Head of American Jewish Committee is Israel’s ‘Foreign Minister,’ said Netanyahu minister

US Politics
on 19 Comments

Last week South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that the Israel lobby group AIPAC might need to register as a foreign agent because it speaks up for Israel and has many contacts in that country. Such registration would be a blow to AIPAC. Its rationale to US politicians is that it is an American group that speaks for American interests — even though its goal is to make sure there is “no daylight” between the U.S. government and the Israeli government.

Here is further evidence of the confusion of interests between the United States and Israel represented by American Zionist organizations. Yuval Steinitz, a minister in the Netanyahu government of Israel, two years ago heaped praise on David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, at an AJC global forum.

Actually you know currently we don’t have a foreign minister in Israel, but the Jewish people have a foreign minister, an accident foreign minister and this is David Harris, and I am confident David, that although you are the foreign minister of the American Jewish Committee and actually of the Jewish people, you are also serving a little bit as the foreign minister of the Jewish state. Jewish people, Jewish state– some linkage.

Steinitz was not engaging in hyperbole. Harris is a ferocious advocate for Israel who at the time was lobbying politicians to try to stop President Obama’s Iran deal.

When Netanyahu took the extraordinary step of coming to Congress to oppose the U.S. president on the deal, Harris spoke up for Netanyahu:

I met with him two weeks ago in his office in Jerusalem, and he felt that the deal, as he understood it, would be catastrophic, indeed life-threatening, for the state of Israel. And he felt that he had the obligation to come.

The two men go way back. When Netanyahu pushed in Congress for the Iraq war so as to remake the Middle East, David Harris also pushed for the war.

And Harris justified everything Israel did in the Gaza onslaught of 2014— when it killed over 500 Palestinian children.

When the Polish consulate in New York scheduled a talk in 2006 by the late great Tony Judt on the “Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy,” David Harris called the Polish consul general as a “friend of Poland” and said the lecture “was going to be entirely contrary to the entire spirit of Polish foreign policy.” The lecture was cancelled. (Per the book The Israel Lobby, by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer).

Harris bragged of his global influence in this speech in 2015. He said he was a longtime friend of then deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, held up a letter from the prime minister of France, and ran down a list of all the diplomats who had come to address the American Jewish Committee:

When you have an organization where the prime minister [of France] speaks of his relationship with your Paris director and when the German chancellor on screen speaks of her relationship with our Berlin director, you know there’s something special about the organization…  It’s the world’s leaders telling you we do important work…. The Jewish world has never seen such a political-diplomatic tour de force as we’ve just seen in the last 48 hours [of the AJC forum]. 36 separate dinners with diplomats. The chancellor of Germany, the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister of Israel, the prime minister of the Ukraine… The principal negotiator on Iran coming to speak to you here. The foreign minister of Bulgaria coming to meet you here. Organizations would give their eye teeth for one of them, if they were lucky. We had them all.

It is plain that a big part of Harris’s job description is to provide Israel with diplomatic protection and global economic support. He really ought to have to register as a foreign agent. But doing so is anathema to the Israel lobby, because it would undermine its claim to be Americans helping Americans sort out our foreign policy. A few years back, John Judis argued that the problem of dual loyalty was inherent in the work of David Harris and other officials of Israel lobby organizations.

AIPAC’s staff and officials claim there is no contradiction between representing the interests of Israel and those of the United States, but that’s at best an arguable point. Certainly, AIPAC has found itself defending Israeli policies–such as the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the rapid expansion of settlements in the West Bank in the late 1980s, or the 1993 Oslo Accords, or even the most recent Israeli offensive in Lebanon–that, in the opinion of many Americans and Jewish-Americans, were not in the interest of the United States….

They make dual loyalty an inescapable part of being Jewish in a world in which a Jewish state exists…. By ignoring this dilemma–and, worse still, by charging those who acknowledge its existence with anti-Semitism–the critics of the new anti-Semitism are engaged in a flight from their own political selves. They are guilty of a certain kind of bad faith.

