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Weissman writes: "Think back to August 2013, when Obama and Kerry called for a not-so-limited military strike on Syria following reports that the government of Bashir al-Assad had used poison gas. To this day, Washington has not shown that the horrific use of gas came from Assad's forces rather than from the Sunni rebels."

President Obama's speaks to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. (photo: AP)
President Obama's speaks to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference. (photo: AP)

AIPAC and the Israel Lobby: Down, but Not Yet Out!

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

04 February 14


n March 2006, the London Review of Books published a path-breaking essay on "The Israel Lobby" by University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer and Harvard's Stephen Walt. The two then published a book the following year, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." They argued that a loose coalition - including leading journalists and media outlets, neo-conservatives, Christian Zionists, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) - held a "stranglehold" on U.S. policy in the Middle East and on any public discussion of it.

The mud-slinging that followed confirmed their argument, as the ever watchful Philip Weiss noted at the time. Some supporters of Israel compared the authors to Neo-Nazis and grubby Jew-baiters. The Anti-Defamation League called their argument "a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitics analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control." And Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, that paragon of even-handed objectivity, decreed that the two men had "destroyed their professional reputations."

The same mud-slingers still call their political foes anti-Semites, which drains the word of all meaning - a dangerously short-sighted reaction given the resurgence of neo-Nazis on the streets of Paris, as I reported last week. But the Israel Lobby's stranglehold on Washington has visibly weakened, thanks in good measure to the bravery of Mearsheimer and Walt. Courage is indeed contagious.

Think back to August 2013, when Obama and Kerry called for a not-so-limited military strike on Syria following reports that the government of Bashir al-Assad had used poison gas. To this day, Washington has not shown that the horrific use of gas came from Assad's forces rather than from the Sunni rebels. But, no matter, AIPAC and its pro-Israel allies led a massive campaign to support U.S. military intervention. They pushed and they failed. Ignoring "the impossibility" of ever defeating the Israel Lobby, progressive organizers - many of them Jewish - mobilized public opinion to flood the White House, Congress, and the media with petitions, emails, and telephone calls opposing yet another U.S. military action in the Middle East.

Faced with the outpouring of antiwar sentiment, Obama first said he would leave the decision to a vote in Congress and then made a deal with Russia to destroy Assad's chemical weapons. The deal stinks. According to the Obama administration, Assad is dragging his feet and has reportedly shipped out of the county only 4% of his most dangerous chemical weapons, the Priority One chemicals that he was supposed to remove by the end of 2013. But with his fellow Americans weary of endless lies about endless war, Obama has given no indication that he will put military intervention back on the table or that it would rid Syria of chemical weapons if he went to war, whether limited or all-out.

The lesson seems clear. Too many lies and too many military threats make it difficult for Obama to use force even if he could make a good case for it, which he cannot, and who would now believe him if he could? This will not stop the Israel Lobby from jumping in whenever they can. Rupert Murdoch's Sunday Times has just done that with a report - datelined Tel Aviv - accusing Assad of "stockpiling advanced weaponry, including chemical and biological arms, in the heartland of his Alawite sect as an insurance policy in case his country is eventually partitioned."

To punctuate the report, the article confirms that last week Israeli F15s destroyed a missile depot at Jableh near Latakia, which is in the Alawite enclave. Earlier reports of the attack appeared in Lebanese media.

Syria's civil war continues on its tragic path, and not even Washington's "humanitarian warriors" openly call for U.S. military intervention. But the big fight here is that Obama's stand-down on Syria led to negotiations with the Iranians over their nuclear program, which the Israel Lobby is doing everything it can to scuttle. They came close to succeeding. They still might. At one point, they looked as if they had enough senators in their pocket to pass a bill enacting new sanctions against Iran, which could have made negotiations impossible.

Once again, progressive organizers mobilized the largest outpouring of public opinion many Congressional staffers had ever seen, and - believe it or not - Obama stood firm and hit hard. "If certain members of Congress want the United States to take military action, they should be up front with the American public and say so," said a spokeswoman for his National Security Council. Then, in his State of the Union speech, Obama raised the stakes. "If this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks," he promised, "I will veto it."

