The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is trumpeting tough new sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank. This financial blockade will likely drive up global energy prices as Iran struggles to sell petroleum to wholesalers fearful of secondary boycotts. That the sources of this latest step toward US military action against Iran are mainly Israel lobbying groups or beneficiaries of their campaign finance network has been well-established. The lobby justifies the campaign based on unsubstantiated allegations that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons although no evidence from credible sources has emerged. Less well known is that Israel and its lobby frequently deploy tactics from same menu of economic warfare — such as capturing assets — against the United States. Newly declassified documents extracted from a very reluctant US Trade Representative are a case in point.
In 1984 the captured assets in question were also of the intangible variety — trade secrets, strategies, and classified industry data. The victims were more than seventy US corporations and business organizations that responded to US International Trade Commission solicitations in 1984 to participate in negotiations that would open the US market to Israeli exports. After delivering up their confidential business data in opposition to the preferences, participants were appalled that the Israeli government pilfered all the USTR’s classified report and passed it to AIPAC to lobby against US industries. But what made this captured US intellectual asset so valuable and timely? After a multi-year battle that began in 2009, the US Trade Representative was finally forced to publicly release (PDFs) the majority of the secret report surreptitiously obtained by AIPAC decades ago. The secret document reveals all.
One section of the report details the efforts of Israel’s state-owned and heavily subsidized bromine industry to muscle out anxious US producers based in Arkansas. In another, Israeli tomato producers subsidized by government price supports, fight for market access against principled US opposition. Why did AIPAC need American gold rope chain producer confidential business data and industry talking points of all things? At the time, three quarters of Israel’s gold rope chain industry capacity was idle. AIPAC and its foreign principal needed to replace the uncertain market access granted by the Generalized System of Preferences with permanent, unreciprocated zero-tariff, US-market trade preferences. But first AIPAC and Israel needed to know everything American producers were secretly telling the Reagan administration. Stealing that section of the report (PDF) was the most efficient way.
The report — still not fully released — is a treasure-trove of market insights, production costs, US industry lobbying positions and internal corporate data unobtainable from any legitimate source. Israel and its foreign agents — with the purloined data and ill-gotten, unreciprocated market access — have been able to create a captive US market for up to 40 percent of Israel’s total exports. Meanwhile, American exporters continue to complain about being locked out of Israel’s market. Other illicit acts followed the theft of trade data. According to another recently-released secret document, an audit conducted by the US State Department’s Sherman Funk, increased preferential access to sensitive US technology enabled Israel to freely copy and resell it to the highest bidder. This was enabled by US government infighting at the US embassy in Tel Aviv.
A bona fide review of unrelenting Israeli economic warfare against the United States, including the granddaddy of them all, stealing US nuclear material and technology, raises a fundamental question: why does America continue to put up with all this?
The unsurprising answer is that our core institutions responsible for holding elite Israel lobbyists in check have all been infiltrated and corrupted. This has left average Americans exposed to the economic and moral consequences as the Justice and Treasury Departments simply look the other way. With a bit more law enforcement, Abraham Feinberg would have been prosecuted as a WWII draft dodger, rather than free to launch his Israel lobbying career stuffing Harry Truman and LBJ’s pockets with cash while secretly funding the Israeli nuclear weapons program. The Zionist Organization of America and AIPAC would both have been openly registered as agents of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And the alphabet soup of Israel’s covert operators, from Nahum Bernstein (who financed illegal weapons diversions) to Douglas Bloomfield (who illegally duplicated the stolen classified trade document for AIPAC), would actually have served prison time for their crimes.
But rule of law and enforcement has seized up when it comes to the Israel lobby, from election law violations to capture of assets. Until it is restored, Americans will continue to suffer the consequences of economic warfare directed against Israel’s enemies and its largest benefactor.