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Politics : Moderate Forum

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From: tsigprofit4/23/2006 2:47:28 AM
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John J. Mearsheimer
Department of Political Science
University of Chicago
Stephen M. Walt
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
March 2006

The two authors of this Working Paper are solely responsible for the views
expressed in it.

As academic institutions, Harvard University and the
University of Chicago do not take positions on the scholarship of individual
faculty, and this article should not be interpreted or portrayed as reflecting the
official position of either institution.

An edited and reworked version of this paper was published in the London Review of
Books Vol. 28, No. 6 (March 23, 2006), and is available online at

U.S. foreign policy shapes events in every corner of the globe. Nowhere is this
truer than in the Middle East, a region of recurring instability and enormous
strategic importance. Most recently, the Bush Administration’s attempt to
transform the region into a community of democracies has helped produce a
resilient insurgency in Iraq, a sharp rise in world oil prices, and terrorist
bombings in Madrid, London, and Amman. With so much at stake for so many,
all countries need to understand the forces that drive U.S. Middle East policy.
The U.S. national interest should be the primary object of American foreign
policy. For the past several decades, however, and especially since the Six Day
War in 1967, the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy has been its relationship
with Israel. The combination of unwavering U.S. support for Israel and the
related effort to spread democracy throughout the region has inflamed Arab and
Islamic opinion and jeopardized U.S. security.
This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the United
States been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests
of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries is
based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives. As we
show below, however, neither of those explanations can account for the
remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States
provides to Israel.
Instead, the overall thrust of U.S. policy in the region is due almost entirely to
U.S. domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the “Israel Lobby.” Other
special interest groups have managed to skew U.S. foreign policy in directions
they favored, but no lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from
what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while
simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are
essentially identical.1
In the pages that follow, we describe how the Lobby has accomplished this feat,
and how its activities have shaped America’s actions in this critical region.
Given the strategic importance of the Middle East and its potential impact on
others, both Americans and non-Americans need to understand and address the
Lobby’s influence on U.S. policy.
Some readers will find this analysis disturbing, but the facts recounted here are
not in serious dispute among scholars. Indeed, our account relies heavily on the
work of Israeli scholars and journalists, who deserve great credit for shedding
light on these issues. We also rely on evidence provided by respected Israeli and
international human rights organizations. Similarly, our claims about the
Lobby’s impact rely on testimony from the Lobby’s own members, as well as
testimony from politicians who have worked with them. Readers may reject our
conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial.
Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of
support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the
largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976
and the largest total recipient since World War II. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel
amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars.2 Israel receives about $3 billion
in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one-fifth of America’s
foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a
direct subsidy worth about $500 per year.3 This largesse is especially striking
when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita
income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain.4
Israel also gets other special deals from Washington.5 Other aid recipients get
their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation
at the beginning of each fiscal year and thus earns extra interest. Most recipients
of American military assistance are required to spend all of it in the United
States, but Israel can use roughly twenty-five percent of its aid allotment to
subsidize its own defense industry. Israel is the only recipient that does not have
to account for how the aid is spent, an exemption that makes it virtually
impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the United States
opposes, like building settlements in the West Bank.
Moreover, the United States has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop
weapons systems like the Lavi aircraft that the Pentagon did not want or need,
while giving Israel access to top-drawer U.S. weaponry like Blackhawk
helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the United States gives Israel access to
intelligence that it denies its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye towards
Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.6
In addition, Washington provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support.
Since 1982, the United States has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council
resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total
of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.7 It also blocks Arab
states’ efforts to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy
Agency’s agenda.8
The United States also comes to Israel’s rescue in wartime and takes its side
when negotiating peace. The Nixon Administration re-supplied Israel during the
October War and protected Israel from the threat of Soviet intervention.
Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war as well
as the lengthy “step-by-step” process that followed, just as it played a key role in
the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords.9 There were
occasional frictions between U.S. and Israeli officials in both cases, but the United
States coordinated its positions closely with Israel and consistently backed the
Israeli approach to the negotiations. Indeed, one American participant at Camp
David (2000) later said, “far too often, we functioned . . . as Israel’s lawyer.”10
As discussed below, Washington has given Israel wide latitude in dealing with
the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), even when its actions
were at odds with stated U.S. policy. Moreover, the Bush Administration’s
ambitious strategy to transform the Middle East—beginning with the invasion of
Iraq—is at least partly intended to improve Israel’s strategic situation. Apart
from wartime alliances, it is hard to think of another instance where one country
has provided another with a similar level of material and diplomatic support for
such an extended period. America’s support for Israel is, in short, unique.
This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital
strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S.
