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Spring in Washington would not be complete without the city’s famous cherry blossoms and the annual “Policy Conference” meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The 15,000 plus participants began arriving on Sunday and will be here at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center until tomorrow morning, at which point many of them will descend on Congress like a swarm of ravenous locusts to make sure that our Solons on the Potomac are doing what is right by Israel.
AIPAC is the most powerful foreign policy lobby in Washington. Its annual budget exceeds $77 million plus it has an endowment of $100 million. It has nearly 400 employees and also supports local chapters and initiatives throughout the United States. What do all those employees do? They mostly lobby Congress and increasingly state legislatures shamelessly on behalf of a foreign country that has little in the way of actual common interests with the United States. When anything happens in the Middle East, AIPAC’s drones get to work, drafting up position papers detailing the Israeli position which are then placed by runners on the desks of every single congressman within a matter of hours. The congressmen, too lazy to engage in any real inquiry into what is going on, rely on the AIPAC research. That is, lamentably, how our system works. And if the congressman ignores the “expert” advice, AIPAC and its friends makes sure he or she has a strong, well-funded opponent in the next election, someone who knows how to say “I love Israel” without moving his or her lips.
The current speakers’ list for the 2017 conference includes many of the leading political parasites that have long made the nation’s Capitol a “must miss” destination. I will not attempt to summarize what Michael Pence, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Steny Hoyer and others said on Sunday night and yesterday as it was all basically the same speech, declaring undying love for Israel and the Jewish people and pledging that the United States will always have “Israel’s back,” whatever that is supposed to mean. Twenty-nine congressmen were featured as attendees on the AIPAC website but more than two thirds of the entire Congress is expected to appear for a photo op while muttering something about that apparently vulnerable “back.” Or do they mean backside? Whatever. I won’t name any more of the specific panderers as the reader probably already has a good idea who they are.
And, of course, the redoubtable Professor Alan Dershowitz was also a featured speaker, a wonderful human being who recently told us goyim that Jewish power in this country is both deserved and granted by Jehovah. It is interesting how Jews among themselves boast about their power but if a gentile so much as suggests the same thing it is anti-Semitism.
There were also two certifiable loonies among the speakers, apart from Dershowitz. They were Nikki Haley, America’s stalwart U.N. Ambassador, and Stephen Harper, until recently Prime Minister of Canada. Those who are following Haley’s meteoric career are probably aware that while governor of South Carolina she took the lead on making her state the first in the nation to legislate against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) which supports peaceful pressure on Israel to abandon its apartheid policies when dealing with its own Arab citizens as well as the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Such legislation is an abrogation of First Amendment rights and will likely prove to be unconstitutional if it ever gets to the Supreme Court, but Haley clearly believed then and believes now that nothing is too good when it comes to Israel. Since going to the U.N., Haley has spoken more about Israel than about any possible American interests, pledging full support and protection for Netanyahu and his government. She blocked the appointment of a well-qualified Palestinian to a senior U.N. position purely because he was Palestinian. Ignorant of nearly everything that goes on in the world outside the U.S., it might be said that she is so horribly inept that she actually makes her ghastly predecessor Samantha Power look good.
Stephen Harper is another certified knee jerker when it comes to Israel. A fundamentalist Christian who believes the second coming of Christ is imminent, while Prime Minister he led what was possibly the world’s most pro-Israeli government. Harper described Israel as a light that “…burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations – freedom, democracy justice.” He has also said “I will defend Israel whatever the cost” to Canada, an interesting proposition for those who might have believed that his duty was to protect his own country and advance its interests. Harper, who has received awards from both Canadian and American Jewish organizations, personally endorsed Israel’s bombing of Lebanon in 2006, calling it “measured” even when Canadian peacekeepers were killed in the bombardment.
Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, also spoke at the conference. Why? I don’t know but it probably has something to do with characteristically liberal American Jews pulling their usual doublespeak trick, trying to pretend that fundamentally racist Israelis are not actually racist by inviting a black man to speak at a pro-Israel conference. I’ll bet he was paid handsomely to do so.