Will negotiations stop the Iranians from ever getting a nuclear weapon? They might, or they might not. But the truth is that, according to the polls, the American people do not want to go to war to stop them. On that, as the Israel Lobby still has to learn, our fellow citizens are absolutely right.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, "Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold."

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


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+34 # munza1 2014-02-05 00:04
As always very sound piece from Steve Weissman. Who does AIPAC really speak for? Certainly for the Israeli right wing, but for American national interest? This not the first time in American history that a minority has dominated foreign policy for a foreign country. Italy, Germany, and more recently Miami Cubans blocking any reasonable policy toward Cuba. But it's hard to imagine any lobbying group more powerful and effective than AIPAC in encouraging a disastrous American policy in the Middle East responsible for openers in destroying to countries.
-1 # Holy Cow 2014-02-06 07:38
I certainly agree - kudos to Steve Weissman.

And, damnation of warmonging, pol. buyer outer AIPAC, considered by the wisest insiders to be the #1 lobbying group, a.k.a. pol. buyer outer.

Wake up, Dems.. Best seek advice from Code Pink re. Hillary Clinton's connect with AIPAC, before jumping on board the "Of Course Hillary's Gonna be Pres." train, and getting set to nominate and vote for her.
+32 # heraldmage 2014-02-05 00:51
I'm really tired of the propaganda that Iran is after a nuclear weapon. Now that may have been the case under the Shah but the Islamic Republic of Iran has never expressed any interest in wmd. Not even when they were being bombarded daily by Iraq with US supplied chemical weapon. During the 8 yrs of the Iran /Iraq war would have been the ideal time to develop WMD. Instead Iran continued the domestic production of conventional weapons.
There is not now nor has there been any credible evidence that Iran is or plans to develop nuclear weapon. All the so called evidence was fabricated by Israel & the US & kept under seal by IAEA. You & I both know it the US & Israel had verifiable evidence of Iran's nukes they would make it available to the world. The lack of transparency calls into question the validity of the evidence that sanctions are based on. The American people have a very good reason to reject war. Every US war & conflict since WW2 has been based on fabricated events or misrepresentati on of the facts. The Congress & Administration.
have a long way to go before we trust them again. Incumbents should just retire so a transparent rebuilding process can be started. As long as they unconditionally support Israel they can't be trusted to do what's right for the USA & its people.
+23 # curmudgeon 2014-02-05 00:57
'Thanks for the reminder about the Shah....he was after nukes AT OUR INSISTENCE.

Also..anyone holding dual citizenship should not be allowed in DC - especially those holding joint Israeli-U.S. citizenship. I can't remember names but a good number of lobbyists, AIPAC memebers, members of Congress Defense officials have been so identified. some in key decision making positions
+2 # jimsanta 2014-02-05 08:31
A GREAT comment on one of the greatest dangers Americans face! Yet our own President is proposing just such a person to take over Janet Yellen's former position as #2 at the Fed! We're handing away control over our own destiny!
+6 # munza1 2014-02-05 09:11
Back when I first got a US passport it said very clearly that if you voted in a foreign election, served in a foreign army, you would forfeit your citizenship. No question of dual nationality. I assumed that it was the case of Israel as American jews took up arms for Israel and sought dual nationality that changed that law.Now dual nationality is quite common, though beware the tax impiicatoins. Does anyone out there know what or who was involved in have the law changed? Thank you.
+16 # patw 2014-02-05 01:39
I'm happy RSN is finally posting an article about these negotiations, which, if they succeed, may significantly stabilize the Middle East. And I’m grateful that Steve Weissman mentions that AIPAC et al may still destroy them. Senators Menendez and Kirk introduced S 1881 in December, claiming that it would support the negotiations by threatening to raise sanctions on Iran in 6 months if Iran doesn’t agree to certain conditions. But those conditions have not yet, and are unlikely to be agreed to in the negotiations, so this bill would destroy the negotiations, and also stipulate that the US attack Iran if Israel thinks that’s necessary. Senator Feinstein made such a fine speech that she stopped S 1881’s march through the Senate, but not until after 59 Senators co-sponsored.

