‘Informal, vague, unspoken–and immense’ (the Israel lobby)

We have been running a series of posts from an anonymous journalist that began with a previously- unpublished story about how the Israel lobby flexed its muscle to destroy the candidacy of a Lebanese-American politician in New Jersey. After that the journalist shared the story of his own awakening on Israel/Palestine and the influence of the lobby.

This morning he provided us a pseudonym–F.E. Felson–and sent us this response to questions raised in the comments section and added more thoughts about the lobby.

I wanted to add a few thoughts to my piece about Sami Merhi, the Lebanese-American businessman whose bid for public office was derailed when pro-Israel groups sounded the alarm about his apparent sympathy for the Palestinian cause.

If you need a refresher, Merhi was a respected small businessman in New Jersey who was interviewed by the New York Times in April 2002 as part of a story about Arab- and Muslim-American reaction to Israel's assault on the West Bank. During their conversation, Merhi told the reporter that he'd lost his nephew in the World Trade Center attacks and called the 9/11 terrorists "cold-blooded murderers and things I can't say to you on paper. Crazy fanatics." The reporter then asked if he felt the same about Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel, whose actions were the public justification for Israel's campaign. Merhi replied: "I just can't see the comparison."

First, I want to address one particular comment that was posted: A number of sources quoted him as publicly expressing sympathy for suicide bombers. How bleddy stupid was that? Imo, his stupidity disqualified him, not what he said.

The assertion that "a number of sources quoted him as publicly
expressing sympathy for suicide bombers" is not accurate. "A number of
sources" only reported the allegation that he'd expressed
sympathy for suicide bombers. Review the quote above. This allegation
was made by the pro-Israel side and its allies and it was based on
quotes from one single interview. But this was good enough for the
pro-Israel group: forcing a politician to deny sympathizing with
suicide bombers is the equivalent of making him answer the question,
"When did you stop beating your wife?"
As for the notion that Merhi was "bleddy stupid" – well, from the
standpoint of political strategy, this in unquestionably true. For a
politician in the U.S., straying from the pro-Israel party line is
asking for trouble. So yeah, in terms of his dream of serving in
Passaic County government, Merhi was dumb to do that.
But let's
look a little closer. Suppose Merhi wasn't a Lebanese-American
businessman and civic leader, but instead a Jewish businessman and
civic leader – Sam Weiss, let's call him. Now suppose, for whatever
reason, that Sam Weiss was interviewed one day for a story in the NYT,
and at some point in that interview he railed against the old system of
Apartheid in South Africa, calling the country's white leaders
"cold-blooded and other things I can't say on paper. Crazy fanatics."

Hearing this, the reporter follows up by asking Weiss if he feels the
same about Israeli leaders who have imposed Apartheid-like conditions
on the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Weiss then replies: "I
just can't see the comparison." Does anyone think that if, a few years
later, Sam Weiss decided to run for office those words would come back
to haunt him? Of course not.
How
do I know? Because politicians all over the United States make
statements like that every day. Remember the uproar when Jimmy Carter

connected the word "apartheid" to Israel's behavior? Go ahead and argue
with Merhi's quote. Call it wrong, call it divisive, call it offensive
(to some). But why is he forced to go through political hell for it
while the equally divisive and offensive pro-Israel equivalent
(example: Chuck Schumer praising how "humane" Israel had been in an
assault on Gaza that killed 400 children) is held to absolutely no scrutiny by major news organizations?

