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ICG Risk Blog - [ "No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 6, AIPAC 3 ]

"No Nation Left Behind" program, Part 6, AIPAC 3


Part 5

But AIPAC has withstood serious examination on previous occasions. Lilienthal's memoriam on the death of Senator J. William Fulbright, A Giant Passes, is recommended both for the efforts of the man and that part of his career that bends upon this note. Today, Fulbright is passingly remembered for his founding of the Fulbright Scholarships, whereas his opposition to intervention in Vietnam is not as was his 1963 investigation of Jewish and Zionist lobbies, many of who were operating outside the Foreign Agents Registration Act and whose cross-funding was largely unknown. It was this latter effort that cost Fulbright the post of secretary of state as President-elect Kennedy tapped the "far less controversial, and less qualified, Dean Rusk." In a recent conversation with a former aide to Senator Proxmire of Wisconsin, creator of the Golden Fleece Awards and a Fulbright contemporary, the appointment of Dean came as a great surprise, even to Hill politicians. Fulbright was the assumed candidate for SecState; Dean was unknown. (Readers should note that I take these events as a mark of Fulbright's skill as opposed to Dean's lack thereof.)

As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Fulbright conducted hearings on the Zionist movement in 1963 "as part of an examination into activities of various representatives of foreign entities, aimed at uncovering possible abuses" of FARA. In testimony originally classified, Fulbright defined what he called "conduits" by which "tax-free United Jewish Appeal dollars [of] the Jewish Agency's American section, a registered foreign agent," which were recycled philanthropic tax-deductible contributions originally sent to Israel by US nationals now being distributed in the US "to organizations and individuals seeking to influence public opinion in favor of Israel." Documented were:

the highly complex process of passing funds among the three "Jewish Agencies." These were the Jewish Agency for Israel, Jerusalem; the Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc.; and the Jewish Agency-American Section, Inc., a registered foreign agent. Through them money reached many respected organizations molding opinion among Americans who were not aware of the original source of the funds. For example, more than 80 percent of the budget of the American Zionist Council (AZC), the coordinating body for nine major U.S. Zionist groups, was received for eight years from the Jewish Agency for Israel (unregistered)…

pertinent operations [were] the purchase and control of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) for distribution of news to Jewish publications; the establishment and maintenance of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; the subsidization of efforts by the Synagogue Council of America to explain to Christian leaders the relationship of American Jewry to Israel; travel "study" tours in Israel by the American Christian Palestine Committee; pressuring American newspapers to support Israel and to attack anti-Zionist groups; establishment of inter-university committees on Israel and setting up chairs of Hebrew culture at universities which had Middle East studies programs...

Contributors to the UJA [United Jewish Appeal now UJC] provided the funds flowing through the American Zionist Council's pipeline not only for manipulation of congressmen and public opinion, but also to manipulate the contributors into giving more to Israel. The AZC was, the Senator pointed out, "a very thin way of insulating it and other recipients from the terms of the Foreign Agents Act."

Whereas the Jewish Agency had registered, most of those organizations and individuals who received funds from it had not. "The Department of Justice and therefore the public," said the Senator, "was unaware of the public relations activities in the interest of Israel carried on within the United States by the Agency. And the Jewish Agency supported organizations and individuals without itemization of such financial support publicly."

Here Lilienthal quotes Fulbright's Oct 1973 appearance on Face the Nation just after the commencement of the 1973 Yom Kippur War (known to Arabs as the Ramadan War):

"For many years I have felt that the situation in the Middle East was very nearly hopeless. The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC [and] its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process. They can elect or defeat nearly any congressman or senator that they wish, with their money and coordinated organization."

In the same program, Fulbright was asked, "which would be the best way to settle the Arab-Israeli war," and "would it not be in everyone's interest for the U.S. and the Soviet Union to refrain from furnishing weapons to either side?" His response was:

"Yes, but the U.S. government alone is not capable of doing that, because the Israelis control the policy in the Congress and the Senate and unless we use the U.N. and do it collectively, we know the U.S. is not going to do that [as] Somewhere around 80 percent of the Senate of the United States is completely in support of Israel and of anything Israel wants."

Paul Findley, a former congressman who was himself the subject of a concentrated attack by AIPAC, cites an interview with Reagan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer, in 1984 who commented:

I've never seen a President -- I don't care who he is -- stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. If the American people understood what a grip those people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens certainly don't have any idea what goes on."

Little appears to have changed since as Mazin Qumsiyeh cites Fulbright's 1989 comment in his book, The Price of Empire:

"The fundamental problem for us is that we have lost our freedom of action in the Middle East and are committed to policies that promote neither our own national interest nor the cause of peace. AIPAC (the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee) and its allied organizations have effective working control of the electoral process."

