J Street’s problem isn’t what it is—it’s what it isn’t.
In a February 16, 2010 address to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon inadvertently revealed his government’s core problem with the new American lobbying organization J Street.
Ayalon and other members of the Israeli government boycotted a J Street delegation shepherding members of the US Congress through Israel this week. Ayalon strongly condemned J Street: “They don’t present themselves as what they really are. They should not call themselves pro-Israeli.” J Street’s Jeremy Ben-Ami attributes this “spat” to an “inability of some in Israel and in the US to distinguish between criticism or disagreement with Israeli policy and outright hostility to the state itself.” J Street positions itself as a “pro-peace” and “pro-Israel” alternative to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
However the Israeli government’s core problem with J-Street is far more profound. J Street’s main competition, AIPAC, was actually created by a former employee of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Isaiah L. Kenen, who set the existing standard for coordinating AIPAC’s lobbying with the needs of the Israeli government while repeatedly dodging DOJ foreign agent registration orders. The Conference of Presidents, which organizes AIPAC’s executive committee, actually works out of the same New York office as the World Zionist Organization – American Section (which itself is a shell corporation set up in the US after the Jewish Agency’s American Section, another quasi arm of the Israeli government, was shut down as a foreign agent in the early 1970’s ).
David Sanger lays to rest concerns about reporter-Israeli Defense Force link.
The Electronic Intifadah, Tikun Olam, Mondoweiss, and FAIR have all been probing whether NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner’s son enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces. The implications of such a tie for an ostensibly credible reporter are huge. But to date, Bronner and the newspaper have been somewhat evasive when asked for confirmation and how this might be a conflict of interest.
Susan Chira, the foreign editor of The New York Times replied to The Electronic Intifada that “Ethan Bronner referred your query to me, the foreign editor. Here is my comment: Mr. Bronner’s son is a young adult who makes his own decisions. At The Times, we have found Mr. Bronner’s coverage to be scrupulously fair and we are confident that will continue to be the case.”
FAIR, If Americans Knew and other media watchdogs have frequently taken issue with that grand postulate. What do fellow Times reporters think? Today on a public radio program I asked NYT chief Washington correspondent David Sanger how the newspaper could maintain credibility on the Middle East (mp3) when it didn’t address these types of conflicts of interest. Sanger seemed to confirm the IDF report, but awkwardly repeated the emerging company line that it wasn’t a problem—at least not for the “AfPak” sector he was pontificating about. “The last time I looked in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I have not seen the Israeli military as a significant operating source there. So if we have a New York Times reporter with a son in the IDF, and I think I know who that reporter is, ah and there’s no reason that the reporter’s son should be limited in what he does by what his father may…profession is, I’m not sure it has anything to do with our reporting on Afghanistan or Pakistan.” Indeed.
In the 1960s, the US government fought the Israeli drive for nuclear weapons while attempting to register Israel’s US lobby as a foreign agent. Fast forward 46 years and Americans are asked to defend Israeli nuclear hegemony against regional rival Iran—a hegemony that thwarted advice and consent governance.
Yesterday on KZYX radio Jeffrey Blankfort discussed his groundbreaking analysis of a Pew Research poll of Council on Foreign Relations members, which finds them less supportive of current US-Israel relations than the general public. Blankfort later interviews Grant Smith about how in the 1960s the US government fought the Israeli drive for nuclear weapons while attempting to register Israel’s US lobby as a foreign agent. Fast forward 46 years and Americans are now being asked to defend Israeli nuclear hegemony against regional rival Iran. Smith discusses other newly declassified documents from his new book, Spy Trade: How Israel’s Lobby Undermines America’s Economy revealing AIPAC and Israel’s joint efforts against American industry groups to win preferential market access.
NB. The interview starts at the 17 minute mark, you can skip ahead by moving the audio player cursor.
The Treasury Department’s assistant secretary David Cohen addressed the American Bankers Association on Monday. Cohen implored the assembled executives to understand that money laundering sometimes involves “good money being put to bad use,” a standard the G7 Financial Action Task Force adopted way back in 1989. Cohen outlined Treasury’s efforts to “detect, deter and deny” money launderers access to the financial system by naming and shaming “facilitators” from the Gulf petroleum producers to Mexico. He also warned that there would be “reputational and legal consequences” for banks that didn’t pull at the yoke of expanded Treasury powers assumed under Executive order 13224 (PDF).
Audience members were visibly uneasy during camera pans. There was little interest in questioning the Treasury’s new employee. Perhaps with good reason. James G. Carr, the chief federal judge in northern Ohio, recently ruled that Treasury was acting unconstitutionally when it froze a US charity under suspicion of terrorist ties. US courts are only beginning to weigh in on the vast new powers assumed by Treasury. Until now there has been little visibility into its overseas activities. Treasury maintains that the Bank Secrecy Act, a money laundering law, empowers it to deny FOIA requests.
According to Robert Fisk at The Independent, Arab states are quietly ditching the US dollar in their energy trade. The gradual reduction of dollar reserves could have a devastating effect on the value of the dollar and ability of the US Treasury to finance the national debt.
While the price of gold is rocketing skyward the Israel lobby is no doubt quietly celebrating. Over the past decade, a multi-tiered strategy aimed at getting Americans to see the Middle East as a battlefield rather than a marketplace has slowly unfurled—with devastating results.
Last week District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced pursuit of a bank allegedly involved in Iranian assets transfer. The ninety year old Manhattan District Attorney already prosecuted Lloyds TSB over the transfer of $300 million in Iranian cash. Morgenthau’s tight coordination with a secretive new US Treasury unit led by Stuart Levey follows a pattern of highly selective Israel lobby tag team law enforcement that began back in the 1940s.
Zionism is a long running current of New York’s Morgenthau family. Robert’s father Henry Morgenthau Jr. was Secretary of Treasury during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. His grandfather Henry Morgenthau Sr. was US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Henry Jr. thought nothing of supporting Irgun terrorists with US government resources as he fought an intense and vicious bureaucratic battle to wrest policy over Displaced Persons from the US State Department during WWII. When President Roosevelt dragged his feet over policy takeover demands, Henry Morgenthau Jr. threatened to turn the State Department into an election year scandal. Anti-Semitism at State, he threatened, was a charge that “will require little more in the way of proof for this suspicion to explode into a nasty scandal.”
The lobby’s accolades for the late Ted Kennedy and his support of Israel mask the generally unknown conflicts fought by the senator’s older brothers. It is likely that lessons from the fiercest of all battles, fought behind the scenes by President John F. Kennedy alongside his brother and Attorney General Robert—guided the younger sibling’s political choices. Details of the JFK-RFK duo’s effort to register the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) parent organization, the American Zionist Council (AZC) as an Israeli foreign agent were shrouded in mystery until declassified in mid-2008.
Between 1962 and 1963 Senator J.W. Fulbright uncovered a massive network of financial “conduits” moving funds directed by the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem to Israel lobby startup groups across the United States. Even as JFK attempted to place Israel’s Dimona nuclear weapons program under US inspection, RFK ordered the AZC to openly register and disclose all of its foreign funded lobbying activity in the United States.