Friday, 1 April 2011

What Western Protesters Can Learn from the People of the Middle East--third and final


By Richard Edmondson


1.     What foreign lobby over the past three decades has consciously and deliberately allied itself with some of the most right wing elements in American society?
2.     What foreign lobby has backed political candidates such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor—rated 0% by the AFL-CIO for his anti-union voting record?
3.     What foreign lobby pushed for the U.S. to invade Iraq and is now endeavoring to move us into a war with Iran?

If you answered the Israeli lobby to all of the above, congratulations. Go to the head of the class.

Most people view the Lobby as being principally involved in corrupting our country’s foreign policy and give little heed or thought to the assumption that it might also have an adulterating influence on our domestic affairs. Certainly it is true the Lobby is concerned primarily with Israel and with perpetuating U.S. support for the Zionist state. Yet all Americans need to consider how this impacts domestic politics. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, has long been viewed as one of the most, if not the most, powerful lobby in America. It can make or break the careers of U.S. politicians. AIPAC chooses which candidates to support, or alternately oppose, based solely on their positions on Israel. The candidate might love war, exalt corporations as the ultimate good, and hold deplorable views on the rights of working people to organize to improve their lives, but this would not matter. His or her position on Israel is what AIPAC looks at. Were AIPAC no more powerful than, say, the Greek lobby, this would perhaps be of little concern. But AIPAC runs Washington. Consider the House resolution on the Goldstone report, which passed in late 2009 following release of the finding that Israel been complicit in war crimes in Gaza. The resolution, which called upon the president and secretary of state to “oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration” of Goldstone, passed by a vote of 344 to 36, and at the time it was considered unusual that even a mere 36 had summoned the temerity to cross the Lobby.

If you doubt the extent of the Israel lobby’s power, reflect upon the words of Congressman Jim Moran, his comments made in a 2007 interview with Tikkun Magazine: “If you cross AIPAC, AIPAC is unforgiving and will destroy you politically…Every member (of Congress) knows it’s the best-organized national lobbying force…Most people that are involved in foreign policy especially look at a broad range of issues and consider a person’s entire voting record. AIPAC considers the voting record only as it applies to Israel.”

Moreover, voting records on Israel can actually be telling indicators of how politicians might vote on other issues, even in the domestic arena. Those inclined to feel sympathy or compassion for Palestinians are the very same public leaders most likely to place a high value on social justice. One would expect such officials to probably also cast votes in favor of taxing the rich or reining in the power of corporations. When AIPAC systematically weeds out such people from the political process, eliminating them from serving in Congress, the effect we see over time becomes quite dramatic. We end up with a more degraded and debased government, eventually becoming in the process a nation of dishonor.

In considering all this, it’s also pertinent to ask if there really is a clear line of delineation between “foreign policy” and “domestic affairs,” and if so, where that line actually is. This becomes relevant when we consider the complex interrelationship between U.S. and Israeli corporations, especially in the military-industrial-financial sector, a matter discussed by longtime Palestine solidarity activists Kathleen and Bill Christison, who say the Lobby functions essentially to sustain these corporate entanglements:

Israel and its lobby work hand in glove with the US arms industry to advance their combined, usually compatible interests. The relatively few powerful, wealthy families that dominate the Israel arms industry are just as interested in pressing for aggressively militaristic US and Israeli foreign policies as are the CEOS of US arms corporations. As globalization has progressed, so have the ties of joint ownership and close financial and technological cooperation among the arms corporations of the two nations grown ever closer. The relationship is symbiotic, and the lobby cooperates intimately to keep it alive; lobbyists can go to many in Congress and tell them credibly that if aid to Israel is cut off, thousands of arms-industry jobs in their districts will be lost. The lobby does not simply passively support the desires of the military-industrial complex. It actively twists arms in Congress and the administration to perpetuate acceptance of certain “national interests” that many Americans believe is wrong.

Given this interweaving and joint ownership of U.S. and Israeli corporations, it should perhaps come as no surprise that backers of Israel are now actively involved in promoting the Tea Party. Not only does the Tea Party express no opposition to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the economic interests that are at stake in these allegiances would also seem to fit nicely with the TP’s pro-corporate/anti-union stance. All of which brings us, in a roundabout way, to Wisconsin.

