“Israel’s Influence: Good or Bad for America?” was the theme of a daylong conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on March 18, 2016.
The Conference archive is available on YouTube below:
Speakers included Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo, as well as Gideon Levy, Susan Abulhawa, Philip Weiss, Rula Jebreal, Huwaida Arraf, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Kirk James Beattie, Grant Smith Catherine Jordan, Maria LaHood, Roger J. Mattson, Tareq Radi, Janet McMahon, Delinda C. Hanley, and Dale Sprusansky.
“Israel’s Influence” is co-sponsored by the American Educational Trust, publisher of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). Attendees receive lunch and an invitation to a special attendee-speaker reception.
Expert panelists and keynote speakers analyzed the enormous impact Israel’s influence has on Congress, establishment media, academia and other major institutions. They will explore the costs and benefits in terms of foreign aid and covert intelligence, foreign policy, America’s regional and global standing, and unbiased news reporting.
American taxpayers provide Israel with more than $3.1 billion annually in military aid. Since 1948 Israel has received far more than any other country, despite polls showing that most Americans oppose such aid. Israel and its U.S. supporters are now lobbying for a $1 billion increase—to $4.5 billion yearly—as “compensation” for the recently concluded nuclear deal with Iran, despite Israel and its lobby’s overt attempts to prevent it. What Israeli assumptions about America drive this?
In 2001 Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who characterized the 9/11 attacks on America as “good” for Israel, stated, “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.”
The lobby in charge of moving America is vast and powerful. It will raise and spend another estimated $4.1 billion in 2016 charitable contributions to indirectly subsidize Israeli institutions such as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), finance U.S. Israel advocacy, lobby local, state and federal officials, and support Israel-centric “education” programs. Some of this “education” supports pro-Israel programs in schools, colleges and universities. It also covers training federal and local law enforcement officials to focus on American Muslim and Arab communities as potential terrorist and “violent extremist” threats.
History reveals that Israel and its lobby are most influential when they can point to—or, in the case of the Iran nuclear threat, manufacture—an existential crisis that allegedly threatens Israel or the U.S. What could the U.S. do differently without the constant influence of Israel and its advocacy campaigns? What actions can Americans take, especially leading up to the ballot box?
In 2012, delegates to the Democratic National Convention opposed by voice vote a plank naming Jerusalem the “undivided capital of Israel”—though party bosses eventually passed the measure. Key constituents who are younger, more ethnically diverse, and focused on justice reject the party’s traditionally unconditional support for Israel. On the Republican side, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu enjoys higher approval ratings than the American president. In polls, many Republicans would side with Israel even if it meant siding against their own country. Yet some powerful conservative forces are rallying against elite US foreign policy consensus. They reject the neoconservative principle of “primacy” and unquestioned alliances which are “all cost and no benefit.” What do these seismic shifts portend for Israel?