Notice something about this election? The Washington establishment IS the Israel lobby. Millions are pouring into Republican establishment candidate Marco Rubio’s feckless campaign in an effort to guarantee and preserve a neoconservative foreign policy. Jeffrey Goldberg, who once served in the Israeli army, explains to a credulous National Public Radio host why a hawkish foreign policy in the Middle East is the right and righteous path for our country. And Hillary Clinton vowed yesterday that she will stand with Israel against Iranian threats and the leading Israel lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, announced she will be speaking at its annual hoe-down in ten days:
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) March 9, 2016
AIPAC wants Bernie Sanders to come too:
AIPAC has extended invitations to all of the active presidential candidates of both parties, and we will inform you as others confirm their participation in this year’s conference.
Will he or won’t he? You’d think this is an opportunity for Sanders. His reliance on Arab-American voters to deliver Michigan Tuesday had a good effect on his policy positions. Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept reports:
On Tuesday, Bernie Sanders called for the U.S. to seek a “level playing field” in its approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Speaking after his surprising victory in the Michigan Democratic primary, Sanders asserted that there are people of good will in both “Israel and the Arab communities” whom he would seek to bring together as president.
“All I can tell you is I will make every single effort to bring rational people on both sides together, so that hopefully we can have a level playing field, the United States treating everybody in that region equally,” Sanders said.
Sanders made that promise even before the election. JTA reports on a rally in heavily-Arab-American Dearborn on Monday:
“For decades now there has been hatred and warfare in the Middle East, everybody knows it,” he said. “We’ve had some presidents — Carter, Clinton others — who have tried to their best to resolve it.
“All I can tell you is I will make every single effort to bring rational people on both sides together so that hopefully we can have a level playing field, the United States treating everybody in that region equally.” The crowd erupted in applause.
Sadly, Bernie Sanders is still afraid to make political hay of this issue nationally. He talked about Clinton’s relationship with the sinister Henry Kissinger again in last night’s Florida debate with her– but Kissinger is yesterday’s bad guy, and Democrats despise Benjamin Netanyahu for how he tried to show up our president. Hillary Clinton has said she would invite Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House in her first month as president. Sanders boycotted Netanyahu in Congress a year ago. But he just won’t touch this issue (I think out of a generational attachment to Israel as the deliverance story for his parents; Chris Hedges notes that Sanders was an AIPAC wind-up doll on the Support Gaza slaughter vote of 2014).
Donald Trump has of course made similar “neutral” noises to Sanders. And he is the anti-Establishment candidate, on the right. Establishment deacon Bill Kristol is utterly desperate. He’ll support anyone over Trump:
Watching the debate, had a moment of mystical insight and clairvoyant vision: Could we end up with a Cruz-Kasich ticket?
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) March 4, 2016
Finally, this is unseemly. At a debate in Las Vegas last night between the rightwing Israel lobby (the Republican Jewish Coalition) and the lib version (Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street), a lot of greenbacks were flashed. From Jewish Insider:
RJC vs. J Street: “I would take my billionaire over your billionaire any day” — Brooks & Ben-Ami Battle in Vegas at a debate moderated by Jon Ralston at Temple Beth Shalom: “Who funds your organization?,” Ralston questioned Ben-Ami who replied: “We have over 10,000 donors. I know that the name you all are begging to hear is the name George Soros, and George Soros does fund J Street. There was controversy at the beginning of J Street as to the involvement of George Soros in our launching. A lot of miscommunication. I have apologized for all of that, and we are well beyond that. The only thing I have had to say about George Soros’s funding since then, is that I wish there were more of it.”
Brooks: “George Soros does not give us any money. I would take my billionaire over your billionaire any day.” Ben-Ami: “The billionaire you are stuck with, in this cycle, is Donald Trump, and you are going to earn your salary all year long defending Donald Trump.” Brooks: “I will take my billionaire and his wife (Sheldon and Miriam Adelson) over your billionaire any day.” Ralston: “So, Sheldon Adelson funds the RJC completely? Brooks: No. He doesn’t, of course not. We have a wide range of donors; we have 45,000 members across the country.”