Former congressman says getting evenhanded legislation past the Israel lobby was like ‘pulling teeth from a rhinocerous without anesthesia’

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Here's a wonderful event. Wayne Gilchrest, former congressman from Maryland, holds forth two days ago, at a forum on Capitol Hill, about the Israel lobby's role in blocking a "more objective" policy in the Middle East. Watch this video and you'll see a sober, thoughtful 62-year-old public servant and Vietnam vet laying it on the line about the corruption of our foreign policy by a special interest group. (Update: I'm told Gilchrest was sponsored by Paul Findley's group, the Council for the National Interest.)

Gilchrest: In 2007, a House committee voted to add an amendment to an appropriations bills saying that the President could not go to war with Iran without congressional approval. "Between the Rules Committee and the House floor, that amendment was pulled with no explanation."
Some congresspeople also wanted to reach out to the Iranian parliament, the majlis, to have dialogue with legislators in Iran. Gilchrest couldn't get signatures. "I can't do that because I would be crushed like a walnut if my name appeared on the letter," he was told by fellow members, including from fellow Repubicans who said they wanted to sign.
Other amendments called for White House overtures to Iran, or the reappointment of a U.S. ambasador to Syria. Trying to get these amendments put forward was "like pulling teeth from a rhinocerous without any anesthesia." And this was true whether the leadership was Republican or Democrat.
Gilchrest goes on, "There is a hold on the U.S. Congress by a number of different groups" that say our only ally in the Middle East is Israel.
And "if I spoke like this while I was a member of Congress," he'd have lost his seat. Maybe why he did lose his seat, he says.
Note that in the end, Gilchrest is talking about the press too. A congressman can't come out for a more evenhanded policy because he can't explain that to his constituents; they don't know better. The press has failed to inform them. Americans know nothing of the history and little of the American interest here.

And where is the press coverage of Gilchrest? It ain't. I complain about this all the time. But that failure has made this website.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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