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AIPAC Celebrates 47th Birthday in Court

AIPAC's version of its corporate history is that it emerged "from a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s." AIPAC's leader, Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen, did indeed work a small lobbying shop within a larger "store" called the American Zionist Council. In the 1960s the Justice Department and Senate investigators found that the AZC was laundering millions of overseas contributions from the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency in Jerusalem into the U.S. political system. The AZC used this to fund think-tanks, lobbying efforts for arms and aid, and a sophisticated public relations campaign to take over Madison Avenue, academia, civic groups, and major public opinion-makers. The AZC ran afoul of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires any individual or group in America acting on behalf of a foreign principal to publicly declare relevant activities. In November 1962, the DOJ ordered the AZC to begin registering as an Israeli foreign agent. Exactly six weeks later, on Jan. 2, 1963, Isaiah Kenen, Isadore Breslau, Joseph Ottenstein, and 30 others jumped the burning AZC ship and incorporated the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [.pdf] in Washington, D.C.  More

Foreign Policy 12/18/2009
The Trade Deal You Haven't Heard About
Steve Rosen, Middle East Forum Grant Smith, IRmep
For a year or two at an early stage in his career, I commuted to and from our adjacent offices each morning and evening with Martin Indyk, later a top peace-process official of the Clinton administration at the Camp David negotiations and now vice president for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. I had just left the Rand Corporation to work at AIPAC, the main pro-Israel lobbying organization in Washington.

Even in those pre-Oslo days of 1982 to 1983,Martin was a True Believer in the idea of a grand land-for-peace bargain between Israel and moderate Palestinians. Reviewing each day the latest installments in the Middle East epic as we rolled down Rock Creek Parkway, we argued all the way. I heaped scorn on any solution that required Israel to trust Palestinian intentions, and I held that Israel's security could only be based on a qualitative military edge and the balance of power. I told Martin that he and our mutual friends Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller, and Dan Kurtzer, though with the noblest of intentions, were pursuing an illusion.
Americans need to know more about those idyllic drives with Martin Indyk. At that time Rosen and Indyk were both elbow deep in a little known espionage/theft of government property incident investigated by the FBI. AIPAC obtained classified US gov't information about American industries negotiating against a so called "free trade" agreement from Israeli minister of economics Dan Halpern. Their ability to use it against the industry of their fellow countrymen cost the US $71 billion, 100,000 jobs a year and severely corrupted the sanctity of advice and consent process of governance.

Until AIPAC, Rosen and Indyk (and Israel's other unregistered foreign agents) are held accountable for such ongoing transgressions against the American people, there won't be any peace in the Middle East. Just an ongoing theater of blood, despair and corruption, with taxpayers footing the production costs.

12/09/2009 Radio Interview - KZYX & Z, 90.7, 91.5, Mendocino County Public Radio
Iran, Israel, Subsidies, Sanctions

Today on KZYX radio Jeffrey Blankfort discusses his groundbreaking analysis of a Pew Research poll of Council on Foreign Relations members, which finds them less supportive of current US-Israel relations than the general public.  Later in the program Blankfort and Grant Smith discuss findings from the new IRmep book "Spy Trade: How Israel's Lobby Undermines America's Economy" and the current AIPAC drive for economic sanctions and military strikes on Iran.

Analysis in CounterPunch: "What the US Elite Really Thinks About Israel"

Full Radio Interview (MP3) (55 minutes)

The Israel Lobby Celebrates Espionage in New York

...Covert lobbying assistance for this minority soon arrived in the hands of Israeli Minister of Economics Dan Halpern. According to a recently released, redacted FBI interview transcript (PDF, restored by the author) Halpern mysteriously obtained a 300-page classified US Trade Representative report prepared by the International Trade Commission and secretly delivered it to AIPAC during a 1984 coordinating meeting. Halpern later refused to divulge to the FBI how he obtained the secret report, stating it "would be impossible within the professional ethics of his diplomatic position" to identify the source. The report contained the most sensitive trade secrets and market data of the American industries fighting hardest against the trade deal. It is still considered so sensitive by the US Trade Representative that it remains classified to this day.

According to Dan Halpern's 1986 FBI interview, which occurred only after he claimed diplomatic immunity from prosecution in coordination with the US State Department, the possession of the report by the Israeli government and AIPAC "caused no economic damage to any US business or interest...the entire issue seems to have received more attention than it deserved." A quarter century later, Halpern's analysis (echoed by AIPAC staff interviewed by the FBI) doesn't hold up...More

Israel's Illegal Settlements in America

...Today, the most important nucleus of the Israeli government's power in America lies far outside its Washington DC embassy, official consulates, or properly registered FARA entities. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations consists of only two key paid employees according to its 2008 charitable tax return (PDF). Like the AZC under Ben-Gurion's mandate, the Conference of Presidents has only one true role: corralling American organizations into a US power base for the Israeli government. The Conference of President's roster now includes such curiously named organizations as the American Friends of Likud and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs alongside old AZC mainstays such as the ZOA and Hadassah. As mandated by AIPAC's bylaws (PDF), all Conference of Presidents member organizations are part of AIPAC's executive committee, forming a combined grassroots lobbying might far more intimidating to the Justice Department than the old AZC.

Yet in reality, Israeli government's newest lobbying venture is nothing more than a rebranded AZC, the stealth foreign agency relationships remain, some hidden, others not. One visible geographic linkage to the Israeli government is the Conference of Presidents offices which are located at the same 633 Third Avenue New York address as the World Zionist Organization's American Section...More

November 25, 2009
The Israeli Settlement Freeze

BBC News - ArabicPalestinians have now rejected the idea of a partial Israeli settlement freeze, will this come as a surprise to Washington?

Grant F. Smith, IRmep: Well, Washington should have expected just such a refusal.  If we look at what envoy Mitchell has said, he's declared that this is the biggest step that any government in Israel has taken in the past, this temporary, very partial, settlement freeze.  But of course, that's not correct.  Back in 2005, Israel actually withdrew from settlements,stopped building settlements, in Gaza.  And so the Palestinian position of insisting on a complete settlement freeze is much more in line with expectations from the past.

BBC News - Arabic: How will this question of Israeli settlements and the effort to restart peace talks likely unfold in the United States?  Does it look like a Palestinian refusal?

Grant F. Smith, IRmep:  Well, as you know, the Israelis have a tremendous advantage.  Back in 2005, the World Zionist Organization was found by an Israeli prosecutor [and reported} in the UN to be engaged in illegal settlement development.  Yet this same organization is in the same office as the chief Israel lobby in New York.  So they have a tremendous capacity for making small gestures, and then when those gestures are refused, raising a lot of press and political opposition [in the US] saying that the Palestinians are being unreasonable.  So that's to be expected.

BBC News - Arabic: Does Mitchell's acceptance of a partial, temporary freeze lessen the Obama administration's demand for a full unilateral settlement freeze? 

