American Jews asking Netanyahu to end occupation are barking up wrong tree

Israel/Palestine
on 27 Comments

There is a powerful opinion piece in this morning’s Haaretz, “Diaspora Jews Want to Be Israel’s Partners–Not Only Its Donors,” by Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.  It is worth quoting at some length, before I comment on it: 

“In January, a group of rabbinical students spending the year in Israel showed up at the Prime Minister’s residence with a stack of 725 letters from North American rabbis, cantors, rabbinical and cantorial students from all denominations of Judaism, and from throughout the United States and Canada, asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to cease plans for a new settlement that has roundly been criticized as an obstacle to long-term peace.”

“The Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem declined to send even a low-level staff person to speak with the future leadership of the North American Jewish community, or to accept letters from many hundreds of its current leaders. To date, we have received no response from the Prime Minister….  a mistake that reflects a broader trend of dismissing the concerns of North American Jews.”

“We are increasingly disturbed by the settlement project…We have seen the human rights crisis created by these settlements. Settlers steal Palestinian land in order to expand their holdings. Restricting certain roads to Jews only prevents children from attending school, parents from traveling to work, and families from visiting one another. We are outraged when we see pictures of violent settlers, wearing kippot, vandalizing mosques, destroying olive trees, and assaulting Palestinian civilians. Images of segregated buses in the West Bank prompt ugly flashbacks of the pre-Civil Rights era in the United States.”

“We believe that Israel must continue to exist as a safe and secure Jewish state. But we’re not willing to stand by as the current Israeli government destroys the chances for peace, isolates itself from the world, and angers the United States—its closest ally….[We] must explain to members of other communities, members of our own communities, and even our children why a state built on Jewish values perpetuates a military occupation of another people….We are increasingly unwilling to give the Israeli government a pass on the standards to which we hold the rest of the world.”

Excellent points, all of them–but delivered to the wrong address.  Netanyahu–and most Israelis, it must agonizingly be admitted–are impervious to such arguments.   The much more important audience would be Congress and Obama. 

There’s no chance for an end to the Israeli occupation and an Israeli agreement to allow the creation of a genuinely independent and viable Palestinian state, in the absence of serious and sustained US pressures on Israel. And there’s no chance of such pressures unless the American Jewish community educates and yes, pressures Congress and the president to end the traditional American policy of near unconditional support for Israeli policies.

In short, the letters, the protests, the lobbying of concerned American Jews must be focused not so much on the Israeli government, but our own. Now there would be a true “Jewish Lobby” worthy of our support.

A version of this post first appeared on Jerome Slater’s site today.

About Jerome Slater

Jerome Slater is a professor (emeritus) of political science and now a University Research Scholar at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has taught and written about U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for nearly 50 years, both for professional journals (such as International Security, Security Studies, and Political Science Quarterly) and for many general periodicals. He writes foreign policy columns for the Sunday Viewpoints section of the Buffalo News. And his website it www.jeromeslater.com.

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27 Responses

  1. sardelapasti
    March 12, 2013, 1:55 pm

    Slater – “no chance of such pressures unless the American Jewish community educates and yes, pressures Congress and the president to end the traditional American policy of near unconditional support for Israeli policies.”

    That “American Jewish Community” thing is ridiculous. You want 1 per-thousand of 2% of the population to “pressure” the administration? What about the general public? That’s knowingly marginalizing ever more the need to get rid of the Zionist cancer. Or do you want to propose some important body that effectively controls US “democracy” to pressure the administration in stopping support for Ishghael? Like AIPAC?

    I also object to that “near”. The Obama administration never gave any sign of being less than totally loyal to its owners.

    • joemowrey
      March 12, 2013, 3:21 pm

      Yes. Like all political lobbying, it has nothing to do with any “community,” Jewish or otherwise, pressuring anybody. Unless that community has bunches of money to put into the pockets of our “leaders,” via organizations like AIPAC, their voices are marginal at best. Money talks; peaceful demonstrations, letter writing and petitions walk. For instance, 30,000,000 people in the streets worldwide couldn’t stop the war of aggression on Iraq. $30,000,000, properly distributed among members of our craven Congress, might have.

  2. James Canning
    March 12, 2013, 2:30 pm

    I agree that heavy American pressure is essential if Israel is to be forced out of the West Bank.
    Motion at debate at Oxford University last month: “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”.

