Persuading Americans to break the law?
Habituation writes James Austin M.D “means that repeated stimuli yield a decreasing response.” Conversely and importantly he goes on, “Sensitization implies that responses increase when stronger stimuli are repeated.” For in this understanding, “we are addressing the basis of the freshness of vision of the artist or poet; focusing on the possible ways to relieve the depressed person held in the grip of a dreary grey world”, or indeed a Nation, Palestine, gripped by the dreary politics “free of law” of an increasingly violent Israel. Moreover, “some people habituate consistently; others do not.” (Austin). It is crucial then that we, the right minded, faced with propaganda “habitually” spewed forth by the State, organs of the State and influencers of the State like American Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to become “Enmeshed in a propaganda system of awesome effectiveness.” (Chomsky), in “locutions” pernicious and with a distinct narrative of organized violence, sucking us into the undertow of American Israeli hegemony, that we ask this simple question if “There is an intimate interdependence of intellect and morals. Given the equality of two intellects-which form the most reliable judgements, the good, or the bad hearted?” (Emerson). Having answered this satisfactorily, to know then “by our public force can we share and know the nature of things” (Emerson) we thereby free ourselves from the propagandists, and come upon this aphorism: it’s the law stupid! For “The law is the basis of the human mind. In us, it is inspiration; out there in Nature we see its fatal strength. We call it the moral sentiment” (Emerson).
So when in a spectacularly obtuse propagandist statement to a Parliamentary Committee, chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) Benny Gantz is reported in the UK Guardian (Thursday 12 January 2012) as saying “For Iran, 2012 is a critical year, in combining the continuation of its nuclearisation, internal changes in the Iranian leadership, continuing and growing pressure from the international community, and things which [will] take place in an unnatural manner” (my emphasis) meaning “covertly” and illegally, in and to Iran’s infrastructure and innocent Iranians. Therefore, as we spare a thought for Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan who died in an “unnatural manner” a day later in Iran by extrajudicial execution, illegal under international law, one realises the scale of the problem and asks what other “unnatural” acts are being planned for Iran, Lebanon and Palestine? From this natural questions arise of the ‘unnatural’, of the perpetrators and supporters of such acts and their relationship with law for as Israel’s government stated “it’s not our policy to comment on this sort of speculation,” it must be then, our duty, the people, to comment on this sort of speculation, State and lobby ‘locutions’ and the rule of law.
If we do perhaps at the heart of the body politic in America and elsewhere a peaceful process sits as does summer in the sun like a seeded flame. Perhaps not.
Now, is the American Israeli lobby group AIPAC, “habitually” encouraging past and present American Administrations to break, also habitually, international laws? Thus costing dearly on an hourly, daily, and decade long basis the lives of countless Palestinians, encouraging also unnatural acts in Iran and deadly acts in Palestine, paid for by American Tax Dollars and lobbied for by AIPAC. If yes, then here is the opportunity for AIPAC and the Political Organizing Committees (PACs) these “detonators of democracy” (Ralph Nadar) to become “sensitized,” to obligations under public, constitutional and international norms.
Therefore, would AIPAC stand with the Rachael Corrie Foundation in calling upon the U.S. government to “enforce 22 U.S.C. 2304 (1994) protocol on Human Rights and Security Assistance, and the “Leahy Amendments” to the Foreign Operations Appropriations and Defence Appropriations Acts (e.g. P.L. 105-118 570), which prohibit the provision of security assistance to countries and military units that engage in a pattern of gross violations of human rights.”? (CRS Report for Congress Economic Sanctions to Achieve U.S. Foreign Policy Goals). If not, why not?
AIPAC, ‘Supporting an unlawful situation knowing it to be unlawful’ raises considerable concerns, therefore in the interest of the ‘Peace and Security of Mankind’ and in light of Israel’s numerous atrocities and egregious international law violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, would AIPAC support “US (Public Law 90-629; 22 USC 2778) that authorizes the president to limit sales and transfers in interest of world peace and security of United States. Violation of terms of section or related regulation may result in $1 million fine, 10-year imprisonment, or both.” (CRS). If not, why not?
