The US and Israel
The unconditional and mostly uncritical support that the United States has provided Israel over many decades has been more pronounced than us attitudes even to some of its most favoured Third World puppets. While the us may from time to time give half-hearted official support to criticisms by human rights bodies of other pro-us governments, in virtually every case it has used its veto in the United Nations to block even the mildest criticism of blatant violations of human rights or international law by Israel.
Israel, although a First World economy, is the largest recipient of us aid in the world, currently averaging some $3 billion a year. Since 1949, the us has provided Israel some $84 billion; when the interest costs borne by us taxpayers on behalf of Israel, another $49 billion, are added, the total is more than $134 billion.1
This has led to a long controversy over the nature of this relationship. A sizeable body of opinion claims that, the us relationship with Israel is the reverse of its relationship with various puppet tyrants: a powerful Israel, acting through a us-based “Jewish” or “Israeli” lobby, dictates us policy in the Middle East, bludgeoning Congress into decisions that conflict with real us interests.
Far from being an asset to us interests, support for Israel is a liability, they argue, because it alienates the us from the peoples and even the right-wing Arab and Muslim governments of the region, and inflames anti-us sentiment. The us continues on this course only because of the power of this domestic lobby. The us empire is not so powerful: it allows itself to be dominated by a small state of six million people and the voices of well-organised domestic lobbyists representing a mere 2.7 percent of the us population.
The main schools of ‘lobby’ theory
The most blatant version of this explanation is that us policy is dictated by a “Jewish lobby”, consisting of the large diaspora of Jews throughout the world, who are described as relatively wealthy, owning a large part of the western media and heavily involved in areas such as finance. They are said to act as a fifth column for Israel by using their wealth and media control to push the us and other governments to carry out pro-Israel policies against their own interests.
This view is associated with many far-right critiques. Here we will not concentrate on this kind of “Jewish” lobby theory with its racist connotations.
Far more commonly, we hear of an “Israeli lobby” dominating us foreign policy. This is a lobby with special interests connected to the state of Israel. It does not necessarily involve the majority of Jews in the us, and it can involve non-Jews who have special interests in Israel, including economic interests, election interests (i.e. those in electorates where a large Jewish population is well-organised by right-wing Zionist leaders), or ideological interests, for example the powerful Christian-Zionist lobby.
There is no argument that such a lobby exists. There are many lobbies in the us, and the pro-Israel lobby is a particularly powerful one. It is often able to silence sections of the media that might attempt to criticise Israel, and to denigrate the reputations of academics and intimidate universities to get people sacked, to list some of its better known activities.
However, the argument is whether this lobby is so powerful that it and Israel drive us policy in the Middle East—whether the tail wags the dog rather than the dog wagging the tail. This view sees a powerful, primarily Jewish, group in the us acting on behalf of a foreign government to push policies on the us government that are at odds with the latter’s interests.
The issue was recently brought to the fore by the publication of an extensive critique of the influence of the Israeli lobby on us foreign policy by John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at Chicago, and Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.2 This was new because they are very much figures of the us foreign policy establishment, whose views represent the thinking of one wing of the right-wing “realist” school. They wrote, “The overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due almost entirely to U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby.’ … No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest.”
Along with the right-wing argument, there is also a left version. Unlike the right, it does not believe us foreign policy, without the lobby’s influence, would be any less imperialist. For example, referring to the administration of George Bush in 1988-92, Jeffrey Blankfort notes, “… while an overall evaluation of Bush’s career would have him standing in the dock as a war criminal, his confrontation with the lobby was one of the bright spots for opponents of the us-Israel alliance”.3
This refers to Bush I’s opposition to an expansion of settlements by the Israeli right-wing Likud government of Yitzak Shamir at a time when the us was trying to negotiate one of the many fake “peace” agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
The left-wing lobby theorists believe that it is simply not in us interests to support Israel: a natural us policy in the Middle East would still be imperialist, but would not require the oppression of the Palestinians. Bush understood that, and was trying to get a better deal for the Palestinians because us interests demand good relations with the reactionary Arab oil monarchies, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Relations with these repressive dictatorships, which control much of the world’s oil, are undermined by us support for Israel, where there is no oil.
Blankfort’s article describes the extraordinarily well-organised work of the lobby, particularly the aggressive and often successful canvassing and intimidation of members of Congress. A large section deals with the lobby’s mobilisation to get Congress to vote against Bush I’s attempt to delay for 120 days some $10 billion in us-guaranteed loans to Israel. This leaves the impression that the lobby’s threats to unseat members of Congress really is what drives us policy in the Middle East. Yet this raises another problem: it gives the legislative branch of the state too much power. If a warped and pressured “democratic” process really is responsible for an overall foreign policy orientation that for many decades has been in conflict with us imperialist interests, we might expect to find an active undermining of this policy by other sections of the state, as in other cases where imperialist interests clash with the “democratic” process. For example, when Congress voted against arming the Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s, top levels of the us state and government organised the Iran-contra affair. We see none of this in relation to Israel.
The most ambitious attempt to deal with these contradictions and use a more Marxist approach, while still within the framework of talking about a lobby, has been made by Gabriel Ash. He emphasises that the people in the Israeli lobby are not some foreign body but a part of the us and “transnational” ruling class. It is only natural that there are divisions within the ruling class, and that some sections may have closer interests with Israel, while others may favour more openings to reactionary Arab states. And this Israeli lobby within the us ruling class is not necessarily only its Jewish members.4
Ash criticises Noam Chomsky’s counterposition of “strategic-economic interests of concentrations of domestic power in the tight state-corporate linkage” to “the Israeli lobby” as factors in us Middle East policy. Ash points out that this is a false distinction, which accepts the right-wing theoretical framework of Mearsheimer and Walt while rejecting their conclusions:
The way out of this mess … would mean collapsing the false distinction … we should look at Washington as a complex web of interlocking and overlapping alliances of (transnational) capital and (domestic) state institutions … capital is global and many of the interests represented in Washington lost their “nationality” long ago. There is as little that is “American” in the interests of Citibank and Wal-Mart as in the interests represented by the Israel Lobby.5
However, this version renders the term “lobby” meaningless: if we are talking about a section of the us ruling class, then a study of what its interests are, and why those interests are very pro-Israel, is still necessary. A section of the us ruling class that is not only Jewish is a section of the us ruling class, not a mere lobby.
