A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
Ron Paul, a former Republican member of Congress from Texas, is a 1988 presidential candidate from the Libertarian Party. Following are excerpts from Issue Number 1, dated September 1, 1987, of the Ron Paul Political Report. Subscriptions may be obtained at $50 per year from Ron Paul & Associates, Inc., 1120 NASA Blvd., Suite 104, Houston, TX 77058.
The Israeli Lobby
"A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils." -George Washington
There is nothing inherently wrong with lobbying, "petitioning Congress for redress of grievances," as the Constitution puts it. So long as the lobbying is for freedom. If a lobby works for less spending, less taxes, less regulation, less foreign intervention, etc., it is praiseworthy. But if-as is true of the vast majority-the lobbying is for handouts of special privileges, favors extracted at the expense of the rest of us, it is evil.
By far the most powerful lobby in Washington of the bad sort is the Israeli government's. As a result of its work, Israel receives 25 percent of all U.S. foreign aid, making it by far the leading recipient. In 1987 alone Israel will receive over $4 billion-$1,000 a year for each Israeli.
Robert Gibson of the Los Angeles Times put it well: "When this year ends, the United States will have given Israel as much aid in inflation-adjusted dollars as all of Western Europe received under the Marshall Plan. Yet Israel's population of 4.3 million is barely 1.5 percent of postwar Western Europe's, and half that of metropolitan Los Angeles today. Moreover, the Marshall Plan was a self-limiting process, designed to end when the European economy recovered from the devastation inflicted by World War II; the commitment to Israel is open-ended."
Under this commitment, Israel receives enormous special privileges from the U.S. government. Here are just a few: All "loans" to Israel are forgiven; The aid is paid in cash for "general budgetary support" and not for special projects as usual; The aid is paid in a lump sum at the beginning of the fiscal year, rather than disbursed quarterly as is normal. This gives Israel a bonus of about $50 million in interest charged against the U.S. deficit; Israeli government bonds are sold in the U.S. under special tax treatment not available to any other foreign security; All of Israel's exports enter this country duty free, and Israel is immune by treaty from any future protectionist legislation passed by Congress. It is the only country to have this status. . . And, the U.S. government has guaranteed to supply Israel all the oil it wants at U.S. taxpayer expense if the supply is ever cut off. And some of the $4 billion-plus in U.S. aid that Israel is getting in 1987 will outrageously (and illegally) be recycled to fund pro-Israel activities in the U.S.
The main Israeli lobby is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which wields tremendous power over the Congress and media. Congressmen, like my good friend Pete McCloskey (R-CA), have lost their seats for merely questioning our relationship with Israel.
The intensity with which Israel lobbies in the U.S. Congress is surpassed only by its media campaigns to down all criticism of Israel. Prominent U.S. editors and media owners don't even pretend to objectivity on the issue. They all follow the advice of Norman Podhoretz, editor of the influential neo-conservative magazine Commentary: "The role of Jews who write in both the Jewish and general press is to defend Israel and not to join in the attacks on Israel." Martin Peretz of the liberal New Republic is also an uncritical supporter of the Israeli government, and the Jerusalem Post called the New Republic "the single most favorable American voice on Israel." This bias informs every opinion expressed in the New Republic. For example, it opposed Contra aid until the Sandinista government showed sympathy for the PLO. Another vociferous Israeli supporter is Mortimer Zuckerman, owner of the Atlantic Monthly and U.S. News and World Report.
In Congress today, unquestioning support for Israel is a true bipartisan foreign policy. Conservative Jesse Helms (R-NC) was once a critic of foreign aid to Israel. In 1983, the Israeli lobby set out to forge an alliance between the evangelical right and the Israeli lobby and knew Helms would be the best place to start.
As a result, in 1984 Israeli PACs and associated wealthy businessmen helped bankroll Helms' expensive re-election campaign against former Governor Jim Hunt.* Once Helms was back in office, the lobby arranged for Helms to be flown to Israel. At the Wailing Wall, Helms had a self-described revelation that God wanted foreign aid to Israel. This also, not coincidentally, made him acceptable as minority leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Note: I have no problem with private American citizens-Jewish or Christian or neither-supporting a foreign government. Moral and constitutional questions arise only when the IRS is used to force the rest of us to do so against our consent.
Liberal Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) is also a reliable Israeli promoter. And why not? Ever since his start in politics, he has received megabuck contributions from Israeli PACs, even though he has never had a serious contest. This is why he was chosen to chair the Iran-contra investigations committee. He could be trusted to keep Contragate from becoming Israeligate.
Left out of the hearings and all public discussion of the Iran-contra affair was the role of Israel or "Country 1," as it was called in the hearings. Yet Israel used America to achieve a long-sought goal: supplying Iran with military hardware, and using Washington's money and operatives to do it.
Israel has long put a high priority on close ties to Iran, the only non-Arab Islamic power in the region. In the early 1950s, the CIA and Mossad (Israel's CIA) worked together to create SAVAK, Iran's secret police. But the fall of the shah ended all that.
As an ex-Israeli official said, "The idea for the parts shipment to Iran was initially broached with the United States by Israel, which had been covertly supplying Iran since the fall of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi in 1979."
Why were they successful in persuading Washington to cooperate with arms shipments to Iran? Probably because an Iranian-backed guerrilla group seized CIA Beirut Station Chief William Buckley in 1984, and the U.S. went into panic. Washington lacked contacts within the Iranian power structure, and Israel was there to help. An NSC consultant, Michael Ledeen, who is known as being extremely close to Israel, forged the first links with his chief contact in Israel, David Kimche, a former top Israeli diplomat. National Security Adviser Bud McFarlane was pulled in, and pretty soon the whole NSC. Manucher Ghorbanifar, a former SAVAK commander and Israeli agent, approached Oliver North about the sales and enticed him with the idea of diverting the residuals to the Contras.
But Michael Ledeen was never called to testify, thanks to the work of Daniel Inouye. Neither was key player Howard Teicher, North's immediate boss on the NSC, who also has strong Israeli connections.
Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh tried to get Kimche to testify by serving him a subpoena while Kimche was in New York. But the Israeli government invoked diplomatic immunity. According to the Washington Post, Israel said the subpoena of Kimche violated "both international practice and understanding between the two governments on how questions about Israel's role in the Iran-contra affair would be handled." The Israeli Embassy confirmed that there was a secret agreement. Walsh was shocked, but powerless to act against the lobby. As Robert Novak pointed out, during the hearings when North or any witness brought up the role of Israel, the presiding congressmen would "head for the hills."
It's time that Israel stopped running American foreign policy and draining American taxpayers' wallets, Our Founding Fathers would have strongly condemned our unhealthy ties with the state of Israel.
*Washington Report editor's note: In fact, the pro-Israel PACs bankrolled Helms's opponent, Gov. James Hunt of North Carolina, making him the third largest recipient of pro-Israel PAC money nationwide in the 1984 elections. It was the fact that his Israel-backed opponent nearly defeated him that enabled Jesse Helms to "see the light."