I have been thinking about that secret meeting Mayor De Blasio had with AIPAC, the meeting Andrew Sullivan brilliantly analyzed here.
And the more I think about it, the happier the meeting makes me.
The reason is simple. Both De Blasio and AIPAC decided that the meeting should be kept top secret. De Blasio kept it off his schedule and banned reporters from the room. AIPAC did the same.
And that makes me happy because it indicates that both the mayor and the lobby understand that the meeting was shameful.
AIPAC met with the mayor to receive his pledge of uncritical support for Israel, the decisions of its government, and the actions its lobby takes here. To put it mildly, no other country in the world would dream of asking a U.S. official to make such a pledge. And, if any did, it would be a scandal.
But that is what Israel’s lobby does every day. It demands that U.S. public officials place the interests of the Israeli government over our own. That is what the entire AIPAC-driven campaign against the Iran agreement is about. And everyone knows it (although few dare to say it).
Actually, the Reagan administration said it back in the 1980′s. When AIPAC decided to block the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia that the administration believed would advance U.S. interests but which Israel opposed, Reagan’s people told AIPAC it had to choose “Begin or Reagan.” AIPAC chose Begin and Reagan then beat the pants off them. (For the record, Reagan was right. Despite AIPAC’s hysteria, Saudi Arabia has used its AWACS for its own defense, and ours, and never against Israel).
The Obama administration is unlikely to be that bold but it has gotten across the message that the AIPAC-generated opposition to the Iran agreement is a choice for war. Bibi’s war.
Given all this, AIPAC is smart to keep its meetings secret. And De Blasio is smart too. As Steve Rosen famously said, AIPAC machinations are best done in secret. And so is groveling by self-proclaimed populist politicians who fall on their knees before financial power.
Of course, there are exceptions to the secrecy rule. After the media reported that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz is strongly supporting the Iran agreement, putting U.S. interests over AIPAC’s demands, she got in hot water with the AIPAC crowd. How dare she? After all the money we gave her?
So yesterday AIPAC issued a public statement of absolution of the Florida representative: “Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz has a strong record of support for the U.S.-Israel relationship. She is a good friend of Israel and a close friend of AIPAC, and we look forward to our continued work together for many years to come.” This was after trashing her all over town for deviating from the AIPAC line on Iran. They will still trash her, but more quietly.
As we used to say back in the 70′s, it’s getting hairy for the lobby.. And that is because it is trying to get the United States into a war that no one but the lobby (including the neocons who form a large part of it) want. No one else.
Meanwhile, Abe Foxman, head of the ADL has decided that it’s time to start defending Jonathan Pollard on the grounds that, hey, the U.S. spies on Israel too. Besides, he says, the whole Pollard case is looking more anti-semitic every day.
Old Abe makes sense. At such time as Israel provides the U.S. with billions in aid and is our lifeline, we should consider freeing Pollard.
Abe needs to borrow a page from AIPAC: sometimes a little shame is a good thing. Pollard? Give me a break.
For the record, and I’ll keep saying it. The lobby represents not Jewish Americans, who remain as liberal, antiwar, and leftish as we have always been. It represents a few thousand millionaires and billionaires. Romney’s top funder was Sheldon Adelson. Hillary’s is Haim Saban. (“I have only one issue and it’s Israel.”)
Given our utterly corrupt political system, they are all that matters.