Philip Weiss on August 23, 2016
Over the weekend there was a lot more talk about Donald Trump and his operatives loving Russia, and about how Vladimir Putin wants Trump to win. “The hand of the Kremlin has been at work in this campaign for some time,” Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager said on ABC.
The Russian influence must be true, because it’s all over our media; but you can be sure it’s only half true because they’re saying it so loud. The other half of the truth is that Russia is going to lose, big (because the media are talking about it and because Trump is going down). And the media have a guilty conscience, because they know the U.S. power structure is beholden to Israel, but they can’t talk about that foreign influence.
No one talks about the hand of Israel; but Hillary Clinton promises her biggest donor, Haim Saban, whose one issue is Israel, that she’ll work against the boycott campaign and she’ll meet Benjamin Netanyahu in her first month of office: the same Netanyahu who tried to undermine our president’s signature foreign policy achievement by speaking and lobbying Congress under the president’s nose, Netanyahu who said that America could be easily moved, Netanyahu who pushed the Iraq war in 2002 to transform the Middle East, even as Hillary Clinton was voting for that war.
The latest batch of Clinton emails show that then-Secretary of State Clinton was shuffling her schedule to meet with big Clinton Foundation donors who care about Israel. “I’m on shuttle w Avigdor Liberman…. I want to stop by to see hrc tonite for 10 mins,” wrote one of them.
When Donald Trump tried to take a “neutral” position on Israel, Hillary Clinton told the leading Israel lobby group AIPAC that he had “no business” being president and she was going to take the relationship with Israel “to the next level.”
When Bernie Sanders tried to stake out a neutral position on Israel, Clinton’s catspaw at the DNC, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, complained privately, “The Israel stuff is disturbing.” Or as Anne Lewis, Clinton’s political guru who is also a Zionist, said, “The role of the president of the United States is to support the decisions that are made by the people of Israel.”
Both Clinton, this summer, and Obama, four summers ago, squashed the party’s grass roots when they made a move to change the party platform on Israel, because the nominees worried about losing big Jewish Zionist donors– whose influence over the Democratic party is “gigantic” and “shocking,” JJ Goldberg and Stephane Schriock of Emily’s List said this spring.
So Clinton made sure that the word “occupation” didn’t appear in the platform, in this the 50th year of the occupation. Just as Neera Tanden, the Clinton aide who heads a Democratic Party thinktank, censored articles that were critical of Israel; and a few months later the authors of those articles were no longer employed by her thinktank; and meantime Tanden kissed up to Benjamin Netanyahu, at the very time that he was undermining President Obama on the Iran deal, and months after he had used racist appeals– “Arab voters are coming out in droves”– to win another term.
But let’s talk about Russian influence.
It has now been ten years since The Israel Lobby paper was published in London– not here, because it couldn’t be published here. Notwithstanding the article and book’s impact, it’s a shadow impact; everyone in the shadow of the establishment has read it and everyone in the establishment has read it too, but with a plain brown cover on it, as Colin Powell’s former chief of staff joked. Because to be in the establishment you must deny its importance. The Atlantic, which commissioned and killed the original paper, continues to publish Jeffrey Goldberg, who once served in the Israeli military, and who helped give us the Iraq war with bad reports in 2002, and who tried to undermine the Iran deal and who calls the fascistic defense minister Avigdor Lieberman by his nickname “Yvet” and the milquetoast centrist Yitzhak Herzog by his nickname “Boogie.”
And everyone in American public life calls the fascistic prime minister of Israel by his nickname, Bibi. Including PBS. I don’t know what Vladimir Putin’s nickname is, and I don’t want to know.
The central idea of the Israel lobby is simple and it has been confirmed a hundred times but the media will never report it directly. Here it is: United States support is an existential issue for Israel; but non-Jewish voters and leaders cannot be counted upon to love Israel on their own, and therefore the tiny American Jewish community must speak in one voice and (unified checkbooks) to persuade American leaders that it’s in the U.S.’s best interest to do so.
Israel supporters confirm this idea again and again. “What keeps me up at night is the dependence of Israel on the United States” —Abe Foxman. “American Jews had a deferential attitude toward Israel. They saw their job to support Israel, to provide Israel with financial and political support it asked for” — Dov Waxman, scholar. “Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States… American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.” –the late neocon godfather Irving Kristol. “We [Jews] don’t need to be advocates for Palestinians. We need to be advocates for Israel… because the essence of Zionism is… you [Jews] shape your destiny, you don’t let others do it” — perennial White House aide and peace processor-charade leader Dennis Ross.
So the Emergency Committee for Israel, a group started by Kristol’s son’s Bill, gives Arkansas Rep. Tom Cotton nearly $1 million so he could become Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton after just two years in the House and then lead the charge against the Iran deal.
But let’s talk about Russia’s influence.
