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Tom Friedman says candidate with AIPAC backing can raise in 3 phone calls what his opponent needs 50,000 calls to raise

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The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was in England and on Al Jazeera Friday night, speaking frankly about the Israel lobby to host Mehdi Hasan. I don’t believe he’s been anywhere this frank about the role of pro-Israel money before. Note that he begins by saying what I’ve always stated here but the American media refuse to discuss: George H.W. Bush lost his presidency to the Israel lobby.

Hasan: One of the big issues cited by violent extremists in that part of the world is America’s blind support some would say for the state of Israel… You would accept that US not an honest broker in the Middle East.

Friedman: Let me put it in my terms, not yours. Let’s go inside American politics for a second. What happened, and as you know, President Bush the first stood outside the White House one day and said I’m one lonely man standing up against the Israel lobby. What happened as a result of that, Mehdi, is that Republicans post Bush I, and manifested most in his son Bush 2, took a strategic decision, they will never be out pro-Israel’d again. That they believe cost them electorally a lot.

So that pulled the American spectrum to the right. and it created an arms race with the Democrats, over who could be more pro Israel.

Then we had the Citizens United Case in the Supreme Court that basically said unlimited campaign donations. Now what that meant is it gave enormous power, I’ve written all this in my column, to the Israel lobby, why– because Mehdi if you and I were running from the same district, and I have AIPAC’s stamp of the approval and you don’t, I will maybe have to make three phone calls and I can raise my whole– I’m exaggerating but I don’t have to make many phone calls to get all the money I need to run against you. You will have to make 50,000 phone calls. So that pulled the whole spectrum to the right…

So what I see in America is the whole spectrum on the Israel question has moved to the right. To the point, and this is very disappointing to me, where if you’re a young political officer, you’re in NEA, our Near East division of the State Department, you dream one day of being ambassador to Oman… You will not state publicly what is actually official US policy, that Israeli settlements are an obstacle to peace. Now when you go so many years where people won’t even say publicly what is the policy, it’s inevitable that people perceive us rightly in many ways not to be an honest broker.

Hasan: So that’s the key point; it’s not a perception, it’s a fact.

Right. What isn’t understood by American diplomats today, we play a huge role in the Israeli cabinet, we need the prime minister to go the cabinet and say, ‘I’d never do this myself, but the Americans they broke my arm’. And what is sad to me about this moment is that the political lift it would take for an the American secretary of state now to really  make progress in that part of the world is perceived by them as just too high in the current context, and that is a tragedy.

I have written often that George H.W. Bush was thought to have lost the election in 1992 in part because he opposed settlements while Clinton didn’t, and raised so much pro-Israel money. Why isn’t this discussed openly, if Tom Friedman also believes it? I don’t think he’s really written about this in his column. That’s why Bush the younger brought in the neocons. That’s why we got the Iraq war. All verboten.

And we have “a huge role in the Israeli cabinet”? Did you know that? Chris Matthews needs to talk about this.

Why isn’t any of this discussed openly? Why were Walt and Mearsheimer run out of town on a rail for saying some of this? And what is the media’s role in the collapse of the two-state solution? By enforcing these bogus orthodoxies.

Thanks to Idrees Ahmad.

Update, Following Hophmi’s comment, I updated statement about GHW Bush’s 1992 loss to state that it was felt to be “in part” because he opposed settlements.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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48 Responses

  1. seafoid on June 16, 2013, 3:08 pm

    It is so corrupt. Nothing to do with the American people. Just money.

    And one day it will all fall apart.

    It will be like the transition from this
    to this

    They are not going to get the kids.

  2. ramzijaber on June 16, 2013, 3:11 pm

    Democracy, US style…… uh, I mean AIPAC style. Time for US to limit amounts spent on elections and to make it all payable by taxpayers (who already do pay for it but indirectly). Also, election season must be restricted to two months. Major reform needed if US democracy is to survive as a true democracy, I think.

  3. Les on June 16, 2013, 3:46 pm

    In one of his books about spying, James Bamford warned that Israeli companies were major owners of US telecom pipelines that tapped into everything on the internet. He also wrote that an Israeli company owned the telephone system of the House of Representatives whose members assumed all their calls were being tapped into by Israel so they were careful in how they used those phones. I asked him why they did not do anything, Bambford said the Congressmen did not care. The real point is that Congress bows to the Israel Lobby out of fear rather than do the patriotic thing.

