Good evening and welcome to Corporations and Democracy for January 18th, 2023. This is the program that examines how corporations dominate our democracy and what citizens are doing to replace corporate dominance with true democracy. I’m Steve Scalmanini with co-host Annie Esposito.
The news from Israel’s war on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is a constant barrage of horror stories that began on October 7th with an attack by Hamas terrorists on attendees at a music festival in Israel near the border with Gaza. During this attack, over 1,000 attendees were murdered and over 100 taken hostage to Gaza, where all but a few remain so. Israel’s response continues after three months to be bombing Gaza seemingly indiscriminately in an ostensible attempt to destroy Hamas.
Caught in the middle are the civilians in Gaza, over 24,000 of whom have now been murdered and over 10,000 of whom have been children. The U.S. Congress, which controls the immense funding of Israel’s military, has been so quiet about the situation as to seem complicit in what is being called genocide against those civilians in Gaza. And that quiet in the U.S. Congress, where only a handful of members have called for a ceasefire by Israel, leads us here on Corporations and Democracy to consider the influence of money in politics, a frequent topic on this program.
In this case, money from the interests of the State of Israel. Lots of money and over many decades. So with us today are two guests who have authored articles and books about the influence upon politics here in the United States from what is called the Israel lobby.
Norman Solomon is the Executive Director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of the book War Made Invisible, How America Hides the Human Toll of Its Military Machine, and 12 previous books on militant U.S. foreign policy and media deception, and a recent article about how our local congressmen has declined to call for a ceasefire by Israel. And Grant F. Smith is the Director of the Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy and author of the book How Israel Made AIPAC, the Most Harmful Foreign Influence Operation in America, and that’s in addition to eight previous books on Israel and the Middle East. So let’s have a look at the Israel lobby versus the innocence of Gaza.
Norman Solomon, welcome to Corporations and Democracy.
Solomon: Thanks very much.
Host: And Grant F. Smith, welcome to the program.
Smith: Thanks Steve, Andy, and Norman for exploring this topic and the focus. I think understanding the lobby and especially AIPAC’s evolution and reconstitution as a corporation is just key to understand[ing] what’s going on, especially with Congress.
Host: Yes, it seems like the U.S. is under tremendous pressure to do what the Israeli government thinks is best for Israel.
And Norman, you’ve written a lot. You’re a peace activist for a long time, and you’ve written a lot lately about how the United States is paying for the suffering in Gaza. Do you want to talk about some of the points you’ve been trying to make in the press?
Solomon: Well, I think it’s important to recognize the extraordinary relationship and the financial and military ties.
More than half a decade ago, the U.S. Congress appropriated extraordinarily $38 billion dollars over a 10-year period. It was hot-wired in. It was automatic.
And as it turned out, they were just getting started because in the last few months we have in the pipeline not only proposals for an extraordinary $14 billion more in military aid to be sent, but there has been an end-run twice by President Biden around Congress to automatically ship weapons without congressional approval. And what we’re dealing with, I think, is multifactorial. There are a lot of reasons why Israel and the United States have been so closely aligned.
One metaphor is that Israel is a land-based aircraft carrier for the U.S. military. At the same time, the Orwellian name, Israeli Defense Force, is its own entity. And we’re seeing that allies can sometimes not see exactly eye-to-eye but still function basically in tandem, which is what’s been happening for more than three months now.
There’s been a sort of a pantomime where Joe Biden has gradually said, and I’m paraphrasing here, I’m summing up not at all how Biden would say it, but what he’s meaning, which is the U.S. government would rather that you don’t kill quite so many Palestinian civilians. It’s been fine with us. You’ve been massacring children.
You’ve been massacring women. You’ve been massacring other civilians. We have no problem with that, but it’s starting to look bad.
And we’d like you to cool your jets and reduce this magnitude of the slaughter. And pretty much Benjamin Netanyahu has said, well, thanks but no thanks. We’re friends, but we don’t have to do exactly what you want.
So I would just sort of sum up that there are a lot of agendas running. U.S. foreign policy in general is to have maximum leverage militarily and economically over as much of the globe as possible. And Israel and the United States have been allies, and we’re seeing the extension of the logic, if you could call that, of an apartheid state, and the deaths just keep mounting in Gaza as well as increasingly in the West Bank.
