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Unit 8: 
What Can Be Learned From Powerful Lobbies Such As the Jewish/Pro-Israel Lobby?

Unit 1:  Who are lobbyists & what motivates them?
Unit 2:  Turkey's image abroad
Unit 3:  History of Turkish communities worldwide & reasons for a weak Turkish lobby.

Unit 4:  National & ethnic interests: Anti-Turkey lobbies, misrepresentation of facts & defamation
Unit 5:  The Turkish lobby dilemma in the United States as a case study.
Unit 6:  Problems encountered by Turkish lobbies in the EU, Germany, France & worldwide.
Unit 7:  Current Turkish lobby issues & the role of public diplomacy.
Unit 8   What can be learned from powerful lobbies such as the Jewish/Pro-Israel lobby?
Unit 9   New approaches to educating & informing Turkish lobbying groups.
Unit 10  Media relations, advertising & professional communications skills.
Unit 11  Initiatives for individuals & public speaking.
Unit 12  Initiatives for communities, campaigns, & NGO'S.
Unit 13: Fund-raising, public relations, & what can be done domestically.
Unit 14: Turkish lobbies undergo a period of transition: The need to strengthen old & new leadership.
Unit 15: Long-term strategies & lobbying in the post-September 11 era.

I. OUTLINE FOR UNIT 8: What can be learned from powerful lobbies such as the Jewish/Pro-Israel lobby?

    1. Foundation for coalition building.

        a. Historic Turkish-Jewish relations.
        b. The Jewish community in America.
        c. What makes the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby unique.

    2. Turkish interests and Jewish/pro-Israel interests in the U.S. Congress.

        a. Issues of concern to Jewish/pro-Israel lobbies.
        b. Opportunities for coalition building
        c. Common trilateral U.S.-Turkey-Israel interests

        d. Issues that have damaged Turkish-Jewish/pro-Israel lobbying cooperation.


Compare the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby with the Turkish lobby.


What are the issues that are unique to the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby, which are not priorities for anti-Turkish lobbies?

What are common issues of concern between the two lobbies?

Where do you see any conflicts of interest between:
- the interests of the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby and anti-Turkey lobbies?
- the interests of the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby and pro-Turkey lobbies?
- the interests of the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby and U.S. national interests?



See UNITED STATES: Ethics & Lobbying Reform (click here)

See UNITED STATES Proposals for Ethics Office (click here)

See EUROPEAN UNION: Ethics & Lobbying Reform (click here)




Many historic factors encourage cooperation between American Jews and the Turkish lobby, especially since Jews, Turks, and other ethnic groups all lived peacefully in the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. Turkey welcomed Jews who were persecuted throughout history (those who fled Spain in 1492, and from Europe before and during the Holocaust). Turkey was also one of the first countries to recognize the State of Israel. There has also recently been increased trade, tourism, and military cooperation between the two countries. A wave of Turkish citizens emigrated to Israel after it was created in 1948, but Turkish-Israelis have not received great attention as a lobbying force for Turkey, although the potential exists.

In the United States, Jews have succeeded in American political and economic life to an impressive degree, despite past manifestations of anti-Semitism. The small number of members of the American Jewish community, which does not exceed  5% of the population (or about 6 million), are well represented in most professions, are well educated, hold many political offices, and enjoy a very high median family income. The Jewish/pro-Israel lobby has a powerful voice and broad reach into the policy-making process of government, both legislative and executive branches. Some of these lobby members are involved in the congressional Turkey caucus.

In order to understand better the success of Jewish immigrants one needs to look at some unique factors inherent in Jewish culture and religion, along with the historic experiences of anti-Semitism.(1) Jews came to the U.S. as a persecuted minority, who had suffered discrimination, and various forms of stereotyping. The largest group of Jewish immigrants came to the U.S. from eastern Europe between 1880 and 1920. Many had lived in ghettoes, and were faced with economic and social hardship. Some Jews brought radical and socialist ideas with them to the U.S., while others had acquired orthodox religious beliefs. According to Jewish belief, charity is an obligation of the fortunate to help individuals and communities in difficulty, with an emphasis on societal betterment as a result. Jews in America were concerned with issues such as equal access to opportunities and church-state issues. In the 1930's, B'nai Brith was created as the largest Jewish secular organization. Its Anti-Defamation League led legal and political battles against discrimination. Jews became concerned with protecting the civil rights of all Americans as a result of the protection they sought in the face of past social discrimination. The liberal Democratic coalition has promoted principles of civil rights that continue to serve the interests of Jews (2). It can be said that a Jewish religious identity shaped a Jewish political identify in the U.S. Due to worldwide anti-Semitic experiences and self-need, Jews accordingly adopted political positions. Love of Israel greatly helped to organize Jewish political life and influence in America.

