Who is this Israel, and
what’s all this talk of an “Israel Lobby”?
April 14 2006 –
In March 2006, the London Review of Books published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by Professor John J. Mearsheimer,
Department of Political Science, University of Chicago and Professor Stephen M. Walt, John F. Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University. In this working paper, the two authors
make the argument that the centerpiece for US Middle Eastern policy, especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, has been developed
by the United States based primarily on its relationship with Israel. While many
fellow scholars have applauded the authors for having the courage to suggest that the “Israel Lobby” might have
too much power and influence in Washington DC, which it in fact does, the mainstream media has blacklisted the merits
of this report by only reporting on the backlash of those who are offended by its content.
Mearsheimer and Walt
have expectedly been accused of distorting history while being paranoid and conspiratorial.
In a Washington Post article, Harvard Law professor Alan M. Dershowitz said the professors “destroyed their professional
reputations.” Dershowitz went on to say “We’ve all heard this
before, the talk of powerful Jewish lobbies and the language one hears on Arab and extreme right-wing web sites.” In the same Washington Post
article, Marvin Kalb, a senior fellow at the Kennedy School said the report was filled with errors such as the assertion that
Israeli forces were better armed and positioned than the Arab armies in the 1947 – 1948 war. “It does play into the terrible argument that Jewish no-goodniks control the media and our foreign
policy,” Kalb said.
What is most
fascinating about the shallow rebukes delivered by Dershowitz and Kalb is their rigid denial that much of anything factual
is contained in the report. Kalb for instance focused in on one of the least
important statements made in the report to claim it was “filled with errors” even though history clearly demonstrates
that the Israeli forces must have been better armed and positioned than the Arab armies in the 1947-1948 war because the Israeli
forces won the war. What Kalb claims is an error, suggests in a distorted effort
to defend all things Israel at all costs, that the public should dismiss the content of this bold paper while believing that
Israeli forces won the 1947-1948 war because they were less armed and poorly positioned against the Arab forces. Talk about an extreme, right wing conspiracy! Wars are won
by being better armed and better positioned than your opponent, even in the Promise Land.
In The Israel
Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, the authors make the point that the term “Israel Lobby” is a generic term used
to define those who lobby the U.S. Congress on behalf of Israel and Israeli – United States relations. It would be simply mindless to suggest that such lobbying organizations do not exist. They are as matter of fact as the out-of-control federal government operating in Washington DC itself today. The question isn’t if these lobbying groups exist, but rather who they are,
and how much influence do they actually wield on Capitol Hill?
In the June 10, 2002
edition of The Nation, Michael Massing wrote an article titled, The Israel Lobby. In this piece, Massing reported on
a May 2, 2002 vote by the U.S. Congress, which basically expressed the United States’ unqualified support for Israel
in its recent (2002) military actions against the Palestinians. The vote in the
Senate was 94 to 2 and in the House, 352 to 21. According to Massing, the media
coverage regarding this overwhelming resolution to support Ariel Sharon’s militarized and oppressive handling of the
Palestinians failed to research and report on the real causes behind such a bipartisan, blind vote in favor of a resolution
that proved to later hamper the restart of peace talks; a resolution that now retired, South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings
suggested was actually motivated by “senators after campaign contributions”.
Who then would those senators be seeking campaign contributions from?
that the real story behind the lopsided resolution vote is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The AIPAC is widely regarded as the most powerful foreign-policy lobby in Washington DC and by other
accounts, the most powerful lobby period, except for perhaps the Association for
the Advancement of Retired Persons (AARP).
Describing the AIPAC, Massing wrote, “Its 60,000 members shower millions of dollars on hundreds of members of
Congress on both sides of the aisle. It also maintains a network of wealthy and
influential citizens around the country, whom it can regularly mobilize to support its main goal, which is making sure there
is “no daylight” between the policies of Israel and of the United States.”
As powerful, influential, and often intimidating as the AIPAC is, Massing is quick to point out that the mainstream
media reports on Congressional votes that serve Israeli interests and policies as if the AIPAC does not even exist and therefore
had nothing to do with the outcome of how members of the U.S. Congress voted.
The authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy make the same observations. According to the report, “In 1997, Fortune magazine asked members of Congress and their staffs
to list the most powerful lobbies in Washington. AIPAC was ranked second behind
the AARP, but ahead of heavyweight lobbies like the AFL-CIO and the National Rifle Association (NRA). A National Journal study in 2005 reached a similar conclusion, placing the AIPAC in second place
(tied with AARP) in the Washington’s “muscle rankings.” Again,
it must be emphasized that the question is not whether there is an “Israel Lobby” but rather how much power does
the “Israel Lobby” command and wield in Washington DC.
does the AIPAC accomplish its goals? What about the other groups / supporters
that are defined as part of the “Israel Lobby”? Who else is supporting
these lobbying groups and why? What is the real agenda and does it in fact place
what’s best for the United States behind what’s best for Israel? The
Muckraker Report interpretation of the working paper by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt is that the writing is on the wall
if the American people want to read and comprehend it. What follows are the key
elements of the Mearsheimer / Walt report pertaining to the “Israel Lobby.”
- It wields significant influence in Washington, pressuring both Congress and the Executive branch
to support Israel down the line.
- The Lobby strives to ensure that public discourse about Israel portrays it in a positive
light with the goal being to prevent critical commentary from getting a fair hearing in the political arena.
- The Lobby controlling the debate is essential to guaranteeing U.S. support for Israel
because a candid discussion of U.S.-Israeli relations might lead Americans to favor a different policy.
- By controlling the debate, the Lobby’s effectiveness is its influence in the U.S.
Congress, where Israel is virtually immune from criticism.
- AIPAC’s success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates
who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it.
- AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the myriad pro-Israel
political action committees.
- AIPAC organizes letter-writing campaigns and encourages newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel
- Members of Congress, for research and information, often turn to AIPAC before staffers
call the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service, committee staff or administration experts.
The conclusion made
by Mearsheimer and Walt is that AIPAC is a de facto agent for a foreign government and has a stranglehold on the U.S.
Congress. As former South Carolina Senator Fritz Hollings said in 2004, “You
can’t have an Israeli policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here.” What was the “Israel Lobby”
response to the Hollings’ remarks? After all, Mearsheimer and Walt contend
that the lobby works to portray Israel in a positive light while striving to prevent negative commentary. How did the “Israel Lobby” control the debate, particularly after Hollings proclaimed that
the Iraq war is being fought for Israel, and said in defense of his proclamation, “That is not a conspiracy. That is
the policy. Everybody knows it because we want to secure our friend, Israel.”?
On May 23, 2004, Global
News Service of the Jewish People (JTA) published an article by Matthew E. Berger titled, Not so gentle rhetoric from
the gentleman from South Carolina. Virtually every fact that Mearsheimer and Walt reported in their working
paper on the “Israel Lobby” is validated in the JTA piece. What follows
are key points from the Berger article:
- Hollings comments come as Democrats are fighting to retain support among Jewish voters
and campaign donors because President Bush’s vigorous prosecution of the war on terrorism and his strong support for
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have made him unusually popular, for a Republican, with Jewish voters.
- Several American Jewish organizations reacted strongly to Hollings’ column, suggesting
he was scapegoating the Jewish community and providing ammunition for anti-Semitic attacks.
- Some pro-Israel lobbyists say he (Hollings) has a poor voting record on Israel.
- Several American Jewish organizations rebuked Hollings for his column.
- “Regardless of whether one feels that America’s war on Iraq was justified, the charge
that it is being fought by the U.S. on behalf of Israel grossly misrepresents the legitimate U.S. interests that are involved
in the debate,” Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote in a letter to Hollings.
- The National Jewish Democratic Council did not speak out against Hollings until two weeks after
the column appeared. The council had won praise a year earlier when it was the
first Jewish group to criticize Rep. James Moran (D-VA) for suggesting that the Jewish community had pressed for the Iraq
- Ira Forman, the council’s executive director, said his group had not spoken out because
publicizing Hollings’ original comments might have fueled anti-Jewish sentiment.
- In response to Hollings specifically attacking AIPAC, the spokesman for AIPAC, Josh Block
said he would not comment on the Hollings’ statement, referring questions to other Jewish organizations such as the
Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
and Walt point out, the “Israel Lobby” is quick to tag as anti-Semitic anybody who dares speak of its work
and methodology, which is exactly how it responded to the Hollings’ comments.
Politicians across the United States fear such a label and so does the media.
Recall that fellow professors commended Mearsheimer and Walt for the courage to write The Israel Lobby and
U.S. Foreign Policy. Why was courage necessary? Listen to what some anonymous sources in the JTA article had to say and you decide whether the “Israel
Lobby” is a real force that could be wielding enough power in Washington to influence U.S. policy into a shape that
is pleasing and favorable to Israel. Said one senior Democratic staff member
who spoke on condition of anonymity, “Senator Hollings eloquently stated what many members of Congress believe but are
too afraid to say.” According to JTA, the staffer went on to say
that “lawmakers fear they’ll lose elections if they don’t support AIPAC.
