Why A Conservative Conference in Florida?
Organized and paid for by Israel
One sometimes wonders how roughly two per cent of the US population acting on behalf of a foreign country that is regarded by most as a pariah apartheid state has managed to gain significant influence over both political parties and most of the instruments of government. The answer is actually quite simple and was enunciated by dissident Congresswoman Ilhan Omar when she said “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.” Yes, it’s money, and Israel and its Lobby have a lot of it, derived from the contributions of Jewish billionaires and organizations as well as bogus charities and clandestine funding from the Israeli government itself. America is essentially a corrupt country and with enough money you can buy control of the media and the entertainment and news industries, take control of the top universities, buy individual legislators, and come up with the huge dollops of cash that swing national elections. If you are an organization like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) you have 100,000 members and tens of thousands of well-heeled donors who give you tax exempt $78 million in a year enabling you to employ 396 lobbyists who spend all day corrupting the weak-kneed denizens of Capitol Hill and the White House.
By way of comparison, the groups that advocate a more humane US foreign policy to include distancing Washington from the Israeli war criminals get by on a shoestring, making ends meet just barely, if at all. They lack the bucks so they are ignored by the mainstream media and the donation hungry political class. As the old expression goes, money talks and nobody walks, and organized Jewry has plenty of it, enough to corrupt governments on this side of the Atlantic as well as across Europe and in Australia.
Eric Striker has written a fascinating article which demonstrates how Jewish money is used covertly to buy whole political movements. It details the back story relating to what has been called the National Conservatism Conference that is concluding today after a three-day-run in Orlando Florida. Striker’s headline for his piece reads “Exclusive: America’s Most Important Right-Wing Conference of the Year Is An Israeli Influence Operation,” a summary statement that he then proceeds to support with substantial evidence about funding and leadership.
Striker observes that the conference “will include keynote speeches from three Republican 2024 presidential contenders (Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley), a prominent billionaire (Peter Thiel), and a 2022 Senatorial favorite (J.D. Vance), whose campaign is being bankrolled by said billionaire. They are joined by 86 of the most prominent paleo-conservative, Traditionalist Catholic, neo-reactionary and conservative writers, academics and pundits in the United States. The conference is being hosted by an Israeli, Yoram Hazony, through his non-profit, The Edmund Burke Foundation. According to the description of the event, the National Conservatism Conference seeks to chart a new path for the American right… Yet despite the large number of Jews and even Rabbis set to speak at the conference, the Edmund Burke Foundation and Yoram Hazony do not mention a pertinent fact: the conference is a Zionist influence operation being directed from Jerusalem. According to The Edmund Burke Foundation’s Form 990 tax filings …, the group shares the same Israeli staff as the Jerusalem-based Herzl Institute: Yoram Hazony, Ofir Harvry, and Rabbi Raphael “Rafi” Eis. Burke Foundation employees not listed on the Herzl Institute’s website, such as David Brog, belong to other pro-Israel activist groups like the Maccabee Task Force, whose sole purpose appears to be to fight Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. The Herzl Institute is, according to its own description, a propaganda initiative that specializes in training Christian scholars to advance Israeli and Jewish interests around the world.”
When it first became active, the Edmund Burke Foundation described itself as “a new public affairs institute” having “the aim of strengthening the principles of national conservatism in Western and other democratic countries. The Foundation will pursue research, educational and publishing ventures directed toward this end.” The Foundation launched with a lavish open-to-the-public conference held at Washington’s Ritz-Carlton in July 2019. The 2019 tax filing reveals that the group claimed an income derived from donations and grants of $953,024. No specific donors were identified in the document which may mean that the contributions were likely broken up into many small sums to avoid having to report that information.
The identified Burke officers all draw relatively small salaries and the bulk of the money appears to be spent on advertising and conferences, though roughly half of the 2019 income was not spent. It would be interesting to know whether the conference attendees were enticed to participate because they were reimbursed for travel, hotels and meals and given a substantial honorarium. Roughly a million dollars is a substantial sum for a small foundation that is hardly known to the public and it can be stretched considerably through the use of volunteers and sponsors. And the audience and speakers in Orlando that Burke is attracting is interesting. Striker notes that “Some of the sponsors listed for National Conservatism 2021, such as The American Conservative — which in the past has published numerous articles critical of Israel — are surprising. Others represent the new reactionary tendency in American politics, such as Peter Thiel’s Claremont Institute, along with the Catholic stalwart First Things.” Striker might have noted that The American Conservative had ceased to criticize Israel in any serious way after they fired me for doing so back in September 2017.
