The Passionate Attachment

America's unrequited love for Israel

Archive for October 2012

Jeffrey Gedmin: The democracy-promoting, Iraq War-supporting, pro-Israel neocon who influenced Merkel’s EU austerity program

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 29, 2012

In his latest New Europe column entitled “Merkel’s real agenda: mugging the poor,” David Cronin asks why the German Chancellor has cast herself as Europe’s “empress of austerity.” The answer, he believes, is to be found by looking at those who have shaped the German leader’s worldview. Having traced the influence of think tanks such as Initiative Neue Soziale Marktwirtschaft (INSM) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) on Chancellor Merkel’s harsh economic thinking, Cronin adds:

Merkel has also been reported to have obtained informal advice from Jeffrey Gedmin. A former big-wig of the American Enterprise Institute, Gedmin has spent much time trying to convince Europe to become more like the US. In a 2005 opinion piece for The Financial Times, he wrote about the “employed and unemployed alike happily indulging themselves” by sipping “over-priced café lattes”. He mused about whether a changing economic situation might give “people the swift kick they apparently need”.

While Jeffrey Gedmin may appear to want Europeans to be more like Americans, he has in fact helped to make the U.S. more like Israel — to the great detriment of the former.

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October 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm

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The Israel Lobby’s War on America’s Middle East Oil Dependence

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 26, 2012

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an article in The National Interest magazine by a visiting fellow at a pro-Israel think tank that argued that the United Arab Emirates may be violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act by its funding of ostensibly environmental anti-drilling films. As might be expected, Susan Schmidt’s piece entitled “Lobbying through the Silver Screen” appears to be part of a broader campaign by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to end America’s energy dependence on Israel’s recalcitrant neighbors.

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October 26, 2012 at 10:56 am

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Green Party’s Jill Stein decries ‘slave-like mentality towards Israel’

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October 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

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Israel lobbyist outraged at foreign lobbying through Hollywood

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 24, 2012

Writing in The National Interest yesterday, Susan Schmidt alerts American readers to an apparently egregious instance of foreign lobbying through the silver screen. Observes Schmidt:

Hollywood movies, the bête noire of conservative Muslim culture, are an unusual investment for Middle Eastern oil magnates. But the United Arab Emirates, the fourth-largest energy producer in the world, has committed $1 billion to bankroll films, some of which conveniently advance its economic interests.

Noting the ostensibly anti-drilling environmental message of films such as “Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hour” and “Promised Land” being funded by the UAE, Schmidt avers:

The politics of these filmmakers are no secret, but the source of some of the funding may be surprising. Image Nation is owned by a government that stands to benefit by ensuring that the United States remains dependent on Middle Eastern oil for decades.

“Is this a new form of foreign lobbying?” she asks, pointing out that there are laws against this sort of thing.

Unlike American companies, foreign entities are generally required to disclose to the Justice Department not only lobbying but also efforts to influence public opinion in the United States.

The Justice Department’s national-security division, which administers the Foreign Agent Registration Act, faces a host of new challenges in keeping up with public-relations campaigns given the proliferation of social media and television programming, some of it news, sponsored by foreign entities.

So who is this Susan Schmidt that appears to be so concerned about undue foreign influence in the United States?

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October 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

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Ehud Barak’s Cousin (Mis)Directs America’s Christian Zionists

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 22, 2012

In an attempt to direct attention away from their influence over U.S. Middle East policy, the predominantly Jewish pro-Israel lobby sometimes points to the passionate support of many Christian evangelicals — usually referred to as Christian Zionists — for the Jewish state. The largest of these Christian Zionist groups, with over one million members, is Christians United for Israel (CUFI); thereby, also making it the largest U.S.-based pro-Israel organization. Most people familiar with the hardline pro-Israel group associate it with John Hagee, the theatrical San Antonio-based Christian Zionist pastor who heads CUFI. Less well known, however, is CUFI’s executive director.

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October 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm

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Fox News Geography Newsflash: Bangladesh is in the Middle East!

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October 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

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Humanitarian Buffer Zones in Syria — How misinformation obscures the Israel lobby’s influence on U.S. foreign policy

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 15, 2012

A recent Russia Today report offers an insight into how misinformation on the internet helps to obscure the influence of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy. In an October 11 report on the widening Syria conflict, the Russian television channel’s website cited an interview with an independent journalist regarding news of the establishment of so-called humanitarian buffer zones on Syrian territory. According to the RT report, citing Nile Bowie, the idea originated with “US hawks”:

“The US think-tank – the Brookings Institute – in March 2012 published a report entitled ‘Assessing Regime Change Options in Syria,’ where they specifically cite the creation of a buffer zone or a humanitarian corridor as a means to base certain rebel groups in the region [and] to project force towards the Syrian government in an attempt to topple it. So that appears to be what is playing out at the moment.”

