A Spreading Fire

Punctuated Equilibrium

It is easy to become discouraged when contemplating the stranglehold the Israel Lobby has on American policy in the Middle East.  One could compile a long list of actions taken by our government at the behest of the Lobby that serve the interests of Israel but not America. Exhibit A in this list is the neocon-promoted war in Iraq with its enormous cost in lives, in money, and in political instability.

In the face of this great power, it is sorely tempting to go along to get along on this issue, or just hunker down with a twelve pack and watch junk TV and ballgames as the U.S. sinks into an economic and foreign policy black hole.

But while the Lobby is powerful, it is not all powerful. As in the Jonathan Pollard case or the AWACS deal for Saudi Arabia, it has lost a game or two. And ironically as it gets more powerful, it increasingly impels mainstream figures to take a stand.

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Consider the following:

  • The recent indictment of Ben-Ami Kadish on charges of spying for Israel.  Kadish is accused of passing US military secrets to the same Israeli who was the handler for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.  The Kadish indictment shows there remains at least some integrity in our federal prosecutorial system on matters relating to Israeli lawbreaking.  Indeed, Joseph DiGenova, the US attorney who oversaw the spy prosecution that ensnared Pollard, in commenting on the Kadish indictment was direct and outspoken in accusing Israel of lying to the United States and of conducting “a much larger espionage operation with sleeper cells in the United States than we understood or could have known at the time.”
  • The still pending trial of former AIPAC foreign policy director Steven Rosen and analyst Keith Weissman on charges of conspiring to disclose classified national security information to Israel.  Despite Rosen’s and Weissman’s arguments that they have a First Amendment right to disclose classified information and AIPAC’s expenditure of $2.5 million for Rosen’s legal bills, Judge Ellis has refused to dismiss the case, although he has granted a multitude of postponements.  It is true that the case receives little attention in the media and true as well — unfortunately and disgracefully — that President Bush is likely to pardon Rosen and Weissman (and Larry Franklin, the codefendant who earlier pled guilty).  Nonetheless, the fact that the government has persevered in prosecuting this case shows an intent by some elements of our government to send AIPAC a message that it is not above the law.
  • Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and his recent attempts to open a dialogue with all of the Palestinian leaders, not just those of whom Israel approves.  For such misdeeds the likes of Abe Foxman, Marty Peretz, and David Horowitz have implied or openly stated that Carter is anti-Semitic and a “Jew hater.”  But such attacks have not dissuaded Carter from continuing to speak out on these issues.
  • The efforts of organizations such as Grant Smith’s Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (“IRmep”) to monitor and counter the actions of AIPAC and its affiliates.  Smith is a dogged researched who makes ample use of Freedom of Information Act requests and other research tools.  By such means he has obtained,  among other things, the transcripts of the 1963 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings in which Senator Fulbright uncovered evidence that AIPAC or its predecessor was acting as an unregistered foreign agent for Israel.  Using these tools,  Smith makes a strong case in his books Foreign Agents and Declassified Deceits that AIPAC has long and repeatedly violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the Logan Act, and federal election laws.  IRmep is a small organization, but it is an active and uncompromising one.

So, some strong willed persons are taking action against the Israel Lobby.  Let’s join them.  Here are some things we can do:

  • Join IRmep or similar organizations.  These organizations are generally quite small, so giving them your support can have a real impact.
  • Invite some friends over for dinner, and after they see that you are almost normal, let them know you read books such as Walt and Mearsheimer’s  Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Carter’s book on Palestine, or Kevin MacDonald’s books.  You may bolster their courage to step out of line themselves.
  • Send letters of support to those such as Walt, Mearsheimer, Carter,  and others who dare to speak out against the Lobby and its policies.  These people receive enormous and often false and mean spirited criticism from the Lobby and its minions.  A simple but sincere letter from a supporter may mean a lot to them.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.  Or maybe write a book or article yourself.  The dissolution of our once great country is giving us plenty to write about.

Do these things because they are the right thing to do.  Don’t worry overmuch (here I am preaching to myself) about how great an impact you will have.  In the words of Emerson, “nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”   The important thing is to be active, not passive, despite the long odds of success.  Activity breeds more activity, in yourself and others, like a spreading fire.

Travis Woodson is an attorney practicing on the West Coast.