A petition has been started urging Bernie Sanders to reject the invitation from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, to speak at the leading rightwing Israel lobby group in ten days. Max Blumenthal writes:
AIPAC has invited Bernie Sanders to participate in its 2016 Policy Conference in Washington DC. Voice your support for justice and equality in Israel-Palestine and urge Bernie to reject this invitation. As the main arm of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, AIPAC has sworn to promote the racist, militaristic, and anti-democratic policies of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Its conference this year will feature Islamophobes, anti-immigrant activists, and religious extremists. With his promise to seek a “level playing field” on Israel-Palestine, Bernie does not belong on the same stage as these figures. Urge him to reject AIPAC’s invitation and support justice in the Holy Land.
This represents an effort to politicize Israel support inside the Democratic Party. The base cries out for such a discussion; but Bernie Sanders has not really picked up the ball.
Of course Hillary Clinton will be addressing the AIPAC policy conference, and her presence there alongside Benjamin Netanyahu’s demonstrates the intersectionality (we used to say overlap) of Clintonism and neoconservatism. Countless neocons will stud the office chairs at AIPAC, including Bill Kristol, who purged “the Arabists” from the Republican Party; Dan Senor, an adviser to Marco Rubio; and Bret Stephens, the Wall Street Journal’s flash columnist.
And you will see many Clintonites on AIPAC’s list of speakers. Among them: Ann Lewis, a longtime Clinton adviser; Dennis Ross, the Israel supporter and White House ornament whom Hillary Clinton brought into the Obama administration in 2009 to correct Obama’s tilt toward the Arab world that was so alarming Israel (he is also the cochair of the Jewish People Policy Institute; which opposes intermarriage); Mark Penn, a Clinton pollster; NY Congresswomen Grace Meng and Nita Lowey, who have endorsed Clinton; and Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina legislator who has become a highly articulate spokesperson for Clinton on CNN.
Much as Kristol purged the “Arabists” from Republican ranks, Ann Lewis worked with AIPAC to purge writers who were critical of Israel from a Clinton-linked thinktank– the Center for American Progress. There really is no foreign-policy difference between Kristol demiurge of the neocons and Lewis the Democratic enforcer except a temperamental one. They are both strong Israel supporters. And approved writers from the cleansed Center for American Progress will be at AIPAC this March: Alan Makovsky and Vikram Singh.
As you seek to absorb these facts (and we approach the tenth anniversary of the publication of The Israel Lobby, by Walt and Mearsheimer), consider that: Clinton’s former State Department consigliere Philippe Reines started a foreign policy consulting shop with former Obama officials Jeremy Bash and Andrew Shapiro that has former Bush aide Eric Edelman as another principal; the outfit consults Republicans and Democrats. Edelman is on the Rubio team and has formed a consultancy with neocons Senor and Robert Kagan. Reflect that Kagan has indicated recently that he’s voting for Hillary Clinton.
Bottom line: the Israel lobby and the neoconservatives are the establishment, the establishment is very happy with Hillary Clinton, and Clinton promised that she will bring Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in her first month in office, in the wake of his slaughtering 500 children in Gaza. Why Bernie Sanders is avoiding this low-hanging fruit, even as he reaches for the high-hanging fruit of Clinton’s friendship with Henry Kissinger, is a mystery.