notice, to Royce’s right, Florida  Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen brushing her hair with a pink hairbrush.

The scene is from a debate in Congress which took place on January 5, 2017. Royce and a number of other congressional representatives (342 of them in all) became hot and bothered over the UN’s pointing out (correctly of course) that the settlements are illegal. The photo is a screen shot I took from a C-Span video.  It’s a long video, more than eight hours, but if you advance it to about the 5:19:52 mark, you can watch the entire House debate on HR 11, which not surprisingly includes a lot of groveling to Israel (hat tip to Greg Bacon).

Just to refresh your memory, the Security Council, by a vote of 14-0 with 1 abstention, passed a resolution on December 23 “condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.” Voting in favor were Russia, China, Malaysia, Venezuela, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Uruguay, France, Angola, Egypt, Japan, UK, Ukraine; the lone abstention was by the US.

The Security Council action was welcomed by a good many people the world over, although Benjamin Netanyahu threw a temper tantrum, claiming to have “absolute” proof the Obama administration had been secretly behind it. Other critics accused the US of a “betrayal” of its longtime “ally,” and an enormous amount of controversy erupted over the issue in the waning days of 2016 and carrying over into the new year.

Of course, anytime a dispute emerges between the US and Israel, members of Congress can always be counted upon to side with the latter rather than with their own nation–and this time was no exception.

“Today we put Congress on record objecting to the recent UN Security Council resolution that hurt our ally, that hurt Israel, and I believe that puts an enduring peace further out of reach,” fretted Royce.

Let me call once again your attention to the image of Ros-Lehtinen brushing her hair, for throughout a good portion of Royce’s speech, the Florida congresswoman–apparently unaware she was on camera–seemed preoccupied with primping and applying makeup to herself, this presumably in an effort to make herself look “beautiful.”

In the first frame of the montage below we see her with the pink hairbrush, followed by a shot of her rummaging in her purse. In the third frame she pulls out what appears to be lipstick or eyeliner (I’m not an expert on women’s makeup), and lastly applying it with her right hand while still holding the container with her left hand.

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In the following three frames we see a now cosmetically-adorned Ros-Lehtinen giving her speech before Congress and the C-Span cameras:

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“Our closest friend and ally, the democratic, Jewish state of Israel, has been under constant attack by the United Nations,” she claimed.

The Security Council resolution that occasioned Ros-Lehtinen’s diatribe specifically is entitled UNSC Resolution 2334. I put up a post about it on December 24 that contains its full text. The measure expresses “grave concern” that settlements, including those in East Jerusalem, are “dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.” It also:

1. Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace;

For Ros-Lehtinen, however, UNSC Resolution 2334 was nothing more than an execrable attempt to “delegitimize” Israel–and all the more reason why swift passage by Congress of HR 11 was needed to repudiate it!

This resolution, Mr. speaker, will not undo the damage that has been done at the Security Council, but it sends an important  message to the world that the United States Congress resoundingly, and in a strong bipartisan manner, disapproves of the vote taken on resolution 2334, and it sends a warning to the nations that will gather in Paris next week to discuss the peace process that there will be repercussions if there is a move to introduce a parameters resolution before the 20th and in an effort to further isolate Israel. Our closest friend and ally, the democratic, Jewish state of Israel,  has been under constant attack by the United Nations. Abu Mazen and the Palestinians have pushed a campaign to delegitimize the Jewish state, to undermine the peace process, to achieve unilateral statehood recognition.

For some reason–I’m not quite sure why–the sight of Ros-Lehtinen primping and then fulminating at the podium brought to mind a picture I once saw of an economically-impoverished elderly woman kissing a bird.

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I first came across this image several years ago in a poem posted by Nahida the exiled Palestinian, whose website, Poetry for Palestine, can be found here. Her poem is entitled “Beauty.”  It is not a lengthy poem at all. In fact, it contains a mere five very short, but very powerful, lines:

Sometimes, beauty is mistakenly understood;
Assuming that
If someone is beautiful, they are always good,
When truth is
When someone is good, they are always beautiful.

The woman whose picture accompanies the poem is beautiful in a way that Ros-Lehtinen is not. In addition to berating the Security Council, the Florida congresswoman also attacked the UN Human Rights Council.

“We’ve seen it at  the Human Rights Council where Israel is constantly demonized  and falsely accused of human rights violations while the real abusers of human rights go unpunished because that body has utterly failed to uphold its mandate,” she insisted. “This is a body that allows the worst abusers of human rights–like Cuba, Venezuela, and China–to actually sit in judgement of human rights worldwide. What a pathetic joke!”

It’s interesting that Ros-Lehtinen would single out Cuba, Venezuela, and China as being among “the worst abusers of human rights,” while saying nothing–zip–zero–about Saudi Arabia, a country that executes people by beheading and which currently holds the chair of the Human Rights Council.

 photo syrianchildren.jpg“Yet the only thing they can agree on is to attack Israel,” the congresswoman blubbered on, “the only democracy in the Middle East and the only place in the region where human rights are protected.”

Exceptions were taken to other UN deliberative bodies  as well.

“We’ve seen this scheme to delegtimize Israel at the General Assembly where in its closing legislative session, the General Assembly passed twenty–twenty–anti-Israel resolutions and only four combined for the entire world!” Ros-Lehtinen bellowed.

“These institutions have no credibility, and now we have the unfortunate circumstance of the White House deciding to abstain from this anti-Israel, one-sided resolution at the Security Council,” she added. “Our ally was abandoned, and credibility and momentum were given to the Palestinians’ schemes to delegitimize the Jewish state, to undermine the peace process, and while the damage has been done, Mr. Speaker, by this act of cowardice at the Security Council, we will have an opportunity to reverse that damage.”

What exactly she meant by “we will have an opportunity to reverse that damage” is unclear. Possibly the Trump administration has some plan to introduce a new measure at the UN. In any event, Ros-Lehtinen clearly seems to be a person of both inner and outer ugliness–though of course she is not the only member of Congress with such attributes. Perhaps the most groveling speech of all those given in Congress on January 5 was that delivered by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“The cornerstone of our special relationship with Israel has always been right here in Congress, this institution,” said Ryan. “The heart of our democracy has stood by the Jewish state through thick and thin. We were there for her when rockets rained down on Tel Aviv; we were there for her by passing historic legislation to combat the boycott divestment and sanctions movement; and we’ve been there for her by ensuring Israel has the tools to defend herself against those who seek her destruction.”

“I am stunned! I am stunned!” the House speaker continued, “at what happened last month! This government, our government, abandoned our ally Israel when she needed us the most! Do not be fooled. This UN Security Council resolution was not about settlements, and it certainly was not about peace. It was about one thing and one thing only. Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish democratic state. These types of one-sided efforts are designed to isolate and delegitimize Israel. They do not advance peace, they make it more elusive.”

If Ryan was the supreme groveler in the debate, Royce would probably have to rank a close second. One thing which seemed terribly to incense the California congressman about the Security Council resolution is that it doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to steal East Jerusalem.

“This dangerous resolution effectively states that the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, are in the words of the resolution ‘occupied territory.’ Why would we not veto that?” asked Royce.

“It also lends legitimacy to efforts by the Palestinian authority to put pressure on Israel through the UN rather than to go through the process of engaging in direct negotiations, and it puts wind in the sails of the shameful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” he added.

gzmrg4Royce also claimed that Israel, not Occupied Palestine, is suffering “bullying and harassment.” That may sound like the statement of someone living in a parallel universe, but it is a view shared by New York Congressman Eliot Engel, one of HR 11’s original cosponsors.

“Throughout its entire history the state of Israel has never gotten a fair shake from the United Nations,” insisted Engel. “Year after year after year member states manipulate the UN to bully our ally Israel, to pile on one-sided resolutions placing all the blame for the ongoing conflict on Israel.”

Even those representatives who spoke in opposition to HR 11, did so while expressing their support for Israel at the same time. One such member was Rep. David Price, a Democrat from North Carolina.

“The fact is, H Res 11 runs a real risk of undermining the US Congress as a proactive force working toward a two-state solution,” Price lamented. ” And in this period of great geopolitical turmoil and uncertainty, we must reaffirm those fundamental aspects of our foreign policy, including our strong and unwavering support for Israel, while also demonstrating to the world that we are committed to a diplomacy that defends human rights and promotes Israeli and Palestinian states  that live side-by-side in peace and security, a formulation that has characterized our country’s diplomacy for decades.”

Another who voted against HR 11 was Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois who is also married to Robert Creamer, the Democrat Party operative who was seen in a Project Veritas video discussing plans to have protestors show up at Trump rallies during the campaign. Schakowsky feels that a little bit of criticism of Israel is allowable at times, and furthermore she holds to this belief as a “proud Jew,” as she stated to her colleagues.

 photo thousandeyes_zps2c4c47c1.jpg“I stand here as a proud Jew and someone who throughout my entire life has been an advocate for the state of Israel, and I am standing here to oppose our H Res 11,” said the Illinois congresswoman. “And as a member of congress I have been committed to maintaining America’s unwavering support for Israel, which has lasted from the very first moments of  Israel’s existence. The US-Israel bond is unbreakable, despite the fact that the United States administrations have not always agreed with the particular policies of an Israeli government.”

Yes, to be sure, our own government and Israel’s have not always seen eye-to-eye, but funny how that never seems to stop the billions in US tax dollars flowing into the Jewish state’s coffers each year. Schakowsky went on:

Presidents from Lyndon Johnson to George W. Bush have each vetoed, and sometimes voted for, a UN resolution contrary to the wishes of Israel’s government at the time, and only the Obama administration, until two weeks ago, never, ever cast a vote against what Israel wanted. But opposition to the building of settlements on land belonging to Palestinians before the 1967 war was, with the exception of the land, of course, that’s going to be swapped, agreed to by both parties, has been the official US policy for many decades, contrary, again, to the assertions of H Res 11.  It has also been the policy of the United States to recognize that the only long term solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the violence, the loss of life, is to create two states, one for the Palestinians and one for Israel.

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Exactly how a contiguous Palestinian state is going to be created in a West Bank splotched and dotted with all those settlements, is something Schakowsky left unaddressed. But having voiced a few mild criticisms of Israel, the congresswoman apparently felt an overwhelming need for balance–and so she tossed out a few criticisms of the Palestinians for good measure.

“A two-state solution is the only way Israel can continue as both a democratic and a Jewish state living in peace and security that has eluded her from the very beginning,” she said. “The building of settlements is an obstacle to achieving that goal–and of course settlements aren’t the only obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. The US resolution reiterates the Palestinian Authority security forces must continue to counter terrorism and condemn all of the provocations.”

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Provocations? It’s an interesting word when referring to a people who have been resisting land theft and occupation for more years than most of us have been alive. It also gives rise to a question: How is it possible to carry out “provocations” against a country or governmental entity that technically speaking is in all likelihood guilty of the crime of genocide? Of course it’s unlikely you’ll get an honest answer to that question from Schakowsky or any other member of Congress.

At any rate, HR 11–a resolution which not only impugns the Security Council but even criticizes the United States–passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 342-80, with 4 abstentions. You can go here to see  the roll call on the vote.

It was Jeffrey Blankfort who first coined the old saying about Washington being Israel’s “most important occupied territory.” I think it was sometime back in the late eighties or the nineties when Jeffrey made that comment, and if anything, over the years, it has become more profoundly true than ever.

Can Jews ever leave their Cult?

By Gilad Atzmon

Baruch Spinoza left the Jews. Heinrich Heine became a Christian. A few others, such as Israel Shamir and myself, a decade ago, simply drifted away.

Recently, Israeli historian Shlomo Sand announced that he too was no longer a Jew. I read his manuscript in Hebrew with great interest but soon realized that while he indeed stopped identifying as a Jew, he still hadn’t removed himself from kosher binaries.

“I don’t write for anti-Semites, I regard them as totally ignorant or people who suffer from an incurable disease,” (How I Ceased To Be A Jew  p’ 21). Lines like these, echoing as they do the language of the ADL, made me feel very uncomfortable and, when it came to the Holocaust, Sand, who is usually so astute and profound, somehow managed to lose it. The Nazis are  “beasts”, and their rise to power metaphorically he described as a “beast awakening from its lair.”  Despite my respect for Sand, I would expect a leading, inspirational  historian and a former-Jew to have moved beyond such banal  Hasbara-recycled clichés.

This week, in the Jewish progressive magazine Mondoweiss, Avigail Abarbanel, an ex-Israeli and anti- Zionist informed us that she too has now ‘left the cult,’. I agreed with most of Abarbanel’s arguments against Israel and Zionism but I was nonetheless alarmed at the intellectual dishonesty at the core of her argument.

“Rarely can people inside a cult see where they are. If they could, the cult wouldn’t be what it is” Abarbanel points out. “They think that they are members of a special group that has a special destiny, and is always under threat.

Thus does Abarbanel describe the Israelis, yet she fails to mention that this is also an accurate description of the Jewish left in general and the Mondoweiss/JVP cults in particular, to which she herself belongs. As we now know, just as Israel claims for itself a special place amongst the states of the world, so do the anti-Zionist Jews who, when it comes to Anti Israeli politics, operate within Jewish, racially exclusive political cells (JVP, IJAN etc.). So, if Abarbanel thinks that Israelis are at fault for being a ‘special group’ perhaps she should inform us what is the criterion that legitimates JVP and Mondoweiss being a special group within the solidarity movement?

Abarbanel continues: “cult members are taught from birth that the world outside is dangerous, that they have to huddle together for safety.” This is indeed a good description of Israeli collective psychosis, but it is also a prefect portrayal of Mondoweiss’ operational mode and it  puts Mondoweiss’ campaign against Alison Weir and Greta Berlin in perfect context. It also explains why Mondoweiss banned Jeffrey Blankfort and why the Jewish outlet changed its comment policy just to make sure that it can block any attempt to criticise the Jewish state in the light of Jewish culture and my own study of Jewish tribalism. Just like Israel, Mondoweiss is terrified of the ‘dangerous worl d out there’. As far as Abarbanel’s definition of cult is concerned, Mondoweiss, JVP and Israel are actually identical.

Abarbanel is obsessed with the holocaust and this is hardly surprising. The Holocaust is currently the most popular Jewish religion.  The Israeli prominent philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz observed in the 1970s that Jews believe in many different things but all Jews believe in the Holocaust.

“Have I forgotten the holocaust? No. Of course not,” Abarbanel writes. “Persecution of Jewish people throughout history was very real indeed.”

And if you expect Abarbanel, a psychotherapist by profession, to question why is it that Jews have been ‘hated throughout history,’ you’re probably wasting your time. In Abarbanel’s universe, the persecution of the Jews is a metaphysical constant. It is beyond questioning.

In her view, Jews are victims and the Goyim are oppressors.

“Jews were a hated and despised group among many cultures in Europe, and Jews have always had an uneasy co-existence with non-Jews. Any marginalised or persecuted group has an uneasy relationship with the dominant culture. Once you have been discriminated against it’s hard to trust.”

So again, despite ‘leaving the cult,’ Abarbanel’s take on the holocaust is well within that same Hasbara cult she claims to have left.

Actually, one would expect a psychotherapist to advise the Jews to look in the mirror and actually identify what is it about them that invokes so much animosity in so many different times and in so many different places. This is something Bernard Lazare, an early Zionist did just over a century ago when he identified what it was in the Jews that has made Jewish history into such a disastrous continuum. Sadly, Abarbanel falls far short of this task. Unable or unwilling to examine what is it in the Jew or in Jewishness that invokes animosity, for her, this is one step too far because to look into that question may suggest that Israel is not the problem, it is but a symptom of the problem.

In Abarbanel’s universe, the Jews are always the victims and all they have to do is to separate their victimhood from their identity. This is strange since if victimhood is embedded in Jewish existence, then surely it must also be inherent in Jewish identity. My guess is that the day Jews manage to distinguish between their victimhood and their identity will be the day they simply stop being Jews.

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Phyllis Bennis’ Delusions of ‘Massive Opposition’ to Israel Evaporate Under Harsh Light of Reality

Aletho News

By Jeff Blankfort | Dissident Voice | September 26, 2016

There is massive opposition to Israeli actions in the United States today, particularly importantly in the Jewish community, where there’s been an enormous shift in that discourse.

So you still have organizations, right-wing organizations like AIPAC that include very wealthy donors, no doubt, but they no longer can even make the claim–which was probably never true, but it certainly is no longer true–that they speak for the majority, let alone all, of the Jewish community.

You now have an organization like J Street in the center. You have Jewish Voice for Peace on the left, which has over 200,000 supporters across the country. So you have a very different scenario now of where public opinion is.

— Phyllis Bennis, interviewed on The Real News Network, September 14, 2016

Massive opposition to Israeli actions in the United States? Within the Jewish community? Who does Phyllis Bennis thinks she’s kidding and, as importantly, why is she doing so? That there is no sign of any activity or combination of activities in the US opposing Israel’s actions that qualify as massive among the larger public and definitely not within the Jewish community should be patently as well as painfully obvious.

