Bended Knees: Zionist Power in American Politics
by James Petras*
This is probably the most well-rounded and complete article by James Petras on the configuration of Zionist power - at all levels of the US political system and society - that far outweighs its numerical strength. More than a lobby, the ZPC has acted over the past fifty years as an agent in the interest of a foreign military power. Its influence has already deeply penetrated many other regions of the world, denoting a trend that Petras describes as the globalization of Zionist power. However, support may be withering as divisions within the US policy elite over Zionist control have started to emerge. But, despite such dissenting opinions, Obama continues to take his marching orders from Israel on all major issues promoted by the ZPC.
22 DECEMBER 2009
“Obama wants to see a stop to settlements: Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.” Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, May 2009
“What the prime minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements…..is unprecedented, there has never been a precondition, it’s always been an issue within negotiations.” Hillary Clinton, BBC, November 1, 2009 (my emphasis)
“The US administration understands what we have always said … that the real obstacle to negotiations is the Palestinians (calling for a freeze on settlements).” Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz, November 1, 2009 (my addition).
“America, stop sucking up to Israel!” Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist, Haaretz, November 1, 2009.
“US Zionists are sticking it to America, 24/7”, Anonymous Staff Official, Washington D. C., October 31, 2009.
The discussion of Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the US political system revolves around several essential issues, including:
1) The claims by the ZPC that it represents Jewish opinion and values as well as its authority to speak for the interests of the American people.
2) Measuring the power of the ZPC and determining its influence over policy, appointments and political institutions.
3) The question of whether the ZPC is a legitimate part of the US political system, another lobby, or something very different, an unregistered agent of a foreign power (Israel).
4) The scope and depth of the ZPC influence in US politics beyond the focus on its “lobbying” in Washington on a “single issue”.
5) The organizational weapons and techniques utilized by the ZPC to maximize influence and deny voice and influence to critics of Israel and itself.
6) The similarities of the organizational linkages of the Israel-Zionist relationship to the Russian – Stalinist Communist Parties of the 1930’s.
Method: Public Records, Ethnic Neutral Sources and Citations
The case against the Zionist Power Configuration is based on the open record of publications, speeches, articles, interviews and sources available to the general public (and any interested reader). Many facts and data are drawn from Zionist and Israeli sources as well as mainstream publications and writings by critical journalists and analysts . We do not privilege the statements by Jews, whether they are critics or supporters of the State of Israel, as most “progressive” writers do. The pursuit of truth is not an “ethnic science”, an approach that smacks of Nazi and Zionist racial theories. Indeed, nothing reveals the extreme Zionist power or cultural hegemony over the debate on Israel and American Zionism so much as the constant reliance, reference and citation of the “Jewish” authorship of critical articles, even when publications by non-Jews are better documented, of earlier publication, and better argued.
The ethnic (Jewish) label attached to writings and intellectual and political activity is selectively applied: the ethnic labels are applied to ‘positive outcomes’ as part of a general campaign exalting the “superiority” of the “race”; and disregarded in the face of ‘negative outcomes’ and activities (e.g. financial swindles, Russian oligarchs, espionage agents). In fact the “double standard” is buttressed by savage attacks by the ZPC on those who, following the ethnic labeling tradition, actually mention the Jewish background of mediocrities and war criminals as well as peace and justice advocates.
We will begin by questioning and challenging the representativeness of the ZPC in the United States today.
Zionists and the Jewish Communities in America
The 51 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (PMAJO) claim to speak for all Jews in the US . A major study in the north Boston region found that less than 25% of Jews belong to a synagogue, fewer (10%) contribute to the Jewish Federation and over 50% do not accept rabbinical Zionist precepts against inter-marriage with non-Jews . According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency (12/4/2009) conservative synagogues have declined by almost 25% from 800 to 650 over the past decade. Even most striking many prominent individuals who may be of Jewish parentage, no longer consider themselves “Jews” despite frequent claims by Zionists that their achievements are a product or a result of their being “Jewish”. Near majorities of young people of Jewish ancestry do not identify with Judaism and are critical or indifferent to Zionist appeals for Israel. They have no involvement in Jewish centered civic activities . A small, but vocal, group of Jews are organized and active critics of the entire Zionist apparatus, rejecting the idea of Israel as an exclusive ethno-religious state and supporting a secular democratic republic in Palestine . In addition several Orthodox Jewish sects view the ‘state of Israel’ as a form of blasphemy and call for its destruction .
