Election Interference: The United States & Israel

In the United States government and media circles, there is much discussion about alleged Russian and Iranian attempts to influence U.S. elections. These accusations are accompanied by expressions of great outrage. What nerve, what colossal audacity the leaders of these countries must have to try to subvert the integrity of the sacred U.S. democracy.

This situation provides many opportunities for rational discussion. The myth of U.S. democracy will not be addressed here, although it is certainly worthy of discussion, being, as it is, a fiction not believed much outside of U.S. borders. But a larger issue within this is worth considering.

It has been said that, often, the best place to hide is in plain sight. This seems to be the philosophy of the Israeli government, in their constant, ongoing, and mostly successful quest to influence U.S. elections.

We will look at a few facts:

  • During the 2020 election cycle, pro-Israel lobbies contributed a total of $30,819,665,00 to U.S. candidates.
  • 2018 was a ‘mid-term’ election, so the same lobbies contributed a ‘mere’ $15,297.642.00 to U.S. candidates.
  • These lobbies expect payback. Reporting in The Nation on February 14, 2019, M.J. Rosenberg, a former employee of AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee) said this: “Political activist Ady Barkan describes how a congressional candidate he worked for scored $5,000 from an AIPAC representative just by promising to support AIPAC’s pet issues.”
  • Pro-Israel lobbyists actually write bills to be introduced in state legislatures and Congress. A report from May 1, 2019 in USA Today said this:

“The broader investigation, ‘Copy, Paste, Legislate,’ shows for the first time

how governors and lawmakers across the country allowed a handful of private

advocacy groups to write public policy word for word. 

“In Louisiana, emails obtained by the center show that a lobbyist for a Jewish

Federation wrote the governor’s anti-boycott executive order and news release.  

“In Nevada, a pro-Israel lobbyist guided the legislation’s sponsor with detailed and

frequent feedback, in one case reviewing and approving statements by a lawmaker

who planned to support the bill.”

  • AIPAC is not registered as a ‘foreign agent’. The U.S. Department of Justice, in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), states the following: “FARA requires the registration of, and disclosures by, an ‘agent of a foreign principal’ who, either directly or through another person, within the United States (1) engages in ‘political activities’ on behalf of a foreign principal; (2) acts as a foreign principal’s public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee, or political consultant….” Yet AIPAC, the most powerful of the pro-Israel lobbies operating in the U.S., is not required to register as a ‘foreign agent’.
  • An article entitled United States Human Rights Policy and Foreign Assistance published in the International Studies Quarterly discussed “…congressional initiatives (that are) designed to ensure that U.S. bilateral foreign assistance would be contingent on the recipient country’s human rights record. Since that time, several studies have shown that there is little evidence that the congressional mandate has been followed.” By no measure, no matter how broad, could Israel’s human rights record be found in adherence of this mandate.

It would be reasonable to conclude that Israel constantly attempts to influence U.S. elections. The country and its many lobbies in the U.S. donate vast sums of money to candidates for election, and those running for re-election, and expect those candidates, once in office, to support their causes. When they want particular legislation enacted, they work with those candidates to introduce that legislation, often writing it themselves. They have used their influence to exempt themselves from U.S. laws that would require them to register as a foreign agent, and that would deny them the vast amount of foreign aid that the U.S. sends annually, more than is given to all the other countries in the world combined.

And what of Russia and Iran? U.S. officials hint darkly at ‘hacks’, or other nefarious actions, but are unable to provide any proof. Is there proof that Israel is attempting to influence U.S. elections? The prominence of their lobbies is sufficient proof, but more detailed facts have been presented above.

Many U.S. officials proclaim the need to support Israel since it is the U.S.’s only ‘friend’ in the Middle East. It has been said that, prior to the illegal and unjust establishment of Israel, the U.S. had no enemies in the Middle East. And this ‘friend’ uses its money to influence U.S. elections, a crime that U.S. officials decry if done, or even suspected, by any other nation.

U.S. tax dollars, provided to Israel due to its influencing of elections and basically purchasing of U.S. officials, are the main reason the Palestinians remain so brutally oppressed. If the U.S. were to follow its own laws and deprive Israel of foreign aid unless and until it achieved even a modicum of adherence to a basic standard of human rights, the occupation would end immediately. Israel may not need U.S. dollars; it is a prosperous nation, but it certainly wants them.

If the U.S. were to require pro-Israeli lobbies to register as foreign agents, as required by law, those lobbies would have to operate under various restrictions and government scrutiny. As it is, they can do as they please.  “The central purpose of FARA is to promote transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States by ensuring that the United States government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence American public opinion, policy, and laws, thereby facilitating informed evaluation of that information.” Israeli lobbies operate without this transparency, to the detriment of U.S. democracy, such as it is.

In the last few years, U.S. elected officials have ceased to offer uniform support for anything Israel does or wants. In 2016, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the first to shun appearing at the AIPAC convention. Speaking there to pay humble homage to Israel has been a pilgrimage made by every official seeking the presidential nomination; Sanders broke with that tradition.

Some long-term, pro-Israel members of Congress have been defeated by pro-Palestine candidates (think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory over five-term incumbent Joe Crowley in 2018 and Jamaal Bowman’s over Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent in 2020). This may send a wake-up call to other politicians who have long held office, but they cling to their power, and pro-Israeli lobbies help them to do so. But as Ocasio-Cortez, Bowman, and others have shown, a principled candidate can bypass the big funders and still win.

If Israel is ever to be held accountable for its constant war crimes and crimes against humanity, the power of their U.S. lobbies must be broken. That will only happen as the beneficiaries of their deadly largess are defeated at the polls.

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