Tom Hayden on the Israel Lobby’s “Certification” Process

On truthdig, antiwar activist Tom Hayden offers his experience of being certified by pro-Israel forces, including the Berman machine in Los Angeles, back when he was running for state office:

Twenty-five years ago I stared into the eyes of Michael Berman, chief operative for his congressman-brother, Howard Berman… “I represent the Israeli defense forces,” Michael said. I thought he was joking. He wasn’t… The certifiers were the elites, beginning with rabbis and heads of the multiple mainstream Jewish organizations, especially each city’s Jewish Federation…When necessary, Israeli ambassadors, counsels general and other officials would intervene with statements declaring someone a “friend of Israel.”

In my case, a key to the “friendship issue” was the Los Angeles-based counsel general Benjamin Navon… The de facto Israeli endorsement would be communicated indirectly, in compliance with laws that prohibit foreign interference in an American election. We would be seen and photographed together in public. Benny would make positive public statements that could be quoted in campaign mailings. As a result, I was being declared “kosher” by the ultimate source, the region’s representative of the state of Israel.

Bear in mind: Hayden was just an assemblyman! Imagine the forces that come to bear on aspiring congressmen, who actually help effect foreign policy. Last year I got behind a friend who was thinking of challenging Republican Sue Kelly in the 19th in New York. In one meeting we had, a Dem operative told him, “It’s all about money, it’s only about money, and what’s going to happen when you’re at a group of people in a nice apartment and the first question is, ‘Where do you stand on the settlements in Israel?'”