More likely, they’ll lose key fund-raising support or be deluged with calls and appearances from pro-Israel lobbyists
and constituents.” If this isn’t a pro-Israeli lobby having a stranglehold
on the U.S. Congress, what than I ask, is?
Mearsheimer and Walt paper, when 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean called for the United States to take a more “even-handed
role” in the Arab-Israeli conflict, Senator Joseph Liberman accused him of selling Israel down the river and said his
statement was “irresponsible.” Mearsheimer and Walt go on to say
that virtually all top Democrats in the House signed a hard-hitting letter to Dean criticizing his comments, and the Chicago
Jewish Star reported that “anonymous attackers are clogging the e-mail inboxes of Jewish leaders around the country,
warning, without evidence, that Dean would somehow be bad for Israel.”
It is worth noting that the downfall of Dean proved to be the audio manipulation by the media of his now infamous,
“I have a scream speech” in which the actual background noise in and of the crowd of Dean supporters was turned
off and the microphone in which he was speaking into turned on, thus creating the news clip that made him look and sound like
a pro-wrestler gone mad. All Dean said was that the U.S. might consider taking
a more “even-handed role” in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and his bid for the Presidency was taken to the mat by
a mystery super fly coming off the top rope of the political squared circle!
would be incomplete if the Muckraker Report did not describe, in biblical terms, another critical component to the success
of the “Israel Lobby” operating in the United States. It would be
a great disservice to the reader to not talk about the Christian Zionists that, driven by faith in a literal second coming
of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, believe in their hearts that there is a higher purpose and prophesy yet to be fulfilled,
and that fulfillment is contingent on the survival of Israel. It is without debate
that many Christians believe that the establishment on May 15, 1948 of the Jewish state now called Israel was a fulfillment
of biblical prophecy that was a necessary prelude to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In the Book of Jeremiah it is written,
Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall
no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;
But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel
from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them, and I will bring them again into their land
that I gave unto their fathers. Jeremiah 16:
primarily support Israel from a biblical perspective and not a policy perspective. Over
40 million evangelical Christians living in the United States believe that we are living in the end times as described in
the Book of Revelation. Ever since Y2K, the turn of a new millennium in the year
2000, hundreds of millions of Christian books have been sold pertaining to the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus
Christ. For example, the Left Behind series, with sales of more than 62,000,000
copies, comprise the fastest-selling adult fiction series ever. Seven of the titles reached number one on the New York
Times bestseller list as well as those of USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly.
For those of
you who are unfamiliar with the Left Behind series, it is a set of twelve books, with volume one telling the story of Christians
being “raptured” or lifted up to heaven at the beginning of the “great seven year tribulation” as
described in the Book of Revelation. As God’s wrath is poured out on the
world, Israel, particularly Jerusalem, takes center stage when the antichrist enters the Holy of Holies and commits the Abomination of Desecration of the Jewish Temple by proclaiming
himself God, Lord, and Savior. There is some debate among Christians as to how
the original Jewish Temple will be rebuilt so that this prophesy can be fulfilled, but the majority believe in a literal rebuilding
of the Jewish Temple, which is even more the reason to be pro-Israel. Simply
put, Israel must not only survive, but it must also be able to deal with the problem of the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is the Muslim Shrine erected in 691A.D. on the spot where Muslims believe Muhammad ascended to Heaven during his Night Journey to
Jerusalem. The Rock also refers to the spot where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Jews believe the Dome is built
on the original site of the Jewish Temple, and so do Christians!
It is fascinating to consider world events, particularly the War in Iraq, and the overall
U.S. policy to change Muslim countries into democracies rather than theocracies. Is
it possible that U.S. military might and imperialist policy is fulfillment of prophesy prerequisites aimed at weakening the
will and unity of Muslims to such a degree that the Jews will be free from any real national security threat to demolish the
most sacred Muslim shrine in the world so that the Jewish Temple can be rebuilt? Is
it possible that Christian Zionists, many of which now rule the United States with an iron fist, also see their role in U.S.
policy as secondary to their yearning to be the generation that does not know a natural death, the generation that does not
pass away but is raptured out of the great tribulation? For some this is scary,
scary stuff. For others, it’s the love of God. To understand this further, the question that needs to be answered is who is this Israel and is the Israeli
state of May 15, 1948 actually part of the second coming equation?
