Foreign Agents: AIPAC from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal

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Foreign Agents: AIPAC From the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal

By Grant Smith, Institute for Research Middle East Policy, 200 pp. List: $14.95; AET: $11.

Reviewed by Richard H. Curtiss

Grant Smith's book, Foreign Agents, provides excellent insights into efforts by the Israel lobby to subvert U.S. foreign policy over many, many years. He has gathered documents from news articles, testimony from closed-door hearings and dozens of clippings spanning some three decades.

Smith covers the history of the lobby from its days as the American Zionist Council. In 1959 founder Isaiah L. "Si" Kenen, who was for many years a registered foreign agent for the government of Israel, changed the council's name to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

"Kenen's emphasis on low-key, uncontroversial, and even non-descriptive organization names continued after his departure," Smith writes, "as AIPAC spawned a network of political action committees across the United States designed to sway the results of key elections. More importantly, all the lessons Kenen learned from running the American Zionist Council with funds and guidance from the Israeli government are part of AIPAC's 'institutional DNA.'

"By 1973 Kenen was able to claim that he had boosted U.S. aid to Israel to $1 billion?At the time of Kenen's death in 1988, U.S. aid to Israel exceeded $3 billion a year, the highest amount of U.S. aid given to any country?It took millions of dollars of Israeli government funds and decades of effort to create the public relations, lobbying, and political juggernaut that now dominates in America."

Delving deeper, Smith quotes the National Observer's Lawrence Mosher, who wrote on May 19, 1970: "In 1963 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigated the Jewish Agency and uncovered a 'conduit' operation called the American Zionist Council. Over an eight-year period, this council received more than $5,000,000 from the Jewish Agency to create a favorable public opinion in this country for Israeli government policies. The Senate investigation closed down the conduit, but the extensive propaganda activities still go on."

Foreign Agents includes a great deal of detail on the Senate investigation because, in Smith's words, "The transcripts of [Arkansas' Democratic Sen.] James William Fulbright's investigation into the Israel Lobby may someday be considered among his greatest achievements in public disclosure, and America's greatest law enforcement failure.

"During the Fulbright hearings it was discovered through subpoenaed documents that the Jewish Agency owned a news service, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Many Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) wire service subscribers, typically Jewish community newspapers across the United States and their readers, were not aware of the takeover. Fulbright revealed that the Jewish Agency hid payments and filed deceptive Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) reports. The JTA-American Section owns all the shares of the JTA.

"Fulbright retired from the Senate in 1974, after finally being defeated by Governor Dale Bumpers in the Democratic primary. During that election year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an offshoot of B'nai B'rith linked to the Jewish Agency through the World Zionist Organization, attacked Senator Fulbright, labeling him 'consistently unkind to Israel and our supporters in this country.' Bumpers received significant campaign financial support from the Israel lobby.

"Fulbright died in Washington, DC of a heart attack at 89 in 1995. That year was an important milestone in the rise of the hard-line Israel-centric neoconservative power bloc in Washington, including the Project for a New American Century, a powerful group of ideologues and operatives fundamentally opposed to the power and role of international organizations, multilateralism, and respect for international law nurtured by Fulbright. …