Last month another Israeli government official acknowledged the vital role that the American Jewish Committee performs for Israel. Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister, thanked American Jews gathered at the AJC conference:

First I would like just to start with something that we Israelis sometimes we are not saying enough. I want to say to you all, Thank you, toda raba. Thank you for standing with Israel, thank you for helping Israel, thank you for advocating for Israel. I know that it’s not easy sometimes. Now I’m in the opposition in Israel, but Toda, I’m saying on behalf of the state of Israel and the people of Israel.

Very much like what Dennis Ross, a former White House negotiator, told American Jews at a New York synagogue last year. “We need to be advocates for Israel”, and not for Palestinians.

The good news is that these job descriptions were elaborated by people in their 60s and 70s. Young Jews will transform the Israel lobby, but it won’t be easy.

 

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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19 Responses

  1. Betty
    August 1, 2017, 7:18 pm

    Mondoweiss, as a knee-jerk anti-Israel organization, raises the age-old canard that Jews have double loyalties and cannot be trusted to participate in this US democracy. There is never a question about the loyalties of other Americans, but Jews cannot possibly speak for American interests because of our concerns for the safety of our relatives in Israel. This article also states that “Israel killed 500 Palestinian children,” without mentioning that Hamas bombarded Israel with thousands of rockets for years until Israel responded, and that they forced children to stay in buildings that were warned ahead of time to evacuate. Dead bodies are good for Hamas propaganda.
    David Harris is a wonderful speaker, and a big threat to the enemies of Israel, who want to see Americans end their support. AIPAC conferences are made up of hundreds of high school college students, so the wish that the younger generation will stop supporting Israel is greatly exaggerated.

    • JosephA
      August 1, 2017, 11:04 pm

      Hi Betty,

      I respectfully disagree with your assertions.

    • Annie Robbins
      August 1, 2017, 11:35 pm

      20.5 million students are expected to attend American colleges and universities this fall and according to betty, because “AIPAC conferences are made up of hundreds of high school college students” that somehow means the younger generation is going to support israel. amusing —

      without mentioning that Hamas bombarded Israel with thousands of rockets for years until Israel responded…Dead bodies are good for Hamas propaganda.

      yadayadayadazzzzzzzzzzzzz same ol same ol pt scoring talking pts, boring!

    • RoHa
      August 2, 2017, 2:47 am

      “the age-old canard that Jews have double loyalties”

      I don’t know how old the duck is, but it is obvious that a lot of non-Israeli Jews have Israel as their primary loyalty, and many others have Israel as a secondary loyalty*. So, if we allow for a certain amount of generalisation, the duck speaks the truth.

      Are you complaining about people or anatidae speaking the truth?

      “and cannot be trusted to participate in this US democracy. ”

      Those for whom Israel is the primary loyalty are certainly not likely to speak for American interests. Those for whom it is a secondary loyalty probably will, but it seems to me that they too often conflate American and Israeli interests.

      “There is never a question about the loyalties of other Americans,”

      The loyalty of Americans of Japanese ancestry was very loudly and officially questioned. They were rounded up and interned.

      Recently I have seen people questioning the loyalty of Americans of Chinese ancestry.

      *I should point out that, as a dual Australian/British citizen, I, too, have dual loyalty. My primary loyalty is to Australia, but I also have a residual loyalty to Britain. I try not to let either of these loyalties compromise my commitment to truth, justice, and good grammar.

    • eljay
      August 2, 2017, 7:48 am

      || Betty: … This article also states that “Israel killed 500 Palestinian children,” without mentioning that Hamas bombarded Israel with thousands of rockets for years until Israel responded, and that they forced children to stay in buildings that were warned ahead of time to evacuate. Dead bodies are good for Hamas propaganda. … ||

      Betty also states that Hamas bombarded Israel without mentioning that Israel has been stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land and oppressing, torturing and killing Paleestinians for decades, and that they place Jews in harm’s way by establishing Jewish colonies in occupied territory outside of Israel’s / Partition borders. Dead Jews are good for Zionist propaganda.

      • Talkback
        August 2, 2017, 9:25 am

        eljay: “Betty also states that Hamas bombarded Israel without mentioning that Israel has been stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land and oppressing, torturing and killing Paleestinians for decades, and that they place Jews in harm’s way by establishing Jewish colonies in occupied territory outside of Israel’s / Partition borders.”

        Why do you condem and don’t take settler colonialism for a fact, when the premise of your arguments is that the settler state is a fact?