    • lysias on June 17, 2013, 11:30 am

      Remember how Bill Clinton told Monica Lewinsky that their telephone conversations were being eavesdropped on by a foreign government.

      • Citizen on June 17, 2013, 11:57 am

        Monica already knew. Bill was the fool, not Monica.

  4. ritzl on June 16, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Friedman: “I can make three phone calls…”

    I’m sure I’ll get moderated for this, but I’m just shutting down on supporting anything that might be led or organized by a Zionist, or someone with whom there is even a suspicion of channeling my economic and/or political support, however meager, to Israel.

    The “Hillary’s Court” article’s mention (today) of Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, lead in shutting down Debbie Almontaser’s wonderful concept for a school because of intifada T-shirts was way, WAY over the line of acceptable PeP-dom. Educators should be singularly about expanding thought and experience, not squelching it.

    So the three articles in the last few days got to me. Blumenthal’s, this one, and “Hillary’s Court.” The problem of pro-Israel and outright Israeli intrusion into my life is more pervasive than even cynical/sarcastic me wanted to believe. PePs need to declare themselves so the rest of us 96% can understand the pervasiveness of this steering function and what it means. Given Israel’s bent of stirring the pot of endless war, support for that/Israel is quintessentially anti-progressive, if only because (but certainly not limited to) the $Ts that go to endless war preclude any progressive human or capital investment in making this country better.

    In the absence of such declarations and given Friedman’s “three phone calls” observation (which, imho, applies beyond politics), it has to be assumed that any Jewish involvement in anything will always be conditioned by, and lead back to, what’s good for Israel/Zionism. I feel dirty just writing that, but it seems to be the case.

    Having said that, Shmuel and to a lesser extent, David Samel, are the voices of conscience/counterpoint to my rant. Other groups do this too/it’s complex, with which I agree.

    The Weingarten history really got to me. This is a really explosive political condition in the US.

    Please delete if I crossed the line here.

  5. Rusty Pipes on June 16, 2013, 5:11 pm

    If a PM were to go to the Israeli cabinet and claim that the Americans “broke his arm,” any one of those members could instant message the Israel Lobby to leverage pressure on American politicians to put a splint on the break and offer to kiss it to make it better.

  6. Citizen on June 16, 2013, 5:31 pm

    So Thomas Friedman can say it, but if David Duke says it, it’s ridiculed as an anti-semitic diseases squeaking about ZOG? Sonny Bush learned not to mess with the Zionists from what happened to his Daddy for threatening to pull back aid to Israel for obstructing justice in the Middle East at the expense of America’s image, soft power–which no longer exists. I’m sure Axlerod gave that lesson to Obama many time, especially after his Cairo Speech.


    • Donald on June 17, 2013, 10:30 am

      “o Thomas Friedman can say it, but if David Duke says it, it’s ridiculed as an anti-semitic diseases squeaking about ZOG?”

      Why on earth would you want to bring David Duke into this?

      • Citizen on June 17, 2013, 11:40 am

        @ Donald
        Because it’s a lesson in distinguishing the message from the messenger. Why do you ask?

      • Donald on June 18, 2013, 11:45 am

        I ask because it’s a stupid lesson. The Nazis were fierce critics of communism and the communists were fierce critics of Nazism, but if I wanted to expose the crimes of either side I would cite some third party instead. The fact that David Duke might say something critical about the Israel lobby tells me precisely nothing about the Israel lobby. If you like I could explain this by writing it out using Bayes Theorem.

  7. Nevada Ned on June 16, 2013, 6:20 pm


    You wrote
    “Why were Walt and Mearsheimer run out of town on a rail for saying some of this?”

    An attempt was made to run Walt and Mearsheimer out of town on a rail, by smearing them as anti-Semites. However, the attempt was unsuccessful, and their book The Israel Lobby shot onto the NYT best-seller list, and stayed there for months.

    • James Canning on June 16, 2013, 6:44 pm

      But quite a few agressive supporters of Israel right or wrong would have liked to tar and feather Walt and Mearsheimer.

  8. Clif Brown on June 16, 2013, 6:28 pm

    Lobby money is what rules, whether it involves Israel, the banks, the fossil fuel industry, the farms, or any other issue. The mission of Congress is what is printed on so many police cars; “To Serve and Protect”, but not the American people.

    This week I participated in a protest demonstration at a fundraiser given by the Friends of the IDF. As we stood on the sidewalk, one luxury car after another pulled up. The car competition was won by a Lotus Esprit ($150,000+). I can’t guess at the net worth of those assembled and they came not for the Zionist project itself but only for USO type support of the IDF. What could and do they contribute to politics? As for our group, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say our total net worth would not match that of the poorest attendee alone.