If one agrees with Noam Chomsky, as upstanding and patriotic Americans, that “Even under its chosen conventions, then, it seems that the United States wins the prize for acts of international terrorism … The US client-state of Israel follows closely behind,” and further “its [Israel] Iron Fist operations in Lebanon were without parallel for the year as sustained acts of international terrorism in the Middle East.” Would AIPAC consider writing to congress and the president to remind him objectively and persuasively, of the Arms Export Control Act (Public Law 90-629; 22 USC 2780 ) [which] (prohibits sale, transfer, lease, loan, grant, credit, foreign assistance associated with munitions items to terrorist states) (CRS). If not, why not?
Further as a peace seeking organisation, deeply interested in democracy, AIPAC is, I am sure, concerned by the particularly egregious crimes committed by Israel during Belligerent and Illegal Occupation, Colonialism, and Apartheid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Would AIPAC consider campaigning for ‘Economic Sanctions’ against the state of Israel to include measures such as “trade embargoes; restrictions on particular exports or imports; denial of foreign assistance, loans, and investments; or control of foreign assets and economic transactions that involve U.S. citizens or business.”? And to remind The President and his Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton with whom AIPAC has excellent relations, that the “US Government in choosing to impose sanctions express[es] its condemnation of a particular practice such as military aggression; human rights violations; militarization that destabilizes a country, its neighbours or the region; proliferation of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons or missiles; political, economic, or military intimidation; terrorism; drug trafficking; or extreme national political policies contrary to basic interest of values of the United States (e.g.; apartheid, communism)” (CRS). If not, why not?
Would AIPAC agree and therefore stand with Ralph Nadar in ethical, moral good will and in recognition of constitutional law by “not tolerat[ing] presidents who violate our [American] Constitution and start wars without Congressional deliberation and a declaration of war (article 1, Section 8 Clause 11).” If not, why not?
A question for American lawmakers, why hasn’t AIPAC registered with FARA? According to Garaldi, registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act would require a “full public disclosure of finances-details of income and expenditures-as well as periodic reports on the nature of the relationship between the organization and the foreign government in question.” Also, AIPAC “Closely coordinates policy with an agent of a foreign government. AIPAC should not be [therefore] allowed to keep its 501 (C) (3) tax-deductible charitable status, but should register as a lobbyist for a foreign agent.” (STOP AIPAC). AIPAC then, a “foreign agent dominating American foreign policy while disguised as a domestic lobby.” (Jeff Gates).
Further to the above question, should American lawmakers should also consider that if founder L. “Si” Kenen changed the name of the organisation in 1959 from the American Zionist Committee to AIPAC, has therefore AIPAC’s constitution been amended accordingly? And should AIPAC still be registered with FARA? If not, why not?
What Is An AIPAC?
