Is The “Israel Lobby” Really Losing Its Grip, and, If It Is, What Are The Implications?

In an perceptive piece for The American Conservativeunder the headline OBAMA’S ISRAEL TEST, Scott McConnell asked, “Is the lobby losing its grip?” It seems so, but I think it’s important to understand the choice that will exist for the Jews of the world, and Jewish Americans especially, if American politicians (many if not all) and the mainstream media do stop being frightened of offending the lobby.

But first things first. The lobby in question is not what McConnell and others including Mearsheimer and Walt state it to be. It’s not“the Israel lobby”. It could only be called that if it represented the views of allIsraeli Jews. It does not do so any more than AIPAC represents the views of all Jewish Americans. (According to recent polls, AIPAC probably speaks for not more than one-third of all Jewish Americans and possibly considerably less).

A more accurate (but not completely accurate) description of the particular phenomenon is “Likud lobby”, terminology which conveys the correct impression that the lobby is rightwing and very hardline, even extreme, and opposed to peace on any terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept.

Way back in February 1980, I had a private conversation with Shimon Peres. He was then the leader of Israel’s Labour Party, the main opposition to Menachem Begin’s Likud dominated ruling coalition, which was speeding up the colonisation of the occupied West Bank. In the course of this conversation, I used the term “Israel lobby”. In a voice laced with despair and a hint of anger, Peres said: “It’s notan Israel lobby. It’s a Likudlobby. And that’s my problem.” (At the time Peres and almost the whole world including President Carter was hoping that he would win Israel’s next election and deny Begin a second term in office as prime minister. He didn’t).

In due course, after Ariel Sharon broke with Likud to form the Kadima Party, the lobby became the Likud-Kadima lobby, but it remained Likud in its core essence. The only major difference between Likud and Kadima is that the latter understands, as Prime Minister Olmert recently admitted, that the Zionist state of Israel would be finished, destroyed by the demographic time-bomb of occupation, if it did not withdraw from some of the West Bank. (Sharondid not withdraw from Gazafor peace but as a first step to defusing the demographic time-bomb; and, if he could do it without provoking a Jewish civil war, he was intending at some point to withdraw from about half, more or less, of the West Bank. He was not at all concerned that the 40 to 60 percent of it he was intending to withdraw from would not and could not constitute a viable Palestinian mini-state).

All things considered, including Israel’s on-going colonisation of those parts of the occupied West Bank its leaders intend to keep for ever, I think (and have long thought) that the best way to serve the cause of understanding is to give the particular phenomenon its proper name. It is not the Israel lobby, or even the Likud or Likud-Kadima lobby. It is theZionist lobby.

For those who are unaware of what Zionism actually is – I mean politicalZionism as opposed to spiritualZionism – and why it is the complete opposite of Judaism, I offer the following brief explanation.

Judaism is the religion of Jews, not the Jews because not all Jews are religious. And, like Christianity and Islam, Judaism has at its core a set of moral values and ethical principles. All the religious Jews of the world look to Jerusalem as the centre of their religion and spiritual capital, and in that sense they could be said to be, and many do regard themselves as being, spiritual Zionists.

Political Zionism is the nationalism of some Jews, actually a tiny minority of the world’s Jews at the time of Zionism’s first public and dishonest mission statement in 1897, which colonised land, Palestine, to create a state for some Jews; an enterprise which required the incoming, alien Zionist colonisers – most if not all of whom had no biological connection to the ancient Hebrews, the first Israelites – to ethnically cleanse the land of most of its indigenous Arab inhabitants,the majority population at the time of the colonisation. A Zionist today is one, not necessarily a Jew, who (to quote Balfour) supports the Zionist state of Israel “right or wrong”, and who cannot or will not admit that a wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism,a wrong that must be righted on terms acceptable to the Palestinians for justice and peace.

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