Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Jewish Left wants the US to pressure Israel

Ted Belman

Following up on my article Liberal Jews support Obama in part because they blame the Jews too in which I pointed out that “progressive Jews” were naturally allies of Obama, I came upon this Prospect Magazine article by Gershom Gorenberg entitled A Liberal Jewish Lobby

The power of the “Israel Lobby” in the US is hard to measure exactly. But its hawkish positions do conflict with the views, and interests, of most American Jews. So why isn’t there a more dovish lobby to counter it? One is, finally, about to be unveiled.

For a long time now the Jewish Left have been trying to break the “stranglehold” AIPAC has on the US Congress and Senate. And so have Carter, Mearsheimer and Walt. The problem as Gershom Gorenberg sees it,

Lobbyists can only bend foreign relations so far. America’s basic interests constrain its policy towards the middle east, yet those interests are neither self-evident nor consistent with one another. The problem was stated over 40 years ago by McGeorge Bundy, who was President Johnson’s national security adviser until 1966. When the six-day war broke out in June 1967, Bundy was called back to the White House. A month later, he wrote a nine-page “framework of policy” for US relations with the middle east.

The Bundy doctrine’s bottom line is that US interests contradict each other: the US is committed to Israel’s survival, but also to good relations with pro-western Arab states that would like America to tilt against Israel. The war showed that US influence is limited; Washington could not even “dissuade some of our best friends among the Arabs from joining in the gang-up” against Israel. Even when Washington disagrees with Israeli policy, Bundy says, it should provide enough arms for Israel to defend itself. For if Israel faced defeat, the US “would confront the… painful and unattractive choices” of whether to send its own troops into battle.

Forty years on, much of Bundy’s description remains valid. It is easier, even cheaper, for America to keep Israel strong than to defend it directly. But Washington must also accommodate Arab allies. The Bundy doctrine implies that getting Arabs and Israelis to agree a peace deal would resolve the contradictions in US policy—and would be the best guarantee of Israeli security. The question then becomes one of how much the US should lean towards providing for Israel’s immediate security needs, and how much it should be pushing Israel towards a peace agreement as a strategic solution.

The Jewish left favours pushing Israel harder in the interests of the US. They argue though it is in the interests of Israel.

AIPAC is not the slightest bit hawkish. It merely supports the policies of the Government of Israel and never goes against it. It is a convenient scapegoat for the Left. Otherwise the Jewish Left would have to convince the US to go against Israel.

The Jewish Left know that it doesn’t have the democratic power to get Israel to support its policies so it looks to the US to exert its “influence”.

As far back as 2005 N.Y. Jewish leaders lobbied Rice on Gaza border deal

Following the meeting, the forum also sent her a policy paper in which it urged the U.S. to take “aggressive” action on three issues.

“The three steps that should be implemented in tandem, rather than in sequence, are as follows: Unambiguous and effective efforts by the PA to control terror and prevent attacks on Israelis; an Israeli freeze on extending existing settlements, including roads and other associated infrastructure, and removal of unauthorized settlement outposts; and efforts to help grow the Palestinian economy so the Palestinian Authority can provide jobs and basic services for Palestinians. This effort would help strengthen the PA’s position among the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas.”

Sound familiar?

Abraham Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was not uncommon for Jewish organizations to lobby the administration to exert pressure on Israel. Foxman himself opposes such activity, but said the IPF, Americans for Peace Now and sometimes the Reform Movement all engage in it.

Just prior to Annapolis, they offered Rice Constructive ideas for the November Conference

The “guide” suggests that the administration be ready with its own bridging proposals for the substance of a November Declaration: “the Bush administration cannot remain on the sidelines for long.” Their “illustrative” proposals for a successful statement make sense and are based on the Ayalon-Nusseibah plan with a little Geneva Initiative thrown in. One novel piece of framing that the IPF guide proposes is what they call a ‘facilitating agreement’ that would also be produced for November and would sit along side the substantive declaration. This facilitating agreement seems to essentially be a new way to reintroduce Roadmap phase I issues, such as security, settlement freeze, outpost removal, closure and prisoner release. Indeed, the former officials do not mention the Roadmap - not even once - in their guide paper. I think they are right. One of the more useful outcomes in November would be to finally bury the farce known as the Roadmap.

More recently Haaretz Editor Asked US Secretary of State to “Rape” Israel
Obama and all his advisers (McPeak, Power, Brzezinski, and so on) believe that Mearsheimer and Walt are correct in believing that, but for the power of the Israel Lobby, the US would be free to tilt more in favour of the Arabs. They see that in the interests of the US and so does the Jewish Left.

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