    • sardelapasti
      March 13, 2013, 8:10 am

      Canning – “Israel should withdraw immediately…”
      A million “should” and a token will take us all the way to the Bronx…

  3. Avi_G.
    March 12, 2013, 2:40 pm

    Excellent points, all of them–but delivered to the wrong address. Netanyahu–and most Israelis, it must agonizingly be admitted–are impervious to such arguments. The much more important audience would be Congress and Obama

    This entire argument is meaningless for the following reasons:

    1. Both Obama and Congress get their marching orders from the Netanyahu and from the Israel Lobby. Twenty-seven standing ovations.

    2. The majority of Jews in the US and in Canada couldn’t care less about the occupation or the abuse of Palestinians. As such, both they and the Lobby are obstacles to justice and peace.

    Thus the only effective way to resolve this is to boycott Israel and make it clear to Jews outside Israel that they are no longer part of the debate, they are irrelevant and ineffectual. They are aiders and abetters who cannot be swayed.

    If you want to change them, you’ll have to change the way Judaism is taught in every household in the US, where Israel is seen as an intrinsic part of every Jew’s identity.

    Seeing as you cannot do that without waiting generations and spending countless resources on education and de-programming, it is far more cost-effective to ignore Jews in the US, exclude them and explain to them that this is no longer an internal Jewish conversation.

    On a seriousness scale of 1 to 10, your suggested solution rates at a poultry 3, whereas mine is far more serious, coming in at a solid 9.

    Clearly, you need to give your ‘solutions’ more serious thought.

    • Avi_G.
      March 12, 2013, 3:13 pm

      And make that ‘paltry’, though chicken would fit in well given the context.

      • Citizen
        March 13, 2013, 9:49 am

        @ Avi_G
        As usual I agree with your comments. Chickens. Coming home to roost?
        Chicken Little? Is the sky falling when there is none?
        Yep, those 725 letters should have been sent to the WH and Congress. They could be added to the joint letters on this matter that have gone there over the last year. And the email petitions.

        And discussed on MSNBC, CNN, CSPAN, NPR, and Fox. I can dream, can’t I?

  4. Nevada Ned
    March 12, 2013, 2:45 pm

    Jerome Slater:

    Thanks for posting this piece.

    You write that the rabbinical students, rabbis, cantors, etc. are wasting their time appealing to Netanyahu, and instead ought to be appealing to the US Congress.

    Maybe. But why not urge them to talk to the Palestinians directly? I’ll bet very few of the rabbinical students (and rabbis, cantors, etc.) have had a serious talk with Palestinians. Ever.

    It’s a VERY segregated situation over there. I think it’s much more segregated than the Old South (pre-civil rights), when southern whites often had black servants inside their homes for many hours every day. (How many Israeli Jews have Palestinians domestic servants? Hardly any).

    What would the Palestinians get out of person-to-person talks? They might be regarded as human beings by Israeli Jews. And that would be a step forward.

    The situation now is that the Palestinians are so thoroughly ghettoized, so exclusively closed off, that many Israeli Jews don’t think of Palestinians as human beings. And that gives the Israeli ruling class a blank check to kill Palestinians (e.g., Operation Cast Lead).

  5. American
    March 12, 2013, 3:30 pm

    “In short, the letters, the protests, the lobbying of concerned American Jews must be focused not so much on the Israeli government, but our own. Now there would be a true “Jewish Lobby” worthy of our support.”

    They would have to demand the US cease ‘all’ support of Israel for Israel to have any incentive to change…that’s the truth.
    Are they willing to do that?
    I don’t think so.
    I’ve said this before….the US Jewish Lobby demanded US support of Israel…they asked for it and they got it……now they’ re stuck with it and so are we.
    They never should have started this, it’s been a disaster for the US, for Palestine, for everyone involved, and I’m pretty certain it’s going to be a disaster for Israel in the end.

    ”Principiis obsta, Finem respice”—‘Resist the beginnings, Consider the end.’

  6. Shingo
    March 12, 2013, 3:42 pm

    Actually, those that need to hear this are the big money Jewish donors in the US, who are staunchly right wing. But talking to them would be even more futile than talking to Netenyahu

  7. Sycamores
    March 12, 2013, 5:50 pm

    correct if i’m wrong but this Rabbinic call for Human Rights is actually liberal zionism at its best trying to preserved the two state solution to protect a ‘Jewish State’. are they concern about Palestinians and the israelis or by how the world preceives the apartheid state of israel? wouldn’t it be better to have one state one vote for all?

    ending of illegal settlements i agree with preserving a Jewish state and what that means for non-Jews i don’t agree with.

