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Does AIPAC Have Only Two Major Donors?
Mystery unfolds as members of Congress head to Israel
by Grant Smith, August 10, 2011

A large congressional delegation is heading for Israel. During three weeks of recess, 55 Republicans and 26 Democrats will enjoy "educational" trips funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, a tax-exempt nonprofit located in the same Washington, D.C., building as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Absent AIPAC's influence on pro-Israel campaign contributors, members of Congress would probably skip international travel this year to meet the pressing needs of their districts or to venture to places of actual importance to the U.S., such as Europe, China, or Latin America. Instead, because AIPAC is always watching members of Congress, our representatives go to Israel. But this raises an important question: Who is really behind AIPAC?
AIPAC's last IRS list of contributors claims the organization now has only two major donors [.pdf]. As a tax-exempt 501©(4) organization (a category intended for civic leagues, social welfare organizations, and local associations of employees) AIPAC files an IRS Form 990. AIPAC has long structured its fiscal year end in such a way that it languidly files 2-year-old data while other nonprofits are rushing to report their previous year. Therefore, the AIPAC Form 990 listed as "year 2010″ at, the officially designated website to consult such data, is actually year 2009 data [.pdf]. It also lacks the most important data in Form 990 donor contributions.
Unlike the far more numerous nonprofit 501©(3) organizations, which have to continually "means test" that they have a wide public funding base in order for contributor donations to be tax-deductible, contributions to 501©(4) organizations such as AIPAC (which actively lobbies Congress, the executive, and numerous government agencies) are not tax-deductible. There are no contribution limits to 501 ©(4) nonprofit groups. Individuals, foreign nationals, partnerships, associations, and other organizations may contribute whatever amount they like to a 501©(4).
Given AIPAC's oversize clout in U.S. Middle East policy, it's always informative to see just how many people are giving and how much. When AIPAC's founder, Isaiah Kenen, was dispatched in the early 1950s from his job at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs with orders to lobby the U.S. Congress for guns and diplomatic support as an American (rather than the U.S. State Department as an Israeli foreign agent), it was supposed to be only a six-month gig. As that operation morphed into a semi-permanent Washington institution run outside the normal purview of the Foreign Agents Registration Act office, AIPAC was forced to tap a very small base of wealthy donors (some with criminal records) while simultaneously receiving covert support from the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency in Jerusalem.
After that "conduit" foreign- funding ruse was uncovered by a Justice Department investigation, Kenen emerged from the crisis and slowly built back up AIPAC's donor base, whipping up post-1967 Six-Day War donor fears and anxieties that Israel was in danger of being overrun (it wasn't) if people didn't send in their checks. Now, AIPAC is pushing largely the same "Israel in danger" emotional buttons, with Iran as the flashing red light.
AIPAC's schedule of donors doesn't appear on Guidestar. The IRS won't release it for any organization except by special request. Only then will the IRS send a "Schedule B" of contributors with all $5,000-plus contributors' names but not their donations censored. If the breadth of AIPAC's funding base is a "leading indicator" of AIPAC's popular support, it is America that should now be deeply worried that AIPAC is catering to drastically fewer and possibly much more extreme voices.
For fiscal year 2006, AIPAC's top contributor gave $650,000. The rest of AIPAC's "Schedule B" donors gave on average $16,772 each. The list of $5,000-plus donors numbered just over 1,700 individuals, so numerous that AIPAC had to attach a separate spreadsheet to its return [.pdf]. This large group of donors represented the majority (56 percent) of AIPAC's total claimed direct public support. If we assume AIPAC had approximately 50,000 paying members that year, the rest gave $464 each for a total of $50,920,792 in public support.
