Beirut: On April 13, 2011, more than a dozen Israel "First, last and always" US congressional leaders from both houses of Congress held an urgent conference call organized by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). Their purpose was to discuss how best to promote Israel during next month's US visit by Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu and more importantly how to confront the rapidly changing Middle East political landscape. One consensus was that no one saw it coming and that is was dangerous for Israel.
Among those participating were former Jewish Chairmen of powerful committees including Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who headed the Banking Committee; Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ex-chairman of the Commerce and Energy committee; Howard Berman (D-Calif.), ex-chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), ex-chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee as well as Eric Cantor, House Majority leader, the highest rankling Jewish member of Congress in history.
What AIPAC operatives reportedly told the conferees was that Netanyahu is once again furious with President Obama and outraged by what he sees as a vacillating US Government attitude towards Israeli needs. They were told that the Israeli PM sees real political danger for Israel in the shifting US public opinion in favor of the young sophisticated attractive Arab and Muslims increasingly seen on satellite channels from the region who remind the American public of their own ideals.
Netanyahu, the conferees were told, wants Congress to flex its muscle with the White House and deliver a strong message to President Obama that his political future is tied to Israel's. Hence the current "America needs Israel more than ever stupid!" campaign wafting from the Israel lobby across the talk radio airwaves.
In addition, as more Israeli officials are indicted for various domestic crimes, and some harbor fears of arrest for international ones, 68% of the American Jewish community, according to one by poll commissioned last month by Forward, believe the US Israel lobby is increasingly fossilized with the likes of ADL (Anti-Defamation League) director Abe Foxman's vindictive infighting among several of the largest Jewish lobby organizations which continue to lose memberships, especially among the young.
Congressman Eric Cantor lamented that "Israel is badly losing the US College campuses", despite heavy financial investments the past few years to curb American students growing support for Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, all dreaded symbols of the growing opposition to the 19th Century Zionist colonial enterprise. Support for Palestine is skyrocketing he claimed. "Until Palestine is freed from Zionist occupation no Arab or Muslim is truly free of Western hegemony," according to one assistant editor of Harvard University's student newspaper, the Crimson.
Admitting that the Mossad did not foresee even the Tunisian or Egyptian uprisings some Aipac staffers, of whom there are more than 100, admit to not knowing how to react to the topics they were presented with for discussion, some of which included:
- The Egyptian public emphatic insistence that the 1978 Camp David Accords be scrapped and that the Rafah crossing be opened. The latter has just been announced and the former is expected to be achieved before the end of the year.
- The change of regimes and the dramatic rise in publicly expressed anti-Israel sentiment and insistence that Israel close its embassy and Egypt withdraw its recognition of the Zionist state.
- The apparent rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas which has been increasingly demanded by the Palestinians under occupation and in the Diaspora.
- The fact that the new regime in Cairo is seeking to upgrade its ties with Gaza's Hamas rulers as well as Iran.
- With respect to possible PA-Hamas rapprochement, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor is trying to reassure Israel before Netanyahu's visit by announcing this week that "The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace, but to play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist."
AIPAC, frequently knocks heads with the Israeli embassy in Washington for control of visiting Israeli PM's and important governments schedules will control what Netanyahu says and does. AIPAC AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr recently told a group of visiting Jewish student activists from California that "sometimes there is confusion in this town over just where the Israeli Embassy is located but let me assure you it's no more than 300 yards from the Capitol Dome on North Capitol Street, NW."
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