August 30 / 31, 2008
What If the Israeli Lobby Was the Islamic Lobby?
By B. R. GOWANI
Abu Faisal was White House press secretary (instead of Ari Fleischer)
Altaf Adham was deputy national security advisor (instead of Elliott Abrams)
Sofian Bishr was Supreme Court Justice instead of Stephen Breyer
Tarf Kaukab was Nightline host (instead of Ted Koppel)
Dawud Bushr was New York Times columnist (instead of David
Rukan Badar Ghiyath was Supreme Court Justice (instead of Ruth Bader Ginsburg)
Thamer Furud was New York Times columnist (instead of Thomas Friedman)
Laith Keid was host of Larry King show (instead of Larry King)
Yousuf “Yo” Luqman was US Senator from Connecticut (instead of Joseph “Joe” Lieberman)
Zuhaa Midlaj was New York Times reporter (instead of Judith Miller)
Dawud Fouad was Bush’s speechwriter (instead of David Frum)
Lu’ay Labib was Cheney’s Chief of Staff (instead of Lewis Libby)
Polat Walif-Rizk was Rumsfeld’s Deputy Secretary of Defense (instead of Paul Wolfowitz)
Mahdi Parvez was editor of The New Republic magazine (instead of Martin Peretz)
Basil Kishwar was the editor of The Weekly Standard instead of (Bill Kristol)
Ali Wisam was the famous Nobel Peace laureate (instead of Elie Wiesel)
Jaafer Ghawth-Badr was a staff writer at New Yorker (instead of Jeffrey Goldberg)
Rifat Pir was the Chairman of the Defense Policy Board AdvisoryCommittee (instead of Richard Perle)
Yaman Sikandar was the famous filmmaker (instead of Steven Spielberg)
Ibrahim Faqih-Ma’n was the head of the Anti-Defamation League (instead of Abraham Foxman)
Alam Daoud-Vida was the famous lawyer (instead of Alan Dershowitz)
Imagine the above Muslims in key positions. There are 2 per cent Jews in the US and the same percentage of Muslims. Now consider for a moment that both communities have exchanged places as it happens on that TV show “Wife Swap.” Here not only wives but the entire community exchanges places. Or a still better example would be the 1970 film “Watermelon Man” in which a white man wakes up in the morning and discovers he has turned into a black person. Blackness becomes his fate.
However, first let us check out the power Jews have in the United States in order to imagine how things would have been different if the Muslims had exactly the same power.
This article, however, realizes that Jews are not a monolithic group. For instance: 75 per cent of Americans supported the war in 2003 in US, whereas the Jewish support was at 50 per cent.
Like many other Jews, the billionaire George Soros favors a dialogue between the Hamas (the elected government in the Palestinian territories) and the Israelis:
“… Israel, with the strong backing of the United States, refused to recognize the democratically elected Hamas government and withheld payment of the millions in taxes collected by the Israelis on its behalf. This caused great economic hardship and undermined the ability of the government to function. But it did not reduce popular support for Hamas among Palestinians, and it reinforced the position of Islamic and other extremists who oppose negotiations with Israel….”
There have always been Jewish people and institutions who have tried to work for some peaceful solution of the Palestinian/Israeli problem but the Jewish Lobby and pro Israel individuals have always succeeded in silencing or marginalizing those voices.
Bill and Kathleen Christison explain how the word “anti-Semite” is abused:
“Anyone who has the temerity to suggest any Israeli instigation of, or even involvement in, Bush administration war planning is inevitably labeled somewhere along the way as an anti-Semite. Just whisper the word ‘domination’ anywhere in the vicinity of the word ‘Israel,’ as in ‘U.S.-Israeli domination of the Middle East’ or ‘the U.S. drive to assure global domination and guarantee security for Israel,’ and some leftist who otherwise opposes going to war against Iraq will trot out charges of promoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the old czarist forgery that asserted a Jewish plan for world domination.”
A Few Clarifications
Before proceeding any further, it is important to remember the historic injustices suffered by the Jewish people. The past has not been especially nice to the Jews; rather it has been extremely cruel—mainly, in the form of European Christianity. The atrocious climax reached between 1939 and 1945 under Nazi Germany. Between five to six million Jews were murdered. But since then, although there have been some instances of targeting Jewish people and desecrating their cemeteries in Europe and elsewhere, these have not in any way affected their survival and growth as a distinct religious and cultural entity. And economically they are one of the few most powerful groups in the world.
