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Chief Jewish Lobbyist: 'U.S. Congressmen live in fear of pro-Israeli intimidation'

William Kristol,
head of right-wing Emergency Committee for Israel, stuns debate audience
in New York: 'I agree with Obama’s Israel policies to a considerable
degree.'

By
Chemi Shalev

May.16, 2012
3:07 PM


Many American senators and congressmen “keep quiet” and refrain from
criticizing Israeli policies because they “live in fear” and are
“intimidated” by pro-Israeli groups such as the Emergency Committee for
Israel (ECI), according to J Street founder and President Jeremy
Ben-Ami.


Ben-Ami’s bald assertion came during a debate with Weekly Standard
editor Bill Kristol, a director of ECI, held on Tuesday night at
Manhattan’s palatial B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue and moderated by Jane
Eisner, the editor of the Forward. Ben Ami said that because of
accusatory ECI ads in the New York Times and other media outlets,
members of Congress are afraid of being branded as anti-Israel and are
deterred by the “ramifications” of voicing open criticism of Israeli
policies.


It was a rare moment of tension in an otherwise civil and even friendly
debate, which pitted representatives of the two diametrically opposed
poles of the current Jewish debate on Israel – the controversial lobby J
Street on the left and the no-less contentious Emergency Committee on
the right. The crowd of 700-800, mainly from Manhattan’s Upper West
Side, clearly favored Ben Ami’s positions though they were obviously
pleased by Kristol’s agreement to debate him.


Another reason for the amicable nature of the debate was that Kristol
“didn’t supply the goods," as Israelis would put it. He voiced
surprisingly moderate positions about President Obama and about the
creation of a Palestinian state, which seemed completely at odds with
the harsh tone of ECI advertisements and especially of its popular 30
minute television film “Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel.”


While the film depicts Obama’s attitude toward Israel as “alarming” and
“damaging to the relationship” between the U.S. and Israel, Kristol
told the audience that Obama had, in fact, “moved to the center” on both
Iran and the peace process, and that his policies today resemble those
of his predecessors Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.


And while the ECI committee has run billboard campaigns describing
Obama as “not pro-Israel," Kristol told the audience that the president
had evolved considerably between his 2009 Cairo speech and his 2012
AIPAC speech, and that “the difference” between Obama and Republican
candidate Mitt Romney on issues relating to Iran and Israel “is not that
great."


“I am happy to agree with Obama to a considerable degree,” said
Kristol, one of America’s most well-known conservative commentators. He
added that he does not expect Israel to be “that great an issue” in the
upcoming November elections.


Nonetheless, Kristol elicited howls of protest from the audience when
he predicted that the next U.S. secretary of state in a “Romney
administration” would be former Democratic vice presidential nominee
Senator Joe Lieberman. Ben-Ami wryly noted, “Israel already has a
Lieberman as foreign minister.”


Ben-Ami also seemed to be reciprocating Kristol’s conciliatory tone
towards Obama by commending Romney’s refusal to emulate his Republican
rivals during the primaries and "pander” on the issue of the transfer of
the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. He said that Romney’s attitude toward
the peace process did not seem to rule out an active U.S. role in
advancing the peace process.


Kristol rejected Ben-Ami’s call for the U.S. president to “lay down the
parameters” of a peace deal – 1967 borders with modifications,
Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and the Palestinians, no right
of return and a demilitarized Palestinian state. Kristol said that it
was not the business of America to “impose” a peace deal on Israel and
the Palestinians nor was it Washington’s duty to “call Israel’s bluff”
and to expose its obstinacy, if it exists, to the outside world.


Nonetheless, Kristol surprised many in the audience by voicing clear
support for a Palestinian state, saying, “I would be very happy if there
was a Palestinian state”. He rejected Ben-Ami’s predictions of a
one-state future in which the Palestinians would demand the principle of
“one man one vote," saying that Israel has ruled the occupied
territories for over 45 years and that the indefinite maintenance of the
current status quo “is also an option."


