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Cantor Tied to Controversial Rabbi at Center of Probe

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By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | January 17, 2014

Yesterday I posted an article on the FBI investigation of New York Congressman Michael Grimm in connection with campaign donations to his 2010 campaign made by supporters of Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto. If you haven’t read the article, it’s here.

Pinto is listed as one of the richest rabbis in Israel (he is rabbi to some of the world’s wealthiest oligarchs), and in the article I speculated on whether other supporters of Israel now serving in congress may have received donations from the same source.

Well, a news article posted in 2012 would seem to indicate that there are, and that one of them is Eric Cantor, one of the most powerful members of Congress, and a staunch supporter of the Jewish state (Cantor is himself Jewish). The article in question is posted at Al-Monitor. Here is an excerpt.

Indeed, detailed examination of federal campaign filings by Al-Monitor indicate that the top seven donors to Cantor’s 2008 campaign are followers or associates of Rabbi Pinto. Together, the group of close Rabbi Pinto associates that made up Cantor’s seven top donors in 2008 gave about $330,000 to the Virginia Republican–almost 10% of the $3.9 million total Cantor raised for the 2008 race. None of them are from Virginia, and some had not previously given to US political campaigns.

Josef Ben Moha of New Jersey donated $48,100 to Cantor’s Victory Fund on April 11, 2008 — his only campaign donation in US records. Moha is listed as managing director of Livono (or Livorno) Partners, whose CEO Ben Zion Suky also donated $48,100 to Cantor on the same date. Suky serves as the “right-hand man … translator, gatekeeper and conduit to the outside world” for Pinto, the Forward reported last year. He also owns property with Rabbi Pinto’s wife, as well as a porn DVD distribution business.

Haim Milo Revah, a real estate developer from California who has credited Pinto with offering successful business advice, donated $48,100 to Cantor on April 21, 2008, records show.

Real estate broker Haim Binstock, and his wife his wife, Gallya Binstock, together donated $91,600 to Cantor’s campaign on Oct. 31, 2008. Binstock’s business partner Ilan Bracha, and his wife, Mati Bracha, also donated $91,600 to Cantor’s campaign on the same date, campaign filings show. In 2008, Binstock and Bracha Manhattan property they planned to donate for use as a synagogue for Rabbi Pinto, they told The Wall Street Journal last year.

More recently, George Klein, described by The New York Times as a longtime Republican power broker who attends Pinto’s Shuva Israel congregation at 155 E. 58th St. in Manhattan, donated $50,000 to Cantor’s Victory Fund on Oct. 18, 2011, campaign filings show. Klein, who has donated to several other Republican candidates in smaller amounts, is also a member, with Cantor, of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

As I noted in yesterday’s article, Grimm is reportedly a close confidante of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Israeli police seem to be trying to deliberately sabotage the FBI’s investigation of him.

The FBI is hoping to have Pinto testify against Grimm, but the rabbi has been charged in Israel with bribing a police official, a development which would compromise his credibility as a witness–presumably against Grimm or any other member of Congress who may have broken the law. A wiretap reportedly in the possession of the FBI has Israeli police threatening Pinto.

The case has been written about extensively by blogger Richard Silverstein, who has reported that among the allegations are that donors to Grimm’s 2010 campaign were promised green cards in return for their support (campaign contributions by non-citizens are illegal) and also that some of the donations exceeded the legal limit.

“There is no evidence of any impropriety in Cantor’s contacts with Rabbi Pinto,” notes the 2012 Al-Monitor report.

January 18, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

Israel Has Been “Singled Out” in the US for a Very Long Time

By Thomas S. Harrington | Common Dreams | December 25, 2013

As has been widely reported, the American Studies Association, the umbrella organization of academics devoted to the study of US literature, history and culture, recently voted to join the movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

In the days since that historic vote numerous high-profile US supporters of the Jewish state have vehemently decried the scholarly association’s historic decision.

The first to do so was Lawrence Summers, one-time Harvard president and prime architect–in his as deregulator-in-chief- of the finance industry–of the recession that has robbed millions of Americans of their jobs, savings and homes. He has been followed by numerous such as Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic and by Michael Roth president of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

Reading these reactions to the democratically determined posture of the ASA one particular argument appears with almost metronomic predictability. It goes something like this:

“Considering all the countries in the world where human rights abuses are rife, why in the world is the ASA so concerned about Israel, the only “democratic state” in the Middle East? Why is this organization along with the millions of others who support the BDS movement “singling Israel out” for such punitive treatment?”

One is left to wonder. Do these gentlemen always treat the intelligence of their audience with such contempt? Do they always assume that those to whom they speak are deeply ill-informed about the structural realities of contemporary politics and incapable of the most basic logical inductions in regard to the nature of Israel’s relationship to the US?