    Muslims, Jewish, most Christians and other non-Christians living in the US along with the western hemisphere would be appalled if the US decided to called itself a Christian state. don’t the West prides itself on been secular why should we accept israel been a Jewish state. israel the state that keeps telling us how western and democratized they are in the Middle East. makes no sense when you think about it.

  8. Sin Nombre
    March 12, 2013, 6:11 pm

    Jerome Slater wrote:

    “There’s no chance for an end to the Israeli occupation and an Israeli agreement to allow the creation of a genuinely independent and viable Palestinian state, in the absence of serious and sustained US pressures on Israel.”

    Ah yes, THE reasonable-sounding starting point that in fact has made the problem worse and promises to have it dragged out forever.

    The United States doesn’t exist to serve the interests of the Palestinians. Either in “the creation of a genuinely independent and viable state” or in any other way either. It exists to serve the interests of the citizens of the United States.

    And just like extending ourselves to serve the interests of Israel is not in our interest, neither is extending ourselves to serve the interests of the Palestinians.

    Consequently, except for the basic humanitarian, and simply condemning both sides’ violations of international law, the only sensible policy for the U.S. is to stay the hell out of the conflict.

    And given this is the only sensible policy for the U.S., it is also the only one that in either the short or the long run promises success in generating the support of the majority of the American people and extricating us from the self-inflicted wound of our involvement. Just like with Vietnam.

    But … go ahead and overlook this and take Slater’s prescription. Take the idea that for vague, gooey ideas we ought to be supporting *either* one side or the other and see where it gets you.

    And, to see where it gets you, just look at where it has gotten us now: Lip deep in the shit.

    And, to see just how further impossible Slater’s prescription is that the U.S. essentially effect a 180-degree turn in its policy of supporting Israel to that of supporting the Palestinians, consider that the the Israeli lobby has apparently just convinced the U.S. Congress to blindly support any attack Israel might choose to launch against Iran.

    So instead of working towards the only realistically possible way of extricating the U.S. from the conflict by exhorting the American people to demand withdrawal and neutrality, work instead for some dream that couldn’t possibly come true for half a century.

    And you know what you’ll get? The same that the same got us so far, only after another 50 years has gone by.

    Or, to put it another way: Teleport yourself back to the mid-1960′s or later and consider what the situation would be if, instead of urging the American people to just get the hell out of Vietnam, the only opposition to the war was from those urging that the U.S. switch sides and support North Vietnam against the South.

    We’d *still* be there.

  9. pabelmont
    March 12, 2013, 6:19 pm

    Connected Jews should lobby their congregations — get education started, BDS talks, motion. Congregations (or rabbis) should talk to other religious groups. Etc.

    When my late wife (Palestinian Christian) worked with Jewish women in an Arab-Jewish dialog group (1980s), they went (a pair: one each) to a synagogue to do education. The Arab sought to show she had no horns, the Jews to gain entre and to promise there were no horns. They saw this as a way to talk to the enemy-who-might-be-converted.

    Nowadays, as the talk seems to be changing we need to persuade ordinary folks that they NOW have Jewish friends who DO question the occupation, the settlements, the lawlessness. And Americans of good faith have been TRAINED to obedient silence in face of evil, as I suppose Germans were in WWII who did not themselves work in the SS. they need an un-training. We must all MODEL speaking out. Nowadays it should be much less fearful than it was 40 years ago,

    The president (any president): “OKL, you’ve convinced me — now pressure me”. Well I don’t imagine we have the dollars, so we’d better go for the numbers.