Yet elsewhere Ash appears to describe the lobby as much like other lobbies in the way it acts and in the nature of its pressure in formulating state policy, rather than a section of the ruling class. He compares it to the gun lobby and the religious right, but neither gun laws nor creationism command the same virtually absolute support among the us ruling class as does support for Israel. Is this simply because the Israel lobby is more powerful or better funded, or is there something more fundamental about us support for Israel? Elsewhere he writes as if the Israel lobby were similar to a more well-heeled version of the environment movement or the anti-war movement. Despite it being part of the ruling class, it appears it still has to use the traditional lobbying tactics of other social movements to get its way. Yet the Israeli lobby, unlike others, nearly always gets its way. This is a strange way for a section of the ruling class to act—for it to need to lobby continually, it must be a minority among the ruling class; yet these lobbying activities ensure its policies always dominate over those of the alleged ruling-class majority.
While Ash is correct that there are divisions over Middle East policy within the ruling class, these divisions are not fundamental. One key reason the lobby has been so successful is that its Zionism is in accord with the overall views of all wings of the us ruling class. What the main right-wing Israeli lobby—the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac)—does is push the boundaries as far as it can in a more extreme direction. No doubt its activities, like those of other lobbies, influence policy, but that does not prove that it is responsible for the support by the us ruling class for Zionism as a whole. Joseph Massad, a key critic of lobby theories, puts it most correctly: “What then would have been different in us policy in the Middle East absent Israel and its powerful lobby? The answer in short is: the details and intensity but not the direction, content, or impact of such policies.”6
Lobby theorists’ critique of left analysis
Nevertheless, we need to answer some of the points raised by lobbyist theorists, which cast doubt on the traditional left-wing view of those arguing against the lobby explanation of the us-Israel connection. This traditional view has gone something like the following:
Israel is a colonial-settler state whose existence in a hostile region, where it has displaced indigenous Arabs, makes it a permanently dependent ally of imperialism. Its permanent conflict with its neighbours makes it most useful to imperialism: as Henry Kissinger put it, “Israel’s obstinacy … serves the purposes of both our countries best”. The whole First World population of Israel have some stake in maintaining their position of privilege, and this requires being a willing tool of imperialism. The Israeli bourgeoisie is therefore completely dependent on imperialism, while at the same time being a tiny section of the imperialist bourgeoisie itself.
This is a far more stable prop for imperialism than the reactionary Arab/Muslim capitalist states, in which only a thin crust of the bourgeois elite can be reliable allies of imperialism—and they can be removed by revolution. The overthrow of the shah of Iran showed this: all the years of imperialist investment in his regime as a regional policeman crashed in 1979. This could not happen to Israel, where the whole population is tied to imperialism. Israel thus plays the role of, in the words of former us Secretary of State Alexander Haig, “the largest and only unsinkable U.S. aircraft carrier in the world”. In this role, Israel has helped knock down regimes hostile to imperialist interests, such as its defeat of Nasser in 1967, which dealt a crippling blow to the Arab nationalist wave.
However, the lobby theorists claim that support for Israel is detrimental to us imperialist interests. Its very existence, and particularly us support to its most uncompromising policies, is what creates hostility to the us and to imperialism in the region. The Palestinians themselves do not have oil, so there is no special us interest in Israel’s oppression of Palestine. But us control of the vital oil-rich region beyond Palestine is threatened by anti-imperialist movements which have as their starting points hostility to Israel. Otherwise, many of these fundamentally bourgeois-led movements and states would more likely be us allies. Due to Israel, even right-wing capitalist regimes in the region often have to take their distance from Washington. While supporting oppression and opposing national liberation movements is the same policy that us imperialism pursues elsewhere in the Third World, it is not true to say, as Chomsky does, that “us policies in the Middle East are quite similar to those pursued elsewhere”, because elsewhere these reactionary policies do not include a colonial settler state that produces such local hostility to the us.
Few lobby theorists would deny that the early Zionist movement was promoted by imperialism, but this was in the age of colonialism, when Britain and France directly controlled parts of the region. A colonial-settler Zionist state was a natural ally then. However, it has a completely different effect today, when imperialism maintains control via indirect neo-colonial arrangements with the local comprador ruling classes.
Some would concede also that Israel had some utility for the us during the Cold War, since it could act as a us surrogate against pro-Soviet regimes, but this is fundamentally different after the Cold War. According to Blankfort, “if during the Cold War the us regarded Israel as a reliable ally against Soviet-backed regimes in some Arab states, this argument vanished as quickly as did the ussr”. Now the only real threat is political Islam, and it is us support for Israel that facilitates the growth of this movement.
Despite the talk of Israel being a most reliable us cop in the region, the lobby theorists continue, there are few cases in which Israel has been used in that role, other than 1956 (by British and French imperialism, but opposed by us imperialism) and in 1967 (supported by us imperialism). In fact, in Bush I’s war against Iraq in 1991, an effort was made to ensure Israel did not attack Iraq, even when Iraq launched Scuds at Israel, because an Israeli attack on the side of the us would have destroyed the Arab coalition the us had built. While it may be the “most reliable” ally of imperialism, this is irrelevant if it cannot be used in this role.
Surely then, they argue, if the us were to broker a genuine peace agreement which forced an Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 and allowed a viable Palestinian state, this would boost the standing of us imperialism among millions of Arabs and Muslims, strengthen the relationship between the us and the reactionary Arab states which control most of the oilfields and defuse anti-imperialist sentiments. The only reason the us continues to act against its own interests is the pressure of the Israeli lobby. Bush I knew that, and when he tried to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace process going with the Madrid conference, Israel reacted by demanding $10 billion in us-guaranteed loans. Bush asked Israel to delay it for 120 days and made it conditional on freezing the settlement binge, and Israel refused. This led to a furious offensive by the Israeli lobby to get the numbers in Congress to vote against Bush, and this may have cost him the election a few months later.7
Anti-imperialism in the Middle East: not only a reaction to Israel
Part of this thesis is based on a fallacy: the idea that anti-imperialism in the Middle East is fundamentally a reaction to Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians and us support for that. Anti-imperialist movements are not unique to the Middle East. They exist throughout the neo-colonial world. The mass uprising against British imperialism in Iraq in the early 1920s had nothing to do with the future Zionist state; likewise the revolutionary developments in Iran from 1944 to 1953, including Mossadeq’s nationalisation of imperialist oil interests, which led to the cia’s bloody 1953 coup. The rise of Nasserism—the most radical version of the bourgeois nationalist wave—was first directed against imperialism, not Zionism: the nationalisation of the Suez Canal was a huge anti-imperialist act, and British and French imperialism utilised Israel for their joint attack on Nasser.
