It’s not fun being a lobbyist for Israel these days.
opening the door for full membership in the international organization’s specialized agencies;
and the much-despised by Israel Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States.
Add to that the fact that Israel is losing some of its most loyal American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stalwarts in Congress — Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman; California Representative Howard Berman; and Massachusetts’ gayest supporter of of Israel, Barney Frank — with Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen being term-limited from her chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — and one could understand an Israel lobbyist wandering around drunk on the streets of Washington. Even CNN’s Israel mouthpiece Wolf Blitzer may be facing the ax soon as new CNN News management plans drastic changes to pull the foundering news network out of its third-place ratings tail-spin.
In the days prior to the UN General Assembly’s vote on admitting Palestine as a recognized state observer, “The Lobby” has been working overtime in the capitals of Europe, North America, and Oceania to prevent “yes” votes by Israel’s traditional allies. The Lobby has been so aggressive, crucial splits have emerged within governments and opposition parties.
No more pronounced have these splits been than in Australia. Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is unabashedly pro-Israel, planned, along with her right-wing allies from Victoria, to cast Australia’s vote against full observer status for Palestine. After Australia announced it would abstain at the UN on the Palestine vote, Gillard apologized to Israel and Australian Jews for not joining with Israel, the United States, and Canada in voting “no.”
The left-wing faction of Gillard’s governing Labor Party pushed for Australia to vote “yes,” with former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, and the man Gillard ousted as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, among those pushing for a “yes” on Palestine, while Foreign Minister Bob Carr and other ministers from the Labor Right of New South Wales, including Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Minister Tony Burke and Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen, pushed for an abstention. Labor’s political fortunes have fallen in Sydney and suburbs as a result of non-Jewish Middle Eastern voters turning up the heat on politicians who walk in lockstep with Israel. Carr has normally backed Israel — he co-founded “Labor Friends of Israel” — but politicians everywhere are discovering that although support for Israel brings the shekels and dollars into campaign coffers, there is a price to be paid for being seen as marching with the wrong historical parade.
Gillard is being pummeled by the Israeli embassy in Canberra and Jewish organizations for abstaining on the Palestine vote. It has also become apparent that pressure was being mounted on the government from another embassy in Canberra: the American embassy where U.S. ambassador Jeffrey Bleich, the Jewish former national campaign finance committee co-chair for the Obama campaign, continues to tout the line from the organizations he has long supported: the American Jewish Committee and Abe Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League. In commenting on the decision by Australia, Bleich said it would not affect Australia’s relationship with the United States.
Gillard’s unwavering support for Israel almost cost her the leadership of her party and the prime ministership. If a Prime Minister is more willing to give up the leadership of her own country to protect the interests of another, what does that say about Ms. Gillard’s true loyalties? Gillard could only convince two of her Victorian right-wing ministers to support her stance on Palestine, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and Employment, Workplace Relations, Financial Services, and Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten. The remainder of Gillard’s Cabinet was in full revolt over her support for Israel. Gillard’s position was in full agreement with that of the conservative Liberal-National opposition coalition, with its leader Tony Abbott agreeing that Australia should reject the Palestine UN application.
Gillard’s colleague in New Zealand, Prime Minister John Key, himself of Jewish descent, was not indicating which way New Zealand would ultimately vote on the Palestine issue. Key merely stated New Zealand would not being voting “no.” An Australian-style abstention was more likely, considering the fact that the Lobby was working the political halls in Wellington as much as it was in Canberra, but without the political fireworks as seen across the Tasman Sea.
The Lobby likely wished it had the same situation “down under” as it enjoyed in Ottawa. Canada’s fanatical pro-Israel Foreign Minister John Baird announced that he would travel to New York to personally cast Canada’s “no” vote on the Palestine resolution. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened that if Palestine did not drop its observer status bid, Canada would cut off $300 million in promised aid to the Palestine Authority, kick out Palestine’s diplomats from Ottawa, and order Palestine’s mission in Ottawa closed. At a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in September in New York, Harper was reported to have made the threats personally to the Palestinian leader and in a very undiplomatic and harsh manner.
There was also a split in Britain on the vote on Palestine. Foreign Secretary William Hague indicated that Britain would abstain if Palestine would not give assurances that it would not take its case against Israel to the International Criminal Court and the World Court. Liberal Democratic leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and many of his Liberal Democratic ministers and MPs in the coalition government with the Conservatives supported a “yes” vote on Palestine. However, Prime Minister David Cameron, Hague, and other Tories favored an abstention without Palestinian guarantees for Israel. The mere fact that a British Prime Minister was asking Palestine for “guarantees” for Israel is a major indicator of the changes in the Middle East. Once, Israel was asked by the West for “guarantees” for Palestine, every one of which has been broken by the Israeli government.
The governments of Denmark, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and France all announced their support for the Palestinian resolution, standard efforts by “The Lobby” in Copenhagen, Berne, Madrid, Lisbon, and Paris having failed to sway the governments of those nations. Israeli government envoys and lobbyists were still active in Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and the Netherlands trying to ensure a “no” vote by their UN delegations.
Meanwhile, across the Jordan River, Wahhabist and Salafist tempo was being increased on the government of Jordan. With Syria’s government on the ropes, the Saudi-backed Salafists see a chance to settle scores with an old enemy – the Hashemite King of Jordan, Abdullah II. The Sauds were originally granted control over Hashemite lands of the Hejaz, including Mecca and Medina, by the British after World War I. The British re-located Hashemite control to Iraq and Transjordan.
Jordanian security is stepping up its surveillance of agents in the employment of both Saudi Arabia and Israel, with many European foreigners being accused of being Mossad agents. After recent services at the Grand Mosque in Amman, Jordanian security police moved in on several protesters. Although the protests against the Jordanian government are mainly over rising fuel prices, there is a tinge of the same “Arab street” sentiment that preceded the revolutions in Libya and Syria. Some in Jordan, especially those with Salafist leanings, have opnely called for the overthrow of the monarchy and its replacement with an Islamist regime. There are reports that Jordanian police have gunned down protesters in the streets with the “injured” later reported as having died in the hospital a few weeks later.
Jordanian intelligence is also arresting hundreds of protest leaders and, through torture, are obtaining their foreign contacts. The contacts, according to reports reaching WMR, include top rebel Islamist leaders now acrtive in Syria and formerly active in Libya and Afghanistan. The local CIA agents in Amman are reportedly present at the torture sessions. Jordanian security is also culling those now in refugee camps along the Jordanian border with Syria looking for potential sympathizers for the Jordanian insurgency. The camps are ringed with barbed wire and heavily guarded but some guards are freeing some refugees for $800 in cash, with certain international “aid” agencies being in on the smuggling operation.
Photographic evidence of the wholesale slaughter of Syrian army troops by the rebels inside Syria are also making their way out of Syria and into Jordan. Pictures and video clips show several rows of Syrian soldiers, bound by the hands and feet, and shot by rebels. From Sunni mosques in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen go out calls from imams for able-bodied men to go to Syria and fight with the Al Qaeda and Al Shabab brigades already present in the country. WMR has also learned that Syrian Kurds, Christians, Druze, and Alawites have formed self-defense units around Syria to fight against “Free Syrian Army” and Islamist rebel groups. The groups are resisting edicts proclaiming the adoption of full shariah law in rebel-controlled territory. Iranian parliament chairman Ali Larijani has, according to our reports, promised help to the Syrian government and self-defense units and has urged the government of Lebanon and its supporters, including Hezbollah, to render support to the Kurds, Christians, Druze, and Alawites in Syria.