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Media criticism of gun lobby after Vegas massacre would make the Israel lobby blush

on 24 Comments

The Las Vegas massacre is bringing forth strong criticism of the gun lobby, as it should do, from the liberal media and coastal Democrats. Judy Woodruff grilled Oklahoma Senator James Lankford last night on the PBS News Hour, saying that the gun lobby has way more power than it should have and can run politicians out of town.

Senator, as you know, there is a lot of conversation about how powerful the National Rifle Association and other organizations that support gun rights are in this country and in the city of Washington. How much power do they have? Because it’s been said that, not just Republicans, even Democrats are afraid to go up against the gun lobby, for fear that they will run somebody against them, will oppose them, that it is just a — that the power they have is way beyond what it should be.

The night before Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut slammed the grip of the gun lobby:

The major obstacle to commonsense measures, like background checks and the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and bump-stocks, and closing a number of the loopholes that enable domestic violence, which is a major cause of death as a result of gun violence, is very simply to break the grip of the NRA.

We must break the grip of the NRA, which will be done through mobilizing the American people.

Former Long Island congressman Steve Israel is even stronger: 

I was in Congress for 16 years and I saw first hand why Congress will never do anything about gun violence. The gun lobby is far more successful than those of us who believe in commonsense gun safety laws. It outmobilizes us, it outflanks us, it outspends us, it out-organizes us. They have these legislative score cards, and they make sure that everyone in that district knows how their member voted… They figure out who in a particular district is motivated to vote, based on a member of Congress’s or a candidate’s record on guns. Most members of the NRA, particularly in my own district, agree that crazy people shouldn’t be able to buy assault weapons, but it’s the leadership of the gun lobby that has to kowtow to the gun manufacturers funds their salaries that has so warped virulently this entire issue.

But Steve Israel never said a word about the Israel lobby, even as he stood up for Israel in Congress, voted for the Iraq war, and raised money from pro-Israel sources when he ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Then Israel left Congress and wrote a long lament in the New York Times last year about how much time he spent raising money; but he never mentioned pro-Israel money in that lament. As Scott Roth noted about Steve Israel’s gun-lobby-speech:

Aipac’s former point man in the House explains how nefarious lobbies can be.


Blumenthal is no better. He is a co-sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which would criminalize some forms of free speech against Israel.

The Israel lobby is just as organized, bipartisan, shrewd, and indifferent to the rank and file as the gun lobby. Its effects are also sinister: it has prevented any mainstream American criticism of Israel’s colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which destroyed the prospect of a Palestinian state.  It promoted the Iraq war, that calamity. It has sought to defeat the Iran deal, the signature achievement of a Democratic president, with powerful Democrats on its side.

As Stephanie Schriock of Emily’s List explained, at J Street, Democratic congressional hopefuls have to get money from the “Jewish community,” but before they go to that community they have to go to AIPAC, the Israel lobby group, and get a position on the Middle East.

You thought about where you are going to go to raise the money that you needed to raise to win a race. And you went to labor, you went to the choice community, and you went to the Jewish community. But before you went to the Jewish community, you had a conversation with the lead AIPAC person in your state and they made it clear that you needed a paper on Israel. And so you called all of your friends who already had a paper on Israel – that was designed by AIPAC – and we made that your paper.

It’s straightforward. And politicians get run out of town for crossing the lobby. And the media never talk about it.

(Of course it’s not just about money. It’s a historical question of considerable weight. It’s about the Jewish question of many centuries-standing in Europe resolved after the Holocaust in western support for militant Jewish nationalism in Palestine. And to oppose that resolution is anti-Semitic…. That is what stops Judy Woodruff from asking hard questions about the Israel lobby. But the organized Jewish community makes sure to shut her up about this, and zealots like Steve Israel enforce the omerta.)

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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24 Responses

  1. Citizen on October 5, 2017, 11:16 am

    Yes, and unlike the Israel Lobby, which acts in support of a foreign state, the Gun Lobby only impacts US citizens’ rights and duties.

    • festus on October 5, 2017, 3:39 pm

      The “Israel Lobby” is far more than a lobby and far more powerful than the NRA.

      • JeffB on October 6, 2017, 8:13 am


        There is an easy way to test this. Israel’s #1 export right now is pharmaceuticals. The Israeli lobby would like to give Israel access to the USA market. The pharmaceutical lobby’s main goal is that these legal restrictions stay in place for other country’s pharmaceuticals to maintain high profits.

        There are exactly 0 Israeli pharmaceuticals that can be legally sold in the United States. So the evidence shows that when AIPAC goes up against a top 10 lobby, they lose.

      • oldgeezer on October 6, 2017, 9:46 am


        Do you have some reference or further info? Israel claims to be the 4th larget supplier to the US market.