Grant F. Smith, IRmep: I don't think so.  I mean Obama was very clear in asking--in the American interest--for a unilateral and complete settlement freeze.  Netanyahu refused that for many months.  I think that the US [and] President Obama are being remarkably sincere and clear in how damaging this Israeli settlement activity is.  But Israel can count on the power of its vast lobby in the United States to restrain any real pressure, such as shutting down aid, loans, charitable contribution flows, etc.  So Obama is fairly limited in what he can do.

 BBC News - Arabic:  Are the Palestinians damaging their cause?  Are they being intransigent?

Grant F. Smith, IRmep:  I think they are doing a remarkable job in getting their story out.  In showing the effect of the economic blockade, which is devastating the Palestinian economy, of getting more journalists and alternative media in to see what's actually happening.  By just simply breaking the deadlock on information flow, the Palestinians have done a remarkable job in just the past couple of years.

AIPAC Received Classified US Trade Docs from Israeli Embassy

A FBI file reveals the Israeli embassy passed stolen classified US government information to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In 1984 Israel and AIPAC jointly lobbied Congress to secure preferential Israeli access to the US market against widespread American industry opposition.

Under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) organizations acting as agents of foreign principals in a political capacity in the US must openly declare their relationships to the FARA registration unit of the Counterespionage Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to IRmep research director Grant F. Smith, AIPAC FARA activity disclosures are long overdue. "Based on our research, AIPAC is simply the rebranded American Zionist Council. Today all American voters and industry groups should have access to nearly a hundred FARA activity reports detailing AIPAC's other secret activities on behalf of Israel. Americans are legally entitled to this information under FARA." More

11/10/2009  Radio France Internationale - Theme of the Day
Illegal Settlements and the Obama/Netanyahu Meeting

RFI: The situation in the Middle East has always been complex, what are the mechanisms now available to president Barak Obama to try to convince prime minister Netanyahu to accept the proposal he is making to relaunch a new peace process in the Middle East?

Grant Smith:  Obama is trying to break with the past and have everything out in the open.  Before, in the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, the administrations of Reagan and Carter, there were always secret accords between the United States and Israel.  Obama was very explicit the last time he spoke to the US leaders of the Israel lobby like AIPAC when he said basically "look, these secrets and private accords didn't produce any progress toward peace during the Bush administration, so, from now on, we're going to have more openness in the relationship, and if there are conflicts, these will have to be aired, not hidden."   Full Interview (MP3) (Foreign Language)

Declassified FBI File Alleges an Israeli Intelligence Agent Worked at AIPAC

An agent of the Israeli intelligence service worked on the staff of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) according to a newly declassified FBI file.

An August 13, 1984 secret communication from the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) to the FBI director states, "WFO files disclose that AIPAC is a powerful  pro-Israel lobbying group staffed by U.S. citizens. WFO files contain an unsubstantiated allegation that a member of the Israeli Intelligence Service was a staff member of AIPAC." The newly declassified document may be downloaded from the Israel Lobby Archive.

The secret FBI file was declassified and released to the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. IRmep sought the FBI files to file a third amicus brief urging Judge T.S. Ellis not to dismiss charges against two AIPAC staffers under the 1917 Espionage Act. The DOJ dropped espionage charges against former AIPAC staffers Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman on May 1, 2009.  More

Why Does AIPAC Spy on Americans?

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Steven J. Rosen will be allowed to move ahead with his civil defamation lawsuit against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Rosen and fellow AIPAC employee Keith Weissman were indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act in 2005 along with Department of Defense Employee Col. Lawrence Franklin for passing classified national defense information. Franklin pled guilty, but Rosen and Weissman's case never went to trial. US attorneys gave up (PDF) after the presiding judge made a successful prosecution unlikely.

Rosen's 2009 civil lawsuit contends that AIPAC defamed him when its spokesperson claimed that he "did not comport with standards that AIPAC expects of its employees." Rosen's many filings in court reveal that his fundamental case is that AIPAC commonly circulates and distributes classified US government information when it suits the organization's purpose in lobbying for Israel. AIPAC defamed him, he alleges, by claiming he was somehow unique. More

PULSE 10/16/2009
Selective Money Laundering Enforcement at Treasury

Lev Leviev, David Cohen and Irving MoskowitzThe Treasury Department's assistant secretary David Cohen addressed the American Bankers Association on Monday. Cohen implored the assembled executives to understand that money laundering sometimes involves "good money being put to bad use," a standard the G7 Financial Action Task Force adopted way back in 1989. Cohen outlined Treasury's efforts to "detect, deter and deny" money launderers access to the financial system by naming and shaming "facilitators" from the Gulf petroleum producers to Mexico. He also warned that there would be "reputational and legal consequences" for banks that didn't pull at the yoke of expanded Treasury powers assumed under Executive order 13224 (PDF).

Audience members were visibly uneasy during camera pans. There was little interest in questioning the Treasury's new employee. Perhaps with good reason. James G. Carr, the chief federal judge in northern Ohio, recently ruled that Treasury was acting unconstitutionally when it froze a US charity under suspicion of terrorist ties. US courts are only beginning to weigh in on the vast new powers assumed by Treasury. Until now there has been little visibility into its overseas activities. Treasury maintains that the Bank Secrecy Act, a money laundering law, empowers it to deny FOIA requests.

If Cohen and his AIPAC approved mentor Stuart Levey truly wish to test their ability to fight the largest unaddressed remaining terrorism motivator in the Middle East, they could score a "slam dunk" without trampling on the Constitution or even leaving US shores.   Since 1977 US nonprofit charitable corporations and individual donors have helped launder $50-60 billion into illegal West Bank settlements, violating US criminal statutes and Israeli laws.  If Cohen wants to "name and shame" the kingpins financing the construction that undermines the Obama administration's policy, he can start with bingo entrepeneur Irving Moskwitz and diamond magnate Lev Leviev.

PULSE 10/06/2009
US Exports to Arab World: Missiles replaced Merchandise

According to Robert Fisk at The Independent, Arab states are quietly ditching the US dollar in their energy trade. The gradual reduction of dollar reserves could have a devastating effect on the value of the dollar and ability of the US Treasury to finance the national debt.

While the price of gold is rocketing skyward the Israel lobby is no doubt quietly celebrating. Over the past decade, a multi-tiered strategy aimed at getting Americans to see the Middle East as a battlefield rather than a marketplace has slowly unfurled with devastating results.

The subtle racism inherent in such sloganeering as "reducing our dependence on foreign oil" has an unwelcome counterpart--Arabs reducing their demand for American consumer and industrial goods.   AIPAC sponsored legislation such as the Syria Accountability Act, the perennial Saudi Accountability Act (urged and funded by such financial geniuses as Hank Greenberg of AIG) as well as the Dubai Ports debacle and tag team efforts by the US Treasury and New York DA have finally accomplished their long term objective: an Israel centric US Middle East trade policy that alienates valuable partners and locks American exporters out of market driven demand in exchange for captive taxpayer funded US military requisitions.

