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The Dead Roach in America's Salad

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    Kevin Zeese: Hawkish Israeli Lobby Wants War with Iran! William Hughes http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display/12448/index.php The Israeli Lobby,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2006
      Kevin Zeese: "Hawkish Israeli Lobby Wants War with Iran!"
      William Hughes

      The Israeli Lobby, with others, helped to instigate the Iraqi War. A
      scholarly report, the "Harvard Study," which was recently released,
      also documents the "unmatched power" of the Lobby over the national
      interest. Now, the Bush-Cheney Gang is targeting Iran for a pre-empted
      strike. Is the hawkish, hard right, pro-Israeli Lobby pushing for a
      war with Iran, too? Kevin Zeese, an independent candidate for U.S.
      Senate In MD, thinks that it is.
      Click on image for a larger version

      "So likewise `a passionate attachment' of one nation for another
      produces a variety of evils..." - George Washington's "Farewell
      Address," September 19, 1796

      Washington, D.C. - Kevin Zeese was the first speaker at a public forum
      held on Monday evening, April 24, 2006, at the West End Neighborhood
      Library, near the community of Georgetown. The topic for the event
      was, "Is the Israel Lobby Promoting War on Iran?" He said the question
      of whether the hawkish, hard-right, pro-Israeli Lobby in America wants
      to see war with Iran "gets answered in an ad which was in the New York
      Times, the Financial Times, and other newspapers. It's a full page ad
      by the American Jewish Committee, put out on April 4th. The center of
      the bull's eye is Iran and the headline is: `Can Anyone Within Range
      of Iran's Missiles Feel Safe?' I think that's a pretty inflammatory
      ad. It's signed by more than a hundred people...I think it's a pretty
      strong indication of where the Lobby stands. That isn't the only proof
      we have that the hawkish Israeli Lobby wants to go to war."

      Zeese is the director of DemocracyRising.U.S., an organization working
      to end the Iraqi War and the Occupation. He was also an ex-press
      secretary for Ralph Nader in 2004. Presently, Zeese is an independent
      candidate for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, who is looking to bring
      together, in a voting block, the combined electoral efforts of the
      Green, Populist and Libertarian Parties. (1)

      The DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) presented the evening program. (2)
      David Kirshbaum and Carol Moore of DAWN acted as co-moderators for the
      event and did a splendid job. Other speakers were Simin Royanian and
      Alex Patico. Alex is a U.S. coordinator of the multi-country "Campaign
      Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran." Ms. Royanian is
      an economist and the cofounder of the "Women for Peace and Justice in

      Ms. Royanian, in her remarks, pointed to U.S. "militarism and
      imperialism" as being the root of the problem of injustice around the
      world and in the Middle East as well, and as posing the main threat to
      Iran today. She did acknowledge that the Israeli Lobby is
      "brainwashing" the American people. She also emphasized that Iran is
      not making "any nuclear weapons." Mr. Patico saw the U.S. government
      itself as the main issue with respect to Iran. He said it has
      "exacerbated the situation." Patico asked: "Why did it (the U.S.) put
      the nuclear option on the table?"

      According to DAWN's press release, the focus of the event was the new
      "Harvard Study on the negative influence of the Israel Lobby and what
      activists can do about it." (3) The report was authored by Professors
      John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. (4) It generated hostile
      reactions from Israeli sympathizers, like Alan Dershowitz, David
      Gergen and the Washington Post. (5) Essentially, the document revealed
      what most objective observers of the Middle East already knew: The
      Israeli Lobby, which includes the Neocons, has exercised "unmatched
      power" over U.S.'s policies to the extent that its role is harmful and
      not in the national interest. In fact, pundit Charley Reese, was even
      more blunt. He called Israel, "The dead roach in America's salad." He
      also accused the Lobby of "beating the drums for war with Iran." (6)
      Recently, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed, that the
      Bush()-Cheney Gang was planning a nuclear strike against Iran. (7)

      Continuing with Zeese's comments, he said: "Another important, hard
      line group is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
      (JINSA). They have been advocating `regime change' in a number of Arab
      counties: Iraq(), Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and with the Palestinian
      Authority for years. JINSA's board of advisors has included many Bush
      administration leaders: Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Richard Perle, James
      Woolsey and Douglas Feith...They (JINSA) put a report out on April
      12th, called, `Iran, Iran, Iran and Iran.' Iran, the document said is
      the `whole list of national security priorities.' Yes, they want to
      see `regime change' in Iran. They want to see an attack on Iran."

      It's interesting to note that one of the members of the U.S. Congress,
      who supports a U.S. air strike against Iran's nuclear facilities is
      the Israeli Firster, Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). He told the Jerusalem
      Post, he would, if necessary, advocate such a measure to "deter the
      development of their nuclear program." (8) What, of course, Lieberman
      didn't say is that his favorite country, Israel, is suspected of
      having over 400 nuclear weapons! (9)

      Meanwhile, as gas prices soar above $3 a gallon, the resentment in the
      U.S. towards the Israeli Lobby's role in inflaming that problem, too,
      can also be expected to grow exponentially. Some fondly recall that
      before the creation of Israel, the U.S. didn't have any Arab enemies
      in the oil-producing Middle East and that buying gas for the car
      wasn't an issue. Other matters, like: Israel's launching of the
      notorious "Lavon Affair," in 1954; its bulldozing to death, in 2003,
      of peace activist Rachel Corrie; its deliberate attack in 1967, on the
      U.S. Liberty; its unleashing of the spy/traitor, Jonathan Pollard; the
      over $140 billion in dollars in foreign aid that it has extracted from
      our treasury, since 1948; and the Larry Franklin/Pentagon Spy case,
      with its ties to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-will
      continue to simmer in the bosom of many Americans. (10)

      There is, too, another factor which causes friction. It is the
      arrogance of some of the Israel's apologists! Their condescending
      attitudes and their use of smear tactics towards those who dare to
      speak out for the good of our Republic is deeply resented by their
      targets and, too, by the wider community. It reminds some of how the
      British imperialists regularly abused our gallant patriots before the
      Revolution. As brave Americans die daily in the Neocon-inspired Iraqi
      War, and others ingest the toxic depleted uranium dust, those feelings
      against a militant Israel, and its haughty and schoolyard bully of a
      Lobby, will only persist. (11)

      Finally, in his over fifteen-minute-talk, Zeese underscored the
      importance of the Harvard Study and how it can open up a discussion on
      matters that have long been a "taboo topic among elected U.S.
      politicians." He had high praise for its two authors. Zeese
      spotlighted for the audience some of the significant items, and
      findings, contained in the report, including one of their conclusions
      that Iran is Israel's next target for "regime change." He emphasized
      that the "lopsided U.S. policy in favor of Israel" needs to be
      changed. He pointed out that aid to Israel over the last 58 years has
      far outstripped aid to other nations. He gave as example the fact
      that, "Aid to Israel is greater than all of U.S. aid to sub-Saharan
      Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America combined."

      Zeese said that our "democracy is threatened by the stifling of
      debate." He said now is the time to confront that "special
      relationship. It is evident that the current approach has not
      benefitted Israel, the Palestinians, the Middle East on the United
      States." He finished up by urging people who are opposed to any war
      against Iran "to get organized."