  10. yourstruly
    March 12, 2013, 6:21 pm

    “diaspora jews want to be zionist israel’s partners, not only its donors”

    are you sure of that?

    perhaps you haven’t noticed that anti-zionism among non-jews as well as jews is rapidly growing

    the dissolution of israel*?

    both imminent & necessary

    justice for palestine?

    right on time

    *the entity, not its people

  11. DICKERSON3870
    March 12, 2013, 6:41 pm

    SEE – “Bibi’s Father’s Answer to the ‘Arab Problem’: Hang’ Em in the Town Square”, By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 4/04/09

    [EXCERPTS] Imagine, if you will, if Barack Obama’s real father was Rev. Jeremiah Wright and imagine, if you will, that Wright gave an eight-page interview to USA Today the week of Obama’s inauguration. Then you can imagine the “interest” with which such a ‘Maariv’ interview with Bibi Netanyahu’s father was met in Israeli circles.
    Noam Sheizaf, who works for Maariv, has translated portions of the interview . . .
    . . . And without further ado, I give you, Ben Zion Netanyahu, the father of the man:
    [EXCERPTS] . . . • Question: You don’t like the Arabs, to say the least.
    Benzion Netanyahu: “The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases.
    The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won’t allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn’t matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetuate war.”. . .
    . . . • Question: Is there any hope of peace?
    Benzion Netanyahu: …No…The two states solution doesn’t exist. There are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population… there is no Palestinian people, so you don’t create a state for an imaginary nation… they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews.”
    • Question: So what’s the solution?
    Benzion Netanyahu: “No solution but force… strong military rule. Any outbreak will bring upon the Arabs enormous suffering. We shouldn’t wait for a big mutiny to start, but rather act immediately with great force to prevent them from going on…
    If it’s possible, we should conquer any disputed territory in the land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war. We should conquer Gaza, and parts of the Galil, and the Golan. This will bring upon us a bloody war. . .” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to richardsilverstein.com

    • DICKERSON3870
      March 12, 2013, 6:50 pm

      P.S. ALSO RE: “There is a powerful opinion piece in this morning’s Haaretz, “Diaspora Jews Want to Be Israel’s Partners–Not Only Its Donors,” by Rabbi Jill Jacobs . . . Netanyahu–and most Israelis, it must agonizingly be admitted–are impervious to such arguments.” ~ Slater

      SEE: “The late Benzion Netanyahu’s appalling views on Arabs”, By Larry Derfner, +972 Magazine, 4/30/12

      [EXCERPTS] Below are excerpts from a lengthy April 3, 2009 interview in the Israeli daily Maariv conducted by Sari Makover Belikov with Benzion Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s father, who died Monday morning at age 102. They were translated into English and published the same day by Noam Sheizaf on his personal blog, Promised Land. Benzion Netanyahu, who had a deep, formative influence on the prime minister’s thinking, and who will be widely remembered as a great Zionist visionary, held views on Arabs and war that were simply horrific. . .
      Prof. Netanyahu: The Jews and the Arabs are like two goats facing each other on a narrow bridge. One must jump to the river – but that involves a danger of death. The strong goat will make the weaker one jump … and I believe the Jewish power will prevail.

      Q: What does the Arabs’ “jump” entail?

      A [Prof. Netanyahu]: That they won’t be able to face [anymore] war with us, which will include withholding food from Arab cities, preventing education, terminating electrical power and more. They won’t be able to exist, and they will run away from here. But it all depends on the war, and whether we will win the battles with them. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to 972mag.com

      • DICKERSON3870
        March 12, 2013, 7:09 pm

        P.P.S. AND SEE – “Bibi’s Father’s Answer to the ‘Arab Problem’: Hang’ Em in the Town Square”, By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 4/04/09

        [EXCERPTS] Imagine, if you will, if Barack Obama’s real father was Rev. Jeremiah Wright and imagine, if you will, that Wright gave an eight-page interview to USA Today the week of Obama’s inauguration. Then you can imagine the “interest” with which such a Maariv interview with Bibi Netanyahu’s father was met in Israeli circles.
        Noam Sheizaf, who works for Maariv, has translated portions of the interview . . .
        . . . And without further ado, I give you, Ben Zion Netanyahu, the father of the man:
        Netanyahu: “I don’t see any signs that the Arabs want peace… we will face fierce attacks from the Arabs, and we must react firmly…We just handed them a strong blow in Gaza, and they still bargain with us over one hostage… if we gave them a blow that would really hurt them, they would have given us Gilad Shalit back.”
        Q: Operation “cast Lead” was one of the worst blows we handed on a civilian population.
        A: “That’s not enough. It’s possible that we should have hit harder.” . . .
        “. . . There is valuable experience [on this matter] we don’t pay notice to. I mean the Ottoman rule over the Arabs. The Turks ruled over the Arabs for 400 years, and there was peace and quiet everywhere. The Arabs hated the Ottomans, but every little thing they did brought mass killings and hanging in towns squares. They were hanging people in Damascus, and Izmir… every town had hanging posts in its center…the Arabs were so badly beaten, they didn’t dare revolt. Naturally, I don’t recommend the use of hangings as a show of force like the Turks did, I just want to show that the only thing that might move the Arabs from the rejectionist position is force.” . . .

        ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to richardsilverstein.com

  12. Rusty Pipes
    March 12, 2013, 7:08 pm

    Delivered to the wrong address, ultimately; but an important first stop.

    “In January, a group of rabbinical students spending the year in Israel showed up at the Prime Minister’s residence with a stack of 725 letters from North American rabbis, cantors, rabbinical and cantorial students from all denominations of Judaism, and from throughout the United States and Canada, asking Prime Minister Netanyahu to cease plans for a new settlement that has roundly been criticized as an obstacle to long-term peace.”

    The Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem declined to send even a low-level staff person to speak with the future leadership of the North American Jewish community, or to accept letters from many hundreds of its current leaders. To date, we have received no response from the Prime Minister…. a mistake that reflects a broader trend of dismissing the concerns of North American Jews.”

    Many of these religious leaders who signed the letter are under tremendous pressure from ultra-zionists in their home congregations to support Israel when speaking publicly in America, no matter what. When they wanted to criticize Israel, they sent a message first to Israel and Israel spat in their faces. By dissing them so obviously, Netanyahu has just given the religious leaders cover to ramp up the pressure to take further steps in America, if they have the courage to do so. The situation is urgent, so a next step needs to happen soon.

  13. Donald
    March 12, 2013, 7:35 pm

    I don’t know (seriously, I don’t), but if all these rabbis directed their energies at Obama and Congress it might (maybe) could make a difference. (You might have noticed I’m hedging.)

    Steve Walt has an interesting post up. I’d link directly to the post rather than his site, but had problems doing it and anyway, the relevant article is the top one at the moment. link

    Here’s the best part–

    “And a lot of defenders of Israel will repeatedly remind us that they oppose the occupation and are in favor of two states.

    But here’s the litmus test you should use: How many of them are in favor of the United States using the leverage at its disposal to bring the occupation to an end and obtain a two-state outcome? In other words, how many of them favor the United States using both carrots and sticks with both sides in order to achieve the outcome that they claim to favor? How many of them would openly back Obama if he did just that? The United States has steadfastly refused to use its leverage evenhandedly in the past, and the result after twenty-plus years of “peace processing” has been abject failure. Not only is failure bad for Israelis and Palestinians alike, it doesn’t exactly do wonders for America’s credibility as an effective mediator. Yet you rarely hear advocates of a two-state solution calling for the U.S. to try a different approach.”

  14. dbroncos
    March 12, 2013, 8:09 pm

    “Excellent points, all of them–but delivered to the wrong address. Netanyahu–and most Israelis, it must agonizingly be admitted–are impervious to such arguments. The much more important audience would be Congress and Obama.”

    Here’s to hoping they do just that.

  15. atime forpeace
    March 12, 2013, 8:47 pm

    I always enjoying seeing how Diaspora Jews try to remain Jews while reflexively defending Israels many transgressions.

    It must suck for you all …talk about discordance and cognitive dissonance, how do you all do it?

  16. Hostage
    March 13, 2013, 9:19 am

    I always enjoying seeing how Diaspora Jews try to remain Jews while reflexively defending Israels many transgressions. It must suck for you all …talk about discordance and cognitive dissonance, how do you all do it?

    Historically by not allowing Israeli Jews or Gentiles to tell us we are living in a “Diaspora” in the first place. It must suck for you to have so very little imagination or intelligence that you need to resort to the use of overly broad generalizations and stereotypes. Here’s a clue: many of us do not blindly accept the old myths or the immature and bigoted notion expressed above that “We believe that Israel must continue to exist as a safe and secure Jewish state.”