I'd also like to elaborate on the conduct of Sen. Robert Menendez,
who made it his mission to strip Merhi of Democratic Party backing in
2006. This was a perfect example of how the lobby works without
actually having to do anything. Menendez, like most ambitious New
Jersey politicians, realized long ago that it was in his interest to
spout an aggressively pro-Israel line, without deviation. It's doubtful that anyone from any pro-Israel organization
pressured him or even called to ask him to attack Merhi; he knew
instinctively that it would be a winning move.
Then, after Merhi
had been forced off the Democratic ticket, pro-Israel groups were able
to cite Menendez's role as proof that they hadn't played a significant
role in the move to dump Merhi – see, there really is no Israel Lobby!
Never mind that pro-Israel groups had been the source of the
controversy that had grabbed Menendez's attention in the first place.
Remember, Menendez had just been appointed to the Senate in '06
and was running for his life that fall against Tom Kean Jr. The
pro-Israel community is a huge source of campaign cash in New Jersey.
Menendez seized an opportunity to bolster his standing with that
community. If there was a similarly organized and funded
pro-Palestinian network, his calculation might have been different.
This has national implications. The same pattern prevails with
many other Democratic politicians, particularly ambitious ones. One
that comes to mind is Artur Davis, a young, brilliant and savvy black
congressman from Alabama, where he plans to run for governor in 2010.
(He'd be the state's first black governor.) His story is worth spending
a few paragraphs on.
After graduating from Harvard Law in 1993, Davis returned to Alabama,
intent on breaking into politics – fast. He spent four years as an
assistant U.S. attorney before challenging incumbent Earl Hilliard in a
2000 Democratic congressional primary in Alabama's majority black 7th
District. Davis, who was 32 years old at the time, charged Hilliard
with failing to bring home enough bacon; Hilliard beat him, 58-34
percent.
Two years later, Davis tried again. This time he had help. In the
spring of 2002, as Israel laid waste the West Bank, Hilliard was one of
a handful of congressmen to vote against a resolution expressing
full-throated support for Israel. His view on the conflict between
Israelis and Palestinians: "They ought to sit down and work out their
problems, and if they can't, the U.S. ought to pull out, cut off all
its aid, to both sides."
Davis used this vote (and other past Hilliard comments) to court
the national network of pro-Israel donors. Hilliard was on the lobby's
target list, and Davis positioned himself as their vehicle. He spoke at
the AIPAC conference and raised money at New York law firms. Woefully
underfunded in his 2000 campaign, Davis raised more than $350,000 in
the closing months of that '02 campaign; Hilliard barely cracked
$150,000. The money went into negative ads that had nothing to do with
Israel or the Palestinians; subjects unlikely to move many voters.
Instead, the cash was poured into boilerplate attack ads, which
destroyed Hilliard's incumbency advantage and kept him just under 50
percent in the preliminary election, prompting a run-off. The money
continued to pour in for Davis in the run-off, during which he
out-raised Hilliard by an additional $180,000. The final result was a

Davis win, 56 to 44 percent. As the Almanac of American Politics put
it: "One key to Davis's victory appeared to be strong financial
backing from supporters of Israel."
It's a lesson Davis hasn't forgotten. Like Menendez, he has
sought out opportunities to ingratiate himself with that same donor
network during his congressional career, mindful of his long-term
statewide (and probably national) goals. When John Mearsheimer and
Stephen Walt published "The Israel Lobby" in 2007, Davis stepped up to write an L.A. Times op-ed (along with Virginia's Eric Cantor)
accusing the authors of trying "to poison the well of American politics
with their misleading depiction of an Israeli stranglehold on
presidential candidates and elected officials like us."
Maybe Davis
believes everything he says about Israel. Or maybe he doesn't. I don't
know the answer. But the political benefits he's reaped, and continues
to reap, from his ardently pro-Israel posture are obvious. Just as
obvious is the heavy price Earl Hilliard paid for casting a no vote on
a non-binding resolution that passed with more than 400 votes.
There
are plenty of other reasons Hilliard lost to Davis in '02, but ask
yourself this: If not for that massive infusion of campaign cash in the
closing months of the preliminary, would Davis have been able to keep
Hilliard under 50 percent and force a run-off? And if Hilliard hadn't
spoken and voted against the symbolic pro-Israel resolution, would that
money have ever flowed in? Both answers seem beyond dispute.
People wonder why we get near-unanimous votes in the U.S. House
when pro-Israel resolutions are introduced. It's because politicians
believe in self-preservation above all else, and none of them want to
be the next Earl Hilliard – especially over some non-binding resolution
that's going to pass anyway. Better to just go with the flow and get
back to doing the really important stuff. And anyway, it's not like
it's a major sacrifice on their part; the average congressman is no
better informed on the details of the I/P conflict than the average
American.
Just
like their constituents, most congressmen's views are shaped by an
American media that provides extensive coverage of Palestinian suicide
and rocket attacks while (with the admirable exception of last Sunday's
"60 Minutes") never detailing the human tragedy of Israel's occupation
and colonization of the West Bank. So when a pro-Israel resolution
comes up and a congressman is forced to say something about the
subject, it's easy enough for him or her to head down to the House
floor and deliver a one-minute speech condemning Palestinian terrorism
and embracing Israel's right to defend itself.
I don't believe, as one skeptical commenter in another thread put
it, that the Israel lobby is "a modern equivalent of the Protocols of
the Elders of Zion." The Israel Lobby is not a formal organization – it
has no headquarters, no official staff, no committee that meets to
approve or reject proposed congressional and presidential actions.
Those who seek to cast aspersions on the clout (or even existence) of
the lobby like to conjure this absurd image.
In reality, the structure of the lobby is more informal than
formal, its influence less direct and more understood and implied. Its
power can be described the same way Robert Caro, the eminent LBJ
biographer, once described senatorial power: informal, vague, unspoken
– and immense. Smart politicians, like Menendez and Davis, understand
this and actively seek ways to harness it for their own benefit. Most
politicians simply understand it, and go along with it.
Very
few ever challenge it. To do so is to face the kind of financial
punishment that Hilliard endured (and that was threatened against the
Democrats who initially backed Sami Merhi) and to be the subject (as

