the Power of the Jewish Lobby: What Should Be Done?
A number of writers have recently written critical articles or reviews about the power of
the pro-Israel or Jewish Lobby and its influence on US policy in the Middle East. Most of
these writings emphasize the power of the lobby over Congress, the two major parties
(especially the Democrats) and the Executive branch. Some even describe the pro-Israel
lobbies and the allied Jewish federations, the numerous propaganda institutes described as
?think tanks?, publications as well as their influence or control over the mass media,
from Hollywood, the print media, television to corporate ?public? radio. However these
critics and analysts paint themselves into a corner, attributing to the Jewish lobby so
much power as to virtually incapacitate any effort to counter its influence and change the
direction of US policy. The image of a near-omniscient and omnipotent Jewish lobby
overlooks its vulnerability and significant issues around which an opposition or
counter-hegemonic movement can be organized in the United States.
A starting point for building such a movement in some cases already exists in
single issue campaigns; in other instances, some of the critical reports on the actions
and behavior of the Lobby can become rallying points for organizing and pressing for new
legislation and improving legislative restraints on Lobby activities.
What Should be Done: 18 Points of Action
1) Pressure can be exerted to force the Pro-Israel lobby to register as an agent
of a foreign power. There is an abundance of evidence based on public documents,
observation, testimony, interviews which demonstrate that the leaders of the Lobby take
orders from the Israeli government, serve as transmission belts of Israeli policies into
the US, formulate the legislation for the US Congress based on Israeli priorities,
coordinate and transmit information from the US government to the Israeli government and
have even engaged in espionage in the US for the Israeli secret police (Mossad). If for
example AIPAC is obligated to register as an agent of a foreign power, it can be expected
that a substantial number of its members/supporters will resign or withdraw, and big
contributors will hold back funding, weakening the activist and financial base of the
Lobby. Secondly, other members of the pro-Israel coalition will balk at allying with an
agency of a foreign power. Thirdly, elected and appointed officials will be more hesitant
to follow the lead or share the platform of an organization identified with a foreign
government because of the possible legal implications or at least unfavorable publicity.
2) Organize a campaign to withdraw investments in US companies that supply the
Israeli regime with weapons of mass destruction, construction equipment to extend Israeli
colonization of Palestine. The boycott should include targeting military industries which
contribute to Lobby controlled ?think tanks,? State and Union pension funds which invest
in Israeli Bonds should be pressured to reallocate to productive industries and social
services which create jobs and health benefits for Americans.
3) Create a data bank on all the key political officials who have long-standing,
primary commitments to the state of Israel and who have collaborated with the pro-Israeli
lobby. This data bank can focus on the role of the Zionist power configuration
engaged in harnessing US policy to Israel?s expansionist policies. The data bank can list
all the major pieces of legislation fashioned by the Lobby for Israel; the total sum of US
grants, and guaranteed loans, technological transfers secured for Israel through the
Lobby; the number of junkets and visits organized by the Lobby for policymakers. In
addition, information should be collected on all levels of ?consultation? between key
lobby leaders, religious notables, and international Zionist organizations and the Israeli
state. The ?information bank? can provide the bases for demonstrating how the Lobby serves
Israeli foreign policy, distorts US domestic and overseas priorities and contributes to
silencing and undermining internal democratic debate. In other words, the anti-Lobby
campaign can be an important part of the battle of ideas, and engage in the struggle to
throw off foreign tutelage, and regain our freedom to openly discuss the role of Israel
and the Lobby in US politics.
4) Support the worldwide boycott against scholarly and academic exchanges with
Israeli counterparts and institutes that uphold and participate in the colonization and
repression of the Palestinians. In particular, psychologists and psychiatrists should
pressure their association to reject all Israeli counterparts who engage in interrogation
(usually accompanied by torture) of political prisoners.
5) Legislation should be passed barring individuals who hold dual-citizenship
(Israeli-US), especially those connected with the military-intelligence networks from
holding sensitive positions in the government or controlling the political party
nomination process, as is now the case of the Democratic Party. Numerous cases have
emerged of Israeli-US citizens in the high tech field who have direct access to software
affecting US national security, as well as high Pentagon officials with ?dual citizenship?
promoting policies favorable to Israel at great cost in lives and money to the US.
