Dismantling the lobby
By Ramzy Baroud
One cannot emphasise enough the stranglehold Israel’s lobbying infrastructure has on US foreign policy. The36of recent weeks undoubtedly attest to this.
“The special relationship” that has been historically fostered between the US and Israel in fact is often a relationship of leverage, manipulation and intimidation, and often leads to the US supporting actions or resolutions that stand at complete odds with the interests of the American people.
The promise of change echoed the world over as people from all corners anticipated the magic moment Barack Obama could actually change the devastating reality in which we live today. But just weeks before his inauguration, Israel unleashed the most barbaric attacks on defenceless Palestinian civilians since 1948.
Civil societies expressed outrage and called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes and genocide. But the man of change did absolutely nothing. For weeks he was completely silent. Even in his first days in office, Obama made no mention of the Israeli genocide in Gaza. So, what of this change that he promised?
What kind of hold does Israel have to silence the president of the United States?
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, authors and professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard University respectively, defined the Israel lobby in their volume “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” as a “loose coalition of individuals and organisations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction”.
What has been revealed in their work is that “the lobby” is not a unitary organisation of a few or many paid lobbyists who are pushing for a specific foreign policy agenda.
Sure, you have that too, manifested in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – an organisation that boasts of 60,000 active members and that showers US congressmen with many millions of dollars in campaign contributions, all with one aim in mind, a pro-Israel, right or wrong agenda.
But it’s much more complex than that.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, less known than AIPAC, is a powerful lobby conduit, for it supposedly represents 52 major Jewish organisations.
Based in New York, the organisation simply represents an uncompromisingly pro-Israel stance, which tends to advocate Israel’s suppression of Palestinians (as Israel’s right to defend itself) and advocates a pro-war agenda (as was the case before the Iraq war, and later against Syria and Iran).
These are but mere examples. What Mearsheimer and Walt describe as a “loose coalition of individuals and organisations” is in fact a vast infrastructure that has penetrated every major organisation and institution, governmental and otherwise, that could in some way influence, push for or advocate Israel’s interests.
When AIPAC holds its annual conferences, countless members of the House and the Senate, the executive branch, top representatives of both parties, as well as hundreds of US ambassadors flock from all over the world in an unparalleled manner to vow their allegiance to Israel.
With the passing of time, the strength of the lobby, and the level of influence of Israel’s “friends” in the Congress, has grown immensely, to the point that US allegiances actually jeopardise the interests of its own citizens.
Even from an imperialistic viewpoint, the US has no particular interest in supporting Israel’s genocidal policies in Gaza, for example, considering the fact that the US is struggling to find a semblance of “stability” in the region that is saturated with anti-American sentiment.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s boasting how he, with one telephone call, managed to completely turn around the entire US foreign policy agenda, no questions asked, is one example of manipulation, of how US interests come second to Israel’s. It also shows that it is not a give-and-take relationship.
Within the United States there is a great apparatus that has been in motion for generations. It is beyond civil society, beyond individual citizens and citizen groups, it is perhaps even more powerful than “the man of change” himself. And if we are truly to see some transformation in the way the US now rules the world, this war-mongering machine must be dismantled.