They Want to Talk About Israel. OK, Let’s Talk About Israel.

In The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam quotes US president Lyndon Baines Johnson on his desired qualities in an assistant: “I want loyalty! I want him to kiss my a– in Macy’s window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses.”

Nearly every “major party” presidential candidate this year and in past election cycles seems to have taken that advice to heart, but in an odd way. They come off less as applicants for the presidency of the United States than for the position of personal aide to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The second Republican presidential primary debate looked a lot like Macy’s window at high noon:

Jeb Bush: “[T]he first thing that we need to do is to establish our commitment to Israel …”

Carly Fiorina: “On day one in the Oval Office, I will make two phone calls, the first to my good friend to Bibi Netanyahu to reassure him we will stand with the state of Israel.”

Marco Rubio: “If I’m honored with the opportunity to be president, I hope that our Air Force One will fly, first and foremost, to our allies; in Israel …”

Mike Huckabee: “At the end of my presidency I would like to believe that the world would be a safe place, and there wouldn’t be the threats. Not only to the US, but to Israel …”

Ted Cruz: “If I’m elected president our friends and allies across the globe will know that we stand with them. the bust of Winston Churchill will be back in the Oval Office, and the American embassy in Israel will be in Jerusalem.”

If you expect to hear anything much different from the Democratic candidates, you’re engaged in wishful thinking. Immediate and unqualified obedience to Benjamin Netanyahu has replaced Social Security as the third rail in American presidential politics — don’t step on it or you’ll die.

The question for me is not “pro-Israel” versus “anti-Israel.”

Nor is it, as conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted foot-in-mouth, about courting the “f—ing Jews,” who are no longer the swing voting bloc they used to be, if for no other reason than that American Jews tend on average to be a little less “pro-Israel” than major party presidential candidates.

What it’s about is whether or not American voters should continue to give a foreign power’s well-financed lobby significant control over US foreign policy decisions and presidential choices.

In future debates, presidential candidates of all parties should be asked whether or not Israel is one of the 50 states — and if not, why they think it deserves large welfare checks drawn on the treasury of, and veto power over the actions of, the US government.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida.

This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

24 thoughts on “They Want to Talk About Israel. OK, Let’s Talk About Israel.”

  1. The good news is that the vast majority of the American people don't share the candidates' unreasoning subservience to the Israel lobby. The antiwar movement needs to challenge the candidates on their willingness to commit Americans to wars to support a nuclear armed expansionist apartheid state that received 50% of US military aid.
    Sadly, we can't look for help from Rand Paul. He went over to the dark side when he signed Jim Cotton's letter promising military support to Israel if Netanyahu launches a preemptive war against Iran. There are very few things worse that the usurpation of Congress' war making power by the President. One of the few things that would be worse would be to give the power to unilaterally commit the American military to Israel's prime minister. That is what Cotton, Rand Paul and the other signatories of Cotton's letter would do.
    The lesser Paul compounded his commitment to the Neocon/Israel lobbies when he bought into the lie that Iran is a potential nuclear threat and when he proposed his idiotic 'Stand With Israel Act" to defund the Palestinian Authority while not touching the $3 billion annual military aid the US gives Israel. Rand's Stand With Israel Act is so idiotic that even AIPAC opposes it because if the PA was defunded Israel would have to provide the security and governmental services that the PA currently does with its funding from the US and Europe. And if the PA failed, the phony "peace process' would be exposed as a fraud.
    The antiwar movement needs to find bring the candidates' irrational and disloyal subservience to Israel's lobbyists into play in the presidential campaigns in both parties.

    1. Skywalker, I couldn't agree more with what you say, but the fact that "the vast majority of the American people don't share the candidates' unreasoning subservience to the Israel lobby" is irrelevant. Liberating U.S. foreign policy from AIPAC control is, let's be real about it, a single-issue vote. Tel Aviv's Amen Corner is going to dominate because the "vast majority of the American people" have varied interests and consequently won't pay attention to one single-issue like Israel.

      1. Mike, I agree that the American people are apathetic and unengaged about the Neocon wars. The same was true about the Vietnam war until Americans realized the cost of the war and that there was no exit in the foreseeable future. True, there was a draft and 58,000 American casualties in Vietnam. But the blowback from the mid-East wars and the US trillion dollar military budget is a drain on our economy and a long term threat to economic stability. Americans will react strongly when they realize the extent to which our Congress and President are subordinating America's interest to the dictates of a belligerent country that manipulates Congress and the President to get us to fight wars against countries that don't threaten us.

