May 10, 2002

The second half of "We are all members of the Likud now", an article by a Congressional staff member is pretty interesting.

Of course, there are innumerable lobbies in Washington, from environmental to telecommunications to chiropractic; why is AIPAC different? For one thing, it is a political action committee that lobbies expressly on behalf of a foreign power; the fact that it is exempt from the Foreign Agents' Registration Act is yet another mysterious "Israel exception." For another, it is not just the amount of money it gives, it is the political punishment it can exact: just ask Chuck Percy or Pete McClosky. Since the mid-1980s, no Member of Congress has even tried to take on the lobby directly. As a Senate staffer told this writer, it is the "cold fear" of AIPAC's disfavor that keeps the politicians in line.

The story of Israelis posing as "art students" is totally straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, and a bit scary.

According to Intelligence Online, more than one-third of the students, who were spread out in 42 cities, lived in Florida, several in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. -- one-time home to at least 10 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers. In at least one case, the students lived just a stone's throw from homes and apartments where the Sept. 11 terrorists resided: In Hollywood, several students lived at 4220 Sheridan St., just down the block from the 3389 Sheridan St. apartment where terrorist mastermind Mohammed Atta holed up with three other Sept. 11 plotters. Many of the students, the DEA report noted, had backgrounds in Israeli military intelligence and/or electronics surveillance; one was the son of a two-star Israeli general, and another had served as a bodyguard to the head of the Israeli army.

Here's the DEA report that all the media reports of "Israeli Spy rings" are based on.

Underlying all this, of course, is the fact that as soon as anyone reports this, they get (unjstifiedly or not) branded as ten kinds of anti-Semite. The political reality of accusing the media of racism, though, is that those with the power to smear (i.e. Israel) have the power to require that the media has a huge pile of absoutely indisputable evidence for any criticism they might deign to make of Israel. Even then, the media outlet in question is still "anti-Semitic". Palestinians and Arabs in general, on the other hand, are regularly portrayed (or alternately, ignored) with broad generalizations by scholars and journalists alike. Violence commited by members of a group with less media clout is subject to the closest scrutiny, and the most implausible of claims are bandied around with impunity. Israel's own war crimes, on the other hand, are glossed over as "retaliation" or "self-defense" and the religious motivations for expelling the few million Palestinians who haven't been driven out yet are scarcely mentioned. From the Salon article:

Some of the same pressures that keep government officials from criticizing Israel may also explain why the media has failed to pursue the art student enigma. Media outlets that run stories even mildly critical of Israel often find themselves targeted by organized campaigns, including form-letter e-mails, the cancellation of subscriptions, and denunciations of the organization and its reporters and editors as anti-Semites. Cameron, for example, was excoriated by various pro-Israel lobbying groups for his expose. Representatives of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) argued that the Fox report cited only unnamed sources, provided no direct evidence, and moreover had been publicly denied by spokesmen for the FBI and others (the last, of course, is not really an argument).

GWBush lies outright about the budget.

Now the president tells audiences he has always said that in a time of recession, war, or national emergency, he could not only borrow from Social Security's surplus but could run overall budget deficits. In other words, the administration now justifies not only dipping into the Social Security surplus, but actually borrowing the whole thing and still running red ink.

posted by dru in us