‘NYT’ pulls back the curtain (For U.S., Egypt is about Israel)

Israel/Palestine
on 42 Comments

In an extraordinary report which appeared today both on the Internet and in the print edition of The New York Times, writers Helene Cooper and Mark Landler make plain the huge importance of Israel and the Israel lobby in all American government decisions regarding the ongoing crisis in Egypt.

Among those quoted in the article, which is innocuously titled “Crisis In Egypt Tests US Ties With Israel,” are some of the usual players in the lobby game, such as Daniel Shapiro, a White House adviser, Michael Oren, the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Josh Block, the former AIPAC spokesperson, Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive Vice President of the Conference of Presidents, and the ubiquitous pro-Israel writer Jeffrey Goldberg.  Some of their comments, such as Honlein’s characterization of Mohamed ElBaradei as “a stooge of Iran” are incendiary.

But the most prominent and sane voice is that of Daniel Levy, the former Israeli negotiator who is presently a so-called pro-Israel critic of the occupation and Israeli militarism.  Levy declares,

…the core of what is the American interest in this [Egypt]. It’s Israel. It’s not worry about whether the Egyptians are going to close down the Suez Canal, or even the narrower terror issue. It really can be distilled down to one thing, and that’s Israel.

The problem for America is, you can balance being the carrier for the Israeli agenda with Arab autocrats, but with Arab democracies, you can’t do that.

It occurs to me that in the revised and updated edition of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer will have to add a new chapter on the role of the lobby in the new U.S. relationship with Egypt.

42 Responses

  1. seafoid
    February 5, 2011, 11:29 am

    “we’re making clear that our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”

    Ultimately it is a function of cost. Israel had insurance in the form of Egypt and Jordan and now this may no longer be the case. Maybe Egypt and Jordan were worth a couple of hundred million dollars a year in terms of reduced security costs. AIPAC’s war in Iraq cost upwards of 3 trillion dollars and led to 25 January. So it is all about cost and how much Israel is worth. Get an economist to do a cost benefit analysis. 9/11 should be there too.

  2. Potsherd2
    February 5, 2011, 11:41 am

    AJE has an article on the US/Egyptian conspiracy against Palestine. link to english.aljazeera.net

    Lot of evidence of how the US pressured Egypt to give up on pressuring Palestinians for unity.

    • seafoid
      February 5, 2011, 2:20 pm

      I would have thought a coming together of Fatah and Khamas would be one of the first things to come out the changes in Egypt. Egypt has no interest in oppressing Gaza and dividing the Palestinians. The Quartet approach has failed. Time to move on.

      • Potsherd2
        February 5, 2011, 5:21 pm

        Egypt doesn’t. The US does.

  3. seafoid
    February 5, 2011, 11:45 am

    When a senior Jewish leader like Malcolom Hoenlein says el Baradei is a stooge of Iran, al Qa’eda can’t believe their luck. Because what further proof of a Jewish conspiracy would a jihadi want?

  4. Jim Haygood
    February 5, 2011, 11:48 am

    Too bad the NYT didn’t give the article a more suitable title, such as ‘Egypt’s Revolution: An Anthology of Zionist Commentary.’

    Ira Glunts picked out the precise quotes from Daniel Levy which I wanted to highlight. In the inimitably haughty Israeli style, he bluntly states (echoing many US politicians) that it’s ‘all about Israel.’ And then presumes to lecture us that Arab democracy is incompatible with ‘being the [water] carrier for the Israeli agenda.’

    In their limitless presumptuousness, Levy’s remarks are grossly offensive. It’s axiomatic that US policy ought to be about US interests, not propping up the region’s worst instigator and nuclear rogue state.

    During this disorderly period of wildly accelerated historical transition, volumes of indiscreet remarks like Levy’s are being made by complacent figures who fantasize that Israel’s exorbitant privilege will endure. My fantasy is that these remarks will be read into the record in a future Congressional inquiry into how (and by whom) America’s foreign policy was so disgracefully hijacked into subsidizing tyranny and thuggery.

