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Israel Lobby under fire

02 May, 2006

By Ishtiaq Ahmad


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In his 2004 masterpiece Imperial Hubris, the anonymous author had termed America's unqualified support to Israel as one of the principal reasons why the US was losing the 'war on terrorism.' Israel, he said, was a sovereign state capable of self-survival. There was no reason, he added, why the United States should defend Israel while annoying its Middle Eastern Arab allies.

A number of other Muslim, European, and liberal-leftist authors have castigated the Bush administration for its pro-Israel policy, calling it the principal reason why US relations with the Muslim world remain strained.

Like the anonymous author of Imperial Hubris, they are now joined by two leading proponents of the predominant neo-realist creed in US foreign policy-John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago's Department of Political Science and Stephen Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. They have co-authored an 83-page study titled "The Israel Lobby and the US Foreign Policy," excerpts of which were published in the March 23 issue of the London Review of Books. The study's full text is

available on the Web site of Harvard's Kennedy School.

Like the anonymous author in Imperial Hubris, Mearsheimer and Walt consider Israel "a liability" for America in its "war on terror" and broader efforts to deal with "rogue states." The study makes two claims: first, that uncritical US support for Israel across the decades has not served America's best interests; and, two, US foreign policy choice have for years been distorted by one domestic pressure group, the Israel Lobby.

The authors argue that although often justified as reflecting shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, the US commitment to Israel is due primarily to the activities of the 'Israel Lobby.' The study describes the various activities that pro-Israel groups have undertaken in order to shift US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

The authors hold Israel Lobby responsible for pushing America into a disastrous war in Iraq. Here are its main arguments:

"For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy' throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardized not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history.

"Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

"Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the 'Israel Lobby'. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country in this case, Israel are essentially identical.

"Israel has been the largest recipient of economic and military assistance since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. The US comes to the rescue in wartime and takes Israel's side when negotiating peace.

"Beginning in the 1990s, and even more after 9/11, US support has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arab and Muslim world, and by 'rogue states' that back these groups and seek weapons of mass destruction

"Saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits.

"As for so-called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital US interests, except inasmuch as they are a threat to Israel. The relationship with Israel actually makes it harder for the US to deal with these states. Israel's nuclear arsenal is one reason some of its neighbours want nuclear weapons, and threatening them with regime change merely increases that desire.

Another reason to question Israel's strategic value is that it does not behave like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises (including pledges to stop building settlements and to refrain from 'targeted assassinations' of Palestinian leaders).

"Some aspects of Israeli democracy are at odds with core American values. Its 1.3 million Arabs are treated as second-class citizens. Israel's creation was undoubtedly an appropriate response to the long record of crimes against Jews, but it also brought about fresh crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians.

So if neither strategic nor moral arguments can account for America's support for Israel, how are we to explain it? The explanation is the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby. Jewish Americans have set up an impressive array of organisations to influence American foreign policy, of which American Israeli Public affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most powerful and best known. The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals, who believe Israel's rebirth is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and support its expansionist agenda; to do otherwise, they believe, would be contrary to God's will.

"A key pillar of the Lobby's effectiveness is its influence in Congress. AIPAC forms the core of the Lobby's influence in Congress. Its success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it. Money is critical to US elections, and AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the many pro-Israel political action committees.

"The bottom line is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress, with the result that US policy towards Israel is not debated there, even though that policy has important consequences for the entire world. In other words, one of the three main branches of the government is firmly committed to supporting

Israel.

"Maintaining US support for Israel's policies against the Palestinians is essential as far as the Lobby is concerned, but its ambitions do not stop there. It also wants America to help Israel remain the dominant regional power. The Israeli government and pro-Israel groups in the United States have worked together to shape the administration's policy towards Iraq, Syria and Iran, as well as its grand scheme for reordering the Middle East.

"The Lobby's influence causes trouble on several fronts. It increases the terrorist danger that all states face – including America's European allies. It has made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a situation that gives extremists a powerful recruiting tool, increases the pool of potential terrorists and sympathisers, and

contributes to Islamic radicalism in Europe and Asia.

"Equally worrying, the Lobby's campaign for regime change in Iran and Syria could lead the US to attack those countries, with potentially disastrous effects. We don't need another Iraq. At a minimum, the Lobby's hostility towards Syria and Iran makes it almost impossible for Washington to enlist them in the struggle against al-Qaida and the Iraqi insurgency, where their help is badly needed."