Until the Cold War, Israel for decades had been a popular humanitarian cause in Washington, D.C. It was not until after 1967 that Israel's strategic position gained importance (after the Israeli capture of the Golan, Sinai, and West Bank). U.S. investments of arms and financing increased, along with the U.S. commitment to Israel's security. In 1971, U.S. military aid and assistance to Israel reached $634 million. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, aid skyrocketed to $2.2 billion, making Israel the largest single recipient of American foreign assistance. Israel became a vital U.S. protectorate, and the alliance with Washington strengthened over the years.

Jews have striven to promote policies that lessen discrimination for themselves, as well as others. As a result, Jews generally have been known as liberals, have supported the Democratic Party and the American Civil Liberties Union, where many ACLU leaders and members are Jewish (there is however an increasing Republican sentiment and the number of Jews who are conservative and vote Republican are increasing). However, recent domestic and global developments, such as civil rights issues and the war on terror, have placed a wedge between Jewish/pro-Israel interests and basic liberal values.

After the creation of Israel, American Jews had a new political focus. Before the Holocaust, Zionist sentiments were not shared by all parts of the Jewish community, however after the Holocaust and creation of Israel, the State of Israel became the cause to which more Jews became dedicated than any other. Recent decades have shown that American Jews are willing to sacrifice their relations with liberal organizations when they believe their own interests are threatened. Jews in America have, on occasion, equated attacks on Israel with anti-Semitism and have defended practices by the Israeli government that their liberal tradition would deplore at home. This attachment to Israel has led to breaks with some liberal allies and has contributed to tensions with various African-American leaders and their organizations. It has also led to divisions among Jews themselves with some decrying Zionism and separating themselves from Jewish institutions (for further reading see Jewish Power ). Because Jews still generally consider themselves threatened, self-preservation and fear serve as a uniting factors.

In the U.S. there are ongoing debates over when and how ethnic loyalties have come before national interest. Jews are not alone in lobbying for their ethnic interests, but the lobby attracts attention because it has a small membership, is very effective, and Israel often escapes criticism of its human rights record. Some observers of U.S. domestic politics have remarked that certain policies are not driven by national interest, but by a powerful domestic Jewish lobby. Other Americans have asked why it is that the interests of Israel almost always coincide with those of the U.S. The unique aspects of the lobby enables Jews to exercise a disproportionate amount of influence in relation to their mere 4%-5% of the population (some estimates are as low as 2%). Another unique aspect is that the Jewish lobby is unusually focused on foreign affairs, which includes providing Israel with military assistance ($3 billion a year). Because of Jewish concern for the security of Israel, American Jews tend to pay greater attention to foreign policy than most Americans, and very closely monitor U.S.-Israel relations, and the military and economic assistance the U.S. provides. A third unusual aspect is that the lobby has an enormous number of allies in the media and in politics (3). It is not usually mentioned in the American media that Israel is in violation of U.N. resolutions and international law, that it illegally occupies Palestinian lands, and violates human rights. Allies of Israel in America also include Jewish senators, Jewish congressmen, neoconservatives, and influential members of Congress and congressional staff who are not of Jewish heritage. Additional allies include many passionately pro-Israel Evangelical Christians from the Bible-belt states such as Alabama and Mississippi (who are concerned with Israel's destiny, the end of the world, and the return of the Jews to Israel). In addition, there are many pro-Israel individuals who are not Jewish who are involved in policymaking, the media, academic institutions, think-tanks, and politics.

When it comes to foreign policy, it has been observed that Americans have a tendency to see foreign policy in moralistic terms--as a battle of good against evil, or western values against barbarism. This has been to the advantages of the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby, since Israel perceives itself to be surrounded by enemies. In contrast, Europeans often see the Middle East as a matter of managing rival interests. Americans view Israel as an island of freedom and democracy which needs defending from tyrants and enemies. Because the American media often does not report in a balanced manner on the Middle East, the American public tends to side with Israel despite the fact that Israel occupies Palestinian lands and uses highly controversial and unfair policies. An area of tension in Israeli-U.S. relations is due to the criticism the U.S. receives because of its support of Israeli policies, especially when the U.S. is perceived by much of the world as neglecting the suffering and grievances of the Palestinian people. The U.S. is also viewed as having turned its back on the peace process. To a degree this is a reason for an unfavorable opinion of the U.S. worldwide, and an increase of global anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment, which has effected Turkish relations with the U.S. and Israel.

Although cooperation and peaceful coexistence between Jews and Turks goes back more than half a millennium, the 1990's witnessed intensified ties between the State of Israel and Turkey. During this period, a number of Jewish American organizations began to play an increasingly active role in the advocacy of Turkish positions. These organizations stated that Turkey has a tremendous future as a regional power and as a powerful economic engine for the entire region. The coalition of Jewish American organizations also expressed hope to see Turkey's relationship with Israel prosper, not only in the fields of defense and security, but in all areas including commercial and economic relations. These groups also gave Turkey importance because Turkey is a democratic secular example for Muslim nations, is a U.S. ally, as well as a member of NATO. Turkey is also home to the second largest Jewish population in the Middle East and the Turkish constitution provides equal rights for Jews. A spokesperson for the coalition explained that Turkey is a strategic gateway to Central Asia and the Caucasus, is an indispensable country in the region with capable armed forces, has hands-on experience with international security and relief operations, and has made contributions to peace and stability.

During the late 1990's, Barry Jacobs, Assistant Director of the American Jewish Committee, stated that over the last 2-3 years, the Jewish-American community, with the leadership of a few organizations, decided that "the relationship between Israel and Turkey, and Turkey's importance on a host of other issues, requires that we take an active and vigorous role in being friends of Turkey in the United States." This translates into many things, he continued, "but specifically translates that we will champion to the best of our ability Turkish interests in the United States Congress. We will be Turkey's friends officially in Congress" and work to help get favorable legislation passed. Jacobs described the result of the position taken by Jewish-American groups who support Turkey, saying "This has brought us into open conflict with Greek-Americans and Armenian-Americans. It has been welcomed by the Turkish government, but we have paid a price. The price has been that we have the Greek and Armenian Americans very angry at us."

Despite almost a decade of close bilateral relations and Turkish-Israeli cooperation in lobbying activities, recent events have hampered, even jeopardized, closer cooperation. Some problems have resulted due to: 1) the excessive use of force against Palestinians; 2) threats to assassinate or exile Arafat (recognized by Turkey as an elected leader); 3) alleged Israeli activities in northern Iraq; 4) the deterioration of Israel's image in world public opinion due to its policies; 5) failure to build a solid international coalition to fight a war on terrorism. The harsh criticism of Israeli policies by members of the Turkish government, and negative public sentiment, have also contributed to a cooling of relations. The perceived lack of U.S. criticism of Israel, and fears of Mid-East destabilization, are also partially responsible for a weakening of U.S.-Turkish-Israeli relations.

Here are some objectives and current concerns of Jewish American organizations and the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby:

-Turkey's relations with Hamas after its landslide election in January 2006.
-US and Israeli relations after March 2006 Israeli elections & new coalition.
-Maintaining and improving friendship and goodwill between the U.S. and Israel.
-Mobilizing support to defend Israel's interests and bolster its security.
-Improving relations between U.S. and Israel.
-Supporting U.S. arms sales and aid to Israel (to maintain Israel's standing as the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid).
-Monitoring and lobbying on U.S. arms sales and aid to Arab countries.
-Middle East Peace.
-Relations with Iran.
-Security in Iraq.
-U.S. relations with Syria and Saudi Arabia.
-Combating bigotry, anti-Semitism, and racism.
-Preventing the defamation of the Jewish people.
-Advocating public policy positions rooted in American democratic values and the perspectives of the Jewish heritage.
-Enhancing the creative vitality of the Jewish people, their identity, and continuity.
-Holocaust education.
-Monitoring militia activity in the U.S.
-Promoting interfaith relations.
-Securing political rights and equal status of Jews in America.
-Protecting the rights and freedoms of Jews the world over.
-Enlisting the power and influence in America for the protection of Israel and Jewish communities abroad.
-Promoting human rights for all and spreading democratic values and human rights.
-Enlisting American Jews in the struggle to safeguard and enlarge democratic pluralism and constitutional protections for all Americans.
-Enhancing Jewish and Black relations.
-Opposing the shrinking government's role in aiding society's weakest members.
-Promoting the separation of church and state.
-Combating hate crimes, and hate in cyberspace.