Host: Yeah, the West Bank. We’re familiar with the idea that we’re sending arms to Gaza. But also, Grant, I know in your book you mentioned how there’s, you know, like a whole bunch of money has laundered for the West Bank, for illegal settlements in the West Bank.
So we’re kind of paying for both of those wars going on right now. So, Norman, one more thing. You’ve been really trying to get our elected officials, and I know you’ve run for office before, to be responsive.
What kind of luck have you had?
Solomon: Well, I think we should be clear locally in the 2nd Congressional District, Congressman Jared Huffman, who many people appreciate for his environmental advocacy and so forth. He’s basically joined at the hip with Israel. He will say, oh, I don’t like Benjamin Netanyahu, but Congressman Jared Huffman refuses to call for a ceasefire while the suffering continues, while the deaths mount.
And there’s a kind of irrationality here that on the surface seems irrational, but underneath it is a political unwillingness to take any risk, does not want to incur the wrath of AIPAC and some of the spin-off groups like Democratic Majority for Israel. There have been so many different examples where members of Congress have kowtowed and occasionally bucked the pressure from AIPAC, and some of them have been defeated in large measure as a result. And certainly we have examples of, for instance, Nina Turner in Ohio being buried under several million dollars of Zionist money and losing really as a consequence.
So anyway, Andy, I would just sort of sum up that Congressman Jared Huffman is absolutely an ally of Israel, even while he will say negative things about Netanyahu. And he, as I said in my article in the Marin Independent Journal recently, is an example of a congressperson who might have a different attitude if he had to dig his own children out of the rubble because of bombings subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. So it’s a sort of arrogance that our children are precious, but [not] Palestinian children, not only are we indifferent to their suffering, but as members of Congress we are appropriating money to slaughter them.
Host: That is Congressman Jared Huffman. Yeah, and I guess most other politicians, because Grant, you’ve been looking into it. The Israeli interests are highly organized, well-funded, very secretive, and I want to find out from you sometime tonight all the things you had to go through to unearth what they’re up to, but why don’t we just start on what is AIPAC?
Smith: Sure, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee emerged from an effort and outgrowth and funding from the Jewish Agency, which is an entity named in Theodor Herzl’s original book about creating a Jewish state in Palestine, and its executives who were heavily involved in funneling foreign money into the United States to obtain weapons and political influence and shape policy.
And if you go back through the historic record from when David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, came to the United States and set up a conventional weapons smuggling network known as the Sonneborn Group in the 1940s, and look at the evolution of Isaiah Kenen, the founder of AIPAC, who first worked at the Jewish Agency and later became very involved in lobbying Congress with $60 million that had been pumped into the United States from the Jewish Agency, led an organization called the American Zionist Council, which had a little sort of legitimator network of the Zionist Organization of America and Hadassah and a few others to say, you know, we’re working for America’s interest in Israel, which blew apart in 1962 when the Justice Department ordered it to register as a foreign agent. Well, AIPAC is the outgrowth of that. It was part of that initial organization, and six weeks after the FARA order sort of reconstituted itself, built up a bigger legitimator network of 53 organizations, which have a collective might of many, many, many millions of dollars and a 3,200-employee network of such powerful organizations as the ADL, American Friends of the Likud, the Jewish National Funds, etc.
And AIPAC is at the very top of that. It’s always been directing political action committees and forming them and trying to pretend they were arm’s-length operations. Now it’s directly weighed in with its own PAC and SuperPAC to knock off candidates, talking about two-state solutions like Andy Levin, and really sort of unmasking itself as an extremely powerful influence directly in U.S. elections as it drops all pretenses. It doesn’t run any giant policy conferences that we’ve all seen footage of, of U.S. politicians bobbing and weaving on the AIPAC stage in Washington with 20,000 attendees.
Now they’re just all about knocking off candidates and making sure that politicians going into Congress and other areas are favorable to Israel. So, you know, in the book, How Israel Made AIPAC, we really trace the Israeli needs that led to the formation of AIPAC, the trouble it’s gotten into in three separate spying scandals, first in the 70s, then the 80s, and then the 90s, and how it’s not really a lobby as much as a foreign influence operation. Again, set up with foreign funding, documented in the Senate record, and not really accountable.
