Opinion

Change the Lobby

If we are truly to see some transformation in the way the US now rules the world, the war-mongering machine must be dismantled.

By Ramzy Baroud
Published February 11, 2009

It's impossible to over-emphasize the stranglehold Israel's lobbying infrastructure has on US foreign policy. The events of recent weeks undoubtedly attest to this. "The special relationship" that has been historically fostered between the US and Israel in fact, is often a relationship of leverage, manipulation and intimidation, and often leads to the US supporting actions or resolutions that stand at complete odds with the interests of the American people.

The promise of change echoed the world over as people from all corners anticipated the magic moment Obama could actually change the devastating reality in which we live today. But just weeks before his inauguration, Israel unleashed the most barbaric attacks on defenseless Palestinian civilians since 1948. Civil societies expressed outrage and called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes and genocide. Other nations cut diplomatic ties completely with Israel.

But the man of change did absolutely nothing. For weeks he was completely silent. Even in his first days in office, Obama made no mention of the Israeli genocide in Gaza. So, what of this change that he promised? What kind of hold does Israel have to silence the President of the United States?

Authors and professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, of University of Chicago and Harvard University respectively, defined the Israel Lobby in their volume The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy as a "loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction."

What has been revealed in their work is that "The Lobby" is not a unitary organization, of a few, or many paid lobbyists who are pushing for a specific foreign policy agenda. Sure, you have that too, manifested in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – an organization that boasts of 60,000 active members, and who showers US congressmen with many millions of dollars in campaign contributions, all with one aim in mind, a pro-Israel, right or wrong agenda. But it's much more complex than that.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, less known than AIPAC, is a powerful lobby conduit, for it supposedly represents 52 major Jewish organizations. Based in New York, the organization simply represents an uncompromisingly pro-Israel stance, which tends to advocate Israel's suppression of Palestinians (as Israel's right to defend itself), and advocates a pro-war agenda (as was the case before the Iraq war, and later against Syria and Iran.)

These are but mere examples. What Mearsheimer and Walt describe as a "loose coalition of individuals and organizations" is in fact a vast infrastructure that has penetrated every major organization and institution, governmental and otherwise, that could in some way influence, push for or advocate Israel's interests.

When AIPAC holds its annual conferences, countless members of the House and the Senate, the executive branch, top representatives of both parties, as well as hundreds of US ambassadors flock from all over the world in an unprecedented manner to vow their allegiance to Israel.

With the passing of time, the strength of the lobby, and the level of influence of Israel's "friends" in the Congress has grown immensely to the point that US allegiances actually jeopardize the interests of their own citizens. Even from an imperialistic viewpoint, the US has no particular interest in supporting Israel's genocidal policies in Gaza, for example, considering the fact that the US is struggling to find any semblance of 'stability' in the region that is saturated with anti-American sentiment.

Consider what outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a speech in the Israeli southern town of Ashkelon on Jan 12, regarding how he influenced the US vote in the UN on a resolution pertaining to the Gaza war:

In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the Secretary of State wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favor.

I said 'get me President Bush on the phone'. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn't care. 'I need to talk to him now'. He got off the podium and spoke to me.

I told him the United States could not vote in favor. It cannot vote in favor of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favor."

She was left shamed. A resolution that she prepared and arranged, and in the end she did not vote in favor.

Imagine: Olmert is boasting how he, with one telephone call, managed to completely turn around the entire US foreign policy agenda, no questions asked. This tells us that it's not a give-and-take relationship.

One can learn a valuable lesson in all of this. Within the United States there is a great apparatus that has been in motion for generations. It is beyond civil society, beyond individual citizens and citizen groups, it is perhaps even more powerful than 'the man of change' himself.

And if we are truly to see some transformation in the way the US now rules the world, this war-mongering machine must be dismantled.

Ramzy Baroud is an author and editor of www.palestinechronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

17 Comments

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2009 at 03:39:26

why do all your articles sound the same? are you perhaps a little biased? those poor unfortunate Palestinians being treated like a bunch of sadistic terrorists. oh that is true they are a bunch of sadistic terrorists. are you an active terrorist or just a supporter?

just wondering

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 21, 2009 at 21:50:08

Just wondering: I wonder if you actually have spent any time in analyzing this situation. As I have been on the internet there are many views.

I take notice of a reader response to the mayday's article on Gaza, where those voices that actually try to draw some real discussiona are shot down by those who want to oppressive other views.

It is interestingly enough that there was a retort about funding and the fact that one group pays taxes but that group is not the whole of entire community or country, so how can the voices of the minority affect policy?

In a democratic society the voices of all groups all allowed to express their views, even if it is to the chargine of others. But why should a minority voice dictate policy or how dictate how others should think or feel?

There is much wrong with the policies of Israel, and anyone of sound mind can see the problems, my question would be why can't you?

All people should be treated the same, should be given the same opportunities, the same everything, that is the basis of human rights. If you cannot see that , I would say that you have a problem with the real" ideals" of what a "democracy" should be.

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2009 at 00:23:26

no no no
not everyone gets treated the same
murderers get treated like murderers
terrorists get treated like terrorists
when i go to sleep at nights i have no fear that the idf will attack us do you?
cant say the same about our friendly neighborhood islamist terrorists
not all islamists are terrorists but most terrorists are islamists

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 22, 2009 at 17:18:37

By Wondering: I wonder all this talk about terrorism is everywhere, it is the word of the day so to speak. the word creates fear and anxiety in teh populace but then who is the enemy, is it this guy or is it the other guy?????