Her comment becomes even more mystifying since it came on the day that Barack Obama announced that the US would award Israel a record breaking $38 billion in arms over the decade beginning in 2018. What opposition there was to the deal on the part of the public, much less the Jewish community, was barely visible.

This had been reflected a month earlier in the Democratic Party’s decision to bar any reference to Israel’s occupation or illegal settlement construction in its platform which was then approved without so much as a whimper by the convention delegates.  A week before, the Republicans, stepping back from their traditional lip service to the two-state illusion, discarded any notion that Israel would be obliged to surrender land to the Palestinians for their own state at any time in the future.

Bennis, speaking to The Real News Network’s Jaisal Noor, incredibly, portrayed the humiliating Democratic platform defeat as a victory:

I think he [Obama] is seriously misreading where the American people are at, where the Democratic Party is, where the public discourse on this question has shifted. I think he’s acting as if this was 20 years ago and no politician could do wrong by being more supportive than the other guy of Israel.

Now that’s not the case anymore. We saw that during the debate over the language on Israel and Palestine in the Democratic Party platform debate. (Emphasis added)

While it is true that there is less support for Israel among the youth and the Democratic Party’s base, what we learned from that debate was the degree to which the Congressional Black Caucus, including one of its most “liberal” members, Barbara Lee, is under the thumb of the Israel Lobby. Lee, appointed to the committee by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, cast the critical vote in the platform committee that eliminated any reference to Israel’s illegal occupation or the ongoing construction of Jewish settlements.

How Bennis could put a positive spin on that outcome should raise concerns not only about her judgment but also her agenda.

Despite the fact that it had been the subject of discussion in the US and Israeli media for more than a year, there was no attempt to mobilize opposition to the arms package for Israel, about which Bennis was being interviewed, by either Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) or the US Campaign to End Israel Occupation (USCEIO), the two largest organizations, ostensibly working for justice in Palestine over which Bennis appears to act as an éminence grise.

Bennis did not mention nor had either organization expressed support for or even note on their websites, the first of its kind lawsuit filed by the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy’s Grant Smith on August 8 that would block the announced arms deal on the basis of long standing US law that prohibits US aid to non-signatories of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty known to have nuclear weapons.

That Bennis, moreover, presented J Street in a positive light at that moment strongly suggests that projecting a positive image of the Jewish community within the Left and in the eyes of the larger public is her primary motivation.

J Street, after all, is nothing more than a light beer version of AIPAC. It was created for Jewish liberals whose self-image requires the display of an occasional whiff of conscience, but nothing that would jeopardize Israel’s domination of Washington. It was in such full applause mode over the arms deal that it issued a statement, welcoming it, on September 13, the day before the White House officially announced it:

J Street warmly welcomes the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel that will ensure Israel’s security and its qualitative military advantage over any potential enemy for the next 10 years.

We congratulate President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as all those who worked hard to produce this agreement, which represents the biggest pledge of US military assistance made to any country in our nation’s history.

And Jewish Voice for Peace? In a statement on the group’s website, JVP director, Israel-American dual citizen Rebecca Vilkomerson, after acknowledging that the deal had been “in months of negotiation,” declared that, As a result, the US is effectively underwriting Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies towards the Palestinians.”

True and well said, Rebecca, but what had JVP been doing to stop it during those months? And in the two weeks since, knowing that it is Congress that must ultimately approve the deal? Apparently nothing, judging from the constant stream of requests for money that arrive in my email box daily.

Rather ineffectively, if measured by the paucity of results, it has also been pushing for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) targeting companies doing business in the West Bank, giving it the appearance, if not the substance, of “doing something” for the Palestinian cause.

With steely determination, its leadership was also continuing a behind the scenes campaign to vilify and marginalize an individual and an organization, without the payroll and national outreach of JVP, that was attempting a nation-wide effort to alert the American people to the latest transfer of their earnings to Israel, namely Alison Weir and her organization, appropriately named “if Americans Knew.”

Through billboards, bus cards, bumper stickers, simulated checks, and postcards, carrying the slogan, “Stop the Blank Check for Israel,” Weir has made a tireless effort to inform all Americans, but particularly those without any vested interest in either Israel or Palestine, (who constitute the majority) about what is being done for Israel by the US government and members of Congress in their name. A useful exercise for readers would be to compare the If Americans Knew website with that of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Weir’s crime in the eyes of her critics is that she has ignored the Left choir and its gatekeepers and expressed a healthy willingness to speak to any group or media host that asks for her views on the largely hidden history of Israel’s domestic Zionist operations going back to World War One.  Several of those talk show hosts, which amount to a tiny fraction of Weir’s overall efforts, her attackers find objectionable even though some of them have appeared on the same programs.

Weir also has had the temerity to make exposing the cover-up by Congress and the media of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty off the coast of Egypt during the 1967 war a critical part of her work. The unprovoked assault on a clearly marked intelligence ship by Israel’s air force and navy left 34 US sailors dead and 171 wounded. The subject is as off-limits for Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, as well as the entire American Left, as it has been for the Jewish establishment. (The implications of that are worthy of an entire article by itself.)

Weir’s slim but fact-packed, copiously foot noted paperback, “Against Our Better Judgment” detailing the obscured activities of the Zionist Lobby both before and after Israeli statehood, has sold more than 27,000 copies on Amazon and, apart from making them more than a trifle jealous, has, I suspect, been an irritant to JVP and USCEIO whose founder and current policy director, Josh Ruebner, is, like JVP’s Vilkomerson, an Israel-US dual citizen. (This apparently raises no questions as would, say, if white South Africans had played prominent roles in the American anti-apartheid movement.)

What JVP really appears to be about is establishing the acceptable parameters within which those who support justice for Palestine can criticize Israel or Jewish support for it without being labeled anti-Semitic.

The latest target of Vilkomerson is Miko Peled, the son of former Israeli major general, Matti Peled, the only representative of Israel’s top military echelon ever to advocate for Palestinian justice.

Living in San Diego and now a US citizen, Peled has become one of Israel’s most forthright critics and supporters of the BDS movement but fell afoul of Vilkomerson over a tweet that she considered to be anti-Semitic.

Responding to the announcement of the arms deal, Peled tweeted, “Then theyr surprised Jews have reputation 4being sleazy thieves #apartheidisrael doesn’t need or deserve these $$.” Vilkomerson, in turn, tweeted, “No place 4 antisemitism in our movement” and congratulated the Princeton Committee for Palestine for using her tweet as the basis for canceling a scheduled speaking engagement by Peled at the university, “to show our commitment towards educating our campus about Israel-Palestine issues.”

If justification for Peled’s tweet is needed, all one has to do is read the op-ed in the Washington Post(9/14) by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and the speech before the AIPAC spawn, Washington Inst. For Near East Policy, by former Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon (Times of Israel, 9/15) in which each of them expressed their fury at Netanyahu for not getting yet more than the record $38 billion. Seriously. There is no limit to their sense of entitlement.

The USCEIO which usually follows JVP’s lead has yet to weigh in on the Peled controversy, but there are dated references to the arms deal for Israel on its website, including a petition to President Obama launched in September, 2015, asking him not to approve it. The petition gathered more than 65,000 signatures but since it was still collecting them the day Obama announced the deal, there is no indication it was ever sent.

Now, two weeks after Obama’s announcement, there is no mention of it on its website nor was there any suggestion that people should go beyond signing a petition and confront the members of Congress in their home districts who will be voting on the $38 billion appropriation.

This is particularly noteworthy while USCEIO will be holding its national conference in Arlington, VA, October 14 to 17, there is no mention of it on its tentative agenda.

That campaigns to stop aid to Israel are missing from the agenda of both USCEIO and JVP, I would argue, is significant given that, in the early 80s, it was a nationwide campaign on the part of Nicaragua solidarity activists to have the public call members of Congress in their districts that produced the Boland Amendment, halting a $15 million appropriation for the Contras.

For reasons that I can only speculate such a grassroots campaign has never been undertaken by either organization over which, as noted above, Phyllis Bennis exerts an outsized influence.

The speculation centers on Bennis’s past history of minimizing the importance of both Congress and the pro-Israel Lobby, most notably AIPAC, in formulating US Middle East policy.

In 2002, at a three-day conference at the University of California in Berkeley, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine, I took a seat with a friend in the back of a lecture hall where Bennis was speaking on a topic relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict. At one point in her presentation, having apparently seen me enter and looking directly at me, she interrupted her talk to loudly blurt out, “Congress is not Israeli Occupied Territory!”

I quickly assumed she was referring to an essay that I had written 10 years earlier that was published in the 1992 edition of the City Lights Review, entitled, “Occupied Territory: Congress, the Israel Lobby and Jewish Responsibility.” In the essay I had sharply criticized the Left and particularly the Jewish supporters of the Palestinian movement for their failure to deal with the issue of the Israel lobby.

I am not one to interrupt speakers with whom I don’t agree but since her outburst was clearly intended for me, I responded with an immediate “Yes, it is!”. “No it isn’t!” she shouted back, rather displeased, and went on to describe an effort that some members of the Congressional Black Caucus were making regarding the illegal use of US arms by the Israelis against Palestinian civilians (an effort that, of course, went nowhere).

During the question period she seemed anxious to keep me from getting the floor. In an unusually long-winded and virtually content-free response as to what people could do to help the Palestinian cause, she appeared to be hoping time would run out for the session.

What would she have activists do? Believe it or not: write letters to the editor once a week. That’s what she said. As far as calling their members of Congress objecting to their support for Israel, Bennis said nary a word.

Despite an obvious effort on her part to get the moderator who had promised me the next question, to choose someone else–I seized the moment and proceeded to describe four situations in which the Israel lobby had demonstrated its power over Congress.  I explained how it had run members of the Black Caucus who criticized Israel out of office and was trying to do the same (and would later succeed) with CBC’s remaining critic of Israel at that time, Atlanta’s Cynthia McKinney.

As I wrote shortly afterward, (Palestine Chronicle 3/26/07) neither Bennis nor her co-panelist, a Jewish professor, said a word when I finished, (although the latter later falsely circulated an email that he had). Since I had known Bennis for 20 years, had previously worked with her in the San Francisco Bay Area on Palestinian issues and, a year earlier had her as a guest on my first radio program on my current station, I went over to say hello and jokingly mentioned that she still had not yet understood the role of the Israel Lobby.

She was neither friendly nor amused. “The issue is dead and has been dead,” she replied. End of conversation and though our paths have crossed over the years we haven’t spoken since.

Though the issue isn’t dead for Jewish Voice for Peace or the US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation, by any measurable standards, it might as well be.

Informing their members or member organizations, in the case of USCEIO, of the extent and methodology of AIPAC’s control over Congress is noticeably missing from their agendas and websites.

There was an exception. In September, 2012, I participated in a workshop on AIPAC and the Israel Lobby at USCEIO’s annual organizing conference in St. Louis. It was the only workshop even remotely related to the subject and had been organized by the now purged Alison Weir, whose If Americans Knew was, at the time, one of USCEIO’s member organizations.  With Weir and her organization now gone from the USCEIO, AIPAC has less to worry about.

This guarantees to a certainty that whatever approach it takes to members of Congress with the ostensible goal of changing US policy will continue to end in failure.

This is exemplified in a section on its website– “Building relationships with congressional staff and Members of Congress is critical to enacting policy change”—which links to a step by step process that should ordinarily be followed by anyone seeking an audience with a member of Congress, or her or his chief of staff or legislative aide on most issues.  But the Israel-Palestine issue is not like any other.

The notion that politely presenting US legislators or their aides with evidence of Israel’s latest atrocities or the damage that US support for Israel has done to the US image globally will move any of them to change their positions, as if ignorance of the facts is the only obstacle, is naïve at best. Nevertheless, that’s what those attending the USA CEIO’s upcoming conference will do on their day of lobbying on Capitol Hill.

By Einstein’s definition of insanity–doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result–the approach advocated by USCEIO and practiced by JVP, qualifies as insane since nothing has changed with regard to US support for Israel.

A more productive tactic would be to impolitely challenge members of Congress in their home districts, ideally but not necessarily at public events, exposing to the utmost degree possible the amounts of money they have received from pro-Israel sources and circulating statements that they most likely have made expressing their affection for Israel which can usually be found on the internet.

Why hasn’t either the USCEIO, JVP, or for that matter, Phyllis Bennis encouraged such an activity? Well, we already know Bennis’s bold plan; write letters to the editor.

There was nary a word about Congress’s role from Bennis in her latest interview despite telling TRNN’s Paul Jay in December, 2013, that “We have massively changed the discourse in this country,” an exaggeration then as now. She did then acknowledge, “What has not changed is the policy, and that has far more to do“ at which point Jay interrupted, saying, “The policy and the politics, like, congressional politics,” and Bennis replying, “Yes, but that’s where the policy gets made. That hasn’t changed. And that’s the huge challenge that we face. (Emphasis added)

In that same interview, she offered a rare view of AIPAC and the Lobby:

It used to be that AIPAC, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the other pro-Israel lobbies in the Jewish community, could meet with members of Congress and say, look, we’ve got money. We may give you some. Mostly we’re going to hold you hostage, that if you don’t toe the line, we’re going to fund an opponent that you don’t even expect yet.

But we’ll also bring you votes, because we have influence in the Jewish community and people will vote the way we tell them.

They can’t say that anymore. And that’s huge. They still have the money, but they don’t have the votes, because the Jewish community has changed.

Her comment is only partly true and overly simplified, revealing an ignorance that should be embarrassing for someone who has spent so many years in Washington analyzing US Middle East politics.

AIPAC would never promise a politician that it would deliver Jewish votes. It has been mostly about getting them money, expert technical assistance and assigning key, experienced AIPAC members from the legislator’s district to work in his or her campaigns and use their clout with the local media to gain its support.

Bennis then goes on to regurgitate an argument that Noam Chomsky has frequently made but with a twist that fails to make it any more valid. Whereas the professor compares the Lobby’s successful efforts to pushing through an open door, when what it advocates is already White House policy, she compares it to pushing a moving car:

The reason that the lobby often seems so powerful is that, yes, it does have a lot of influence. I don’t–I’m not denying that. But it has been historically pushing in the same direction as the majority of U.S. policymakers want to go.

So imagine if you’re running behind a car, and you start to push the car as it goes forward, and the car starts to go fast. You can claim, wow, I was really strong–I pushed that car 30 miles an hour. You know, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you were pushing it in the direction it wanted to go anyway.

Neither Chomsky nor Bennis have ever shown a willingness to debate their critics but this argument is more an example of “damage control” than fact on their part and can easily be refuted by examining what is nearest to hand, the origins of the Iraq war.

It is well documented that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was on the Israel Lobby’s agenda well before it became US policy. In fact, the first president George HW Bush was reamed by his Jewish critics in the mainstream media; Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of the US News & World Report and the NY Daily News, Abe Rosenthal and William Safire in the New York Times, and Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post, to cite four who come to mind, for not going all the way to Baghdad and taking out Saddam in 1991.

The reason Poppy Bush gave for not overthrowing Saddam was that it would destabilize the entire region, one whose stability was essential to America’s national security and would involve the US military in an endless quagmire That opinion was shared by his Secretary of State, James Baker, his National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the ouster of the Iraqi army from Kuwait But what did they know?

The election of his son, George W, did not change the senior Bush’s mind, nor that of his former aides, Baker, Scowcroft and Schwarzkopf. All of them opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a fact ignored by those who claimed it was “a war for oil,” and one that becomes more important when we consider that the war has left hundreds of thousands dead and wounded and millions displaced as refugees across the entire region.

When asked by the late Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press about his father’s opposition to the war, Dubya responded that “I answer to a higher father.” Who or what, in fact, he was answering to was PNAC, the Project for a New American Century, three signatories of which, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser, had contributed to a paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which called for the overthrow of Saddam as did the PNAC screed that appeared the following year.

Subsequent to the election of George W Bush in 2000, the three of them were brought into the highest levels of the national security apparatus along with Paul Wolfowitz and Lewis “Scooter” Libby, fellow signatories to the PNAC declaration. They began immediately to plan the invasion of Iraq and create the false intelligence to justify it within days of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, ‘the Pearl Harbor event’ that the PNAC document said was necessary to put its plans of global conquest into action. This scenario is fairly well known and not contested.

It, like subsequent events in the Middle East, seemed consistent with a plan laid out by Oded Yinon, a former member of the Israeli government who, in 1982, wrote a proposal, ‘A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” which was published by the World Zionist Council. Yinon’s plan called for dissolution of Iraq and Syria into areas controlled by its respective religious communities. Sound familiar?

Clearly, the war on Iraq was not a case of the Israel Lobby, of which the neocons were and remain a major part, getting behind an already moving car or pushing through an open door but one in which they took over the entire premises.

I have given up expecting Phyllis Bennis to understand this but I assume there are those who read this who will appreciate and nod their heads when reading what Lenni Brenner, the foremost authority on Nazi-Zionist collaboration, told me in the late 90s when I interviewed him on San Francisco’s KPOO radio:

The left is the rear guard of the Israel Lobby.

