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Good Article on Israeli Influence on US Foreign Policy

In an earlier post, I said that one reason I support Ralph Nader is because John Kerry’s position on Israel is almost indistinguishable from George Bush’s. This article in the St. Petersburg Times (of Florida) describes the situation well. The article quotes Duncan Clarke, professor of international relations at American University as saying, “Both of them [Kerry and Bush] have repeatedly stated their undying commitment to Israel and Israel’s interests….”This is an area where both candidates, at least in their declared policies, agree solidly…. Both of them have repeatedly stated their undying commitment to Israel and Israel’s interests.” Later the article says, “Publicly, there is little daylight between the candidates. Both support a Palestinian state but call Arafat a ‘failed leader.’ Both support Sharon’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Both appeared at AIPAC’s annual conference.”

The article goes on to say, “‘President Bush adopted the Arab position of a Palestinian state despite the sustained and murderous execution of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority,’ says Ariel Cohen, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. ‘Having said that, George W. Bush does have the reputation of being the most pro-Israel president” in two decades.’ The administration’s ardent support is widely presumed to be rooted in the influence of the ‘neocons’ or neoconservatives – a group of top officials and advisers with longtime ties to the Jewish state. Among them are Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, and Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board.”

It adds, “Even before the neocons became a factor in U.S. foreign policy, Israel enjoyed almost unqualified support in Congress. One big reason is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]…. Those familiar with AIPAC say it enhances its aura of power by picking battles it knows it can win. It was credited with – or blamed for – the 2002 defeat of incumbents Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and Earl Hilliard of Alabama, both seen as hostile to Israel.”

I would add, many years ago it defeated Sen. Charles Percy of Illinois, when he was seen as a Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee who was not pro-Israel enough. The article goes on to point out that AIPAC has recently been accused of acting on behalf of Israeli intelligence and may have “crossed the line between lobbying and acting as an agent for a foreign government.”

Finally, the article points out the role of evangelical Christians in molding the Bush administration’s Israel policy: “The Bush administration’s failure to push its ‘road map for peace’ stems in part from fear of alienating Jewish voters in an election year. But some experts say it is also because Bush doesn’t want to anger a key Republican constituency: evangelical Christians.

Among them are the millennialists, who prophesy Israel’s occupation of all of its ‘biblical lands’ and other scenarios that could lead to holy war with Islam. The Christian right ‘has a very clear idea what it would like to see happen in the Mideast, and that’s not based on Israel’s pragmatic security but on theology – what could be called an apocalyptic foreign policy,’ says Gorenberg of the Jerusalem Report.

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