Thursday, July 10, 2008

DOES ISRAEL CONTROL THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY?

In 1960, John F. Kennedy, a Catholic Democratic candidate for President, went before the Southern Baptists in Houston Texas to assure all Americans that in case of a policy conflict between his Church and the United States, he would give his first loyalty to the United States.

By contrast, in 2008, Barack Obama, a Protestant Democratic candidate for President went before AIPAC, Israel’s lobby in the United States, and stated that he would give Israel total control over Jerusalem, a position never advanced by even the Bush Administration, and opposed by Christians and Muslims who also have deep religious roots in Jerusalem.

The spectacle of our Democratic Presidential candidate promising to yield to the wishes of a foreign power becomes especially alarming to those of us who want peace and withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the Palestinian West Bank when one examines the past and present policy positions of Israel as mirrored and implemented by the Israel Lobby in the United States:

· Israel lobbied to get the United States to attack Iraq in the Gulf War in 1990

· Israel lobbied to persuade the United States to invade Afghanistan in Iraq in 2002.

· Israel lobbied to persuade the United States to invade Iraq in 2003

· Israel is at this instant lobbying to induce the US to bomb or invade Iran

· Israel lobbies against any cut in funding for the Iraq War.

· Israel lobbies against any cut in US troops in Iraq and against any timetable for withdrawal.

· Israel continues the steady addition of new Jewish settlers in the West Bank, even during peace negotiations, and after “agreements.”

· Israel opposed every two state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict so far proposed.

· Israel lobbies for ever more monetary aid, loan guarantees, and armaments for Israel

· Israel urges and compels the US to veto all UN Resolutions critical of Israel

· Israel opposes peace groups in the US and labels them na├»ve

· Israel opposes any US brokering, intervention, or even handed mediation of the conflict with Palestine

In his review of the pioneering study by Mearsheimer and Walt entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,”[1] Michael Massing wrote:

“What AIPAC wants can be summed up very succinctly: a powerful Israel free to occupy the territory it chooses; enfeebled Palestinians, and unquestioning support for Israel by the United States.”[2]

Israel is politically allied in the United States with the military industrial complex, the Christian Right, the neocons, the Republicans, and Bush and Cheney, in taking these extreme hawkish positions. A Democratic candidate or office holder or voter thus cannot be heard to say that he opposes the policies of Bush and Cheney, when that same person supports the policies of Israel.

WHAT IS THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND WHERE DOES IT GET ITS POWER?

The Israel Lobby for purposes of this discussion is AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, although there are many other satellite Jewish groups with which it works in tandem that constitute the Lobby. AIPAC is controlled by a “Gang of Four” being 3 conservative Republican hawks, Robert Asher, Edward Levy, Meyer Mitchell, and Larry Weinberg, a conservative Democrat. AIPAC’s Director is Howard Kohr, a conservative Republican. AIPAC is mainly funded by very wealthy Wall Street lawyers, stock brokers, heirs to family fortunes and real estate developers, including at least one on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.

AIPAC gets its power by using the money of very wealthy right wing American Jews to elect or to defeat candidates for public office. In the last 25 years AIPAC has been responsible for the defeat of the following Members of Congress and Senators because they suggested even-handed treatment of Palestinians, or failed to support AIPAC sponsored resolutions, or were critical of some of the acts of Israel: Senator J. William Fulbright; Senator Charles Percy; Congressman Roger Jepsen; Congressman Pete McCloskey; Congressman Paul Findley; Congressman Earl Hilliard; Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. When Adlai Stevenson III ran for Governor of Illinois after serving as U.S. Senator until 1981, AIPAC worked actively to defeat him. Elected officials are thus terrified of AIPAC. Criticism of Israel or sympathy for Palestinians has become the “third rail of American politics.” The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles in a series of articles about AIPAC dated 10-28-05 raised the question: “Who is afraid of big bad AIPAC?” and answered: “Nearly everybody.” In Congress, every person, Democrat or Republican, with one or two exceptions votes the way that AIPAC requests. AIPAC drops its financial support and supports an opponent of any elected official who seeks to oppose illegal settlements, or who seeks an even handed brokering of peace, or who supports a viable state for Palestine.[3]

WHY DO AMERICAN JEWS VOTE AS AIPAC DIRECTS?