The revolution against British imperialism in Yemen was followed by a civil war in the 1960s that pitted a Nasser-backed anti-imperialist left against a Saudi-backed royalist right. us imperialism aims to rule the oil-rich region not only via Israel, but also via the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the other princes, sheikhs and emirs on the Gulf, rather than the normal right-wing bourgeois regimes it uses elsewhere. When Israel attacked Nasser in 1967, it was not only doing itself a favour (by seizing territory), but also knocking out a nationalist regime that was upsetting imperialism’s other key prop: the semi-feudal oil monarchies. In fact, the strategic nature of the us-Israel alliance derives from this knock-out of Nasserism: us aid to Israel increased 450 percent after 1967,8 and some 99 percent of us aid to Israel has been given since 1967.9
Lobby theorists could argue that Israel may have done the us a service because the Nasser regime was pro-Soviet, but the collapse of the ussr made Israel no longer useful in this way. Yet while the ussr could provide an alternative pole for bourgeois nationalist regimes, it was never simply the Soviet alliance that was the problem for imperialism, but any challenge to undiluted imperialist control. Anti-imperialist movements continue to exist throughout the Third World, including the Middle East, in the post-Soviet era. us support to Israel may intensify anti-us sentiment in the region, but is by no means primarily responsible for it. It would exist without Israel.
Israel as regional cop?
However, even if it only intensifies anti-us feeling, what is it about Israel that makes this intensification worth it? Is it the role it can play as regional cop for imperialism?
It may be true that the us has been less willing to use Israel directly to attack in the manner of 1956 and 1967, and the holding back of Israel in 1991 is a good example. However, Stephen Zunes provides much information on how the us continues to use Israel even in such operations, in secondary but very important ways:
Rather than being a liability … the 1991 Gulf War once again proved Israel to be a strategic asset: Israeli developments in air-to-ground warfare were integrated into allied bombing raids against Iraqi missile sites and other targets; Israeli-designed conformal fuel tanks for F-15 fighter-bombers greatly enhanced their range; Israeli-provided mine plows were utilized during the final assaults on Iraqi positions; Israeli mobile bridges were used by U.S. Marines; Israeli targeting systems and low-altitude warning devices were employed by U.S. helicopters; and Israel developed key components for the widely-used Tomahawk missiles.
This has continued during the current Iraq invasion:
Israel has also been supportive of U.S. military operations in Iraq by helping to train U.S. Special Forces in aggressive counterinsurgency techniques and sending urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg to instruct assassination squads targeting suspected Iraqi guerrilla leaders. The U.S. civil administration in Iraq … was modeled after Israel’s civil administration in the occupied Arab territories … Israelis have helped arm and train pro-American Kurdish militias and have assisted U.S. officials in interrogation centers for suspected insurgents ... Israeli advisers have shared helpful tips on erecting and operating roadblocks and checkpoints, have provided training in mine-clearing and wall-breaching methods, and have suggested techniques for tracking suspected insurgents using drone aircraft. Israel has also provided aerial surveillance equipment, decoy drones, and armored construction equipment.
Israel has also provided services to imperialism elsewhere in the Third World, using its extensive experience in repression to aid the us in places from Central America to Sri Lanka. It has served as an indirect link for the us to regimes, such as apartheid South Africa, that have been so internationally isolated that even the us Congress is forced to cut off open cooperation; it played a similar role in the Iran-contra scandal in the 1980s, both facilitating links to the Iranian leaders and channelling arms to the contras.
All these examples make it clear that Israel performs a great deal of work that would be valuable to us imperialism without any Israeli lobby existing. Nevertheless, the argument remains whether these secondary uses of Israel to imperialism can make up for the intensification of anti-us feeling in the region. While Israel can be seen as a “cop of last resort”, the lobby theorists have a point that the “aircraft carrier” analogy is stretching it, or at least outmoded, given the counterproductive effect of any direct us use of Israel against its neighbours.
us support for the most extreme Israeli policies of Likud governments makes hostility to the us even worse, and thus the risk of using Israel greater. It would seem therefore to be in us interests at least to push a compromise “peace” agreement rather than the more extreme Likud versions of Zionism. This would reduce hostility and thus make it easier to use Israel when needed. Therefore, lobby theorists argue, policies like those of the current Bush II/neo-con us regime, with its rabid support for Likud, must surely be against us interests and thus dictated by the Israel lobby.
Growing convergence of ruling classes
However, these secondary military services are not the only reasons for imperialist support for Israel. There is debate over whether Israel should be termed a mini-imperialist country in its own right or if the fact that it is even more dependent on imperialism than average Third World countries makes this term meaningless. However, what is not in dispute is that its ruling class largely originates in imperialist countries in recent decades, along with most of the Israeli population, and that the economic and technological levels of the country are First World.10
Given the origins of the Israeli ruling class and its decades of connection with the us ruling class, their destinies are now so linked as to make it difficult to separate them. This is why pro-Israel forces in the us are well beyond what can usefully be called a “lobby”. It is no surprise that these links are strongest in the military industry, a very large section of the us ruling class. Lobby theorists often point to the $3 billion provided by the us annually to Israel as evidence of the power of the lobby, rather than of Israel’s strategic worth to the us. But there is an even more direct connection: most of this money can be spent only on us-made weapons. Such well-known names in the us ruling class as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, United Technologies, Boeing, Textron and General Dynamics profit handsomely from this money provided by us taxpayers, Israel’s armed forces being full of their products.11
Due to Israel’s militarised existence, the military/high-tech industries play a dominant role there seen elsewhere only in the us itself, so their large-scale symbiotic relationship with the us military-industrial complex is hardly surprising. Israel is the fifth largest supplier of high-tech military hardware to the United States.12 Israel produces ten percent of the world’s arms and is involved in many joint ventures with us defence and high tech companies.
One of the key links between the us and Israeli arms industries is the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and its cousin, the Center for Security Policy. These were among the leading organisations which, along with the Project for the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute, formed the core of the neo-conservative project. They include the same number of Jewish defence intellectuals with Likud connections as the other “think-tanks” do, but their boards of directors are also stacked with generals and admirals, heads of defence industries (for example from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Israeli Aircraft Industries and Northrop Grumman), weapons brokers and military consultancies like Cypress International and sy Technology, whose main clients include the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, which oversees joint projects with Israel.13
With links like these, major sections of the us ruling class hardly need to be convinced by a lobby to support Israel, and an aggressive one at that.
Key ideological prop of us imperialism
Beyond these direct connections between the ruling classes, what needs to be understood is the special nature of the Israeli state that makes it central to imperialist strategy and makes it highly unlikely that imperialism would simply drop it, short of truly enormous challenges that might make it counterproductive. It is the ideological uses of a western prop in the region that is often underestimated by lobby theorists.