According to the special IRS release of AIPAC's 2009 Schedule B [.pdf] there were only two $5,000-plus donors. Donor number one gave $48,842,187. Donor number two chipped in $13,503,472. This means small donors contributed only $2,261,755 for total year 2009 public support of $64,607,414. The IRS confirms that there is no additional 2009 spreadsheet attachment of $5,000-plus donors as in 2006. AIPAC is now telling the IRS that it has only two meaningful donors.
There have been many reasons for smaller givers to bail out on AIPAC, leaving a pair of committed donors to carry all the weight. AIPAC, like any corporation, wants to chart a steadily increasing line of total revenues because any crisis-driven decline could weaken its brand and perceived power. But the years since 2006 have been rocky. Two former AIPAC officials narrowly escaped a long-awaited espionage prosecution, which was mysteriously tossed out by the Obama administration in 2009 after years of pre-trial escalation. Many AIPAC donors probably didn't have the stomach or risk-tolerance to donate to an organization that nurtured and then threw overboard top employees in order to save itself from an espionage indictment.
In 2009, former AIPAC official Steven J. Rosen noisily filed a $20 million defamation lawsuit against AIPAC and its board of directors. 2009 marked the year an ongoing campaign was launched to have AIPAC return to its roots by re-registering as an agent of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, rather than continue to operate as a domestic American lobby and "social welfare" organization. In 2010, AIPAC's tax exempt status was also challenged. These concerns could have been sufficient to drive away scores of AIPAC's key base of $5,000-plus donors. AIPAC's signature Washington gathering in May 2011 had a Potemkin village feel to it. Many attendees interviewed by Max Blumenthal seemed woefully uninformed about the issues. Many hundreds of others, including student leaders, attended only after receiving heavy travel subsidies.
If the threat of Rosen walking away with $20 million was enough to keep small donors at bay in the recent past, it will likely remain that way for a few more years. On June 20, 2011, Rosen filed a brief [.pdf] and a 629-page addendum in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Rosen explains why within the AIPAC corporate culture it was defamatory for his former employers to characterize his attempts to gather and use classified intelligence on Iran as not comporting with "standards that AIPAC expects of its employees." Rosen has even filed a "smoking gun" [.pdf] July 21, 2004, email updating AIPAC director Howard Kohr on U.S. intelligence obtained about Iran and details of Rosen's early use of classified U.S. secrets to derail Jesse Jackson's political career. Rosen's lawsuit will not only elevate insider concerns that AIPAC donor funds may soon be paid out as damage awards, but also raise the larger and more public governance questions about why AIPAC has never been indicted for espionage or theft of government property as a corporation, given what has now been so thoroughly documented in court.
As Americans nervously ponder their representatives' travel plans and AIPAC's nonstop lobbying for American economic and clandestine warfare on Israel's enemies, they must ask other serious questions. Who are the two people now providing the lion's share of AIPAC's funding? As long-time Washington Report on Middle East Affairs editor Janet McMahon revealed during the May 2011 Move Over AIPAC conference, it's not clear what percentage of AIPAC's donations come from American contributors and sources. Given AIPAC's influential leadership role at the head of a network of stealth political action committees it helped establish in the 1980s, will AIPAC's concentrated pool of core donors channel ever more extreme candidate guidance [.pdf] to the people who really count come election day, i.e., single-issue pro-Israel campaign contributors? What do the big AIPAC donors dispatching 20 percent of Congress to Israel think about trip-wiring the U.S. into an unwarranted military conflict with Iran? Americans should ask themselves whether any two people should have so much influence on U.S. Middle East policy.
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How the Israel Lobby Erodes US Sovereignty