AIPAC's drive--beginning with the corrupted US-Israel Free Trade Area--steadily reduced the US share of the booming 22 country Arab League import market from 12.77% in 1997 to a mere 8.55% in 2008. What should be a natural trading partner for energy hungry America is instead a desert--though not for competitors.  Arab import demand quadrupled from $158 billion in 1997 to $608 billion last year.

PULSE 09/14/2009
Why Illegal Settlement Money Laundering is still "Off the Table"

Stuart Levey, Henry Morganthau, Robert MorgenthauLast week District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced pursuit of a bank allegedly involved in Iranian assets transfer. The ninety year old Manhattan District Attorney already prosecuted Lloyds TSB over the transfer of $300 million in Iranian cash. Morgenthau's tight coordination with a secretive new US Treasury unit led by Stuart Levey follows a pattern of highly selective Israel lobby tag team law enforcement that began back in the 1940s. More

Rosen Accuses AIPAC of Espionage

Steven J. Rosen's defamation lawsuit against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is now entering a critical phase. A series of cross-filings stakes out the critical court terrain. Rosen intends to show that obtaining and leveraging classified U.S. government information in the service of Israel is common practice at AIPAC. He claims it was unfair for AIPAC to fire and malign him in the press after he was indicted on espionage charges in 2005. AIPAC's defense team is committed to getting the case thrown out on technicalities before it goes to trial early next year...

Americans, on the other hand, must continue to wait for the day that the DOJ finally begins enforcing sensible laws still on the books such as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the Logan Act, the Commercial Espionage Act, and others that create foreign lobby accountability, improve policymaking, and preserve American industrial innovation. The only current relief from AIPAC's onslaught against America may be that family legal troubles could delay its slow march to entangle the U.S. military in an ill-advised and costly attack on Israel's archnemesis, Iran.  More

PULSE 08/28/2009
The Kennedys vs Israel's Lobby

The lobby's accolades for the late Ted Kennedy and his support of Israel mask the generally unknown conflicts fought by the senator's older brothers.  It is likely that lessons from the fiercest of all battles, fought behind the scenes by President John F. Kennedy alongside his brother and Attorney General Robert, guided the younger sibling's political choices.  Details of the JFK-RFK duo's effort to register the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) parent organization, the American Zionist Council (AZC) as an Israeli foreign agent were shrouded in mystery until declassified in mid-2008. More

The first congressional junket to Israel

Large congressional junkets to Israel have become such fixtures in Washington, DC, that few Americans now question their curious origins.

These periodic pilgrimages were once contentious and of such dubious legality for AIPAC's founder he had to tread a cautious line between Congress, the Executive, the State Department, and US Department of Justice Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) enforcement section.

FARA was passed in 1938 to protect Americans from undue influence over Congress by foreign lobbies. It netted up assorted Communists with Soviet connections and Nazis corresponding with the Reich in the 1940s. They were prosecuted not for their activities, but rather their failure to properly notify Americans of their true foreign government sponsors, and required disclosures at a public FARA office visited often by reporters. More

Why Would Arab Nations Sign Trade Deals with Israel?
Grant Smith, IRmep Martin Indyk, Saban Center
What would induce Arab countries to normalize trade relations with Israel?

When the US negotiated the US Israel Free Trade Area in 1984, when you were still at AIPAC, and you'll remember that AIPAC got a hold of the classified USTR report for that negotiation,  you negotiated a deal which reversed the trading relationship from a US surplus to a $71 billion deficit to the US, equivalent to about 100,000 jobs per year. It locked out agricultural products from the US, Israel has become a huge problem in terms of commercializing patented clinical dossiers from pharmaceutical companies, and counterfeit drugs, it's used access to the US market to build a diamond export market which funds illegal settlements.

If that's the way Israel treats friends, why would Arab countries want to subject themselves to opening up to all that?

Well, that's a highly tendentious way of describing free trade arrangements.  I'll simply point out that several Arab countries already have free trade agreements with the United States, Jordan, Bahrain, Morrocco.  The Egyptians would love to have a free trade agreement with the United States, and there are special agreements made in cooperation with the Israelis, Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) which the Egyptians are certainly benefiting from, providing thousands of jobs as the result of a freer trading relationship.  And the fact is that the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement served as a wedge that opened up the Congress to Free Trade Agreements throughout the world, including the NAFTA agreement. 

No doubt there are some downsides to it, but otherwise it's been a very positive thing.

Listen mp3 audio file
08/05/2009 Menassat
Bingo! U.S. donors fund illegal Jewish Settlements

The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), a think tank focused on the intersection between US policy towards the Middle East and law enforcement, has documented the case that charities are engaged in violating both US policy and international law. IRmep filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) petitions to obtain information on the charities' activities with the US Internal Revenue Services (IRS), and used the records, in addition to eyewitness accounts of what the funds were being used for, to brief both the US Departments of Justice and the Treasury. They also filed a formal complaint with a New York District Attorney in 2008, who has not yet responded to the legal move, claiming that the information provided is "under review."

The IRS records and subsequent investigations obtained by IRmep also showed that money was being laundered to fund the occupation. For example, former high-profile lobbyist and conman Jack Abramoff, who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2008 on criminal felony charges, laundered money into Capital Athletic Foundation, which funds an illegal settlement called Beitar Illit, as well as weapons and sniper rifles for the settlers...

Later, IRmep filed Freedom of Information Act requests with both the Treasury Department and the IRS to find out if  the agencies were cracking down on the charities. The Treasury Department rejected the request under the Bank Secrecy Act; the IRS cited privacy laws and refused to comment further.

"It is the elephant in the room in all discussions--the raw power of groups funding [the occupation] versus formal US policies," Grant Smith, director of IRmep told MENASSAT.

So why isn't the Obama administration doing more to reign in these donations?  More

07/23/2009 PressTV
Pharmaceuticals and Israeli Trade Agreement Violations

PressTV: According to a petition filed by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy [IRmep] to the US Trade Representative, Israel has violated important provisions of the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement for years. The bilateral trade agreement signed in 1985 gave Israel privileged market access to the United States.  The [IRmep] petition cites a number of trade violations focused on intellectual property theft over a period of twenty years.

Grant Smith: The ability of Israel to benefit from access to the US market without tariffs has been immense.  It's created a gem diamond industry for them, it's created a massive military industrial export capacity for them, it's creating a massive pharmaceutical business.

PressTV:  During US Israel FTA negotiations in 1984 the Israeli government, along with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) obtained a classified 300 page document containing trade secrets, market share, product logistics and other industrial intellectual property submitted by seventy-six US companies opposed to the treaty with Israel.  Only seventeen lobbied for it. Years later patented American innovations continue to privately flow to Israeli manufacturers, namely Israeli generic pharmaceutical makers who then sell billions of dollars of drugs into the American market. 