      • eljay
        August 2, 2017, 10:02 am

        || Talkback: Why do you condem and don’t take settler colonialism for a fact, when the premise of your arguments is that the settler state is a fact? ||

        The premise of my arguments is that Israel is an internationally-recognized state that must be:
        – reformed (from Jewish supremacist to secular and democratic);
        – made to honour its obligations under international law; and
        – held accountable for its past and on-going (war) crimes.

        My comment to Betty aligns with that premise.

      • Talkback
        August 2, 2017, 3:01 pm

        Eljay: “The premise of my arguments is that Israel is an internationally-recognized state that must be:
        – reformed (from Jewish supremacist to secular and democratic);
        – made to honour its obligations under international law; and
        – held accountable for its past and on-going (war) crimes.”

        I know. That’s why I’m asking. If recognition is a higher value to you why do you even condemn settler colonialism and supremacism which led to the creation of the State of Israel? Israel is recognized despite of the injustices you condemn. Why don’t you take your own words serious that it is “an internationally-recognized state”?

    • oldgeezer
      August 2, 2017, 10:44 am

      @Betty

      “without mentioning that Hamas bombarded Israel with thousands of rockets for years until Israel responded, and that they forced children to stay in buildings that were warned ahead of time to evacuate. Dead bodies are good for Hamas propaganda.”

      That’s a typical zionist propaganda lie.

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-fired-rockets-for-first-time-since-2012-israeli-officials-say/

      http://www.timesofisrael.com/hamas-arrests-20-in-push-to-curb-rocket-fire-from-gaza/

      Oh and let’s not forget the 12,000 cases of the idf using human shields along with the idf policy of doing so. The 12,000 and policy which were admitted in front of the Israeli high court while arguing for the continuance of what they felt was a good policy.

      Hamas is classed as a terrorist group but Israel commits far worse crimes.

    • Misterioso
      August 2, 2017, 11:19 am

      @Betty

      Sigh. Wow, you are really out of touch.

      To wit:

      “Support for Israel on Campus Drops by ‘Devastating’ 27%: Study” – The Forward, June 21/17
      The Brand Israel Group [BIG], a coalition of volunteer advertising and marketing specialists, has released a survey that shows a significant decrease in Israel’s approval rating among Americans.
      “’The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating,’” Fern Oppenheim, a co-founder of BIG, told The Times of Israel.

      While approval of Israel among American college students dropped 27% between the group’s 2010 and 2016 surveys, Israel’s approval rating among all Americans dropped 14 points, from 76% to 62%.

      http://forward.com/news/ national/376097/study-israel- losing-support-among- democrats-minorities- millennials/ The Forward July 2, 2017
      ”Study: Israel Losing Support Among Democrats, Minorities, Millennials ”It appears that the more Americans learn about Israel, the less they like it.”

      The trend is worldwide:

      https://ricochet.media/en/ 1685/poll-canadas-politicians- out-of-touch-with-public-on- mideast
      Ricochet February 16, 2017
      Poll: Canada’s politicians out of touch with public on Mideast
      EKOS survey reveals Canadians feel government is biased towards Israel
      by Dimitri Lascaris

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLhvPB4lyc4dRsUIot_-FGrhWgoE9YgNzC&v=OdgyT9PJIUs
      Survey Shows Support Growing For Palestinians Among Canadians

      April 7/17
      “Support for Palestine surges in Australia — poll”
      “A new poll finds that 55 percent of Australians see boycotting Israeli goods and services as a reasonable way to apply pressure in support of Palestinians rights.”
      “That is up from just 31 percent who expressed support for the boycott of Israel in 2014.”

      The Forward, March 22, 2017 By Naomi Zeveloff
      “A third of Jewish Israelis would leave the country if they could, according to a poll conducted by Masa Israeli, a group looking at the divisions of Jewish society in Israel.
      “Israel’s global standing is continuing to deteriorate, a new report from some of the country’s top strategists concludes.
      “Israel’s image in Western countries continues to decline, a trend that enhances the ability of hostile groups to engage in actions aimed at depriving Israel of moral and political legitimacy and launch boycotts,” the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University states in its 2016-2017 Strategic Survey for Israel.
      The 275-page report, authored by a who’s who of figures from Israel’s political, intelligence and military establishment, was presented on Monday to Israeli
      President Reuven Rivlin by INSS director Amos Yadlin, a former air force general and head of Israeli military intelligence.

      Times of Israel, June 21/17:
      http://www.timesofisrael.com/devastating-survey-shows-huge-loss-of-israel-support-among-jewish-college-students/

      Britain’s High Court:
      http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/pensionregulationsillegal/
      “Judge tells Government: allow BDS” by Mike Cushman June 22/17
      “A High Court judge has ruled that the Government was exceeding its power in trying to direct Local Government Pension Funds to ignore calls for BDS and abandon ethical investing. The Government, he said: ‘has acted for an unauthorised purpose and therefore unlawfully’.“

    • Mooser
      August 2, 2017, 11:38 am

      “Mondoweiss, as a knee-jerk anti-Israel organization”

      “Betty”, perhaps you are being a bit hasty? Have you perused the “About” page?
      There is also a link at the top of every page.

    • Misterioso
      August 2, 2017, 12:23 pm

      @Betty

      “AIPAC conferences are made up of hundreds of high school college students, so the wish that the younger generation will stop supporting Israel is greatly exaggerated.”

      Meanwhile, in the real world:

      Times of Israel, June 21/17:
      http://www.timesofisrael.com/devastating-survey-shows-huge-loss-of-israel-support-among-jewish-college-students/

      “Support for Israel on Campus Drops by ‘Devastating’ 27%: Study” – The Forward, June 21/17
      The Brand Israel Group [BIG], a coalition of volunteer advertising and marketing specialists, has released a survey that shows a significant decrease in Israel’s approval rating among Americans.
      “’The future of America no longer believe that Israel shares their values. This is huge! Devastating,’” Fern Oppenheim, a co-founder of BIG, told The Times of Israel.

      While approval of Israel among American college students dropped 27% between the group’s 2010 and 2016 surveys, Israel’s approval rating among all Americans dropped 14 points, from 76% to 62%.

      http://forward.com/news/ national/376097/study-israel- losing-support-among- democrats-minorities- millennials/
      The Forward July 2, 2017
      ”Study: Israel Losing Support Among Democrats, Minorities, Millennials ”It appears that the more Americans learn about Israel, the less they like it.”

      The trend is also worldwide.

  2. Ossinev
    August 2, 2017, 7:30 am

    @Betty
    “Mondoweiss, as a knee-jerk anti-Israel organization”. Proof to support assertion please.

    “because of our concerns for the safety of our relatives in Israel.”. So all those American Jews who support Israel have “relatives” in Israel. Is that “related” by “birth” or related by cult membership?

    “This article also states that “Israel killed 500 Palestinian children,” without mentioning that Hamas bombarded Israel with thousands of rockets for years until Israel responded, and that they forced children to stay in buildings that were warned ahead of time to evacuate. Dead bodies are good for Hamas propaganda” Yes it was all just an unfortunate accident – well 500 plus accidents actually including the little kids playing football on the beach and Israel waited for years and years and years and years before responding in the most humane and moral way (think London and the Blitz ) and is entirely blameless and undoubtedly most moral.

    You automatically spew out the most pathetic nonsense to justify the horrendous slaughter visited upon innocent men women and children by your revolting war machine and that is the real knee jerk factor.

    https://news.vice.com/article/gazans-ordered-to-evacuate-ask-where-are-we-supposed-to-go.

    Pillock.

  3. hophmi
    August 2, 2017, 10:10 am

    Another antisemitic post by Phil Weiss, who continues to conflate lobbying for a strong US-Israel relationship with working for the Israeli government.

    Does Phil also want Trita Parsi to register as a foreign agent of Iran, and for Ibrahim Hooper to register as a foreign agent of Saudi Arabia?

    • eljay
      August 2, 2017, 10:34 am

      || hophmi: Another antisemitic post by Phil Weiss, who continues to conflate lobbying for a strong US-Israel relationship with working for the Israeli government. ||

      Phil’s comment might be anti-Israeli but your comment – which conflates Israel with Jews and Jews with Israel – is anti-Semitic.