      1. kevinzeese.com/index.php
      2. dawndc.net/
      3. dc.indymedia.org/newswire/display/133456/index.php
      5. stopthewarnow.net/warlobbies/harvardpaper.html
      6. www.antiwar.com/reese/
      7. www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060417fa_fact
      8. newsmax.com/archives/ic/2006/4/19/164250.shtml
      9. www.fas.org/nuke/guide/israel/nuke/
      10. wrmea.com/
      11. www.whatreallyhappened.com/priceofyourchild.html

      William Hughes is the author of "Saying `No' to the War Party"
      (Iuniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at: liamhughes (at) comcast.net.


      US Middle East policy Motivated by pro-Israel lobby:



      Israel: The Dead Roach in America's Salad
      by Charley Reese

      The Israeli lobby and the neoconservatives are beating the drums for
      war with Iran. I hope the president is not that dangerously stupid.
      The betting on whether he is that stupid is about even.

      The neocons – who, being self-centered, seemingly have no concept of
      human nature – are advancing the premise that a military attack on
      Iran will cause the people to lose faith in their government and
      result in regime change.

      A military attack on Iran will have the opposite effect. The people
      will rally to their government, and any hope of regime change will be
      dead. That people will rally around their existing leaders in the face
      of an attack by a foreign power is as certain as sunrise. Neither
      Israel nor the U.S. could do a greater favor for the ruling mullahs
      and Iran's president than to launch an attack. It would cement their
      hold on power.

      The neocons' fallacious premise has already been disproved. In the
      first Gulf War, the first Bush administration confidently incited the
      Shi'ites and the Kurds to rebel after Saddam Hussein's forces were
      expelled from Kuwait. The administration thought that Saddam,
      embarrassed by a crushing military defeat, would fall from power in
      Iraq easily. Instead, he rallied his forces and crushed both the
      Shi'ites in the south and the Kurds in the north. Oops.

      In the first place, it is not embarrassing for a Third World country
      with obsolete equipment to be defeated by the world's No. 1 military
      superpower. In the second place, the Sunnis, however much they might
      have disliked Saddam, disliked even more the thought of being ruled by
      Kurds or Shi'ites. In the third place, by President George H.W. Bush's
      decision to not go to Baghdad, Saddam could say he duked it out with
      the world's superpower and was still standing after the fight. That,
      in most eyes, could be counted as a victory.

      Some months ago, an Iranian human-rights advocate pleaded with the
      current Bush administration to cease its rhetorical attacks on the
      Iranian government. She said, quite accurately, that such attacks make
      life impossible for Iranian reformers. Needless to say, the blockheads
      in Washington ignored her.

      What did we do when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were
      attacked? We rallied behind George W. Bush – Democrats and
      Republicans, liberals and conservatives. That's the natural reaction
      of normal human beings, and the Iranians are normal human beings.
      Attack their country and they will rally round the flag.

      The Iranians still insist they are not seeking nuclear weapons, and
      there's not a scrap of evidence to contradict that claim. They still
      adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have often called
      for a nuclear-free Middle East.

      Once again, the dead roach in America's salad is Israel. The U.S.
      hypocritically opposes a nuclear-free Middle East because Israel has
      nuclear weapons. We hypocritically claim the Iranians are in violation
      of international law when, in fact, it is Israel that refuses to sign
      the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses international
      inspections. Given our craven obedience to Israel, we have exactly
      zero credibility in the Arab and Muslim world.

      As I have said before, I don't care if the Iranians do develop nuclear
      weapons. My whole adult life was lived with 30,000 Soviet nuclear
      weapons aimed at me. I can certainly live with the six or seven Iran
      might be able to scrape together in the next five to 10 years. In the
      meantime, the U.S. government should kick the Israeli lobby out of the
      country and support Iran and the Arab League in pushing for a
      nuclear-free Middle East.

      The Israeli lobby pushing America to fight yet another war for Israel
      reminds me of what the French ambassador to Great Britain said at a
      party: "Why does the world allow this (expletive deleted) little
      country to cause so much trouble?"

      Why indeed? You should ask your politicians that question.


      Study Alleging Dominant Influence of Israeli Lobby Sparks Heated Fallout
      Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

      In the recent study "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy", two
      distinguished political science professors charge that the United
      States has willingly set aside its own security and that of many of
      its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel. In addition
      the study accuses the pro-Israeli lobby, particularly AIPAC of
      manipulating the U.S. media, policing academia and silencing critics
      of Israel by labeling them as anti-Semitic. Media critic Michael
      Massing joins us to talk about the fallout from the study. [includes
      rush transcript]

      The "Anti- Hamas bill that passed in the House yesterday was heavily
      supported by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In
      fact, one critic of the bill, Congresswoman Betty McCollum of
      Minnesota, accused AIPAC of threatening her because she voted against
      the bill. She said an AIPAC activist called her office to say that her
      QUOTE "support for terrorists will not be tolerated."

      We turn now to look at a recent study that has caused an uproar in the
      academic community and in the media. The study is titled "The Israel
      Lobby and US Foreign Policy." The authors of the paper, Professor
      Stephen Walt of Harvard University and John Mearsheimer of the
      University of Chicago, charge that the United States has willingly set
      aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to
      advance the interests of Israel. In addition the study accuses the
      pro-Israeli lobby, particularly AIPAC of manipulating the U.S. media,
      policing academia and silencing critics of Israel by labeling them as
      anti-Semitic. Well, a new article in the New York Review of Books
      examines this controversial report and the reaction to it. It's titled
      "The Storm over the Israel Lobby". It was written by media critic
      Michael Massing who joins us our in the Firehouse studio.

      * Michael Massing, contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism
      Review and board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He
      frequently writes for the New York Review of Books, the American
      Prospect and the Nation.


      AMY GOODMAN: A new article in the New York Review of Books examines
      the controversial report and the reaction to it. It's called "The
      Storm Over the Israel Lobby." It was written by media critic Michael
      Massing, who joins us now in our Firehouse studio. Michael is a
      contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review and frequently
      writes for the New York Review of Books. We welcome you to Democracy Now!

      MICHAEL MASSING: Good to be here, Amy.

      AMY GOODMAN: Why don't you summarize the paper and the response?

      MICHAEL MASSING: Well, the paper by the two professors, it's a very
      strongly argued case that U.S. foreign policy has been sort of taken
      into a counterproductive direction by the power of the Israel lobby,
      and they define the Israel lobby in very broad terms. They include not
      only groups like AIPAC, but Christian Zionists, neoconservatives,
      media monitor groups from a pro-Israel perspective, and so on.

      AMY GOODMAN: And people like, well, the former House majority leader,
      Tom DeLay.

      MICHAEL MASSING: Tom DeLay and other people like that. Dick Armey, and
      so on and so forth. And they sort of put them all together. That's one
      thing that became controversial. Are Christian Zionists, for instance,
      part of the Israel lobby, or is that yet another type of pressure
      group? And so on.