When The Edmund Burke Foundation began maneuvering in conservative circles in 2019, I examined it and its leadership, observations that are worth revisiting in light of the current developments. Interestingly, the Foundation aimed from the start at becoming a leadership cadre, something akin to what Lenin might have called “The vanguard of the proletariat [which] means that the [Bolshevik] party, by infiltration and subversion, will occupy positions of influence or control in government and in all mass organizations until it can replace these methods by outright force.” Now, if one inserts “and use of financial inducements” after “subversion” that is pretty much what the friends of Israel have succeeded in doing to subvert government processes in the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany and France. In The US, the major contributors to the two major parties in the last election cycles were both Jews and Israeli citizens, Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban. In Britain. Germany and France all the major parties and governments support legislation making it illegal to criticize Israel. In Britain in particular the local Jewish community uses its money and media access to force potential critics like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn out of politics.
In America, the Israeli Yoram Hazony, under cover of The Edmund Burke Foundation, has configured himself as a fervent nationalist who is more conservative than the conservatives to justify his leadership role. And he is doing it on behalf of Israel. Ironically, one of the last genuine conservatives in US politics was Pat Buchanan, who was attacked by the usual suspects for putting Americans first, calling Congress an “Amen corner” for Israeli interests and referring to the national legislature as “Israeli occupied territory.” For that he was vilified.
In documents relating to the 2019 Burke Foundation debut Hazony has perverted the very concept of nationalism, claiming that “The return of nationalism has created a much-discussed ‘crisis of conservatism’ that may be unprecedented…The conference on ‘National Conservatism’ will bring together public figures, journalists, scholars, and students who understand that the past and future of conservatism are inextricably tied to the idea of the nation, to the principle of national independence, and to the revival of the unique national traditions that alone have the power to bind a people together and bring about their flourishing.”
Reading between the lines, what the conference organizers are really seeking is a revival of unabashed nationalism as the excuse for countries when they behave badly while promoting their own interests without regard for the interests of others. Israel and the United States are the prime contemporary examples of such behavior and the argument that they have a special entitlement to justify their actions is frequently made, most notably by other Israel-firster groups like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). FDD argues that democracy promotion by force is a legitimate foreign policy of powerful countries like the United States, while “threatened” democracies like Israel must be protected. That, of course, is a complete misrepresentation regarding just how democratic the two countries actually are and the idea that being democratic empowers some sort of leadership role or exempt status is in itself ridiculous.
But why do I suggest that the Edmund Burke Foundation is just another pro-Israel puppet? Look at the people running it. Its President is David Brog, who is also the executive director of the Maccabee Task Force, “an effort launched in 2015 to combat the anti-Israel BDS movement.” He also sits on the Board of Directors of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), were he served as executive director for its first ten years. Before CUFI, Brog worked in the United States Senate for seven years, rising to be chief of staff to Senator Arlen Specter and staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He has also worked as an executive at America Online and practiced corporate law in Tel Aviv, Israel and Philadelphia, PA. Brog is the author of Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State (2006) and In Defense of Faith: the Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity (2010). In 2007, the Forward newspaper listed Brog in its ‘Forward 50’ most influential Jews in America.”
The Edmund Burke Foundation’s Chairman Israeli Yoram Hazony, describes himself as a “Jewish philosopher.” He resides normally in the Jewish state and is a well-known Israeli nationalist, having written that nationalism empowers “the collective right of a free people to rule themselves.” He declares that “We should not let a hairbreadth of our freedom be given over to foreign bodies under any name whatsoever, or to foreign systems of law that are not determined by our own nations.” He adds “My first concern is for Israel.”
In other words, for Hazony all external criticism of what Israel is and does is illegitimate while Brog is what might be described as someone who has made a career out of being Jewish, along the way advancing what he perceives as Israeli interests. So why are they heading an ostensibly American foundation that is hosting conferences to create a new conservatism in the US?
The argument that both Washington and Jerusalem are immune from criticism because they are acting on the basis of legitimate nationalist interests is compelling for some, but ultimately false in that it suggests that there are no restraints on the behavior of either government. The Israelis have, for example, used the national security argument to justify the killing by army sniper fire hundreds of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators and they have now declared a number of Palestinian civic and human rights organizations to be “terrorists” while also simultaneously greatly expanding their illegal settlements on the occupied West Bank.
Promoting “democratic nationalism” as one more political mechanism to pander to Israel without any real understanding of actual interests has led the United States into a seemingly bottomless Middle Eastern quagmire. And, the sense of invulnerability that America’s uncritical support has encouraged among some Israelis also will not benefit the Jewish state in the long term. The existence of the Edmund Burke Foundation is just one more card in a losing hand and hopefully its sponsoring expensive conferences will eventually run through its resources and it will vanish as abruptly as it was created.