    Public funding of elections at all levels is the only solution to the handover of democracy to the wealthy. Almost every lobby, not just the one devoted to Israel, will join forces to make sure public funding doesn’t happen, so what hope is there for the American people to get back their government?

    • James Canning on June 16, 2013, 7:17 pm

      Interesting post, Clif. And yes, big money is problem, not just in foreign affairs arena.

      But Israel lobby controls the press to a degree many other lobbies might envy but could never enjoy.

    • Citizen on June 16, 2013, 7:30 pm

      @ Clif Brown

      Yep. Neither main political party wants to change the current political campaign finance system. Soros and Adelson competively rule. Eventually history will talk about this, the moprhing of democracy into plutocracy, the USA will be the prime example. I will be long dead, and so will you, and what will be left is the numb residue of the Samson Option around the world. […] The cycle will continue.

      • James Canning on June 17, 2013, 2:03 pm

        @Citizen – – I too see the fatal erosion of the Republic, due in part to uncontrolled spending on political campaigns.

        And the chief economist at the Hudson Institute claims America’s decline stems from efforts to control campaign spending!

      • Citizen on June 18, 2013, 6:20 am

        @ James Canning
        What is said chief economist’s premises, logic to conclude so?

      • James Canning on June 18, 2013, 6:12 pm

        @Citizen – – Ed Luce of the Financial Times looked for one, without any luck. (You might enjoy Ed’s review of the new book, in the Weekend Financial Times two weeks ago.)

    • lysias on June 17, 2013, 11:32 am

      We would do better to adopt the ancient Athenian system of appointing representatives by lot, at random from the whole body of citizens.

      • SQ Debris on June 18, 2013, 4:35 pm

        We’d get better representatives by throwing darts at a phone book.

  9. James Canning on June 16, 2013, 6:43 pm

    Mehdi Hasan is always worth following.

    More alarm about insidious power of Aipac needs to be raised.

  10. James Canning on June 16, 2013, 6:48 pm

    George H. W. Bush was right to believe the Israel lobby largely caused his defeat in 1992. Or contributed significantly to it.

    • Citizen on June 16, 2013, 7:32 pm

      Certainly his son took the lesson to heart.

      • James Canning on June 17, 2013, 2:01 pm

        @Citizen – – Good point. And it underlines a key blunder by George W. Bush right out of the gate, on gaining occupancy of the White House.

  11. hophmi on June 16, 2013, 7:36 pm

    “I have written often that George H.W. Bush was thought to have lost the election in 1992 because he opposed settlements while Clinton didn’t, and raised so much pro-Israel money. Why isn’t this discussed openly, if Tom Friedman also believes it? ”

    Because it’s bullshit? Because Ross Perot got 19% of vote, almost all of which would have gone to Bush? Because Clinton had tremendous charisma and political skill? Because the economy was a mess? Because Clinton had a common touch and Bush was out of touch?

    No, Phil, it was all Israel, right?

    • philweiss on June 17, 2013, 9:13 am

      Fair enough, Hophmi, I should have said, partly responsible. GHW Bush has himself said, in Texas commencement comments some years ago, that he felt it was a factor. When something is a factor, it can be a determinative factor. When a determinative factor in a presidential election, that binds presidential policy 21 years later, is not discussed, that’s a huge problem in the media.
      Dont blind yourself by quoting Richard Wagner to me, whom I’ve never read. Deal with the reality in Friedman’s statement.

      • hophmi on June 17, 2013, 11:11 am

        Suddenly, if Tom Friedman says it, it’s reality?

        You bash Tom Friedman left and right, but if he says something that coincides with your own beliefs, suddenly, it’s like it came from heaven.

        One thing that is consistent about Friedman – he’s an egotist who likes to hear himself talk and put himself in the story when it comes to Middle East. Everything that comes out of his mouth should be taken with a giant grain of salt, including this.

        And by the way, whether Friedman has specifically made this claim in a column or not, he has condemned the settlements time and time again, in strong terms, and talked frequently about the negative role they play in the conflict.

        Like many of these assertions, it’s a chicken and egg question. Was Bush 2 more pro-Israel because of a perception that Poppy’s statement about the 1000 lobbyists didn’t go over well, or was he pro-Israel because he was in general much more conservative and came from an evangelical background where everyone is pro-Israel? I think it’s almost certainly the latter. The shift in the GOP’s position on Israel is mostly due the influence of the evangelicals.

