The US Constitution Article 3 states that treason “…shall consist only in levying War against them [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” An enemy, according to Article 1, is a country or entity that the US Congress has declared war against. The definition of treason was deliberately very narrowly construed to avoid having political opponents use it against each other. Also given the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights which places no limits on freedom of speech, there exists a very wide playing field for critics of the Federal government to vent their anger at policies and politicians, which is just as it should be.
So what do you do when powerful forces inside the United States advance the interests of another nation without any regard for the damage that it does? George Washington in his Farewell Address touched on the issue, calling it a “passionate attachment” and observed that “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence…the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government.”
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 whether or not the label treason is applicable. Some nations have common interests but, by their very nature, countries are competitive and normally seek advantage for their own citizens. Or at least that is what citizens normally expect from their government even if it is not always forthcoming.
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.
Maladroit Ambassadors can only do limited damage because they are restrained by their professional staffs while those who benefit from favorable legislation are all part of the massive but largely invisible corruption that has characterized life in post-industrial America. But those who have the ability to do most harm to the United States are part of the new breed of mega-rich, the colossally wealthy multi-billionaires who now are well positioned to use their resources to alter the course of government policy. They are even able to take the nation to war on behalf of another country by supporting political candidates that are willing to accept the money and sell out their principles.
One would have thought that such individuals might be ashamed of what they were doing and would lurk in the shadows handing out and receiving paper bags filled with $100 bills, but no, betrayal is now apparently a badge of honor, something to be applauded. There was the shocking display by Arnon Milchan, who early this year boasted about his assistance to Israeli intelligence while he was profiting from living in the US, service that apparently included obtaining classified American defense technology that enabled Tel Aviv to construct its own nuclear arsenal. Milchan made his billions in Hollywood and even had the temerity to show up at the Academy Awards presentation shortly after his revelation to pick up an Oscar. That he was not arrested on sight is all too characteristic of how the Department of Justice coddles Israeli spies.
But Milchan’s hubris was far exceeded by what the media reported last week. 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 on November 8th and 9th. Present were two multi-billionaires, Sheldon Adelson, the principal funder of IAC, and Haim Saban. Saban, like Milchan, is an Israeli citizen who lives part of the year in Los Angeles. Adelson 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.”
Saban 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 funding the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and 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 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 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.” He reportedly largely funded her campaign in 2008 and was accused of pressuring Nancy Pelosi over her proposal to change the nominating process in a way that would have adversely affected Clinton. He wrote to Pelosi and warned that he and other major Jewish funders of the Democratic Party would stop contributing if the changes were made.
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. And Hillary even seems to be attracting some favorable press from the neocons, who also regard Israel as untouchable. In an Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg Hillary condemned Iran, blamed Hamas both for the war with Israel as well as the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian children, ascribed the level of criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism and praised Benjamin Netanyahu.
Adelson, who believes that the United States should nuke Iran as a “negotiating tactic,” has an estimated $37 billion fortune derived mostly from casinos in Las Vegas and in Asia. He is a Republican supporter for those prospective candidates who promote unlimited US support for Israel. He funded 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 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 if Washington makes a “bad” deal with Iran over its 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.” It is somewhat outrageous that Adelson and Saban appear to believe that they can buy an American presidential candidate in order to benefit Israel, but the most distressing aspect of their chat is that maybe they are right. Mitt Romney spoke at the conference, dutifully describing how he was “stunned” to learn that President Barack Obama has been communicating with his counterpart in Iran. One can reasonably assume that the major party nominees will no doubt pander to Israel in 2016 and one can make a case that Hillary is already owned by Saban. 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 Tel Aviv, to the latter’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. But more surprising is the lack of any coherent response to their conversation apart from a generic outrage expressed largely in the alternative media together with suggestions that they should move permanently to Israel since they appear to love it so much. Adelson and Saban should be recognized for what they really are: agents of a foreign government in a lopsided relationship that brings no benefits to the American people. Indeed, Israel is a money pit for the US taxpayer while protecting it in international fora has made Washington a laughingstock. Americans have paid in blood and treasure for the unending conflict in the Middle East derived from deferring to Israeli interests in the region.
Some might well ask, “What is to be done? Don’t they have a right to spend their money as they see fit to support a cause that is dear to them?” Indeed they do, but taking steps to remove Israel from American politics as a response would be a good place to start, eliminating Tel Aviv’s annual subsidy of $3 billion and withdrawing from the so-called peace process, which does nothing more than enable continued Israeli expansion. And groups like IAC and AIPAC should be required to register as agents of the Israeli government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which would mandate transparency in their funding and end their phony status as educational tax exempt organizations.
I would also suggest that an even better response to the open deliberation over buying a presidential election on behalf of Israel would be for the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee to develop some backbone and combine in issuing a joint statement refusing to take any donations from either Adelson or Saban in the next 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.