One of the keys to success of the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby is that even if organizations disagree amongst themselves, in Washington they have always spoken with one united voice. The lobbyists and members of these organizations also use information strategically because the most prestigious Jewish American organizations have members who are experts and specialists on various issues (such as Middle East experts with linguistic skills in Farsi and Arabic). These individuals have good relations with the press and appear to have up-to-date valuable knowledge on subjects of vital importance to policymakers. They also have direct access to key political decision-makers, and work directly with officials at the departments of Defense, Commerce, State and elsewhere.

Another key to success is that these lobbies are well-connected to hundreds of Jewish community leaders throughout the U.S. These leaders have a network of wealthy donors and some organizations have a multi-million dollar budget. Support is very strong for synagogue organizations, national Jewish organizations, and Zionist organizations in America and worldwide. These mass membership organizations therefore are extremely well organized with large and skilled staff. Because of the unique factors inherent in Jewish culture and religion, these groups can rely on a strong defense reaction whenever Jews are threatened. Compared to other lobbies, they can also use time-tested techniques as a result of over 100 years of lobbying experience in the U.S. Another advantage is that they share a Judeo-Christian tradition with millions of Americans. Jews have also assimilated very successfully in communities in the U.S. Furthermore, Jewish votes and support are sought by candidates (who might also be inclined to take a pro-Israel position). One other very important method of influence is that the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby is a successful grassroots organization that can apply pressure. Another saying in lobbying is that votes are won or lost at the grassroots, as well as in Washington.

Here are some of the Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in America:

American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC, set up in 1944, is considered one of the most powerful lobbies in America)
American Jewish Committee (AJC)
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
Council of Jewish Federations (CJF)
B'nai Brith
World Zionist Organization (WZO)
Zionist Organization of America
Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)
Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Association of Reform Zionists of America
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
United Jewish Appeal for Overseas Relief
Jewish War Veterans
International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Jewish National Fund
Synagogue Council of America
American Zionist Federation
North American Jewish Youth Council
Americans for a Safe Israel
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Young Israel
National Jewish Coalition
Rabbinical Council of America
Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of America
Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC)
Religious Zionists of America
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies
United Jewish Appeal (UJA)
United Synagogue Youth
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Association of Reform Zionist of America (ARZA)

The above organizations are involved with: analysis of current issues, award programs, coalition building, advertising, conferences, congressional testimony, congressional voting analysis, conventions, curriculum development, demonstrations, direct action, exhibits and films, grassroots organizing, international activities, Internet, legal assistance, legislative/regulatory monitoring at federal and state levels, library/information, litigation, lobbying (federal, state and grassroots), local/municipal affairs, media outreach, monitoring of extremist groups, participation in regulatory proceedings (federal and state), polling, publishing, research, speakers programs, telecommunications services, training and technical assistance.

Many of these organizations are also concerned with their own image, the general image of the Jewish/pro-Israel lobby, and the attitudes toward Jews in the U.S. and around the world. After press reports in August and December 2004 revealed that AIPAC had been under investigation by the FBI for allegedly receiving classified information from a Pentagon official and using this information on behalf of the government of Israel, AIPAC members denied the allegations and reaffirmed their good reputation. Amidst these reports, questions have been raised about dual loyalty, and whether the backing of certain U.S. policies is motivated by America-first patriotism, or to secure Israel's interests through the advancement of U.S. strategies. Attention has also been drawn to the question of when and how individuals in Jewish, or other ethnic organizations, lobby for foreign governments without registering as foreign agents. An emerging issue is whether AIPAC should be asked to register as an agent of a foreign government and lose its tax-exempt status.

Examples of some issues of importance to the Turkish lobby in the U.S. :

In celebration of the ties developed between Jews and Turks over the centuries, Jewish American organizations placed advertisements in newspapers honoring the Turkish Republic's 75th anniversary (one was a full page advertisement in the New York Times at a cost of $65,000, and the other was placed in the International Herald Tribune). The advertisement was as follows:
"Congratulations! Mazeltov! Tebrikler! As Americans and Jews, we join in celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. We especially applaud Turkey for: Its democratic and secular values; Its close and mutually beneficial ties as a strategic partner with the United States; Its invaluable strategic role as a NATO partner; Its ever deepening relation with the State of Israel; Its historic tradition, dating back more than 500 years as a haven for Jews fleeing persecution. We join with the Turkish people in celebrating this milestone, and we look forward to continued flourishing ties in the years ahead among Turkey, the United States and Israel." The four Jewish-American organizations whose names appeared on the advertisement were: the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, and B'nai B'rith.

