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Why the Israel lobby made ‘a deal with the devil’ and embraced Trump

There is a considerable difference between a thorough, pointed investigation and a note activism, and it is the latter that ultimately defines Kings of Capitol Hill. Mor Loushy’s documentary on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most prominent pro-Israel lobby in the United States, claims to be an inside look at the powerful political organization, backed by early comments audiences of some of its former members. However, the result is less a clinical analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the group, and of the context in which it exists, than a controversy which, at the start, feigns impartiality before revealing its true colors.

Kings of Capitol Hill (which debuts Nov. 11-19 at DOC NYC) sees AIPAC as a dangerous entity, and its strongest passages come late, when it addresses the embrace of President Donald Trump, who has courted American Jews in condemning the Iranian nuclear deal of predecessor Barack Obama and compromised support for Israel, and pledged to fully adhere to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing agenda. President Trump’s incongruity alongside Israel at the same time as he defends national white nationalist groups – and the conflict that the dynamic engenders among American Jews – is a fascinating and thorny subject, as is the growing evangelical movement ( illustrated by Pastor John Hagee (Christians United for Israel) who advocates on behalf of Israel for its own distorted goals. The fact that AIPAC got into bed so enthusiastically with Trump (a “deal with the devil” as one person put it) speaks to pressing geopolitical concerns that deserve a deeper investigation into non-fiction.

Alas, Kings of Capitol Hill ends up weakening by tilting his tilted hand, although before letting his own opinion dominate the debate, Loushy’s film provides a practical introduction to the origins of AIPAC, which was founded by Cleveland journalist Si Kenen. to create a political community of to foster a closer strategic relationship between Israel and America. His beginnings were relatively small, but things took a turn for the worse once Tom Dine became AIPAC’s third CEO in 1980 and set about garnering greater political support on both sides of the aisle. Red Blue. In 1984, AIPAC requested foreign aid for Israel, and when Republican Senator from Illinois Charles Percy strongly backed down, he backed the challenger to his seat, Democrat Paul Simon. Simon’s subsequent victory demonstrated the impressive influence of AIPAC on everyone in Congress.

While these formative passages are handled in a relatively straightforward manner, Loushy suggests that AIPAC’s efforts to advance its cause through financial support from like-minded candidates – that is, they were buying politicians – are overwhelming proof of AIPAC’s particular wickedness, rather than an example of a bigger failure. of the current campaign finance system. In other words, AIPAC’s lobbying may be reprehensible, but it’s no different from that perpetrated by countless other special interest groups – a contextual qualification that is mostly lacking here. Kings of Capitol Hill understood this immediately (former executive assistant to AIPAC CEO MJ Rosenberg makes a brief mention of Big Pharma, and climate change advocates and opponents, behaving alike), and yet the conduct of AIPAC is a unique problem in order to reinforce its prime point.

This argument becomes clearer once the film moves to the 1990s and AIPAC’s response to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s attempted Oslo I deal with PLO President Yasser Arafat. According to Kings of Capitol Hill, AIPAC’s objections to the deal did not arise out of potentially legitimate complaints (e.g. the view that Arafat was not a reliable partner for peace), but out of a desire to perpetuate a war. endless because its very existence is based on frightening Israelis by talking about impending doom. The same claim is more or less made against AIPAC regarding its subsequent opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, as Loushy portrays the president’s diplomatic plan as an inherent good and the position of the AIPAC as only the byproduct of militaristic and remunerative self-interest – a notion that ignores the fact that the truth is probably somewhere in the grayer middle.

This does not mean that AIPAC is above reproach; on the contrary, it is to say that Kings of Capitol Hill proceeds from a specific point of view and never deviates from it, thus undermining its claims. There are nuanced and heated debates to be had on these contentious issues, but Loushy’s doc doesn’t want to let viewers decide what to think; he wants to promote his vision without complication or contradiction, and with more than a hint of transparent manipulation. This is felt in the early news clips which appear to feature their own narrative, but actually seem to be tuned in to the movie’s scripted commentary, and it extends to its fist score, which is anxious and disturbing during a speech by current AIPAC curator CEO Howard Kohr then softer and more hopeful when the material immediately passes to young children protesting a recent AIPAC conference.

Loushy’s doc doesn’t want to let viewers decide what to think; he wants to promote his vision without complication or contradiction, and with more than a hint of transparent manipulation.

Such formal arrangements put general preaching in italics Kings of Capitol Hill, which is amplified by his use of various former AIPAC members (including Steven Rosen, Keith Weissman and Ada Horwich) who have consistently turned away from the organization. Even his talking-headed journalists, The New York Times Washington Deputy Editor Jonathan Weisman and The Forward Opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, simply echoes sentiments found elsewhere in the doc. In addition, the general absence of any competing voice is reflected in the choice of the archival news sequences presented here. While director Loushy finds time to sneak in quick snippets of white nationalists (to highlight AIPAC’s raw affiliation with Trump), there are no related scenes of Middle Eastern leaders spitting out anti-Semitic hatred; to a glaring degree, the only time we see Arabs they are ordinary citizens manhandled by Israeli soldiers. The agenda is hard to miss.

The strengthening of AIPAC’s alliance with right-wing factions in the United States government – spawned, in part, by growing left-wing criticism of Israeli policies – and how this development has placed American Jews in a particularly delicate position are relevant and crucial. questions to be comprehensively dissected. Kings of Capitol Hill, however, is not that work, opting instead for censorship disguised as a form of spurious objectivity.

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