In their ‘scrupulously researched book’ More Bad News From Israel Philo and Berry quote two journalists “It’s time to revive one of the oldest stereotypes in American politics, the power of the Jewish lobby. Today, it’s not the Jewish lobby that counts, it’s the pro-Israel and the difference is crucial. Two of the most formidable organizational networks in America, the Jewish Establishment and the Christian Right have joined forces. Together, they can penetrate deep into the body politic …. AIPAC’s power has become the stuff of Washington legend. Fortune magazine consistently puts it in the top five special interest groups. No other foreign policy based lobby group gets into the top 25.” (A Lobby to Reckon With, BBC Radio 4, 7 May 2002)
Still writes Alison Weir “coverage of the Israel lobby is so minimal that many well-informed Americans are unaware of such entities as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.” This is unsurprising as in Mearsheimer & Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy we find, “most American commentators are pro-Israel.” They quote journalist Eric Alterman who writes Middle East punditry is “dominated by people who cannot imagine criticizing Israel”, he goes on to list 61 “columnists and commentators who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and without qualification.” “Conversely,” write Mearsheimer & Walt “Alterman found just five pundits who consistently criticize Israel behaviour or endorse pro-Arab positions.” make that 6. “[P]rominent newspapers like The Chicago Sun-Times and The Washington Times regularly run editorials that are strongly pro-Israel. Magazines like Commentary, the New Republic, and the Weekly Standard also zealously defend Israel at every turn. And Editorial bias is also found in papers like the New York Times.” (Mearsheimer & Walt)
AIPAC has been described by The New York Times as “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel.” Well, it would wouldn’t it? AIPAC then a group that, according to Leonard C. Goodman, “demands [and gets] unequivocal support for all Israel’s policies even when they are indefensible.” Israel’s lack of “compliance with its obligations under international law” (Falk) is well documented as is their “persistent lack of cooperation with the fulfilment of the mandate of the [various] Special Rapporteur[s], as well as other United Nations human rights mechanisms” (Falk). Israel’s illegal occupation is also ‘well documented’ but it persists as does AIPAC as to successive American Administrations pressured by AIPAC to further Israel’s illegal Occupation, Colonial, and Apartheid ambitions in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and put the “crosshairs” on Iran. Therefore and thereof making American Presidents and the lobbies that support them complicit in breaking international law and American laws in regard of US aid to Israel?
For States and in particular The United States and its support of Israel’s criminality through ‘abstention’ the following makes the legal position clear, for them and AIPAC of complicity:
“For States the legal consequences of Israel’s breach of the peremptory norms prohibiting colonialism and apartheid are clear. When faced with a serious breach of an obligation arising under a peremptory norm, all States have the duty not to recognise this situation as lawful and have the duty not to aid or assist the maintenance of this situation. Further, all States must co-operate to bring this situation to an end. If a State fails to fulfil these duties, axiomatically it commits an internationally wrongful act. If a State aids or assists another State in maintaining that unlawful situation knowing it to be unlawful, then it becomes complicit in its commission and itself commits an internationally wrongful act.” (HRSC)
AIPAC Pressure Hunting in PACS
Why then in regard to AIPAC and its activities in light of almost universal condemnation of Israel’s nefarious activities in OPTs do we find a champion of Palestine former President Carter having said this, “It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine, to suggest that Israel comply with international law or to speak in defence of justice or human rights for Palestinians.” This is not only shameful but short-sighted as it is accepted by the majority of Arabs and the world’s people that Israel represents the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East. It is also both immoral and unlawful according to America’s own laws and international law in regards to Israelis illegal occupation and those that unequivocally support Israel’s criminal actions.
A major point because a moral one and one must agree with Alan Hart, “is that American politicians, including their Presidents, always had a choice. They did not have to do the bidding of the Zionist lobby. They chose to do it to serve their own short-term interests … Put another way; The Zionists are only playing the game, ruthlessly to be sure, by The System’s own rules. I blame most of all an American decision-making process which, because of the way election campaigns are funded and conducted, was, and still is, so open to abuse and manipulation by powerful and vested interests as to be in some very important respects undemocratic.”
That being the case, why, and how, this influence? As AIPAC grows in strength, numbers ‘mass membership;’ and therefore pervasive influence in the upper echelons of America’s body politic, the author J. J. Goldberg explains, “They do it partly by convincing, partly by implied threats. AIPAC does not raise money for candidates but there are Jewish PAC’s (Political Action Committees) that raise campaign funds for candidates. Four or five times over the last twenty years, these PAC’s have gone after members of Congress who voted in ways that AIPAC didn’t like. They flooded their opponents with money and enabled them to beat incumbents. Sent a message that if you really go up against AIPAC, you’d better know where you’re next dollar is coming from.” Writes respected attorney and author Jeff Gates, “When campaign support is provided by a nationwide network of pro-Israelis, that candidate can more easily be persuaded to support policies by Tel Aviv.”
