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by James Corbett
January 23, 2013
That President Obama’s selection of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Leon Panetta’s replacement as Defense Secretary for his second term should generate controversy and outrage is hardly surprising. It was not Hagel’s membership in the Bilderberg Group or the Trilateral Commission or his support for the illegal drone strikes of the Obama regime, however, but a rather elementary declaration of fact, that drew the sharpest criticism from the pundits and talking heads inside the Beltway.
Sadly, the fact that an American Senator’s acknowledgement that he is, in fact, American and not Israeli, should draw such fierce criticism is not the least bit surprising. One expects there would have been no uproar at all if Hagel had merely echoed the words of Dick Armey, who stated “my number one priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.” Perhaps America is his number two priority; he didn’t say.
The faux-controversy surrounding Hagel’s remarks has to be seen in the light of one of the most electrifying third rails of American politics: the Israel lobby. Although only ever acknowledged by the mainstream talking heads long enough for them to dismiss the very idea as “conspiracy theory,” the Israeli lobby’s profound influence on the course of American politics is an established fact stretching back decades.
In his memoirs, President Harry S. Truman wrote of the period leading up to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948:
“I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders — actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats — disturbed me and annoyed me.”
Former AIPAC staff member Douglas Bloomfield has admitted that AIPAC is “often called upon to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on tactics, perform research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes” for congress members and that “It is common for members of Congress and their staffs to turn to AIPAC first when they need information, before calling the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service, committee staff or administration experts.”
And, in her presentation to the 9/11 Revisited conference in Kuala Lumpur last November, former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney discussed the expectation for all incoming congressmen and women to sign a pledge to Israel, with the understanding that their Congressional career will come to an ignominious end if they don’t comply.
Discussion of the Israeli lobby and its influence in Washington tends to center on AIPAC, the largest Israel-centered lobbying group currently operating in the US. The oldest continually operating such lobby group, however, the Zionist Organization of America, was for decades one of the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country, helping to shape American policy toward the formation of Israel. Its members have been connected to illegal Israeli smuggling rings of both conventional and nuclear weapons technologies. And it is currently embroiled with the American government in a fight over its tax-exempt status.
Founded in 1897, the Zionist Organization of America, or ZOA, is the oldest pro-Israel lobbying organization in the US. Describing its work as “educating the public, elected officials, media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing and relentless Arab war against Israel” and “promoting strong U.S.-Israel relations,” the ZOA boasts a national membership of over 30,000 and runs a Campus Action Network and a Center for Law & Justice in addition to its work lobbying in Washington and around the country.
The group was instrumental in organizing support in Washington for the creation of Israel in 1948, and since that time has worked on numerous lobbying and media campaigns to promote Israeli interests in American foreign policy debates. As Grant F. Smith, Research Director of the Institute for Research: Middle East Policy reports, however, some of its top-ranking members have been involved with international weapons smuggling scandals, including the NUMEC smuggling ring which is believed to have been responsible for shipping highly enriched uranium from the US to Israel in the early stages of the Israeli nuclear program.
Recently, the ZOA lost its tax-exempt status after failing to file tax returns for three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010. The move draws attention to he ZOA’s legal status and why it was ever designated a tax-exempt charitable organization in the first place.
According to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, all agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a political or quasi-political capacity are required to register with the federal government as a foreign agent, forcing disclosure of their relationship with that foreign government and detailed access to information about finances and activities. In recently declassified documents it is revealed that the ZOA was asked to register as a foreign agent by the Justice Department, but this never happened.
What is once again interesting to note is that groups like the ZOA and AIPAC are—like the Royal Institute of International Affairs and its branch organizations which we examined last week on this program—not secretive, cabals of shadowy figures meeting in darkened rooms, but openly public organizations with a readily documentable history of flouting laws and harboring criminal elements. As with so many of these other organizations of influence, the secret to their secrecy is not that they actually keep their activities secret, but that it has somehow become taboo to even admit their existence and influence, let alone to discuss the ramifications of that influence.
It will be interesting to see whether or not Hagel survives the nomination process even after the egregious sin of suggesting that he was not an Israeli Senator. It will also be interesting to see if the ZOA regains its tax-exempt status or whether it will ever be put in the public spotlight for its possible connections to the NUMEC nuclear smuggling ring. But sadly, given the history of “coverage” of the Israeli lobby in the mainstream American media, it is hardly advisable to hold your breath while waiting for a serious examination of the ZOA’s influence in these affairs.
As always, it is up to the alternative media and independent truthseekers to continue scrutinizing the organizations of influence that dare not be mentioned in mainstream political discourse.