From writing laws to funding presidential campaigns, conservative Israelis have a strong pull on US politics.

By Ahmed Moor
July 03, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -- The United States is a sovereign country. That is sometimes hard to remember.Illinois Senator Mark Kirk had a stroke in January. The serious neurological event sent him into surgery, where doctors excised two, tiny, damaged pieces of his brain. By all accounts, the senator is now in great recovery, his office releasing a video in May, which showed him walking on a treadmill and describing his eagerness to "get back to work". Yet it appears that he has already got back to it.

At the end of last month, Kirk sponsored an amendment to a Senate appropriations bill, seemingly intent on stripping the United Nations Relief and Works Agency of some of its funding. His attempt to re-determine the definition of Palestinian refugees was met by stiff opposition from the State Department, but the senator prevailed - a considerable feat for a recovering patient.The amendment requires the State Department to distinguish between and report on how many of those Palestinians who receive assistance from UNRWA were personally displaced from their homes as a result of the 1948 war, and those who are their descendants - which the UN agency continues to count as refugees, unable to return to their ancestral homes.

Ha'aretz reported that the senator had some help with his legislative burden, and not only from his deputy chief of staff, Richard Goldberg. It turns out that the amendment to the bill was first written by an Israeli politician. Einat Wilf, a member of the Israeli parliament, reportedly spent months working with current and former AIPAC employees, including Steve Rosen - who was oncesuspected by FBI agents of obtaining classified US government information and passing it on to Israeli officials - to deliver the language on Palestinian refugees to the US legislature.

In summary: a senator who suffered crippling neurological damage received legislation from an Israeli politician by way of AIPAC before he slipped it into a US bill that eventually became law. In other words, an Israeli politician helped write a US law. Then she boasted about it."I have nothing against the descendents of refugees and I'm not asking them to give up of their dream of returning," Haaretz quoted Wilf as saying. "But if we want a two-state solution, UNWRA can't continue to aid an inflation of refugees ... It ends up harming peace."

But that's probably not worth getting overly excited about. Foreign politicians have always written laws for their US counterparts (not really). What they haven't always done is finance US presidential races.

Sheldon Adelson is an American casino billionaire and owner of conservative Israeli daily newspaper Israel HaYom. He is famous for spending $10m on Newt Gingrich's presidential bid. A veteran, he is also famous for saying, "the uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform". In fairness, Adelson is not the only person in the US who thinks that wearing an Israeli uniform is terrific. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach - running for New Jersey's ninth US Congressional district - recently gushed about his own relationship with the Israeli army.Anyway, Adelson's generous contribution to the Gingrich effort came after the then-candidate proclaimed that the Palestinians were an "invented" people. The campaign failed to convince Republicans that scandal and profligacy are good for the party, and when Gingrich failed, Adelson found a new champion. The New York Times reported that he offered an additional $10m to the Romney campaign. The money came after a suggestion that the billionaire may be willing to spend up to $100m to defeat Barack Obama.

To be sure, $100m is only 0.4 per cent of $25bn, Adelson's estimated net worth. So this is also not a big deal, unless foreign money is what's buying US democracy. In an interview condemning Adelson's contributions, Senator John McCain said that "obviously, maybe in a roundabout way, foreign money is coming into an American campaign".

All the big money and Israeli interference is coming at a time when US neoconservatives are pushing hard for a new war. And they can only push as hard as they do because they have successfully purged the Republican Party of whatever sanity it possessed - a phenomenon Pat Buchanan recently highlighted.

The administration is reportedly fighting against a war with Iran. And to the president's mind, the best way to do that is by embedding the Israelis in the US national security apparatus. For example, the head of the US delegation to the P5+1 non-proliferation talks recently flew from Baghdad to Tel Aviv. According to an unnamed US source, "we updated the Israelis in detail before we updated our own government".

So, to summarise again: Israelis are helping write US laws, funding US campaigns, and helping craft US war-making policy.

What is left for Americans to do? Well, to fight the wars, of course. Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian-American graduate student of Public Policy at Harvard University and co-editor of After Zionism (Saqi Books, July 2012).
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
I've read many articles like this in recent years Ed. It's clear that the Zionist lobby has captured the US political system yet the mainstream media dare not speak its name. That's because the media itself is a Zionist lobby asset.

What I find amazing is the number of supposedly well informed people, including some on this site, who are still in denial.

