are unaware of the startling fact that for years our U.S. Middle
East policy has not been crafted by seasoned experts who are
committed to America's basic national interests." --Paul
Findley, U.S. Republican Congressman, (1961-83)
“Thank God we
have AIPAC, the greatest supporter and friend we have in the
whole world,” --Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister
"Either I make policy on the Middle East or AIPAC makes
policy on the Middle East." --Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter
administration National Security Advisor
Journal" -- --
Nobody can understand what's going on politically in the
United States without being aware that a political coalition of
major pro-Likud groups, pro-Israel neoconservative intellectuals
and Christian Zionists is exerting a tremendously powerful
influence on the American government and its policies.
Over time, this large pro-Israel Lobby,
spearheaded by the
Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has extended its
comprehensive grasp over large segments of the U.S. government,
including the vice president's office, the Pentagon and the
State Department, besides controlling the legislative apparatus
of Congress. It is being assisted in this task by powerful
allies in the two main political parties, in major corporate
media and by some richly financed so-called "think-tanks," such
American Enterprise Institute, the
Heritage Foundation, or the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy .
AIPAC is the centerpiece of this
coordinated system. For example, it keeps voting statistics on
each congressional representative and senator, which are then
transmitted to political donors to act accordingly. AIPAC also
organizes regular all-expense-paid trips to Israel and meetings
with Israeli ministers and personalities for congressmen and
their staffs, and for other state and local American
politicians. Not receiving this imprimatur is a major handicap
for any ambitious American politician, even if he can rely on a
In Washington, in order to have a better
access to decision makers, 'The Lobby' even has developed the
habit of recruiting personnel for senators and House members'
offices. And, when elections come, 'The Lobby' makes sure that
lukewarm, independent-minded or dissenting politicians are
punished and defeated. It is a source of such political power,
campaign financing and media propaganda that no U.S. politician
can dare ignore its demands without fear of being destroyed. As
Robert Novak recently pointed out, thanks to the
influence of AIPAC and 'The Lobby,' "Washington remains largely
a bipartisan, criticism-free zone for Israel."
This is understandable.
techniques are so efficient that one can easily have
the impression that it is a 'parallel government' in Washington,
D.C. In the words of its president, Howard Friedman, consigned
in a hubristic bulletin to supporters, it relies on two
techniques in particular:
1. "AIPAC meets with every candidate
running for Congress. These candidates receive in-depth
briefings to help them completely understand the complexities of
Israel's predicament and that of the Middle East as a whole. We
even ask each candidate to author a 'position paper' on their
views of the U.S.-Israel relationship, so it's clear where they
stand on the subject."
2. "Members of Congress, staffers and
administration officials have come to rely on AIPAC's memos.
They are very busy people and they know that they can count on
AIPAC for clear-eyed analysis. We present this information in
concise form to elected officials. The information and analyses
are impeccable, -after all our reputation is at stake. This
results in policy and legislation that make up Israel's
I doubt that there is any democratic
country in the entire world where candidates have to pass an
ideological litmus test, if they want to have a chance of being
chosen candidates and being elected. Thus, who could blame AIPAC
from being convinced that it has the U.S. Congress on a very
short leash? If AIPAC were a company, it could be subject to a
Trade Commission (FTC)
antitrust and anti-cartel investigation for
cornering the market.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that,
on Capitol Hill, 'The Lobby' seems to be in charge, so much so
that its near complete control of U.S. foreign policy and other
policies, such as defense, has become the equivalent of a joke.
We are not witnessing consensus here, but rather a situation
tantamount to unanimity in the desire to align American policies
to Israeli policies, each time Israel's interests in the Middle
East are on the line. A totalitarian country would not function
has such a grip on Washington that sometimes one can be forgiven
for confusing Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C. A recent example:
AIPAC penned a resolution of support for Israel in its savage
and illegal bombings of Lebanon. On July 20, 2006, the
resolution was voted unanimously by the 100-member Senate and
the vote in the House was 410 to 8. Case closed.
For many years, the influence of 'The
Lobby' remained under the radar, being ignored or concealed by
the media it controlled and by most commentators. On March 10,
2006, however, two respected American scholars, professors
Stephen Walt from Harvard University and John Mearsheimer of the
University of Chicago published a study in The London Review of
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,
about the disproportionate influence that this special
interest Lobby has on American foreign policy. It said that
AIPAC was "the most powerful and best known" organization
in a pro-Israel lobby that systematically distorts American
foreign policy. The study concluded that Israel played a major
role in pushing the Bush administration toward a war with Iraq,
and it argued that the pro-Israel lobby's influence on U.S.
foreign policy was bad both for Israel and for the U.S.
Thereafter, nobody could feign ignoring the corrosive influence
of this powerful lobby on U.S. foreign policy.
Another example of the type of power 'The
Lobby' carries these days in Washington, D.C., is its success in
establishing within the State Department, with taxpayers' money,
a special interest agency, called the 'Office
of Global Anti-Semitism'. In a move reminiscent of
what happened during past centuries under totalitarian regimes,
this new 'agency' is totally devoted to monitoring around the
world instances, among other things, of criticism of Israel or
of American pro-Israel policies. The creation of this new
was mandated by a law, [H.R. 4230], that President George W.
Bush signed on October 16, 2004.
Who says that reality is not stranger than fiction!
Christian Zionists also have a significant influence
on American foreign policy, especially as it relates to the
Middle East. Their propaganda has been so successful that today,
40 percent of Americans believe that Israel was directly given
to the Jewish people by 'God'. One-third of Americans even
believe that the creation of the state of Israel, in 1948, after
a terrorist campaign against Great Britain, was a step towards
the 'Second Coming of Jesus Christ' and the 'End of the world'.
For the most fanatical ones among them, the 'war on terrorism,'
whatever it means, is a
war of religion between Christianity and Islam. With
such thinking, the world is thrown back four centuries, since
the last war of religion was the 1618-1648
Years' War between European Protestants and
These days, the American religious Right
has its own special interest office within the State Department.
It is called the 'Office
of International Religious Freedom,' whose principal
mission is to meddle in the domestic affairs of other countries.
Such a state agency would seem to run contrary to the
of separation" between church and state that
Jefferson thought he had erected with the First
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Such governmental forays in
religious matters are in addition to the state-financed 'Office
of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives' that the
Bush administration created soon after it took office.
Since the current occupant of the White
House is a
born-again Christian who harbors ideas which are
close to those advanced by the American
Right it should not be too surprising if the Bush
administration's policy in the Middle East has very strong
In any government, one has to look behind
the curtains to see who is really pulling the strings and who is
steering the policies. In the case of the
Bush-Cheney administration, one has to know about
'The Lobby' and the 'religious Right'. Without that knowledge,
one is in the dark when it comes to understanding the direction
taken by certain policies.
Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the
University of Montreal and can be reached at
rodrigue.tremblay@ yahoo.com. He is the author of the book
'The New American Empire'. Visit his blog site at