1963: The year the Israel Lobby Transcended US Law

Grant Smith, March 21, 2013


Fifty years ago this May, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opened a series of unprecedented hearings investigating the clandestine activities of foreign agents active in the United States. The investigation focused most intensively on the operatives and financing of key Israel lobbying organizations such as the American Zionist Council, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the American Section of the quasi-governmental Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency. Thanks to a secret memo only declassified in 2010, the public may now know what fears motivated the hearings.

The March 17, 1961 staff report expressed concerns that “indigenous groups based on racial or national origins have been organized in the United States, and have often concentrated on influencing United States foreign policy in directions designed primarily to promote the interests of other states.” The Senate was particularly – though not exclusively – concerned about Israel-coordinated overseas provocations intended to tripwire the United States into action. “Operation Susannah,” an all-but-forgotten 1954 Israeli false flag terror attack on U.S. facilities in Egypt designed to keep international forces stationed in the Suez Canal zone is mentioned twice as a reason for investigating “how they do it.” Although such a line of inquiry was clearly “explosive” the Senate proposal included having “testimony on the Lavon Affair, and similar ‘gray area’ activities.”

The Senate and a parallel Justice Department investigation uncovered a massive money-laundering scheme by which the Jewish Agency – using its access to Israeli government funding and tax exempt donations from the United States – illegally funneled tens of millions into public relations and lobbying efforts conducted by the top U.S. lobby – the American Zionist Council. Isaiah Kenen, the leader of the AZC’s unincorporated lobbying division called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – also received Jewish Agency funding, laundered through his privately-owned lobbying newsletter.

The Justice Department ordered the AZC to begin registering under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act. The AZC fought the order before finally shutting down, but it was a pyrrhic victory. The AIPAC lobbying division split off six weeks after the order, incorporating in Washington and applying for IRS tax-exempt status in 1967.

The Jewish Agency’s American Section, forced by the Justice Department to reveal its secret Israeli government funding and legislative powers in the Knesset, also slipped the bonds of registration. In 1971 the New York branch told the Justice Department it wasn’t an agent of the Jewish Agency in Israel after all, but rather yet another foreign sister organization, the World Zionist Organization. The Justice Department thought the paper reorganization, which didn’t change staff, executives, or even office space “sketchy.” (PDF) But according to a recent Congressional Research Service report (PDF) by 1973 the Jewish Agency began receiving $25 million a year in U.S. taxpayer funding for its settlement and other activities – totaling $460 million by 1991. CRS reveals that between 2000 and 2013 the Jewish Agency will have received another $534 million ($41 million per year) in funding from Congress – none of it easily auditable by U.S. taxpayers.

But – as might now be expected – the Jewish Agency has never stopped trying to influence Americans even as tax dollars flow and the Justice Department’s FARA division sits idly by. Between 2002-2009 the Jewish Agency funded the perennial “peace processor” Dennis Ross at an Israeli “think tank” called the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute. The U.S. taxpayer-funded Jewish Agency has more recently issued a formal demand that President Barack Obama commute the sentence of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

A half-century after the attempted regulation of Israel lobbies under FARA failed, it is productive to image what might be different today if AIPAC in particular had been properly registered under the Act. When AIPAC director Morris Amitay was caught red-handed mishandling classified missile secrets in 1975, he could have been prosecuted under FARA. When AIPAC and an Israeli diplomat purloined the entire 300-page book of classified trade secrets compiled from 70 U.S. industry groups opposed to unilateral trade concessions for Israel in 1984, they could have been prosecuted for failing to report their clandestine subversion of due process. When in 2005 Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman met with Israeli diplomats during efforts to pass classified information to the press they thought could trigger a U.S attack on Iran, FARA consequences would have awaited them all.

However, because the U.S. Department of Justice has unilaterally abrogated its responsibility to enforce FARA, people, ideas, money and propaganda campaigns continue to secretly slosh freely between Tel Aviv and Israeli fronts in America with taxpayer funds thrown into the toxic brew. It is hard to imagine the intense and growing drumbeat for yet another unnecessary war in the Middle East on false premises would be sounding at all if the Justice Department spent as much time upholding FARA as it did prosecuting justified whistle blowers, entrapping hapless would-be “Islamist terrorists” and formulating immoral legalese justifying ever more outrageous new executive powers.

34 Responses to “1963: The year the Israel Lobby Transcended US Law”

  1. Great article.. very informative.

  2. November 22,1963.

  3. […] 1963: The year the Israel Lobby Transcended US Law […]

  4. I'm not the same "guest" as the above poster, but that's correct about JFK.

  5. Ok, call me a conspiracist as much as you will. But for the life of me I simply can't believe, that the rise of the Israel lobby to power in America in 1963 and the death of JFK – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_F._Kennedy – on November 22,1963 were NOT interconnected in a more than casual way.

    AFAIK, JFK was adamantly opposed to the state of Israel developing and/or owning nuclear arms.

    And people have been "taken out" for much, much less than that, already.

    Also, his vice- and later US-president Lyndon B. Jonson was the one to bury the involvement of Israel in the Israeli attempt to sink the USS Liberty on 8. June 1967 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Liberty_incident – in the public.

    Am I the only one to see a pattern here?

    "Boy, do I hate being right all the time!" – Dr. Ian Malcolm alias Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park

  6. also RFK and JFK Jr

    they both were hot on the trail

  7. This one great historical essay. There is the theory that Kennedy was done in because of his demanding inspections of the Dimona reactor. Ruby was a rabid Zionist. Was he sent to shut up Oswald? There is a book, I read about that theory, but off hand, I can't remember the name of it.