The 800-pound gorilla

On February 14, protests, including a building occupation, began to break out in Wisconsin as union members and supporters rose up in opposition to Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to effectively eliminate collective bargaining rights for some public employee unions. The protesters seemed set to follow the trail blazed by the people of Egypt, who, after occupying Cairo’s Tahrir Square starting on January 25, managed to topple the seemingly entrenched Hosni Mubarak by February 11. In Wisconsin, however, things did not quite work out that way. The two-week occupation of the state capitol building subsided on March 3 with the issue of a court order, rekindled briefly on March 9, and then subsided once more, and while efforts are currently being mounted for an election recall, the anti-union Walker and his Republican cronies remain in power for now.

In parts one and two of this series of articles, I discussed how protesters in the Muslim world have two important things going for them that Western activists by and large do not have: 1 ) faith in God, and, 2 ) a solid, firm analysis of global Zionism and the destructive impact it has had on their lives. In this last installment I would like to discuss the second of these two assets, or its lack thereof, and how that deficiency is playing out in Wisconsin and its implications for social change in America.

Despite the lapsing of the building occupation, protests have continued outside the Wisconsin capitol on a weekly and sometimes more often basis. These protests have drawn huge crowds, in the neighborhood of 100,000 or more, and the gatherings have been quite spirited, with protesters angrily demanding their rights and denouncing what is rightly seen as an anti-worker and pro-corporate agenda by the governor. But there seems an inability to connect dots. Protesters have engaged in repeated, open-ended chants of “Fox lies”, though few if any seem to mention that the network is owned by Rupert Murdoch or that Murdoch is a staunch Zionist and supporter of Israel. There have been speeches tying the nation’s wars to budgetary shortfalls here at home, though almost invariably omitted is any mention of the hype and promotion of those very same wars by the Lobby and its media supporters. The unconnected dots go on. Discussions galore were held, both before the protests got started and after they were under way, on the backing of Walker’s campaign by the billionaire Koch brothers, as well as Koch support for the Tea Party—though seldom if ever mentioned is the fact that the Tea Party is also backed by prominent supporters of Israel. In short, the Israeli lobby seems to be the 800 pound gorilla that no one in Wisconsin wants to talk about.

As CEO of News Corporation, the Australian-born Murdoch runs one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, with holdings in a number of countries including Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. These holdings include newspapers, magazines, book publishing companies, music, radio, and film studios—and they include also Fox News in the United States. It is a media empire that has been described as a cultural Chernobyl. In the video below Murdoch employee Sean Hannity (equally as pro-Israel as his boss) gives a warm reception—and a national media platform—to the union-busting governor.

The Tea Party has shown up in Wisconsin to stage anti-union counter protests. As the next video shows, Murdoch’s network, while obstreperously disparaging teachers and other pro-union protesters, has been an avid supporter of the Tea Party.

Given then the negative union messaging coming from Fox News, one would think those addressing the Wisconsin protest rallies might at least remark upon, maybe even draw an analogy to, the network’s equally hostile coverage of Israel’s critics. Could there possibly be a connection, and is it not logical that the matter might at least be discussed or mentioned at some point? But this never seems to happen. John Nichols is a labor activist who also writes for The Nation magazine. He is a native Wisconsinite and has played a leading role in the protests. Here he makes a rousing speech, calling for “solidarity…solidarity…solidarity…solidarity…”—though apparently not against Zionism. Nichols makes no mention of Israel.

Jesse Jackson takes the podium in this video. Undoubtedly a great civil rights leader and strong champion of the working class, Jackson talks about bankers being “awash in capital while home foreclosures are on the rise.” But again, like Nichols, he makes no mention of the AIPAC hammerlock on Congress.

In October of last year, the Anti-Defamation League held a special evening for Murdoch, presenting the Fox News owner with its “International Leadership Award” at a dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. “I have come to know the man, not his image,” said the ADL’s Abe Foxman, paying tribute to the honored guest. “I learned that he cared deeply about the safety and security of Israel. I learned that he was as distressed as I was about efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state, to hold it to a double standard, and to seek its demise by some.”

In his acceptance speech, Murdoch expressed adulation for the Jewish people, commenting, “I can’t say I have been chosen by God. But tonight I can say this: I am honored to be chosen by His people for this award.” He also asserted that “we live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews,” while discussing what he described as a “soft war” being waged against Israel by its critics. “In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah,” he said.