Imperialism does not rule by “free” economic expansion on its own. Those who argue that without Israel, us capital could spread more unencumbered in the region, are making a similar mistake to those who argue that chauvinist campaigns against immigrants in western countries are against the interests of big capital, which profits from the “free” movement of highly exploitable labour. It is the whip of the anti-immigrant movement, alongside the racism that tells immigrants where their place is in the hierarchy, that ensures their labour remains highly exploitable.
In supporting Israel, imperialism is supporting a country that it projects as a replica of advanced western “Judeo-Christian” civilisation, bluntly telling millions of Arabs who they must look up to if they want the cash, the technology, the arms and supposedly the standard of living.
Those not looking at this ideological aspect and instead concentrating on the hostility it creates miss a number of further points. The presence of Israel actually helps reactionary Arab regimes justify their own repressive rule, and in practice has facilitated rather than compromised their connections to the us. The presence of a colonial-settler state, along with the Saudi monarchy, entrenches a conservative politics: even anti-imperialist movements are thereby stuck at the “national” stage and rarely go over to the anti-capitalist stage. A democratic solution in Palestine would threaten the repressive regimes that imperialism relies on in the oilfields. An aggressive Israel coincides with an increasingly aggressive us imperialism threatened by competitors, serves the us interest of promoting its lead in providing “security cover” in the region for other imperialists and enforces an ideological message about who the boss is.
Relations with reactionary Arab states
The existence of a theocratic and racist regime in the heart of the Arab world actually helps the reactionary monarchies of the Gulf to justify their repressive regimes and massive security apparatuses—armed by the same us that arms Israel. Ironically, the Saudi rulers justify their need for massive quantities of arms by pointing to the aggressive anti-Arab actions of Israel.
Apart from keeping these regimes in power, arming both sides is also a bonanza for the us armaments industry. The big rise in weaponry in the region with the current us support for Likud’s terroristic policies and the invasion of Iraq pushed us arms sales abroad to $21 billion in 2005-06, double the previous year.14
These enormous arms sales call into question the idea that us support for Israel has affected its relationship with the reactionary Arab states. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest us arms customers in the world. It recently announced plans to buy $5.8 billion of us weapons to modernise its national guard, along with $3 billion “in orders for Black Hawk helicopters, Abrams and Bradley armored land vehicles, new radio systems and other weapons”. Bahrain, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates “have filed plans to buy Black Hawk helicopters for a total of $1 billion. Oman plans to buy a $48 million anti-tank missile system. The Emirates plans to buy rocket artillery equipment and military trucks for $752 million and Bahrain will purchase Javelin missiles for $42 million.”15
An increasingly aggressive us-Israeli alliance since the 1990s did not prevent Gaddafi’s Libya transforming itself from the most radical bourgeois-nationalist regime in the region into a us ally, despite maintaining an anti-Zionist stand. Likewise, in the 1980s, the Reagan regime’s aggressive support for Israel did not prevent the radical bourgeois-nationalist and anti-Zionist regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq from collaborating with imperialism in its invasion of Iran. Even when Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, Hussein stepped up his new alliance with imperialism. Israel meanwhile sent arms to the similarly radical bourgeois nationalist regime in Iran, and facilitated us contact with the mullahs, enabling the us to play one off against another.
When the Iraqi regime entered its long period of conflict with imperialism in 1990, this did not result mainly from mass pressure on the regime to react against us support for Israel; it resulted from the conflict between Iraq, a real country, and Kuwait, one of the oil sheikhdoms of the Gulf. Thus it could be argued that us support for these anachronistic monarchies also creates anti-us hostility in the region.
Moreover, Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians also allows these regimes to use anti-Zionist demagogy in the same way as openly reactionary regimes, to justify a repressive state. Hussein, for example, could hang Communists from lamp-posts, providing an indirect service to imperialism, while slandering his victims as “Zionist spies”.
Keeping anti-imperialism within national bounds
The existence of a colonial-settler state, keeping alive a burning national question, tends to restrict struggles to the national stage. The existence of the Saudi and Gulf monarchies has a similar effect. Thus, while lobby theorists argue that us support for Israel intensifies anti-imperialism in the region, we could equally argue that it politically limits the anti-imperialism that would exist anyway, and maintains conservative political hegemony.
While Latin America and the Middle East have a similar level of economic development, in the former the anti-imperialist struggle has often tended to cross over from the national stage to socialist revolution. By contrast, in the Middle East, anti-imperialism has meant Khomeiniite Iran, Baathist Iraq and Syria, Gaddafi’s Libya, etc.—regimes that are a headache for imperialism, but unmistakably bourgeois.
None of this means that us support for Israel does not intensify hostility. If continued Israeli intransigence did create a situation in which it was fuelling such anti-imperialist feeling that the us felt its interests seriously threatened, then it is likely the us would force Israel to some kind of compromise. However, while some of the “Islamist” opposition appears uncompromisingly anti-imperialist, it is important to understand that the us does not yet see this kind of anti-imperialism as any more fundamental a threat than the national struggle that has long existed in the region; “political Islam” is just as bourgeois as other forms of bourgeois nationalism.
Moreover, in the past, many “Islamist” forces were promoted by imperialism as a counterweight to Communist, left-wing and Nasserite movements. Such imperialist support is evidence that western governments understand that their “anti-imperialism” is not as serious as their rhetoric would suggest, and that in different circumstances many of these movements would be prone to manipulation. Indeed, the most fundamentalist regime is the Saudi monarchy, the key us ally after Israel.
Furthermore, while hostility to Israel is one driver of Islamic radicalism, it is far from the only cause of its spectacular rise. Al Qaida evolved out of a wing of the Islamic reactionaries sent by Saudi Arabia, with us support, to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. us support for Israel and the plight of the Palestinians did not appear to bother bin Laden much in 1980s. He turned against the us when the latter used the Gulf War against Iraq in 1991 to occupy Saudi Arabia with thousands of troops.
This coincided with a growing alienation of the Saudi bourgeoisie, of which bin Laden is a prominent member, from the Saudi monarchy. The anti-us hostility of the “fundamentalist” bin Laden is as much due to us support for the “fundamentalist” Saudi monarchy as to us support for Israel.
The biggest boost to Islamist radicalisation has come from the us invasion and occupation of Iraq. If us support for Israel is alleged to be against us interests because it fuels anti-us hostility, then presumably the us is also acting against its own interests by occupying Saudi Arabia and then Iraq.
One other point on the more reactionary forms of “Islamism” is that its religious language, its use of large-scale terrorist actions and the “clash of civilisations” ideology it espouses all play directly into the hands of imperialism. Those arguing that us support for Israel is inflaming “militant Islam” miss the point that the more anti-imperialism takes an “Islamic” colouration, the more this provides imperialism with its badly needed new all-encompassing “enemy”.
