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Obama and the Israel Lobby

Article by Glenn Greenwald.
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This week’s hysterical, reality-deprived reaction to President Obama’s pronouncements on the Israel/Palestine conflict genuinely provoked laughter on several occasions. That happened when I thought of the intense controversy triggered by publication of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby, which examined the “loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction,” a coalition driven by “a core consisting of organizations whose declared purpose is to encourage the U.S. government and the American public to provide material aid to Israel and to support its government’s policies, as well as influential individuals for whom these goals are also a top priority.” This week’s events underscore how remarkable it is that that book’s argument was demonized as some sort of radical, hateful conspiracy tract rather than treated as what it was: a statement of the bleeding obvious (albeit a brave one, given that discussions of that reality had previously been taboo).

Obama’s call for a peace deal ultimately “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” is not even arguably a change from past American policy. Though he’s the first President to publicly call for such an outcome, that’s been the working premise of American policy for decades. It’s controversial in one sense — it unduly rewards Israel for its illegal seizures of land by suggesting they should be able to permanently keep West Bank settlements (the “land swap” aspect of the formula) — but it does not remotely constitute a step in an anti-Israel direction. When even Israel-devoted stalwarts such as former IDF Corporal Jeffrey Goldberg and the ADL’s Abe Foxman are dismissive of the condemnation of Obama’s statements, it’s crystal clear that they pose no challenge to the dominant pro-Israel orthodoxy that has shaped American policy (and political discourse) for decades.

At most, Obama’s public endorsement of this position was a symbolic gesture to chide Netanyahu for his overt indifference to U.S. interests (and, more so, belligerence toward Obama), and a small rhetorical fig leaf to the populist forces driving the Arab rebellion. Yet even the most microscopic deviation from the dictates of the Israel Government produce shrill and ludicrous backlash from The inside-the-U.S. Israel Lobby.

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