Jewish Leader Colludes With Israeli Embassy in Monitoring House Member ‘Hostile’ to Israel
If you’re like me, you find Sy Hersh a bracing, but alarmist and perhaps hyperbole-prone analyst of U.S. policy. I feel likewise about those who propound theories about Israeli penetration of U.S. political, military and security circles. But lately, I’m changing my tune on this.
It began with the Aipac spying scandal involving Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman as the tip-of-the-iceberg conspirators, along with Israeli embassy staffer, Naor Gilon and Pentagon specialist, Larry Franklin. My anxiety level has been ratcheted up a notch or two by the report of Jane Harman’s collusion with what the N.Y. Times calls an “Israeli intelligence operative,” to intercede with the Bush administration to mitigate the charges against the Aipac Two.
It is no secret that Israel maintains one of the most ambitious and energetic spy operations in this country, perhaps second or third only to Russia or China. In this post, I will reveal some not quite so ordinary collusion between the American Jewish community’s leadership and Israeli embassy staffers to monitor the travels and views of a House member they deem to be hostile to Israel’s interests. This isn’t even espionage in the standard sense of the term. More like what the Don used to call: “Keep you friends close, but your enemies closer.” And it still stinks.
Earlier this month, a senior official of Israel’s D.C. embassy contacted a Minneapolis Jewish communal staffer, to inform him about a D.C. meeting between Congressmember Keith Ellison and deputy chief of mission, Jeremy Issacharoff. Ellison, you’ll recall, is the first Muslim-American elected to Congress. He also led a mission a month or so ago to Gaza with Washington State Congressmember Brian Baird.
You can bet your bottom dollar that both local Jewish communal and embassy staff want to monitor Ellison’s every move. Ellison traveled to Saudi Arabia on a state trade mission, which is of course what members of Congress do on a regular basis to drum up business for their state. But that’s a no-no as far as Israel is concerned and grounds for further suspecting Ellison’s motives.
Though the latter’s actual views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are quite moderate (especially considering he is Muslim), my source tells me that the embassy staffer during the conversation only gave Ellison credit for attempting to appear balanced concerning Israel during his meeting with Issacharoff. In fact, the embassy staffer found it so unusual that Ellison didn’t mention war crimes accusations that had surfaced concerned IDF behavior in Gaza, that he noted this in his conversation with the Minneapolis staffer.
Minneapolis seems to be a hotbed of pro-Israel communal activism. A local Aipac activist once accused Cong. Betty McCollum of supporting terrorism because she would not support an Aipac congressional resolution. The local JCRC also encouraged a local college to cancel a speech by Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu, falsely claiming that he’d likened Israel to Hitler. It should be no surprise then that local communal staffers are such willing handmaidens to the intelligence work of the State of Israel. And perhaps no surprise that there may be others with a conscience in Minneapolis or in D.C. who find this behavior reprehensible.
The life of an Israeli embassy staffer appears to be little more than that of a glorified baseball statistician. They do head counts of who’s pro-Israel in Congress and who’s not. They meet with their friends on the Hill to thank them for flacking, er, speaking on Israel’s behalf and they meet with their perceived enemies to distribute Israeli talking points which somehow will miraculously persuade them of the error of their ways.
In an unrelated matter, almost everyone knows that Israel is desperate to advance the notion of an Iranian existential threat to Israel. That country’s intelligence apparatus attempts to insert this narrative into U.S. political discourse every chance it gets.
I’ve been informed by a confidential source that in September 2008, before one of the presidential debates, an Israeli operative attempted unsuccessfully to meet with a debate panelist in order to plant a question about war against Iran: would the candidates take military action against that country or accept a nuclear armed Iran? The Israelis did NOT want any question that asked what the candidates might do if Israel attacked Iran. This is probably because they want to plant in the minds of Americans that war with Iran may be necessary. That way, if Israel does attack, the news will not be such a shock. But they do not want Americans to think too long and hard about Israel being the initiator of such a conflict. That would give them time to think about the reasons why this might not be such a good idea.
There is probably nothing illegal in anything I’ve described. Indeed, Israel’s supporters will argue that I’ve only described Israelis and American Jews doing their jobs. But I have a different take: why do American Jewish leaders and the Israeli embassy need to have such a symbiotic relationship? Why should American Jews be providing intelligence to Israel about a U.S. congressmember doing his job on behalf of his constituents? At the least, it’s unseemly and doesn’t speak well for those who (like me) argue against the notion of dual loyalty.
And why should Israeli intelligence attempt to intervene so overtly in an American presidential campaign? I wonder what an Israeli voter might think if he or she discovered that U.S. intelligence operatives were planting questions during Israeli election debates.
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This has been going on forever. Isaiah L. Kenen and other activists opened “Israel Offices of Information” in various key cities in 1948. Although they were all registered agents of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, many soon morphed into unregistered lobbyists—while maintaining tight links, both financial and political, with the Israeli Government.
Kenen put it this way:
“Israelis began looking for a lobbyist to promote the necessary legislation…would I leave the Israeli delegation for six months to lobby on Capitol Hill? There were other questions. Should I continue my registration as an agent of the Israel government? Was it appropriate for an embassy to lobby? Embassies talked to the State Department, and American voters talked to their congressmen.”
Isaiah Kenen went on to lobby for the American Zionist Council (shut down by the DOJ) and then start AIPAC.
This behavior is not an aberration, but rather standard operating procedure.
i feel like i do a very good job of separating criticism of israeli policy from true anti-semitism. i cringe when people say that jews run the (US) government but lately, it is getting harder and harder to fight against this notion. i was utterly dejected the morning that the NY Times ran that spy/house of reps story. why do some people need to make it so hard for us to debunk jewish stereotypes?
I am trying to write a sane political economic overview of Zionism and the role it plays within the American Jewish community.
It may be relevant to this blog entry. You can find it at Jewish Financial Aggression, Worldwide Economic Nakba.
I know some will cringe at the title, but I worked on Wall Street when the Yids (the New Crowd) were displacing the German American Jews (Our Crowd). The language was a good deal harsher.
In the old days working class Jews used to create movements to stand up to Jewish proprietors.
Israel has been used to forge a false consensus among Jews.
Anyway, I appreciate criticism, and I am gradually adding references.
Joachim Martillo, I often find cause to appreciate your comments, and the wealth of documentation to which you make reference. I will spend more time at your site and see if I have any thoughts to offer.
I’m still considering Richard’s post.
Over all, my response is: I’m convinced. I would like to see the identification of 60% of Democratic contributions as being from pro-Israeli interests worked over and given more exposure. I will ask at the Bureau of Counterpropaganda.
Good post, Richard. Great work, Phil Weiss!
What to make of this? There is a vast enterprise of people in this country that has as its objective to advance the most questionable objectives of Israel – with minimally indifference to the interests of the US, and maximally with a willingness to lure this country into actions very damaging to our own interests. It is not illegal. It is potentially terribly harmful.
The unifier of these people is the motive to promote Israel’s international agenda, even at the expense of the US. The marker for this motive is being Jewish (probably a 99% probability).
These facts justify those who in certain contexts understandably prefer uncompromised Americans for associates, to harbor a collective presumptive skepticism about American Jews. This is a rational (not unlawful) discrimination. No statistician can say what probability of “Israel-compromise” justifies a generalized distrust of American Jews where national loyalty is an issue. How am I, or anybody, supposed to take the author’s identifying of “American Jewish community’s leadership” as civilian (non-criminal) “spies”? I, and probably most engaged Americans, have encountered many “non-leader” members of the Jewish community who have exhibited themselves as rabid, uncompromising “pro-Israel” types, to the point where they hate – yes hate – those who disagree. I guess I sum it up by saying, golly, I don’t hate anyone because they are Jewish …. but I sure wouldn’t presume them trustworthy with a matter where national allegience was a relevant qualification. Regretably, they would have to show me they were not among the legion of Israel’s “civilian spies” in the US.
Timothy, I think you do a disservice to many when you typify those who support Israel as “American Jews.” People who are Americans of Jewish heritage have diverse views, as do Americans of any heritage. Defining a population of diverse views by the views held only by some members of that population is a misunderstanding likely to obscure any issue which is raised.
Doing so is playing by Israeli rules, and use of Israeli rules puts me on the defense.
Hm, Margaret, I do not think I erred. You choose the word “define” to characterize what I referred to as a “presumption”. A presumption is not a final fact (or definition if you will). It is the inital starting point, and most importantly it is subject to dismissal by persuasion. The issue is not obscured – in the context of the scale of “civilian facilitators of Israeli interests” in the US which is depicted in main article here, it is rationale in certain sensitive contexts (political, security) to be cautious about the prospect of “civilian spies” for Israel. What else is the point of the main essay?
You typify: “…the motive to promote Israel’s international agenda…” thus: “The marker for this motive is being Jewish (probably a 99% probability).” And further define those with the motive as being “American Jews,” a population which you compare to “uncompromised Americans.”
I do think it inadvisable to assume all ‘civilian spies’ acting for Israel would of necessity be Jewish – I hope our intelligence services aren’t making that mistake.
There undoubtedly are millions of people in the US who are not Jewish, but who receive income from companies which have invested, and profited from their investments, in Israeli companies. I know the States of California, Washington, Minnesota and Pennsylvania have money invested in companies that benefit from Israeli investments, because I spent the day reading about Oak Investment Partners and Jerusalem Global Ventures, both of which are venture capital investment groups. The motive for helping Israel is likely to appeal to a far larger group than what you ‘presume’ to be the case.
The point of Richard’s post is that there are actors who can be identified as both Jewish and likely to hold Israel’s interest as more important than the interests of the US. I didn’t notice him saying all American Jews fit that description – that was your presumption.
Defining a population of diverse views by the views held only by some members of that population is handy for setting up a scapegoat. Scapegoating always makes me wonder who might be taking advantage of such cover.