The Israel lobby is finally getting some critical scrutiny in the mainstream media. Last week we reported that Edward Snowden seems to have been motivated to blow the whistle when he learned of surveillance that the US was passing on to the Israelis, data that recent reports have shown the Israelis used as sexual blackmail against Palestinians, to make them into collaborators. Investigative reporter James Bamford was interviewed by NPR’s Arun Rath yesterday and stressed this angle– that the US has no “right” to give secret information to a government that is hostile to our own citizens, Palestinian-Americans:
BAMFORD: this information is being used by [Israel’s spy] Unit 8,200 for things like looking for sexual activity, indiscretions and so forth and then using that to blackmail – basically to coerce innocent Palestinians into working for Israel….
RATH: What do you see as the broader implications for this revelation when it comes to the NSA’s data collection on American citizens?
BAMFORD: Well, the broad implication is the NSA is simply not trustworthy to handle this information because they are required to protect the American public not expose them to foreign intelligence service. And the problem here is that you have a lot of Palestinian-Americans who happen to live in the United States.
And if their private communications with relatives in Israel and occupied Palestine – then that puts them at great risk – puts their relatives at great risk if they talk about confidential things in an e-mail or in a telephone call. What right does the U.S. government have to give that information to a government that’s basically hostile to them?
Notice the reference to occupied Palestine and a hostile foreign government.
Then there was Chris Matthews calling out the neoconservatives as being motivated by Israeli security in pushing the stupidest decision in history, to invade Iraq. Matthews has been great lately, opposing the president’s decision to throw the country into war in Iraq yet again.
Do [people] really believe… these characters over there in Syria and Iraq have their own personal number. Do they? ….I know the political hucksters love pushing the fear button, they exult in the word “homeland,” that ominous term cooked up by neocons to drive us off to the stupidest war decision in history, to go into Iraq with the bugles blowing and the ideologues brimming with talk of converting the Arab Mid East into pleasant members of the United Nations, friendly neighbors of Israel and oh yeah, moderate democracies. But that talk was for a purpose of getting us into a stupid war. What’s the purpose now? Why push the armageddon button now? Could it be that scaring people is one way to justify just about anything rightwing, anything that exploits military force, anything that turns the U.S. into a relentless military presence, a machine really in the Middle East, an endless adversary and killer of Arabs and other Muslims?
People don’t push wars for the heck of it. They have beliefs about a larger interest. US security, civilizational-clash, remaking the Middle East so that the one Jewish state will be safe– and Zionism plays a role in forming these beliefs. I don’t think Americans will be fully capable of discussing the negative influence of the Israel lobby over U.S. policy till that influence fully ebbs in our political culture. But these reports are signals that Israel as a model is becoming problematic.