Is AIPAC’s Iron Grip Over The US Congress Waning?
A new column by Josh Ruebner, who heads US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, gives a behind the scenes look at what actually transpired in the latest AIPAC-sponsored Congressional Resolution which condemns any unilateral measures to declare or recognize a Palestinian state.
AIPAC, of course, would have you believe (this message came via twitter) that everything was ‘business as usual’:
By voice vote, the House passed a resolution opposing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. No member claimed time in opposition.
Ruebner, however, reveals that “H.Res.1765 was pushed through quickly with the co-sponsorship of only 53 Representatives,” using a procedure called Suspension of the Rules. This procedure, “supposed to be reserved for non-controversial resolutions such as the naming of a post office, prohibits the resolution from being amended and limits debate on it. In exchange for these restrictions, the resolution must get at least a 2/3 vote to pass rather than a simple majority”.
Ruebner gives us a picture of what actually occurred on the House floor:
… the resolution was done in such a helter-skelter fashion that it was put on the calendar for a vote late Tuesday night while Rep. Howard Berman, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was still drafting it. Most Congressional offices did not even see the text of the resolution until a few hours prior to the vote. Many Congressional offices were reportedly infuriated that such an important foreign policy declaration was being treated in such an inconsiderate manner. […]
Berman, who managed the debate on the House floor for the Democrats, appeared flustered and befuddled as he looked repeatedly and anxiously around the chamber for Representatives to appear magically to speak on behalf of the resolution. In the end, Berman mustered only himself and three other Jewish Representatives—Gary Ackerman, Eliot Engel, and Shelley Berkley—to offer full-throated support for the resolution. […]
These staunchly pro-Israel Representatives’ proceeded to take the podium and spew pure propaganda — the kinds of misrepresentations that are all but certain to please AIPAC and Israeli PM, Benjamin Netanyahu.
One bright note was Representative Lois Capps’s upbraiding of Berman for his shameless hawking of this AIPAC resolution:
After rising “in very reluctant support” of what she termed “yet another one-sided resolution,” Capps decried the resolution for failing to mention “Israel’s expansion of settlements.” She noted that “Resolutions, like the one we are considering today, are clearly done for domestic political consumption much more than for having any positive impact on the conflict. We should not be ignorant of the fact that this Chamber’s pattern of passing resolutions that are one-sided can, indeed, undermine our credibility to be serious brokers for peace.”
Having been put in his place by Capps, Berman called for a voice vote rather than a recorded vote. Fewer than ten Representatives then on the floor voted by “unanimous consent” to adopt the resolution, giving the illusion that the entire House gave its imprimatur to it.
Reubner’s entire post is worth reading, and can be found over at Mondoweiss.