America Adopts the Israel Paradigm

Philip Giraldi
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I recently read a fascinating article by Scott McConnell, "The Special Relationship With Israel: Is It Worth the Cost?," which appeared in the spring 2012 Middle East Policy Council Journal. Even for those of us who have closely followed the issue of Israel's asymmetrical relationship with the United States, Scott provides some unique insights. He observes, for example, that the result of the "special relationship" between the United States and Israel has been the wholesale adoption of Israeli policies and viewpoints by Washington's policymakers and pundits. As Scott puts it, there exists "a transmission belt, conveying Israeli ideas on how the United States should conduct itself in a contested and volatile part of the world. To a great extent, a receptive American political class now views the Middle East and their country's role in it through Israel's eyes."
I would add that Israel has not only shaped America's perceptions, it has also supported policies both overseas and domestically that have fundamentally shifted how the United States sees itself and how the rest of the world sees the United States. This is most evident in failed national security policies, damaging interactions with the Muslim world, and the loss of basic liberties at home because of legislation like the PATRIOT Act. Israel and its powerful lobby have been instrumental in entangling Washington in a constant state of war overseas while at the same time planting the seeds for a national security state at home. In short, the end product of the relationship is that the United States has abandoned many liberties, constitutional restraints, and its rule of law to become more like Israel.
This all came about initially because of the false impression that somehow Israel knew more about the Arab world than did U.S. statesmen and diplomats. The Israelis were widely perceived as experts on what was going on in their backyard, but a more correct interpretation would have been that Tel Aviv was working hard right from the beginning to produce a negative perception of Arabs and their ways. American diplomats described as Arabists actually had quite a good understanding of the countries they served in, a vanished world in which the U.S. was welcomed and widely perceived in the most positive terms. After the Second World War, nearly all Arab countries were well-disposed toward the United States, and before the creation of Israel, the U.S. had only friends in the region. After the birth of Israel, Washington's increasing tilt toward Tel Aviv meant that Israel's enemies inevitably became America's enemies.
I can personally recall intelligence reports from the Israelis that circulated through the U.S. government in the 1980s and 1990s. The reports were always designed to cast doubts on Arab leaders and their intentions while carefully avoiding any mention of the Israeli hand in regional instability. Information from Israel was regarded as something of a joke, never considered credible except by those in government who were already on message. Even then it was not wise to be seen as too critical of the Israeli relationship. And Israel had little else to offer Washington beyond its line of self-serving propaganda. Ironically, the reality was that Israeli leaders then and now did not treat the United States as an ally at all. Jeff Stein cites a poll of CIA officers that ranked Israel "dead last" among friendly countries in intelligence cooperation with Washington.
As part of the evolutionary process to change Washington's perspective on the Middle East, politicians who criticized Israel found themselves confronting well-funded opponents at reelection time, sending the message that it was career-ending to do so. Meanwhile, the Arabists in the State Department were weeded out with the pendulum swinging so far in the other direction that the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv hasabandoned much of its raison d'être, rarely making any attempt to protect American citizens who are being mistreated or illegally confined by the Israeli government. By the time of the Gaza flotillas, the Obama administration made it plain that American citizen participants would receive no help from the embassy and even implied that such individuals were little more than criminals or terrorist dupes who might be prosecuted, accepting the Israeli definition of any critic as ipso facto a terrorist.
Since the Clinton administration, every senior diplomat or official dealing with the Middle East has had to pass through a vetting process to ensure full support of and deference to Israeli interests. Chas Freeman, who was named to head the National Security Council in 2009, was quickly forced to step down when it was determined that he was not sufficiently pro-Israel. Since 2001, many senior appointees throughout the federal government no longer make any effort to hide their strongly pro-Israel sentiments; witness the ascent of Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith, William Boykin, and Eric Edelman at the Pentagon under George W. Bush.
The Israelization of the U.S. national security model entered a new phase with 9/11, a disaster for America welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as good news because it would bind the two countries together in the fight against what his country perceived as terrorism. In the first few days after 9/11, Congress invited Netanyahu to come to Washington to present his "we are all targets" speech, unleashing a flood of Israeli guidance on how to conduct the newly minted War on Terror. This involved a "with us or against us" policy toward all Islamic countries combined with enhanced security at home and considerable infringements of civil liberties. In short, Israel and its lobby, ably assisted by friends in Congress and the media, pushed the United States into becoming more like Israel to defend itself against what was essentially an overblown terrorist threat.