Merhi was) of a flood of media stories in which you are forced to
defend yourself against charges of sympathizing with terrorists.
Most
voters won't even read or watch these news stories, but they'll hear
the noise and get the point: there's something wrong with this guy.
What kind of a politician would ever bring that upon himself?
[Weiss
adds a couple comments to this great, smart, generous post. First, this is all that I expected after Walt and Mearsheimer: that good journalists would add their two cents in an investigative manner. Finally, that's happening. Also, note that people bash "lobbyists" all the time in Washington, but the Israel lobby is
never identified as such. That's because AIPAC doesn't give money
itself; it just tells other people what to do with their money. The
no-see-em network that Felson describes functions as an opaque
lid on its activities. Just as AIPAC escaped registration with the
Foreign Agent Registration Act.]

[AC adds: Earl Hillard tells his story in this documentary on the Israel lobby by Dutch broadcaster VPRO. The documentary features many other voices, including Tony Judt, John Mearsheimer, and Kenneth Roth.]

Posted in Beyondoweiss, Israel/Palestine, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 50 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. contrarian says:

    Nice try. I wish it weren't true, but if the majority of Americans weren't conditioned to fear darker-skinned people, then this never would have aired and George Bush Sr. might never have been president:

    link to youtube.com

  2. contrarian says:

    And you're clearly more interested in hysteria than conversation, so I won't waste any more of my time or yours with further attempts to engage you. I've said my peace on this subject and I'll proudly stand by everything I've written. Good night.

  3. chris berel says:

    Do not waste your time repeating racist slogans. That is not a conversation.

    I realize that you are a proud racist.

  4. Mike says:

    Ok, heres a thought- America is not controlled by israel, on the contrary, israel is controlled by america. Think about it- during the cold war, arab nationalist and anticolonial fronts all across the middle east were sponsered by, and, to a certain extent, hijacked by the Soviets (including the PLO). So the americans, logically, sponser the lesser evil, the enemy of there enemies friends- the Zionists and the Israeli's. Now, in a global war to maintain supremacy and domination (the war on "terror"), the americans are using there cloest ally in the middle east, the closest state to a western "democracy"- Israel- as a tool in there imperial stragedy.
    In reality, there is no israeli lobby, no vast jewish conspiracy. Only american imperialism at its "best". We cannot hold a whole religion responsible for one nations actions. Yes, I disagree with israel and its american-sponsered apartheid, but I dont blaim the Jewish religion or people. Instead, I blaim Western imperialism.

  5. Rowan says:

    which arose in what way, mike? please be specific.

  6. Dag Andersson says:

    Suzanne wrote:

    Newsflash: Mainstream America (non-Jews and Jews alike) have a problem with someone who sympathizes with suicide bombers.

    BS, A suicide bombers is just another way to deliver a bomb.-The poor man's air force. Whether he's a terrorist or not depends on the target.
    Here is the last 8 years statistics on fatalities

    Note this was b4 the last IOF's killing spree. A clear documentation that Israel is killing innocent people at a ration > 4:1. Add to that 90 000 destroyed houses, 1 mill uprooted olive trees, confiscated land, constant harassments , sonic bombs , –it is evident that the Palestinian population is the major victim.
    What amazes me is that the Jews of Israel don’t understand that they produce terrorism by their despicable behavior. I don’t sympathize with suicide bombers. It is difficult to punish the evildoers-Ex post facto. But we can and must bring the war criminals in Israel to justice.

  7. MRW. says:

    Suzanne.

    The difference is that Judeofascism is real.
    =========================

    Great post, Felson. Do more.

  8. chris berel says:

    As opposed to Islamic Fascism?

  9. Rowan says:

    yes, chris: judeofascism is real, as opposed to islamofascism, which is imaginary; you have expressed that perfectly correctly, well done.