        1. Americans are angry .They are frustrated. But they don't have one Corbyn . They can't have one Ron Paul. They couldn't . The problem is in the gatekeeping . But that is one of many blocks,
          The frustrated,angry and disoriented Americans still go back to the same sources for information for guidance,for hope,and for psychological balm . Otherwise ehy after one disastrous war they still march to the tune of next war drum . They read the material on Iran deal provided to them by the same forces that shaped their support for Iraq war and still they believe the Iran deal the worst things that ever happened to them after 911.
          They swallow hook line and slinker the myth of exceptionalism ,of manifest destiny,of being number one nation of having special position in the ranking of power and above all being innocent participant in all major wars .
          Unless the citizen challenge the paradigm in which they cast their foreign policy ,chances of any change is remote . Public weakness taps from this fountain of stupidity . The ruling class masterfully uses this stupid weakness . A few minutes attention to the presidential debate will confirm where and how these candidates get the staying power from.
          These impotent block of the citizen think that their country is being ruined by Russian antagonis,Chinese sea adventure,Mexican immigrant,beheadings by IS,and by Saudi lobby .

        2. It wasn't the Americans concerns about the cost of the Viet Nam war that brought about unrest and protest. It was the American youth refusal to be herded into a hostile land to be slaughtered while who leaders treated it like a game. These youth were hero's but are looked at today as traitors. Who is more noble, one who refuses to go into another mans house and kill him because the government don't like him or one who refuses to go because he believes the Government to be unreasonable. Being blindly subservient as the Germans were is what led to millions of deaths in the two major wars.

          1. Steve, I couldn't agree more. I apologize if I implied that self interest was the only motivation for the movement against the Vietnam war.

  2. This nation is so ignorant and stupid, despite the internet and modern access to information instantly! It gets me so frustrated at times that if the CIA was willing to pay me money to work for them fooling the populace in some way, I would be tempted to take the deal! Stupid IS hard to fix, especially when it is buttressed by denial that America can do NO wrong! If Americans heads are in the sand and they aren't even aware of it, we are in bad shape indeed. And one thing I am certain about is that if Americans knew the history of duplicity by Israel towards the USA, they would probably want USA "leaders: that have been supporting and cheer leading Israel tried for treason!

  3. All Obama policy blunders have been as a result of leaving it to the extremist pro Israel members of his cabinet and advisors. viz Libya, Syria and Gaza. Hilary Clinton was a disaster with Libya.

    With the Iran deal I get the feeling hes been a bit more proactive along with the Syrian chemical episode.

  4. It seems we can say “the Catholics”, the Muslims”, the French, the Asians, the Arabs, the Africans, whatever. But we cannot say “the Jews” or Mr. Knapp will ban you from this site? I would like to ask him why that is?

      1. Are you actually going to sit there and deny you have banned people for using the term “the Jews”? You and I both know that’s not true.

        1. Like the guy once said, it isn’t what you don’t know that hurts you, it’s what you think you know that turns out to be true.

          I have never, ever, ever so much as a single time banned anyone for using the term “the Jews.” Period.

          1. Class act as always. Thomas L. Knapp Mod Panco Nietzsche • 9 hours ago
            You’re an idiot. But that’s OK. Being an idiot isn’t against the rules here. So by all means, continue making an ass of yourself in good health.

    1. I follow the comments as much or more than I do the text of many articles here at Would that you could make a comment on the article rather than complaining about the well known constraints on comments here at I have read about plenty of allusions to the group known as “the Jews” for many, many years. It could be that you have good points to make but if you aren’t making them well enough to pass the criteria here at I don’t imagine that complaining about the constraints are going to change them.

      In my experience most comments about “the Jews” is boring and uninteresting and uncompelling assertions of conspiracy theories.

      You have my best wishes in composing an interesting comment that gets the point you want to make that survives the constraints here.

      1. “…you aren’t making them well enough to pass the criteria here at” Nah. Just the Zionist gatekeeper Thos Knapp.

          1. Huh? Your name isn’t Knapp? Or does the abbreviation Thos not apply to you for some reason?

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