      But they basically argued that from a strategic and moral standpoint,
      the U.S. really -- it's not in America's interest to be backing Israel
      as strongly and unwaveringly as it does. And the main reason that the
      U.S. does back Israel is because of the power of this lobby. And they
      attempt to show that not only has it sort of skewed U.S. policy on
      Israeli-Palestinian relations, but has effected U.S. policy on many
      other regional issues, particularly the war in Iraq. They claim that
      U.S. would not have gone to war against Iraq had it not been for the
      threat that Iraq posed to Israel and had it not been for the support
      for Israel in this country through the Israel lobby. And the reaction,
      you know, was just tumultuous.

      AMY GOODMAN: Before we get to the reaction, explain who these authors
      are of this piece, which makes it so significant.

      MICHAEL MASSING: Right. Well, the senior person is a John Mearsheimer,
      who is a professor of International Relations, International Security
      at the University of Chicago, and his colleague Stephen Walt, who is
      at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and has been the
      administrative dean there for the last three years. So these are two
      very eminent professors. More so, they're sort of rather -- I don't
      know, they're realists basically. They come out of this sort of
      Brzezinski school of international relations, that international
      policy should be based on national interest, and they are writing from
      the perspective that U.S. policy in the Mid-East, particularly U.S.
      support for Israel to the extent it's been, has not been in the U.S.
      interest. So very impeccable establishment credentials, which was one
      reason why their taking such a strong position created such a stir.

      AMY GOODMAN: And the piece went up on the Harvard University website.

      MICHAEL MASSING: Well, it's interesting. It originally was
      commissioned by the Atlantic Monthly, and they wrote it for the
      Atlantic, but the Atlantic ultimately rejected the piece, and it made
      its way circuitously to the London Review of Books, which said, "We
      want this. We want you to have even more about the Israel lobby in
      it." And so the piece appeared there in March and simultaneously went
      up on the website of the Kennedy School. And the Harvard connection
      has added an element. It has brought much more attention, just because
      of the Harvard brand name.

      AMY GOODMAN: The response in the media?

      MICHAEL MASSING: Well, the response -- the media is part of the
      response, but, in general, many, many people have attacked this with a
      venom that has been extraordinary. Actually, the New York Sun has been
      in the lead. They ran several front-page articles of a really
      extraordinary nature. I mean, one of them, their lead story one day in
      March was about how David Duke endorsed this paper and claimed it had
      vindicated what he's been saying all along about U.S. policy, that
      sort of Israel was behind the war in Iraq, and so on and so forth.

      They claimed, based on Alan Dershowitz's assertions, that Mearsheimer
      and Walt, the two professors, got some of their information from
      neo-Nazi websites; that became a front-page article in the New York
      Sun. I mean, I was actually surprised the New York Sun went as far as
      it did. These articles with so unbalanced, even for a conservative
      newspaper like the Sun. Alan Dershowitz got the Kennedy School to post
      his own rebuttal, 40-some pages long, in which he attacked various
      parts of the paper.

      And let me say that the paper itself made a lot of strong arguments
      about Israel and its history that struck many people, even supporters
      of their general argument, as one-sided and harsh. It went into a
      whole history of Israel's crimes, as they call them, against the
      Palestinians, without really talking about the violence that has come
      from the Palestinian side against Israel. So, as I argued in my own
      paper, they sort of invited some of the criticism that they got.

      AMY GOODMAN: Ha'aretz is taking this very seriously, some interesting
      discussion in the Israeli newspaper.

      MICHAEL MASSING: Well, you know, Amy, it's long been considered that
      the Israeli press has a more vigorous debate about sort of relations
      with the Palestinians than you can have here, in part, I think,
      because of pressure from the lobby. But Ha'aretz, for instance, said
      that whatever one thinks of the merits of the paper, the storm it's
      kicked up, the issues it's raised, the fact that two professors like
      this of such credentials have raised these issues should be taken as a
      warning sign about sort of the limits of American tolerance for
      Israel's policies in the Occupied Territories.

      AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Michael Massing, contributing editor,
      Columbia Journalism Review, board member of the Committee to Protect
      Journalists, has written the piece "The Storm Over the Israeli Lobby."
      Noam Chomsky has also critiqued this from a different perspective.

      MICHAEL MASSING: Right, from the left. Some people, Chomsky and
      others, feel that it basically takes an ennobling view of America and
      what its interests in the world are, that America had a -- if it were
      not for the power of the Israel lobby, would conduct itself in a much
      more sort of Wilsonian way, when in fact, Chomsky argues, if you look
      at U.S. policy around the world, the type of -- that Israel has, in
      fact, served U.S. interests very well, smashing Arab nationalism,
      protecting U.S. access to oil and other natural resources, and that
      Israel has helped U.S. policy in places like Central America in
      providing sort of military assistance to some of the regimes the U.S.
      propped up there in the 1980s.

      AMY GOODMAN: We just have a minute. So, your summary now of where the
      debate goes and how significant this is? Despite the debate there
      hasn't been a tremendous amount of attention to this in the U.S. media.

      MICHAEL MASSING: Right. I mean, for instance, the New York Times ran
      an open-ed piece by Tony Judt, which was very strongly backing the
      professors, but beyond that, their news coverage has been very
      minimal. Washington Post, if you look at the sort of main outpost of
      our top media, it's been very scant coverage. And to some people,
      that's an indication that the truth -- that it is hard, in fact, to
      debate these issues, because of the pressure on the press.

      AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you were at the AIPAC meeting, the big annual
      meeting --

      MICHAEL MASSING: I didn't go. I sort of tried to reconstruct it based
      on interviews.

      AMY GOODMAN: In March, where, in fact, the bill we just debated was a
      major topic. But the power you see of AIPAC in determining policy?

      MICHAEL MASSING: I think it's very strong. I think that, as I quoted
      -- what I tried to do in my article was do some of the reporting that
      I thought the paper itself lacked, on the actual power of AIPAC. How
      strong is it? And I found that, in fact, it's very strong,
      particularly in Congress. They create what one former Clinton official
      told me was background noise, that like right now, in terms of the
      administration. You showed President Bush's comments. That's all made
      against the background of this tremendous operation that AIPAC has,
      where they can take hundreds of activists to Congress and meet, put
      pressure on Congressmen. If they do not got way they do, as Betty
      McCullom found out, the congresswoman from Minnesota, they can brand
      you this way and that way. The local press will pick it up. And also
      the money factor is very strong. AIPAC helps to guide people, both
      PACs as well as individuals, in terms of their money giving. The
      fundraising aspect's very big, all which means that AIPAC is not
      indomitable, but it has a very strong influence in creating the
      context in which U.S. policy toward Israel gets made.

      AMY GOODMAN: Among the most powerful lobbies, next to the N.R.A.?

      MICHAEL MASSING: Yeah, it's up there with the N.R.A. and A.A.R.P.

      AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us, Michael
      Massing, contributing editor, Columbia Journalism Review, board member
      of the Committee to Protect Journalists. His piece, "The Storm Over
      the Israel Lobby," appears in the current issue of the New York Review
      of Books.



      The Storm over the Israel Lobby
      By Michael Massing

      Not since Foreign Affairs magazine published Samuel Huntington's "The
      Clash of Civilizations?" in 1993 has an academic essay detonated with
      such force as "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," by professors
      John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt
      of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Published in the
      March 23, 2006, issue of the London Review of Books and posted as a
      "working paper" on the Kennedy School's Web site, the report has been
      debated in the coffeehouses of Cairo and in the editorial offices of
      Haaretz. It's been called "smelly" (Christopher Hitchens), "nutty"
      (Max Boot), "conspiratorial" (the Anti-Defamation League), "oddly
      amateurish" (the Forward), and "brave" (Philip Weiss in The Nation).
      It's prompted intense speculation over why The New York Times has
      given it so little attention and why The Atlantic Monthly, which
      originally commissioned the essay, rejected it.

      The objects of all this controversy are two eminent members of the
      academic establishment. Mearsheimer is a graduate of West Point, a
      veteran of five years in the Air Force, and the author of three books,
      including The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. In 1989, Mearsheimer
      persuaded Walt to leave Princeton and to join the faculty at Chicago,
      and they worked closely together until 1999, when Walt left for
      Harvard's Kennedy School; he's been its academic dean for the last
      three years. Last year, he published Taming American Power: The Global
      Response to US Primacy. As their book titles suggest, both professors
      belong to the "realist" school of international relations, viewing
      national interest as the only effective ground for making foreign policy.

      In their paper (the Web version runs eighty-two pages, forty of them
      footnotes), Mearsheimer and Walt argue that the centerpiece of US
      policy in the Middle East has been its unwavering support for Israel,
      and that this has not been in America's best interest. In their view,
      the "extraordinary generosity" the US showers on Israel— the nearly $3
      billion in direct foreign assistance it provides every year, the
      access it gives Israel to "top-drawer" weapons like F-16 jets, the
      thirty-two UN Security Council resolutions critical of Israel that it
      has vetoed since 1982, the "wide latitude" it has given Israel in
      dealing with the occupied territories—all this "might be
      understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were
      a compelling moral case for sustained US backing." In fact, they
      write, "neither rationale is convincing." Israel may have had
      strategic value for the US during the cold war when the Soviet Union
      had heavy influence in Egypt and Syria, but that has long since faded.
      Since September 11, Israel has been cast as a crucial ally in the war
      on terror, but actually, according to Mearsheimer and Walt, it has
      been more of a liability; its close ties to America have served as a
      rallying point for Osama bin Laden and other anti-American extremists.
      Morally, Israel qualifies as a democracy, the authors write, but it's
      a deeply flawed one, discriminating against its Arab citizens and
      oppressing the Palestinians who have lived under its occupation.

      If neither strategic nor moral considerations can account for
      America's support for Israel, Mearsheimer and Walt ask, what does?
      Their answer: the "unmatched power of the Israel Lobby." At its core
      is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is
      ranked second after the National Rifle Association (along with the
      AARP) in the National Journal's 2005 listing of Washington's most
      powerful lobbies. AIPAC, they write, serves as "a de facto agent for a
      foreign government." The lobby, they say, is also associated with
      Christian evangelicals such as Tom DeLay, Jerry Falwell, and Pat
      Robertson; neoconservatives both Jewish (Paul Wolfowitz, Bernard
      Lewis, and William Kristol) and gentile (John Bolton, William Bennett,
      and George Will); think tanks (the Washington Institute for Near East
      Policy, the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute); and
      critics of the press such as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East
      Reporting in America.

      While other special-interest groups influence US foreign policy,
      Mearsheimer and Walt say, no lobby has managed to divert it "as far
      from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest,
      while simultaneously convincing Americans that US and Israeli
      interests are essentially identical." The result has turned the US
      into an "enabler" of Israeli expansion in the occupied territories,
      "making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the
      Palestinians." Pressure from AIPAC and Israel was also a "critical
      element" in the US decision to invade Iraq, they write, arguing that
      the war "was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more

      Finally, the professors maintain, the lobby has created a climate in
      which anyone who calls attention to its power is deemed anti-Semitic,
      a device designed to stifle discussion "by intimidation." They end
      with a call for a "more open debate" about the lobby's influence and
      the consequences it has had for America's place in the world.

      Such points have been made before, but rarely by such hardheaded
      members of the academic establishment. And the response has been
      furious. Leading the way has been The New York Sun, whose lead story
      of March 20 was headed "David Duke Claims to Be Vindicated by a
      Harvard Dean." Duke, the white supremacist, was quoted as calling the
      paper "excellent" and a "great step forward." "It is quite
      satisfying," Duke said, "to see a body in the premier American
      University essentially come out and validate every major point I have
      been making since even before the [Iraq] war even started." "Harvard's
      Paper on Israel Called 'Trash' by Solon," went another headline two
      days later, the Solon in this case being New York congressman Eliot
      Engel, who said, "Given what happened in the Holocaust, it's shameful
      that people would write reports like this." Congressman Jerrold Nadler
      called the paper "a meretricious, dishonest piece of crap," while
      Marvin Kalb, who teaches at the Kennedy School, expressed
      disappointment "that a paper of this quality appeared under the
      Kennedy School label."

      In The Washington Post, Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at John Hopkins
      University's School of Advanced International Studies, wrote that he
      was "a public intellectual and a proud Jew" who was about to celebrate
      Passover with his oldest son, who was

      on leave from the bomb-strewn streets of Baghdad.... Other
      supposed members of "The Lobby" also have children in military
      service. Impugning their patriotism or mine is not scholarship or
      policy advocacy. It is merely, and unforgivably, bigotry.

      David Gergen of US News & World Report expressed shock at the
      professors' charges, writing that they were "wildly at variance with
      what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office" while serving
      four presidents. "I never once saw a decision in the Oval Office to
      tilt US foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of America's
      interest." "As a Christian," he wrote, let me add that it is also
      wrong and unfair to call into question the loyalty of millions of
      American Jews who have faithfully supported Israel while also working
      tirelessly and generously to advance America's cause, both at home and
      abroad. They are among our finest citizens and should be praised, not

      No one, however, was more vociferous than Alan Dershowitz. A professor
      of law at Harvard and the author of The Case for Israel, Dershowitz
      was quoted in the Sun as claiming he had proof that the authors had
      gotten some of their information from neo-Nazi Web sites. Dershowitz
      (whom the professors call an "American apologist" for Israel)
      hurriedly drafted a forty-three-page rebuttal and arranged for it to
      be posted on the same "working papers" site at the Kennedy School. "As
      an advocate of free speech and an opponent of censorship based on
      political correctness," he wrote, "I welcome serious, balanced,
      objective study of the influence of lobbies—including Israeli
      lobbies—on American foreign policy." But, he added,

      this study is so filled with distortions, so empty of originality
      or new evidence, so tendentious in its tone, so lacking in nuance and
      balance, so unscholarly in its approach, so riddled with obvious
      factual errors that could easily have been checked (but obviously were
      not), and so dependent on biased, extremist and anti-American sources,
      as to raise the question of motive: what would motivate two
      well-recognized academics to depart so grossly from their usual
      standards of academic writing and research in order to produce a
      "study paper" that contributes so little to the existing scholarship
      while being so susceptible to misuse?