Speakers Examine the Power of the Israeli Lobby in America

Last Friday a conference focusing on the power of the pro-Israel lobby in America was held in Washington. Organized by IRmep and the Washington Report on Mideast Affairs, the conference was entitled “The Israel Lobby: Is It Good for the US? Is It Good for Israel?” Speakers included Grant Smith, founder and director of IRmep; Richard Falk, professor emeritus at Princeton University and former UN special rapporteur for Palestine; former Congressman Paul Findley; Huwaida Arrraf, a Palestinian-American lawyer and human rights advocate; radio host Jeffrey Blankfort, and quite a number of others–some twenty speakers in all.

The above video is one of six that have been uploaded. You can go here to see a YouTube playlist, with links to all six videos, and here to see profiles of all the speakers. Panel topics included:

  • What is the Israel Lobby and How Does It Work?
  • Is Freedom of Speech Encouraged on American Campuses?
  • Is the Lobby Good for Israel?
  • How Does the Lobby Influence Congress?
  • Is There an Iraq-Iran Continuum?

I realize that a good many of the readers of this blog would most likely not be terribly excited over topic number three–my own personal view is that a peaceful dismantling of the Jewish state is the only hope for humanity–but I think the goal of the conference organizers, of course, was to reach out to as wide an audience as possible.

Suffice to say, however, that not everything you will hear expressed in all six videos are views you will agree with. But that is the way that these things go. Still, I think overall, an important conference–and of course it got no attention in the mainstream media.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

In case you missed it: Noam Chomsky exposes himself as a Zionist in an interview by Alison Weir


River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

JEFFREY BLANKFORT – ARE THERE ISRAEL LOBBY GATEKEEPERS AND DAMAGE CONTROL SQUADS ON THE LEFT?

National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel “Special Relationship” on March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club.

Jeffrey Blankfort is a journalist and radio programmer. His articles have appeared in CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Mondoweiss, Pulse Media, Left Curve, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Encyclopedia of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. He currently hosts a twice monthly program on international affairs for KZYX, the public radio station for Mendocino County in Northern California where he now lives.

Blankfort was a founding member of the November 29th Committee on Palestine, a co-founder of the Labor Committee on the Middle East and editor of its publication, The Middle East Labor Bulletin (1988-1995).

OAKLAND, FEB. 20: BLANKFORT INTERVIEWS ATZMON DON’T MISS IT!

and you can, too!

http://wanderingwho.com/Israeli exile Gilad Atzmon is a staunch defender of Palestinian rights and opposes the existence of a Jewish state.  He is also a philosopher and iconoclast who examines the origins of Zionism and other types of exclusivist philosophy.  For this, many call him racist and anti-Semitic.  However, he claims that his search has brought him to a deeper anti-racism and shown him racist elements that extend beyond Zionism.  He offends many, but for those with an open mind, he also makes them think, and he welcomes all questions and criticism.

Investigative journalist and writer Jeffrey Blankfort is a Bay Area treasure with a wealth of knowledge and experience on the Israel Lobby and the formation of US government policy toward Israel.  He won a legal judgement against the ADL for spying and produces a weekly program on KZYX in Mendocino.

When:  8:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20
Where: 6839 Saroni Drive, Oakland, CA
RSVP:   510-236-5338 genesto@aol.com

Jeff Blankfort on Zio Con wars, Palestine and Paul Jay

Following is Jeff Blankfort’s email to Paul Jay (The Real News Network) after reading his ‘deconstruction’ of my work. Jeff allowed me to publish his straight forward and illuminating  text.

Paul,

I am writing this late in the evening because I am now only just getting to my email having spent a good part of the day watching the House Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the Syrian war resolution, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting to vote out their own pro-war resolution, and most of an hour and three quarter CSPAN recording of a Jewish Inst. of National Security Affairs panel, featuring Dennis Ross, and chaired by the NY Post’s Morty Zuckerman, which focused on the importance of attacking Syria on Israel’s behalf because “we” need to send a message to Iran that it will be next.  That was a recurring theme in all the hearings.

What does this have to do with your refusal to give Gilad a chance to respond to Max Blumenthal’s vilification of him on TRNN?

Quite a bit because, you see, none of what I have written, none of what went on today, will be commented on by the leading Jewish spokespersons of the Palestine solidarity/antiwar movement, Noam Chomsky, Phyllis Bennis, and Norman Finkelstein. In the tradition of Left Jewish activists, they will continue to ignore what was described in yesterday’s NY Times (until it was pulled from its online edition), “the 800 pound gorilla in the room,” namely AIPAC.

Paul, I have been active on the Palestinian issue since spending 4 1/2 months in Lebanon and Jordan in 1970, and the biggest obstacles to my work has not been AIPAC or the ADL, which I successfully sued, but Jewish leftists, from the members of the Communist Party and fellow travelers who were ready to lynch me then they heard I had been with the Palestinians, to all of the left groups, CP, Line of March, Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Action, etc., who combined their efforts to keep the Palestinian issue off of the movement agenda during two major marches in 1985 and 1988, the first in opposition to US intervention in Central America and the latter, for “peace, jobs, and justice,” four and a half months into the first Intifada.

Whereas Jewish activists were prominent in the Central American movement and instrumental in getting Congress to vote down $15 million for the Contra (at a time when Israel was getting that much from the US every day), every effort to raise the issue of stopping aid to Israel was blocked by the Jewish activists who dominated the movement groups.

It continues to this day. In 2011, at what was billed as Move Over AiPAC, several of us were on a panel on AIPAC, the only one in the two day conference and our large room was packed with every seat taken, and we only got the panel through the help of a couple of the panelists in taking care of the logistics.

In 2012, at OccupyAIPAC, we were not invited back but were able to have an expanded panel at the same church venue, after Occupy’s program had finished and fortunately a good number from that conference stayed on to hear us. This year, they turned us down cold, leaving no space or time for us. The eminence gris behind all three events was Bennis, a very clever and articulate speaker who is to “damage control” for the Lobby on the activist side what Chomsky is in the guru department. Neither will debate the issue because, as both have written, “it wouldn’t be useful.” To whom, they didn’t say. Eleven years ago Bennis, who I have known for years, told me the issue of the lobby was “dead.” They will not acknowledge, for example, that Congress is “Israeli Occupied Territory,” something that is a given in Washington, and so they continue to peddle what is essentially AIPAC propaganda, that the US supports Israel because it is a strategic asset.

I know of or am acquainted with a half dozen former CIA analysts. While they don’t agree with each other on every issue, they do agree that Israel is a liability not an asset to the US, from every way you look at it. But you will never hear them asked to speak about it on Democracy Now! Have they been interviewed about in on TRNN?

When Mearsheimer and Walt wrote their book on the Israel Lobby, Amy Goodman, very unprofessionally, instead of interviewing one or both of them, brought on Chomsky (who obviously hadn’t read it) to dis their work. Have you, BTW, interviewed either one of them about it?

Reading Gilad’s book put it all together for me. The problem with all these folks was that they are Jewish tribalists. Whether they think of themselves as that or not is irrelevant. They have been so inculcated from childhood with the belief that Jews are the world’s eternal victims and eternal scapegoats, that they will not accept colelctive Jewish responsibility for anything. Which is why they have to blame first British and later US imperialism for the success of Zionism refusing to acknowledge, for example, that both the 48 and 67 wars, the two major events in the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, were launched by Jews and supported by the majority of Jews around the world without any imperial power pushing or guiding their way.

Today, with the American Jewish establishment uniquely supporting both an attack on Syria and on Iran, unless it kneels down before the only nuclear power in the Middle East, it is more than appropriate to analyse and criticize the Jewish role in US and European politics, it is absolutely necessary to do so.

Gilad is a pioneer in this field and understandably what he has to say and write will make people uncomfortable, and not only Jews. Palestinians like Abunimah who have been colonized by Jewish activists fail to realize the movement that Jews have been heading has been an utter failure by any measurable standard, both in Palestine and the US. That it has been largely Jewish led accounts for that sad fact in no small measure.

All that being said, I think you have an obligation, as a responsible, ostensibly progressive journalist, to allow Gilad to answer Blumenthal on TRNN. Otherwise, I will conclude that my hunch that the whole interview with Blumenthal was actually set up to “get” Gilad was correct.

Jeff Blankfort

Jeff Blankfort on Max Blumenthal and The Zionification of Palestine

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info“Blumenthal seems to be following the inevitable path of secular, self-identified “anti-Zionists,” who gain credibility by taking a stand as “another Jew against Zionism,” as opposed to “another civilized, conscious human being against Zionism,” and who, after establishing their “anti-Zionist” credentials with their fellow poseurs as well as Palestinians, soon set their sights on whom they consider “anti-Semites” in the movement who just happen to be those who are pulling their covers like Gilad has done.

Having spent more than 40 years working on this issue, I can say, with sufficient evidence, documentation, etc., that the Palestine solidarity movement has been dominated by Jews who identify themselves either as anti-Zionist or non-Zionist and who have thus been able to define the parameters in which Zionism and Jewish responsibility for Zionism and Israel’s crimes may be discussed or not discussed.

At the same time, there has been absolutely NO measurable achievement by the solidarity movement either in occupied Palestine or in the US where the Israel Lobby, which the aforementioned movement Jews ignore, is today stronger than ever. These infiltrators will not even recognize that Congress is Israeli occupied territory.

In other words, the Palestine Solidarity movement has been an utter failure. That’s from the non-colonized Palestinian point of view. From the Israeli perspective, it has succeeded admirably. The outfront Zionist would probably say, albeit, quietly, that Max has done them a service.

Rather than prattle on about “anti-Semitism,” it might be more useful to begin examining what might be called Jewish “anti-Gentilism” which lies at the roots of Zionism”

From Jeff Blankfort To Gilad Atzmon and Philip Weiss

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6:18PM
Gilad Atzmon

FROM: Jeff Blankfort

TO: Gilad Atzmon and Phil Weiss

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: It has long been accepted that Zionism and Israel, because they can so easily cause antisemitism, are â€کnot good for the Jews’. But now, as I predicted, it has become evident that it is actually the so-called â€کprogressive’ Jews who constitute the real danger to Jews. That Judeo-centric spin, inherent in the Jewish â€کleft’, together with its relentlessly duplicitous inclinations have left us all with a very negative image of all forms of Jewish identity politics.

In reaction to my deconstruction of Philip Weiss’ latest and very problematic rant yesterday, prominent American pro-Palestinian activist Jeff Blankfort wrote the following to Philip Weiss and myself, which I publish with Jeff’s consent.

Dear Gilad

Write on, bro! I am amazed how after my banning Phil can still speak critically of Jewish establishment censorship of fellow Jews without facing his own hypocrisy.

I watched the JVP video (thanks for the link) and there is no mention that every Jewish settlement is illegal under international war; no mention of the wars that Israel has launched on Lebanon (concern for the fate of the Lebanese is not on JVP’s agenda or in its mindset, nor is Iran for that matter) and though it mentions with implied criticism but not the figures for US military aid for Israel, there is also no call for it to be stopped (or even suspended). Nor, and this is the key, is there any reference to the influential role of the American and world Jewish establishment in support of Israel and its crimes.

In other words, like Chomsky and Phyllis Bennis, JVP is providing cover for the Zionist establishment and trying to define the conflict in terms that don’t point accusing fingers at Jews as Jews as one would expect of anti-Zionist Zionists.I’ve copied Phil with this, should he choose to reply, but as this point I have no further expectations from him. He has simply proven your analysis to be correct. My mistake was thinking that he was an exception.

Best,

Jeff
The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics and progressive spin …
Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Not The Wisest Phil Around


By Gilad Atzmon


God bless Philip Weiss, the progressive Jewish blogger brave enough to admit in public those things other Jewish ethnic activists prefer to shove under the carpet. A year ago, Weiss was brave enough to confess to me that it is ‘Jewish self interests’ that stands at the core of his pro Palestinian activism. Also, a few weeks ago, the same Weiss was honest enough to announce that his Jewish ‘progressive’ internet journal, Mondowiess, changed its comment policy and “will no longer serve as a forum to pillory Jewish culture and religion as the driving factors in Israeli and US policy.”

But this week, the very same Weiss published a new polemic on his website. He now thinks that “it’s time for the media to talk about Zionism.” So, now Weiss is happy to join with the rest of us in talking about Zionism – so long as we avoid discussing ‘Jewishness’. Well, I’m afraid that Philip Weiss may have missed the train since, by now, many of us have already grasped that the time is ripe to talk about Jewishness and the role of ‘Jewish culture as the driving factor in Israeli and US policy.’
Weiss’ logic is no doubt fascinating. This Jewish ethnic activist does provide us with an insight into the level of deceit that is, unfortunately, inherent to Jewish left politics.

Weiss thinks Jews should ask themselves whether they really are ‘unsafe’ in America. Well, Weiss must know plenty about ‘safety’ since it was he himself who felt that it may be ‘risky’ to discuss Jewish culture and religion on his own Mondoweiss.

“Zionism,” he continues, “draws on a person’s worldview and has a religious character, it supplies meaning to his or her life.” Well again, Weiss should know because, like all Zionists, both overt and covert, he operates within a Jews-only political cell namely “Jews Voice for Peace’ (JVP). For some reason, just like his less enlightened brethren, this very ‘progressive’ activist prefers to surround himself with members of his own tribe.

Weiss well knows why the media avoids discussing Zionism, “it would involve a lot of squeamish self-interrogation on the part of Jews, ” and Weiss knows what this means. That’s why he, and his Jewish partner Adam Shapiro, banned Jeff Blankfort from commenting on their site – Blankfort was critically discussing Jewish related topics. Weiss couldn’t allow it.

Weiss is brave enough to admit that “the acknowledgment of Jewish prominence in the Establishment, and of the power of Zionism, would make a lot of Jews uncomfortable”, but he isn’t bold enough to admit that the problem is far worse, since Jewish anti-Zionists like himself and JVP are relentlessly seeking a similar hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse and openly campaign against prominent activists who challenge Jewish power. Is it possible that what we are dealing here is a tribally-driven, power seeking tendency that is inherent to Jewish politics? The answer is a categorical yes, and I provide all the relevant information on this in my latest book The Wandering Who.

Weiss regards himself as an anti-Zionist while, as far as his language is concerned, he actually manifests every possible Zionist symptom. “Silence’ on issues to do with Zionist power is “bad for Jews,” says Weiss. Like any Hasbara parrot he repeats the old mantra of ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ for the Jews. But then isn’t this just what you would expect from a Zionist?

It doesn’t take Weiss too long to drop his political bomb: the silence over Zionist power “allows people who are justifiably angry over our foreign policy to believe that all Jews support Israel.” Here, Weiss is absolutely correct. It is about time to deliver the message to the American people and the entire world – Not all Jews support Israel! In fact, at least two dozens American Jews including Weiss oppose Zionism because, as Weiss confesses, because “it is really bad for the Jews.”

If you think you’ve had enough of Weiss’ Judeo-centrism read this: “Zionism came out of the real condition of Jews in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. I can well imagine being a Zionist at other periods of Jewish history. I would have been a Zionist if I had been in Kafka’s circle in Prague in the 19-teens with the rise of anti-Semitism. I would have been a Zionist if I had been born into the family of my mother’s best friend in Berlin in the 1930s.”

In this embarrassing passage, Weiss, the so-called ‘anti’ Zionist, actually admits that considerations of Jewish safety would justify the colonization of Palestine. This non-ethical vision is also apparent in JVP latest ‘educational’ video. It is clearly consistent with the Zionist take on the primacy of Jewish suffering. Which is exactly what you would expect from a Jew who operates politically within Jewish racially-segregated cells. There is only one possible conclusion – Jewish anti Zionism is a myth. Jewish opposition to Zionism is just another form of Zionism-lite that, just like it’s rightwing counterpart, locates Jewish self-interest firmly at its core.

Weiss is a pretty clumsy spin-doctor. He argues that the current militant and totalitarian aspects of Israeli society flow from a ‘Zionist belief system’. Here, Weiss misleads his readers and I think he does this consciously. Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and as the true embodiment of Jewish culture. Its barbarism is the direct outcome of its interpretation of Jewish texts and spirit. If anything, Zionism was born to ‘civilize’ the Diaspora Jew who, certain 19th century emancipated secular Jews found so repellent. So it is not Zionism that makes Israel barbarous, it is the way Israelis interpret their cultural, spiritual and textual heritage. Of course, Weiss is welcome to suggest that there is another possible interpretation to Jewish heritage, but he should be precise and point to those Jewish texts that preach universal ethics and world peace.

Weiss reckons that once we should be brave enough to deal with Zionism, “liberal Zionists will be pressed to decide what they believe in more, liberalism or Zionism.” But still I’m l puzzled. If Weiss is so open and tolerant, surely he would allow discussion on his own website concerning the Jewish character of the Jewish State. He would invite a discussion concerning the Jewishness of the Jewish Lobby. I believe that Philip Weiss is operating unwillingly and unwittingly as a Zionist fig leaf. He invests all is intellectual energy diverting attention from the root cause of the problem – namely Jewish culture and Jewish identity politics. And why? Probably because of his own unease with is own Anti Zionist Zionist (AZZ) behaviour.

