consultants are sandburs

Saturday, March 09, 2019

AIPAC is a lobbying effort supporting a range of relationships between the U.S. and Israel. With BDS having been mentioned in earlier Crabgrass posting, and judged a good idea for Palestinian plight to be honestly addressed, it is fair to present an official AIPAC online counter opinion. AIPAC convenes annually in DC, which is also mentioned in this post. [UPDATED]

Link, from 2018. Re BDS in AIPAC's view.

The 2019 AIPAC "policy conference" is later this month. AIPAC has not yet identified its full 2019 speaker list. The 2018 list of speakers is online. With transcripts.

Expect Minnesota's Rep. Ilhan Omar as an event speaker this year? Unlikely.

Netanyahu spoke ending the 2018 conference. With the looming indictment situation he nonetheless will be keynoted in 2019. As head of state, it seems unavoidable.

This "policy conference" meeting will come before the upcoming Israeli election; see, e.g., here, here and here.

Note that the first of the three items uses "Benjamins" in a naming sense, not as Rep. Omar spoke and apologized; it appearing that Netanyahu has an opposition candidate with the same first name. Curiously, so far the opposition candidate Gen. Benjamin Gantz, is not scheduled with AIPAC. The third linked item shows Israel has a left, Haaretz headlining one item, "Analysis - AIPAC Conference Was Going to Be All About the Benjamin — Then Ilhan Omar Came Along;" with subheadlining leading to a most interesting opening paragraph but with the remainder of the "analysis" unfortunately behind a paywall.

Of our possible 2020 presidential candidates, Klobuchar spoke at the 2018 AIPAC event, as did Pence and Rubio (there being uncertainty about Trump's tenure with investigation pending). Doing word search on each transcript, "boycott" and "bds" explicitly went unmentioned by the three.

A Klobuchar excerpt from her 2018 dialog/speech:

Claire Shipman: Just a few people. Exactly, so many of our friends. You have been a consistent supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Talk about why that issue is so important to you.

Amy Klobuchar: Well, a lot of it, of course, has to do with home. I know we have some great Minnesota AIPAC people and we're excited about that, and it also has a lot to do with Israel's position in the world. This is this democracy, a beacon of democracy in what is a really tough, if not incomparably tough, neighborhood.

And when I talk to people at home, they see it in that way. If they're not Jewish, they see the importance of that friendship. If they are Jewish, they always remind me that we've had not one, not two, not three, but four Jewish senators in the last few decades out of Minnesota, and we have a really powerful community despite our very Scandinavian reputation and the fact that four of the five members of the gold-medal winning U.S. curling team were from our state. I would like to bring that up.

And so, this community in Minnesota is what really got me so interested in this, bringing me to Israel. While I was running for the Senate – I was the DA at the time – and I still remember going to Sderot and meeting a family whose house, the roof – a rocket shell had gone right through their home. Their daughter was doing the homework at the kitchen table and if it wasn't for the alert system, she would've been dead.

And hearing their story actually reminded me of the work I did as a prosecutor and when we would be in these high-crime neighborhoods and how people would be terrified every single day of what was going to happen to them next, and no country should have to live like that.

Then to go full around, on my last visit to Israel – my last Minnesota connection for you – with Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Gillibrand and Senator Hoeven, we were meeting with the prime minister and he was noting to me that he has a lot of relatives in Minnesota and he had been there. He said when I got back to our state I could tell them that I had met with the Israeli Prime Minister of Minnesota. That was kind of amusing, but what's most amusing is he said it to me as I was sitting next to the senator from New York.

Claire Shipman: That's nice. You probably know, as well as anybody these days, given the current hyper-partisan political environment, how hard it is to find issues on which Democrats and Republicans can work together. Is a possible that this issue can remain a bipartisan issue and especially in Congress?

Amy Klobuchar: I think it can. A lot depends on the Jewish community in America because I believe that you can find common ground while still standing your ground. That has been really a hallmark of all I have worked in Congress and we have seen this in Congress with support for Israel, whether it is Iron Dome, whether it is David's Sling, whether it is the Iran sanctions in the 98-2 vote out of the United States Senate, or whether it is the Memorandum of Understanding and the $38 billion, largest amount ever put into Israel security.

At the same time, as you know, things have become very polarized. And so the way I would suggest – and your leaders know this and you know this better than anyone – to try to do everything and stop people from injecting partisanship into the Israeli-American relationship and push back. If you're a Republican, reach out to Democrats; if you're a Democrat, reach out to Republicans.

