Criticizing Israel a costly move for US politicians
While the FBI has been investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russian spies to undermine the integrity of the November 2016 presidential election, don’t expect it to expand the probe into the role played by pro-Israel actors.
Allegations of collusion between people working for Donald Trump and Russian operatives have been little more than that, but it’s something that the mainstream news media and Trump’s critics have been more than willing to believe.
Yet, right before their eyes, there is evidence of a real foreign plot to undermine American voters and influence an election by spies from Israel. A document unveiled this week by the New York Times discloses that a Trump campaign aide approached a high-level Israel-based security consulting firm staffed by former Israeli intelligence operatives to do exactly what Trump’s critics allege but have been unable to prove about Russian spying.
The memo, titled “Project Rome,” was produced by Psy Group. It outlines detailed strategies to undermine Democrat Hillary Clinton and Trump’s Republican presidential nomination rivals. It included plans to “sow disinformation” targeting presidential election delegates, social media users, and journalists.
Ironically, the New York Times, which has been riding rumors of Russian collusion as acts that violate American laws, early in their article published on Monday asserted it is “unclear” as to whether or not Project Rome violates any American laws. What a difference the identity of the country makes when it comes to activities that might distort the will of the American electorate.
The truth is Israeli manipulation of the American mind — voters, politicians or the 325 million citizens — is so accepted in the US that it doesn’t rise to the level of constituting a national American scandal, let alone illegal misconduct. After all, Israel has managed to shutter the American outrage when it comes to its super-secret weapons of mass destruction program — an arsenal of more than 250 nuclear weapons in the Negev. Why would Americans be outraged, let alone care or be surprised, that Israel, a foreign country, tried to manipulate the election results?
Israel sits alone on the top shelf of special categories created by American political leaders, who have shielded it from critical scrutiny.
Investigators working for former FBI chief and current Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller are aware of Psy Group’s proposal, but little has been said publicly, unlike the deluge of secrets leaked about Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling that began in May 2017. Mueller’s leaks about Trump-Russian collusion have been splashed across the front pages of every major American newspaper and have filled the airtime of every major American TV news talk show. The topic has formed the foundation for a movement to impeach Trump.
Israel sits alone on the top shelf of special categories created by American political leaders, who have shielded it from critical scrutiny
But don’t expect the discovery of Project Rome to create even a ripple of outrage from American politicians, who survive on hundreds of millions of dollars in pro-Israel campaign funding. During the 2016 election cycle, pro-Israel activists and political action committees (PACs) donated an average of $23,000 to Democrats and $11,000 to Republicans running for the House of Representatives, and an average of $73,000 for Republicans and close to $27,000 for Democrats running for the Senate. That was in just one election cycle.
The cumulative total over the past 28 years exceeds $150 million from pro-Israel PACs and individuals. In 2012, Sheldon Adelson, the publisher of Israel’s largest Hebrew language newspaper, donated more than $92 million to candidates in order to secure their loyalty to Israel.
Criticizing Russia for election meddling is safe. Politicians from both the Democratic and Republican parties have expressed outrage over the Mueller allegations, putting huge pressure on Trump to step back from any positive views the president may have of Russian foreign policy.
Criticizing Israel or any firm linked to it is far from safe and would be more costly to American politicians, as well as the news media that panders to the pro-Israel camp. It would be a substantive political risk because nearly every major American politician takes money from pro-Israeli interests like Adelson and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Even though the Psy Group document is a smoking gun outlining specific efforts by pro-Israel interests to directly interfere in the US election process, don’t expect anyone to really scream about it.
There may be some raised eyebrows but, in the end, the outrage will be filed along with the little-acknowledged and never-discussed facts about Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal. Silenced, non-existent, and in a massive void in the American news media’s pro-Israel agenda.
- Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist and the author of several books including “Yalla! Fight Back.” His personal website is www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania