With the resurgent charge that there is a pro-Israel lobby destroying U.S. interests around the world, I’d like you to read this essay, from George Friedman, of Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence organization. I’m publishing it with permission of Stratfor, which included this message in the email I receive regularly with Stratfor articles:
This report may be distributed or republished with attribution to Strategic Forecasting, Inc. at www.stratfor.com. For media requests, partnership opportunities, or commercial distribution or republication, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Having got the legalisms out of the way, here’s the analysis:
The Israel Lobby in U.S. Strategy
By George Friedman
U.S. President George W. Bush made an appearance in Iraq’s restive Anbar province on Sept. 3 — in part to tout the success of the military surge there ahead of the presentation in Washington of the Petraeus report. For the next month or two, the battle over Iraq will be waged in Washington — and one country will come up over and over again, from any number of directions: Israel. Israel will be invoked as an ally in the war on terrorism — the reason the United States is in the war in the first place. Some will say that Israel maneuvered the United States into Iraq to serve its own purposes. Some will say it orchestrated 9/11 for its own ends. Others will say that, had the United States supported Israel more resolutely, there would not have been a 9/11.
There is probably no relationship on which people have more diverging views than on that between the United States and Israel. Therefore, since it is going to be invoked in the coming weeks — and Bush is taking a fairly irrelevant pause at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Australia — this is an opportune time to consider the geopolitics of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
Let’s begin with some obvious political points. There is a relatively small Jewish community in the United States, though its political influence is magnified by its strategic location in critical states such as New York and the fact that it is more actively involved in politics than some other ethnic groups.
The Jewish community, as tends to be the case with groups, is deeply divided on many issues. It tends to be united on one issue — Israel — but not with the same intensity as in the past, nor with even a semblance of agreement on the specifics. The American Jewish community is as divided as the Israeli Jewish community, with a large segment of people who don’t much care thrown in. At the same time, this community donates large sums of money to American and Israeli organizations, including groups that lobby on behalf of Israeli issues in Washington. These lobbying entities lean toward the right wing of Israel’s political spectrum, in large part because the Israeli right has tended to govern in the past generation and these groups tend to follow the dominant Israeli strand. It also is because American Jews who contribute to Israel lobby organizations lean right in both Israeli and American politics.
The Israel lobby, which has a great deal of money and experience, is extremely influential in Washington. For decades now, it has done a good job of ensuring that Israeli interests are attended to in Washington, and certainly on some issues it has skewed U.S. policy on the Middle East. There are Jews who practice being shocked at this assertion, but they must not be taken seriously. They know better, which is why they donate money. Others pretend to be shocked at the idea of a lobbyist influencing U.S. policy on the Middle East, but they also need not be taken seriously, because they are trying to influence Washington as well, though they are not as successful. Obviously there is an influential Israel lobby in Washington.
(more, including an update)
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