    • seafoid
      February 5, 2011, 12:15 pm

      Jim

      I think Zionism has a huge problem with the internet and how these messages which would have been kept behind closed doors in the days of Truman or Sykes and Picot can now be sent around the world in an instant. And they are read by Arabs. And they build up into a very ugly picture.

      The nightmare of Zionism has arrived. Educated, connected Arabs who know what happens in the world outside.

      Waseem wagdi has 144,000 hits on youtube. in 6 days. and everyone who saw that video will know what Malcolm Hoenlein and Levy are saying. At the end of the day there aren’t enough Zionists in the world to win the information war. Even if AIPAC has bought every single member of Congress and has all the media in the US.

      • Jim Haygood
        February 5, 2011, 1:15 pm

        Even as he lauded events on the streets of Tunis and Cairo, Britain’s PM David Cameron whaled on Muslims today as sinister, segregated extremists:

        “We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values,” Cameron said. “We have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”

        Cameron said a culture of tolerance had allowed both Islamic extremists, and far-right extremists, to build support for their causes. “We’ve been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them,” he said.

        link to apnews.myway.com

        More evidence, as if we needed any, that the Quartet [with Britain’s Tony Blair acting as this week’s front man] is a tendentious crock. Cameron has a lot of nerve picking on Muslims as ‘segregated,’ while saying nothing about highly ethnocentric zionists who have warped the entire foreign policy stance of the US and UK to support their Israeli apartheid state.

        But then, they paid for his microphone.

      • seafoid
        February 5, 2011, 2:21 pm

        “We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values,” Cameron said. “We have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream.”

        I thought he was talking about the rich.

      • Shingo
        February 5, 2011, 2:37 pm

         think Zionism has a huge problem with the internet and how these messages which would have been kept behind closed doors in the days of Truman or Sykes and Picot can now be sent around the world in an instant

        Zionism has always had that problem because in spite of the tight lid the lobby keeps on the debate, Zionists like Levy give on to their own hubris.

        Since the late 18th century, there are countless quotes from Zionists telling us exactly what they really believe. We see them from the from the founders of Israel itself right down to the pro Israel comments on this blog.

        The lobby has tried to deal with these unscripted moments of honesty by insisting the statements are a fraud or taken out of context, but ultimately, there seems to be am inherent part of Zionist ideology that feels the need to confess it’s sins in public.

    • Scott
      February 5, 2011, 1:25 pm

      @Jim Haygood
      I’m pretty sure Levy was being descriptive, not normative– and in describing the phenomenon accurately, hoped to show its absurdity.

  5. pabelmont
    February 5, 2011, 12:01 pm

    Whenever a tail wags the dog, it’s just a-gonna happen that the cost to the dog is far, far greater than the benefit the dog receives from the tail. That’s what bribes are for, and until now, Egypt has received much more $$$ as a bribe for peace than it has cost them to provide that peace (zero, roughly), and of course the generals and others in government have in various ways lined their pockets with that enormous surplus, not all of which found its way to the people of Egypt.

    Similarly, Israel receives huge $$$ from the USA and provides us with very little of value (except, of course, that its friends in The Lobby use their own rather small — comparatively — funds to make payments to USA politicians (which are not in most cases CALLED bribes, but are, in most cases, CALLED campaign contributions). The Lobby does not in most cases even have to MAKE those contributions, because it can merely threaten to make them to another candidate if the incumbent fails to “toe the line”. This a quite wonderful and very, very cheap mechanism for near total control of the USA government. The ANNUAL AMERICAN GIFT to Israel far exceeds the sum of all these payments.

    • Shingo
      February 5, 2011, 2:41 pm

      The ANNUAL AMERICAN GIFT to Israel far exceeds the sum of all these payments.

      As they say, it’s much cheaper to buy a US senator than it is to buy an F16.

      • MHughes976
        February 5, 2011, 3:03 pm

        A fetter on US sovereignty, it would seem.

  6. Les
    February 5, 2011, 12:50 pm

    Jewish charity invites accused torturer to fund raising gala.

