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The next American president will almost certainly be bought and paid for by the Israel Lobby. Hillary Clinton has already declared that that when she is elected president she intends to take relations with Israel “to the next level” and has also promised to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit on her very first day in office. It is difficult to imagine what the next level might actually be in America’s already servile deference to Israeli interests so she should perhaps be careful regarding what she commits herself to do. Netanyahu just might feel empowered to remain in the Oval Office on his visit, possibly also moving the Knesset to Washington so it will be closer to the U.S. Treasury if Israel’s budget comes up a bit short as well as just across the river from the Pentagon and all those nifty weapons that can be used to kill Palestinian children.
Hillary’s pledge of fealty to Israel took place at a meeting of the Saban Forum, which is an annual dialogue between American and Israeli leaders from across the political and social spectrum, hosted by the Brookings Institute, which also has a Center for Middle East Policy, formerly also named after Saban. The eponymous Saban is Haim Saban an Israeli who has made his billions of dollars in the United States in the television and entertainment industry. His best known brand is the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He is consistently one of the largest donors to the Democratic Party, contributing $10 million in 2001-2, whose stated formula for influencing American politics is to donate to politicians and parties, establish think tanks and control the media message. He has worked hard to do all three on behalf of Israel, to include paying for the Democratic National Committee headquarters in DC.
Saban’s dealings with the Democrats have apparently not inhibited his cooperation with Israel’s intelligence service Mossad. In 2009 Congressman Jane Harman was contacted by an Israeli intelligence “agent” and reportedly agreed to attempt to influence a reduction in the espionage charges in the then ongoing trial of accused American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spies Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. In return, Harman’s contact promised to support her bid to become chairman of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence. The Israeli, who some suspect was Haim Saban himself, indicated that he would pressure House speaker Nancy Pelosi using threats to withhold political contributions from Saban if Harman were not given the position. Harman was later spoken of as a possible candidate to become Director of Central Intelligence and, without the FBI recordings of her phone conversations, which were made known to Pelosi, she might have obtained either position or possibly both in succession.
Saban has also long been associated with the Clintons and he and a tight group of like-minded donors may indeed constitute the most financially significant part of Hillary’s political base. When Bill was president Saban was a regular overnight visitor at the White House. He has pledged to spend “whatever it takes to elect Hillary in 2016 because “the relationship with the US and Israel will be significantly reinforced.” Saban has repeatedly claimed that “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.” Hillary and Bill appear to agree and one might even argue that Bill has a soft spot for money coming from Israeli spies, witness his pardoning of fugitive Marc Rich in 2001. So put it all together if you will and if you think that the wag the dog relationship between Washington and Tel Aviv is bad now, just wait because it will be moving “to the next level” if Hillary is elected.
So who is standing up for the interests of the American people? Nobody, apparently. Senator Ted Cruz has no less than 69 press releases on his web site pledging support for Israel. Jeb Bush has pledged to ban the pro-Palestinian Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement in the U.S. which most people would consider to be free speech. Every Republican candidate also continues to pander directly and personally to Benjamin Netanyahu, including Donald Trump who planned to drop in on Bibi but had to cancel the trip because of the reaction to his comments about Muslims. Trump had also caused somewhat of an uproar by telling a Jewish Republican audience in New York City that they wouldn’t support him because he didn’t need their money. Imagine the cheek of Trump to link Jews with money with buying influence! In any event, Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), determined that Trump’s comments were not anti-Semitism because they had been misinterpreted and I for one am relieved that we have a brave and enlightened organization like the ADL to keep us on our toes when it comes to potential hate speech.
George Washington could not have envisioned the manner in which money has corrupted American politics. Congressmen complain that much of their time is spent fundraising and, in such a system, it is inevitable that the most generous donors are able to position themselves for favors from the political class. Some become Ambassadors even though they are completely unqualified. Others choose to push certain legislative agendas, to include tax breaks and bailouts that enrich them personally.