Grant Smith: As you can imagine, patent medicines are extremely costly to develop, and those are trade secrets. US companies, pharmaceutical companies are upset by the weak "data exclusivity" provisions offered by the [Israeli] Ministry of Health, because they see their data is not exclusive, it is being leaked almost immediately and used to their disadvantage.  More

07/10/2009 Inside US Trade
Group To Use Section 301 Process To Highlight U.S.-Israel Relations

A non-profit group focused on U.S.-Middle East policy plans for the second time to use the petition process under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to call into question Israel's status as a U.S. ally, the group's director said this week.


The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative this month rejected the first petition by the group, the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. (IRmep), which alleged IPR violations and technology diversion and called for a suspension of the U.S.-Israel free trade agreement.


Grant Smith, IRmep's director, said he plans to file another petition in the near future.


"We're confident that we're able to build a stronger petition when the moment's right," he said.

USTR Reponse to petition to suspend US-Israel FTA  Link
07/10/2009 Cleveland and San Francisco Independent Media Center
Why is Colombia Buying Obsolete Israeli Fighter Jets?
In 2007 Colombia awarded Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) a contract worth more than $150 million to upgrade its aging fleet of Kfir fighter jets. The first upgraded batch began arriving in June. But why is Colombia buying the package now? The influence of Israel's lobby in the US Congress and the troubled fighter plane's history are key to understanding the deal...

By paying off IAI and laying the groundwork for future Israeli weapons purchases, the Colombian government clearly hopes to win the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) to help pass the FTA. It is currently stalled over Colombian human rights questions. AIPAC has lobbied for bilateral free trade between the US, Oman, and Qatar as ways to break the Arab boycott of Israel. The 1985 US-Israel FTA, which has cost $71 billion and 100,000 American jobs a year, was the first bilateral agreement ever signed by the US. According to former deputy director of research Martin Indyk, only AIPAC had the muscle to push such an unpopular and costly deal through Congress...More

Subsidies for Israel, Sanctions for Iran

Congress can't have it both ways on taxpayer-funded sanctions and rewards. If gasoline imports indirectly support Iran's nuclear ambitions, then $2.775 billion in cash for conventional U.S. weapons and military technology clearly allows Israel to focus on development and deployment of its illicit nuclear arsenal. Recently released CIA files long ago forecast that such an arsenal would not only make Israel more "assertive" but also more reluctant to engage in bona fide peace initiatives. Cutting the massive indirect U.S. subsidization of Israel's nukes and insisting that Israel sign the NPT would go further in averting a nuclear arms race and conflicts in the region than targeting hapless Iranians at the gas pump. It would also demonstrate to the American public that the president and Congress, even under the pressure of AIPAC, won't blatantly violate U.S. foreign aid laws by publicly pretending Iran, rather than Israel, is the region's nuclear hegemon.  More

06/23/2009 Cleveland and San Francisco Independent Media Center
AIPAC Bill will Destroy More American Jobs

Exim Unemployment"AIPAC legislated restrictions on US businesses and workers already cost 100,000 American jobs per year. New AIPAC legislation targeting Iran could lead to further jobs loss."

An AIPAC effort in Congress seeks to cut off U.S. loans to some American companies doing business with India and Iran. US exports to Iran have boomed from $85 million in 2004 to $683 million last year as US grain and other foodstuffs find eager Persian buyers.  AIPAC sponsored amendments to the draft fiscal 2010 State and foreign operations appropriations bill will give members their first chance to vote on Iran sanctions since that country's presidential election on June 12.

 Rep. Mark Steven Kirk , R-Ill. said the AIPAC legislation targeted Reliance Industries, a large energy company based in India that reportedly has provided Iran with as much as a third of its refined petroleum. Kirk will offer the measure when the House Appropriations Committee takes up the draft bill.  Kirk is the top 2008 recipient of Israel stealth political action committee (PAC) contributions according to the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.  He received $91,200 during the 2008 election cycle and more than $221,000 over his career.  The Superior Court of the District of Columbia is still debating whether to regulate AIPAC as a political action committee after it was shown secretly directing such funding in violation of US campaign finance laws in the 1980s and 1990s.

Grant Smith, the director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) was critical of Kirk's move and the legislation's sponsor.  "AIPAC has a history of pushing policies that ultimately harm US workers and the American economy.  The flawed US-Israel bilateral trade agreement has cost the US 100,000 jobs per year over the last decade.  Other legislative initiatives pushed by the Israel lobby have negatively impacted the US share in the Arab market, which dropped from 12.77% in 1997 to 8.55% in 2008.  American workers don't want to become innocent victims of AIPAC's trade and foreign policy adventures."  More

06/20/2009 OpEdNews
Nuclear Weapons Key to Israeli Retention of Captured Territory

Nuclear StrikeA newly declassified 1960 report on Israel's nukes underscores role in foreign policy "assertiveness."

"Possession of a nuclear weapon capability, or even the prospect of achieving it, would clearly give Israel a greater sense of security, self-confidence, and assertiveness...Israel would be less inclined than ever to make concessions..." are conclusions of a CIA Special National Intelligence Estimate released on June 5, 2009.

The December 1960 intelligence analysis, parts which are still classified, offers timely context as the Obama administration struggles to slow booming settlement activities in lands Israel captured during preemptive attacks in 1967. More

DOJ reverses AIPAC espionage case guilty plea and jail time?

On May 14, US attorneys quietly filed a sealed motion (PDF) "as to Lawrence Anthony Franklin" in the Eastern District of Virginia. Judge Ellis then granted a hearing for June 12 at 9AM. On June 2, they filed a sealed memorandum about Franklin. Though sealed motions are of course secret, it is likely that under the watchful eye of Eric Holder the DOJ's political appointees are arranging yet another special favor for the Israel lobby in order to steer around the Obama pardon dilemma.

As is now customary, any potential future downsides and details of such a sealed deal are not allowed to be publicly debated. Just as quiet clemency for Schwimmer and Greenspun paved the way for weapons smuggling to Iran, this quiet effort will undoubtedly yield some future crisis... More

06/07/2009 OpEdNews
AIPAC Defamation Lawsuit threatens to Pierce Veil of Secrecy

Observers of this vestigial legacy of the AIPAC criminal trial may hope that Rosen's attempts at securing "major discovery" will shed additional light on AIPAC's activities.  Whether or not Rosen's filing is several years too late, growing public awareness of the costs of AIPAC's many stealth activities are already a highly positive outcome of his lawsuit. More

Sun Herald 06/01/2009 via PR Newswire
Is the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement Harming America?  Myths vs Facts

The US-Israel Free Trade Area (UIFTA) became law in 1985, but ongoing violations of American intellectual property rights and trade laws are fueling heavy losses of American jobs. As the US economy declines many are trying to separate myths from facts about America's first bilateral trade agreement:

Myth: The US Israel Free Trade Area (UIFTA) delivers "mutual benefits".