  10. Suzanne says:

    Contrarian–I was halfway out the door last night when I wrote my last post, and certain things were not said as clearly as they could be. So let's start again.

    The writer made an unsubstantiated allegation that Jews were the ones who pressured for Merhi to be dropped from the candidacy–whereas it's really speculation on his part.

    I did a little background check on Passaic, as I don't live in that region and don't know the local politics or demographic.

    And in fact, Passaic is a huge mix, hardly a Jewish majority–so it would be more responsible to be able to back your accusations up with fact.

    What happens, in reality, is that most people here start with a boiler plate hypothesis that the Jews are taking over the universe. And then they try to make news stories etc fit the hypothesis. Bad science, sucky journalism. Not objective, to put it kindly.

    Secondly, Merhi has a strange way of putting things. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt about his "Palestinian suicide bombers don't compare to 9/11" statement. But frankly, it was one of those ambiguous statements that left itself open to misinterpretation.

    He did it again in the quote above, which I bolded. I did not mean to imply that he made a joke. But the part about the terrorist saying what he did was weird. Again, an ambiguous statement that can be taken in a few different ways.

    The litmus test, I suppose, is how Arabs would interpret both of those remarks. You have to wonder what they heard. I won't speculate on their behalf…but I'm just saying…

    Now to cap off this point–he's been accused of saying other things so this is not coming out of a vacuum. It's been alleged that he's called Sharon Hitler etc. I consider it unsubstantiated since there's no official record of it with witnesses etc. It's really just hearsay.

    However, it is possible he has worded things in such a way as to pander to the Arab community. In which case, all your whining and teeth gnashing over special interest groups falls flat. Either take your own side to task for the same thing–or muzzle it.

    The last thing is…anti-Semites and other assorted Israel haters always try to colorize this as a Jewish-Arab thing–when in fact, AMERICANS have concerns about terrorism and terrorist sympathizers.

    You keep leaving that critical fact out–yet it's the very thing that weakens your entire argument.

  11. Suzanne says:

    I'm not going to bother arguing with manipulative David Duke racists on the subject of racism.

    They seem to forget that radical Islam is not about race and that most Westerners feel threatened by it.

    In fact, the whole argument about Zionism deliberately mirrors what's been raised about radical Islam in an effort to deflect and distract.

    Arrogant lefties are counting on people being too stupid to see the manipulation.

  12. Rowan says:

    It's been alleged that he's called Sharon Hitler etc.

    The sheer, remorseless precision with which these dauntless nazi-hunters identify and target their prey is truly awe-inspiring.

  13. Rowan says:

    "Londonistan" is as racist a term as "Hymietown". Whether 'radical Islam', or for that matter 'radical Judaism', are also racist is completely beside the point, as usual with your ripostes.

  14. Suzanne says:

    BTW–I don't want to go into my personal life here…but let's just say that I've been very close to Turkish people–and it is they who warned me of the dangers of radical Islam long before it became an issue for us in the States.

    I used to think they were just paranoid, as I did the Israelis…lol!

    In fact, I've even known a Turk use the phrase Londonistan…certainly an emotional gut reaction to the rise of the Islamic movement in Turkey. The Turks I know are secular and want the mother country to stay that way.

  15. Rowan says:

    I know the type well, Suzanne.

  16. contrarian says:

    "The last thing is…anti-Semites and other assorted Israel haters always try to colorize this as a Jewish-Arab thing–when in fact, AMERICANS have concerns about terrorism and terrorist sympathizers."

    Suzanne, I don't deny that non-Jewish/non-Israel-centric Americans have very negative feelings toward those who express any sympathy with the Palestinian resistance. I'm asking you to think about why this is — why they are horrified by the 1 Israeli a year killed by a Hamas rocket but indifferent to the innocent Palestinian woman who dies at a West Bank checkpoint. It's because the U.S. media obsessively covers the former and relegates the latter to one paragraph on page A12.

    I am NOT arguing that Americans shouldn't be outraged by Hamas rockets and Palestinian suicide bombers. I am arguing that they should also consider the violence against innocent Palestinians perpetrated by Israel, and not merely in response to said rockets. As I've written here, the average American barely follows this stuff. What little he or she hears about dwells on Palestinian violence — and ignores or rationalizes Israeli violence. I would like a balanced presentation. If the media is willing to couch every Israeli action in defensive terms ("the UN school was blown up because reliable intelligence suggested it was a base for Hamas terrorists…") then similar context should be provided for Palestinian violence. I am not justifying either. They are both wrong. But right now, our media only shows the human toll on Israelis of Palestinian violence. So of course Americans are appalled when they hear the controversy about someone like Merhi.

    As for Merhi, you raise fair points about his comments — it is certainly possible to interpret them as offensive. I don't believe they are/were and I think they have been misinterpreted, but it's a fair debate to have. But the point the author makes works for me: Merhi gets driven out because his comments are taken as offensive by the pro-Israel side, but where's the comparable outrage when Chuck Schumer lectures Israel's critics about how decent and humane Israel behaved in Gaza?

  17. Rowan says:

    Come to think of it, Rafiq Hariri's party adopted a similar, progressive, liberal, secularistic pose in Beirut. This with Saudi funding.

  18. Suzanne says:

    Yes, the world is full of dangerous secular types who prefer an open liberal society. lol!

    Funny how the kooks think Islamist parliament is a GOOD, GOOD thing and then get all nutters when they mistakenly imagine Israel is doing the same thing.

    Anti-zionists are mostly done in by their own schizophrenic thinking. It's a little bit beyond hypocrisy in many cases.

  19. Suzanne says:

    Contrarian– you sound somewhat reasonable and not driven by some internal racist psychosis.

    I disagree that Americans haven't been exposed to what the Palestinians went through in Gaza. It's all over the news, and all over the Internet.

    Much of the news media gets their info from AP and Reuters–and you can't tell me that those agencies have ignored it. If for no other reason: blood and violence sells news.

    Both sides, in fact, are screaming media bias in favor of the other side (yeah, I've yelled too at times), so that indicates to me that the media is probably right smack in the middle, reporting things from a neutral standpoint.

  20. Citizen says:

    Neutral standpoint?

    Here's an article showing how and why the recent USA media coverage on Gaza echoed Israeli talking points; it also supports the view that due to this actuality most average Americans remain ignorant about the
    Palestinian situation:

    link to ipsnews.net

  21. chris berel says:

    Unfortunately, the media is not down the middle. Some are slightly pro-Israel, some are slightly pro-Islamic Fascism.

    Regardless of the way the stories are portrayed, the American public stays strongly in the pro-Israel mode for many good reasons. Some not so good. Racism is a point that is not good.

    The fact that the FBI just cut their ties with CAIR will only cause an upswing in that attitude which can't be good, even though CAIR was a dispicable organization. What ever public good they did will be destroyed because, ultimately, they are the bad guys.

  22. contrarian says:

    Suzanne, I think you're right on the Gaza story itself; obviously, I can't say it hasn't been all over the news. My point is that the complete lack of coverage beforehand about the human toll of occupation and checkpoints and blockades and settlements and of the basic history of the conflict (i.e. average Americans have no idea what the right of return means) meant that Americans instinctively interpreted the Gaza news from an Israel-friendly standpoint. That is, they obviously realized there was a massive military operation going on and that a startling civilian toll was being exacted, but since all of the media coverage they'd previously absorbed focused heavily on Palestinian terrorism, they were sympathetic to Israel's claims of self-defense — and unaware of the terrible conditions in Gaza and the West Bank and the role they play in bringing about the (indefensible) Palestinian terrorist acts that they've heard so much about.

  23. Rowan says:

    Suzanne, you are so incredibly dense, I have reiterated my point below with highlighting to drive it in:

    Come to think of it, Rafiq Hariri's party adopted a similar, progressive, liberal, secularistic pose in Beirut. This with Saudi funding. Posted by: Rowan | February 01, 2009 at 11:24 AM

    Yes, the world is full of dangerous secular types who prefer an open liberal society. lol! Posted by: Suzanne | February 01, 2009 at 11:34 AM

  24. Suzanne says:

    Contrarian

    This conflict between Arabs and Israelis has gone on long enough–with enough skirmishes that people are well aware of what the disagreement is about.

    And…I think anyone with a good pair of eyes can see that Israel can't be staging ALL these invasions on a false pretext of being attacked–as the conspiracy freaks argue.

    Don't you find that just a leetle bit suspicious?

    Also…

    Arabs are perceived as volatile, war-like, and living in a long ago era. This perception comes from how they treat each other–not just the Israelis. In other words, they created the perception. It's time to grow up and stop blaming others for their own failings.

    Now…when you say the average American, I'm assuming you mean people who are actually interested in current events. I would argue that anybody with interest has plenty of resources to keep up with this on their own.

    As for right of return…I think Americans (especially those in California and Texas) understand the questionability of that concept.

    Let's be VERY honest here…why would Palestinians favor becoming Israelis and living amongst people whom they hate over having their own sovereign state?

    Is Sherlock Holmes in the house?

  25. contrarian says:

    "Arabs are perceived as volatile, war-like, and living in a long ago era. This perception comes from how they treat each other–not just the Israelis. In other words, they created the perception. It's time to grow up and stop blaming others for their own failings."

    Suzanne, I have a real issue with this kind of thinking, because it is the same kind of thinking that Southerners used to justify segregation. I am NOT trying to call you a racist. I think people in the U.S. generally tend to embrace the view of the Arab world that you just outlined. I understand why you would say it. But we're just repeating history here. Southerners clung to segregation for 100 years after the Civil War on the grounds that blacks were savage and primitive — "Look at the violence they perpetrate on one another!" was a familiar argument. Whites in South Africa imposed Apartheid on similar grounds; Nelson Mandela and the ANC were dubbed terrorists. At first, the West largely bought into this; slowly, the West woke up. Yes, I know, Mandela and the ANC eventually embraced non-violent means, and the Palestianians can and should learn from this. I wish they would. But I don't think it's acceptable to dub the Palestinians a primitive people and use that to justify blockades and checkpoints and settlements.

  26. Rowan says:

    I'm struck by this remark:

    Hilliard was on the lobby's target list, and Davis positioned himself as their vehicle. He spoke at the AIPAC conference and raised money at New York law firms.

    We could be a little less "informal, vague, unspoken and immense" here, and maybe, detail these firms and their boards.

  27. Carol O says:

    You didn't have to be a member of the KKK in various southern states to know which way the wind blew right up until 1965. Perhaps
    we need a new TV show, with two handsome young southerners driving a new version of the hot red car with the license plate showing the stars & bars replaced by an Israeli flag license plate.

    Jim Crow lives, but now he's not a hillbilly.

  28. Jaffr says:

    Fast Eddie's cautionary tale is remarkable for its detail — as is the description of the offing of Congressman Hilliard (and, we might add, Cynthia McKinney). But that's just the tip off the iceberg. The well-funded tentacles of the Israel Lobby reach remarkably deep, even on the micro-local level.

    Ask your State Rep whether he has gone on an all-expense junket to Israel, or been offered one. My guy, who is not at all involved in foreign affairs went, twice. Later, when the same folks asked him to sponsor a state "Iran Divestment" Bill (that is, a Let's Have a War with Iran Bill) he naturally signed on without a second thought.

    The former state Democratic chairman is an ex national head of AIPAC and a crucial rainmaker for political funding. Who wants to be on his bad side?

    Our state Labor leaders have also been on paid trips — and the state AFL-CIO chair dutifully turned up to "Stand with Israel" while it was committing genocide in Gaza — and he testified for the Iran divestment bill and later put his name on an op-ed written for him. This despite the fact that it fake Divestment would cost the pension funds (of union members!) a bundle. Ask your union how much they have in Israel Bonds.

    Ask your ministers if they have been approached for a trip. Nearly all have been offered Israel junkets — especially in the African-American community, whose communal organizations are also heavily dependent of Jewish "charities" that are more like investments for Israel . . .

    Ask your community organizations if their leaders have been approached by Jewish interests about going to Israel. The answer is invariably, Yes! — and no one has to remind them about the Jewish funding they depend on. This includes people ranging from neighborhood health center directors to immigrant service organizations. Do you think it has an effect on their willingness to speak out about Palestine, or sponsor events, whatever their private sympathies may be? You bet it does.

    The list goes on and on. This is the untold story of a vast grassroots effort that embeds the interests of Israel so thoroughly in our political and social culture — and which blooms as ugly weeds in a compliant Congress. This ugly picture needs exposure to the light of day. Thank you for giving us a peek.

  29. Suzanne says:

    Newsflash: Mainstream America (non-Jews and Jews alike) have a problem with someone who sympathizes with suicide bombers.

    America is NOT Gaza or Londonistan or any other locale slipping into Islamist group think.

  30. Jim Haygood says:

    Errr, Carol, shouldn't that TV show feature two handsome young ex-IDF officers, dealing ecstasy out of their white Charger with the Israeli flag painted on the roof … as they cruise through Brooklyn at 90 miles an hour with klezmer music blasting on the stereo?

    Time to modernize that anachronistic Hollywood stereotype of the rumpled, anti-fashion Jew, weaving down the road in his dusty, superannuated station wagon …

  31. Dan Kelly says:

    America is NOT Gaza or Londonistan or any other locale slipping into Islamist group think.

