by James M. Wall
Update from final day of AIPAC Conference May 5
Speeches on the final day brought some surprising speeches. Go to the internet and click the following for Phil Weiss’ coverage of speeches by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John Kerry, and a comment on views on the two state solution. This was definitely not your typical White House-orchestrated response to AIPAC.
It is Springtime in the nation’s capitol. The cherry trees are in bloom. And once again, just after the robins return, AIPAC gathers for its annual conference, May 3-5.
AIPAC, in case you have just arrived from Mars, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby which gives the U.S. Congress its marching orders on all matters pertaining to the best interests of the state of Israel.
If you have to ask if AIPAC is also concerned with the best interests of the people of the United States, conservative pundit Pat Buchanan has news for you:
The U.S. Congress is “Israeli-occupied territory”.
Occupiers, as the Palestinian people can testify, have only the best interests of the Occupier at heart.
AIPAC is not shy about touting its influence in Washington. A news release on its website describes the 2009 opening program:
While Washington, D.C., is increasingly consumed with bickering between Democrats and Republicans, the U.S.-Israel relationship remains the one issue that transcends the partisan divide. In a display of this bipartisan spirit, more than half of Congress will attend tonight’s Gala Banquet, which will fill a room large enough to fit the Washington Monument on its side.
Four top Congressional leaders will address banquet attendees: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).
In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will wake up in the middle of the night in Israel (or stay up quite late) in order to address the Gala Banquet live via satellite. The prime minister’s speech will be his first to an American audience since becoming the Jewish state’s head of government earlier this year.
California Congresswoman Jane Harman was an opening night panelist . Yes, that Jane Harman who was so outraged because as an American citizen she claimed she was illegally “wire tapped” by the FBI. Nothing illegal about it, as Harman must have known, but she also knew the MSM would not know the difference. The Congresswoman was speaking on the phone with a suspect the FBI had FISA approval to tap.
In her 2005 recorded conversation Harman agreed to “waddle into” the federal conspiracy case against two former AIPAC staffers. When CQ revealed Harman’s role in the wire tap, she went on a media blitz to deny everything, contradicting herself on several key points.
Fortunately, for her political career, the Obama Justice Department has decided to drop the case against the former AIPAC staffers. That removes her from future court testimony, and not so incidentally, makes the point that court cases aimed at AIPAC are risky endeavors for the U.S. justice system.
It is hard to prove conspiracy when you are giving secrets to your closest friends. This is especially true when those “friends” are free to send their diplomats into your country to influence your public against another nation. Tikun Olam has a good example of this influence peddling.
Antiwar.com blogger Justin Raimondo notes three other recent AIPAC “victories”: The barring from Obama’s government of Charles “Chas” Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council, Gen. Anthony Zinni, Obama’s first choice as ambassador to Iraq, and the return to power of Dennis Ross, a strongly pro-Israel U.S. diplomat who now has a State Department assignment that puts him squarely in the middle of future Iran negotiations.
These victories, which were barely noticed by the MSM, no doubt emboldened AIPAC operatives as they presented this year’s AIPAC prime theme to this year’s delegates. The theme: Provoke Iran.
Of course, AIPAC will not be that blatant. This is, after all, the U.S. Congress that is being told what to do, so the instructions will focus on a piece of legislation that carries the innocuous title, the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act.
The Act would “enact tough new sanctions” against Iran. Putting its best pro-Israel spin on the sanctions, Spero News writes:
The sanctions are another attempt to avert a military confrontation between Jerusalem and Teheran over the latter’s nuclear ambitions. Iran has consistently threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” and to block the strategic oil passage at the Strait of Hormuz which would immobilize the American economy within weeks.
Justin Raimondo looks behind the curtain:
Raimondo points out that the real purpose of the Act is to provoke Iran and to mitigate against any Obama efforts to reach a peaceful understanding with Teheran. Why, he asks, is the Act packaged in this egregious manner?
Because, he writes, “the American people are sick and tired of war, and preparations for war, and so it is far less incriminating if a member of Congress can say he (or she) voted for “the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act” than it is to admit they supported isolating Iran economically.”
”We’ll resubmit it when Congress comes back, and we’ll have even more signatures,” the resolution’s main author, New York Democrat Rep. Gary Ackerman, told the Washington Times, adding that the resolution currently has 270 co-sponsors, or some two-thirds of the House’s entire membership.
Still, the decision by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman, to shelve HR 362 marked an unusual defeat for AIPAC, according to its critics who charged that the resolution was designed to lay the groundwork for the Bush administration or any successor administration to take military action against Iran.
This year, Iran is on the AIPAC agenda. Six years ago, officially, Iraq was not on the 2003 AIPAC agenda. The game plan in 2003 was for Israel to pretend a neutrality in the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Israel would stay out of the Coalition of the Willing. That was the official 2003 plan.
But unofficially, well, let Dana Milbanks explain the action behind the Wizard’s curtain:
As delegates to the AIPAC meeting were heading to town, the group put a headline on its Web site proclaiming: “Israeli Weapons Utilized By Coalition Forces Against Iraq.” The item featured a photograph of a drone with the caption saying the “Israeli-made Hunter Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” is being used “by U.S. soldiers in Iraq.”
You got that? Israel was “neutral”, but the Coalition Forces knew who had their back. This was six years ago, friends, when the Bush-Cheney team was lying to the world about WMD’s being the motivation for the war.
It is pro forma that Israeli government will show up at every AIPAC conference, presenting an annual tableau of a foreign nation sending its leaders to meet with a pro-Israel lobby to shape U.S. foreign policy in Israel’s best interests.
In 2003, the cheerleading was led by Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Milbanks again:
At an AIPAC session on Sunday night, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom proclaimed in a speech praising Secretary of State Colin L. Powell: “We have followed with great admiration your efforts to mobilize the international community to disarm Iraq and bring democracy and peace to the region, to the Middle East and to the rest of the world. Just imagine, Mr. Secretary, how much easier it would have been if Israel had been a member of the Security Council.”
The foreign minister did not have to go, hat in hand, to Foggy Bottom, to deliver that message to the U.S. Secretary of State. Colin Powell came to him, along with some of his closest government colleagues:
A parade of top Bush administration officials — Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, political director Kenneth Mehlman, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton and Assistant Secretary of State William Burns — appeared before the AIPAC audience. The officials won sustained cheers for their jabs at European opponents of war in Iraq, and their tough remarks aimed at two perennial foes of Israel, Syria and Iran.
Six AIPAC conferences later, Israel has another foreign war it wants the U.S. to fight. Your mission, Uncle Sam, should you decide to accept it, is to use your vast military power to do to Iran what you did to Iraq. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.