Getting youth involved and seizing on some of those issues that Israel and that this community has long stood up for, whether it is taking on climate change, whether it is immigration reform, whether it is standing up for refugees, these are issues that the Jewish community has been uniquely active on, and I think those are issues that are appealing to young people, and ways of talking about and teaching people what happened with the Holocaust and what the Jewish community has experienced because so many of them don't really know that history. So that's why I appreciate how AIPAC has reached out in that.

Interestingly, with regard to Klobuchar's rah-rah -- Haaretz days ago reported, "American Support for Israel in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Falls to Ten-year Low, Gallup Finds -- Gallup found Democrat's support for Israel fell 6 percentage points compared to 2018’s poll, while support among those who identified as Republican dropped by 13 percentage points." No paywall on this item, but the headlining really tells it all. A drop like that might suggest the tactic of generating a publicity kerfluffel leading to the passing of some form of Congressional resolution . . . who knows?

Extended dialog remarks by Rubio, (speaking first in the below excerpt) - do note, some "memorandum of understanding" concept gets mentioned without being fleshed out by dialog, but see, e.g., this websearch; (the Klobuchar excerpt above also using the term):

[Rubio speaking] And then, of course, it's important for us to make clear to the world that our relationship with Israel is not just symbolic, it doesn't end with the move of an embassy which we've all supported; it includes the very clear notion that the United States will support Israel militarily, financially, economically, to ensure that they can withstand anything that comes their way as you see Hezbollah develop these capabilities in Lebanon that are greater than they've ever been in terms of the ability to hit Israel.

Claire Shipman: And do you think that on Capitol Hill and in the administration there's an understanding of what you just articulated? Are you optimistic about that sort of focus –?

Sen. Marco Rubio: I think there's an understanding we want to be supportive of Israel.

Claire Shipman: Mm-hmm.

Sen. Marco Rubio: I think we have some work to do to put together the sort of comprehensive approach that understands that all these issues are interlinked. That Iran's efforts in Iraq are ultimately tied to their ability to encircle and eventually directly threaten Israel, be it through proxies or directly. And I think we need to do more work on that front. We can’t just view the Iranian issue in isolation.

We have to understand that their ultimate goal is domination of the region and that includes going right after Israel even if it's using Hezbollah out of Lebanon and/or increasingly Syria. So we need to kind of tie those things together. They are interrelated.

Claire Shipman: Well, to some extent this takes me to the next question. We were just talking, Senator Coons and I, about the new legislation that you've introduced to support, not only security assistance to Israel but expanded U.S.-Israel cooperation in a number of fields. I assume this is why you think this was such a critical effort, right?

Sen. Marco Rubio: It is.

Claire Shipman: Because we have to dig in on the support.

Sen. Marco Rubio: And Senator Coons said something: It's the floor, not the ceiling. But it's important that it be there congressionally because administrations come and go. But if it's in the law, and it's for the next 10 years, that means the next administration, whatever party that is in six year from now, whenever that may be, is going to inherit a law that has put, that has codified the memorandum of understanding as a floor and makes clear to the world that the U.S. has a legal commitment, not just a moral one but a legal obligation to come to Israel's assistance and to continue to provide help.

Claire Shipman: Now, Senator Coons said everybody in this room should head to Capitol Hill –

Sen. Marco Rubio: Yes.

Claire Shipman: – to show support.

Sen. Marco Rubio: For our bill, right.

Claire Shipman: What's your view of the prospects? Do you feel good?

Sen. Marco Rubio: They are good, but your work will make it better. Look, there's a lot of issues. I mean, there's thousands and thousands of bills and sometimes it's just the process of showing up and saying will you please sign on, because if we can get 60, 70, 80 cosponsors given how tight the floor is in terms of getting bills pass, this is one of those things that we might be able to do without even a vote on it through that unanimous consent process, and the more cosponsors we have and the more of a priority you make it today on the Hill, the higher the prospects are for that.

So hopefully we can get that done. We see a finish line here that's not in the far future, but today is a key day in that direction and we need your help, so please go do that today.

Claire Shipman: Now, speaking of other legislation, you've also authored legislation with Senator Shaheen to ratchet up sanctions on Hezbollah. Versions of that legislation have passed both chambers. It sounds as though negotiations are underway on a compromised bill. Can you update us on the status of that?

