The discourse is opening up on the central political question involving Middle East policy-making: what is the influence of the Israel lobby? Tom Friedman’s “bought and paid for” column in the Times was huge. David Bromwich has a great piece about the Republicans up at the New York Review of Books that, echoing Friedman, speaks frankly about the role of conservative Jewish money in the Republican race.
Then there’s this from Jordan Michael Smith at Salon, interviewing Zbig Brzezinski:
He thinks the Obama administration “should have stuck to its guns in promoting a fair settlement” in the Middle East. A longtime foe of Israel’s partisans in the United States, he says the Obama team “fumbled by getting outmaneuvered by the Israelis.” Then he gets blunter: “Domestic politics interceded: The Israelis have a lot of influence with Congress, and in some cases they are able to buy influence.”Brzezinski is still a believer in the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, and is hopeful that Obama will again take up the cause if he gets a second term. “He would have time and the historical immunity to do so, because he wouldn’t be facing an election.” He also thinks space has opened up in the United States to be more critical of Israel. “The American public is becoming more discriminating, and the Jewish public in America is becoming more discriminating,” he says.
The fascinating thing about this statement is that Brzezinski has always believed this stuff but he is now taking off his muzzle entirely. (I interviewed him a couple years back and sensed the self-censorship) Nothing can stop this conversation. The only question is how long the resistance to it will last. Brzezinski is right to focus on the Jewish community splitting. Walt and Mearsheimer’s analysis could not make headway till it was embraced by Jews (because we are a powerful community, because we license or delicense speech on grounds of anti-semitism). It has been embraced by Jews.