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Mainstream, VOL LV No 27 New Delhi June 24, 2017

Palestine and the Jewish Lobbying Activities

Saturday 24 June 2017

by Ahmad Zaboor

The cornerstone of the American Middle-East policy has been its relationship with Israel. Why is it that Israel every time rides roughshod over the Palestinians and virtually listens to no one, not even at times to the, US and goes scot-free every time? The bonding between the two nations is believed to be based on shared interests and the compelling narrative of suffering at the hands of two-legged beasts, as the Palestinians are described by Zionists. However, the overall thrust of the US policy in the region is almost due to the US’ domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the all-powerful Israeli lobby. Since 1982, the United States has vetoed 42 United Nations Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.

The US has been providing aid to various allies, both democratic and dictators. But there is a vast difference in the aid provided to Israel and the rest of the allies. Israel receives about $ 3 billion in direct foreign assistance every year. In terms of per capita income, it turns out to be $ 5000, as calculated by John Mearsheimer in his thesis ‘The Israel Lobby’. While the other American allies receive their assistance in instalments, Israel receives its entire appro-priations in one go which enables it to earn the interest on it as well. Israel has been given enough latitude to spend about one-quarter of the assistance for its burgeoning defence industry, as a subsidy; it is the only ally of the US which has not to give account of the pennies spent, and therefore it is not surprising to find that Israel could easily divert it for activities inimical for the region. The difference lies not only in the volume but also in the manner of spending. It is the US assistance and provision of the political economy of subsidy that is keeping the pot of political cauldron boiling. One of the major regressive fallouts of this aid is that Israel has become a privileged country as it is riding roughshod over the entire legal, civil, political rights of the Palestinians. The Israeli policies are carried out in total disregard of the international human rights regime; as a result, the daily lives of Palestinians are charac-terised by total “rightlessness and unconditional vulnerability”.

To make the occupied lands habitable, it induced immigration of Russian Jews through covert and overt institutions. During the Cold War, the USSR caved in as Israel was regarded as the only morally hospitable place for Russian Jews. Immigration proved beneficial for Israel as well as America with which it has a hand-in-glove relationship. While Israel’s strategic armament industry ballooned, conversely Israel became a conduit for evading congressional problems in America which have been providing aid to counter-revolutionary movements around the world. Since 1917, Zionism has proved to be the worst ‘conquering political institution’. Israel developed out of the Zionist thesis that Palestine’s colonisation was to be simulta-neously accompanied by and for Jews. And by the displacement of Palestinians, it sought to first minimise and then eliminate when all else failed to subjugate the natives.

Zionism has proved to be worse than the Fascism in Italy and Nazism in Germany precisely as they were supplanted by World War II. But Zionism continues to hold ground and has proved to be a snake in the rich desert sands of the Middle East ready to devour its prey. During the Cold War, Israel was a strategic asset for America as it proved to be the firewall against the encroachment of communism in that strategic part of the world, but once the Cold War has ended the support of America has continued unabated. In the post-Cold War period, it has become a strategic burden for America as General Petrous put it before the American Armed Services Committee in March 2010. Israel has become a strategic liability and a challenge to the ‘security and stability’ which America aims to achieve. However, Israel manages its multi-dimensional relationship with America. This cooperative effort provides significant benefits for both the United States and Israel. Israel has become a military outpost for America to deliver aid to the pro-Israeli and American groups.

Benjamin Netanyahu, while speaking to the Jewish settlers in West Bank, remarked: ‘I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.’ When he was asked by some American Jews how he would support Israel, he remarked: support the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. American support for the Israeli policies against Palestine is a core goal of the Jewish lobby but its ambitions do not stop here. It also, for all practical purposes, wants America to help Israel to remain the dominant regional power. A microscopic minority can become a dominant repressive power when the bulk of the population is indifferent.Therefore it is not surprising to quote Dennis Ross: that Palestine is not a priority for the Arabs. It is quite paradoxical that the Arab world is an econo-mically rich and strategically important region, the dollar owes its strength partly to the preference shown by Arabs, yet they have been unable to translate the wherewithal into power. They own billions yet have no capital. This para-doxical situation has emerged as Arabs are prisoners of dependency, remarked intellectual Eqbal Ahmad. The pro-Arab interest groups are weak to non-existent which makes lobbying a lot easier.

