By Danny Schechter.
New York, New York: It feels like Iran Week in the USA.
Using an exaggerated if fictive Iranian threat to create nuclear weapons as their pretext, Israeli politicians are blatantly and publicly inserting themselves in America’s Presidential elections, demanding that President Obama do their bidding by articulating so-called “red lines” to further threaten Tehran.
Until, now Israel has been content to mobilize its powerful lobby and media assets to apply pressure from the shadows, using political contributions and diplomacy of a covert type so that Tel-Aviv’s direct intervention could have plausible deniability. That is no longer the case.
The New York Times reports, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel inserted himself into the most contentious foreign policy issue of the American presidential campaign on Tuesday, criticizing the Obama administration for refusing to set clear “red lines” on Iran’s nuclear progress that would prompt the United States to undertake a military strike. As a result, he said, the administration had no “moral right” to restrain Israel from taking military action of its own.
Mr. Netanyahu’s unusually harsh public comments about Israel’s most important ally, which closely track what he has reportedly said in vivid terms to American officials visiting Jerusalem, laid bare the tension between him and President Obama over how to handle Iran. They also suggested that Mr. Netanyahu is willing to use the pressure of the presidential election to try to force Mr. Obama to commit to attack Iran under certain conditions.”
This is calculated interference of a direct kind, virtually dictating to Washington to do what Israel wants it to do. It is part of a strategy of intimidation, and in the process tries to tilt the election to the Republicans who have rubberstamped Israeli demands and increasingly operate like an echo chamber of a lobby that has always presented itself publicly as non-partisan. That pretense seems to be slipping too.
Meanwhile, financial backers of the right-wing setters in Israel have become among the most visible donors to Republican politicians
Example: Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has pledged a whopping $100 million dollars to defeat President Obama. Support for Israel policy toward Iran is one of his major issues.
Just this week, the Center of American Progress issued a report showing that Adelson is hardly just being ideological or idealistic in pumping money into the Romney Campaign.
They say that he is likely to personally benefit if Romney is elected and follows through on his promise to cut taxes;
Here’s the conclusions of their latest Progress Report: “Sheldon Adelson Stands To Get $2 Billion Tax Cut If Mitt Romney Is Elected:
“Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s backing of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney may not just make political sense for the billionaire — it may also be in his best interest financially.
Adelson has vowed to spend as much as $100 million to help sway the 2012 election.
According to a new report by Seth Hanlon, the director of fiscal reform at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Adelson could turn that investment into a $2 billion tax cut if Romney is elected.”
From Hanlon’s report on how Romney’s tax plan could benefit Adelson:
“• Cut top tax rates, saving Adelson approximately $1.5 million on his annual compensation as chief executive of his casino company.
• Maintain the special low rates on dividends, potentially saving Adelson nearly $120 million on a single year’s worth of dividends, more than enough to recoup his politi- cal donations.
• Maintain the special low rates on capital gains, allowing Adelson to make back his political donations in capital gains tax cuts just by selling a fraction of his stock.
• Provide a tax windfall of an estimated $1.2 billion to Adelson’s company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., on untaxed profits from its Asian casinos, as well as a tax exemption forfuture overseas profits. Adelson’s casinos already enjoy a special foreign tax exemp- tion from the Chinese administrative region of Macau, and Gov. Romney would make those foreign profits exempt from U.S. taxes as well.”
This shows just how sleazy US politics have become, and how calculated big donors are in looking for outcomes that will benefit and enrich them.
All of these machinations are taking place within the elite.
The Lobby, however, is also mobilizingits mass base to challenge Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmndinejad who is coming to New York for an annual address to the UN General Assembly.
His critics have launched an “outrage campaign” on the pretext that he will be speaking on the Jewish Holy Day of Yom Kippur. One doubts he chose a date that was allocated to him by the UN.
Already, there is an effort to discredit him before he even opens his mouth. AM New York reports a hostile comment by Hindy Porupko, the director of Israel and International Affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
She says that regardless of what he has to say, “anything he says will be regarded moot.”
“His presence and ideas fly in the face of the values that characterize this great city,” she said.
Her reasons, the Iranian President has constantly refused to recognize Israel as a State and has publicly questioned the veracity of the Holocaust.”
Even if this was true as stated—and, in my experience, based on visits to Iran—Iran has a more nuanced view challenging Zionism not all Jews.
This putdown shows total contempt for one value that New York and most Americans claim to uphold: freedom of speech.
Another group, Iran 80, is organizing an online petition on Twitter to protest the President’s visit.
None of these groups recognize that many countries that are members of the UN have condemned Israeli practices for the last 60 years. In most cases the US has vetoed resolutions condemning Israel in the Security Council.
Why let the facts get in the way of what is certainly a symbolic effort to further ostracize and demonize an Iranian leader.
The irony is that the ruder, the cruder and more hostile these circus-like protests are, the more they want to silence Iran’s voice, and shout it down, the more Iranians and others rally to support their President or, at least hear his rationale. The protests insure more attention for his remarks.
Ahmndinejad knows this too, but clearly his detractors don’t want any debate on the issues at all. They prefer to feel self righteous through one-sided denigration, not two- sided communication. Sometimes, it seems as if both sides need each other’s venom for propaganda purposes.
What to expect? More noise and a possible backlash against Israel’s right-wing leaders dictating to the United States.
News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net. His latest books are Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street and Blogothon. A version of this article first appeared on PressTV.com. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.