Rashid Khalidi on the Israel lobby

Last night historian Rashid Khalidi spoke about his important new book, Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, at the International Peace Institute in New York and repeatedly downplayed the role of the Israel lobby in American policy-making across the Middle East. A video of his appearance is here.

While Khalidi acknowledged that the U.S. has for 20 years acted as Israel’s lawyer in the Israel/Palestine conflict, thereby foreclosing the two-state solution, he argued that that conflict represents the very narrow arena in which the lobby can throw its weight around. On Palestine, American presidents are responsive to a domestic lobby “because there’s no counterweight.” On general strategic matters, the lobby has little influence.

Khalidi’s book contains a similar argument:

“As Noam Chomsky has argued convincingly in an interview in the Journal of Palestine Studies… Mearsheimer and Walt’s ‘realist’ international-relations perspective does not recognize that US support for Israel is entirely compatible with many basic American corporate and strategic interests, rather than being mainly the result of the action of this lobby.” 

While readers know that I hold the Walt-Mearsheimer view, it seemed most helpful to try and convey Khalidi’s view of the matter, as stated last night.

For his book, Khalidi undertook a historical investigation of negotiations over the last 30 years and found that American presidents have often set out to put pressure on Israel vis-a-vis the occupation but they invariably give up before long and adopt Israeli “desiderata,” as Obama has, with the result that the U.S. has continually pressured the weaker side, the Palestinians, to accept Israel’s terms. But Palestinians have been incapable of renouncing their rights; and so there has been no peace, no justice, no resolution. There was a window in which the two-state solution could actually have been effected, in the early 1990s, in the trusting and imaginative spirit that followed the Oslo accords, but once Oslo’s actual measures were put in place — checkpoints, the wall, and the end of freedom of movement, with resultant violent resistance — both sides hunkered down and the U.S. merely stood up for the Israeli regime and portrayed the Israelis as the victims.

This U.S. imbalance was not strictly a result of domestic pressure. “To suggest that the Israel lobby has arcane influence over American policy is a terrible mistake,” Khalidi said. Yes it has “enormous weight” on the Palestine issue, but whenever the U.S. has “an overwhelming strategic objective” in the region, American presidents dismiss the lobby and pressure Israel. 

Khalidi gave two examples. The 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel was in the interests of the U.S. because the U.S. wanted to take Egypt away from Soviet influence during the Cold War. So Nixon, Ford, and Carter insisted that Israel talk; these presidents had “no hesitation in forcing Israel to do things that American policy makers wanted.”

The same goes for the sale of a “major weapon system to Saudi Arabia” during the Reagan administration. In that instance, far more powerful lobbies than the Israel lobby prevailed– the oil lobby and the aerospace lobby aligned with US policy makers, and the sale went through “without the slightest difficulty.”

Even during the ’73 oil embargo, when it seemed that U.S. material interests were being damaged by the US attachment to Israel, Henry Kissinger said, per Khalidi’s research, that while the rhetoric of Saudi diplomats was intransigent, privately they were willing to play ball with the United States.

The lobby can exercise power in its bailiwick, Khalidi said, because the arc of force in the region is the U.S. alignment with the Arab oil monarchies, and they don’t really object to Israel. And therefore there is no contradiction between American strategic interests and American policy toward Israel.

(Khalidi went on that the U.S. has successfully decoupled oil policy from Israel/Palestine. For if Israeli intransigence actually affected Arab oil supply, European, South Asian and East Asian governments would be “howling” at the U.S. to change its policy, because they are the principal beneficiaries of Arab oil. The U.S. gets its oil chiefly from West Africa, Latin America, and North America. But those other nations don’t push us because we have made sure that oil markets are unaffected by the conflict.)

“It is really not the Israel lobby that drives American policy,” he said. Yes there are occasions when the lobby “prevails,” but these are rare occasions– when the cost of US alignment with the Israel lobby is so small that the U.S. can get away with it. And here Khalidi meant U.S. support for the unending occupation. In that case there is “exaggerated attention to domestic political concerns”– be it voters, donors, or pro-Israel media.

This calculus is now at risk. Arab public opinion is overwhelmingly concerned with Palestine and against U.S. policy. But Arab states are generally not democracies, so there has been no problem for the U.S. in ignoring public opinion. “That policy would become untenable if [Arab states] are democratized,” Khalidi said. “If Arab governments begin to reflect popular opinion then American policy will be in jeopardy.”

In the Q-and-A, Jeff Laurenti of the Century Foundation somewhat questioned Khalidi’s view of the lobby. He said that Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were both closer to Khalidi’s “mythical ideal of an honest broker” in the conflict–and both were one-term presidents. We all know that there were other reasons for Carter and Bush’s political defeats, Laurenti said, but “there’s a mythology in Washington that it ain’t unrelated.”

(Myself I believe that mythology; certainly it is interesting that Laurenti acknowledges that this belief is widespread, including, I would say, on the part of George H.W. Bush and his son and his son’s successor; the Washington Post underlines this belief with respect to Bush, as does Michael Desch in Security Studies.)

Seeming to acknowledge the power of the lobby, Laurenti spoke of changes inside the American Jewish community; he mentioned J Street.

Khalidi responded to this point. He said that the U.S. was changing swiftly, far more swiftly than he could have imagined even ten years ago– chiefly on campuses.  “There was no debate 20 years ago. There was no other voice, to be frank,” he said. At that time it was hard even to say the words Palestine or Palestinian on college campuses. Today he is part of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia

Yes, there are far more centers devoted to Israeli studies. But young people have access to far better information than the myths purveyed by “stodgy media” in the last generation. Khalidi spoke of a burgeoning awareness including among young Jews fostered by Peter Beinart’s book, Students for Justice in Palestine chapters, Jewish Voice for Peace, and “shock journalism.”

But, he said: “I see absolutely no effect whatsoever on American politics at this point.”

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 196 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. pabelmont says:

    I heard Khalidi talk at Columbia. One of his very interesting points was that European countries fight the USA all the time on trade (WTO ?) matters, without fear, but they do not fight the USA on Israel, perhaps because they are still caught up in Holocaust issues. However, he pointed out that Europe is close to the M/E and fears of terrorism and also the reality of emigration from M/E to EU makes the palestine issue much more immediate for them than it is for us. And even so, the EU does almost nothing to end Israeli lawlessness. I guess that H/R is always and everywhere merely a lip-service thing.

    (Not that I am a promoter of terrorism, far from it, but the Palestinian decision long ago to restrict “armed struggle” against Israel to The Land ought to mean that Europe has little realistic reason to fear I/P-based terror. Just saying.)

    I don’t understand how Arab democracy does or even could change political realities for the USA w.r.t. I/P.

    On the question of Arab democracy, well, perhaps it’s coming, but so what? Egypt is fairly democratic just now, but even though the government is Islamic, it still seems to keep the border with Gaza closed and otherwise to keep within the USA’s policy. Also the arab states have little trade with Israel and therefore cannot threaten (as EU could) to cut back trade. And the Arab states are not war-like and are no match militarily for Israel in anyc ase.

    So I don’t understand how Arab democracy does or even could change political realities for the USA w.r.t. I/P.

    • Regarding the EU’s relations with Israel, I think that natural gas supply is hugely important. Currently, much of Europe’s gas comes from Russia. Israel now presents an alternative source. This also makes commercial relations (and some political accommodation) among major European countries, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, and Israel very attractive to the economists.

      Of course, the question of Israel’s right to reserve gas revenues to itself, effectively adding the eastern Mediterranean to its territory, is a question no one asks. Gaza, if it were part of a real state of Palestine, would have exploitation rights on behalf of all Palestinians. The value of under-sea gas is significant to Egypt, Hamas, the PA and Israel, and I’m sure it is in the strategic background for all of them.

      Now, whether the stuff should be burned at all is the really important question,

      • Hostage says:

        One of his very interesting points was that European countries fight the USA all the time on trade (WTO ?) matters, without fear, but they do not fight the USA on Israel

        That’s an area where other countries could exclude the United States from trade deals using the excuse offered by the WTO national security loophole and the fact that every state has the right to exercise universal jurisdiction over certain crimes or torts.

        Israel and the US routinely use the occupation or blockade to interfere in the foreign and trade relations between other countries and Palestine. There are a number treaties in force that do not permit military occupations; blockades; or giving any assistance to states against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action. The General Assembly, Security Council, and ICJ have each called upon the member states to stop cooperating with Israel or recognizing the illegal territorial situations it has created.

        Many of the treaty partners of the United States have explicitly recognized Palestine within the 1967 borders – a move that Washington and Tel Aviv have labeled “unhelpful”.

        Regarding the EU’s relations with Israel, I think that natural gas supply is hugely important.

        That’s right. Never forget to follow the money or the legal claims.

        There are several countries, including Great Britain, Lebanon, and Egypt that stand to loose considerable amounts of revenue if Israel continues to interfere with their citizen’s exploration and pipeline deals with Palestine.

        Some of the most famous cases involving retroactive recognition of governments dealt with situations where private business interests of citizens or trade deals were involved, i.e. Costa Rica and the Tinoco Arbitration; the Soviet Union and the Litvinov Assignment of 1933 and the Pink case; the Huerta government and the status of US oil concessions after the Mexican revolution; and recognition of the communist regime in China by the British government. Many of those cases resulted in legal actions and are described in Ti-chiang Chen, “The international law of recognition, with special reference to practice in Great Britain and the United States”, Praeger, 1951, “Introduction” page 4 and “the doctrine of the retroactive effect of recognition” on page 34 “Recognition of States”: link to archive.org

  2. lysias says:

    I’ve read Khalidi’s new book. I highly recommend it.

  3. CitizenC says:

    This is so pathetic of Khalidi, and equally pathetic of Chomsky. He is just using the idea of “US interests” to write Jewish power out of the picture. Contra Chomsky, “US interests” are not axioms from which we can deduce things. He actually says that nothing has changed about US ME policy since 1945–it’s all about control of oil. So there is no difference between cultivating Nasser as possible Cold War asset in the early 1950s, to invading Iraq in 2003.

    “US interests” are not axiomatically defined, but constructed daily in Washington by the various interests that comprise society. Since the 1940s, when it overcame the opposition of the diplomatic and military establishments to US sponsorship of a Jewish state, Zionism has been one of those interests, and has radicalized US pursuit of the “corporate and strategic interests” Chomsky (and Khalidi) claim are dominant.

    Thus the anti-Iran policy encountered substantial business opposition in the 1990s, but was overwhelmed by the Zionocracy. The Iraq war was the product of the neocons and the gentile radicals and was a strategic and corporate disaster.
    Zionism has been the chief driver of US militarism since the end of the Cold War. The Zionocracy contributed to the Gulf War vote in 1990, the closest since the War of 1812. 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq 2003, from which the dissolution of Syria has followed, the virulent Islamophobia—Zionism has turned western Asia into the eastern front of the US empire, site of its worst deeds and ideologies, like the eastern front of Nazi Germany, with the war on “Judeobolshevism” and the Judeocide.

    • pabelmont says:

      I think the Chomsky argument would be that US Nat. interest is [1] a compromise between opposing forces in the oligarchy, if any, but in the absence of opposition there, [2] whatever any one or more oligarchs want, there being no competing interest, and [3] forget THE PEOPLE if any oligarch really wants something. Because the oligarchs want what they want and don’t much care about anything else, they “go along to get along” and no oligarch (such as BIG-COAL, say, or BIG-AGRI) has any reason to oppose AIPAC (BIG-ZION). Actually, besides BIG-ZION, BIG-ARMS like selling to Saudi and “selling” to Israel (which spends mostly USA’s own money). The promotion of tension adn war is big busines, and the business of the USA is business.

      • CitizenC says:

        In my view not a word Chomsky says can be taken seriously. He is not trying to resolve some social/historical conundrum, he is creating one, blowing smoke, acting in pure bad faith, contriving controversy where none should exist. This is driven fundamentally by anti-gentilism, as Phil argued here

        link to mondoweiss.net

        This is true a fortiori not only of Chomsky but of the whole Jewish left which pushes this argument so adamantly, and for decades.

        Shimson and Bichler try and make an economic argument in The Political Economy of Israel, which others rely on. They claim that a “petro-arma complex” is driving things. They have causation exactly backward. Ideology and politics drive war, not oily merchants of death, and they concede this, piecemeal, directly and indirectly.

        They mostly assume causation from profit to war, and conjure up numbers. Their chief analytical construct is “differential accumulation”, the claim that profits of the “petro-arma core” are higher than the average of the Fortune 500. Yet the Zionocracy dates from the 194os, when it overwhelmed US diplomacy and military strategy. Arms sales to the region were negligible then and Big Oil favored the official position against Zionism, was a chief basis for it. This factor was inoperable then.

        Otherwise, it begs examination of the same data, and global Fortune 1000 data, from other angles. Is their differential a function of size? How do other firms in the petro-arma size bracket in different industries compare? Is it a function of US firms, not foreign? Etc. A piece of simple arithmetic is a rather weak argument.

        Even if it does hold it does not at all constitute causation; it is an anachronism for part of the period needing explanation. Even in the period where it presumably explains, they concede in little exceptions and qualifications that ideology and politics drive war. US Zionism is an apex predator, in the jostling of predators that constitutes US governance, able to stage ideological and institutional productions, like the US-Israel relationship, and Islamophobia, that drive war. “Corporate and strategic interest” have adapted to this, not vice versa.

        • Citizen says:

          “Corporate and strategic interest” have adapted to this, not vice versa.”
          Yes, nothing else accounts for the blank check to Israel since the USSR collapsed. Why is Khalidi not seeing this? Well, he sees it a little, but only after he places the principal blame for the I-P situation on Big Oil. This is a red herring. So why does Khalidi write this article? More important, why does all he says about past strategic reasons for the US support of Israel during the Cold War have any relation to NOW?

        • lysias says:

          Khalidi says that Iran has replaced the Soviet Union as the U.S.’s big bad enemy, against whom all policy is directed. I’m not claiming that this U.S. priority makes any rational sense, but I think he’s right that that’s how our politicians think.

          Not so different from the Cold War.

          And Israel takes advantage of our irrationality.

  4. I do not understand the effort that has been put into downplaying the influence of the Israel lobby in the American political system by respected academics and writers like Khalidi, Chomsky, Max Ajl, and others. It seems like there is this group of people on the Left who take the tack that, yes, there is an Israel lobby in the US but it’s irrelevant to the discussion because every time there’s an American hegemonic interest in the Middle East this in fact trumps any domestic political pressure. If this absolutist view being proposed were true, however, then why do AIPAC and all the other think-tanks exist at all? Is it all some kind of racket to get wealthy donors concerned with Israel’s continued existence as a Jewish state to pony up lest catastrophe happen? I find that difficult to believe. And, why do groups like StandWithUs spend so much time and effort bringing speakers to the US and engaging in grass-roots efforts at influencing public opinion in this country? Do all of these organizations do this simply to act as a smoke-screen for decisions made in secret in Washington and Jerusalem? I have a hard time grasping why AIPAC and the rest would go to such lengths purely for the exercise of raising money, although obviously there must be a profit motive in the equation somewhere. In my estimation, downplaying the lobby’s influence is as unhelpful as overplaying it. It seems to me there must be a give and take between those in Washington who make the case for Israel and those who decide the policy, and I’m troubled that there is such a reticence on the part of some of the most respected scholars on this issue to discuss this aspect of the US/Israel relationship.

    • Craig Higgins – - I agree with you that understating the power of the Israel lobby is bad policy. Even now, too few Americans comprehend the power of the Israel lobby to damage US national interests in the Middle East.

      • Citizen says:

        @ James Canning
        I also agree with Craig H. What is the point of bringing passe strategic reasons for supporting Israel during the Cold War? None of it applies today, and yet, we keep giving more of a blank check to Israel financially and diplomatically, while our good reputation and economy spirals down.

        Israel has shown more than it did to Truman since his days re what Israel and Zionism is–he hated it then, but felt boxed, and so, what has changed? Nothing. See the Daily Show. Helpless, dumb, stupid, America.

  5. Citizen says:

    There is no more Cold War. Yet are support of Israel is stronger now than during that Era.

    The major weapons sale to Saudi Arabia was a big boon to Ike’s military-industrial complex. Israel already had those weapons we sold to SA, and we committed to giving Israel superior weapons, as we’ve done for a long time now. This again benefits Ike’s military-industrial complex, the one he warned us about; too, A quarter of US military aid to Israel is reserved to compete with the US as a major arms supplier, and to develop Israel’s own military-industrial complex generally. And don’t forget we give Israel interest on top of all that.

    The US citizenry is still paying for the old Arab oil embargo.

    That the Arab oil regimes don’t mind Israel so there’s no strategic difference with USA on its pro-Israel stance is short-sighted; it’s not looking at the long term affect on the US position in the world, the one dependent on other countries’ peoples looking on USA as a humane guide respecting power. Is our sole veto at the UN so often regarding anything Israel a solid basis for projection of US soft power and influence?

    I don’t see Khalidi’s POV as clarifying what is most important now, that is, of what strategic use to the USA is Israel, given the huge blank check the USA gives Israel in every way?

    “This calculus is now at risk. Arab public opinion is overwhelmingly concerned with Palestine and against U.S. policy. But Arab states are generally not democracies, so there has been no problem for the U.S. in ignoring public opinion. “That policy would become untenable if [Arab states] are democratized,” Khalidi said. “If Arab governments begin to reflect popular opinion then American policy will be in jeopardy.”

    That policy would also become untenable if American citizens were sufficiently informed about what their government gives Israel, as compared to what we Americans get in return.

  6. Sin Nombre says:

    I smell some ideology at work here with Khalidi, perhaps a Marxisant one of, above all, wanting to say that economics is the real determinant of everything. (Like one smells with Chomsky.)