The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics and  progressive spin …
 Amazon.com  or Amazon.co.uk

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Jeffrey Blankfort to Ali Abunimah (must read)


DateTuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:11PM AuthorGilad Atzmon

I know you have great ambitions, Ali, but Abe Foxman does not plan to retire yet although you do give a very good imitation of him as grand inquisitor. Perhaps, he will hire you as the ADL’s expert on “anti-Semitism” in the solidarity movement since at the moment you seem to be doing the job for free.
After reading what you have written about Greta Berlin, one of the leading activists in the struggle for justice in Palestine and the Free Gaza Movement, in particular, you obviously did not learn any lesson from your earlier scurrilous denunciation of Gilad Atzmon.

But who in hell (because we have to look everywhere for the source and that’s the most obvious place to start) commissioned you to be the decider of who is and who isn’t a part of this movement and the judge on high of his or her activities?

While you remain silent, I must note, about those in the movement in leadership positions who dismiss or minimize the face of the enemy in this country, namely the American Zionist Jewish Establishment, and who deny its control over Congress and ignore its stable of syndicated columnists and propaganda ministries parading as “think tanks” that dominate the Washington beltway. I have to assume that you agree with them.

For quite some time, Ali, the Electronic Intifada put out good information, (except about The Lobby) but it seems its success has gone to your head and allowed you to think you are some kind of an oracle. I would advise you to cut it out before your last name becomes an unbecoming verb. (as in, “Did you hear? So and so has been Abunimahed?”)

Jeff Blankfort

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Jeff Blankfort Speaking of Zionists in Disguise

Jeff Blankfort Speaking of Zionists in Disguise

Speaking of disguises, Mark Richie has been operating behind one for the 30 years I have known him.
In practice, while pretending to be a friend of the Palestinians, he has functioned as an agent provocateur whose sole goal is to cause divisions in the solidarity movement and was banned years ago from every Palestinian email list (before there were blogs).
He does this cleverly, as shown here, making legitimate criticisms of JVP, IJAN and ANSWER while hiding his real target, MECA, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, which is not Zionist, does not support the state of Israel and supports the Palestinian right of return and is one of the most effective organizations working on behalf of the Palestinians which is why Richie aka Richey aka PONeill aka Mark Hiver is continuously attacking it. In other words, he is working for Israel.
One of his other pastimes, illustrated here, is defending Noam Chomsky, who is an admitted Zionist, who supports Israel as a Jewish state, opposes the Palestinian right of return (but approves it for Jews!) and who opposes BDS against Israel. How does Richie reconcile that with his own stated views? He doesn’t try, hoping readers won’t see his ridiculous coupling of Chomsky with Gilad Atzmon who does support the right of return and doesn’t believe in a Jewish state.
I have publicly accused him of being an agent for the Anti-Defamation League and I have material in my files backing that up. A lawyer who, strangely, has never practiced, Richie threatened to sue me years ago if I continued to call him that and I have challenged him to do so since there are a number of questions I’d have my lawyer pose to him.
Anyone wishing more info on this creature should contact me at jblankfort@earthlink.net

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Jeff Blankfort to AZZ Gabriel Ash

Sunday, May 20th, 2012
Introduction by Gilad Atzmon:
A few days ago we came across a vile email exchange between three, so-called,  Jewish ‘anti’ Zionists  and Dr. Maizn Qumsiyeh, leading Palestinian intellectual and peace activist.
Regretfully, the three Jewish ethnic campaigners used an abusive and patronizing language that left some of us bewildered and hurt. But Dr Qumsiyeh didn’t shy away, compassionately he answered the AZZ (Anti Zionist Zionists) putting into play every possible rule of reason. But his words were in vein.

The infamous Tony Greenstein foolishly circulated the exchange and made his level of abusive language once again into public knowledge.   I myself passed the exchange to Jeff Blankfort and a few others. Here is Blankfort’s open letter to Gabriel Ash. 

Once realising that he is about to be exposed, Ash  tried to stop the publication of the following letter. However, Jeff Blankfort is made of a different material. His integrity is never compromised.

This letter is published with Mr. Blankfort’s Consent.

—————————————————————–

Gabriel Ash
Last night, Gilad forwarded to me the correspondence that is apparently being circulated by Tony Greenstein, he of the poison pen, among you, Abraham Weizfeld, and Mazin Qumsiyeh regarding an upcoming conference in Munich on the future of Palestine in which Mazin is participating together with Ghada Karmi, Norton Mezvinsky, and Oren Ben Dor with whom I am not familiar, and the objections to this conference on your part, as well as Greenstein and Weizfeld, based upon the latter’s discovery that Mazin was not a signatory to that unforgivable and contemptible letter circulated, to his everlasting discredit, by Ali Abumimah, denouncing, in terms, worthy of Joe McCarthy, Alan Dershowitz, and Abe Foxman, the estimable Gilad Atzmon who you and your fellow Jewish tribalists seem to see as the éminence grise behind the conference.
Before reading your contribution to this exchange, despite our disagreements over the role of the American Jewish establishment in dictating US Middle East policy, I had otherwise respected you but our point of disagreement turned out to be more important than I first thought. It is considerably more than a red line being nothing less than the division between political realists and one hand and Jewish tribalists on the other, and you have shown that you are just as eager to circle the wagons when Jews are criticized collectively as any full throated Zionist yahoo. That you have further besmirched yourself by comparing Atzmon with Meir Kahane is therefore fully consistent with where you, Greenstein and Weizfeld appear on the political spectrum. Weizfeld, who I have long considered a certifiable nutcase,  founded something called “The Jewish People’s Liberation Organization,” (ROTFLMAO) and claims to “have functioned as an intermediary on behalf of the Palestinians to the Western (North American) societies and, on behalf of the Jewish People to the Palestinian and Arab Nations since 1968.” I need not bother to point out further the arrogance of such a statement since it speaks for itself.  As for Greenstein, he has written that attacks on the pro-Israel Lobby “are the first step towards holocaust denial.” You certainly are in fine company, Gabriel.

Frankly, despite the time and energy I have spent exposing the nefarious role in support of Israel played by organized Jewry at every level of American society, political, economic, and social, my biggest problems, from a personal political standpoint, have come from left wing Jews, beginning with those, among them close family friends, Jewish communists, who were ready to lynch me back in 1971 when they learned I had spent four months with the Palestinians in the refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan. Their anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism was so intense that in 1973, when the CPUSA paper, the People’s World, put out a photo calendar (without having anything to do with the photo selection), they had to excise a photo I had taken in Jordan’s Schneller Camp of young Palestinian women with guns in order to sell it to the comrades.

Successive generations have become only more sophisticated. Leftist Jews from the various Marxist and Trotskyist organizations made sure that the Palestinian issue would be segregated from all the other people’s liberation struggles–even while claiming to be anti-Zionist (a word for me that has lost all meaning)–and this lasted up until the first US war on Iraq and then their bleats were limited to that ridiculous slogan that most Americans do not understand, “End the Occupation!” Not a word about stopping US aid to Israel, not a word about AIPAC or the pro-Israel Lobby and when I started speaking about it in the 80s, I found myself marginalized, not only by the faux Jewish solidarity activists but by Palestinian groups, as well, whose leaders had been thoroughly colonized by the Jewish activists and by that pied piper of disinformation. Noam Chomsky, who even Israel Shahak, his old friend, had to admit, served AIPAC’s cause. <www.leftcurve.org/LC29WebPages/Chomsky.html>
Not surprisingly, no Jew would debate me regarding the Lobby. Chomsky, even when we were on friendly terms, Joel Beinin, Phyllis Bennis, Mitchell Plitnick and the JVP crowd. Chomsky, Beinin and Bennis, said the same thing, “it wouldn’t be useful.” To whom they didn’t say but I can tell you.

What Gilad has provided is an explanation for this phenomenon and the hysterical responses to what he has written from Jews such as yourself, from Greenstein and Weizfeld and the earlier railing against him by the International Anti-Zionist Jewish Network confirms his theory for which, I assume, he is much appreciative.
I have read his book and while I don’t agree with all his conclusions, I do agree with the most important, his analysis of Jewish identity and the problems it creates in the political sphere and not only for the Palestinians.
  • If you do not think that the build-up for a war against Iran and the draconian sanctions against that country and its people have been directed by Jews, inside and outside of the US government, on Israel’s behalf, you are not only in denial, you are part of the problem.
  • If you do not think that the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948, followed by the 1967 war, and the decades of occupation and dispossession of the Palestinians, are not primarily the responsibility of Israeli Jews and their supporters internationally, you are part of the problem since, whatever else you may say or do, you are providing protective cover for the perpetrators.

Jeff Blankfort
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

The unfortunate division over Gilad Atzmon

The unfortunate division over Gilad Atzmon

Alison WeirWhile people are suffering in Israeli prisons and being killed in Gaza, it is sad to see time and energy expended in a campaign against Israeli author and saxaphonist Gilad Atzmon. I respect and like people on both sides of this controversy and am troubled over this distracting and destructive (but, I hope, temporary) split.
I, of course, come down on the side of open discussion, even when the subject matter is difficult or troubling – in fact, that’s probably when it’s most needed. I believe in such old fashioned but critical concepts as the free marketplace of ideas, and I oppose censorship and would-be “thought police” telling others what they may or may not do, even when those attempting to do this have created valuable work that I admire.

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which sponsored a discussion with Atzmon, has posted the most recent letter against Atzmon, followed by Atzmon’s response here.

This recent letter against Atzmon was preceeded by an earlier one, which was posted on this anonymous blog; interestingly, Palestinians seem to have made up an extremely small percentage of its signatories. My guess is that some of the people behind the first letter helped push for the recent attack, though perhaps I’m wrong.

Despite this campaign against Atzmon, many people, including Richard Falk, Samir Abed Rabo, and James Petras, have endorsed Atzmon’s book, calling it a “must-read,” and many others have spoken up in his defense.

A Palestinian activist sent out an email with the subject header: “Palestinian ‘activists’ stand on the side of Israel and AIPAC,” that reads:

Palestinian “academists / activists” stand on the side of Israel and AIPAC. Willingly or unwillingly, they distort Gilad Atzmon work and thought. They don’t seem to have ever listened to his lectures or read his book, “The Wandering Who?” Their vicious attack will not silence or convince this wonderful man to abandon his staunch and effective support of the Palestinian cause. The great musician, a former Israeli Jew, is a humanist and a Palestinian at heart. I am ashamed as a Palestinian. I am greatly honored to have him as a friend.

Rich Siegel has written about the attempted censorship in “Permission to examine ‘Jewishness’.

Kevin Barrett has discussed the situation in “Why Hate Gilad Atzmon?” and “Why Hate Gilad Atzmon Pt. 2: “He’s WRONG!” (Or Is He?)

Oren Ben-Dor has opposed such attempted black-listing of Atzmon for years and in n 2008 wrote “The Silencing of Gilad Atzmon,”explaining why he opposed the campaign against Atzmon. He and a number of other prominent thinkers have refused to sign these letters.
There are numerous commentaries on the British website Deliberation.info, such as this, this, and this.


Below is Jeff Blankfort’s response, which has circulated widely in emails (with his permission) but that I don’t believe is yet posted anywhere. Philip Weiss banned Jeff from commenting on Mondoweiss awhile ago, despite Jeff’s important work on Palestine, which predated Weiss’s awakening by several decades.

I suspect whoever initiated the list, and it appears that it was Abumimah, was pressed to do so by the Jewish left equivalent of the mainstream Jewish machers who pressure local black leaders to denounce Louis Farrakhan whenever he makes an appearance and has the audacity to speak out Jews and the slave trade which, like Zionist-Nazi collaboration, is a classic Left taboo.

Most of the rest, with the exception of Joseph Massad, probably signed on because he asked them do so. I would bet that none of them, some of whom are friends of mine, have read or even seen your book. Massad, it should be recalled was the Palestinian professor at Columbia who was targeted by The David Project and accused of harassing Jewish students. He showed that he had learned his lesson by being the very first person to write an article denouncing Mearsheimerand Walt for their LRB article on the Israel Lobby which was lauded and reprinted by Asad Abu Khalil who seems almost as concerned about antisemitism as Abe Foxman.

After I took Massad’s article apart, paragraph by paragraph, for Dissident Voice, Henry Herskovitz in Ann Arbor suggested that Massad debate me on the issue when he made a speaking appearance in Michigan. Massad declined, claiming that I was an “antisemite.” When I wrote to Massad, asking if he had made such a statement I received no reply which told me all I need to know about him. Abu Khalil would only debate me and Hatem Bazian, one of the signatories to the letter, if we stipulated that The Lobby was the only factor in determining US policy, which of course we wouldn’t.

It would be nice if there was such a statement denouncing those in the movement who dismiss the power of the Jewish establishment over US Middle East policy but then they would be subject to charges of “antisemism” themselves, which most of them seem to greatly fear. So it goes.

A partial list of those sponsoring Atzmon’s talks and his remaining events can be seen here.
I hope anyone who is interested will attend these events, and I hope that all of us will continue our urgent work to bring justice and peace. Today a boy in Gaza died from his wounds and Israeli jet fighters pounded Gaza City’s men, women, and children. We need to join together to expose and stop this carnage.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Paul J. Balles: Grains of sand: perspectives on roles of Israel and USA in Middle East

>

Sunday, January 16, 2011 at 4:35AM Gilad Atzmon

Paul J. BallesIn an article entitled “Weapons of mass deception“, I suggested that there has been too much control of the mainstream media by too few people.

The result? Much gets left out, covered up or distorted to suit special interests like those of Rupert Murdoch.

In a subsequent article, I suggested reading writers in the alternative media, a facility that has grown significantly on the internet.

As might be expected, a few knowledgeable commentators suggested that they had better choices of both websites and authors than those I offered. No doubt.

My pick of both writers and venues is based on several criteria: (1) they’re honest and reliable, (2) they often provide information unavailable in the mainstream media and (3) they focus on political, social, environmental, aesthetic or educational issues that concern me.

Thus, other readers’ different interests will naturally lead to different writers in different places.

In my article “Grains of sand: highlights from the alternative media”, I quoted a number of my favourite authors on a variety of issues coming through my lens: the establishment press, international relations, wars and threats of war, Palestine and Israel, American weaknesses and WikiLeaks.

Israel and the role of America in the Middle East

This week, I’d like to share my interest in writers who have brought important perspectives to one major issue: Israel and the role of America in the Middle East. Incidentally, six of my choice authors (three here) are Jewish.

Uri Avnery

”The country [Israel] is embracing the racist demon. After millennia as the victims of racism, it seems as if Jews here are happy to be able to do unto others what has been done to them.”

Franklin Lamb

“The 522 hour indiscriminate carnage, ‘Cast Lead’ that killed 1,417 Palestinians, mostly civilians, 352 of them children, injuring for life more than 5,300 , indicts Israel as well as those countries that continue to supply it weapons, diplomatic cover and to enforce Israel’s illegal siege on sealed Gaza.”

Debbie Menon

“There will never be peace in the Middle East unless the US, the major force which sustains Israel, withdraws its support, and Israel loses its most important and essential crutches for its survival, the money of the American people and the lives of American soldiers!”

Mike Whitney

“US foreign policy doesn’t change. It is immutable, relentless and vicious. America owns the world and demands that foreign leaders obey Washington’s directives. ‘Follow orders, or else’; that’s all one needs to know about US foreign policy.”
Jeff Blankfort

“…thanks to the unconditional backing by the US for all its crimes, and given its arsenal of nuclear weapons, I consider Israel to be the most immediate threat to the future of the planet.”

Alan Hart

“If it is the case that American presidents are frightened of provoking Israel, the conclusion would have to be that the Zionist state is a monster beyond control and that all efforts for peace are doomed to failure.”

Gilad Atzmon

“Israeli behaviour should be realized as the ultimate vulgar biblical barbarism on the verge of cannibalism. Israel is nothing but evilness for the sake of evilness. It is wickedness with no comparison.”

James Petras

“We are a people colonized and directed by a small, extremist and militarist ‘ally’ [srael] which operates through domestic proxies, who, under any other circumstance, would be openly denounced as traitors.”

Richard Falk

“We have witnessed the carnage of ‘pre-emptive war’ and ‘preventive war’ in Iraq, but we have yet to explore the moral and political imperatives of ‘pre-emptive peace’ and ‘preventive peace.’ How long must the peoples of the world wait?”

Source: http://www.redress.cc/global/pjballes20110116

Chomsky and the ‘legitimation of Israel’

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Noam Chomsky in his recent Op-Ed in the New York Times, titled ‘Breaking the Israel-Palestine Deadlock’, have come up with a novel way of helping the Zionist entity. He suggests that the current world-wide delegitimation of Israel momentum can be reversed by “those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there”.