In addition: There are many interest groups or lobbies in the United States who are doing immense harm to people within and without, and the dominant corporate press is one of those groups. People who want to register their protest or recommend changes are at the mercy of the media managers. So, the Jewish Lobby is not the only one exerting influence. Nevertheless, the Lobby’s power is enormous and it has wielded it in such a devastating way that the whole of Middle East has been burning for quite a long time now — and in turn it affects the entire world.
There is, of course, a convergence of the US interest to control the oil; and, the Israeli interest to be the sole regional power. If one thinks from that perspective, then without doubt the US would have been in a better shape if it would have avoided the 2003 complete destruction of the almost-destroyed Iraq of 1991 and if it had left Saddam Hussein pitted against Iran. Not only would this have saved the US billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives but would have preserved its hegemony a little longer.
Anti-Arab, anti-Palestine, anti-Iran, anti-Muslim?
When a corporation exploits its workers it is called an exploiter. When a member of the majority discriminates against a member of the minority then she/he is called a racist. When a male discriminates against a woman he is called a sexist. When one person discriminates another on the basis of religion then that person is called a communalist. When anyone hates or kills a Jew (simply because he is a Jew), that person is called an anti-Semite. When a Muslim kills someone in the name of Islam, he is called a Muslim fundamentalist/militant/fanatic/etc.
What would you call those influential Jews, individuals and those belonging to the Lobby, in the US who played an important role in the war to destroy an Arab country of Iraq without any reason or are now pushing for a war against Iran?
They are beardless, suited, booted. They are not overtly religious like Taliban and so we can’t call them Jewsratics or Jews who are Israel Fanatics. However, their religion is Israel and so the appropriate word (for their world devastating pro Israel stand) should be “Israel Fanatics” or “Isratics.” These Isratics are on a revenge path for past injustices.
The victims are now the victimizers. Their victims are not the white Europeans but the Palestinians and other Arabs.
And the Isratics are equipped with a WMD or word of mass destruction, and so the moment anyone points out their control over the US Congress, government, news media, etc. she/he will be labeled an “anti-Semite.”
Auschwitz, located in Poland, (then under German control) was the largest of the many concentration camps where the Jews were transported and were murdered using all sorts of inhuman methods. Other communities suffered too.
For the organized Jewry, the “Holocaust” has become a profitable enterprise, as Norman Finkelstein’s insightful study, “The Holocaust Industry,” makes clear. Just one example: The Swiss banks’ offer of $600 million was rejected by the Jewish leaders and so in August 1998, they agreed to pay $1.25 billion. A press release by Swiss banks explained “the aim of the additional payment” “is to avert the threat of [US] sanctions as well as long and costly court proceedings.” Back in March, Edgar Bronfman, president of World Jewish Congress had warned the Swiss banks: “If the Swiss are going to keep digging their heels in, then I’ll have to ask all US shareholders to suspend their dealings with the Swiss [emphasis mine].” Finkelstein reminds us that the United States is equally guilty of the three categories (Swiss denial of asylum to refugees, claimants to inactive Swiss bank accounts, and victims of slave labor which proved advantageous to the Swiss) for which the Swiss had to pay; whereas, the US has not even been threatened, let alone charged.
“Many” lawyers were charging $600 an hour for filing claims, and one lawyer wanted $2,400 for reading Tom Bower’s book “Nazi Gold.”
Many other European governments, including Germany, have also paid huge sums of money to organized Jewry.
The US itself has never paid any money to the Native Indians, the blacks, and many others. One may wonder as to why the US government threatens other governments or their institutions to pay reparations to the Jews!
(In 1986, the World Court ordered the US to pay $17 billion to Nicaragua for multiple crimes. The US ignored the verdict.)
Most interesting to note: Finkelstein says, “The Holocaust’s mystery, Wiesel avows, is ‘noncommunicable;’ ‘we cannot even talk about it.’ Thus, for his standard fee of $25,000 (plus chauffeured limousine), Wiesel lectures that the ‘secret of Auschwitz’s ‘truth lies in silence.’”
