The only good thing which could result from Bibi Netanyahu’s May 24 speech to a joint session of the US Congress is that it may open people’s eyes after a very long nap. If so, it will have served a useful purpose and could be a turning point. A lot of intelligent Americans and Europeans are in denial. They have generally viewed criticism of Israel from any quarter with suspicion and skepticism. If one brings up the larger topic of Zionism’s shadowy history and adverse consequences, they become even more suspicious.
But the Likud kingpin’s magnificent con job—and the unseemly performance of a servile Congress in embracing it—should give every true-blue American who has not been brainwashed a wake-up call. What exactly is going on here, and why? Has Washington’s leadership abdicated its responsibilities to the American people and humanity? Has it simply offshored American foreign policy to Tel Aviv? Such appears to be the case, and it is downright embarrassing.
This is a huge topic which has been examined over the years by one expert after another far more qualified than me. Despite warnings and exposés, the momentum has all been in the wrong direction. The appallingly sycophantic cheering in Congress confirms the worst. There can be no excuse for such grotesquery. Don’t Congressmen and Senators have any self-respect? Do they have any brains? Do they know the conflict’s true history? Do they care one way or the other? Can they really be that ignorant?
It has become increasingly apparent that the White House and Capitol Hill are not dealing with a foreign-policy issue when it comes to the Middle East. They see it differently and by necessity have done so for decades. When it comes to the so-called “Middle East peace process” and Israel, we are dealing with the quest for election, reelection, and career advancement. Nothing more. That is the reason for May 24th’s bipartisan Capitol Hill pander-fest.
Please note that it was the Speaker of the House, Ohio Republican John A. Boehner, who invited Bibi to speak before Congress in joint session. Republicans cannot afford to be left behind. Indeed, the Israel Lobby is the shorthand explanation for the foreign misadventures of the crackbrained “neoconservative” G. W. Bush Administration, a k a the Cheney Regency. Washington politicians seem motivated almost entirely by the chance to get elected and reelected, regardless of what is in Uncle Sam’s legitimate interests.
The surefire ticket to success in Washington is to be in the good graces of the Israel Lobby in all its multilayered manifestations, especially when it comes to campaign contributions and good press. The mutually beneficial relationship is part racketeering and part quid pro quo. What passes for American foreign policy in the Middle East is now little more than a business calculation. Congressmen are not in the main ignoramuses, first-blush appearances notwithstanding. But they are opportunists: some shameless, many merely unthinking. In any event, they are in the bag.
Speaking of the Lobby, the joint congressional session at which Bibi presided was a sideshow compared to the four-day extravaganza across town at the annual “Policy Conference” of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Tel Aviv’s premier front organization was in its glory. Bibi had made a stop there the day before to touch base with his American agents. Obama had dropped by the day before that to reaffirm his obeisance and to inform these apparatchiks of Zion about what he had actually said at the State Department a few days earlier—“not what I was reported to have said.” And what was that, pray tell? More doubletalk, adding up to precisely nothing. The nervous AIPAC attendees needed reassurance of this fact, lest they entertain the mistaken idea that Obama had wandered off the reservation.
Did you know that Ronald Reagan declined to appear before AIPAC in 1988? Did you know that Bill Clinton was the first president who accepted an invitation to speak before AIPAC while still in office? I didn’t before reading this informative article by Grant Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. Did you know that President John Kennedy declined to meet Israel’s first PM, David Ben-Gurion, at the White House in 1962, opting instead for a private meeting at the Waldorf Astoria? I didn’t before reading this article in that interesting “neoconservative” receptacle, Commentary magazine.
Amazingly, AIPAC remains an unregistered agent of a foreign government. For that matter, so does Commentary. In days of yore, wasn’t the Communist Party USA made to register as an agent of Moscow? Why shouldn’t crusading Zionist organizations and their benighted ideologues do the same when propagandizing on behalf of Tel Aviv and its Likud agenda? It only seems fair and would not restrict free speech. On the other hand, if Israel were amenable to becoming the 51st state, no registration would be required. But in that case, Israel would be limited and entitled to only two Senators.
Future AIPAC conventions should be a hoot. For the first time, there was a counter-convention called Move Over AIPAC organized by the liberal group Code Pink: Women for Peace. Alas, only a few hundred attended. The delegates at AIPAC numbered 10,000, including the 350 US Senators and Representatives in attendance. Nonetheless, the Code Pink/Move Over AIPAC crowd was not bashful and carried on a number of demonstrations. One of their members heckled Bibi from the gallery during his appearance before Congress and landed in the hospital for her trouble. But it was a start and can only get better next year.
My favorite happening involved interviews of the AIPAC faithful by journalist Max Blumenthal. I don’t know where Max is coming from or going with this, but he seems to be a concerned citizen who likes to ask embarrassing questions that invariably evoke embarrassing answers. Max’s modus operandi is to visit various “pro-Israel” get-togethers playing the part of an innocent bystander seeking wisdom. He lets people speak for themselves. He calls this hysterical YouTube installment “Feeling the Ignorance at AIPAC 2011.” Be sure and watch it at least until Max interviews a man wearing a sandwich board painted with the words “Recovering Zionist.” It’s a start.
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