If you were to describe the Israel lobby as a secretive group that enforces the policies of the Israeli government on American politicians in private gatherings, you would be called an anti-Semite. The idea that the Israel lobby is secretive and underhand plays into ancient anti-Semitic tropes. If you were to say about AIPAC that “a lobby is a night flower, it thrives in the dark and dies in the sun,” you would be regarded as an anti-Semite for the same reasons. If you were to note that an AIPAC official once responded to the idea that the lobby had been weakened by pushing a napkin across a table and said “You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin,” you would be called an anti-Semite. If you were to claim that AIPAC was “the most effective general interest group … across the entire planet,” you would be suspected of anti-Semitic tendencies. (The source for these varied quotes is here.)
And if you were to say that AIPAC was so powerful it could get a left-liberal mayor of New York to give a speech so fulsome in its cravenness and excess it adds whole universes of meaning to the word “pander” and also insist that it be kept secret, even to the extent of hauling a reporter out of the hall, then all bets would be off. Why, after all, should AIPAC be in any way secretive about its completely legitimate, even civic-minded, lobbying of American public officials on behalf of the interests of a foreign government? The very idea is anti-Semitic, is it not? Why should any defender of Israel want to keep his remarks private? Even if you found nothing in the speech faintly controversial, why on earth the secrecy?
And yet here we are, with the lofty, pizza-challenged mayor of New York City, right after a landslide election, caught keeping a speech to AIPAC off his public itinerary and barring any press coverage of it. Weird, innit? What would he have to hide? Well here’s an audio of the speech that AIPAC, according to De Blasio, asked him to keep top-secret:
I’m not sure if that is the entirety of the speech, but let’s just note a few things. First up:
There is a philosophical grounding to my belief in Israel and it is my belief, it is our obligation, to defend Israel, but it is also something that is elemental to being an American because there is no greater ally on earth, and that’s something we can say proudly.
“No greater ally on earth”.
Just ponder that remark for a bit. How many troops did Israel send to fight with Americans in Iraq? None. Forty other countries did, led by the UK, Australia, and Poland. How many troops did Israel send to fight with Americans in Afghanistan? None. Fifty-nine other countries helped, also led by the UK. In both cases, this “greatest ally on earth” would have been extraordinarily counter-productive if it had been involved. That’s how useful an ally the country is in confronting our common enemies. Which allied defense minister recently publicly said of an internal security plan for the West Bank, shared confidentially among allies, that it was “not worth the paper it was written on” and that “the only thing that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.” Israel’s. Which allied prime minister in recent years took the extraordinary step of lecturing the American president in front of the world press in the White House itself? Israel’s. I cannot think of any allied prime minister ever thinking about doing the same.
But this preposterous bullshit is what a left-liberal mayor felt obliged to serve up. Then this:
There is no deeper connection across boundaries than this connection we share.
Not with France, the oldest ally of the US? Not with Britain, the mother-country of the US? Not with any of the other countries whose sons have spilt blood on the same battlefields as Americans? Not with those who fought and died alongside Americans on D-Day? Then the astonishing statement that “part of my job description is to be a defender of Israel.” Really? And there I was thinking he was mayor of New York City! Would someone critical, say, of Israel’s continued settlements on the West Bank be barred as unqualified to be mayor of New York City? De Blasio is not taking any chances:
City Hall will always be open to AIPAC. When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily ’cause that’s my job.
Let me just leave you with the words of George Washington, who saw things a little differently:
The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest …
A passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification.
It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.”