And I think just as far as the aid goes, I was in the room at the State Department when that aid deal, the MOU, was signed. Curiously, the MOU was never released to the press or anybody. It took a FOIA from our organization to even put it out into the public.
But that foreign aid adjusted for inflation has now reached $343 billion, more than the Marshall Plan, which was used to rebuild Europe after World War II. And, you know, even though U.S. laws, such as the Symington-Glenn Prohibitions, inside of the Foreign Assistance Act, prohibit any aid to undeclared nuclear powers. Israel’s not really subject to U.S. law in that sort of review, or any humanitarian law under the Arms Export Control Act. It’s gotten $297 billion since Congress itself said that they’re not going to provide aid to clandestine nuclear states.
So it’s a really different organization. I don’t refer to it as much as a lobby anymore as much as a foreign influence operation.
Host: Well, that’s the really kind of frustrating thing about this, and you cover it a lot in your book, is that the Foreign Agents Registration Act should require APAC and its predecessors to register as a foreign agent, and yet somehow that never seemed to happen.
You have all kinds of different things that were going on. They would send in the wrong information, or only partial information, and deliberate misunderstandings, and delays, and shell companies. What in the world? That’s quite a study in how to beat down a bureaucracy.
What do you make of that?
Smith: I think that they really did beat down the Justice Department. We managed to obtain the entire record of the FARA registration attempt against the, I call it the American Zionist Council slash AIPAC back in the 60s, and you can see that the professionals in the Justice Department understood that money had been laundered in, they understood that this entity should be registering and disclosing what they were doing. But, you know, obviously if you’re running a sort of minority campaign in the United States to influence a country of this size, secrecy is your friend, and they didn’t want to do it.
And so they fought, and they fought and fought, and wore down the Justice Department, and the Justice Department did let them file a secret FARA filing, which detailed payments to the New York Times radio program, and various academics and pundits to advance Israel, and the Near East Report, APAC’s newsletter, to deny things like Israel’s nuclear weapons program. But it didn’t stop them for more than six weeks, and the key to really unwinding all of that was obviously when Kennedy was shot, it completely destroyed the drive to register AIPAC, along with the resistance to Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and the drive to have a right of return for Palestinians. So, I think, you know, I think the 1960s are really key to understanding AIPAC today, with what they were able to get away with in the 1960s, in the midst of a full-blown Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Justice Department investigation.
Host: You’re right, they got out of it. I believe Kennedy had a few red lines he didn’t want crossed by Israel. Can one of you comment on those? One of them was the right of return, I believe, and then there were a few others.
Smith: Yeah, the right of return. He didn’t want Israel to become a nuclear weapons state, because obviously they were trying to promote the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. There was, at the time, following the smuggling of conventional weapons from the US to Israel, the smuggling of actual nuclear materials from the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation, which was led by Zionist Organization of America operatives, and infested with Israeli spies like Rafi Eitan.
Kennedy didn’t want the US to be, in any way, seen to be supporting Israel’s nuclear weapons program. And of course, his drive to see AIPAC, his brother’s drive to see AIPAC registered as a foreign agent, that was obviously known to JFK. RFK was at the head of the Justice Department that was driving this transparency initiative.
So those were the three red lines. No nukes for Israel, right of returns for Palestinians, and openly register for this entity that was created with $60 million of foreign funds. And I have to mention, this is not a conspiracy, the Senate investigated the Israel lobby in the US, because it didn’t want any more Lavon Affairs, Operation Susanna, false flag attacks against US facilities overseas, such as occurred in Egypt, trying to move policy around.
That didn’t seem, that wasn’t something Eisenhower appreciated, and Kennedy understood, and certainly J.W. Fulbright understood, that that’s the way Israel was trying to move the United States, coerce the United States its way.
Host: So even Eisenhower was aware of that?
Smith: He was aware of that. Those records exist, they haven’t been released yet, but they were in the daily brief, and J.W. Fulbright mentioned the Lavon Affair attacks on the US, again Israeli false flags, three times in the charter for the original Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigation into the Israel lobby.
Host: Okay. And Eisenhower, for the younger generation listening, a 1950s president from 1952 to 1960, whose vice president was Richard Nixon, of course. To go back into context from a few minutes ago, you mentioned $60 million, was that in the 50s or so, do you recall?