The Jewish American lobby was also involved in backing the lifting of Section 907 Freedom Support Act, which stalled the building of relations between Azerbaijan and the U.S. After the collapse of the Soviet Union (when very few Congressmen even knew where Azerbaijan was located) the Armenian-American lobby was instrumental in getting the Congress to pass an amendment called the FREEDOM Support Act, Section 907 which limited US government funds or aid to the government of Azerbaijan (despite Armenian aggression which resulted in Armenian forces occupying 20% of Azerbaijani territory and displacing 1 million Azeris). Jewish-American organizations at the time also signed a congressional letter which was supportative of Turkey's admission into the EU.


Historic ties & Friendship, Trade Relations, tourism, Regional & international relations, Eurasia, energy, security, terrorism, Defense cooperation, water transport Israel ...

Despite almost a decade of close bilateral & trilateral relations between Turkey, the U.S. and Israel, as well as Turkish-Jewish Pro-Israeli cooperation in lobbying activities, some recent events have hampered, even jeopardized, closer cooperation. Some problems have resulted due to:

1) the excessive use of force against Palestinians (example: OIC Secretary General Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu described a March 2006 Israeli operation on a Palestinian prison in Jericho as “state terrorism,” former Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in April 2002 referred to genocide when discussing Israeli operations).

2) previous threats to assassinate or exile elected Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

3) media reports of alleged Israeli activities in northern Iraq that include training of Kurdish fighters and monitoring Iran.

4) the deterioration of Israel's image in world public opinion due certain policies, occupation, UN and human rights violations, which impact on negative public sentiment in Turkey (along with the perceived lack of U.S. criticism of Israel)

5) fears of further Mid-East destabilization and an attack on Iran (by Israel and/or the U.S.).

6) failure to build a solid international coalition to fight terrorism.

7) the rise to power of the AKP party in Turkey which has displayed inconsistent policy toward Israel and regional matters.

8) reports of increasing anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in Turkey.

9) Strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey due to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, and inability to cooperate on fighting PKK terrorism.

    (1) Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment by J.J. Goldberg, Perseus Books, USA, 1996.
The Politics of Minority Coalitions edited by Wilbur Rich, Westview Press, 1995, USA.
    (3) The Economist, "No schmooze with the Jews," April 6, 2002.

Ankara Prepares Against 'Apr. 24' with Jewish Lobby
By Suleyman Kurt, Ankara  April 19, 2006  www.zaman.com

Ankara intensifies efforts against the Armenian Diaspora, which attempts to “make the so-called Armenian genocide recognized,” as the anniversary of “24 April 1915 events” approaches.

Turkish officials, who closely monitor the resolution drafts in the US Congress, French and Argentinean parliaments, continue their efforts to prevent a counter decision.

Diplomatic sources oppose claims suggesting that the Jewish lobby has ended its support to Turkey in relation to the “so-called Armenian genocide allegations” following the Islamic Resistance Movement’s (HAMAS) Ankara visit. They also do not think it is possible for the US Congress to take such a decision.

US President George W. Bush is not expected to use the word “genocide” in his April 24 speech.

“Turkey and the Jewish lobby have always had good relations. If there is a weakness in the relations, we will do our best to eliminate it, we are working towards this end,” a foreign ministry official explained.

Along with the US Congress, developments in the French and Argentinean parliaments are being closely monitored.

A draft law in the French parliament foresees the “punishment of those deny the existence of Armenian genocide,” and another law in the Argentinean parliament aims to “giving the Armenian genocide issue a place in the school books.”

Ankara realized the “necessary” efforts to the Argentinean government and asked them “not to nurture generations being hostile to Turkey”. Political experts comment that the draft will not be passed by parliament.

Secret diplomacy continues with Yerevan

Problems between Turkey and Armenia, including the “so-called genocide allegations,” were handled in the Austrian capital, Vienna, by the diplomats of both countries.

During these talks, the “commission of historian” project put forward by Turkey concerning the Armenian genocide allegations was not adopted.

