Familiar Neocons and Christian Zionist Head Up New “Emergency Committee for Israel”

With Ali Gharib

As if on cue, the group I blogged about yesterday — the Emergency Committee For Israel — launched its website on Monday with an announcement on the Weekly Standard’s blog. The roll-out centered on what has become the mandatory 30-second commercial blasting a politician that neocons deem insufficiently “pro-Israel.”

The TV spot, which the group says it already has money to distribute, targets Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA) for raising funds for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), signing a letter which accused Israel of participating in “collective punishment” in Gaza, and for refusing to sign on to a letter to “affirm support for Israel.”

What really jumped out at me in the announcement of the Emergency Committee’s launch, though, is the board of directors. Heading up the nascent 501(c)(4) advocacy group are Bill Kristol, founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, Gary Bauer, a major player in the Christian right-wing Zionist movement, and Rachel Abrams, another figure with roots all over the neocon family tree.

For Kristol, this is a familiar gig. A power center of the movement, Kristol has been involved in creating and advising numerous ‘committees’ and other ‘letterhead groups’ — from founding neocon flagships the Project for the New American Century (which he chaired), the Foreign Policy Initiative, and Keep America Safe (the former two with Robert Kagan and the latter with Liz Cheney), to sitting on the boards of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and Cliff May‘s Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

A longtime neoconservative ally, Bauer formed such a tight bond with Kristol that they even take beach vacations together. A charter member of PNAC, Bauer also directs Keep Israel Safe (a knock-off of Liz Cheney and Kristol’s Keep America Safe). Bauer’s views on U.S. policy toward Israel are typical of Christian Zionists and well outside the American mainstream and longstanding U.S. policy: Matt Duss points out that Bauer opposes the two-state solution, putting him to the right of even Likud Israeli PM Bibi Netanyahu.

The final director listed for the organization is a less familiar name — well, less familiar first name, at least. Rachel Abrams is the wife of former Bush Mid East advisor Elliot Abrams, the daughter of Midge Decter, and step-daughter of Norman Podhoretz (which, if you can keep track, makes her the half-sister of Commentary editor John Podhoretz). Abrams bio on the Emergency Committee page lists her as only a “writer and activist living in Washington, D.C.” and gives publications where her work has appeared (not surprisingly, all right-wing outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Commentary, and the Weekly Standard).

The Emergency Committee for Israel aims at “keeping the public informed of the latest developments in both [Israel and the U.S.].” But the fact that this new group is headed up by two and a half right-wing heavyweights with a history of pushing the U.S. into military conflicts would make that goal laughable, if it didn’t so closely resemble Orwellian double speak.

“We’re the pro-Israel wing of the pro-Israel community,” Kristol told Politico about his new group, taking a veiled shot at the liberal Jewish lobby J Street, which describes itself as the “pro-peace” branch of the Israel lobby.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. America….find another Eisenhower.

    Why I’m voting for Eisenhower over Obama
    by Philip Weiss on July 13, 2010 ·

    Below is a riveting story about Eisenhower and Ben Gurion.

    The story about President Eisenhower’s insistence that Israel withdraw from Egypt, which it had invaded in 1956, comes from The Passionate Attachment (1992) by the late George W. Ball, a former Under Secretary of State, and Douglas Ball. Eisenhower was of course a Republican.Jewish American organizations tried hard to generate congressional resistance to Eisenhower’s position. On February 1, [1957] Senator William Knowland, the Republican minority leader, protested to [Secretary of State John Foster] Dulles against the administration’s stand. Knowland agreed that the policy might be right in theory, but pointed out to Dulles the domestic political implications and threatened to revolt. Dulles answered Knowland by noting, “We cannot have our policies made in Jerusalem,” and he justified the American position on the following grounds:

    “First, sanctions would be necessary to compel Israel’s withdrawal and a withdrawal was needed to maintain the American position among the Arabs…

    “[Second] I am aware how almost impossible it is in this country to carry out a foreign policy not approved by the Jews. [Former sec’y of state under Truman George] Marshall and [first Defense Secretary James V.] Forrestal learned that. I am going to try to have one.

    “That does not mean I am anti-Jewish, but I believe in what George Washington said in his Farewell Address that an emotional attachment to another country should not interfere.”

    On February 20, Eisenhower called a meeting of the congressional leadership. When the lawmakers, ever sensitive to the pro-Israeli lobby, refused to help, Eisenhower resorted to television that same night.

    Eisenhower did more than talk. He issued an ultimatum to Ben Gurion to pull Israel’s forces back to the Israeli border. He also laid plans with Dulles that, if the Israelis did not comply, the United States would cut off the flow of all aid to Israel, including not only development assistance but technical assistance and shipments of agricultural products under Public Law 480. He would also delay the disbursement of an already arranged Export-Import Bank loan and terminate all forms of military assistance, including those in the pipeline. He canceled export licenses for the shipment of munitions or other military goods. Finally, he ordered Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey to draft a change in U.S. tax regulations so that the Jewish American organization benefactors would no longer be entitled to a federal income tax deduction for contributions that benefited Israel.

    In spite of further efforts by Israel’s supporters to deflect White House pressure from the Jewish state, Eisenhower did not cave in; so, as the Israeli government began to run out of money, Ben Gurion, on March 5, 1957, grudgingly capitulated. On March 16, Israel withdrew from almost all the territory it had occupied in the Suez offensive.

  2. Carroll: Interesting story. Is there a checkable source for the Dulles’ quotes?

  3. “Does Joe Sestak know that Israel is a US ally?”

    I wonder if these people know that Turkey is a (formal, NATO member) US ally.

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