Friday, February 20, 2015

Netanyahu, AIPAC And Congress


Bush's list of excuses for attacking Iraq, the AUMF that passed the House on October 10, 2002, was sponsored by Speaker Denny Hastert (R-IL) and Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO). With all but 6 Republicans in favor, it was destined to pass and it did-- 297-133. But most Democrats, led by Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi, opposed it-- and Democrats only contributed 82 votes to the majority. 126 Democrats voted NO. Progressives tended to vote against it; conservative Democrats tend to vote yes-- with one caveat.

Democrats, particularly Jewish Democrats on the West Coast, who are heavily under the influence of AIPAC, voted with the Republicans instead of with their own caucus. L.A. Democrats who who crossed the aisle at AIPAC's insistence included Howard Berman, Jane Harman, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Ellen Tauscher, and Henry Waxman.

Yesterday I got a beautiful hand-written card from my congressman, Adam Schiff. I had been a big supporter of his original campaign against James Rogan, the right-wing Glendale Republican he defeated but the relationship ended when he voted for Bush's war (and joined the Blue Dogs). Adam's point was that health trumps political differences and that he wanted to wish me a speedy recovery. Very human of him-- and meaningful to me.

AIPAC-- i.e., the far right of the Israeli political landscape-- was very wrong about Iraq. The idea was to have the U.S. destroy a potential enemy (Saddam) of Israel's. But the results were not good for anyone (including Israel), except maybe Iran, which went from the status of persona non grata in Baghdad to power behind the throne. The destruction of the Iraqi army and the collapse of the stable-- albeit brutal-- Baathist society has given way to a far less stable and far more volatile situation not just in Iraq, but in the entire region. ISIS is what the Israeli-Bush policy led to.

So why would anyone listen to the same neocons and the same AIPAC manipulators' latest whining about how the U.S. has to take down Iran? But they do-- and not just Republicans-- always looking for a way to please their crazy End Times base-- but also AIPAC-owned Democrats. On 9/12/2001 the NY Times ran a piece by James Bennet, that pointed out how some Israelis "took cold comfort in concluding that Americans would now share more of their fears."
Israeli leaders, who have chafed at occasional American criticism of their measures against Palestinians, said the day's attacks would awaken the United States to the threat of global terrorism.

Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister, replied, "It's very good." Then he edited himself: "Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy." He predicted that the attack would ''strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we've experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror."
AIPAC hasn't been passing reprints of that article around when they've been urging-- and threatening-- Democrats about attending the Netanyahu GOP campaign rally in Congress. Like most rightists, Netanyahu is a compulsive liar. Yesterday, Greg Sargent wrote about a CNN poll that found that 63% of Americans think House GOP leaders were wrong to invite Netanyahu to address Congress without notifying President Obama.81% of Democratic respondents agree. "Public disapproval of the circumstances surrounding the Netanyahu speech, however," he wrote, "doesn’t appear to be a very powerful motivator for Democrats in Congress."

A far bigger motivator was how AIPAC destroyed the careers of African American Democratic congressmembers Earl Hilliard (D-AL) and Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) for lack of the enthusiasm for Israel. So far only 23 House Democrats have signed the letter asking Boehner to postpone the Netanyahu rally until after the Israel elections:
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
André Carson (D-IN)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)
Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Betty McCollum (D-MN)
James McGovern (D-MA)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Chellie Pingrie (D-ME)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Mark Takano (D-CA)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
Peter Welch (D-VT)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)
Other House Dems who didn't sign the letter but who have publicly announced that they're not going to the Netanyahu rally include:
G.K. Butterfield (D-NC)
Jim Clyburn (D-SC)
Diana DeGette (D-CO)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Gregory Meeks (D-NY)
Charlie Rangel (D-NY)
Cedric Richmond (D-LA)
Bennie Thompson (D-MS)
Sargent continued by pointing out that "the failure of more Democrats to sign this letter suggests many still fear the politics of appearing out of sync with whatever Israel wants. It’s true that a number of Democrats have said they will skip the speech. But many of those have clarified that this isn’t due to any organized boycott, and far more are attending. And, really, all the talk of a “boycott” is misdirection. It shouldn’t be all that difficult for Democrats to call for a mere delay in this speech, while rebuffing efforts to portray such a move as “anti-Israel,” given how egregious the circumstances surrounding this event really are. To be sure, given the aforementioned Democratic skittishness, the fact that two dozen Democrats have signed this letter does suggest that a political space is opening up for Democrats to feel like it might not necessarily be suicidal to occasionally appear at odds with Israel, even if it is a small one. But still," he concluded, "Congressional Democrats face a problem here: What are they going to do now? The CNN poll I referenced above strongly suggests the Democratic base is not happy with the fact that Netanyahu will be going forward with this speech, which has been portrayed by many commentators as forcing Congressional Democrats to choose between Netanyahu and Obama. If most are not willing to call for a delay in the speech, what will they prove willing to do? If they do nothing, how do they explain that to rank and file Democratic voters?"

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At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm very disappointed that too many Democrats have absolutely NO courage of any kind. The slightest hint of a threat, and these defenders of the Middle Class collapse into quivering mounds of jelly.

The most sorry part of this is that the voters let them get away with this, re-electing them on cue.


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