And former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, perhaps suggesting that love for Israel is truly international, spoke and was also probably paid handsomely to do so as he an incorporated brand. Between 2007 and 2015 Blair was the “special envoy” representing (and personally profiting from) the Quartet seeking to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. Marwan Bishara explained in The New York Times: “A natural panderer to power, Mr. Blair morphed his complicity with the United States over Iraq into a new complicity with Israel. The assumption that operates is that schmoozing with the powerful is the only way to make a difference. So while Mr. Blair worked to reform the Palestinian Authority’s finances, security and governance, he turned a blind eye as Israel expanded its illegal settlements and tightened its hold on the autonomous territories. In the process, Mr. Blair helped render the Palestinian Authority more, not less, dependent on Israel. Instead of protecting the Palestinians from the Israeli settlers, Palestinian security forces have since been protecting Israeli settlers from Palestinian resentment.” Blair also attacked the Palestinian leadership’s decision to seek United Nations recognition of the Palestinian state, calling it “deeply confrontational.” Bishara dismisses him as “Israel’s puppy.” As I am extremely fond of dogs, I would modify that to read “Israel and now AIPAC’s butt boy.”
The avenging angel Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the conference by satellite link and yet again described the threat posed by Iran. The satellite visit was somewhat surprising, as he usually likes to drop by in person so he can pick up his annual tribute money from the U.S. Treasury. This year’s Danegeld will be $3.8 billion thanks to President Barack Obama, guaranteed for ten years, and there will be, of course, various supplements as the Israelis discover things that they just need to have to stave off Netanyahu’s wily Persians and fight the rising tide of anti-Semitism. A rising tide, which we have just learned, was carried out by an Israeli Jew who also holds U.S. citizenship, which again leads to the question why so many Israelis are allowed to have American passports even though they live in Israel and serve in the Israeli Army?
And, of course, Persia was an integral part of the conference as it is tough to want to destroy the entire Muslim Middle East without having a really formidable enemy to focus on. Iran fits the bill quite nicely, but speakers were also prone to skewer those terrible Ay-rabs who just do not want peace. And the Israelis settlements are not a problem, nosiree! The theme of this year’s gathering was, in fact, “Many voices, one mission,” the mission presumably being the expansion of Israel so it will stretch east to west from the Nile to the River Jordan and north to the Turkish border. The indigenous inhabitants will have to be removed, but as they are mostly terrorists that should be okay with the world community and Donald Trump.
And with the 15,000 AIPAC attendees. The AIPAC gathering is really all about subverting Congress, so it is a good thing that a large majority of Congressmen were attending, making the necessary bowing and scraping that much easier. And they will enjoy it even more when the 15,000 AIPAC loyalists descend on Capitol Hill as the conference ends to make sure that Congress is listening. Democracy in action is great, isn’t it?
Even though I jest about the absurdity of thousands of Americans who appeared to be confused about what country they actually live in gathering to honor a foreign country that has an army that acts like a terrorist group, does not believe in equal rights even for its own citizens and bans visitors who do not accept its more questionable policies, the AIPAC people are not a joke. They are a deadly serious threat to our own democracy and way of life as they have figured out how to use money and the power that money buys to leverage and corrupt the system in such a way as to produce wars and turmoil that have blown back on the United States and made every American citizen both less safe and poorer.
I have written and spoken before how AIPAC is ultimately doomed as Israel and its basic policies towards Arabs and its neighbors are unsustainable both from a human rights and practical point of view. But that does not mean that it is going away any time soon. The Israel Lobby has the U.S. Congress and media by the throat and the Trump administration promises to be completely uncritical in its relationship with Netanyahu and whatever homicidal kleptocrat might be in line to succeed him. Ms. Haley and her peers in state governments have successfully pushed legislation in a majority of states that punishes anyone who tries to boycott Israeli institutions or products. On university campuses non-violent criticism of Israel is being suppressed. There is also increasing pressure to define any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitism and therefore a hate crime, modeled on similar legislation in Canada, Britain and France.
In a number of European countries it is a crime to challenge the standard narrative on “the Holocaust.” Why should that be? You can in much of Europe stand in a town square and say horrible things about your own country but if you criticize the factual basis of one particular “event” that took place in the 1940s you will go to jail.
So hang on to your hats, my fellow Americans. AIPAC is not going away and it will be doing all it can to keep neighboring Syria a cauldron of death and destruction while also calling for war on Iran. And AIPAC as well as the other bits and pieces of the Israel Lobby will have many Quislings in the Congress and U.S. media who will echo whatever they propose, even if it does grave damage to American interests. Meanwhile the billions and billions of dollars will continue to flow from an increasingly straitened United States to a wealthy Israel. At its conference AIPAC announced the latest windfall from America, applauding “… the U.S. House of Representatives for significantly bolstering its support of U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation in the FY 2017 defense appropriations bill. The House appropriated $600.7 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense programs.” That is on top of everything else Israel gets. Will it ever end? I don’t know.