Smith: So the $60 million came in over a period of time, if you read the Senate record from 1955 through 1960, and it was from the quasi-Israeli governmental entity called the Jewish Agency, which has a covenant with the government, which has legislative review powers, which is funded by the Israeli government.
The increments came in yearly, they were different amounts, and amounted to that, it was only ever reported by a single news outlet, a Dow Jones publication, The Observer, which basically said that over an eight-year period this money came in, quote, “from the Jewish Agency to create favorable public opinion in this country for Israeli government policies. The Senate investigation closed down the conduit, but the extensive propaganda activities still go on,”. So yeah, it was over that key period of time, the payments went directly to AIPAC’s founder, Isaiah Kenen, directly into his propaganda newsletter, The Near East Report, which by the way still exists, which is pretty much what you’d expect it to be, a lobbying newsletter for, you know, telling Congresspersons things that aren’t true, but are favorable to Israel.
Host: So what Grant is describing is very different from what people usually hear about Israel. Norman, what do you think about people always thinking of, AIPAC is always promoting it, that the U.S. has a special relationship with Israel. It’s a special relationship.
Solomon: I think it has been a special relationship to mutual advantage, and if you look at the foreign policies of Israel and of the United States, they run very parallel. They have been two governments that have for many decades, if you look at the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and onward, supported fascist regimes from Paraguay to Guatemala to South Africa under apartheid, and there was and still is a sense at the top of both governments of cooperation, of partnership, of one hand washing the other, of despite any differences of outlook, a mutual advantage to share the alliances, to have parallel outlooks in terms of actual policy. We tend to forget, perhaps, and it’s not surprising, because U.S. news media do not recount it, that the Israeli government was very close with some of the worst regimes in Latin America.
The worst regimes, for instance, as I mentioned, the South African apartheid government, and that was routine. That was part of the foreign policy of Israel, and at the same time, the foreign policy of the United States. I think it’s important to remind ourselves that U.S. foreign policy has initiated horrific wars.
In the 21st century, the cost of war project at Brown University has documented that the direct deaths of civilians since the U.S.-led post-911 wars began, 400,000 direct deaths of civilians, 950,000 direct deaths as a result of the U.S. wars, and if you include the indirect deaths, the cascading effects of destruction of health care, housing, all the ecology of Afghanistan, of Libya, of Iraq, and elsewhere, the death toll, direct and indirect, is 4.5 million people. So, here you have the United States saying, after 9-11, what, 22 or so years ago, well, we have to respond to 9-11 because 3,000 civilians were killed, and you have, as a result of the U.S.-led war since then, you have 4.5 million people have died. Well, that’s not a problem for the U.S. mass media, it’s rarely mentioned, it’s not a problem for policymakers, but 9-11 was a terrific door opener for U.S. military goals to be unleashed, and we have some parallels there.
As a matter of fact, a lot of the language and the messaging that has come from the Israeli government since October 7th of last year is very similar. I’ll give you one example. In my book, War Made Invisible, I quote Donald Rumsfeld soon after 9-11, when some people began to mention that the U.S. was causing so many civilian deaths after attacking Afghanistan in October of 2001 and then occupying it.
Rumsfeld’s response was that every single death in Afghanistan, of an American, of an Afghan civilian, or anybody else, it was all because of the Taliban, it was all because of Al-Qaeda. So it was a blank check, an open specimen to kill as many people as the Pentagon was going to kill. It was a political license to kill.
And something very similar in terms of messaging has happened from the Israeli government since October 7th. Netanyahu and the war cabinet there have said repeatedly that at this point, 24,000 deaths in Gaza are all because of Hamas. And it’s not difficult to discern that the goal of the, not just the Likud kind of folks at the top of the Israeli government, but the very much now mainstream political positions of the people running the government of Israel, their position is they want to, as much as possible, exterminate Palestinian people.
And that might seem to some listeners like an overstatement, but when you look at the fact that the attacks on the people in Gaza have continued, unrelenting, for more than 100 days, when the UN says that more people will be dying from disease and starvation than from the bombs, and yet the Israeli policy, with, by the way, congressional and White House support, is continuing unimpeded. There’s a word for this. It’s called genocide.
