Thursday, May 18, 2006

You can't know the program without the players

Michael Massing tries his hand at the new science of lobby-ology, the study of the Israel Lobby.  I don’t recommend most of it, too much quibbling and, like every other NYRB article, about three times too long (do you think they pay by the letter?), but the last ten paragraphs in particular do a good job of pointing out the tiny, incestuous world of the Lobby apparachniks.  Some examples (I’ve marked various institutions in red, and Lobby-ists in magenta; the ‘Gang of Four are the four dominant financiers of AIPAC, identified by Massing as Robert Asher, a retired lighting fixtures dealer in Chicago; Edward Levy, a building supplies executive in Detroit; Mayer ‘Bubba’ Mitchell, a construction materials dealer in Mobile, Alabama; and Larry Weinberg, a real estate developer in Los Angeles):

“One key part of the network is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. AIPAC helped to create this think tank in 1985, with Martin Indyk, AIPAC's research director, becoming its first director. Today, the Washington Institute is fully independent of AIPAC, and there is some diversity among its fellows (Dennis Ross is one). Overall, though, its policies mirror AIPAC's. Its executive director, Robert Satloff, is a neoconservative with very hawkish views on the Middle East. Its deputy director of research, Patrick Clawson, has been a leading proponent of regime change in Iran and of a US confrontation with Tehran over its nuclear program. (AIPAC features him as an expert on its Web site.) Raymond Tanter, an adjunct scholar at the institute, has been championing the MEK, or People's Mujaheddin, a shadowy group of Iranian guerrillas who want to overthrow the government in Tehran (and whom the State Department regards as terrorists). Members of the Washington Institute's board of advisers include Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Mort Zuckerman, and Max Kampelman; its single most important source of funding is Larry Weinberg, one of AIPAC's Gang of Four, and his wife Barbi.”


Richard Perle, in addition to sitting on the boards of both the Washington Institute and JINSA, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. So are Joshua Muravchik, a neocon who's also an adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute; Michael Rubin, an up-and-coming neocon who worked in the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans before becoming a political adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq; and Michael Ledeen, who helped to set up JINSA and who has spent the last several years seeking official US backing for regime change in Iran. Together with Morris Amitay, a former executive director of AIPAC, Ledeen is an important force at the Coalition for Democracy in Iran, another advocate for overthrowing the Iranian government. Muravchik, Tanter, and Woolsey are all listed as supporters on that coalition's Web site.

Michael Rubin, meanwhile, is also the editor of The Middle East Quarterly, which is published by the Middle East Forum, a think tank dedicated to fighting terrorism, countering Islamic extremism, and promoting pro-Israel views on college campuses. MEF was founded by Daniel Pipes, an energetic neoconservative whose views seem extreme even within that world. In 2002, Pipes created a Web site called Campus Watch, which ‘reviews and critiques’ Middle East studies in North America ‘with an aim to improving them.’ (Initially, Campus Watch also encouraged students to take notes on lectures by professors critical of Israel, with the goal of ‘exposing’ them on the MEF Web site, but this feature was dropped after it was widely condemned as a form of McCarthyism.) MEF's work on campuses parallels that of AIPAC's own college advocacy program.

Pipes is also an adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute as well as a columnist for The Jerusalem Post, whose editorial page editor, Saul Singer, is a neoconservative and is married to Wendy Singer Senor, who runs AIPAC's Jerusalem office. She is the sister of Dan Senor, who was Paul Bremer's chief spokesman at the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Pipes is also a regular contributor to The New York Sun, which is co-owned by Bruce Kovner, a hedge fund manager who ranked ninety-third on Forbes magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans and who is the chairman of the American Enterprise Institute's board of trustees, and by the money manager Roger Hertog, who is a trustee of both AEI and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and who is a co-owner (along with former hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt) of The New Republic. That magazine's editor in chief, Martin Peretz, another co-owner, also sits on the Washington Institute's board of advisers.”

It will be worthwhile to keep an eye out for the four money men listed in the last paragraph, as well as the AIPAC ‘Gang of Four’.  We also mustn’t forget big names like the Wurmsers (more on David Wurmser to come).  Massing goes on to point out that AIPAC e-mails its supporters an ‘Activities Update’:

“ The editor of ‘Activities Update’ is Michael Lewis, the son of Bernard Lewis, the Princeton scholar and interpreter of the Arab world who gave advice to the Bush administration in the months preceding the war in Iraq.”

The world of the Cabal behind the Lobby is quite small, but fits together nicely once you recognize the players.