      Dershowitz went on to note that the implication of the paper—that
      American Jews put the interests of Israel before those of
      America—"raises the ugly specter of 'dual loyalty,' a canard that has
      haunted Diaspora Jews from time immemorial." He ended by challenging
      Mearsheimer and Walt to a debate.

      The study also drew criticism from the left, notably from Noam
      Chomsky. While Mearsheimer and Walt "deserve credit" for taking a
      position "that is sure to elicit tantrums and fanatical lies," he
      wrote, their thesis was "not very" convincing, for it ignored the
      influence that oil companies have had on US policy in the Persian
      Gulf, and it overlooked the extent to which the US-Israeli alliance
      performed "a huge service" for "US-Saudis-Energy corporations" by
      "smashing secular Arab nationalism, which threatened to divert
      resources to domestic needs." US policy in the Middle East, Chomsky
      argued, is no different from that in other parts of the world, and the
      Israeli government had helped implement it, by, for instance, enabling
      the Reagan administration to "evade congressional barriers to carrying
      out massive terror in Central America." Many would find the
      Mearsheimer-Walt thesis appealing, he wrote, because it leaves the US
      government "untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility," its Wilsonian
      impulses distorted by "an all-powerful force [i.e., the lobby] that it
      cannot escape."

      Here and there, some voices were raised in support of the professors.
      The Washington Post's Richard Cohen called the citing of David Duke's
      support for the paper a McCarthyite tactic and said the linking of
      Mearsheimer and Walt to hate groups was a form of "rank guilt by
      association" that "does not in any way rebut the argument made in
      their paper." Cohen said that he found the essay itself "unremarkable,
      a bit sloppy and one-sided (nothing here about the Arab oil lobby),
      but nothing that even a casual newspaper reader does not know. Its
      basic point —that Israel's American supporters have immense influence
      over US foreign policy—is unarguable."

      In an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, Tony Judt lamented the
      "somewhat hysterical response" to the paper in the United States and
      the "virtual silence in the mainstream media." He attributed this to a
      fear of feeding anti-Semitism. The result was a regrettable "failure
      to consider a major issue in public policy," a form of
      "self-censorship" that is bad for the Jews, bad for Israel, and above
      all bad for the United States. With East Asia growing daily and "our
      clumsy failure to recast the Middle East" coming "into sharp focus,"
      Judt acidly wrote, the strategic debate is fast changing, and "it will
      not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the
      imperial might and international reputation of the United States are
      so closely aligned with one small, controversial Mediterranean client

      Some of the most interesting responses came from Israel. Haaretz, the
      liberal daily, reflected in an editorial that whatever the article's
      weaknesses, it would be "irresponsible" to ignore its "serious and
      disturbing message." Instead of seeking to strengthen the Israeli
      lobby so that it can push US policymakers to back Israel
      "unreservedly," the paper said, "the Israeli government must
      understand that the world will not wait forever for Israel to withdraw
      from the territories, and that the opinions expressed in the article
      could take root in American politics if Israel does not change the
      political reality quickly." The essay, concluded the newspaper, "does
      not deserve condemnation; rather, it should serve as a warning sign."

      Hysterical does seem an apt word for the reaction to "The Israel
      Lobby." The paper seems to have brought out the worst in its critics,
      as when Eliot Cohen, rather than seriously discuss the issues at hand,
      makes a point of his son's military service. In The New Republic,
      Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem,
      pinned the blame for the essay on the late Edward Said, accusing him
      of creating a climate on college campuses in which such anti-Israel
      views could flourish. The coverage in the Sun has been particularly
      scurrilous in its attempt to blacken the authors' reputation while
      diverting attention from their ideas.

      It must be said, however, that "The Israel Lobby" has some serious
      shortcomings, and that these have contributed to the vehemence of the
      response. First, Mearsheimer and Walt have made some factual errors.
      The most glaring, as others have pointed out, is their assertion that
      Israeli citizenship is based on the principle of "blood kinship." It's
      not—Israel has about 1.3 million Arab citizens. Mearsheimer and Walt
      have obviously confused Israel's citizenship laws with its law of
      return, which grants every Jew in the world the right to settle in the
      country. It's an embarrassing mistake, though hardly a fatal one—the
      law of return itself obviously favors Jews; Arabs outside Israel have
      no such privilege of obtaining Israeli citizenship. But the critics
      have reacted sharply, with Alan Dershowitz declaring that "this
      mendacious emphasis on Jewish 'blood' is a favorite of neo-Nazi

      Mearsheimer and Walt have also used some quotes from David Ben-Gurion
      badly out of context. In a discussion of Zionist policies in Palestine
      prior to the creation of Israel, for example, the professors have
      Ben-Gurion saying that "after the formation of a large army in the
      wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and
      expand to the whole of Palestine." The clear implication, as
      Dershowitz notes in his rebuttal, is that this expansion will be
      accomplished by force. Yet, Dershowitz points out, Ben-Gurion was
      asked in a follow-up question whether he meant to achieve this "by
      force." No, he replied, it would be achieved "through mutual
      understanding and Jewish-Arab agreement"—a qualifier Mearsheimer and
      Walt omit.

      This distortion of Ben-Gurion's statements comes in a section in which
      Mearsheimer and Walt lay out the "dwindling moral case" for supporting
      Israel. Their conclusions are very harsh. While the creation of Israel
      was "an appropriate response" to a long record of crimes against Jews,
      they write, that act "involved additional crimes against a largely
      innocent third party: the Palestinians." Israeli officials long
      claimed that the 700,000 Arabs who fled during the 1947–1948 war did
      so "because their leaders told them to," Mearsheimer and Walt write,
      but Israeli revisionists like Benny Morris, they say, have shown that
      most of them fled out of "fear of violent death at the hands of
      Zionist forces." The war, they go on, "involved explicit acts of
      ethnic cleansing, including executions, massacres, and rapes by Jews."
      Israel's subsequent conduct toward the Arabs and Palestinians has been
      no less brutal, "belying any claim to morally superior conduct." They
      cite the murdering of hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in 1956
      and 1967, the beating of thousands of young people during the first
      intifada, and the conversion of the IDF into a "killing machine"
      during the second.

      The Palestinians "have used terrorism against their Israeli
      occupiers," Mearsheimer and Walt write, adding that "their willingness
      to attack innocent civilians is wrong." But, they hasten to add, "this
      behavior is not surprising," for "the Palestinians believe they have
      no other way to force Israeli concessions." What's more, Zionist
      organizations fighting to create the state of Israel also used
      terrorism. "If the Palestinians' use of terrorism is morally
      reprehensible today," they declare, "so was Israel's reliance upon it
      in the past, and thus one cannot justify US support for Israel on the
      grounds that its past conduct was morally superior."