    Bush’s Swiss visit off after complaints on torture

    link to rawstory.com

  7. seafoid
    February 5, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Interesting if deluded Zionist analysis in Ha’aretz.

    link to hartman.org.il

    “When it comes to the Iranians, most Israelis believe, correctly or not, that the core Israeli adage, “The IDF will know what to do,” applies. A government run by the people in accordance with the will of the people potentially undermines the status quo to which we have become accustomed and threatens to expand the reach of radical Islamic and anti-Israeli forces. Our border with Lebanon, instead of being the exception, could become the rule. It is not that the existence of the State of Israel itself will be brought into question. Our faith in our military is such that, here too we believe we will be able to overcome any existential threat. What is unsettling is the possibility of hostilities returning to our borders and that our children’s lives again will be in danger.”

    I don’t think many Zionists understand the financial links to the West, especially Europe, that keep those standards of living so high. It’s the economy, stupid. It’s not the IDF. If the money turns against Israel, the game is up.

  8. seafoid
    February 5, 2011, 2:58 pm

    Any chance of this article getting its own thread? How Jewish values morphed into ouright oppression.

    link to hartman.org.il
    On Whose Side Are We? (31/01/2011)
    By DONNIEL HARTMAN

    As Jews our natural affinity group is the oppressed. Legally, this has been the moral imperative of the Jew since our Exodus from Egypt. Instead of serving solely as a narrative depicting God’s covenant with the Jewish people, our tradition positioned the Exodus story as the paradigm for God’s covenant with the powerless and downtrodden. As Jews who are commanded to emulate God, we are thus also bound to create a covenantal community not only with Jews but with all who are in need.

    When people take to the streets and lay claim to their inalienable rights as free people, when they ask that their government be of the people and for the people, when they plead for an equitable and just distribution of their society’s goods, the natural response of the Jew is to stand at their side. “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19)

    Here, however, we Jews and especially Jewish Israelis find ourselves particularly challenged. We yearn for a democratic Middle East. Deep down, we often suspect that only in a democratic Middle East will we achieve the peace for which we aspire. Only when peace is made between free peoples, ratified by their elected governments, will it have a viable and sustainable future.

    In our experience, however, we have yet to meet such people.

    We pray that one day we will meet another people who demand their own rights and advocate for ours as well, people for whom their success and ours is not a zero sum game, people who together with us will dream of and aspire to a new Middle East. Until such a day, we must do two things. The first is to support our friends. The second is to double our efforts to ensure that at least within our society, where we do not have to compromise, our policies reflect a commitment to the covenant of God with all those who are oppressed, and to the ideal of peace and equality for us all. The first will allow us to live in the Middle East. The second will ensure that we do not become a Middle East phenomenon, and remain true to the values which must define a Jewish State.

    • MHughes976
      February 5, 2011, 3:44 pm

      I think that these claims to be or to have been ‘always on the side of the oppressed’ call for considerable scepticism – to my mind we’re all about as good and as bad as each other. So, to put it mildly, does the remark about not having met people ready to make peace.

      • seafoid
        February 5, 2011, 4:45 pm

        I think when Jews had no power they would have sided with the underdog. As most powerless people do. But since 1948 there has been no mercy or kindness in Israel .

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2011, 9:20 pm

        Seafoid, I think you hit the reality of this subject. Truman’s 1948 diary reflects he knew it too. And MHughes is also persuasive. Hartman lives in a Jewish/Israeli dreamworld, the architecture is fine, beautiful, consistent–but it rings hollow inside there.

    • RoHa
      February 5, 2011, 8:43 pm

      “We are good, but up to now we have been surrounded by bad people.”

      I would like to see Mooser comment on this load of self-congratulatory drivel!

    • annie
      February 5, 2011, 9:26 pm

      Any chance of this article getting its own thread?

      seafoid, send phil an email and ask him. write an interesting or catchy introduction to it and see what he thinks.

