The Israeli lobby in America is under pressure these days. It seems they crossed so many red lines that some hot-blooded Americans felt obliged to protest.
The 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, former US President Jimmy Carter, is not alone with his recent book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” and LA Times and Guardian article, “How I See Palestine.” A recent Harvard study entitled “The Israel Lobby” by Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt details the ways of the lobby and its victims. Tellingly, they later joined the victim list. There are similar studies and books exposing the lobby, like “They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby” by 22-year veteran Congressman Paul Findley whose stand cost him dearly, and “Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish Establishment” by American-Jewish insider, J. J. Goldberg.
Some still think this is a lobby like any. An American friend argued that the tobacco and gun lobbies are among the strongest in the US. They use similar aggressive methods to advance their agenda and influence decision makers in Congress and the Administration — what is the difference? I explained that these groups are working on an all-American platform, claiming to represent and defend the interests of the American public and businesses. In the Israeli lobby case, it is Americans for Israel. They fight and pressure not for the good of the American nation, but for that of a foreign country. They even dare to say it loud and clear, like former House Majority Leader Dick Armey who pronounced in September 2002: “My No. 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.” (Not America!)
This Christian Zionist congressman and chief author of the Republican Contract with America, who called in May 2004 for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, is not alone. According to the Harvard study, the lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, as well as Tom DeLay, former majority leader in the House of Representatives and Trent Lott, Senate minority leader. All of whom 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. Neo-conservative gentiles such as John Bolton; Robert Bartley, the former Wall Street Journal editor; William Bennett, the former secretary of education; Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former UN ambassador; and the influential columnist George Will are also steadfast supporters. Other Jewish senators and congressmen work to ensure that US foreign policy supports Israel’s interests.
You can’t argue with success. For decades, the centerpiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel 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.
According to the Harvard study, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War II, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the US foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a budget surplus and a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.
Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. It blocks the efforts of Arab states to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s agenda. The US consistently supported the Israeli position in every peace negotiation. An American participant at Camp David in 2000 later said: “Far too often, we functioned…as Israel’s lawyer.” Finally, the Bush Administration’s ambition to transform the Middle East is at least partly aimed at improving Israel’s strategic situation.
Israel knows it could rely on the lobby and its friends in the American power structure. They never fail it even if it means sacrificing their own country’s best interests. Whatever Israel wants Israel gets.
That is why Israeli former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Oct. 3, 2001 said to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio, “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that…I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.”
I wonder what type of Americans know this and accept it. I am pretty sure it is not the American public.
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