  17. American
    March 13, 2013, 10:45 am

    Here’s another dreamer…….MJ bemoans that Israel didn’t accept the Arab peace plan and thinks now maybe they’re ready to ( plain to see they’re not)…..and then of course says the US must save Israel. I do not know how to explain the thinking of people like MJ except that regardless of their ‘liberal’ approach, they are still part of the Cult. They cannot think straight because they so obsessed with Israel as the “fulfillment” of the Jewish destiny.

    link to mjayrosenberg.com

    ”All those who care about the survival and security of Israel should encourage it to take these steps. It is no act of friendship to encourage Israel to dig in when the tides of history are running against it. Israel is too important to be lost because its leaders refused to accept “yes” as an answer. That is what the Arab League initiative is: a big yes. I just hope that the offer is still there because, if it isn’t, it is hard to imagine another way for Israel to break out of its current predicament.
    If the United States is truly Israel’s ally, and not just its enabler, that is the message President Obama will deliver to Israel loud and clear. Supporting Israel’s current course may be politically safe but it is no act of friendship. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
    There is no excuse for America not to help Israel avoid looming catastrophe, none at all”

  18. American
    March 13, 2013, 12:26 pm

    This month’s bills and resolutions for Israel in US Congress.

    Unlike Slater and MJ’s call for US Jews to rally ‘to save’ Israel thru the US once again, my advice is this:……
    Dear real “American” Jews, rally to destroy this Israeli Fifth Column in the US government. Save yourselves and the US instead.

    link to peacenow.org

    Legistative RoundUp for March -2013

    1. Bills, Resolutions, & Letters

    (ISRAEL BEST-ALLY-WITH-BENEFITS) HR 938 and S. 462: HR 983 was introduced 3/4 by Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Deutch (D-FL) and currently has 48 additional cosponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, plus the Committees on the Judiciary, and Science, Space, and Technology. S. 462 was introduced 3/5 by Senators Boxer (D-CA) and 4 cosponsors, and has since added one more cosponsor. Both have the short title “United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.” As expected, these bills were focal points of AIPAC supporters who lobbied the Hill this past week, and are featured on AIPAC’s website under its “Legislative Agenda” (also labeled its “Policy Agenda”). NOTE: These bills are NOT identical. In fact, they are very different, although substantively the goals of both are the same:

    - Making it U.S. policy that Israel is a “major strategic partner” of the United States. This terms is, at present, without any legal meaning (stay tuned, perhaps, for future legislation formally defining this brand-new designation…). The Senate version gives a hint of this when it states that it is U.S. policy “to pursue every opportunity to deepen cooperation with Israel on a range of critical issues including defense, homeland, energy, and cyber security.”

    - Extending Israeli access to the U.S. War Reserves Stockpile.

    - Making Israel eligible for the strategic trade authorization exception, exempting Israel from the requirement for a license for the export, reexport, or in-country transfer of an item subject to controls under the Export Administration Regulations.

    - Enhancing (including with additional funding) activities to promote U.S.-Israel cooperation in the fields of energy, water, homeland security, agriculture, and alternative fuel technologies.

    - Expanding U.S.-Israel cyber-security cooperation. NOTE: HR 983 includes only a sense of Congress “that the United States and Israel should take steps and explore avenues to increase cooperation on cyber-security.” S. 462 requires that the President report to Congress within 180 days “on the feasibility and advisability of establishing a joint United States-Israel Cyber Security Center for the purposes of sharing and advancing technologies related to the prevention of cybercrimes.”

    - Getting Israel into the Visa Waiver Program. NOTE: The House and Senate bill take very different approaches on this issue. The House bill in effect states that it shall be U.S. policy to include Israel as a Visa Waiver country once it has satisfied the laws governing such a designation. The House also requires a report to Congress from the Secretary of State on “the extent to which Israel satisfies the requirements specified in section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act for inclusion in the visa waiver program…and what additional steps, if any, are required in order for Israel to qualify for inclusion in such program.” The Senate bill, in contrast, takes the extraordinary step of seeking to change the current U.S. law to create a special and unique exception for Israel in U.S. immigration law. Under S. 462, Israel would be exempted from the key existing requirement for the Visa Waiver program (a low refusal rate for non-immigrant visas). The Senate language also requires that the Secretary of State certify that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.” This apparently is an effort to circumvent the problematic Visa Waiver program requirement that participating countries grant “reciprocal privileges to citizens and nationals of the United States.” This is a problem in Israel’s case, due to Israel’s regular and arbitrary denial of entry to U.S. citizens traveling both to Israel and the West Bank and Gaza (in particular U.S. citizens of Arab descent or U.S. citizens viewed as sympathetic to the Palestinians). This is such a serious problem that it is covered in the U.S. official Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza and has received significant press coverage.

