Exercising control from inside the government
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Referring to Israel during an interview in August 1983, U.S. Navy Admiral and former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Thomas Moorersaid:
“I’ve never seen a President — I don’t care who he is — stand up to them. It just boggles the mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what is going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn’t writing anything down. If the American people understood what a grip these people have got on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens certainly don’t have any idea what goes on.”
Moorer was speaking generally but he had something specific in mind, namely the June 8, 1967, Israeli attack on the American intelligence ship, U.S.S. Liberty, which killed 34 American crewmen and wounded 173 more. The ship was operating in international waters and was displaying a huge stars and stripes but Israeli warplanes, which had identified the vessel as American, even strafed the life rafts to kill those who were fleeing the sinking ship. It was the bloodiest attack on a U.S. Naval vessel ever outside of wartime and the crew deservedly received the most medals every awarded to a single ship based on one action. Yes, it is one hell of a story of courage under fire, but don’t hold your breath waiting for Hollywood to make a movie out of it.
President Lyndon B. Johnson, had ordered the recall of U.S. carrier planes sent to aid the stricken vessel, saying that he would prefer the ship go to the bottom rather than embarrass his good friend Israel.
Then came the cover-up from inside the U.S. government. A hastily convened and summarily executed board of inquiry headed by Admiral John McCain, father of the senator, deliberately interviewed only a handful of crewmen before determining that it was all an accident. The sailors who had survived the attack as well as crewmen from Navy ships that arrived eventually to provide assistance were held incommunicado in Malta before being threatened and sworn to secrecy. Since that time, repeated attempts to convene another genuine inquiry have been rebuffed by congress, the White House and the Pentagon. Recently deceased Senator John McCain was particularly active in rejecting overtures from the Liberty survivors.
The U.S. Navy electronic reconnaissance gathering ship USS Liberty (AGTR-5) receives assistance from units of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, after she was attacked and seriously damaged by Israeli forces off the Sinai Peninsula on 8 June 1967. (Source: Public Domain)
The Liberty story demonstrates how Israel’s ability to make the United States government act against its own interests has been around for a long time. Grant Smith of IRMEP, cites how Israeli spying carried out by AIPAC in Washington back in the mid-1980s resulted in a lopsided trade agreement that currently benefits Israel by more than $10 billion per year on the top of direct grants from the U.S. Treasury and billions in tax exempt “charitable” donations by American Jews.
If Admiral Moorer were still alive, I would have to tell him that the situation vis-à-vis Israeli power is much worse now than it was in 1983. He would be very interested in reading a remarkable bit of research recently completed by Smith demonstrating exactly how Israel and its friends work from inside the system to corrupt our political process and make the American government work in support of Jewish state interests. He describes in some detail how the Israel Lobby has been able to manipulate the law enforcement community to protect and promote Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s agenda.
A key component in the Israeli penetration of the U. S. government has been President George W. Bush’s 2004 signing off on the creation of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (OTFI) within the Department of the Treasury. The group’s website proclaims that it is responsible for “safeguarding the financial system against illicit use and combating rogue nations, terrorist facilitators, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferators, money launderers, drug kingpins, and other national security threats,” but it has from its founding been really all about safeguarding Israel’s perceived interests. Grant Smith notes however, how “the secretive office has a special blind spot for major terrorism generators, such as tax-exempt money laundering from the United States into illegal Israeli settlements and proliferation financing and weapons technology smuggling into Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons complex.”
The first head of the office was Undersecretary of Treasury Stuart Levey, who operated secretly within the Treasury itself while also coordinating regularly both with the Israeli government as well as with pro-Israel organizations like AIPAC, WINEP and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD). Levey also traveled regularly to Israel on the taxpayer’s dime, as did his three successors in office.
Levey left OTFI in 2011 and was replaced by David Cohen. It was reported then and subsequently that counterterrorism position at OTFI were all filled by individuals who were both Jewish and Zionist. Cohen continued the Levey tradition of resisting any transparency regarding what the office was up to. Smith reports how, on September 12, 2012, he refused to answer reporter questions “about Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons, and whether sanctioning Iran, a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, over its internationally-inspected civilian nuclear program was an example of endemic double standards at OTFI.”