Post-Script

As it has often happened in the past, any scholarly bid to criticize Israel in the US is often portrayed by pro-Israeli academic and media figures as amounting to anti-Semitism, or it fails to generate a healthy debate in the mainstream US media, the latest publication has received a similar reaction. Columnist Christopher Hitchens, for instance, finds the author's claims as "unmistakably smelly"—the smell in question, of course, is that of anti-Semitism, writes Tony Judt in New York Times, April 19.

The essay and the issues it raises for American foreign policy have been prominently dissected and discussed overseas. In America, however, it's been another story: virtual silence in the mainstream media. Why?

The reason, according to Tony Judt, is "fear. Fear of being thought to legitimize talk of a "Jewish conspiracy;" fear of being thought anti-Israel; and thus, in the end, fear of licensing the expression of anti-Semitism."

No surprise that one of the authors, Prof. Stephen Walt, would have to quit his deanship of Harvard's Kenney's School of Government in June.

 

End.

Reader Comments:

Pro Israel Lobbying to discredit Bible Quran view..

Achievement of those who Lobby for Israel and take anti
Allah stance and kill those they say are innocent...

Since 1945 UN was created to prop up 22000 Jews of philistine.
Many resolutions against Muslim states and Palestinians had
been created.With Israel independence in '48 when UN
always sided with Supporters of Israel who lobby for Israel.

In the new world order of new group of alliance leaders
They have hit back On Moses on behalf of '48 Israelis. Moses
Had hurled curse On Jews of gold bullion stock index
Gold Worshipping .The current leaders have hit back on stance
Taken by Bible and Quran on Jews. In total defiance against
Religion, T E Lawrence sheik anti Turkish group have hit
Back on Muslim for being religious. By hook and crook
They created Israel for 22000 Jews living with 4 million
Philistine Christian Arab Muslims.Oilfield occupiers paid
Hundreds of Billion dollars to destroy Palestinian homeland to
prop up 22,000 Jews into Current level of 4 million.
(Exactly opposite) .USA allied spent $804 Billion in Iraq
Afghan invasion on behalf of Israel based military bases.

Jews of Philistine's E Lawrence and oil sheik with their
Oil and car mfrs have hit back for free Israeli settlers with
Multinational companies who finance Israel and to procure
Iraq oil. The new world order group have black listed Bible
Quran And Palestinian and Muslim Umma other way around .

Pro Israel stance people including Muslim leaders have
Ignored black listed multinational. Instead they have black
Listed religion and Muslim alqaedas using term saddam
Osama zarqawi and Z Mousui for all their own killing in
Tens of million they say were innocent bystanders in
WTC buildings Iraq across Muslim world.

The Gold bullion Israelis Christian Muslims continue to
Commit genocide using name saddam osama zacaria
Moussui in killing innocent WTC citizens ON BEHALF OF
ISRAELIS AND multinational who were supposed to been
Black listed to protect innocent citizen they say were not
Supposed to have killed and long gone or evaporated .




zmb _sunarto, Iceland - 02 May, 2006

brilliant work

well basically you have done a great job by explaining why their is a problem when it comes to create a relationship with the united states.everyone knows about these outlines but i guess no one can really convince or do anything to make it better for the entire world

raheel ehsan, United Arab Emirates - 03 May, 2006

Jewish-muslim fight

I think this time it will be muslims who will beat jews close to extinction. This is what their God has promised for them in Quran. Jews will fail again and again in their evil designs.

Sunny, Pakistan - 03 May, 2006

Sunny is the reason

That's the attitude that keeps the US allied with Israel. Too many people talk about just killing them. If the US didn't help hold Israel, then Israel would have already destroyed Lebanon and Syria...probably Iran as well. Doesn't anyone understand that??? How many US citizens have you ever heard "Just kill them or eliminate them about any group"?

Ryan, United Kingdom - 03 May, 2006

TO RYAn

you must drink a lot or on always high on drugs.do u really think it is as easy to kill as u think (my bad u cant think)this attitude of your took you in iraq.i belive the famous words of your president were bring it on.guess what its on and now u cant handle the AWE.your ignorence is the reason Americans are not liked any were in the world.thank to your policy u guys have absolutly no friends left in world other then the paid poodles...REMMEBER U CAN CATCH MORE BEES WITH HONEY THEN VINIGer......

Imran shah, Pakistan - 07 May, 2006

A decent society

I must object to the comments of Mr. Imran Shah.