A book by Israeli Diaspora Minister Natan Sharansky was a potent symbol of the shift in American attitudes. The Case for Democracy began to make the rounds within the Bush administration with the president himself recommending it, stating that it provided a "glimpse of how I think about foreign policy." Condi Rice was also seen reading the book and even quoted from it in a Senate hearing. Sharansky, who claims to be a human rights activist even though he has never accepted basic rights for Palestinians, subsequently helped Bush write his second inaugural address, with a bit of assistance from leading neocons Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer. The address pledged the United States to launch what was described as a "global freedom mission." Sharansky's embrace of the democracy concept for the entire world, particularly the Muslim part of it, has at its heart the objective of encouraging Arabs to evolve into weak democracies riven by tribalism and religious conflict. The Arabs would therefore be no threat to Israel. That strategy was first developed in "A Clean Break," a list of recommendations presented to Prime Minister Netanyahu in 1996 by a group of American neoconservatives.
By exploiting the influence of well-placed officials in the Pentagon, Israel's leaders began to see that the United States could become an instrument for across-the-board regime change in the Arab world. The first target was Iraq, which was supporting the families of Palestinians killed on the West Bank and Gaza. Israel, in line with the Clean Break strategy, sought to create a fragmented Iraqi state that would no longer be a threat. The incessant Israeli drumbeat for war was not the only element in the near hysteria that led to the attack on Saddam Hussein, but it was the key enabling factor. If Israel had said no to the war and had directed its friends in Congress and the media to support that view, the war would not have happened.
Domestically, the imprint of Israel is also easy to find in the spread of anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States, a phenomenon that hardly existed even in the immediately aftermath of 9/11. Islamophobia has become mainstream largely thanks to the work of a number of commentators who, not coincidentally, are also the most outspoken supporters of Israel. And the hatred has been institutionalized through the creation of a number of projects and institutes, not to mention websites and think tanks headed by Islamophobessuch as Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney, and Robert Spencer. A number of pro-Israel resource centers emphasize the worst aspects of Islam and attempt to portray the religion and culture in completely negative terms. This perception has also spilled over into the political arena. The arguments seek to make the U.S. conform to the Israeli view of the Muslim world, and there are plenty of signs that they have had considerable success. Christian Zionists have taken up the issue of the evils of Islam. There have been suggestions that First Amendment rights and even citizenship should be denied to Muslims. Military academies and schools as well as the FBI have hosted training courses describing the evils of Islam. Also note the denunciations by Newt Gingrich of Shariah law and the denigration of Muslims in general by leading Republicans. Gingrich's principal source of funds was casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to Israeli causes whose wife is Israeli. Adelson is now reported to be funding Mitt Romney.
So what has the tie that binds with Israel wrought? The U.S. government has taken on Israel's enemies as America's enemies, including resistance groups such as Hamas and states such as Iran. Nuanced diplomacy is not possible and the U.S. national interest is no longer relevant anywhere in the Middle East that Israel believes itself to have a security problem. In one bizarre case, United States Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois actually sponsored an amendment that would strip most Palestinian refugees of their legal status. The amendment was reportedly drafted by Israeli politician Einat Wilf.
Israeli pressure also leads Washington to engage in reckless behavior such as the creation of the Stuxnet and Flame computer viruses, while the extension of the War on Terror to include countries that had nothing to do with 9/11, and to groups that do not directly threaten the U.S., is a perceived interest of Israel, not of the United States. It has made numerous enemies unnecessarily and has also turned every American into a target for terrorism.
Here at home, many of the passionate supporters of Israel, including Sens. Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain, are also advocates of more government snooping in areas that were once regarded as private. This is no coincidence, as supporting both Israel and the growing police state appear to go together. The Transportation Security Administration is modeled on Israeli border security, with its intrusive searches and ability to engage in largely arbitrary behavior. There are frequent demands from Congress to force the TSA to copy exactly Israeli air travel security practices, including profiling and prolonged interrogations of travelers. Indeed, many of the private security companies operating in the United States, particularly relating to air travel, are already Israeli. The PATRIOT Act also derives from the Israeli model of limiting civil liberties in terrorism cases to enable the police and security services to operate more freely. Unlimited detention without charges for terrorism suspects, recently introduced in the U.S. as part of the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2013, is similar to Israeli practices when dealing with Palestinians. In a step toward the "disloyal" second-class status afforded to Arab citizens of Israel, American Muslims have been singled out as enemies of the state by Rep. Peter King and others, a convenient label that also allows critics to indict their countries of origin as terrorist havens.
So we are Israel and Israel is us. Although the synergy has benefited Israel in the short term in that it has enabled the Netanyahu government to act with relative impunity, it is difficult to see what Americans might have gained from the exchange apart from a now well-established tradition of constant warfare against numerous enemies overseas and diminished rights and the seeds of sectarian conflict planted here at home.