And yet we have to do a much better job of challenging senators and members of the House of Representatives, which circles me back. There are listeners here who write to Jared Huffman, quote-unquote, “our congressman”, and I would urge people, maybe, I hope not, maybe you want to tell him that you appreciate him standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel, but maybe you want to tell him that you’re not comfortable, you’re not happy with him continuing to support the Israeli government as it slaughters civilians in Gaza.
Host: Yeah, I’d like to get into that a little bit more, but one thing I did want to backtrack a little bit, we’ve just heard a lot about how the U.S. and Israeli interests overlap, and they kind of compound each other, but Grant, you point out a lot of places where Israel was acting in its own interest at the expense of the United States.
Do you want to talk about some of those incidents?
Smith: Yeah, and let’s start with the present and then backtrack. I think, you know, to Norman’s point, some of the joint Cold War operations, whether it was Iran-Contra or propping up, you know, Nicaragua [Contras] and things like that are horrific, and who can defend any of that? But, you know, if you do believe truly that Israel is an unsinkable U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East, you need to ask who’s in the wheelhouse. Joe Biden’s obviously a lifelong self-proclaimed Zionist, and he is, you know, essentially pressuring now Netanyahu to back off a bit and saying that a Palestinian state has to be at the end of this conflict, and Netanyahu basically told him to get lost.
He [Netanyahu] said today that this is not about this conflict, is not about the lack of a state of Palestinians, but the existence of a Jewish state and that in the future, the state of Israel has to control from the river to the sea. So he’s basically saying that this is going to have a different outcome than the two-state solution, weakly advanced by the likes of Blinken and Biden.
But, you know, it’s, it is true that US and Israeli policies have in fact diverged quite a bit. I already, you know, sort of mentioned the role of Israel in launching false flag attacks in Egypt to try to blame Egyptians for trouble and not let the Suez Canal revert to Egyptian control. That invasion of the Suez with France, etc., was not something the US wanted.
The, during the Six-Day War, there was a lot of shuttle diplomacy going on to keep the Israelis from launching that war that you can see in some of the recently released State Department records, with [UAR’s Vice President] constantly going to the US and being assured that now “we’re gonna wind this down.” There’s not going to be any sort of war between Egypt and Israel. Well, that obviously happened and led to a lot of problems that are still unwinding to this day.
So I think it’s possible to identify a lot of problems, whether it was George H. W. Bush, who was trying to stop the rampant settlement of the West Bank by threatening to withhold loan guarantees, and obviously that was a direct challenge to Israel that, you know, they managed to see George H.W. Bush go away. We already mentioned JFK not wanting to see a mockery made of the NPT. He wanted Palestinians to be able to return, at least some of them.
He wanted open lobbying in the US, transparent lobbying from Israel in the US. Israel didn’t want any of those things and prevailed against those US initiatives. So, you know, if you really are going to advance an argument that Israel is a client state, I think, you know, it takes quite a bit of ignoring of US history and some of these less, you know, popularly written about moments.
And I think in the main, the US isn’t getting a lot of benefit over the slaughter in Gaza. And so I think in a post-Cold War world such observers as Mearsheimer and Walt are saying that Israel is increasingly becoming an albatross around America’s neck. And the idea that they’re providing all of these services and doing things for the United States has faded somewhat.
Solomon: Let me just, I think if you look at what happened when Eisenhower threw down the gauntlet about the Suez Canal crisis in the mid-1950s, or you look at the first President Bush, who is the lever around the loan credit. It’s really hard to find examples in the 21st century where a US president has not only begun to stand up to Israel, but continue to stand up to Israel. And so if we look at what’s been happening in the last few months, I think it’s primarily phony.
I think it’s primarily a show. It’s a PR game. If President Biden was serious, was really serious about challenging what Israel has been doing in Gaza, he would have gotten serious, but he didn’t.
It’s a PR game. It’s a lot of public hand-wringing. The whole mantra about a two-state solution has been a fantasy for a very long time.
The US has never been an honest broker. It’s always been a dishonest broker in this conflict. So my perspective is that if you look at things like the planned rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the forerunner of the so-called Abraham Accords, the United States does not run the show in the Middle East, but the interests are very, very closely aligned.
And that’s not to say it benefits you or me or the vast majority of the public. But when you just think about the quantity of weapons that are being provided to Israel and the profits from those weapons, it’s staggering. So my perspective is that if you look at the argument, if you will, between Noam Chomsky and John Mearsheimer, what is the tail and what is the dog? Who’s wagging who? I think that we should look at it dialectically.
