U.S. Too Often Follows Israel’s Lead in Diplomatic Situations

There is an open secret in Washington. I learned it well during my 22-year tenure as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. All members swear to serve the interests of the United States, but there is an unwritten and overwhelming exception: The interests of one small foreign country almost always trump U.S. interests. That nation of course is Israel.

Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue give priority to Israel over America. Those on Capitol Hill are pre-primed to roar approval for Israeli actions whether right or wrong, instead of at least fussing first and then caving. The White House sometimes puts up a modest and ineffective show of resistance before it follows Israel’s lead.

In 2002, President Bush publicly ordered Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon to end a bloody, destructive rampage through the Palestinian West Bank. He wilted just as publicly when he received curt word from Sharon that Israeli troops would not withdraw and would continue their military operations. A few days later President Bush invited Sharon to the White House where he saluted him as a “man of peace.”

I had similar experiences in the House of Representatives. On several occasions, colleagues told me privately that they admired what I was trying to do in Middle East policy reform but could not risk pro-Israel protest back home by supporting my positions.

The pro-Israel lobby is not one organization orchestrating U.S. Middle East policy from a backroom in Washington. Nor is it entirely Jewish. It consists of scores of groups — large and small — that work at various levels. The largest, most professional, and most effective is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Many pro-Israel lobby groups belong to the Christian Right.

The recently released book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, co-authored by distinguished professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, offers hope for constructive change. It details the damage to U.S. national interests caused by the lobby for Israel. These brave professors render a great service to America, but their theme, expressed in a published study paper a year ago, is already under heavy, vitriolic attack.

They are unjustly accused of anti-Semitism, the ultimate instrument of intimidation employed by the lobby. A common problem: Under pressure, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs withdrew an invitation for the authors to speak about their book. Council president Marshall Bouton explained ruefully that the invitation posed “a political problem” and a need “to protect the institution” from those who would be angry if the authors appeared.

I know what it is like to be targeted in this way. In the last years of my long service in Congress, I spoke out, making many of the points now presented in the Mearsheimer-Walt book. In 1980, my opponent charged me with anti-Semitism, and money poured into his campaign fund from every state in the Union. I prevailed that year but two years later lost by a narrow margin. In 1984, Sen. Charles Percy, then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and an occasional critic of Israel, was defeated. Leaders of the Israel lobby claimed credit for defeating both Percy and me, claims that strengthened lobby influence in the years that followed.

The result is that Members of Congress today loudly reward Israel as it violates international law and peace agreements, lures America into costly wars, and subjects millions of Palestinians under its rule to apartheid-like conditions because they are not Jewish.

It is time to call politicians to account for their undying allegiance to a foreign state. Let the Mearsheimer-Walt book be a clarion that bestirs the American people to political action and finally brings fundamental change to both Capitol Hill and the White House.

Citizen participation in public policy development is a hallmark of our proud democracy. But the pro-Israel groups subvert democracy when they engage in smear campaigns that intimidate and silence critics. America badly needs a civilized discussion of the damaging role of Israel in U.S. policy formulation.

Paul Findley represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives for 22 years. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.

17 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. gerald spezio said on October 17th, 2007 at 7:23am #

    Supernation can be accurately and fairly described as a culture where everything is for sale.

    Our elected representatives are for sale to the highest bidder/lobbyist.

    Lobbying is an integral part of the governmental process.

    Lawyer/Senators and lawyer Congress people toil diligently for their paying clients.

    Zionist money has purchased most of the US Senate and much of the House.

    Zionist Senator Joe Lieberman can introduce completely bonkers “resolutions” to commit “outright murder against innocent people” and receive overwhelming support from his Senate colleagues.

    “Way it’s posta be.”

    The system is working perfectly for both the incumbents and their paying clients.

    The Palestinians are dying because they can’t come up with the required retainer.

    Supernation gives Israel more than 3 billion in aid for sophisticated weapons to help kill the Palestinians.

    Zionists wanted Iraq destroyed and they got their wish.

    “It’s about the oil. ”

    Yes, that too.

  2. simuvac said on October 17th, 2007 at 8:40am #

    jaime wrote, on blaming Israel for “costly” American wars: “Costly wars? Like Afghanistan or Iraq? 9/11? He must be eating LSD. ”

    9/11 Commission executive director Philip Zelikow on the invasion of Iraq:

    “Finally. . . I wanted to offer some comments on Iraq. . . . I beg your patience, but I think there are some points that are worth making that aren’t being made by either side in the current debate….

