In the early 1960s, Senator William J. Fulbright fought to force the American Zionist Council to register as agents of a foreign government. The Council eluded registration by reorganizing as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC has since become what Fulbright most feared: a foreign agent dominating American foreign policy while disguised as a domestic lobby.
Israelis and pro-Israelis object when they hear that charge. How, they ask, can we so few wield such influence over so many? Answer: it’s all in the math. And in the single-issue advocacy brought to bear on U.S. policy-making by dozens of ‘domestic’ organizations that now compose the Israel lobby, with AIPAC its most visible force.
The political math was enabled by Senator John McCain whose support for all things Israeli ensured him the GOP nomination to succeed Christian-Zionist G.W. Bush. McCain’s style of campaign finance reform proved a perfect fit for the Diaspora-based fundraising on which the lobby relies. Co-sponsored by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, this change in federal election law typifies how Israeli influence became systemic.
‘McCain-Feingold’ raised the amount (from $1,000 to $2,300) that candidates can receive from individuals in primary and general elections. A couple can now contribute a combined $9,200 to federal candidates: $4,600 in each of the primary and general elections. Primary elections, usually low-budget, are particularly easy to sway.
Importantly for the Diaspora, this change also doubled the funds candidates can receive without regard to where those contributors reside. A candidate in Iowa, say, may have only a few pro-Israeli constituents. When campaign support is provided by a nationwide network of pro-Israelis, that candidate can more easily be persuaded to support policies sought by Tel Aviv.
Diaspora-based fundraising has long been used by the lobby with force-multiplying success to shape U.S. foreign policy. Under the guise of reform, John McCain doubled the financial resources that the lobby can deploy to elect and retain its supporters.
Fulbright was Right
The influence-peddling process works like this. Candidates are summoned for in-depth AIPAC interviews. Those found sufficiently committed to Israel’s agenda are provided a list of donors likely to “max out” their campaign contributions. Or the process can be made even easier when AIPAC-approved candidates are given the name of a “bundler.”
Bundlers raise funds from the Diaspora and bundle those contributions to present them to the candidate. No quid pro quo need be mentioned. After McCain-Feingold became law in 2003, AIPAC-identified bundlers could raise $1 million-plus for AIPAC-approved candidates simply by contacting ten like-minded supporters. Here’s the math:
The bundler and spouse “max out” for $9,200 and call ten others, say in Manhattan, Miami, and Beverly Hills. Each of them max out (10 x $9,200) and call ten others for a total of 11. [111 x $9,200 = $1,021,200.]
Imagine the incentive to do well in the AIPAC interview. One call from the lobby and a candidate can collect enough cash to mount a credible campaign in most Congressional districts. From Tel Aviv’s perspective, that political leverage is leveraged yet again because fewer than ten percent of the 435 House races are competitive in any election cycle (typically 35 to 50).
Additional force-multipliers come from: (a) sustaining this financial focus over multiple cycles, (b) using funds to gain and retain seniority for those serving on Congressional committees key to promoting Israeli goals, and (c) opposing candidates who question those goals.
Jewish Achievement reports that 42% of the largest political donors to the 2000 election cycle were Jewish, including four of the top five. That compares to less than 2% of Americans who are Jewish. Of the Forbes 400 richest Americans, 25% are Jewish according to Michael Steinhardt, a key funder of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC was led by Jewish Zionist Senator Joe Lieberman when he resigned in 2000 to run as vice president with pro-Israeli presidential candidate Al Gore.
Money was never a constraint. Pro-Israeli donors were limited only by how much they could lawfully contribute to AIPAC-screened candidates. McCain-Feingold raised a key limit. The full impact of this foreign influence has yet to be tallied. What’s known, however, is sufficient to apply the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Of the top 50 neoconservatives who advocated war in Iraq, 26 were Jewish (52%).
Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, remains one of the more notable recipients of funds. In 1948, he was trailing badly in the polls and in fundraising. His prospects brightened dramatically in May after he recognized as a legitimate state an enclave of Jewish extremists who originally planned to settle in Argentina before putting their sights on Palestine.
That recognition was opposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the bulk of the diplomatic corps, the fledgling Central Intelligence Agency and numerous distinguished Americans, including moderate and secular Jews concerned at the troubles that were certain to follow. Not until 1984 was it revealed that a network of Jewish Zionists had funded Truman’s campaign by financially refueling his whistle-stop campaign train with $400,000 in cash ($3 million in 2009 dollars).
To buy time on the public’s airwaves, money raised from the Israel lobby’s network is paid to media outlets largely owned or managed by members of the same network. Presidents, Senators and Congressmen come and go but those who collect the checks rack up the favors that amass lasting political influence.
The U.S. system of government is meant to ensure that members of the House represent the concerns of Americans who reside in Congressional districts—not a nationally dispersed network (a Diaspora) committed to advancing the agenda of a foreign nation. Federal elections are meant to hold Senators accountable to constituents who reside in the states they represent—not out-of-state residents or a foreign government.
In practical effect, McCain-Feingold hastened a retreat from representative government by granting a nationwide network of foreign agents disproportionate influence over elections in every state and Congressional district. Campaign finance ‘reform’ enabled this network to amass even more political clout—wielding influence disproportionate to their numbers, indifferent to their place of residence and often contrary to America’s interests.
