Judging from the mainstream media, Israel was not a major issue in the midterm election but it sure did come up a lot when candidates for office were wooing Jewish or Evangelical voters. To cite only one example, Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis criticized his opponent Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum during their gubernatorial race for receiving support from the Dream Defenders, a group favoring Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and giving a speech welcoming members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to his city. DeSantis claimed in a video clip that “I can find anti-Semites around him, but it’s almost like ‘we don’t want to discuss that.’”
DeSantis, who sponsored the 2013 Palestinian Accountability Act which called for the withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, charged that Gillum would not be a “friend” of Israel. In 2017, he co-founded the Congressional Israel Victory Caucus, saying “Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East, as we share common national interests and possess similar national values. Israel is not the problem in the Middle East; it is the solution to many of the problems that bedevil the region. American policy must ensure that Israel emerges victorious against those who deny or threaten her existence.” Earlier this year, DeSantis drafted a proposal calling on the U.S. to recognize Syria’s Golan Heights as an ‘integral part’ of the State of Israel.
DeSantis boasted about his presence in Jerusalem when the U.S. Embassy was moved to that city in May and has promised as governor to visit Israel’s illegal settlements on the West Bank, which he refers to by the preferred Israeli usage as “Judea and Samaria.” He threatens critics that “If you boycott Israel, the state of Florida will boycott you.”
One might note at a minimum that for Ron DeSantis and ambitious slimeballs like him it is all about Israel due to their own political self-interest, with nothing actually in the mix for either Florida or the United States. The uninformed public buys into the narrative because it doesn’t know any better thanks to the media’s heavy slant in favor of Israel, allowing uncritical support for the Jewish state to continue under the radar unchallenged. DeSantis, a former U.S. Navy lawyer, has demonstrated that he reveres Israel even more than his former comrades in arms. In his congressional district there are a number of survivors of the U.S.S. Liberty, which was attacked in international waters by Israel on June 8, 1967, killing 34 crewmen and injuring 171 more. They report that DeSantis has been completely unsympathetic to their requests that a commission of inquiry finally be convened to determine what actually happened on that day.
In fact, Americans have never had the option of voting on the “special relationship” that Israel enjoys with the United States as no Congressman would dare run against it lest they be smeared in the media and find themselves running against an extraordinarily well funded opponent benefitting from large donations coming from out of state sources. The list of prominent politicians “taken down” by Israel is lengthy, and includes Cynthia McKinney, Adlai Stevenson III, Paul Findley, Chuck Percy, William Fulbright, Roger Jepsen, and Pete McCloskey.
It is particularly ironic that as the midterm campaigns were drawing to a close there appeared some serious investigative journalism that demonstrates precisely how Israel and Jewish groups corrupt the political process in America to provide virtually unlimited support for anything and everything that the despicable Benjamin Netanyahu and his gang of war criminals seek to do. How the process has succeeded is best illustrated by the current Israeli government’s policy of “mowing the grass” in Gaza where it is using army snipers to kill unarmed Palestinian protesters. Washington not only does not protest against the in-your-face war crime, it aids and abets it with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman justifying the military response as measured and appropriate.
Another area where Washington chooses to look the other way is regarding Israel’s nuclear arsenal, believed to consist of two hundred warheads. Under U.S. law, any country that has an undeclared nuclear weapons arsenal cannot obtain American-made weapons and cannot received aid of any type. Congress and the White House pretend that the Israeli nuclear arsenal does not exist, in spite of the fact that the Israelis themselves have more than once implicitly acknowledged it and instead of cutting aid to Israel have instead increased it. It is currently $3.8 billion per year guaranteed for the next ten years, with extra money also available if needed. No other country benefits from such largesse and gives in return so little.
To be sure, the groundbreaking book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, which appeared in 2007, pulled no punches in describing how the Israel Lobby operates in the United States. It also made clear that the relationship with Israel serves no United States national interest whatsoever and exists solely because of the corruption of the political system and the media by principally Jewish individuals and groups that are dedicated to that task.
