Wednesday, 4 June 2008

"In opinion polls Americans express overwhelming support for Israel", Gerard Baker

From an article by Gerard Baker in The Times:

"If Jews wield little direct electoral clout, the reason for the power of the Israel lobby, say its critics, must be that it uses the financial and political muscle of American Jews to exercise a stranglehold on foreign policy debate. It requires politicians to commit America to uncritical support for Israel, irrespective of other US interests in the region.

There is a lot wrong with this idea. In a country as diverse as America, candidates are constantly trying to ensure that they are in the good graces of people of almost all faiths and traditions. (...)

But there is a bigger reason to object to the familiar characterisation of the Jewish lobby. AIPAC is undoubtedly one of the most effective lobbying organisations in Washington. But it succeeds because very large numbers of Americans share its aims, not because it somehow strongarms politicians into supporting it. Candidates want AIPAC's approval because they know that being seen as pro-Israel is central to their foreign policy credentials.

In opinion polls Americans express overwhelming support for Israel. They see it in kindred terms - a thriving democracy forged in an inhospitable climate. For Barack Obama in particular, dispelling doubts about his pro-Israel credentials is essential to winning the votes of most Americans."

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