Chomsky’s anology of Jewish-ruled Israel with White-ruled South Africa is nothing but his making fun of history. Though both lands were colonized by European imperialist settlers – the White colonialist in South Africa always remained in minority (9%), so was the case in British occupied Indian sub-Continent. On the other hand, the foreign Jews have become a huge majority (80%) in the Ocuupied Palestine.

Chomsky rightfully admits that the two-state solution is dead and the global delegitimation of Israel has become a serious problem. He cites Human Rights Watch call in December to suspend aid to Israel to the amount Zionist regime spend on building new illegal Jewish settlements and monitor US private Jewish and Zionist tax-exempt organizations which send money to Israel. He also cites that Amnesty International has already called for arms embargo against Israel.

However, when citing the South American countries which have announced to recognize an independent Palestine State (if PA unilaterly declares it), Chomsky distorted the areas under that state. “Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil recognized the State of Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank), bringing the number of supporting nations to more than 100,” he wrote. In reality they all have recognized the Palestine State based on Israel’s 1967 borders (Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem).

Since Chomsky doesn’t address the Palestinians’ Right of Return, the Native Muslim and Christian Palestinians will always stay a minority in their ancestral land.

When it comes to Palestinian cause, Jeff Blankfort, has called Chomsky, a Liability. In the Op-Ed, Noam Chomsky repeats his denial of the Israel Lobby’s (AIPAC) grip over US administration. “There is also a powerful Israel lobby, though of course dwarfed by the business and military lobbies,” he wrote.
“Critical cultural facts apply, too. Christian Zionism long precedes Jewish Zionism, and is not restricted to the one-third of the U.S. population that believes in the literal truth of the Bible. When British Gen. Edmund Allenby conquered Jerusalem in 1917, the national press declared him to be Richard the Lionhearted, finally rescuing the Holy Land from the infidels,” wrote Chomsky.

The Bible these Zionists believe is Scofield Study Bible, which happens to be a distorted version of Bible – created by the Zionists. Richard the Lionhearted did not achieve victory. His army was defeated in the 3rd Crusade and Richard the Lionhearted who had executed 3,000 Muslim prisoners, men, women and children earlier in Acre was captured by Sultan Salahuddin’s soldiers. Instead of executing the King of England, Sultan treated him as a ‘royal guest’ and let him return to England. King Richard had offered earlier his sister Joan of England in marriage to Sultan’s brother with Jerusalem as the “wedding gift”.
Chomsky admits that the US is NOT an “honest broker” between the Israeli Jews and the Native Muslim and Christian Palestinians. He also believe that Palestinians’ aspiration for an independent Palestine cannot be relealized without the approval of US-Israel. In other words, since it’s not going to happen in the near future, the Palestinian should abandon their armed resistance against the Jewish occupation of their land.

The good-old Jewish academic has very simple solution for the 1.5 million natives beseiged inside the tiny Gaza Strip. “Defending itself from the “demographic problem” – too many non-Jews in a Jewish state – and meanwhile severing besieged Gaza from the rest of Palestine”. In other words, a ghetto-style Palestinian State in the beseiged Gaza Strip only.

Click on the links below to learn about ZIONIST Chomsky

July 8, 2010:

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

ISRAEL SHAMIR: BLANKFORT SPILLS THE BEANS

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Via MCS

– 07. Nov, 2010 
After a few years of relative silence, our venerable old friend Jeff Blankfort gave a few interviews this being the longest.  Though it is being presented as a sort of anti-Chomsky polemics, one may disregard this part and still find much of importance and relevance.  In this interview Jeff speaks of years, dollars, Senators and Presidents who were subverted by the Jewish Lobby with its control of media, of voting machine, of money and trade unions.
This is damning and grim, but not grim enough.
Jeff still succeeds to survive on the margins of public acceptability (God bless him!) because he wisely stays away from broader implications of Jewish influence.  He speaks of Israel and of Zionism and the Palestinian issue, but he does not speak (and he does not have to, sure) of other uses of the Jewish power machine.  If they can bend the Congress and make the President to jump and say ‘uncle’ on the Middle Eastern issue, they can and they do more on the other issues.

Yes, the Jewish Lobby have made the Palestinians homeless; but perhaps they have made so many Americans homeless as well? Below, Jeff proves that they control the trade unions through their Jewish leadership; and these Jewish trade union leaders did not fight outsourcing.  Jeff speaks of their position in the finances, and their financial bodies have made the crisis and were its beneficiaries; they control the Congress and thus they stole billions of dollars to give it to Jewish banks.

The Palestinian/Israeli issue is the only one of many; and the only one that is marginally permitted to discuss in the US, at least outside of mainstream media.  Other implications of this Jewish influence can’t be discussed on any sane platform, but in this little e-letter and a few of its sane brothers and sisters…

Israel Shamir

FEATURED, MIDDLE EAST, US, WORLD — BY KATHLEEN WELLS ON NOVEMBER 4, 2010

Kathleen Wells: So, I mean, if what you’re saying is true, the organized Jewish establishment or this lobby has essentially bought Congress, at least with regards to issues regarding Israel.  So, I mean, this is very disturbing to hear, and it says that something is wrong with our entire system of government.

Jeffrey Blankfort: They have been bought by every major sector/special interest of American society that represents American capitalism: the arms industry, and so on, and, in this sense, Israel and the Jewish establishment that supports it have been a major player.  They had been responsible for, at least since World War II, at least 60 or more percent of the money that goes to the Democratic Party, making the Democratic Party, literally, a subsidiary of the Zionist establishment.

In 2000, Mother Jones Magazine ran what they called “Mother Jones [400],” which listed the top 400 contributors to the American political campaigns in that year.  And of the top 400, of the top ten, seven were Jewish; of the top 20, 12 were Jewish; and of the top 250, where I stopped counting, at least 125 were Jewish.  And 75 percent of their money went to the Democratic Party.  In 2002, one Israeli-Egyptian born American named Haim Saban, who brags about his loyalty to Israel being his primary interest, he contributed $12.3 million to the Democratic Party, seven of which bought their office building in Washington, D.C., and that was only about a million and a half dollars less than the political action committee of the arms industry gave to both political parties.  So this is the kind of clout that they have in Washington.

And there was once an institution, one independent think-tank in Washington that wasn’t in the pro-Israel lobby camp, and that was Brookings [Institution.] And in the same year, he [Saban] gave $12.3 million, the same number, to Brookings [Institution] to found Saban Center for Middle East Policy, thereby taking over Brookings’ role in the Middle East.  And it was at Brookings where Andrew Shapiro gave his talk.  And the head of Brookings is a man named Kenneth Pollack, whose book, “The Gathering Storm,” was one of the most instrumental pieces of propaganda that got us into the current Gulf war.  I covered a lot of ground there but all …

Kathleen Wells: Yes.  Yeah, and you know, the American people are not aware of this, the depth and breadth of this influence, and it’s a bit overwhelming to hear this.  You were once a member of AIPAC, is that correct?
Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, I actually joined AIPAC in 1988.  I had just begun editing the Middle East Labor Bulletin and co-founded a committee called the Labor Committee on the Middle East, which focused on the situation of Palestinian workers in Israel and in the occupied territories and in other Middle Eastern countries, which tried to show Palestinians as activists, as not just victims.
But I began to see the role of AIPAC and so I joined AIPAC, and I went to a luncheon that they gave in San Francisco.  Now, every year in Washington, the biggest event of the year in Washington is the AIPAC Conference, in which at least half the members of Congress attend and have their names put on a roll so their constituents back home — Jewish constituents — know that they attended, and usually a major speaker from Israel or the U.S.  Government, [the] Secretary of State, Vice President, and so on, speak there.
But they also have local conferences in cities around the country.  In San Francisco, they have usually three events — two luncheons and one dinner in different parts of the Bay area, so I went to a luncheon in San Francisco.  And I was astounded to see that all the local public officials had been invited to attend and were there at the Fairmont Hotel, which is one of the most flashiest, gaudiest hotels in San Francisco, where they were addressed by a major speaker — a U.S.  Senator.  These U.S.  Senators or governors, they go around the country, and they speak at AIPAC events.  The news media are not involved, are not invited.  And back home, they don’t know about it either, wherever these senators come from.


But what was astounding to me was to see that all the important people in San Francisco were attending this luncheon.  And when you come, you’re given a card that tells you how much you’ve contributed to AIPAC, and, of course, they collect money there.  What happens after these meetings, and they take place all over the country, is that local Jewish community organizations — the Jewish Community Relations Council or Jewish foundations or federations — then spend the money and send these public officials — police chiefs, fire chiefs, mayors, city council people, supervisors — to Israel on all-expense-paid trips where they meet the prime minister, the defense minister, very important people.  They go to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum; they go visit the West Bank settlement; they come back to the United States, and they know they have very powerful friends in the Jewish community who accompanied them on the trip.  And from this group of people, we get our members of Congress, since they are already indoctrinated into being pro-Israel even before they file for running for Congress.

So most Americans and actually most people — even pro-Palestinian supporters — are not aware of this.  They don’t follow this because they’ve been told by Professor Chomsky and others that the problem is not the Israel lobby but U.S.  imperialism — which is a pretty remote target for most people.  If they thought it was their members of Congress who were involved in voting for money for Israel/supporting Israel policies, they might be sitting in at their offices.

For example, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has spoken at a number of AIPAC conferences in which she repeatedly pledges her loyalty to Israel, but there has never been any major protest against Pelosi for her support of Israel.  As a matter of fact, she is the favorite of the liberals in San Francisco because she’s criticized China and she’s very good on the issue of gay rights, which is an important issue in the Bay Area.

Kathleen Wells: So you’re basically hitting on or touching on issues that the activist — pro-Palestinian activists — steps they should take to be more effective.

Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, yes, to this point the solidarity movement for Palestinians in this country is an utter failure.  They have succeeded in doing absolutely nothing, and you see around the world the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement [BDS] targeting Israel has been gaining ground in Europe, among labor unions in England and Ireland and Scotland, and so on.  And here, there is a movement that is developing, but it’s only targeting companies that do business in Israel, which is very positive, but there is no reason that it shouldn’t be like South Africa, in which you target the economy of the country that’s responsible, and that’s mainly Israel.

I mean during the anti-apartheid movement, which I was involved in, they had sit-ins at South Africa Airways and forced South African Airways to close its offices.  But there’s never been a sit-in, as far as I know, at any offices of the Israeli Airline El Al, and they’re all over the place, and the question is Why not? There has never been a major campaign to call Congress to stop aid to Israel; whereas, for example, in the 80s when Congress was giving $15 million a year to the Contras to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, there was a national campaign to stop aid to the Contras — calling members of Congress — and it was successful.  As a result, we had the Iran-Contra scandal.  Why has there never been a similar campaign waged by the very same people who are also involved themselves in pro-Palestinian activities to do the same regarding Israel?

Kathleen Wells: Well I mean, let me ask you — Why? Why hasn’t that happened?

Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, because the left for many years has been predominantly Jewish, and this is because there’s a history of Jewish radicalism going back to the beginning of the trade unions in this country.  Jewish radicals – – Jews — were very heavily involved in all progressive organizations — the civil rights movement, and so on, against the war in Vietnam.  But, suddenly, when it came to Israel, it’s closer to home.  And there was a reticence to put the blame on Jews.  Israel calls itself a Jewish State, though 20 percent of the population is not Jewish, it’s Palestinian Arab.  But there was this reticence to do that.  It was a lot easier to blame U.S.  foreign policy, U.S.  imperialism.  For example, when Israel was heavily involved in supporting the Contras in Nicaragua, supporting and arming the Salvadoran government, arming the government in Guatemala, the solidarity groups in those particular arenas were predominantly Jewish, but they refused to take critical positions on Israel arming Salvador, Israel arming [the] Nicaragua [Contras], and Israel arming Guatemala.  And when I organized a demonstration in 1985, opposing Israel’s roles as a U.S.  surrogate in South Africa and Central America, those organizations would not endorse the demonstration.
As a matter of fact, the Nicaraguan Solidarity Committee gave an excuse that they weren’t giving any more endorsements.  Guatemala Solidarity Committee [Guatemalan News & Information Bureau] did finally endorse, but I had to call and threaten them with exposure, and it split the organization.  And the same thing with CISPES around El Salvador.

Kathleen Wells: So what we are talking here is ethnic loyalties.  So are you saying that ethnic …
 Jeffrey Blankfort: We’re talking about a kind of tribalism that, even though these particular Jewish activists were anti-Zionist (they didn’t believe in a Jewish state), they became very defensive when it came to criticizing Israel specifically.  And this is one of the reasons you had members of Congress who were very adamant about apartheid in South Africa, but when it came to Israel arming apartheid South Africa, they were silent.  When it came [to the U.S.  arming] the Contras [they spoke out].  But when it came to Israel helping the Contras, they were silent.  [When] we had the Iran-Contra hearings, Israel was never named as a country.  They were country A.

Kathleen Wells: So let me ask you, are these ethnic loyalties — or tribalism, as you term is it — taking precedent over defending the rights of Palestinians?

Jeffrey Blankfort: It has.  They would deny that this is the case.  I have been attacked for suggesting that it is.  But I see no other reason, because, I mean, I’ve been into this 40 years, and when I first came back from my trip to the Middle East (I happen to be Jewish, but I come from a non-Zionist family — non- Zionist, which later became anti-Zionist) and people I knew who’ve been active around civil rights, and before there was a civil rights movement, when they heard that I had been with the Palestinians, they went crazy.  They literally became like Afrikaners because they had been traumatized by the holocaust.  And this feeling of the victimization of Jews in World War II was something that Jews growing up with, including myself, felt very strongly.  So the notion of blaming Jews was to them going back to periods of anti-Semitism and playing into a right wing and what they call “a neo-Nazi agenda.”

The fact of the matter is, however, that it was a Jewish state, done in the name of Jews, [that] had ethnically cleansed the Palestinians and it was Jewish organizations that were lobbying, not only in the United States, but throughout Western Europe, for continued support of what Israel was doing — not only ethnic cleansing but all its wars against the Palestinians, against the Lebanese.  And whereas Professor Chomsky says, “None of this would have been done without the U.S.  authorization,” it’s simply not true.
As a matter of fact, when Menachem Begin, the Israeli prime minister, annexed the Golan Heights in Syria, Ronald Reagan was on a trip to Europe and it was like [he was] blindsided.

Chomsky will also, by the way, point to a situation where the United States was very unhappy and complained when it was discovered that Israel had been selling Falcon radar warning devices to China without U.S.  approval, and there were some U.S.  parts in this.  Now, Chomsky and his supporters say, “Where was the lobby on this?” And, in fact, the lobby was not informed and felt blindsided.  It was very embarrassing for some of the neocons in Washington, like Douglas Feith, one of the instrumental people in giving us the war in Iraq.  They felt blindsided by it because the Israelis, who basically have very little respect for their American counterparts — they had made a deal with China without notifying the Jewish establishment here in this country.  So that was an embarrassment on their part, for them.  And they were quite upset with their Israeli friends because they weren’t notified about it.

There are issues in which the Israeli lobby — actually, it’s more of a hotel or a Leviathan or an octopus — is not dominant, but it is when it comes to Middle East policies, certainly when it comes to Palestine and pushing toward the war in Iraq, pushing for the war against Iran.  Up to now, they haven’t succeeded, largely because there are people in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies that know that a war or attack on Iran would be a global disaster — not only bad for United States, but bad for the world economy.

Nevertheless, it seems now that the possibilities of an attack on Iran are greater than ever.  And this has been at the top of the agenda of the Zionist establishment since the attack on Iraq.  You could just go to the AIPAC website, the website of the American Jewish Committee, which is a very important, probably the second most important organization in the Jewish community.  It’s the foreign policy arm of the Israel lobby with offices in Latin America, Africa, Europe.  And they have been lobbying foreign governments for years to take pro-Israel positions.

The head of that organization, David Harris, is probably the most well-known American Jew outside the United States.  He meets regularly with the heads of state of all the European countries — our NATO allies — with Mexico [and] countries in Latin America, Africa, and so on.

If there is going to be a war against Iran, there is no way that it could not be said that it is a war for Israel.  As a matter of fact, the United States, since the defeat of George Bush, Sr., has increasingly made Israel’s enemies our enemies.  So where Hezbollah and Hamas are not American enemies (they’re seen as Israel’s enemies) they have now become our enemies.

Yet Hezbollah has never [been] proven to have done anything to attack the United States [although] they were accused of being responsible for the bombing of the U.S.  Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, where I happened to be at the time.  Hezbollah formed as a resistance organization to the Israeli occupation, and there are a lot of questions as to who actually carried out that bombing, but it has never been proven that Hezbollah did it.  Hezbollah has never launched a terrorist attack against the United States, nor has Hamas, and yet those two organizations are now considered to be U.S.  enemies because they’re essentially Israel’s enemies.

Kathleen Wells: We’re covering a lot of ground here and I can hear your critics say that you are contending that there is a cabal driving U.S.  foreign policy.