Sen. Marco Rubio: So we already did that. This is 2.0. We did 1.0 about three years ago. Hezbollah, of course, then adjusted. Now we're adjusting. Every time they move we're going to move to follow them.

But I just want to leave you with one thought. The risk that Hezbollah poses out of Lebanon is severe. Their capabilities today and what the Iranians have supplied them with allow them now to manufacture their own rockets and potentially try to overwhelm Israel's defenses at some point. So it is important that we do everything we can to cut off any financial streams that they are using to fund this activity and that's why 2.0 is so important.

So, after you talk about Rubio-Coons, talk about this one just as well. Although this one has passed, we're just trying to reconcile the differences. I think the prospects are very high that we can get that done.

Claire Shipman: That's terrific. While the administration has included full funding for security assistance to Israel in its budget request, they continue to see big cuts in overall international affair spending. You have been a vocal supporter of robust international affair spending. Why do you think this kind of funding in general is important and how do you make that case to your constituents?

Sen. Marco Rubio: Well, the first thing, everyone take a deep breath. In the history of the Republic, no Congress has ever just taken the president's budget on this or anything and passed it.

Claire Shipman: This is true.

Sen. Marco Rubio: So we're not going to start now. Number two, on international assistance I'm all for accountability. I do not want American dollars flowing to countries who then turn around and use it against us or against our values.

By the same token, international assistance is less than one percent of our overall budget. It is not charity. It is a direct investment in national security in strengthening institutions and partnering nations, and, frankly, it saves us money in the long term if we invest it correctly. So, we are going to continue to be vigorous in support of that.

Claire Shipman: Do you feel that when you try to talk about this to your constituents at home, that they understand that?

Sen. Marco Rubio: A lot of people think foreign aid is like 30 percent, 40 percent of our budget. When you explain it's less than one percent and you hold up examples – outside of the Middle East, South Korea used to be a foreign aid recipient. Today they're the ninth or tenth largest economy in the world and they're a pro-American democracy. Colombia was a failed nation state that today is our strongest ally in South America, all the direct result of U.S. investment. And I think we need to continue to look for opportunities to do that around the world in addition to continuing to invest in our existing alliances.

Claire Shipman: Finally, this is just a chance for you to offer some more advice to the room. We've seen a lot of turnover in Congress in recent years, and yesterday a great friend of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Senator Cochran, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced his retirement. What impact does that sort of turnover have on your work and what advice do you have for AIPAC on how to build support with new members of Congress?

Sen. Marco Rubio: Well, a lot of members of Congress, if they come from the state level, do not have a deep level of expertise in foreign policy. When I came from the state level, I knew a little bit more about it just because I live in Miami. Foreign policy is domestic policy in Miami. But, in general – some people are chuckling; it really is – but in general, it's not that they don't care about foreign policy. It's just for someone who's been a governor or someone who's been a state senator, it's not an issue that they're aware of.

And so one of the things that's most effective about what AIPAC does is it isn't someone from halfway across the country that's talking to you. You're all assigned – someone is working with you that's from your community and from your state that actually has a stake, not just in the future of this country and of the world but also in your community.

And those relationships are critical and they're really important, and so I encourage you to continue to do that, especially with new members who I think are going to be inclined to be supportive but may not be fully aware of all the things that are out there that are said that are not accurate about the state of affairs and the region or about the differences between the different parties involved in the region.

So it really is important early on in a member's career to try to get in front of them and state the case with facts, with figures, with historical data that backs up a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.

[INSERTED UPDATE: AIPAC has a FAQ page, one item fleshing out what Rubio is saying to the eighteen thousand or so attendees:

What is a lobbying appointment?
A lobbying appointment is your opportunity to meet with your members of Congress and speak to them about issues of concern to the pro-Israel community. Most lobbying appointments will take place on Capitol Hill with either a member of Congress or a congressional staffer.

So Rubio is telling the massed attendees, from the conference get an appointment for your local Senator/Rep. to badger them to show up on the largely three-fold Israel agenda, keep flowing the billions in unconditional cash flow from America to Israel, dumping on Iran, and pushing hard on the Israeli desire to kill BDS viability via legislative stuff Rubio is sponsoring to sanction and discourage BDS practices.]

Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware spoke immediately before Rubio, his remarks flesh out some of what Rubio said:

Sen. Coons: Well, that's where you come in because, frankly, keeping U.S. support for Israel, American engagement with Israel, not just on security issues but also on innovation and technology and our shared values, it is absolutely essential because there's so few things that bring us together in Congress these days.