    His two examples of the U.S. supposedly “dismissing” the lobby for its own interests are laughable: Yes the U.S. had some interest in prying Egypt away from the Soviet sphere. But in the first place the Israelis had the far greater interest in eliminating their entire Western front threat. And in the second … if it weren’t for the U.S. feeling it had to have Israel’s back why would we have cared much beyond a fig if Egypt liked the Soviet Union or not? Clearly, just as the money we send to Egypt is due to our concern about Israel, the vast preponderance of our interest in Egypt is due to our being shackled to Israel.

    And then as to the sale of weaponry to the Saudis, what is Khalidi saying other than … “so long as I can find even one instance in which the Lobby lost, it means it’s not powerful.” That “loss” of course took place a long time ago, and I recall at the time there was considerable question whether Israel really opposed it: If I recall right Israel very soon said it would be soothed over the sale if it then got XY and Z more from the U.S., which it did.

    And then of course just blowing Khalidi out of the water here is the fact that in exchange for standing by Israel per the Lobby our entire country took it on the nose to tune of uncounted *trillions* of dollars when OPEC took after us for that support, and yet the Lobby was essentially entirely successful in blunting retreat from that support. And what Khalidi say about this? Some utter incoherence. That Kissinger at some point said something about the Saudis being willing to “play ball” with us, meaning absolutely nothing given that the only ball the Saudis played back then was as leaders of OPEC. So what does Khalidi *mean*? That the U.S. *wanted* the oil shock and the decades-long misery it inflicted?

    And what is Khalidi saying about what’s going on right now with Iran, with the U.S. damn near making daily threats against a nation that, even if it *had* nukes, could easily be contained by us? Does he really believe Iran *does* have nukes that *do* threaten the U.S., so making the U.S.’s pressures and etc. on Iran out for our own interest?

    Pfui. Everyone who hasn’t willfully closed their eyes knows its Israel and the Lobby here, and thus the only conclusion is that Khalidi *has* let something close his eyes.

    And this brings us to another point which is why I think it’s a mistake to try to get the U.S. to side with the Palestinians instead of just being neutral and getting the hell out of the Mideast: Just as the Israelis are not really our friends despite all we’ve done for them neither will be the arabs. If the U.S. suddenly scooped up every jewish person in Israel and transported them to the U.S. and every vestige of anger or resentment at the U.S.’s past support for Israel evaporated there’d *still be damn little on terms of grounds for friendship between us and the arabs and persians. And remember, while bin Laden certainly did cite our support for Israel as a big motivation for his movement against us, it wasn’t his *only* gripe.

    Nuts to Israel and nuts to Khalidi. Or, rather, the same to Israel and the same to Khalidi and the same to us: Let Israel pursue its own interests, let Khalidi pursue whosever interests he holds dearest, and let us pursue our own interests, period. No more “taking sides” for no reasons involved in our national interest.

    • Sin Nombre – - You appear to be unaware of the friendly feelings toward America, held by most Iranians. Despite idiotic US policy toward Iran, fostered by the ISRAEL LOBBY.

      • Citizen says:

        @ James Canning
        You can tap the man on the street anywhere in the ME and they usually have a good feeling for the American populace, as distinguished from their government. Ironically, the worst haters of America are Jewish Israelis. Suck on that, and get back to me. You want a Brooklyn Jew now in the WB you can call to reach me?

      • Sin Nombre says:

        Hi Jim: Don’t really have to say anything but that Citizen hit it on the head. The arabs/muslims may not mind us, but our government ….

        We oughta keep our distance, with a friendly hand out to all, but a partisan hand out to none.

    • seafoid says:

      I think it’s a mixture of the lobby and capitalism.
      Getting the Saudis onside post 73 was a major triumph of US diplomacy.
      If the Sauds are ever forced out all hell could break loose.

      For all of their torture and ethnic arrogance the bots have never been accepted by the Arab street. They still need weapons and violence for respect. That is Crusader thinking and it didn’t work out for them either.

      The lobby is still a major influence. Otherwise why put Netanyahu in front of congress, why debate “Israeal” at the Dem conference, why AIPAC. But it’s also related to the capitalist angle since it is certain billionaires who sponsor the show.

      Israel is fine as long as nothing changes.

  7. just says:

    “Khalidi responded to this point. He said that the U.S. was changing swiftly, far more swiftly than he could have imagined even ten years ago– chiefly on campuses.”

    ————-

    Yet, Khalidi dismisses the “lobby”. Methinks he is delusional, and underestimates the power of the ‘internets’ and the brains of sentient humans.

    • Citizen says:

      @just
      Khalidi should review his findings; I suggest he start at the Truman library, wherein he can find Truman’s diary thoughts on Zionist Jews back when he unilaterally recognized Israel as a legitimate, self-declared state–against the advice of the entire US state department and diplomatic corps. His writings will tell you a lot about the problem, here addressed.

  8. Krauss says:

    Many excellent responses here. I think Khalidi is motivated by a desire of acceptance into the mainstream plus as others have suggested too much of a clinging to a classical marxist analysis.

    The best argument for the overwhelming power of the Israeli lobby is the last 20 years; it has been clearly in the U.S. interest to take a dispassionate stance. But Bill Kristol and his friends have been busy purging the GOP of “WASP Arabists” (his words). The entire neocon takeover was all about 7srael and still is. And how does he explain PNAC and its influence for initiating the Iraq war?

    Khalidi is no fool so this is cowardice.

  9. American business community suffers considerable damage from idiotic US policy toward Iran, fostered by the Israel lobby. Time and time again, the Israel lobby has blocked Iranian efforts to restore normal relations with the US.

    • just says:

      Exactly correct, James. I guess it is all about the US’ and Israel’s desire for regional hegemony and entitlement. Iran and the US and the rest of the world could and should be allies, imho.

    • Citizen says:

      @ James Canning
      It’s clear to me that we should be offering some carrots, not just sticks to Iran, both in view of our negative past history with Iran, and in view of current strategic interests, both economical and ethical/moral. But all we do is squeeze Iran every way we can economically, and we surround them with our military assets, and threaten them continually that we will join the sole nuclear power in their region, Israel, in attacking them with all we have. If this US policy is not a recipe for WW3, nothing is.

  10. Danaa says:

    Khalidi, like Chomosky, seems to be making the same type of mistakes most commonly seen among economists – that of narrowing the perspective on any given issue, enough so until, lo and behold, a few historical examples can be cobbled that would support one or another of the original premise(s). What the narrowing of perspectives can do is to reduce a fundamentally social field to something that looks almost like a “real” science. Economists do that all the time (which is how that field earned the much justified nickname the “dismal science”), as do psychologists (who turned essentially 1/5 of the children’s population into must-be-medicated ADD, ADHD and/or Bi-polar cases), as do historians (who know very well that altering the past can pay dividends for “reshaping” the future).

    My own ‘narrow perspective hypothesis” is that through disciplined imposition of a limited field of view , deep digging in a more “manageable” terrain is bound to yield examples that can be used to prove just about any premise about the behavior and actions of humans. Indeed, when it comes to fields concerned with collective human behavior almost anything can be proven, depending on how willing we are ignore interactions between those humans. So in the classical view of capitalist economics, actual individuals are reduced to “free’ agents – disconnected “atoms” propelled strictly by self-interest, bereft of anything other than nearest-neighbour interactions and sometimes not even that (does that sound like your libertarian friend-de-jour?). Something very similar can be done in political science or the “art” of foreign relations”. So we have Khalidi choosing to look at the lobby’s influence strictly through what can be apparent to the naked eye, based on well known past historical events. Note the examples chosen – peace with Egypt, arms sale to SA, as highlighted in this post. Viewed with somewhat different glasses, these can actually be seen as beneficial to Israeli interests, if one were willing to broaden the perspective just a little, and look both more far afield and further out in time. That’s because the actual benefits that accrue to Israel are in another area – something to do with long term economics, and a cursory analysis will show that those economic benefits can be easily shown to far outweigh any apparent near-term political losses. So, you’d think some in israel – AND some in the Lobby would have done enough of that analysis to mix-up the tactics a bit – under the guise of accepting an apparent near-term “loss” much greater benefits can be extracted in other areas and/or further downstream in time.

    IMO, the real reason khalidi, or Chomsky, or max Ajl, or Keith our very own commenter, are sometimes disposed to shortchanging the Lobby’s true impact – has something to do with an all too human reluctance to look at second and third order effects. By way of illustration: take the full Foreign service corps – be it political appointtees, policy makers, secretaries, lower level functionaries, ambassadors and what not. The entire foreign policy/state apparatus has been effectively ‘reformulated” in the past 20 years, with most of the “realists’ expunged from positions of influence, sometimes down to lowliest deputies of deputies. Chas Freeman is just one example – but there are many others. Including countless individuals, many quite capable, sometimes in lower level positions who we don’t even know about – who were simply not promoted. This ‘reformulation” of the agencies of state was largely brought about through careful, patient and unrelenting work by Lobby and like-minded ‘friends” (some of whom don’t even realize they are agents) over many years (with Hagel being a recent – no doubt worrisome – set-back for them). What this meant is that the pool of smart realists (ie more analytical types, less inclined to ideological influences) has shrunk to such an extent that the entire American foreign policy edifice became, effectively, stupified. And it is that stupefaction – which we now see playing out in that silly Asian “pivot’, the ratcheting up of tensions on the Korean Penninsula, set-backs with Russia, and above all, Syria and Iran misguided sabre rattling, are exposed in their full gory “glory” of incompetence.

    Exactly how this showcasing of American inept foreign policy displays play into the hands of the Lobby requires looking both a bit more closely – AND more broadly – not just at the events themselves but at what surrounds them and all the potential collateral fall-out. So yes, at first glance Israel may not benefit from the toppling of Assad for all the reasons they and supporters love to cite, but take a bit closer look and another scenario becomes all too evident – that of a fundamental weakening of Syria, the break-up of the state into conflicting regions and sectarian blood-shed (iraq anyone?), a further suppression of actual democracy (in the name of “bringing democracy”), and a peeling-off of distinct autonomous groups – such as the Kurds – who may be amenable to act in concert with Israel’s interest (just as the Kurds in Iraq do).

    On the matter of Syria I am especially astounded by another display of incredible stupidity – that of the dedicated ignorance displayed by the MSM pundits. But the dumbing-sown of the punditocracy is just another side-effect of the lobby’s influence, about which much has already been said – and is another tangent well worth examining right along with the foreign policy issues (another time – just came across some interesting comments in an article by pilfger on that very question…).

    Oops – this was going to be a short comment! what happened?

    • danaa, brilliant imho. glad you went on so long.

    • Citizen says:

      Yeah, Danaa,
      I agree with what you say. Ultimately, you pose the question, who benefits most from the maintained situation by the most powerful players? Israel, the rogue state.
      American players fostering this are either Jewish Zionists, or Christian Zionists looking toward their chair in heaven, or simple, run-of-the-mill hack American politicians who know where their bigger donor dollars come from, and are are aware of the Zionist bias of America’s mainstream media.

    • Nevada Ned says:

      Dear Mr. Dana:

      Are you saying that the Israel Lobby has taken over US foreign policy, worming their way into positions of power, and damaging the interests of the US ruling class…but the US ruling class has somehow not noticed this development, or is just too stupid to protect their power?

      • Danaa says:

        Nevada Ned. Sorry, I am neither Mr. nor Mr. Dana, though if you were thinking of Joseph that would be a compliment.

        The answer to your questions are, in a word, yes. To check who the ruling class is in the US, why not turn on CNN? or NPR or CSPAN or may be check out the authors being interviewed on John Stewart. Or, if you will, why not just consult your own Forbes 500 list? Or, if that’s too much you can ask Phil weiss about the new mandarins. As for people noticing – everyone notices. It’s just that no one can do much about it, the political realities in the US being what they are.

        lysias, thanks. I should really read his book before pronouncing judgement on what Khalidi says or implies. Alas, i was just going by what i read in this post (limited perspectives and all that)

        Annie, citizen, thanks, as always.

        • seafoid says:

          Danaa

          I was reading your post thinking about what went on while the lobby wormed its way to the heart of DC. The NRA is a good example. Used to be a middle of the road group and was hijacked by Wayne La Pierre. Rules by fear. Became extremist. Same as many institutions after 30 years of Reaganism. Look at the stuff going on in Wisconsin and workers rights. The climate issue.
          Then the Iraq war. Incompetence and power are a lethal mix.
          So I think you have an alignment of the lobby with other dark homegrown forces . For the moment their interests align. But power is treacherous and great powers don’t have friends.

          Israel will eventually be shafted. That is the way the world works.

    • lysias says:

      On Syria, you may be interested to learn that Khalidi in his book blames U.S. policy on Syria (supporting the rebels) on the influence of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    • Keith says:

      DANAA- “IMO, the real reason khalidi, or Chomsky, or max Ajl, or Keith our very own commenter, are sometimes disposed to shortchanging the Lobby’s true impact – has something to do with an all too human reluctance to look at second and third order effects.”

      First of all, lumping me with Khalidi and Chomsky is a complement, but Max Ajl? I am also pleased that you consider me and my failings human, however, I can assure you that I am aware of the impact of pro-Israel appointments. You, however, seem not to have considered why it is necessary to have such a strong Lobby. Simply stated, it is because Israel is so utterly dependent upon the US and, by extension, the Israel Lobby. First, a Kissinger quote, then additional comment.

      “Israel is dependent on the United States as no other country is on a friendly power…. Israel sees in intransigence the sole hope for preserving its dignity in a one-sided relationship. It feels instinctively that one admission of weakness, one concession granted without a struggle, will lead to an endless catalogue of demands…. And yet Israel’s obstinacy, maddening as it can be, serves the purpose of both our countries best. A subservient client would soon face an accumulation of ever-growing pressures. It would tempt Israel’s neighbors to escalate their demands. It would saddle us with the opprobrium for every deadlock.” (Henry Kissinger, quoted in “Straight Power Concepts in the Middle East” by Gregory Harms)

      The empire gets a lot of benefit out of Israel being blamed for Middle East aggressions which benefit empire. Not Palestine, of course, but Lebanon and Syria for sure. Egypt, too. No need to worry about a united Arab nation challenging US hegemony with Israel in the middle stirring up trouble.

      A militaristic Israel provides benefits for American Zionists as well. A quote from Norman Finkelstein, a former Mondo hero now excommunicated.

      “For Israel’s new American Jewish ‘supporter,’ however, such talk bordered on heresy: an independent Israel at peace with its neighbors was worthless; an Israel aligned with currents in the Arab world seeking independence from the United States was a disaster. Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.” (Norman Finkelstein)

      You may still disagree with me, but you can rest assured that I am fully aware of the impact of pro-Israel appointments. Yes, our foreign policy is heavily biased in favor of Israel, however, all of this occurs within the context of domestic concentrations of power. The empire is still the empire, and it is not being run out of Tel Aviv. Furthermore, the “American” empire has morphed into the transnational corporate empire, guided by the financial corporations. Israel has nothing to do with neoliberal globalization, other than going along, or with the Trans Pacific Partnership, although the “Lobby” may be involved as a de facto imperial lobby.

      • Sibiriak says:

        Keith:

        The empire is still the empire, and it is not being run out of Tel Aviv. Furthermore, the “American” empire has morphed into the transnational corporate empire…

        That puts things into perspective nicely.

      • Danaa says:

        Keith, from your Finkelstein quote:

        ” Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.”

        That seems to me like a heck of a way to turn an argument inside out to win a point. It is the kind of convolution the talmud specialized in – kick up a dust storm and claim the image of a thing is reality and reality but an image. Finkelstein says here that it is the Lobby that somehow turned israel into a modern day Sparta, because then a militarized israel acting as vassal to Empire aligns perfectly with a militarized America hell bent on expanding its reach and control, which, in turn, makes the Lobby’s role both consistent and relevant. Mind you, this argument seems entirely circuitous, making the lobby the be all and end all, not so much for israel, but all for itself – as if it is an entity that could shape israeli identity in any way whatsoever . Sure, the lobby does have influence on israeli politics – and has traditionally situated itself to the right of most governments there, but such influence as it has over the actual israeli reality is far less than what Finkelstein seems to imply or believe.

        In fact, this quotation you so kindly provided, makes it all too clear that Finkelstein himself does not understand Israel or Israelis at all. Hardly a surprise, since the vast majority of American Jews don’t have any true sense of what israelis are (any more than non-jews do, really), just as israelis have no clue about American jews. It is a a rare israeli who understands either the enormous diversity of that community or the extent of their allegiance to their home country of America. The two communities parted ways long time ago but there are some who apparently are not processing that simple reality or don’t wish to. I realize that it’s no use arguing too much over this point since there will be no convincing those who wish to believe otherwise. You’ll just have to trust me when i say that israel turned itself into the heavily and deeply militaristic state that it is all on its own – with the lobby playing mostly the role of helping keep the weapon supply lubricated and “affordable”, and israel delighted to exploit anyone and everyone that cares to pay it homage (like the Christian zionists who israelis absolutely despise as useful cardinal idiots, or the pale and effete American jews whom the israelis consider well, sissies).

        Actually, here’s a hint – for you, if not Finkelstein: Israel kind of views itself as the best combination of Sparta and Athens – the land of the warrior poet, the sensitive soldier who cries when he shoots and is mad as hell that people of the world just can’t understand what a terrible price the torturer has to pay. What israel is, the extent of the paranoia that grips most of its citizens in the deepest reaches of their souls, the infinite superiority the least of israelis feels towards the most powerful non-israeli (including “diaspora” jews), their absolute commitment to “getting away with it’ and “sticking it to a world that has done them harm for thousands of years”, and the feelings of absolute self-righteousness towards any and all others – these are not possible for Americans to process, especially not American jews, and obviously not Finkelstein, or you, if you agree with him. Because to know these attributes from the inside out is to be a member of the cult – the cult of the neo Judeans. And one is either in or out.