And in 1992, a potential AIPAC donor, Haim (Harry) Katz, telephoned AIPAC's president, David Steiner, whereupon Steiner "proceeded to make several claims, including negotiating with then-candidate Bill Clinton over who would be Secretary of State, and had already "cut a deal" with Baker for more aid to Israel." For whatever reason, Katz was taping the call without Steiner's knowledge, subsequently giving the recording to the media, causing Steiner's resignation, as Katz was ostensibly concerned that "AIPAC's influence had grown to dangerous levels." (See page images and transcriptions.)

I will close this segment with the elephant-in-the-room that appears whenever criticism is levied against AIPAC in particular and Israel in general. First, from Michael Massing at The Nation:

Jewish organizations are quick to detect bias in the coverage of the Middle East, and quick to complain about it. That's especially true of late. As the Forward observed in late April, "rooting out perceived anti-Israel bias in the media has become for many American Jews the most direct and emotional outlet for connecting with the conflict 6,000 miles away." Recently, an estimated 1,000 subscribers to the Los Angeles Times suspended home delivery for a day to protest what they considered the paper's pro-Palestinian coverage. The Chicago Tribune, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Miami Herald have all been hit by similar protests, and NPR has received thousands of e-mails complaining about its reports from the Middle East.

And from Andrew Hurley:

The greatest triumph of "The Israeli Lobby" [has] been to brand any criticism of Israel, no matter how informed or well-documented, "anti-Semitic," and get away with it. A mere discussion of the problem by non-Jewish sources has become "suspect," not just to the clueless but to anyone concerned with being duped by bigots or being mistaken for one… There is a "crucial distinction between the Israel lobby and the typical lobby… No such freedom [of disagreement] exists in America so far as opposition to Israeli policy or the Israeli Lobby is concerned. It is simply ‘taboo.’ To do so automatically exposes one to being branded ‘anti-Semitic,’ a ‘Fascist,’ a ‘Nazi,’ or part of the lunatic fringe…Since there is absolutely no defense against the charge of ‘anti-Semitism,’ most prudent people have long since preferred silence on sensitive issues to the risk of exposing themselves to the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism,’ with its inevitable ‘Hitler’ and ‘Holocaust’ associations."

Reactions can be indirect but still energetic. Grace Halsell, a powerhouse of a woman and a journalist as well as a speech writer for Lyndon Johnson, was free to document the oppression of Blacks, American Indians, Mexicans and Indigents, but when she chose to write about the plight of Muslims in "Journey to Jerusalem" in 1980, her manuscript was taken "to the Israeli Embassy, to let them read it for mistakes." When asked if there were mistakes, the reply was, "Not mistakes as such. But it shouldn’t be published. It’s anti-Israel."

Speaking to the threat label of "anti-Semitism," I've had the honor of Passover in Jerusalem, presided over by a family patriarch that had interrogated Herman Goering as a Brownshirt (Sturmarbeiteilung) and who gave me a guided tour of the Old City that I still describe as seeing with the eyes of ages. I have friends, children of Holocaust survivors, who tell me that they can deny their parents nothing as who could reproach those who have suffered so. When you hear the emotion in their voices, it puts - to me at least - a more human face on Norman Finkelstein's contention that "invoking The Holocaust [is] a ploy to delegitimize all criticism of Jews." I've seen the Holocaust used that way just as I've seen it used to teach and to urge people to aspire to something greater. When one looks at Darfur, for example, one wonders if we have learned anything.

Part 7

Mighty Morphin' Power Brokers
By Mazin B. Qumsiyeh
Qumsiyeh: A Human Rights Web
Unpublished 8/10/2003, updated 9/4/04

American Muslim Community under Siege
Testimony of Nihad Awad Before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security "Terrorism: Two Years After 9/11, Connecting the Dots"
September 10, 2003

The Israel Lobby
The Nation
Comment, posted May 23, 2002 [from the June 10, 2002 issue]

A Look at The 'Powerful Jewish Lobby'
By Mark Weber
Institute for Historical Review

Author, Journalist, Texas Native
August 17, 2000

One Nation Under Israel
By Andrew Hurley, Truth Press, 1999
Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss
Devember 1999

What Christians Don’t Know About Israel
By Grace Halsell
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
Special Report
May/June 1998, Pages 112, 126

James Zogby, Washington Watch
Arab American Institute

Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part I: Keys to AIPAC's Success: Votes and Money
August 9, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part II: Two More Keys to AIPAC's Success: Power and Strategy
August 16, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part III: Crises Hit the pro-Israel Lobby
August 23, 1993
Is AIPAC in Trouble? Part IV: The Problems Within the Lobby and the Jewish Community
August 30, 1993

In Memoriam
J. William Fulbright: A Giant Passes
By Alfred M. Lilienthal
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
April/May 1995, Pages 50, 92-93

What Really Happened
What Really Happened
[Page images]
The Complete Unexpurgated AIPAC Tape
Special Report
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
December/January 1992/93, Page 13-16

They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby
by Paul Findley
Lawrence Hill Books
ISBN: 155652482X
1985, 2003

Pressure on Campus
by Paul Findley
Excerpted from They Dare to Speak Out

Gordon Housworth

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