During the past several years, the Internet has been filled with stories about the infamous Israel Lobby which according to these bloggers has controlled American foreign policy in the Middle East. Many have charged that Israel pushed the United States into the invasion of Iraq. The assumption of these writers is that(a) there is such a thing as a “Jewish American” point of view towards the Middle East, and (b) that Jews influence American policy toward the Middle East. This is an interesting perspective given that just about every survey of Jewish Americans in the past decades reveals the great majority support creation of an independent Palestinian state, and have misgivings about West Bank settlements.
First, let’s make clear there IS an Israel lobby. Of course, there is a Cuban Lobby which has completely controlled American foreign policy towards Cuba for half a century. There is an Armenian lobby which exerts tremendous control over US policy toward Turkey. There is an Irish lobby which dates back about 150 years and is alive and vibrant– just note how few illegal Irish immigrants are ever deported. We have documentary evidence the Polish vote in 1948 played an important role in the beginning of the Cold War when American diplomats tried convincing the Soviet Union to allow free elections in Poland. Of course, there is the Farm Lobby, the Union Lobby, the Manufacturers lobby, and probably, most powerful is the health care lobby.
Historically, Jews had scant influence over American foreign policy. it was British Jews who played a role in getting the Balfour Declaration for Palestine. During the 1930s, American Jews could not persuade President Roosevelt to allow German Jewish children to enter the country. During WWII, American Jews kept quiet and refused to exert pressure on Franklin Roosevelt to issue a warning to Hitler about killing Jews. In 1948, when Israel was born, the US State Department opposed recognizing it and Secretary of State George Marshall threatened to resign if it was recognized. President Truman was visited by American rabbis who urged recognition, he literally threw them out of his office and told his aides never to allow them back– they never were. Truman granted recognition due to moral beliefs and the need for the Jewish vote in 1948. Israel Jews got arms from eastern Europe and France. By the way, it was France which helped Israel build its atomic bombs.
President Eisenhower in the 1950s opposed the Israel, French, British attack on Egypt and made them halt and retreat. There was some American aid during the 1973 Yom Kuppur war. In the 1970s, Jimmy Carter arranged for a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Today, he is hated among American Jews and Israelis. George Bush I was not an enthusiast of Israel. Bill Clinton tried to mediate a peace agreement, and was able to get Palestinians 95% of what they wanted. Naturally, Arafat turned it down and resorted to a jihad.
So, where is the famous Israel lobby? They arrive on the scene during the George Bush administration. I find it ludicrous to suggest American leaders would not have invaded Iraq unless persuaded to do so by the Israel lobby. America is a nation which expanded west and wiped out Indian tribes, it conquered Mexico and took half the nation, it defeated Spain and took Puerto Rico and the Philippines, it intervened in just about every Caribbean nation. The US got China to grant special privileges, forced Japan to open its ports and so on. During the 19th century, Protestant missionaries argued there was need to convert Muslims and restore Christian control in the Middle East. The first great immigration from the Middle East to America was the Christian Syrians who came and mainly lived in the Michigan area.
American oil companies were all over Saudi Arabia in the twenties and thirties. During WWII President Roosevelt met with the King of Saudi Arabia and promised good relations. In other words, America was always in expansionist nation and had its eyes on Middle Eastern oil before the Israel lobby came on the scene. Reality was that George Bush had decided –ON HIS OWN– to invade Iraq. The Israel lobby FOLLOWED BUSH POLICIES, IT DID NOT CREATE THEM! If the Israel lobby did not exist, does anyone doubt Bush and his oil buddies would have avoided invading Iraq?? Bush wanted revenge on Saddam for trying to kill his father, he wanted the oil, and he wanted to spread democracy! What exactly in those aims is new? America wanted to spread democracy to Japan, to China, to Latin America and to the world.
Now to reality again. In 2001, Israel had a wonderful situation. Iraq and Iran– its two main enemies had fought a long war against one another and were still ready to fight one another again. Along comes George Bush and wipes out Iraq and Afghanistan–THE TWO MAIN RIVALS TO IRAN! The result is that Israel became worse off with the invasion of Iraq!! What did Israel gain by the invasion of Iraq except to see a major enemy eliminated and allow the more powerful Iran to be free of worries about Iraq.
Today, the so called Israel lobby is in shambles. Most surveys indicate American Jews support the Obama plan for an independent Palestine and and end to West Bank settlements. Why? Because, historically, American Jews have followed their nation rather than their religion. They are AMERICANS and that is why the Israel lobby followed George Bush it did not lead him in the disastrous policies of invading Iraq.