        Going back to that quote, the reality is, I’d say, the reverse of what you maintain – it is Israel that has a keen interest in maintaining the robustness of the American empire , and to that end, it is using the Jewish Lobby as well as the Financial lobby and most importantly – the military Industrial lobby, among others. These alliances have been decades in the making but the deep alliances between israel and American aerospace has been critical, for example, to maintaining the Afganistan invasion and holding off on meaningful and speedy withdrawal. Afganistan is, in fact, a good example of the kind of second-order effects i was alluding to earlier. On the face of it – Israel has nothing to do with Afganistan – right? but look closer and a host of interrelated interests become clearer. These include keeping American military presence on the eastern border of Iran (useful to israel for many reasons), keeping the American armed forces well supplied with weaponry produced by the same aerospace complex Israel has made such deep inroads into (especially drones, radar and cyber warfare), providing a ready supply of parallels between American and Israeli atrocities thus removing a potentially damaging argument for a moral high ground (cf, we are all in this together), and generally encouraging a tacit alliance with at least some echelons of the American military (usually, the higher levels). Looked at it this way, Israeli interests (as represented – partly – by the Lobby’s) and American imperial interests are hardly the independent entities – they have a symbiotic relationship where one thrives upon the other. That, even as both turn increasingly toxic and harmful to the rest of the world’s population.

        So basically, it is the reverse of that crazy Finkelstein argument – the Lobby did not make israel what it is; and though israel did not make the lobby from scratch either, the two act in tandem and both weasled their way into the heart of heart of the American empire peddlers. You can no more peel off the Lobby from the empire than you can tear the empire off from the Lobby. The two have become so intertwined that for every instance you can show that the interests of one prevailed I’ll be able to show three where they didn’t.

        Another time I will take up the argument about the collusion between neoliberal/corporatist interests and the Lobby, for that too has come to pass – just as we were all taking a nap or something. I disagree fiercely with your argument that Israel had nothing to do with the neoliberal takeover of the world, but to prove my case I’ll have to digress into macroeconomics and that’s rather tangential to this thread and requires more space than even I care to hog. I am sure the opportunity will present itself by and by so stay tuned?

        • Keith says:

          DANAA- “…it is Israel that has a keen interest in maintaining the robustness of the American empire , and to that end, it is using the Jewish Lobby….”

          That statement isn’t a whole different from “Only an Israeli Sparta beholden to American power would do, because only then could US Jewish leaders act as spokesmen for American imperial ambitions.” The big difference is that you seem to be locating the center of Zionist power in Israel, whereas, I maintain that the center of Zionist power is the US.

          “Looked at it this way, Israeli interests (as represented – partly – by the Lobby’s) and American imperial interests are hardly the independent entities – they have a symbiotic relationship where one thrives upon the other.”

          You just took the words right out of Chomsky’s mouth! That is more or less his and Finkelstein’s position.

          “Sure, the lobby does have influence on israeli politics – and has traditionally situated itself to the right of most governments there, but such influence as it has over the actual israeli reality is far less than what Finkelstein seems to imply or believe.”

          The influence of “the lobby” depends critically on how one defines the lobby. If we take the expansive view usually used when arguing an all powerful lobby, then the influence of rich Jewish Zionists funding settlements, birthright tours, Israeli think tanks, the funding of right-wing candidates, in many cases the bulk of campaign contributions, the negative influence on Israeli policies is very significant. Was Rabin an American Zionist hero for taking baby steps for peace? No, he was vilified. In “A Clean Break,” the neocons recommended that Israel adopt neoliberalism, which it did. This rightward drift paralleled the global drift to the right pushed by the 1%. No, Israel is not a vassal state, thanks in large part to the Lobby and American Jewish Zionist influence.

          “You can no more peel off the Lobby from the empire than you can tear the empire off from the Lobby.”

          In one of my comments to Sumud, I say ‘The Zionists and Israel are thoroughly enmeshed within the empire, partaking fully in the imperial project, supportive of neoliberal globalization and US militarism.” Doesn’t seem to me to be much substantive difference. Hey, are you a Chomskyite?

          Finally, I think there is a danger in treating “the lobby,” however defined, as an externally imposed agent of Israel. Something which can be excised from the body politic. The Lobby is part of the body politic, and American Zionist Jews benefit from the organized power-seeking of Jewish Zionist organizations, a key ingredient in explaining ongoing support for Zionism among organized Jews. In my view, the reality is a sort of perverse triangle in which American elites (including Jews), American Jewish Zionists (organized American Jewry), and Israeli Jewish elites cooperate and compete, each trying to exploit the others to obtain power-seeking advantage. In other words, the American Jewish power-elite exert considerable influence on the Jewish state, and support Israel to the extent that they perceive that it benefits them.

        • I think there is a danger in treating “the lobby,” however defined, as an externally imposed agent of Israel. Something which can be excised from the body politic. The Lobby is part of the body politic, and American Zionist Jews benefit from the organized power-seeking of Jewish Zionist organizations, a key ingredient in explaining ongoing support for Zionism among organized Jews.

          someone posted an incredible link in one of these threads the other day of this parasite that served as the tongue of a fish. it had literally replaced the tongue.i suppose one could excise it from the body of the fish, but then the fish would have to exist with no tongue. that’s sort of irrelevant because one presumes there would be no way for the fish to excise the parasite at that point. i am not sure that’s the case with regard to your statement as i do believe the country could live without lobby and could excise the lobby on it’s own if it wants to (or excise the power anyway). simply making them register under fara would go along ways.

        • MRW says:

          annie

          Economist Michael Hudson at Rimini, Italy (“There IS An Alternative To European Austerity: Modern Money Theory (MMT)”, February 2012.

          [P]eople think about parasites as taking the host’s energy and lifeblood. But, in biology, the smart parasites do something else: They take over the brain of the host. They make the brain think that the parasite is part of the body, to be protected.

        • Danaa- Out of curiosity. Have you ever studied Talmud? (I realize now 8 months later that my labeling the use of the word “pilpul” as antiyehudi or antisemitic, was moogzam, an exaggeration. But really, have you studied enough Talmud to really qualify to label its arguments as convoluted attempts to throw up dust?)

        • Danaa says:

          yonah, just barely enough, I’d say. Remember, what I studied were the snippets we were provided in the secular school system in Israel. None of us were believers, and most of us resented even having to study any of it since it seemed so utterly irrelevant to anything to do with our lives, and was incredibly, stupefyingly boring. Almost all of us, to a person hated that subject with passion. Later on, already in English translation I had occasion to go over a few – very few passages – and I must say that in English – after no doubt much interpretation by capable translators, I found a few worthy nuggets. Just as I did in selected passages from translations of the Bhaga Bhagitha and/or the philosophical musings of St. Augustine on the nature of god. Here, on MW, our local talmudic expert Shmuel, shared with us some rather interesting sayings and Talmudic clips that were miraculously pertinent to the topic at hand, and those – the ones he picked – were obviously some of the brightest and most insightful. Some even caused me to consult the original, and indeed there they were – those few bright nuggets (for which offerings to the treiff riff-raffs Shmuel has surely secured his place in heaven, such as that heven is – could even be St. Augistine’s?).

          So, no I am no Talmudic scholar by a long shot, and never claimed such distinction. But I do have many unflattering memories from days when I was forced to study dusty old writings that had all the marks of eself absorption in extremis. Though, in case you wonder I always got the best grades despite despising the subject. That’s what happens when you have near-photographic memory (now mercifully lost) – you can’t help but excel in that which you most dislike..

          What I do recall are impressions and snippets later clarified somewhat through additional reading. Some of what I saw I perceived as contorted explanations for ancient biblical passages that were really quite inexcusable in the light of later day sensibilities (like the “eye for an eye” rubbish). Some was, as I said above, in the nature of pure “pilpul” – kicking up a dust storm by rabbis who tried to outdo each other in navel gazing discourse surrounding the point in so many circles that the point is entirely lost. Some were attempts – commendable in their day – of building up edifices on interpretations of a single word , appealing to roots galore. Some were surely honest attempts at reconciling contradictions between different passages. What counts is the final impression – the one that lasted which was of legalistic sounding minutiae, all meant to justify religious customs to their followers, such as are known from theologians of religions the world over.

          Oh, and not to leave something aside – there was next to nothing in either bible or talmud to a female who was somewhat amazonically inclined and had serious authority issues. Not that there was much for said female in Christian or Indian or Persian writings either, but let’s just say that when you are a certain type of a female of the later part of the 20th century, it all did kind of seem irrelevant. No wonder i found Greek Mythology so much more enticing…..

          Face it Yonah, to the non-observant, non-believer Israeli person, most of the talmud – especially when translated into modern Hebrew – and forcefully foisted upon school teenagers with much more diverse interests (most of which best found on the local beach) – reads like so much mumbo-jumbo and intellectual hocus-pokus, going round and round, beating about a bush that never catches fire.

          Does the talmud have no value then beyond the confines of the halls of the ultra-orthodox and their yeshivas? well, if viewed as an exercise in sharpening one’s wit and being able to maintain focus for extended periods of time on a few linguistic points of interpretation, then it can be viewed as somwhat useful training for those inclined to legal disputations rooted in near-sacred precedence and/or future philosophy students, who still – after all this time – care to take on Hegel or Kant. It’s just that i happen to think there may be other, equally useful training materials, including the study of proof-based theorems in higher Mathematics.

          Now, somewhere in the above dense missive, is your answer buried. Hope you find it – and when you do, can you please share with me so I too may be enlightened as to what I really think about the talmud?

        • Hostage says:

          But really, have you studied enough Talmud to really qualify to label its arguments as convoluted attempts to throw up dust?

          LOL! Have you? There’s more than a little dust in the air. After all:

          Mishnah. [The laws concerning] the dissolution of vows hover in the air and have nought to rest on. The laws concerning the Sabbath, festal-offerings, acts of trespass are as mountains hanging by a hair, for they have scant scriptural basis. But many laws [the laws concerning] civil cases and [Temple] services, levitical cleanness and uncleanness, and the forbidden relations have what to rest on? And it is they that are “the essentials” of the Torah.

          See the Babylonian Talmud, Hagigah (Festival-Offering), folio 10a link to halakhah.com

        • Very interesting comments.

        • Danna– Thanks for your honest answer.

        • Citizen says:

          @ Danaa
          Gee, I don’t think South Korean parents have ever talked to you: link to thejc.com

          Also, very interesting, your remark: “care to take on Hegel or Kant.” There’s such a glaring difference between the Talmud (small parts I’ve read) and Hegel & Kant’s more macro, more universal work. What do you think that means? I’m thinking of Hegalian-Vico dialectics and Kant’s categorical imperative, for example. Mmmmm, were the Talmudists the original nerds? Just a joke, sort of… Should I bring up Goethe’s Faust? “Stay thou art so fair.” Or just the old SNL skit guy “making copies”?

          As far as I know, there is no translation of the Talmud currently available in English that has not been censored. Do you know if this is true?

        • Citizen says:

          Well, there’s something to glean about teaching (both good and bad) analytical thinking by studying the Talmud, which is perhaps why the S Korean parents make their kids study the Talmud, although their reason is those parents just want their kids to become rich, powerful, influential, as they have gathered in that stereotype of Jews from afar. I mean, for starters, check out the Talmud section Hostage gave us, e.g., the portion of it on how to determine who’s an imbecile (without going into the purpose stated as to why this decision must be made).

          It’s interesting that the S Korean parents chose the Talmud, not, e.g., the dialogues between Plato and Socrates. I attribute that to they don’t see many Greeks getting vast wealth or power these days. I wonder if those same S Korean parents study, e.g., Ben Franklin?

      • American says:

        ” Israel has nothing to do with neoliberal globalization, other than going along, or with the Trans Pacific Partnership, although the “Lobby” may be involved as a de facto imperial lobby.”..Keith

        Why do you waste our time with this Chomsky and Finkenstein “pipul” argument?
        This is what all of you ‘anti imperialist’ d0—–you try to ‘make Israel and the Lobby’ about the larger US Imperialism and Neoliberal Globalization.
        None of us are talking about or laying US imperialism at the feet of Israel and the Lobby.
        The Lobby is about Israel—PERIOD.
        The Lobby is about US policy toward Israel. —-PERIOD
        The Lobby is about how Israel affects US policy toward other ME states—-PERIOD.
        The Lobby is about how much US tax dollars go to Israel —PERIOD.

        THIS —-is what we object to because of I/P and because it represents the corruption of US government.
        The ONLY connection The Lobby and Israel have to US Neo–not even “liberal” imperialism is they want the US to remain the world super power for ‘their’ benefit.

        We have asked you one hundred times to show us one example, one practical, one real service, act,etc., Israel provides to benefit US Imperialism to support your claim that Israel is only supported because of US Imperialism—-and none of you have–you can’t–there aren’t any.
        Your arguments for US Imperialism re Israel are all like screws with no threads……you keep putting it in the hole but you can’t make US imperialism and Israel hold together.

        • Keith says:

          AMERICAN- “None of us are talking about or laying US imperialism at the feet of Israel and the Lobby.”

          On this thread, on April 3, 2013 at 12:25 pm, CitizenC said: “Zionism has been the chief driver of US militarism since the end of the Cold War.”

          This is hardly a unique opinion on Mondoweiss. For three years I have read about how Israel controls US foreign policy. Sometimes only controls US Middle East foreign policy. Not influences, mind you, but controls. You are not aware of this? You have not seen this aplenty? So cut the BS. My comment was intended for those who hold that view, one prevalent among the many fixated upon “the lobby” to the exclusion of other factors.

          “We have asked you one hundred times to show us one example, one practical, one real service, act,etc., Israel provides to benefit US Imperialism to support your claim that Israel is only supported because of US Imperialism—-and none of you have–you can’t–there aren’t any.”

          Straw man alert! I don’t know who you are referring to because I have never said that support for Israel is ONLY because of geostrategic considerations. Neither has Chomsky or Finkelstein or even Max Ajl. The problem is you and your cohorts implying that support for Israel is overwhelmingly because of the Lobby, and that US actions in the Middle East are best interpreted by reference to the Lobby and Israel. To support this rather bizarre claim, you belittle all other alternative explanations, even going so far as to pooh-pooh the strategic significance of oil. One benefit? The MIC profits immensely from our support for Israel.

        • Dan Crowther says:

          “We have asked you one hundred times to show us one example, one practical, one real service, act,etc., Israel provides to benefit US Imperialism to support your claim that Israel is only supported because of US Imperialism—-and none of you have–you can’t–there aren’t any.”

          —————————-
          Name one secular democracy in the middle east – better yet, name one secular arab nationalist figure today.

          You can’t, there aren’t any. Gone since ’67.

          There was a time where the idea of a federation of sorts between the arab countries, with capitals in cairo, baghdad and damascus, real pan arabism, was being discussed, after king faruk got ousted. The plan was to use Iraqi oil to fund a project of modernity: education, health and housing.

          This obviously never happened.

        • MRW says:

          even going so far as to pooh-pooh the strategic significance of oil

          We could have bought all the oil in Iraq many times over without going to war. Oil men don’t like unstable countries to drill in. The first thing Bush did was put military protection in at the NW Iraqi bases H1, H2, H3, and H4. He planned it ahead of time. Those were the bases to open up the old Mosul to Haifa pipeline for the benefit of Israel until Paritzky spilled the beans in April 2003. See official Pentagon photo, bottom page 2:
          link to nogw.com

          [S]upport for Israel is overwhelmingly because of the Lobby, and that US actions in the Middle East are best interpreted by reference to the Lobby and Israel.

          Of course they are. Don’t be ridiculous. The archives here are rife with evidence.

          We had these discussions for the last three years.
          link to mondoweiss.net
          link to mondoweiss.net
          link to mondoweiss.net

          More:
          link to mondoweiss.net

        • Sibiriak says:

          MRW:

          We could have bought all the oil in Iraq many times over without going to war.

          1.”We” could have bought some of the oil, but “we” wouldn’t have *controlled* it.

          2. Control of oil production was only of several imperialist/neoliberal capitalist goals. The MIC had its own goals, including demonstrating military dominance, showcasing “shock and awe” technologies etc.,; imperial strategists were bent on continuing the lucrative and ideologically indispensible “global war on terror”; neoliberals jumped on the chance to destroy a remaining statist economy and impose a radical “free market” regime via Bremer’s edicts etc.

          ….I’d spell it ouy in more detail i my arm were not in a cast.

        • RoHa says:

          “The plan was to use Iraqi oil to fund a project of modernity: education, health and housing.

          This obviously never happened.”

          It happened in Iraq.

        • Keith says:

          MRW- “We could have bought all the oil in Iraq many times over without going to war.”

          Ah, a free market fundamentalist! Forget about securing access, influencing prices and obtaining strategic leverage, just rely on the magic of the market! How typical of empires! The US has about 1000 military installations worldwide, and for what? Why are we in Afghanistan if not for pipelines? Why are we in the Caspian Sea area? Won’t the Russians bring that oil and gas to market for us to buy?

          Of course, not everyone can rely upon the market, or even US guarantees about supplying oil, hence, Israel made us invade Iraq to secure the oil for them. To build a pipeline. How is that pipeline coming along? As for Israel strong-arming us to invade Iraq, what does Stephen Walt say?

          “Professor Mearsheimer and I made it clear in our article and especially in our book that the idea of invading Iraq originated in the United States with the neoconservatives, and not with the Israeli government….. We also pointed out that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this scheme, because they wanted the U.S. to focus on Iran, not Iraq. However, they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea of invading Iraq once the Bush administration made it clear to them that Iraq was just the first step in a broader campaign of “regional transformation” that would eventually include Iran.” link to mondoweiss.net

          The part of the quote I left out is where Walt conflates the neocons with Israel, thereby maintaining that it was all Israel’s fault even though the neocons talked them into it. Now the neocons were very concerned about oil. They wanted to flood the market with Iraqi oil and break OPEC. A harebrained scheme if there ever was one. The oil companies strenuously opposed this and had the neocons booted out of the Bush administration and they took over administering Iraq’s oil. Due to Iraqi resistance, things didn’t go smoothly, however, now “The big multinational petroleum giants now run the nation’s fields. Between 2009 and 2010, the Maliki government granted contracts for developing existing fields and exploring new ones to 18 companies, including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, the Italian Eni, Russia’s Gazprom and Lukoil, Malaysia’s Petronas and a partnership between BP and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation. When they started, the U.S. military provided the initial security umbrella protecting all of their field operations.”
          link to zcommunications.org

          Yes, we have had these conversations in the past. Everything I have ever said ignored. You provided me four links to past Mondoweiss comments. I provide you with just one in which I pile on the quotes regarding the strategic importance of safeguarding access to oil in our fossil fuel dependent world.
          link to mondoweiss.net

          Final comment. Mondoweiss remains unique in having commenters who deny the strategic importance of oil. I am unaware of any strategic analyst who does so. No, you and Bob don’t count as strategic analysts.