The lobby strives to ensure that the public narrative regarding Israel is portrayed in a positive perspective by repeating myths about Israel. Public intellectual Edward Said remarked, the attainment of the hegemony of the Zionist discourse, which devalues the Palestinian Arab reality, was an aspect of the Orientalist discourse. Israel has been successful in having interwoven its legitimacy with the American institutions of power, including the media, the Department of Defence and the CIA. Israel and America are now tied in multiple layers of integrated relationship. The goal is oriented to prevent any critical appraisal.

The rhetorical speech made by Benjamin Netanyahu to the 37th World Zionist Congress, on October 20, 2015, churned the history upside down by making the bluntly fallacious and untenable proposition that the idea of a final solution to the problem of Jews was given by the Palestinians to Hitler holding them respon-sible for the untold atrocities on Jews. This is scandalous enough to give immunity to those who perpetuated it. Even if unintended, Prime Minister Netanyahu, by his words, played into the hands of those who understated the role of Hitler in orchestrating the final solution resulting in the killing of about six million Jews. The remarks were intended to underscore his contention that the root cause of Palestinian violence was not Israel’s five-decade-long military occupation, the building of the illegal Jewish settlements on the illegally occupied lands or the blockade of the Gaza Strip, but the old hatred for Jews. The underlying tone has been to legalise the occupation of land belonging to Palestinians. By this his ulterior motive was not only to minimise the role of Hitler in the Holocaust by putting the burden on Palestinians but also to legalise the ongoing violence.

There are Jewish Senators and Congressmen who work to make American foreign policy support Israeli interests. AIPAC manages them due to its ability to reward legislators and Congress supporters who support its agenda and has unmatched ability to punish those who challenge it. It encourages newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel candidates. There is a host of groups working as secretaries, who are Jews and look at certain issues in terms of Jewishness. It is common knowledge that before members of the Congress turn to the Library of Congress, they turn to the AIPAC when they need any information.

Jews constitute only three per cent of the population of America but they make large donations. Jewish voters have high turnover rates in elections held in different states and also for various organs of the federal govern-ment, and are concentrated in key states. Pro-Israeli forces make sure Jews and pro-Jew forces get important foreign policy assignments. Journalist Eric Alterman lists 61 columnists and commentators who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and without qualifi-cation. It has worked wondrously to convince the US to back Israel’s continued repression of the Palestinians. But, as Eqbal Ahmad argues, it is not a question of Jewish control over the media, it is a much more complex system of the exercise of power and hegemony. William Safire, and A.M. Rosenthal are Right-wing Zionist supporters of the Likud Party, Thomas Friedman a Centrist supporter of the Israeli Labour party while Anthony Lewis is an active Zionist. All are working as foreign affairs columnists of the New York Times. The lobby also relies on Christian evangelicals who have advocated the return of Jews to Palestine to fulfil the biblical prophecy pertaining to the end of the time.

No American presidential candidate in 2016 indicated any willingness to stand up to the Israeli lobby on any issue. This suggests that the future US Administration will be dotted with Israeli lobbyists within every relevant agency of the American Government. The office of the Personal Management listings of political appointments holding the top jobs and departmentand agencies working for Israel and the names of the staffers are no longer released under the Freedom of Information Act. However, a great deal of transformation has taken place in the nature of the lobbying activities of Jews. Unlike the early days of Zionist lobbying, the lobby is no longer standing on the fringes urging to the Congress and the executive to adopt a pro-Israel agenda. In the last two decades, they have managed to infiltrate all branches and departments of the American Government, thus directly influencing policy.

The reviewer is a Lecturer in Political Science. He can be contacted at e-mail ahmadzaboor[at]gmail.com

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