AIPAC does not speak for the vast majority of American Jews or of Israelis who continue to vote for and support liberal positions and causes including a two state solution for Israel and Palestine. However, as we shall see below, when AIPAC, its money and its propaganda focus on the election or defeat of a particular candidate, American Jewish voters tend to vote accordingly. Therein lies the problem. How is it that liberal American Jews are induced to vote the way hawkish right wing AIPAC tells them?

The analysis now becomes complicated and emotion-laden. Some Jews will understandably take offense because the analysis necessarily involves an examination of the inner fears of Jews and an attempt to answer the question: “What does it mean to be a Jew?” We must also attempt to understand a phenomenon something like the post traumatic stress syndrome of Jews that results from centuries of anti-Semitism, pogroms, and the Holocaust. Since the votes and the power of American Jews who follow the recommendations of AIPAC now affect the safety, peace and security of every human on the planet, how and what American Jews think, believe and vote becomes the business of all of us. We hope that American Jews, recognizing the failure of current policies to bring peace and security even for any of us, Israelis included, will consider this analysis and critique it.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A JEW?

There are Jews of all races, and skin colors, so the Jews are not a race. There are atheistic Jews, so Jews do not all have the same religion. The Bible and the Torah speak of Jews as a “tribe.” Some Jews speak of themselves as a “clan.” Jews are a group of people, spread around the world, who share the following attributes:

· A Jewish mother

· A shared fear, imbedded in ritual and belief, existing for over 3000 years, that Jews as a group, tribe or clan, will not survive. (Note this fear is not just a fear of individual death. It is a fear that the Jewish people will cease to exist.) Thus to maintain the group, Jews oppose marriage with non-Jews, and keep Kosher, eating only prescribed foods and not eating forbidden foods.[4] This fear was graphically compounded by the Holocaust that added a nightmarish current reality to this long standing inner fear.

· A group memory and history of hatred by Christians of Jews ever since the Crusades, of pogroms where Christians slaughtered Jews, mirrored in some Jews by a reciprocal hatred of Christians.

· Jews love Israel. The existence of Israel as a secure homeland for Jews is understandably profoundly comforting. Thus no matter what Israel does, an overwhelming preponderance of Jews love Israel. This love of Israel is at the inner subjective level of faith and of non-debatable religious belief. It is like super-patriotism. (and thus subject to easy manipulation) The maintenance of Israel has become a secular religion. If one criticizes Israel, American Jews see that in the same way Christians would see someone who criticizes their Christianity. Israel’s right to exist is simply non-debatable. This love also is rooted in fear that Jews may not survive.

MANIPULATING FEAR IS THE MOST POWERFUL TOOL IN POLITICS

The actual processes involved in manipulating fear were brought to our attention by Thandeka who is associate professor of theology at Meadville Lombard Theological School. She wrote an article entitled ‘The Confidence Man” that appeared in the magazine Tikkun in the May/June 2004 issue. According to Thandeka, three scholars, including W. Russell Neuman, conducted studies to determine which emotional attitudes are the most powerful in politics. They found that anxiety was the most powerful determinant of how a person would vote. These three scholars wrote a book, Affective Intelligence and Political Judgment published in 2000 by the University of Chicago. One of the scholars, W. Russell Neuman became an advisor to President Bush and works on information and security technology policy at the White House. According to Thandeka, it works as follows:

A controlling elite group:

1. Takes an issue that causes anxiety among some voters (Note: Like “terrorism,” 9/11 or “fear that Israel will be driven into the Sea” or fear of anti-Semitism)

2. Amplifies and augments this fear turning it into a high anxiety issue for most voters

3. Presents a candidate who guarantees hope and who promises that he will end the threat by massive military power

4. Gains new political capital from voters because of this new confidence in the leadership ability of the politician to end the threat

5. The candidate of the power elite wins the election but the candidate does not reduce the threat. He augments it because it serves him and the power elite. He then privatizes public works, give tax relief to the rich, and in all ways serves the interests of the power elite.

