Friday, August 11, 2006

The question of the pro-Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy.

Since we talked about the controversial allegation by two eminent professors, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer that the US that U.S. foreign policy reflects Israeli interests more than it does American last may, it seems their authors have been facing harsh criticism – some vitriol and personal and others more nuanced and collegial. This Harvard Crimson article suggests their views might have as much of an impact as those of Huntington, or Fukuyama.

In any case, as you can see on this cover of Foreign Policy, the debate is raging. It is all the more a relevant debate that the current situation in the Middle-East calls for some better understanding of the US’s support of Israel.

[Interestingly, the magazine was precisely founded by Samuel P. Huntington, the controversial political theorist behind the theory of The Clash of Civilizations.]

Adding to the debate is the accusation by former Carter Administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski that the resolution passed by the US Senate "condemning Hamas and Hezbollah and their state sponsors and supporting Israel's exercise of its right to self-defense." was not prepared by Congress but was actually given to Congress by AIPAC. In other words, it was written by AIPAC. (The Nation)

In this interesting article published by The Nation, Henry Siegman, the former head of the American Jewish Congress and a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations claims that
When it comes to the Israeli-Arab conflict, the terms of debate are so influenced by organized Jewish groups, like AIPAC, that to be critical of Israel is to deny oneself the ability to succeed in American politics.
The scale of this phenomenon is rather new:

- President Eisenhower stood up against Israel (allied with France and Bristain) during the Suez Crisis in 1956. In fact, it is this crisis that decided Israel to mobilize Americna Jews to creat a powerful lobby in the US.

- President Carter also took a lot of heat from AIPAC during the negociations at Camp David which resulted into peace between Egypt and Israel. As a result Carter lost a large part of the Jewish vote. for the first time, there seems to be shift in the Jewish vote form the Democrats to the Republicans - or at least to Reagan.

- In the 1988 elections however, the Jewish vote goes overwhelmingly to Democratic candidate Dukakis. So even Bush senior was able to confront AIPAC when necessary, which allowed him to put pressure on Israel during the Gulf War in 1991. Can anyone imagine a Secretary of State today saying something like this:
"For Israel, now is the time to lay aside, once and for all, the unrealistic vision of a 'greater Israel'. (…/…) Forswear annexation; stop settlement activity, allow school to reopen; reach out to the Palestinians as neighbors who deserve political rights."
Yet that's exactly what James Baker said n 1989. (in Hacker David H., The American Israel Lobby : A Critique, in Jewish Currents, Vol.45, N°2, février 1991)

So the current blind support of Israel by G. W Bush is something rather new, odd and hopefully reversible.

It is unfortunate that the voice of more Dovish American-Israeli groups, such as Americans for Peace Now, remains unheard. as we were saying in a previous posts, no all American Jews support the current policy of Israel.
It is too bad as the Middle-East and even the world right needs a powerful nation like the U.S. to be a broker and not a partisan player. If you look at history, great accomplishments have always come when the U.S. was able to put the interest of AIPAC on the side, and stress those of the U.S. and the world.

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