Editor’s note: This was originally posted on November 15, 2015, but since Neera Tanden is in the news again as Biden’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, I thought it would be of interest. The Israel Lobby has nothing to fear from a Biden Administration. As the article by Glenn Greenwald (linked below notes),
For years, CAP has exerted massive influence in Washington through its ties to the Democratic Party and its founder, John Podesta, one of Washington’s most powerful political operatives. The group is likely to become even more influential due to its deep and countless ties to the Clintons. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent put it earlier this year: CAP “is poised to exert outsized influence over the 2016 president race and — should Hillary Clinton win it — the policies and agenda of the 45th President of the United States. CAP founder John Podesta is set to run Clinton’s presidential campaign, and current CAP president Neera Tanden is a longtime Clinton confidante and adviser.
When Israeli PM Netanyahu visited the US at the invitation of then House Speaker John Boehner in March, the take-home message was that support for Israel had become a partisan issue, with strong Republican support and relatively weak, dwindling Democrat support. Indeed, the Democrats have an analogous split between the donor class and it base that we see among the Republicans, but for different reasons.
The Democratic Party establishment and donor class are strongly supportive of the Jewish state and are seeking to find new ways to increase U.S. military aid for Israel following the Iran deal. But recent polling shows that support for Israel among rank-and-file Democrats has fallen by 10 points in one year. A Gallup poll released this year found that fewer than half of Democrats, 48 percent, report sympathizing more with Israelis than with Palestinians as it relates to the Middle East conflict, while 83 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Israel. (John Hudson, Foreign Policy: “Netanyahu Visit Sparks Internal Backlash at Powerhouse D.C. Think Tank“
The White Republican base is more supportive of Israel (at least partly because of a large, terribly misguided Evangelical component) and thus more in tune with the donors on that issue. But it is famously out of step with the donors on social issues—immigration, gay marriage, abortion, etc. On the other hand, the Democrat base is far less supportive of Israel than the donors but, as a coalition of the ascendant non-White majority, it is entirely in step with them on social issues.
The common denominator is that in both parties the donors are substantially Jewish, and these wealthy Jews are pursuing a Jewish diaspora strategy of favoring Israel and leftist stances on social issues.
So in his recent trip to the US, in addition to dunning the Obama administration for a hefty increase in military aid in return for the US not bombing Iran (at least until the Republicans are back in charge), Netanyahu was invited to give a speech at the Center for American Progress, a powerful left-wing lobbying group. The result was that Netanyahu, dedicated to ethnonationalist policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing vis-á-vis the Palestinians and expelling African migrants in Israel, spoke at CAP which is dedicated to the dispossession of White America via immigration and multiculturalism in the name of universal human rights and empathy for the oppressed. There were some tensions, but in the end, the strength of the Israel Lobby on the left in the US was reaffirmed — and CAP bigwigs burnished their credentials for high-level positions in a putative Hillary Clinton administration.
The tensions among CAP staffers were real—after all, not everyone on the left is dedicated to double standards and hypocrisy. A dissenting statement that received broad support at a staff meeting included comments on the 2014 Gaza bombing that resulted in the deaths “over 2000 people — many of them children” and the incongruity of supporting Ferguson protesters while turning a blind eye to Israel’s treatment of peaceful protests by Palestinians. (Ali Gharib and Clifton, The Nation, “Dissent breaks out at CAP“).
CAP had already been under pressure for some time from neoconservatives and AIPAC for whom controlling the media narrative via censorship and intimidation is standard procedure.
exposed CAP’s conduct following a smear campaign against several of its staffers in 2011 and 2012, including us (Gharib was quoted in Greenwald’s report). After being attacked by Israel lobby groups and neoconservatives for critical writing about Israel, [CAP president Neera] Tanden implemented a protocol to monitor our writing, including setting certain subjects—such as criticism of AIPAC—off limits and, in one instance, censoring our work after publication. According to the Intercept, CAP imposed the measures as a means of currying favor with right-leaning pro-Israel groups and figures.The internal dissent at CAP comes after a report by Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept that
It’s therefore no surprise that the decision to invite Netanyahu required some intellectual gymnastics. Winnie Stachelberg, CAP’s Executive Vice-President for External Affairs, justified the decision by stating that Netanyahu would be subjected to hard questioning, and
she noted that as a think tank, “we believe we need to be open in engaging with people we don’t agree with.”
“Had we said no [to Netanyahu], there would be no public forum where he would’ve been asked tough questions, and quite frankly, we would’ve been hypocritical,” she said. She noted that the Israelis reached out to CAP in the first place and that in the past, CAP has been “highly critical of the prime minister for only dealing with the right.” (John Hudson, Foreign Policy: “Netanyahu Visit Sparks Internal Backlash at Powerhouse D.C. Think Tank“
So I guess CAP will be inviting me soon to discuss immigration policy and White ethnic interests.