However, it is important not to conflate the various movements often jumbled together as “political Islam”. Some movements originating in political Islam, such as the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, have evolved substantially from more sectarian roots into genuine national liberation movements, casting off much of the baggage that would have prevented their struggles moving forward in unity with other forces. However, the fact that these two movements are forever involved in life and death national struggles against Israeli occupation still restricts further evolution towards linking national and social revolution: one step forward, when greeted by another Israeli rocket attack, maintains the struggle at the level of pure survival.
Democratic Palestine: Against imperialist interests
This is also true of the secular nationalist Palestine Liberation Organisation (plo). At its height in the 1980s, the plo’s long struggle, together with support from the world socialist movement, had led it to become the most politically progressive force in the Arab world. Any plo victories were likely to undermine regional capitalist regimes, so the us had all the more reason to support Israel’s repression of it. The radicalised Palestinian masses stood on the side of progressive forces in Jordan and Lebanon, and Israel performed a good service to imperialism in helping the forces of reaction in both countries (Jordan in 1970 and Lebanon during the civil war) against the plo-backed progressive forces.
However, lobby theorists can point out that the plo would not exist in the first place if Israel were not there, and that there is a radicalised Palestinian mass that could join progressive forces in other countries only due to their dispossession.
But this argument takes us back as far as 1948—when few would argue that an “Israeli lobby” ran Washington. Since both Israel and the Palestinian dispossession do exist, and Israel has been useful to imperialism for a prolonged period of time, even if it were of less use now, the question would arise of what to replace it with. And then clear-sighted imperialist planners would understand that if Israel were replaced by a democratic-secular state, this might well doom the reactionary Saudi and Gulf monarchies and other repressive Arab states. Despite the rhetoric of the neo-conservatives about a “democratic revolution” across the Middle East, the last thing the us wants is popular democratic regimes overthrowing the oil monarchies.
Therefore, if the Palestinians cannot be crushed outright, then co-opting the national movement within Zionist bounds—such as the various us-backed “peace plans”—ensures the struggle of the Palestinians remains focused not only on national issues, but on pure survival.
Conflict over different versions of Zionism
This is why every time a us government has advocated a compromise by Israel on the occupied territories to assuage its reactionary Arab clients, it is always completely within the bounds of Zionism and an undemocratic solution. No wing of the us government has ever advocated a fully independent viable Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza with a capital in East Jerusalem (not to mention the return of Palestinian refugees). Usually what is advocated is a partial withdrawal, handing over parts of the occupied territories to some kind of Oslo-style “autonomy”, or a “state” of cantons, with greatly restricted rights, never including East Jerusalem. When the Israel lobby fights a us government on this, it is a dispute among rival concepts of an undemocratic Zionist solution. Even those us governments which are said to “stand up to the lobby” also see the usefulness of Israel, if not of the extreme Likud program.
For example, the Ford administration clashed with Israel in 1975 over its support for Resolution 242, which called for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 in exchange for peace with Arab neighbours.16 Yet this resolution said nothing about a Palestinian state in those territories. For decades, the Jordanian monarchy expected to get the West Bank if Israel withdrew, and us policy supported this. While Jordan, along with Egypt and Syria, which both had territory seized by Israel in 1967, voted for Resolution 242, the al Fatah leadership of the plo long rejected it.
The idea that Gerald Ford was about to “impose” Resolution 242 is entirely fanciful: as Blankfort explains elsewhere, Ford and Kissinger raised the idea of “reassessing” Middle East policy, and supporting 242, as a reaction to their inability to get Israel to agree to a second Sinai disengagement, which they saw as necessary for getting Egypt on board for the Camp David accord. Yet Camp David became reality within a couple of years, a massive coup for us imperialism in bringing about the defection of Egypt to the us camp, and also getting Egypt to recognise Israel. Neither before nor after has the us ever shown any real interest in “imposing” 242, despite it being well within the confines of a Zionist solution.
In the confrontation between Bush I and Yitzhak Shamir’s Likud regime in Israel in 1991, Bush was not calling for a Palestinian state, and not necessarily even a complete Israeli withdrawal. The issue was the Madrid Conference. At this conference, the Palestinians were not even allowed to have their own delegation, let alone a plo delegation—officially non-plo Palestinians had to form a joint team with Jordan.
The Madrid process was thus the first step towards the Oslo accord of 1993, under Bush’s successor Clinton, which was accepted by the new Israeli Labour government of Yitzhak Rabin, which defeated Shamir’s Likud. Oslo also left all the important issues for the future while ceding control of some Palestinian population centres to an autonomous but powerless Palestinian authority.
Ironically, the lobby theorists see Bush I’s election defeat and Clinton’s ascendancy as a victory of the lobby, and castigate the Zionist nature of Oslo. This ignores not only the essential continuity between Madrid and Oslo, but also the fact that the us and Israeli right wing, including the us-based Israel lobby, began an immediate campaign against Clinton, Rabin and Oslo, declaring it an unacceptable concession to plo “terrorists”.
Seeing all this as a us-Israeli split is at most only half true: the governments of Bush I and Clinton were in full agreement with the Israeli Labour Party, i.e. the main traditional party of Zionism. Israel’s Labour Zionists supported Madrid. It was with Likud’s more fanatically right-wing program that the two presidents had a conflict.
In other cases, it was the other way around. For example, in 1987, then Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres reached an agreement with Jordan’s King Hussein for resolving the status of the Palestinian territories. It called for an international conference hosted by the UN to find a solution based on Resolution 242, and for the Palestinians to be represented by the Jordanian delegation, with no plo participation. There was no suggestion of a Palestinian state; on the contrary, Jordan would gain sovereignty over the West Bank. This was fundamentally similar to the Reagan Plan (1982) and was the basis for the later Madrid plan.
Peres was the Labour Party deputy in the Likud-Labour national unity government (1984-90). The Likud prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, opposed this agreement from the right. “Peres beseeched then Secretary of State George Schultz to take the initiative in pursuing the plan. Schultz declined.”17 Reacting to the sabotage by the Reagan regime of an Israeli Labour initiative, Yassir Arafat declared this disproved ideas about a Jewish lobby running Washington; rather, “the us tells Israel what to do”.
US and Israeli right-wing alliance
The current energetic alliance between the us neo-conservatives, aipac, the Christian fundamentalist right, the Bush ii regime and the Likud regimes of Netanyahu and Sharon began taking effect while the Republicans and Likudniks were still out of power in the mid-1990s, in reaction against Oslo. Moves such as the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act18 were aimed at undermining Clinton and Rabin at the moment when sensitive negotiations were taking place and both governments were up for re-election.
