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Friday, March 12, 2010

The 'Israel Lobby' isn't Jewish

This is a fascinating theory.
The power of Likud-supporting American Jews both in the Jewish community and in American politics generally has much less to do with the success of Likud’s ideology among American Jews than it does with the broad, pre-existing alignment between the ideas of the Israel lobby and general American public opinion.

Take AIPAC. From where I sit, AIPAC isn’t powerful because of the Jewish votes it can sway. Most Jews have views on Israel that are closer to the J-Street lobby vision than to the AIPAC line, and if a vote among America’s Jews decided our Israel policy the policy would be significantly to the left of where it is now. It’s not even because of the money; ‘pro-Israel’ PAC money is a drop in the vast and ever-expanding river of American campaign funding.

A group like AIPAC enjoys power and recognition not because it controls or even represents the votes of Jews. AIPAC’s power rests on gentile ideas and support; if a politician gets loudly and publicly labeled anti-Israel by AIPAC and its allies that politician will get hammered in the next election because so many American gentiles want their politicians to support the Jewish state. AIPAC works like the NRA; it is the publicly accepted voice on an issue about which the public has strong views.

Politicians don’t fear the loss of National Rifle Association PAC money nearly as much as they fear the loss of millions of pro-gun votes at the next election. This, I think is why AIPAC is so powerful. To be convincingly labeled an anti-Israel politician is the kiss of death almost everywhere in the United States — just as to be anti-gun is the kiss of death. American gentiles consider AIPAC and those affiliated with and endorsed by it to be reliable guardians of pro-Israel policy; politicians don’t want to cross a force with this kind of hold on the public.
Read the whole thing.

Intuitively, it makes sense.


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