    Nope. We're already too far down the road of Judeofascist group think. Thankfully, that's beginning to change.

  32. Carol O says:

    Good points, Jim, but I think you got my point–you just made it better–thanks! PS: How many Hassidic Jews can you fit into a
    chevy station wagon cruising around upstate New York?

  33. Suzanne says:

    Dan–weren't you whimpering yesterday when I used the term Islamofascism? And here you are today doing exactly what you denounce.

    Pretty much everything you say is an exercise in hypocrisy, but I thought I'd do you a favor and point out an easy example. :-)

  34. ttt says:

    Newsflash: Mainstream America (non-Jews and Jews alike) have a problem with someone who sympathizes with suicide bombers.

    NO, we prefer to sympathize with those who kill many more innocents while claiming to do it in the name of "freedom" and Western "enlightenment". And we don't like the suicide thing. We prefer all the casualties to be innocent "them", not "us". Or did I just miss your statement of profound horror at the death of innocent Palestinians?

  35. Doppler says:

    Fast Eddie Felson gets my vote for Pulitzer Prize for unpublished reporting. "Charley Wilson's War" had a line or two in it that was relevant. Before he could get Congress and the CIA to escalate aid to the Afghani Mujahadeen, he needed to check in with the Jews to whom he "owed his election," acknowledging that there were only "maybe two" in his Texas district, but that wasn't the point, he was referring to the source of a lot of his financial support.

    I wrote an email a month ago to my Congressman asking that he pushback on Israel's claims that it needed in self-defense to be murdering so many children in Gaza. The response I got boasted of the trip he had taken to Sderot, and how we'd be doing the same to the Canadians, etc. Now this is a good Catholic with no foreign affairs involvement. In response to the same email, I got a much more balanced response from Senator Barbara Boxer, who was clearly sensitized to not being too close to the Lobby.

    Only when the image emerges into mainstream consciousness of compliant Congresspersons being led by the nose by foreign agents on Middle Eastern issues, tied to reports of atrocities and dissembling by the same people, will there be enough blowback to force these pols to alter their calculus.

    Fast Eddie Felson reports the news. Hallelujiah, brothers and sisters.

  36. D. says:

    "Ask your State Rep whether he has gone on an all-expense junket to Israel, …"

    Great post, Jaffr.

    Also ask him if his office is being staffed by any AIPAC-provided "interns." Perhaps the bright young thing answering the phones and summarizing the voters' concerns for him?

  37. Suzanne says:

    "As for the notion that Merhi was "bleddy stupid" – well, from the standpoint of political strategy, this in unquestionably true. For a politician in the U.S., straying from the pro-Israel party line is asking for trouble. So yeah, in terms of his dream of serving in Passaic County government, Merhi was dumb to do that. "

    I had to dig around that long blathering post to uncover the crux of the argument.

    Having found it, all I can say is…

    You still don't get it. Passaic, NJ or Lebanon Maine (not too many Jews up there)–AMERICANS do not want any suicide bomber sympathizers in their government.

    Most people in modern countries don't consider Israel an apartheid state.

    And sympathy for Palestinians in both the West and Arab region is limited. No one likes to see refugees suffer. But that's about as far and deep as any real sympathy goes.

    The proof is in the pudding, Blaming the bogeyman Jew will continue to go nowhere.

    Next?

  38. contrarian says:

    Think a little, Suzanne. Most people in the US don't consider Israel an apartheid state because they don't know a damn thing about it. The censorship in our media ensures that all they ever hear about are Palestinian terrorists. If they knew anything about the nakba or the settlements or the checkpoints or the blockade or the daily horrors of Palestinian life in the West Bank, their reflexive opinions might shift a little.
    But the way things work now, of course they'll oppose a politician who is ALLEGED to sympathize with suicide bombers. If they knew more, they'd be offended by a politician who is ALLEGED to sympathize with the IDF.

  39. chris berel says:

    I've thought about it. Most people in the US do not believe Israel is an aparthied state because they are familiar with South Africa when it was an aparthied state.

    Americans know about the blockade and they know about the unfortunate events that occured during the palestinian civil war and the israeli war of Independance.

    They know that the propaganda you cite for your agenda is mostly bullshit.

  40. contrarian says:

    No they don't. You know as well as I that if you asked 100 random Americans in a shopping mall any basic question about the I/P conflict (what was the Nakba? What does the right of return mean? Where is the West Bank? Where are the settlements? Where does the term "occupied territories" refer to?) few, if any, would be able to answer.

