House delivers for AIPAC, 410-1, passing Israel as ‘strategic partner’ bill

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 40 Comments

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The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is bruised from the fight over Iran sanctions. But that didn’t stop the group from helping to push through legislation designating Israel as a “major strategic partner”–a first for any U.S. ally.  The measure has been a major lobby priority since last year.

Today, the House of Representatives passed the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act by a 410-1 vote.  The lone dissenting voice was Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY), a libertarian aligned with Senator Rand Paul.  The Senate has not voted on their version of the bill yet, though it has strong support there, with 55 co-sponsors from both parties.

In addition to the “major strategic partner” designation, the bill allows for Israelis to travel to the U.S. without visas, though the State Department has to certify that Israel meets the requirements for the visa-waiver program.  The legislation also calls for giving Israel advanced combat aircraft and military tanker transports.  It was authored by the hawkish Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky, official portrait

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky, official portrait

“Israel has…never been as strong as it is now.  Think of Israel’s economic dynamism, its entrepreneurial spirit, innovative culture, and you get a better sense of why there is so strong a bond between the United States and Israel,” said Rep. Ed Royce (D-CA), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which passed the legislation in late January.  “It’s this dynamic economy and society that are building blocks for Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and its relationship with the U.S. The U.S. benefits when Israel is strong. This legislation stands by our values; stands by our interests; and stands by Israel.”

The liberal Zionist lobby group J Street applauded the bill’s passage.

The legislation had languished in Congress for a year.  While it was a priority for AIPAC at last year’s conference, it was held up because of concerns that it would codify Israel’s discrimination against activists and Arab- and Palestinian-American travelers.  Those concerns, pushed to the forefront by a coalition of groups, led to the stripping out of language that gave Israel a right to deny entry to travelers if they threatened the state’s security.  The security pretext is a favored tool used by Israeli authorities to deny people entry.

The U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act was one of the initiatives AIPAC members pushed for when lobbying Congress on Tuesday.  AIPAC activists also asked elected officials to sign onto a pair of letters stressing that Congress should be informed of the nuclear negotiations with Iran.  As the Jewish Telegraphic Agency‘s Ron Kampeas reported, the letter for the House of Representatives, which J Street also backed, “does not include AIPAC’s previous calls for new and enhanced sanctions” and “does not include prescriptions for what the outcome of an agreement should look like.”  The Senate letter, on the other hand, does include prescriptions for a deal with Iran, like the dismantling of enrichment capacity–a demand Iran has categorically rejected.

The fight over visa-waivers for Israelis may not be over.  The US-Israel Strategic Partner bill now shifts to the Senate. Their version still contains a provision allowing Israel to deny entry to those who jeopardize the country’s security.

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and graduate student at New York University's Near East Studies and Journalism programs. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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40 Responses

  1. gingershot
    March 5, 2014, 6:24 pm

    The 2nd American Revolution and Judaism Revised

    Bibi and AIPAC left the rotten Apartheid COMPLETELY EXPOSED by their
    stupid tactics – and now we get all the marbles – AIPAC’s Girl Hillary
    and ‘Judaism as Zionist’

    The Strategy:
    1- Successful 2nd American Revolution: America Free of AIPAC [and free
    of AIPAC's Girl Hillary (2nd American Rev)]
    2- Reformulate Judaism as Free of Zionism.
    3- 1P 1V 1S

    The Tactics:
    1- Force AIPAC to register as agent of hostile foreign power then make
    it ILLEGAL
    2- Shame ‘All American Jewry’ and ‘All American Zionism’ – re-dedicate
    Judaism to SERVING Palestinians

    Please support President Barack Obama as We The People lead our 2nd American Revolution to free ourselves from AIPAC and AIPAC’s Girl. We’re in AIPAC’s End Zone – they are in TOTAL STRATEGIC COLLAPSE.

    Shame every American Jew or American Zionist you can find who is NOT helping overthrow AIPAC-Apartheid Israel – OFF.AT.THE.KNEES

  2. just
    March 5, 2014, 6:29 pm

    crrrrrrrraaaaaap! throw the bums out!

    Israel is not our ‘ally’– strategic or otherwise!

    • Kathleen
      March 5, 2014, 11:46 pm

      What happened to the oath our Reps take when they take their seats to protect the U.S. from enemies outside of the nation and within the nation. Ros Lehtinen is a direct threat to U.S. National Security as well at the Reps who have voted for this legislation.

      • Citizen
        March 6, 2014, 12:09 am

        @ Kathleen
        That would be all the US Reps except 1, a Libertarian friend of Rand Paul.

    • Hostage
      March 6, 2014, 1:52 pm

      In addition to the “major strategic partner” designation, the bill allows for Israelis to travel to the U.S. without visas, though the State Department has to certify that Israel meets the requirements for the visa-waiver program.

      I’m not nearly as worried about these proposed laws as I am the enforcement of the ones that are already on the books. Even if this were adopted it wouldn’t alter the fact that the President has a blank check from the Congress to keep out human rights violators. See August 04, 2011, Presidential Proclamation–“Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Persons Who Participate in Serious Human Rights and Humanitarian Law Violations and Other Abuses” link to whitehouse.gov

      I don’t know why on Earth officials, like Nir Barkat, who pursues and defends the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, in order for them to be occupied by Jewish settlers is still allowed into this country.

  3. American
    March 5, 2014, 8:04 pm

    Further and further down the slippery slope of total abdication of all US sovereignty to a foreign nation.

    I can hear what these bought politicians tell themselves—‘well, this most favored ally status isnt such a big deal, we can give Israel this to please the lobby and our donors’. This is how they rationalize their treasons large and small.

    But the Zionist and Israel are like the southern kudz plant that now covers 2 million miles of forest like a blanket, suffocating the light out of forest that trees need to grow, it can envelope a small house in a year, grow up the side of a mountain….if you don’t completely eradicate it, then you fight it all the time, you mow it and spray poison it and it always comes back. The only way to kill it is to tear it out completely by the roots and then burn the foliage to ashes so there are no seeds or nodules left that can take hold in the soil and re sprout.
    You cant give the Zionist a little bit or a small patch of favor anywhere—if they get one foothold or root down they will keep spreading like the kudz weed till they suffocate everything in a country.

  4. W.Jones
    March 5, 2014, 9:21 pm

    J Street applauded the bill’s passage.
    Along for the ride? It was more likely an active participant.

  5. Blownaway
    March 5, 2014, 10:12 pm

    These pandering laws are important for the Palestinians to understand that the US will never ever be a force for liberation or justice. that they must abandon all hope of fairness from America and take their case to the world and court of public opinion. Salvation will not come from America

  6. bilal a
    March 5, 2014, 10:29 pm

    There may have been our strategic partner’s snipers in Cairo and Kiev:

    Ukraine Protest Leaders Hired Kiev Snipers
    Snipers Fired on Both Police and Other Protesters
    link to news.antiwar.com

    Report from Tahrir Square on Hilton Roof Snipers on 3 February
    ~~http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTXRQxwdrOM

  7. Kathleen
    March 5, 2014, 11:43 pm

    Ros Lehtinen should have to register under FARA. So will this make it even easier for Israeli agents to spy on the U.S.?

    link to informationclearinghouse.info

    Carl Cameron “Since Sept 11 more than 60 Israeli’s have been arrested or detained either under the new patriot anti terrorism law or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained according to investigators who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States. There is no indication that Israeli’s were involved in the 9/11 attacks but investigators suspect that the Israeli’s may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance and not shared it.”

    ” Numerous classified documents obtained by Fox News indicate that even prior to Sept 11 as many as 140 other Israeli’s have been detained or arrested in a secretive and sprawling investigation into suspected espionage by Israeli’s in the United States.”

    So our Reps have decided to make it even easier for Israeli agents to get into the U.S.

  8. Citizen
    March 6, 2014, 12:19 am

    Soon there will be more US military supplies stockpiled in Israel than in US–all available for Israel to take whenever it feels like it. This act is like all legislation and memorandums & trade agreements with Israel–it heavily burdens the US in every way to benefit Israel. Our other allies are chopped liver, even though they fully recipocrate favors.

    Just that many more ways the Israelis can run around and do whatever they want–our own government has no protection or security; it makes itself so vulnerable to Israel, and overly generous–America insults itself.

  9. Krauss
    March 6, 2014, 1:59 am

    AIPAC should remember one thing:

    The Arab autocracies also had excellent relations with Israel, but the people did not.
    The U.S. is different in the regard that support for Israel – broadly defined – is widespread, but it is not deep.

    When asked in polls which side Americans should take in the conflict, a majority say we should be neutral, even if 65% or so give Israel an approval rating.
    In addition, if the 2SS collapses, a majority of Americans favor a 1SS, is this what AIPAC has in mind?

    AIPAC is very strong in the political corridoors of Washington. But if you ask most Americans, which ally is closest to you Canada, UK or Israel, I seriously doubt that Israel would get a majority, or even a plularity. Congress can pass as many laws as it wants. It doesn’t change the fact that the support for Israel seriously erodes if you look at young, educated Americans, especially young liberal Americans.

