The Beginning of the American Spring

At a conference Friday about the Israel lobby in Washington, remarks the likes of which are rarely heard in the United States were made.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
The Washington Monument towers over a cherry tree in full bloom, April 11, 2015.
The Washington Monument towers over a cherry tree in full bloom, April 11, 2015.Credit: AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The capital of the United States has officially declared that spring has come. The cherry trees are in full flower, carpeting the city in a lovely pink and white cloud, and the National Cherry Blossom Parade was held on Saturday.

Sheldon Adelson speaks at a news conference, April 12, 2012. Credit: AP

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Americans searched for the names of their loved ones who died in vain. At the National World War II Memorial, the last of their fathers circulated around in wheelchairs, hearing aids in ears. Across the National Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture is under construction. It is set to open in 2016, in the waning days of Barack Obama’s second and final presidential term.

Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy on Sunday for the 2016 election. Obama met with Cuban President Raúl Castro on Saturday. Sabra Dipping Co. – a joint venture of PepsiCo and Israel’s Strauss Group – called on consumers to return tubs of hummus due to possible Listeria contamination.

The latest dream being pushed in advertisements is Wi-Fi in cars, and the latest victim of the most violent police in the world is Walter Scott, a 50-year-old African-American man from North Charleston, South Carolina, who was shot in the back and killed by Michael Slager, a white cop who had pulled him over for a broken brake light on his car. Slager’s mother said her son is a good man. America.

While all the above-mentioned usual business was taking place, a completely unusual event was taking place at the National Press Club. At a conference on Friday titled “The Israel Lobby: Is It Good for the U.S.? Is It Good for Israel?,” cosponsored by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, remarks the likes of which are rarely heard in the United States were made.

Attendees included members of the U.S. Congress, former diplomats and intelligence officials, Palestinian student leaders, Jewish activists from the left and academics. This was not the Saban Forum, nor the AIPAC Policy Conference: This was the other America. “Welcome to another Israeli-occupied territory: Washington,” someone on the stage half-joked. At a time of a new zenith in Israeli interference in the U.S. capital and a new and inconceivable nadir in American groveling before Israel, the anger, the insistence, the fear and perhaps also the hatred of the few was heard clearly at the conference. If their voice is set to grow, then Israelis should be aware of it.

The student leaders, who are now on the frontline, spoke of the all-out war to silence them being waged by Jewish organizations on campus. It is presumably the rearguard action of Hillel International and its ilk: The destructiveness of the Zionist propaganda machine here will one day be exposed as a fatal error. It spurs more opposition than support. The ex-politicians also related how difficult it was to voice criticism of Israel. Paul Findley, 93, a Republican U.S. Representative from Illinois (from 1961-1983), mentioned a senior diplomat friend of his who knew it was impossible to criticize Israel to the secretary of state through the usual channels, only in one-on-one conversations.

There are hundreds of people in the Administration whose salaries are paid by the U.S. taxpayer and who believe their sole mission is to defend Israel, even by destroying freedom of expression, Findley added. His voice shook when he said the conference was a rare opportunity to express such ideas. He spoke of the paralyzing fear of criticizing Israel, lest one be labeled an anti-Semite. It’s not the politicians who run this country; it’s the lobbyists, including the Jewish lobby, Findley said. His remarks were echoed by Nick Rahall, who served as a Democratic U.S. Representative from West Virginia for 38 years and who said American democracy had been hijacked by wealthy businessmen like Sheldon Adelson.

Paul R. Pillar, formerly a senior member of the U.S. intelligence community, explained in a brilliant lecture the advantages of the nuclear agreement with Iran, and argued that Israel’s opposition to it stemmed from the fear that, in its wake, the occupation would become the main issue.

Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship, in which the United States will finally dare to criticize and put pressure on Israel? It’s too soon to tell. In the meantime, the American Spring is making the cherry trees bloom.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel

ISRAEL-VOTE

Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism