Netanyahu has been interfering in U.S. politics for a long, long time

US Politics
on 16 Comments

Former Trump aide Mike Flynn’s guilty plea in federal court to lying to the FBI makes all-but transparent Benjamin Netanyahu’s meddling in U.S. politics. As the United Nations Security Council was preparing to condemn Israeli settlements one year ago, Netanyahu was calling everyone he could to try to block the measure. There can be little question that he or his dear friend Sheldon Adelson reached out to the Trump transition team. Now two members of that transition team are in trouble for trying to stop the resolution, Flynn and (reportedly) Jared Kushner, whose family Netanyahu is close to. But the resolution went through anyway, with the Obama White House abstaining.

Netanyahu famously once said that the United States “can be easily moved.” There are many examples of his seeking to move United States policy. Let’s forget about the Russians for a moment and look at Netanyahu’s record. Here are nine examples of interference that would make Vladimir Putin blush.

–In 2002, Netanyahu urged Congress to authorize the use of force against Iraq, because it was building nukes and an invasion would transform the Middle East.

“There is no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking, is working, is advancing towards to the development of nuclear weapons. Once Saddam has nuclear weapons, the terror network will have nuclear weapons…

“If you take out Saddam, Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region, and I think that people sitting right next door in Iran, young people, and many others, will say the time of such regimes, of such despots is gone.”

Congress approved that use of force.

–In 2011, Netanyahu addressed Congress and said Jerusalem is not a settlement. He got 27 standing ovations, many of them led by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman and Democratic boss, who shared a big donor with Netanyahu and who has said that there must never be daylight between the Israeli government and the U.S. government.

–That speech was written with the help of Gary Ginsberg, a high exec at Time Warner who is a friend of Netanyahu’s and has penned several Netanyahu speeches. I exposed this collusion, but no one in the media has ever followed up on it.

–In 2012, Netanyahu all but campaigned for Mitt Romney against Barack Obama. Netanyahu’s backer Sheldon Adelson held a fundraiser for Romney in Jerusalem and issued coded messages supporting Romney’s efforts, in what Joe Klein called an “unprecedented” interference by a foreign leader in a U.S. election. Obama was of course reelected.

–In 2015, Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress in a joint session and urged them to reject the Iran Deal being pushed by the U.S. president. The move by a foreign leader was also unprecedented, and may well have backfired. The deal went through.

–Donald Trump decertified the Iran deal this year–with the urging of Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson. Jane Eisner of the Forward reasons that that this was Netanyahu’s achievement. “[T]he prime minister skillfully (and dismayingly) turned Iran into a wedge issue in American politics, something that Trump gleefully exploited.” Some of that skill: three pro-Israel billionaires, including Adelson, gave money to Trump and pushed him to heed the Netanyahu line.

–John Kerry says that Netanyahu (and Egyptian president al-Sisi) urged the U.S. to bomb Iran before the deal went through. “Each of them said to me, you have to bomb Iran, it’s the only thing they are going to understand,” he said last week. The U.S. did not of course bomb Iran.

–The Atlantic ran a cover article in 2010 warning that the Iranian nuclear program was about to go past the point of no return and that if the U.S. did not attack Iran, Israel was going to attack Iran. The article, written by the former catspaw for Israel, Jeffrey Goldberg, parroted Netanyahu’s rhetorical efforts to manipulate Washington leaders. “But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence…. [W]ho, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how?”

–After seeking to subvert the president’s Iran deal in 2015, Netanyahu was invited to the Democratic-Party-affiliated thinktank Center for American Progress for a fawning conversation with Neera Tanden, the Clintonite who headed the thinktank. The invitation alienated many of the thinktank’s own intellectuals; but Tanden later crowed that it brought in a big donor: Jonathan Lavine, a Boston philanthropist to liberal causes who also supports the Israeli right wing. “Netanyahu was worth it,” she said. And: “We’ll never be called anti-semitic again.”

–As she readied her run for the presidency in 2015, Hillary Clinton shrewdly balanced her support for the Iran deal by coming out strongly against BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targeting Israel. Clinton did so as the result of extensive discussions between top political aides and Benjamin Netanyahu, who had called on the Jewish community to “attack” BDS, as revealed by emails leaked by wikileaks (thanks to the Russians, some say).