Daniel McGowan provides a good portrait of this peace laureate.
“He is a multi-millionaire, but carefully cultivates the image of a perpetually disheveled professor. Although he has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Guardian of Zion Medal, and the Oprah Book Award, many people in Israel resent the way he has used the Holocaust to make his living. Some Israelis refer to him as a ‘sho’an.’ The word ‘sho’a’ is Hebrew for Holocaust; with the suffix it indicates a professional specializing in the subject. So it is both funny and derogatory, not unlike Norman Finkelstein referring to Wiesel as the ‘resident clown’ of the Holocaust circus.”
Wiesel was awarded a Noble Peace Prize in 1986. In 1983, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s secretary, his name was recommended by half of the US Congress.
Noam Chomsky says that in the US, Wiesel is respected as a “secular saint” and is considered a “critic of fascism.”
However, the saint keeps his mouth shut where Israel’s crimes are involved:
“I support Israel, period. I identify with Israel, period. I never attack; never criticize Israel when I am not in Israel.”
This so called harbinger of peace was in the White House on February 27, 2003 to see the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. President George Bush was also there. Wiesel echoed the same old nonsense of comparing Germany of the late 1930s with 2003’s Iraq. In simple words he wanted Bush to start a war. He said: “It’s a moral issue. In the name of morality how can we not intervene.” “I’m against silence.” So he wanted Bush to scream out loud with weapons.
Further, there are people like the late Nahum Goldmann, President of the World Jewish Congress, who have criticized those who exploited the Jewish tragedy:
“We will have to understand that Jewish suffering during the Holocaust no longer will serve as a protection, and we certainly must refrain from using the argument of the Holocaust to justify whatever we may do. To use the Holocaust as an excuse for the bombing of Lebanon, for instance, as Menachem Begin does, is a kind of “Hillul Hashem” [sacrilege], a banalization of the sacred tragedy of the Shoah [Holocaust], which must not be misused to justify politically doubtful and morally indefensible policies.”
The letter H in the word “Holocaust” is in capital letter because many influential Jewish leaders firmly believe that theirs is the unique tragedy. In other words, they have a copyright over the word “Holocaust” and thus the millions of Native Indians, African slaves, Armenians (victims of Turks), the Congolese (victims of Belgium), the Bengalis of East Pakistan, later Bangladesh, (victims of West Pakistan, now Pakistan), Roma and Sinti people or gypsies (victims of Nazi Germany), and others can’t claim their tragedies as holocaust.
Robert Fisk tells us that the word holocaust has been in currency since the 18th century. The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as a matter fact, used it for the Armenians:
“In 1915 the Turkish Government began and ruthlessly carried out the infamous general massacre and deportation of Armenians in Asia Minor.” The “war criminals,” that is the Turks, massacred “uncounted thousands of helpless Armenians – men, women and children together; whole districts blotted out in one administrative holocaust – these were beyond human redress.”
Money Talks, Politicians Walk
It is the power of the influential Isratics. And they are everywhere in the US. The third richest man in the US (and the richest Jew in the world) and the owner of two of Las Vegas’s huge casino resorts, the Palazzo and the Venetian, Sheldon Adelson, opposes the two-state (Israel/Palestine) solution. In October 2007, during Republican donors’ visit to the White House, he warned President George Bush that the policy which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is pursuing in the Middle East would ruin him.
His both arms around Adelson and his wife’s shoulders, Bush replied: “You tell your Prime Minister [Israel’s Ehud Olmert] that I need to know what’s right for your people—because at the end of the day it’s going to be my policy, not Condi’s. But I can’t be more Catholic than the Pope.”
AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)
The Jewish Lobby is made up of several Jewish groups. The Israel Lobby includes some pro Israel Evangelical Christians and Christian Zionists. AIPAC is one of the most important of the Jewish groups.
Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in 2005 that AIPAC’s “leaders can be immoderately frank about the group’s influence.” Years back, while dining with AIPAC’s Steve Rosen, Goldberg asked if the 1992 incident involving the then AIPAC President David Steiner had hurt the AIPAC’s influence. “A half smile appeared on his face, and he pushed a napkin across the table. ‘You see this napkin?’ he said. ‘In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.’”
The above conversation is not an isolated incident.
