The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is back in Washington for its annual summit. Or at least it used to be called a summit but now it is referred to as a policy conference, which is perhaps a bit of very welcome transparency as if there is one thing that AIPAC is good at it is using its $100 million budget and 300 employees to harass lawmakers on Capitol Hill and generate policy for the United States to adhere to. Eighteen thousand supporters have gathered at the city's Convention Center to hear speeches by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Vice President Mike Pence, plus Senators Marco Rubio, Robert Menendez, Tom Cotton and Ben Cardin. My personal favorite is Maryland Congressman and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who has visited Israel so many times he might as well move there and who can be relied on to deliver a loud sucking noise as he enthuses over the many wonders of the Jewish state. And for a little foreign flair there is the disheveled French "philosopher" Bernard-Henri Levy, who has described the brutal Israeli Army of occupation as the "most moral in the world."
If you want to get some idea of the money and political power represented at AIPAC this year I would recommend going through the speakers' list, a dazzling display of precisely why the United States is in bondage to Israel and its interests. The heavyweight speakers and other attendees will be joined by hundreds more Congressmen, Supreme Court Justices, and senior government officials as well as a heavy dose of "experts" from the usual Jewish-dominated pro-Israel think tanks that have sprouted up like mushrooms along K Street, including luminaries like John Bolton, Victoria Nuland, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams and Eric Cantor. Those participants coming from the government will, of course, be ignoring their oaths of office in which they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against "all enemies domestic and foreign," but it doesn't matter as everyone performs proskynesis for Israel.
The slogan of this year's gather is "Choose to Lead," an interesting objective for an organization that has led successive presidents since Bill Clinton by their respective noses. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing indictment back home, will also be in town and will meet with President Donald Trump. He might just decide to stay awhile as one thing that Israel is particularly good at is trying, convicting and imprisoning its corrupt leaders.
There has been some informed speculation that Trump will unveil during their meeting a "two state solution" peace plan for Israel-Palestine, but as it will possibly require Israel to withdraw from much of the large chunks of the West Bank that it has "settled," it will not be received favorably by Netanyahu. Israel is certainly vulnerable to possible pressure coming from the White House to impose a solution, but as Trump has proven unable or unwilling to punish an out-of-control Netanyahu in any way up until this point, it has to be considered unlikely that he will change course this time around.
AIPAC must be particularly pleased since Israel has had a sweet ride with the Trump Administration in place in Washington. The greatest gift to Netanyahu has been the Administration's recognition of all of Jerusalem as Israel's capital together with a commitment to move the U.S. Embassy to that city. No other country currently has its embassy in an internationally disputed Jerusalem though Guatemala has followed Washington's lead and has stated that it also intends to physically move its diplomatic facility.
The original State Department relocation plan was to phase the embassy move while a new building is being constructed, but the White House recently accelerated the process, reportedly under pressure from Jewish billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson, and will open a temporary facility in May to coincide with the 70thanniversary of Israel's founding. Netanyahu has asked Trump to appear at the embassy opening ceremony and also to assist in the celebration of the founding.
Israel has also benefited from a Trump Middle East team that is all Jewish and committed to Israel. It is headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and includes former bankruptcy attorney Ambassador David Friedman, who has financially supported Israel's illegal settlements, and Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization corporate lawyer, as Special Representative for International Negotiations. In addition, Kushner is reportedly personally advised by a group of Orthodox Jews that he knows from his Synagogue and through his business interests.
The outcome deriving from the all-Jewish team determining Middle Eastern policy combined with a benign White House is predictable, and it just as clearly does not include any benefits for the United States. Israel has been able to dramatically expand its settlements on stolen Palestinian land and is instigating several new wars in its region without any pushback coming from Washington. Quite the contrary as the United States has proven to be an enabler for new conflicts with Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Several Senators who have recently returned from Israel claim that an invasion of Lebanon is coming because of allegations that Hezbollah is constructing an Iranian-supplied factory to build sophisticated missiles, yet another phony narrative depicting Israel as the perpetual victim of its brutal and threatening neighbors when in reality the reverse is true. This animosity towards Iran and its allies is particularly dangerous as it could produce a new war that might spin dangerously out of control as third countries like Russia and China get involved to protect their own interests.