When Netanyahu brought Likud back to power in 1996, he was immediately greeted by leading us neo-conservatives Richard Perle and Douglas Feith with the “Clean Break” plan. This advocated scrapping Oslo, undermining Arafat, crushing the Palestinians and having Israel spearhead a us-led undermining of Syria and Iran and overthrow of the Iraqi regime, giving Iraq to the Hashemite monarchy of Jordan—along with the scrapping of all remnants of “Labour Zionism” in economic policy.19
Much is made of the fact that some of these neo-conservatives—in particular Perle, Feith and Wolfowitz—are Jewish (although many others are not), as if to suggest that they were us agents of Israel who wanted to overthrow these governments because they are anti-Israel.20 However, these us neo-conservatives were disappointed in Netanyahu because even an Israeli leader as reactionary as he thought this program was too extreme.
In fact, divisions exist in both the us and Israeli ruling classes over whether it is a good idea to overthrow governments like those of Iran, Iraq and Syria. On the one hand, these governments are capitalist, repressive and anti-working class, and many in the us and Israeli ruling classes fear that overthrows could lead to even more hostile forces taking power. However, other sections of the ruling classes believe they must be dealt with to establish unlimited us and/or Israeli power in the region, not only because these regimes are anti-Israel, but also because they have their origins in national revolutions, however distant in the past, and have a history of trying to cut out more space for their own national bourgeoisies, particularly over oil wealth.
The “Clean Break” people weren’t too shy about how much the military needs of us imperialism were at the centre of their attempt to goad Netanyahu even further to the right. The document helpfully notes:
Mr. Netanyahu can highlight his desire to cooperate more closely with the United States on anti-missile defense in order to remove the threat of blackmail which even a weak and distant army can pose to either state. Not only would such cooperation on missile defense counter a tangible physical threat to Israel’s survival, but it would broaden Israel’s base of support among many in the United States Congress who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense.
The basis of this aggressive approach had already been laid out by Wolfowitz when he was an undersecretary for policy under Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in the regime of Bush I, in the “Defence Planning Guidance” white paper of 1992. It is clear from this paper that Wolfowitz’s prime concerns were about us world domination, not Israel; for him and his allies, an extremist Israeli regime is the best ally in such an ongoing struggle.
Among other things, the document says the us must deter “potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role”. While such “potential competitors” could include a capitalist Russia or China or a bloc of nationalist-minded oil-producing states, the document made clear the us rulers also had their European imperialist allies in mind: “A substantial American presence in Europe and continued cohesion within the western alliance remain vital ... we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine nato”.21
This underlines another aspect of the post-Cold War world: the sharpening of the struggle between major imperialist blocs, particularly the us and the European Union, as well as other large capitalist countries such as Russia. The alliance between the most aggressive wing of the us ruling class and the most extreme forces in Israel should be seen in this context. The Middle Eastern capitalist classes have some bargaining power between these blocs. Meanwhile, since the 1990s, the main EU imperialist powers, particularly France and Germany, have made a number of feeble attempts to shake off the domination of us military-security cover represented by us control of nato, while their competition with us imperialism increases in various parts of the world.
Iraq switched the currency of its oil sales from the dollar to the euro in 2000, and Iran announced the setting up of an oil bourse in 2006 that would also deal in euros. Some analysts have seen these moves as key to understanding the us invasion of Iraq and its threats to invade Iran, given the central importance the petro-dollar has long played in ensuring us world dominance.22 This further underlines how us hostility to these regimes can be connected to inter-imperialist rivalry, how national bourgeois regimes can cause trouble for the us regardless of Israel and how the end of the ussr does not give the us unquestioned control—meaning that Israel remains a useful asset.
By pushing the most aggressive and confrontational wing of the Israeli ruling class to maintain high tension, the us neo-conservatives and their allies seek to maintain the necessity of the us “security” cover, to “protect” the investments of other imperialists as well, which would be undermined by a genuine peace agreement. This also is of direct material interest to the gigantic us armaments industry—a much more major part of the ruling class in the us than in any of its imperialist competitors.
Who is boss?
While possibly counterproductive if pushed too far, an approach based on intimidation and “showing who is boss” is not an uncommon imperialist policy. The us may choose not to use Israel regularly, but its presence maintains the threat should anyone step too far out of line. The fact that the us still economically dominates the region, especially in the all-important fields of oil, dollars and weapons, suggests this strategy of intimidation has been working.
There are many historical precedents for what might appear “irrationally” aggressive approaches. All the same points could be made about the continuing British colonial presence in northern Ireland, for example: doesn’t it alienate the southern Irish and deepen ant-British sentiment in the much larger area of the Irish Republic, in exchange for direct control over a small region with few important resources? This again underlines that imperialism does not rule only via the free movement of capital, but also ideologically: the British presence is a reminder of who is boss.
If the us backs Israel only due to an Israeli lobby, then does Britain maintain its Malvinas colony in the South Atlantic—territory claimed by Argentina—due to the lobby of a few thousand English sheep herders? It could be claimed that this turns popular sentiment against Britain, yet Britain is a major imperialist power in Argentina.
Moreover, while Argentina at the time of the Malvinas war was ruled by a right-wing military dictatorship that was helping us imperialism against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, the us stood solidly on the side of its British partner: unity in showing who is boss was more important than any anti-us sentiment this may have created in Latin America.
Intransigent Zionism and Israeli ruling-class interests
Moreover, if by the “Israeli lobby” we mean the right-wing organisation aipac, which pushes extreme Likudnik positions and is allied with the most war-mongering faction of the us ruling class, then it is difficult to describe it either as the “Jewish lobby” or even the “Israel lobby”. The majority of us Jews have more progressive politics on a range of issues, including Israel, than aipac. And the majority of us Jews who do support Israel tend towards “peace-process”/two-states politics, and tend to support the Israeli Labour Party and the us Democrats, rather than the extremist positions of Likud and Bush ii. As Mearsheimer and Walt admit, “although neo-conservatives and other Lobby leaders were eager to invade Iraq, the broader American Jewish community was not … a compilation of nationwide opinion polls … shows that Jews are less supportive of the Iraq war than the population at large, 52 per cent to 62 per cent”.
Thus even if it were true that aipac decides policy for the us rulers, it would not necessarily be the case that this would be the policy advocated by us Jews, us supporters of Israel or many Israelis.