Ankara rejected the proposal of Armenia relating to the issue as well.

In order for the start of diplomatic relations between the countries, a text should be signed by the both parties, which shows that some of the problems between the countries, including the dispute over borders, have been settled.

The parties have not reached such a level, it is noted. Along with the diplomatic meetings, Turkish diplomats recently gathered with representatives of the Armenian Diaspora defending “moderate” opinions in the US.

The Israeli lobby and the US
Faik Bulut April 19, 2006  www.thenewanatolian.com

John Mearsheimer is the Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and the author of "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics." Stephen Walt is the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. His most recent book is "Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy." They've prepared a common report on the Israeli Lobby in the U.S., dated March 10.

This report has addressed the real dimension of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. It's led to widespread debates, both in their country and worldwide, and also got some reactions. The report might be a reflector on potential U.S. attacks on Iran and Syria. It's also connected, in one way or another, to the most recent speculation/manipulation concerning the deterioration of relations between the Turkish government and the White House. So I've decided to quote some paragraphs from it.

"For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of U.S. Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel," says Mearsheimer and Walt's report. "The combination of unwavering support for Israel and related effort to spread 'democracy' throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only U.S. security, but that of much of the rest world. This situation has no equal in U.S. history.

"Why has the U.S. been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interest of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interest or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the U.S. provides.

"Instead, the thrust of U.S. policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the Israeli lobby. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that the U.S. interest and those of the other country -- in this case, Israel -- are essentially identical.

"Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given no any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976 [$140 billion in 2004]. Washington also provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset of if there were a compelling moral case for U.S. backing. But neither explanation is convincing.

"Backing Israel was not cheap, however, and it complicated U.S. relations with the Arab world. Israel's armed forces were not in a position to protect U.S. interest in the region. The first Gulf War revealed the extent to which Israel was becoming a strategic burden. The U.S. could not use Israeli bases without rupturing the anti-Iraq coalition.

"Beginning in the 1990s, and even more after 9/11, U.S. support has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arab and Muslim world. In fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort do deal with states. Its strategic value does not permit Israel to behave like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore U.S. requests and renege on promises.

"So, if neither strategic nor moral arguments can account for the U.S.' support for Israel, how are we to explain it? The explanation is the unmatched power of the Israeli lobby. Not all Jewish Americans are part of the lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them. The lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals. The lobby does not want an open debate, of course, because that might lead Americans to question the level of support they provide.

"Once Baghdad fell in mid-April 2003, [Ariel] Sharon and his lieutenants began urging Washington to target Damascus [Syria]. Sharon began also pushing the U.S. to confront Iran in November 2002. The neo-conservatives, too, lost no time in making the case for a regime change in Tehran [and Damascus]. It is not surprising that Israel and its U.S. supporters want the U.S. to deal with any and all threats to Israel's security."

"The lobby's influence causes trouble on several fronts. It increases the terrorist danger that all states face. It has made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It contributes to Islamic radicalism in Europe and Asia. Equally worrying, the lobby's campaign for regime change in Iran and Syria could lead the U.S. to attack those countries, with potentially disastrous effects. We don't need another Iraq. Besides, the lobby's campaign to quash debate about Israel is unhealthy for democracy. Finally, the lobby's influence has been bad for Israel [itself]."