It is a con game on all of us played by the powerful elite.

It is apparent from the right wing manipulation of 9/11, terror, anthrax threats, airline security threats, and the like that this technique is very successful in the United States. It is also apparent that this same right wing manipulation of the fears of Jews is used to gain votes for pro war candidates in both Israel and the United States.

WITH THESE ATTITUDES, LIKES, DISLIKES BELIEFS, FEARS, AND VULNERABILITIES, AMERICAN JEWS HAVE ZEALOUSLY SOUGHT POLITICAL POWER AND MEDIA POWER

1. Jews have been very active in local communities, seeking leadership positions in the Democratic Party, writing letters to editors, raising money, protesting criticism of Israel, all in the “unequivocal support of every Israeli government.” Marshall Windmiller, Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University collected news clippings of these activities between 1980 and 2002.[5] The scope of these activities and the relentless zeal with which they are pursued, is surprising, if not alarming, to those of us who have been less involved.

2. Jews have actively sought elective offices in the federal government. Although Jews constitute only 2.4% of the population of the United States, 13% of the members of U.S. Senate are Jews. 6% of the US House of Representatives are Jews. The civic activism of American Jews is to be applauded.

Article VI of our Constitution states:

“The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

However, the policies, beliefs, and actions of these Jewish elected officials become critically important to all of us, Christians, Jews, and Moslems. Are they right wing hawks, dedicated to Israel no matter what Israel is or what Israel does, or can they separate their loyalties and abide by their constitutional oaths if the best interest of all of us in the United States are threatened? For example, is it really in our best interests to invade or bomb Iran? Should we in the U.S. continue to give Israel $3 Billion per year if Israel bombs Iran

The Koll Nader prayer recited by Jews during the Yom Kippur services in the fall of each year seems to nullify the constitutional oath for those Senators and Representatives who love Israel. The prayer, loosely translated, states:

“All personal vows that we are likely to make, all prohibitions, oaths, pledges, restrictions, limitations, or other equivalent expressions that we are like to vow, swear or proscribe for ourselves between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, which shall come to us for good, we publicly renounce all of them. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths, be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths.”

During the persecutions and inquisitions in Spain this prayer acquired a deep significance since hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to accept Christianity or face death, torture or both. By coming to the synagogue at the possible cost of their lives to hear this prayer, they publicly showed their renunciation of the forced conversions.”[6] (Emphasis added)

3. In the House and Senate, Jews have risen to positions of leadership and control, and have used those positions to advance Israel’s wishes. For example, Senator Diane Feinstein is on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senate Committee on Appropriations. The 29 member Senate Appropriations Committee has 15 Democrats and 14 Republicans. If Jewish Senators Diane Feinstein, Herb Kohl, and Frank Lautenberg choose to vote with the Republicans in refusing to cut spending for the Iraq War, it is apparent that our majority wishes are not being implemented. The acts and conduct of former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, Senator Joseph Lieberman are also questionable. It seems that he was so anxious to continue to serve Israel, that he left the Democratic Party and is now campaigning for Republican John McCain and the interests of Israel.

A very graphic example of concern is the case of Illinois Democratic Congressman Rahm Emmanuel. Emanuel is the son of an Irgun terrorist who fought the English and Palestinians in the 1940s as a part of the Zionist effort to colonize Israel. Although Emanuel is a natural born U.S. citizen, Emanuel chose to serve in the Israeli army, not the US Army in the Gulf War. Under Israel’s Law of Return, Emanuel as a Jew can settle in Israel anytime that he desires. Emanuel seems to have been somebody’s “Golden Boy.” Returning from the Gulf War, he made $18 million in 2 years working for a Jewish Wall Street Banker, Bruce Wasserstein. Emanuel was then elected to Congress in 2002. He rose through the ranks quickly. He got a seat on the coveted Ways and Means Committee. In January 2005, when asked by Meet the Press's Tim Russert whether he would have voted to authorize the war-'knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction'-Emanuel answered yes. 'I still believe that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do”