The reality is that it is a military dominant Israel that has been regularly bombing targets alleged to be Iranian or Hezbollah in Syria as well as Syrian military installations. It has threatened to bomb Lebanon back into the "stone age," which leads one to ask what have those nations done to provoke the wrath of Zion? Close to nothing. An alleged Iranian drone reportedly launched from Syria wandered into the airspace over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights before being shot down. How many Israeli drones have flown over Lebanon and Syria? Hundreds if not thousands.
And when Israeli planes flew deep into Syria to bomb what was claimed to be the base that the drone flew from, one was shot down by a Syrian air defense missile. Israel then launched a major bombing campaign against Syrian military targets and was only dissuaded from doing far, far worse by Vladimir Putin, who warned Netanyahu against broadening the conflict. Note that it was Russia that made Bibi back down, not Washington. The United States was meanwhile busy in trying to justify its continued presence in Syria, also at the urging of Israel and AIPAC.
Every American president has to bow before Jewish power in the United State and you better believe that both AIPAC and the hundreds of other Jewish and Christian-Zionist organizations that exist at least in part to nurture and protect Israel know it. Even Barack Obama, who had an openly frosty relationship with Netanyahu knew the score and gave the Jewish state $38 billion. He opposed the Israel's expansion into the formerly Palestinian West Bank but never did one thing to stop it until the end of his final term in office when he had the U.S. abstain on a U.N. vote condemning the illegal settlements, a pointless gesture.
Demands that AIPAC, an echo chamber for Israeli interests, should be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 have been ignored by various Attorneys General since the time of John F. Kennedy, who tried to get AIPAC's predecessor organization the American Zionist Council to comply. He was killed soon after, though I am not necessarily trying to imply anything even though Jack Ruby does come to mind.
Here at home "The Lobby" has also been successful in 2017, with 23 states having now passed laws making it illegal to boycott Israel if one wishes to have dealings with the local or state government. Three months ago, the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act was approved by the House of Representatives with 402 affirmative votes and only two libertarian-leaning congressmen voting "no." The Israel Anti-Boycott Act that is also currently making its way through a Senate committee would set a new standard for deference to Israeli interests on the part of the national government. It would criminalize any U.S. citizen "engaged in interstate or foreign commerce" who supports a boycott of Israel or who even goes about "requesting the furnishing of information" regarding it, with penalties enforced through amendments of two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Act of 1945, that include potential fines of between $250,000 and $1 million and up to 20 years in prison. According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, the Senate bill was drafted with the assistance of AIPAC.
And there's lots more to come in 2018. Lindsey Graham and Chris Coons were two of the senators who have just returned from the taxpayer funded "fact finding" trip to Israel and warned about a new war breaking out. And beyond that, what other "fact" did they find? Apparently that Israel needs more money from the U.S. taxpayer. Here is what was reported:
"...they considered the provision of $38 billion over 10 years, ‘a floor.' Graham [also] said during a meeting with reporters that he thought provisions in the agreement phasing out an arrangement in which Israel could spend U.S. funds on its own defense industry and the provision of just $500 million in missile defense funding were ‘short-sighted.' Coons said tensions in the broader region supported the idea of more funding for Israel, citing the ongoing war in Syria and Iran's recent use of a stealth drone."
So, we can look forward to Congress voting another half billion or so for Israel and the money can be spent on building up Israel's own defense industry, which competes with that of the U.S. Currently most of the largesse has to be spent on U.S.-made weapons, but clearly that will be changed to benefit Israel. You can always count on Congress pretending to do the right thing by the American people and it is good to know that the folks at AIPAC, gathered in their thousands this week and including both Senators Graham and Coons, are smiling.