Israel has of course very much made itself into a pariah, through war crimes and sixty years of apartheid, though as is the case with other Zionists, this thought seems never to have entered Murdoch’s head. On the contrary, the Obama administration, by failing to back Israel in an even more vigorous manner than it already does, is in danger of emboldening “extremists” in the Middle East, Murdoch averred:

“Tonight I’d like to speak about two things that worry me most. First is the disturbing new home that anti-Semitism has found in polite society—especially in Europe. Second is how violence and extremism are encouraged when the world sees Israel’s greatest ally distancing herself from the Jewish state.”

The awardee additionally asserted that the “Jewish homeland” (occupied Palestine) must be defended against “armies of terrorists.” By far, however, his main concern seems to be “the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it.” Moreover, the “battleground” in this new war “is everywhere,” Murdoch feels—including, he says, in the media. (For the full text of Murdoch’s remarks before the ADL, click here.)

Soft wars, at least when waged by major television networks, can of course easily escalate into hard wars, and as the video below demonstrates, Fox at times seems to be prosecuting its own “fair and balanced” blitzkrieg in that war.

But it isn’t only Fox News or Murdoch feeding the American public pro-Israel propaganda. In a highly informative article entitled “All in the Family,” Palestine solidarity activist Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew, documents how a number of prominent U.S. media figures have either past or ongoing ties to the Zionist state. In some cases these ties go directly to the Israeli military—either by the reporters having served themselves or by way of family members who have served. Among those mentioned by Weir are Ethan Bronner of the New York Times, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, NPR’s Linda Gradstein, and Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic. But again none of this seems to be on the table for discussion in Wisconsin.

In the video below you’ll see Congressman Dennis Kucinich giving a rousing speech at a rally in Madison. Kucinich was one of the “brave 36” who summoned the nerve necessary to vote against the House resolution on the Goldstone report, and he of all people is well aware of the power the Lobby wields in Washington. At one point in the speech the Ohio congressman calls for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and, and he initiates a chant of “No more wars…no more wars…” Yet he fails to mention that the Israeli lobby was one of the major powers instrumental in taking us to war in the first place. To be sure, Kucinich castigates—and deservedly so—Wall Street banks and arms manufacturers for a variety of evils, including their roles in drumming up bloodshed in the world, but in failing to mention the Israeli lobby he is letting one of the major culprits off the hook.

We find no mention of the lobby here either…

…or here in the lyrics of Tom Morello’s song…

Israel comes for tea

In early February, coincidentally just days before the Wisconsin protests broke out, a new book made it into publication. Hailed as “the first great Tea Party book,” Underdogma touts the idea of “American exceptionalism,” a concept much in vogue with the political Right these days since, if a nation is “exceptional,’ then the wars that that nation chooses to wage cannot be viewed as other than noble and righteous. The book is written by Michael Prell, who is a former political consultant to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as a member of the Tea Party Patriots. The TPP is one of the larger and more organized groups that fall under the Tea Party umbrella, and below we see a video of Prell speaking at the organization’s most recent convention. The affair took place February 25-27 in Phoenix, at the $600 million Phoenix Convention Center, just as, coincidentally, in Wisconsin the occupation of the state capitol building was still under way.

In his book, Prell writes that “American exceptionalism requires exceptional Americans”—and in the author’s view the “exceptional Americans” needed at this stage of history are the tea partyers, who he says have begun “rising up to preserve the American spirit, which is the foundation of the United States, the foundation of its greatness, and the foundation of its well-earned power.” In his book, Prell also focuses to a considerable degree on the conflict in the Middle East, and here it might be said that his admiration for the Tea Party is perhaps matched only by his supreme detestation of the Palestinians, for Prell assails Palestinians in terms so strong it could almost be viewed as defamation of an entire people. I have written an extensive review of Underdogma here.

In the video below, Prell is interviewed by the right wing group Accuracy in Media.

Israel has other ties to the Tea Party as well. Freedom Works, a right wing organization headed by former House majority leader Dick Armey, recruits and provides training to Tea Party activists nationally. Armey is a staunch supporter of Israel and once in an interview on “Hardball” called for what essentially would amount to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. But again, as stated above, there is in Wisconsin an inability or unwillingness to connect dots. is a left wing, pro-union site that has been providing daily coverage of the battle for workers’ rights on the streets of Madison. On February 19, members of the Tea Party staged a counter protest at the state capitol building.’s coverage of the day’s events, which can be found here, includes comments from people on both sides of this emotionally charged issue. But nowhere on the page is there any mention of Israel or the Israeli connection to the Tea Party…