Jeffrey Blankfort: When it comes to the Middle East, there is no question about it.  It is not only outside of the government.  Let’s [look at] what it consists of: You have AIPAC; you have the American Jewish Community; you have the Anti-Defamation League, which is quick to call any critic of Israel an anti-Semite.  It is actually an organization that has been spying on American leftists since the 1930s, including me and thousands of other political activists, including the NAACP — virtually every political group that might have an issue around Israel.

We have a group called the Israel Project, which is a propaganda arm of Israel which holds regular events, press conferences in Israel and has 18 members of Congress on its board of directors.  Eighteen members of the U.S.  Congress on the board of a pro-Israel lobbying group which, of course, is tax exempt [and is not required to register as a foreign agent.]

You have a number of think tanks: the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was founded by AIPAC in 1985, whose talking heads appear every Sunday, every …  they’re on NPR, they’re on PBS, and they are never identified as being part of an Israeli lobby institution.  The American Enterprise Institute is also a pro-Israel lobby institution.  You have the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which you never hear about, but this has members of Congress, senators, a former CIA chief, Jim Woolsey [who] is on every one of these pro-Israel lobbying groups — every one of them.  You have JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, founded in 1976, which has about 20 former generals and admirals on its board but also has many of the neocons: Michael Ledeen, Richard Perle, Max Kampelman.  These are the ones — people who are very much involved in fomenting the Iraq war; Paul Wolfowitz.  There was PNAC, Project for New American Century from 1997, which called on the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, which had some of the very same people on it — mostly Jewish neocons — which is largely a Jewish movement, although not exclusively Jewish.

Fomenting the war on Iraq was done on every single level in the media.  You had op-ed pieces written by William Safire in the New York Times; Abe Rosenthal in the Washington Post.  You had Kristol, Chuck Krauthammer, and you had Mortimer Zuckerman, who is the owner of the US News and World Report and the New York Daily News, writing op-ed piece after op-ed piece calling for an attack on Iraq.  You had Kenneth Pollack, the head of the Brookings Institution Saban Center writing a book called “The Gathering Storm” endorsing the war on Iraq.

It is a cabal, and it’s not a hidden cabal.  It’s quite public, except those people who don’t want to see it don’t look at it.  It’s like the monkey: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  This is how the solidarity movement has been when it comes to this cabal.

0:53:19 Kathleen Wells: You’ve written a piece titled “A War for Israel.” I want to touch on that piece, because last week* the last combat soldier left Iraq, and so many Americans — not all, but many Americans — are asking what was the war in Iraq about?  And many will answer it was about oil.  Give us your thoughts about that.

0:53:45 Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, it’s interesting.  There is no record of oil companies wanting a war in Iraq.  What the oil companies want is stability.  They would like to have been able to purchase oil from Saddam Hussein, who would have liked to have sold it to them.

In fact, the same thing with Iran.  Conoco, a major American oil company, had to cancel a contract with Iran under pressure from the Zionist lobby.  The oil companies need stability [where they get their resources].  Their profits are guaranteed.  They’d have an arrangement with Saddam Hussein like they would have with Saudi Arabia or with Kuwait.  So the fact of the matter is that the war in Iraq threatened the stability of the oil companies’ [sources].  And it’s interesting that President George Bush, Sr., his Secretary of State James Baker, and his National Security Council — excuse me, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft — all of whom had closer ties to the oil industry itself than did Bush or Cheney — they opposed the war on Iraq because they thought it would destabilize the region and would bring the Shi’a into power in Iraq, which would then make Iraq closer to Iran.

Now, what’s happened after the war is that the major oil contracts have gone, not to American companies, but to China, for example.  The largest contract for oil in Iraq went to China, and that was based on a contract that was, ironically, signed with China during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Now why was this a war for Israel? I actually wrote this in 2004, and there’s much more evidence to that effect today.  There was a plan put forth by an Israeli political analyst named Oded Yinon in the 80s.  The idea was to divide the Arab countries, including Iraq, into their confessional states, making several confessional states based on religion.  So instead of having a country called Iraq, you would have a Shi’a Iraq, a Kurdish Iraq, and a Sunni Iraq.  That would be designed to weaken Israel’s Arab enemies, and Iraq was seen as a major threat to Israel.

Another reason was Israel also wanted to see the U.S.  as an occupying force in the Middle East, just like it is, so the U.S.  could then use Israeli “expertise” in occupying Palestine to occupy Iraq.  And many of the same techniques that Israel has used to occupy both Lebanon in the past and to occupy the occupied territories in West Bank and Gaza were used by the United States in Iraq.  Also, if the United States was occupying an Arab country, it would be less prone to criticize Israel for doing the same thing.  And we saw there has been far less criticism by the U.S.  government since 2003 than before in terms of what it was doing in the occupied territories.

0:58:03 Jeffrey Blankfort: Also, in 1995, you had a group of neocons — among them Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Meyrav Wurmser, who wrote a paper called “A Clean Break.” But this was for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel, calling on Israel to get rid of the regime of Saddam Hussein and stop peace talks with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu did not adopt that position, but these very same neocons then came into the administration of George W.  Bush — W, Junior — with the same policies to get rid of Saddam Hussein [as did] the Project for a New American Century.

Now, it’s interesting in the First Gulf War, George Bush, Sr., was criticized by the Zionist establishment and its friends in the media for not dethroning Saddam Hussein.  And this was when the neocons turned on Bush because they thought Israel’s main enemy in Iraq was going to be eliminated and there would be regime change there that would be more favorable to Israel and would reinstate the oil line that used to go from Iraq [to] Haifa.  This was probably not going to happen.  But in any case, they believed that Israel would benefit from the getting rid of Saddam Hussein.

1:00:07 Kathleen Wells: But why did they believe that? Give me one sentence as to why they believe regime change in Iraq would benefit Israel?

1:00:18 Jeffrey Blankfort: They saw Iraq as the most significant foe and threat to Israel — the largest Muslim Arab state.  Egypt is now of out of contention because of the Camp David agreement, and Iraq was considered to be a major threat.  The Zionist lobby tells that they didn’t really want us to attack Iraq; they wanted to attack Iran, but statements by Israeli officials, including Shimon Perez, called on the U.S.  to dethrone Saddam Hussein, because by eliminating Saddam Hussein and hopefully breaking Iraq into a Shi’a, Kurdish, and Sunni states, they would eliminate Israel’s major threat in the Arab world.

Iran is not an Arab country, and for years Israel’s foreign policy had been based on making alliances with non-Arab regimes in the region such as Turkey, Iran, and the Kurds.  And so they had a long, very close relationship with Iran under the Shah.  Despite the statements made by Khomeini and Iranian leaders, we saw that during Iran-Contra, that the Iranians and the Israelis were dealing arms.  And Turkey now, of course, has made close ties to Iran, and this has put the U.S.  in a bind, because Turkey has been a real strategic asset to the United States since World War II.  And the Israel lobby is pushing for the United States to break that relationship with Turkey, because Turkey is not bending to Washington’s wishes or Israel’s wishes when it comes to Iran or to the Palestinians.

1:02:19 Kathleen Wells: And you’re saying that Israel — the Jewish lobby — is pushing for the United States to break with Turkey? Is that what you just stated?
1:02:29 Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, the Israel lobby has gone so far as to get 87 senators to sign a letter to President Obama calling for the Turkish charity that sponsored the Gaza flotilla (the last one) to be put on the terrorist list by the United States, which would be a major attack on Turkish sovereignty, because this particular charity, IHH, is the most important Turkish charity [and close to Turkey’s ruling party].

Turkey has told Israel that unless Israel apologizes for the murder of eight Turks and one Turkish-American on board the Mavi Marmara, Turkish-Israel relations will not be restored.  And Israel refuses to apologize, so the Zionist establishment and its friends in the media are pushing for the U.S.  to break with Turkey.  But Turkey is an essential part of U.S.  imperial policy and U.S.  regional policies since World War II, whereas Israel has been, as I say, more of a liability.  Right now Israel, by provoking Turkey and by pushing its agents in the United States, the Zionist establishment, to break with Turkey, is causing a major problem for the United States.  Now the United States has been telling Turkey that it has to toe the Israel line; otherwise, it’s going to have a problem with the United States.  But Turkey doesn’t need the United States as much as the United States needs Turkey.

1:04:20 Kathleen Wells: And you said that 87 senators have signed a letter?

1:04:25 Jeffrey Blankfort: They did send a letter, about a month ago, to President Obama, calling for the IHH, the Turkish charity, to be put on the terrorist list.  And they’re very upset that it hasn’t happened to date.

1:04:39 Kathleen Wells: And this letter was drafted by whom again?

1:04:42 Jeffrey Blankfort: It was probably drafted by AIPAC.  Before President Obama had his first meeting with Netanyahu [in 2009], he received a letter on May 9, signed — he received actually two letters : one from threequarters of the Senate and the other from three-quarters of the Congress, in which they called on him, when he met with Netanyahu, not to put any pressure on Netanyahu.  And the pdf, the file sent to [members of] Congress [for their signatures], was called “AIPAC letter.” Not a single U.S.  newspaper published this story other than in a blog on the Washington Post, when Al Cayman wrote, he said, “Curiously, when we opened the attachment, we noticed it was named AIPAC letter, Hoyer Canter, May 2009 pdf.”

1:05:47 Kathleen Wells: And so it was signed by Hoyer — Senator Hoyer, Congressman Hoyer — and Congressman Canter.

1:05:55 Jeffrey Blankfort: Right.

1:05:55 Kathleen Wells: So this is … You have Congresspersons across the aisle, Republicans and Democrats coming together on one issue, and the issue being Israel.

1:06:07 Jeffrey Blankfort: This has historically been the case.  And not only that, in that congressional recess a year ago, Congressman Hoyer, who is the House Majority Leader — he’s not just an ordinary congressman — he led a group of thirty Democrats, just after Cantor had led a group of twenty-five Republicans to go to Israel, where they met with Netanyahu, gave press conferences shown on Israeli television, and Steny Hoyer gave his press conference — by himself — in which he took the position of Israel against the U.S.  President when it came to [Jewish] settlement in Jerusalem.
Now, were a congressman doing this for any other country besides Israel, it might be called treason.  But not only was this not reported here in the United States, it was also ignored by those who say that they support the Palestinian struggle here in the United States.  This was online.  I actually played Steny Hoyer’s comments for my radio audience so they could see what I was talking about.

1:07:23 Kathleen Wells: You’re saying it’s not reported.  So talk to me about the media when you say things are not being reported.

1:07:34 Jeffrey Blankfort: The media has been a target of the Zionist establishment since its inception — since Israel’s inception — because the media is what manufactures the consent of the public to U.S.  policies.  In the beginning, the Zionist establishment was on the outside looking in.  But over the years, it has [built] a media stable in the major newspapers, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, whose columns are reproduced all over the United States.  So it’s not just important that a Charles Krauthammer, for example, writes in the Washington Post.  If it was only the Washington Post, it wouldn’t be so important, but Krauthammer’s columns appear all over the United States.  You had William Safire in the New York Times, whose columns appeared everywhere.  He was a close friend of Ariel Sharon.  He was replaced by David Brooks, another neocon — Jewish neocon — whose columns appear everywhere around the country.  You have Tom Friedman, the liberal support of Israel, whose columns [in the Times] appear all over the country.  You have Jonathan Jacoby of the Boston Globe.  You have Richard Cowan in the Washington Post.

You don’t have anybody anymore who is a critic of Israel writing in a mainstream newspaper.  You used to have Anthony Lewis, who is Jewish, who’d write editorials or op-ed pieces for the New York Times critical of Israel.  He was replaced by Tom Friedman who never does.

1:09:36 Jeffrey Blankfort: In 1979, the Washington Post was writing a number of articles critical of Israel.  So the Jewish community leadership there complained and demanded that a representative of the Washington Jewish community be allowed to sit in the Washington Post newsroom for a week to watch how it worked.  And the Washington Post editor agreed to let that happen.  Over the years, the Washington Post went from being a responsible newspaper to being, editorially, a mouthpiece for the Israeli position and for the Israel lobby.

There have been exceptions.  Just recently, when I was back in Washington, at the time Netanyahu was also there [and] met with President Obama — this time President Obama rolled out the red carpet; and Dana Milbank, who is their Washington columnist, wrote a column which he headed “Alliance or Dysfunctional Relationship?” And he wrote how when Netanyahu visited President Obama, White House officials, “instead of flying the U.S.  flag, might have flown the white flag of surrender.”

1:11:02 Jeffrey Blankfort: He said [that] Tuesday, Obama, “routed and humiliated by his Israeli counterpart, invited Netanyahu back to the White House for what might be called the Oil of Olay Summit.  It was all about saving face.” And then he writes about “Obama came to office with an admirable hope of reviving Middle East peace efforts by appealing to the Arab world and positioning himself as more of an honest broker.  But he has now learned the painful lesson that domestic politics won’t allow such a stand.” That’s pretty heavy.

1:11:35 Kathleen Wells: Yeah, everything you’re saying is pretty heavy, and I think that, [given] everything you are disclosing, you know, the charge of being a self-hating Jew is going to be leveled against you.

1:11:47 Jeffrey Blankfort: I’ve already surpassed that.  I’ve been called an anti- Semite.  This is like the last refuge of scoundrels, as far as I’m concerned.  [chuckle] Patriotism is the first one.  The charge of anti-Semitism in this case is the last.
But I’ve been following this problem for years, and when I started speaking out about the role of the Zionist lobby, I was marginalized.  Now, fortunately, there are people speaking out about it.  When John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt wrote the book “[The] Israel Lobby and American [U.S.] Foreign Policy,” it was a major breakthrough.  Of course, they’ve been called imperialist hawks.  They’ve been called anti-Semites.  These are two distinguished university professors.  There’s nothing, when you read their book, that is anti-Semitic, but it’s a way of trying to smear them, and the smears come not …  They come not only from the right-wing, but they come also from the “left-wing,” Jews who claim to be anti-Zionist.  They call Mearsheimer and Walt imperialist hawks.  And there’s nothing to back that up.

My position is I’m a human being first and my responsibility is to humanity before it is to my Jewish history — my Jewish background.  That’s the way I was brought up.  And so, yeah, as far as I’m concerned, those criticisms only reflect the lack of arguments to challenge what I say.  They have no arguments so they have to smear me.

1:13:34 Kathleen Wells: So President Obama will be resuming peace talks with President Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Mubarak of Egypt on September 2.  Give us your thoughts about these peace talks that are going to be taking place soon.

1:13:56 Jeffrey Blankfort: This reminds me of the comic strip “Peanuts,” in which every September, Lucy used to put out the football for Linus to kick.  And every time he would go to kick, she’d pull the football away.  This game has grown old.  There is simply no way, at this point in time, for a kind of solution — a two-state solution, or even a one-state at this point — without severe economic pressure brought to bear on Israel.

There are no pre-conditions for this peace talk.  As a matter of fact, I read today that the only pre-condition that the Palestinians had was that Hillary Clinton would say — would not say — that there were no pre-conditions, and she went and said there were no pre-conditions.  So the Palestinians are miffed because Abbas, who is not legally anything — his term of office expired more than a year ago.  There has not been an election.  [Their representation is a fiction.]

He does not even have the support of a substantial part, or even what’s left of the Palestinian Authority.  A number of important Palestinians in the West Bank did not appear, simply did not show up to take a vote on him going to come and meet with President Obama.  That he’s coming to meet with Obama [is] because he’s been pressured to do that, but Abbas has to be remembered as being one of the people who drafted the Oslo Agreement back in ’93, which actually betrayed the Palestinians and turned over part of the land of Palestine to Israel, which is, in fact, against international law, but that’s been ignored.

1:15:56 Kathleen Wells: So you’re saying President Abbas doesn’t have the authority to negotiate peace.

1:16:04 Jeffrey Blankfort: He really doesn’t.  I mean, he doesn’t have the support of the Palestinians.  If there would be some incredible deal in which Israel would agree to withdraw to the 1967 borders, he would have some credibility, but he has none.  When the Goldstone Report came out criticizing Israel for its brutal behavior, brutal attack on Palestinians in Gaza, Abbas wanted to suppress the report.

1:16:36 Jeffrey Blankfort: I’m saying that the Palestinians don’t expect anything in these talks.  This is all like a political charade, and it has been in every case.

1:16:48 Kathleen Wells: I was just going to ask you that.  And then you mentioned the fact that there are no pre-conditions.  In fact, Assistant Secretary Shapiro said last July at the Brookings [Institution] that for the fiscal year 2010 the Obama administration has requested $2.775 billion in security assistance funding specifically for Israel.  And this is the largest request in history — in U.S.  history — and Congress has …  Go ahead.

1:17:23 Jeffrey Blankfort: Yeah.  This is part of a ten-year package that was first negotiated by George W.  Bush at the end of his term, but it was signed with President Obama’s approval.  That amount of money is also not the total amount of money.
For example, President Obama, to gain the favor of the Jewish community, which is now turning on him or certain elements of it are, approved $205 million for something called the Iron Dome — a defensive shield for Israel to protect itself against rockets from Hezbollah the next time Israel launches a war on Lebanon, which is considerably more than the United States has offered to Pakistan to help the Pakistanis in what is the largest global disaster in modern times.