It isn’t one and it isn’t the other. There’s a divergence of interest. Ultimately, one side is wanting its interest to prevail over the other.
But to me, to say that Israel runs US policy or the US runs Israel policy is part of the truth. And there’s a dialectical relationship between both of those truths.
Host: Hey, we have a call right now.
We do. They just dropped off. Let me say a couple of things.
First of all, to listeners, we are hearing just hearing the voice of Norman Solomon. He’s the executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and the author of the book War Made Invisible, How America Hides the Human Toll of its Military Machine. And before that was the voice of Grant F. Smith, the director of the Institute for Research, Middle Eastern Policy and author of the book How Israel Made AIPAC, the Most Harmful Foreign Influence Operation in America.
And I can’t help but comment from a couple of minutes ago, the term client state was used and it made me just wonder, well, who is effectively a client for whom? But we don’t let’s not go into that for a minute. And let me take this call. By the way, the number to call in here is 895-2448.
That’s an area code 707-895-2448. Caller, you’re live on the air. What’s your question or comment?
Caller: Yes, I would like to first and foremost thank Mr. Solomon.
I think I listened to him speak on Time for Useful Consciousness recently or some other wonderful free speech radio publicly sponsored at any rate. I’m wondering, it’s rarely parsed the similarities between how Hamas was and what Hamas is and the Taliban, how the Taliban were created by the CIA as a foil in Afghanistan and trained by American military dollars and advisors and forces, which is similar to what the Israelis did with Hamas. And Hamas is these statements that are bandied around about how they have this charter where they demand the annihilation of the state of Israel, which is just pompous.
I’d also like to broaden the framework of the conversation. Norman Solomon, thank you so much for your erudition and your knowledge base and your work on behalf. I wish some voters here in Mendocino County had voted for you.
I did. But the creation of Hamas and the relative similarities between how dark forces, economic hitmen, NGOs, American military, black ops actually procreates these incidences. And for goodness sakes, there are two Navy SEALs in the water.
Thanks for your time. Any informed populace is a healthy populace. And for goodness sakes, folks, be careful.
The scimitar between the truth and doubt is swinging and individual one may have that sword. All right. Thank you for your call.
Host: Keep your free speech alive. Pete. Hey, thank you.
Solomon: I would like to just jump in and say that we hear a lot about what Hamas’s platform is, is, you know, taking over everything. But the Likud platform is quite similar from the other position and go in the other direction. Well, as Grant was just saying today in a news conference, Netanyahu said that Israel wants to control everything from the river to the sea.
But there’s a big difference between the program or the use of that phrase by Netanyahu and the use of that phrase by, say, Rashida Tlaib. The use of the phrase by Netanyahu is that we want to deny the rights of millions of people from the river to the sea. We want one group of people to have rights and the other group of people not to have the rights.
Whereas what Rashida Tlaib is saying about the meaning of from the river to the sea, as she uses it, is that we would have the rights of everybody respected from the river to the sea. And yet the media just jumps all over her for those comments and puts them in the negative, negative context.
Host: Any other anyone else wanted to call 895-2448? Again, we’re speaking to the topic today, the Israel lobby versus the innocence of Gaza.
And that’s innocence with a T. The innocent people, 24,000 now who have been murdered by Israeli bombing and offensive, well, occupation invasion of Gaza. Often when we talk about this, it begins to sound like the whole Jewish American population is Zionist. And actually, they are not.
And Grant, in your book, you talk a good deal about the American Jews that are opposed to what the whole thing about having a specific religious state, the American Council for Judaism, they have fought against AIPAC a lot, right?
Smith: Yeah, they, you know, they were really instrumental in kind of outing what was going on. They opposed the use of funds raised by the Jewish community to go to Zionist-only sorts of programs. And they did, in fact, interface a great deal providing information, both to the Justice Department and the Senate saying, these guys need to be registered as foreign agents.
In fact, they kind of blew the whistle to the press, which wasn’t picking up on the story very much. But Rabbi Elmer Berger and that whole group, Lessing Rosenwald, who built so much wonderful museum infrastructure in Washington, D.C., they had the money, the power, and the moral voice to stand up and challenge the backroom deals and the sort of covert lobby–to-Israel relationship. Well, that is true.
