Grant Smith, writing at Antiwar.com provides an enlightening account of the nomination of Stanley Fischer as Vice-Chair of the Federal Reserve (“AIPAC’s Fed Candidate Stanley Fischer on a Warpath against Iran: Dual-citizen nominee’s lifetime benefit to Israel comes at a heavy cost to America“). When I first read that Fischer was a possibility, my only thought was something like “Can’t we find anyone who’s not Jewish to fill a post like that?” After all, the Chair of Federal Reserve has been Jewish since 1987, Janet Yellen, the present vice-chair, will likely be the next chair, and Yellen’s predecessor was Donald L. Kohn.
And one would think that appointing an Israeli citizen —and a high-level one at that (former head of the Israeli Central Bank and likely on a first-name basis with everyone who matters in Israel) — would raise all kinds of red flags about old-fashioned issues like dual loyalty.
But there is much more to the story. Fischer, it turns out, will be AIPAC”s man at the Fed. Smith notes that
as Bank of Israel governor, Stanley Fischer played a central role in coordinating the implementation of AIPAC-generated sanctions against Iran—ostensibly over its nuclear program. Stuart Levey, the head of the U.S. Treasury Department’s division for “Terrorism and Financial Intelligence,” an office created after heavy AIPAC lobbying, met often with Fischer in Israel alongside the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and chiefs of both the Mossad and Shin Bet to explore how to “supplement” UN sanctions and end-run Russian and Chinese opposition.[v] The Levey-Fischer strategy was “to work outside the context of the Security Council to engage the private sector and let it know about the risks of doing business with Tehran” particularly against European banks that had only partially drawn back their business dealings with Iran. In 2010, Israel dispatched Fischer to meet with Chinese and Russian “counterparts” in order to financially isolate Iran.[vi]
Smith’s phrase “ostensibly over its nuclear program” is beautifully suggestive. The fact is that Israel has many reasons to want a destructive war with Iran besides the putative nuclear weapons program—its support of Hezbollah, its alliance with Syria, its hostility toward Israel, and simply the fact that it is an energy-rich, technologically sophisticated neighbor with a population of around 75 million and regional ambitions. Israel would love to crush a rising rival power in the region before it becomes too difficult.
There is a strong presumption that Fischer would continue his pro-sanctions work as Vice-Chair of the Fed. Indeed, the Fed is already deeply involved.
That the Fed is a key player in Iran sanctions implementation is certainly no secret. The Fed has been an equal partner in levying hundreds of millions in fines against foreign banks such as R.B.S, Barclays, Standard and Chartered and H.S.B.C. which were charged with violating the Iran sanctions regime.
Smith also notes the cost to America for implementing the AIPAC-inspired sanctions on Iran — something that is completely missing in U.S. media coverage, despite the obvious implications for the American economy:
Although AIPAC never mentions it, American exporters have been seriously hurt by sanctions on Iran and the punitive secondary boycott. A coalition representing the US Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, Coalition for American Trade, the National Foreign Trade Council and others urged Congress not to enact sanctions provisions they estimated would cost $25 billion and 210,000 American jobs. (PDF) Keeping such a costly regime in place despite thawing relations and any hard evidence of an Iranian nuclear weaponization program has therefore required immense ongoing efforts by Israel lobbying groups.
Smith suggests other reasons why AIPAC would want Fischer at a top post in the Fed: To head off the burgeoning BDS movement by targeting U.S. bank accounts and freezing their financial flows, protecting the flow of U.S. aid to Israel, easing rules so that Israeli banks can acquire U.S. banks which would further entwine the economies of the two countries, and having top U.S. officials openly possess dual citizenship in the U.S. and Israel.
This last point bears elaboration. It is well-known that AIPAC vets government employees. Charles Freeman, prospective head of the National Intelligence Council until torpedoed by AIPAC, comes to mind. True, there is no shortage of American Jews who can be trusted to follow the AIPAC line, including a long list of neoconservatives (e.g., Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle, Schulsky, etc. in the run up to the Iraq war) who have shuttled between various government positions and the AIPAC infrastructure. Stuart Levey and David Cohen, who have headed the Terrorism and Financial Intelligence arm of the Treasury Department that enforces sanctions on Iran, are excellent examples.
As is Martin Indyk who is mentioned in the article. Indyk’s story is a good sign that concerns about dual loyalty have been absent for a very long time. Indyk was born in England in 1951, grew up in Australia and received his Ph.D. there , then lived in Israel where “he is said to have worked for right-wing Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir,” He then emigrated to the U.S. where, by 1982 he was working for AIPAC and from 1985–1993 was the president of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
This record of pro-Israel activism made him, despite his brief sojourn in the U.S., qualified him for high positions in the U.S. government — U.S. ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration. He became a U.S. citizen just 10 days before assuming these positions. As Ambassador to Israel he was investigated for security breaches (like other Jewish-American government officials (e.g., Kenneth Pollack and David Satterfield) and many neocons [Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Bryen, Douglas Feith, and Michael Ledeen; see here, p. 23ff]).
Is anyone so naive as to think that Indyk is a patriotic American with nothing but America’s best interests at heart?
Inkyk’s most recent appointment is as U.S. special envoy to the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. As the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs notes, “Is this the equivalent of asking the wolf—and one with a long record of failure at that—to tend to the Middle East chicken coop?”
Given how easy it was for someone like Indyk to become a U.S. citizen and immediately rise to the top level of U.S. government posts dealing with Israel, the Lobby doesn’t have much to worry about. But how much more convenient it would be to have dual citizens in top positions in the U.S. and Israel. Smith suggests that AIPAC likely “sees the Fischer appointment as an important test case to assess American tolerance for openly dual Israeli-American citizens running key U.S. federal agencies. “
This shows how far Zionism has come. In the early decades of the 20th century, most American Jews did not support Zionism because they feared it would lead to charges of dual loyalty. Now we have the prospect of U.S./Israeli dual citizens who have held very prominent positions in the Israeli government serve as high officials in the U.S. government that deal with issues deemed vital by Israel. Smith suggests that former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and historian Michael Oren might “someday lead the Near East division of the State Department,” or Israeli generals could be part of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Indeed, why not? There is not likely to be much of a problem in Congress, or any blowback on such appointments in the mainstream media—yet another example of how Jewish media influence is a critical pillar of Jewish power. Of course, Fischer was careful to distance himself from current Israeli government policy in an effort to smooth over his long history of rabid Zionism beginning as a child in a Zionist youth organization in his native Africa. A statement by Fischer critical of the Netanyahu government was leaked by a former AIPAC lobbyist. But, as as Smith notes, Fischer “had every chance to pull U.S. and Israeli financial levers that could have forced Israel out of occupied territories or forced compliance with International law” but did nothing.”
The obvious conclusion is that Fischer would be a willing accomplice of AIPAC and the ethnonationalist right in Israel. And create a precedent for more such dual citizens in high places in the U.S. government.