How Does the Lobby Influence Congress?
Panel 5 Q&A
April 10, 2015
Moderator Janet McMahon: Thank you so much Congressman Findley. One of the questions we got was after all these enlightening speeches, please elaborate how can we strategize to defeat the “deceitful Jewish Lobby,” AIPAC, and I think the issue of one person, one district, one contributor is crucial. Another question we got, it says, do you see a large difference between the atmosphere in our current Congress toward Israel and the Congress you served in? Do you think that Congress feels differently toward Israel than it did when you were serving?
Paul Findley: I believe that the scene is much more adverse to good government than it was in my time. I was proud to be a Republican and I cannot say that today after the behavior of the House, of Republicans, in regard to the treaty with Iran. But the quality of elected representatives is not going to mean much until the Constitution is amended to permit strict rules on campaign spending. And when those strict rules come about, we will see a massive change in public interest in voting, a vast increase I’m sure that will come about because they see what’s going on and they realize that the system is broken, it’s not working as it must. Thank you very much.
Moderator Janet McMahon:
Congressman Nick Rahall, do you have a comment, from the Democrat?
Nick Rahall: If I could just say what Paul said, I don’t disagree with what he said but, you know, the bottom line comes down to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Congress has passed campaign finance reform. We’ve made many stabs at it. No matter what we do, of course, loopholes are going to be found, but it comes down to the Supreme Court of the United States. They’re the ones that gave us the Citizen’s United decision.
Paul Findley: I think during
our time there, a bill was passed to put a $40,000 limit on
congressional spending. It passed, of course, but the Supreme Court
knocked it down right away.
Nick Rahall: And that’s I guess the one questions I had, which was a recent Supreme Court decision, what was the role of the Jewish lobby? I guess another question was is it the Jewish lobby or Israeli lobby? It should be the Israeli lobby by the way. In the April 2014 Supreme Court decision striking down political donation caps on, I cannot say what was in the Supreme Court of the United States’ mind but that was one of the questions I had.
Moderator Janet McMahon: Yeah,
Paul Findley: My hearing is not adequate, I didn’t hear what you said.
Nick Rahall: I said I thought the bottom line is it’s up to the Supreme Court of the United States to limit and to change our campaign finance as well. They opened the floodgates right there. And then they piled on just a couple months ago with the decision lifting the individual caps on contributions.
Moderator Janet McMahon: And M.J. [Rosenberg], you have a comment?
M.J. Rosenberg: Yeah, I just wanted— I’m the Jewish guy on the panel.
Moderator Janet McMahon: And I’m the woman.
M.J. Rosenberg: That’s true. You can’t fill every slot.
Moderator Janet McMahon: Oh yeah.
M.J. Rosenberg: And I just wanted—one person wrote and said, what’s your reaction to calling AIPAC the Jewish lobby? The correct term—I don’t have a particular reaction. I’m not one of these people who say, oh, it’s anti-Semitic to call it the Jewish lobby. It’s shorthand, that’s the way we talk. The fact is it’s a pro-Israel lobby except it’s not even really that because is it really in Israel’s interests to have endless war? I mean let’s just forget names. I think it’s important to know and to recall that the Jewish lobby or the pro-Israel lobby or whatever we call it represents a small minority of Jewish-Americans.
Every four years the American-Jewish Committee which is the largest and wealthiest Jewish organization, it’s not AIPAC, it’s the American-Jewish Committee, does a poll. It’s a scientific poll—they do it with The New York Times. It’s exit polls when people come from voting. What did Jews and others vote? What are the issues that they vote on?
In both 2008 and 2012, the percentage of the Jewish voters for whom Israel is in their top five concerns is four percent. Four percent. The fact of the matter is despite what AIPAC and their paid liars tell us, Jews are for the most part in this country what they always were. They are liberals, they are progressives and without the non-AIPAC Jews, people like— Democrats like this guy would probably have a much harder time getting funds, and this guy too. I mean the fact is that’s always been true about Jews.
And what [Sheldon] Adelson and AIPAC want you
to think is that the Jews are becoming Republicans. Well, wait till
the next election, they voted for Barack Obama 78 percent. The only
group that outdid Jews in voting for Barack Obama were African
Americans. So it’s really important, it hurts, it pains me a little
to have anyone think that way about their next door neighbor who’s
Jewish. He seems like a liberal progressive guy and then you think
but is he really one of these flag-waving Netanyahu people? He’s
probably not because that is a small minority.
But the few thousand of them that do exist—and it only takes a few thousand—are incredibly rich. So your person next door in Arlington or Silver Spring, that’s not—it’s people who live in Manhattan and the Hamptons and Beverly Hills and all these people who are just loaded and have made Israel their ticket to power. They love making members of Congress grovel to them. Is it about Israel? A small part. Mostly it’s about making members of Congress grovel to them. And they also put in plugs for their businesses while they’re there.
The Jewish community is turning; it’s changing. This Iran thing and particularly the appearance of Netanyahu, I think, in the hollowed heirloom of the House of Representatives was deeply embarrassing to almost every Jew I know. We were cringing—you think you were cringing? We were cringing. So I mean it’s not, we have to do something about this lobby and no one should ever allow an unrepresentative lobby to speak for them and the Jewish community does not do what they should do which is to say, “You don’t speak for us.” Because by being silent, they allow this impression to be there.
Moderator Janet McMahon: Well, thank you very much. I’m afraid that’s all the time we have. We’re supposed to have a break but we’re running behind so I’m not sure if we’re going to have a break or the next panel. So thank you very much, okay. Dale, we’ll get the next panel ready, it’s on Iran. Thank you, Congressman Findley, and Congressman Rahall, and M.J.
Rosenberg. Thank you so much.
[End of Transcript]