        • Dan Crowther – - The overthrow of the Egyptian monarchy was a catastrophe for Egyptian democracy.

          Is Lebanon a secular democracy? Perhaps.

        • Bravo, MRW. The neocons who conspired to set up the illegal invasion of Iraq thought they could convert Iraq into a strong ally of the US and Israel.
          They do their best to conceal this war aim from the American people, since it obviously failed.

        • American says:

          @ Dan

          You didnt’ answer my question…….you never do. Your” question” had nothing to do with my question.
          I thought you were leaving.

        • The US does not “control” Iraqi oil production, Sibiriak.

        • RoHa – - Primary objective of illegal and idiotic US invasion of Iraq was to capture an ally for the US and Israel. A new, oil-rich ally. Read about Ahmed Chalabi’s talks with Dick Cheney, at Aspen (Colorado).

        • Keith – - Major US oil companies have relatively little to do with production of Iraqi oil. Contrct terms on offer in Iraq are unattractive (for public companies).

        • Shingo says:

          It happened in Iraq.

          It did before the US invaded.

        • Shingo says:

          The part of the quote I left out is where Walt conflates the neocons with Israel, thereby maintaining that it was all Israel’s fault even though the neocons talked them into it.

          Sharon set up his own office of special plans to bypass Israel’s security establishment and help manufacture evidence, so they didn’t need anyone to talk them into it.

          Yes, we have had these conversations in the past. Everything I have ever said ignored. You provided me four links to past Mondoweiss comments. I provide you with just one in which I pile on the quotes regarding the strategic importance of safeguarding access to oil in our fossil fuel dependent world.
          link to mondoweiss.net

          Final comment. Mondoweiss remains unique in having commenters who deny the strategic importance of oil. I am unaware of any strategic analyst who does so. No, you and Bob don’t count as strategic analysts.

        • Sibiriak says:

          James C.: Some would have liked to have greater control over Iraqi oil–that was the point, and it stands.

        • Citizen says:

          @ Shingo

          In denying the role of Middle East oil in the U.S. decision to wage war on Iraq, Mearsheimer and Walt echo both the Bush administration as well as some in the Israel lobby.

          Oil “has barely been on the administration’s horizon in considering Iraq policy,” said Patrick Clawson, an oil and policy analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in 2003.

    • Ellen says:

      Danaa, thanks as always for your comments. I think if one were to take a careful look, the dumbing down and destruction and purging of the US foreign service gradually started under Truman. Also, Golda Meir could not stand the US foreign service corps., and made her distain known at every opportunity.

      • Ellen – - Let’s remember that all of Truman’s military and foreign policy advisers told him not to recognise Israel until Israel’s borders were agreed.

    • Shingo says:

      Brilliant reply Danaa,

      I only wish someone like you or the rest of us could grill Kalidi on this issue, because I have little doubt he would simply end up contradicting himself and avoiding the issue.

      As for Syria, the biggest appeal the fall of Assad presents is the increased isolation of Iran. Obama even pointed this out in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg.

  11. Nevada Ned says:

    I agree with Khalidi and Chomsky.

    The US ruling class and the Israeli ruling class think of their interests are parallel, at least in the long run and for the most part. They have a common enemy: Arab nationalism. The US fears that Arab nationalism would be a threat to US control of ME oil, while Israel fears that Arab nationalism is a threat to Israel’s racist treatment of the Palestinians. (I include Iranian nationalism, though Iranians are Persians, not Arabs).

    Countries on the US hit list:
    Iran after the Shah was overthrown
    Nasser for being an Arab nationalist
    Libya for being similar to Nasser’s Egypt
    Syria – too close to the Russians
    Iraq under Saddam Hussein (former ally)
    Hezbollah (non-state actor)

    So when Israel smashed up Egypt in 1967, Israel proved her worth to the US, and US aid to Israel quadrupled.
    In the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the US gave Israel “bunker-buster” bombs to wipe out Hezbollah, but they failed.

    Of course there really is an Israel Lobby, and it plays a role. But many US policies would likely be pursued by the US even if there were no Israel lobby.

    For example: the US has invaded lots of countries over the decades, especially in Latin America (Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico) and organized coups to get rid of anti-US governments (Guatemala, Chile, Brazil, and most recently Honduras). This is similar to Operation Ajax, the CIA coup that installed the Shah in Iran.
    So when the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is laid at the feet of the Israel Lobby, my response is: what about all the other US invasions? (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia…)

    Thanks for MW for covering Khalidi’s talk, even though you disagree with him.

    • Citizen says:

      @ Neveda Ned
      I don’t disagree with what you said. Except that what we did with Egypt in 1967 is no longer applicable to post Cold War strategy–it’s been a long time. Focus on the ME and our blank check to Israel, and to why that is. S America is another story. Well?

      • MRW says:

        The Israelis cut their defense industry teeth on S America in the 80s. Finkelstein and Chomsky are short-sighted and woefully ignorant of how finance capitalism, controlled by the Lobby, has worked to undermine the world since Reagan took office. The Lobby’s fait accompli was getting the first US free trade agreement with Israel in 1985.

        • Sibiriak says:

          MRW:

          finance capitalism, controlled by the Lobby,has worked to undermine the world since Reagan took office…

          Global “finance capitalism” is controlled by the Lobby?

    • Keith says:

      NEVADA NED- “I agree with Khalidi and Chomsky.”

      Me too, Ned, me too.

      • Donald says:

        I’m in the middle on this perennial and tedious debate about exactly how powerful the Lobby is.

        But I agree with Chomsky that generally speaking, the US has a rotten human rights record. If Israel and the Lobby never existed, chances are good we’d have spent the past several decades supporting some thuggish government oppressing the people of Palestine. It’s our usual pattern.

        • Sibiriak says:

          I’m in the middle on this perennial and tedious debate about exactly how powerful the Lobby is.

          So is Khalidi, actually. His views have been distorted by many in this thread.

    • American says:

      ”So when the US invasion and occupation of Iraq is laid at the feet of the Israel Lobby, my response is: what about all the other US invasions? (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia…)”

      ONE more time for simple minded —there are DIFFERENT reasons for different invasions. The simple minded want to ascribe ONE reason –imperialism—to ALL US actions.
      Do any of you even know why we overthrew Iran to begin with? How it really came about?
      These are the typical ‘details the Chomsky’s leave out…in fact they don’t do ‘details’ at all…they have one song…Elites and Imperialism.
      AND they give the US too much credit for being ‘smart imperialist’….real history says the US has most often ‘lurched’ from one idiot adventure to another, depending on what ‘some interest’ has been able to convince whatever current US administration to do.

      1952: Mosaddeq Nationalization of Iran’s Oil Industry Leads to Coup

      Time Magazine’s Man of the Year cover for 1951.Time Magazine’s Man of the Year cover for 1951.
      Iranian President Mohammad Mosaddeq moves to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in order to ensure that more oil profits remain in Iran. His efforts to democratize Iran had already earned him being named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1951. After he nationalizes it, Mosaddeq realizes that Britain may want to overthrow his government, so he closes the British Embassy and sends all British civilians, including its intelligence operatives, out of the country. Britain finds itself with no way to stage the coup it desires, so it approaches the American intelligence community for help. Their first approach results in abject failure when Harry Truman throws the British representatives out of his office, stating that “We don’t overthrow governments; the United States has never done this before, and we’re not going to start now.” After Eisenhower is elected in November 1952, the British have a much more receptive audience, and plans for overthrowing Mosaddeq are produced. The British intelligence operative who presents the idea to the Eisenhower administration later will write in his memoirs, “If I ask the Americans to overthrow Mosaddeq in order to rescue a British oil company, they are not going to respond. This is not an argument that’s going to cut much mustard in Washington. I’ve got to have a different argument.…I’m going to tell the Americans that Mosaddeq is leading Iran towards Communism.” This argument wins over the Eisenhower administration, who promptly decides to organize a coup in Iran.”
      (see August 19, 1953). [Stephen Kinzer, 7/29/2003]
      Entity Tags: Dwight Eisenhower, Harry S. Truman, Muhammad Mosaddeq
      Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran
      History Commons

      • Let’s remember the China Lobby. Helped to bring on the catastrophic Vietnam War. Did all it could to block normal US relations with “Red” China, for decades.

      • lysias says:

        I wonder to what extent it was the Communism bogey that convinced the Eisenhower administration, and to what extent it was the fact that Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) was a long-time client of the Dulles brothers’ law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. After all, after the 1953 coup, the big U.S. oil companies got a share in Iranian oil equal to that of Anglo-Iranian (now BP).

        Just like United Fruit, another long-time client of Sullivan & Cromwell, was a big beneficiary of the 1954 coup in Guatemala.

    • @Nevada Ned – - What use was it to the US, for Israel to have destroyed Egypt’s air force (in surprise attack June 1967)? Nasser had no intention of attacking Israel.

  12. Ira Glunts says:

    Like Lysias, I highly recommend Khalidi’s book. Its main thesis, that despite their rhetoric both Israel and the US, from the time of Begin, are only offering a very limited type of autonomy to the Palestinians, is well argued and of considerable importance.
    The Israel lobby discussion is only a small part of the book.

    Khalidi calls the Israeli/US peace offers something like a “low ceiling” autonomy or sovereignty (I do not remember exactly.) I once heard peace processor Daniel Kurtzer refer to the parameters of what could be offered as a “very tough peace for the Palestinians.” (One which he hoped they would come to accept.) In the end, these proposals will always stipulate that Israel retains real sovereignty over all the land, according to the book.

    In the Q& A at the lecture at IPS, Khalidi characterized the Clinton parameters as an example of his theory of the kind of limited offer available to the Palestinians. Interestingly, he hesitates to apply his theory to the Olmert/Abbas negotiations in answering a question from the Norwegian Ambassador at the lecture.

    The point is that even if the Obama gets the Israelis to offer an agreement to the Palestinians (highly unlikely), under the present circumstances, it would be one that will not offer them real sovereignty, but a state in name only. I think this is also true for what JStreet has in mind.

    Khalidi’s minimizing of the power of the lobby is not a big part of the book. Some of the book actually tends to contradict Khalidi’s claim that when US interests trump the lobby, the lobby will be ignored.

    Even if the kind of denigrating of the lobby’s influence, that Chomsky, Finkelstein, Bennis, et al., engage in, grates on you, as it does me, it is not a real problem here. If you don’t mind buying a book that has only 120 pages of text, I think most here would find Khalidi’s “Brokers of Deceit” very worthwhile.

    PS The first blurb on the back jacket was written by John Mearsheimer.
    PPS If you don’t want to buy the book, I also recommend the lecture linked to in Phil’s post.

    • Citizen says:

      @ Ira G
      What will we get by reading Khalidi’s book? Do you really think, that since Truman’s days in the WH, we will change our minds about what has always mattered most in US foreign policy in the ME, both to POTUS and Congress? And as to why that is? We await your response, all ears.

      • Ira Glunts says:

        As I tried to explain in my original comment, the book far from being about debunking criticism of the Israel lobby (which seems to be the assumption of most comments) and is actually about the degree that the United States has acted as a “dishonest broker” in its participation in the “peace process.” The central thesis of “Brokers of Deceit” is that the extreme position that Begin took in regard to denying the Palestinians the possibility of achieving sovereignty in the negotiations with Sadat and Carter provided the framework for not only the Israeli but the American position up until the present day. Khalidi does an excellent job documenting this US deceit in various historical moments to the present.

        I find this important because when many people talk about the Americans being actively involved in the peace process they often do not take into account the pernicious role that the US has for the most part played in closing off any successful result by that very participation. Think about all the talk here about whether Obama will engage with the issue, but little acknowledgment of what he may view as a successful outcome.

        I found the book to be a passionate call for ditching the present peace process paradigm. I also liked reading some of the documents, one which that was recently discovered by one of the author’s doctoral students was particularly central to the book’s argument.

        Khalidi, who participated in the Madrid talks, has an interesting critique of the mistakes made by the PLO in accepting the “back loaded” Oslo Accords which gave the Israelis a security contractor (the PLO) but postponed any “final status” issues, thus playing into the hands of the Israelis. Although this stuff has been written about before, Khalidi’s personal interaction with Aaron Miller and Daniel Krutzer and others during those talks make interesting reading.

        Also the book also has some interesting observations on present day Fateh, Hamas, the Gulf states past and present, James Baker, Kissinger, Iran and bunch of other I/P issues and players past and present. And no, I do not agree with all of them.

        I think dismissing this book because of the Chomsky/Mearsheimer debate is off the mark because Khalidi does talk frequently about the pernicious influence of the lobby, although the main thrust of the book is elsewhere.

        One of Khalidi’s arguments is that the words used in the negotiations by the US and Israel are often distortions of language intended to mean the opposite what they appear to connote. You tell me that “we are all ears.” Firstly, I doubt that you are writing for anyone but yourself and probably meant to write “I.” Secondly, I doubt that from the phrasing of your questions that you are listening to what I am saying, but I still figured I would attempt to answer your request.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          I agree with you about the merits of the book, Ira. It’s superb scholarship, and focuses on three incidents in foreign policy and the ways that the peace process served to delude the participants, the Palestinians, in a cruel manner. Khalidi’s argument is important and inarguable, and I’ve touched on it in earlier posts. I will return to its central points soon, but wanted to break out the lobby piece because it often came up in the speech the other night and also because I push the opposite view here so often it only seemed fair.

        • Jimmy Carter wanted to get Israel out of the Sinai, and Gaza and the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. He felt obliged to compromise, and settle for getting Israel out of the Sinai.

        • Citizen says:

          @ Ira Gluntz
          Thanks for your additional input. Yes, looking at historical US deceit in peace processes it has engaged in is not necessarily inconsistent with, let’s say “The Mearsheimer” approach as it pertains to the I-P peace process over the years.

          RE: “The central thesis of “Brokers of Deceit” is that the extreme position that Begin took in regard to denying the Palestinians the possibility of achieving sovereignty in the negotiations with Sadat and Carter provided the framework for not only the Israeli but the American position up until the present day.”

          Why in your opinion was Begin allowed by the US broker team to maintain without any “penalty” his extreme position? What interests and who exactly cemented the US incorporation of Begin’s position into its own? Is your answer different from CitizenC ‘s comment of April 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm?

        • American says:

          “Why in your opinion was Begin allowed by the US broker team to maintain without any “penalty” his extreme position? What interests and who exactly cemented the US incorporation of Begin’s position into its own?……Citizen

          Yes that is the question isn’t it…..? …..the question the Lobby apologist won’t, can’t answer.

        • Ira Glunts says:

          @Citizen I have no problem with CitizenC’s explanation, although my understanding of this from William Quandt’s book is that Carter gave up on the Palestinian track during the Camp David negotiations and not before them. I an not sure about this. If your question is whether the lobby was the reason Carter was unable to move Begin, my answer is, of course, yes it is.

          ‘Yes, looking at historical US deceit in peace processes it has engaged in is not necessarily inconsistent with, let’s say “The Mearsheimer” approach as it pertains to the I-P peace process over the years.”.

          My point is that Khalidi’s book is actually not only consistent with Mearsheimer, but supports his thesis. The quote in Phil’s post (para. 3) is actually an endnote and the body text does not give you any idea of what is coming. (I only just located it after writing my last response by looking up “Mearsheimer” in the index.)

          Still, the note, as well as a statement Khalidi made in the linked lecture gives one the impression that the author is in the Chomsky/Finkelstein school of Mearsheimer/Walt critics. However, from listening to the whole lecture and especially after reading the book I think this is far from being true.

          Khalidi’s book and the argumentation for his main thesis is full of statements that the lobby blocked US presidents from doing what is in America’s best interests. This can be seen from the selection of quotes below presented by Sibiriak at 2:25. H/T Sibiriak.

          I think that the Chomsky’s dismissal of the lobby as a bunch of people latching on to and supporting the imperial interests of the US has already been discredited. To dismiss Khalidi because of an assumed association with Chomsky’s claim that the lobby has no real power is a big mistake.

          My suggestion to you is to read the book and then tell me what you conclude. I think that you will find it to be a very powerful statement of the injustice that has been done and continues to be done to the Palestinians, as well as a trenchant recognition of the pernicious power of the lobby.

        • anyone would be a fool to dismiss khalidi. i recommend the blockquotes in this entry.

          link to mondoweiss.net

          Khalidi: You actually have to go and look at the archaeology of all the deals that have been signed including what President Clinton worked on. All of these things really go back to ideas that are generated by Menachem Begin back in 1978. We are still within a framework of the autonomy agreement that President Carter, in 1978, made as part of the Israel- Egypt peace treaty. That is the framework in which Prime Minister Rabin negotiated, that is the framework in which President Clinton negotiated, and that is designed to prevent Palestinian statehood and sovereignty.

          Ben Ami: But that’s not the American policy.

          Khalidi: It has become American policy.

          Ben Ami: It isn’t.

          Khalidi: Under people like Dennis Ross who also worked for President Clinton.

          ……

          Khalidi: Chris pointed to something which actually has between case for decades. It’s not like the United States comes into the room and is a mediator. The United States coordinates its position with Israel always, every time; in the administration you worked for and in everyone I looked at and in this administration as well.

          Hayes: In some ways, let me just say, if they didn’t…

          Khalidi: so you have two (inaudible) Israeli position at the table.

          Hayes: Right. if it didn’t do that let’s be clear if it didn’t do that that would fail the expectations of people –

          Khalidi: There would be hell to pay.

          there’s more at the link.

