Tag Archives: AIPAC

How the Israel Lobby Controls US Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Palestinian Child Murdered by Israelis

Last night on C-SPAN 3 at 1 a.m., I saw a very little seen hour-long documentary called “The Palestinian People Do Have Rights”. It was produced by the United Nations back in 1979 and was remarkable for focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a Palestinian viewpoint, which almost never happens in the US given how entirely one-sided our media is for the State of Israel. However, this isn’t the case necessarily with the rest of the world even among some of our European allies, who have a more nuanced perspective in the Middle East. But, unfortunately for this country, the entirety of what I’ll call the “Israeli Lobby” prevents any meaningful debate from taking place not only within the insular and historically-warped perspective of MSM propaganda but also within the White House, Congress, and the bulk of US academia as well. And, it is this fact which ought to (particularly a so-called open democratic Republic as ours) spur Americans to question the legitimacy of the very involvement of any US authority figure in the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Beyond the question of legitimacy of America’s role in mediating the conflict through the years, it behooves us to understand how and why Israel has been able to get pretty much everything they want in terms of expanding illegal settlements, billions in US foreign aid money, the wanton killing of Palestinian civilians for alleged “self-defense”, and the overall continued genocidal Apartheid occupation of a brutalized population in the prison-like ghettos of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In other words, the situation as it exists in the occupied territories is neither good for the US or Israel. Unfortunately, the Palestinian people are prevented from achieving self-determination under a sovereign state of their own, while remaining in a constant state of anxiety and terror from Israeli air strikes in a homeland they are treated worse than diseased cattle in.

Palestinian Land Loss

A good place to start to gain some degree of political perspective as to just how powerful the Israeli Lobby actually is in this country, as well as the ways in which it exercises its considerable power within the Washington beltway and beyond is The Washington Report. This alternative media source sponsored their annual conference this year at the National Press Club on March 24th, 2017 that was well attended but of course not discussed in mainstream discourse. Speakers included such luminaries as Grant F. Smith, Prof. John Mearsheimer (who co-wrote The Israel Lobby along with Stephen Walt), Hanan Ashrawi, filmmaker Tom Hayes, former Congressmen Jim Moran (D-VA) and Nick Rahall (D-WV), and many others. I’d like to highlight some of speakers more salient points given during their respective talks, which have all been posted for free on YouTube.

First, you might be wondering- “What exactly is the Israel Lobby?” It is actually more than AIPAC. Based on the research the Grant Smith did for his book Big Israel, he says:

“I reveal a $3.7 billion nonprofit ecosystem on track to reach $6.3 billion by 2020. With 14,000 employees, 350,000 volunteers, but a paying membership of approximately 774,000, it is this nonprofit lobby along with overlapping campaign-finance infrastructure- whether it is large individual donors, stealth political action committees- that provide Israel with the US support that it would otherwise not have.”

Octopus Stranglehold of the Israel Lobby

Now, when you add to that formidable force organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B’nai B’rith, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), think tanks like the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the many other Jewish NGO’s and Israeli-connected companies in this country especially within media empires, it becomes abundantly clear just how powerful the Israel Lobby really is and how it can wield such disproportionate influence on American foreign policy in the Middle East. And, the US taxpayer pays for it all to the tune of at least $254 billion in known foreign aid money to Israel, more than any other country in the world.

All this free foreign aid money that is sent to Israel with no strings attached along with appropriations for the latest in American technology and military weaponry not only comes at a hefty price, in terms of what it could have been spent on in this country, but it’s also a heavy price paid in the blood of the Palestinian people, which naturally greatly weakens our moral standing in the eyes of the rest of the world. In fact, in a great many quarters, Israel is seen as even more racist than Apartheid South Africa. So, for instance, as Prof. John Mearsheimer relates in his speech:

“Speaking of South Africa, there are a number of individuals who were well acquainted with the situation in that racist state before it collapsed who believe that the situation in Israel is worse. John Dugard, the eminent South African law professor, says that the crimes against the Palestinians are, to quote, ‘infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime in South Africa’. He is hardly the lone voice in that regard. For anyone who doubts how bad life can be for the Palestinians living under Israeli control, one only has to consider what happened in Israel’s three major assaults against Gaza over the past decade: Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense, and Operation Protective Edge. Because of time constraints, I will focus exclusively on the first of those operations, Cast Lead, which took place in the weeks before President Obama was inaugurated in 2009. Israel forces killed about 1,400 Palestinians, of whom roughly 1,200 were civilians; 350 of those civilians were children. In contrast, 13 Israelis were killed. The ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed in that operation is 108:1. That’s not a war in my lexicon- that’s a massacre. I might add that 6,300 Palestinian homes were destroyed, contributing to the 600,000 tons of rubble that littered Gaza when the shooting ended. The U.N. commissioned an investigation in the wake of that conflict which was headed by the distinguished South African jurist Richard Goldstone. The final report, sometimes referred to as the Goldstone Report, concluded that Israel had engaged in ‘a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.’ It went on to accuse Israel of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.”

Children Victims of Operation Cast Lead

Now, ask yourself how much of this assault you even heard about on CNN, MS-NBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, etc.? I’m willing to bet that most of the news was still fawning and deifying the “Cult of Personality” portrait they had painted for Barrack Obama, which has been completely reversed for the Trump administration. Attitudes towards celebrity presidents notwithstanding, what doesn’t change between various administrations is America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s unilateral “right of self-defense”, which is to say that it can use any excuse it wants to justify slaughtering as many Palestinians they want. And, regardless of how bad it appears before the U.N. Security Council, the US will always veto any resolution that seeks a just and equitable peace. So, even though it’s been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, practically 70 years since the creation of the State of Israel by the U.N., and 50 years since the 6-Day War of 1967, when an American communications vessel, the U.S.S. Liberty, was deliberately attacked in international waters by Israeli aircraft fighter jets and submarines with the sick connivance of President LBJ, as I’ve written about previously. The “special relationship” with Zionist Israel remains the same no matter who becomes president or what the political makeup of Congress may be. After all, in the lead up to the 2016 election, both Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump both spoke in gushing and glowing terms of their commitment to Israel at the AIPAC convention, and the only question was how much more in love they were with Israel than their opponent. So, under those circumstances, does anyone seriously think that things will change with our fundamental relationship with Israel under a Trump administration? Go watch his address to AIPAC and see for yourself.

Trump Speaks at AIPAC

Obviously, this can be a very complex and hotly contested issue, especially when you start focusing on the details of such things as border security, Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, political Zionism as a form of colonialism, ethnic cleansing, and all the the other myriad issues that surround this conflict. But, when you simply focus on how and why the US has remained so steadfast over the years in complete support of Israel to the ultimate detriment of the Palestinians in brokering a lasting peace, the matter (I think) isn’t nearly as complex as it first seems. With huge resources and practically unlimited capital, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tracks every single politician’s vote on every single bill that even remotely affects Israel and scores politicians accordingly. Those that score high get campaign money and support. Those that score low get tagged as “Anti-Semitic” by their media moles and propaganda hacks, and their political opponents suddenly find themselves much better funded than before.

AIPAC Logo

If it’s considered important enough to oust a suspected enemy of the State of Israel, orchestrated programs can involve any number of dirty tricks to include black mail, bribery, frame jobs, cyber attacks and, of course, threats to one’s character, livelihood, and even life. Again, it’s all a question of severity and how much of a threat (or rather perceived threat) someone in an established powerful position is to what Israel views as their national interests, i.e. Machiavellian dominance. You can bet that what works well for CIA goes double for Mossad. It’s not surprising, therefore, that both countries (no matter how friendly they are with one another) spy on each other all the time. But, what should be shocking, when you delve into the matter, is that the US is giving Israel something around $6 billion a year in part to do just that.

 

 

Advertisements

Railroaded: The Trials, Populism, Brutal Honesty, Imprisonment and Redemption of Rep. James Traficant

Traficant on the Congressional Floor

In my previous article, I wrote about reporters, insiders, researchers, and various whistle-blowers of one stripe or another, who paid the ultimate price for attempting to tell us (the American public) the truth about corruption, malfeasance, and coverups in high places. Rest assured, the powers that be (sociopaths and psychopaths that they are) have no qualms about killing someone or even large numbers of people in order to squash a bombshell truth from being released and then predictably calling it an accident or a suicide. However, there are occasions when the figure in question is simply what you could call a nuisance and outspoken “troublemaker” or radical critic of government overreach even within the corridors of power itself. And, when this occurs, there are often less deadly ways of getting rid of them.