Cohen was in turn succeeded in 2015 by Adam Szubin who was then replaced in 2017 by Sigal Pearl Mandelker, a former and possibly current Israeli citizen. All of the heads of OTFI have therefore been Jewish and Zionist. All work closely with the Israeli government, all travel to Israel frequently on “official business” and they all are in close liaison with the Jewish groups most often described as part of the Israel Lobby. And the result has been that many of the victims of OTFI have been generally enemies of Israel, as defined by Israel and America’s Jewish lobbyists. OTFI’s Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (SDN), which includes sanctions and enforcement options, features many Middle Eastern Muslim and Christian names and companies but nothing in any way comparable relating to Israel and Israelis, many of whom are well known to law enforcement otherwise as weapons traffickers and money launderers. And once placed on the SDN there is no transparent way to be removed, even if the entry was clearly in error.
Here in the United States, action by OTFI has meant that Islamic charities have been shut down and individuals exercising their right to free speech through criticism of the Jewish state have been imprisoned. If the Israel Anti-Boycott Act succeeds in making its way through congress the OTFI model will presumably become the law of the land when it comes to curtailing free speech whenever Israel is involved.
The OTFI story is outrageous, but it is far from unique. There is a history of American Jews closely attached to Israel being promoted by powerful and cash rich domestic lobbies to act on behalf of the Jewish state. To be sure, Jews who are Zionists are vastly overrepresented in all government agenciesthat have anything at all to do with the Middle East and one can reasonably argue that the Republican and Democratic Parties are in the pockets of Jewish billionaires named Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban.
Neoconservatives, most of whom are Jewish, infiltrated the Pentagon under the Reagan Administration and they and their heirs in government and media (Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Scooter Libby, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol) were major players in the catastrophic war with Iraq, which, one of the architects of that war, Philip Zelikow, described in 2004 as being all about Israel. The same people are now in the forefront of urging war with Iran.
American policy towards the Middle East is largely being managed by a small circle of Orthodox Jews working for presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner. One of them, David Friedman, is currently U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who has no diplomatic or foreign policy credentials, is a Zionist Jew who is also a supporter of the illegal settlements on the West Bank and a harsh critic of other Jews who in any way disagree with the Israeli government. He has contributed money to settlement construction, which would be illegal if OTFI were doing its job, and has consistently defended the settlers while condemning the Palestinians in speeches in Israel. He endlessly and ignorantly repeats Israeli government talking points and has tried to change the wordingof State Department communications, seeking to delete the word “occupied” when describing Israel’s control of the West Bank. His humanity does not extend beyond his Jewishness, defending the Israeli shooting thousands of unarmed Gazan protesters and the bombing of schools, hospitals and cultural centers. How he represents the United States and its citizens who are not dual nationals must be considered a mystery.
Friedman’s top adviser is Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, who is described by the Embassy as an expert in “Jewish education and pro-Israel advocacy.” Once upon a time, in an apparently more enlightened mood, Lightstone described Donald Trump as posing “an existential danger both to the Republican Party and to the U.S.” and even accused him of pandering to Jewish audiences. Apparently when opportunity knocked he changed his mind about his new boss. Pre-government in 2014, Lightstone founded and headed Silent City, a Jewish advocacy group supported by extreme right-wing money that opposed the Iran nuclear agreement and also worked to combat the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He is reportedly still connected financially with anti BDS groups, which might be construed as a conflict of interest. As the Senior Adviser to Friedman he is paid in excess of $200,000 plus free housing, additional cash benefits to include a 25% cost of living allowance and a 10% hardship differential, medical insurance and eligibility for a pension.
So, what’s in it all for Joe and Jill American Citizens? Not much. And for Israel? Anything, it wants, apparently. Sink a U.S. warship? Okay. Tap the U.S. Treasury? Sure, just wait a minute and we’ll draft some legislation that will give you even more money. Create a treasury department agency run exclusively by Jews that operates secretly to punish critics of the Jewish state? No brainer. Meanwhile a bunch of dudes at the Pentagon are dreaming of new wars for Israel and the White House sends an ignorant ambassador and top aide overseas to represent the interests of the foreign government in the country where they are posted. Which just happens to be Israel. Will it ever end?
This article was originally published on The Unz Review.
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Featured image is from the author.
Frances Black (second from left) is an Irish singer and politician pushing for a ban on imports from Israel’s settlements.
May 15 is the 70th Nakba Day, reflecting endless Palestinian suffering since 1948 and so under a ruthless occupier since 1948
The International Reputation of Israel Is in Tatters, Even in US Congress
Within the hallowed halls of United States governance, where for generations Israel has been king, and Palestine an unimportant footnote, nothing more than an annoyance to the Zionist entity, a seismic shift is occurring and has been for some time. In November, Rashida Tlaib became the first Palestinian-American to be elected to Congress. She is also the first member of Congress to open support the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Newly-elected Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, has also endorsed the BDS movement.
