Noting the remarkable success of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in influencing U.S. government policies, Daniel C. Maguire offers up this tongue-in-cheek plan for an Irish AIPAC to do the same for Ireland.
By Daniel C. Maguire
This is to announce the formation of the Irish AIPAC — American Irish Public Affairs Committee. The purpose of this Committee will be (borrowing from the Israeli AIPAC) to make sure that “there is no daylight between” Ireland’s perceived needs and American policies.
Irish Americans, all 35 million of them, should be ashamed of themselves. They sing the songs of Ireland and dance its dances but their bibulous love of Ireland has never been organized to help Ireland in its hours of need.
Poor Ireland suffered years of foreign occupation — with part of their Island-state still tied to Britain. In the artificially imposed “famine” in 1845-1852, a million Irish people died and 25 percent of the population went into exile, many dying on the way, and the remainder all suffering from malnutrition.
It was not just the potato blight: England was actually exporting food from Ireland during this pseudo-famine. This was the Irish Holocaust. And now deceptive Irish bankers have hamstrung the “Celtic tiger,” the boom went bust, and Ireland is linked to a tottering European Union. Now is the time for all Irish-Americans to come to the aid of poor Ireland.
Irish organizing skills are unfairly disparaged. One foreign diplomat said cynically that if the Dutch took over Ireland, they would turn it into a garden; if the Irish took over Holland, they would drown.
Be that as it may, help is available. The Israeli AIPAC, formed in 1954, shows the way. With only five million American Jews to work on it, Israel has become the equivalent of “the fifty-first state of the union.” In fact, Israel is the luckiest of the states since it pays no taxes but has received from the U.S. Treasury at least $130 billion since 1949.
Israel is still the prime recipient of American foreign aid, over $10 million a day. George Ball estimated that when all aid is calculated, U.S. support of Israel comes to $11 billion a year. So, Ireland gets only $2 million a year in U.S. aid, while Israel gets $10 million a day. That is a disgrace and it is the fault of Irish-Americans who must now set out to correct that by making Ireland the equivalent of the 52nd state.
Learning from the Best
Here is the Action Plan for the Irish AIPAC:
Target One: Congress:
As soon as someone is elected to Congress, he/she will immediately be visited by members of the Irish lobby. Generous monies will be promised to them (funneled through wealthy Irish-American groups to keep it looking legal). The Irish lobby, like the Israeli lobby, must not be stinting in their generosity.
The Foreign Policy Journal reports that in the 2015-2016 U.S. presidential race, Israeli-related monies gushed forth. Hillary Clinton reportedly got $212,927; Sen. Ted Cruz, $203,552; Sen. Lindsey Graham, $74,200, and of course all of these politicians promised full and fervid support for whatever Israel says it wants along with a red carpet into the White House.
Surely big-hearted Irish groups can match this. Without saying it out loud, the Irish goal must be to make Congress the best Congress that Irish money can buy. Again, without saying it out loud, the Irish lobby must set out to make Congress Irish-occupied territory. History shows this can be done.
Of course, it also must be made clear to members of Congress that pro-Ireland monies will go to their opponents if they do not faithfully support all of Ireland’s alleged needs. On an incessant basis, the Irish lobby will tell the members exactly what those needs are.
The Irish lobby can point to foolish politicians like Paul Findley, Earl Hilliard and Cynthia McKinney who dared to resist the Israeli AIPAC. They were ousted from Congress as AIPAC arranged crucial financial support for their political opponents. The concerns of Israel trumped whatever petty concerns their American constituents had.
The ghosts of these ousted members hover over Congress whenever Israel-related votes come up. The Irish lobby must match this kind of muscular zeal. Ireland deserves no less.
Efforts will be made to get Irish loyalists appointed to all the congressional staffs so that it will be clear to members of Congress that the Irish AIPAC is watching their every move. Should the Executive Branch ever waver in its support of Ireland, Congress will be pressed to invite the Prime Minister of Ireland to address a joint session of Congress to upbraid the American president for his disloyalty to Ireland.
And when the Irish Prime Minister speaks to Congress, the Irish AIPAC will be in the galleries recording how many times various members leaped to their feet to applaud the Irish leader.
Again, the Israeli lobby shows the way: former Jewish member of the Israeli Knesset Uri Avnery said that when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to Congress, members vie with one another to applaud “jumping up and down like yo-yos.” (This is actually good exercise for the all too sedentary members of Congress.)
When the Irish AIPAC has its annual meeting, attendance and unctuous obeisance by members of Congress and the administration will be de rigueur.