    - Finally, the Senate version includes what is perhaps the weakest, most back-handed statement imaginable in terms of support for Israeli-Palestinian peace and the two-state solution – language that disconnects the issue from U.S. national security interests and in doing so creates a formulation that inconsistent with the actual foreign policy of the Obama Administration or ANY previous administration. The S. 462 states that it is U.S. policy to support for the Government of Israel “in its ongoing efforts to reach a negotiated political settlement with the Palestinian people that results in two states living side-by-side in peace and security.” The House version says nothing about Israel-Palestinian peace effort at all (which given the Senate wording is probably the better option).

    (SUPPORT FOR ISRAELI ATTACK ON IRAN) H. Res. 98: Introduced 3/5 by Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) and having 25 cosponsors, “Expressing support for Israel and its right to self-defense against the illegal nuclear program by the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. This appears to be an effort to grab a piece of the attention/credit that the Senate is getting over S. Res. 65, the so-called “Backdoor to War” resolution that is one of the centerpieces of current AIPAC lobbying. H. Res. 98 is less of a backdoor then a wide-open front door, stating in it single resolved clause that “the House of Representatives fully supports Israel’s lawful exercise of self-defense, including actions to halt Iranian aggression such as a strike against Iran’s illegal nuclear program.” Gosar’s statement introducing the bill is here.

    (CUT OFF AID TO EGYPT) HR 939: Introduced 3/4 by Rep. Bentivolio (R-MI) and having 4 cosponsors, the “Support Democracy in Egypt Act.” Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. NOTE: Notwithstanding its democracy-oriented name, this legislation doesn’t actually contain a single word about democracy. The conditions for assistance it lays out are focused on the government ending support for terrorism (apparently reflecting the continuing misapprehension in Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is a U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), promoting “religious and political freedoms for the people of Egypt” (very vague), stopping smuggling through the Sinai and Gaza and adhering to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

    (RELIGIOUS & MINORITY FREEDOMS IN ARAB WORLD) S. Res. 69: Introduced 3/7 by Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) and no cosponsors, “A resolution calling for the protections of religious minority rights and freedoms in the Arab world.” Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

    2. AIPAC Policy Conference

    As reported in last week’s Round-Up, March 3-5 was this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington. Members of Congress addressing the conference included: Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (R-NJ). Check the AIPAC website for details of the events, speeches, etc. Notably, check out AIPAC’s reports, “Top Congressional Leaders to Address AIPAC Gala” and “AIPAC Activists to Lobby Every Senator and House Member Today.”

    As anticipated, AIPAC’s legislative/policy agenda, linked to this week’s AIPAC Policy Conference, centered on the following legislative initiatives (all of which are listed on the AIPAC website):

    HR 850: This it the latest in a long line of AIPAC-backed Iran sanctions bill. As of this writing, HR 850 has attracted a total of 103 cosponsors (including Royce, R-CA, the lead sponsor). APN strongly objects to this bill and has called on members of Congress to (a) refuse to cosponsor it, and (b) to refuse to permit it to be ramrodded through the House, and instead to call for a full deliberative process, including committee hearings and markups during which the substance of the bill can be dealt with seriously and deficiencies in the bill can be addressed through amendments. APN’s statement on HR 850 is available here. Our detailed analysis on the substance/problems with HR 850 is available here. Our Action Alert urging our supporters across the country to write to their members of Congress is here.

    S. Res. 65: This is the “Backdoor to War” resolution discussed in detail in last week’s Round-Up. As of this writing, S. Res. 65 has attracted a total of 47 cosponsors (including Graham, R-SC, the lead sponsor). APN strongly objects to this resolution and has called on Senators to (a) refuse to cosponsor it, and (b) to refuse to permit it to be ramrodded through the Senate, and instead to call for a full deliberative process, including committee hearings and markups during which the substance of the resolution can be dealt with seriously and deficiencies in the bill can be addressed through amendments. APN’s statement on S. Res. 65 is available here. Our detailed analysis on the substance/problems with S. Res. 65 is available here. Our Action Alert urging our supporters across the country to write to their Senators is here.

    HR 938 and S. 462: These are the “Best-Ally-With-Benefits” bills, discussed in Section 1, above.