      This seems an unconvincing line of reasoning, one that makes current
      judgments depend excessively on the events of the 1940s and that can
      also be used to justify suicide bombers today. There is no doubt that
      Israeli forces have killed many innocent civilians during the second
      intifada and deserve to be condemned for it; but to minimize the
      violence against Israel is both dubious morally and vulnerable as an
      argument. The lack of a clearer and fuller account of Palestinian
      violence is a serious failing of the essay. Its tendency to emphasize
      Israel's offenses while largely overlooking those of its adversaries
      has troubled even many doves. "If you follow their logic, they imply
      that the US should allow Israel to be defeated," I was told by Lewis
      Roth, an assistant executive director of Americans for Peace Now, a
      leading critic of Israel's occupation and its policy toward Palestinians.

      Benny Morris, whom Mearsheimer and Walt frequently cite, dismissed
      their work in The New Republic as "a travesty of the history that I
      have studied and written for the past two decades." He faulted them,
      among other things, for exaggerating Israel's military superiority
      over the Arabs, falsely accusing Israel of adopting a policy of
      expelling Arabs in 1948, downplaying Palestinian attacks on civilians,
      and overlooking Israel's general acceptance of a two-state solution
      from Rabin on. (Yet Morris's account itself seems highly selective; he
      completely ignores Israel's long history of West Bank settlements and
      other activities in the occupied territories, and he glosses over IDF
      killings of civilians during the second intifada.)

      Another problem in Mearsheimer and Walt's essay is its thin
      documentation. In seeking to demonstrate the lobby's negative
      influence, they don't provide decisive evidence for their accusations.
      They maintain, for instance, that AIPAC "has a stranglehold on the US
      Congress," the result of "its ability to reward legislators and
      congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those
      who challenge it." Yet they cite only one example—AIPAC's part in
      defeating Illinois Senator Charles Percy in 1984 for making criticisms
      of Israel. Not only is this example more than twenty years old, but it
      relies on a two-sentence boast from a former AIPAC official about how
      the organization managed to oust Percy. No details are offered about
      what Percy did to arouse AIPAC, what AIPAC did to defeat him, or what
      Percy himself has to say about the matter. As with practically all of
      their accusations, the authors rely on published reports and have
      failed to interview either the lobbyists, their supporters, or their

      Similarly, in advancing their claim that the Israel lobby pushed the
      US into the Iraq war, Mearsheimer and Walt offer several disparate
      bits of evidence: a quote from Philip Zelikow, a former member of the
      President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, about how the "real
      threat" from Iraq was not to the United States but to Israel; Op-Ed
      pieces by former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu
      calling on the Bush administration to act against Iraq; a report in
      Haaretz that the Israeli "military and political leadership yearns for
      war in Iraq"; an editorial in the Forward noting that America's top
      Jewish organizations were supporting the war; and the backing that
      neoconservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle and experts
      like Bernard Lewis provided the administration when it was attempting
      to win public support for the war. From such material they conclude,
      "There is little doubt that Israel and the Lobby were key factors in
      shaping the decision for war."

      Maybe so, but there are many other contending explanations for the
      administration's action—ousting a regime seen as threatening to US
      interests, of which protection of Israel was one; overthrowing a
      tyrant who had brutally oppressed his people; projecting US power in
      the region with an eye to securing oil supplies in Saudi Arabia as
      well as Iraq; and setting off a process of democratization that, at
      least in neocon fancy, would transform the Middle East. In light of
      these other explanations, it would take a much fuller and richly
      sourced discussion than the one presented by the authors to make their
      case seem convincing.[1]

      Overall, the lack of firsthand research in "The Israel Lobby" gives it
      a secondhand feel. Mearsheimer and Walt provide little sense of how
      AIPAC and other lobbying groups work, how they seek to influence
      policy, and what people in government have to say about them. The
      authors seem to have concluded that in view of the sensitivity of the
      subject, few people would talk frankly about it. In fact, many people
      are fed up with the lobby and eager to explain why (though often not
      on the record). Federal campaign documents offer another important
      source of information that the authors have ignored. Through such
      sources, it's possible to show that, on their central point—the power
      of the Israel lobby and the negative effect it has had on US
      policy—Mearsheimer and Walt are entirely correct.

      Any discussion of AIPAC's activities must begin with the policy
      conference it sponsors each year in Washington, a combination of trade
      show, party convention, and Hollywood extravaganza that seems designed
      to show AIPAC's national power. On Sunday, March 5, 2006, the start of
      this year's gathering, five thousand pro-Israel activists from around
      the country crowded into the Washington Convention Center. During the
      next three days, they listened to speeches, sat in on panels, chatted
      at receptions, and attended a book signing by Natan Sharansky. The
      crowd included more than a thousand college and high school students,
      mobilized through AIPAC's ambitious campus advocacy program. Speakers
      included a cross-section of Washington's political establishment—John
      Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Senators Evan Bayh and Susan Collins, House
      Majority Whip Roy Blunt—as well as all three Israeli candidates for
      prime minister (speaking via satellite from Israel, where they were
      campaigning). On several giant screens around the hall there flashed
      alternating clips of Adolf Hitler denouncing the Jews and Iranian
      President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowing to destroy Israel. The show ended
      with a fade-out to the post-Holocaust vow "Never Again."

      The next day, members of the conference went to Capitol Hill to lobby
      for AIPAC's top legislative priority—the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism
      Act of 2006. Drafted with AIPAC's help following Hamas's recent
      electoral victory, the bill placed so many restrictions on aid to, and
      contacts with, the Palestinian Authority that even the Israeli
      government, seeking more flexibility, had expressed some unease about
      it.[2] Already, though, the bill had more than two hundred sponsors in
      the House; now, to press the point, supporters of AIPAC held meetings
      in more than 450 congressional offices. At dinner that night, AIPAC
      Executive Director How- ard Kohr, as he does each year, read the "roll
      call" of dignitaries in attendance. It included a majority of the
      Senate, a quarter of the House, more than fifty ambassadors, and
      dozens of administration officials. Reciting the names took
      twenty-seven minutes in all, with each name greeted by a roar, the
      loudest going to Joe Lieberman.

      The conference ended the next day with a speech by Dick Cheney. The
      Vice President used the occasion to deliver the administration's
      sternest warning yet to the government of Iran, promising that it
      would face "meaningful consequences" if it continued to pursue nuclear
      technology. "We join other nations in sending that regime a clear
      message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," Cheney
      declared to loud applause. For the AIPAC faithful, Cheney ranks as a
      true American hero.

      For many American Jews, of course, Cheney is nothing of the sort. On
      most issues, Jews are quite liberal, and the issue of Israel is no
      exception. J.J. Goldberg, the editor of the Forward, observes that
      opinion surveys consistently show that "a majority of American Jews
      favor Palestinian statehood, and that a significant majority favor
      ceding a significant amount of territory on the West Bank and
      withdrawing from the settlements."

      AIPAC claims to represent most of the Jewish community. Its executive
      committee has a couple of hundred members representing a wide spectrum
      of American Jewish opinion, from the dovish Americans for Peace Now to
      the militantly right-wing Zionist Organization of America. Four times
      a year this group meets to decide AIPAC policy. According to several
      former AIPAC officials I have talked to, however, the executive
      committee has little real power. Rather, power rests with the
      fifty-odd-member board of directors, which is selected not according
      to how well they represent AIPAC's members but according to how much
      money they give and raise.

