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Sat Mar 9, 2019, 06:01 PM

How Should We Talk About the Israel Lobbys Power? [View all]

Let’s get this out of the way first: Using the phrases “all about the Benjamins” and “allegiance to a foreign country” when referring to the Israel lobby in D.C., as freshman Democratic representative Ilhan Omar recently did, is anti-Semitic. It should be possible to criticize Washington’s relationship with Israel without deploying crude and freighted language like this. But it got me wondering: Is it possible to write honestly about the Israel lobby’s power in D.C. without using any anti-Semitic “tropes” at all?

The basic facts are not really in dispute. A very powerful lobby deploys the money and passions of its members to ensure that a foreign country gets very, very special treatment from the U.S. Many of its supporters are Evangelical Protestants who want to accelerate the Second Coming. Others spring from an older and very American form of Christian Zionism. Many others are also American Jews with a commitment to Israel that has its roots both in the Torah and in a vow never to allow a second Holocaust.

I find basing foreign policy on apocalyptic predictions from dubious parts of the Bible dangerous, but, hey, Christianists are going to Christianist. And the zeal of many Jewish Americans for Israel is completely understandable. After the Holocaust, no Jew need apologize for a millisecond for having Israel’s back. When you see the rising, rancid tide of open anti-Semitism in Europe, the capture of the British opposition party by this poisonous hatred, and the sharp rise in hate crimes against Jews, even in New York City, defending Israel is a core interest of not only Jews but all of us in what’s left of the West.

You might expect that in return for all that money and military protection, the Israeli government would be eager to please the U.S., help buttress American foreign policy diplomatically, or respond swiftly when the U.S. asks the Jewish state not to violate international law, launch wars that kill a lot of civilians, or construct a brutal and corrosive apartheid state on the West Bank. But after you’ve spent a while in Washington, you begin to realize that’s not exactly how this works. In return for giving Israel $3.8 billion a year … the U.S. is expected to consent to anything and everything Israel wants. When you look at this from a distance, it is really quite amazing.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/how-should-we-talk-about-the-israel-lobbys-power.html

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