Currently, Congress has opposed voting on a bill that would criminalize boycotting Israel. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio has proclaimed that the bill is not being considered, because, he states, many Democrats support BDS. We can all be certain that he doesn’t. During his campaign for re-election in 2016, pro-Israel lobbies donated $468,307.00 to his campaign. This disreputable senator has the dubious distinction of being the top senatorial recipient of apartheid largess.
Whether or not ‘many’ Democrats are closet BDS supports is unknown; however, despite one’s opinion of BDS, Congress has an excellent reason to oppose criminalizing it. Simply this: such a law would be unconstitutional. U.S. citizens have the right to boycott; this right has been confirmed in earlier Supreme Court decisions. Many states have passed such legislation, and where it has been challenged in court, it has not stood.
The world over, the BDS movement is increasingly impacting the Zionist regime, such that that apartheid nation is spending millions of dollars to counter this impact. The international reputation of Israel is in tatters, as more and more people around the world recognize its brutality, violation of human rights and international law, and see it as the pariah of the global community. While Republicans in Congress may be blind to these realities, an increasing number of Democrats seem to be opening their eyes.
It was not so long ago that any legislation supported by AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee; the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S.) would pass without more than token resistance. Lobbyist sometimes even write legislation for members of Congress to introduce. It didn’t matter if it assisted Israelis at the expense of U.S. citizens; if AIPAC wanted it, it became law. It must be remembered that Israel receives $4 billion in foreign aid from the U.S. every year. In Israel, university education is very inexpensive. In the U.S., students often leave university owing tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the U.S. government for student loans. Why, one might ask, is Congress more willing to provide low-cost education to Israelis than to U.S. citizens?
Congresswoman Tlaib has already shown herself to be outspoken; she is sure to find a Congressional audience far more responsive to human rights and international law than has previously been seen.
International support for Palestinians is also strong.
At the very end of 2018, Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei met with the General Secretary of Islamic Jihad of Palestine. Mr. Ziad Al Nakhala discussed recent developments in Palestine, including the preparation that resistance groups are making. He stated that, regardless of continuing Israeli barbarity, the Palestinians remain strong. He pointed out that U.S. President Donald Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, as yet unannounced, has no possibility of being accepted by the people of Palestine. They, and they alone will determine their destiny. It will not be decided by a foreign colonial power, either Israel or the United States. They may be powerful nations, but they have not broken, and can never break, the courage and unrelenting strength of the Palestinian people.
The U.S., in violation of international law, moved the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; this decision was overwhelmingly condemned by the United Nations General Assembly. Since then, a few other countries, including Paraguay, have followed suit. However, once a new president was inaugurated in Paraguay, he ordered the embassy moved back to Tel Aviv. The U.S. president may be disappointed that the rest of the world didn’t follow his lead; that most countries didn’t indicates their greater respect for international law than the U.S. ever demonstrates.
For several months now, there have been weekly ‘Right of Return’ protests in the Gaza Strip, with Palestinians demanding the internationally-guaranteed right of all displaced Palestinians to return to their homes. Israel has met these peaceful protests with murderous violence, killing hundreds of peaceful, unarmed demonstrators. News reports of this in North America are limited but are starting to be shown. This coverage, of course, is nothing compared to the coverage that any so-called offense committed by a Palestinian against an Israeli garner. But some coverage is a start.
We must not be overly optimistic; Israel, in desperation, is increasing its oppression of the Palestinian people, in conjunction with the U.S. government. While this writer sees Congressional attitudes shifting, the people of Palestine are still oppressed: imports and exports are restricted by Israel, crippling the economy and preventing families from rebuilding homes destroyed by the Zionist entity. In the West Bank, checkpoints, harassment, and murder by illegal settlers and IDF terrorists continue unabated. Jerusalem remains occupied, with sacred sites routinely desecrated by Zionists.
The efforts of people around the world on behalf of the Palestinians must not cease; now, more than ever, with progress being made in the governing bodies of that most imperial of nations, the United States, our efforts must increase. As long as one inch of Palestine remains occupied, the resistance will continue.
U.S. anthropologist Margaret Mead once said this: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. The BDS movement, and other support for Palestine started as “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” committed to change the world. It is now a large, world-wide movement, and one that will, in fact, change the world. Such a change is long overdue for the beleaguered, suffering Palestinians. We must all work to bring about justice and human rights for all Palestinians.
*(Rashida Tlaib, Congresswoman for Michigan’s 13 district. Image credit: Washington Post/ flickr)