Monday, April 27, 2009

The Israel Lobby is Not a Conspiracy Theory

Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe have a new book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict called Gaza in Crisis, that deals with the horrible conditions in which the Palestinian people are forced to live.

They attempt to detail the reasons for the conflict and the bias shown Israel by many Western nations, especially the United States and now Canada.

They mention a thought-provoking article, published by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (now a book), based on extended research, that discusses the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Israeli lobby in Washington, in shaping American policy in the Middle East in general and toward Israel in particular.

And while Chomsky and Pappe are careful not to suggest a Jewish conspiracy, which this is not, they do reveal how the country called Israel, manipulates public opinion and coerces governments into giving them unheard of freedoms to do what they want. And they do this because of AIPAC. Citing Mearsheimer and Walt:
Their basic argument was that the lobby directs American policy in a way that undermines the United States' national interest. Not since the 1960s would one have come across such a harsh criticism of either Zionism or U.S. policy from within the heart of American academia or the media.

The role of the lobby in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East is undoubtedly crucial. But American policy in the Middle East, like any regional policy of a great power in the past, is the outcome of more than one factor. For those, like myself, for whom the analysis of such a policy is not just academic but a matter of life and death, an expanded analysis is called for, not only for the sake of understanding that policy more clearly, but also as a way of coping with its dangerous outcomes. (1)
The Israel Lobby and Foreign Policy

Mearsheimer and Walt begin by establishing the fact that Israel has been the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy for several decades, enjoying unwavering support, in an attempt to use the only democratic country in the region to spread ‘democracy’ to their neighbours. At least that is the conventional wisdom.

However, this unwavering support has instead achieved the opposite:
Throughout the region [it] has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical. (2)
And the level of support is enormous:

Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain. Other recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and can thus earn interest on it. Most recipients of aid given for military purposes are required to spend all of it in the US, but Israel is allowed use roughly 25 per cent of its allocation to subsidise its own defence industry.

It is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the US opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank. Moreover, the US has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the US gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its Nato allies and has turned a blind eye to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. (2)

Washington also provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support, vetoing 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, and has blocked the efforts of Arab states to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the IAEA’s agenda.

Canada and Our Shift in Foreign Policy

In 2006, CTV conducted a poll asking Canadians who we should support in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
“When asked who Canada should support, a majority, 77 per cent, said we should be neutral. Sixteen per cent said Canada should support Israel, while only one per cent said Hezbollah.” (3)
And yet the Harper government became "unapologetic supporters of Israel" in direct conflict of our interests. And they did this with an aggressive campaign and some powerful allies. The Zionist group: Christians United For Israel and the American Neoconservative heavyweights, represented by Jason Kenney's director of communications, Alykhan Velsi.

Velshi is a player in the American neoconservative movement, and includes among his colleagues, the late Irving Kristol, Andrew C. McCarthy, Lynn and Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, etc. He also belongs to the controversial American Enterprise Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


1. Has Israel Been a Blessing or a Burden?

2. Israel Engages in Espionage and Treachery Against Her Allies

3. We Can't Ignore the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. But Who is the Underdog?


1. Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians, By Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, 2010, Haymarket Books, ISBN: 978-1608460-97-7, Pg. 19

2. The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, By: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, London Review of Books, March 23, 2006

3. CTV, August 1, 2006

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