Influence of Jewish Lobby in U.S.A.

The NPR program (9/10/04)had a long semgment about the Jewish lobby and its links to Douglas Feith and the Pentagon. By now every one knows about the "alleged" intelligence breach involving Feith's office and the ongoing investigation. The neo-cons have accused the CIA (Tenet's bodies) and "others", presumably State Department officials (probably people behind Richard Armitage), for trying to "nail" Feith and the entire neo-con clique in the Pentagon. One may argue, and here is where I expect Mr. Jones to jump in, that there is proof of a Jewish connection in this story. The fact is that the neo-cons, some of whom are Jewish, are well connected to the vice president's office and to ultra-rightists who are Christian fundamentalists. Though the Justice Department is investigating Feith and his office staff, the issue is much larger than the specific perimeters of this investigation, namely, the direction of  U.S. foreign which determines the people employed in government. My home-town paper, the Indianapolis Star (9/10/04), had an article about this issue, pointing out that we know where Bush stands on foreign policy, but Senator John Kerry owes it to the voters to tell them where he stands and what people he will bring in to replace the neo-cons.  Unless Kerry comes across clear and unambiguous on this issue as he has on health care, out-sourcing, and fiscal policy, he will not win the undecided vote.    

John Heelan (JH) writes: Jon Kofas (JK) mixes myth and realpolitik- some of the thing he comments on are true, others are more debatable.   I have listed Jon's points and my rebuttals below.

JK: Much has been made about the Jewish lobby for decades, especially since Kissinger's days. Though it is true that the Jewish lobby, like all others, exerts influence, the idea that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is driven by the influence of the Jewish lobby is absurd.

JH:  As RH wisely points out, it is "not absurd".  What *is* absurd is to ignore the impact of the Jewish lobbies on US politics.  AIPAC is probably one of the best lobbying organisations in the world.  It seems impossible to calculate how much political donations- to both parties- emanate from Jewish sources, due to the way such donations are being made.   The neo-conservatives, the US Jewish lobbies and the Sharon government have common objectives for the management of the Middle East. The US has often been the solitary veto [other than acolytes such as the Marshall Islands- (who?)] in multiple UN Security Council Resolutions passed against Israel.  Israel regarded Iraq as their major threat, now it is Iran, the US having eliminated Saddam Hussein. The Jewish Defense League and B'nai Brith have been extremely successful in reducing to charges of anti-Semitism any criticism of Israel in the media and universities (and perhaps even WAIS?).  Probably for domestic electoral reasons, President Bush gave the green light to Sharon's recent plans to expand settlements in Palestine even though such activity goes against Bush's own fabled (and increasingly toothless) Route Map.   Given such political influence of only 2% of the US population, does Jon Kofas really believe that US foreign policy in the Middle East is not substantially moulded by the Jewish lobby?

JK: Even if the Jewish lobby never existed, U.S. foreign policy would be about the same as it has been in the past 50 years, because foreign policy dynamics are a combination of domestic systemic forces (economic, political, social, ideological, cultural) and reactions to external factors like the influence of regional players. As a status quo power, the U.S. backs status quo satellites whether they are the state of Israel, or pro-American "Martians" for that matter.

JH:  Jon Kofas is correct- that is realpolitik.   If the Arab lobby was stronger than the Zionist lobby then the United States would have been more open in its support of Hussein's Iraq, the Saudi Royal family's Kingdom, Assad's Syria and Mubarak's Egypt.   In practice, only the Sauds could wield a degree of strength through commercial agreements and loans (sic) to US corporations (especially the oil and Defense industries), who in turn lobbied the various Administrations and had their representatives appointed to positions of political power (just check the career paths of the current Administration).  However the Jewish lobby *has* existed in increasing strength since the early days of Jewish immigration- overtaking similar Irish lobbies some time ago- and appears to be growing even more in its power.

JK: A thorough reading of the contemporary Middle East history teaches us that all Arab governments have historically used the Palestinian question to deflect attention from their own domestic problems, focusing instead on Israel as the real enemy. The Israel-Palestinian conflict requires a pragmatic political solution for which Washington has a responsibility to solve.

JH:  John Kofas is partially correct.  He is right that Arab governments have historically used the Palestinian government to deflect attention from their own domestic problems.  One can point at Iraq, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, perhaps Turkey.  The US has been party to that deception- as it is currently in the Caucasus- for realpolitik reasons. It would be nice to think that Washington has a responsibility to solve the Israel-Palestinian problem, but the poor credibility of US Administrations- Republican or Democrat- in the eyes of the Arab world makes it almost impossible for the US to adopt an unbiased stance.

JK: Why doesn't Christopher Jones point out that Republican Christian fundamentalists are pro-Israel and against any concessions to the Palestinians?

JH:  Jon Kofas raises a valid point.  Why are right-wing Christian fundamentalists pro-Israel?  A cynic might comment that they see Islam as a far greater risk to a wholly Christian world than Judaism. The objective is to weaken the grasp Islam has on the Middle East so that when their Armageddon comes they will only have to worry about eliminating those of the Jewish faith. [A similar strategy is being adopted by Republicans funding Ralph Nader so that the Democrat vote will be split and Kerry weakened November "Armageddon".]

JK: Why focus on the Jewish lobby when the U.S. media, many in the business community, and most Republicans and Democrats are far more influential in this matter?

JH: Jon Kofas is partially right but misses the point.  Modern US politicians- Republicans and Democrats-  are dependent on external funding.  Such funding brings political obligations along with it.  The scale of commercial and industrial funding is related to the potential future profits commerce and industry could make if the incoming Administration changes the rules in their favour. [One can point at many such rule changes made by the current Administration, such relaxation of controls on environmental emissions and  oil exploration, unilateral tariffs supporting the iron and steel industry, substantial increases in federal spending on military hardware and services, protection of pharmaceutical patents world-wide and so on.]   In addition, there is the funding that emanates from single-cause political lobbies, such as the Jewish lobby.   Often single-cause funding (say from the pro-Israel lobby) and commercial/industrial funding  (say the military/industrial lobby) combine in their objectives (as in the case of the Iraq War). Some funding decision-makers could well belong to both lobbies thus strengthening their call on their sponsored politicians to make good their political debts.

Your comments are invited. Read te home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: E-mail to Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 8, 2004