On October 22, 1992, New York businessman Haim (Harry) Katz [HK] recorded his conversation with AIPAC President David Steiner [DS] without his knowledge. Later, when the conversation became public, Steiner resigned. Excerpts of that conversation:
DS: Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which a fabulous thing, $3 billion was in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don’t even know about.
DS: … I said look Jim [Baker, Papa Bush’s Secretary of State], “You don’t want a fight before the election. It’s going to hurt Bush….
HK: … But you met with Baker. . .
HK: Personally. Because you know, he’s the one who cursed, who cursed the Jews.
(When the Jewish influence in the US was mentioned at a government meeting on Middle East, Baker supposedly said, “Fuck the Jews. They don’t vote for us [Republicans] anyway.”)
DS: Of course, do you think I’m ever going to forgive him for that?
DS: Do you think I could ever forgive Bush for what he did September 12th  a year ago? What he said about the Jews for lobbying in Washington?
(Bush Sr. had said: I was “up against some powerful political forces . . . I heard today there was something like 1,000 lobbyists on the Hill working on the other side of the question. We’ve got one lonely little guy down here doing it.”)
HK: … I thought [presidential candidate Ross] Perot did marvelous in the debates.
DS: He doesn’t know how to govern. He’s not going to make it. And there was an incident where his daughter was going out with a Jewish professor at school and he said, “I wouldn’t have my daughter marry a Jew.”
DS: … you ought to think about coming to some of these things. I’ll have a dinner this fall. I’ll have 18-20 senators there. I run programs in Washington. We just had a, I had at Ted Kennedy’s house last month kosher dinner. I brought foremost caterers down. I had 60 people on the couch for dinner. Last year, I did it in Al Gore’s house.
DS: I personally am not allowed, as president of AIPAC, to get involved in the presidential campaign, because I have to deal with whoever wins.
HK: … what will he [Bill Clinton] do for Israel, better than Bush…
DS: … Gore is very committed to us.
(Gore once said: “I have a 100 percent voting record for Israel, even though there wasn’t one synagogue in my congressional district.” And this person had lectured Jesse Jackson for meeting Yasser Arafat.)
DS: I’ve known Bill for seven, eight years … One of my friends is Hillary Clinton’s scheduler, one of my officer’s daughters works there. We gave two employees from AIPAC leave of absences to work on the campaign. I mean, we have a dozen people in that campaign, in the headquarters.
DS: Let me tell you the problem with the $10 billion in loan guarantees, right? We only have the first year. We have authorization from Congress, but it’s at the discretion of the president every year thereafter, so if Bush is there, he could say, you know, use it as a club, you know. ‘If you don’t give up Syria, I won’t give you the money. If you don’t give up the Golan Heights.’
DS: … A girl who worked for me at AIPAC stood up for them [Clintons] at their wedding. Hillary lived with her…. We have never had that with Bush…
DS: … He’s got something in his heart for the Jews, he has Jewish friends. Bush has no Jewish friends.
DS: Reagan had something . . . He knew Jews from the film industry; he was one of the best guys for us. He had an emotional thing for the Jews. Bush doesn’t have it…. Bush is, there’s a man with no principles. Absolutely no principles.
HK: … I wish we had a Jewish candidate for president.
DS: I don’t think the country’s ready.
HK: … I think Joe Lieberman would have, uh, would have, if he wasn’t Jewish….
(Lieberman was Albert Gore’s running mate in the 2000 presidential elections.)
DS: I’d like to see him on the Supreme Court.
HK: If Clinton is elected, has he told you who he’s going to put on the Supreme Court?
DS: We’re talking now…. We’re more interested right now, in the secretary of state and the secretary of National Security Agency. That’s more important to us.
HK: If Clinton is elected, who do you think will be secretary of state?
DS: I’ve got a list…. I’m not allowed to talk about it.
John Mersheimer and Steven Walt point out the use of pro-Israel congressional staffers as one more source for the Lobby. They quote former AIPAC chief Morris Amitay:
“There are a lot of guys at the working level up here” – on Capitol Hill – “who happen to be Jewish, who are willing . . . to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness . . . These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators . . . You can get an awful lot done just at the staff level.”
A former AIPAC staff member Douglas Bloomfield sheds light on how the congresspersons conduct their research:
“It is common for members of Congress and their staffs to turn to AIPAC first when they need information, before calling the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service, committee staff or administration experts.”
