Israel Lobby asks Congress to Approve Attack on Iran & to Exempt Israel from Sequester

News from what Ross Perot used to call the guys in sharkskin suits and alligator shoes– the lobbyists who routinely outvote you and me on Capitol Hill:

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which ought to be a registered foreign agent, opens its annual conference in Washington today. Its three big goals right now are to make sure US government aid to Israel is exempted from the across the board budget cuts of the sequester; to make sure Israel can with impunity go on stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank; and to get permission from Congress for the Israeli Air Force to bomb Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment facilities.

Since Israel is a middle-income country with a nominal per capita income higher than Spain or South Korea, it is mysterious why the US taxpayer should outright give it so much money every year– more especially since the Israelis are breaking international law with their aggressive colonization of the West Bank, which causes no end of trouble for the United States in the Muslim World. Why it should be exempted from the effects of the sequester, when ordinary Americans will not, is further mysterious.

But the maneuvering around the sequester and aid is a minor issue compared to the attempt to do an end run around President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel by getting senators to sign a permission slip for Israel to attack Iran, saying that the senate:

“urges that, if the Government of Israel is 3 compelled to take military action in self-defense, the 4 United States Government should stand with Israel 5 and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”

Although the resolution denies being an authorization for war, that is clearly what it is. It was introduced by Lindsey Graham (of course) and Robert Menendez.

The resolution also seeks to expand America’s unilateral war on the Iranian economy, which is arguably illegal in international law, by trying to punish European companies, including pharmaceuticals, that sell to Iran. The US financial blockade is already making some medicines hard to come by for strapped Iranian families with ill children.

An Israeli attack on Iran would certainly draw in the United States. Thousands of US personnel in Baghdad, Qatar and Bahrain would be vulnerable to covert, proxy attacks in response. The Pentagon has repeatedly warned the Israelis about doing anything that might force the US into hostilities, and the brass won’t be happy about this irresponsible resolution.

Former National Security Council staffer and Columbia professor of Political Science Gary Sick notes, “Initiating a war is the gravest step any nation can take. This legislation would effectively entrust that decision to a regional state. Such a decision is an American sovereign responsibility. It cannot be outsourced.”

Just Foreign Policy has suggestions for how you can protest this irresponsible resolution to your elected representatives.

28 Responses

  1. Dear Professor Cole

    Does that include permission to steal the Litani River, and the Mount Lebanon Watershed?

    Arabs don’t really need water, do they. Look how they waste all that Nile water by letting it flow out to sea.

    Anne-Marie Slaughter doesn’t quite see it that way.

    link to climateandsecurity.org

  2. This is an outrage! Israel deserves our condemnation, not our support. This is another indicator that we no longer have a functional government. Damned Lindsay Graham!

    • The problem right now may not be with Israel but with AIPAC.

      Right now, PM Netanyahu is unable to form a government due to the fact that religious parties are backing away from a coalition due to the fact two of Likud’s potential coalition partners, Yesh Atid and Homeland parties, strongly oppose military exemptions for objecting religious Jews. Netanyahu has had to request an extension from President Peres to continue coalition-building negotiations. Yesh Atid has indicated a desire for peace negotiations with the Palestinians and Netanyahu may have to seek a coalition with other centrist parties such as Kadima and Tzipi Livni’s newly-minted party in order to form a government. These centrist parties are opposed to the further colonization of the West Bank as proposed by Netanyahu.

      AIPAC’s goals are strongly aligned with the Likud Party, however the political center of Israel has been shifting left.

      • Israel’s center-left knows that further colonization of the West Bank can only produce a one-state solution. They also know that would be the end of Israel as both a democratic & “Jewish” state: they’d no longer be able to have both; presuming they exist side-by-side now.

  3. When Shaul Mofaz, who is of Iranian descent, was defense minister of Israel during the tenure of PM Ariel Sharon, he went as far to be on a talk show receiving questions and giving answers to Iranian members of the public relative to a strike he maintained Israel was purportedly planning against Iranian nuclear facilities (Mofaz now heads the centrist Kadima Party).

    Mofaz left office as defense minister and was replaced by Amir Peretz, who shortly thereafter became embroiled in the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Commnetators in Israel questioned the wisdom in planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities of a nation of 60,000,000 when the Israel Defense Forces was having its hands full in Lebanon fighting the Hezbollah 1,500-man militia.

    I have a hard time envisioning Israel launching an air assault against Iranian nuclear facilities much as it did in July of 1981 against Iraq. It will not want to risk a potential counter-attack that Iran has previously threatened if such an attack occurs. Israel would more likely deploy cyber-attacks and covert intelligence operations in against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program order to avoid a direct military confrontation with Iran.

  4. > The American Israel Public Affairs Committee,
    > which ought to be a registered foreign agent,

    It’s possible to make a solid accurate point without resorting to Elders of Zion crazy.

  5. Mr. Cole, I feel your opinion on all things Middle East must be disseminated, but I am having difficulty posting to FaceBook. When I click on the fshare symbol, it fails to send. Am I missing an important step?

  6. It is axiomatic that in international relations each nation considers its national interest paramount. That does not mean it is a zero-sum game. Often, circumstances require compromise to best meet those national interests. This has been true whether we consider the “Concert of Europe” from 1815 (the Congress of Vienna), in which states allied to prevent one state (France or the German Confederation) from controlling the continent, until 1914 and the outbreak of World War I (at which point the Concert had broken down); or the Cold War, in which both the United States and the Soviet Union (in spite of their nuclear arsenals and opposing ideologies) acted rationally and, in doing so, prevented a potential nuclear holocaust. But compromise or not, every state’s goal is, and always has been, the advancement and protection of its national interest.

    The one exception to the above has been, and continues to be, the case of the United States’ relationship with Israel. It boggles the mind to hear American political leaders, whether the President or Members of Congress, whether Republicans or Democrats, fall all over themselves swearing their fealty to the US-Israeli relationship. How many times has one heard that there is “no daylight” between the US and Israel.

    And yet, If one considers the United States’ national interest to be paramount (as I do) in our foreign relations, this slavish devotion to assuaging Israel’s every concern makes no sense. It is not as if we actually act on every Israeli whim; we don’t. And we have always made it clear that we are against continued West Bank settlements (although we have never really put pressure on Israel to retreat). But we have backed Israel on so many issues, from voting against UN resolutions that criticize Israel to continuing to provide aid and forgive loans (turning them into grants), without any reciprocity on Israel’s part. Israel thumbs its nose at the US over West Bank settlements. Israel attacked the USS Liberty in 1967, killing 34 sailors and wounding some 170 others, without suffering any penalty. Israel ran a US spy (Jonathan Pollard) against the US in the ’80s who was sentenced to life in prison, and now wants us to release him. Israel’s policies and relationship with the US make it difficult for the US to have a reasonable relationship with Arab states (at least those Arab states that share our interests).

    The current US-Israeli relationship is an obstacle to the US pursuing its true national interests. It is folly to think that the US and Israel’s national interests are the same, or even complementary. The true US national interest (as opposed to that ginned up by AIPAC) often diverges widely from Israel’s. This unfortunate situation is not likely to change any time soon. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to give the President, the Executive, and the Congress an occasional lesson in the difference between the myth and the reality inherent in this unhealthy relationship.

      • “Herewith, may I submit this one sentence summary;
        It’s all about the bucks, i.e. National Interest.”

        No, national interest is not always “about the bucks.” There are numerous examples that disprove that simplistic notion. Nevertheless, even if it were, it certainly would not be realized by the United States via its current relationship with Israel. If one considers where the real US national interest lies in the Near East, Israel for the most part is a headache and a hindrance. If only our politicians would reach that conclusion.

    • You are largely correct, however Israel has not always got what it has wanted.

      Jonathan Pollard has served 27 years in federal prison despite intense and continuous lobbying efforts for his release from the Israeli government and pro-Israel organizations within the U.S.

      Israel was halted by the U.S. in its November of 2012 offensive in Gaza. This is in stark contrast to what occurred in Operation Cast Lead.

      Full reparations amounting in many millions of dollars were paid by Israel in full compensation for the U.S.S. Liberty incident.

      • “You are largely correct, however Israel has not always got what it has wanted.”

        I think I indicated that in my statement, “It is not as if we actually act on every Israeli whim; we don’t.”

        Regarding Pollard, that the Israelis and their US minions even push for his release is a disgrace. And I’m not sure that at some point in the future we won’t grant their request and release him to live in Israel.

        What you refer to as the “USS Liberty incident” was no “incident” at all. It was a deliberate Israeli attack on a US warship. There was no mistaking that the Liberty was a US ship. Its flag and US naval markings were clearly visible to Israeli warplanes that flew right over the ship. That the Israelis paid compensation was an effort to close the case, and it succeeded. Read James Bamford’s piece (as well as others’) on the attack on the Liberty. Bamford is no conspiracy theorist; he knows of what he speaks.

  7. “Israel is compelled to take military action in (LOL) self-defense”since its EXISTENCE is in peril!!!!
    One overarmed, nuke-holding, belligerent, threatening entity among countries that ALL want a nuke-free zone, and Israel pretends IT needs to destroy a sovereign nation with the help of the USA.

  8. What’s that Professor Cole? I’m having a hard time hearing you over these war drums beating so loudly!

  9. If AIPAC had to register as foreign agents as you suggest, what would that make all of our senators and representatives (save almost a handful) ? Agents of foreign agents ? For that is what they are. Israel is not the 51st state as some have suggested, they are in fact the first state and all others are subordinate. Of course Israel will be exempt from the penalties of American austerity. Just as the Pentagon and Dept. of Homeland Security will, despite the phony hullabaloo. War will not go hungry in America/Israel. The key to this indoctrination is this: It is a patriotic duty to support the military and it is a religious duty to support Israel. When you mix patriotism with religion the level of fanaticism/loyalty is unparalleled.

  10. Why is AIPAC so strong in US policy making? It is not supported by a majority of US Jews. So who is supporting them? I have read some attempts to answer this question, but I have not been convinced. It has been reported that when Netanyahu spoke in the US Congress everyone stood up and applauded. Just like in the Soviet Union when Stalin spoke. That can not be true, but who were the courageous politicians who sat on their hands?
    Why can the tail wag the dog?

    Gunnar Westberg

  11. The amount cut from the Israel aid probably approximates what they spend on settlement activity, so,fair enough.

  12. “Approve (our) attack on Iran & to Exempt (us)from Sequester”–Israel

    Israel (a nuclear armed nation of barely 7 million people) attempts to take 300 million hostages: the U.S. Congress, the U.S.Military and the already beleaguered U.S. Tax Payers

  13. Hope folks call their Senators and ask them to vote NO on the Graham/Menendez resolution which pushes the US even closer to a military strike on Iran based on unsubstantiated claims. Please contact your Senators
    link to thedailybeast.com

  14. I used to support Israel, but that is long gone. My absolute disgust with it is coupled to an equal amount of disgust for America’s incomprehensible fawning over a nation that clearly doesn’t care a whit about America except for its handouts. Israel is a paranoid, aggressive, suicidal, extremely dangerous loose cannon with no future at all given continuation of present policies.

  15. Maybe Mr. Hagel should invite both countries to adopt the Bush-Obama Doctrine that justifies any pre-emptive strike against any country or individual that threatens the attacking country, That takes the legal and moral dimension out of whatever either threatened country does–with the only possible conflict being whether the power that actually possesses secret stockpiles of atomic weapons can use them preemptively under the mantle of legitimacy provided by that same Bush-Obama Doctrine. N.B. Mordecai Vinunu’s Wiki-Leaks like revelations over 20 years ago doesn’t count as proving that Israel actually has nuclear weapons.

    • My comment–perhaps unpublishable in its unedited form–is in the spirit and facetiousness of Mark Twain’s classic “War Prayer” and the nightly news of John Stewart. David C

  16. The most serious action a nation can take is not “going to war” – it is a tie between enacting regulations on banks and/or raising taxes on the rich. So sayeth the Republican Party.

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