The fight is now in the House. Some Congressmen just wrote a letter really supporting negotiations, stating they do not support threatening an increase in sanctions now – a good sign. But my Congresswoman, a Democrat, still believes AIPAC’s message that this bill would support negotiations with Iran. But if enough Americans call/write to Congress, we can stop this bill as we stopped it in the Senate. It’s almost enough to renew one's faith in our democracy.

Please ask your Congresswo/man to oppose any bill that threatens to raise sanctions on Iran and ask your Senators to take public position against S 1881 or thank them if they’ve spoken out against it. We just might prevent the next war.
+7 # unitedwestand 2014-02-05 03:11
In my area in Los Angeles several or our Congresspersons are Jewish but are really good with social issues, but we know when it comes to Israel we cant count on them. Fortunately they get a lot of push back from anti-war activists in their districts, and yes many are Jewish too and they can be the most vociferous and effective.

I haven't read the book referenced in this article, but I bet there is some mention that if it wasn't for AIPAC we probably would not have been involved in Iraq.
+5 # kalpal 2014-02-05 06:08
Iraq was due to GW Bush's anger at the supposed attempt to kill his father presumably instigated by Saddam Hussein.

Bush intended to attack Iraq before he was elected.
+4 # munza1 2014-02-05 09:15
With Iiraq believe there were numerous factors, not just a petty father issue. Cheney's oil, Israeli pressure, counter Iran, establish a US bee in the middle of the Middle East from which 'democracy' and 'free markets' could be spread. Mission accomplished.
+5 # kalpal 2014-02-05 06:05
Dick Cheney went to Iran to persuade the Shah to build a nuclear reactor.
+10 # RODNOX 2014-02-05 06:19
actually IRAN having a nuke would probably promote peace because unlike the very agressive israel---they probably wouldnt use it.....
-13 # stannadel 2014-02-05 06:39
Given that Israel has had nukes for decades and never used one you're obviously irrational on this topic.
+18 # jimsanta 2014-02-05 08:23
They may never have used a nuke (yet) but they HAVE used every other advanced weapon that OUR taxpayer dollars have paid for as part of our $3+ billion given to them each year. They have bombed other countries "suspected" nuclear and weapons sites at their will and fancy, and we have closed our eyes to all of it. I'm one of those who firmly believe that a nuclear weapon in Iran's hands would be a wonderful deterrent to further illegal Israeli aggression in the middle east!
+13 # Phlippinout 2014-02-05 08:23
why use nuclear bombs when you can build illegal settlements and force families from their legal land? Why use nuclear bombs when you can dump poison and waste on Palestinians land or control what they have and dont have, perhaps you are irrational on the topic?
+6 # polfrosch 2014-02-05 18:24
Israel threatened to use them in 1973 (Yom Kippur War) when the situation really looked bad - and used that threat to get all the ammunitions and war material they needed from the USA.

Also, your argument also fits Joseph Stalin and the USSR. Even Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Un have not used them.

Can anyone tell me why especially Iran should automatically use a nuclear weapon, just to commit suicide, if the mass murderer Stalin was prudent enough to refrain from it?

Besides, the only power which ever used a nuclear weapon against civilians (90% of the dead were women and children) was the USA in Japan.

I am not shure if Iran really does not intend to build a bomb. They could argue Israel did exactly the same: promising and swearing they never intended to build nuclear weapons, Israels governments told for years they only wanted and needed nuclear power to make the desert blossom - until they had their bomb.

After lying and acquiring nuclear weapons Israel was granted the role of a first rate ally of the USA, on par with GB and the UK empire - in spite of or because of the attack on the "USS Liberty"?

From watching reality Iran should have learned the USA will fabricate any lie to start a war against any "crappy little country and throw it against the wall just to show it means business" (Michael Ledeen) - unless the country acquired a nuclear weapon.

The destruction of the rule of law in international affairs - that is already US legacy.
+2 # polfrosch 2014-02-05 18:31
And I am convinced had Stalin used a nuclear weapon first or at all, we would hear every 5 minutes to this day that was the ultimate proof of the inhumane, cruel nature of him personally, the USSR and communism in general and it´s lust for power, based on a twisted code of ethics.

By the way, I consider that argument valid.
0 # maryf 2014-02-06 00:12
Had Stalin ever used nuclear weapons, we would not be here at all.
+3 # polfrosch 2014-02-06 06:40
"used a nuclear weapon FIRST".

