My warning to Minnesota Legislators apparently fell on deaf ears last week as the Minnesota Senate Finance Committee voted on Friday to go back to the Bush-Cheney neo-con agenda in ordering the Minnesota Investment Board to embark in making Mid-east policy by divesting from energy companies doing business with Iran. On Friday, one DFL Senator, Steve Murphy, actually interrupted a witness (who was trying to explain the economic impacts of such divestment) by going on the following tirade which Sen. Murphy proudly admitted was “beating the Republican drum.” In doing so, Murphy not only voiced Republican Newt Gingrich’s and Israeli extremist Avigdor Lieberman’s agenda which is in opposition to the diplomatic approach that Obama has charted in dealing with Iran but, in referring to the 1979 Iran hostage crisis and the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon as the reasons why he’s voting for Senator Terri Bonoff’s (AIPAC-inspired) divestment bill, Senator Murphy became equally unhinged:
“These companies that are working in Iran, that are invested there, that are invested in Iran, that is so unpatriotic, it’s unbelievable! Now I’m going to start beating the Republican drum here! Mr. Chairman, this is idiotic that we allow anybody to do business with governments that are trying to destroy us! Period! And if these businessmen have problems with us saying that they can’t do that, tough!”
Someone mentioned that Senator Murphy also got similar war fever and fell for the Bush-Cheney lies that Iraq was trying to destroy the United States with its WMD and ties to Al Qaeda back in 2002. But doesn’t anyone else in the Minnesota Legislature remember that those were all just lies on Bush-Cheney’s part to get us to go to war? Is the same neo-con fueled push to war on Iran taking place in state legislatures now? Are the politicians getting duped again by the powerful AIPAC lobby? How about listening to some other voices or the facts for a change? Is that why the witnesses who spoke against this ridiculously counterproductive bill had to be cut off and silenced? In any event, the CIA’s last National Intelligence Estimate does not begin to support Murphy’s tirade demonizing the entire country of Iran.
I don’t know what else is needed to expose the fact that these Minnesota legislators are choosing to align themselves with Bush-Cheney’s old drumbeat to war as well as Newt Gingrich’s and Avigdor Lieberman’s quest for more power. But let me simply ask the same question that the Jewish “J Street group for Middle East Peace and Security” is asking: Is this some kind of bad horror movie?!
“To thunderous applause (at the AIPAC Conference in Washington DC), Newt Gingrich attacked President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East, promoted military action against Iran, and assailed diplomatic engagement as weakness at AIPAC’s conference. Just before he went on stage, Gingrich told The Jerusalem Post that the President’s policy with Israel and Iran was a “fantasy” and that Obama was “endangering Israel” by trying to work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. …Is this some kind of bad horror movie? Just when we thought the 2008 election had finally discredited the disastrous foreign policy of George Bush and Dick Cheney, Gingrich spouts the same old failed ideas in primetime and thinks it’s good politics…. Political pundits and journalists might think that Gingrich and those who applauded his remarks speak for the majority of American friends of Israel, when they certainly don’t. Congress may consider supporting Gingrich’s recycled Bush-Cheney views, which would be a disaster for Israel and theUnited States. We’ve got to make it crystal clear that the majority of our community stands with President Obama on Israel and Iran – so Congress and the media see how politically toxic and substantively wrong Gingrich’s views really are.
On the politics, Newt’s got it wrong. 78% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama and over 70% of American Jews support President Obama’s policies toward Israel and the Middle East. Gingrich’s views represent a small, though politically outspoken, minority of the Jewish community. On substance, Newt’s also dead wrong. Pursuing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most pro-Israel thing President Obama could do right now. It’s the only way to secure Israel as a Jewish, democratic homeland, as well as a building block of regional peace efforts that would normalize relations between all Arab countries and Israel. On Iran, the President is promoting tough, direct diplomacy to address concerns over their nuclear program, support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and threats against Israel. The President has made clear that the diplomatic road ahead will be tough and that we will not be bound by any illusions. This is the right approach for the time being – and a welcome change after the last President’s Axis-of-Evil approach that got us nowhere. The politics of this moment are incredibly important – imagine if we can collect tens of thousands of signatures from our community rejecting Newt Gingrich’s attacks on Obama. Next time someone wants to attack President Obama on Israel and the Middle East, they’ll think twice.”
To be sure, AIPAC apparently considers “J Street’s views as “lint” and AIPAC’s power must lie in something more than its political outspokenness. A report of the huge annual AIPAC meeting in Washington DC yesterday said that
“More than half the members of the House and Senate attended Monday night’s dinner, which featured the group’s “roll call” in which the lawmakers all rise. It is a conscious – and effective – effort to demonstrate the group’s influence on Capitol Hill.”
Now anyone who lectures, as I do, on the social psychology experiments of Soloman Asch and Stanley Milgram which proved how easy it is to manipulate people through “group think” conformity and obedience to authority, might be alarmed at such overtly manipulative tactics. The article also notes, interestingly enough, that “Aipac officials say the key to their success is linking their supporters across the country with their local elected lawmakers.”
So based on what we’ve seen so far, no one should be surprised to see a similar, de facto “roll call” and return to Bush-Cheney group think dominate Minnesota legislators when they are called to cast their vote in the next week or two to mandate divestment from Iran in order to oblige AIPAC instead of what’s fiscally sound for their Minnesota constituents. Let’s hope it’s doesn’t help lead the U.S into a third war.