Philip Giraldi is a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He became famous for claiming in 2005 that the USA was preparing plans to attack Iran with nuclear weapons in response to a terrorist action against the US, independently of whether or not Iran was involved in the action. He is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency's senior officer for Olympic Games support. Since 1992, Phil Giraldi has been engaged in security consulting for a number of Fortune 500 corporate clients. He is currently President of San Marco International, a consulting firm that specializes in international security management and risk assessment, and also a partner in Cannistraro Associates, a security consultancy located in McLean, Virginia. Phil was awarded an MA and PhD from the University of London in European History and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and Turkish.

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"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
How AIPAC Rules

By Jeff Klein
June 01, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - Last week the Senate passed Resolution 65, mandating a new round of sanctions against Iran and promising to support Israel if it should choose to launch a unilateral war. The bill contradicted explicit US policy in a number of areas: it imposed secondary penalties on US allies; it lowered the bar for military action to Israel's preferred language of "nuclear capability" rather than acquisition of a nuclear weapon; and it interferes with the attempt to reach a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear impasse at a delicate time. No wonder Secretary of State John Kerry implored Congress not to pass the bill when he testified before the Senate Foreign relations committee last month.
Nevertheless, the Senate bill came to a vote on May 22, and the result in a roll call vote was 99-0 in favor of the bill.

In the last Congress, another Iran Sanctions measure an amendment attached to the 2012 Defense Appropriation Bill was also opposed by the Obama administration. The provision, probably illegal under WTO rules, mandated secondary penalties against foreign banks which did business with Iran's oil sector (US banks were already banned from doing so). Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner wrote a letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee "to express the Administration's strong opposition to this amendment because, in its current form, it threatens to undermine the effective, carefully phased, and sustainable approach we have taken to build strong international pressure against Iran." Two State Department officials of the Administration testified against the amendment; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry also opposed the measure.

However, when the amendment's sponsors insisted on a roll call vote, it passed 100-0. Even Senator Kerry voted for the measure he had earlier opposed.

To understand how this can happen, it is useful to look at the Israel Lobby's legislative MO as well as the larger dynamic around Israel advocacy within the US Congress, in our political system and in the press.