    It is already a partisan issue for those under the age of 30, and that process is accelerating.

  10. seafoid
    March 6, 2014, 2:03 am

    “The U.S. benefits when Israel is strong.”

    By how much does the US benefit from Israel every year , in dollars.? Audited, Transparent ? Would anyone like to have a go ?
    Can anyone quantify it? It looks like a default phrase with nothing behind it.

    Bernie Madoff used to specialize in that. They used to love Bernie. He had a special fund that delivered much higher returns and nobody could explain it.

    JP Morgan just paid $2.6 bn in fines for its failure to notify the authorities about Madoff.

    link to ftalphaville.ft.com
    “Senior JPMorgan Chase executives were aware of suspicions that Bernard Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme, according to an updated court filing from the trustee charged with recovering money for Mr Madoff’s victims, reports the FT. John Hogan, a senior risk officer at JPMorgan’s investment bank and a member of the company’s executive committee, voiced concerns about Mr Madoff’s firm to colleagues in 2007, according to a new version of the 114-page complaint. The allegation is part of a $6.4bn lawsuit filed against the bank by the trustee, Irving Picard. Mr Hogan is said to have learnt of Mr Madoff’s Ponzi scheme from Matt Zames, a rising star who has a wide portfolio of responsibilities at JPMorgan’s investment bank”

    Lots of AIPAC people believed Bernie was a genius too

  11. stardust
    March 6, 2014, 6:11 am

    By how much does the US benefit from Israel every year , in dollars.? Audited, Transparent ?

    In the past 20 years, the US has run a $ 105,000,000,000 trade deficit with Israel.
    That is on top of the roughly $3 billion in development and military “aid” flowing to Israel every year.
    Official data: link to census.gov

    • Citizen
      March 10, 2014, 3:58 am

      @ stardust
      Of course there’s a trade deficit with Israel. The first FTA the US ever entered into was with–you guessed it, with Israel. In 1985, if memory serves. That FTA lacks parity. It hurts US business, and is heaven for Israeli business. The entire data, tactics, and strategy, including all companies impacted, of the US negotiation team– was stolen, copied, and given to the Israeli team–by Jewish Americans. Result was the Israelis sandbagged This is well known by those who have the government job to revisit it, update, amend, etc–have simply never tried to do so.

      PS: Don’t forget those loans to Israel that effectively morph into grants; we underwrite Israel’s debt.

      • Citizen
        March 10, 2014, 4:13 am

        Israel is “the start-up nation,” best US ally as Congress says, or a horrible liability?
        link to irmep.org

    • Citizen
      March 10, 2014, 4:47 am

      Spy Trade: How Israel undermines US economy: link to amazon.com

  12. Boomer
    March 6, 2014, 6:18 am

    So depressing. At least there was one vote no. That is something. And most of the 410 will quickly change if the political winds change. But that may not happen during my life. Reflecting on this changes my attitude toward those Biblical promises that the gentiles would someday serve Israel. I took them as historical statements about the attitudes of Jews in ancient times. Now, they seem literally true. I don’t attribute that reality to supernatural intervention, but to the power of the stories we tell ourselves. We need better narratives. This site is trying to change the story, and that is a worthy effort.

  13. Talkback
    March 6, 2014, 8:38 am

    Reaffirming the real axis of evil as perceived by the majority of the world.

  14. puppies
    March 6, 2014, 9:38 am

    Look at it hard, and you’ll see that it’s AIPAC practices that have been instrumental (not the military-industrial complex, not the energy lobby, the NRA etc., who all knew better than bragging) in making the official principle of the US what it is today: One Dollar, One Vote.

  15. W.Jones
    March 9, 2014, 6:27 pm

    What is JStreet, a “Pro-Peace” organization doing supporting strong increases to Israeli military funding at a time when JStreet occasionally admits that the State’s military is abusing large numbers of conquered people?

    I think that many JStreet members are pro-peace and want Human rights to be upheld. Can you please let them know about this major, painful problem in JStreet’s lobbying efforts?

    • Walid
      March 10, 2014, 9:21 am

      “I think that many JStreet members are pro-peace”

      Looks are deceiving, W, Jones. They aren’t much different from AIPAC but simply more polite about what they want.

      • yonah fredman
        March 10, 2014, 9:55 am

        Walid- What does it take to be considered pro-peace? Agreeing with your position? Agreeing to the Arab peace initiative of 2002? Acceptance of General Assembly resolution 194 without equivocation or negotiation?

      • talknic
        March 10, 2014, 12:00 pm

        yonah fredman“What does it take to be considered pro-peace?”

        Very simple. Support adherence to International Law, the UN Charter and relevant conventions. Something Israel has never tried.

    • Citizen
      March 10, 2014, 10:40 am

      JStreet is as “pro-Israel” as AIPAC, but it’s more sensitive and nuanced regarding maintaining and accelerating better PR in behalf Israel; in short, it is striving to spin Israel’s anti-humanistic conduct and policies as Western, as both become more far right-wing. Bernays would have appreciated JStreet, as adapting to the times.

    • American
      March 10, 2014, 10:49 am

      @ Jonesie

      J-Street is pro peace but basically on their “own terms” which still favors Israel.
      If there is a I-Peace -Supporter group that has called for:

      1) Israel returning to the original UN partition and return or compensation of refugees,which is the closest you can get to ‘justice ‘ for Palestines without removing Israel completely.
      2) Ceasing US aid and UN support of Israel,which has to be done to force Israel to that type of settlement.

      Then I’ve never heard of it.

  16. Pamela Olson
    March 9, 2014, 8:50 pm

    “Israel has… never been as strong as it is now. Think of Israel’s economic dynamism, its entrepreneurial spirit, innovative culture, and you get a better sense of why there is so strong a bond between the United States and Israel… It’s this dynamic economy and society that are building blocks for Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and its relationship with the U.S. The U.S. benefits when Israel is strong. This legislation stands by our values; stands by our interests; and stands by Israel.”

    What a bunch of flipping baloney. Since when are we such f**king cave men?

    What happened to the days when we worshipped anything but raw power and economic might? It seemed there in the 90’s we might make a little turn toward that direction. Then came Dubya, and we lost all our brain cells.

    Disgustappointing. (Disgusting + disappointing.)

  17. puppies
    March 10, 2014, 2:45 am

    “stripping out of language that gave Israel a right to deny entry to travelers if they threatened the state’s security.”

    Did anyone swallow that? Will the Zionist entity stop any of its practices? Sure.

    • Walid
      March 10, 2014, 4:37 am

      Language in agreements is how Israel has been getting away every time. It happened with the UN accepting its membership, with the resolutions that came with the ceasefire, with the Oslo and so on.

      • puppies
        March 10, 2014, 8:48 am

        @Walid – Weaseling and lawyering is but one minor trick of the Z. What I am asking is whether anyone believes that the Zionists are ever kept from going ahead and doing whatever the hell they want to do by anything at all except superior force. Even only once in all of history. Would be happy to see a single example that hasn’t been a maneuver to buy time and do it anyway the next day. We know their “official” conquest and ethnic cleansing program, we know that they never have relented; just saying that anyone who believes this is to change now needs his head examined.
        Given that, all the talk about letting them have what they conquered but no more than that, limiting them to half the territory, applying strictly the UN-approved portion of right of conquest, dragging them before a US-opposed court, etc. may be valuable as steps for public opinion building: as talk only. They are absolutely worthless in the absence of force, and going from talk to effectively relinquishing Palestinian rights for a worthless signature is plumb crazy.

    • just
      March 10, 2014, 6:06 am

      More than interesting:

      “Israeli tourists aboard a Norwegian cruise ship were barred from disembarking in the Port of Tunis Sunday. They were forced to remain on the “Norwegian Jade”, while non-Israeli Jewish passengers were allowed off. ”

      link to haaretz.com

      • Sumud
        March 10, 2014, 6:36 am

        From the article:

        Yaacov Zacharia of Tel Aviv, one of the Israelis on board, said he was “extremely offended” when he was told just hours before planning to disembark in Tunis that he was barred from doing so.

        “It was one of the most unpleasant experiences I’ve had,” he told Haaretz by telephone from Palermo, Italy – the next stop on the cruise.

        Poor Yaacov, experiencing for one part of one day some small part of something vaguely like what Palestinian refugees have put up with for decades now, most their whole lives.

        Imagine Yaacov if you arrived home only to be told that you will never be admitted to the country again – now Palestine – and a nice Palestinian family have taken possession of your home in Tel Aviv, your new car and your bank balance – and you can just fuck off right now or be shot dead along with your family. You may keep your house key as a memento.

        That would be an “unpleasant experience”.

        I wonder if Yaacov will join the dots?

      • eljay
        March 10, 2014, 8:19 am

        >> Poor Yaacov, experiencing for one part of one day some small part of something vaguely like what Palestinian refugees have put up with for decades now, most their whole lives.

        Why does the world hate poor Yaacov so much? ;-)

        Well said, Sumud.