  9. Les
    February 5, 2011, 3:26 pm

    The gas from Egypt to Israel has been cut off, which amounts to 40% of the gas Israel needs. Does Israel pay a fair price for the gas? We know that if Israel had to pay the Palestinians for the water it steals from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, there would be a serious dent in Israel’s budget.

    • Potsherd2
      February 5, 2011, 4:07 pm

      Israel imports 85% of its energy. This is a vulnerability of which someone could take advantage.

      This is why they rejoice at the opportunity to exploit a gas deposit off their waters – and Lebanon’s waters and Gaza’s waters. But offshore drilling rigs are highly vulnerable.

      A rational nation would see this as incentive to make peace with its neighbors and share the wealth. But we’re talking about Israel.

      • seafoid
        February 5, 2011, 4:46 pm

        Where does it get its oil, the source of all power ?

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2011, 9:46 pm

        Most interestingly, Israel is guaranteed by treaty the right to bid for oil and gas produced in the Sinai by Egypt, and the US brokered and financially enabled and maintained Egypt-Israel peace accords include codicils protecting Israel’s right to obtain Egyptian oil in emergency situations. Just another reason Israel should be concerned now, eh? Israel has always been odd-man-out in the search for a reliable supplier of its oil; it imports 99% of its domestic consumption needs. 90% of Israel’s oil imports come from the Caspian region.  Two major pipelines are involved in the supply line.  The Caspian Consortium Pipeline carries oil from Khazakstan and Russia to Novorossiysk, the Russian Black Sea port, for shipment to Haifa. 
         
        A newer pipeline is the BTC Pipeline, which carries oil from Azerbaijan via Georgia (IDF there, remember?) and Turkey (and now the murders of the Turks by Israel on the high seas?) to the Turkish Mediterranean port at Ceyhan.  This oil is shipped to the Israeli port at Ashkelon, but the pipeline owners (BP among others), Turkey and Israel have also announced planning for a set of four under-sea pipelines along the eastern Mediterranean to carry oil, natural gas, electricity and water from Ceyhan to Ashkelon. The CIA World Fact Book has a unique entry on this subject: N/A. Not Available. The power of Israel over the US is supreme in so many ways. AIPAC has bought America’s soul; this is revealed ever more, the more you peer into US government laws, treaties, rules, bills, anything at all involving Israel. It’s ALWAYS the exception to the general rule in any area you look into.

      • seafoid
        February 6, 2011, 2:15 am

        Super , Citizen. Thanks.

    • Sumud
      February 5, 2011, 4:30 pm

      I don’t have a source but somewhere along the way I read that Israel pays 1/3 the price of gas than Egyptians do – for Egyptian gas!

      • Citizen
        February 5, 2011, 9:55 pm

        The Egyptian government has an ongoing policy to allocate one third of proven natural gas reserves for domestic market requirements, one third for “future generations”, and the remaining third for exports. Given increasing domestic demand, combined with popular pressures in recent years against LNG and gas export contracts (particularly with Israel), the oil minister declared in mid-2008 that no new gas export contracts would be made. These policies delayed plans to expand the export infrastructure and have also deterred some investment in the more expensive offshore areas. Egyptian pipeline exports travel through the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP) that provides gas to Lebanon, Jordan and Syria with further additions being planned. The Arish-Ashkelon pipeline addition, which branches away from the AGP in the Sinai Peninsula and connects to Ashkelon, Israel began operations in 2008. Domestic pressure over contracts, pricing for exports to Israel, and technical problems caused a few interruptions but exports resumed in 2009. Obviously, Israel is a problem for Egypt; surely this will come out in the open in the new Egypt pending. Straightline’s reference reveals that Israel was to sell back gas to Egypt at $12b profit – report

        Israel could make a 600% return on the resale of gas to meet a shortage in Egypt.
        24 August 10 12:57, Omer Rabin
        Egyptian daily “Al Shaab” reports that the Egyptian government is seeking to buy back 1.5 billion cubic meters of natural gas sold to Israel as part of the deal signed in 2005, under US pressure, and whose price per cubic meter was set at a level that in retrospect was significantly lower than the market price. The US has authorized Israel to milk Egypt for all its worth. Again, no wonder 100,000 Egptians are protesting in the public square today.