  8. The book you refer to is "Final Judgement" by Michael Collins Piper.

  9. […] Antiwar […]

  10. I see the pattern. You should have included J.F.K.'s plans to withdraw all troops from Vietnam, his intentionions not to plunder other other countries resources, his plan to switch from Fed to the Treasury, his ending of the Oil Depletion allowance, and he stood up to the corporations. He was a hell of a man and President and to this day am depressed when I think what might have been if he llived.

  11. AFAIK, JFK was adamantly opposed to the state of Israel developing and/or owning nuclear arms.

  12. Grant F Smith has been writing about the Israeli lobby for years, my understanding is that his research is largely FOIA-based. He has been a lone voice in the political wilderness. In this era of the declining Neocon-led Empire, I hope that Grant Smith's work will gain traction as people wake up to the reality of a long-failed Republic, beginning half a century ago, at least.

  13. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles?

    I mean, what you say is important and everything. But imagine if you added some great photos or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with images and video clips, this site could certainly be one of the best in its niche.
    Excellent blog!

  14. […] Grant Smith: 1963: The Year the Israel Lobby Transcended U.S. Law […]

  15. Ya people hate the zionist, they are parasitic criminals who are scamming every entity of our country.

  16. Grant – you refer in this article to "US taxpayer funding" and "funding from Congress for the World Zionist Organization." The average reader might suppose these to mean Congress cuts a check to the WZO.

    But in your April 2, 2010 article here you wrote "Congress allocates $40 million a year in US taxpayer contributions to the Jewish Agency." The word "contributions" suggests this means Congress allows private US citizens to donate to the agency, up to $40 million in aggregate, perhaps with a tax break.

    Can you clarify what you mean in this article? Is the US government *directly* funding the WZO, or do you mean that Congress indirectly favors the WZO by giving its American donors a tax break?

  17. Update to my previous comment: I followed the link to the Congressional Research Service report that Grant supplied in his article. Sure enough, right there on page 20:

    Migration & Refugee Assistance

    "Since 1973, Israel has received grants from the State Department’s Migration and Refugee Assistance fund (MRA) to assist in the resettlement of migrants to Israel. Funds are paid to the United Israel Appeal, a private philanthropic organization in the United States, which in turn transfers the funds to the Jewish Agency for Israel. Between 1973 and 1991, the United States gave about $460 million for resettling Jewish refugees in Israel. Annual amounts have varied from a low of $12 million to a high of $80 million, based on the number of Jews leaving the former Soviet Union and other areas for Israel. The Migration and Refugee funds for Israel are earmarked by Congress; the Administration usually does not request specific amounts of Migration and Refugee assistance for Israel."

    Table 2 then shows MRA program contributions to Israel by year from 2000 to (expected) 2013. The total is $534 million, just as Grant reported.

    So to answer my own question — it does appear that Congress pays this directly out of the US budget.

    Good job with your facts, Grant! Thank you for calling this to everyone's attention.

  18. "Grant F Smith has been writing about the Israeli lobby for years, my understanding is that his research is largely FOIA-based. He has been a lone voice in the political wilderness."
    That's true, especially the lone voice part…and the best thing is, he's going to stay that way.

  19. "Ok, call me a conspiracist as much as you will."
    No, I think the proper word for you is brain-dead.

  20. Our allies? http://www.youtube.com/channel/HC-VL6LzTvahA

  21. You have no idea how many people agree with Grant F. Smith in spite of him being in the wilderness where you would like him to remain for obvious reasons. The days of Zionist deception are numbered.

  22. Thousands of people from across the world come to the United States each year and apply for asylum. Asylum is a form of protection provided by the United States government to individuals that have a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The immigrants should consult to the authentic asylum attorneys to resolve /assist in their cases

  23. No man may serve two masters.

    "Dual-loyalty" means NO LOYALTY to the United States.

  24. Check out YouTube for factual evidence on The USS Liberty incident. Hear the crew as they tell what really happened. Look up 'The Lavon Affair' as well, etc. They are no ally of anyone's. Remember Rachel Corrie? They call her a terrorist. They are delusional sickos! BTW, the vatican is the wealthiest bank in the world. Look up 'Constantine's Gift' to see how they were stealing Europe from our ancestors and . . . us, prior to their banking foreclosure scheme. They used Rome's soldiers to convert everyone to christianity. They used the bloodiest, most horrific terroristuc neans to do so fpr over a thousand years. One generation after the next gradually began raising their babies to accept the greatest lie ever forced on anyone.

  25. When all the aid; military, etc is tolled, they get billions every ywar. In fact, they get more foreign aid than all the foreign aid we send to other countries combined.

  26. After Mearsheimer and Walt's The Israel Lobby, no American can claim nobody told them about the Israel lobby; besides, didn't they read Carter's book about Israel apartheid?

  27. Pero este día es especial en el campo de concentración llamado “El Silencio”. Es sábado. Y los sábados llega a disfrutar de un asado y a dormir la siesta, el cardemal Aramburú. is bubblegum casting legitimate

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  30. Check out YouTube for factual evidence on The USS Liberty incident. Hear the crew as they tell what really happened. Look up 'The Lavon Affair' as well, etc. They are no ally of anyone's. Remember Rachel Corrie






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  34. using its access to Israeli government funding and tax exempt donations from the United States