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Why the U.S. Media Barely Covered Brutal Right-Wing Race Riots in Tel Aviv

Middle East analyst MJ Rosenberg discusses the Israel lobby, Iran and the xenophobic riots that shook Israeli society.

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It’s a strange deal. One of the reasons there is so much more free discourse in Israel is that they don’t have an Israel lobby over there! There’s no AIPAC. I mean there’s an AIPAC there to work with American congressmen who come over there, but they don’t try to enforce orthodoxy amongst Israeli politicians. If Haaretz tried to open up a branch here, AIPAC would shut it down. Just look at the “liberal” cable network MSNBC and how little coverage they give to the Middle East.

JH: It really is remarkable how this story has almost disappeared.

I should point out that the Israel lobby is not a Jewish lobby. It includes very powerful Christian evangelical groups. CUFI for example. What does CUFI stand for again?

MR: Christians United for Israel.

JH: Most American Jews tend to skew leftward a bit and are obviously an influential group in Democratic politics. But on the Republican side you have these very influential groups associated with the Christian Right who are just as big of a part of the Israel lobby as AIPAC. I just want to make that clear.

I want to turn to Iran for a minute. Earlier in the show, we were talking to Heather Hurlburt about how disastrous a military strike on Iran would be. The military sees it that way. The military and intelligence communities’ views on that are very much at odds with conservative politicians.

You recently wrote, “To put it simply there would be no Iran hysteria were it not for the Israel lobby.” And you suggested that domestic lobbying groups are actively trying to kill a deal – they’ve been negotiating some sort of settlement to this standoff in Baghdad. You’re suggesting that they’re trying to kill a deal that might actually ease tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

MR: AIPAC is getting its cues from Prime Minister Netanyahu, who either wants a war or wants to maintain the illusion that he wants a war. It’s hard to imagine that he wants it, but he acts like he does. That’s the message he gives to AIPAC, which is pushing more sanctions.

The new line from Netanyahu, which I saw Howard Berman, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee repeat, is 'zero enrichment in Iran.' The Iranians seem to be willing to make a deal. That came out clearly at the beginning of these negotiations. What was our response when it seemed like the Iranians were ready to make an offer? We immediately said -- Hillary Clinton and other people in the administration said -- we will not consider lifting any sanctions. How do you negotiate with people when you’re telling them that no matter what they do we are going to continue the sanctions?

The sanctions are sponsored by AIPAC and written in their offices, then delivered to members of Congress, and passed by Congress. There are even new ones going into effect in July. So no matter what you (Iranians) do, we’re going to keep the sanctions on, which is causing your people to suffer.

I’m sure in the president’s heart of hearts he wants a deal, him being the kind of guy he is. The fact of the matter is since pretty much the beginning of his term he has never said no to AIPAC on anything. His only goal now is to get reelected. He doesn’t want a war, but he’s playing a dangerous game. He doesn’t want a deal, because AIPAC will be on his case and they’ll be saying they’re going to support Romney. He doesn’t want war and he doesn’t want peace. He just wants to keep Netanyahu happy so that he doesn’t bomb before the election. The Iranians aren’t stupid. They see that we’re not serious.

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