Fact: Since 1985 US trade with Israel shifted from a surplus to a cumulative $71 billion deficit (adjusted for inflation). The $7.8 billion US deficit with Israel in 2008 equals 126,000 US manufacturing related jobs. UIFTA is the only bilateral pact producing multi-billion dollar losses to the US every year over the last decade.

Myth: UIFTA is supported by US industries and associations.

Fact: During 1984 negotiations seventy-six leading American companies such as Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Sunkist, Hunt-Wesson Foods and organizations such as the AFL-CIO, American Farm Bureau and the US Bromine Alliance testified against the UIFTA. Only seventeen organizations -- most with no direct economic stakes -- testified in favor. More recently pharmaceutical, agricultural and other industry associations have continued to lobby against unfair Israeli trade practices...  
More Myths vs Facts  Brochure  (PDF) History  Petition to Suspend

05/31/2009 Media Monitors Network
The Phony War on Terror

...The so-called War on Terror may be extremely profitable for weapons manufacturers, private military corporations, and the venal pro-war pundits they fund, but who else does it benefit?

Big Oil, says the antiwar left. But the "no blood for oil" adherents too may be misinformed, according to one leading analyst of the Iraq war. "Contrary to the view of most American progressives that oil, and specifically the interests of Big Oil, is the primary mover, there is no evidence that the major US oil corporations pressured Congress or promoted the war in Iraq or the current confrontation with Iran," James Petras argues in The Power of Israel in the United States. "To the contrary: there is plenty of evidence that they are very uneasy about the losses that may result from an Israeli attack on Iran."

And as for the American people, or at least those lucky enough to hold their jobs in the coming Wall Street-induced depression, they will be paying dearly in greatly increased taxes for their government's folly for the foreseeable future.

Considering all this, it is difficult not to concur with the conclusion of a policy paper published by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) that the War on Terror has been "for the most part, extremely damaging to US interests."   More

05/15/2009 Israel Lobby Archive
Glenn Amendment Prohibits US foreign assistance to Israel

Glenn AmendmentAs Congress debates foreign aid legislation, it's time to remember nuclear nonproliferation restrictions on US taxpayer funded expenditures.

Former astronaut and Senator John Glenn amended aid legislation in 1977.  Since then, the US may not provide civilian or military aid to any foreign country trafficking nuclear technology outside the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards. Recent confirmations by US officials that Israel is a nuclear weapons state mean that unless President Barak Obama signs a special waiver to the Speaker of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, no US foreign aid may legally be delivered to Israel in 2010. 

See the Israel Lobby Archive 1977 Glenn Amendment
Source: HeinOnline--91 Stat 620 1977)

See current US foreign aid law, as amended
Source: Cornell US Legal Code website )

05/06/2009 Andrew Sullivan
Israel's Nuclear Closet
It seems that the Obama administration is beginning to show it means business. This reader helps relieve some of my ignorance:

There is a very simple reason why we have to pretend that Israel does not possess nuclear weapons- the Non Proliferation Treaty. Under the treaty and US law, a non-signatory to the treaty (such as Israel) who acquires nuclear weapons is prohibited from receiving any foreign aid or military aid (the last estimates I saw were that Israel receives about a quarter of the US's entire foreign aid budget, and half of our foreign military aid budget). So there you go.

More  See also:  Will Obama Break the Law for Israel's Sake? And the Israel Lobby Archive

Book review by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
Resurrecting "America's Defense Line"

Supporters of the Israel lobby have long maintained that the reason it does not have to register as an agent of a foreign government is that its funding and composition are indigenous to the US. Even critics such as Mearsheimer and Walt have declared its operations "as American as apple pie." However, as Smith reveals, the lobby was only able to turn into the powerhouse it is today because of the start-up funding it received from Israel and its ability -- through stonewalling, deception and subversion of the legal process -- to stave off the State Department and the Department of Justice's attempts to have it registered as a foreign agent. In fascinating detail supported by hundreds of declassified documents (reproduced in the Appendix) Smith reveals the various mechanisms it employed to avoid the purview of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The lobby's greatest success -- to propagate the myth that Israel and the US have identical interests and common enemies -- would not have been possible had the Department of Justice succeeded in securing its compliance with FARA. This law requires entities registered under it to mark all their informational material with the disclaimer that their author is the agent of a foreign government. More

Forbes04/29/2009 via BusinessWire
Legal Challenge to AIPAC Trade Deal cites Heavy Loss of American Jobs and Trade Secrets

A legal filing to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) calls for suspension of the US-Israel Free Trade Area. The Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) "Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974" filing includes previously unreleased internal International Trade Commission (ITC) files recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and testimony from US counterintelligence agencies and concerned American industries...

The IRmep's legal challenge, representing concerned industries and associations from 37 states committed to stamping out Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) violations quantifies how ongoing trade secrets theft from US military, pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural industries directly translate into American jobs losses. Input-output table exhibits derived from US Census Bureau data reveal that American jobs losses caused by the trade pact widened from 50,000 in 1999 to 126,000 in 2008. A comparative analysis against more beneficial bilateral trade agreements shows that canceling the US-Israel FTA would produce an immediate net economic benefit to the United States while fortifying rules based global trade and intellectual property rights.  More

Jane's Harman Us

When taped a few years ago, our gal was talking to someone at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. AIPAC has long controlled a great many American politicians; its website quotes the New York Times assessment of it as "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel." In fact, AIPAC so emphasizes "Israel" at the expense of "American" that the Kennedy Administration, among others, insisted it register as an agent of a foreign government.

Jane's conversation with this foreign agent concerned two of its officers whom the Feds accuse of espionage. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman will finally stand trial this June; the FBI alleges that they forwarded classified information from a source at the Pentagon to the Israeli government.  More

04/23/2009 HAARETZ
U.S. Muslim Group seeks to nix U.S.-Israel Free Trade agreement

Global pharmaceuticals companies, which often argue that Israel should pass stricter legislation to protect intellectual property, have received support from an unexpected corner recently: the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), a U.S.-based Muslim organization, has filed an urgent petition to the United States Trade Representative demanding the immediate suspension of preferential Israeli access to the U.S. market under the Free Trade Area agreement.

In a 92-page legal filing the organization claims that Israel repeatedly violates intellectual property rights in the military and pharmaceutical industries, among other allegations..
.The petition contains numerous examples of alleged Israeli violations of U.S. intellectual property rights in various areas. These include some overtly political claims, for instance, that illegal settlements are being financed through the export of cut diamonds to the U.S. ...

Israel is taking the petition seriously. The U.S. is already pressing Israel, with the encouragement of pharmaceutical giants, to enact stricter intellectual property protections... 

An official from one of the ministries involved in the issue said that the US Trade Representative is obligated to respond to every petition. He said the institute's petition set a dangerous precedent for transforming Israel's professional dispute with the USTR into a political one.