When Jack Murtha made his proposal for withdrawal from Iraq, Emanuel quickly declared that "Jack Murtha went out and spoke for Jack Murtha." As for Iraq policy, Emanuel added: "At the right time, we will have a position." That was November, 2005. In June, 2006, it was obviously time, and Emanuel finally revealed his policy in a statement on the floor of the House during debate over Iraq, thus: "The debate today is about whether the American people want to stay the course with an administration and a Congress that has walked away from its obligations or pursue a real strategy for success in the war on terror. We cannot achieve the end of victory and continue to sit and watch, stand pat, stay put, status quo and that is the Republican policy. Democrats are determined to take the fight to the enemy."

In 2006, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appointed him Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Emanuel had 22 Democratic Congressional seats to fill in the 2006 Congressional election. He filled 18 of them with pro war Democratic hawks and funded them.[7] Anti war candidates like Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Latas in my own district in Arizona were pushed aside in favor of pro war hawks. In my District, Emanuel backed a Jewish woman Gabriel Giffords who was pro war and a Blue Dog Democrat. Emanuel caused 18 new hawks to be elected to the House in 2006, a year when a majority of Democratic voters wanted the US out of Iraq.

4. There are many Jewish owners, editors, and managers of the mainstream media who support “Israel no matter what,” and thereby augment the power of AIPAC. They also augment AIPAC’s power either by ignoring facts such as are set forth here, or by labeling them “anti-Semitic.” These facts deserve separate treatment in another article.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THERE ABOUT ISRAEL THAT MERITS THE ONGOING LOVE OF AMERICAN JEWS?

There is of course Israel’s Law of Return that offers a homeland and a refuge for Jews all over the world if they wish to settle there. We can all understand this safety net for Jews, and we can understand their need for it based on history. However, there have been other such holocausts before and since, and neither the UN nor anyone else has set up a State just for them with a law of return.

In any case, Israel is no longer a promising democratic paradise of Kibbutzim, socialist enterprises, and a state that benefits all Jews:

Education and health care have been privatized.[8]

One in three children is hungry.[9]

State owned enterprises have been privatized and nineteen very wealthy families now control Israel. As Roni Ben Efrat wrote in Challenge on May 28, 2008, Mammon now dominates Israel.

“Mammon in Zion

What’s happening today is Marx’s revenge. Marx taught us that ideologies often serve as a superstructure camouflaging the real issues. Today there is no more camouflage. Mammon stands before us nakedly proclaiming: ‘I am thy God, O Israel!’”

This is not a citation from a leftist visionary, but rather from Israeli attorney Yaakov Weinroth, interviewed by Gidi Weitz in Haaretz on May 9, 2008. Weinroth, an orthodox Jew and self-proclaimed Zionist, is famous for defending powerful figures accused of corruption. Is Zionism too, we wonder, an ideology camouflaging other interests? The evidence is now in the affirmative.

Zionists claim that Israel arose in order to provide the Jewish people with a national home. But decade by decade, it has become ever clearer that Israel is not a state of, by and for the Jewish people. It is rather a state of, by and for a sprinkling of families, 19 in all, whose income amounts to $70 billion — 88% of the national budget.

This budget is a stumbling block to the poor. All levels of education have been devastated. On the books there is universal health care, but many can’t afford to buy medicines. Israel’s socio-economic inequality, as measured by the UN Development Program’s Gini Index (0.0 = perfect equality), has worsened steadily from 0.222 in 1982 to 0.392 in 2005, making it the most unequal of Western democracies with one exception: the United States (Gini = 0.408).

Poverty is no longer confined to the jobless. The government has lowered the unemployment rate, indeed, to 7.6%, but there is a trade-off: working people make up 37% of the nation’s poor. The country’s much vaunted economic growth is way off kilter. It is high in high-tech, which supports very few, but scarce in traditional industries and services, where most people work.

