Al Jazeera asks, ‘What role does the pro-Israel lobby play?’

US Politics
on 18 Comments

From the Al Jazeera English website:

The American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the US, is holding its biggest annual conference yet with around 13,000 delegates in Washington.

For all those bidding to become the next US president, it has become an essential campaign stop. The group has strong ties to the religious right and evangelical voters. And it is a very influential force in Washington politics.

Demonstrators from the occupy movement held a small protest outside the event urging no war on Iran and no US tax dollars for Israel.

On Sunday, Barack Obama, the US president, took to the stage and told the audience that Israel had never had a better friend in the White House. But he did not support Israeli military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities – at least not yet.

Three of the four Republican candidates bidding to unseat the US president addressed the conference on the biggest day of the nomination battle so far – ‘Super Tuesday’.

Rick Santorum flew in especially for the event before heading back to Ohio, while Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich appeared via satellite link.

A number of Republicans have sought to attack the US president over his administration’s relationship with Israel. And the Republican presidential candidates have all tried to paint Obama as an undependable partner for Israel who is weak on Iran.

Mitt Romney said: “We’ve heard a lot of words from the administration. Its clear message has been to warn Israel to consider the costs of military action against Iran. I don’t believe we should be issuing public warnings.”

And Newt Gingrich said: “If an Israeli prime minister decides that he has to avoid the threat of a second holocaust through pre-emptive measures that I would require no advance notice to understand why I would support the right of Israel to survive in a dangerous world.”

So what role do pro-Israel lobby groups, and AIPAC in particular, play in the US election and why are they courted by those competing to be the next US president? How do Barack Obama’s dealings with Israel compare with those of his predecessors, including Republicans?

To discuss these issues presenter Anand Naidoo is joined by: John Mearsheimer, the co-author of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy; Larry Greenfield from the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; and Hillary Mann Leverett, a former White House and US state department official.

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18 Responses

  1. seafoid
    March 8, 2012, 4:14 pm

    “If an Israeli prime minister decides that he has to avoid the threat of a second holocaust through pre-emptive measures that I would require no advance notice to understand why I would support the right of Israel to survive in a dangerous world.”

    That sentence doesn’t make sense. And it throws 67 years of post world war 2 international law out the window. Pre emptive war in the name of avoiding a ludicrous made up second holocaust which is really code for eternal regional hegemony is totally illegal and utterly unacceptable. Israel is not the centre of the universe and never has been.

    • Thomson Rutherford
      March 8, 2012, 7:14 pm

      The Newt’s speech was bought and paid for by Sheldon Adelson, a big backer of AIPAC. For such Israel Firsters, Israel is indeed the center of the universe. F$$$ck the rest.

    • Citizen
      March 9, 2012, 6:30 am

      seafoid, our mainstream media, which is suppose to keep us informed, so our democracy base of informed consent stays strong, has not once even stated the crystal clear fact that under our own law, and under international law first established at Nuremberg, any attack on Iran by Israel or US will be a gross war crime, the crime of aggression–German leaders were hung for that crime. Israel has long totally disregarded the required element justifying attack: danger of imminent threat. We even castigated Israel for attacking Iraq’s nuclear site–remember? And Israel attacked Syria on the same apparent basis. And now Obama and the US GOP leaders (except Ron Paul) have copied Israel’s new ethics–all that’s required to attack a state is to point at its apparent capacity for making WMD–and not a word from our own “Fourth Branch of Government” telling us our own leaders are tearing down what our “Greatest Generation” fought and died for, a monument to them–and to the innocents who also died in WW2, most especially Jews.

  2. lysias
    March 8, 2012, 4:44 pm

    Three of the four Republican candidates bidding to unseat the US president addressed the conference on the biggest day of the nomination battle so far – ‘Super Tuesday’.

    So apparently Ron Paul did not address the AIPAC conference. I wonder if they invited him.

    • Citizen
      March 9, 2012, 6:31 am

      No, AIPAC did not invite Ron Paul to its conference–and, naturally, not one mainstream pundit or news show commented on that glaring fact.

      • Rusty Pipes
        March 9, 2012, 11:39 am

        NPR reported that all of the Republican Presidential contenders except for Ron Paul spoke at AIPAC. It didn’t mention that he hadn’t been invited.

      • Citizen
        March 9, 2012, 2:56 pm

        NPR, radio devoted to public enlightenment & objectivity: “All POTUS contenders spoke at Israel Lobby agenda celebration except Ron Paul.”

        What’s the biggest difference between all other contenders and Ron Paul? The NPR audience knows it’s his foreign policy, which policy is directly related to curbing the wars that eat up so much of US tax income, give us a bad reputation, negatively impact so many millions of life around the world, kill and maim our young soldiers.

        And NPR, dedicated to us citizens as a public service, paid for by our taxes, champion of Enlightenment, the Arts, Humanities–decides it won’t tell us the largest single influence on our foreign policy in the key geo-strategical tinderbox of the world–did not invite to speak the sole contender championing a rational and educated approach to our foreign policy.

        I wanna puke (and end tax dollars for NPR).

      • hophmi
        March 9, 2012, 2:37 pm

        It’s an advocacy organization that advocates a strong US-Israel relationship and lobbies for continued aid to Israel. Why would it invite an opponent of that relationship who believes all aid should cease?

        Does the NRA invite gun control advocates to address their meetings? Does CodePink invite Alan Dershowitz to speak at their anti-AIPAC rallies?

      • Citizen
        March 9, 2012, 3:04 pm

        The Gun Lobby solely involves the right of Americans to own & bear guns solely in their own country, as expressed in US Constitution.

        AIPAC is a lobby devoted to using all American resources to carry out the Zionist agenda of a foreign country as top priority, an agenda based on the assumption that Israel and its diaspora tribal helpers have an ethnocentric duty never to trust any other state, or group of people, and so to act independently of all gentiles at ALL costs.

    • Blake
      March 9, 2012, 6:52 am

      No he was not invited.

  3. yourstruly
    March 8, 2012, 5:35 pm

    what role does the pro-israel lobby play? how’s about –

    israel firsters
    chicken hawks
    enemies of the people

  4. Thomson Rutherford
    March 8, 2012, 6:18 pm

    The group [AIPAC] has strong ties to the religious right and evangelical voters.

    No. it does not. AIPAC has loose, perfunctory ties to some fringe organizations representing an ill-defined minority of “religious right and evangelical voters.” AIPAC is a Jewish lobbying group representing dozens of American Jewish organizations motivated by political Zionism. It has no interest in the Christian ‘religious right’ – which, by the way, has no significant Washington lobbying organization in behalf of Israel.

  5. chris o
    March 9, 2012, 12:12 am

    Mearshiemer is great. I got quite a chuckle at the very end.
    Mann: “The US does not support democracy anywhere in the Middle East.”
    Greenfield: “That’s a smear against the American people.”

    Also earlier, after quite astonishing claims from Greenfield, Mearshimer said, “That’s ridiculous.” Greenfield wittily retorted, “You’re ridiculous.”

    • Blake
      March 9, 2012, 6:54 am

      Lol. That reads as Greenfield saying “nah nah you’re an anti-Semite (Nazi) because I have no argument at all”

  6. atime forpeace
    March 9, 2012, 7:48 am

    Adam, i love all that i have seen you do and commend you for what you try to expose, for whatever it’s worth to you, i value what you do.

    The supporters of Israel in the U.S will not relinquish their positions easily and like a tick on a dog will not let loose, ever, at least willingly, you shall see, it is not in their makeup. It is a very emotionally charged issue and can and will drive a wedge between lansmen, it has in the past and will again in the near future.

    American jews of high profile like Tom Friedman in concert with many others like him may be able to exert some force due to the fears that he expressed recently over a blowback on his lansmen, i suspect that he doesnt wish to be seen as an israel firster and be singled out or made suspect of that charge, after all he like any other american does not wish to be seen as an outsider. Priviledge and position are important.

    This sentiment may be able to drive a wedge between the more hard core zionist and those who just wish the best for israel but would rather prefer their confortable way of life that the u.s has afforded them, but the more hard core older jews will cling to the belief that world jewry needs israel so that nothing like what occurred in europe ever happens again without the jews having a place to run for protection.

    i continue to follow the instruction of Malcolm Hoenlein when he suggested that the Christian Zionist will stay with Israel longer than those American jews who do not have that same affinity for the israel project than the older jews do.

    like a tick on a dog and for very emotional reason and lots of misinformation the supporters will continnue regardless of what happens, it is that important to them and they think they know better what jews need.

    • Blake
      March 9, 2012, 10:56 am

      Apartheid South African supporters thought their artificial construct would never end and look what happened there. Right wing minorities can be marginalized.

  7. seafoid
    March 9, 2012, 8:15 am

    AIPAC feeds Israel into the grinder of history

    • Citizen
      March 9, 2012, 8:57 am

      The Christian fundies prefer to think AIPAC assures their rapture, or at least assures they will go to heaven for genuflecting to the Jews, which they confuse with AIPAC and the state of Israel, “Israel,” a word they can point to in the bible while simultaneously ignoring all of history between biblical times and 1948. Nothing like taking really bad figurative language for prose, poetry for reality–Xtrian fundies excell so. They will pray for your salvation.

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