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19 Nov

Soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s pledge of allegiance to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

 
   
Opinion
Republican Cantor recants on Israel
Incoming House Majority Leader tries to explain why he pledged allegiance to Israel’s leader over the US President.
MJ Rosenberg Last Modified: 18 Nov 2010 10:08 GMT

The McGlynn: This fool has violated his oath of office. He should be expelled from the senate. But we know he won’t be. But………….

Should he not be forced to register under FARA?  The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) was enacted in 1938. FARA is a disclosure statute that requires persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.  Disclosure of the required information facilitates evaluation by the government and the American people of the statements and activities of such persons in light of their function as foreign agents. The FARA Registration Unit of the Counterespionage Section (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Act.

The silence is overwhelming. Not one Republican has spoken out. Of course, to my knowledge, no Democrat has said anything either. Insane!

 “I’m with you, not my president,”  Eric Cantor told Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu [Gallo/Getty

Better yet, prosecute him under The Logan Act

The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with imprisonment of up to three years.The text of the Act is broad and is addressed at any attempt of a US citizen to conduct foreign relations without authority. However, there is no record of any convictions or even prosecutions under the Logan Act. Great!  He would be the first!!

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Further, this fool can not argue against such prosecution of himself. In 2007, Nancy Pelosi visited Syria — she didn’t pledge to side with them against her own country, just visited them — and Eric Cantor himself was one of the many Republicans accusing her of likely having committed a crime.  Cantor wrote:  “Several leading legal authorities have made the case that [Pelosi’s] recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American ‘without authority of the United States’ to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States.”

Soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is desperately trying to explain away the promise he made to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last Wednesday.

Cantor huddled with Netanyahu just prior to the Prime Minister’s meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

Clinton was expected to reaffirm the American commitment to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and opposition to Israeli settlement expansion. 

Cantor wanted Netanyahu to know that he had his back.

Cantor’s office itself put out a statement bragging about his pledge to Netanyahu: “Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington,” the readout said.

“He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.”

For now, forget Cantor’s ridiculous assertion that the security of Israel and the United States are “reliant upon the other.” 

No, the United States provides Israel with the security assistance to survive – it is not the other way around.

But lay that aside. It is Cantor’s statement of loyalty to Netanyahu that is the shocker. Specifically, it is his promise that he would ensure that Republicans in the US House of Representatives “will serve as a check” on US Middle East policy.

Almost immediately, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s bureau chief in Washington, Ron Kampeas, declared that Cantor’s statement was “extraordinary”. 

He wrote that he could not “remember an opposition leader telling a foreign leader, in a personal meeting, that he would side, as a policy, with that leader against the President.”

Kampeas was clearly shocked, but he was understating the enormity of Cantor’s offense. 

Cantor’s pledge of allegiance to a foreign leader would be remarkable, and deeply offensive, even if the foreign country in question were Canada or the United Kingdom, our two closest allies with whom we have few policy differences.

The United States has major policy differences with Israel, and has had them for decades, most notably over settlements, the occupied West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, etc. 

Israel is also the largest recipient of US foreign aid in the world, which means that the President of the United States has every right to express those differences firmly and clearly.

On the other hand, no American official – by any stretch of the imagination – has the right to tell the government of Israel, or any foreign government, that he stands with the foreign leader against his own president. 

It is one thing to oppose particular US policies; it is quite another to tell a foreign leader, “I’m with you, not my president.” Of course, Cantor was just being honest. 

Although he does oppose virtually all of President Obama’s policies – he’s a Republican and that is what Republicans do – he supports 100 per cent of Israel’s policies. 

And although an extreme partisan domestically, when it comes to Israel, he supports whichever government is in power. 

He believes in the right to criticise this government, just not that one.

Cantor’s mistake was not telling Prime Minister Netanyahu what everyone knows is true anyway, but telling the world what he said.

This is the classic Washington definition of a gaffe (i.e., inadvertently speaking an inconvenient truth).

In this case, the gaffe produced a firestorm.

And this is where I consider the possibility that Cantor simply doesn’t understand what he’s doing.

After all, he has been an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) cutout since he first was elected to office. 

He’s been to more AIPAC meetings than he can probably count. 

And he should have figured out by now that the lobby is extremely careful, obsessively careful, to always empathise loyalty to the United States while simultaneously endorsing Israeli policies that undermine our foreign policy objectives.

AIPAC officials never, ever, say that when push comes to shove their loyalty is with Israel not the United States. In fact, the accusation that this is the case is the charge AIPAC hates most.

But the soon-to-be Majority Leader came right out and said it: Israel, right or wrong.

It took a few days for Cantor to understand how utterly offensive his statement was. He might have heard from a few Tea Party types who, say what you will about them, tend to take their patriotism seriously.

So Cantor explained that he was misunderstood. His inconvenient truth, his gaffe, was replaced by a laughable untruth.

This is how the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reports it:

Brad Dayspring, Cantor’s press guy, tells me Cantor’s promise that the Republican majority would “serve as a check on the administration” was “not in relation to US/Israel relations.”

Mmmm. So Cantor’s pledge to stand with Netanyahu against Obama was “not in relation to US/Israel relations” despite the context of Cantor’s statement – just before Netanyahu’s meeting with Clinton – and the fact that the person he was talking to was the Prime Minister of Israel.

So, what was Cantor’s pledge “in relation to”?

Was it in relation to either repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or the Bush tax cuts for millionaires? Maybe it was about farm subsidies.

Come on, Eric. Don’t make us laugh.

It is eminently clear what you said and what you meant.  And this time we will take you at your word.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.

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