Under U.S. law, the USTR must make public any investigation against Israel within 45 days. More

04/21/2009  Radio France Internationale
Palestinian State Top Obama US Middle East Policy Priority

RFI: King Abdullah of Jordan met this week in Washington with President Barak Obama.  The monarch was the first Middle East leader invited to visit during the new administration.  The dialogue permitted the US president to expand upon his new policies for the region.  Obama invited the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas as well as the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.  The triple meetings signal Washington's firm course toward the two-state solutions in the Middle East: Israel and Palestine. The analysis of IRmep director Grant Smith:

Grant Smith:  They are firmly backing this desire to put a two state program into place, a Palestinian state alongside Israel, before all else.  They are trying to shore that up by meeting with different sides at the same time in separate meetings. 

Before this announcement there was a push for an exclusive Obama-Netanyahu meeting, Obama rejected that kind of program for a more open dialogue with parties to the conflict in Washington simultaneously.  That's a huge change, and members of the Obama cabinet have clearly stated, "the program is for two states, side by side, that's the track we're pursuing," neither the overt preference, nor siding openly with the Israelis as we saw in the Bush administration.

04/20/2009 IRmep Center for Policy and Law Enforcement Filing
Suspend the US-Israel Trade Agreement

A 92 page legal filing urges the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to immediately suspend preferential Israeli access to the US market. 

In 1983 the Israeli Prime Minister and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobbied the Reagan administration for preferential Israeli access to the US market.  In spite of overwhelming opposition from US agricultural, industrial and citizens groups over Israel's weak protection for intellectual property rights, the US-Israel Free Trade Area was signed into law in 1985. 

Intellectual property violations tainted negotiations of the agreement in 1984 when the FBI discovered that AIPAC obtained a copy of the secret report "Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty Free Treatment for U.S. Imports from Israel, Investigation No. 332-180."  The still classified 300 page report was compiled from business confidential market share, cost, and other closely held information solicited by the International Trade Commission for USTR use in negotiations.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s US intelligence agencies uncovered Israeli networks illicitly acquiring and transferring intellectual property on US weapons systems.  Purloined intellectual property for missiles, imaging technology and other weapons was subsequently incorporated into Israeli systems.   Some Israeli systems were then exported to rogue regimes and rivals American manufacturers avoided under US arms export prohibitions.

For each of the past three years, the Israeli Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical manufacturers have been placed on USTR watch lists for practices that cost US manufacturers billions of dollars.  But calls for enforcement of trade rules have generated no results.  Worse, proceeds from ballooning Israeli cut diamond exports to the US have been used to finance illegal West Bank settlements in contravention of Obama administration policy.

Full Filing (PDF, 5.8 MB)   Filing with no Appendix (164 KB) Summary Filing (29 KB)
May 2, 2009 Conference Announcement
"Memories of Iraq"

Leading Iraq specialists from the US and abroad will discuss the foundations of the Iraqi state and society in public memory.  Paper presentations and general discussion from Nadje Al-Ali (University of London), Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago), Magnus Bernhardsson (Williams College), Hamit Bozarslan (Ecole de hautes etudes, Paris) Geraline Sluglett (University of Utah), Reidar Visser (Norwegian Institute of International Affairs).  Workshop information and RSVP here.

04/08/2009 AntiWar

The Samson Gambit

Not since former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy ordered AIPAC's parent organization to register as a foreign agent has the Israel lobby been as existentially threatened by rule of law in America....
The real issue isn't whether AIPAC failed its lobbyists by jettisoning them in a panic; it is whether the Department of Justice failed Americans when it didn't indict the entire American Israel Public Affairs Committee. More
04/06/2009  Radio France Internationale
Obama Finally Dismisses "War on Terror" Policy Framework

RFI:  On Monday President Obama stopped in Turkey during his European tour.  Turkey is the largest NATO and Muslim ally of the US.  In Ankara President Obama sought to restore relations frayed by Turkey's refusal to serve as a base for the US invasion of Iraq.  In an address before the Turkish Parliament he declared firm US support for Turkey's candidacy in the European Union, a move immediately rejected by France.   For an analysis of the importance of Turkey for Washington and the new administration we present Grant Smith, director of the IRmep:

Grant Smith: Turkey is a focal point revealing redefined US Middle East policy.   In particular [Obama] has dispensed with the slogan "war on terror" and more, in Turkey he clarified that there is no US war against Islam.  We think he is trying to dispose of the entire Bush administration policy framework.   

Simultaneously there is a realignment of regional relations.  For example, the distance between Turkey and Israel has widened after the Israeli rampage in Gaza.  Also the US is restarting direct communications with Iran.  This seems to be a more productive US consideration of Syria, Turkey and Iran oriented toward diplomacy rather raw military calculations.

Wall Street Journal Market Watch03/31/2009 Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch via PRNewsWire
Israeli Nuclear Arsenal Prohibits US Foreign Aid Under Symington Amendment
William Stuart SymingtonThe declassified US Army report titled "The Joint Operating Environment 2008" identifies Israel as a nuclear weapons power. Specifically the US Army highlights "a growing arc of nuclear powers running from Israel in the west through an emerging Iran to Pakistan, India, and on to China, North Korea, and Russia in the east." Jimmy Carter became the first former President to confirm in 2008 that Israel has secretly financed, developed and deployed an undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 as amended by the Symington Amendment of 1976 and the Glenn Amendment of 1977 prohibit US military assistance to countries that acquire or transfer nuclear reprocessing technology outside of international nonproliferation regimes. Israel, unlike Iran, is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If Congress wishes to provide US taxpayer funded foreign aid to Israel in compliance with US law, it may do so only under a special waiver from the office of the President as in the case for Pakistan.  More

03/26/2009 FOXBusiness PRNewsWire

Trial for AIPAC Employees Indicted Under Espionage Act

Shutting down the current US v Rosen and Weissman case before it goes to trial would similarly short circuit rule of law in the United States. Only a public trial can reveal whether AIPAC lobbyists crossed a red line in their advocacy activities. An open trial may reveal whether there was an effort to leverage classified information into US military action against Iran, or whether mainstream media and the public are manipulated by lobbyists selectively trafficking secrets.

"Quietly folding this prosecution would promote a growing perception across America that some organizations and individuals are free to break the law with impunity, at great cost to law abiding citizens." said IRmep Director Grant F. Smith. "Based upon the alleged activities raised by the indictment our supporters from 37 states urge the Department of Justice to proceed to trial. Doing otherwise could have grave consequences for governance in America."  More

03/16/2009 The American Muslim
Israel's government abuses Free Trade Agreement with US

Free trade agreements (FTAs) are supposed to help American businesses improve their profits, create more jobs and build their industries by opening new markets for export of their products with foreign countries under rules based trade. The US has FTAs with 20 foreign nations, including six added in 2006, Bahrain, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Morocco, and Nicaragua. Israel lobbied for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with the US in 1984 and it was approved in 1985. But since then, according to a study conducted by the Washington DC based Institute for Research: Middle East Policy (IRmep) of documents released only last year, the United States has lost more than $71 billion in the deal and the equivalent of an average of 100,000 jobs in each of the past 10 years alone.