      • talknic
        March 10, 2014, 9:02 am

        link to un.org

        Resolution 573 (1985) of 4 October I9S5
        The Security Council,
        Having considered the letter dated 1 October 1985, in which Tunisia made a complaint against Israel follow-ing the act of aggression which the latter committed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Tunisia,

        Having heard the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia,**

        Having noted with concern that the Israeli attack has caused heavy Loss of human life and extensive material damage.

        Considering that, in accordance with Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter of the United Nations, all States Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or acting in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,

        Gravely concerned at the threat lo peace and security in the Mediterranean region posed by the air raid perpetrated on 1 October by Israel in the area of Hammam Plage, situated in the southern suburb of Tunis,

        Drawing attention to the serious effect which the aggression carried out by Israel and all acts contrary to the Charter cannot but have on any initiative designed to establish an overall, just and lasting peace in the Middle East,

        Considering that the Israeli Government claimed responsibility for the attack as soon as it had been carried out,

        1. Condemns vigorously the act of armed aggression perpetrated by Israel against Tunisian territory in flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and norms of conduct;

        2. Demands that Israel refrain from perpetrating such acts of aggression or from threatening to do so;

        3. Urges Member States to take measures to dissuade Israel from resorting to such acts against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States;

        4. Considers that Tunisia has the right to appropriate reparations as a result of the loss of human life and material damage which it has suffered and for which Israel has claimed responsibility;

        It’s typical of Israeli propaganda and apologists to spin everything and anything. Israeli law from 1948 (still current) prohibits Israeli citizens and residents from entering the territory of entities it considers to be hostile. Contrary to the wholly holey olde Hasbara blaming only Jordan, the same Israeli law prevented Israelis from worshiping in Jordanian West Bank for 19 years. As a matter of course, Jordan prohibited the entry of citizens and residents from its hostile neighbour.

        It’s NORMAL to ban entry for the residents and/or citizens of hostile states

      • Walid
        March 10, 2014, 9:15 am

        “It’s NORMAL to ban entry for the residents and/or citizens of hostile states”

        100% correct, talknic, sumud and Just. Anything else should be considered irregular. Silverstein now reporting on an Israeli press leak about an Arab state funding Israel to kill Iranians and is speculating that the leak is meant to piss-off Obama. Israel is sure stirring the pot.

      • Hostage
        March 10, 2014, 8:03 am

        “Israeli tourists aboard a Norwegian cruise ship were barred from disembarking in the Port of Tunis Sunday.

        Israel has a law that prohibits travel to enemy states. It is unsurprising when other countries that have been attacked by Israeli warplanes treat Israeli Jews as citizens of an enemy state:

        TUNIS, Oct. 2— The Israeli air strike near here, and the initial United States reaction to it, stirred bitter criticism from the President of this north African Arab nation.

        Tunisia’s President, Habib Bourguiba, expressed ”regret and astonishment” today at the initial White House response to the Israeli air strike Tuesday against the headquarters near here of the Palestine Liberation Organization. As many as 67 people may have died in the attack.

        The Tunis Jewish community, about 4,000 strong, sided openly with Tunisia over the bombing attack. In a statement, Rene Chiche, president of the Management Committee of Jewish Organizations, said, ”The Jewish community expresses its great consternation over the attack by Israeli planes which led to deaths of innocent Tunisians and Palestinians and we reiterate to President Bourguiba our unshakable loyalty.”

        link to nytimes.com

      • American
        March 10, 2014, 8:23 am

        ‘”The Jewish community expresses its great consternation over the attack by Israeli planes which led to deaths of innocent Tunisians and Palestinians and we reiterate to President Bourguiba our unshakable loyalty.”

        Smart. The right response from them.
        Had it been a US Jewish citizen the Zio Orgs would have made a State Department crisis out of it and congress would demand we sanction Tunisia.

  18. amigo
    March 10, 2014, 8:33 am

    Meanwhile back in Ziosville.

    “Not enough women are progressing to the top levels of the civil service and private sectors, according to a report by the state comptroller, Justice Yosef Shapira, released to coincide with International Women’s Day.

    Shapira, whose job it is to supervise and review government policies and operations, said previous Israeli governments had not done enough to address gender inequality.

    The report states that 64% of the public sector workforce are women, but less than 13% of senior officials are women. In 2013 there were six director-generals out of a total of 30.

    The situation is particularly bad in the defence ministry, the ministry of religious services, in government-run hospitals and the Israeli police, the report finds.”Haaretz

    link to theguardian.com

    Israel seems to exist at multi levels of equality.

    Is this part of their Biblical inheritance.

    Oh, just a question?, Why would a so called Democracy have a Ministry of Religious Services??.

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