August 1, 2006


AIPAC's Hold (ARI BERMAN, July 29, 2006, The Nation)

AIPAC is the leading player in what is sometimes referred to as "The Israel Lobby"--a coalition that includes major Jewish groups, neoconservative intellectuals and Christian Zionists. With its impressive contacts among Hill staffers, influential grassroots supporters and deep connections to wealthy donors, AIPAC is the lobby's key emissary to Congress. But in many ways, AIPAC has become greater than just another lobby; its work has made unconditional support for Israel an accepted cost of doing business inside the halls of Congress. AIPAC's interest, Israel's interest and America's interest are today perceived by most elected leaders to be one and the same. Christian conservatives increasingly aligned with AIPAC demand unwavering support for Israel from their Republican leaders. (In mid-July, 3,000-plus evangelicals came to town for the first annual "Christian United for Israel" summit.) And Democrats are equally concerned about alienating Jewish voters and Jewish donors--long a cornerstone of their party. Some in Congress are deeply uncomfortable with AIPAC's militant worldview and heavyhanded tactics, but most dare not say so publicly. [...]

"The US and Israel share a lot of basic common values. The vast majority of the American people not only support Israel's actions against Hezbollah but also the fundamental US-Israel relationship, and the bipartisan support in Congress reflects that," says AIPAC spokesman Josh Block. Rosenberg, himself a former AIPAC staffer, puts it another way: "This is the one issue on which liberals are permitted, even expected, by donors to be mindless hawks."

By blindly following AIPAC, Congress reinforces a hard-line consensus: Criticizing Israeli actions, even in the best of faith, is anti-Israel and possibly anti-Semitic; enthusiastically backing whatever military action Israel undertakes is the only acceptable stance.

Recent Gallup polls show that half of Americans support Israel's military campaign, yet 65 percent believe the United States should not take sides in the conflict. But it's hard to imagine any Congress, or subsequent Administration, returning to the role of honest broker. What the region needs now, according to Brzezinski, is an American leader brave enough to say: "Either I make policy on the Middle East or AIPAC makes policy on the Middle East." One can always dream.

Ah, that sweet Leftist dream of an anti-Zionist America....

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2006 5:14 PM

If only FDR had been an "honest broker" in 1939-41...

Posted by: Rick T. at August 1, 2006 5:57 PM

If the "honest broker" role was working, what are the Israelis and the Hizbos fighting for now? Leftists don't think, they emote. Hizbos can stop this 'elective' war any time they want by releasing the soldiers, provided that they are still alive. Even Bill Clinton has admitted that it was the Palestinians who broke his Middle East peace deal. What is so honest about a role that has never worked?

Posted by: ic at August 2, 2006 12:03 AM

Hezbollah will and the Israelis will release theirs--that's how these things go.

Posted by: oj at August 2, 2006 12:06 AM
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