Notably, Stu Eizenstat, the Clinton aide who bragged that he visited Israel two or three times a year, met with Netanyahu, and Eizenstat then counseled Clilnton’s top foreign policy aide, Jake Sullivan, on the need to strengthen ties to Israel. He said that if Clinton gained the White House, “Bibi should be invited for early talks on how the partnership with Israel can be strengthened…”

Eizenstat also sought to undermine the Obama administration’s policy on Israel on Netanyahu’s behalf:

The Obama White House-Bibi relationship is obviously deteriorating to the point of no return. It is more poisonous than US-Israeli relationship in my lifetime….

The Prime Minister’s efforts to back-off his immediate pre-election statements about Israeli Arab voting and opposition to a two-state solution have not only been rebuffed by both the President, and most recently, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, but they have effectively questioned the Prime Minister’s candidness. Olive branches have been spurned. Fuel was added to the fire with the allegation of Israeli intelligence intervention in the Iran talks. There is a distinct possibility that the Administration may seek a new UN Security Council Resolution embodying the two-state solution, with 1967 lines and agreed land swaps, and some vague statements about Jerusalem. If and when an Iran framework agreement is announced this week, this combustible situation will explode…

This obviously places Hillary in an extremely difficult position, caught between the President she served and the organized parts of the Jewish community, I have talked several times recently, including yesterday afternoon, with Malcolm Hoenlein, president of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. They have refrained from directly criticizing the President, but he told me that he and most of his organizations are extraordinarily concerned about the situation, and highly desirous of Hillary making some statement to calm the turbulent waters.

A lot of that leverage on Clinton was financial. Her major donors included many Zionist Jews, notably Haim Saban. She backed away from the Obama administration on Israel, and also came out with a letter to Saban opposing BDS. She also published a promise to meet with Netanyahu “in my first month in office.” Whatever Trump was doing for Netanyahu, Clinton was going stride-for-stride. (And today Saban thanked Jared Kushner for trying to stop the UN Security Council resolution against settlements, which the big Democratic donor called a 50-year “tradition” in Israeli society.)

I know there’s more, that list is just from cleaning out my pocket. Any reasonable person must ask, Why did the Obama administration endorse a resolution against settlements in 2016 that it had vetoed in 2010? What pressure was exerted in the first case that was no longer meaningful when he was leaving office?

And when will the press ever make this the issue? It’s not as if Israel’s own strategy in the Middle East, occupation, segregation, and occasional massacre, have worked out well for anyone…

About Philip Weiss

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

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16 Responses

  1. just
    December 3, 2017, 1:00 pm

    Wonderful exposure of many truths. I wistfully (angrily) wonder why the MSM doesn’t /hasn’t covered any of this, but I dipped into some infotainment today… they had Kushner @ Saban on in the lower right hand corner and muted and Witt said she would report on anything important that was said and never, ever did. But it was all about Russia, Russia and North Korea…

    I found this fitting tweet today:

    “jewdⒶs // יידהודה‏
    @geoffreyjewdas

    All I want for Hanukkah is for Russiagate to turn into Israelgate.”

    https://twitter.com/geoffreyjewdas?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

    Thanks, Phil.

  2. HarryLaw
    December 3, 2017, 1:12 pm

    I think a distinction has to be made between a foreign country trying to influence US policy by lobbying US representatives, sometimes aggressively, after all most countries try to do that, [think Israel and deep pockets Saudi Arabia] that is only to be expected, it would be a very naive US representative who did not expect such pressure.
    The distinction I refer to is when that foreign country tries to influence US policy by persuading various US citizens [who you know will do your bidding], and to conspire with them to defeat the policies of the US. This is clearly what Kushner and Flynn tried to do in relation to UNSC Resolution 2334. In another thread I tried to think of a crime which was similar to the hardly ever used Logan Act. In my opinion it is …
    “treason.
    ​(the crime of) showing no loyalty to your country, especially by helping its enemies or trying to defeat its government: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/treason“;

  3. HarryLaw
    December 3, 2017, 3:40 pm

    Did Kushner register as a foreign agent before advocating for Israel in either the deletion or postponement of UNSC Resolution 2334. If not , why not?