I was listening to a speech in which the speaker spoke of others back in history who are seen as the resistors, could in todays world be terrorists. Those are not my words but that of someone else, but they do ring true, it depends on which side of the fence one is on, who is delivering the propaganda.

I abhor violence but one does have to look at things in its whole perspective and not just from the views of one side or the other. Two rights do not make a wrong or is it two wrongs don't make a right.

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2009 at 18:03:56

a continual stream of suicide bombers attacking not only isreal but even fellow islamic states like egypt yesterday
I can sort of wrap my puny little brain around their rationale for firing rockets at the jews but bombing the market in cairo?
why do you try to defend the indefensible?

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 23, 2009 at 23:13:41

By wondering: Did you not read what I said, I abhor violence at all levels. I blame no one but blame everyone, as it seems that sitting down and reasonably discussing things does not seem to be on the agenda for those that control things.

There is blame on all sides and there are innocents on all sides.

Do you not think it is more reasonable to sit down and talk things out, to accept responsiblity for what one does or does not do or how either side has perpetuated the hate, the killings, the destruction?

I mean think about it, tower 7, the news report on the BBC, where it was broadcasted that the building had collapsed, yet in the background it was still standing.

I will ask you again who is the enemy????? Will we ever know the truth?????

Who are you trying to defend? Do you really know????

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By social scientist (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2009 at 09:13:15

"""
I will ask you again who is the enemy????? Will we ever know the truth?????
Who are you trying to defend? Do you really know????
"""

I hereby posit a positive correlation between the number of question marks used in a blog comment and the level of underlying paranoid conspiracy theory: more question marks == more paranoid.

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2009 at 23:18:04

I'm not crazy about violence thats kind of the point
which group is using violence trying to induce terror on the entire world all the while refusing to negotiate
where is the most violence coming from and how to deal with it?
sometimes violence must be dealt with more violence that's all they understand
I'm so fed up with the Palestinians I would endorse almost any level of violence to deal with them

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By Justice (registered) | Posted February 24, 2009 at 23:24:05

"which group is using violence trying to induce terror on the entire world all the while refusing to negotiate"

That would be Israel.

"where is the most violence coming from"

That would be Israel (killing between 10 and 100 Palestinians for each Israeli killed).

"sometimes violence must be dealt with more violence that's all they understand"

So the Palestinians have concluded.

"I'm not crazy about violence thats kind of the point"

[...]

"I'm so fed up with the Palestinians I would endorse almost any level of violence to deal with them"

Hypocrite.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 24, 2009 at 23:39:14

By Wondering: I would say you have a severe problem. Better get some help.

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 24, 2009 at 23:44:57

Social scientist: At least I am not a sheeple like you, I asks questions, look for information, you, can't be much of a scientist now can you.

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By social scientist (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 09:26:15

Baaaaaaa, baaaaaaa, baaaaaa!

Scientists "ask questions, look for information" too, only we have strict ways of looking for information and answering the questions we ask that require a little thing called a burden of evidence. The fact that you're quoting urban myths about 9/11 doesn't bode well for your own approach to looking for information and answering questions.

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 09:51:28

Israel retaliates sometimes to hard but they are willing to negotiate
Palestinians especially Hamas are not I assume that is why the populace voted them in
things have quieted down lets see who initiates the next round of violence
bet you dollars to donuts its not the Israelis
how much do you want to put up?

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 10:14:16

sorry forgot to address a couple issues
what myths about 9/11?
I have said little if anything about that
not liking violence but being willing to use it doesn't make me a hypocrite I do all kinds of things I don't like doing almost daily
violence is all some people understand so they must be dealt with violently
look at history it repeats that fact over and over
when a ruling political parties stated policy is to commit genocide on its neighboring state then there will be violence if if Israel is not violent then they will be exterminated
but then maybe that is what you want

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 25, 2009 at 23:12:54

Social scientist: Well then where is your burden of prove on tower 7. It seems that there are many people from different walks of live that do not believe the "official story" and to be honest why would MSM be reporting that a building fell, tower 7, when it was still standing? Can you answer that?

That is not an urban myth, it is fact, it is on tape, it was broadcast all over the world. Sure does look like a controlled demolition to me but then what do I know, just an ordinary person but sure does look suspicious. Why are those that were in the building tower 7, hearing explosions? Seems to me that someone missed their cue. There was a pretty good turn out at a lecture here in town on the topic, so I guess I am not alone.

By Wondering: Well to be honest, I do not bet but there is more to the story isn't there. I watched a film clip done by CBS, which was pretty good considering it was main stream media, it showed pretty clearly some of the problems over there. What you fail to look at is the policies. You see there are bad people everywhere, they can blue, pink, black, red, purple with polka dots but does not mean that all people of the same group think alike. I have heard several Israeli, Jewish voices who do not think like you do, they can see what the issues are, too bad you can't. You are the type of person that perpetuates hate and violence as you will never give up your views for the betterment of all. You are just as bad as those you are condemning.

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By wondering (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 00:46:56

I'm aware of the issues and violence is right at or near the top
Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular have refused to address the issues their entire focus is on trying to destroy Israel
PLO had changed a lot over the years and constructive negotiations had taken place things were better not good but better and then Hamas took over and destroyed years of progress
Israel certainly is not free from blame but the latest rounds of violence have certainly been instigated by Hamas

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By Grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted February 26, 2009 at 23:15:38

Thanks for jumping in Ryan, I feel that same way you do. There is an article on commondreams.org about a load of pasta that has been denied entry to those that need the food.

The world must take a stand, this is simply not acceptable to deny entry of food.

This is demented and evil.

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