And, you know, I think it’s also important to mention that for all of its claims that AIPAC’s current positioning is they’re trying to preserve the U.S.-Israel special relationship and that all of this aid and sort of exchange is supported by most Americans that’s not really true. If you do statistically relevant surveys, only about 24.9 percent of Americans overall consider themselves to be Zionist, while 70.3 percent do not.
They don’t really have a feeling one way or the other for a state in the Middle East called Israel. And most of them [Americans], when you drill down, don’t support the aid either. So there’s, you know, been a lot of claims and a lot of money put behind building this sort of Potemkin village that Americans are 100 percent in support of Israel.
And I think one of the big problems is in our current system, unorganized Americans who don’t like what’s going on don’t really have the influence that economic elites and interest groups do. You know, they prevail and prevail and prevail. And you can look at AIPAC’s lobbying reports and what they accomplished in any period.
And it’s absolutely tremendous how they interlarded all of these programs, joint programs with Israel and the U.S., in addition to the military support, into everything [legislation]. And your average American group, whether it’s the [American] Friends [Quakers] or, you know, even sometimes J Street, they just don’t have that kind of pull.
Host: And let’s take we have two callers waiting.
Now, let’s take the first one of those. Caller, you’re live on the air. What is your question or comment? There’s still.
Caller: I just want to know where AIPAC money comes from. Is it from U.S. government? Is it from fundamentalist Christian organizations or other sources? Do have a breakdown of where they get their funds?
Smith: Yeah, the argument I’m making, this is Grant, is that a lot of their startup funding was foreign. Then they had a lot of trouble raising money independently at the beginning.
So they had some Bugsy Siegel, Jake the Barber type gangster support for a while. That’s on our website. They are [today] in the main supported by prominent doctors, lawyers, business people.
For all we can tell, they are getting most of their funding currently from U.S. sources. Although, you know, I can’t speak definitively. When you look at their IRS form 990, like any, all of the donor names are blocked out and they do move money around between their congressional junket to Israel operation, the American Israel Education Foundation, and other organizations.
But as far as we know, they’re U.S. funded at this point. But again, I argue they should be registering because their startup funding was foreign. Thank you.
Caller: Okay. Okay. Thank you.
Host: And to the other caller that was calling in a couple of minutes ago, please give us a try again and I will pick up. So this is all so much to get into. I would love to just have a Grant talk a little bit about what you had to go through to unearth some of this information.
I know Jeff Blankfort. He used to have a show here on KZYX “Takes on the World” and he’s a Middle East expert in his own right. And he told me that he went with you to FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act], I guess you call it the foreign registration agency, foreign agents registration act agency.
And that you tried to argue with them why AIPAC should be registered as a foreign agent. And you ended up having somebody who would not identify themselves, but who was obviously with the office sort of clamped down on what you were doing.
Smith: Yeah, that meeting went on for hours.
It was back in 2011. We just brought a big binder and said, “look, you had this investigation and you had this sort of fake reconstitution. Why aren’t you guys doing your job and enforcing your FARA order?” And they were very receptive to getting this briefing.
And as mentioned, Jeff was there and a few supporters of IRMEP and the secretive guy at the end of the table. Well, the FARA office, if you’ve seen it operating currently, it wants to go after enemies of America. So they’re not willing to take on any state, which is considered to be an ally or friend.
And it does take a tremendous amount of effort these days, a tremendous amount of money and time and lawsuits to get sensitive information. We got the full 2012 Obama administration gag order on the release of any information about Israel’s nuclear weapons program only after going to court. We got the Department of Defense study of Israel’s nuclear weapons infrastructure and equivalents to our national labs and misuse of Atoms for Peace nuclear infrastructure only by suing the Department of Defense.
So it’s costing more and more money to get information. You start off in a courtroom and get some things about the CIA’s black budget for Israel. And then the judge gradually grows more and more cautious and then goes off to other things and closes down the FOIA suit.
So every time we go to court, the possibilities are narrowed and it’s harder and harder. But yeah, lots and lots of visits, lawsuits, FOIA suits. And we’re getting a great deal of information that the mainstream news media is just not interested in.
They don’t want to wade into this stuff. They don’t see any upside to it. But if you go to https://Israellobby.org, you can see a lot of these primary source documents.