Indeed a “Super PAC’ can “accept unlimited funds from unidentified corporations or people to pay for radio or television clips.” These “Super PACS” were ‘spawned’ in 1959 after AIPAC changed its name from the American Zionist Committee for the purpose of according to its founder L. “Si” Kenen to be seen to have “raised its funds from both Zionists and non-Zionists.”
This PAC practice, according to Jon Swaine writing for the British Daily Telegraph, was “made possible by a landmark Supreme Court case between a right pressure group and the US election watchdog. The court ruled that firms must be allowed to spend funds on ‘electioneering communication’ under the first amendment of the constitution which guarantees freedom of expression”, and was made legal in 2010 by the Supreme Court.
In the last days Republican Candidate Newt Gingrich has come under attack by ‘unofficial’ attack advertising paid for “by secret donations to opaque political groups” I have little sympathy with him or the activities of PACS; nor writes Jon Swaine do “Funding reform activists [who] are campaigning for the [Supreme Court] decision to be overturned, under the slogan “corporations are not people and money is not speech.” It is however a demonstration of power and influence just ask Newt Gingrich and a beneficiary of ‘attack advertising’ Mitt Romney.
AIPAC’s influence goes to the very heart of American politics and to the very top of what passes for American Democracy; Alan Hart, “every American president has to put up with the presence in his White House inner circle a Zionist minder. The minders job is to keep the Zionist lobby informed of any policy initiatives the president might be not be to Zionism’s liking. That gives the lobby the necessary lead time to organise its stooges in Congress to block the president, or at least to make life very, very difficult for him.” It makes the life for millions of Palestinians intolerable.
Friends like these
AIPAC’s ‘influence’ is shocking as America’s special friend Israel has according to the eminent John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt “provided sensitive military technology to potential rivals like China, in what the State Department inspector-general ‘called a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorised transfers.’ According to the General Accounting Office, Israel also ‘conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any ally’.” Such “collection efforts” states the Office of National Counterintelligence (CI) in the 2005 Annual Report to Congress on Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage, “Eroded the Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage advantage by enabling foreign Militaries to acquire sophisticated capabilities that might otherwise have taken years to develop.” And further “undercut the US economy by making it possible for foreign firms to gain a competitive edge over US Companies.” (CI)
“Israel has sold advanced weapons systems to China that incorporated technology developed by American companies- including the Python-3 air-to-air missile and the Delilah Cruise Missile.” (The Council For The National Interest – CNI). Also “Tel Aviv has also stolen Patriot missile avionics to incorporate into its own arrow system and that it used US technology obtained in its lavi fighter development program- which was funded by [the] US taxpayer provi[ding] $1.5 billion to help [the] Beijing government develop its own J-10 fighter.” (CNI). The CI “Community expects no slackening in demand for State-of-the-art US technology and production know-how. Continued fierce global economic competition will fuel commercial technology theft.”
So think breathtaking and hubris when reading AIPAC’s mission statement which is “to strengthen the ties between the United States and its ally Israel,” where “The two countries have developed a resilient friendship, based in large part to an unshakable dedication to common values. Commitment to democracy, the rule of law, freedom of religion and speech and human rights are all core values shared between the United States and Israel.” (My emphasis) This “shared democracy” station finds Mearsheimer and Walt running a speeding freight train though it, “The United States is a liberal democracy where people of any race, religion, or ethnicity are supposed to enjoy equal rights. By contrast, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship. Given this conception of citizenship it is not surprising that Israel’s 1.3 million Arabs are treated as second-class citizens, or that a recent Israeli government commission found that Israel behaves in a “neglectful and discriminatory” manner towards them.”
Grant Smith of the ‘Antiwar Forum’ explains what this means for Americans “By deferring to Israeli, land grabs, military rampages, and diplomatic outrages and by mimicking Israel’s own defiance of the rule of law, the US undermines its own interests and governance.” It is time for the American public to wake up and hold AIPAC’s activities in the searching light of America’s best interest and the ongoing suffering of the Palestinians under ‘brutal’ Israeli military occupation.
Clive Hambidge is Human Development Director at Facilitate Global. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org