Now all of this Irish political power might be resented by small-minded bigots. Such people must be sharply labeled as “anti-Irish.” They must be portrayed as the residue of ugly historical anti-Irish prejudice, as the hateful echoes of an era when signs were posted on American factories: “IRISH NEED NOT APPLY.”
The mantle of victimhood — there is no suffering like Irish suffering — must veil the rise of Irish power. If dissident Irish-Americans groups form — sort of an Irish Voice For Peace — to protest Irish abuses of power here and in Ireland, they must be labeled “self-hating Irish” and dismissed.
Target Two: The Press
Anyone who joins the editorial staff of any news media will never be lonely. Members of the Irish AIPAC will visit them before they have arranged the furniture in their new office. They will be taken to lunch, put on Irish AIPAC mailing lists, and gently reminded of the strength of Irish influence in the zone in which they work and seek advertising.
We should be grateful to the Israeli AIPAC for showing how effective this can be in muting criticism of any mischief or criminality going on in Israel. Even the liberals at MSNBC know where not to tread when it touches on Israel. Palestinian travails are terra incognita for them and for the mainstream American media.
(Sadly, the Israelis have not been as successful at quelling the liberal press in Israel which dares at times to speak boldly to Zionist criminal use of power. Ironically it is easier to criticize Israeli occupation policy in Israel than it is in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Kudos to the Israeli AIPAC!)
The Irish AIPAC must never forget: a subservient press is an AIPAC’s best friend.
Goal Three: ‘Wink and a Nod’ Privileges:
It has been said that all nations are brigands, sinning boldly as they pursue their tribal interests. If their sins get noticed, this could turn off the faucets of aid. Jewish writer Tony Judt called the United States “Israel’s paymaster.” Suppose the paymaster got really mad at something you are doing, like violating international law, for example, by doing a little ethnic cleansing and land theft — things like that. This is where the special relationship has to get really, really special. So special that your crimes are ignored by the donor state.
This is a case of “love means never having to say you’re sorry” raised to the level of statecraft. This is the “wink and a nod” privilege that wipes out guilt and punishment.
Now holy Ireland is a very Catholic state. The Preamble of its Constitution begins: “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority…” It goes on to “humbly” acknowledge all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ…”
Now suppose this Catholic state decided that only Catholics are full-fledged citizens and that Jews, Muslims and Protestants are second-class citizens with very limited voting, traveling, land-purchasing and water-using rights. That would be so un-American it would surely turn off the flow of American cash and political support to Ireland — thus defeating the whole purpose of the Irish AIPAC!
Again, Israel comes to the rescue. In the warm and exonerating American embrace that Israel enjoys — and Ireland aspires to — its sins, be they scarlet, will be made white as snow. The donor looks away and the donations proceed without abatement.
The Israeli success in this regard must be applauded. You will search history in vain to find an example of so many offenses being ignored, forgiven, and systematically and insistently forgotten. Why would the Irish Catholics worry if all they did was crack down on the civil and human rights of a few Jews and Protestants?
After all, on June 8, 1967, during the Six Days War, to prevent surveillance of their huge military land seizure, Israel attacked an American intelligence-gathering ship, the USS Liberty, killing 34 American sailors and wounding 171 of them. The record is clear: it was not, as claimed, a “mistake.” Former CIA officer Ray McGovern reports the following recorded exchange between a horrified Israeli pilot and Israeli headquarters:
Israeli pilot to ground control: “This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?”
Ground Control: “Yes, follow orders.”
Pilot: “But, sir, it’s an American ship; I can see the flag.
Ground Control. “Never mind. Hit it.”
Nothing like it had happened since Pearl Harbor, but the American response was a wink and a nod to Israel’s government. As former Undersecretary of State George Ball said: “If American leaders did not have the courage to punish Israel for the blatant murder of American citizens, it seems clear that their America friends would let them get away with almost anything.”
And so indeed it has come to pass. On March 16, 2003 a 23-year old American citizen, Rachel Corrie, as part of a nonviolent group working in Gaza trying to prevent Israeli forces from destroying water wells and homes … yes, water wells and homes. Corrie saw an American-made Israeli bulldozer moving to destroy the home of the Nasrallah family, consisting of two brothers, their wives and five children.
Corrie was wearing an orange flak jacket and speaking through a bull horn. She mounted a pile of dirt, looking right into the cabin at the two drivers of the Caterpillar bulldozer. Her companions surrounded her screaming. The Caterpillar bulldozer, with an Israeli armed car in attendance, ran over her. Twice. She died in the arms of Alice Coy, a Jewish member of her group from England.
Again, a wink and a nod from the cowed American government.