  10. straightline
    February 5, 2011, 4:00 pm

    I think this answers your question about whether Israel pays a fair price:

    link to globes.co.il

    On a slightly adjacent point, the BBC (radio) has an excellent, albeit short, program on the history behind the events in Egypt.

    link to bbc.co.uk

    Devoid of neocons and Zionists, it has three experts, two of whom are Egyptian. How different!

  11. seafoid
    February 5, 2011, 4:08 pm

    link to huffingtonpost.com

    When U.S. politicians are forced to discuss critical Middle East matters, more often than not, their remarks either display an ignorance of facts, are shaped more by political needs than reality, or are just plain dumb.

    • straightline
      February 5, 2011, 4:37 pm

      It would be funny if not so tragic!

      I particularly liked this line from Gingrich:

      “there’s a real possibility in a few weeks… that Egypt will join Iran, and join Lebanon, and join Gaza, and join the things that are happening that are extraordinarily dangerous to us”

      Now who do you think he means by “us”?

  12. straightline
    February 5, 2011, 4:22 pm

    Interesting and as usual confused and confusing reporting of the pipeline explosion.

    AFP says that the attack was on the Jordan pipeline and the Israeli one had to be shut down for safety reasons:

    link to news.yahoo.com

    This report sticks to fairly minimal reporting of the facts:

    link to batangastoday.com

    Debka (which “starts where other media stops”) knows who to pin the blame on!

    link to debka.com

    It seems to me this could not have come at a better time for Mubarak – he can now divert the gas to domestic use (as is reported).

    • seafoid
      February 5, 2011, 4:51 pm

      40% of Egyptians live on less than 2 usd per day and Egypt sells gas to Israel at 30% of the market price? No wonder they say uskut uskut hosni mubarak.

      • RoHa
        February 5, 2011, 8:45 pm

        “Egypt sells gas to Israel at 30% of the market price?”

        And the US taxpayer pays Mubarak for that!

      • straightline
        February 5, 2011, 11:47 pm

        And what does the US taxpayer pay Israel for?

      • RoHa
        February 6, 2011, 2:50 am

        You mean, what does the US taxpayer get for his money?

        Lessee now. Um… Er…. Lemme think.

        Can I get back to you on that?

      • seafoid
        February 6, 2011, 4:29 am

        Subsiding rich Israeli Jews via the resources of poor Egyptians is an outrage and another example of how Zionism has nothing to do with the values of Judaism. If Israel has to pay its way in the world it wouldn’t be viable. It takes sucks from Egypt, water from Palestinians, land from Palestinians, trade concessions from Europe, Military equipment from the US, security guarantees from Egypt and Jordan. Israeli GDP per head of $30,000 is a fraud.

  13. straightline
    February 5, 2011, 4:50 pm

    The best is from RaptureWatch:

    link to rapturewatch.net

    As it bills itself as “Prophecy News…” I’m surprised it didn’t report this a couple of days ago! ;)

  14. yourstruly
    February 5, 2011, 8:28 pm

    egypt is about egypt

    as for israel

    only its undoing

  15. straightline
    February 6, 2011, 7:30 am

    Just to wrap up the pipeline story – it was, according to a fairly authoritative story from Al Jazeera (where else do you get authoritative stories about the ME these days),

    link to english.aljazeera.net

    possibly caused by a gas leak – or an explosion with bedouin as the key suspects – but no-one is blaming Hamas. But some Jordanians believe that Mubarak organized it. I wonder about Debka’s counter-terrorism sources and RaptureWatch’s more divine revelations. And unlike earlier reports Al Jazeeera is saying that the Ashkelon pipeline to Israel is unaffected.

  16. Les
    February 6, 2011, 10:02 am

    Thanks to all who provided information about the pricing of the gas Egypt supplies to Israel. In the olden days we might have expected our media, from the New York Times to NPR to provide just such information. Now we depend on Mondoweiss.

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