by Thomas L. Knapp…….
So we had an election and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won it. If I had all the ink that’s been spilled on why and how Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I’d be an ink tycoon. Much of what passes for analysis focuses on alleged “foreign meddling” in the election. There certainly was some of that. There always is. But some meddlers get more attention than others.
Mainstream anti-Trump opinion leaders claim that the Russian government, at the direction of president Vladimir Putin, intervened to affect the outcome. Through various means, including but not limited to cyber attacks on the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, they believe — although the belief remains unsupported by any publicly revealed evidence — that the Russians illicitly put a thumb on the scale, advantage Trump.
I don’t doubt that Putin preferred Trump to Clinton, or that he acted in furtherance of that preference. Whether or not he went to the lengths asserted is a different question. The fervid denunciations of pols and pundits seem geared more toward stirring up a new Red Scare than toward shedding real light on the subject. They smack of excuse-making and a desire to incite hysteria.
But while we’re talking about foreign meddling in US elections … what about Israel?
Every four years, American presidential aspirants prostrate themselves before the Israeli lobby. They visit Israel. They refer to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “my good friend.” They compete to see who can most convincingly thump a lectern and proclaim the strongest “commitment” to funding and defending a foreign state and its ruling political party (Likud) at the expense of US taxpayers.
There’s a reason for that. Israel and supporters of a “hard line” (versus Iran, versus the Palestinian Arabs, etc.) Israeli regime put a lot of work and a lot of money into propagandizing for — and in effect buying — the most supportive US government they can get. This year one Israel-focused donor alone — casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — spent $25 million boosting Trump’s campaign and another $40 million helping congressional Republican candidates.
There’s little doubt that US policy toward Israel is Adelson’s primary motivator. He’s married to an Israeli, owns a pro-Likud newspaper in the country, spends big money helping Likud hold on to power there, and puts on a quadrennial party in the US to see which presidential candidates can most convincingly kowtow to Netanyahu’s every whim.
Any presidential candidate who spoke of and acted toward Vladimir Putin and Russia the way most of them speak of and act toward Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel would be treated presumptively a sinister agent of a foreign power. Not, to my mind, without justification.
Clinton’s margin of defeat was almost certainly far smaller than the number of American voters captivated by pro-Israel propaganda and brought out by pro-Israel campaign spending. Where’s the outrage at this clear-cut and ongoing meddling in US presidential elections by — or at the very least on behalf of — Israel?
Apparently some meddlers are more equal than others.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.