    In addition, AIPAC supporters are lobbying the Hill for full funding of U.S. assistance to Israel (despite the ongoing sequestration issue). The AIPAC website notes that “Despite ongoing buget [sic] woes, it is critical that the United States live up to its aid commitment to Israel. As our one reliable Middle East ally, Israel serves critical national security objectives. Any reduction in that aid would send the wrong message to Israel’s – and America’s – enemies.”

    The draft letter AIPAC suggests activists send to their elected officials reads includes the following:

    “…While I understand the tough budgetary environment facing our nation and the difficult decisions that lawmakers on Capitol Hill need to make, the Middle East is in turmoil right now and the slated increases for Israel are absolutely vital to her security and well-being. For Congress to support anything less than the full U.S. commitment to Israel’s security would send the wrong message to the enemies of both our nations and would weaken Israel exactly at a time when she needs to be strong.”

    4. Members on the Record

    Stabenow (D-MI) 3/7: Commemorating Israel’s 65th Anniversary
    Reid (D-NV) 3/6: Statement on Syria
    Roskam (R-IL) 3/6: Statement on AIPAC-backed bills, HR 850 and HR 938
    Cotton (R-AK) 3/6: Condemning Attacks on MEK Members at Camp Liberty
    Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) & Deutch (D-FL) 3/4: Press release on HR 938
    Bilirakis (R-FL) 3/4: Condemning Turkey PM Comparison Between Zionism and Facism
    Wilson (R-SC) 3/4: Noting with respect to the sequester: “Removing these resources so drastically places American families and our allies, such as Israel, at risk of future attacks.”
    Engel (D-NY) 3/1: Regarding Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s Statement Equating Zionism with a Crime against Humanity
    McCarthy (D-NY) 3/1: Condemning Comments by Turkish Prime Minister
    Kennedy (D-MA) 3/1: Condemning Comments by Turkish Prime Minister
    Griffin (R-AR) 3/1: Griffin Calls on Obama Administration to Stop Egyptian F-16 Deal

    • Citizen
      March 14, 2013, 8:45 am

      In how many ways can American congress members give away US sovereignty to Israel? Let me count the ways…

      Is there not one single congress person who will note this publicly in the interest of America?

  19. American
    March 13, 2013, 1:33 pm

    SUPPORT FOR ISRAELI ATTACK ON IRAN- H. Res. 98

    I want everyone to understand the Israeli (and yes, necon) Fifth Column threat…so look at this H. Res.98 because it is the same kind of stepping stone used to get to Iraq.
    Unless you believe that Israel or the US can attack Iran and Iran and it’s sympathizers won’t retaliate militarily, then you are looking at at least double the cost and twice the years of our invasion of Iraq.
    So just look at the Iraq-Afg cost so far and then tell me it isn’t imperative to destroy this Fifth Column by whatever means it takes if we don’t want the US to collapse like the USSR.

    * The war in Iraq has cost $823.2bn between 2003 and 2011.
    *Some estimates suggesting that it may eventually cost as much as $3.7tn when factoring in the long-term costs of caring for the wounded and the families of those killed.
    *According to a Congressional Research Service estimate (pdf), the average annual operational cost per US soldier in Iraq was $462,000 between 2005 and 2009. To control costs and avoid imposing a draft, the US resorted to a parallel army of private contractors, numbering 100,000 people or more at the height of the war.
    *Through 2012, the US is projected to have spent $17.7bn (pdf) on police training and civilian reconstruction projects in Iraq.
    * The recent final report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir) estimates that the US lost to corruption or waste at least $8n of the $60n devoted to reconstructing Iraq
    *Along with Afghanistan, the war in Iraq added $1.4tn to the national debt.
    **Then add in disruption of ME oil shipments in Iran retaliation.

    Well, I’m telling ya, this is how insane this fifth column is –pushing another war on top of this disaster—-and so far the only real force opposing them is Obama’s advisers in the US Military Command. If Obama capitulates to the Israelis on Iran, the US is toast. No I am not exaggerating.

    • Citizen
      March 14, 2013, 8:51 am

      If all those bills get passed into law, the US will have effectively given up its sovereignty to a foreign state the size of NJ, located very far away, one with a mission, which is exclusively the survival of a theo-ethnic state with a paranoid view of reality imbued with the Samson Option.

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