Nor is there any mention of Israel in this speech by Jim Hightower

…nor by filmmaker Michael Moore here, although there are several points at which Moore, in this rather lengthy and riveting speech, does appear to get close. Let me rephrase that. There are several times he seems barely one step away from tagging the Israeli lobby with the ills that have befallen Americans—he even mentions the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia—but in the end, sadly, he skirts the issue

What Moore might have mentioned, but didn’t, is that Israel has more billionaires per capita than any other nation in the world. This is a fact discussed in two recent essays, here and here, by James Petras, author of Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power and a professor emeritus at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York. Petras says the U.S. has more billionaires (413) than any other country in the world, but that Israel has the highest number per capita (16) and twice as many as Saudi Arabia (8). Something Israel also has, rather startlingly—a favor which, we should add, has been granted to it by our own leaders—is the power to “leverage” U.S. economic power in its own interests. Writes Petras:

In 2004 a little noticed administrative add-on in the US Treasury Department took place that has had world historic significance: AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) pressured Treasury to create the position of “Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence”. Equally important, under strong pressure from AIPAC, a zealous Zionist of immense energy, Stuart Levey, was appointed to head the new agency.

Levey used all the administrative mechanisms in the Treasury, from threats of penalties, fines and ostracism, to friendly and hostile persuasion, to line up US federal and state public and private pension funds to sacrifice lucrative investments in targeted countries, most of whom, lo and behold, were adversaries of Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Even as Levey was imposing state constraints over the operations of private investors in the US, he organized his entire staff to police the financial world abroad. Levey and his Zionist allies in the so-called Israel lobby” called on their Congressional cronies to approve sanction policies which not only affected US banks, manufacturers and construction companies but which penalized any European, Asian and Middle Eastern bank which had economic dealings with Iran and other countries on his list (Cuba, North Korea among others).

Petras says that traditionally one of the key distinctions between a capitalist and non-capitalist state has been the relationship between the state and private enterprise. In capitalist countries, the government will act on behalf of business, regulating markets in its interest, but fundamentally state and private enterprise are, and traditionally always have been, separate from one another. In non-capitalist (socialist or feudal) systems, no such separation exists. But, says Petras, these separations are now breaking down in America. Private or publicly traded corporations are now becoming “adjuncts of the US state.” In the process—and this may come as a surprise to a number of leftists—they are undergoing a certain amount of “dispossession,” as Petras puts it, as they are compelled to sacrifice profitable ventures in the interest of the U.S./Israeli imperialist alliance. “How and why the world’s biggest propagandist of ‘free enterprise’ and de-regulated capitalism has successfully converted major international financial and industrial enterprises into tools of foreign policy at enormous costs to their bottom line is yet an untold story,” Petras comments. “Given the enormity of the historical change in the relation between state and market, the shift in power has enormous consequences for peace, prosperity and freedom.”

I strongly encourage people to read both articles by Petras in their entirety. By the way, Petras also informs us that Levey departed from his job at Treasury in March of 2011—only to be replaced by his fellow Zionist and former law firm partner David Cohen.

The Soros factor

The “enormous consequences for peace, prosperity, and freedom” Petras mentions are obviously already being felt in Wisconsin. So why aren’t more people there talking about it? One reason could be George Soros, the Jewish billionaire who has become something of a Daddy Warbucks to a number of left wing progressive groups, including some of those involved in the Wisconsin protests. As a philanthropist, Soros has helped a number of worthy causes, from poverty eradication in Africa to providing aid to civilians in war torn Yugoslavia, while here in the U.S., he has funded such organizations as the Center for American Progress and …as well as the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which helped produce the TV spot below:

Yet Soros has also served on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is at bottom a Zionist, albeit a liberal one. While he has been critical of Israeli policies (see here and here), he has also funded the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby J Street. That being said, it should also be noted that there is a sharp split among Zionists in the United States (reflected in articles such as this one ) between liberals like Soros and the more conservative Zionists who gravitate toward AIPAC. A lot of American Jewish animosity toward Soros stems from comments he made in 2003 in which he asserted that “a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe” is directly attributable to the policies of the U.S. and Israeli governments. Not an altogether illogical conclusion on Soros’ part. Nevertheless, we can easily imagine it might be difficult for left wing groups receiving Soros funding to mount effective criticisms of Israel or of the Zionist lobby’s control over the U.S. government. To the extent this holds true for progressive groups operating in Wisconsin, the organized protests there could almost be thought of as a “controlled opposition.” Moreover, it would appear that Americans on both the Right and the Left have in certain respects become pawns on a chessboard to be manipulated—and pitted against one another—by competing billionaire Zionists, a factor making the prospects for genuine social change in America not good.