6) Organize to eliminate Israel?s special privileges in tax exemption, trade,
technology, and citizenship which burdens US taxpayers, increases Israeli competitiveness
at the expense of US producers and facilitates Israeli emigration at the expense of other
groups. Above all, demand the elimination or drastic reduction of Israel?s $3 billion plus
foreign aid and $10 billion in guaranteed loans a country with a $21,000 per capita
income. The funds which cover over 40% of the total US foreign aid packages, should be
spent in covering health care for the 45 million US citizens who lack coverage, or at
least allocated to countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia whose per capita income is
below $1000 dollars a year.
7) Support efforts to end the US embargo on goods, services and financial
assistance to Palestine, recognize the democratically elected Hamas government. Join with
European Parliamentarians, Lebanese and most Middle Eastern governments and the great
majority of the Third World in recognizing Hezbollah as a legitimate electoral party and
social movement in Lebanon. Here as in many other issues, the Lobby and its supporters are
a small minority in the international community of nations and world public opinion.
Through their dominance of US policy on Lebanon and Palestine, the Lobby has contributed
to the isolation of the US, provoked the ire of all the mainline humanitarian groups and
given credence to the world communities? belief that Washington is a handmaiden of Israeli
8) Raise the issues of bringing Israeli officials to the International War Crimes
Tribunal, or to criminal courts on charges of violating the Geneva Conventions and the
protocols of the Nuremberg Tribunal. By having criminal charges in various courts of
justice, Israeli military and civilian war criminals will be reluctant to travel abroad
for fear of arrest. Likewise civil suits can be initiated to impound Israeli bank accounts
and assets to pay war reparations to Lebanese civilians for the 15,000 homes destroyed and
for damages exceeding $10 billion dollars. Families of assassinated civilian victims and
UN peace keepers should be encouraged to seek compensation in the United States as well as
in their own national courts.
9) Convert the issue of the US-Israeli claim of nuclear dangers resulting from
Iranian uranium enrichment into a more consequential and general demand to turn the entire
Middle East into a nuclear free zone. Thus highlights the fact that Israeli possession of
at least 300 nuclear bombs is the outstanding threat to nuclear war in the Middle East and
elsewhere. The Lobby?s campaign against Iran is directed toward maintaining Israeli?s
monopoly of nuclear weapons as an instrument to intimidate any challenges to its
10) Call for the International Atomic Energy Commission and other UN nuclear
inspection organizations to investigate charges that Israel is manufacturing and storing
nuclear bombs, and chemical and biological weapons contrary to the non-proliferation
agreement. The Lobby will clearly be on the defensive, having to defend Israel?s deception
and secrecy regarding weapons of mass destruction.
11) Organize boycotts and campaigns to demand that local, regional, and national
mass media outlets report and interview Israeli critics as well as its spokespeople.
Propose debates, round tables, and forums that include Israeli critics as well as its
spokespeople; file legal suits against Jewish lobbyists making libelous accusations of
?anti-Semitism? against informed critics who suffer loss of career appointments or
promotions. Organize legal teams to challenge the impunity of the vicious slanderers and
perpetrators of hate crimes among pro-Israel ideologues.
12) Demand that newscasters, analysts, and commentators dealing with Middle
Eastern issues have their organizational and political affiliations clearly identified.
This will help focus the public on the extraordinary one-sided pro-Israeli bias in the
media and weaken a key propaganda arm of the Lobby.
13) Legislation should be supported which bars individuals with dual citizenship
and therefore dual loyalties from holding executive or legislative positions in the
government. As we have seen, numerous top policymakers with a strong commitment to Israeli
interests lead our country to disastrous Middle Eastern wars.
14) Support legislation revoking the citizenship of individuals who enlist or
engage in military activity for a foreign government. The Lobby sends thousands of US Jews
to Israel to engage in civilian and ?security? activities alongside and integrated with
IDF soldiers, creating ?returnees? fully indoctrinated into Israel?s militarist worldview.
15) One of the vehicles used by the Lobby to influence or buy the loyalty of
legislators and US officials are paid junkets to Israel, where they are indoctrinated and
propagandized by a bevy of Israeli politicians, and advocates of the Zionist state.
Legislation to outlaw paid propaganda and vote buying junkets came before Congress but was
stopped largely through the efforts of the Jewish Lobby. Clearly this is an area where
corruption and foreign control over our foreign policy converge and is strongly
susceptible to a campaign to moralize public policy.
16) Since 9/11, hundreds of suspected Israeli spies have been deported, and several
Lobbyists, US military and government officials have been charged with spying for
Israel. Yet no public statements or media exposure has resulted. Campaigns
should demand equal treatment and publicity of Israeli spies with non-Israeli operatives.