So, for instance, if they can’t be bribed, cajoled, or blackmailed by people above them…they might simply be fired and their homes ransacked the way former NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake was after he protested their unconstitutional domestic spying operations before the Ed Snowden leaks became common knowledge. Or, perhaps they’ll be drug through a long, arduous, and costly legal battle the way former Assistant Secretary of HUD (Housing and Urban Development), Catherine Austin Fitts, was for attempting to audit her department’s fraudulent financial statements. Fortunately, she was able to finally win her case and eventually learn about how departmental agencies such as hers were being used as slush funds for CIA black budget operations…legally!

If you’re in the US Congress, you’re expected to play the game of mindless ineptitude, corporate graft, and other partisan “business as usual” bullshit so indicative of life on Capitol Hill. You’re obviously not supposed to cause too much consternation and problems for the Pentagon, the FBI, the CIA, the IRS, or any other ingrained and entrenched bureaucracy of US imperial empire. However, a few intrepid souls do just that, and that’s when the heat comes down on their heads whether they expect it or not. For Rep. James Traficant, it was perhaps only a matter of time and opportunity as to when the Department of Justice (a misnomer if there ever was one) went after him on bogus, trumped-up charges of bribery, racketeering, and tax evasion until they had him in front of a congressional ethics committee fighting not only for his seat in the House but to remain a free man.

It was a fight that he unfortunately lost, and he was forced to serve 7 years in a federal penitentiary beginning in 2002. However, it’s what led up to his railroading out of the US Congress and imprisonment that interest me and hopefully you, since his case is very instructive in many ways. Interestingly enough, Jim Traficant gained significant notoriety for successfully representing himself in a RICO case where he was accused of taking bribes from the mob that he maintained was part of an investigatory sting operation. As the city’s tough no nonsense Sheriff of Mahoning County, Traficant was popular with his solid working-class constituents, especially when he refused to evict people from their homes after severe economic conditions created a lot home foreclosures. Jim Traficant decided to run for a US congressional seat in the Youngstown district and won. He quickly became a pariah on the Hill for his brash comments often hilariously aimed at his congressional colleagues.

Once, after being trounced on the floor of the House by fellow Congressmen for his style and manner, he walked to the podium and proclaimed- “As far as I’m concerned, you’re all a bunch of political prostitutes!” This caused a scandal that echoed through the halls of the capitol like a donkey having sex with an elephant (which has fascinating political implications all it’s own). The normally sedate House was suddenly aroused sufficiently from its intellectual slumber to stir itself into a combination of confusion as to what exactly he had said and anger over what some had actually heard. When he was corned outside by reporters, one news stringer asked him pointedly, “Tell us how you really feel, Sheriff.” He very sardonically replied, “I’d like to apologize to all the hookers of America for associating them with the US House…” So, you’ve got to the love the guy just for his sharp humorous wit, and it would be often in his career when humor alone would seem to alleviate the seriousness of the charges leveled against him.

Over the years, he would tackle some very thorny and controversial issues with his characteristic bravado, swagger, and brutal honesty. During the Clinton years, he would make a lifelong enemy of Attorney General Janet Reno and the FBI by vehemently criticizing their catastrophic debacle at Waco and Ruby Ridge (as I profiled in an earlier post). Both Ruby Ridge, where the FBI killed Randy Weaver’s wife as she held her infant in the doorway, and Waco, where the Branch Davidian compound was burned to the ground after Bradley tanks shot CS gas into the building that easily ignited, were public relations disasters for the FBI. However, for all their bluster, coverups, corruption, and now mass homicide, very little was done to actually punish the guilty parties responsible and rein in the abuse of the FBI, along with what some saw as heavy handed assaults on the US citizens’ liberty. By being one of the FBI’s staunchest critic to anyone that would listen, Traficant was no doubt “Public Enemy #1” within the US Congress and very likely targeted in a covert effort to entrap him in some kind of scandal.