This is a staggering discovery considering that the United States is today in one of the worst economic depressions in its history and that the American unemployment rate continues to rise, now past 8.2 percent nationwide.  More

WJJG Logo03/11/2009 WJJG Chicago Radio
Commercial Espionage and the US-Israel Trade Agreement

Ray Hanania - WJJGChicago radio host Ray Hanania and Grant Smith discuss an upcoming IRmep report about the US-Israel Free Trade Area (FTA):

1. Impact of AIPAC and the Israeli government's acquisition of business confidential information provided by concerned US industries to the US Trade Representative during negotiations;
2. Ongoing commercial espionage in weapons systems design, pharmaceutical clinical dossiers, and other intellectual property;
3. Why the agreement is the only bilateral FTA producing multi-billion dollar yearly deficits now totaling $71 billion and negative jobs impact of 126,000 manufacturing related jobs;
4. Measures the Obama administration should take as it begins reevaluating FTAs against the new trade agenda.

The program is now available for download as an .mp3 audio file.

02/27/2009 Al Jazeera
Obama, Iran and the Israel Lobby

Empire - February 27, Al JazeeraThis week Al Jazeera English is broadcasting a special report about the Obama administration, regional policy and the Israel Lobby.  Al Jazeera has an audience reach of over 120 million households in more than 100 countries. The program is also available on demand via YouTube:

Empire - Part 1 (25 min)
US policy in the Middle East and the "Special Relationship" with Israel. Host Marwan Bishara and  Avi Shlaim, Aaron David Miller, Adam Shatz, Ilan Pappe, MJ Rosenberg, Harry Lonsdale, Earl Hilliard, and Grant F. Smith. 
Empire - Part 2 (22 min)
The forced neoconservative convergence of US-Israel strategy in the Middle East through the post 9/11 "war on terror".  Avi Shlaim, Jim Lobe, Anotoli Levin, Stephen Walt, and Hani Shukrallah. More

2/27/2009  Radio France Internationale
Does the Obama Troop Withdrawal Mean Anything?
Radio France: What is the significance of the announced troop withdrawal from Iraq?
Grant F. Smith: We'll have to see. Moving from the current number to 50,000 seems like an improvement, but who's going to remain in all those super bases that have been constructed in Iraq? Will large numbers of combat forces be re-categorized as "advisors?" Will later negotiations turn them into a permanent force like US troops in South Korea? We really need to wait and see what happens on the ground.
Radio France: But isn't the Status of Forces Agreement stipulation that US forces stop engaging in combat a positive step?
Grant F. Smith:  What if major violence breaks out in an area like Mosul? It's pretty hard to see US forces remaining on the sidelines if something like that happens. Also, we've seen recent reports of US troops in combat with Iraqi police and military forces. The situation on the ground isn't as clear as the SOFA.
Radio France: What about the Obama administration goal to extend a hand to the region, particularly to Syria and Iran?
Grant F. Smith:  Again, it is too early to tell if the rhetoric will catch up to reality. Some Obama administration figures continue to insist that Iran completely halt its civilian nuclear energy program. That's not much different than the Bush administration. Also, if you look at Obama appointees streaming into the State Department and Cabinet, what you see is that although they hail from the Democratic side of the aisle, their writings, rhetoric, and world views are not significantly different than the Bush Administration. So, as before, we have to see some accomplishment on the ground before we believe all of the soaring rhetoric. (MP3/Foreign Language)

02/23/2009 AntiWar

Should AIPAC Decide What's Classified?

The consequences of the alleged AIPAC espionage now on its way to trial could have been far worse. We now know that Israel solicited American approval to attack Iran over its civilian nuclear program and sought both overflight rights and advanced munitions from the United States. Both requests were denied on the basis of U.S. national security interests. If Rosen and Weissman's parallel intelligence-collection project had gone undetected and actually succeeded; the FBI was investigating their movements since at least 1999AIPAC might have been able to leverage the NDI through press, pressure, and propaganda into permission for Israeli or even U.S. strikes against Iran. Perhaps with J. William Leonard in tow, AIPAC's abuse of national defense secrets will succeed the next time around. But the fallout from attacking yet another country on false pretexts is unfathomable. This is why Americans observing mainstream pundits and assorted ideologues trumpeting the current course of the long-delayed AIPAC espionage trial as a victory for freedom of the press should ponder this: is it really in our best interests that Israel and its American lobby be empowered to classify or declassify American secrets at their whim?   More

Wall Street Journal Market Watch02/23/2009 Wall Street Journal's Marketwatch via PRNewsWire

AIPAC Trade Secrets Leak Led to $71 Billion Export Loss

The ITC compiled "business confidential" information and intellectual property solicited from US corporations and industry associations into a classified report for the negotiations. But on August 3, 1984 the Washington Post broke the news that the FBI was investigating how AIPAC obtained one of the fifteen numbered and tightly controlled copies of the classified report. The ITC later confirmed it was also obtained by the Israeli government.

Since the agreement was signed in 1985, US trade with Israel shifted from surplus to a cumulative $71 billion deficit (adjusted for inflation). The 2008 $7.8 billion deficit with Israel was equivalent to 126,000 US manufacturing related jobs. It is the only bilateral FTA producing multi-billion dollar losses to the US every year for the last decade but total losses are still unknown. According to IRmep director Grant F. Smith the agreement was the beginning of a chain reaction of intellectual property theft documented by industry associations and US counterintelligence agencies: "US corporations were betrayed by the leaks of their intellectual property during treaty negotiations in 1984. US pharmaceutical, defense and other industries continue to lose billions in revenue to Israeli copy-cat merchandise. We are only beginning to fully understand the larger impact of AIPAC and the Israeli government's ongoing acquisition of classified US information."  More

02/11/2009 AntiWar
Will Obama Violate the Symington Amendment to Advance Israeli Nuclear Hegemony?

...Fortunately, Americans don't need Barack Obama to "speculate" on what former President Jimmy Carter already confirmed on May 25, 2008: Israel possesses an arsenal of at least Will Obama enforce the Symington Amendment?150 nuclear weapons. Why does Obama trot out the discredited policy of "strategic ambiguity," in which Israeli and U.S. officials officially refuse to confirm or deny the existence Israeli nuclear weapons, at this early moment? For one reason alone: to break the law. The 1976 Symington Amendment prohibits most U.S. foreign aid to any country found trafficking in nuclear enrichment equipment or technology outside international safeguards. Israel has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). If U.S. presidents complied with the Symington Amendment, they would not deliver yearly aid packages to Israel totaling billions of dollars. Presidents make-believe that Israeli nuclear weapons don't exist so Congress can legally continue shoveling the lion's share of the U.S. foreign aid budget to Israel. But this thin pretense is now over. Since Carter's revelation, press outlets such as Reuters chat openly about how Israel's nukes mean that it does not qualify for U.S. aid. But like Harry Markopolos incessantly nagging the SEC about Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme, fourth-estate and nuclear-activist calls for compliance continue to be rebuffed by government agencies. Denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests about Israeli nukes has always been an integral tactic in preserving this hoary old ruse.   More  Spanish/Espanol

Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG)
American Finance and the End of Empire: Time for Lessons from Islamic Banking?
IRmep International Fellow Tanya Cariina Hsu

Tanya Cariina Hsu...It was the best con game in town: get paid well for selling vast amounts of risk, fail, and then have governments fix the problem at the expense of the taxpayers who never saw a penny of shared wealth to begin with.  There is no easy solution to this crisis, its effects multiplying like an infectious diseaseIronically, least affected by the crisis are Islamic banks.