    But they do know all about suicide bombers and they've been conditioned to fear darker-skinned people. They are also conditioned to view Israel favorably because of their sympathy for the Jewish people, much of it rooted in the Holocaust. So ask them what the think of the I/P conflict and they won't be able to tell you much. But press them and they'll tell you they're more sympathetic to Israel. Of course they are. It's the only side they've even begun to hear about and understand — and even at that, they know next to nothing. The pro-Israel side skillfully and masterfully exploits this. (As is their right.)

  41. Suzanne says:

    "The assertion that "a number of sources quoted him as publicly expressing sympathy for suicide bombers" is not accurate. "A number of sources" only reported the allegation that he'd expressed sympathy for suicide bombers. Review the quote above. This allegation was made by the pro-Israel side and its allies and it was based on quotes from one single interview"

    Now here's a lesson on how to catch a rat at his own game.

    All this talk about allegation and you just made a doozy of an allegation yourself.
    Where is your proof? And who are your sources that allege all this? Please substantiate this with fact or apologize for wasting our time.

    Thank you in advance.

    PS…The following statement was further display of stupidity. It's an ambiguously weird punchline and doesn't inspire good will.:

    –Moving to the Middle East, he condemned '”violence, whether it's committed by a person, a group or a state,” and praised Israelis and Palestinians working for peace. Then he told the tale of the captured would-be bomber. '”Since I'm dead while I'm still alive,'' Mr. Merhi said the man told the Israelis, ''I decided I'm going to take you with me.”

    What if a Jewish (or any other American) pol stood before an Arab-American audience and made some joke about bulldozing houses? It would be a stupid, insensitive thing to do–and you'd be indignantly keyboarding about for months.

  42. contrarian says:

    What exactly is your point, Suzanne? He didn't make a joke. Read the damn passage. He praised Palestinians AND ISRAELIS working for peace and underscored the tragedy of the situation by pointing out how a would-be suicide bomber described his rationale. And you liken that to making a joke?

    I'm also not sure what "doozy" of an allegation you're talking about. All of the controversy that was reported came out of one interview. Multiple news outlets were reporting the same quotes, all from that one interview. What are you disputing here?

  43. chris berel says:

    Contrarian, I'll give you that not many Americans would be familiar with the Arabic word "Nakba". And there is no reason why they should be. But they do know that 600,000 or so Arabs left their homes during the Palestinian civil war and the Israeli war of Independance. Some left on their own and many were driven out for various reasons.

    They are familiar with one Arabic word, Jihad. They are also familiar with propagandists trying to make them believe it has nothing to do with Islamic Holy War.

  44. Allan Friedman says:

    contrarian tells the truth. Most goy Americans could care less about Israel–the problem is their government has been hijacked by jews and they don't care enough because they don't see any connection between our military expenses and foreign aid expenses and their economic and GI plight. This is due to the jewish controlled and owned "free press."

  45. contrarian says:

    Chris, I don't think the average American could tell you what decade the Arab-Israeli war was in. They'd probably just shrug and say, "It's been going on for 1,000 years."

  46. chris berel says:

    It appears that Contrarian is lying and you are not far behind. Average Americans' support for Israel is very strong.

    But it does appear that you have your own personal copy of the protocols on your night stand.

  47. Rowan says:

    Newsflash: Mainstream America (non-Jews and Jews alike) have a problem with someone who sympathizes with suicide bombers. America is NOT Gaza or Londonistan or any other locale slipping into Islamist group think. Posted by: Suzanne

    the USA (which you are taught to arrogantly refer to as 'america', as if there were no other) may be full of brainwashed supporters of jewish genocide against arabs and other muslims, suzanne, but as it happens, I don't live there.

  48. contrarian says:

    What am I lying about? Yeesh, Chris. You say some awfully provocative and cruel things here, but I'm willing to engage in a discussion with you. And I give you the benefit of the doubt, to a degree, because I know there are *some* here who direct equally provocative and cruel taunts at your side. So I get that you might be on the defensive, a bit.

    We obviously disagree with you about how informed Americans are about the basics of I/P — and the implications of the this ignorance. Fine. But I'm not lying about anything.

  49. chris berel says:

    Americans, including African-Americans, and native americans, and hispanic Americans (have)been conditioned to fear darker-skinned people.

    That's your lie. Mighty white and racist of you to print such.

  50. Rowan says:

    and – Suzanne – the term 'Londonistan' is exactly as racist as the term 'Hymietown'.