AIPAC, of course, is the premier Israel Lobby organization. Every March at its annual Conference the group assembles a huge turnout of moneyed and grassroots lobbyists. Scores of members of Congress from both parties and political aspirants of all stripes jockey to express their loyalty to the Lobby. It is at these conferences that AIPAC's major legislative priorities for the year are unveiled. This always includes renewed (and increased) military aid for Israel and for the last ten years or so various measures to oppose, sanction and preferably make war on to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran Israel's last remaining serious military opponent in the Middle East.

Here is the way it works.

In the days before the yearly AIPAC conference in early March, reliable members of Congress from both parties preferably non-Jews are prevailed upon to submit AIPAC-drafted bills with a substantial number of initial bi-partisan sponsors. This year the highlighted legislation included House Res. 850, The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013,introduced on February 28 by California Democrat Rep. Edward Royce and 31 co-sponsors (16 Democrats and 15 Republicans); and Senate Res. 65, Strongly Supporting the Full Implementation of United States and International Sanctions On Iran, also introduced on February 28 by the every dependable Senator Lindsey Graham [R-SC] and 22 initial co-sponsors (13 Democrats and 9 Republicans). Another bill, apparently a late entry from the March 2-4 Conference itself, did not follow the preferred pattern. House Res. 938, The United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013 was introduced hurriedly on March 4 by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen [R-FL27] with only two Democratic co-sponsors. These three bills embodied AIPAC's 2013 declared legislative priorities: Prevent Iranian Nuclear Weapons Capability; Strengthen U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation; Support Security Assistance for Israel.

Then, before leaving Washington, the AIPAC Conference attendees launch themselves on Capitol Hill to recruit more co-sponsors for the AIPAC bills. Initially, this is mostly pushing on an open door, as many legislators are eager to join the bandwagon; some were simply not asked earlier in the interest of bi-partisan balance; some were not quick enough to get listed when the initial bills were introduced. Within a few weeks of the AIPAC Conference Senate Res. 65 had an additional 55 co-sponsors, House Res. 850 added more than 250 sponsors; and House Res. 983 more than 150.

The effort continues to line up more cosponsors with the aim of securing an irresistible momentum for the bills. Many legislators simply take more time to pin down; others (few) might have been reluctant holdouts persuaded not to find themselves isolated against the AIPAC juggernaut. An AIPAC staffer once famously bragged that "in twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on a napkin". It took a little longer this time, but Senate Res. 65 already had 91 co-sponsors before it came up for a vote. House Res. 850, still pending, now has 351 co-sponsors; H. Res. 983 has 271.

Not all AIPAC-initiated legislation follows this pattern. Other bills or amendments come up during the year and are pushed as opportunities or needs present themselves. Some of these bills and the frequent "Congressional Letters" of support for Israel have little practical impact on policy but are part of AIPAC's promotion of discipline among US legislators. I call it "puppy training," so that members of Congress are reflexively obedient to AIPAC's legislative agenda. The 29 standing ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addressed Congress in 2011 are a good illustration of the outcome. Pavlov had nothing on the Israel Lobby.

It might be tempting to conclude as AIPAC and its allies contend that Congress acts in response to the overwhelming public support for Israel. However, it is important to observe that votes on the Lobby's bills are rarely much publicized in the US as opposed to Israeli mainstream media. Of course, the pro-Israel political machine, the Rightwing and Zionist blogosphere do pay close attention, ever-ready to reward or punish legislative misbehavior. Most of the public remains, by design, completely unaware of these political maneuverings. Not long ago, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor proposed voting separately on military aid to Israel so as to insulate it from potential cuts to Pentagon spending, but he was quickly persuaded to drop the idea. The Israel Lobby prefers to have the $3 billion plus in annual aid to Israel discretely hidden within the vast Defense Appropriation Bill.

So the power of AIPAC derives not fundamentally from Israel's vast popularity. Although opinion polls do regularly confirm the public supports Israel at a much higher level than the Palestinians (no surprise), substantial pluralities still prefer that the US stay neutral in the conflict. I have seen no polling about support for the billions in military aid to Israel each year. It is hard to imagine that the majority response would be anything but negative in the light of cuts to funding other popular government programs. Not surprisingly the Lobby prefers "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" on the question of yearly $billions for Israel.