Host: Okay. What was that website you just mentioned again?
Smith: Yeah, it’s Israellobby.org. It’s got historical documents and all sorts of FOIA releases.
Host: Okay. And we have a caller that’s been waiting patiently. Caller, what is your question or comment?
Caller: Well, my comment is an excellent show and thank you.
And with the mention of a two-state solution fading, it might be good to review why that is. But I’d like to hear the idea of possibilities of one state, a secular democratic state from the river to the sea. And also possible impacts of this case South Africa has brought to the Hague.
And then thanks for our recommendation on the web. It’d be good to hear of any possible good sources for more information and news.
Host: We’ll mention a few more later in the program.
But Norman, do you want to take that? Great. Yeah. I think, and thanks for that call.
Solomon: I think you’re referring to the vote in the Senate Tuesday night, Bernie Sanders’ resolution, which got 11 votes. Rand [Paul], Bernie the Democrat. So 11% of the Senate was willing to take a minimal step toward decency of requiring a human rights report from the Biden administration about what is clearly massive and lethal violations of human rights being implemented daily by Israel.
But even that step was too much for almost, what, 90% of the Senate. And it goes to just the extent of the rot, the moral corrosion that is having a stranglehold on the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate. And I get back to the crucial fact, this is not a spectator show.
This is not a spectator sport. If you live in Mendocino County or anywhere else on the North Coast, you have an opportunity to let your two senators know, and most importantly, because you have more leverage over Congressman Jared Huffman, to let him know what you think, because the passivity in the face of this genocide enables Israel to have even more power over people’s lives in Palestine.
Smith: Yeah, this is Grant.
I’m a little pessimistic on the criminal court [ICJ] thing. Everyone will recall the 2002 Hague Invasion Act. And this is indeed where the U.S. and Israeli, to Norman’s point, perspectives overlap.
The United States will actually violently extract any U.S. military personnel or politicians from the ICC if they’re ever charged with war crimes. I think we could see something similar if they ever found or were approaching finding Israel guilty of genocide. Congress would go bananas and be absolutely ready to act against the ICC [ICJ] if they ever are successful in that extremely moral and proper crusade.
Host: Let me mention to listeners something from just last night. There’s a video online at YouTube of Francis Boyle, I think his name is. Does that sound right to you guys?
Host: He’s a worldwide name as a human rights attorney. But his comments on the case at the Hague, which the caller did inquire about. So there’ll be some interesting wrestling going on there.
Anything that can be vetoed by the U.S. and the Security Council certainly will be so. But the body, the General Assembly, apparently has a say in who they admit into the General Assembly as a country. And Palestine is not one.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t be shortly down the road. So the political maneuvering is, you know, there is plenty of maneuvering possible in the U.N. So, you know, look for that in the news as it develops, because there certainly will be developments as a follow-up. But just because there’s a Security Council and the U.S. can veto things in that Security Council does not mean that the General Assembly is powerless.
So stay tuned for that. We only have about three minutes left. So I think our guests should tell people how to find out more.
Norman, do you want to start?
Solomon: Well, I’d encourage people to go to the Institute for Public Accuracy website at accuracy.org. We have many news releases and a lot of information, dozens of releases out in the last few weeks about this terrible, ongoing massacre in Gaza and many facets of it. Also, I am at RootsAction.org, and we have been putting out a lot of action alerts where people have been, through our email list, deluging members of Congress to demand an end to this immoral and murderous, really, U.S. support for Israel as it continues with its terrible policies. So I want to invite people to go to RootsAction.org, sign up, you’ll get action alerts, and let’s work together.
Okay, and Grant?
Smith: Yeah, I’d like to encourage people to Google “How Israel Made AIPAC,” listen to the free podcast, maybe buy the book if you want to. Go to IRMEP.org or look at our work. Go to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, WRMEA.org, to see all the great conferences we’ve had preempting AIPAC every year at the National Press Club.
We’re getting tens of thousands of views now that people are seeing some of the failures of our [US] policy.
Host: Okay, well thank you very much for being our guests, the both of you, Norman Solomon, Grant F. Smith, and this has been Corporations and Democracy. We are here on third Thursdays from 7-8 p.m. and then I will return on Thursday, February 5th.