Ben-Ami, who deals with the Israeli-Palestinian issue seven days a
week, was clearly better informed on the details of the issues than
Kristol, who is a major player in the overall Republican agenda. Kristol
repeatedly cited his own ignorance in order to dodge open disagreements
with Ben-Ami, conceding that he doesn’t know much about the blockade of
Gaza, that he is not aware of the details of Israeli settlement
activities in the West Bank and that he is incapable of judging whether
Israeli democracy and the rule of law are indeed endangered by the
government’s refusal to carry out High Court orders to evacuate the
settlements at Migron and at the Ulpana sector of Beit-El, as Ben-Ami
asserted.


But, he protested, “This is what American Jews have to do? Criticize
the level of democracy and the rule of law in Israel? It is certainly
better than in any other country in the Middle East and in other parts
of the world.” Ben-Ami drew enthusiastic support from the audience when
he retorted that large parts of the American Jewish community “won’t
stand for” Kristol’s "Israel right or wrong” attitude.


Kristol said that he welcomed debate with J Street, but would not agree
to a dialogue with supporters of BDS – boycott, divestment and
sanctions – against Israel, while Ben Ami said that BDS supporters
should be engaged, despite his disagreement with their positions. He
draws the line, he added, at having a dialogue with people who advocate
the destruction of the Jewish state.


Kristol then went so far as to actually praise Ben-Ami’s achievements
in building the J Street organization, but added that it has no real
influence on the Obama administration. “I hope J Street continues to
flourish and to have no effect on policy,” he said and was rewarded with
the audience’s appreciative laughter.


The Ben-Ami - Kristol debate, coming on the heels of a similar debate
held two weeks ago between controversial author Peter Beinart and the
conservative Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis at Columbia University,
appears to signal an attempt by the Jewish community – at least in New
York - to create an ongoing dialogue between its warring “factions” and
to arrest the polarization of the community.


The debates may also herald an end to attempts to ostracize
organizations such as J Street and viewpoints like those espoused by
Beinart, and to recognize the legitimacy of their hitherto shunned
left-wing views.


As an Israeli observer, I must admit I found myself envious of the
ability of the two debaters and of their audience to conduct such a
potentially volatile political debate in an atmosphere of mutual
respect. In Israel, I suspect, such civilized debates may no longer be
possible.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemiShalev

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/west-of-eden/j-street-s-ben-ami-u-s-congressmen-live-in-fear-of-pro-israeli-intimidation-1.430842


Added: May-17-2012 Occurred On: May-17-2012
By: ElegantDecline
In:
World News, Other Middle East
Tags: Israel, US, Lobby, Corruption
Location: Washington, District of Columbia, United States (load item map)
Views: 1675 | Comments: 83 | Votes: 1 | Favorites: 1 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • After 11 years of ruinous, bloody wars that benefited nobody except rich bastards and Israel - and have achieved NOTHING except thousands of dead, the destruction of our economy, and millions of maimed veterans- good luck on that Jewish lobby convincing Americans into a draft for the next one! "Not my kid!" they will say!

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (6) | Report

  • don't you dare question or criticize us isreali's you big anti-semite, gentile, nazi

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (3) | Report

  • Can we get the cliff note version of this? Busy execs dont have the time to read all this diatribe and editorial dribble 0 just give us the broadstroke version in a one or two line sentence.

    hehe - doesnt effect the price of my tea.

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (2) | Report

  • Comment of user 'nomadlife' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @nomadlife

      Yeah, the clock where Israel opens a huge can of whoop ass and sends their tormentors back to a time before the stone ages.

      Quite honestly the Jews are alright with me. At least they don’t try to force their shitty religion on us by force like the Muslims do.

      Posted May-18-2012 By 

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  • Don't understand the cartoon cell showing a boot with "Israel Lobby" printed on it coming down on "U.S. Media".

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

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  • http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/397772/september-22-2011/jeremy-ben-ami

    :-) and j street.

    If the Western leaders openly call for an end of settlements for the sake of peace, why don't they openly call for an end to a Palestinian right of return for the sake of peace? Western and Jewish liberal leaders are afraid of offending the Palestinians so they give them a free pass.

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (0) | Report

    • @SpeckFettGulag A tough nut to crack, but doable...surrounding countries need to be part of the deal to allow naturalisation of most refugees. They'd clearly need incentives to do this...