        By the 2000 election, Oslo was seen a failure. Clinton was certainly not positioned on the right when it came to Israel. Gore got 79 percent of the Jewish vote, and Bush II got 19. In 2004, when Bush had a record of supporting Ariel Sharon’s forays into the West Bank in 2002 and 2003, he got 24 percent of the Jewish vote. Clinton’s total of 80% in 1992 was high, but Bush’s low total was due in part to the fact that many Jews voted for Perot, and almost all of those came out of Bush’s pocket. Jews voted on the economy in that election, just like everyone else.

        American Jews have never voted on the basis of Israel in national elections; poll after poll after poll shows Israel not to be a major priority; the number of American Jews who place Israel at the top of the priority list is small. In the last election, it was around 4%. I’ll find the poll, if you like.

        So, Phil, it’s you who needs to acknowledge the reality: your assertion (and Friedman’s) is simply false. Jews do not vote based on Israel, and Bush I’s policy on Israel was not what lost him the 1992 election.

      • SQ Debris on June 18, 2013, 4:51 pm

        “American Jews have never voted on the basis of Israel in national elections; ”

        It ain’t the votes, its the bux channeled by zionists to gild the political turds that support their noxious agenda. The American Jewish community, at 2 to 3% of U.S. population, is not a significant electoral demographic. The essence of AIPAC’s program is to fund campaigns to sway voters in the broad electorate to put its stooges in office. Their funding may come from Adelson, or evangelicals, or who knows where, even from the government of Israel.

      • James Canning on June 18, 2013, 6:21 pm

        Hoppy – – But in Florida issue of Israel is of huge importance, and Florida is key swing state.

        G W Bush was rather an ignoramus on foreign policy generally, and this explains in part why he so stupidly wanted to ignore Israel/Palestine problem.

      • hophmi on June 19, 2013, 8:56 am

        “Hoppy – – But in Florida issue of Israel is of huge importance, and Florida is key swing state.”

        So is the economy. So is social security.

      • James Canning on June 19, 2013, 7:14 pm

        Half of spending by Democrats in national elections past four decades, has been funded by Jews.

        And Jews increasingly fund Republican campaigns too.

      • James Canning on June 17, 2013, 1:57 pm

        @Philip – – Yes, huge problem in US newsmedia. Most Americans are not even aware George H. W. Bush said it. And he sais it more than once.

    • James Canning on June 17, 2013, 1:59 pm

      hoppy – – The idiot Ross Perot was key factor. Have you explored who promoted Perot’s egocentric stupidity?

      • hophmi on June 18, 2013, 11:08 am

        I don’t think Perot was stupid. I think he realized that he had an opening in a race between an unpopular moderate Republican who had a weak base, and a relatively unknown moderate Democrat who came from a small state and had character issues, if he could run on the economy as a successful billionaire. He knew, like Clinton, that the election was the economy. Perot was no idiot. He may very well have won had he not dropped out in July 1992.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 18, 2013, 12:07 pm

        “He may very well have won had he not dropped out in July 1992.”

        Nonsense. Perot’s support had topped out before he withdrew. Like every third-party fantasist, he did not understand the system, and had no realistic chance of doing anything other than be a spoiler. (The system is designed to be stable only with two parties and will quickly revert to that paradigm whenever there is sufficient upheaval in one or both parties to temporarily cause a disruption.)

      • hophmi on June 18, 2013, 12:39 pm

        “Nonsense. Perot’s support had topped out before he withdrew. Like every third-party fantasist, he did not understand the system, and had no realistic chance of doing anything other than be a spoiler. ”

        His polling dropped in July, yes. That doesn’t mean it would not have come back. When Perot dropped out, he was at about 25%. Clinton eventually won with a percentage in the low 40’s. It’s not unreasonable to conclude that if Perot had gotten his act together, it would have been interesting.

        It’s quite clear that a popular billionaire can buy his way into an election. That is why we have Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York, and not Mayor Mark Green or Mayor Ruth Messenger, or Mayor Bill Thompson. It’s also why many were trying to get Bloomberg to run nationally in 2012.

        You’re correct in your assertion that a third-party candidate cannot defeat the two parties on the national level because of the financial and organizational advantages that they have nationally, but that analysis does not necessarily apply to someone with unlimited resources. Perot may have run on a third-party line, but he was running principally as himself, not as a party representative.

