So… the “Israel” lobby?

Writing in HaAretz today, Israeli journalist Anshel Pfeffer presents a scathing appraisal of the Diaspora’s Israel lobby. Though he focuses on Great Britain (where he was born, and lived until he was 8), Pfeffer also takes on the lobby in the US, speaking truth to arrogant, self-righteous power across the globe:

… the real problem with today’s Israel lobby, in Britain and the United States, is not with its finances and their lack of transparency but with its entire mind-set. The basic fact is that by its actions, the lobby is now causing Israel more harm than good…. On every level — moral, political, diplomatic, economic, military and religious — this country is being rapidly corrupted and damaged by the continuing occupation of the West Bank. By granting blanket support to all policies of whatever Israeli government happens to be in power, and by branding critics of these policies as either self-hating Jews or anti-Semites, they’re contributing to Israel’s siege mentality and delaying the day when Israelis will finally realize that there’s only one practical and ethical alternative. [emphasis mine]

He goes on:

We are at a pivotal point. The rise of the right in Israel’s last election does not signal that the voters are opposed to territorial compromise and a two-state solution. On the contrary, polls consistently show a clear majority of Israelis favoring this outcome…. In effect, Israelis voted for Benjamin Netanyahu hoping that he’d go against his party’s manifesto. All the signs point to a prime minister on the brink of a decision. He could take the plunge or he could retreat back into his ideological and political comfort zone. International pressure will play a major role in persuading him to make a necessary decision, but the message emanating from the Israel lobby is that should he decide to hold out and play for time, he will continue to receive their unreserved support. Such support could prolong Israel’s procrastination – with deadly consequences.

Other than the fact that I believe Pfeffer gives Netanyahu more credit than he deserves (I don’t see Bibi on any brink, I see him clinging to the Likud’s long-held rejectionist platform. But reasonable people may disagree reasonably), this is pretty much, to the letter, what I have been saying about the Israel lobby for years, and I believe it pretty much lies at the heart of the establishment of J Street, as well. A real love of Israel means helping it to achieve what it actually needs — not blindly driving it further down the path to ruination.

If history ultimately records the rise and fall of the modern Jewish State as yet another Jewish disaster, the folks at AIPAC — and apparently their British counterparts — will hold a healthy share of the blame. The road to hell is paved, as they say, with good intentions.

Particularly when those intentions come vacuum-packed in an almost pathological unwillingness to grapple honestly with reality.



  1. It’s not so much “lobbying” as “punditry.” There is, apparently, this view that Israel can do no wrong. The fact is, Israel is fighting a war it does not need to fight; while radical groups call for its destruction, there are plenty of Arab states that have relations on some level with Israel, trade with Israel, and are not in the habit of trying to destroy it. All that is happening now, by failing to take the initiative and settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (which has gone on now longer than the spat between North and South Korea), is that those Arab nations that have more formalized ties with Israel, are going to question those ties. Israel has a chance to show the rest of the Arab world that has not gotten on board, that it is serious about peace in the Middle East.

  2. Paul in KY

     /  November 20, 2009

    It will be a cold day in Hell when Mr. Netanyahu mans up in the same way Gen. Rabin did.

    He knows what a bunch of loons the settlers are.