      Secondly, you could give Pal's the right to migrate to the new Pal State.

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

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    • @SpeckFettGulag
      Like Gingrich calling Palestinians a "made up people"

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (0) | Report

  • Look, think about our caveman/paleo ancestry for a minute. Humans are computers engineered by evolution over 10's of thousands of generations. One strong program in our brains is us-against-them or our tribe against the tribe over the mountain. Jews, like it or not, are a tribe of advanced cavemen like the rest of us. And, yes, they are us against them, or Jews against everybody else. That's number one, number two is they are quiet and sneaky fuckers in general. They don't want to be in the lime More..

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (0) | Report

    • @Lwe5113 I take it your not the social kind?

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (1) | Report

    • @funkyyaya Honestly, I have my eyes open and I am pretty fucking sure that Jews run American politics, media, and wallstreet. And in the recent history, like the past 10 years, they seem to be hellbent on destroying our way of life with open borders and 40,000 factories moved to china and pushing rap music at kids. I could go on but can you see any of the points I'm making?

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (-1) | Report

    • @Lwe5113

      Gee, if you would have included references to their long noses and eating babies you'd have ALL the stereotypes covered...

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (1) | Report

    • @Ally_Gator Ok, since you are so fucking smart, answer one question. If Israel/Zionist/Jews don't wield huge power over washington, give us all a good explanation for this; In November, Obama and Sarkozy of France inadvertently broadcast a private exchange, during which the French president said he could not "bear" Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister.
      Mr Obama in return said: "You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day." They fucking own us More..

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (0) | Report

    • @Lwe5113
      A simple explanation which you won't think about for the briefest second: Obama has to deal with him because the U.S. has longstanding political, economic, and military ties to Israel for a lot of reasons - and as much as he'd like to Obama can't wave his wand and sever them.

      Now let me ask YOU a simple question: If Obama feels the way the comment indicates, why was/is he the DARLING of the so-called Jewish controlled media? Since he's so outspoken to another leader about his feeli More..

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (0) | Report

  • Judeophobic much??

    What i find amusing about this amateur article is that most of the US media is actually anti Israel...apart from Fox.

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (-1) | Report

  • If only the amerikans knew how much money they waste on israel...and lived in a real democracy.

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (-1) | Report

    • @ObamaCare_4_All Danish? obsessed with USA/Obama and Israel?
      You not danish lol.

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (-1) | Report

    • @SpeckFettGulag

      Your criminal presidents and congres and your support to israel fuck up much of the western world...thats why amerikan politics concern me.

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (1) | Report

    • @ObamaCare_4_All we rule!!! woohoo.

      Do you want some american obama care? Help me connect the dots from Denmark to Obama Care???

      Before we waste any energy connecting the dots -
      Or are you just a USA troll kid and not really a Dane?

      And then, If you are really danish, please help to educate me and share your experience, teach me how the USA's support to Israel fucks up much of the 'western' world? In all do respects please enlighten me, I do not know how that messes up the Danes.

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (1) | Report

    • @SpeckFettGulag

      We get all the palestinian refugees, they are some of the worst criminals here in Denmark.

      Your last president made the economic bouble possible and we suffer from that too.

      You amerikans deserve all the Obama care there is in the world for being lazy and stupid enough to let your leaders rule the way they do.

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

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    • @ObamaCare_4_All

      LMFAO - so your gov takes in the pali criminals and that is our fault? LMFAO hahahahahahahah

      and some more

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahh oh my god there is even more...ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      omfg if that is not the most typical lame, socialist, placing the blame-accepting no responsibility attitude i have ever seen! You my good sir must feel helpless, or dont know the difference.

      Posted May-17-2012 By 

      (1) | Report

  • Really they are afraid of the pro Jew organizations?????

    Forget that. They should be afraid of the Muslim extremists. The Jews just want to be left alone, the Muslims want to take over the world and force their shitty religion on us all.

    Posted May-18-2012 By 

    (-1) | Report

  • Yeah, it's very dangerous to be anti Israel. There is zionist death squads everywhere.

    Posted May-17-2012 By 

    (-2) | Report