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writing for godot

It really is all about the Benjamins, baby!

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Written by Eric Resnick   
Sunday, 24 February 2019 00:55

When I became a candidate for U.S. Congress in 1995 I got a piece of advice from a recently retired member: “You want Jews on your side.  They’re loyal and will be among your best contributors.”


Being Jewish myself, I knew exactly what he meant.  24 years ago, as is the case now among the political class, “Jews” was shorthand for the Israel Lobby.


Many of us are anti-Zionist, hence opposed to the Israel Lobby that represents Israel and the Israeli government.  However, we lack the longstanding political muscle to counter “The Lobby,” and are not always visible to members of congress.


The retired congressman was admonishing me to make sure I throw down with the Israel Lobby so I could benefit from their largesse.  It’s where the money is.


Even before that encounter, almost immediately after I filed papers for the campaign, I got a package in the mail from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  It was a briefing book.  I still have it.  On the first page is a “Dear Candidate” letter signed by then executive director Neal M. Sher and political affairs director Michael Bloomfield.


“The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is the political eyes, ears and voice of the pro-Israel community in Washington – and throughout the country,” the second paragraph reads.  “AIPAC is the only organization registered to lobby Congress on behalf of a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel.”


The paragraph concludes, “We are an American organization with a nationwide grassroots membership of American activists and contributors.”


Got that?  Contributors.


AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not directly contribute to campaigns, but they do, with the rest of the organizations and individuals who make up the Israel Lobby, direct money – lots of money – to candidates and to party machinery.


Hang out among AIPAC and Israel Lobby patrons and you will witness their mutual kudos and celebration for achieving such political power.


Ironic then, and shameful, that the Israel Lobby and its minions attack Rep. Ilhan Omar for saying the same things that they say about themselves.


Yes, it’s pro-Israel money, and that’s not an antisemitic trope.  It’s the truth.


No one who has ever been near an AIPAC event would mistake it for a low budget operation.  Powerful policy makers practically fall over themselves for the opportunity to pander and vie for pro-Israel largesse.  Appearing insufficiently pro-Israel, even briefly, risks a well-funded opponent.


Even for a Jew like me, pointing out the power of pro-Israel money in the U.S. political and media power structure brings a slime dump just like that which is hitting Rep. Omar.


The power of pro-Israel money lies in plain sight and is easy to track.  It is undeniable truth, not trope, and certainly not antisemitic to point that out.


More than the gun lobby


How easy is it to find?


Opensecrets.org reports that “... 269 members of the House and 57 members of the Senate received some monetary contributions from pro-Israel interests in 2018.”


In contrast, only 220 members of the House and 32 members of the Senate received monetary contributions from pro-gun interests in 2018.


Opensecrets.org continues, “AIPAC is a significant player in terms of lobbying, accounting for the vast majority of lobbying spending by pro-Israel groups, spending more than $3.5 million in 2018.”


“Other pro-Israel groups are also prominent and active political spending forces each cycle. The 2018 midterms saw groups in the movement contribute more than $14.8 million, the highest total for them in a midterm since 1990,” Opensecrets.org reports.


63 percent of pro-Israel contributions went to Democrats, which likely explains Speaker Pelosi’s reaction to Rep. Omar’s truth bomb.  Pelosi panders to the Israel Lobby.


Then there are individual pro-Israel contributors. Arguendo, recognizing that there are many such people, let’s only look at two Zionist billionaires with close ties to the Israeli government and for whom supporting Israel’s settler colonialism is their single concern:


Haim Saban, who was Hillary Clinton’s billionaire patron, contributes mostly to Democrats and said at a conference in Israel in 2009 that he “protects Israel” by making donations to political parties, establishing think tanks, and controlling media outlets.


The New Yorker reported that in 2002 Saban “contributed seven million dollars toward a new building for the Democratic National Committee—one of the largest known donations ever made to an American political party.”


Saban’s overall federal campaign contributions in 2016 totalled $16.4 million, and in 2018 totalled $4.3 million.


Saban’s investment was dwarfed by that of Sheldon Adelson, who contributes only to Republicans.


Adelson’s $25 million contribution to Donald Trump’s SuperPAC is credited with flipping Trump from his early position of neutrality on Israel and Palestine to Israel First, and eventually moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.


Adelson’s overall federal campaign contributions in 2016 totalled $82.6 million, and in 2018 totalled $123.2 million.


Sen. Marco Rubio was the top congressional beneficiary of Adelson’s money in 2016.  Does anyone doubt that explains Rubio’s sponsorship of S.1, which attempts to shield state anti-Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) measures from being declared unconstitutional by federal courts?  Kansas and Arizona laws have already fallen, and more are in the pipeline.  Rubio’s also unconstitutional law is a top AIPAC legislative priority.


Coincidence?  Hardly.


My state of Ohio passed a pair of anti-BDS measures, both of which are about intimidation, and the limiting of speech against Israel’s human rights violations, illegal West Bank colonies, and military occupation, but not before legislators were treated to all-expense paid junkets to Israel by pro-Israel charitable and lobbying groups.


By the time the second measure passed the senate, a federal court in Kansas had already ruled such measures unconstitutional, stating, “A desire to prevent discrimination against Israeli businesses is an insufficient public interest to overcome the public’s interest in protecting a constitutional right.” Still, Ohio senators were undeterred.


Human rights are universal.  If one believes that some humans have them and others, for whatever reason, don’t, they simply don’t believe in human rights.


The salient question to U.S. elected officials is: “Do you believe that Palestinians are human beings, entitled to the same protected human rights as Israelis?”


If one truly believes in human rights, the question is very easy to answer with an unequivocal yes.


Zionists and those who support Israeli settler colonialism don’t believe Palestinians should enjoy basic human rights.  That’s the Zionist contradiction to Judaism.


Ohio’s senior U.S. Senator and presidential aspirant Sherrod Brown built part of his reputation telling LGBTQ people he wants his legacy to be one of advocacy for human rights, “and your rights are human rights.”


Senator Brown will not answer that simple salient question when it pertains to Palestinians.  Sherrod Brown is supported by the Israel Lobby.


Rep. Marcia Fudge, when asked the question responded, “Don’t you know what district I represent?”


Fudge represents the east side of Cleveland, which is a Zionist hotbed, and home to dozens of pro-Israel and Israel Lobby headquarters.


It really is all about the Benjamins, baby!


If the American Jewish establishment is uncomfortable at Rep. Omar’s truth-telling, it warrants an intervention, not indignation.


This time the apology is owed to Rep. Omar.

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