This steady impoverishment of the population has not just “happened.” It has happened because of laws and decisions that sold the country’s assets to the 19 families at bargain-basement prices, all in the name of the free market. As Weinroth said to Weitz: ‘Power is no longer a separate entity. Money is power. Money rules all, it flows through every hidden vein of the society.’”[10]

The point of all of this is that Israel, like the United States, is now dominated and controlled by a tiny, wealthy, hawkish, power elite. Both countries are in the grip of an unregulated, out of control, market economy and an armaments industry. The resulting acts and policies of the United States and Israel are not in the best interests of most people. The power elite in both the United States and Israel uses its media power to augment our fears and manipulate our love of country and our patriotism so as to cause to vote for persons who will serve this wealthy power elite in both countries. Naturally, the power elite in Israel is allied with the power elite in the United States. So Israel is now very much like the United States. In both countries there may be the promise of democracy, but there is little else to “love.” Both countries seek to dominate lands outside their borders. Both countries rapidly create more and more terrorists by their acts and policies. Both countries officially use preventive war and torture to implement their policies. Both countries are making millions of human beings desperately miserable. Both countries are actively increasing the danger of World War III. The truth is that Israel is not a safe haven for Jews. Israel is a lighted fuse that at worst will set off World War III, and at best will create millions of anti-Semitic Muslim terrorists who will be active for decades.

It is our hope that all of us can speak the truth about our plight and act together to solve our problems. The key to all of this is that American Jews and all of us who are brow beaten and intimidated by charges of “anti-Semitism” and “self-hating Jew” must be wary of those who would manipulate their fears, must be realistic about what Israel is and is not, and must stop voting as the wealthy right wing hawks of AIPAC recommend.

Dated: July 7, 2008

Douglas R. Page dougpage2@earthlink.net This article can also be found on Doug’s
Blog at http://www.thenewliberator.blogspot.com/



[1] Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen M., "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" (March 2006). KSG Working Paper No. RWP06-011 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=891198

[2] Michael Massing, “The Storm over the Israel Lobby,” The New York Review of Books, June 8, 2006, 64

[3] Nathan Jones, “National Capitol Insiders Vote AIPAC, Israel’s American Lobby, Second Most Powerful Interest Group in Washington,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Jan-Feb 1998, 65-66

Ari Berman, “AIPAC’s Hold,” The Nation, August 4, 2006

[4] Gilad Atzmon, “From Esther to AIPAC,” Counterpunch, March 3-4, 2007

http://www.counterpunch.org/atzmon03032007.html

[5] Marshall Windmiller, “The Israel Lobby and the Peace Process,” http://www.middleeast.org/launch/redirect.cgi?num=15&a=4

[6] Chaim Chain, “Kol Nidre,” Jewish Magazine, Sept-Oct 2007;

http://www.jewishmag.com/117mag/kolnidre/kolnidre.htm

[7] John Walsh, “How Rahm Emanuel Has Rigged a Pro-War Congress,” Counterpunch, Oct. 15-16, 2006

http://www.counterpunch.org/walsh10142006.html

[10] Roni Ben Efrat, “Mammon in Zion,” Challenge, May-June 2008 http://www.challenge-mag.com/en/article__211

1 comment:

Doug Page said...

July 19, 2008
I am Doug Page, the author of this essay. I am concerned that David Duke types will make use of this essay in ways that I do not intend or want. Since I wrote this essay, I have been persuaded that it is Wall Street, the armaments industry, and the oil industry that really control the Democratic Party, and would control it even if there was no Israel. Michael Garcia Jr. calls this the MICC, meaning the Military Industrial, CONGRESSIONAL, Complex. This Complex wants perpetual war or at least preparation for war to preserve the dollar as the dominant currency, to avoid depression, and to keep the global class elite in power. Unfortunately, Israel is an enthusiastic ally in this objective, as is its lobby, AIPAC, as are many good, well intentioned American Jews who support AIPAC and vote as it suggests. American Jews will give us little help in confronting this MICC, but we must do it without their help, for their own good, and for our own best interests, truth, justice, peace and democracy. Doug Page