Sunday, March 18, 2007

Israel and the Pro-Israel Lobby pressure U.S. not to exit Iraq

The role of Israel and the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby in encouraging the U.S. to invade Iraq is still a matter of much debate and dispute, but now we can read in the Israeli press about efforts by Israeli officials and the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby to persuade the U.S. not to leave Iraq any time soon.

First, we see an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz by Shmuel Rosner and Aluf Benn entitled "Israel fears U.S. Iraq exit could topple Jordanian regime" which tells us that "Israel is worried a hasty American withdrawal from Iraq could topple the Hashemite regime in Jordan, one of the reasons why Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and others publicly oppose such a move."

The article goes go to tell us how Olmert issued his marching orders to the key group in the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby, AIPAC, meeting right here in the U.S. in Washington, D.C.: "Olmert voiced his opposition in a live video speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday, speaking out strongly against a rapid American exit from Iraq." The article does note that "Senior Israeli government officials later said Olmert was expressing his opinion 'solely on the professional aspect' of a pullout and insisted, as did Olmert in his speech, that Israel has no interest in getting involved in America's domestic political dispute over Iraq." Since the whole point of AIPAC is an "interest in getting involved in America's domestic political" debates, this disclaimer is rendered meaningless. AIPAC lobbies the U.S. government... Israel lobbies AIPAC... what's not clear here?

In a blog post by Rosner entitled "Israel's fear: withdrawal from Iraq will destabilize Jordan" we read that "In any case, the Israeli position, as explained by a senior person at the Defense Ministry, is not a political position at all but rather, 'the expression of a position on the professional aspect only,' as though it were clear to everyone exactly where the border between the two runs." In other words, it is an open secret that this form of lobbying of "political positions" goes on.

His blog post goes on to say that:

The decision to express this position in public is not trivial and without a doubt will play into the hands of conspiracy-mongers who want to blame the pro-Israel lobby for dragging America into a war that they think is unnecessary.

Conspiracy-mongers indeed.

The blog post goes on to quote opposition leader Bini Netanyahu as saying "with sourness" that "I don't think that it is proper to intervene in this debate." Rosner also quotes an advisor to a Democratic senator as saying "I hope that [Olmert] has very good reasons for saying what he said."

A key revelation comes when his blog post states that "Israeli diplomats who do in fact understand the strength of the sentiment have consoled themselves with the fact that no senior Democrat has come out publicly against Olmert's remarks."

In other words, even "senior Democrats" in Washington, D.C. are all too willing to go along with whatever party line Israel and the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby feed them. Assuming that this lobbying comes with "matching" campaign donations.

Nominally, most members of AIPAC are American citizens, but undoubtedly quite a number of them have dual citizenship, and hence dual loyalties.

An addendum to Rosner's article, bylined by Amiram Barkat, adds:

Yesterday, Olmert urged a visiting delegation of leaders of the Reform Movement to reconsider a motion urging the U.S. government to set a firm timetable for an American withdrawal from Iraq. The movement's executive, representing some 700 Reform congregations across the U.S., approved the motion by a large majority earlier this week.

Olmert reiterated his argument that a hasty withdrawal could endanger Israel's security as well as efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program. But the Reform leaders refused his request, saying they believe a rapid withdrawal would serve Israeli and Western interests better than a prolonged American stay in Iraq.

In other words, we have a foreign official directly lobbying American citizens and encouraging them to either lobby for or refrain from lobbying against geo-political positions taken by the government of a foreign nation. Somehow, this isn't illegal. Maybe dual-citizenship gets around any sticky issues.

-- Jack Krupansky


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