Washington / Beyrouth : conference call
Franklin Lamb, Beyrouth – In Washington and Beyrouth the response to Lebanon’s legitimization of Hezbollah’s arms was publicly subdued.
The US Embassy, for the second year in a row, mistakenly sent Eid al Fitr greetings to Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman, whereas this week’s holiday, which commemorates the annual Hajj Pilgrimage and the 1,400 year old Muslim tradition of giving of meat to the poor, is called Eid al Adha. Eid al Fitr actually follows Ramadan which ended this year on September 19th. Anyhow, it’s the thought that counts and the White House did promptly correct the Beyrouth’s Embassy error and sent President Obama’s and the American peoples Eid al Adha greetings yesterday at 2:15 p.m. Beyrouth time.
Privately, the reaction to legitimizing Hezbollah’s deterrence to Israeli aggressions is causing a strong reaction on Capitol Hill.
AIPAC has another Congressional Resolution ready to condemn Lebanon for capitulating to ‘terrorism’. Hard to believe as it is, some members of Congress are actually tiring of all the Israel Lobby’s resolutions and the pressure tactics AIPAC uses to get them passed irrespective of what they say or whether they are read.
Before the Thanksgiving break, AIPAC organized an urgent conference call among 11 Chairmen, of key US Congressional committees, including Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Appropriations, Banking, Homeland Security, Environment, and Aging, and Rules held a conference call arranged by AIPAC.
Together, the group forms what AIPAC calls “Israel’s Firewall” which it and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations conceived of and formalized in late September 2001 “ to assure consultation and dialogue with respect to how best to launch Congressional initiatives that will preserve the special and unbreakable US-Israel relationship.”
In addition to the above members, others who have been approached to form the ‘firewall’ in the 111th Congress include all 13 Jewish members of the US Senate and the 28 Jewish House Members as well as a couple of dozen trusted evangelical Christian Zionist members.
According to a Zionist Organizations of America (ZOA) source, the group has not been very active until recently. Decisions, if any that were taken the past eight years by what is referred to by some on Capitol Hill as the “Israel Synod” is not currently known.
One recent decision that has been taken was revealed by ZOA. The ‘fire wall’ project is to ‘fast track’ a dramatic increase in US military aid to Israel to deal with supposed Hezbollah, Hamas, Syrian, and Iranian threats to Israel. “These people see an urgent need to clean house and restore Israel’s military dominance and credibility”, claimed the ZOA source.
According to a staff member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, the ‘ fire wall’ group plans to expedite US Congressional approval for more subsidies for all or part of the funds needed by Israel to purchase U.S. weapons. This will be in addition to Israel receiving over the past 24 months $ 2 billion from US taxpayers earmarked for this purpose.
AIPAC’s new ‘fire wall’ group will work for the 2010 deployment of the so called “Iron Dome” that can unleash a metallic cloud to bring down incoming rockets in the skies over Gaza or Lebanon as well as funding for a new generation of Israel’s Arrow defense system designed to shoot down Iran’s long-range missiles at high altitudes.
In addition, Israel will receive US funding for more German-made Dolphin submarines that can be equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles for positioning off the coast of Iran.
AIPAC’s problem is to get Congress to overrule Pentagon skepticism of much of Israel’s ‘new weapons’ projects which some view as more psychological warfare than reliable or usable effectively in future conflicts. AIPAC appears confident and with good reason.
The Congressional Israel lobby has already achieved a commitment from the Obama administration to add Israeli systems and munitions to a new U.S.-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and deliver 25 to Israel by 2015 with another 50 delivered by 2018. The Obama administration will also integrate bombs that use an Israeli precision guidance kit called Spice along with Python 5 air-to-air missiles made by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. The ‘fire wall’ group is to assure that Israel will also get a relatively inexpensive path for hardware and software upgrades to add future weapons.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed under: American Culture, Middle East | 4 Comments
Tags: AIPAC, Beirut, Eid al Adha, Eid al Fitr greetings, Lebanon, US-Israel relationship, Zionist Organizations of America, ZOA