That is what US history has to carry, but neglects to do. What I hear from US citizens are excuses, not acknowledgement . They hardly say anything else but: "it ended the war". Which is probably not even true.

And what if the german concentration camps had ended the war?

With historians the picture is different, but it became worse in the last decade. The USA suffers from severe "patriotism" after 911, which prevents straight thinking.

Also: in a way you quote my argument: if both sides have a nuclear weapon, that dampens the possibility of usage.

We were told this argument for decades, remember? It became cold war public wisdom. You quote it.

Only in the case of Israel and Iran it is miraculously different. Suddenly, out of thin air, the once safest "both sides" situation is the most dangerous possibility.

History teaches me different facts. What is dangerous is a (challenged) total superiority, as the hyperpower will consider going to war. It was the case with the USA, it is the case with Israel now.

In my opinion there is only one viable solution: to ban the use of nuclear weapons like chemical and biological weapons and diminish them to zero. Worldwide. Which implies an international rule of law - a system enforcing that and enforcing it on ALL nations.

The US governments had the choice to do so after the cold war. But they decided to go the "hyperpower - New Rome" route.

The USA failed.
+5 # polfrosch 2014-02-06 11:27
Quoting Polfrosch:

And what if the german concentration camps had ended the war?

To make my point very clear, because some people might want to take this as an invitation for misunderstanding:

The german concentration camps were a crime against humanity.
They are acknowledged as crimes against humantiy.

I consider the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki war crimes.
They are not widely acknowledged as war crimes.

An unrecognized crime is more dangerous than a recognized crime. Especially if it is proposed as the core of a strategy.

Strategic nuclear bombs are to this day called "weapons", when in fact they are meant to be tools of mass murder, and their intended use is comparable to hostage taking of civilians=threa tening to kill everybody, erasing a country.

The judgement if nuclear weapons or concentration camps are crimes against humanity is not dependent to which effect they were used or would be used.

Everybody understands that when it comes to concentration camps. Concentration camps would not become more "ethical" if they would have lead to winning a war.

It seems it is more difficult to understand the same is valid for strategic nuclear "weapons" or the use of nuclear war.
+3 # polfrosch 2014-02-06 06:54
In the 50s, just after the USSR acquired it´s nuclear weapon, it was common opinion among the highest US military personnel (even told in public and discussed in newspapers) the USA should nuke the USSR when Stalin had only a few dozen nuclear bombs. The amount of dead US citizens was considered negligible. And: as the 3rd world war was "inevitable", an early war meant the lesser evil. If the military had to be provocative to make WW3 happen, so be it.

Any politician with a different attitude was considered weak (by the military hawks) and not fit to protect USA from the communist menace=not fit to be president. He had to be neutralized.

E.g. Kennedy. And he also was the one president trying to stop Israel from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Why do I never read anything about these facts, it is not an opinion, in US media? (RSN being a noble exception - but I don´t consider them mainstream media - which is why I read them.)

Why is there no US discussion about Israeli nuclear weapons? How can one discuss peace in the middle east without acknowledging the reality of Israeli nuclear weapons and the fact they are the fundament of the US-Israeli alliance?

What is the worth of a democracy and it´s media if it´s discussions don´t mirror the fundamental facts?

Why should the US government consider the media a viable 4th estate and fundament of democracy if they themselves neglect to be the guardian ?("The Guardian" and RSN being a noble exception).
-20 # stannadel 2014-02-05 06:48
Steve, you're off base about John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Mearsheimer has made suspiciously Antisemitic sounding statements since then and has endorsed the openly Antisemitic book by Gilad Atzmon "The Wandering Who," even producing a favorable blurb for it. When he was criticized for this his buddy Walt didn't distance himself from this endorsement of Antisemitism, he came to Mearsheimer's defense. So those who suspected Antisemitic motives behind their work seem to have been justified in doing so and those who claim that they were being charged with Antisemitism just because they criticized Israel's supporters have had their claims undermined by later events. Fortunately your argument doesn't have to rise or fall with these two, but I suggest you stop citing them as if they had clean hands in this.
+14 # jimsanta 2014-02-05 08:26
You just make Walt and Mearshimer's point even more clearly! I'm sure they thank you for it! ANYTHING they say will ALWAYS be construed as antisemitism, just as it has been ever since they published their first paper together. The mere meaning of the word has been destroyed by its incessant overuse!
+14 # Pikewich 2014-02-05 08:36
The anti semitic card is worn out and inaccurate.
Definition of Semite:
n. noun
A member of a group of Semitic-speakin g peoples of the Near East and northern Africa, including the Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians.
A Jew.
A descendant of Shem.