We need to show the world that we can sustain a bipartisan commitment to Israel, to its security, and to its thriving as the only democracy in the Middle East and our most vital ally in the Middle East.

Claire Shipman: We were also talking backstage about the fact that the delegation also traveled to Jordan, which of course has a critical and evolving relationship with Israel. What were your takeaways from that part of the trip?

Sen. Coons: We had a remarkable dinner with King Abdullah and heard from him security concerns, yes, but more economic concerns than I've heard before. There's 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan, and the downward pressure on their economy is remarkable. The IMF is pushing them to make some very difficult reforms, and I think we need to do more to invest in Jordan's economic stability.

King Abdullah represents a version of Islam that is moderate. They are a counterterrorism partner to Israel and the United States, and they are an island of stability in an otherwise chaotic region. I think we can and should do more to support Jordan.

Claire Shipman: Last night we heard from Ambassador Haley about U.S. efforts to combat anti-Israel bias at the U.N., and I know this is an issue you care deeply about. You and Senator Rubio – the two of you apparently do work very well together – authored a letter to the U.N. secretary general calling for efforts to root out this anti-Israel bias. What impact do you think that letter had?

Sen. Coons: Well, one of the great things about my working partnership, my friendship with Marco is that we're on the Foreign Relations Committee together. That's nice. That's important, but we're also on the Appropriations Committee, the specific one that funds the United Nations.

And so our communications with the secretary general that have pressed for more transparency, more efficiency, and serious effort to combat the anti-Israel bias in the U.N. has produced some early results. Our ambassador, Nikki Haley, has been a strong and capable and good leader in this part, but we should be doing more to push back on anti-Israel bias, on, frankly, anti-Semitism in the United Nations.

Claire Shipman: And you mentioned that you and Senator Rubio work well together. You've also introduced legislation of course in support of security assistance to Israel and expanded U.S.-Israel cooperation in a number of fields. Can you tell us a little bit more about that initiative and why you decided to lead the effort?

Sen. Coons: Well, having just come back from this riveting trip to Israel where we got to meet with Ambassador Friedman and his great team at the embassy, with the minister of defense, with the prime minister, we got the security briefing I just described, I thought it was important to act.

The theme of this year's conference is "Choose to Lead," and I think it's important that we pull together in a bipartisan way and demonstrate that Congress has Israel's back every bit as much as the president does. So it's a bill that would legislatively authorize the 10-year MOU at $3.3 billion and $500 million a year in missile system support. I view that as a floor, not a ceiling.

The Rubio-Coons bill will also make sure that Israel has access to precision-guided munitions and to ammunition and other munitions, should conflict come. It also ensures that we are more tightly coordinating on critical areas like cybersecurity and making sure that we sustain Israel's qualitative military edge, and it continues partnerships between the United States and Israel that teach about our values, between MASHAV and USAID, other initiatives that show the world how we promote peace and promote development together.

So, between the MOU and security package, between support for precision-guided munitions, loan guarantees, and our values partnership, I think – I just happen to think that the Rubio-Coons bill is a great idea. But this is where you come in because, if you're going to choose to lead, it is my hope, my expectation that in your time today coming to the Hill, you will help us secure more cosponsors.

As of right now, Rubio-Coons has two. My hunch is that after you get to work on Capitol Hill today, we'll have not 20, not 30, not 50, but 70 or 80 cosponsors of this bill. We need you. Please come do the work and lead.

Perhaps a key takeaway is Coons, like Rubio, directly and unambiguously telling the AIPAC individual and audience that AIPAC has to lobby the halls of Congress to push its partisan agenda; Coons saying:

Claire Shipman: That sounds serious, and as you mentioned, the trip was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation led by you and Senator Graham with several of your colleagues. In this incredibly partisan time, how important is it that Israel remain a bipartisan issue, and how possible do you think that is?

Sen. Coons: Well, that's where you [AIPAC lobbying] come in because, frankly, keeping U.S. support for Israel, American engagement with Israel, not just on security issues but also on innovation and technology and our shared values, it is absolutely essential because there's so few things that bring us together in Congress these days.

Rubio saying:

Claire Shipman: Now, Senator Coons said everybody in this room should head to Capitol Hill –

Sen. Marco Rubio: Yes.

