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.