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Congress' Gaza Resolution Illustrates Power of the Israel Lobby
By Stephen Sniegoski
According to the critics, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in their “The Israel Lobby,” much exaggerated the power of the lobby. The critics claimed that congressional support for Israel simply reflected the views of the American people. Congress’ recent resolution on Gaza, however, would seem to belie this criticism and underscore the immense power of the Israel Lobby. Congress almost unanimously endorsed the Israeli mass killing of civilians in the Gaza Strip, which, of course, involves the use of American weapons. By voice vote, the Senate gave unanimous support for the resolution. The House of Representatives voted 390 for the resolution with only 5 against [Kucinich, Moore (WI), Paul, Rahall, Waters]
The view of the American public, however, was significantly different. As the following article points out, the American people “do not support this senseless slaughter in anything near overwhelming numbers.” [Quoting from a Rasmussen Poll]
“Americans, while far more sympathetic to Israel than the Palestinians, are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip. Forty-four percent (44%) say Israel should have taken military action against the Palestinians, but 41% say it should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the problems there...”
[Source: Rasmussen Reports, Dec. 31, 2008]
The author continues: “If 41% of Americans didn't support the onset of military action, surely fewer than that support the disproportionate murder of over 700 people. Yet, 89.6% of our representatives just voted to express our government's support for this crime. Less than one percent of the House voted 'no'.”
The author wonders, rather pretends to wonder, “How did we get to this point where there is such a massive distortion and disconnect between what the public thinks and how their representatives vote? That's a matter for speculation.”
Let’s engage in a little “speculation.” Despite a media which has slanted coverage of Gaza about as much as possible in favor of Israel (totally different from what the rest of the world is getting), the American public is roughly divided on the issue of the correctness of the Israeli attack. That Congress provides almost unanimous support for Israel (even when such support is contrary of American national interest since it increases world hatred of the US) would seem to indicate the power of the Israel Lobby.
Very few of those Americans who oppose the Israeli attack on Gaza base their political support and voting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and even those few who do lack the wherewithal to make much of a political impact. In contrast, the Israel Lobby can exert considerable power (money, media) against those members of Congress who oppose it. Since members of Congress, in the main, tend to be lacking in sincere conviction and political courage, they are not willing to take the chance of opposing the Israel Lobby. Of course, the same is true in the media—bucking the lobby is simply not career enhancing. The vast majority of people simply prefer career success in the media or politics as opposed to becoming a martyr—especially a martyr who might be smeared as a devil by the pro-Israel saturated media. Average Americans don’t sacrifice much by taking a position opposed to Israel—certainly, in most cases, their jobs do not depend on their views of Israeli policy.
The Gaza Strip Conflict Resolution
Fri Jan 9th, 2009 at 02:58:56 PM EST
On the scale of offensive one-sidedness in the Israel-Palestine conflict, the ironically named Gaza Strip Conflict Resolution is probably about a 'five'. The actual text of the resolution has a couple of disputable facts, but its real fault lies in its arbitrary selection of facts. Yet, critiquing the factual basis for the resolution is outside the scope of this essay. It was carefully crafted to assure maximum support. And it just received maximum support in the House, where it passed by a vote of 390-5 with 22 Democrats voting 'present' and 16 representatives not voting.
The five representatives that voted against the resolution are Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Ron Paul (R-TX), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Maxine Waters (D-CA). I believe 21 of the 22 Democratic members that voted 'present' are members of the Progressive Caucus.
The important thing is that 390 members of the House voted for a resolution that states (in part):
(5) calls on all nations--
(A) to condemn Hamas for deliberately embedding its fighters, leaders, and weapons in private homes, schools, mosques, hospitals, and otherwise using Palestinian civilians as human shields, while simultaneously targeting Israeli civilians; and
(B) to lay blame both for the breaking of the `calm' and for subsequent civilian casualties in Gaza precisely where blame belongs, that is, on Hamas;
That view of this conflict is a decidedly minority view in the world at-large. There is little global love for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, and most people condemn the use of rocket attacks on indisputably sovereign Israeli territory. But the idea that the blame for over 700 civilian casualties in Gaza since Christmas lies squarely on Hamas' shoulders is not popular (to be charitable). Leaving the impression that all the civilian casualties are the result of Hamas hiding in mosques, schools, private homes, and hospitals is an egregious and offensive distortion of the facts. It's true that Hamas leaders have not lined up in open fields and offered themselves up for slaughter. It's also true that Israel has bombed a UN school and shelter and leveled multi-story apartment buildings. The responsibility for that lies squarely with the Israelis. No one forced them to kill civilians indiscriminately.
The problem with the Gaza Strip Conflict Resolution is that it is a non-binding resolution that has no force of law and serves no other purpose than to demonstrate overwhelming American support for Israel's actions in Gaza, which have resulted in the deaths of over 700 innocent civilians. Yet, Americans do not support this senseless slaughter in anything near overwhelming numbers.
Americans, while far more sympathetic to Israel than the Palestinians, are closely divided over whether the Jewish state should be taking military action against militants in the Gaza Strip. Forty-four percent (44%) say Israel should have taken military action against the Palestinians, but 41% say it should have tried to find a diplomatic solution to the problems there...
[Source: Rasmussen Reports, Dec. 31, 2008]
If 41% of Americans didn't support the onset of military action, surely fewer than that support the disproportionate murder of over 700 people. Yet, 89.6% of our representatives just voted to express our government's support for this crime. Less than one percent of the House voted 'no'.
How did we get to this point where there is such a massive distortion and disconnect between what the public thinks and how their representatives vote? That's a matter for speculation. What's more important and should be less controversial, is what it looks like to the outside world. While the UN Security Council calls for a cease-fire (with America abstaining) and the Red Cross criticizes Israel for inhumanity, the House of Representatives votes 90%-1% in favor of what Israel is doing.
How could such a spectacle possibly fail to outrage the world and motivate people to want to do us harm?
And here is the really critical point. What did Israel get out of this resolution? That's an honest question. Did they get anything really valuable? And what did America get out of it besides an increased risk of retaliation and more strain on our relations with our Arab allies in the region?
Tell me the answer. Because I think the Israeli Lobby just bullied Congress into trading fealty to Tel Aviv at the expense of the security of all American citizens at home and abroad. That's a hell of a shitty trade-off. But at least Israel now knows who their 'enemies' are.
---- NAYS 5 ---
Kucinich, Moore (WI), Paul, Rahall, Waters
---- ANSWERED “PRESENT” 22 ---
Abercrombie, Blumenauer, DeFazio, Dingell, Edwards (MD), Ellison, Farr, Grijalva, Hinchey, Johnson (GA), Kilpatrick (MI), Lee (CA), McCollum, McDermott, Miller (George), Moran (VA), Olver, Payne, Sanchez (Loretta), Stark, Watson, Woolsey
I think these 'enemies' are really Israel's best friends