A couple times I’ve said that Philip Roth talks about the Israel lobby in his 1986 novel, The Counterlife. Well it was a rainy night and the fire was going, and I did my homework.
The Israeli character Shuki Elchanan is a former press attache to David Ben-Gurion. He talks to the book’s American narrator, Nathan Zuckerman:
This is the homeland of Jewish abnormality. Worse: now we are the dependent Jews, on your money, your lobby, on our big allowance from Uncle Sam, while you are the Jews living interesting lives, comfortable lives, without apology, without shame, and perfectly independent.
And here’s from a letter that Elchanan writes to Zuckerman, set in 1978:
Virtually everything we have right now we have to get from abroad. I’m thinking of those things that, if we didn’t have them, the Arab countries wouldn’t tolerate us for a minute (and I include plutonium). What keeps them at bay doesn’t come from our resources but from someone else’s pocket; as I complained to you the other day, mostly it comes from what [President Jimmy] Carter appropriates and what his Congress wants to go along with. What we have comes out of the pocket of the fellow from Kansas–part of each of his tax dollars goes to arm Jews. And why should he pay for the Jews? The other side is always trying to undermine us, to erode this support, and their argument is getting better all the time; just a little more help from [P.M. Menachem] Begin in the way of stupid policy, and they can indeed foster a situation in which the reluctance to keep shelling out is going to grow until finally nobody in the U.S. feels obligated to fork over three billion a year to keep a lot of Yids in guns. In order to keep doling out the dollars, that American has to believe that the Israeli is more or less the same as himself, the same decent sort of guy after the same sort of decent things. And that is not Mordecai Lippman [settler]. If Lippman and his followers are not the Jews they want to pay money for, I won’t blame them. … who from Kansas needs to support that kind of stuff with his hard-earned dough?
It turned out the lobby was only too happy to preserve the settlement project, and the guy from Kansas too.