Claire Shipman: – to show support.

Sen. Marco Rubio: For our bill, right.

Claire Shipman: What's your view of the prospects? Do you feel good?

Sen. Marco Rubio: They are good, but your work [AIPAC lobbying] will make it better. Look, there's a lot of issues. I mean, there's thousands and thousands of bills and sometimes it's just the process of showing up and saying will you please sign on, because if we can get 60, 70, 80 cosponsors given how tight the floor is in terms of getting bills pass, this is one of those things that we might be able to do without even a vote on it through that unanimous consent process, and the more cosponsors we have and the more of a priority you make it today on the Hill, the higher the prospects are for that.

This encompasses a foreign state wanting to influence U.S. policy being encouraged by U.S. elected politicians to give it their all; and while a question of a foreign state wanting to influence an election is pending; is an attempt to slant our nation's policy goals a more serious thing than support from outside for one person over another in an election? It's a legitimate question, but the notion of all animals on Animal Farm being unequal permeates all considerations. Surely so far nothing found via Russian investigations suggests Russia attempting to shape how and when the U.S. military might be used as a diplomacy tool on behalf of the Russian state. U.S. policy toward Iran should be free of any such outside-state meddling to influence potential U.S. military deployment against any other outside entity. Placing U.S. lives at risk for any other state is a most questionable concept; and even suggesting it arguably seems or could be characterized as un-American. A websearch.

In closing, Pence bloviating:

For 70 years, Israel has overcome every challenge it's faced and in this year of celebration, as we commemorate that miracle of history, I say with confidence that the Jewish state and the Jewish people will continue to inspire and awe the world for generations to come. Indeed, how unlikely was Israel's rebirth, how more unlikely it's been her survival and prosperity and how confounding and against all odds has been her thriving.

The Jewish people have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into well, they've turned hope into a future of security and prosperity. A tiny people in a tiny land, a land with no natural resources, no rushing rivers or verdant valleys, a nation that, despite not knowing a single day of true peace, has, in two short generations, become one of the world's most vibrant and successful nations, is a marvel to the world.

Today, Israel is a world leader in science and technology. That couldn't have happened without America's help. And now America's great and long investment in the State of Israel is paying real dividends for our people and for the world at large.

Israel might be one of the smallest countries in the world, but it has one of the biggest footprints. Thanks to Israel's Nobel Prize-winning scientists, discoveries and innovations can be found in America's hospitals, our doctor's offices, our grocery stores. Israeli innovation is on our microprocessors, flash drives, smart phones and so much more.

In 70 years, Israel has transformed itself into a fountainhead of innovation and entrepreneurship producing astounding technological advances in nearly all fields of human endeavor. In a word, Israel is like a tree that's grown deep roots in the soil of its forefathers, yet as it grows, reaches ever closer to the heavens, it gives shade and sustenance to all who seek shelter under it, the living testament to the power of freedom and the power of faith.

Because the story of Israel is a story of faith. The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages written so long ago that even if you had been banished to the most distant land under the heavens from there, from there, he will gather you and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.

Faith-based foreign policy? Faith-based dual allegiance? Or, more likely, an affection for hearing himself talk with little but platitudes to say in public. Behind closed doors with AIPAC lobbyists, only they know what is said.

NOTE: The AIPAC website is one of the worse for eyestrain given background coloring. It had to be someone's king-sized brain fart to obscure readable text that way, or was obscurity intended? For Firefox users there is a color toggle addon which is recommended. For Chrome users there may be an equivalent simple color toggle, or at least the Web Developer extension can be used, though it is complicated beyond mere color toggling.

It is noteworthy that current U.N. policy is against Israeli settlements in occupied territory; the resolution setting that policy having gone through the U.N. Security Council without veto. This expresses a strong international consensus enabled as policy once one particular nation declined to yet again interpose a Security Council veto against such a widespread international consensus. BDS is suggested as a helpful thing for enabling that consensus to become on-ground reality.

_________FURTHER UPDATE_________
Back to BDS consideration. Three speakers at 2018 AIPAC spoke about "AIPAC Lobbying Agenda Presentation," on Monday March 5, 2018. That conversation, in part:

Marvin Feuer: Now, let's turn to our third message for Congress, the need for America to fight economic boycotts against Israel by the United Nations and other international governmental organizations. Almost every day, Israel faces unfair criticism and attacks that seek to stigmatize, delegitimize, and isolate the Jewish state. Syria's human rights crises grip our globe, yet Israel is the only country the UN Human Rights Council scrutinizes every time it meets.

Brad Gordon: This issue became more pressing in 2016 when the council ordered the preparation of a database of companies conducting certain business beyond the 1949 armistice line, including East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. And in January 2018, the UN human rights commissioner for – the UN high commissioner for human rights threatened 206 companies, including 22 American companies.

These threats directly support the objectives of the BDS movement and can set back the cause of peace. Further, they could lead to international censure or worse for companies doing business with Israel and could deter others from engaging in any trade or investment in the Jewish state.

Ester Kurz: Tomorrow, we will ask both senators and representatives to co-sponsor the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which prohibits U.S. companies from cooperating with international boycotts of Israel. It is co-authored by Senators Portman and Cardin – it is co-authored by great friends of Israel as well, Senators Portman and Cardin and by Representatives Roskam and Vargas.

Marvin Feuer: Now, on Tuesday, you might get some pushback. You might hear the Anti-Boycott Act restricts free speech, but that is simply not true. Nothing in this bill restricts constitutionally protected free speech. The bill only regulates commercial conduct supporting international governmental boycotts that our government opposes.

Moreover, to reassure any who have expressed concern, the Senate's bill sponsors are adding clarifying language to make it crystal clear that their bill protects the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

Brad Gordon: So this is our path forward, providing Israel with much-needed security assistance.

Ester Kurz: Opposing Iran's regional aggression and nuclear ambitions.

Marvin Feuer: And opposing boycotts of Israel that also threaten U.S. companies. This is our path to preserving the safety of Israel and of our nation and this is your message on Tuesday. Thank you.

[italics added] So, a declared precise lobbying intent of AIPAC is to stymie BDS. To influence our lawmakers, their way. Via a specific pending bill. An earlier Crabgrass post noted how boycotts based on issues of conscience are protected under our First Amendment's freedom of speech and association clause, per NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware; so that the claims made above by the AIPAC advocates regarding an anti-BDS bill's Constitutionality stand contrary to the Claiborne Hardware rationale; and, hence, are suspect as a matter of law as well as being mere partisan opinion without citation of any buttressing authority. Yes a bill can be sponsored saying on its face that it is Constitutional; words being cheap. However, if judicially tested, would it stand?

Moreover, apart from Constitutionality worry, is the best U.S. policy to never pass such a federal bill, as well as to contest such mischief at the state level? I.e., that BDS aimed at help for the Palestinians as a counter to aggression against them and their lands would be sound policy, long term as well as short. It is a matter for debate and unbiased policy-making.

A heavy AIPAC thumb on the scale is clearly counterproductive to unbiased and objective policy debate.

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
As to potential 2020 presidential candidates and AIPAC 2019, Nicky Haley already is a scheduled speaker. Whether AIPAC invites any of the declared 2020 Democratic Party candidates to speak, and whether any would accept, a reappearance by Klobuchar arguably might be most likely.

____________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's chief opponent in upcoming April Israeli elections WILL speak at AIPAC 2019. Discussion, if any, about commitment to a two state solution might prove interesting. From reporting it appears Gantz formerly was head of IDF. Not likely a bleeding heart liberal, as such term is usually used.

_________FURTHER UPDATE____________
Betting here is against Joel Zamel having any major presence at AIPAC 2019. Likely he is uninvited.

_________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Regarding dispargement of Ilhan Omar, Guardian publishes a follow the money item.

House Democratic leaders who drafted a resolution initially aimed at condemning Omar’s remarks received millions from the pro-Israel lobby throughout their congressional careers. Congressman Eliot Engel, who accused Omar of using “a vile antisemitic slur”, has taken about $1.07m throughout his career, or about $107,000 per election.

[...] Democratic presidential candidates and senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren have received relatively little from the pro-Israel lobby throughout their careers, and in recent days issued statements in support of Omar. Sanders has received about $16,000, or $1,450 per campaign, while Warren has received around $107,000, or $53,500 per campaign. Harris is a first-term senator who received $41,000 during the 2016 election cycle.

In a statement, Sanders wrote he fears “that what’s going on in the House now is an effort to target Congresswoman Omar as a way of stifling that debate [about Israel policy]”, while Warren said “branding criticism of Israel as automatically antisemitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse”. Harris stated she feared the “spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk”.

