The Potential Historic Significance of My Campaign
In the past, I focused on the inner corruption at the core of Cardin's entire engagement with his key area in the Senate: Israel.
The issue I raised has itself shocked me because I never saw it with this clarity even after 30 years of living in awareness of it, as founder of The Jewish Peace Lobby. The issue is: Should an organization such as AIPAC really exist? Not, of course, as a matter of law. But is it in some sense morally inappropriate for it to exist? Should the Jewish Community have projected into the policy arena one particular answer to a legitimate and perplexing issue: How should we, American-Jews, orient ourselves towards the Nation State of the Jewish People, and to those fellow Jews who are inside our state, who are on the front line and are voting citizens of the State of Israel? And moreover to have done so, covertly, that is, in not saying to the world and to the policy community: Look our organization represents the point of view that says: "Stand by every Israeli government no matter what it does, because Israel is a democracy and their lives are on the line, and this is the government they chose, so we must respect the choices they have made, and keep our dissent, no matter how strong, inside the community."
To say this, is for AIPAC to say what it represents. This is honesty. But of course, for AIPAC to have this as its credo, on its website, and on its letterhead, would make it totally ineffective whenever it argued for any policy. What it does instead, and in cooperation with the Israeli government, is to promote, and distribute, "hasbara." Hasbara is a uniquely Israeli term, known to every Israeli and for many a source of pride. It is a mixture of propaganda and brilliant argumentation. Who would think less from a people that revered Talmudic scholars for fifteen hundred years? Being the world champion of hasbara is why Bibi Netanyahu has been Prime Minister longer than anyone since Ben-Gurion. Not because the Israelis believe it, but because this is how he protects Israel, (i.e. how he gets the Congress to follow his lead, both directly, and through AIPAC). Indeed, since the American public lacks the general acuity of Israelis, his wife Sari may be correct when she boasted that if Bibi was American, he would be President.
Laying this out, and doing it in The Washington Post, however, isn't really what the foreign policy dimension of my campaign is really about. Rather it is about breaking AIPAC, or at least knee-capping it, since in truth it is to big to be broken and perhaps breaking it, is really going too far, even for me. But knee-capping it, is indeed a worthy objective, and it has never been done before and never even attempted.
My motivation for this is not outrage that such an organization exists. That, in itself, is not of wide consequence to this country or to international affairs. It takes on significance only for one reason: AIPAC is astonishing powerful. It dominates the Congress on a wide swath of policy, on all-things-Israel, including for sure, Iran and the hot possibility that we shall soon be at war with Iran. (I argued, a week back, that war with Iran is perfectly fine with Senator Cardin and that is why, at AIPAC's behest, he and Chuck Schumer, and Bob Menendez joined all 54 Republicans in voting against President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran).
To make clear how total is AIPAC's dominance of Congress we need go no further than the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, outside negotiations and thus abandon what had been U.S. policy for 70 years.
Oh what stupid policy. Even Mr. Greenblatt who has worked his heart out to come up with some sort of Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that he now doesn't know what to do with, must, perhaps in some corner of his mind, have some regret. But why did this happen? Of course there was Sheldon Adelson, but there was Congress. Back in 1995, with a Senate vote of 93-5, the Congress enacted "The Jerusalem Embassy Act." which called for moving the embassy to Jerusalem and provided for drastic cuts in worldwide State Department funds for maintaining embassies, should this not be done. Then it provided for a Presidential waiver ever six months if the President affirmed that suspension was necessary "to protect the national security interests of the United States." For 22 years Presidents so asserted. But then President Trump was elected, and five months after he took office, at AIPAC's bidding, and with Ben Cardin as a co-sponsor, the Senate passed S. Res. 176. And this fine piece of legislation, in its final paragraph, reaffirmed the 1995 Act, and stated that the Senate "calls upon the President to abide by its provisions." And that is just what Mr. Trump did.
This was AIPAC, and to get a sense of its power, note that in our dysfunctional, partisan, Congress, that can't even find a majority to pass essential legislation, the vote in the Senate was 90-0. Everyone voted for it, including my hero, Bernie Sanders. And it was not merely idiotic policy, and a crazy expectation, by some, that they could rely on President Trump to exercise his waiver power, but it was the most colossal hypocrisy. After decades of lambasting the PLO for attempting to unilaterally attain some symbolic something-or-other at some international-organization-or-other, because it was outside the negotiations process, the entire Senate votes to award Israel recognition of its sovereignty in some unspecified part of Jerusalem, outside the negotiations process, and in conflict with a treaty document that says the Jerusalem issue will be left to the permanent status negotiations. So the Senate does this, without one Senator even dissenting or showing awareness of the contraction, no less the consequences for efforts to end the conflict.
This is AIPAC. And I'm seeking to knee-cap it.