Americans are not liked anywhere in the world? Then why are our borders overflowing with illegal immigrants? Why are so many in line waiting to legally come into the country?

The U.S. has its faults, but, basically, we are a decent society and I am proud of that.

We do not normally persecute someone because we don't like their religion or the way they practice it, or because we don't approve of the way they live.

As far as any differences over religion go, we just move down the street and build another church with teachings that are more to our liking. We don't use violence, nor do we persecute one another in God's name.

During the civil rights period in the U.S., we did not spend years hating each other over differences in race. In time, white, black, every color, marched together in order to get everyone their rights as guaranteed under America's constitution.

We accepted the principles of the civil rights leaders because they were just and because we are a decent society and that's what a decent society does.

America has its bigots like anywhere else, but they are in the minority. In fact, anyone who bothers someone too much in regard to their beliefs or color - or uses racial slurs when addressing them, will be arrested. In America this sort of thing is recognized and addressed as a "hate crime." A decent society doesn't tolerate the persecution of others.

As a decent society, we do not get into someone's face and tell them how they must live, speak, think and dress.

I could go on, but I would continue to be generalizing just like you, Mr. Khan.

Your society also has many decent,loving people, just as America has, I'm sure. By that I mean those who don't go around hating others because they are different or because they feel they have some right of retribution.

But, perhaps you, Mr. Khan, find each and every American worthy of your dislike?

As for the writer, Mr. Ahmad, maybe we don't talk about the Jewish lobby, or the Jewish anything in a denigrating manner, simply because of PC. Political Correctness is very big in America. The Jews have been used as scapegoats and persecuted for so long, we are sometimes instinctively careful about what we say in their regard. Not out of fear. Simply to avoid hurting someone or being disrespectful to another human being. That's what a decent society does, isn't it?

At one time, many Americans objected to some of the policies of the Israelis toward the Palestinians. Then the buses started exploding and that was that...However, I'm sure many Americans do still feel the Palestinians have been ill used. In a decent society, a person has a right to their own opinion. BTW, I am not Jewish. I have no axe to grind.

What I've said is very simplistic and I realize I'm not addressing your article in a very scholarly fashion.

As a member of a decent society, this is just something I had to say...


Isadora, United Kingdom - 08 May, 2006

America is a terrorist country


America is a terrorist country and it is hated by everybody. Isadora says that if USA is hated by everybody then why its borders are overflowing ??

The reason is that USA is a thief and is stealing the money from all over the world. The Mexicans and others are coming to terrorist USA only to take their money back which the American robbers are stealing from them.


Ayaz
England



ayaz, United Arab Emirates - 09 May, 2006

Dear Mr. Imran Shah:

I do apologize for getting your name wrong throughout most of my comment and calling you Mr. Khan...

Regards,
Isadora

Isadora, United Kingdom - 09 May, 2006

The U.S.A and Allies

Respected Readers ;
As far as I think America is not sincere to any of its friendly country and similarly all are just loosely allied to it.
There is not a single stronger Muslim country that do take some strong step for peace and prosperity of all, all the friends of America are fake and just talk of as are made fool by it in the response.
Some are in alliance with America for some greed while others of fear likely it uses them all.
As far as Israel is concerned even if it be given a totally shape of a bomb or missile and erected there it will not see peace which is the basic need of a country. What is the use of the wealth which not earns one peace of mind and one is not able to enjoy that.


Mohammad Ilyas, Pakistan - 10 May, 2006

To isadora

fredom to practise your religion oh please guantamano bay is full of innocnet people and the american government no it.but still wont release them is that the freedom of religion u talking about or the secret jails is that the freedom pleas do tell us all about the freedom u talk about.

all i no is osama attacked usa and killed innocent civilians he is a Terrorist without a doubt in my mind and he should be punished for it without giving a second thought he should be killed.agreed
then the americans attack a soverign state and have been killing them since 1990s what do u think the AMericans be called.while they are talking about another soverign state in the mean time.IF ITS GOOD FOR THE GOOSE ITS GOOD FOR GANDER WONT U AGREE.

Ali Imran, Pakistan - 11 May, 2006

Israel'48 "we do not recognize State of Phillistine or UN "648 Resln" 50/50 div

Then…

Illicitly Changing thousands of year old name
"State of Phillistine" .

Israel'48"we do not recognize State of phillistine or UN
resolution 648 dividing phillistine Balfour STATE OF Israel(for 22000 Jewish homeland) and PLO State 50/50. we bombed
iraq nuke plant we will bomb Iran Nuke power plant”

Now…

UN "we do not recognize Palestinian State or UN resolution 648
And did help Israel and allied in Embargo WMD Iraq invasion".

benz m Ispahani, India - 12 May, 2006

No need to entirely blame Jews and Americans for middle east problems. The arabs had their chances. Jews are not the only who exploit the US system. They have worked tremendously hard to reach this level without the oil money.

Malik Ehsan, Pakistan - 13 May, 2006

To Muslim brothers...

There is no point in blaming US, Isreal or any other western country for what is happening in Palestine. I think if Muslim countries wanted to solve this problem they could have done it ages ago. Problem with us Muslims that we have lost our self-integrity, our leaders don’t do any thing and rest of us either too busy making money (whatever way possible) or getting ready to go on jihad. But we don’t realise that just by going on jihad giving our life in the name of ALLAH is no enough. Quran says, you should fight back with your enemies in the same way they are fighting against you (this is not an exact translation). If we think about this, we need to have a strong media front. That’s how they are fighting. Media is against Muslims right now. If you ask any American “who is most likely to harm US?” their answer would be Muslims or Muslim terrorist.

Its not that they hate Muslims it is because what media tell them to think. US media is biased; they are more likely to show negative points for Muslim world then positive. Most common example is, that Muslims don’t treat women well especially in Saudi Arabia, they are not allowed to vote and stuff like that. But they would never tell you that in the same country crime rate is one of the lowest in the world. Rape cases are non existent. But in America crimes like burglary, murder and rape are highest in the world.

My point is, it’s our duty to bring up good, honest leaders, who could lead us into success and make our media powerful enough that entire world could listen our point of view too.

Ali, Pakistan - 15 May, 2006

Israel is a myth and a bubble

Listen to what a prominent Jewish author of his bestseller book: "The Jews" about Jews. "It is good to be a Jew, which is somewhat un-Jewish thing to say because Jews are more used to hugging their wounds than counting their blessings."
"Jews", he contends, "were rarely in control of their destinies and where they impinged on history it was because they were in trouble or troublesome."
The Qur'an has its own unmatched, thought-provoking, benevolent and not least in character-building style, wich stands abovr and apart from human writings and human approach. It declares: "God has exalted Adam and Noha, and the House of Abraham and the House of imran (father of Virgin Maryam) over all mankind. Jews are half-brothers of Muslims. And they are rewarded twice in measure on attaining to faith in Islam. But islam honours them as the bearers of Torah and the mere fact that Jews have passed the better part of their "exile" under Muslim regimes point towards reconcilation and warm relations between the two communities.
Caliph Omar ended the Jewish expulsion from the City of david, Jerusalem. They were again banished by the Crusaders and it was again Saladin who allowed the back to live in peace and full freedom in Jerusalem. Jews rendered significant contributions in the Muslim Spain. Their unmatched loyal and dedicated works in the Ottoman Empire are fresh in history. Our learned or one might say rigid and bigot maulanas and molvis might call Ottomans as "kafirs' if they learn that the Ottomans had exempted many a loyal Jew from the "dhmmi" tax not only for life but also on their posterity. Islam teaches love, humility, compassion and forgiveness to its adversaries.
Right now Israel is caught in a self-created tailspin. A pal of gloom is palpably hanging over the Israelis from a threat of divine punishment for creating the country illegitimately ahead of the coming of messiah. The jandful of rebellious activist Zionists might renounce faith in the Jewish God, YHWH, in defying him and trying to lead the Jewish community solo. But God still wishes the good of them and remains ever forrgiving and a dispenser of grace.
Here is a safe prediction. The divine hand is about to strike Israel for not only its illegitimate creation but the brutality and violence that the Zionists have unleashed in Palestine. What happens when a people come under a cruel suffering. Somebody rushes to their aid with both rescue and relief packages. I can guarantee that it will be the Palestinians who might be joined by both Arabs states and Iran that would be the first to reach the site with a healing touch. That in my dream and perception would make the beginning of a peace truce coming to the Israelis from the Palestnians... i can tell you more, but it is better to leave it to you to do a little bit of soul-searching and to decide who of the two adversaries is placed in a better position to do a favour to the other?

Sher Mohammad.

Sher Mohammad, Pakistan - 17 May, 2006

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