    The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is a United States law passed in 1938 requiring that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. The purpose is to facilitate “evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons.” The law is administered by the FARA Registration Unit of the Counterespionage Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) of the United States Department of Justice.[1] As of 2007 the Justice Department reported there were approximately 1,700 lobbyists representing more than 100 countries before Congress, the White House and the federal government.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Agents_Registration_Act
    See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Flynn#Foreign_agent Who has already registered as a foreign agent.

    • Bumblebye
      December 3, 2017, 4:12 pm

      Apparently Time is reporting that Kushner failed to disclose that he’s on the board of the family foundation that donates to illegal settlements – maybe that could give legs to such a charge?

    • HarryLaw
      December 3, 2017, 8:34 pm

      The scope of this act is….

      The Act requires periodic disclosure of all ACTIVITIES and finances by:

      PEOPLE and organizations that are under control of
      a foreign government, OR
      of organizations OR OF PERSONS outside of the United States (“FOREIGN PRINCIPAL”),
      if they act “at the order, REQUEST, or under the direction or control” (i.e. as “AGENTS”)
      of this principal
      of persons who are “controlled or subsidized in major part” by this principal.

      • Mooser
        December 4, 2017, 4:28 pm

        Mr. Law it is important to remember that if Hillary Clinton had been installed as President, the world would be an atomic wasteland by now.
        So , compared to that, a rapprochement with Russia’s present Government worked by the extreme right of the US Republicans through illicit channels looks pretty good.

  4. scott9854958
    December 3, 2017, 6:11 pm

    “Why did the Obama administration endorse a resolution against settlements in 2016 that it had vetoed in 2010?”

    Because it was a pathetic, lame-duck move by a coward. There would be no political repercussions. Obama, the great progressive, had a golden opportunity to remake this twisted relationship. And he failed miserably.

    • Citizen
      December 4, 2017, 11:33 am

      Yes, he should have not abstained, but voted Yay. Obama wants insurance for his library and paid speeches. He can’t afford to not suck up to big Jewish donors in his retirement career.

  5. Kay24
    December 3, 2017, 7:16 pm

    The interference and manipulation by Israel is in someways more dangerous. Unlike Russia, Israel has control of MOST members of Congress, he can make them defy their President, and invite a war monger to Congress, going against the policies of their President. The alien Prime Minister of Israel, can also interfere in our foreign policies, the way we vote at the UN, and can get AIPAC to yell anti-semitism, whenever there is criticism for Israel, in our media, colleges, and institution. A piddling (but conniving) little nation that can make our leaders say “how high” is a huge risk to our safety and security.

  6. MalcolmLeftly
    December 3, 2017, 11:10 pm

    “And he failed miserably.”

    Not nearly as easy as it may look. Just consider how long it took to make inroads to a Cuba rapprochement. There will always be a price to pay.
    In Boston I can tell you that prominent media have portrayed Obama as an enemy of Israel. This after increasing the new 10-year aid package and pardoning Pollard against prosecutors wishes.
    Being called “the focus of antisemitism in the 21st century” isn’t an easy label to deal with.

  7. Ronald Johnson
    December 4, 2017, 9:13 am

    Notice that Netanyahu spills the beans with a risky gambit to suppress the Russian vote in the UN by use of his most important asset, the puppet status of the United States, for such a small reward. Israel has defied UN resolutions very routinely for decades. One vote?

    Could this be a loss of perspective due to the pressures of imminent colonial collapse?

    But lately, Max Blumenthal has an interesting analysis:

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=20622

    • hank
      December 4, 2017, 4:32 pm

      Your emphasis on “one vote” is badly misguided. The “one vote,” cast in the form of a veto, would nullify the Security Council Resolution, which requires unanimity (or abstention) on the part of all the permanent members, Russia being one of them.

  8. Ronald Johnson
    December 4, 2017, 9:24 am

    Netanyahu fires his biggest gun, the puppet status of the United States, for one vote at the UN. Poor judgement. Maybe he is panicked about his future. Israel has defied UN resolutions for decades, no matter how many votes either way.

    But lately, Max Blumenthal has an interesting analysis:

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=20622

  9. Misterioso
    December 4, 2017, 10:32 am

    Remember this video?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6KLFrye9Xk

    Netanyahu: America is Easy to Push Around (English Subtitles)

  10. James Canning
    December 4, 2017, 6:49 pm

    Bravo. Netanyahu indeed pushed hard for the illegal, and idiotic, US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Trillions of taxpayer dollars squandered on this catastrophe.

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