      Reflecting this, the board is thick with corporate lawyers, Wall
      Street investors, business executives, and heirs to family fortunes.
      Within the board itself, power is concentrated in an extremely rich
      subgroup, known as the "minyan club." And, within that group, four
      members are dominant: Robert Asher, a retired lighting fixtures dealer
      in Chicago; Edward Levy, a building supplies executive in Detroit;
      Mayer "Bubba" Mitchell, a construction materials dealer in Mobile,
      Alabama; and Larry Weinberg, a real estate developer in Los Angeles
      (and a former owner of the Portland Trail Blazers). Asher, Levy, and
      Mitchell are loyal Republicans; Weinberg is a Scoop Jackson Democrat
      who has moved rightward over the years.

      The "Gang of Four," as these men are known, do not share the general
      interest of a large part of the Jewish community in promoting peace in
      the Middle East. Rather, they seek to keep Israel strong, the
      Palestinians weak, and the United States from exerting pressure on
      Israel. AIPAC's director, Howard Kohr, is a conservative Republican
      long used to doing the Gang of Four's bidding. For many years Steven
      Rosen, AIPAC's director of foreign policy issues, was the main power
      on the staff, helping to shape the Gang of Four's pro-Likud beliefs
      into practical measures that AIPAC could promote in Congress. (In
      2005, Rosen and fellow AIPAC analyst Keith Weissman left the
      organization and were soon after indicted by federal authorities for
      receiving classified national security information and passing it on
      to foreign (Israeli) officials.)

      AIPAC's defenders like to argue that its success is explained by its
      ability to exploit the organizing opportunities available in
      democratic America. To some extent, this is true. AIPAC has a
      formidable network of supporters throughout the US. Its 100,000
      members—up 60 percent from five years ago —are guided by AIPAC's nine
      regional offices, its ten satellite offices, and its
      one-hundred-person-plus Washington staff, a highly professional group
      that includes lobbyists, researchers, analysts, organizers, and
      publicists, backed by an enormous $47 million annual budget. AIPAC's
      staff is famous on Capitol Hill for its skill in gathering
      up-to-the-minute information about Middle Eastern affairs and working
      it up into neatly digestible and carefully slanted policy packages, on
      which many congressional staffers have come to rely.

      Such an account, however, overlooks a key element in AIPAC's success:
      money. AIPAC itself is not a political action committee. Rather, by
      assessing voting records and public statements, it provides
      information to such committees, which donate money to candidates;
      AIPAC helps them to decide who Israel's friends are according to
      AIPAC's criteria. The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan
      group that analyzes political contributions, lists a total of
      thirty-six pro-Israel PACs, which together contributed $3.14 million
      to candidates in the 2004 election cycle. Pro-Israel donors give many
      millions more. Over the last five years, for instance, Robert Asher,
      together with his various relatives (a common device used to maximize
      contributions), has donated $148,000, mostly in sums of $1,000 or
      $2,000 to individual candidates.

      A former AIPAC staff member described for me how the system works. A
      candidate will contact AIPAC and express strong sympathies with
      Israel. AIPAC will point out that it doesn't endorse candidates but
      will offer to introduce him to people who do. Someone affiliated with
      AIPAC will be assigned to the candidate to act as a contact person.
      Checks for $500 or $1,000 from pro-Israel donors will be bundled
      together and provided to the candidate with a clear indication of the
      donors' political views. (All of this is perfectly legal.) In
      addition, meetings to raise funds will be organized in various cities.
      Often, the candidates are from states with negligible Jewish populations.

      One congressional staff member told me of the case of a Democratic
      candidate from a mountain state who, eager to tap into pro-Israel
      money, got in touch with AIPAC, which assigned him to a Manhattan
      software executive eager to move up in AIPAC's organization. The
      executive held a fund-raising reception in his apartment on the Upper
      West Side, and the candidate left with $15,000. In his state's small
      market for press and televised ads, that sum proved an important
      factor in a race he narrowly won. The congressman thus became one of
      hundreds of members who could be relied upon to vote AIPAC's way. (The
      staffer told me the name of the congressman but asked that I withhold
      it in order to spare him embarrassment.)

      Conversely, candidates who challenge AIPAC can find their funds
      suddenly dry up. Two well-publicized cases are those of
      Representatives Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and Earl Hilliard of
      Alabama, both African-Americans. In 2002, McKinney and Hilliard were
      alleged to have made statements or taken positions critical of Israel,
      and their primary opponents received large amounts of pro-Israel
      money. Both candidates had limited public support and ended up losing.
      Cases such as these occur infrequently: a candidate's position on
      Israel is rarely enough by itself to cause defeat. But it can have a
      very large effect on fund-raising. (McKinney was reelected to Congress
      in 2004.)

      In 1981, after leaving the Senate, Adlai Stevenson III decided to run
      for governor of Illinois. In the late 1970s, Stevenson had introduced
      an amendment to an appropriations bill in the Senate that would have
      cut US aid to Israel by $200 million until such time as the president
      could certify that Israel's settlements policy was consistent with US
      policy. The amendment failed, but, as Stevenson told me, "the Israeli
      lobby lowered the boom. The money dried up." The campaign, he told me,
      became demoralized, and his poll ratings dropped. In the end the race
      was so close that it was finally decided by the Illinois Supreme Court
      in favor of his opponent, Jim Thompson. The drop in funds, Stevenson
      says, "was critical."

      Cases such as this "happen almost once a year," I was told by a
      Democratic congressman (who asked not to be named). Emphasizing that
      Israel "is never the sole thing" that causes a defeat, he proceeded to
      give a list of several politicians who had suffered because they had
      offended AIPAC. They include Tony Beilenson in Los Angeles (because he
      had wanted to divert one percent of all US foreign aid—including aid
      to Israel—to help drought victims in sub-Saharan Africa); John Bryant
      of Texas (for seeking to withhold funds in order to protest Israel's
      settlements policy); and James Moran of Virginia, who found that his
      anticipated election funds dropped several tens of thousands of
      dollars after he said at a town meeting in 2003 that the Iraq war
      would not have been fought had it not been for the strong support of
      the Jewish community. (Both Bryant and Moran won anyway.)

      This year, pro-Israel forces are targeting Senator Lincoln Chafee of
      Rhode Island. A Republican, Chafee has taken a number of positions
      that run counter to AIPAC's, including a vote against the Syria
      Accountability Act, which prepared the way for US sanctions against
      that country. His challenger in the Republican primary, Stephen
      Laffey, has taken a strong pro-Israel position, and already he has
      received $5,000 (the maximum allowed) from the pro-Israel Washington
      Political Action Committee. In a recent report, the Forward noted that
      a Providence lawyer and pro-Israel activist named Norman Orodenker was
      preparing to send out a letter to other pro-Israel PACs praising
      Laffey's lifelong record of support for Israel.