The United States has come up with less than $200 million for Pakistan at this particular point in time.  And, in fact, [it] had the Pakistani Army divert waters that would have covered a military base there and which drowned a Pakistani town.

The United States’ commitment to Israel is, unfortunately, virtually unbreakable at this point in time, unless there is a mass movement from the American people to change it.  It doesn’t appear that it’s happening, because nobody is really calling for it, even on the side of those who support the Palestinians.  Or say they do.

1:19:16 Kathleen Wells: So let me ask you.  Since our support — or Obama’s support rather — the administration’s support of Israel is so generous and effective, why is President Obama so unpopular in Israel?

1:19:31 Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, first of all, it begins with his speech in Cairo.  Well, maybe that continues.  The Israeli public, the Ashkenazi — the European Jewish public –is very racist.  They’re racist against the Ethiopian Jews that emigrated there from Ethiopia.  They’re racist against dark-skinned Jews, who are really the Arab Jews who emigrated from Arab countries.  One of the reasons that the right wing Likud came into power in 197[7] was because the European Ashkenazi Jews who ran the Labor Party looked down on the Jews from the Arab lands, dark-skinned Jews who were indistinguishable physically from Palestinian Arabs, whereas the European Jews were white.  I guess they lost their color after leaving ancient Palestine 2000 years ago.
In any case, the racism is a great part of it, the same kind of racism that we see here against Obama on the part of a significant segment of the American public that has nothing to do with his policies.  The idea that his name, of course, is Barack Hussein Obama and then he was born to a Muslim father only added to this.  We see today that 20 percent of Americans think that Obama is a Muslim.

1:21:02 Kathleen Wells: And he is not, I want to …

1:21:04 Jeffrey Blankfort: And he’s not.

1:21:05 Kathleen Wells: Yes.

1:21:07 Jeffrey Blankfort: But the point is that the Israelis are used to having a President who bends over and kisses the behind of whoever is the Israeli Prime Minister.  And that was the case with Bill Clinton.  It was the case with George W.  Bush.  And they expected the same with Obama.  The first George Bush, however, was the last President to really stand up to Israel, and he paid for it at election time when he lost to Clinton.  He probably …

1:21:39 Kathleen Wells: Oh, I thought Kennedy was the last President to stand up to …

1:21:44 Jeffrey Blankfort: No, Kennedy took three positions that were red lines for Israel.  One, Kennedy supported the Palestinian “right of return” — Resolution 194 — which called for Palestinians as individuals to determine whether they would take compensation or return to their homes in Palestine.  Kennedy realized that all Palestinians couldn’t return, but he believed a significant number should be allowed to return, and he supported that.  Israel was adamantly against that.

President Kennedy was adamantly opposed to Israel’s nuclear weapons, both publicly and privately, as he was with the Palestinian “right of return,” and he was very upset with the way the Israelis lied to him about what they were doing in Dimona — that they were building [a] nuclear reactor for peaceful purposes, a propaganda lie that was propagated by the American Zionist Council here in the United States, which they bragged about.

The third position of Kennedy was that his Justice Department, under his brother Bobby, was making a serious effort to get the American Zionist Council, which was a predecessor to AIPAC, to be registered as a foreign agent.  And they refused to do so.  They kept stalling and stalling until Kennedy was assassinated, and then under Johnson, all these particular campaigns were allowed to die.  And Johnson became the first really pro-Israel President we’ve had.  Most of that is not known about Kennedy.  Professor Chomsky never writes about it.  He doesn’t consider it to be important.  It would interfere with his position that the United States supports Israel because it’s an asset.  That’s not the way Kennedy saw it.

1:23:44 Jeffrey Blankfort: Now Bush, Sr., in 1991, decided that he wanted to force Israel to come to the peace table.  It should be noted that when Bush was Vice President, when Israel bombed the Iraq nuclear reactor, Bush wanted Israel to be sanctioned.  He was outvoted by President Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander Haig.  When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, Bush also wanted Israel to be sanctioned.  Again he was outvoted by Reagan and Haig.  This is documented by Moshe Arens, Israel’s Foreign Minister at the time, in his book “Broken Covenant: The US Israel Relationship and the Bush Presidency.”*

In 1991, when Israel came to Bush and wanted ten billion dollars in loan guarantees from the U.S.  government at a time when our economy was hurting, Bush saw this as Israel’s way of not engaging in peace talks, and he told Israel … He asked the Israeli Prime Minister Shamir to postpone his request for four months.  Shamir decided he would not do it and he would go over his head to Congress.  When Bush Sr.  found out and realized that Congress would override his veto of the $10-billion loan guarantees, he went to the American people [on TV] on September 12, 1991, and [held] a press conference/statement, in which he said, “There are a thousand lobbyists up here on Capitol Hill against little old me.” And he told the American public the amount of money that each Israeli citizen — man, woman, and child — was getting in aid from the United States.

At this time there were a thousand — at least a thousand — Jewish lobbyists on Capitol Hill talking to members of Congress about passing the loan guarantee legislation.  And so the very next day the polls showed that the American public was behind Bush by 85 percent.  This really scared the lobby and members of Congress.  And so they retreated.  But the head of AIPAC at the time, a man named Thomas Dine, made a statement that September 12, 1991, would be a day that would live in infamy.  And from that moment on, even Republicans such as William Safire in the New York Times began attacking Bush over the economy.  They wouldn’t attack over this issue but over the economy.
And in February of ’92, when Bush again would not approve the loan guarantees, they went after him big time.  This is all very well documented.  The Congressional Record is filled with speeches attacking the President and supporting Israel.  The only person who spoke against the loan guarantees was the late Senator Robert Byrd, but you did not read what he had to say in the American press because the American press by 1992 was parroting essentially the Israeli line.

1:27:17 Jeffrey Blankfort: The failure to get the loan guarantees, at that time, embarrassed Shamir, and he was defeated by Rabin for Prime Minister, and with the November elections rolling around, Bush then agreed to give loan guarantees to Israel while deducting the amount of money that was being spent on the settlements.  Bush was adamantly against the Jewish settlements; he wanted to freeze on the settlements.  He did not want any Russian Jews going to the settlements.

1:27:49 Kathleen Wells: Hasn’t Obama been trying to impose a settlement freeze on Netanyahu?

1:27:54 Jeffrey Blankfort: He did in the beginning, but, unfortunately, he found out that Congress was not behind him.  And unlike at the time when the first George Bush did it, there was nobody writing editorials or op-ed pieces in the American press that was supporting it.  So in a sense he found himself out on a limb spending political capital that he could not afford to spend.  When you have the U.S.  Congress supporting the position of a foreign government and that being ignored by those who criticize our government, it’s quite an astonishing situation.  *(The book title is Broken Covenant: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis Between the U.S.  and Israel.)

Kathleen Wells: I interview members of Congress.  Do you think I can get any members of Congress to sit down and have an interview with me about this issue?

Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, you could probably get ex-members of Congress.  Once somebody is out of Congress, they’re usually more willing to talk about it.  Lynn Woolsey in Marin County told a group of visiting constituents, including my sister a couple of years ago, that half the people in Congress are afraid of AIPAC or they hate AIPAC, and they’re intimidated by AIPAC.  And then Congressman Henry Waxman from Los Angeles, who’s the liberals’ darling but is a hatchet man for AIPAC within Congress, told Woolsey that if somebody opposed her in the Democratic primary who’s a serious candidate, they would support that person because of a couple of votes she had taken against the AIPAC position.

And we have Maxine Waters, now under investigation in Los Angeles for a charge that is nothing compared to what so many members of Congress have done to enrich their own pocketbooks.  But Maxine Waters made a couple of mistakes.  Back in, actually, 1991, when Congress was supporting loan guarantees for Israel, she tried to circulate a petition among her fellow members of Congress for loan guarantees for American cities at a time when the economy was hurting.  She only got 38 signatures, and then under pressure, she pulled it.  That was also never reported in [the] American media, but I did report it in my Middle East Labor Bulletin.

Then in 2004, when Cynthia McKinney was running to get back into Congress, Maxine Waters went to Atlanta, Georgia, to speak on behalf of McKinney, where I interviewed her, and recently she has taken some votes that AIPAC doesn’t like.  And so now she is in their crosshairs or the crosshairs of the House Ethics Committee, which might as well be speaking for the Israel lobby.

Kathleen Wells: Why do you say that? Why do you say the House Ethics Committee is speaking for the Israeli lobby?

Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, because there are a number of unethical positions that have been taken by members of Congress who are very strong supporters of Israel over the years who have not found themselves targeted.  I mean, when you find members of Congress, particularly in the Senate Banking and Finance Committee, getting millions of dollars in contributions from the savings and loans and banks, and so on, and becoming millionaires by the time they get out of Congress, some real questions need to be asked, but they’re never asked.

Kathleen Wells: Haven’t you written a book or a pamphlet called, “If Americans Only Knew?” Did you write something like that?

Jeffrey Blankfort: No.  Actually, If Americans Knew is a website — excellent website — which has some of my articles and information about how the Zionist lobby influences United States politics and the media.  If Americans Knew is run by an activist named Alison Weir, and I recommend that to all of your listeners.

Kathleen Wells: Speak to me about how the American labor unions have been influenced by the lobbies.

Jeffrey Blankfort: One of the cornerstones of the support for Israel in this country has been the American labor unions, which were predominantly Jewish in leadership because of Jewish activity in labor unions in the 30s and 40s.  So they were early supporters of the State of Israel.  And it was interesting, in 1983 there was an article in the Hadassah Courier — Hadassah being the leading Jewish women’s organization — which began, as I recall, saying in the lobby of the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, there is a bust of Golda Meir, the former Prime Minister of Israel, and that’s not surprising because, next to the organized Jewish community, the strongest support for Israel has been from American labor unions.  And the article goes on to talk about the millions of dollars in State of Israel bonds that the American labor unions have purchased with their members’ dues, but their members aren’t aware of this.  The article, by the way, was written by Wolf Blitzer, who is a former staff member of AIPAC, now frequently seen on CNN.  He also wrote for the Jerusalem Post.
What happens is you have about 1,700 labor unions who have invested in State of Israel bonds, which obliges them to be lobbyists for Israel on the basis that, as long as the Israeli economy is in good shape, their bonds are in good shape; but if the Israeli economy will go south, so will their investments.  The Israeli bond corporation, which is part of the Israel government, has sold State of Israel bonds to about half the states in the union, to many, many pension funds, and most of their members are not aware of it.  It is very difficult to get this information — who exactly owns what and how much — unless you have an inside or an in with these organizations.

Kathleen Wells: How did you become aware of it?

Jeffrey Blankfort: When I read this article in 1983 by Wolf Blitzer, it was what encouraged me to accept the suggestion of my friend, Steve Zeltzer — who is also Jewish, a labor union activist — to form the Labor Committee on the Middle East and start doing research on the labor unions’ ties with Israel.  And they are very, very strong.

The AFL-CIO is the lone international labor union that has not taken a position supporting Palestinian workers.  They are very close to the Israeli Labor Federation, Histadrut, which is discriminating against Palestinian workers and is historically part of the Israeli problem.  They were the main organization that organized the businesses and industries of pre-state Israel.  It also had close ties with South Africa during the apartheid regime.

Kathleen Wells: You’ve mentioned that you disagree with Chomsky’s views regarding the boycott, divestment and sanction tactics/strategies.  Recently, I know that California launched a BDS campaign.  Elaborate on how you and Chomsky differ and the recent campaign launched in California.

Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, actually, I believe Professor Chomsky endorses the campaign launched in California recently to get on the ballot next year.  What Chomsky opposes is Israel itself being a target for sanctions — Israeli companies, Israeli cultural — actors, actresses, musicians, and so on — academics.  This boycott … A boycott of Israel totally has been called for by representatives of Palestine’s … Palestinian civil society.
They believe that this should be the same kind of boycott that was inflicted on South Africa and helped to end apartheid there.  What Professor Chomsky and many of those who support him and live in this country believe [is] that the boycott divestments and sanctions should only be targeted on companies and businesses that invest or are active in the occupied territory that participate in the oppression and occupation of the Palestinians.  So the question is: Is Israel allowed to get off the hook? And the Palestinian civil society says no.

Professor Chomsky believes that for Americans to support that position is hypocritical because they should be calling for a boycott of the United States, since Professor Chomsky believes that Israel only does actions that are authorized by the United States and that Israel is not the main culprit but the United States is.  And I beg to differ with him on that.

Also, he believes that those who support targeting Israel are actually harming the Palestinian cause — that includes the Palestinian themselves — because this information, this attitude, would be used by hardliners within Israel and the United States to damage the Palestinian cause.  There’s been no evidence of that, and he gives no example of that.

So this is an important difference between Professor Chomsky and I, between Professor Chomsky and the Palestinian Civil society.  Many organizations are calling for an international boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which is supported around the world by a number of trade unions, a number of cultural actors and actresses — people who’ve been involved in the antiapartheid work and see the same kind of struggle taking place in trying to bring Israel to its knees.

Kathleen Wells: So California is the first state in the United States that has launched a BDS campaign.  Talk to me …  Give me some specifics how this program, this campaign, will be launched.

Jeffrey Blankfort: As I understand it, it was launched in Los Angeles by a group of people, pro-Palestinian supporters, and the idea is to let the American or the California citizenry vote as to whether state pension funds in California should be required to divest from investments that they have in Israel that benefits Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  Not Israel per se, but Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

They need 400,000 signatures to get it on the ballot next year, and it will be the first kind of a campaign of its type and what is …  It will be mightly opposed by the Israel lobby and probably by all of the nation — nationwide media, not just California media.  And we expect to see all kinds of money and activity coming in to try and stop this event, but if we could get 400,000 signatures to put this on the ballot — it is a possibility to educate the public about this issue in a way they’ve never been educated before.

Kathleen Wells: Now, when you make this distinction between they’re not campaigning against Israel per se, but rather Israel’s occupation of Gaza …

Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, no, occupation of the West Bank.  And of course, it’s not officially of Gaza, but Gaza has a large prison camp which they control.  It’s essentially … it’s the same, but they have no investments in Gaza.  But there are a number of American businesses, companies — Caterpillar, Motorola, IBM, Intel — have investments in the occupied territories, do business there.  There are millions of dollars involved in investing in Israel — in the occupied territories — and so the idea is to cause those institutions that have those investments to divest them.  I think they’re talking about the state institutions, not private institutions.

Kathleen Wells: Oh, state institutions.

Jeffrey Blankfort: Right.

Kathleen Wells: I’m just trying to figure out how you make this distinction between not campaigning against Israel per se, as opposed to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.  How do you draw that distinction? I’m not clear on it.

Jeffrey Blankfort: I don’t actually draw that distinction.  Probably to get more people to sign this, it would seem that Israel itself is not being punished but just Israel’s occupation.  However, supporters of Israel will treat this as if it was Israel itself because they are now propagating a campaign around the world saying that the boycott, divestment and sanction movement is a movement to de-legitimize Israel.  And, of course, there’s nothing in any of the statements that say that.  What is being de-legitimized is a country that occupies other people’s land for decades, and if Israel has a problem with its own legitimacy, so do many other people, among them myself.

Kathleen Wells: Because to say it’s not against Israel, but Israel is occupying the West Bank, so I don’t see…

Jeffrey Blankfort: Yes.  So the idea is to only punish that aspect of Israel, those investments that are directly in the West Bank, those companies that have businesses or factories in the West Bank, or those companies that produce materials, like Caterpillar and their bulldozers that are used to demolish Palestinian homes; they have a special bulldozer for that.  And so there’s been a long campaign, which has not been very successful so far, to get Caterpillar to not sell its bulldozers to Israel.  And this is kind of an escalation of that.

Kathleen Wells: And then how will California residents be involved? What …  say, assuming they get the requisite number of signatures, what is that? 400,000?

Jeffrey Blankfort: Something like that.

Kathleen Wells: Yeah.  And they get those signatures and then will it be California residents asking that their pension funds …

Jeffrey Blankfort: There are a number of state pension funds, and those pension funds were the ones that would have to divest.  That would also include the universities, I presume.  I’m not sure of all the details.  I haven’t read the fine print.  But I assume any state institution that invested in any business that did business in the occupied territories or contributed to enhancing or maintaining the occupation would be a legitimate target.  And they would have to divest those funds if the voters of California approved that.

Kathleen Wells: Now we talked dramatically about the pro-Israel influence with Democrats in D.C.  Elaborate on this notion how this influence — this pro- Israel influence — in D.C.  is also …  whether or not it’s a bipartisan effort?

