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Israel Lobby Accomplishments: 7 Ways DC Decisions Affect Middle East

By    |   Thursday, 20 November 2014 03:38 PM

U.S. foreign policy often depends on incidents and conflicts that occur throughout the Middle East. The Israel lobby has seen slow successes over the years as developments change the minds of U.S. officials.

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Here are seven ways decisions in Washington have affected the situation in the Middle East:

1. Israel’s role in the Middle East wasn’t fully appreciated by U.S. officials during the first stages of the Cold War following World War II and the creation of Israel. Foreign policy centered on attempts to cooperate with Arab nations to thwart Soviet expansion in the area. However, turmoil within the Arab states and an alliance by some countries with the Soviets made Israel a potential ally in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

2. The importance of Israel was realized following its victory in the Six-Day War against several Arab nations in 1967. Groups such as the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) began a slow growth of its influence in Congress, because of the sympathy from the public and also from Israel’s vital position in the region to act as a deterrent against conflicts and Soviet interference. The Kennedy administration sold anti-aircraft equipment to Israel after Soviet delivery of bombers to Egypt in 1962 and the Nixon administration aided Israel with aircraft during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

3. The Israel lobby grew significantly in the 1980s, but controversy arose from opponents of the lobby and supporters. The sale of the AWACS warning and command system in 1981 to Saudi Arabia angered many Israeli supporters in the U.S. The act was part of the way to appease Arab nations in the never-ending attempt to keep a balance in the area. However, critics complained of too much influence in Congress by Israeli supporters, especially after candidates who voted in favor of the AWACS delivery were defeated in re-election bids.

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4. At the same time, Islamic fundamentalism was increasing in the Middle East, particularly in Iran where the Shah was overthrown and replaced by a regime that openly abhorred the U.S. and Israel. The Iranian hostage crisis was followed by continued terrorist acts in and around the region. Many victims in the attacks were Americans abroad. A sense of camaraderie began to exist among many Americans and Israelis. In another attempt for regional balance, the U.S. supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraqi war to prevent expansion of the Iranian regime.

5. The terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, altered foreign policy decisions in Washington, leading to the invasion of Afghanistan and later into Iraq. The latter act was interpreted as a major influence by the Israeli lobby, according to critics, who accused the first Bush administration of buckling under to pressure from pro-Israel groups.

6. Conflict in the Middle East continued to affect decisions by Congress and the Obama administration following the war in Gaza. Although the administration wanted a more negotiating approach between Israel and the Palestinians, Congress denounced Hamas for rocket attacks against Israel and voted in favor of immediate funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense missile system.

7. The Israel lobby keeps the aggressive actions by terrorists and terrorist states in the Middle East on the table for Washington decision-making. It continues to receive criticism from opponents and support in Congress. The disagreements have led to the rise of American Jewish groups favoring a more peaceful approach, including the development of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians through negotiations. Although Americans in general support Israel, an overall conflict fatigue could have an effect on future decisions in Washington.

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U.S. foreign policy often depends on incidents and conflicts that occur throughout the Middle East. The Israel lobby has seen slow successes over the years as developments change the minds of U.S. officials.
israel, lobby, middle east
Thursday, 20 November 2014 03:38 PM
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