      • JeffB on October 8, 2017, 3:20 pm


        If you look back at your link 89% of that isn’t drugs. That’s a wider classification that includes things like raw chemicals for drugs (USA pharmaceuticals companies are happy to see competitors drive down prices there, because that’s a cost not a profit center) and medical devices.

        But it does appear you are right the number isn’t 0. Teva (and others) are selling some generics in the USA market. No brand names yet and the branch of Teva is probably technically a USA company ( but … point taken. I’ll need to weaken this to say brand names next time I use the example.

  2. JeffB on October 5, 2017, 11:35 am


    There is somewhere between 1.5-3% of the American population that normally votes Democratic but strongly supports gun rights and will change their vote over the gun issue. This has been well understood since Clinton’s term in office. For an issue marginal to USA politics this is expensive so we don’t get broadly support gun control

    On Israel you have a similar constituency. Their reaction to anti-Israel legislation hasn’t been fully tested but even minor bumps indicate the numbers are likely similar. Israel is a marginal issue to USA politics. The political calculus is the same.

    As for signature achievement I’d say HealthCare is Obama’s signature achievement. In terms of foreign policy I’d say the widespread acceptance of USA mainstreaming assassination in foreign countries as a core tool of its foreign policy is far more likely to be influential. I have a tough time imagining a historian in 2117 even talking about the Iran deal. I have an easy time imagining them talking Obama’s campaign being the point where assassination become a global norm again after almost a millennia where it was rarely used.

  3. Paranam Kid on October 5, 2017, 12:09 pm

    The Israel Lobby organises the approval (the organizing and oversight of illegal agreements and transactions), financing (protection racketeering), and support in the US for Israel’s war crimes & crimes against humanity. Another term for organised crime is mafia; the Israel Lobby is a mafia with a legal status, and the similarities are striking:

    * virtually every single lawmaker, both in Congress & in the Senate, is scared stiff of the IL mafia
    * the IL fulfils a kingmaker role, being able to make or break politicians
    * the IL dictates US policies about Israel and the Middle East
    * the IL has politicians in its pocket & can, therefore, act with impunity.

    Democracy US/Israel style. Yuck.

  4. DCM on October 5, 2017, 1:07 pm

    Hi Phil:

    On you last comment regarding…
    “It’s straightforward. And politicians get run out of town for crossing the lobby. And the media never talk about it.”
    You can update or make a segway to what happen in the Illinois gubernatorial race between Daniel Biss and alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. A seminal and contemporary story regarding the influence of the Israeli Lobby that yet has never been covered in MSM besides here and locally in Illinois.

    • Steve Grover on October 5, 2017, 1:46 pm

      What motivated Daniel Biss is that he is Jewish and being pro-Israel is in his gut. It is personal to him. He rejects the disgusting idea perpetuated by Weiss, JVP, Sarsour and their fellow travelers that you can’t be progressive and be pro-Israel. Daniel Biss is pro-Israel and a progressive that voted for the Illinois anti-BDS bill in the Illinois State Senate.

      • Citizen on October 5, 2017, 3:37 pm

        @ Steve Grover:
        How are 51 discriminatory laws against Israel’s Arab population (Muslim & Christian) progressive?
        How is a half century of belligerent occupation progressive?
        How is indefinite, arbitrary, administrative detention, progressive?
        How is consistent disproportionate force, progressive?
        How is collective punishment, progressive?
        How is torture of men, women, and children, progressive?
        How is justifying such conduct on the basis of an ancient, fantastical religious script, progressive?

        Please clarify your use of the term “progressive” in this context.

      • Steve Grover on October 5, 2017, 11:09 pm

        Daniel Biss is pro-Israel and he says he is a progressive so I believe him. Go to his FB page or web site and see for yourself. Even AlterNet says he is a progressive.
        Hating Israel makes you an idiot and not a progressive.

      • Mooser on October 6, 2017, 1:25 pm

        “Hating Israel makes you an idiot and not a progressive.”

        And then, bang, his head goes back down on the bar til closing time. Somebody call “Grover” a cab.

      • Marnie on October 8, 2017, 12:28 am


        If he has a case of a pro-Israel gut bacteria, he needs to seek medical attention immediately. It’s worse than C difficile and requires a long period of treatment. It’s a dangerous infectious disease that, oddly, enough effects people who concurrently have no spine or moral compass.

    • JeffB on October 5, 2017, 2:56 pm


      I’m not sure the Israeli Lobby got involved individually. Seems to me Biss didn’t vet well. He discovered that Ramirez-Rosa supported BDS, which would obviously become a centerpoint of the campaign. Biss wants to keep the focus on the opponent and not the issues strategically. A focus on BDS does the opposite. Ramirez-Rosa is not willing to step away from a controversial position and gets dropped. Same thing would have happened if he were strongly prolife (as a democrat), denied climate change, supported reverting back to recognizing the government of Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, or supported pro Khmer Rouge groups.