The “51” misrepresent their actual numbers and claim to speak for 6 million US Jews. At best they may speak for less than half of the imputed population and even then their support waxes and wanes according to the issue, the timing and the place and varies in intensity. The power of the “51” is not a result of its representativeness of the Jewish community at large, but the location of its followers in the power structure and the intensity and quasi-religious fervor of their activists. Their political power resides in their singular forces in pursuit of the interests of the State of Israel and the control and influence in media; their nationwide networks and the wealth and financial power of contributors. Their capacity to browbeat apathetic Jews into making contributions and lending support adds organizational muscle. Their willing use of force, money and media slander intimidates any and all critics, including dissident politicians, media, journalists and professors .
At most there are probably no more than 500,000 Jews who actively back the “51” – but what a half million! Given the low level of political participation of the US population in general, the relative low saliency of Middle East issues to most Americans and the one-sided pro-Israel mass media propaganda, which misinforms the public, the Zionist zealots have little competition. They have a free hand in penetrating and influencing political, social and cultural institutions in line with the policies dictated by their Israeli influenced leaders among the “51”.
The issue of the limited representativeness of the Zionist organization must be separated from the exercise of power. By leveraging non-Zionist, non-Jewish civic organizations, political institutions, pension funds, trade unions etc. the ZPC magnifies its power beyond its numbers .
The limited representativeness of the “51” is compensated by the silence and apathy of the majority of Jews and non-Jewish/Jews, who either are not willing to challenge ZPC claims or are immersed in private concerns, careers or other unrelated civic issues.
The ‘51’s hundreds of thousands of activists are strategically placed in institutions, as well as geographically, with a centralized command capable of mobilizing money, media attention and political leverage in any priority, political, cultural or social arena . The ‘51’ organizations are not merely a “lobby” in the sense of having paid officials operating to influence congressional votes . They include religious, civic, charitable, ideological, cultural and social organizations unified and unconditionally committed to following the zigzags of Israeli political directives . The actual structure resembles a ‘power configuration’ that reaches from small chapters in municipalities to statewide confederations, as well as national organizations, each with its own budget, its own ideological watchdogs and appropriate levels of power.
The power for Israel is exercised by elected and appointed Zionist officials, especially those in positions that have any relevance to Israeli interests. These “interests” include direct aid to Israel, sanctions and wars against Israel’s Middle East and Asian adversaries, American pension fund investments in Israel, boycotts of companies trading with Israeli-designated adversary countries and many other strategic concerns.
The key to the power of the Zionist Power Configuration is that it is a mass grassroots organization, bolstered by the financial support by scores of millionaires and dozens of billionaires and a complicit mass media. These political resources translate into tremendous leverage over the far more numerous non-Zionist electorates, the mass media spectators and the upwardly mobile politicians.
The ZPC illustrates clearly how “numbers” in the abstract do not count , especially in a permeable electoral system like the US, where money, organization, discipline and ethno-religious fanaticism define the boundaries, issues and acceptable policies.
The ZPC as Foreign Agents of the Israeli State
The recent decision of the US Congress to repudiate (HR 867) the findings of Israeli war crimes in the official Final Report of the United Nations’ Fact Finding Mission on the 2009 Gaza Conflict by a vote of 344 – 36 is a measure of the power of the ZPC . The report, also known as the Goldstone Report, after its principle author Justice Richard Goldstone, was released on September 15, 2009, amid a carefully orchestrated campaign to discredit its findings and its authors. What is even more important than the US Congressional vote of condemnation is the fact that the campaign was publicly ordered from Israel, directed by the Presidents of the ‘51’ and obediently and enthusiastically carried out by several hundred thousand Zionist activists, throughout the country.