Targeted- James Traficant

He also went after the hated IRS and their fraudulent wage garnishments, property leins, and home seizures, particularly since their jackboot tactics and audits were ruining peoples’ lives. According to Jim Traficant, the thing that he is most proud of is passing a bill with then Texas Congressman Bill Archer, which puts the burden of proof of tax liability on the IRS rather than on the citizen. This single piece of legislation was able to reduce the number of houses seized by the IRS from 10,073 down to 57 in one year!! Given that the IRS is really the enforcement arm of the Federal Reserve that supplies the Treasury with “notes” that it expects to receive interest on, the US government uses the IRS to collect on the debt that it creates every time it borrows money and then fleeces the public to pay back. As the late, great Aaron Russo once said about IRS (an acronym), “It Really Sucks!” So, anytime anyone in government does something to rein in the IRS besides merely protecting Wall Street crooks in hiding their money in off-shore accounts…I applaud them.

The next potentially grave enemy that Jim Traficant made was with the state of Israel and the very powerful lobby AIPAC (American Israeli Political Affairs Committee). While you might not have ever heard of AIPAC, the truth is that America’s unwavering allegiance, support, and loyalty to Israel in the face of global criticism for their treatment of the Palestinians is no accident. It is the result of powerful lobbies such as AIPAC, Mossad spy infiltration of the US, and other Zionist front groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and B’nai B’rith. One point of major controversy in the already contentious career of Rep. Jim Traficant came when a family approached him and asked that he look into a case that they were fighting on behalf of a man that had been charged with being a prisoner guard at one of the Nazi concentration camps during WWII.

The Israelis claimed that he worked at Treblinka and was known as “Ivan the Terrible”, based on his sadistic enjoyment of torturing the prisoners there. However, the family told Trafficant that this man, who went by the name of John Demjanjuk, was not “Ivan the Terrible” as the Israelis had claimed. According to photos that the family showed Traficant of both Demjanjuk and “Ivan the Terrible”, there was a prominent scar on the neck of the Ukrainian guard but not on Demjanjuk’s. The family of Demjanjuk had told Jim that they approached him last about it because they knew how much the Congress hated him, but they didn’t know where else to turn as everybody else in the House and Senate had turned down their request to look into the case. Traficant was sufficiently convinced of their case that he took the evidence to Tel Aviv and presented it to the Israeli Supreme Court, who finally agreed that Demjanjuk was not the right guy and (to their credit) released him from prison into Traficant’s custody on a plane back to the US. For this act of courage and justice, he was smeared by the press as someone who, to even care about the case, was thought to have “anti-Semitic blood”.

Demjanjuk in Israeli Court

I heard about all this one night while watching C-SPAN back in early 2001 before 9/11 would irrevocably change the world and political landscape. Jim Traficant recounted many stories he had had throughout his colorful career at Cleveland’s City Club, and I’ve still got most of his talk on VHS tape somewhere (see the whole hour long speech archived by C-SPAN in the hyperlink to follow). It’s still a great talk, full of interesting anecdotes, humorous asides, and emotional statements like “What happened to America? What is America? Do people still govern here? I think not. The government is coming after people, and this needs to stop.” Shortly after 9/11, he would be charged in the House with breaking the rules of the Ethics Committee by accepting money through his staffers that the House claimed he was unable to account for. These hearings were also largely televised on C-SPAN, and I recorded all the ones that I could as I knew at the time that they were really the result of what he had been talking about before.

When his case went before a judge in an Ohio criminal court, he wasn’t even allowed to cross examine the so-called witnesses against him that he later found out were pressured by the FBI to give false testimony. He also wasn’t allowed to bring in his own witnesses and evidence that would clearly have exonerated him in the eyes of the jury and was essentially convicted in a kangaroo court, where a grave miscarriage of justice served him into an 7-year prison sentence. However, now that he’s out, he continues to fight the good fight against what he sees is criminal corruption within the White House, court system, FBI, and US Congress among other usual suspects on shows like Greta van Sustern and Alex Jones. And, to top it all off, he even ran for his old congressional seat, which would have been another first. I can see the headlines now- “Ex-Felon James Traficant Wins Old Seat in the House next to Soon to Be Felons”. Now, you know just about the only guy that I would consider voting for. Traficant for President in 2016!

Traficant before Reporters