When we look at all the things that the Israel Lobby has been up to, we sometimes lose sight of the big picture. There has been a virtual flood of action by Congress to help Israel, much of it moving very much under the radar with no real debate and suspensions of rules to expedite the voting. Look at what has happened in the past month: HR 4133 passes through Congress on a 411 to 2 vote giving Israel a virtual blank check on the US Treasury and requiring the White House to prepare an annual report demonstrating how the Administration has guaranteed the Israeli military’s “qualitative edge” over its neighbors. It also provided military equipment — refueling tankers and bunker buster bombs — that can only be used for an attack on Iran. Only Ron Paul spoke out against the bill and even Justin Amash, a Palestinian American and Ron Paul supporter, voted yes, explaining “Our national defense benefits from Israel’s ability to defend itself and to serve as a check against neighboring authoritarian regimes and extremists.” According to Amash, it is constitutional to pay for Israel’s defense because of “Congress’s power to raise and support armies.” The Founders were not thinking of foreign armies to be sure, so Justin had better check on what he has been drinking from the House of Representatives water cooler. A few days later, $1 billion appeared in the 2013 Defense Appropriation Bill to fund Israel’s Iron Dome defense system — something that had been recommended in 4133. No coincidence there.
And then there is Iran. House Resolution 568 passed last week by a suspension of rules vote 401 to 11. Ron Paul spoke against the bill and also voted no. It ties the president’s hands on negotiating with Tehran, explicitly rejecting a “containment” policy relating to an Iranian nuclear program and also rejecting any compromises or concessions on the part of the United States if Congress in all its wisdom determines that Iran is pursuing a nuclear device. So if you want to understand how war with Iran is virtually guaranteed thanks to the US Congress, put the two bills together.
And then there is the little stuff. A bill proposed by Brad Sherman of California will give Israelis visa waivers, which means that they can travel freely to the United States, unlike their Arab neighbors. And not just as tourists — they will be able to do business. Why and why now? Because “Israel is our closest friend and democratic ally in the Middle East,” according to Sherman. And it will result in “more business.” For the Israelis.
And then there is an amendment by the redoubtable Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois which passed from committee on May 24th by unanimous vote which will reduce the number of Palestinian refugees by over 99% by declaring that only actual Palestinians who directly lost their homes in 1948 are actual refugees. Their children and grandchildren, also living in refugee camps, do not count. That would mean that there would be virtually no Palestinians left who might have some legal claim to return to their homes in Israel (roughly 30,000 are still alive of the 750,000 who were originally displaced). Kirk’s bill is a prime objective of the Israel government, i.e. to delegitimize the Palestinian diaspora. Given that the bill has nothing whatsoever to do with the American people, one can once again seriously question what parliament Kirk thinks he works for and what people he represents.
Certain names keep popping up in the pro-Israel legislation. Mark Kirk to be sure, who has received more than $1 million in pro-Israel PAC contributions, but also Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ben Cardin, Brad Sherman, Howard Berman, Joe Lieberman, Eric Cantor, Lindsey Graham, and Carl Levin. The Israel firsters in Congress are both shameless and relentless. We Americans who do not share their views should mark them out and hope for the day when they will be voted out of office and eventually prosecuted as the useful idiots and betrayers of our constitution that they most surely are.
Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues.