Israel Lobby Watch

I Witnessed the Israel Lobby in Action

A few weeks back at Columbia, I watched with amazement as the former Israeli soldier Yehuda Shaul, who started the group Breaking the Silence, gave his presentation on the horrors of the occupation to about 75 students in a darkened hall. My amazement had to do with the fact that Shaul’s visit was sponsored by a largely-Jewish group at Columbia - Pro-Israel Progressives - and was attended by members of the Hillel chapter at the school. Kudos to them. After Shaul’s speech, representing “my comrades and not just myself,” he was bombarded by hostile questions from Israel supporters in the audience. 

Bethlehem surveys show support for town of Christ's birth - and confusion over its location

Most Americans believe Bethlehem is an Israeli town inhabited by a mixture of Jews and Muslims, a pre-Christmas survey of US perceptions of the town has shown. Only 15 per cent of Americans realise that it is a Palestinian city with a mixed Christian-Muslim community, lying in the occupied West Bank. The nationwide survey, carried out by top US political pollsters Zogby International, canvassed 15000 American respondents. The poll, which is being released on the eve of the arrival in Bethlehem of the Catholic and Anglican church leaders in the UK, was commissioned by the campaign organisation Open Bethlehem. 

Holy Warriors Set Sights on Iran

OAKLAND, California (IPS) - Over the past 20 years, the U.S. Christian right has evolved into one of the most powerful grassroots organising forces within the Republican Party, and a host of Christian Zionists have taken a well-earned seat at the foreign policy table. At the same time, their support for Israel is not only growing — it is also becoming an influential political factor. Several prominent Christian right and conservative Jewish leaders have teamed up to found organisations that have provided millions of dollars to Israeli charities, lobbied in support of policies advanced by right wing leaders in Israel, opposed President George W. Bush’s so-called “Road Map” to peace in the Middle East, and have helped defray the costs of the immigration of Russian Jews to Israel, among other activities. 

MK Avigdor Lieberman's visit to the US

Israel’s most notorious anti-Arab politician and provocateur, Avigdor Lieberman, spoke at Brookings’ Saban Center Forum in Washington, DC this past weekend. It will probably come as a surprise to most Americans that such a man could rise to the position of Israel’s deputy prime minister and the minister for strategic affairs. He is Israel’s David Duke and yet he was feted in New York and Washington during his visit here. Initial reporting indicated that Henry Kissinger would chair Lieberman’s session. No surprise there. Both men are advocates of a “land swap” between Israelis and Palestinians, a euphemism for the ethnic cleansing of Arabs from Israel. Kissinger’s office, however, claims to have sent its regrets to the exclusive gathering. 

Support for Israel in Congress is Based on Fear

I can tell you from personal experience that the support Israel has in the Congress is based completely on political fear — fear of defeat by anyone who does not do what Israel wants done. I can also tell you that very few members of Congress — at least when I served there — have any affection for Israel or for its Lobby. What they have is contempt, but it is silenced by fear of being found out exactly how they feel. I’ve heard too many cloakroom conversations in which members of the Senate will voice their bitter feelings about how they’re pushed around by the Lobby to think otherwise. In private one hears the dislike of Israel and the tactics of the Lobby, but not one of them is willing to risk the Lobby’s animosity by making their feelings public. 

One-sided collective punishment legislation passed by U.S. House

Despite our best efforts, the Senate version of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (S. 2370) passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday by voice vote, clearing the way for the bill to reach the White House. No amendments were allowed, no vote was recorded and no one other than the three members who rose in support of the bill could be seen in the House chamber. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), the bill’s sponsors, lamented the fact that they could not send their original text on to the president and instead had to settle for the Senate’s less draconian but nonetheless damaging language. 

Olmert distances Israel from Iraq

JERUSALEM (IPS) - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was doing his best to persuade a skeptical audience of journalists that a report by a U.S. advisory group, which linked the chaos in Iraq to the unresolved conflict between Israel and its neighbours, would have no impact on U.S. policy in the region. “The Iraqi issue is first and foremost an American issue,” he insisted. “I trust President Bush. I trust his judgment, his wisdom and his leadership. One thing is clear to most Americansathe problems in Iraq are entirely independent of us and the Palestinians.” 

Twenty years later, still no charges in Alex Odeh assassination

On the morning of Oct. 11, 1985 Alex Odeh made his way to his Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee office in Santa Ana, California. Odeh was likely tired as he climbed to the second-story office — he had been up past midnight the night before, appearing on a late-night talk show where he condemned the killing days earlier of Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year old Jewish New Yorker shot and dumped into the Mediterranean by Palestinian gunmen aboard the Achille Lauro cruise ship. On the show, Odeh had also repeated his oft-stated belief that peace and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis was not only necessary, it was possible. 

Israel's image problem

Palestinians must surely feel heartened by the news that, despite all the support that Israel gets from its allies at the political level, public opinion in European and North American countries is decidedly against it. It appears that Israel needs every bit of the free-of-charge services Saatchi and Saatchi (a multinational advertising agency) is reportedly offering it. Israel is launching a branding campaign to portray itself as a place that “preserves democratic ideals while struggling to exist.” According to the Anholt Nation Brands Index report, Israel’s international image is the pits. 

Ali Abunimah speaks about "One Country" at the Palestine Center

According to Ali Abunimah, author of the recently released book One Country, the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has proven to be the least pragmatic and the least workable of all options. In his book, Abunimah proposes an alternative solution, one state shared by two peoples. During a 17 November 2006 Palestine Center briefing, he explains how he reached that conclusion and why his proposal for a one state is best for both people for geographical, economical and security reasons. He also discusses the experiences and lessons to be learned from South Africa and that in order to achieve peace in the region a unifying vision and justice for the Palestinians is needed.