The ‘51’ and the mass of Zionist zealots were openly defending Israeli state terror and crimes against humanity. Their defense of war crimes never evoked a second thought. What mattered was their ability to pressure, threaten, cajole and promise future funds to Congressional representatives in order to secure their vote against Justice Goldstone. Blind obedience to Israeli dictates was evident in the fact that many Congresspersons proudly confessed to never having even read the Goldstone Report and that none dared question the egregious fabrications, which its two uber-Zionist Congressional sponsors, (Representatives H.L. Berman, D-California and G.L. Ackermann, D-New York), of the House Resolution 867, concocted . The US Congress, in fact, almost unanimously rejected the eminent Justice Goldstone’s request to present his findings in person.
In the UN National Assembly, the Zionists were able to leverage the US to vote against the Goldstone Report, which in turn secured the vote of several Eastern European client states, insignificant island dependencies and the predictable Western European “Allies”. This amounted to a total of 18 votes against the 114 UN members who endorsed the Report’s thorough documentation of Israeli war crimes and state terrorism, an endorsement which represented over 80% of the world’s population .
The ZPC is powerful but not omnipotent. It controls the US Congress and Executive and has decisive influence in the mass media, but there are important fissures in the monolith, as a number of Jewish organizations and individuals, revolted by Israel’s mass killings in Gaza and the ZPC unconditional support, have spoken out in support of the Goldstone Report . More importantly, major national trade/union federations in Canada, Ireland, Great Britain, France and Italy, along with numerous human rights organizations, support a global boycott and disinvestment campaign against Israeli products . Judicial processes are proceeding in various European countries to arrest and put on trial top Israeli officials involved in the Gaza massacre .
The United States, under the tutelage of the ZPC, remains as the center of Israeli power and the sole reliable backer of Israeli war aims in the Middle East, especially with regard to Iran. The power of Israel over Washington’s Middle East policy is in direct relation to the strategic influence of the ZPC. The denial of the power of the ZPC by seemingly “progressive” and “leftist” writers and journalists has been one of the principal obstacles undermining efforts to effectively counter US government support for Israeli war crimes, the expansion of colonial settlements in the West Bank and the military/sanctions policies toward Iran .
Israeli Power over US Middle East Policy: The Centrality of the ZPC
The manifestations of Israeli power over the US are public, visible, outrageous and unprecedented in the annals of US foreign relations . Israeli power is wielded directly through its subordinated political arm, the ZPC, which in turn facilitates the direct intervention of the Israeli state in the internal politics of the US. Let us examine several crucial empirical indicators of Israeli power in the US.
On November 9, 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the mass based Jewish Federation (JF) of North America General Assembly and thanked US President Obama and the US Congress for repudiating the Goldstone Report. The Israeli head of state then told his US followers to increase their efforts to influence US policy to “stop Teheran from realizing its nuclear ambitions” . The previous day, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, told the same Jewish Federation to “press for sanctions on Iran and condemn the findings of the United Nations commission on Gaza . Speaking as a tribal chieftain dictating orders to the loyal overseas followers, Oren stated, “Our strength derives from the belief that we have a right to independence in our tribal land, the land of Israel…” . Israel is the only country that can intervene in the internal politics of the US, counting on a powerful political organization, to shape US policy to serve its state interests.
By drawing on the now discredited myth that American Jews’ tribal ancestry is rooted in Israel, rather than Central Asia, Khazaran, reinforces the idea that Israel and not the United States - is the true ‘homeland’ of American Jews and therefore it is their right and duty to obey the dictates of the Israeli state . Each year dozens of Israeli state officials visit the US and directly intervene in US political debates, congressional hearings and executive policy making – with nary a whisper of protest, let alone censure from the US State Department. Any other country’s officials who so flagrantly intervene in US politics would be declared persona non grata and expelled from the country. In contrast, because of the power of the ZPC, Israeli civilians and military officials are invited to intervene in US policy making, to set the agenda for numerous Zionist officials in and out of public office and to bludgeon and praise those who criticize or oppose Israeli dictates . The repeated public statements by Israeli officials that the primary loyalty of American Jews is to Israel and its policies – in other words, that they should act as a fifth column for Israel - is incompatible with the notion of citizenship everywhere except for this small group in the US . One could imagine the outcry (and brutal reprisals) if any political leader from a Moslem country called on their co-religionists to pursue its state interests. What is striking then about the ZPC is that it openly and publically organizes meetings, follows orders and pursues policies dictated by Israeli public officials and yet is not registered as a foreign agent, let alone prosecuted for acting, by its own admission, on behalf of a foreign power .
The ZPC: Lobby or Unregistered Foreign Agents?
Based on its organizational structure and political aims, the pro-Israel social-political configuration cannot be reduced to a common “lobby”. The mass activist organizational structure encompassing and penetrating civic, political, cultural institutions and media outlets resembles a power configuration that works within and outside of Washington to shape political decisions relevant to Israel . Equally important it plays a major role in shaping the opinions and behavior of public opinion and civic society organizations. Secondly, unlike American lobbies, it acts to shape US foreign policy in the interest of a foreign military power, up to and including decisions on promoting war and imposing sanctions against Israel’s opponents, prejudicing the lives and security of thousands of American working people and taxpayers. Thirdly, the term “lobby” does not ordinarily encompass the virulent repressive activities pursued by the ZPC against critical writers, cultural figures, academics and others in American society who question Israeli policy. The ZPC not only acts as a foreign agent for Israel today, but has been doing so openly over fifty years . In the 1960s the Justice Department attempted to enforce the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) against the current American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)’s predecessor, the American Zionist Council (AZC), but was blocked by pro-Israel politicians.
The ZPC not only publicly gives unconditional support to Israeli policy but engages in espionage on behalf of Israel, as several prominent members of the ZPC and Mossad have testified. One of America’s leading experts on Israel’s “lobby” Grant Smith, who has amassed a vast archive of declassified official US documents on Israeli-Zionist activities in the US, cites numerous cases in which AIPAC purloined internal classified government documents in order to further Israeli trade privileges n the 1980’s . A leader of the Zionist Organization of America was implicated in the illegal transfer of US government uranium to Israel in 1956. In 2005 Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, leaders in AIPAC, admitted to receiving a confidential document relating to US-Iran policy, transmitting it to an Israeli embassy official . From 1979 to 1985, senior US Army Weapons Engineer Ben-ami Kadish, an American Zionist and former member of the fanatical Jewish Haganah militia in British Mandate Palestine, handed critical confidential documents on an enormous number of US weapons systems over to agents from the Israeli embassy . These were then believed to have been passed to the Soviet Union in order to influence their policy on immigration to Israel. Under the influence of the Zionist-infested Justice Department, Kadish got off with a $50,000 fine and not a single day in jail – for handing scores of crucial US military secrets to Israel.
Ben-ami Kadish’s fellow spy, American Zionist Jonathan Pollard, shared the same Mossad handler in the 1980s. Pollard, who worked as an analyst for US Naval intelligence, provided the Israelis with crate-loads of classified military and intelligence documents filled with top secret information on US policy in the Middle East, weapons systems, US agents in the Soviet Union and any and all relevant strategic objects of interest to his Israeli handlers .
On October 29, 2009, the Justice Department charged Stewart David Nozette, a Defense Department scientist, with attempting to transmit classified information to an Israeli Mossad agent. Nozette, an American Zionist, did not act strictly out of tribal loyalties to the Jewish State. Like Pollard, he asked for money and an Israeli passport (Boston Globe 10/20/09). According to former Mossad agent Victor Ostrtovsky, the spy agency recruits thousands of overseas Zionist sayanim (Hebrew for ‘helpers’) who “must be 100 percent Jewish” for Israeli Mossad operations, which may include terrorism. (See Ostrovsky, By Way of Deception (New York: St Martin’s Press 1990, pp 86 – 88). In 2001 Fox News investigative reporter, Carl Cameron, reported that scores of Israeli spies were rounded up and deported in the aftermath of 9/11, including five Mossad agents videoing the World Trade Center bombing .