Another factor doubtless confounding matters in Wisconsin is that many of those who have supported the unions and played active roles in the protests are progressive Jews. This places both Jews and Gentiles in a difficult position. When presented with a choice, most people, by nature, will choose the less complicated way forward, and in this case the less complicated approach is to maintain a silence on Israel. Yet even as this silence is perpetuated, the “enormous consequences” continue to worsen. Moreover, in Wisconsin there are those who, at least on some level, seem acutely aware that something quite serious and unprecedented is afoot. “We are in the fight of our lives,” said University of Wisconsin professor Joel Rogers. “Outside violence, we cannot afford to bar any holds.”

Rogers, whose comments were made in a letter to a Madison magazine (the letter has since been widely quoted—see here and here ), says what’s being implemented in Wisconsin is a “lethal political project that goes well beyond wrecking unions and schools, inflicting pain upon the poor, and otherwise debasing a single state or group of states.” (It should be mentioned here that bills similar to Walker’s are also being considered in California, Ohio, Iowa, and probably elsewhere, while the Wisconsin governor himself has acknowledged leading a movement that may “ultimately inspire others across this country state by state and in our federal government” to adopt similar measures.) Rogers doesn’t “reject without consideration” any nonviolent strategy that might be proposed, including a “general strike,” though he acknowledges that the latter “carries clear risks.” But what he emphasizes—“first and last,” as he puts it—is the urgent need to “build a mass democratic movement.”

Professor Rogers is correct, a “lethal political project” is indeed under way, but I have for many years now been listening to leftists say “We need to build a movement,” with little ever coming of it. What always seems to get left out of these movement-building stratagems is any mention of religious faith, and I would suggest that that might be one of the problems. Religion provides an element of cohesiveness to a movement that ideology alone may sometimes have trouble retaining. Religious faith can also induce strength and fortitude for those who may find themselves vulnerable at times to such thoughts as “the Zionists are too powerful to be defeated,” and to be honest that is probably all of us. Faith in God is an important component in the lives of those seeking change in the Middle East, perhaps most notably in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in bringing to an end the 30-year rule of the dictator Hosni Mubarak. But it is not, at least at present, a constituent factor amongst the American progressive Left.

As Martin Luther King once said, “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.” Indeed. And this is where religious faith plays such a central role. But while faith is important, it should also be mentioned that it is only one of a number of ingredients needed. Another very important ingredient is to know your adversary. What are the possibilities of defeating an enemy when you are unable to publicly identify that enemy or even mention its name? The people of Wisconsin and other states where similar measures are under way need to start making the necessary connections. It has been said that Walker is a puppet—and that is surely true. But what needs to be recognized is that even those who have funded Walker’s campaign are, in a very real sense, puppets as well. They are simply further up the food chain. To fight the “lethal political project” that is being executed upon us, working people and their unions have to take the fight all the way to the top of that chain. The foe must be confronted to his face. A good place to start would be the AIPAC Policy Conference scheduled for May 22-24 in Washington. Expected to draw some 6,000 attendees, the conference will be a magnate to both Democrat and Republican candidates, many of them extremely hostile to working people, who will show up promising their everlasting fealty to Israel. American workers, Gentiles and Jews alike, should use the opportunity to go on the offensive. It is time the battleground shifted from Wisconsin to Washington.

Richard Edmondson is the author of The Memoirs of Saint John. Visit his website at

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian


RickB said...

And Russ Feingold just started up Progressives United to fight against rabid anti-union Governor Walker. Me thinks he may be Wisconsin's next governor. And that may come about soon, if Walker is recalled.

Ya think because Feingold is a "progressive", that he's not pro-Israel, not a zionist?

RickB said...

I forgot to say that this is an excellent post. It reflects my thoughts exactly. I'm a burned out anti-war protester from Wisconsin. And I've noticed the phenomenon this post highlights very well. Hopefully more and more people become cognizant of this.

Yes, the topic of our jewish controllers/masters remains out of the debate, thus they remain in control.

And should you try to bring that topic into discussion, you are immediately cast as an "anti-Semite" and banned from the debate, no matter what the debate is. Our jewish controllers/masters control virtually every debate, all that matter.