Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – The Israel Lobby’s Useful Idiot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – The Israel Lobby’s Useful Idiot

RFK, Jr. is challenging Joe Biden to become the Democratic nominee for President. Biden, despite an extraordinarily low approval rate, is once again the establishment pick. ABC quoted a source saying there is “zero doubt” Biden will again be his party’s nominee.

Nevertheless, Kennedy has polled far better than expected and has been featured on a number of non-establishment platforms, including Joe Rogan and, most recently, an explosive appearance on Tucker Carlson, speaking out about Ukraine, Covid, and who was behind the assassination of his uncle, JFK. In these, he takes on the U.S. government, big pharma, and the CIA…

However, on the subject of Israel-Palestine, he toes the Israel establishment line, repeating virtually all of its most fallacious talking points. The fact that Kennedy fails to speak out about Israel’s long, thoroughly documented record of human rights abuses may be an indication of the unparalleled influence of the Israel lobby….

by Chris Hedges, reposted from ScheerPost, August 13, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second installment of an important article by respected journalist Chris Hedges (bio below). The original article is so rich with information that we have divided it into 3 parts to avoid reader fatigue. The first installment provided a brief but powerful description – much of it firsthand – of Palestinians’ devastation at the hands of Israel. He then showed that this is exactly what Israel’s founders had in mind.

There is a heavy political price to pay for defying Israel, whose overt interference in our political process makes the most tepid protests about Israeli policy a political death wish. The Palestinians are poor, forgotten and alone. And this is why the defiance of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is the central issue facing any politician who claims to speak on behalf of the vulnerable and the marginalized.

Palestinian girl in Gaza weeps for her 15-year-old brother, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, August 2022.
Palestinian girl in Gaza weeps for her 15-year-old brother, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, August 2022. (photo)

To stand up to Israel has a political cost few, including Robert F. Kennedy Jr., are willing to pay. But if you do stand up, it singles you out as someone who puts principles before expediency, who is willing to fight for the wretched of the earth and, if necessary, sacrifice your political future to retain your integrity. Kennedy fails this crucial test of political and moral courage.

Palestinians are surrounded by rubble and the remains of a destroyed vehicle outside a mosque in Jenin, West Bank, on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 after a 2-day attack by Israel.
Palestinians are surrounded by rubble and the remains of a destroyed vehicle outside a mosque in Jenin, West Bank, on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 after a 2-day attack by Israel. (photo)

Kennedy, instead, regurgitates every lie, every racist trope, every distortion of history and every demeaning comment about the backwardness of the Palestinian people peddled by the most retrograde and far-right elements of Israeli society [e.g. here and here]. He peddles the myth of what Pappe calls “Fantasy Israel.” This alone discredits him as a progressive candidate. It calls into question his judgment and sincerity. It makes him another Democratic Party hack who dances to the macabre tune the Israeli government plays.

Kennedy has vowed to make “the moral case for Israel,” which is the equivalent of making the moral case for apartheid South Africa. He repeats, almost verbatim, talking points from the Israeli propaganda playbook put together by the Republican pollster and political strategist, Frank Luntz. The 112-page study, marked “not for distribution or publication,” which was leaked to Newsweek, was commissioned by The Israel Project. It was written in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and January 2009 — when 1,387 Palestinians and nine Israelis were killed.

The strategy document is the blueprint for how Israeli politicians and lobbyists sell Israel. It exposes the wide gap between what Israeli politicians say and what they know to be the truth. It is tailored to tell the outside world, especially Americans, what they want to hear. The report is required reading for anyone attempting to deal with the Israeli propaganda machine.

The document, for example, suggests telling the outside world that Israel “has a right to defensible borders,” but advises Israelis to refuse to define what the borders should be. It advises Israeli politicians to justify the refusal by Israel to allow 750,000 Palestinians and their descendants, who were expelled from their country during the 1948 war, to return home, although the right of return is guaranteed under international law, by referring to this right as a “demand.” It also recommends arguing that Palestinians are seeking mass migrations to seize land inside Israel. It suggests mentioning the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Iraq, Syria and Egypt, who fled anti-Semitism and violence in the Arab world after the creation of the Jewish state. The document recommends saying these refugees also “left property behind,” in essence justifying the Israeli pogrom by the pogrom Arab states carried out after 1948. It recommends blaming the poverty among Palestinians on “Arab nations” that have not provided “a better life for Palestinians.”

What is most cynical about the report is the tactic of expressing a faux sympathy for the Palestinians, who are blamed for their own oppression.

“Show Empathy for BOTH sides!” the document reads. “The goal of pro-Israel communications is not simply to make people who already love Israel feel good about that decision. The goal is to win new hearts and minds for Israel without losing the support Israel already has.” It says that this tactic will “disarm” audiences.

I doubt Kennedy has read or heard of Luntz’s report. But he has been spoon-fed its talking points and naively spits them back. Israel only wants peace. Israel does not engage in torture. Israel is not an apartheid state. Israel gives Israeli Arabs political and civic rights they do not have in other parts of the Middle East. Palestinians are not deliberately targeted by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Israel respects civil liberties and gender and marriage rights. Israel has “the best judiciary in the world.”

From Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. twitter account on July 27, 2023 containing a video of his interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. (photo)

Kennedy makes other claims, such as his bizarre statement that the Palestinian Authority pays Palestinians to kill Jews anywhere in the world along with falsifications of elemental Middle Eastern history, which are so absurd I will ignore them. But I list below examples from the volumes of evidence that implode the Luntz-inspired talking points Kennedy repeats on behalf of the Israel lobby, not that any evidence can probably puncture his self-serving attachment to “Fantasy Israel.”

In Part 3, Hedges addresses each Israeli talking point that Kennedy repeats…

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”



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