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“Time is a flat circle,” said Rust Cohle, and what better time to reflect on Nietzsche’s doctrine of eternal recurrence than another trip by Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington DC?

The Israeli prime minister’s upcoming speech will be his fourth to Congress, a record for any foreign leader. He is currently tied with Winston Churchill with three speeches. He has been invited by the leaders of both parties. Who says bipartisanship is dead?

In 2015, Bibi showed up in Washington looking to ruin the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran, if not his re-election. The Israeli government cleared the details with then-House Speaker John Boehner, and Netanyahu delivered the speech just two weeks before voters went to the polls.

“Ladies and gentlemen, stand with Israel, because Israel is not only defending itself,” he told the assembled MPs. “More than ever, Israel is defending you.”

Netanyahu may have lost that battle, but it can be argued that he won the war. Obama ultimately secured the Iran deal, but the US administration reneged on the pact under Trump. Biden barely mentioned his former boss’s landmark foreign policy record during the campaign, and the White House has failed to restore it. Israel has fought hard to prevent any progress on the issue, a major issue that has received little mainstream media coverage over the past four years.

This time, Netanyahu is trying to win under very different circumstances. Tens of thousands of Palestinians are dead and Gaza is in ruins. Every day seems to be marked by a new horrific, heartbreaking video or image. Over a million people are expected to starve by mid-July. Israel is a pariah state and its support is beginning to crumble even in the United States, where protests are still taking place on college campuses despite the end of the semester. In addition, the International Criminal Court is seeking an arrest warrant for Netanyahu for his government’s war crimes.

In 2015, about 60 Democrats boycotted Netanyahu’s speech. It is unclear how many will stay away this time, but the move has already been sharply criticized by more progressive members of Congress.

“Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal,” said Senator Bernie Sanders (D-I). “He should not be invited to speak before a joint session of Congress. I will certainly not attend.”

The directness of Sanders’ position is obviously not an everyday occurrence, and as with most issues involving Israel, most Democrats have retreated to their usual confusing nonsense. Perhaps the funniest reaction so far comes from Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois. Is Durbin concerned about letting a man who is supposed to be in The Hague address Congress? Does he have anything important to say about the genocidal attack on Gaza?

No, he fears that the whole thing could lead to a further division in Washington.

“That’s exactly what I fear: It would be politically divisive and would not help Israel,” Durbin said. “I’m waiting for clarity on the two-state solution. I think that’s a central part of our strategy and I’m waiting for him to commit to it.”

Exciting stuff.

Outside the Durbins of the world, there are dozens of pro-Israel Democrats who have explicitly committed to standing by Netanyahu and protecting him from the legal consequences of his mass murder.

Forty-two Democrats in the House of Representatives just voted for a Republican bill that would sanction the International Criminal Court for issuing arrest warrants against Israeli officials.

“The idea that they would issue an arrest warrant for the Israeli prime minister and defense minister while they are fighting for their country’s existence and against the evil Hamas as a proxy for Iran is unbelievable to us. The ICC must be punished for this action,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

Here is the list of Democrats in the House of Representatives who agree with this opinion:

Israel’s digital campaign

This week New York Times reported that Israel had targeted at least 128 members of Congress as part of a massive disinformation campaign aimed at bolstering support for the attack on Gaza.

Comments appeared on more than 2,000 accounts attacking human rights organizations, questioning the suffering of the Palestinians and praising the Israeli military operation.

Here is Sheera Frankel in NYT:

The operation began just weeks after the war began in October, according to Israeli officials and documents related to the operation. Dozens of Israeli tech start-ups received emails and WhatsApp messages this month inviting them to urgent meetings to act as “digital soldiers” for Israel during the war, according to messages seen by The Times. Some of the emails and messages were sent by Israeli government officials, others by tech start-ups and incubators.

The first meeting took place in Tel Aviv in mid-October. Three participants said it was an informal gathering where Israelis could volunteer their technical skills to support the country’s war effort. Members of several ministries also attended, they said.

Participants were told they could be “warriors for Israel” and conduct “digital campaigns” on behalf of the country, according to recordings of the meetings.

Hypocrisy arguments about the US government have always seemed a little too obvious to me and I try to avoid things like “Imagine if Russia had done that?” but for heaven’s sake, Imagine if Russia did that! Liberal pundits have been whining about alleged election rigging for nearly eight years, and some even claiming that foreign countries are funding pro-Palestinian protests. Here you have actual, unambiguous evidence of Israel interfering in our politics (weeks before their ostracized leader addresses Congress), and history has barely affected the discourse.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller was asked about this issue by several reporters at a briefing this week. Here is part of an exchange between him and The Intercept Prem Thakker:

Thakker: If the United States concludes that this reporting is accurate – and this is not a hypothesis, but rather a commitment to norms – will the United States act in accordance with it as it has done so far and as it has done with Russia? This is not a hypothesis, it is –

Miller: It is — so it’s more hypothetical just because you have to look at the facts of each individual case and see what the appropriate response is. But as always, we investigate violations of our law — many of them are committed by other agencies of the U.S. government — and develop the appropriate response. But I can’t answer in detail here because it’s always very fact-specific.

This is not Israel’s first attempt to use social media to generate consent. For years, it funded an anti-BDS app that rewarded its users with various prizes if they condemned the boycott movement.

Miscellaneous

🏫 San Jose State University professor says she was suspended because of her Palestine activism

🇩🇪 Understanding Biden’s proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza

⚖️ The political and moral consequences of accepting Trump’s ruling while repealing the Hague

🇮🇱 Biden will not set red lines for Israel as long as AIPAC is the Democrats’ “most important” campaign financier

🗳️ Reuters: NAACP calls on Biden to halt arms sales to Israel to boost support among black voters

🗳️ New York Times: Rep. Jamaal Bowman loses support of former colleague over Israel

🖥️ New York Times: Israel secretly targets US lawmakers with influence campaign on Gaza war

🗳️ Semafor: ‘It’s disgusting’: Progressives are angry after Mondaire Jones endorses Jamaal Bowman’s challenger

👀 Jewish advocacy group Bend the Arc has broken with its longstanding policy of distancing itself from Israel and Palestine and sent a letter to President Biden urging him to end the sale of “offensive munitions” to Israel.

🗳️ Politico: AIPAC steps up attack on Jamaal Bowman with anti-Semitism ads

🇵🇸 Truthout: Colombia’s Gaza camp gave students first-hand mutual aid

🗳️ Politico: What the “undecided” vote says about Biden’s re-election

🚫 Detroit Public Radio: Hamtramck City Council passes BDS resolution to end financial ties with Israel

🏫 New York Times: Police arrest 13 people after protesters occupy Stanford president’s office

🇮🇱 The Nation: It was never about freeing the hostages

💰 Truthout: Some of AIPAC’s biggest donors also fund attacks on workers’ rights

🏫 Shared Dreams: To restore trust, Harvard must end the Palestine exemption and allow graduates to graduate

🇩🇪 Financial Times: After Gaza protests, US students face recruitment problems

🐘 Jewish Currents: The Anti-Israel Insurgents of the Right

🇺🇸 Electronic Intifada: Biden admits Israel’s defeat in Gaza

🇺🇸 CBS News: US Army officer resigns in protest against US support for Israel

🇮🇱 Counterstrike: The attack on the USS Liberty symbolizes Israel’s duplicity and deceit

💰 In These Times: The Corporate Powers Behind AIPAC’s War on the Troops

Stay safe out there,

Michael

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