Which leads to the question of whether the most right-wing positions on Israel-Palestine are necessarily in the interests of the Israeli bourgeoisie any more than in the interests of the us bourgeoisie. If it is assumed that a softer version of Zionism would better facilitate the penetration of us capital in the Middle East, then surely the same would be true of Israeli capital. The more right-wing, ideologically driven sections of both the us and Israeli ruling classes could be said to be blocking the freer expansion of both ruling classes in the region.
Moreover, even if Israeli capital benefits from the use of cheap Palestinian labour in a way that does not necessarily interest us capital, this is not at all threatened by attempts by one wing of the us ruling class, supported by Israeli Labour, to achieve an undemocratic compromise. On the contrary, such a compromise, a rationalisation and legalisation of the occupation via the creation of “independent” Bantustans, would facilitate the exploitation of cheap Palestinian labour. The more hard-line approach tends to advocate the expulsion of the Palestinians, or permanently walling them off from the Israeli economy. Thus it is difficult to see this approach as being in the interests of Israeli any more than us capital from a purely economistic view, without taking into account the ideological aspects of imperialist dominance.
Who decides when there is a difference?
Finally, it is important to note that whenever there has been a clash between a us ruler or section of the us ruling class and a particular policy of the Israeli lobby which appears at odds with us interests, the lobby has tended to lose, casting some doubt on its effectiveness. For example, when us President Carter decided that Israel had to withdraw from some of southern Lebanon in 1978, he got his way by threatening a suspension of some aid.
As lobby theorists show, the lobby has its greatest impact on Congress when members are up for re-election. However, the president has often used his powers to overrule Congress in such cases. For all the noise about the lobby versus Bush I, the fact is that Bush faced down aipac and won. Bush did hold up the loan guarantees to Israel.
Lobby theorists like Blankfort can only claim that such actions lost Ford, Carter and Bush I the subsequent elections. However, he provides no evidence for such assertions. Ford headed a caretaker post-Watergate, post-Vietnam War Republican government that would have required a miracle to win an election; the “Reagan revolution” that defeated Carter came atop a groundswell of right-wing revanchism, and it is unlikely Lebanon played that big a role. Bush’s replacement by Clinton followed three terms of Republican rule and it really was time for a change.
us-Israeli differences do not occur only over the Middle East. At times, Israel is less loyal to us aims in other parts of the world. In 2000, the us pressured Israel to scrap a multimillion dollar deal to sell reconnaissance aircraft to China, and in 2004, the very pro-Israel Bush iiregime forced Israel to scrap a deal to upgrade China’s Harpy drone surveillance aircraft. In 2005, Israel was even prepared to ignore us hostility to the Chavez government in Venezuela, despite Chavez’s strong support to the Palestinians. The us forced Israel to call off a lucrative deal to install its own systems in us-made F-16 fighters for the Venezuelan air force.23
The Iraq war
Since the neo-conservative cabal in the Bush II regime was largely responsible for the invasion of Iraq, and since some of them are Jewish and many connected to Likud, the idea that this was also an exercise of the lobby’s power, against the better us interest, is common. Blankfort thinks that Bush “allowed a gaggle of right-wing pro-Israel Jewish neo-cons to write his Middle East script which gave us the war on Iraq”.
However, the fact that some fifteen percent of the world’s known oil reserves are in Iraq, and were under a regime that the us considers unreliable, gives credence to the more traditional idea that us imperialism launched a war to control Middle East oil reserves.
Of course, the Iraqi regime was anti-Israel and had given aid to the Palestinians. It was well known that Israel considered Iraq a major enemy and was in favour of removing Hussein. And there is no doubt that this was one of the reasons the us went to war. But there is no contradiction: for the us, removing an unreliable, easily demonised ruler, who was an enemy of both its Israeli ally and of its Gulf oil-state allies, was clearly in us interests (the actual methods of doing so are another question).
More sensible lobby theorists such as Gabriel Ash at least see the lobby as only one of the forces behind the invasion. Ash lists the lobby, the us defence industry and big oil as the three sections of the ruling class most directly involved in the war. And he shows that all three have profited handsomely from it, with big oil the big winner, its stocks gaining 127 percent in the last three years, the 100 largest companies on the Israeli stock exchange a close runner up, and the defence industry also seeing a good 50 percent increase in total returns on investments.24 Meanwhile, Iraq’s entire economy has been restructured, and not surprisingly massive privatisation, extraordinary tariff cuts, a tax ceiling for the rich and similar measures abound, making even clearer the fundamentally imperialist aims of the invasion.
However, one area that did cause some conflict among the occupiers was oil. A neo-liberal economic program of this sort would include privatisation of oil. However, if private companies began furiously selling off Iraq’s oil, it would lead to a collapse in world oil prices—which both the big us oil companies and Saudi Arabia would fight tooth and nail to prevent. It is hardly an accident that the world oil price, and thus the profits of us oil majors, have gone through the roof since the invasion.
While Likud-connected neo-cons may have provided ideological ammunition for the war, when it came to a question of real interests—Iraq’s oil, the world oil price and the Saudi monarchy—big oil won hands down.
Lebanon: Did Israel ‘disappoint’?
Israel’s new brutal destruction of Lebanon in 2006 also received uncritical us blessing. Yet far from being an exercise in “lobby power”, a number of factors suggest this was a us war using a willing Israeli proxy. According to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah:
Israel did not get a green light from the United States. Instead, Israel was given a decision by the United States to go and finish this issue in Lebanon … The world community gave a decision to Israel to destroy the resistance in Lebanon … They want to destroy any spirit of resistance in Lebanon, whether inside Hezbollah or any other party … This is what Israel is doing, and this is what the United States, which wants to re-arrange the entire region anew, needs.
Israel obviously had its own reasons for wanting to crush Hezbollah, but the timing—when it was already engaged in a massive crackdown in Gaza, and when the us was ratcheting up the propaganda against Iran in preparation for an attack—strongly indicated a us agenda. The us wanted an Israeli attack on Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, as a testing ground and a morale boost for its own planned attack on Iran. In addition, us leaders feared that when they attacked Iran with Israeli backing, Hezbollah might respond with rocket attacks on Israel. Therefore they wanted an Israeli attack to wipe out Hezbollah’s arsenal before a us attack.