Israel’s influence has distorted our politics for nearly 40 years. Tom Friedman told a British interviewer that George W. Bush abandoned the peace process because he saw his father take on the Israel lobby and lose a second term. Tom Friedman said the Congress is “bought and paid for” by the Israel lobby. Tom Friedman told an Israeli interviewer that if you had put 25 neoconservatives on a desert island in 2002, we wouldn’t have had an Iraq war.
But Friedman never wrote about the lobby head on, a dereliction of duty if ever there was one. It is just too embarrassing or hurtful to talk about the role of Zionist Jews in US public life. The idea has to be suppressed because a, we all know that there is a dual loyalty element implicit in Zionism and talking about the lobby brings up the whole international-Jew canard; and b, the lobby has been effective by working behind the scenes as a “nightflower,” so its purpose is defeated when people talk about it and everyone gets to weigh in. But if you don’t talk about it, then everyone just accepts it as the given of the American power structure, which is where we are now. Chris Matthews is constantly doing Irish Catholic identity politics when Irish Catholic Americans come on his show, but he’s afraid to say boo about the powerful pro-Israel Jews who own/run his employer Comcast, the largest media company in the country– Brian Roberts who participated in the Maccabee Games in Israel and David Cohen who once headed the local Jewish Federations.
From the start, empowered Jewish journalists denied that there was a lobby or it was powerful. Jeffrey Goldberg told the Center for Jewish History that it was no different from the ball-bearings lobby. David Remnick made the joke that if there wasn’t an Israel lobby, Osama bin Laden would be able to go back into the construction business. And meanwhile he was publishing Jeffrey Goldberg’s reporting about Saddam’s links to Al Qaeda and Saddam’s acquisition of WMD that helped the US get into Iraq. Why did Goldberg push this stuff? Was it out of concern for Israel? There’s never been an accounting.
And three years after his Osama joke, Remnick gave an interview to a Hebrew publication in which he acknowledged that the American Jewish community had sustained the occupation:
How long can you expect that they [US Jews] will love unconditionally the place called Israel? You’ve got a problem. You have the status of an occupier since 1967…. Sorry, it can’t go on this way. The Jewish community is not just a nice breakfast at the Regency.
But like Friedman, Remnick doesn’t publish this analysis under his byline. It’s out of the side of his mouth. He knows there’s a price to be paid. With the exception of Yousef Munayyer, Remnick publishes Zionists – people like Ari Shavit, who works for AIPAC and lobbies Jewish kids on campus, and David Makovsky, of the AIPAC spinoff WINEP, who has said that checkpoints won’t be so burdensome when Israel uses “appropriate biometrics” for Palestinians in those lines. The magazine’s go-to reporter on Israeli political trends is Bernard Avishai, who’s very good, but let’s be clear– a cultural Zionist.
If you don’t like Russia, you can surely still make your way in public life, but if you don’t like Israel, it’s a CLM, as they say at Goldman Sachs. Career Limiting Move. When Jim Clancy accused pro-Israel groups of doing “hasbara,” or PR, around the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, he lost his job at CNN. When Jimmy Carter accused Israel of practicing apartheid, he got attacked on air by Wolf Blitzer and Terry Gross and was exiled from the Democratic Convention.
And four reporters at the New York Times have had kids in uniform for Israel, including columnist David Brooks, the go-to pundit on NPR and PBS who said after his dozenth trip to Israel that he is “gooey-eyed” about Israel. And the New York Times bureau chief in Israel lives in an addition to a house that was stolen from a prominent Palestinian journalist in 1948; and that journalist’s daughter the physician and activist Ghada Karmi has written and spoken about visiting that house to try and overcome her pain; but one thing you can be sure of: That story won’t be in the New York Times. Josh Marshall will tell you all about Russia influencing Trump, and meantime he names his baby after an Israeli war hero, but ho hum.
But let’s talk some more about the Kremlin.
The media is all about how much money Paul Manafort got from the Ukrainians, but the media won’t tell you that the two guys advocating the bombing of Assad in the New York Times work at a thinktank, WINEP, that the Israel lobby group AIPAC spun off, and one of those authors has called for American Jews to be “advocates for Israel,” not for Palestinians. It won’t tell you that Sheldon Adelson regrets wearing an American uniform, and wished he was wearing an Israeli uniform.
It will never put all the facts together and name the trend, as I am doing here right now, out of my back pocket. So I remember that Samantha Power once described the Israel lobby as “a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import,” and as a result had to make the execrable rabbi Shmuley Boteach her consort in the rightwing Jewish community, so as to get the lobby’s approval for her appointment to the U.N. job.
And that Chuck Hagel once said that “the Jewish lobby intimidates people” on Capitol Hill, and he almost didn’t become Defense Secretary because of that, and his grilling by the Senate resulted in a Saturday Night Live sketch that didn’t air in which Hagel was asked if he would “fellate a donkey for Netanyahu.”
That’s one good thing, everyone is now in on the joke. Even if the media can’t discuss it, everyone knows it. Our system is rigged.
But enough about all that. Let’s talk about Russian influence.