Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Right

Haaretz published an excellent article today on Netanyahu’s connections to the Christian Right in the US.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s links with U.S. Republican presidential candidates, and with the Christian right, are getting closer….

When Netanyahu and his aides are asked, they insist that they make every effort to avoid meddling in domestic American politics. The speech in Congress, they say, bore witness to widespread support for Israel and for Netanyahu among both parties. Netanyahu, they insist, makes a point of meeting with virtually any member of Congress, Democrat or Republican, who comes to Israel, and in every speech before an American audience, he emphasizes that Israel must remain a non-partisan issue in the U.S.

Yet, Netanyahu is very close to Newt Gingrich, and the two of them share connections with a right-wing Jewish millionaire, Sheldon Adelson, who has made his money as a casino mogul and has supported right-wing Israeli causes for a long time (he’s also now a major contributor to Birthright). Adelson has supported both Gingrigch’s and Netanyahu’s election campaigns. Adelson owns the right-wing Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, which is distributed for free. When I read about this in the article, I thought about the legislative assault upon Israeli NGOs – laws have been proposed in the Knesset to limit the amount that an Israeli NGO can receive from a foreign government to 20,000 NIS a year. This attack is aimed at NGOs that receive money from the EU or various European countries, usually for coexistence work between Jews and Arabs in Israel or for human rights advocacy. If money is cut off from these NGOs, shouldn’t Israeli law also ban other foreigners trying to influence the Israeli political process – like Sheldon Adelson giving money to Netanyahu for his political campaign in Israel?

Netanyahu doesn’t exactly maintain balanced relations with America’s two political camps. He is deeply rooted in the conservative camp, and shows disdain for the “naivete” of the Democratic party’s liberal wing, from which Barack Obama emerged. As with Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, his natural allies are evangelicals and members of the Tea Party movement.

Netanyahu and his associates are close to the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) organization, which is comprised mainly of evangelicals who believe that Israel’s existence is a necessary precondition for the return of the Messiah, and the coming of redemption. In their eyes, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who threatens to destroy Israel, is nothing less than an agent of Satan on earth.

Each year, Netanyahu delivers a satellite address to thousands of participants at CUFI’s conference in Washington. “Our enemies think that we are you and that you are us,” exclaimed Netanyahu at July’s CUFI conference. “You know something? They are absolutely right.

With “friends” of Israel like Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich, John Hagee, and CUFI, nothing can go wrong, right?

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One Response to Benjamin Netanyahu and the American Right

  1. N. Friedman says:

    “This attack is aimed at NGOs that receive money from the EU or various European countries, usually for coexistence work between Jews and Arabs in Israel or for human rights advocacy.”

    As strange as it might sound, I think that the chances your above quoted statement accurately describes what the EU or European governments are doing is around 0%. Much more likely is the possibility that the EU, which has an informal agreement with the Arab League to take the Arab League line on the Arab Israeli conflict, is pushing the Arab League line in Israel, giving money to groups that, in the EU and the Arab League’s view, benefit them.

    As for evidence for my assertion, you might read about the Barcelona Process and the Euro-Arab Dialogue, about which a fair amount has been written. You might want to start reading about it, glowingly here ( ) and not so glowingly here ( ). Copies of the agreed upon protocols for dealing with Israel, which include provisions expressly setting forth the obligation of the EU to trumpet the Arab League line on Israel, can be found in the index of Bat Ye’or’s Cassandra-style book, Eurabia.

    As for the European governments, they go where the EU leads.

    Now, even if everything which is known about the position of the EU and European states were untrue, the chances, in any event, that a governmental organisation, with an interest in its supply of oil, wanting co-existence between Jews and Arabs – as opposed to merely appeasing Arab demands in order to get an uninterrupted supply of oil – as an aim seems pretty far fetched. In fact, I think it can be said definitively that what you write is simply not the case.

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