Jeffrey Blankfort: There is probably no more bipartisan effort on a critical issue — not a Mother’s day resolution or a resolution to thank our veterans.  There is no other issue in which both political parties have historically marched in locked step with one another.  So you have Senator Boxer here in California arm-in-arm with former Senator Jesse Helms.  The most right-wing racist senators, congressmen, and the most liberal of Democrats march arm-in-arm when it comes to pledging their allegiance to Israel.  The Democrats get the most money, but the Republicans, now, in more recent years, get money from Christian-Zionists, who are even more zealous than so many Jewish Zionists about Israel maintaining every inch of the West Bank and even more.
But what happens if you are a Republican and you step out of line and you criticize Israel, you will be targeted.  Then the three famous cases of Charles Percy — Senator Charles Percy of Illinois, who was very pro-Israel — I mean he was also …  believed the Palestinians should have their rights.

When he, in 1981, voted for what they call the AWACS, the Advanced Air Warning System, to sell this advanced warning system to Saudi Arabia which would protect it from hostile attack, President Reagan lobbied personally to get Charles Percy to change his vote.  And Charles Percy changed his vote and voted for AWACS to sell to Saudi Arabia and it passed.  And the Israel lobby organization – AIPAC — then targeted Charles Percy — deliberately, openly, publicly — to get some congressman [Paul Simon] to run against him.  And they succeeded and Percy was defeated.

There was another Illinois congressman, Paul Findley, who also spoke favorably of the Palestinians.  He later wrote a book about it called “They Dared to Speak Out”.  He was also targeted.  “They Dared to Speak Out” was a story of what happens to people in this country — not just politicians, but teachers and so on — who have dared to publicly speak out against the Israel lobby and the policies of the State of Israel.

Finally, there was my lawyer, Pete McCloskey, a marine veteran from California who openly supported the Palestinians [in Congress].  He supported Israel, he supported two-state solution before it was acceptable.  There was a time when anyone who supported two states was considered anti-Israel.  Twenty years ago, if you called for two states, you were anti-Israel.  Pete McCloskey called for two states; he was targeted.  So Republicans know, just like Democrats, that if they speak out against Israel or are critical of Israel policy, they are going to be just as much of a target as a Democrat.
So what you see are these 400 to four votes, 99 to one in the Senate.  The one now is dead — the late Bobby Byrd, Robert Byrd.  So the votes now will be 100 to nothing when it comes to pro-Israel positions.  It’s a pretty ugly situation.  There’s no other issue that is of such importance to America and to the world in which both houses of the U.S.  Congress come together.  No parliament in France, England, anywhere else is like this, even those countries that support Israel.  There’s nothing comparable to this, because they don’t have the money in their politics that we have in ours.

Kathleen Wells: So you’re saying that it used to be 99 to one with the late Senator Byrd being the only senator that would vote against Israel on legislation?

Jeffrey Blankfort: Or any issue that might involve Israel, critical of Israel.  Byrd was the only one who would do that.  He was well-liked and well-loved.  He brought a lot of money back to West Virginia.  He took care of West Virginia very well and so he was not the kind of person that AIPAC would think of attacking.  They just ignored him.  He would make statements on the floor of Congress critical of Israel, and the newspapers would not publish them.

Kathleen Wells: Okay.  This is my last question, I promise.  What prescriptions can you offer for an effective pro-Palestinian movement?

Jeffrey Blankfort: We need to recognize that, as someone once said, “All politics is local,” and the Israeli-Palestine issue is no exception.  When we have schools firing teachers, when we have healthcare limited, when we don’t have universal healthcare, when we have serious economic problems in all our communities, all our localities, the notion that we are contributing, giving money to Israel … They’re not buying these weapons with their money.  That we are giving them the money to buy these weapons [is outrageous].  And we are fighting wars that they want — sending our soldiers to fight and die and kill innocent people on an agenda that was Israel’s before it was ours.
Members of Congress [who] support that they should be targeted and exposed with the speeches that they have made.  It’s all available online.  You go to the AIPAC website, aipac.org, and you look at all the letters that have been sent to various persons by members of Congress over the years, it’s all there.  It’s not secret.  And those members of Congress should be held to account.  And I’m sure, for example, if the American public could have heard the speech of Andrew Shapiro, which I played for my listeners — and it enraged them — to the Brookings Institution about the U.S.-Israel relationship, they would be enraged.  But the point is we have to speak to ordinary Americans who have no vested interests in the outcome in the Middle East, either Jewish or Arab Americans.  This is an issue that is the responsibility of all Americans.  This is what needs to be done and, of course, Israel itself should be targeted.  Israeli institutions should be targeted.

We didn’t bring up the example of the USS Liberty, the ship that was attacked and [almost] sunk by the Israelis in 1967 in which 34 sailors were killed and 171 wounded [during] more than an hour of attacks, and the survivors were not allowed to talk about it by President Johnson under penalty of court martial.  The American public doesn’t know about that.  But my experience is, when I talk to people about the Liberty, they do get angry, and they would get angrier if they knew what Israel has been doing with our support.

I would like to bring up the role of certain members of Congress who consider themselves to be agents of Israel rather than United States.  And there was one I wrote about named Steven Solarz, who back in 1980 sent his constituents very proudly a letter in which he wrote … It was titled, “Delivering for Israel,” and I quote.  He said, “It is a story of how legislative maneuvering and political persistence managed to prevail over physical constraints and bureaucratic resistance.” This is how they got an additional $660 million in foreign aid for Israel and how, he said, “given that this was an election year.”

He also wrote to his constituents, largely Jewish at the time, I quote.  He said, “We also gently suggested to the Secretary Cyrus Vance that we were prepared to take the fight for increase in aid to the floor of Congress.  That it might put the administration in an election year in a bad light with some of its most important constituencies if it would be seen to be opposing in an effort to help Israel.”

And then, shortly thereafter, Secretary Vance [said] the administration had decided to recommend an increase of from $1 billion to $1.2 billion in additional military assistance, but to keep at the same level — $785 million — the amount of economic assistance for Israel.  So an additional half of a billion dollars of U.S.  money went to Israel as a result of the pressure of Steven Solarz and his fellow agents for Israel in the U.S.  Congress in 1980, when the U.S.  economy was in the doldrums as it is today.

Kathleen Wells: As it is today.

Jeffrey Blankfort: And you have the same thing happening today, 30 years later, except Solarz is no longer in Congress.  We have Howard Berman.  We have Charles Schumer.  We have Jane Harman.  We have Henry Waxman.  We have Eric Cantor.  We have Eric Weiner, Eliot Engle, Gerald Nadler, and I could keep on and on and on.


Kathleen Wells: And why hasn’t there been a national campaign to educate Americans about U.S.  aid to Israel and an attempt to end it?
Jeffrey Blankfort: Well, there is an organization.  There are campaigns, but they’re not conducted with enthusiasm, and they don’t have the enthusiastic support of people in the solidarity movement who believe that the problem is U.S.  imperialism and not Israel.
In their slogans, they keep repeating, “End the occupation.  End the occupation.” I would say that the majority of Americans, if you ask them on the street, and you say “End the occupation,” they won’t know what you’re talking about.  But if you say, “Stop aid to Israel” and you tell them how much money is involved, particularly at this point in time, they would put their heads up, and they would wonder, and they would be concerned, especially when after-school programs are being cut and when their teachers are no longer able to get jobs.  And when they themselves are out of work.


SOURCE:  [1] Israel Shamir Newsletter of November 6, 2010: available at:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shamireaders/messages

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Israel is the most immediate threat to the future of the planet: Jeffrey Blankfort

>Via Rebel News

Israel is the most immediate threat to the future of the planet: Jeffrey Blankfort

Monday, 25 October 2010 20:59 Kourosh Ziabari  
Jeffrey Blankfort is an American photojournalist, radio producer and Middle East analyst. He is a well-known pro-Palestinian activist whose articles and writings have appeared on Counter Punch, Voltairenet, Palestine Think Tank, Dissident Voice and many other publications.
He currently hosts radio programs on KZYX in Mendocino, CA and KPOO in San Francisco. Blankfort was formerly the editor of the Middle East Labor Bulletin and co-founder of the Labor Committee of the Middle East. In February 2002, he won a lawsuit against the Zionist organization Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which was found to have been spying on the American citizens critical of Israel and its expansionistic policies.

Jeffrey joined me in an exclusive interview to discuss the influence of Israeli lobby on the decision-makers of the U.S. government, Israel’s illegal, underground nuclear program, the prospect of Israeli – Palestinian conflict and the imminent threat of an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Blankfort is quite outspoken in his criticism of the apartheid regime of Israel and believes that Israel is the most immediate threat to the future of our planet.

Kourosh Ziabari: In your article “The Israel Lobby and the Left: Uneasy Questions”, you elaborately explore the dominance of Israeli lobby over the U.S. administration and cite good examples of the influence of well-off Zionists on the multinational companies and mainstream media in America. My question is that, what are the root causes of this enormous power and immense wealth which the Zionists have possessed?
How did the Jews take over the vast resources of power and money that has made them capable of framing, modifying and overturning the political equations in the United States?

Jeffrey Blankfort: That question requires a long and complicated answer. In short, an important, well organized segment of the American Jewish community emerged after World War II that has been dedicated to the establishment and prospering of a Jewish state in historic Palestine in which the lives and well being of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs were of no consequence.

That this segment did not and has never represented the majority of American Jews has been more than been made up for by its concerted activity on Israel’s behalf in every critical sector of U.S. society and at every level of the nation’s political life. Its success would not have been possible, however, were it not for the fact that within its ranks have been a sizeable number of wealthy Jewish businessmen who have been quite willing to expend the funds necessary to either purchase the support of the U.S. Congress as well as virtually all of the state legislatures or intimidate Israel’s would-be critics into silence.

Well before the birth of the first Zionists, Jewish bankers and capitalists had established themselves in Europe and the United States so it was not surprising that a number of them, beginning with Lord Rothschild in the early part of the century, became supporters of the Zionist project. Now, far and away, they make up the largest segment of individual donors to both political parties.

The media, as could be expected, was one of its primary targets, and that avowedly pro-Israel interests, although not exclusively Jewish, such as Rupert Murdoch, now thoroughly dominate it at every level is, unfortunately proved on a daily basis.

While there should be no question that this Israel support network, euphemistically described as a “lobby,” has been a major force in shaping U.S. Middle East policies overall, and the determinant factor in dealing with the Israel-Palestine conflict, its power has its limits. While it was able, through its agents in the White House and the Pentagon, to push the U.S. into a war on Iraq, it has yet to get Washington to bomb Iran or, apparently, to sanction an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. It is clear that there are important elements within the Pentagon as well as the intelligence agencies which know that an attack by either the U.S. or Israel on Iran would more likely than not lead to a global catastrophe.

KZ: In your articles, you’ve alluded to the conflicts and struggles between the U.S. and Israel administrations during the past decades in which the U.S. Presidents, starting from Richard Nixon, tried to curb the expansionistic policies of Israel and bring about an improved living condition for the oppressed nation of Palestine. Should you believe that there have been such efforts on the side of U.S. administration, what has led to their failure, having in mind that they’ve repeatedly proclaimed their commitment to the security of Israel?
JB: There has not been the slightest interest on the part of any US president, I suspect, in improving the living conditions for the Palestinians. Halting Israeli expansion and getting Tel Aviv to withdraw from all the territories it conquered in 1967 has been seen as being in the U.S. national interest.

All the past efforts have failed because none of the presidents have been willing to spend the domestic political capital that would be necessary to force an Israeli withdrawal and particularly so when they know their efforts will be opposed by the overwhelming majority of both houses of Congress irrespective of party affiliations as well as by the Zionist dominated media.
The only one who made a serious effort and who was willing to confront the Zionist network and Congress was George Bush Sr., when he denied Israel its request for $10 billion in loan guarantees in 1991 and again in 1992 but even he was eventually forced to surrender.

KZ: Israelis are used to employing the label anti-Semitism to defame and vilify whoever dares criticize their belligerent, aggressive policies and actions. They accuse whoever criticizes them of being anti-Semitist. This makes the politicians and opinion-makers hesitant and demoralized in talking of Israel negatively. Is there any solution to reveal the futility of anti-Semitism label and educate the public that the criticism of Israel is different from criticizing Judaism?
JB: The allegation of “anti-Semitism” leveled against critics of Israel does not carry the weight it once did but it still is extremely effective, particularly, when the accused is employed by the mainstream media as we have seen recently in the case of Helen Thomas, Octavia Nasr and Rick Sanchez, and in the film industry which has long been a Zionist bastion and which was brought into existence by Jews in the last century, although none at the time were Zionists.

The power of the accusation of anti-Semitism to bring public figures to their knees will continue to exist until there is a sufficient number of prominent Americans who are willing to challenge it. When that will be I won’t begin to speculate.

KZ: Although undeclared, it’s confirmed by the Federation of American Scientists that Israel possesses up to 200 nuclear warheads. Being a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel has never allowed the IAEA to probe into its nuclear arsenal. We already know about the destiny of Mordecai Vanunu who swapped his freedom with the expression of truth. What’s your viewpoint about the destiny of Israel’s nuclear program? Will Tel Aviv continue enjoying immunity from responsibility?
JB: As long as the Zionist support network controls Congress and as long as no American president as the courage to even mention the existence of Israel’s nuclear weapons, and while the U.S. continues to hold the purse strings to the UN, Israel will continue to enjoy both immunity and impunity. Had the leadership of the now non-existent anti-nuclear movement in the US, like the “peace movement” not been also Zionist-dominated, there might have been some debate on the issue but because it was, the subject was considered off limits.

KZ: Let’s turn to Iran. Iran’s is being portrayed by the U.S. mainstream media in a distorted and hypocritical way. Many Americans who even hadn’t heard the name of Iran before are now exposed to a horrifying and dreadful image of the country presented to them by the Zionist-led media outlets. They aren’t aware of the historical civilization of Iran and its unique cultural, social features. How is it possible to unveil the concealed realities of Iran for the Americans who don’t find the proper opportunities to get familiarized with the misrepresented Iran?
JB: Most American would have a problem finding Iran or any other country in the Middle East, or for that matter, anywhere in the world on a map. They are, for the most part, what can be called “geographically challenged,” as well as historically challenged. There is no antidote to that on the horizon which is why Washington is able to get away with making war on countries and peoples that have never done them harm. If there was a military draft as there was during the Vietnam War, neither the war in Iraq or Afghanistan would have gone on as long as they have and there would be opposition to an attack on Iran.

When Nixon cleverly halted the draft of 18-year olds in the early 70s, that took the backbone out of the anti-war movement and that is the reason that as hard pressed as the U.S. is today to maintain an army large enough to fight multiple wars, Washington will not bring back the draft. Hiring private contractors became the alternative. Without the fear of 18-year olds that they will be taken into the army, there is no anti-war movement and there is none worthy of the name at this moment in the United States.

KZ: Many people around the world have come to believe that the media in the United States are unrestrictedly free and can express whatever they want to, without any impediment or obstruction imposed on them by the administration. It’s almost accurate to say that the U.S. government does not have any direct involvement in the media-related affairs; however, there seems to be an implicit pressure on the media not to cross the red lines and violate the unwritten laws, including the criticism of Israel. Can you elaborate on this more precisely?
JB: It is not the government that prevents criticism from Israel in the media but fear of the repercussions that are guaranteed to follow any genuine criticism be it written or in cartoon form in the U.S. media, even when that criticism is leveled by a Jewish journalist. There are several organizations, most prominently the Anti-Defamation League, CAMERA, and HonestReporting which are able to unleash at a moment’s notice a torrent of emails and letters to the editor, and in certain cases, visits to the offices of an offending newspaper, to make sure those in the media know what they can and cannot write. Since there is no corresponding pressure from Israel’s critics in the public, most editors choose to avoid a fight.

There was a time when a number of columnists in the mainstream press did write critically of Israel and got away with it. But that was 20 years ago and they are no longer around

KZ: As the final question, what’s your prediction for the future of Israel? Will it continue to determine the U.S. foreign policy and rule the American politicians? Is it capable of maintaining the blockade of Gaza? After all, will Israel succeed in surviving politically?
JB: As long as Israel’s supporters, or agents in the U.S., are able to control the U.S. Congress and intimidate whoever happens to be president and as long as those same forces dominate the media there will be no change in the U.S. or in the situation in Gaza. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, while slowly growing in the U.S., does not have the intensity that it has elsewhere and its targets are limited to what Israel and U.S. companies do in the West Bank so, realistically, there is unlikely to be any meaningful pressure coming from the U.S.What Israel does, however, may produce changes that are unpredictable at the moment. Having twice been defeated by Hezbollah, Israeli officials keep threatening another war on Lebanon and since the U.S., Europe and the UN have let them get away with all their previous wars on Lebanon, they are likely to try again.

Unlike the Palestinians, the Lebanese are able and willing to aggressively fight back as the Israeli soldiers know all too well, from their resistance to occupation and their halting of the vaunted Israeli wehrmacht in 2006.
Should Israel find a way to attack Iran, the repercussions from that might be sufficient to send Israel on the road to what will ultimately be viewed as self-destruction. At the moment, thanks to the unconditional backing by the U.S. for all it crimes, and given its arsenal of nuclear weapons, I consider Israel to be the most immediate threat to the future of the planet.

Kourosh Ziabari is an independent journalist from Iran and frequent contributor to Rebel News.

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