The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was in England and on Al Jazeera Friday night, speaking frankly about the Israel lobby to host Mehdi Hasan. I don’t believe he’s been anywhere this frank about the role of pro-Israel money before. Note that he begins by saying what I’ve always stated here but the American media refuse to discuss: George H.W. Bush lost his presidency to the Israel lobby.
Hasan: One of the big issues cited by violent extremists in that part of the world is America’s blind support some would say for the state of Israel… You would accept that US not an honest broker in the Middle East.
Friedman: Let me put it in my terms, not yours. Let’s go inside American politics for a second. What happened, and as you know, President Bush the first stood outside the White House one day and said I’m one lonely man standing up against the Israel lobby. What happened as a result of that, Mehdi, is that Republicans post Bush I, and manifested most in his son Bush 2, took a strategic decision, they will never be out pro-Israel’d again. That they believe cost them electorally a lot.
So that pulled the American spectrum to the right. and it created an arms race with the Democrats, over who could be more pro Israel.
Then we had the Citizens United Case in the Supreme Court that basically said unlimited campaign donations. Now what that meant is it gave enormous power, I’ve written all this in my column, to the Israel lobby, why– because Mehdi if you and I were running from the same district, and I have AIPAC’s stamp of the approval and you don’t, I will maybe have to make three phone calls and I can raise my whole– I’m exaggerating but I don’t have to make many phone calls to get all the money I need to run against you. You will have to make 50,000 phone calls. So that pulled the whole spectrum to the right…
So what I see in America is the whole spectrum on the Israel question has moved to the right. To the point, and this is very disappointing to me, where if you’re a young political officer, you’re in NEA, our Near East division of the State Department, you dream one day of being ambassador to Oman… You will not state publicly what is actually official US policy, that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. Now when you go so many years where people won’t even say publicly what is the policy, it’s inevitable that people perceive us rightly in many ways not to be an honest broker.
Hasan: So that’s the key point; it’s not a perception, it’s a fact.
Right. What isn’t understood by American diplomats today, we play a huge role in the Israeli cabinet, we need the prime minister to go the cabinet and say, ‘I’d never do this myself, but the Americans they broke my arm’. And what is sad to me about this moment is that the political lift it would take for an the American secretary of state now to really make progress in that part of the world is perceived by them as just too high in the current context, and that is a tragedy.
I have written often that George H.W. Bush was thought to have lost the election in 1992 in part because he opposed settlements while Clinton didn’t, and raised so much pro-Israel money. Why isn’t this discussed openly, if Tom Friedman also believes it? I don’t think he’s really written about this in his column. That’s why Bush the younger brought in the neocons. That’s why we got the Iraq war. All verboten.
And we have “a huge role in the Israeli cabinet”? Did you know that? Chris Matthews needs to talk about this.
Why isn’t any of this discussed openly? Why were Walt and Mearsheimer run out of town on a rail for saying some of this? And what is the media’s role in the collapse of the two-state solution? By enforcing these bogus orthodoxies.
Thanks to Idrees Ahmad.
Update, Following Hophmi’s comment, I updated statement about GHW Bush’s 1992 loss to state that it was felt to be “in part” because he opposed settlements.