Israeli handlers operating out of their Embassy should be named and arrested, instead of
allowing easy exits, as is currently practiced.
17) Legislation should be presented and veterans? groups of all wars should be
mobilized to demand Congressional hearings on the Israeli bombing of the US surveillance
ship Liberty with prime witnesses among our naval survivors. The Commission should
investigate the subsequent cover up by the Johnson Administration and the role of the
18) Support political parties and candidates who oppose Israel?s occupation of
Palestine, its $3 billion dollar annual aid package and the Lobby?s pro-war Mid East
agenda. Support a pro-American policy of anti-colonialism, conversion of Israeli billion
dollar handouts into rebuilding de-industrialized regions in the US and eschewing military
intervention in the Middle East either for Israeli or imperial interests.
Can we stop the Lobby?s efforts to force Americas? hand and pressure our government
into sending more of our soldiers to the Middle East to die for Greater Israel? Yes -- but
it most obviously won?t be easy because of the big money that flows into the Congressional
troughs, the terrible mass media bias and the cowardice of many of our political
opinion-makers. But a start has been made. Leading military officials, active and retired,
have opposed the Zioncon policymakers in the Pentagon, State Department and Congress.
Leading religious institutes like the Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Church of Christ, as
well as high Church officials in the Greek Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Church have
forcefully criticized Israel?s human rights record and have supported various types of
Major trade unions in Canada (public sector union in Ontario -- CUPE), South Africa,
and in the European Union and Middle East have expressed opposition to Israeli ethnic
cleansing and militarism. University teachers, led by British and Irish educators, are
supporting a boycott of Israeli scholars and institutes collaborating with the Israeli
regime. Even within the United States, despite the Lobby?s propaganda campaigns, a
majority of US citizens did not support Israel?s bombing of Lebanon and no longer support
the Lobby engineered US war in Iraq.
Opposition and collaboration with the Israel Lobby cuts across the ideological
spectrum. Opponents of the Lobby?s dominant role in shaping US-Mid East policy in
favor of Israel have provoked the ire of numerous traditional conservative writers,
politicians and military officials as well as a substantial number of democrats,
pacifists, leftists, Greens, mainline Christian churches, and grassroots Democrats.
Support for the Lobby includes the leadership of both major parties, all the mainstream
Jewish organization and religious bodies, most liberal Jews, and non-Jews, as well as the
neo-conservatives, media moguls, and fundamentalist Christian Zionists.
Two momentous issues out in what is a major test of forces: war or peace in the Middle
East and the question of who rules America? The Lobby, in and out of the Executive branch
and Congress, was instrumental in pushing us into the Iraq war. They are the leading
pressure group propelling us into a war with Iran -- a war which will ignite major
confrontation throughout the Middle East and military attacks in the West, putting our
security in jeopardy and provoking a major oil and energy crisis, that will likely lead to
a major recession.
The Lobby?s war-making powers exceed those of any elected body as they are constituted
today because of the terrible fear that elected officials and opinion makers have of the
Lobby?s retaliatory, political thuggery.
The second major issue we as American citizens face is the loss of control over our own
political process; the power of the Lobby is at the unconditional service of the Israeli
state; what Israel dictates the Lobby pursues through its network of several hundred
thousand activists and hundreds of millions in cash flow. Those of us who stand up for
Americans? right to decide its own policies in the Middle East free of Israeli-Lobby
intervention, are faced with the challenge of taking back our freedom to choose. The
freedom to choose who and what we support in the Middle East without facing political,
financial, or social retribution, slander or public ostracism. We, the strongest military
and economic power, have been politically and culturally colonized. Like other national
liberation movements, we must struggle to free ourselves from the tyranny of Israel over
our politics in the Middle East. In the 1950?s we faced McCarthyite anti-communism
as a ruse to propel us into World War Three. Today we face the slander of Zionist
anti-Semitism as a ruse to propel us into a new world war against Islamic nations and
states who oppose Israeli expansion.
Just as a broad coalition from the left to the Secretary of the Army defeated
McCarthyism in the 1950s and led to d?tente in the 1970s so too a similar coalition today
can defeat the Israeli Lobby?s war policies and lead to our self-determination and
national dignity in pursuit of a democratic foreign policy.
Gird your loans, empty your bladder, this is going to be one hell of a fight -- no
James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York,
owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless
in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization
Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is, The Power of Israel in the United
States (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at: [email protected].
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