Another American citizen was murdered on the high seas on May 30, 2010, by the Israelis on an unarmed flotilla trying to bring medical aid to a Gaza under siege. Eight Turkish citizens were killed, too, and Turkey responded appropriately and vigorously. From the U.S., another wee wink and another wee nod.
So, if in this special relationship the murder of Americans does not compute morally why would Americans be upset by the Agricultural Settlement Law of 1967 that banned non-Jewish Israelis from working on Jewish National Fund lands, i.e. on over 80 percent of the land in Israel? Why take note of laws that prohibit the sale or leasing of state-owned land to non-Jews, or keeping 80 percent of drinking water for Jews in the West Bank and allowing polluted water to much of Gaza – or arresting Palestinian children to keep their parents from protesting the ongoing theft of land, called euphemistically “settlements”? To all of this, a wink and a nod and the never-ending flow of American aid.
And then, of course, there is the United Nations and its pesky Security Council Resolutions. One of the reasons cited to launch a war against Iraq was Saddam Hussein’s resistance to a Security Council resolution. Israel is the world record holder in violating Security Council Resolutions having done so nearly 40 times. No other country is close. (Two other U.S. allies – Turkey and Morocco – hold down second and third place, respectively.)
That is a bit of an embarrassment for the United States but our loyalty is made of stern stuff and so we can tut-tuttingly ignore this bad habit of our Israeli “ally.” We can also ignore the thousand Americans who volunteer to fight in the Israeli army in violation of the Neutrality Act which forbids citizens engaging in military action against nations with whom we are at peace. That also violates Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution which says only Congress can send Americans off to war. But what are such petty scruples among friends.
But, hold on! Preferential status imports still other privileges. When enemies like Saddam Hussein and ISIS pose a direct or proximate threat to Israel, the United States will send forces thousands of miles to fight and die, but will graciously allow Israel not to join the “coalition of the willing.”
Puny-minded critics call this unfair since Israel is the number one recipient of American aid, with the fourth strongest military force in the world and the sixth in nuclear power. Such carping critics are guilty of underestimating American generosity to its beneficiaries and of being naive about Israel’s need to use its military power to enforce the occupation and siege in Palestine. Occupied people are notoriously uncooperative. It’s enough to keep an army busy.
The Missing ‘Irish Vote’
A question: Is it unfair and even “anti-Semitic” to say that there is a reliable pro-Israel “Jewish vote” that is the underbelly of AIPAC’s political power? Some people think there is such a Jewish voting bloc. Golda Meir thought so. In 1956, Meir insisted that a planned war of expansion should occur before the American November election. President Eisenhower, she said, would probably do nothing “because of the Jewish vote.” She was right.
Eisenhower noted that “there are 5 million Jewish voters in the U.S. and very few Arabs.” He assumed those Jewish American voters would vote Israel’s interests. Eisenhower thought of using force to stop the Israeli advances in Sinai but concluded, “Then I’d lose the election. There would go New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, at least.” He definitely thought there was a Jewish vote firmly bonded to Israel’s warring interests.
Even earlier, when President Truman was asked why he was alienating Arabs by supporting the Zionist takeover of Palestine he replied: “I am sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism; I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.” He did not doubt there was an American Jewish vote in lock-step with the Zionist project in Palestine.
Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles resented Israeli pressure in Washington but succumbed to “the paid advertisements, the mass meetings, the resolutions, the demands of Zionist organizations, the veiled threat of domestic political reprisal”, i.e., the American Jewish vote.
This concern over “the Jewish vote” has not evanesced in contemporary American politics. Try to get concern for the human and civil rights of occupied Palestinians into the Democratic Party Platform and you will feel its full force.
Here is where Irish-Americans are again in scandalous default. Irish-American voting
patterns can indeed be tracked, but, appallingly, they have nothing to do with Ireland. Irish-American voters seem distracted by American economic and political issues and are utterly indifferent to the needs of Ireland. As a result, presidents and Congress need never worry about an “Irish vote” when they discuss issues relating to Ireland.
Irish eyes should not be smiling at that lack of loyalty. The Irish AIPAC must change all that.
Let’s admit it: the Israeli AIPAC is the most effective and efficient lobby in modern political history. Never has control been extended over so many by so few. Still, it is not perfect. It is ignoring one resource that could make Israel more Jewish, more peaceful, more accepted and even admired by the world at large. That resource is Judaism, which, in my view, houses the most magnificent moral vision found in any world religion.
Early Israel sowed the seeds of modern democratic theory, envisioning a move away from one-percent Egyptian rule to the sharing society of Sinai, where there “shall be no poor among you” (Deut. 15:4) and where swords will be turned into plowshares. This thinking challenged the primacy of state kill-power. That’s the Judaism to which we are all in debt.