      Democrats, though, still get most of the pro-Israel dollars. Among
      AIPAC's staunchest backers in Congress are such well-known liberals as
      Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, Jerrold Nadler, and Howard Berman. Steny
      Hoyer, the House minority whip, is so reliable that "he might as well
      be on the AIPAC payroll," a congressional staffer told me. Hillary
      Clinton is equally dependable. Still attempting to live down her 1998
      declaration of support for a Palestinian state and the kiss she gave
      Suha Arafat in 1999, Clinton has sought to compensate by voting
      AIPAC's way on almost every issue. In the current election cycle, she
      has received $80,000 in pro-Israel money—more than any other
      congressional candidate.

      Partly as a result of such giving, says one Hill staffer, "We can
      count on well over half the House—250 to 300 members—to do reflexively
      whatever AIPAC wants."

      What AIPAC wants can be summed up very succinctly: a powerful Israel
      free to occupy the territory it chooses; enfeebled Palestinians; and
      unquestioning support for Israel by the United States. AIPAC is
      skeptical of negotiations and peace accords, along with the efforts by
      Israeli doves, the Palestinians, and Americans to promote them. During
      the 1980s, when Israel was aggressively expanding its presence on the
      West Bank, AIPAC had a very close relationship with the Israeli
      government, especially the Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir. That quickly
      changed in 1992, with the election of Labor's Yitzhak Rabin. On a
      visit to Washington soon after taking power, he admonished AIPAC for
      having cozy ties with the Likud. No longer, Rabin said, would the
      organization act as Jerusalem's representative in Washington.

      When Rabin and Arafat signed the Oslo accords in 1993, AIPAC
      officially endorsed them, but—in contrast to its outspoken support of
      Likud policies—it remained largely silent. Seeing the Palestinians as
      terrorists who could not be trusted, the lobby looked for a way to
      subtly undermine the accords. It found one in the issue of where the
      US embassy in Israel should be located. Unlike all but two countries
      in the world (Costa Rica and El Salvador), the United States had its
      embassy not in Jerusalem but in Tel Aviv, in recognition of
      Jerusalem's contested status. Under the Oslo accords, the city's final
      disposition was to be taken up in talks set to begin in May 1996 and
      to conclude three years later.

      But pro-Israel activists in Congress were unwilling to wait. They got
      an unexpected boost in early 1995, when Republicans took control of
      the House. The new speaker, Newt Gingrich— casting about for ways to
      steer Jewish money and votes away from the Democrats—announced on a
      visit to Israel in January that he was going to support the transfer
      of the US embassy to Jerusalem. In the Senate, Bob Dole, who had never
      shown much regard for Israel but who was preparing to challenge Bill
      Clinton for the presidency, said at that year's AIPAC policy
      conference that he would support legislation mandating the transfer.
      He got a standing ovation.

      Both Rabin and Bill Clinton were opposed to moving the embassy. They
      knew that such a step, by inflaming the Arab world, could disrupt the
      peace process. But for AIPAC and its allies, that was precisely the
      point. In October 1995 the Jerusalem Embassy Act overwhelmingly passed
      both houses of Congress. The act mandated the transfer of the embassy
      to Jerusalem by 1999, unless the president invoked a national security
      waiver. Unwilling to challenge AIPAC, President Clinton let the bill
      become law without signing it. As antici-pated, vehement protests came
      from every Arab capital. Clinton duly invoked the waiver, so no
      transfer occurred, but every six months his administration had to
      submit to Congress a report explaining how it was complying with the
      law. And members of Congress, eager to demonstrate their support for
      Israel, continued to produce a stream of resolutions and letters
      demanding the embassy's transfer. The strain on the Oslo accords was

      It became even more so when Hillary Clinton decided to run for the
      Senate in New York. Wanting to court the all-important Jewish vote,
      she early on declared Jerusalem "the eternal and indivisible capital
      of Israel," and throughout the remainder of the race she and her
      Republican opponent Rick Lazio argued in synagogues and speeches over
      who would be the quickest to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

      By then, Bill Clinton was overseeing the Camp David peace talks. Every
      time the issue of the embassy transfer was mentioned in the news, the
      Palestinians objected, and America's ability to serve as an honest
      broker was undermined. "I wasn't thrilled with their emphasis on
      moving the embassy," recalls Dennis Ross, Clinton's chief negotiator.
      As he observes, the Israel lobby ultimately did not succeed—the
      embassy was never moved—but the semiannual need to invoke the waiver
      and report to Congress "put a burden on us. It took up a lot of our time."

      A Clinton Middle East adviser points to the embassy issue as an
      example of how the Israel lobby works. Like all lobbies, he says, it's
      "very effective at creating background noise." When an administration
      considers taking a position on some issue, it must weigh the potential
      gain against the "downside"—the "constant barrage" from the press,
      Congress, and domestic interest groups. If it's going to require a
      constant, time-consuming effort, "then you ask, is it worth it?" By
      raising the embassy issue over and over, AIPAC was able to create a
      lot of background noise.

      In late 2000, when the intifada began, the former Clinton adviser told
      me, there were cases in which Israel used what seemed to many to be
      excessive force, such as breaking the bones of young Palestinians, and
      exacerbated the conflict in doing so. But if administration officials
      had said anything "that smacked of 'moral equivalency,'" he observed,
      "it would have gotten us attacks from Congress, the media, and
      interest groups." After a while, he continued, officials begin to shy
      away from saying anything that might become controversial
      domestically, leading to

      self-censorship in speech and action. There were many policy
      initiatives we were considering where we'd have to address how certain
      domestic constituencies would react. There was a sense of weigh-ing
      what the costs would be of being viewed publicly as pressuring Israel.

      As this official points out, while AIPAC focuses most of its efforts
      on Congress, the executive branch is more often lobbied by the
      Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. This
      group is far less known than AIPAC but nearly as powerful. Made up of
      the heads of more than fifty American Jewish organizations, the
      Conference of Presidents is supposed to represent the collective voice
      of the American Jewish community, which, as noted, tends to be dovish
      on Middle East matters.

      In practice, though, the organization is run by its executive
      vice-chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, who has long been close to the
      settlers' movement; for several years in the mid-1990s, he served as
      an associate chair for the annual fund-raising dinners held in New
      York for Bet El, a militant settlement near Ramallah. In his twenty
      years with the conference, Hoenlein has used it to make sure Israel
      has the right to pursue whatever policies it chooses— including
      expanding its presence on the West Bank—without any interference from
      the United States. During the Clinton years, the Conference of
      Presidents was an enthusiastic party to the campaign to move the US
      embassy to Jerusalem.[3]

      Sometimes, the former Clinton official noted, the pressures on US
      policy come from domestic groups, sometimes they come from Israel, and
      sometimes they come from Israel using its allies in the US to
      influence administration policy. When Bibi Netanyahu was premier
      between 1996 and 1999, the former official recalls, "he made the
      implicit threat that he could mobilize allies on the Hill or on the
      Christian right if President Clinton did not do what he wanted."
      Later, at Camp David, "Barak made a whole lot of calls when he felt he
      came under too much pressure—calls to allies in the Jewish community,
      and to politicians."

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