The apparent dominance of the Israel Lobby in Congress stems from what I would call "asymmetric politics". AIPAC represents the power of a well-funded and single-issue political machine. It is quick to punish recalcitrant legislators or to reward good behavior with dollars and campaign support from the many PACS and rich donors who take its direction.

On the other side, the advocates for Palestinian rights are scattered, poor and little threat to incumbent legislators. The Arab and Muslim communities cannot match the Israel Lobby's Jewish financial base or it mobilized grassroots numbers. Many of their communities are relatively new in the US, insecure and targeted by the well-funded complex of anti-Arab, anti-Muslim mobilization since 9/11. The great mass of the public are simply not involved and not paying much attention to the Israel-Palestine conflict or much aware of pro-Israel political power in Congress.

Seen in this light, members of Congress ever averse to risk, as are all elected officials are behaving rationally when they defer to the Israel Lobby. They pay little or no price for playing ball with AIPAC and risk a backlash with no apparent reward if they don't.

As for the broader anti-war and progressive movements, even when they have adopted good positions on Palestinian rights or opposing the Lobby-supported drive for war with Iran, these issues usually turn out to be "expendable" in comparison to other agendas.

Two recent examples will illustrate this dynamic.

This Spring, a well-established national peace organization, with a significant branch in Massachusetts, decided to endorse Democratic Rep. Ed Markey prior to the special primary election for John Kerry's vacated Senate seat. Markey is on the right side of most issues progressive hold dear, but he was also an initial supporter of the Iraq War. And he has become a very reliable backer of Israel-Lobby legislative priorities, where in Massachusetts he is something of an outlier on these issues. He was among only three Mass delegation co-sponsors of H. Res. 850 and among only two of H. Res. 983. He is also a dependable signer of whatever letter AIPAC is collecting signatures for, such as the one supporting the assault on Gaza a few years ago.

Some members of the peace organization argued in favor of no endorsement for Markey at least in the primary because of his poor record on Iran and Palestine, but they were outvoted. The majority argued that an endorsement and fundraising for Markey would give them "access" to promote better positions on these issues after the election. A cynic may wonder whether Markey, or any other progressive legislator would take this seriously. A long-serving national board member of the group resigned in protest.

Then there is Massachusetts' celebrity Senator Elizabeth Warren. Many of her progressive supporters were uneasy over the boiler-plate pro-Israel language on her campaign web site, however there was little doubt that she was a genuine populist on other issues and would bring a rare progressive voice to the halls of Congress. This, in large measure, she has done.

However, when push came to shove, Sen. Warren was persuaded to add her name as a sponsor to Senate Res. 65 late to be sure (not until May 7) and she joined in the unanimous vote in favor of the bill. Now Warren, a faculty member of Harvard Law School undoubtedly knows the score on the Israel and Iran issues. It is hard to imagine she hasn't had certain conversations in the Faculty Club about Palestine, heard about the many events at her school on issues of Human Rights and International Law in the Middle East or understood the role of the Israel Lobby in war-promotion and military spending.

No doubt Warren rationalized her vote pragmatically. Why risk becoming an isolated Senate freshman and losing her political credibility? Why not submit to what was required in order to give her space to battle on other political issues she cared about? For Senator Warren as for so many progressives and Liberals her seat is worth the price of a vote for AIPAC.

This is the way asymmetric politics works for the Israel Lobby. It is the dynamic that puts our country in opposition to most of the world with respect to International Law and peace in the Middle East. And it may yet succeed in getting us into a war with Iran.

Jeff Klein is a retired local union president, peace and justice activist, Palestinian rights supporter. He just started a blog at and can be reached at [EMAIL=""]
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