“[AIPAC is] often called on to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on tactics, perform research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes.”
A senior congressional staffer, writing under the pen name George Sunderland, here on the CounterPunch site, explains how the politicians attending the annual AIPAC meetings act:
“Command performances before AIPAC have become standard features in the life of a Washington elected official, like filing FEC reports and hitting on interns. The stylized panegyrics delivered at the annual AIPAC meeting have all the probative value of the Dniepropetrovsk Soviet’s birthday greeting to [the Soviet leader, Joseph] Stalin, because the actual content is unimportant; what is crucial is that the politician in question be seen to be genuflecting before the AIPAC board. In fact, to make things easier, the speeches are sometimes written by an AIPAC employee, with cosmetic changes inserted by a member of the Senator’s or Congressman’s own staff.”
Talking to the New York Sun in January 2003, Howard Kohr said, “Quietly lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq was one of AIPAC’s successes over the past year.”
Occasionally AIPAC is not successful. In 1981, it vehemently opposed the US sale of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) to Saudi Arabia but failed to block the sale. Former President Gerald Ford was infuriated at the AIPAC antics and called a Republican senator and fumed: “Are we going to let the fucking Jews run American foreign policy?”
Reagan announced the AWACS sale on national television with these words: “It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.”
But Edward Tivnan sees this sale as not much of a victory:
“… AIPAC had taken on the President of the United States, and almost, as Ronald Reagan himself had claimed, embarrassed him in front of the whole world. (What kind of President couldn’t sale five airplanes to a small Arab country, particularly one sitting on billions of dollars of oil crucial to American prosperity?) … ”
In March 2003, Collin Powell had said: “It is not driven by any small cabal that is buried away somewhere, that is telling President Bush or me or Vice President Cheney or [National Security Adviser Condoleezza] Rice or other members of the administration what our policies should be.”
But the reality is exactly opposite.
Foxman, National Director of Anti-Defamation League, is a very important figure; his power can be gauged by the meeting he had with Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, i.e., foreign minister,
“‘In his [Powell’s] own State Department there was a keen awareness of the strength of the Jewish lobbyists. Secretaries of State did not usually meet with lobbyists, but both Jewish officials and Jews that did not officially represent specific groups from Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League to Ronald Lauder, could meet with Powell on short notice…. At the State Department, Foxman had an aura of omnipotence. He was held responsible for the appointment of [Martin S.] Indyk as Undersecretary of State under Clinton, and was thought to have played a role in the appointments of Secretaries of State [Warren] Christopher and [Madeline] Albright. Powell related to Foxman almost as if he were someone to whom he must capitulate. Once Foxman told one of his deputies that Powell was the weak link. When the Secretary of State heard this he began to worry. He knew that in Washington a confrontation with the Jewish lobby would make his life difficult. Once he arranged a meeting with Foxman, but the busy Foxman postponed the meeting three times. When they eventually met, the head of the Anti-Defamation League apologized to the Secretary of State [for the postponements]. “You call, we come,” replied Powell, paraphrasing a well known advertisement for a freight company. That statement had much more meaning than just a humorous polite reply.’” (from Raviv Drucker and Ofer Shelah, Boomerang…).
Nevertheless, one has to accept the fact that even though Powell had been a part of governments during the 1991 Iraq War and the 2003 Iraq War, he was not in favor of war. One can argue that in that case he should have quit his position and thus boosting the morale of the anti-war movement.
Once on a visit to Jerusalem, he stood his ground, when he refused to comply with Sharon’s order.
Sharon: I don’t want you to go to Damascus [Syria]. I don’t think it serves the interests of peace, and we don’t like it here in Israel when you go to Damascus.
Powell: Ariel, thank you very much but I am going anyway. I am Secretary of State of the United States of America and not the foreign minister of Israel.
Powell was fed up with the neo-cons pushing for war and called them the “fucking crazies.”
It is obvious that it is the Israel Lobby’s power that enabled Sharon to order Powell; otherwise, in reality, he was just a premier of a tiny country — although in military means, the fourth most powerful country in the world.
To be continued Monday
B. R. Gowani can be reached at email@example.com. Notes and references available from the author on reques