What Israel Lobby?

How The Lobby Chills Middle East Debate | Political Correction


Then came a moment that was, for me, the most shocking experience I ever had during my years working for the United States government.

William Safire, the most influential New York Times columnist, phoned me in a rage. He told me that he knew for a fact that neither Levin nor I had drafted the letter. He said that he knew that the letter was written by an aide to the leader of the Labor Party opposition in Israel, Shimon Peres. He said that aide, one Yossi Beilin, had hand-delivered the text to me, and that I had convinced Levin to circulate it. He said that my goal was to unseat Shamir and replace him with Peres.

I almost laughed. The very idea that a Senate aide had such power was astounding. But then Safire asked if I thought it was appropriate for a Senate aide to be the agent of a foreign political party, and what would Levin think when he read about that in Safire’s column.

That was scary. As a Senate aide, I had sworn allegiance to the United States and the Constitution. I also had a security clearance. This could be serious.

I told Safire that I had written the draft and that Levin had (as is his wont) extensively edited it. I told him I had no idea who Beilin was (which was the truth). Safire then got really nasty and told me that he knew I was lying because he had the story on good authority (Israeli U.N. ambassador Binyamin Netanyahu and AIPAC’s number two guy, Steve Rosen, who was subsequently indicted for espionage). I said I didn’t care who he heard it from, it was a lie. Additionally, Levin had undertaken the initiative to help Israel because he thought that if Israel ruled out territorial withdrawal, the conflict would never end.  

The call concluded with Safire backing down after warning me that if he ever found out I was lying, I would be “finished.” He said he would not write the column because — get this — in the end he believed me more than his sources. 

And that was that. Nothing more happened with the Letter of 30, except that after the vicious attacks on Levin, few senators have challenged the Israeli government or AIPAC since.

So what’s the moral? It is this: Criticizing Israel is dangerous business. On what other issue would a New York Times columnist call a Senate staffer and threaten to destroy his career? None. And why was a New York Times columnist acting as if he was working for the Israeli government? Safire wasn’t a journalist that day; he essentially was a representative of the Israeli government. 

Accordingly, is it any wonder the whole Congress abased itself the other day by jumping up and down and hurling love at Netanyahu? Who wants to mess with an 800-pound gorilla? Certainly not members of Congress.


10 comments on “What Israel Lobby?

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  1. As difficult as it is to imagine members of the Congress of the United States acted in an undignified manner, it’s equally hard to staunch my tears at hearing that a Congressional aide got reamed from a powerful and influential newspaper columnist who thought him to be stooging for an Israeli political party.

    I’m sure that Rosenberg has never, ever leveled that charge at any member of congress or any staff aide.

  2. With Rosenberg, it’s a toss up whether he truly didn’t know who Beillin, was, or hw was lying, seeing where he ended up, in the
    maw of the Sarlaac that is the Sorosphere, I would say the latter.

  3. @ CK MacLeod:

    You ferget that I’m a Nuevo Yorkist and Bibi was stationed here a while. He used to pop up on our local public tv station and lecture us on the imminent demise of civilization with great regularity.
    He got to be widely despised both here and in DC then … and he’s not smelling any better with age.

    As nice as Rosenberg’s tale is, it’s still kinda funny to hear that a congressional staffer was shocked to find out that hardboiled lobbying was going on.

    Rosen ain’t on my Kwaanzaa card list, but the indictment sucked wind as a legal move. Not all that bad as a political pushback, although it would have really curled the hair of Young MJ

  4. @ miguel cervantes:

    phillips is full of shit when she tries saying that the Israelis are in some way legally entitled to the occupied territory. thinks she’s been drinking some shit herself.

  5. Why do they call it the Nakbah, because they are not satisfied with 1967, their issue is 1947, some might even say 1922, or even 1917.

  6. @ miguel cervantes:

    miggs, they call it a disaster because it was exactly that for them.

    they were promised by their leaders that they would easily overturn the Jews and own all the land. instead they suffered a humiliating defeat and were driven out of their villages inside Israel and lost much of the territory on what would have been Palestine.

    excuse me for being a bit personal, but if after your parents and yourself left Cuba and were now still living in some squalid refugee camp, citizens of nowhere, unable to own a house or land or have a decent job, living on UN handouts, you think that you would be any happier than those guys?

    you got any reason why they shouldn’t think it a disaster or any idea why they shouldn’t mourn their defeat?

  7. They gambled, they though they could win, they lost, as they did in ’67, every time they play this game, they lose, except for Lebanon in 2000, and Gaza in 2005, then they prove why Israel was ‘redeploy’
    in the first place.

  8. @ miguel cervantes:

    their leaders swore that it was

    the insatiable ambitions of World Jewry


    that would be defeated,

    the aggressive intentions and the imperialistic designs of the Zionists

    undone, and the result,

    the independent State of Palestine will co-operate with the States of the Arab League in order to bring peace, security and prosperity to this part of the world.


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