American Democracy: Pro-Israel Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Helen Keller’s pithy observation about American democracy being little more than a choice “between Tweedledum and Tweedledee” was never more true than in the upcoming mid-term elections in the ninth congressional district of Illinois.

In a district which includes the affluent northern suburbs of Chicago along the shore of Lake Michigan, the central issue is not the two wars — or is it now three? — the country is fighting, nor is it the tanking economy, in great part caused by those debt-inducing wars. No, the burning issue here is… who cares more about Israel?

“A Jewish candidate has been trying to convince the mostly Jewish voters that his Jewish opponent has not done enough to protect the Jewish interest,” reports Ynetnews, the English language website of Israel’s most-read newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. Although less than 25 percent of the ninth district’s constituents are Jewish, and there is little agreement about what constitutes “the Jewish interest,” it’s not a bad summary of Republican challenger Joel Pollak’s campaign to oust the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

Pollak, an Orthodox Jew born in South Africa, charges Rep. Schakowsky with being “soft on Israel’s security.”

Let’s take a brief look at Congresswoman Schakowsky’s record on Capitol Hill to see if there’s any truth to Pollak’s allegations.

Since she was first elected to Congress in 1998, Schakowsky has consistently backed policies sought by Tel Aviv and its unregistered foreign agents in Washington, ensuring the continuation of the U.S. military, diplomatic, and financial support on which Israel crucially depends. As might be expected, her “100 percent” pro-Israel record has included a reflexive defense of Israeli aggression and demands for crippling sanctions against Iran.

In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, which killed over 300 Palestinian children, Schakowsky voted for a House resolution supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza. Later, she co-sponsored what Rep. Dennis Kucinich dubbed the “wrong is right” resolution condemning the Goldstone report, which Kucinich said his colleagues had not even read. And after Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old U.S. citizen armed with nothing more than a small video camera, was murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos on the Gaza flotilla, she signed the Poe/Peters letter to President Obama again touting Israel’s right to self-defense.

Echoing Tel Aviv’s rhetoric about the “existential threat” posed by Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons programme, Congresswoman Schakowsky has long been lending her name to a raft of legislation targeting Tehran. In 1999, Schakowsky co-sponsored the Iran Nonproliferation Act. In 2001, she co-sponsored the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act Extension Act. She has also co-sponsored the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, and the Iran Freedom Support Act. More recently, Schakowsky co-sponsored the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, which a former CIA officer and political analyst described as “basically an act of war.”

“There’s more, much more, but you get the idea,” as Steve Sheffey, a pro-Israel political activist, put it in his Huffington Post defense of Schakowsky.

Her opponent, however, does not get the idea.

To Joel Pollak and his supporters, which include his Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, Schakowsky is “too sympathetic” to Palestinians and the sanctions against Iran are “weak.”

But the GOP nominee is most concerned about Obama’s feeble efforts to coax Netanyahu to comply with international law by ceasing the building of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian territory. In a statement, Pollak called on Schakowsky to join him in “condemning the Obama administration’s ongoing attack on Israel.”

Among pro-Israelis there are concerns, however, that “efforts to transform support for Israel from a long-standing bipartisan national consensus into a divisive partisan wedge issue” could be counterproductive. “Ironically, by using Israel as a political football for partisan gain,” writes Sheffey, “Pollak’s supporters ignore the cardinal principle of pro-Israel advocacy: Support for Israel is and must remain bi-partisan.” According to Sheffey, Pollak has broken the Republican Party’s “friendly incumbent rule,” whereby pro-Israel opponents are expected to “disregard all other issues and vote solely based on Israel.”

Deeply concerned about the increasing use of support for Israel as a partisan issue in American domestic politics, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, reminded everyone that “bipartisan support for Israel is a strategic national interest for the State of Israel.”

One rule that Pollak didn’t break, however, is the tacit agreement among both major parties to never expose how profoundly corrupt the political system really is.

In 2000, the FBI began wiretapping Congresswoman Schakowsky as part of a wider investigation into foreign espionage and the corruption of American public officials. “The epicenter of a lot of the foreign espionage activity was Chicago,” according to former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, in an interview with The American Conservative magazine. “They needed Schakowsky and her husband Robert Creamer to perform certain illegal operational facilitations for them in Illinois.”

One would think that Joel Pollak would relish exposing Schakowsky’s entrapment by a female Turkish agent, revealed in Edmonds’ testimony under oath in a court case filed in Ohio. The problem for the aspiring pro-Israel legislator, however, is that the FBI investigation “started with the Israeli Embassy.”

