In International Relations, there are only a few breathing scholars who are being widely prominent and accepted in scholarly world. Obviously, John. J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt fall among them who are currently dominating emerging international event analysis with their respective lenses of realism. Interestingly these two scholars collaborated and conducted an extensive joint study on the all-encompassing influence of Israeli lobby on US foreign policy expression around the world. I am intended to continue to write a series of articles regarding their one of the controversial but appreciated book THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY (2007). My articles would comprise both analysis based on this book and review of it as well subsequently. Let’s see how these two scholars conceptualized the most notorious country Israel’s influence on the most powerful country’s foreign policy direction.
Every conscious man and woman from inside and outside of USA keeps careful eyes on U.S. election. Due to do globalization and U.S. supremacy around the world, we cannot deny the overwhelming U.S. involvement on every international issue and even in domestic issues like local election, financing and investment. Interestingly candidates differ from their foreign policy priority and agenda but there is only single issue where no serious candidate shows the audacity to differ. That is to support the Jewish state Israel under any circumstance. Even all candidates would compete with peer candidates to show more solidarity with Israel on its security issue with hostile Muslim neighbors. Even in few cases U.S. Presidents tend to show over concern for Israel. Few years back Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton expressed her concern for Israel going, “Israel is a beacon of what’s right in aneighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism.” But why all U.S. key politicians behave in such a way towards Israel?
Few argue that Israel is having a lucrative strategic position in the Middle East, while others weight Israel as the most trusted partner to combat war on terror and few project this support from a moral ground. But authors of this book negate all of these claims by arguing (1) since the cold war reality is over, Israel has become a strategic liability to USA, Israel has barely anything to offer USA strategically, (2) USA cannot win the war on terror partnering with Israel because it ignites civilians too, they see USA through the oppressive lens of Israel because there is a rumor that organizations like Islamic State is a creation of Israel, (3) Israel’s action towards Palestinians jeopardize moral ground to support Israel as well. Despite vindication, USA continues to support Israel because of the presence of a strong lobby for Israel who wish to gain from close relations between USA and Israel. Interestingly Israel lobby in USA has become one of the powerful interest groups in USA! Basically individuals and groups comprise this “Israel lobby.” Even non-Jewish are also part of this lobby. So, Politicians fear to offset the demand of this lobby. Consequently USA puts blind eyes towards Israel’s immoral deeds. Unfortunately USA provides unconditional support towards all Israeli actions whatever they are good or evil.
Israeli Lobby has significant implication for U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East. President George W. Bush’s foolish decision to invade in Iraq was a strategic miscalculation and military disaster. This war spiraled further conflicts in the Middle East. Thousands of people have died, millions of people were forced to flee their homes and total economy was shattered. There may have few reasons dragging USA into the second Iraq war. Among them Israel factor was crucial and formidable. Notably USA seriously moved towards Israel in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. Afterwards, USA started giving unconditional material and diplomatic support towards Israel. Later Israel became crucial part of U.S. foreign policy. Israel exploited this unconditional support to advance its own interest, even at the expense of U.S. interest occasionally. Iran was desperate to normalize its relations with USA in 1990s but Israel lobby was successful to stymie any détente between Iran and United states. Israel later initiated war in Lebanon in 2006 and killed more than a thousand civilians. Almost every country vehemently criticized Israel but USA was silent. Further expansion of Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory caused the rise of anti-Americanism throughout the Arab and Islamic world. No U.S. president took the risk of revising Israeli character at all rather accommodated Israeli aggression and hampered its own image. USA could easily stop Israeli expansion at rudimentary stage through its financial influence. Unfortunately that did not happen. Israel lobby is growing and asserting its influence to divert U.S. policy in the Middle East robustly. To add recent events, Benjamin Netanyahu is now pushing Donald J. Trump hard to confront Iran directly. Israel lobby is also advancing this idea through their demonstration and publication. Pentagon also accepted that idea and engaged in direct action with Iran. Thanks to Coronavirus which is helping to soothe unnecessary international conflicts in the Middle East.
Let’s put some focus on modus operandi of Israel lobby. It is hard to believe but a reality that questioning or accusing unconditional U.S. support towards Israel results in defamation with anti-Semitism or labeled as a self-hating Jew in U.S. media. Israel lobby employs its power to create public discourse against those who even try to raise question about Israel in critical manner. Best example of it is the Israel lobby’s reaction to Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid (2006). Carter argued that USA should play an honest broker’s role to end the long held conflict in Palestine. He defended the right of existence of Israel state but questioned Israeli policies in the occupied territory which resembles South Africa’s apartheid regime and publicly criticized Israel lobby for making it hard for USA to reach a viable solution. Being former U.S. President, he could not get away from the attack of pro-Israelis. President Carter was being accused of an anti-Semite, Jew-hater and pro-Nazi. Israel lobby always employs such strategy to prevent any serious discussion regarding special position of Israel in USA or its heinous crimes against Palestine with the help of USA. Obviously power possession of the lobby in media largely helps for this. If not majority, almost 40% Americans believe that Israel lobby worked for pushing Bush administration towards Iraq war and still confronting Iran. Even scholarly world also knows unusual Israel influence on U.S. foreign policy. But the lack of serious discussion prevents any shift among public perception. Politicians also mother this lobby for known and unknown reasons. Considerable economic muscle and power possession in media make it obvious for political leaders to be influence certainly. But why this is so hard to tackle Israel lobby in one of the most democratic country?
It is natural to have various migrant pressure groups along with indigenous ethnic organizations in USA since it is the land of migrants. For example, Cuban Americans extensively lobbied for continuing embargo on Castro government, Armenians forced USA to recognize Armenian genocide (1915) jeopardizing relations with Turkey. So Israel lobby it is not a unique force in this regard but the way they influence U.S. foreign policy is unprecedented. It is negative for both countries in long run. Israel itself does not correct wrongs and USA hampers its own image being close to Israel. Unfortunately it is difficult for Americans to talk about Israel lobby because of lobby’s exerting capability to challenge any opposition. Even questioning Israel lobby seems to be challenging Israel state. It resembles with Saudi Arabia authority. There is a wider perception among Muslims that questioning the legitimacy about Saudi ruling elites is that of questioning Islam! Similarly a number of U.S. Americans pose extensive feelings for Jews and Israel state. Maybe media have a connection to boil such empathy. Obviously Jews take opportunity of this sympathetic approach towards them. They create discourses to make their agenda forward and guide U.S. foreign policy in the wrong way.
The Author is studying International Relations at the University of Dhaka.