    Third. The unstated threat. And here I criticise the [Bush] administration a little, because the argument that they make over and over again is that this is about a threat to the United States. And then everybody says: ‘Show me an imminent threat from Iraq to America. Show me, why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us?’ So I’ll tell you what I think the real threat is, and actually has been since 1990. It’s the threat against Israel. And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don’t care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it’s not a popular sell.”

    jaime, maybe you’ve never heard of the Project for a New American Century, or the Clean Break Doctrine?

  3. jaime said on October 17th, 2007 at 8:41am #

    O.K., I’ll bite, why would “Zionists” want Iraq destroyed?

  4. simuvac said on October 17th, 2007 at 9:14am #

    They don’t want Iraq destroyed. The point is the preservation and protection of Israel.

    Look, I think oil is the more important factor in these conflicts, but it’s difficult to look at the people behind PNAC and the Clean Break and not see an inordinate number of dual US/Israeli citizens who are also fervent Zionists. This is not about “the Jews”: This is about far-right politics in Israel and America controlling foreign policy. The neocons in both countries have seized power, and critics are afraid to identify the powerful because they will be accused of antisemitism.

    But again, I must stress this is not about “Jews”. This is about Likud/Republican extremists co-opting American foreign policy. Read the PNAC/Clean Break documents for yourself. Almost everything outlined in those documents has come to pass in the last seven years, and the people who wrote them are steering the ship.

  5. simuvac said on October 17th, 2007 at 10:41am #

    I’m not Mr. Spezio. Why should I address his theories?

  6. Chris Crass said on October 17th, 2007 at 11:51am #

    “Just because Findlay was a senator doesn’t exonerate him from him from being a liar and expressing profound antisemitism.

    Let’s look at some of is screed.”

    Followed by nothing even remotely anti-semitic.

    Then you offer this nugget:

    “The Palestinians have been suffering occupation, true..but not because of their religion or ethnicity. It’s because they’ve been attacking Israel and Jews. And apartheid is an inaccurate description and a deliberately demonizing one too. ”

    Following this logic, I could say that because one black guy punched me once, all black people have punched me and should be punished accordingly.
    That would make me a worthless fucking racist. Whoops.
    Also, what would it take to make the situation apartheid, in your eyes?

    a·part·heid n.
    1 An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.
    2 A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
    3 The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

    I don’t know what you call a giant fucking fence, but I’d say that’s seperation. The U.N. and everyone else in the world without a vested interest in raping Palestineans agree. Add to that the annexation of Palestinean lands, water theft, murder, kidnapping, salting the earth, and a million other racist crimes and you’ve got quite a bit of ethnically-motivated evil. Please, enlighten me as to how Israel is not an apartheid state.

    Did you think Reagan was doing a great job vetoing sanctions against South Africa?

  7. Chris Crass said on October 17th, 2007 at 2:41pm #

    I meant the salting the earth/rape comments figuratively, but I suppose I should have made myself more explicit, since you’re the type to blind yourself to anything you disagree with.
    You call me an anti-semite. Does this even make sense to you? I’m not calling for the destruction of Israel. I’m not saying I don’t like Jewish people. I think that without Israel’s racist policies, anti-semitic groups would not have any traction to drum up support. Palestineans didn’t start blowing people up until they’d been shit on for quite some time.
    Please define “terror weapons.” Which is more terrifying: a guy covered in semtex or a 100-ton tank?
    What you’re espousing here is collective responsibility. This is simply a code-word for racism. This is too disgusting to continue.

  8. sk said on October 17th, 2007 at 5:49pm #

    FYI, an audio interview of Dave Lindorff on AIPAC.

  9. Deadbeat said on October 17th, 2007 at 7:23pm #

    There’s no comparison to South African apartheid, except as peddled by haters of Jews and the existence of their collectivity in the form of Israel.

    Your rhetoric is wearing thin also the label “anti-semitic” since many Palestinians are themselves too semitic people. Thus by definition the Israeli “state” itself is “anti-semitic”. The fact is that Arabs in Israel are not treated as full citizens and Israel itself is a “Jim Crow” nation. IMO it is worst than South Africa

  10. Max Shields said on October 17th, 2007 at 7:35pm #

    simuvac thanks for your posts. Those far right zionist you mention love to see this as an anti-Israel/Jew set up; and the anti-zionist think oil is just a pretext for Israel’s desire to control the ME. In this way they have the perfect foil for their “argument”.

    I think you’ve put provided the specifics nexus without falling into these traps.

  11. Deadbeat said on October 17th, 2007 at 9:32pm #

    the anti-zionist think oil is just a pretext for Israel’s desire to control the ME.