CAP officials may well be motivated by the possibility of high positions in a new Clinton administration—yet another example of how Jewish lobbying groups are able to provide very tangible, career-making rewards for being on board with their agenda. All you have to do is sell your soul. The anti-White revolution is massively incentivized.
The controversy at CAP has gained attention given the organization’s close affiliations with the Clinton family. CAP’s first president and founder, John Podesta, was Bill Clinton’s chief of staff and is Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman. CAP‘s current president, Tanden, served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008. If Clinton manages to win her bid for the White House, a number of CAP staffers are well positioned for plum jobs in the next U.S. administration. In Clinton’s bid for the White House, the Democratic front-runner has delicately sought to convince Jewish voters that she would be better for Israel than Obama. She has expressed this to wealthy pro-Israel donors in a number of closed-door discussions, with varying levels of success. Some Obama administration officials and left-leaning activists resent such overtures. (Hudson, linked above)
But besides personal ambition of CAP officials, Philip Weiss correctly blames the power of the Jewish establishment in the US:
The answer is not a conspiracy of donors. Though, yes, donors matter. The answer is the importance of Zionism inside the US establishment. It is the sincere belief among empowered Jews like Dana Milbank, Alan Dershowitz, and Matt Dorf that the establishment of Israel was the redemptive end point of a tragic European Jewish history, and that American Jews are equal partners in the fulfillment of that redemption. This is a sincere, core belief on the part of countless Jewish politicians, journalists, donors and thinktank officials, many of them liberals.
In the event, it was a cake walk for Netanyahu:
Yesterday was a display of the Israel lobby’s strength in the Democratic Party. Netanyahu’s audience was obtained by the American Israel Political Affairs Committee — AIPAC — and the room was rigged, the questions were rigged, every moment from start to finish was scripted to make Netanyahu seem acceptable in Democratic circles. The crowd in the room looked like it was drugged. [In fact, the crowd was by invitation-only, guaranteed to be supportive of Netanyahu.] There was no animation, little audible response, no effervescence. The room was stocked with pro-Israel Jews. The only questions from the audience were from stalwarts of the Israel lobby: Morton Halperin of J Street, David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Greg Rosenbaum of the National Jewish Democratic Council. The arrangement of these three questions, two of them putatively adversarial (a Jewish publication quotes J Street saying it was the first time that J Street had ever had a direct encounter with the PM), was straight out of the history of the Soviet Union.
Max Blumenthal said Tanden was auditioning for her job in the forthcoming Clinton administration, and nailing it. Adam Horowitz said, It’s not entirely surprising that Tanden was unimpressive, given that it’s not her area of expertise, but she cowered and Netanyahu loved it. And by the way, the awkward chairs displayed the Prime Minister’s sizeable gut. (James North and Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, Nov. 11)
North and Weiss conclude, a bit optimistically:
Yesterday was also a display of the downfall of the Israel lobby. This is what it’s reduced to: show-conversations, with a rigged room, inside the Democratic Party. Just about everyone in that room was old and just about everyone was Jewish too. It’s not American democracy on display; it’s the dead hand of an old order.
The entirely Jewish audience at an event hosted by an organization avowedly committed to a rainbow vision of America reminds us that this is all about narrow Jewish ethnic interests, and not at all about what’s good for the US.
Actually, the claim that the meeting was nothing more than “the dead hand of an old order” is a bit optimistic. Netanyahu also spoke at the neocon American Enterprise Institute, with the likes of Dick Cheney and Richard Perle in attendance. The neocons are still “the dominant foreign policy force in the Republican party,” and when it comes to donors, it’s not possible for any but the wealthiest Republicans to even think about running for president unless they receive the support of Sheldon Adelson and the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Jewish power is not going away soon in either party, despite the gaps between the donor classes and their bases, because, after all, the really big money provided by the donor class is essential to the success of any political party, and politically motivated Jewish money is not going away any time soon. Philip Weiss notes that “it’s been estimated that on the Democratic side at the congressional level on up, Jews account for half to two-thirds of the funding,” and it’s doubtless at least that high for presidential elections. On the Republican side, it may be slightly less overall, but it’s obvious that Sheldon Adelson’s $100 million for the GOP in 2012 and the other billionaires in the Republican Jewish Coalition simply can’t be ignored.
As Norman Podhoretz noted, Jews fund the left in America. As I have noted several times, Jewish wealth would be unimportant except that Jews are very effective at using their wealth in ways that promote issues in both major parties that oppose the interests of the traditional American White majority, whether on Israel or on the social agenda of the left (immigration, multiculturalism). Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any candidate for president being successful without the support of pro-Israel Jews who are liberal on social issues—right now their favored candidates are Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio. Unless they have their own money.
And that is a major attraction of Donald Trump.