Presidential candidates who received significantly more money from the pro-Israel lobby include Senator Cory Booker, who called Omar’s comments “disturbing”. He received $445,000 during his only Senate campaign, while Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has received about $367,000, or $91,750 per campaign, said criticisms of Israel should be made “without employing antisemitic tropes about money or influence”.

Those who were quiet on the controversy include Joe Biden, who hasn’t yet announced his candidacy but is expected to run. He has received around $476,000, or about $95,200 per campaign. Amy Klobuchar has received $267,000, or $89,000 per campaign.

Also Guardian:

Ilhan Omar’s most recent comments have been stripped entirely of their context, their intentions twisted and reversed. During an event in Washington DC last week, she spoke sensitively about her commitment to human rights advocacy, her experiences of Islamophobia, and her compassion for her Jewish constituents. Then Omar said: “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country ... I want to ask, why is it OK for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil-fuel industries, or big pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby that is influencing policy?”

[...] To be sure, Omar’s comments were not perfect – few people are flawless during unscripted panels or debates. And given the unfair and disproportionate amount of scrutiny she faces, perhaps it would have been wiser to have avoided some of the terms she used – in particular, “allegiance to a foreign country”. But what she said was not antisemitic: on the contrary, the full text of Omar’s remarks shows that she was careful not to conflate the pro-Israel lobby (which is also comprised of non-Jewish evangelical Zionists) or the state of Israel with all Jews, nor did she employ the dual loyalty canard, which asserts that Jews are more loyal to each other (or Israel) than to the countries they live in.

In fact, Omar did not say anything that other critics have not said before: that the pro-Israel lobby enforces rigid support for the increasingly rightwing Israeli government’s policies, and that questioning US support for a government that commits human rights abuses – some of which, the UN recently warned, may be war crimes – should be acceptable if not encouraged. If she were not a black, hijab-wearing Muslim woman, the reaction to her words surely would have been different.

[links in original] By his immediate and vile overreaction trope, Eliot Engel did his credibility no favors by taking one phrase out of its full context and going ballistic, for effect and/or as an attempted intimidation. In the eyes of some he may have come out looking worse than Omar. Engel earlier had taken a less aggressive public stance toward Omar's BDS support, a form of "we've the anti-BDS votes, don't worry" stance.

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Four more items; one new; three not so new but painfully relevant today. New, TruthDig Earlier, from 2017, Truthdig, then Haaretz here and here. And pay attention - just because it's in an update, this is relevant information; skip it and be less understanding, less informed.

Follow the money - look for the big recipient amounts, then reflect, go figure. Senate, alphabetical. Senate, by amount. House, by amount (by Benjamins?).

If you need somebody to draw a roadmap for you, never mind. (Actually, map drawing might be good, some other time.)

_________FURTHER UPDATE____________
More money to follow; 2012. Romney rang the Israel Lobby bell; Obama, persona non grata. Barry owed them one?

__________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Regarding the Obama reference, above update, Obama has clearly staked out support for the two state solution, legitimately pursued beyond lip service while Palestinians get further and further alienated from actual movement; see full speech transcript, online here. The Obama view of BDS is a separate matter, perhaps deserving a place in a sepaarate BDS-related post

Near the end of last month it was noted in the Israeli press that Gen. Gantz then had not been invited to be an AIPAC speaker. The latest AIPAC March 2019 Policy meeting page clearly, as of 3/14/2019, deals Gantz in. The politics underlying that belated change in judgment has not been fleshed out in any item known to be online. The genesis of some criticism of, and reaction by Bibi is based upon his soundings with Israeli politicians committed to a one-state policy entailing relocation efforts for Palestinian Muslims; the cited NYTmes item reporting:

The embattled Mr. Netanyahu, grasping for every potential vote, has turned to the extremist party Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, whose leaders have a long history of expressing support for violence against Palestinians, expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the occupied territories, and a ban on intermarriage or sex between Jews and Arabs.

The prime minister arranged for the organization to merge into a somewhat more mainstream party of religious Zionists, the Jewish Home. That pact, announced Wednesday, could easily catapult Otzma Yehudit from the disreputable fringe into Israel’s next governing coalition.

Otzma Yehudit’s leaders proudly call themselves disciples of Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn-born anti-Arab militant who served a term in Israel’s Parliament in the 1980s before his Kach party was outlawed in Israel and declared a terrorist group by the United States. He was assassinated in 1990.

[link is from original NYT report]

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