      You can say the lobby has created an environment where BDS is beyond the pale. Which is fine but I don’t think they actually did much beyond that. The whole point of dropping Ramirez-Rosa was so that there was no controversy. Which is why the MSM isn’t covering it. What’s the story?

      • Citizen on October 5, 2017, 5:31 pm

        The “story” in America is called “informed consent” of the citizens.

      • JeffB on October 6, 2017, 8:05 am


        Informed consent of what? There have been countless articles and stories about BDS in the mainstream media. Politicians of all stripes have gone on record regarding their feelings about BDS, often in lengthy speeches. This includes both candidates for the Presidency. Both major parties and I think all the minor ones had public debates about Israel and BDS s in their platform committees. AIPAC, JStreet, Brookings… have USA politicians on all the time discussing their position on Israel including BDS. These are often broadcast on television, quoted in news shows, and the videos are available on youtube.

        What information do Americans lack in any way shape or form regarding the mainstream opinion regarding BDS? Any American who wants to know about it knows that the division among mainstream policy makers is whether the discrimination that BDS is engaged in rises to the level of a violation of civil rights or is merely legal social discrimination. I get that you disagree that’s where the debate should be. But there is no lack of information.

        The American people have informed consent. They agree with Israel. Sorry.

      • Marnie on October 8, 2017, 12:33 am

        JeffB “The American people have informed consent. They agree with Israel. Sorry.”

        The american people are lied to about ‘israel’ 24/7.

        Informed consent means you are informed and then give consent. Informed is the key word here. And it is absent from american discourse because any appearance of criticism of the parasitic state of israel is shut down. It’s stupid of you to even attempt to argue this jeff and you do so like a child – i.e., because I said so, that’s why”!

        FFS they won’t even show israelis being themselves on american television (Empire Files: Israelis Speak Candidly to Abby Martin About Palestinians). You can’t have informed consent when information is continually blocked, misrepresented and vilified as nothing but antisemitism.

      • Citizen on October 8, 2017, 2:34 pm

        Most average Americans get their news from cable TV news/infotainment shows. The occupation as such has never been mentioned on said news, let alone a discussion of US aid to Israel or Israeli settlement expansion. Not to mention total silence on historical context, e..g., the Nakba.

      • JeffB on October 8, 2017, 3:10 pm


        There has been as good discussion of BDS on mainstream media as there is on relevant foreign policy topic. The Israeli occupation is mentioned and discussed regularly for decades. Virtually every clash between US policy makers and Israelis is over settlements in the “occupied territories”. That’s discussing the occupation. There are regular discussion of Gaza which isn’t called the “state of Gaza”.

        As for aide. Aide rarely gets discussed, as I mentioned US figures rarely talk about how expensive Okinawa is to support our position in South Korea. But the Israeli aide package gets talked about like any other mid level budget item when it passes. Also people on these shows frequently bring up aide in terms of potential pressure points.

        As for the historical context I think there is more historical context than there is for virtually any other conflict. Especially in movies. Munich, Exodus, Paradise Now, far too many evangelical Christian end of times movies with Israel to count… How many minor tribal conflicts have even one movie that won multiple oscars and golden globes much less several.

        I/P is given far more press than it deserves. Any American interested has a wealth of information available to them. They just have used this information to draw conclusions you disagree with.

        I have to search really hard to find transcripts and translations of ISIS and Al Qaeda and we are actively at war with them. Think about how little context the mainstream media gives on those conflicts that involve us much more directly.

      • Marnie on October 10, 2017, 12:54 pm

        “I/P is given far more press than it deserves. Any American interested has a wealth of information available to them. They just have used this information to draw conclusions you disagree with.”

        First off, bullshit. Secondly, JeffB, I’m glad you’ve finally dropped the ‘liberal’ from your self-description. Must have been incredibly burdensome carrying that pillowcase of goose down on your shoulders.

  5. JosephA on October 5, 2017, 8:12 pm

    I think the end of the Israeli lobby’s power will be very similar to the end of McCarthyism. Some brave politician will exclaim, “Have you no shame?” (or something similar) to a pro-Israel hack, there will be a crack in the façade, and then the floodgates will be torn open. People won’t be afraid to criticize the racism of Israel, the breaches of international law.

    • Misterioso on October 6, 2017, 10:23 am

      Another key factor that will lead to the end of the “special relationship” is that Israel will correctly be seen seen for what it is – a major geopolitical liability for America and a millstone around its neck.

  6. Keith on October 5, 2017, 9:12 pm

    PHIL- “The Las Vegas massacre is bringing forth strong criticism of the gun lobby, as it should do, from the liberal media and coastal Democrats.”

    What is not going to be discussed is the militarization of American society as a consequence of empire, and the inevitable glorification of violence this requires, and the consequences to this extreme emphasis on violence as the primary way of dealing with conflict.

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