The facts above are basically correct. There is, however, a crucial omission. The report in question — actually entitled “Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change” — was the work of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Saban Center was established in 2002 when Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban pledged nearly $13 million to the Brookings Institution. As Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010, establishing think tanks — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — is one of “three ways to be influential in American politics.” The billionaire’s sole motivation for wanting to influence policy in Washington is no secret. “I’m a one-issue guy,” Saban famously told the New York Times, “and my issue is Israel.”

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October 14, 2012 at 3:46 pm

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Dismissing talk of Israeli strike on Iran as ‘a transparent bluff,’ pro-Israel think-tanker warns of nuclear war in South Asia

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 14, 2012

In an intriguing op-ed piece in yesterday’s Washington Post that preemptively critiques the likely foreign policy failures of the next U.S. administration, a senior employee of an influential pro-Israel think tank charges Washington with spending the next four years “obsessing about a possible Israeli strike on Iran.” Daniel Byman, the research director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, dismisses Tel Aviv’s endless warnings of being forced to take imminent unilateral military action to stop Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program as “a transparent bluff.”

Byman’s dismissal of talk of war with Iran doesn’t mean that we can all breathe a sigh of collective relief, however. As a result of its misguided obsession with the Middle East, the Saban research director predicts that the United States will fail to prevent an escalation toward nuclear war in South Asia between India and Pakistan.

The Saban Center was established in 2002 with a pledge of nearly $13 million from the Israeli-American media mogul Haim Saban to the Brookings Institution. Having once admitted to the New York Times, “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban told an Israeli conference in 2010 that establishing think tanks was one of his “three ways to be influential in American politics” — along with making donations to political parties and controlling media outlets — so that he could “protect Israel, by strengthening the United States-Israel relationship.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

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October 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

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The General’s Son Blasts Zionism’s ‘David’ Myths

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October 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

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Briefing VP Ryan

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
October 12, 2012

Last month, New York Times columnist Maureen Down aroused the ire of sensitive Israel partisans when she had the temerity to note the formative influence a neoconservative adviser has over Paul Ryan’s statements on foreign policy. Describing a recent speech by the Republican vice presidential candidate, Dowd wrote: “Ryan was moving his mouth, but the voice was the neocon puppet master Dan Senor.” Central to the “ominously familiar” script Senor is writing for the “foreign affairs neophyte,” Dowd observed, is “a duty to invade and bomb Israel’s neighbors.”

More recently, another mainstream U.S. media outlet revealed that the former AIPAC intern has some reliable help in shaping Ryan’s foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. In an October 4 article entitled “Romney’s Foreign Policy Advisers,” ABC News reported:

Senor led a foreign policy briefing for Ryan on the plane yesterday from Seattle along with Jamie Fly, executive director, Foreign Policy Initiative and Reuel Marc Gerecht from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

As I pointed out in a piece outlining the key role played by FPI and FDD in pushing for regime change in Syria, both Washington-based think tanks have impeccable pro-Israel credentials:

Founded in 2009, the Foreign Policy Initiative is the successor organisation to the Project for the New American Century, a neoconservative advocacy group that relentlessly pushed for war with Iraq from its inception in 1997. FPI’s board of directors consists of PNAC co-founders, Robert Kagan and William Kristol; Dan Senor, a former intern at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee; and Eric Edelman, a Paul Wolfowitz protégé at the Pentagon who, thanks to support from Richard Perle, succeeded the scandal-ridden Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith in 2005. In a 2004 article entitled “Serving Two Flags,” Stephen Green named Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith as “the principals” in a pro-Israel neocon network who had “demonstrated, in their previous government service, a willingness to sacrifice U.S. national security interests for those of another country.”

Established shortly after the 9/11 attacks to advocate for an aggressive “war on terror,” the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has also demonstrated a preeminent concern for Israel’s security interests. Among its more notable funders are Edgar M. Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress from 1979 to 2007; Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, co-founders of Taglit Birthright which offers free trips to Israel for young Jewish adults as an inducement to go on its pro-Israel indoctrination programme; media mogul Haim Saban, who pledged $13 million to the Brookings Institution in 2002 to found the Saban Center for Middle East Policy in order to influence U.S. politics in a pro-Israel direction; Jennifer Mizrahi, director of The Israel Project; and Dalck Feith, father of the aforementioned “security risk” Douglas Feith. “With the disclosure of its donor rolls,” Eli Clifton wrote in a July 19 report, “it becomes increasingly apparent that FDD’s advocacy of U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, its hawkish stance against Iran, and its defense of right-wing Israeli policy is consistent with its donors’ interests in ‘pro-Israel’ advocacy.”

Considering the belligerent Israel partisanship of those briefing Paul Ryan, a Romney victory on November 6 is likely to result in real-life war scenes far gorier than the Spielberg epic referred to in the title.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

October 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

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