Rice, Hadley on subpoena list

Washingting Times - Published March 13, 2006

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley are among the witnesses who defense lawyers want to subpoena in the case of two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of receiving classified information.
    Attorneys for Stephen J. Rosen and Keith Weissman filed the notices of subpoena with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman, former officials with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are scheduled to go on trial next month.
    There is no indication whether the judge in the case has considered the subpoena requests. Under court rules, he must approve before Cabinet-level officers can be subpoenaed.
    The names of Miss Rice, Mr. Hadley and a number of other people who the defense wants to call appeared on the online docket for the case Friday afternoon, but by yesterday, the names had been removed and replaced with the word "Witness."
    The docket indicated that the notices of subpoena had been made "in camera," or in private before a judge, and under seal.
    Telephone calls to Rosen lawyer Abbe Lowell, Weissman lawyer John Nassikas III and a spokesman for the federal court, Edward Adams, were not immediately returned yesterday.
    Along with Miss Rice and Mr. Hadley, others named in the notices of subpoena filed last Wednesday included Elliot Abrams, deputy national security adviser; Richard L. Armitage, former deputy secretary of state; David Satterfield, deputy chief of the U.S. mission to Iraq; William Burns, U.S. ambassador to Russia; retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni; and Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA officer and current Mideast specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
    Also listed was Lawrence A. Franklin, a top Pentagon analyst, who was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on Jan. 20 for giving classified information to Mr. Rosen, Mr. Weissman and an Israeli diplomat.
    Franklin pleaded guilty to three felony counts in exchange for prosecutors dropping three other counts.
    Attorneys for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman have argued that the former AIPAC officials were engaged only in routine lobbying work. However, Franklin acknowledged that he met periodically with the two men from 2002 to 2004 and discussed potential attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and other classified information.
    During Franklin's sentencing, Judge T.S. Ellis III said Franklin thought that the National Security Council was insufficiently concerned with the threat posed by an unspecified Middle Eastern nation and that leaking information might spur more serious action.
    Evidence in the Franklin case suggests that the unspecified nation was Iran. Mr. Weissman was AIPAC's top Iran analyst before he and Mr. Rosen were fired in April 2005.

Espionage Law's Merits Tied Into Ex-Lobbyists' Case

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 24, 2006; A06

The federal judge presiding over the prosecution of two former lobbyists has focused attention on the imprecise nature of the law they are charged with breaking, the 1917 Espionage Act that restricts the dissemination of national defense information that could harm U.S. interests.

In January, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III raised the possibility that the law may not be sensibly written, as he sentenced a former Defense Department employee, Lawrence A. Franklin, to 12 years in prison for giving classified information to the two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

Despite the law's possible shortcomings, Ellis said in an unusual statement from the bench, it is up to Congress, not the court, to decide if the statute needs to be changed.

"The law says what it says," Ellis said. "The merits of the law really are committed to Congress. If it's not sensible, it ought to be changed. But they're . . . the body that changes it, not the judiciary."

Today, attorneys for the former lobbyists, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, will argue for dismissal of the indictment based in part on the claim that the Espionage Act was meant to cover spying, not the possession of leaked classified information, particularly leaked information possessed and transmitted by people who are not government employees. As stated in their Jan. 19 motion, attorneys say what Rosen and Weissman are charged with "is what members of the media, members of the Washington policy community, lobbyists and members of congressional staffs do perhaps hundreds of times every day."

The Espionage Act makes it illegal for an unauthorized person to have "unlawful possession" of "information relating to the national defense." As written, it does not require that such information be classified. To break the law, the people involved must also believe the information "could be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of any foreign nation." It also makes it illegal for people with such "unlawful possession" to communicate such information if they have "reason to believe" it could injure the United States or aid another country.

In response to the Rosen-Weissman motion, the Justice Department attorneys said in their motion that the defendants have doctorates and "would know that foreign officials, journalists and other persons with no current affiliation with the United States government would not be entitled to receive information related to our national defense."

Last August, in announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, then the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said there was "a clear line in the law," and "those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be."

The AIPAC case, which represents the first time nongovernment employees have been prosecuted under the 89-year-old Espionage Act for receiving leaks from a government official, has drawn increasing attention from First Amendment advocates and others concerned that it represents a sharp break from Justice Department practices.

At Franklin's sentencing, Ellis said any debate over the statute and "whether it's a sensible law" was "irrelevant" to Franklin's situation because he had clearly violated it. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't debate whether the law is a good law or not, as a people," he said, adding, "It doesn't mean that Congress shouldn't consider it. It's not for the court to say."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

Listening to leakers could land you in jail
By Fred Kaplan
Posted Friday, March 17, 2006

If a recent ruling by a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., is accepted as the word of law, every national-security journalist and researcher in America stands in danger of going to prison.

This is not an exaggeration.

The ruling—made by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis on Jan. 20 and reprinted in today's edition of Steven Aftergood's invaluable Secrecy News—states that federal espionage laws apply not only to officials who leak classified information but also to private citizens who receive it. Speaking from the bench, the judge said:

[A]ll persons who have authorized possession of classified information and persons who have unauthorized possession, who came into possession in an unauthorized way … must abide by the law. … So, that applies to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever.

Judge Ellis made these remarks at the sentencing hearing of Lawrence Anthony Franklin, a former Pentagon official who had earlier pleaded guilty to leaking top-secret information to two analysts at the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee.