      • James Canning on June 18, 2013, 6:01 pm

        hoopy – – Perot had ZERO chance of winning election in 1992. Instead, he put Clinton into the WH. Sadly, from the point of view of the Palestinians.

        And Nader put Bush Jr into the WH in 2000.

      • lysias on June 19, 2013, 9:56 am

        His role was to be a spoiler. The powers that be wanted Clinton to be president, above all because they knew Bush père couldn’t get NAFTA through Congress, whereas they hoped Clinton could (and in the end he did). He entered the race — or at any rate the media allowed his campaign to become prominent (one doesn’t know what Perot himself actually wanted) — in order to pull votes from Bush.

        When the polling made it look as if he might actually win the race, Perot chose — or was forced — to withdraw. Then, when it looked as if Bush might actually manage to be re-elected, Perot re-entered the race, at a point where he had absolutely no chance of winning, but where he did act as a spoiler and ensure Bush’s defeat.

  12. atime forpeace on June 16, 2013, 8:38 pm

    ” took a strategic decision, they will never be out pro-Israel’d again. That they believe cost them electorally a lot”

    So the poor hapless Republicans can’t with with them ( the lobby with the Neocons in tow) and they can’t win without them, what a conundrum.

    I will never vote Republican until and unless they move to the libertarian less statist middle…progressive libertarian.

    How about what Glenn Greenwald calls the Jeffrey Goldberg media?

  13. giladg on June 17, 2013, 5:56 am

    Why would anyone want to listen to Tom Friedman. Really Tom, 50,000 calls? Where exactly did you get that number from?
    Studies have been done, at American universities, on how accurate certain journalists have been from a historic perspective. Friedman hovers around the the 50% mark.
    What is it today Tom, Red or Black?

  14. Citizen on June 17, 2013, 6:18 am

    Truman set this Zionist ball rolling.

    • lysias on June 19, 2013, 9:57 am

      At the time Truman set the ball rolling, such leading Republicans as Bob Taft and Tom Dewey had been out-Israeling the Democrats for years.

  15. wondering jew on June 17, 2013, 8:16 am

    Perception may be reality, but Friedman does not say that Bush pere lost because of Israel, Friedman says that Republicans perceive that Bush pere lost because of Israel.

    • James Canning on June 18, 2013, 6:25 pm

      When G H W Bush would have done Israel a signal service, by getting Israelis out of Gaza and WB. (Had Bush won in ’92.)

  16. gamal on June 17, 2013, 1:56 pm

    “These people who are commonly known as leaders view politics and religion as that crippled, lame and injured man, displaying whom our beggars normally beg for money. These so-called leaders go about carrying the carcasses of politics and religion on their shoulders, and to simple-minded people who are in the habit of accepting every word uttered to them in high-sounding vocabulary, they bandy about that they will breathe new life into this carcass. Leaders pour vitriol against capital and capitalists only so they can accumulate it for themselves. Aren’t they worse than capitalists? They are robber barons and mountebanks. Now the time has come for the people to reveal their faithlessness in them. There is a need for the youth in tattered shirts to rise and to embrace determination and passion in their broad chests; they should throw out these so-called leaders from the pedestal which they have ascended without our permission.” —

    Saadat Hasan Manto, from ” Save India from Its Leaders”, from 1942, nowadays your Leaders dont even pretend, high flown rhetoric though is still the order of the day and unconcealed utterly unprincipled pusillanimity.

    • Citizen on June 18, 2013, 6:35 am

      Well, the latest Gallup poll registered a 10% favorable rating for our political class in congress, the lowest rating of any US institution since the first such poll, in ’73. OTOH, the adage: We get the representative politicians we deserve. Between the way the system is rigged to be a two-party one, with gerrymandering, and our method of campaign financing, maybe it’s about time the 90% who rated congress at the bottom of the list did something about these aspects of our current system? One would think the time is ripe for a populist firebrand running on such a basic key agenda? Or was that Ron Paul, deemed an old selfish white guy by the Democrats, and a “wacko” or “flake” by the Conservatives?

  17. Chu on June 18, 2013, 12:43 pm

    Although a total blowhard, he makes a good point. a few phone calls verses thousand of phone calls. What political servant is not going to want to taste the sweet campaign cash of a few Zionists? It’s like a fresh pair of sneakers during the last 5 miles of a marathon.

    Look at Anthony Weiner’s pockets – full of Zionist money. He already had 4.5 million last summer. Zionst politics are based on successful betting strategies, but it often does backfire.

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