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Israel Lobby Decried: 8 Examples of Backlash in Washington

By    |   Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:02 PM

Whether the positions of the Israel lobby are right or wrong, they can lead to a backlash from critics as well as disgruntled Americans, who want to see a change in the U.S. foreign policy.

Here are eight examples of backlash to pro-Israel policies in Washington:

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1. Critics complain that pro-Israel lobbyists don’t support negotiations in the Middle East even when publicly endorsing them. The American Israel Political Affairs Committee openly supported the Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution and the 1993 Oslo accord with resolutions to settle disputes. However, some observers have come forward to say this has only been lip service and that AIPAC has tried to sabotage the resolutions over the years, even thwarting the Obama administration’s attempts at negotiations.

2. Groups such as AIPAC rely on wealthy members to contribute to political campaigns. AIPAC does not directly contribute to or endorse candidates, but these affluent donors are usually influential in Congress. This has led to charges from the left and the media that some Senate and House members fear retribution if they don’t vote in favor of legislation endorsed by the Israel lobby.

3. Pro-Israel lobbyists are blamed for backlash when politicians don’t vote their way. In 1981, approval of the delivery of the AWACS weapons system to Saudi Arabia later led to the defeat of candidates who favored the move in the following election. On the other hand, this helped feed the accusations of the power Israel activists have in Congress.

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4. The pro-Israel lobby lost Democratic support in the Iran sanctions bill that stated the U.S. should support Israel militarily and economically if Israel decided to take defensive measures against Iran’s nuclear weapon program. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the measure a march toward war and only 16 of 55 members of the Democratic Caucus backed the bill.

5. Israel’s moves toward defensive action in the Middle East, and the Israel lobby’s support of it, particularly in the Gaza war, have led to the rise of new groups within the American Jewish community. Many younger Jews, who don’t have the attachment to Israel that previous generations had, are attracted to groups that include the Jewish Voice for Peace, which denounces many activists in the Israel lobby.

6. Military actions and the threat to peace in the Middle East have helped create J Street, a political action committee that opposes groups such as AIPAC. The group regards itself as pro-Israel, but also pro-peace, and takes a progressive stand on the two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians.

7. Along with peace activists, community groups have jumped on the bandwagon to oppose aid to fund Israel's military. They say the money would be better spent here at home for infrastructure and social services, or even as aid to the poor around the world.

8. One of the most significant backlashes against the Israel lobby in the past decade was the publication of “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” a book by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. Among the charges made in the book is that anyone who criticizes Israel for unnecessary military actions or human rights violations is branded with the anti-Semitism label, an accusation that has been repeated over the years by critics.

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Whether the positions of the Israel lobby are right or wrong, they can lead to a backlash from critics as well as disgruntled Americans, who want to see a change in the U.S. foreign policy.
israel, lobby
Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:02 PM
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