The demonic error that grips many Jews and non-Jews as well is to conflate Judaism with Zionism. Judaism is a 3,000-year-old moral treasure. Zionism is a Nineteenth Century form of hallucinatory theology.
Yes, Zionism is theology, not political science. It holds that the deity, believed to be the creator of heaven and earth including everything from fruit flies to quasars, was also into real estate redistribution. This deity insisted that Palestine is destined for Jews only, but, unfortunately, failed to define what makes you a Jew – and that remains a vexed and open question.
Of Palestine, David Ben Gurion (a man of no known theological expertise) said: “God promised it to us.” Yitzhak Baer, the German-Israeli historian, wrote: “God gave to every nation its place, and to the Jews he gave Palestine.” All other residents of Palestine, even if they were there as a people for millennia, must be ousted with the remainder crushed by occupation and siege. That is Zionism. Sorry, Mr. Ben Gurion and Professor Baer; don’t you dare pin that Zionist rap on “God.”
Nothing could be less Jewish than Zionism. A truly Jewish Israel could be a paradigm for all nations as old Isaiah insisted it could be.
How Ireland Can Help Israel
Ireland is Catholic, right down to its Constitutional core, but it does not claim to be “a Catholic democracy” because that is as much an oxymoron as a Lutheran democracy or a Jewish democracy. Catholicism is at the center of Irish culture. It can be practiced, studied and celebrated, or rejected freely. But so too can Judaism, and Protestantism, and Islam.
Whatever frictions have occurred among religion groups – and sadly such frictions always do occur – Catholicism is not required for full-fledged Irish citizenship with all the rights thereunto appertaining.
When Yogi Berra heard that Robert Briscoe, a Jew, was twice elected Lord Mayor of Dublin (in 1956 and again in 1961) he famously replied: “Only in America!” No, Mr. Berra. Also in Ireland. Mr. Briscoe’s Jewishness did not deprive him of first-class citizenship in Ireland and the voters in Dublin knew that. At their core, neither Catholicism nor Judaism is inimical to a pluralistic democracy.
The Irish democracy where religion does not qualify you for citizenship can speak to the Israeli identity problem. Israel does not know what it is. It wants to be an oxymoronic “Jewish democracy” but it can’t be and it isn’t.
The distinguished Israeli Jewish professor Shlomo Sand, in a book first published in Hebrew, states it clearly: “Israel cannot be described as a democratic state while it sees itself as the state of the ‘Jewish people.’” That leaves out all the other people.
A former Israeli Brigadier General, writing in the Jerusalem Post puts it this way: “Is Israel a democracy? Maybe it is an oligarchy or an aristocracy or some sort of anarchistic monarchy.” Many see it as a theocracy. No surprise, given all the Zionist God-talk.
Catholicism is part of the Irish national identity but Ireland is still a bona fide democracy. Israel could be the place where Judaism could be practiced freely, studied, and revered. Scholars from other religions could see it as the best place to study Judaism and to look for the shared moral ground of all religions.
But they could also see Israel as a perfect place to study their own religions and to practice them freely without any diminution of their rights as citizens or as visitors in Israel. That is not the Israel of today.
The Great Jewish theologian Abraham Heschel understood the Jewish impulse to find a safe place to live but he worried that Israel would become alienated from Judaism. That, I aver, is precisely what has happened. The victims have become the victimizers. Gaza is the Warsaw ghetto, the West Bank, Golan Heights and Jerusalem are subdued and occupied by a Jewish Israeli Reich.
The Israeli AIPAC Converted to Judaism?
Realists would say that the Israeli AIPAC is inexorably wedded to an eternal war against Palestinians seeking relief from occupation and siege. This is senseless, and in an age where there are suitcase-size atomic weapons, it is also suicidal.
What a dream it would be if the highly skilled Israeli AIPAC could be converted to a force for peace. All it would have to do is to urge Israel to stop forgetting March 2002. That is when all 22 members of the Arab League offered to recognize Israel’s right to exist and have normal relations with Israel. This offer has since been repeatedly reconfirmed.
In April 2002, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which includes 57 nations, concurred with the Arab League offer, and the Iranian delegation expressed its full approval. The prerequisite was not to drive Israel into the sea. The only condition was Israel’s compliance with the United Nations Resolutions 194, 242, 338 and the return to the pre-1967 borders. They conceded the right for Israel to exist. Hamas has said it will acknowledge Israel’s right to live in peace within its pre-1967 borders.
Israel can have peace or expansion; it is currently choosing expansion. And that, in the words of the poet Yeats, is “a pity beyond all telling.”
Daniel C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is author of A Moral Creed for All Christians and The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy [Fortress Press]. He can be reached at [email protected]