By Mitchell Bard
The so-called Israel lobby has been widely denounced and demonized in the media, but its power pales in comparison to the decades-long corruption of American interests by Arab governments. Indeed, for more than 70 years, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been shaped not by the power of a nefarious "Israel lobby" but by a misguided emphasis on pleasing and placating the Arab states. This outlook has ensured that the United States pays disproportionate attention to their demands, assisting Arab countries ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_Ì´åÇÌÎå«Ì´å all of them dictatorial regimes with abysmal human rights records ÌÎÌ_ÌÎ__ÌÎÌ_Ì´åÇÌÎå«Ì´å that do not share our values and often work to subvert our interests.
Historically, the Arab lobby consisted of the oil industry, Christian missionaries and current or former U.S. diplomats. Arabists in the State Department, many of them openly anti-Semitic, tried to prevent America from recognizing Israel in 1948. Since then they have waged a long bureaucratic war to undermine the alliance between America and the only true democracy in the Middle East, blocking arms and aid to Israel while seeking larger weapons sales for their Arab friends. Many of these Arabists subsequently found lucrative jobs promoting business with Arab countries, speaking on their behalf and criticizing U.S. Israel policy.
Today the Arab states influence American policy through numerous hidden and informal channels, including former members of Congress, subsidized think tanks, paid media spokesmen, academics who hold chairs endowed by Arab money, human rights organizations, assorted UN agencies, European diplomats and Christian groups hostile to Israel. A number of former ambassadors, university professors and think tank experts routinely opine on Middle Eastern affairs but never reveal these conflicts of interest.
The most powerful member of the Arab lobby is Saudi Arabia, which has a nearly 80-year relationship with the United States. From the earliest days, when American companies first discovered oil in the Arabian Peninsula, the Saudis have used a variety of tactics, including threats and bribes, to coerce U.S. policy makers to ignore their human rights abuses, support of terrorism and opposition to American interests.
Today, Bard shows, the Arab lobby's goals include feeding America's oil addiction, obtaining more sophisticated weaponry and weakening our alliance with a democratic Israel. It also seeks to influence public opinion through a well-funded publicity campaign and by injecting distorted views of the Middle East into high school and college textbooks. Bard's detailed political history brings much-needed balance to a debate fraught with ignorance and propaganda.
About the Author
Mitchell Bard is an authority on U.S.-Israel relations and has written or edited more than 20 books, including "48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust"; "Will Israel Survive?" and "The Water's Edge and Beyond: Defining the Limits to Domestic Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy." He has a doctorate from UCLA with a specialty in American politics and international relations.
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