Franklin's crime, while not uncommon in Washington circles, was at least straightforward; those who leak state secrets know that if they're caught, they may face penalties. The novelty of this case, however, is that the Justice Department went after—and a grand jury indicted—not only Franklin, the leaker, but also the two AIPAC leakees. (Franklin was tried first; Judge Ellis sentenced him to 151 months in prison, with the mutual understanding that his term will be substantially reduced after he testifies against his AIPAC "co-conspirators," Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, at their trial.)

Rosen and Weissman, who were not government officials and have not signed the legal pledge associated with security clearances, were indicted not for being spies or for passing secrets to foreign governments (if they had, that would have made their case something else entirely) but rather for giving classified information merely "to persons not entitled to receive it."

In a column dealing with the case last month, I wrote that this is what investigative reporters do all the time—they receive information from insiders, write stories about it, and give them to their editors and readers, who are "not entitled to receive it"—and that if Rosen and Weissman are prosecuted, the Washington Post's Walter Pincus and The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh could be next. Conceivably, anyone who even reads their stories—and who therefore improperly possesses classified information—could be indicted. (Franklin, after all, told the two AIPAC analysts about the secrets; he didn't give them documents.)

Now we know that the federal judge presiding over the trial made precisely this point: The law under which Franklin was prosecuted and the AIPAC Two have been indicted applies, as he put it, "to academics, lawyers, journalists, professors, whatever."

Nobody has ever been prosecuted for receiving classified information, even though the law in question—Title 18 of the U.S. criminal code, Chapter 37 ("Espionage and Censorship), Section 793 ("Gathering, Transmitting, or Losing Defense Information")—clearly allows such prosecutions. It states that persons who improperly transmit or receive classified information have committed a crime if they have "intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." (This is a fairly easy hurdle for a prosecutor to clear. Notice: Defendants don't need to have "intent" to do harm, but rather "intent or reason to believe"—and they don't need to have "reason to believe" that the information would hurt the United States but rather that it could be used "to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.")

This law was passed in 1917. There's a reason it's rarely been invoked in any federal case and never in a case like this one: It's extremely vague and absurdly all-encompassing. If the law is read literally, anyone who takes a photo of a defense factory or a military base could be prosecuted on espionage charges. (For a hair-raising itemization of all the activities Section 793 prohibits, click here.)

What's new is that, for the first time, the U.S. Justice Department has decided to read this law literally. At Franklin's sentencing hearing, Judge Ellis made this point explicitly:

The law says what it says. … If it's not sensible, it ought to be changed. But [Congress is] the body that changes it, not the judge. The judge simply interprets and applies the law.

If Rosen and Weissman go down, will prosecutors really go after the media next? The point is, a federal judge has explicitly given them the green light to do so. Given this Justice Department's penchant for compelling journalists to turn over sources and notes, the scenario is not remotely far-fetched. At the very least, the ruling, if it stands, will have a chilling effect. The legal departments of every American newspaper and magazine may feel obligated to advise their publishers that stories containing classified information could trigger costly litigation.

America, it turns out, has had an Official Secrets Act on the books for nearly a century. And now it also has an administration eager to enforce it.

The espionage law (18 U.S.C. Sec. 793) applies to anyone who, "for the purpose of obtaining information respecting the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation, goes upon, enters, flies over, or otherwise obtains information concerning any vessel, aircraft, work of defense, navy yard, naval station, submarine base, fueling station, fort, battery, torpedo station, dockyard, canal, railroad, arsenal, camp, factory, mine, telegraph, telephone, wireless, or signal station, building, office, research laboratory or station or other place connected with the national defense … "

It also applies to anyone (again, with "intent or reason to believe that the information will be used to hurt the U.S. or help a foreign nation") "copies, takes, makes, or obtains, or attempts to copy, take, make, or obtain, any sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, document, writing, or note of anything connected with the national defense;"

Or anyone who "receives or obtains or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain from any person, or from any source whatever, any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note, of anything connected with the national defense, knowing or having reason to believe, at the time he receives or obtains, or agrees or attempts to receive or obtain it, that it has been or will be obtained, taken, made, or disposed of by any person contrary to the provisions of this chapter."

This applies to just about everyone who publishes a newspaper or who has ever posted commercial satellite photos on a Web site. The last passage further applies to just about anyone who's ever downloaded from such a site.

Fred Kaplan writes the "War Stories" column for Slate. He can be reached at war_stories@hotmail.com.

Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2138277/

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