As anyone who has not been living under a rock for the last 50 years knows, Israel has, it is true, long been “singled out” in America…. for extraordinary levels of financial, military and diplomatic support from the United States government.

Indeed it could be said without exaggeration that no small and putatively sovereign nation in modern history has ever been the object of such lavishly favorable treatment from a Great Power. There is nothing remotely comparable to the US indulgent treatment of Israel in Spain’s or Great Britain’s long historical runs as the world’s unquestioned hegemon.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the current US President who declared quite famously that the US and Israel must “work in lockstep” within the theater of international politics. Or we could listen to the current Vice-President and current Secretary of State who frequently remind audiences that there is “no daylight” between the US and Israel when it comes to strategic goals in the world.

Is there any historical precedent—within a political establishment that constantly talks about how partisan politics must “stop at the water’s edge”– for the pledge made by house minority leader Eric Cantor to the Israeli Prime Minister in November 2010 that he would “serve as a check” on his own country’s presidential administration should it begin to consider policies that he deemed detrimental to Israel?

Is there another country that could purposely [attempt to] sink a US warship, the USS Liberty in 1967, and never suffer any sanction or recognizable alteration in bilateral relations for doing so?

Is there any other country that could assassinate an unarmed US citizen in an act of piracy on the high seas–Furkan Dogan in 2010–and not only not be called on the carpet for it, but also have the operation–patently illegal under the international laws of the sea–that led directly to the death be met with virtual silence by US State Department spokespersons and the vast majority of the US Congress?

Can we imagine a situation where a person from another country who had become a billionaire working mostly in US industry could go on national TV in his native land and brag openly and without apparent fear of consequence about how he had helped steal nuclear secrets from the United States? This is exactly what happened a month ago with the Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan.

Is there another country (besides perhaps certain members of the so-called Five Eyes Group of English-speaking countries) that has direct access to the raw data from US citizen communications currently being swept up by the NSA?

Can we imagine the US allowing analysts in any of those “other” countries–whose situations everyone is now supposed to critique before ever deigning to critique Israel–to scrutinize virtually without limits and for their own particular purposes the private communications of American citizens?

And these are only a few of the many examples of extraordinary US indulgence of Israel that could be adduced here.

No, for at least 46 years and arguably more, the US-Israel relationship has not been “normal” at all, which is to say, in any way comparable to any other bilateral relationship (with the possible exceptions of those it maintains with the UK and Canada) maintained by the US.

Summers, and the small army of people echoing his message on letters-to-the-editor sections around the country know this quite well.

So why are they pretending that is not the case, and that, correspondingly, any systematic critique of Israeli behavior must first pass the test of comparability to that of various and sundry countries around the world?

Because, they are interested in doing what many people do when they find themselves with a largely untenable long-term position: try to steer the conversation from going where they don’t want it to go.

And where is that?

Away from the matter of Israeli behavior, and more specifically, how the fundamental legal design and international comportment of the Israeli state corresponds (or not) to the democratic values most Americans claim to believe in.

If you can ball people up talking about the issue of the Israeli human rights record in relationship to other places that have nothing remotely approaching the privileged, 51st State treatment accorded to Israel–and thus clearly unable to be compared to it in any meaningful way–you can avoid having people talk about things like the following.

  • That, despite the New York Times’s and much of the mainstream media’s attempts to convince Americans of the contrary, the only uninspected, which is to say, completely rogue and unaccountable nuclear program in the Middle East belongs to Israel. And it is not a small one, having, according to most reports, around 200 warheads.Therefore, the only country really capable of “wiping” some other country “off the map” or coercing it to obeisance through nuclear threat in the eastern Mediterranean, the Mashriq and Iran is Israel.

    And no amount of talk (are you picking up on the pattern of argumentation yet?) about Iran’s completely non-existent nuclear bomb program–the assessment of the Directorate of National Intelligence of the US, not mine–can change this fact.

  • That Israel is an ethno-state, which is to say, a place where one must possess certain blood lines to accede to the fullest possible level of citizenship. Those who do not meet these requirements can live there, but in a decidedly second-class status.Israel is, of course, not alone among nations in offering citizenship on the basis of blood rights or jus sanguinis.

    Where it does stand out in the international context, however, is in the way it does this while simultaneously denying full civic rights to millions of its native inhabitants. This means that a Jew from the USA or Russia can move to Israel and be granted that highest level of citizenship almost instantaneously. This, while the Palestinian whose family has lived in the territory now controlled by Israel for centuries is forced to inhabit a relative civic limbo in the same place, with all that that entails in terms of the potentially capricious encroachments of the state in his or her life.

    As part of this approach to citizenship Israel forcibly prevents its already second-class but quite native Arab citizens from living as united families within the borders of Israel after marrying fellow Palestinians from the occupied territories or any other place in the world.

    So pervasive is the emphasis on ethnic belonging that security officials at Ben-Gurion Airport blithely slot passengers into differing security protocols–and here I speak from personal experience—according to how they answer the following thinly veiled question regarding one’s pertinence to the most legally favored group: “Are you an Israeli or do you have family in Israel?

    I don’t think that most Americans I know would associate this model of state and these behaviors (and this is a very small sample) with any system they would be happy or proud to live in or being what they understand to be truly democratic.

    And no army of spinmeisters repeating the mantra that “Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East” can change this salient fact.

  • That Israel has a large and growing population of religious citizens that is not only every bit as intolerant and backward-looking as the worst Muslim fanatics in Arab countries or the worst Christian fundamentalists in the US, but that has a considerably larger control over the political institutions of the country than is the case here or, for that matter, in the great majority of Islamic countries.Yet, this is hardly ever talked about in our press or by self appointed spokesmen for Israel such as those mentioned above. Rather, Israel’s most fervent supporters in the media constantly tell us (there’s that pattern argumentation again) about all those terrible Arabs— that want to impose sharia law on the world. Nary a word about how the haredim are encroaching daily upon the democratic freedoms of secular Israelis.
  • That the current President of Israel, apparently unaware that he was on camera, openly bragged in 2001 about his ability to manipulate the very same Americans that, in no small measure, have funded his political career and generally support his government’s efforts at ethnic cleansing (that is my understanding of what it is called in other parts of the world when you take over lands by force, displace the autochthonous inhabitants and place settlers of a different ethnic or national background on the seized territory) as well how he actively undermined the Oslo peace accords to which his government was a signatory and were brokered by the US.All this from a man, and from there, a government apparatus, that constantly tells the US and the world (there’s that pattern or argumentation once again) that there is “no partner for peace” on the Palestinian side, no person of demonstrable good will ready to talk in serious and reasonable terms about the future of the region.

What Summers and those that echo his words want most of all is to avoid an honest and wide-ranging conversation among Americans about how, and to what degree (if at all), our joined-at-the-hip relationship with Israel benefits the average citizen of this country.

If they were really the great friends of Israel they claim to be, they would repeatedly, indeed doggedly, say to their friends living in the Jewish state, as well as those living here for whom it is a prime object interest, what an old Jesuit, channeling the Gospel of Luke, once told me at the height of my youthful self-absorption:

“To whom much is given, much is expected”.

This is essentially what the ASA is doing.

It is a shame that instead of using their well-placed voices to second the call to have Israel live more fully within the parameters of its publicly proclaimed moral codes (you know, the only “democracy” in the Middle East) such prominent opinion leaders insist on throwing rhetorical smoke bombs designed to obscure most important issues at play in the country’s present-day drama.

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NYT excises AIPAC from Let’s Attack Syria story

September 2, 2013

Passage removed, H/T Niqnaq:

Administration officials said the influential pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC was already at work pressing for military action against Assad, fearing that if Syria escapes US retribution for its use of chemical weapons, Iran might be emboldened in the future to attack Israel. House majority leader Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, has long worked to challenge Democrats’ traditional base among Jews. One administration official called AIPAC “the 800 lb gorilla in the room,” and said its allies in Congress had to be saying:

If the White House is not capable of enforcing this red line against the catastrophic use of chemical weapons, we’re in trouble.

NewsDiffs reports that the article had no less than nine edits:

President Gains McCain’s Backing On Syria Attack (NYT), Change Log

By JACKIE CALMES, MICHAEL R. GORDON and ERIC SCHMITT | First archived on September 2, 2013, 1:18 p.m.
Headline Date/Time EST Archived Diff
President Gains McCain’s Backing On Syria Attack September 3, 2013, 7:25 a.m. (Compare with previous)
President Gains McCain’s Backing On Syria Attack September 2, 2013, 11:22 p.m. (Compare with previous)
President Gains McCain’s Backing On Syria Attack September 2, 2013, 10:50 p.m. (Compare with previous)
President Gains McCain’s Backing On Syria Attack September 2, 2013, 10:11 p.m. (Compare with previous)
President Gains McCain’s Backing On Syria Attack September 2, 2013, 9:33 p.m. (Compare with previous)
McCain Urges Lawmakers to Back Obama’s Plan for Syria September 2, 2013, 5:27 p.m. (Compare with previous)
McCain Urges Lawmakers to Back Obama’s Plan for Syria September 2, 2013, 4:57 p.m. (Compare with previous)
Obama Plans to Meet With Key Lawmakers to Push Syria Plan September 2, 2013, 3:18 p.m. (Compare with previous)
Obama Plans to Meet With Key Lawmakers to Push Syria Plan September 2, 2013, 2:50 p.m. (Compare with previous)
Obama Plans to Meet With Key Lawmakers to Push Syria Planhttp://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/world/middleeast/syria.html

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Lobby Dominates Congress, Media Covers it Up

By ALISON WEIR | August 11, 2011

You might think that twenty percent of the American Congress going on all-expense-paid, week-long junkets to a foreign country – paid for by a lobby for that country – would be considered newsworthy. Especially when the top Congressional leaders of both parties are leading the trips.

You would be wrong.

81 Congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are traveling to Israel this month. Most are freshmen Congressmen and include half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010.

The week-long trips are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which was created in 1990 as a supporting organization of AIPAC, America’s major pro-Israel lobbying organization, and is located in the same building (AIEF, which is only one of numerous organizations pushing pro-Israel policies, has an annual budget of over $24 million with an even larger endowment.

This is an extraordinary situation. No other lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near to controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to their favorite country.

Not all those going on these trips are enthusiastic. The wife of one Congressman who made a similar trip some years ago said that she and her husband had never been exposed to such pressure in all their lives. She said that at one point on their trip, her husband – a normally extremely tough man – was curled up in a fetal position.

A staff member of one representative participating in this month’s junkets said the representative had no choice. If the Congressional rep didn’t go on the trip, the rep would be targeted by AIPAC, large quantities of money, including massive out-of-state money, would be raised for the opponent in the next election, and quite likely the representative would be defeated. The staffer said that the Israel Lobby is far too powerful to ignore and that American voters have no knowledge of what’s going on.

It’s no surprise that voters are unaware that their Congress people are being propagandized and pressured by a foreign lobby. Their news media almost never tell them.

The Associated Press, America’s number one news service, has decided not to report on a lobbying group taking 81 representatives to a foreign country in order to influence their votes.

Even though the trips are being reported by news media in Britain, Iran, India, Israel, Lebanon, and elsewhere, AP has decided to give it a pass. When contacted about this, an AP editor in Washington DC said they knew about the trips and were “looking into it.”

Taking a similar tack, the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN, ABC, et al, failed to inform Americans about the trips. (The Washington Post, after the story was posted throughout the blogosphere, finally covered it belatedly on page 13. The CBS website had a story on the situation, but CBS news made no mention of the junkets on-air.)

The only AP stories on the subject are scattered local stories about individual Congress people. For example, AP’s Chicago bureau reported that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is taking part, without reporting that he was one of 81 representatives accepting these all-expense-paid junkets, and that his trip was being paid for by the pro-Israel lobby.

A few other American media reported the story in interestingly diverse ways:

Washington DC’s Politico covered it twice; the Atlantic’s AtlanticWire posted a story on people who were “kvetching” about the one-sided nature of the junkets, while emphasizing that some of the reps were also going to meet with some Palestinian leaders, but failed to report that this will apparently account for only a few hours out of the 7-day trip. LA’s Jewish Journal was remarkably forthright, reporting that “the congressional reps will be getting the dog and pony show,” and Commentary gloated at the “astonishing” number of representatives going on the trip, noting that “Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say ‘no’” to the President of the United States.

While Commentary claims that the willingness of Congressional representatives to go on all-expense-paid trips by one of the country’s most powerful lobbies “is a good reflection of American public opinion on the Middle East,” this is actually not accurate.

Surveys find that an extraordinarily strong majority of Americans – typically between two-thirds to three-quarters – do not wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine.* Such widespread desire for neutrality is particularly noteworthy given that U.S. news media across the political spectrum are consistently highly Israeli-centric in their reporting.

It is quite likely that such voters would be unhappy to learn that a foreign lobby has such power over their elected representatives, leading them to give the favored nation, one of the smallest and wealthiest countries on the planet, over $8 million per day of American tax money when the U.S. is in the middle of a financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why AP and others don’t tell them.

* * *

* Two thirds want the United States to “lean toward neither side” – Brookings: “Attitudes Toward the Middle East Peace Process: Surveys of Arab and Jewish Opinion in Israel and Public Opinion in the United States”.

71 percent favor not taking a side – World Public Opinion: “International Poll: Most Publics–including Americans–Oppose Taking Sides in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”.

65 percent favor not taking either side – CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. May 24-26, 2011. Adults nationwide.

“Although more Americans show sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians, a strong majority has consistently felt that the US should play an even-handed role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since December 1998, Gallup and other organizations have asked respondents many times whether the US “should take Israel’s side, take the Palestinians’ side, or not take either side.” Strong majorities have consistently said the US should take neither side. In July 2000, 74% endorsed this position. Shortly after September 11th, 2001, this number dropped to 63% (Israel’s side rising to 27%) then recovered to 70% in early November (Israel’s side 20%). Israel’s military actions of April 2002 had little impact on this majority view. CNN/USA Today/Gallup found 71% in April for the US taking neither side” – World Public Opnion: “Israel and Palestine”.

~

Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. She can be reached at contact@cnionline.org.

Source

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 8 Comments