      • Mooser
        August 2, 2017, 11:29 am

        .“Another antisemitic post by Phil Weiss…”

        You tell ’em, “Hophmi”:

        “This analysis is nothing new. It is typical of Phil’s writing, which suggests, as it always does, the Phil has internalized anti-Jewish hatred, and like those secularist Jews in Europe who looked down upon their brethren or converted to Christianity to escape their Judaism, Phil adopts the classic tropes of the self-hater.

        Self-hatred is a disease. It is a sad disease borne of many generations of persecution, but it is a disease. And Phil is afflicted with it, as many Jews have been in the past. And it is usually the self-haters who cause the worst damage to the Jewish community, precisely because of how small it is.

    • Keith
      August 2, 2017, 3:28 pm

      HOPHMI- “Does Phil also want Trita Parsi to register as a foreign agent of Iran….”

      And what about the American Iranian Public Affairs Commitee (AIPAC)? These guys have real clout! Just recently AIPAC had all 100 US Senators send a nasty letter to the UN decrying anti-Iranian bias at the UN. And what about the Iranian Anti-Boycott Act? Imagine, jumping all over the United Nations Human Rights Council. Seems like a lot of foreign influence on our political system. But some folks argue that the investing of vast sums to influence the political system is democracy in action. Go figure.

      • echinococcus
        August 2, 2017, 4:19 pm

        Keith,

        The Saker has a reasonable question about an even more egregious Neocon abuse of power: who paid for the crazy Russia sanction vote?

        http://thesaker.is/sanctions-smoke-and-mirrors-from-a-kindergarten-on-lsd/

        […] This means that to achieve the kind of quasi unanimity (98%) for a totally stupid vote there was some kind of very influential lobby which used some very forceful “arguments” to achieve such a vote. Keep in mind that the Republicans in the Senate knew that they were voting against the wishes of their President. And yet every single one except for Rand Paul voted for these sanctions, that should tell you something about the power of the lobby which pushed for them. So who would have such power?

        The website “Business Pundit: Expert Driven” has helpfully posted an article which lists the 10 top most powerful lobbies in Washington, DC. They are (in the same order as in the original article)

        Tech Lobby
        Mining Industry
        Defense Industry
        Agribusiness Industry
        Big Oil
        Financial Lobby
        Big Pharma
        AARP
        Pro-Israel Lobby
        NRA
        Okay, why not? We could probably rearrange them, give them different labels, add a couple (like the “Prison Industrial Complex” or the “Intelligence Community”) but all in all this is an okay list. Any name on it jump at you yet?

        One could make the case that most of these lobbies need an enemy to prosper, this is certainly true of the Military-Industrial Complex and the associated high tech industry, and one could also reasonably claim that Big Oil, Mining and Agribusiness see Russia has a potential competitor. But a closer look at the interests these lobbies represent will tell you that they are mostly involved in domestic politics and that faraway Russia, with her relatively small economy, is just not that important to them. This is also clearly true for Big Pharma, the AARP and the NRA. Which leaves the Israel Lobby as the only potential candidate. […]

  4. Ronald Johnson
    August 2, 2017, 11:13 am

    This is to note that the American Jewish Committee is a constituent of the Council of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations in America.

    https://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/

    There are 50 MAJOR Jewish organizations (not including J-Street) plus 3 adjunct member organizations, nearly all involved in “lobbying” for Israel:

    https://www.conferenceofpresidents.org/about/members

    My ancestors came from Ireland in the 1840’s. We have a sentimental attachment to Ireland, as a place to visit, and recall.

    The only organizational option for me to lobby for Ireland is The Ancient Order of Hibernians, essentially a social club, like the Sons of Italy.

    http://www.aoh.com/

    The only apparent political lobbying of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in behalf of Ireland is to involve America in the reconciliation of factions in Northern Ireland – as done by Senator George Mitchell;

    https://www.usip.org/public-education/educators/george-mitchell-building-peace-northern-ireland

    http://www.aoh.com/2017/03/29/political-education-with-britains-invocation-of-article-50-aoh-renews-calls-for-special-envoy-to-northern-ireland/

    No visible campaign to arm the Irish Republican Army with nuclear weapons, nor to cadge millions of dollars per day to support the expulsion of the Scots-Irish of Ulster.

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