They have largely been immune to the collapse because Islamic banking prohibits the acquisition of wealth via gambling (or alcohol, tobacco, pornography, or stocks in armaments companies), and forbids the buying and selling of a debt as well as usury. Additionally, Shari'ah banking laws forbid investing in any company with debts that exceed thirty percent.

"Islamic banking institutions have not failed per se as they deal in tangible assets and assume the risk" said Dr. Mohammed Ramady, Professor of Economics at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals. "Although the Islamic banking sector is also part of the global economy, the impact of direct exposure to sub-prime asset investments has been low" he continued. "The liquidity slowdown has especially affected Dubai, with its heavy international borrowing. The most negative effect has been a loss of confidence in the regional stock markets." Instead, said Dr. Ramady, oil surplus Arab nations are "reconsidering overseas investments in financial assets" and speeding up their own domestic projects.  More

2/1/2009 World Bulletin - Turkey
Dennis Ross Chairmanship of Israeli Government Funded Think Tank Could Torpedo Iran Envoy Job

Former Clinton Administration Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross is under consideration as US State Department envoy to Iran. Ross is currently the chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) in Jerusalem, established by the Jewish Agency in 2002. Ross could face legal challenges under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, if he enters US government service.

FARA protects the American people and Congress from stealth propaganda and foreign lobbying through strict public disclosure filings. The Jewish Agency has repeatedly surfaced during investigations in the US. In the 1960s the Senate Foreign Relations Committee uncovered a network of stealth Jewish Agency "conduits" financing grassroots Israel lobby startup groups through the American Zionist Council (AZC). During 1963 hearings the Senate revealed the equivalent of $35 million went toward US lobbying, including $38,000 to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) founder Isaiah Kenen between 1960-1961...Since 2002 former American diplomat Dennis Ross has filed no FARA activity declarations. This could be a problem according to IRmep director Grant F. Smith. "The US Department of Justice has always asked US recipients of Jewish Agency funding -- whether the American Zionist Council and its US executives, or the Jewish Agency's New York office -- to register as agents of a foreign principal. With US-Iran diplomacy and restoration of productive relations looming so urgently, now is certainly not the time to resurrect foreign agent registration battles."  English  Turkish

1/23/2009 Appointment of Dennis Ross to Iran Portfolio would be Disastrous
Qualifications for Obama's Top Iran Diplomat

President Barak Obama has passed over naming Dennis Ross to top Middle East or Iran policy jobs.  This is an intelligent move.  Ross has been correctly associated as a major negative factor in the failed Clinton administration peace negotiations.  Ross has also been perceived to be too much in the service of the objectives of the state of Israel and its US lobby to effectively negotiate on behalf of broader American interests.

His recent policy paper "Strengthening the Partnership: How to Deepen U.S.-Israel Cooperation on the Iranian Nuclear Challenge" (chartered by an AIPAC affiliated think tank) is a short roadmap for US military confrontation with Iran. It advocates blockades (an act of war which has brought poverty to Gaza) and ultimately military strikes on Iran. But US policy outcomes toward Iran are neither a foregone conclusion, nor should they mirror failed Israeli strategies. 

Any "super" US envoy to Iran needs proper qualifications and reputation.  They will have to have to gain the confidence of the Iranians and American voters. He or she must be deeply knowledgeable about the region and willing to engage in bona fide negotiations, rather than merely insisting on unilateral concessions under the veiled threat of military force. An American envoy must also break with the curious but useless tradition of "strategic ambiguity" regarding the Israeli nuclear arsenal. To do otherwise makes it look as though the United States is merely asserting Israeli nuclear hegemony over the region rather than seeking peace.

1/13/2009 AntiWar
Pro-Israel Pardons and Leniency Too Costly to Continue

If President Bush is wavering or Barack Obama is considering pardons upon entering office, historical precedent indicates that pardons for crimes perpetrated in the name of Israel are costly but yield no benefits. Kennedy's unintended leniency provided a green light for financing the Israeli nuclear weapons program. The Marc Rich pardon produced nothing but embarrassment for Clinton and is now a possible nomination hurdle for Eric Holder. A pardon of Jonathan Pollard would probably result in intensified unauthorized transfers of sensitive national defense information to Israel in the future. A Rosen and Weissman pardon would signal that the Israel lobby may freely pursue covert action to use the U.S. military against Israel's enemies. Tough diplomacy, unfettered law enforcement, and reasonable penalties for criminal violations are historically the only proven techniques for keeping the Israel lobby in check.  More

1/05/2009 Memo to the President: Break the Chain of Violence Starting within the US
Retire the "War on Terror" and launch "Rule of Law Initiative"

Slavery and its aftermath was an embedded American problem; its resolution had nothing at all to do with Africa.  Much of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East is the product of another "peculiar institution" the Israel lobby in the United States.  While president Lyndon Johnson did much to drive forward civil rights, his administration's prosecutorial immunity granted in secret to the Israel lobby was an enormous step backward for the United StatesThe lobby's subversion of the Foreign Agents Registration Act was like a broken window leading to the decline of a prosperous neighborhood.  Soon a culture of impunity took over leading to Israel lobby money laundering, election fraud, nuclear secrets theft, commercial espionage and most recently, infiltration of the Pentagon in the interest of touching off a US military conflict with Iran. 

The lobby is currently attempting to reframe the Israeli blockade and attacks killing civilians as steps toward solving the "Palestinian" problem (and part of the "War on Terror").  The incoming Obama administration now must do what no US president since John F. Kennedy has tried to do: enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act, the Espionage Act, and stop condoning through pardon the "broken windows" of the lobby.   Only then will America be ready to return to its pre-1948 status as an honest broker and force for positive change in the region.

In March, IRmep will begin sending a new briefing book to prosecutors and law enforcement officials about how US laws already on the books can protect America if properly enforced More importantly, it will show tactics for resisting politicization and outside interference with law enforcement agencies that has plagued counter espionage and FARA enforcement.  This will allow DOJ, with the critical support of the president, to begin rebuilding US credibility while fixing the "broken windows" that have led to American decline, peril and ongoing repression of Palestinians.  

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