        • King Hussein of Jordan was very upset by Carter’s dropping of his demand Israel get out of the West Bank.

        • Citizen – - King Hussain wanted Carter to force Israel out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Jordan did not abandon its claim to the WB until the 1990s.

        • Ira Glunts says:

          The scorecard:

          Comments 5 to 1 against Khalidi (approx.)

          People who read the book 4 positive v. 0 negative.
          They are:
          Glunts
          Weiss
          Sibiriak
          Lysias

          BTW: Khalidi praised this website at his IPI lecture.

        • Shingo says:

          Point taken Ira,

          Khalidi does make some outstanding arguments on this issue. It just so happens that his position on the lobby is very weak and inconsistent.

          I would also highly recommend the interview he recently did on Democracy Now. It’s a very informative interview and account of destructive role of the US in this conflict.
          link to democracynow.org

    • CitizenC says:

      I have Khalidi’s book, as yet unread. He is speaking here (Boston) next week. As someone else said above, the US did make a serious effort for a 2-state solution o n the 67 lines, under Carter. It failed chiefly because of the Lobby (an inadequate term, Zionocracy is better). Begin’s obduracy was based on forces in the US. After a joint US-Soviet declaration of principles for a Geneva conference, then-Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan read the riot act to Carter, Brzezinski and Vance at a meeting in NY, made barely veiled threats to unleash the Zionocracy. Dayan forced a disavowal of the principles. That collapse is what broke Arab unity, sent Sadat to Jerusalem and the separate peace.

    • kalithea says:

      “a state in name only. I think this is also true for what JStreet has in mind.”

      And this is precisely why from the beginning I never trusted JStreet’s intentions when everyone on the left was contributing a chunk of change to “JStreet’s cause”. In fact, it’s very Ziocentric.

    • Donald says:

      “The Israel lobby discussion is only a small part of the book.”

      Yes, but it appears that in a MW comment section if you’re wrong on the Lobby that outweighs anything and everything else you might say. That issue trumps anything he might have to say about the Palestinians, America acting as Israel’s lawyer, etc… Trivialities. He downplayed the Lobby. That’s what matters.

      But somehow I don’t think that criticizing the US as Israel’s lawyer and aligning yourself with the views of Finkelstein and Chomsky is the guaranteed way to become popular with the politicians and the punditocracy. Only in a Mondoweiss comment thread would people see Khalidi as taking the path towards mainstream acceptance. In the US? Seriously? I also think that this section actually sounds fairly reasonable–

      “It is really not the Israel lobby that drives American policy,” he said. Yes there are occasions when the lobby “prevails,” but these are rare occasions– when the cost of US alignment with the Israel lobby is so small that the U.S. can get away with it. And here Khalidi meant U.S. support for the unending occupation. In that case there is “exaggerated attention to domestic political concerns”– be it voters, donors, or pro-Israel media.

      This calculus is now at risk. Arab public opinion is overwhelmingly concerned with Palestine and against U.S. policy. But Arab states are generally not democracies, so there has been no problem for the U.S. in ignoring public opinion. “That policy would become untenable if [Arab states] are democratized,” Khalidi said. “If Arab governments begin to reflect popular opinion then American policy will be in jeopardy.”

      • American says:

        ”He downplayed the Lobby. That’s what matters.”..Donald

        It matters because we naturally ask …’why would he want to downplay the Lobby?” Why would Chomsky, Finenkstein, all of them want to downplay the Lobby? Why do they even bring The Lobby ‘into’ their discussion of US Imperialism?
        Huuummm?

        The ‘anti Lobby people’ don’t blame The Lobby for US Imperialism—so why do the Anti-imperialist Advocates ‘always bring Israel into the discussion if indeed they think it has nothing to do with US imperialism in the ME?
        Huuummm?

        There is ‘no reason’ for them to bring up Israel—unless they deliberately want to downplay or cover for the Lobby–is there?

        Anyone who writes about ‘ME peace and US deceit’ and then says that the Israel Lobby has played NO role in it is a liar with an agenda.
        As I have said over and over, they gloss over ‘the details’ of the many US involvements…….and Israel is in many, not all, but many of those details.

        We ask why, if Israel ‘doesn’t pertain’ —-they all go out of their way to absolve it or even include it or bring it up?

  13. tree says:

    The same goes for the sale of a “major weapon system to Saudi Arabia” during the Reagan administration. In that instance, far more powerful lobbies than the Israel lobby prevailed– the oil lobby and the aerospace lobby aligned with US policy makers, and the sale went through “without the slightest difficulty.”

    Without the slightest difficulty???? Khalidi has to be smokin’ somethin’ to describe the sale thusly. The Senate specifically passed a bill outlawing the proposed sale, and Reagan was barely able to prevent the override of his veto of the Senate bill by one vote!

    From the Chicago Tribune article in 1986:

    WASHINGTON — The Republican-controlled Senate salvaged a crucial foreign policy issue for President Reagan Thursday, allowing him to proceed with a controversial arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

    But it was a victory with no votes to spare, and it came only after the weapons package was altered significantly and Reagan used all his powers of personal and political persuasion.

    The President needed 34 votes to sustain his veto of legislation that would have blocked the sale, and 34 votes was what he got. Sen. William Armstrong (R., Colo.) cast the deciding vote as time ran out in the dramatic roll call.

    Despite pleas by Reagan and administration foreign policy officials, who argued that the arms sale was a test of presidential leadership and a necessity if the United States is to play a role in the Middle East, 66 senators voted to override the veto and ban the sale.

    ….

    The razor-thin margin of victory came after Reagan unleashed what one White House aide called a “full-court press“ that included private telephone calls to wavering senators, repeated public exhortations and a breakfast invitation to the White House Thursday morning for 75 lawmakers.

    While Reagan was savoring his win, opponents of the sale also were claiming victory because the package of sophisticated arms had been reduced significantly and because a strong congressional majority had sent the Saudis a signal to tailor policies closer to U.S. aims.

    “The President won a 10 percent victory,“ said Sen. Alan Cranston (D., Calif.), who contended that the arms sale had been cut by 90 percent from its original price tag.

    Since only 22 senators voted to allow the sale in a vote last month, Reagan and Dole had to find 12 more votes.

    They also had to contend with election-year fears that pro-Israel voters would retaliate against senators who supported the sale.

    Reagan managed to switch eight votes and picked up four of the five senators who were not present the first time.

    In Thursday`s vote, 29 Republicans and 5 Democrats supported the President, while 24 Republicans and 42 Democrats voted to override the veto. Six Republicans and two Democrats switched their votes.

    Of the 27 senators who are running for re-election, only 4 voted to allow the sale; 5 of 7 senators who are retiring after this year voted with the President.

    ……

    The original request for the sale included F-15 airplanes, tanks and helicopters, in addition to the Stinger ground-to-air missiles that many senators feared could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used against American airplanes.

    The $265 million package now consists of 1,666 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles and 100 Harpoon antiship missiles.

    link to articles.chicagotribune.com

    So we have a popular President trying to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, then having an overwhelming majority of Senators(78!) support a bill outlawing the sale, despite the fact that the sale was in the US interest, as well as the interest of the oil and armaments lobbies. Then the President vetoes the bill and has to exert all his considerable efforts to prevent an override, which he does by just one vote! And to do this he has to scale down the sale to a fraction of what it was originally, and this is an example of a sale “without the slightest difficulty”? I hesitate to guess what travails Khalidi would term a ” slight difficulty”.

    He’s either being dishonest here to try to downplay the significance of the Israel lobbiy’s opposition to the sale, or ignorant of the history. I suspect the former.

    • Citizen says:

      @ tree
      Not to mention that every war weapon SA wanted to buy (not be given free, as we do with Israel) was old hat compared to the latest US weapons, all of which were automatically to be given to Israel in keeping with the US MOMs stipulating Israel would always be given the latest cutting edge US weapons. Get real.

    • Shingo says:

      Excellent post Tree.

      Not only is Kalidi cherry picking his historical events, he’s also misrepresenting them.

    • American says:

      ‘tree says:
      April 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm
      + Show content
      The same goes for the sale of a “major weapon system to Saudi Arabia” during the Reagan administration. In that instance, far more powerful lobbies than the Israel lobby prevailed– the oil lobby and the aerospace lobby aligned with US policy makers, and the sale went through “without the slightest difficulty.”>>>>

      Typical of the Lobby apologist….

      It’s Not that the sale to Saudi went thru—-IT’s what the US GAVE Israel after it sold the F-15s to Saudi…….to ‘maintain’ it’s military edge.
      Whatever is allowed for the US Arms/Ind to sell in the ME will be made up to Israel in equal and more weapons.

    • Bravo, Tree. ISRAEL LOBBY worked overtime in effort to block the huge weapons sale to Saudi Arabia.

  14. Khalidi claims the Arab monarchies “don’t really object to Israel”. In fact, they have numerous objections, but they comprehend that the Palestinians cannot achieve an end to the occupation w/o Arab acceptance of Israel.

    • Avi_G. says:

      Arab monarchies are in fact quite cozy with Israel.

      • Avi_G – - To what extent is the “cosiness with Israel” a result of very stupid US policy toward Iran? Very stupid US policy toward Iran, imposed by the Israel lobby to considerable degree.

        • lysias says:

          U.S. hostility to Iran dates back to before Israel considered Iran its chief enemy. That hostility started with the hostage-taking in 1979. As Trita Parsi recounts in Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States up until the time of Desert Storm, Israel secretly had rather good relations with the Islamic Republic (the enemy of Israel’s prime local enemy, Iraq). Remember how Israel encouraged the Reagan administration to involve itself in Iran-Contra.

          Israel only began proclaiming Iran to be its prime enemy after Saddam’s Iraq had been cut down to size and the Soviet Union had fallen. I suspect the chief reason Israel started treating Iran this way was that it recognized that, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Israel had ceased to have strategic value for the U.S., unless it could join in hostility towards another prime enemy of the U.S.

      • MHughes976 says:

        I cannot see how any degree of acceptance or concession will make any difference to the Zionist determination to make good their claim to effective sovereignty over the whole territory.

  15. Keith says:

    I almost skipped this post. Of course Khalidi is more or less correct. The empire’s foreign policy is set by the empire. Period. Full stop. This policy is based upon access to raw materials and markets and justifications for military Keynesianism. Period. Full stop. The notion of the imperial elites allowing the empire to be diverted by Israel is nonsense. The “Lobby” probably has more influence over Israel than empire. The $3 billion in military aid to Israel is chicken feed compared to the overall military budget, and benefit’s the MIC in any event.

    What would change my mind? Israel invading and occupying Saudi Arabia, thereby securing independence from the US and significant control over oil supply and prices. Something you will never see. I have read a lot of strategic analysts. They all talk about effective control of the ME hydrocarbon reserves, a strategically important imperative. None mention the “Lobby” except in passing. None. Are they all stupid? A bunch of Chomskyites?

    The empire doesn’t care about Palestine or Palestinians, and is pleased to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, along with taxpayer funded weapons given to Israel. The emphasis right now is on completing neoliberal globalization, the Trans Pacific Partnership (including the Asia pivot), remaking the Middle East to eliminate potential rivals to empire, the re-conquest of Africa, and the privatization of everything. In other words, a total blitzkrieg of the 1% against the 99%.

    Of course, there are certain psychological benefit to believing that all of this is caused by the “Lobby,” and that if only that could be eliminated, everything would be hunky dory. Dream on. The people referred to as State Department “realists” are, in effect, anti-Zionist imperialists. And Obama is not your friend. Wall Street is in charge, not the Lobby. Be prepared for a very rough ride these next few years.

    • Sumud says:

      The empire’s foreign policy is set by the empire. Period. Full stop. This policy is based upon access to raw materials and markets and justifications for military Keynesianism. Period. Full stop. The notion of the imperial elites allowing the empire to be diverted by Israel is nonsense.

      Moving away from generalisations such as “the empire’s foreign policy” to specific US foreign policy with regard to Israel and Palestine – what are the FP goals of empire on this subject, who decides what they are, and this is based on what?

      How do you explain Obama’s inability to get Netanyahu to heel on a permanent settlement freeze? Netanyahu’s 27 standing ovations in congress is a result of his …magnetic personality? I don’t buy it.

      I don’t disagree FP is set by empire’s broad goals (scroll down to Avi G’s comment on convergence of interests in the lead up to Iraq – I agree), but WRT Israel I don’t think the US is in charge. A President with a backbone could change that, however.

      • Keith says:

        SUMUD- “Moving away from generalisations such as “the empire’s foreign policy” to specific US foreign policy with regard to Israel and Palestine – what are the FP goals of empire on this subject, who decides what they are, and this is based on what?”

        Since the power elite lie about their true intentions, most public statements by government officials, etc, can be safely ignored. We must use common sense and the patterns of behavior to infer actual objectives and policy. It appears to me that the goals in regards to Israel and Palestine is to support Israel and to pretend to be concerned about the Palestinians.

        Foreign policy is developed by the executive branch of the government in response to the perceived needs of the dominant elites, and is influenced by those with significant political/economic power, including Zionists. While the Middle East hydrocarbon reserves are critically important to empire, the fate of the Palestinians isn’t. Additionally, the elites currently appear to have a strong pro-Israel, anti-Arab bias.

        Finally, this is much more than a consequence of some external foreign lobby. The Zionists and Israel are thoroughly enmeshed within the empire, partaking fully in the imperial project, supportive of neoliberal globalization and US militarism. Remember, Zionism is in no small measure a competitor to Marxism among Jews, blood and soil nationalism no threat to capitalism, and Zionism has contributed to American Jewish support for militarism.

        “Jews don’t like big military budgets. But it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States… American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel.” (Irving Kristol, 1973)
        link to mondoweiss.net

      • Keith says:

        SUMUD- “How do you explain Obama’s inability to get Netanyahu to heel on a permanent settlement freeze? Netanyahu’s 27 standing ovations in congress is a result of his …magnetic personality? I don’t buy it.”

        The settlements aren’t very important to the US, rhetoric notwithstanding. The 27 standing ovations were indirectly bought and paid for by Zionist funders. Let us not overemphasize the importance or independence of congress. The US is a capitalist country, run for the benefit of the corporate elites. When have the corporate elites ever sucked up to Netanyahu? Has Israel said no to neoliberal globalization? The fat-cats don’t care about the Palestinians one way or another, and are primarily concerned with restructuring the global political economy.

        • Keith – - Surely Sheldon Adelson is a very “fat cat”, in your parlance. And he is vociferous in his interest in the Palestinians. He wants them to disappear.

      • yourstruly says:

        “A President with a backbone could change that, however.”

        just as the apparent control that the “china lobby” had over u.s. policy towards china quickly dissipated after president richard nixon recognized the government of the people’s republic of china as the legitimate ruler of mainland china (thereby downsizing generalissimo chiang kai shek’s domain to that of tiny taiwan)

      • Sibiriak says:

        Sumud:

        How do you explain Obama’s inability to get Netanyahu to heel on a permanent settlement freeze?

        Khalidi’s explanation:

        Over this period President Barack Obama faced relentless pressure from Israeli prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, acting in concert both with the Republican leadership in Congress (newly energized after its Tea Party– fueled victories in the 2010 midterm elections) and with the potent congressional lobby for Israel. The latter is composed of an archipelago of organizations rooted in the older, more affluent, and more conservative sectors of the Jewish community and headed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), allied with a range of right-wing Christian evangelical groups passionately supportive of Israel. 14 The tripartite pressure of Netanyahu, the Republicans, and the Israel lobby forced Obama into humiliating retreats from the positions he had staked out during his first two years in office.

        Notable among these positions, all of which had been standard fare for most of the preceding administrations, were his stress on halting the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as a precondition for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations…

        • Citizen says:

          @ Sibiriak
          Seems Khalidi’s explanation as excerpted is detached from, and/or contrary to Khalidi’s general argument based on historic US imperial missions.

        • Obama also was pressured by Democrats in the US Congress to drop his demand that Israel stop growing the illegal colonies.

    • Keith – - The US apparently bought more Iraqi oil when Saddam Hussein was running Iraq, than it does today.

    • libra says:

      Keith: …the Trans Pacific Partnership (including the Asia pivot), remaking the Middle East to eliminate potential rivals to empire…

      Clearly the TPP is an effort to forge a US-centric economic bloc in the Pacific as a counterweight to China but, by contrast, in the Middle East the effort is to disrupt and destabilize the region. Keith, why the contrasting approaches? A purely US-centric empire would seek to align the Middle East economically with the US and provide new markets for its products. That would be so more effective long-term and much less costly.

      Surely you realize the neoconservative vision and policy was two concentric circles of power? The outer-circle was US global domination (Bush Doctrine) , the inner-circle was US power supporting Israeli dominance of the region via disruption and elimination of potential rivals (Clean Break). Economically this policy was always consistent with neoliberalism and can happily co-exist with “progressive interventionism” so long as that doesn’t support the Palestinians. These are the two wings of the “War Party” that’s been openly discussed elsewhere (e.g. antiwar.com) for years. It’s no big secret. You want to call it the Empire but for some reason downplay the Zionist influence (if only sometimes a veto power) with respect to Israel and the Middle East. It effectively makes you an unintentional Zionist fellow traveler; though surely in Chomsky’s case he’s far too smart not to know exactly what he’s doing.

      • Keith says:

        LIBRA- “A purely US-centric empire would seek to align the Middle East economically with the US and provide new markets for its products. That would be so more effective long-term and much less costly.”

        Several quick points. First, you are of the opinion that your idea of how empire should see things and operate is how empire sees things, therefore, any deviation from your perspective needs to be explained. Your opinion on what is more effective and less costly is actually only your opinion on what is more effective and less costly. Even the phrase “less costly” is problematic. From the perspective of the Military Industrial Complex, less costly equates to less profitable.

        As for aligning the Middle East economically with the US, who says it isn’t? The US doesn’t want the Middle East industrialized, it wants to exploit these Third World countries. Secure access to and buy their oil at a price compatible with US interests, heavily influenced by the US and Saudi Arabia, have the oil priced in dollars, and have those dollars “invested” in the global financial system rather than be used for national development. Seems to me that this is exactly what is happening.

        The last thing the US wants to see is the independent development of any potential challenge to US Middle East hegemony. That is one of the reasons that in the first Gulf War, the US totally destroyed the Iraq infrastructure. Empire has assigned different functions to the various areas of the planet compatible with imperial designs, First World versus Third World, raw materials and markets versus cheap labor, etc. The Middle East is not the Far East, and China is not Iraq or Iran. I would expect imperial policy to take these differences into account. And while I try to understand the geostrategic implications of events, I abhor the empire and militarism. Furthermore, global imperial policy is leading to a potential disaster sufficiently severe as to put human survival in question.

        • Keith – - Israel lobby has prevented restoration of normal relations between Iran and the US. And this in turn has caused oil prices to be perhaps $20 or more per barrel HIGHER than otherwise would obtain.

    • Sibiriak says:

      The empire’s foreign policy is set by the empire. Period. Full stop.

      Yes, but not every foreign policy issue is of central importance to “the Empire”. On more marginal issues lobbying and domestic politics can play a much bigger role.

      U.S. support for Israel *in general* strongly derives from U.S. capitalist/militarist interests. But on the *specifics* of Israel’s territorial expansionism, the creation of a Palestinian (pseudo) state, the apartheid occupation–here the “the Empire”‘s interests are less clear and precise, and the Lobby assumes much greater power.

      • Let’s remember the battle within the Obama administration, when it came into power, whether to keep stable the US troop presence in Afghanistan, or to increase it radically.

        Very primitive formulation, to say “the empire” sets the foreign policy of “the empire”.

      • Keith says:

        SIBERIAK- “Yes, but not every foreign policy issue is of central importance to “the Empire”. On more marginal issues lobbying and domestic politics can play a much bigger role.”

        I agree completely. My comment about imperial foreign policy being set by empire was a response to a long history of Mondoweiss comments claiming that US foreign policy is set by Israel. Seriously. The actual setting of policy is always influenced by input from the various concentrations of relevant power, including lobbies, foreign governments, corporations, etc. Much of the misrepresentation of the “Israel lobby’s” power is a result of both making an overly broad, unstated assessment of what constitutes the lobby, combined with the claim that this lobby is run out of Israel. Much of what some consider the Israel lobby, I consider domestic concentrations of power. Finally, I maintain that the center of Zionist power is the US, not Israel.

  16. kalithea says:

    Oy! This theory is totally off and shaky at best. I’m not buying it and to attempt to dilute the obvious power of the Lobby is really counter-productive to the Palestinian cause and a useless endeavor! One only has to listen to the Congress roll-call at the Aipac Convention to understand the power the Lobby has. That alone together with the Lobby talking points regurgitated again and again by the President and American politicians demolishes this argument. I mean it’s thanks to the Lobby that the Goldstone Report was denounced and rejected by Congress and sanctions so severe and tantamount to an act of war were imposed on Iran. Come onnn…this theory is out of touch with reality and the status quo. The Lobby IS the ZIONIST GATEKEEPER in Congress for crying out loud!

    What’s with this argument anyway? Is Khalidi thinking of running for something? I just don’t get it…weird.

    • Good points, Kalithea. What is the possible benefit to Khaldi for his apparent effort to protect the Israel lobby? And its numerous stooges in the US Congress.

  17. It seems Khalidi has taken a leaf (or rather several leaves) from Norman Finkelstein’s book, Knowing Too Much, especially from the chapter “This Land is My Land” which critiques Walt and Mearsheimer’s thesis on the Israel lobby. It is also passing strange that this escaped Phil Weiss’s keen eye, although he should, by now, be intimately familiar with Norman’s work. The thesis that the lobby IS effective on the narrow issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but has little power when it pertains to the Middle East in general, and most importantly when fundamental American elite interests are involved, was first posited by Finkelstein in his essay “The Lobby: it’s not Either/Or” link to normanfinkelstein.com, and then further refined and solidified with copious documentation in his latest book.

    That American public opinion (and in particular American Jewish opinion) is rapidly changing (for the better) regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict and that the American Jewish romance with Israel is coming to an end (also the subtitle of Norman’s book) was also first posited by Norman (at a time when everyone else was skeptical) long before Peter Beinart or Rashid Khalidi came along.

    • To what extent do this “American elite” want to conceal their willingness to damage the national security interests of the American people? Answer is obvious.

  18. It’s much easier for Bush Sr. to believe that Jews who favor Israel did him in than look in the mirror and see the idiot who chose Dan Quayle to be his running mate. Bush won in 88 because he was Reagan’s veep. He lost in 92 because America was ready for something different.

    • yonah – - Powerful Jews wanted to punish Bush for trying to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. And they in fact punished him.

    • Shingo says:

      He lost in 92 because America was ready for something different.

      Rubbish. The media, like the NYT, turned on him because they suddenly decided that the economy was in bad shape – even though it wasn’t.

      • How much of the media hype about “America held hostage” in 1980 was part of effort to defeat Carter to punish him for trying to end Israeli occupation of the West Bank and other territories occupied in 1967?

        • American says:

          James Canning says:

          How much of the media hype about “America held hostage” in 1980 was part of effort to defeat Carter to punish him for trying to end Israeli occupation of the West Bank and other territories occupied in 1967?>>.

          How much?…well this is what went on behind closed doors:

          link to consortiumnews.com

          From Robert Parry’s new book..Stolen Narratives

          ‘’As it turned out, the Iranians dashed Carter’s hopes of a pre-election settlement and only let the plane returning the hostages take off after Reagan was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981. Why was that precise timing so necessary? Like Nixon, did Reagan’s campaign, led by veteran covert operator William Casey, also violate the Logan Act? Was there a second act of “treason”? Parry’s inquiry certainly seemed to indicate that such a thing had actually occurred.

          Witnesses like Nicholas Veliotes, who was assistant secretary of state in the Reagan administration, confirmed that the shipments of U.S. arms began in 1981 and stemmed from contacts made before the 1980 election.

          Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli intelligence officer, confirmed that Israel had decided to cooperate with the Republican effort to defeat Carter because they despised the Camp David peace agreement Carter had forced on them. (Parry, p. 88)

          Further, Ben-Menashe said he had met some of the Republican delegation in Paris in October 1980, including Vice-President nominee George H. W. Bush and Reagan’s campaign director William Casey. (ibid) These arms sales continued for years since Iran needed weapons to fight its war with Iraq, a conflict which began in September 1980.

          In 1991, the combination of the PBS documentary on the October Surprise, a parallel op-ed in the New York Times by former White House national security aide Gary Sick, and follow-up coverage by ABC’s Nightline created an impact that neither Washington nor the MSM could ignore. There were calls for a congressional inquiry into the charges, and such an inquiry was organized.

          But even before that got going, both Newsweek and The New Republic ran very harsh and sneering cover stories attacking the very concept of an October Surprise. Martin Peretz, who was firmly in command of the latter publication, was a staunch defender of the conservative party in Israel, the Likud. Peretz commissioned an attack article by Steven Emerson, a reporter who also had ties not just to Likud, but to the Mossad. (Parry, p. 85)

          The Newsweek and New Republic attacks – particularly one aimed at a Nightline follow-up piece on a Casey meeting with Iranians in Madrid in July 1980 – turned out to be provably wrong, but the two magazines’ major factual errors didn’t matter. As Parry writes, “On Capitol Hill, the impact of the one-two punch of Newsweek and the New Republic could not be overstated. Whatever momentum there was for a thorough investigation of the October Surprise issue quickly dissipated.”

          Even though, in 1991, George H.W. Bush’s White House knew that Casey indeed had been in Madrid (Parry cites a White House memo to that effect, p. 97), the hired guns of the media were softening up the public perception of the scandal, paving the way for the official cover-up. Which, as we shall see, is what happened.

          A Troubling Paradigm

          But what the author does here, by setting up this paradigm, is to reveal a very serious fault in the American democratic system, which undermines the whole concept of democracy. The MSM, led by neocon ideologues like Peretz and oligarchs like the Graham family at Newsweek, is, by nature, in favor of upholding the status quo”

        • Thanks, American. “America held hostage” was a newsmedia stunt, with undertones of conspiracy. To punish Jimmy Carter for his effort to force Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.

  19. ● RE: The same goes for the sale of a “major weapon system to Saudi Arabia” during the Reagan administration. In that instance, far more powerful lobbies than the Israel lobby prevailed– the oil lobby and the aerospace lobby aligned with US policy makers, and the sale went through “without the slightest difficulty.” ~ Weiss quoting Rashid Khalidi

    ● MY COMMENT: Sen. Chuck Percy might beg to differ (were he still with us).

    ● FROM WIKIPEDIA [Charles H. Percy]:

    [EXCERPTS] Charles Harting Percy (September 27, 1919 – September 17, 2011) was an American businessman and politician. He was president of the Bell & Howell Corporation from 1949 to 1964. In 1966, he was elected to the United States Senate from Illinois as a Republican; he served for almost twenty years, until 1985, after he was defeated by Paul Simon. During his Senate career, he concentrated on business and foreign relations. . .
    . . . In 1978, as Percy was completing his second term, he appeared invincible.[8] Percy was considered so strong that the Democratic party was unable to persuade any serious candidates to challenge him.[9] Emerging from the Democratic primary was the dark horse candidate, Alex Seith, who had never before sought elected office but had served as an appointee on the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals for twelve years, nine as chairman.
    But at that time, Percy’s reputation as a Rockefeller Republican, contrasted with Seith’s ostensible hard-line foreign policy positions, combined to make Percy suddenly vulnerable in the weeks before the election. . .
    . . . He won re-election by a 54% to 46% margin.
    Percy served in the Senate until the end of his third term in January 1985. He had been narrowly defeated for re-election in November 1984 by the liberal Congressman Paul Simon. After Percy’s defeat, no Republican would win a senatorial race in Illinois until Peter Fitzgerald in 1998.
    In 2006, in writing about the influence of political lobbies on the U.S. relationship with Israel, political theorists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt wrote that they believed Percy’s loss resulted from the campaign waged against him by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).[11] The lobbying group controlled substantial monies and helped lawmakers who they believed supported the security of Israel. . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    ● ALSO SEE: ‘The Times’ lies about Charles Percy’s record ~ by Ed Moloney, Mondoweiss, 9/17/11

    (EXCERPTS) I noticed this obit in the NYT, which omits surely one of the things Charles Percy’s life will be remembered for, AIPAC’s successful tilt against then-Senator Percy in 1984 when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . .
    . . . From Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:
    Former Illinois Democratic Sen. Paul Simon reveals in his newly published autobiography how he came to run against former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles Percy in 1984. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel’s principal Washington, DC lobby, has long considered Percy’s defeat by Simon a high water-mark of its influence on Congress. Simon, who was in the House of Representatives at the time, said that first “two longtime friends, Bob Schrayer and Stan Weinberger,” begged him to run (read pledged financial support) against Percy, who not only had voted to permit Boeing to sell Saudi Arabia AWACS aircraft (which later served the U.S. and Saudi-led coalition so well in the Gulf war), but also had suggested that not only were there Palestinians, but also that they had “rights.” Then, Simon wrote, he received a call from “a nationally respected Jewish leader from Chicago, Bob Asher” (an AIPAC board member).

    SOURCE – link to mondoweiss.net

    • P.S. ALSO FROM WIKIPEDIA [US/Saudi AWACS Sale]

      [EXCERPTS] The sale of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia by the United States administration of President Ronald Reagan was a controversial part of what was then the largest foreign arms sale in US history. (See Arms Industry) The sale saw objections from a majority of Americans, prominent US Senators, the State of Israel and the Israel lobby.
      The sale included the five E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft and eight KE-3 refueling aircraft, with spare parts and support, delivered between June 1986 and September 1987.[1] . . .

      Considering Israel

      Israel, feeling its security directly threatened, was the most strongly opposed to the AWACS deal of anyone involved. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin expressed “profound regret and unreserved opposition” to the Saudi AWACS proposal.[10] Experts on Israeli defense said that AWACS could track every move of Israel’s air force, denying it the chance to launch a “surprise first strike, the basis of Israeli defense doctrine.”[10] While Israel’s “unreserved opposition” was based on the real security threat it faced, its “profound regret” could have been rooted in perceived betrayal by the United States. A protector of Israel since the Six-Day War, the U.S. was planning to sell military surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia, a country hostile towards Israel. A Boston Globe editorial from May 4, 1981 recognized this contradiction as well as other threats posed by the AWACS sale, noting, “the intention to sell AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia constitutes not only a manifest contradiction of Reagan’s campaign promise to enhance Israel’s security, but also serves to further destabilize the Mideast, a region whose stability was supposed to be a strategic priority of the Reagan foreign policy.” The sensitivity of Congress to the threats against peace and stability, was matched by its sensitivity to Israel’s concerns.
      The Reagan Administration actively sought to diminish Israel’s voice and influence over the deal. In public speeches, Administration officials admonished Israel for getting involved in a U.S. foreign policy matter. Secretary of State Alexander Haig said the President must be “free of the restraints of overriding external vetoes,” and went on to say that were the AWACS deal blocked by Israeli influence, there would be “serious implications on all American policies in the Middle East… I’ll just leave it there.”[7] Reagan himself declared, “It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy.”[11] In August 1981, the Administration delayed indefinitely the delivery of military aircraft to Israel, a move that Israelis interpreted as pressure to approve of the AWACS sale.[12]

      Winning support

      In order to gain support for the AWACS deal in Congress and in the country, the Administration lobbied strongly on behalf of it. Though it continually stated the AWACS deal would benefit U.S. “interests” in the Middle East, the Administration also gave promises of the AWACS planes’ importance in securing peace. In a speech to Congress, Alexander Haig said that if the AWACS sale was blocked, “our security, the security of Israel and peace itself (might) be endangered,”[13] Reagan himself promoted the AWACS sale saying, “By contributing to the stability of the area, it improves Israeli security.”[11] The Administration even commissioned former government officials to speak about AWACS as part of the peace cause. Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said “it is essential for the peace process in the Middle East.”[14]
      Congress approved the AWACS sale, and as part of the then largest arms export ever, the planes were a symbolic commitment to the U.S./Saudi relationship. . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Bravo, Dickerson. Chuck Percy was one of the finest US Senators. And Aipac took him out. Full stop.

      • Citizen says:

        @ James Canning
        Yep. I was living in Chicago when it transpired.

        • Thanks, Citizen. Chuck Percy told friends he might be taken out by Aipac if he stood his ground.

        • Citizen says:

          from nybooks:
          Michael Massing in his critique of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt [“The Storm over the Israel Lobby,” NYR, June 8] should have noted these authors were a bit too dismissive of the “Israel is a security asset” argument. According to that argument, Israel’s sharing of military intelligence, co-development of some weapon systems, and military aid (supplies, advisers) to other US allies entitle it to considerable US support. With respect to the last point, Mearsheimer and Walt note, but minimize, the importance of the Israel alert during September 1970 that arguably blocked a Syrian invasion of Jordan. In contrast, Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel’s ambassador to the US, reported in his service diary that the act strongly impressed President Nixon and cemented the White House’s commitment to Israel. Rabin, of course, was an interested judge of the matter, having been a key player in it. Moreover, he was no fan of AIPAC. In word and deed, he reflected an Israeli disdain for the Lobby or Shedulah—a Hebrew term with pejorative connotations of the vagaries of Diaspora existence that Zionism sought to transcend through faits accomplis. Still he might have been right.

          Through the years, Israel took many other actions on behalf of the United States, sometimes clandestinely, that were too embarrassing or impossible for the United States itself, e.g., arms shipments to Iran, ordinance to South Africa during the embargo. Indeed, a database of post– World War II international conflicts compiled by the late Frank Sherman (SHERFACS) shows that in 1960–1980, Israelis filled with the same frequency, if with more limited means, the role that Cubans filled for the Soviet Union: a surrogate, especially for military training and advising in regional conflicts. Israel supporters, AIPAC included, may at times be reticent about this record for fear it undermine Israel’s “moral claims,” but its fuller airing might cause “realists” like Mearsheimer and Walt to reexamine the weight of domestic pressures versus tactical advantages that has motivated executive branch support of Israel.

          They, however, are on firmer ground than Massing in emphasizing the lasting impression that Senator Charles Percy’s loss in 1984 made on Capitol Hill. It still reverberated in 1990, when I and other Jewish doves lobbied legislators to support a Sense of Congress resolution. The resolution called on Israel to reopen the Palestinian universities that it had recently closed in response to the (first) intifadah. Among the offices I stopped at was that of Joseph Kennedy, then my own representative. I did hesitantly recall that a Palestinian had taken the life of his father. Kennedy was not in, so I explained my purpose to his legislative aide for foreign affairs. She immediately responded: “We can’t support that.” When I asked why, she said: “Because of Chuck Percy and the Lobby.”

          I found that ironic. My own father, a Zionist leader in Chicago, had organized the significant Jewish support that helped elect Percy to the Senate in 1966, because Israeli officials told him the incumbent was too sympathetic to Palestinians. In 1984, my father worked again to defeat the incumbent—this time Percy himself—for the same reason. I spoke of the irony to Kennedy’s legislative aide and added, “At least you taught me the meaning of the Bible’s saying: ‘The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children.’” We both laughed at my remark. Then she said, “We still can’t support the resolution.”

          Roger Hurwitz
          Cambridge, Massachusetts

          Michael Massing replies:
          As I noted in my article, Mearsheimer and Walt argue that whatever strategic value Israel may have had for the United States during the cold war, that value has long since faded. All of Mr. Hurwitz’s examples come from before 1980. No doubt Israel continues to provide strategic benefits to the United States, but these must be weighed against the obvious costs that America’s unflinching support for Israel has had on its image and prestige in the world. As for Charles Percy, I did not write that his defeat made no lasting impression; rather, I faulted Mearsheimer and Walt for providing no convincing evidence to that effect. In my article, I discussed at length the success that AIPAC and its supporters have had in using money and lobbying to tilt the outcome of congressional elections in their favor.

        • Interesting post. And the power of the Israel lobby to take out senators not meeting the lobby’s expectations is shown graphically.

        • Shingo says:

          Michael Massing in his critique of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt [“The Storm over the Israel Lobby,” NYR, June 8] should have noted these authors were a bit too dismissive of the “Israel is a security asset” argument.

          Seeing as even Meir Dagan has admitted that Israel has become a strategic liability, it appears Walt and Mearsheimer got it right.

  20. Avi_G. says:

    If we take the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a case study we find that during the decision making process there was a convergence of interests among the various power groups involved.

    The lobby wanted Saddam out and Iraq in turmoil.

    • Castellio says:

      One can be a member of more than one group at a time. A study of the interlocking members of the ‘Lobby’ with the ‘Military-Financial-Media’ elite would help clarify this issue.

    • Avi_G – - Israel lobby DID NOT want “Iraq in turmoil”. Israel lobby wanted Iraq to serve as a loyal ally of the US and Israel.

    • Danaa says:

      Avi_G – you pointed out one of the fundamental reasons discussions of the Lobby become so mired and muddied. I agree that pinpointing the lobby’s (and Israel’s) role in the Iraq invasion is a case study in confusion exactly because – like the smart Lobby that it is – it often seeks alliances with other lobbies and/or uses other lobbies as a shield from visibility. Saying that the Lobby alone could not bring about an Iraqi invasion is a tautology. indeed, for over 10 years, it patiently bid its time until 2001 came about, the US armed forces could be brought on board, Bush the idiot + Darth Vader side-kick were safely installed in office and the state department eviscerated from brainy types, the Palestinian intifada happened which evaporated the Israeli left – normally in something of an alliance with the US left – already in disarray due to the loss of the presidency and the events of 2001 that opened a yawning gap with the ever inattentive, TV action addicted great people of the USA.

      It is interesting that when it comes to what’s happening in Syria – another country the Lobby – and israel were set on destroying or at least greatly weakening, the Lobby barely bothers to hide it’s role. It again seeks to find “human rights” “pro-democracy” interventionists allies to hide behind but just barely.

      • Danaa – - I agree with you strongly, that the Israel lobby played a crucial role in setting up the illegal and idiotic US invasion of Iraq, by exploiting “9/11″ events.

  21. Shingo says:

    I agree with most of the comments here.

    Kalidi’s thesis is simply pathetic and even his recollections of the historical examples he provides are incorrect.

    1. The 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel has been well documented here as an example of Begin doing a home run around Carter. Carter could not get Begin to agree to his terms, so Kalidi is wrong. He also omits that the US has to beg and bribe the Israelis to come to Camp David. It wasn’t as if they snapped their fingers and there was Begin.

    2. He is wrong about the major weapon system to Saudi Arabia during the Reagan administration. The sale was tprpedoed as I recall and won by BAA in Britain under Thatcher. To suggest it happened “without the slightest difficulty” is pure revisionism.

    3. How does allowing the Israeli PM to humiliate a sitting president (Netenyahu humiliating Obama) fit within Kalidi’s thesis?

    Answer: It doesn’t.

    4. How does the removal of a sitting president (Bush 1) by the lobby (for daring to face them down) fit within Kalidi’s thesis?

    Answer: It doesn’t.

    5. How can it be in US interests for the Arab world to see US presidents and law makers paying homage to Israeli leaders, as though they were God Fathers, fit within Kalidi’s thesis?

    Answer: It doesn’t.

    6. How does the humiliation of a nominated DOD Secretary 5. How can it be in US interests for the Arab world to see US presidents and law makers paying homage to Israeli leaders, as though they were God Fathers, fit within Kalidi’s thesis?

    Answer: It doesn’t.

    Kalidi’s thesis falls apart with barely a sneeze.

    • Shingo – - Let’s remember that Begin wanted to keep Sharm El Sheik, but Carter forced him to give up that demand.

    • David Green says:

      Wow, Shingo, Obama and Hagel have been “humiliated.” I’m so furious that our very own warmongering and child-killing thugs have to put up with such treatment. How do you think they can even stand to look in he mirror?

      Do they act humiliated? Do you think they feel like the prisoners at Abu Gharib? Do you think they give a crap about your emotional projections on to their states of mind?

      I mean, what a load of subjective tripe. The “humiliation” is completely in your ideological imagination.

      And of course, it’s simply a fact that the Lobby got rid of Bush in 92. I mean, how does somebody with any empirical integrity even begin to think that? Nothing to do with the economy, Ross Perot, or about a million other factors that can’t possibly allow you to make such a ridiculous argument with such arrogant and complacent certainty. Liberal Jewish Zionists have always preferred a Democrat. So what else is new?

      As usual, the Lobby debate brings out the “higher racism” (yes, anti-semitism) of the MW faithful. I mean, Khalidi is the most solid historian in this field. But at least I’m sure he could care less about being “humiliated” by the likes of you and your fellow travelling Lobby ideologues.

      • Rusty Pipes says:

        The Israel Lobby was crucial in swinging the elections both against Jimmy Carter and Poppy Bush, making them both one-term presidents. The Jewish-American vote was one part of that calculus, though not the only factor. Contrary to popular perception, the Jewish-American electorate is not and has not been overwhelmingly liberal — at least not in the decades that the AJC has been taking annual polls: only 40-something percent define themselves as liberal and 50-something percent register as Democrats whereas around 15% register as Republicans and and 20-something percent define themselves as conservative. Which leaves about a quarter of American Jews as swing voters. And they swung against both Jimmy and Poppy. Large percentages of Jewish Americans voted for the Republican presidential candidate in the 1980′s.

        Begin did not like being pushed by Carter at all in the Camp David process and did not want to see him reelected. For his part, Carter has said that he had gained assurances from Begin about the Palestinians that Begin did not carry through on after Carter was out of office. The Christian Right, with whom Likud leaders had been cultivating ties for years, were another crucial element in Jimmy Carter’s defeat. In addition, the Iran hostage crisis undermined Carter’s image with middle of the road Americans.

        Poppy Bush eroded Zionist support for Republicans by leveraging Israeli compliance through withholding funds and by instigating the Madrid Peace process. At the same time, Bill Clinton had been successful in forging an alliance of pro-business, hawkish and Zionist interests through the Democratic Leadership Council, which attracted many Jewish swing voters (and major donors) back to the Democratic Party. Thanks to Ross Perot’s strong third-party distraction, Clinton was able to swing enough votes to gain a plurality and win the Presidency.

        • Shingo says:

          The Jewish-American vote was one part of that calculus, though not the only factor.

          Actually Rusty, with only 2% of the total vote, the Jewish-American vote is rarely part of the calculus at all. It’s not the Jewish-American vote that affects outcomes, it’s campaign dollars from wealthy Israeli supporters that does.

          If it was a matter of votes, then both sides would be doing a lot more to appeal to the Christian Zionist block, which is more than 10 times the size.

        • Shingo is quite right. Only in Florida is the Jewish-American vote crucial in US presidential contents.
          Jews provide more campaign finance for the Democrats, than all other groups in the US combined.

        • @Rsty Pipes – - You make hugely important point, obliquely: Ross Perot’s foolish entry into 1992 presidential race was a disaster for the American people because it prevented George H. W. Bush from forcing Israel to get out of the West Bank and Gaza.

          And powerful Jews punished Jimmy Carter for his wish to get Israel out of the WB and Gaza.

        • Rusty Pipes says:

          For Democrats, Zionist donors have always been a much bigger factor in presidential elections than Zionist voters. Even so, concentrations of Zionist voters in swing states, like Florida, are a relevant part of a Presidential election. Carter was defeated because of several factors — and Israel and the Israel Lobby were part of more than one of those factors, but not all of them (like the anti-nuke voters who supported John Anderson because there was “no difference between Carter and Reagan”).

        • Rusty – - Jewish donors loom very large in Democratic politics, not just for presidential elections. Half of funding for senate and house seats, for Democrats, has come from Jews over past four decades.

      • Shingo says:

        David,

        It’s always amusing to see you uhum “liberal” Zionists embracing your inner Elliot Abrams. This topic has clearly hit a nerve. Your arguments are exceptionally weak at the best of times, but this one sets the bar even lower.

        I’m always happy to see the ruling elite humiliated for their crimes, but your assertions are absurdly dishonest. Obama and Hagel have not been humiliated for child-killing or Abu Ghraib (neither of whom were involved with). What they were humiliated for was being insufficiently sycophantic towards Israel or daring to state the obvious.
        At no tiem during Hagel’s hearings were child killings or Abu Ghraib mentioned. In fact, afganistan came up barely a handful or times, but Israel came up about 70 – hence the SNL skit about felating a donkey for Israel – speaking of which, I have to confess I have never done so, so that must make me an anti Semite..
        Obama was humiliated by his own party after the Cairo Speech, Congress and the Republicans, who accused him of throwing Israel under the Bush for daring to mention ’67 borders.
        Of course you know all this, but you had to resort to straw men and ad hominems to even home of presenting your flacid argument.

        I mean, how does somebody with any empirical integrity even begin to think that? Nothing to do with the economy, Ross Perot, or about a million other factors that can’t possibly allow you to make such a ridiculous argument with such arrogant and complacent certainty.

        Give it up David, you’re not even trying to sound convincing. Even MJ Rosenberg states openly that the media turned on Bush after he faced down the lobby. it was only then that AIPAC attack dogs like William Sapphire went after Bush and suddenly decided that the economy was an issue.

        Liberal Jewish Zionists have always preferred a Democrat. So what else is new?

        As usual, the Lobby debate brings out the “higher racism” (yes, anti-semitism) of the MW faithful.

        As always, there is no clearer indication that one is getting closer to the truth than when even so called “liberal” Zionists reach for the anti Semitism card. Like Peter Beinart, when your beloved Israel is under attack, you leave your liberal values at the door.

        I mean, Khalidi is the most solid historian in this field. But at least I’m sure he could care less about being “humiliated” by the likes of you and your fellow travelling Lobby ideologues.

        Epic fail! There are dozens of outstanding comments above highlighting Kalidis very poor grasp of history. If he is the most solid historian in this field, then clearly the field is lacking in scholarship and accuracy. While Khalidi’s work deserves credit, his arguments regarding the lobby would be easy pickings as is illustrated by Tree’s post above.
        link to mondoweiss.net

        • Good points, Shingo. Obama’s instincts clearly support justice for the Palestinians in form of getting Israel out of the West Bank. But he has to contend with the Israel lobby.
          Hagel’s honesty regarding US-Israel relations agitated Aipac et al.

    • Sibiriak says:

      Kalidi’s thesis falls apart with barely a sneeze

      I just read Khalidi’s book and your representation of his arguments is unrecognizable to me.

    • Sibiriak says:

      Shingo:

      Khalidi’s thesis is simply pathetic…

      Perhaps you could spell out this alleged thesis? You may be misconstruing him.

      In his book, Khalidi argues that domestic politics and the Israel Lobby dominate U.S. policy-making with regards to Israel. Only in a few rare and exceptional cases have U.S. decision-makers been driven by higher strategic concerns to go against the Lobby. In most cases, however, pace Walt et al., Khalidi believes Israel-Lobby-driven policies have been compatible with basic American corporate and strategic interests.

      Some quotes fromKhalidi’s book:

      This is the little-understood secret of the US government’s enduring bias in favor of Israel: in the face of what since 1967 has increasingly been a Saudi-dominated Arab world, policymakers in Washington are guided almost exclusively by the pressure exerted on Congress, the executive branch, and the media by the Israel lobby, or the stubborn obduracy of Israel’s leaders in preserving their regime of colonization and occupation. Because of the Arab regimes’ disunity, futile competition with one another, and deep dependence on the United States, there is absolutely no serious Arab counterweight to balance this formidable pressure.

      …the core dynamics at work in American policymaking toward Palestine have been remarkably stable for much longer. In these dynamics, domestic political calculations have generally taken precedence, while occasionally being balanced or overridden by strategic considerations. It is striking how rarely the United States was forced by such considerations to modify its policy on Palestine over many decades.

      One would have hoped that after over twenty years in which the “peace process” had failed to secure Palestinian-Israeli peace, policymakers would acknowledge that it was utterly dysfunctional, but this sort of “the emperor has no clothes” moment is unheard of in Washington, DC. Accepting that this was the case would have required a willingness to endure not only serious friction with Israel and its lobby, something no president is eager to face.

      Where the issue of Palestine is concerned, American Middle East policy from Truman down to Obama has consistently hewn to the three patterns described in the introduction: an almost total lack of pressure from the Arab Gulf monarchies; the impact of US domestic politics, driven by the Israel lobby, and an unconcern about Palestinian rights. The preferred approach of US presidents has therefore generally involved deferring to Israel and its American supporters…

      The 1946 midterm congressional electoral defeat only reinforced Truman’s favoring of domestic political calculations over those of strategy and diplomacy where Palestine was concerned…

      Truman was strongly influenced by a coterie of advisors and friends like Eleanor Roosevelt, Clark Clifford, Max Lowenthal, and David Niles, all of whom were deeply committed Zionists. 39 In addition, he tended to listen most carefully to those like himself whose political lives had been primarily spent making domestic and electoral calculations rather than decisions about strategy or foreign policy or the national interest.

      …The final outcome regarding Palestine was thus overdetermined. Truman, supported by the strong pro-Zionist sentiments of those closest to him and of a set of core Democratic constituencies, and driven by fears that showing insufficient zeal for the Zionist cause might contribute to electoral defeat for the Democrats, in essence imposed support for Jewish statehood in Palestine from 1946 until 1948 on a reluctant Washington bureaucracy.

      However, it must be understood that appearances notwithstanding, these two relationships [U.S.-Israel, U.S.-Saudi Arabia], and the alliances that have emerged from them, are not contradictory in any essential way, thanks mainly to the extraordinary complaisance of Saudi Arabia’s rulers toward the United States’ unflagging support of Israel, combined with its unconcern in practice for the rights of the Palestinians.

      The United States has in consequence been able to align itself firmly with the basic Israeli desiderata where the Palestine question is concerned without seriously jeopardizing its far-ranging vital interests in Saudi Arabia and the other oil-producing Arab monarchies of the Gulf. The ability of the United States to have it both ways was thus an essential precondition, and indeed the groundwork, of a policy that has not changed significantly since the days of Harry Truman. This policy has consisted of providing strong support for Israel, while paying no more than lip service to the publicly expressed concerns regarding Palestine of oil-rich Arab Gulf rulers, and generally ignoring the rights of the Palestinians.

      The period between 1945 and 1948 reveals at least two more patterns in American policy over Palestine that also proved to be enduring, and which were grounded firmly in the fact that the United States could easily afford to ignore the feeble protests of its key Arab Gulf allies over the question of Palestine.

      The first was the pattern already mentioned of presidential solicitude for domestic constituencies generally taking precedence over other considerations, including ordinary foreign policy concerns, and sometimes even long-term American strategic interests. This was especially the case during presidential and midterm election years (and with monotonous regularity, these seem to coincide every two years with a crucial American decision on Palestine). We have seen the first instance of it with Truman’s handling of the Palestine issue in 1946 and 1948. This pattern operated with more or less force in different administrations and under different circumstances, but it has obtained consistently in repeated cases from the time of Truman down to the present. 46

      For all of its importance, however, the basic pattern of presidential solicitude for domestic political considerations was often disrupted by the intrusion of Cold War issues during Arab-Israeli crises, when larger strategic interests momentarily came into play.

      These were the most important exceptions to the pattern of domestic factors predominating in policymaking regarding Israel and Palestine, exceptions that generally arose in moments of high crisis with the Soviet Union, where vital American interests necessarily took precedence over all else, including domestic politics.

      Much more frequently, however, during the three decades from the early 1960s onward, Cold War considerations militated unequivocally in favor of strong American support for Israel against the “radical” Arab states, which were increasingly seen in Washington as proxies of the USSR. 61 For this entire period, Israel benefited greatly from the perception in Washington that it constituted a major Cold War strategic asset. This factor was at least as important as domestic politics, and the significant impact of Israel’s increasingly formidable lobby in Washington, in explaining the extent of Washington’s military, intelligence, economic, and diplomatic support for Israel, and the high degree of cooperation between the two countries in all these spheres.

      Barring exceptional situations like those just enumerated involving major American strategic or economic interests, US policy on Palestine and Israel has been made almost exclusively with an eye to those who, in Truman’s words, “are anxious for the success of Zionism.” Certainly this was the case wherever the Palestinians were concerned.

      As we have seen, a distorted set of American priorities— largely directed at catering to the demands of Israel and of its vocal American supporters rather than doing anything substantial to resolve the struggle over Palestine, which is the core and the origin of the Arab-Israeli conflict— has contributed significantly to producing a broad range of intractable outcomes.

      …Obama appeared to be trying a new approach to the problem of Palestine and Israel, in parallel with aspects of what we have seen that Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush senior, and Clinton had tried and failed to do. That effort lasted roughly until the Republican Party’s capture of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of November 2010. That victory significantly changed the political situation in Washington where Israel was concerned, measurably strengthening both Netanyahu and Israel’s lobby there, and thereby effectively stymieing the president.

      Some Republicans, in close coordination with the Israeli government and its Washington lobby, are saying that a Democratic administration should follow exactly the same line as does an American ally and not allow any visible differences between the two. They are in effect supporting a foreign government over their own on questions of foreign policy, indeed on weighty questions of war and peace.

      The disaffection of some on the Right with Obama over his policies on Israel and Palestine is also partly a result of the striking rightward lurch of both Israel’s internal politics and its domestic and security policies, and of the increasingly conservative leadership of the large American lobby that supports Israel. This is as true of the lobby’s Christian Zionist evangelical wing as it is of the wing rooted in the leading institutions of the American Jewish community. 44

      Both Israel and its most outspoken American supporters have gone so far to the right that American “support for Israel” is now taken by them to mean unquestioning support for expanded colonization of the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem; for legitimizing overt legal discrimination against the nearly 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are not Jews, and for the permanent exclusion from Israel of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, both under the rubric of “Israel as a Jewish state”; and for military actions outside Israel’s borders that are more and more difficult to describe in terms of self-defense. It is hard to reconcile the fealty to increasingly extreme positions that Israel and its supporters have come to expect from Congress and the US government since this rightward turn with traditional official American positions.

      …the bitter hostility toward Iran of both Israel and Saudi Arabia has further envenomed American-Iranian relations, largely thanks to the extraordinary impact on American public discourse and Middle East policy of Israel, its Washington lobby, and the much more discreet lobbying of Saudi Arabia.

      From the blinkered perspective of many policymakers in Washington and important lobbies there, this may not seem like a major problem: Iran is their obsessive focus anyway. In addition, the powerful warmongering pressures of the Netanyahu government, the Saudi regime, the Israel lobby, and hawkish Republicans have by now produced a constant anti-Iranian drumbeat for war that all but prevents rational discourse on these issues anywhere inside the Washington Beltway.

      • Khalidi thinks there has been “an almost total lack of pressure” from the Persian Gulf monarchies, on the US? To get Israel out of the West Bank and other territories occupied in 1967? Wrong.

        • Donald says:

          The Persian Gulf monarchies are rather dependent on the US, so exactly how much pressure have they exerted on the US regarding anything since the 73 embargo?

          I found most of the quotes Sibriak picked out rather compelling. Khalidi doesn’t exactly sound like a sellout. Just because someone doesn’t toe the party line on the exact degree of power of the Israel lobby doesn’t mean that he or she is dishonest. If he’s wrong on some point, well, sometimes people can be wrong in good faith. This is probably difficult to understand if someone has never been wrong. I myself have had a huge amount of difficulty wrapping my head around it.

        • Donald – - American news media downplay or ignore entirely, pressure on the US from Persian Gulf monarchies, regarding forcing Israel out of the West Bank etc etc.

      • Shingo says:

        Perhaps you could spell out this alleged thesis? You may be misconstruing him.

        The examples Kalidi has cited in this interview are false representations of the actual events. That Kalidi has to falsely claim how difficult it was to secure the arms sale to the Saudis suggests he has an agenda.

        His argument that the Israeli lobby’s power can be explained by the fact that there is absolutely no serious Arab counterweight to balance this formidable pressure is a statement of the obvious that applies to all the influential lobbies.

        After all, is is not true that:

        1. the NRA’s influence is due to the absence of a formidable anti gun lobby?
        2. the arms industry is powerful because there is not a formidable anti war lobby?

        So are we to conclude that the arms industry has no say in influencing US foreign policy?

        Regarding Truman, he says that:

        The 1946 midterm congressional electoral defeat only reinforced Truman’s favoring of domestic political calculations over those of strategy and diplomacy where Palestine was concerned…

        Now explain to me how the Israeli lobby does not influence US foreign policy if domestic political calculations carry greater weight than strategy and diplomacy where Palestine was concerned?

        And then there’s this:

        Truman was strongly influenced by a coterie of advisors and friends like Eleanor Roosevelt, Clark Clifford, Max Lowenthal, and David Niles, all of whom were deeply committed Zionists.

        So deeply committed Zionists just happened to have strong influence over Truman. Are we supposed to accept that this was just a coincidence?

        • Sibiriak says:

          Shingo:

          Now explain to me how the Israeli lobby does not influence US foreign policy if domestic political calculations carry greater weight than strategy and diplomacy where Palestine was concerned?

          As those quotes show, Khalidi argues that the Lobby DOES have enormous influence. I agree.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Shingo:

          So deeply committed Zionists just happened to have strong influence over Truman. Are we supposed to accept that this was just a coincidence?

          Coincidence? Of course not. Khalidi demonstrates just the opposite–an enduring causal pattern.

        • Sibiriak says:

          Shingo:

          So are we to conclude that the arms industry has no say in influencing US foreign policy?

          Khalidi concludes that the Israel Lobby has a *decisive* say in influencing US foreign policy in all but a few exceptional and momentary circumstances.

  22. CitizenC says:

    While most of the left is in vulgar Marxist mode, Perry Anderson,
    perhaps the greatest Marxist scholar of the day, is not. After the
    Mearsheimer/Walt book on the Israel Lobby appeared, Anderson wrote:

    “The Middle East is the one part of the world where the us political
    system, as presently constituted, cannot act according to a rational
    calculus of national interest, because it is inhabited by another,
    supervening interest. For its entire position in the Arab—and by
    extension Muslim—world is compromised by its massive, ostentatious
    support for Israel.”

    “The outstanding work of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt has finally
    broken this silence… In striking contrast has been the general
    pusillanimity of the American Left, prone to emphasizing the role of
    its bugbear the Christian Right as a more acceptable culprit, when the
    latter’s function has clearly been in effect a force d’appoint.”

    This is in section 4, and the note to that section, in this piece:

    New Left Review, n. 48, November-December 2007
    link to newleftreview.org

  23. MHughes976 says:

    I can see that the Western world regards cheap oil as an absolute necessity and therefore likes to deal with despotic regimes in the Arab world, the principal source of oil. These are unpopular at home so they have a choice, the normal choice of regimes with a weak base, between trying to rally their people by militarism and conquest or concentrating on repression and letting the wider world go by, hoping for the protection of a powerful patron. War and conquest are not an attractive option when everything depends on uninterrupted trade, so the second path is chosen. We thus have regimes that are weak internationally, pumping the oil and utterly dependent on our goodwill.
    As a warning to anyone in that part of the world who might be getting self-willed alternative sources of oil, West Africa and all that, are ostentatiously cultivated. And the point is made that the United States, the heart of western power, draws a lot of its oil from these sources. This means, or we hope it means, that anyone plotting a coup in Saudi, presumably our worst nightmare, could not hope to deliver a paralysing blow to the West by cutting off oil supplies in short order and therefore could not hope to establish power before there was deadly Western retaliation. But this point is uncertain and the protection afforded by the alternative sources would operate only in the very short term. The fact that the United States uses non-ME sources would not protect it against a huge rise in price should the ME be destabililised, and that’s the important thing.
    The West in general, and the United States in particular, seems to have decided that it is best to rub the noses of the Arabs and of the Muslim world in their weakness and ineffectuality by supporting and applauding the profoundly humiliating outrages that Israel inflicts every day. This policy of dividing and deriding them, keeping them at sixes and sevens, sneering at their uselessness, demonising their religion, has to a degree worked so far, it must be admitted.
    It could be argued that the policy is wicked and crazy, bound to fail in the long run and to make us pay a terrible price. I think Mr. Hagel has entertained that thought at times. The function of lobbying and propaganda is to keep that argument below the surface.
    Mind you, lobbying never works unless it either makes a valid point or unless people rather want, Othello-style, to be deceived or at least not to face the truth. I remember one of my lecturers saying that politicians take bribes to do what they would have done anyone anyway and I’ve always thought there was truth in that. The moral influence of the Zionist idea, that Jewish people only have a birthright in Palestine, is still enormous and dissent from it seems rather worse than odd. Khalidi is surely right to say that it is this idea which is being ruthlessly put into effect. It is linked with the imperial cheap oil policy but it has great strength in itself: people believe it implicitly. Moreover, it is not wrong because it is linked with imperial policy but wrong in itself.

  24. yourstruly says:

    whether it’s mostly the israel lobby, empire or a convergence of interests, isn’t this lobby the justice for palestine movement’s primary target? after all we’re dealing here with very outspoken & public people, whereas, re empire, much less so. however, once the lobby is out of the way, there will be an abundance of 0.1%ers who were complicit in israel-firstness so as to tie the ruling elite to the harm to america that our government’s unconditional support of israel has wrought. kind of like down goes the lobby, with the ruling elite soon to follow.

    • yourstruly says:

      on the other hand nixon got away with the switch from riding the generallisimo’s
      to riding mao tse tung’s pony without causing much commotion back home, so why would america’s going from total support for the zionist entity to, say, a position of neutrality on the i/p conflict turn out any different? except nixon’s switcheroo, as far as the public knew, seemingly was out of the blue. also he did it without there having been significant public pressure on him to make that switch, whereas, moving obama, as he’s repeatedly said, is going to take a groundswell of popular support, such that, our nation never before has seen. are we up to it?
      justice for palestine? right on time

      • Citizen says:

        @ yourstruly
        Nixon took advantage of the tension between the USSR and Communist China when he took office; at that time relations between the Soviet Union and China were reaching a nadir—border clashes between the two took place during Nixon’s first year in office—a big factor in Nixon’s success, but it does not answer why Nixon had this leadership quality on the world stage, but Obama apparently does not.

        • Nixon had a considerable interest in foreign policy, while Obama has little interest. Nixon had confidence based on great knowledge. Obama lacks confidence and lacks the knowledge.

    • yourstruly – - I think many members of the “ruling elite” in the US in fact are sympathetic to the Palestinians.

  25. just says:

    Mr. Khalidi was on Charlie Rose last night– interesting.

    (so was Thomas Friedman– not so interesting.)

    link to charlierose.com

    Btw, tonight’s scheduled folks look interesting: “Women in the World with Tina Brown, Zainab Salbi and Shoma Chaudhury”

    (Brookings ought to pay attention………)

    • Danaa says:

      just, an appearance on Charlie Rose is an indicator of reaching MSM status. That probably means that Khalidi – while not endearing himself to the Lobby on many fronts – has been designated one who is PUB (Potentially Useful Back door) ally in the great PR battles. I did not read his book yet, but from what I saw in this post, Khalidi may be now “cleared” to discuss I/P issues precisely because he lightened the responsibility of the Lobby for the unfurling horrors of the Occupation and the coming uptick of Ethnic Cleansing. One of the PTB ploys is to try to identify those of the “other side” who can be counted on to discount – or better yet, divert – the Lobby’s influence, yet remain credible as torch bearerers for the narratives of the oppressed. This is done all the time, and it bears fruit (which of course contains rot at the center), because it is very difficult to resist the goodies that come from being designated an “official” spokesperson for the “other side”. They tried to do that with Trita Farsi and the Leveretts with regard to Iran, Chomsky and Finkelstein on the Lobby, Carter on the occupation and Apartheid and Hussain Ibish on anything Arab. With varying degrees of success, of course. Those who cannot be relied on to not blurt out the naked truth will not be invited again. Those who were found willing and able to stay away from the more “controversial” aspects of a conflict and/or can be relied on to provide some much needed spin when asked, will be seen again, get their op-Eds published with greater frequency, and most significantly, find publishers for their books and get “The Tour”. Obviously, Finkelstein has not yet agreed to fully walk through that door, though he put his toe in gingerly. Chris hedges, like Tony Judt in his time, will remain forever outside, and Ibish – well, we know where he is (Dancing with the Stars?).

      This all fits in with the very sophisticated approach to “co-opting the left”, something we see unveiling on our TV screens and in the gflag-ship papers like NYTs or popular aggregators like HP – daily.

      I can only hope Khalidi can play a good game – will try and catch the interview to see him dribble (as Friedman plays goal keeper….but can I stand to watch him do his shtick?)

      • lysias says:

        When the British decided they needed to co-opt a part of Sinn Fein, they agreed to give limited independence to most of Ireland. In return, the more accomodationist leaders of Sinn Fein fought a civil war in Ireland and won a temporary victory over their more radical former colleagues, with support from the British government. However, the bulk of Ireland did get a limited independence that over time became full independence, and the radicals eventually came to power in Ireland.

      • Citizen says:

        @ Danaa

        All true. Thank you for your very astute comment. Rose is a major gatekeeper–anyone who watches what he asks guests about the Middle East with regard to anything with any impact on Israel, and the way he asks it, and how he follows up, or not–switches to another niche topic, and where he stops his fake pursuit of the pursuit of truth, is most revealing. He has developed a regular pattern through the years. Those asked on the show play along–if any actually ever went beyond Rose’s invisible line of thought, I believe that honest spillover was edited out of Rose’s show. But mainly, I’d say anybody who might ignore Rose’s velvet (time to cut off this part of our conversation) lead as host when it comes to anything Israel would never be invited on the Rose show in the first place.

      • just says:

        Danaa- you are astute, and I thank you for your assessment.

        (the schtick is awful, btw)

  26. lysias says:

    Did Germany allow Austria to attack Serbia and thus bring about World War One because she felt blackmailed: Austria was Germany’s sole remaining reliable ally, and, if Austria fell apart or left the alliance, she would be left alone — or did Germany allow it because she wanted a war for her own reasons — principally to have a war she regarded as inevitable sooner or later happen at a time when the Russian strategic railroads and Russian rearmament that France was financing were not yet complete and had not yet rendered the Schlieffen Plan unworkable?

    Actually, as Dieter Hoffmann explained in Der Sprung ins Dunkle: oder Wie der 1. Weltkrieg entfesselt wurde, it was a combination of both.

    • @lysias – - Prussian General Staff wanted war with Russia, sooner rather than later. Delusions of “threat” posed by growing strength of Russia.
      Some German leaders thought it essential to protect Austro-Hungarian Empire, and that opportunity for Austira to hit Serbia hard should be exploited.

      • lysias says:

        I meant to suggest how similar that situation then was to the situation presently obtaining between the U.S. and Israel.

        Let us hope that the current situation does not lead to a similar ending.

  27. Nevada Ned says:

    The US ruling class thinks that US interests and Israeli interests are for the most part parallel, at least in the long run. Both countries want to keep the Arab world divided, backward, and weak. Both are opposed to Arab nationalism.

    There are exceptional cases where US interests and Israeli interests conflict:
    Four exmples.
    Example#1: Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard remains in jail. Israel wants him freed, but has been unable to spring him.
    Example #2: Israel developed its own fighter plane, the Lavi. The US put in a lot of money, and the Israelis put in a lot of money. The result: two prototypes were built. But the plane never went into production. Why not? It would have been a competitor to a US warplane (the F-18, I think).
    Example #3: the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty
    Example #4: the US forced Israel to give back the Sinai after the 1956 war.

    By the way, just because the US ruling class thinks that US interests and Israeli interests are for the most part parallel, it doesn’t mean that there is no conflict between the two parties. Walt and Mearsheimer are two card-carrying members of the foreign policy Establishment. They wrote their book because they think the Israel Lobby has too much power. Jimmy Carter, also an Establishment figure, wrote a book with the same intention. The NYT published the Ben Ehrenreich article a few weeks ago. (Why wasn’t the all-powerful Israel Lobby able to prevent publication of the article?)

    • MHughes976 says:

      More important, I would say, than any of these, so far at least, has been the failure of Israeli pressure to produce an attack on Iran. So there are limits to what this pressure can produce, especially when the real fear of the West, ie totally losing control of the oil price, is in play. The ostentatious cultivation of non-ME oil sources is not a real way of eliminating this fear. I made this point at rather greater length yesterday but that comment seems not to have survived moderation, can’t think why.

      • lysias says:

        I have the impression that you are Welsh. If you are, you may be interested to read the thread about how Rawan Yaghi from Gaza has gotten a scholarship to Jesus College, the Welsh college at Oxford.

        • MHughes976 says:

          Well, I’m very English in culture and all that, knowing only a few words of Welsh, but I have Welsh ancestry and often reflect on how some of my different ancestors must have loathed and feared each other and found having common descendants inconceivable. We are both Oxford classics graduates, I think. I was at Balliol – the Scottish college! – in the 60s. I was indeed glad to see the news about Ms. Yaghi.
          I have other comments here I must reply to another time. Rushing off to celebrate my mother’s 100th birthday.

        • MHughes976 – - I think there was a fair bit of intermarriage between upper-class English and Normans in Wales, with native Welsh, even though wars were being waged often enough.

      • MHughes76 – - Unless the NIE on Iran is changed, a US attack on Iran would be illegal. Neocons lobby relentlessly for a change to this intelligence assessment.
        Israel benefits from poor US relations with Iran. Even though those poor US relations with Iran damage the US.

      • Citizen says:

        @ MHughes976

        Well, all of the above re the small handful of Israel not getting what it wants from Uncle Sam, no matter the negative impact on the US, over a period of how many decades now? When you consider Israel is the size of NJ and very dependent on US taxpayer funding and special deals not given any other country, and that the US is the sole superpower in the world, what do you conclude?

      • American says:

        MHughes 976 says:
        April 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm
        + Show content
        More important, I would say, than any of these, so far at least, has been the failure of Israeli pressure to produce an attack on Iran. So there are limits to what this pressure can produce,
        >>>>

        The jury might still be out on that. Let’s see if Israel attacks Iran on it’s own…..and if it does if the US gets into it to ‘protect’ Israel from it’s ‘preemptive strike on Iran….AFTER Isr having been told, warned and basically forbidden to bomb Iran by the US.
        If this were the scenario it would demonstrate only the difference in the Lobby being to able to ‘request’ the US do something for them and their hardball game of being able to politically ‘blackmail’ the US into doing it.

  28. American says:

    ‘Mearsheimer and Walt’s ‘realist’ international-relations perspective does not recognize that US support for Israel is entirely compatible with many basic American corporate and strategic interests, rather than being mainly the result of the action of this lobby.”

    For the 1001 time….. name the many basic ‘US corporate interest’.
    What are their names?

    • Let’s remember the gigantic loss of business opportunities in Iran, for Boeing and other American companies. Thanks to foolish sanctions programme.

  29. American – - I doubt Israel will attack Iran, given it has no need to do so. Israel has been successful in preventing restoration of normal relations between Iran and the US. And successful in blocking a deal to resolve the nuclear dispute with Iran.

  30. CitizenC says:

    Just for the record, I have read Rashid Khalidi’s “Brokers of Deceit.” Overall its discussion of three episodes of peace processing is very insightful and compelling. The introduction is where Khalidi gives too much weight to “strategic asset” in the US-Israel relationship. He also mostly ignores the consequences of Israel’s influence apart from Palestine. He mentions Iraq toward the end of the book, not in the intro. The intro is a small part of the book but its judgments are important, importantly wrong.