Industrial and political spying is not uncommon among states, even between allies. What is striking is that representatives of an organized ethno-religious group, the major American Zionist organizations, have expressed sympathy and solidarity with such spies as Ben-ami Kadish, Jonathan Pollard and others, even defending their acts of espionage as a significant contribution to US – Israeli relations . The implication, or better still, the explication for this perverse thinking is that for the leading American Zionist organizations, spying for Israel, is part and parcel of their primary loyalty to the Jewish state. Zionist primary loyalty to Israel is not confined to mainline American Jewish organizations.
During the Rosen-Weissman trial, numerous prominent Jewish leftist (including Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman) publicly defended the procuring of confidential documents and their handing over to a foreign (Israeli) government as a matter of “free speech” and “freedom of the press” . Rosen in his civil suit again his firing by AIPAC (to deflect FBI investigators) claimed that his dealing of US government documents to Israeli officials was “common practice” AIPAC officials .
Top Zionist leaders in the Bush and Obama administration have a long history of work for and with Israel, including in some cases activity, which has caused them to lose security clearances and/or to come under investigation . Two top Pentagon officials in the Bush administration, Former Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Assistant Secretary of Defense, Douglas Feith are cases in point. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel spent time in the Israeli armed forces and has long been suspected of ties to Mossad . Stuart Levey, a top US Treasury Department official involving in enforcing sanctions against Iran, has spent nearly a decade in close collaboration with MOSSAD, a point he brags about 
During the Bush (Jr.) Presidency, non-Zionist officials in the Pentagon and CIA complained of being sidelined by top Zionist officials, who set up their own intelligence offices run by their own fellow Zionist policymakers . Wolfowitz and Feith set up the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans run by Abram Shulsky. Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski, an official in the Pentagon at the time, complained of being marginalized and supplanted by Israeli officers who had unfettered access to the highest Pentagon officials . The November 2007 United States National Intelligence Estimate Report (NIE) on the Iranian nuclear program was savaged by all the major Jewish American organizations, and their cohorts in Congress and the Executive branch because the report concluded that Iran had suspended its nuclear weapons development since 2003 .
The major Zionist organizations and their supporters in the US government favored Israeli intelligence disinformation claiming an active nuclear weapons program that threatened US security. In short order the NIE report, prepared by 16 major US Government intelligence agencies, was pushed aside and US policy followed the lead of the Zionist-backed Israeli claims of a “secret” Iranian weapons program despite the absence of any hard data.
The key to Zionist power in shaping US policy toward the Mid-East, Arab-Muslim relations and toward “third parties” affecting Israeli policy is the combined influence of Zionists in executive offices (Treasury, State, National Security, Pentagon, etc.) and Congress, especially leading committees relevant to Israeli interests, and as well as the mass organizations in civil society (the ‘51’ major American Jewish organizations) and Zionist control over the mass media . Zionist power and control in these crucial areas spreads out into influencing academic activity, including the repression of Israeli critics, the censoring of publications, manipulation of professional societies, trade unions and state and union pension funds, whose members are overwhelmingly neither Jewish nor Zionist.
The result is that the Zionist Power Configurations automatic and unquestioning support for the crimes and treason, including Zionist espionage for Israel within the US and the universally-condemned Israel war crimes, goes uncontested in the mass media, the Congress, and even the small political and literary journals on the ‘Left’. This uncontested support of espionage by foreign power acting through public organizations is unique in US history. In the past organizations acting as surrogates for a foreign power were condemned, ostracized, suppressed, prosecuted and subject to mass public outrage. It is a “tribute” to the power of ZPC that none of that occurs today. As a footnote to history, it is the first time that practically all Marxist journals, monthlies, bi-monthlies, quarterlies and annuals and their leading contributors have avoided a serious critique of the ZPC. On the contrary, the sparse articles which purport to deal with Middle East policies cover-up the role of the ZPC in shaping US policy . There is evidence that, even in the most radical publications of “critical writing”, fellow traveling editors, who otherwise claim “internationalist” and “working class” allegiances, are not willing to confront the ZPC war makers who promote wars in the Middle East, funded by American taxpayers and fought by 99.9% non Jewish/non-Zionist working class Americans in uniform.
Continue to read:
Bended Knees: Zionist Power in American Politics [Voltaire]