And what choice does that leave American voters? As one frustrated commentator put it, there’s “not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties.” Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to their corrupt bipartisan support for Israel.

Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. Read other articles by Maidhc, or visit Maidhc's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on October 28th, 2010 at 3:24pm #

    One caveat about ”democracies”: some r not even similar let alone the same as the one in US.
    Swiss governance appears far more timocratic and pantisocratic than even finish one let alone ones in india, egypt, syria, turkey,US.

    Why does one think that not single pol in US acknowledges this very useful idea?

  2. hayate said on October 28th, 2010 at 10:55pm #

    “American Democracy: Pro-Israel Tweedledum and Tweedledee”

    That pretty much sums up the modern american political experience. Good article.

  3. Aaron Aarons said on October 29th, 2010 at 2:35am #

    It didn’t take much research to find out that there is a Green Party candidate, Simon Ribeiro (, in that district. There are things about his campaign, including the use of patriotic symbols and slogans (e.g., “American Pride”), that would make me unwilling to support him. But his positions are anti-imperialist and, despite my reservations about his way of formulating it, he has a pretty decent position on Palestine:

    >> Pressure the modern Jewish State of Israeli to become part of a larger democratic Pluralistic Palestine State that can be referred to as either “Palestine” or “Israel” or “Palestine-Israel”. Allow Palestinian Refugees to Return to their homes in Palestine and stop Jewish Settlements and immigration-colonization in Palestine. Help Jewish Israelis migrate to the US if they wish not to stay in this new Pluralistic Palestine Nation-State. <<

    Unfortunately, he apparently does not attack his opponents for their Zionist and imperialist positions, nor even mention them, but just puts forward his own program abstractly. What a shame!

  4. kalidas said on October 29th, 2010 at 5:22pm #

    Perhaps this will help.
    Perhaps not.

    “On the face of it, the ‘Jewish left’ is, at least categorically, no different from Israel or Zionism: after all, it is an attempt to form yet another ‘Jews only political club’. And as far as the Palestinian solidarity movement is concerned, its role is subject to a growing debate — For on the one hand, one can see the political benefit of pointing at a very few ‘good Jews’, and emphasizing that there are Jews who ‘oppose Zionism as Jews’. Yet on the other hand, however, accepting the legitimacy of such a racially orientated political affair, is in itself, an acceptance of yet another form, or manifestation of Zionism, for Zionism claims that Jews are primarily Jewish, and had better operate politically as Jews(1).

    To a certain extent then, it is clear that Jewish anti Zionism, is, in itself, still just another form of Zionism.

    ‘Jewish dissidence’ has two main roles: First, it attempts to depict and bolster a positive image of Jews in general (2). Second, it is there to silence and obscure any attempts on the part of the outsider to grasp the meaning of Jewish identity and Jewish politics within the machinations of the Jewish state. It is also there to stop elements in this movement from elaborating on the crucial role of Jewish lobbying.

    The Jewish Left is there then, to mute any possible criticism of Jewish politics within the wider Left movements. It is there to stop the Goyim from looking into Jewish affairs.”
    -Gilad Atzmon

  5. kalidas said on October 29th, 2010 at 5:30pm #

    Oh, sorry.
    Here you go..

  6. 3bancan said on October 30th, 2010 at 2:24am #

    Aussie Trades Unionist Exposes 9/11 Cover-up:

    How can one not “enjoy” Jon Faine’s unsurpassable zionazi speak?!
    Btw, I haven’t heard of a “Zionists for 9/11 truth” or a “Jews for 9/11 truth” organization yet…

  7. Clif Brown said on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:02pm #

    I am in the congressional district where Schakowsky and Pollack are running and I just voted for the former as the lesser evil. Jan has done lots of good in Congress, her position on Israel is the bad spot on the apple and there are occasions, too rare, when she doesn’t vote the Israel line. I wasn’t aware of the Dershowitz factor in Pollack but he never seemed to have any depth. To add to the mess, Mark Kirk, the #1 boy for the Israel lobby in financial support might end up governor. Pulling the plug on Israel’s control of Congress is the top national security issue for the United States as America is the one and only foundation that allows the settlement project to continue regardless of worldwide condemnation. The best hope for a change is that Israel will continue the blatant discriminatory actions it is pushing. There’s nothing like a full display of the real modern Israel to change minds clouded with a fairy story for so long.