Israel: A significant shift in U.S. public opinion…? And what if the answer is “Yes”?

The word is that the organization’s power is waning, but it doesn’t look that way on the ground. We see what happens to Congress members who dare to criticize Israel. AIPAC is still in the field with its army of lobbyists, and it is the second most effective lobby in Washington, after the gun lobby – and this should cause Israel to worry. Just like the gun lobby, the Israel lobby is not a good partner. It has affected U.S. policy in the past, as one of the factors that led to continued American support for the occupation, as well as Israeli violence and expansion.

If AIPAC wanted to show true friendship for Israel, it would have stopped cheering long ago and started whispering. Whisper in the prime minister’s ear, that something bad is happening to the state that AIPAC loves so much. Whisper that something bad is happening in America, too, that people are becoming fed up with Israel’s refusals. A false friend would give a drug addict more and more money, and the addict would thank him for it. A true friend would send him to rehab, and the addict would be angry. The occupation addict is in need of a true friend, one that would send her to rehab. AIPAC, and the United States along with it, has opted to be the false friend – and that’s as anti-Israel as it gets.


Whatever the reason for it – empathy with the Palestinian claim for justice or not – a significant shift in American public opinion really does seem to be underway. Staying with Gideon Levy’s analogy, this might explain why President Obama felt free enough to suggest to occupation addict Netanyahu that he and Israel should consider rehab.

Obama did so in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg for Bloomberg View shortly before he received Netanyahu in the White House. Obama’s message to Netanyahu via Goldberg included the statement that “There is a limit to the power of the man who bears the title leader of the free world.”

And he explained what he meant with these words. “If Israel sees no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction”, and “if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.”

We do not know whether or not Obama had the balls to say this to Netanyahu face to face, but even if he didn’t, Netanyahu would still have got the message.

Akiva Eldar’s interpretation of Obama’s message to Netanyahu via Goldberg was that he, the president, “is sick and tired of fighting on Netanyahu’s behalf vis-a-vis the Europeans and automatically vetoing (in the UN Security Council) their proposals condemning the settlements.”

But there was more to Obama’s message than that. He was effectively saying that if Israel continues to be opposed to peace on terms the Palestinians can accept, no occupant of the White House will be able to protect Israel from the tightening noose of isolation and sanctions.

My guess is that Obama, unwilling to confront the Zionist lobby and its allies head on by taking to the bully pulpit and going over the heads of Congress, is entertaining the hope that when he has to admit that Secretary of State Kerry’s peace process was a mission impossible, and then as the BDS (Boycott Sanctions and Divestment) campaign gathers global momentum with the real potential to make Israel’s Jews feel the pain, a majority of them will say to Netanyahu: “Enough. We insist you that be serious about peace with the Palestinians on terms they can accept.”

That could happen. What Obama called the “international fallout” if Israel stays on its present course could cause a majority of Israeli Jews to want to save themselves from Zionism. But…

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