Capuano and Kucinich Come Clean About the Lobby
Why is the Peace Movement Silent About AIPAC?
By JOHN WALSH
April 17, 2007
"AIPAC!" was the forceful one-word answer of Congressman Michael
Capuano when we asked him, "Why was the Iran clause forbidding war on
Iran without Congressional approval taken out of the recent
supplemental for the Iraq war funding?" I nearly fell out of my chair
at his reply - not because this was news but because of who had just
said it. Capuano is a close ally of Nancy Pelosi, her fixer and
enforcer. That was last Friday morning when a small delegation from
Cambridge and Somerville, MA, were visiting the Congressman, known for
his bluntness, as part of the nationwide UFPJ (United For Peace and
Justice) home lobbying effort during the Congressional recess.
Later that day, Dennis Kucinich made an appearance at Harvard, where
he was asked the same question, the reason for removing the Iran
provision. "AIPAC," I volunteered out loud. Kucinich looked my way and
said, "Exactly." Again my chair almost failed to contain me.
A few weeks earlier we had gone to the offices of Senators Kennedy and
then Kerry to discuss the war. (My intention was to call their
attention to www.FilibusterForPeace.org to which the Kennedy aide was
sympathetic and the Kerry aide predictably hostile.) I raised the
question of AIPAC directly with Kerry's aide, inquiring about its
hawkish influence on Kerry and other Senators. Suddenly the aide was
quite engaged. Leaning forward, he said: "That will never be discussed
publicly. That will never be discussed publicly." Clearly even Kerry's
office is unhappy with the pressure that comes from AIPAC.
It is widely acknowledged that the reps and senators are ticked at
AIPAC, and their hostility seems to be growing these days. With
upwards of 60% of their campaign contributions coming directly or
indirectly from the Israel Lobby, the Democratic congressmen are not
free to respond to their antiwar base. This opens them to an antiwar
electoral challenge on the Left or Right from forces not subservient
to AIPAC. And that could cost them their next election, a little thing
which has them very worked up. Capuano's cry of "AIPAC" was no simple
outburst of candor but a cri de coeur for his career.
So here we have even Congressmen and Senator's aides complaining
publicly about AIPAC. AIPAC is being outed all over the mainstream
media, largely thanks to the door opening work of Mearsheimer and
Walt. AIPAC is skewered routinely by Justin Raimondo on Antiwar.com
and by Alex Cockburn and many others here on CounterPunch. But there
remains no anti-AIPAC campaign within the mainstream antiwar
organizations, like UFPJ or Peace Action. (Even one supposed
Congressional ally of the peace movement was announced as a celebrity
guest at the recent colossal AIPAC meeting in Washington, where half
the Congress shows up and Dick Cheney is a regular speaker. What gives?)
I have been told by leaders of the peace movement that AIPAC is a
distraction from the main thrust of the antiwar movement. And so we
should not engage it; AIPAC is to be immune. But with all due respect
to the sentiments of that leadership, immunity for AIPAC is a
prescription for disaster. To use a military analogy, which I do not
especially like, suppose that we were trying to take a hill in Germany
in 1944. And suppose we said that we would not attack one pillbox,
which kept devastating our forces. Leave just that one pillbox alone!
The result would be devastating; we would be cut down with every
succeeding attempt at advance. So it is with AIPAC which campaigns
relentlessly for war on Iraq, war on Iran, war on Syria, war on
Lebanon and the slow genocide of the Palestinian people. AIPAC
constantly puts the peace movement on the defensive while it is free
to be on the offensive all the time.
AIPAC is not just an issue for Jewish Americans or the Jewish wing of
the peace movement like Jewish Voice for Peace; it is a major force,
although not the only one, driving the U.S. to wars in the Middle
East. AIPAC is no less a force for war than is the Republican National
Committee. In fact it is worse, because it sinks its teeth into the
foreign policy establishment of both parties, perhaps the Dems more so
than the Republicans. If the peace movement is to be worth its salt,
then it must take action against AIPAC. (It is marathon season here in
Boston and my friend, Israeli expatriate Joshua Ashenberg, tells me
that the foregoing thought harbors a logical error. As he says: "A
'movement' that does not work against AIPAC is NOT a peace movement by
definition. It will not help if I call myself a marathon runner, while
I never ran a marathon.")
In the Boston area, AIPAC appears to be especially powerful, and so we
have a special responsibility to take it on. At the recent AIPAC
conference in Washington, the delegates from Boston/New England were
the most hawkish toward Iran. Just before the last election a
notorious ad in the Boston Globe, cheering on the Israeli bombing of
Lebanon, was engineered by the Jewish Community Relations Council, an
arm of AIPAC here. Every major political figure in MA signed the ad,
including our "liberal" governor, Deval Patrick, and supposed peacenik
Congressman Jim McGovern. Only Conressmen Capuano and Delahunt
withheld their signatures. In addition AIPAC appears to raise a lot of
money in our neck of the woods.
So I have a modest suggestion. On Sunday, April 29, beginning at 6 pm,
AIPAC has its annual fundraising dinner at the Westin Hotel in Copley
Square in Boston. (Last year a good table for 10 went for a modest
$10,000.) Show up at 5 pm to protest the machinations of AIPAC. Which
peace organizations in our area will be there? Which ones will promote
the rally? And which will maintain their silence?
* American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar @ gmail.com.
He urges one and all to sign and circulate the petition at
WWW.FilibusterForPeace.org. The Senate Dems have the power to stop the
war with 41 votes; tell them to use it.
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