This force-multiplier is now wielded in plain sight, with impunity and under cover of free speech, free elections, free press and even the freedom of religion. Therein lies the perils of an entangled alliance that induced the U.S. to invade Iraq and now seeks war with Iran. By allowing foreign agents to operate as a domestic lobby, the U.S. was induced to confuse Zionist interests with its own.
Readers of Guilt By Association know the role played by the power of association when well-timed crises are used to advance a global agenda—specifically to ensure that Israel retains military dominance in the Middle East, its monopoly on nuclear weapons and its refusal—along with Axis of Evil member North Korea—to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Israel long ago mastered this craft as evidenced by its ongoing ability to avoid compliance with agreed-to terms of the Roadmap. Thus it came as no surprise to see a crisis in North Korea just as the pro-Israelis who induced the U.S. to invade Iraq intensified efforts to expand the war to Iran.
After years without a serious incident, both Iran and North Korea detained U.S. journalists over a six-week period in 2009. In early February, National Public Radio’s Roxanna Saberi was detained by Tehran. In mid-March two female employees of Current TV, founded by Al Gore, were detained by Pyongyang and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In early April, North Korea launched a rocket capable of reaching Hawaii, suggesting a threat to the U.S. Meanwhile Tel Aviv upped the pressure on Washington to shut down Iran’s nuclear program, suggesting a threat to Israel. Six weeks later, Pyongyang announced a nuclear test, its first since 2006. Meanwhile Israel insisted that Iran not be appeased or—like North Korea—it would pose a nuclear threat.
When President Obama advanced his proposed engagement with Iran, a Twitter-catalyzed crisis around Iranian elections made such diplomacy unlikely or, at the very least, ineffective. Meanwhile attempts failed to rekindle six-party talks with North Korea, making engagement unlikely and diplomacy ineffective.
Discrediting the U.N.
Simultaneously, the peace-brokering role of the U.N. was sidelined as its credibility continued a steady decline since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Though U.S. war-planners chose not to protect Baghdad’s famous antiquities museum, ensuring widespread looting, the Oil Ministry was captured intact, securing the evidence required to prove U.N. mismanagement of Iraq’s food-for-oil program—with Iran oil-trader Marc Rich again a major player.
This program offered relief from a U.N. embargo for the sale of Iraqi oil to buy food and medicine. In September 2005, an 18-month probe of the $64 billion program found that Saddam Hussein benefitted from kickbacks and oil-smuggling profits, with lucrative commissions paid to the people in between. Findings of lax U.N. oversight were worsened by charges that Koji Annan, son of Secretary General Kofi Annan, profited from insider information and access.
The discrediting of both the U.S. and the U.N. began in February 2003 when Secretary of State Colin Powell was dispatched by war-planners to the U.N. Security Council to vouch for the veracity of intelligence—since proven false—about Iraqi biological weapons. Then high-profile U.S. Senate hearings, chaired by Senators Carl Levin and Norm Coleman, put the food-for-oil scandal in the public eye, further damaging the U.N.’s credibility and effectiveness.
With the U.N. and its leadership at their weakest in recent memory, Israel pressed Annan for a Holocaust memorial at the U.N. and for a day to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camps. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor in the Congress, lobbied reluctant nations. On January 24, 2006, the U.N. saw the first ever prayer service on its premises—the Jewish hymn for martyrs—followed by the Israeli national anthem.
Fast-forward to June 2009 and a cargo ship departed North Korea enroute to Myanmar trailed by a U.S. warship that, under a U.N. resolution, could not use force for interdiction. Pyongyang portrayed any interference as an act of war and assembled 100,000 marchers to denounce the U.S. while its leaders promised, if provoked, to “wipe out” the U.S.
A month earlier, Myanmar elections were thrown into crisis with the arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Her May 27th detention enables avoidance by the ruling junta of the open elections promised in 2010 as part of the “roadmap to democracy.” In a well-timed incident, the Nobel peace laureate was taken into custody for violating the terms of her house arrest when she allowed an intruder to stay at her home for two days after he swam to her compound.
The intruder, American John Yettaw, claimed he was on “a mission” to warn her that she would be assassinated. He swam over a mile to her heavily guarded compound using cardboard flippers and plastic containers for flotation. Described by a member of Suu Kyi’s staff as “a nutty fellow,” Yattaw covered the distance carrying the book of Mormon, the ‘revealed’ text of a Zionist sect whose devotees are called “Latter Day Saints” and “The Lost Tribe of Israel.”
With another totalitarian regime (Myanmar) potentially gaining access to nuclear technology, Tel Aviv gained another “associative” case it can cite to oppose Iran’s nuclear program. Meanwhile an election crisis catalyzed another rallying cry for regime change in the Middle East—in Iran.
U.S. credibility in the Middle East was undercut months ago when Dennis Ross was appointed State Department special envoy to Iran. A senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy, a think tank founded by the Israel lobby, he has since been promoted to senior director of the National Security Council. Americans can only hope that—in that position—he will be closely monitored by those committed to restoring the national security of this nation.