According to the right-wing, pro-war Israeli debkafile, “America is willing to fight in Lebanon to the last Israeli soldier, just as Iran is ready to fight to the last Hizballah combatant. Israel must beware of being hustled into taking imprudent steps by the proxy contest between Washington and Tehran.”25 With the serious defeat that Hezbollah handed to Israel, many Israeli officials began blaming Bush for encouraging Israeli leader Olmert to undertake this ill-conceived adventure.26 The us plan also involved an Israeli attack on Syria, which Israeli leaders considered to be “nuts”.27
It was logical for Israel to reject such ideas. Israel is in the region; it knows that however much it dislikes the Assad regime, if it is overthrown it will most likely be replaced by an Islamist regime. For all its rhetoric, the Syrian regime has never militarily challenged Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights, and it has kept a tight lid on Palestinian fighters in Lebanon. Lobby theorists might well argue that the only reason for the us to be opposed to such a regime is in deference to Israel, which occupies Syrian territory; and if the us pressured Israel to return the Golan, Assad would have no further reason to pose as anti-imperialist. However, this does not take into account the current us view, that anyone who has said “no” in the past—by opposing us surrogates in Lebanon, by allegedly turning a blind eye to Iraqi resistance forces passing through its territory, by allying with Iran and Hezbollah, even for pragmatic reasons—must be wiped away for complete us domination of a restructured Middle East.
Even more significant were voices from the us regime that expressed disappointment with Israel—for its failure to crush Hezbollah and to continue to prove its worth to the us. Leading neo-con fanatic Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post, put it this way in the midst of the war:
America’s green light for Israel to defend itself is seen as a favor to Israel. But that is a tendentious, misleadingly partial analysis. The green light—indeed, the encouragement—is also an act of clear self-interest. America wants, America needs, a decisive Hezbollah defeat. Unlike many of the other terrorist groups in the Middle East, Hezbollah is a serious enemy of the United States ...
The defeat of Hezbollah would be a huge loss for Iran, both psychologically and strategically ...
The United States has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen. It has counted on Israel’s ability to do the job. It has been disappointed.28
Two other us right-wingers, writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz, claimed that Israel had been “cautious” in Lebanon, allegedly “fearing that an overly aggressive military campaign will alienate world opinion”. However, they stressed, “Israeli leaders ought to worry more about a different scenario, one in which American policymakers … lose their faith in Israel’s ability to ‘get the job done’ ... Should the idf lose its aura of invincibility in American eyes, Israel’s perceived value as an ally could decline sharply.”
They warned, “the hard truth is that Israel must appear to be, and be, a winner in order to remain a valuable strategic partner for the United States.”29
These opinions lay out clearly the real basis of the us-Israel relationship.
1. “United States Aid to Israel: Funding the Occupation”, Palestine Monitor, http://www.palestinemonitor.org/factsheet/us_Aid_to_Israel.htm.
2. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israeli Lobby”, London Review of Books, Vol. 28, No. 6, March 23, 2005, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html.
3. Jeffrey Blankfort, “Damage Control: Noam Chomsky and the Israel-Palestine Conflict”, Dissident Voice, May 25, 2005, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/May05/Blankfort0525.htm.
4. Articles by Gabriel Ash include “The Israel Lobby and Chomsky’s Reply”, Dissident Voice, April 20, 2006, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Apr06/Ash20.htm , “News of Neo-conservative Demise are Somewhat Premature”, Dissident Voice, April 4, 2006, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Apr06/Ash04.htm, and “Why Oppose the Israel Lobby? Comments on Mearsheimer and Walt”, Dissident Voice, April 18, 2006, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Apr06/Ash18.htm.
5. Gabriel Ash, “The Israel Lobby and Chomsky’s Reply”, Dissident Voice, April 20, 2006, http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Apr06/Ash20.htm.
6. Joseph Massad, “Blaming the Israeli lobby”, Znet, March 29, 2006, http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=10010.
7. This story is central to the thesis of Blankfort, op. cit.
8. Stephen Zunes, “The Israel Lobby: How Powerful is it Really?”, Foreign Policy in Focus, May 16, 2006, http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/3270.
9. “Should we blame the `Israel lobby’?”, Socialist Worker, http://www.socialistworker.org/2002-2/414/414_07_IsraelLobby.shtml.
10. Israel’s gdp per capita in 2005 was $25,000 (the same as Spain and a little less than Italy), compared with Egypt ($3900), Jordan ($4700), Syria ($3900), Lebanon ($6000), Iraq ($1800), West Bank ($1100) and Gaza ($600),CIA World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html.
11. Josh Harkinson and Daniel Schulman, “Boom time in Beirut”, Mother Jones, November-December 2006, http://www.mojones.com/news/outfront/2006/11/boom_time_in_beirut.html.
12. Zunes, op. cit.
13. Jason A. Vest, “The Men From JINSA and CSP”, Nation, September 2, 2002, http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020902/vest.
14. Leslie Wayne, “Foreign Sales by us Arms Makers Doubled in a Year”, New York Times, November 11, 2006, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/11/business/11military.html.
16. Blankfort discusses this clash as an example of where the Israeli lobby allegedly rolled a us president who wanted a settlement. It is clear, however, that the settlement Ford wanted was also completely Zionist.
17. Daniel Levy, “Is It Good for the Jews?”, American Prospect, May 7, 2006, http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewPrint&articleId =11647.
18. This required the us embassy in Israel to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It was pushed by a number of aipac and Republican leaders, and moved by Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole at the 1995 aipac annual conference.
19. The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, “Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000”, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm, 1996, http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm.
20. Jewish neo-conservatives include Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Irving and William Kristoll, I. Lewis Libby, Robert Kagan, David Wurmser and Charles Krauthammer. Non-Jewish neo-cons include us Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, John Bolton, Stephen Cambone, Zalmay Khalilzad, R. James Woolsey and Frank Gaffney, not to mention Rupert Murdoch.
21. The Pentagon, “Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal years 1994-99”, March 7, 1992, in New York Times, March 8, 1992.
22. Cóilín Nunan, “Petrodollar or petroeuro? A new source of global conflict”, http://www.feasta.org/documents/review2/nunan.htm.
23. “us presses Israel to halt Venezuelan plane upgrade”, Haaretz, October 20, 2005, http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/636557.html.
24. Gabriel Ash, “News of Neo-conservative Demise”, op. cit.
25. “Washington Expected an idf Grand Slam to Dispose of Hizballah”, debkafile Special Report, July 23, 2006, http://www.debka.com/article.php?aid=1188.
26. Robert Parry, ‘Israeli Leaders Fault Bush on War‘, August 13, 2006, http://www.consortiumnews.com/2006/081206.html
27. ibid. Also, Tom Regan, “us neo-cons hoped Israel would attack Syria”, Christian Science Monitor, http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0809/dailyUpdate.html.
28. Charles Krauthammer, “Israel’s Lost Moment”, Washington Post, August 4, 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/03/AR2006080301258.html.
29. David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, “Israel must win”, Haaretz, August 13, 2006, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/749293.html.
[Michael Karadjis is a long-time member of the Democratic Socialist Perspective in Australia.]