But now we have something that goes way beyond that in the new breed of mega-rich, colossally wealthy multi-billionaires who are well positioned to use their resources to support a political candidate willing to accept the money and sell out his or her principles to someone advancing the interests of a foreign country. We are now on the verge of having a Manchurian Candidate president.
Last November an organization called the Israel-America Council (IAC), which ostensibly represents expatriate Israeli citizens residing in the United States, hosted an inaugural bash in Washington. Present were Saban and Sheldon Adelson sharing a stage. Adelson, the principal funder of IAC, was born in the United States and lives in Las Vegas but also has a home in Israel and presumably has Israeli citizenship. His wife is Israeli and he has said that he regrets serving in the US Army in World War Two while also expressing a fervent desire to have a son who would serve as an Israeli military sniper. Both Adelson and Saban are essentially Israelis who live in the United States for economic reasons. Scott McConnell has described them as having “maximal loyalties to Israel and minimal ones to the United States.”
Adelson is the Republican version of Saban. He believes that the United States should nuke Iran as a “negotiating tactic,” has an estimated $23.8 billion fortune derived mostly from casinos in Las Vegas and in Asia. He is a Republican funder for those prospective candidates who promote unlimited US support for Israel. He bankrolled Newt Gingrich’s bid for the GOP nomination in 2012 as well as Mitt Romney for a total of $150 million and also contributed $10 million to Republican candidates in the 2014 congressional campaign. Newt Gingrich in return repaid the favor by praising Israel in his foreign policy pronouncements, taking a hard line with Iran and describing the Palestinians as an “invented people.”
Adelson and Saban’s “spirited public discussion” at IAC included a number of zingers that have been widely reported in the alternative media. Saban commented that in the event of a “bad” deal between Washington and Tehran over the latter’s nuclear program (bad as being defined by Israel) Netanyahu “should bomb the living daylights out of the sons of bitches.” Adelson noted that “the purpose of the existence of Palestinians is to destroy Israel” before dismissing the possibility of a democratic state including both Arabs and Jews by responding “So Israel won’t be a democratic state, so what?” He added that democracy was not mentioned in the Torah. The two also joked about combing their resources to buy the New York Times by offering to pay “more than it’s worth” to make its coverage of Israel even more favorable than it already is. Saban added that he had even used “threats” to obtain favorable media reporting about Israel. The seven hundred “Israeli-Americans” in the audience reportedly responded to the conversation with “wild applause.”
Adelson and Saban concluded that “there’s no right or left when it comes to Israel” and the conference Chairman Shawn Evenhaim joked at its conclusion that “After the election in 2016 one of you will get me a private tour of the White House.” The jest was on target. At this point it is almost certain that both Saban and Adelson will become the largest single donors for whoever becomes the GOP and Democratic candidates. That will buy them enormous access, as Hillary Clinton has already demonstrated. Given that reality one has to accept the obvious conclusion that the two Israeli billionaires might well be able to substantially define the relationship between Washington and the Muslim world, to Israel’s benefit.
That Adelson and Saban might think privately that they have become political kingmakers is one thing, but stating as much in a public forum defies belief. They should be recognized for what they really are: agents of a foreign government and there is no reason why the Justice Department should not require them to register as such under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938. Their close and continuing relationships with Israeli government can no doubt be demonstrated, validating the claim and registering as foreign agents would make illegal their funding of American politicians.
And once one starts recognizing foreign advocacy groups for what they are, other organizations like IAC, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and AIPAC should also be required to register as agents of the Israeli government. And there are many more such organizations, a virtual alphabet soup. Registration would mandate transparency in their funding and end their phony status as educational tax exempt organizations.
It does not require any particular genius to realize that someone living in one country while favoring the interests of another is not a desirable citizen but we retain at least some semblance of freedom of speech and anyone should be able to advocate anything. But it would be nice for a change if our two venerable national parties might for once seize the high ground and act respectably. I would suggest that the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee might consider developing some backbone and combine in issuing a joint statement refusing to take any donations from either Adelson or Saban in the current election cycle. It could remove both considerable influence peddling and Israel itself from the electoral process, which would be a blessing all around. Might it actually happen? Almost certainly not.