While acknowledging the great debt to Walt and Mearsheimer, it is one thing to read about something in a book and quite another thing to see it live, which is what the new evidence of Israeli interference consists of. Several years ago, the Qatari news service al-Jazeera commissioned two investigations. The first was on the activities of the Israeli Lobby in Britain and the second was on the lobby in the United States. The material consisted largely of meetings with members of Israel’s active lobby that were secretly filmed by journalists who were pretending to be supporters and who eventually managed to penetrate some of the organizations that were most active in promoting Israel’s interests.
The British expose, in two parts, aired in January, and was based on discussions and interviews that took place between June and November 2017. It demonstrated how the Israeli Embassy in London connived with government officials to “take down” parliamentarians and government ministers who were considered to be critical of the Jewish State. It also revealed how the Israeli Embassy was secretly subsidizing and advising private groups promoting Israeli interests, including associations of Members of Parliament (MPs).
The secret recording revealed how an Israeli Embassy diplomat/spy named Shai Masot connived with a senior civil servant to get rid of Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, regarded as a supporter of an independent Palestinian state. To Masot’s additional query “Can I give you some MPs that I would suggest you would take down?” the civil servant suggested “…if you look hard enough, I’m sure there is something that they’re trying to hide…a little scandal maybe.” Another alleged pro-Arab member of Parliament Crispin Blunt was also identified and confirmed to be on a “hit list.”
It was also learned that Masot had been secretly subsidizing and advising two ostensibly independent groups, the parliamentary Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Masot did, however, express concern that Israel’s control over incoming parliamentarians was not quite what it used to be: “For years, every MP that joined the parliament joined the LFI. They’re not doing that any more in the Labour Party. CFI, they’re doing it automatically. All the 14 new MPs who got elected in the last elections did it automatically.”
The documentary was initially a sensation in Britain but then, predictably, it went away as Israel’s loyal host of media scriveners took charge. Masot was recalled to Israel and Prime Minister Teresa May, as good a friend to Jewish money and power as one is likely to find, decided to do nothing. Her characteristically toothless reaction to the suggestion that her government officials might be removed by the clandestine activity of a foreign country was: “The Israeli ambassador has apologized…the U.K. has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed.”
The four-part series by al-Jazeera on the Lobby in the U.S. was meanwhile temporarily spiked because the Qatari government was seeking to obtain the mediation of prominent American Jews to pressure the White House to help resolve its outstanding conflict with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The documentary has remained in limbo but in the past two weeks it has surfaced and is now available. Its undercover investigative journalist, a British Jew named Tony Kleinfeld, quickly charmed his way into the inner circle of Israel’s supporters where he discovered a network of organizations that act as fronts for the Israeli government. Their activities include spying on supporters of Palestinian rights and disrupting demonstrations, with a particular focus on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which Israel has particularly targeted. They also resorted to tactics like smearing critics by generating false accusations of sexual and personal misconduct, all of which was coordinated by Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs. The ministry’s director general is Sima Vaknin-Gil, a former senior officer with Israel’s military intelligence, and is staff consists mostly of former spies drawn from Israel’s various security agencies.
Later, Kleinfeld became involved with The Israel Project, which is a U.S. based Israeli government backed propaganda organ that claims to be “a non-partisan American educational organization dedicated to informing the media and public conversation about Israel and the Middle East.”
In a recorded conversation, Project employee Jordan Schachtel, explained the objectives and extent of a secret Facebook operation. “We’re putting together a lot of pro-Israel media through various social media channels that aren’t The Israel Project’s channels. So we have a lot of side projects that we are trying to influence the public debate with. That’s why it’s a secretive thing, because we don’t want people to know that these side projects are associated with The Israel Project.”
In another episode, the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Jacob Baime, who claimed to have a $2 million budget, described coordinating with the Israeli government, with an approach “modeled on General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq…copied a lot from that strategy that has been working really well for us, actually” using “offensive information operations.” Baime described putting “up some anonymous website” along with targeted Facebook ads so that critics “either shut down or they spend time responding to it and investigating it, which is time they can’t spend attacking Israel. It’s psychological warfare, it drives them crazy.”
