The Tale of the Tail that wags the Dog: Israel’s Lobby in the US

(File photo: Jordan News)

Yusuf Mansur

The writer is CEO of the Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs.

Currently, there is anger amongst the Arab masses towards the West for their callous attitude toward Arab human life and their apparent total support for Israel, the occupier who has broken every international law and got away with murder(s) time and again. At times like these, it is important to understand the sources and causes of this seemingly unjustified bias.اضافة اعلان

Why does Israel have such support in democratic countries?
The answer was made ever so clear in the book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby, which was first published in 1985 by former US Representative Paul Findley. The book states that Israel has been able to utilize the democratic process by influencing election results and political processes to its advantage through formal and informal lobby groups.

The formal lobbying groups include the “Christians United for Israel”, which is the US largest pro-Israel lobby; the “American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)”, which directly lobbies the United States Congress; and the “Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations”, which contacts the executive branch" of the US government on behalf the Jewish community. The informal lobbying group is even wider and contains too many organizations to mention.

These lobbying groups contact the legislative and executive branches of government in the US, pour money and votes into election campaigns of persons who support Israel, keep a tally of individuals who do not support Israel, and ensure that Israel is always beyond reproach.

Every US president since the mid-1960s has had to seek the support of these lobbying groups, and shower their constituents with promises of guns and roses to Israel and affirmations of his commitment to its survival and welfare. Some have even gone as far as visiting the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem wearing the kippah to display their loyalty.

No matter what the US party agenda is, support for Israel is a must. Should a president show some neutrality toward the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as in the case of Barack Obama’s second term campaign in 2013, funds would flow in to support his opponent--American Israeli billionaire Sheldon Adelson poured US$ 100 million into campaigns opposing the election of Obama.

On the other hand, when Arab Americans make donations to campaigns the money is returned with a thanks-but-no-thanks note. The case of the Lebanese-American lawyer, Joe Jamail whose contribution to the George H. Bush presidential campaign was speedily returned; possibly in order not to upset the Jewish lobbying groups. The incident was later noted by Reverend Jesse Jackson. 

So why are there no pro-Arab lobbying groups?
There are several Arab lobbying groups in the USA.  Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, and the UAE all have lobbyists on Capitol Hill but unlike their Israeli counterparts they are not united. They do not form an Arab lobby whose main interest, unlike the Jewish lobby, is the question of Palestine. Each of these lobbies is concerned with its country’s interests, which is why, among other things, their impact pales next to the Israeli lobby.

Does public opinion matter?
It does not. Yes, people’s awareness worldwide of the justice of the Palestinian struggle has improved thanks to social media and non-state actors, but so what? Israel knows that the leaders of democracies only care about the electoral process and the powerful lobbies that control it. To emphasize, democracies are run by special interest groups; the more powerful these groups are at lobbying diplomats and diplomacy, the more control they have. Israel has great clout through its special interest groups and its lobby, the Arabs don’t. Therefore, Arabs should not expect fairness or equitable treatment from the US and other Western democracies.

Yusuf Mansur is CEO of the Envision Consulting Group and former minister of state for economic affairs.

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