It carries no weight any longer. We are tired of being blackmailed by the never ending Israel-as-profe sional-victim routine. They are now the victimizers of the Palestinian PEOPLE, of whom only a fraction are "terrorists".
+5 # LGNTexas 2014-02-05 14:11
Back in the early 70's I worked for a U.S. defense contractor building bases for the IDF along the Suez (per usual, mostly on the U.S. taxpayer "dime"). An Israeli company supplied the construction labor and we American supervisors were saddled with mostly unskilled workers from former Muslim lands. Except for some Russian emigres who were skilled and knew how to work hard, most of our Israeli workers were of little work value so daily conflicts would arise on the job. I got so tired of these workers throwing the Holocaust in my face, trying to force a guilt trip on me in order to have me back down. Began to wonder then how much of a guilt trip the Zionists had put upon the UN and the West after WWII in order to have that body partition Palestine resulting in Jews being gifted with half of Arab lands. I made a few friends among progressive anti-war Israelis, even listened to rock n' roll on Abie Nathan's "illegal" Peace Ship floating in the sea, but these peace-loving Israelis were a minority voice among the majority of whom are right-wingers. Worse is the meddling of the U.S. Government that is under the sway of mostly right-wing Christian Zionists here.
+6 # Johnny 2014-02-05 10:32
What idiocy. Atzmon is himself an Israeli Jew. You do not have a shred of evidence that there is anything "antiSemitic" about The Wandering Who.
+16 # walt 2014-02-05 07:01
Having just read Mearsheimer and Walt's book "The Israel Lobby," I greatly appreciate what is said here. Their research and data in the book are quite revealing and to the point.

The USA has been led by the nose for too long by that lobby and, as stated, the people are tired of it and the wars, sanctions, and attacks that are dragged along with it.

It's great to see that enough people and action groups are speaking out and making a difference. Peaceful solutions and diplomacy definitely have to be used before the deployment of troops and war machines.

Let's keep up the pressure for peace and not war. Many of us Americans have had enough of military funerals!
+1 # Johnny 2014-02-05 10:27
President Kennedy said that AIPAC was legally required to register as a foreign lobbying organization. That, plus his opposition to the Israeli nuclear weapons program, is why they killed him.
+4 # USAFsarge4u 2014-02-05 18:44
I look forward to the day where one can honestly and constructively criticize a particular action of Israel's, and not be called an "Ant-Semite." Name-calling is not logic, but rather the merest whining of an angry child.

AIPAC, neoconservative s, Christian Zionists, Project for a New American Century, The Weakly (sub)Standard magazine(pardon my wisecracking), and other chicken hawk outfits as the aforementioned, all sing off the same sheet of music. Call me a conspiracy nut if you want, but when various groups of people all want the same thing, there has to be a common philosophy woven into their collective fabric. I think it is probably one group jumping mindlessly and unethically on another's bandwagon, instead of it all being a conspiracy.

Some people find glory in war, besides the usual generals who sit behind desks, and you can be sure that the above-mentioned groups love war also,and thrill to the sight of body-bags.

I find it fascinating that we find concurrent groups such as conservatives (not neoconservative s, big difference!)and progressives, both opposing wars overseas. Pat Buchanan, and Dennis Kucinich as prime examples. We will always have both sides of the spectrum, but wouldn't it be nice if we could have the likes of these two anti-war veterans, filling their respective and opposite ranks.
+4 # maryf 2014-02-06 00:15
If ever there were a boy who cried 'wolf' it is Israel and its hysterical lobby. They need to realize that, as with the kid in the old story, people stop listening to you after a while and decide that you're just a liar.

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