Kleinfeld also met with other groups. Foundation for Defense of Democracies was revealed as yet another agent of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, its directors meeting regularly with Israeli Embassy staff in Washington. In spite of that the Treasury Department has not compelled it to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (FARA). It is also registered with the IRS as a tax exempt 501(c)3 “charity.” Indeed, no Jewish organization active on behalf of Israel has ever had to register under FARA and most are classified as tax exempt charities or educational foundations. Interestingly, however, the FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer lamented in his recorded conversation with Kleinfeld that “anti-Semitism as a smear is not what is used to be.”
In another bizarre episode, Kleinfeld visited the neocon dominated Hoover Institute in California where he participated in a demonstration together with a group of bored young conservative think tankers compelled by their professors to protest against a Students for Justice in Palestine conference. The think tank fellows admit that they were “astroturfing” – rent-a-crowd activism to make a small demonstration appear much larger.
Another segment includes Israeli Lobby financier Adam Milstein, who is reported to be the principal funder of Canary Mission, which has targeted some 1,900 students and academics in its profiles since 2015, smearing them as “racist,” “anti-American” and “anti-Semitic.” Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, boasts in the film that “Canary Mission is highly, highly effective to the extent that we monitor the Students for Justice in Palestine and their allies.”
In his recording, Milstein also talks about the need to “investigate” and “expose” critics of Israel, who Milstein claims are anti-Semites, as well as “anti-Christian” and “anti-freedom” activists who “terrorize us.” His foundation also funds numerous anti-Palestinian organizations, including the Israel on Campus Coalition, StandWithUs, CAMERA, the AMCHA Initiative and the FDD. Milstein also funds and is chairman of the board of the Israeli-American Council. An Israeli-born California based real estate developer, Milstein reportedly served time in federal prison after a 2009 conviction for tax evasion.
An Israeli spy at the University of California at Davis, Julia Reifkind also described to Kleinfeld how the system worked at the campus level. She used multiple fake Facebook accounts to monitor the activities of Students for Justice in Palestine. “I follow all the SJP accounts. I have some fake names. My name is Jay Bernard or something. It just sounds like an old white guy, which was the plan. I join all these groups.” The information she obtained was then passed on to her contact in the Embassy for forwarding on to Israel to be entered into their data base of enemies.
So, Israel was engaging in interfering in legitimate political activity and also generating fake news on the social media in both 2016 and 2018, the same accusation that has been leveled against Moscow, but Special Counsel Robert Mueller seems curiously uninterested. And beyond the al-Jazeera revelations, there is also the evidence that it was Israel that sought favors from the incoming Trump Administration in 2016, not Russia. So who was actually corrupting whom?
And then there are the more overt Israeli front groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) with its $100 million annual budget and 200 employees, as well as the other special arrangements to pander to Israel and the powerful American Jews who have made it their mission to use the U.S. government as a mechanism to protect and nurture Israel. Last week in Los Angeles $60 million was raised by Hollywood’s finest for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), “Their Job is to Look After Israel. Ours is to Look After Them,” the website proclaims. Last month, an additional $32 million was raised for the IDF in New York City. Donations are tax exempt, to support the armed forces of a country that is currently engaged in war crimes and that has a secret nuclear arsenal.
So, Israel was technically speaking not running in the 2018 election, but it was very much in the race. Jewish Democrats are already boasting how the presence of a couple of Israel critics in the House, who will be “reeducated” on the Middle East, will make no difference, that the party will be solid for the Jewish state with more Jewish congressmen than ever before. Indeed, the “special relationship” bond will be stronger than ever. Five committee chairmanships in the House of Representatives will be in the hands of passionate Israel firsters, including Adam Schiff at the Intelligence Committee and Eliot Engel at Foreign Affairs. On the Republican side, the House is already 100% in Israel’s pocket. And as part of the White House team we have John Bolton and Mike Pompeo. Donald Trump’s Ambassador to Israel David Friedman expressed the dual loyalty phenomenon best in a recent speech. The United States is his “country of citizenship” but Israel is the country he “loves so much.”
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected].