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Sunday, November 07, 2010

The real Arab lobby: Europe

Former AIPAC director Steve Rosen argues that the real Arab lobby in the United States is not Arab Americans or even the Saudis: It's the Europeans.
The Europeans are particularly formidable in their influence over U.S. Middle East policy because of four advantages.

First, although there exist subtle differences, many European leaders share a broad set of common beliefs about Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world, and the Middle East conflict that are considerably closer to the Arab perspective than to Jerusalem's point of view, and closer to the Arab end of the spectrum than the prevailing views of U.S. policymakers.

Second, they—especially representatives of Britain, Germany, and France—have easier and closer access to U.S. officials up to and including the president than do either the Arabs or the Israelis.

Third, the Europeans couch their presentations within a wider framework of shared values and interests and mutual trust with the United States, so the message is taken more seriously than if it came from an unelected leader of an Arab society vastly different from the United States.

Fourth, U.S. officials believe that it is in the national interest to keep the European allies happy, lest they change to an independent European policy toward the Middle East, falling under the sway of such Europeanists as former European Union commissioner for external affairs Christopher Patten. Thus, for example, Patten said in July 2010, "The default European position should not be … if the Americans don't do anything, to wring our hands. We should … be more explicit in setting out Europe's objectives and … try to implement them."
This is kind of long, but read the whole thing. He tells a fascinating story about how British Prime Minister John Major was the cause of the biggest blowup (at least until last March) in US - Israel relations.

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