From a biblical point of view, Israel was first a person, and then a people. In the Book of Genesis it is written,
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for
as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. Genesis 32:28
There is some important biblical genealogy to consider at this point. Noah
had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Shem was the ancestor of Abraham. God’s blessing and promise was given and placed upon Abraham. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all share this belief. Abraham
was the father of Isaac who fathered Jacob. Jacob was renamed Israel
by God as revealed in Genesis 32:28. Jacob was the father of Joseph who was the
father of Ephraim and Manasseh. It is revealed that the 'Birthright Blessings' of God's Covenant Promise was passed by Jacob (Israel) unto Ephraim and Manasseh in Genesis 48:13-16.
And Joseph took them
both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand, and brought them near unto
And Israel stretched
out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head
guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the first-born.
And he blessed Joseph,
and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God who fed me all my life long unto this day,
The angel which redeemed
me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let
them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. Genesis 48:13-16
Why all this talk and reference to the Bible and God’s Covenant Promise given to
Abraham that passed to Jacob (Israel) that passed through Joseph to two of his son’s, Ephraim and Manasseh? The point in all of this is that if you are a Christian, particularly a Christian that has faith in the
end times and the literal second coming of Jesus Christ, and that faith involves God’s chosen people as the great tribulation
unfolds, then you have to ask yourself, does the Zionist state of Israel as defined by world maps of today represent the genealogical
peoples of Ephraim and Manasseh of whom God’s blessing and covenant is upon? Point
blank – does every person who calls himself or herself a Jew and lives in Israel today necessarily represent God’s
promise and God’s chosen people in the biblical context? It is hardly likely
if you seriously consider the historical facts in the light of the Bible. Another
key point that must be considered is that the biblical Promised Land is called Canaan and encompasses a far greater territory
than that of the state of Israel. The fact is that the borders of Israel as we
know it today were drawn by men with armies, and not by God! Yet Christian Americans
today regard the state of Israel as it emerged in 1948 and exists today as the biblical Israel, which as described herein
was a people, not a state.
On February 4, 2006, Israel News source, Haaretz
Daily, reported that U.S. Christian televangelist,
John Hagee plans to launch a Christian pro-Israel lobby. In the Haaretz piece by reporter, Shiomo Shamir, Reverend Hagee is reported
to have said that his group would be a Christian – and more powerful
– version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Hagee said that his pro-Israel lobby would target senators and congressmen
on Capitol Hill. He claims that a quarter of all congressmen are evangelicals,
and many American legislators represent regions that include a large evangelical population.
Hagee is also reported to have said to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
that the evangelical support Israel from a biblical perspective, but did not explain
exactly what that meant. The Muckraker Report on the other hand, just did. The point is that Christian Zionists and evangelicals support Israel for biblical
purposes. Jerusalem is a holy city for Christians as well as Jews and Muslims.
Is it not peculiar how Hagee said that his Christian pro-Israel lobby would be more powerful than AIPAC? When asked to respond to Senator Hollings’ comments, is it not interesting that AIPAC referred responses
to other pro-Israel interest groups? It certainly does demonstrate a network
of a powerful pro-Israel lobbyists operating in Washington but does it necessarily indicate that the “Israel Lobby”
is controlling U.S. foreign policy? Does the fact that a divided Iraq is in deed
favorable to Israeli security, divide and conquer, indicate that the U.S.invaded
Iraq because it’s what the “Israel Lobby” wanted? Israel certainly
favored the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the decentralization of power and control in Iraq, but then again, Iran also favors
the ousting of the Hussein regime. Iran doesn’t care much for U.S. troops
as their next door neighbors, but make no mistake about it, after Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Iranian people
during the Iran – Iraq War killing and disfiguring millions of Persians, seeing his power crumble, even in the hands
of Americans, was initially, and granted, temporarily pleasing to Iran.
A better and current understanding of the “Israel Lobby” is found in current Israeli comments regarding
speculation that the Bush Administration already has a bombing date “penciled in” for Iran; an allegation that
Bush denies. On April 12, 2006 the Washington Post ran an article by Luke Baker
titled Israel reacts warily to Iran’s nuclear progress. According
to the Baker piece, Elder Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, responding to Iran’s declaration that it has successfully
enrich uranium said, “The United States has placed this at the top of its agenda.
I do not recommend that we should be involved. I am sure the United States
is aware of the expected danger and the matter is in its hands.” Think
about what Peres has said. Iran leadership has said it venomously opposes Zionism
and would like to wipe the Zionist state of Israel off the map, and a former Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres says “The
United States has placed this at the top of its agenda.” It should by obvious
to the reader that Peres is completely confident that Israeli security is in the United States’ best interests and therefore
“we” will handle Iran.
Israel’s chief of military intelligence, Amos Yadlin, is reported to have said that he “urges” an
acceleration of efforts to stop Iran’s enrichment program. Think about
it! The Chief of Israeli Military Intelligence is urging acceleration of efforts
to stop Iran’s nuclear program! Who is it that Yadlin is urging and what
role is his country going to play in the effort? The answer is that Israel is
urging the United States to “handle” Israel’s current and greatest threat - Iran, even though Israel has by far, the most powerful and sophisticated nuclear military in the region. But because of what atrocities the Israelis have
inflicted on the Palestinians, they are so hated in the region that the U.S. feels compelled to fight its battles so that
Arab-Israeli tensions do not deteriorate further, rather than allow Israel to deal with its own regional problems absent the
might of the U.S. military. Maybe if the U.S. would take a more even-handed approach
in the region, Israel would be more willing to behave neighborly and humanly. Instead
the U.S. gives Israel, an unchecked nuclear power, $3 billion a year to fight its battles with American blood and American
taxpayer dollars in a distorted effort to improve the chances for peace in the Middle East.
Meanwhile back in Washington, the “Israel Lobby” is churning out the Iran nuclear threat rhetoric through
the controlled media and lambasting any person or group that suggests that the lobby has a stranglehold on U.S. foreign policy. Politicians fear speaking
out against anything AIPAC says or does and professors apparently risk their careers to state the obvious – that the
U.S. Congress is bought and paid for by a foreign lobbying effort that has, can, and will make or break a political career. Christians have fallen for the bait by believing that the Zionist Israel of today
is the biblical Israel and the forerunner to the second coming of Jesus Christ, when it is not.
It can be concluded that the “Israel Lobby” only wields its power in Washington because
of the evangelical belief that the state of Israel is the biblical Israel. As
fundamentalists and Zionist Christians cling to the belief that we are living in the end times, hundreds of millions of Christians
have turned to the Book of Revelation in an attempt to uncover what will happen next in the world and gauge how close “we”
are to the “rapture” of the church. Yet for as many as are devoted
to Israel and the Book of Revelation, few if any evangelical and apocalyptic Christians are studying and considering the meaning
of Revelation 2:9 and 3:9.
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)
and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Revelation 2:9
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they
are Jews, and are not, but so lie; behold, I will make them come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved
thee. Revelation 3:9
Who is this Israel and who are those that say they are Jews and are not, but so lie?
As a Christian man, although I concede one of the worst examples of a Christian I have ever known, I want to know where
the lost tribes are that Jesus Christ said he sought. I want to know who are
God’s chosen people in the biblical sense, as well as their relationship with God’s Promise given to Ephraim and Manasseh. I want to know if the Jew living in the modern day state of Israel is in fact, God’s
Promise and God’s People.
As an American, I want truth in government and I want America and American interests here at home
in our small towns, cities, and states to come first and foremost. I don’t
want $3 billion going to any country while American children are going to bed hungry, or sick because their families simply
cannot afford medical attention and medicine. I don’t want to rebuild Iraq
before rebuilding New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. I don’t want America’s
sons and daughters shedding blood on foreign soil on behalf of another capable military.
If military actions benefit Israel, then Israeli soldiers should be on the battlefield too! I believe Jews should not be persecuted, but neither should Muslims.
I believe that if a Jewish state is acceptable within America’s concept of democracy, then we must concede that
so is a Muslim state, a Palestinian state, yet our actions in that region of the world indicate we do not. Rhetoric and action are as opposing as good and evil.
But most of all, I believe far too many politicians in Washington DC amount to nothing
more than modern day Pharisees and Scribes, claiming to be Christian, acting
all righteous, but whose actions are not even remotely
close to Christ-like. War is not Christ-like and neither is bearing false witness to the
nation to justify war. Rationalize if you must, but the neo-conservative tyranny
/ fascist state that now rules the United States is a shameful and despicable abomination to the Christian faith, operating
outside the teachings of Jesus Christ, and so is the work and methodology of the “Israel Lobby” that does in deed
control U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. Congress.
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