Despite popular outcry from the American Jewish community, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman pressed ahead with his third annual appearance at John Hagee's summit for Christians United For Israel (CUFI), an evangelical group with powerful fundraising capabilities and long-standing ties to DC insiders including President Bush. Over 42,000 petitioners called for Lieberman to renounce the controversial televangelist as Senator John McCain did this past May when it was discovered Hagee was selling DVDs which included a speech he made implying that the creation of Israel was the result of God's plan for Hitler to wipe out six million Jews.
Although it is well-known the membership of CUFI adopts an apocalyptic theology calling for the annihilation of the Jewish race as a key part of the impending rapture, Lieberman's logic is unclear to many in the Jewish community who sincerely hope God will not exterminate them any time soon.
Lieberman was accompanied Tuesday by Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York who also ignored a public outcry against his attendance at the event, claiming their affiliation with CUFI lay in the shared belief that the U.S. should use it's military resources against Iran. Engel even abdicated his own Congressional power as part of a March 2007 war appropriation, granting President Bush authority to strike Iran without Congressional approval. Engel also also allowed the Congressional committee he chairs to become a forum for radical pro-war Israeli voices, calling for apartheid, not peace.
From Lieberman's speech Tuesday, "It is no coincidence that the terrorist regime in Tehran that sponsors the rocket attacks that rain out of Gaza on innocent Israelis, also sponsors the terrorist attacks that have murdered hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq. Both must stop."
Lieberman, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, quoted scripture stating Israel was a gift to the Jews from God, who added "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you." Lieberman also told the audience he preferred Hagee and his supporters over the tens of thousands of anti-war petitioners, organized chiefly through the pro-Israel advocacy group J Street.
Lieberman cited the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina as proof that the nation of Iran should be targeted by the U.S., because several members of the Iraq Revolutionary Guard were suspected in connection with the blast. He also stated unequivocally that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons, but offered no supportive evidence, making this stretch in direct contradiction to the latest U.S. government intelligence and reports by the IAEA which, like Iraq in 2002, found Iran to be in compliance. (Ironically, a covert CIA operation to determine if Iran had a nuclear weapons acquisition program was exposed by Vice President Cheney and neocon strategist Karl Rove in an as-yet unprosecuted act of apparent treason).
A recent piece in the Tehran Times questioned Washington's hypocrisy for giving Israel a pass on their acquisition of nuclear weapons despite refusal to sign the International Non-Proliferation Treaty. The paper claimed that Iran is undergoing close scrutiny by the UN who has been permitted full access including permission to videotape.
One wonders if Engel and Lieberman are simply courting CUFI for it's robust fundraising capabilities and undeniable influence in Washington's hallowed halls of power. But unlike last year, where media was allowed to interview CUFI's outlandish, racist anti-Muslim attendees during the conference, a tight media lock-down was in place this year, allowing a more "free discussion" said CUFI representative Ronn Torossian. "CUFI wants to create a more intimate and open setting this year, which will be more beneficial to our members and core audience."
House Resolution 362, currently moving through Congress after waves of lobbying by AIPAC, CUFI and NORPAC would impose harsh sanctions on Iran, including wording that opens the door for a U.S. military blockade which some in Congress feel is an overt act of war.
It would indeed be unfortunate if this country enters into armed conflict once again on the say-so of an uninformed Congress, in the absence of evidence or any attempt at diplomatic settlement, and with armies of private lobbyists fanning the flames.
Rather then trust those who have already proven themselves unworthy, let Americans instead heed the staunch Conservative war hero, President Dwight Eisenhower who in 1961 warned us to be vigilant against war profiteers who would seek to provoke unending military conflict around the world.
Unmindful, we let them do just that needlessly in Vietnam, until a vocal protest movement gave Congress the political will to investigate a runaway President. Unmindful again, we let them do it to Iraq, but with the Woodstock generation becoming the common stock generation, America is facing a serious moral crisis, unable to motivate Congress to do it's Constitutional duty.
Sen. Lieberman is continuing to assert our beef in the war on terrorism is with Iran, reminiscent of the hard lessons of the past six years where we saw Washington fix the facts around the case for war with Iraq. Though Americans overwhelmingy believe the war on terror should be directed at the tiny clandestine cells that actually carry out these attacks, Lieberman's rhetoric shows once again his priorities - defense and energy industry CEOs, and those who feel the U.S. should be Israel's blindly obedient attack dog. The case against Iran so far is highly circumspect, but Lieberman does wonders with very little.