    That assessment is incorrect. The “anti-zionist” believe that the neo-zionist (aka moderates) use “war for oil” to conceal how Zionism within the U.S. influence U.S. policy. The neo-Zionist have used two lines:

    [1] The war is ALL about oil.
    [2] The war is ALL about imperialism.

    Both lines have been countered by the following:

    [1] The oil industry did not support the war and are record being against the war

    [2] The war in the Middle East actually works against U.S. imperialistic interest. A better case for access to Middle East oil would have been a coup rather than a war costing the nation billions. However a coup would mean leaving Iraq’s infrastructure intact which would lead to their continue growth and economic strength. Thus destroying Iraq better served interest other than that of the U.S. interest.

    There are no “traps” here Max other than the ones you set.

  12. SamZ said on October 18th, 2007 at 11:11am #

    While American losses in lives and treasures were mounting, Olmert boasted to the media (while preparing for a US Visit) that “Iraq war was good for Israel”.
    So let’s get this clear: What’s a bad quagmire for America is “very good” for Israel.
    Interestingly, The US media was very quick to eradicate all mention of this Freudian slip from its archives while Bushco and his mouth pieces were all over Olmert to hush hush.

    Regardless of Olmert’s reasons to say this (boost the sagging fortunes for Bushco, prolong and maintain the occupation) one must accept it as official Israel position leading to the conclusion that the war was imposed on the American people just like it was imposed on the Iraqis, for the benefit of the ..beneficiaries, by design and not by coincidence. Besides, one could argue, even from a pro Israel American Jew standpoint, whether killing hundred of thousands and causing millions of refugee, is good for Israel, in the long run. The sheer amount of ill will this invasion created will have a lasting fissure.

    The time will come when American Jews will have to make a choice between America & Israel

  13. gerald spezio said on October 18th, 2007 at 2:21pm #

    SamZ, It’s NOT just about the oil then?

    That financial genius Greenspun was just keeping us barking up the wrong tree?

    And all that rampant agit prop about peak oil, peak oil…

    Only Adolph Hitler and three other crazies believed in conspiracies, so you can’t even think conspiracy about all this propaganda.

    It is spontaneous and caused by space aliens who want to abuse our children.

    Zionists wouldn’t hurt a Spanish fly, or flea either.

  14. gerald spezio said on October 18th, 2007 at 2:34pm #

    Senator Joe Biden went to law school and “practiced law” on unsuspecting human material known in the legal trade as, clients.
    Many of Lawyerman-Joe’s marks hadn’t been to high school.

    Joe-the-lawyer-Man learned to get the money while masquerading in fancy Italian suits as a champion for truth, justice, and mercy.

    Now, Joe has the solution to all the chaos, lack of democracy and water, and murder in Iraq.

    Let’s divide the whole place up into small entities that Israel will not find too dis-tasteful or too offensive.

    Joe represents Israel and Delaware in The US Senate.

    Nobody knows how much money Lawyerman-Joe Biden gets from his really big bucks Israeli clients.


  15. Shabnam said on October 20th, 2007 at 5:54pm #

    The reason Zionists want Iraq to be destroyed is that they believe without destruction of Iraq is not possible for them to rule. Furthermore, part of destruction of Iraq is to break up Iraq into smaller states, disguised under “federal system” which was formulated partly by the petty servant of the Zionists, Kenan Makiya who has been give a job at Brandeis University, to create tribe of Kurdistan to be a protectorate of Israel so gives support to Israel to implement its plan which is known as “Greater Israel” from Mauritania to Afghanistan in addition to receiving oil through a free pipeline from Kurdistan to Israel. It is a very profitable investment all on American expense and Iraq destruction, both the country and the human capital so Israel benefits the most. Those who are not familiar with Zionists and Zionism please read “Zionism for Dummies”.

  16. jaime said on October 20th, 2007 at 6:00pm #

    “Greater Israel” from Mauritania to Afghanistan?

    You’re dreaming in technicolor, Bro!
    What the blue blazes would they do with Mauritania? And who wants Afghanistan?
    Is this something you just make up, or do others write about it too?

  17. AJ Nasreddin said on October 23rd, 2007 at 7:39am #

    I’ve often heard Isreali intelectuals say Iraq was the muscle of the Arabs and Syria the brains. They got rid of the strength, now they got to kill the brain.

    As I see it, Isreal’s long wanted goal of destroying Iraq simply worked well with America’s goal for getting more oil.

    Also, I’ve heard from several experts and State Dept. employees that Americans don’t have any policy in the Middle East – it just follows Isreal’s lead.