backing. But neither rationale is convincing.
According to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) website,
“the United States and Israel have formed a unique partnership to meet the
growing strategic threats in the Middle East . . . . This cooperative effort provides
significant benefits for both the United States and Israel.”11 This claim is an
article of faith among Israel’s supporters and is routinely invoked by Israeli
politicians and pro-Israel Americans.
Israel may have been a strategic asset during the Cold War.12 By serving as
America’s proxy after the Six Day War (1967), Israel helped contain Soviet
expansion in the region and inflicted humiliating defeats on Soviet clients like
Egypt and Syria. Israel occasionally helped protect other U.S. allies (like Jordan’s
King Hussein) and its military prowess forced Moscow to spend more backing
its losing clients. Israel also gave the United States useful intelligence about
Soviet capabilities.
Israel’s strategic value during this period should not be overstated, however.13
Backing Israel was not cheap, and it complicated America’s relations with the
Arab world. For example, the U.S. decision to give Israel $2.2 billion in
emergency military aid during the October War triggered an OPEC oil embargo
that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies. Moreover, Israel’s
military could not protect U.S. interests in the region. For example, the United
States could not rely on Israel when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 raised
concerns about the security of Persian Gulf oil supplies, and had to create its own
“Rapid Deployment Force” instead.
Even if Israel was a strategic asset during the Cold War, the first Gulf War (1990-
91) revealed that Israel was becoming a strategic burden. The United States
could not use Israeli bases during the war without rupturing the anti-Iraq
coalition, and it had to divert resources (e.g., Patriot missile batteries) to keep Tel
Aviv from doing anything that might fracture the alliance against Saddam.
History repeated itself in 2003: although Israel was eager for the United States to
attack Saddam, President Bush could not ask it to help without triggering Arab
opposition. So Israel stayed on the sidelines again.14
Beginning in the 1990s, and especially after 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been
justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups
originating in the Arab or Muslim world, and by a set of “rogue states” that back
these groups and seek WMD. This rationale implies that Washington should
give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press Israel to
make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead. It also
implies that the United States should go after countries like the Islamic Republic
of Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria. Israel is thus seen
as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are America’s enemies.
This new rationale seems persuasive, but Israel is in fact a liability in the war on
terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.
To begin with, “terrorism” is a tactic employed by a wide array of political
groups; it is not a single unified adversary. The terrorist organizations that
threaten Israel (e.g., Hamas or Hezbollah) do not threaten the United States,
except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover,
Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or “the
West”; it is largely a response to Israel’s prolonged campaign to colonize the
West Bank and Gaza Strip.
More importantly, saying that Israel and the United States are united by a shared
terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: rather, the United States
has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel,
not the other way around. U.S. support for Israel is not the only source of anti-
American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on
terror more difficult.15 There is no question, for example, that many al Qaeda
leaders, including bin Laden, are motivated by Israel’s presence in Jerusalem and
the plight of the Palestinians. According to the U.S. 9/11 Commission, bin Laden
explicitly sought to punish the United States for its policies in the Middle East,
including its support for Israel, and he even tried to time the attacks to highlight
this issue.16
Equally important, unconditional U.S. support for Israel makes it easier for
extremists like bin Laden to rally popular support and to attract recruits. Public
opinion polls confirm that Arab populations are deeply hostile to American
support for Israel, and the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Group on Public
Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim world found that “citizens in these
countries are genuinely distressed at the plight of the Palestinians and at the role
they perceive the United States to be playing.”17
As for so-called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital
U.S. interests, apart from the U.S. commitment to Israel itself. Although the
United States does have a number of disagreements with these regimes,
Washington would not be nearly as worried about Iran, Ba’thist Iraq, or Syria
were it not so closely tied to Israel. Even if these states acquire nuclear
weapons—which is obviously not desirable—it would not be a strategic disaster
for the United States. Neither America nor Israel could be blackmailed by a
nuclear-armed rogue, because the blackmailer could not carry out the threat
without receiving overwhelming retaliation. The danger of a “nuclear handoff”
to terrorists is equally remote, because a rogue state could not be sure the
transfer would be undetected or that it would not be blamed and punished
Furthermore, the U.S. relationship with Israel actually makes it harder to deal
with these states. Israel’s nuclear arsenal is one reason why some of its
neighbors want nuclear weapons, and threatening these states with regime
change merely increases that desire. Yet Israel is not much of an asset when the
United States contemplates using force against these regimes, because it cannot
participate in the fight.
In short, treating Israel as America’s most important ally in the campaign against
terrorism and assorted Middle East dictatorships both exaggerates Israel’s ability
to help on these issues and ignores the ways that Israel’s policies make U.S.
efforts more difficult.
Unquestioned support for Israel also weakens the U.S. position outside the
Middle East. Foreign elites consistently view the United States as too supportive
of Israel, and think its tolerance of Israeli repression in the occupied territories is
morally obtuse and a handicap in the war on terrorism.18 In April 2004, for
example, 52 former British diplomats sent Prime Minister Tony Blair a letter
saying that the Israel-Palestine conflict had “poisoned relations between the West
and the Arab and Islamic worlds,” and warning that the policies of Bush and
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon were “one-sided and illegal.”19
A final reason to question Israel’s strategic value is that it does not act like a loyal
ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore U.S. requests and renege on promises
made to top U.S. leaders (including past pledges to halt settlement construction
and to refrain from “targeted assassinations” of Palestinian leaders).20 Moreover,
Israel has provided sensitive U.S. military technology to potential U.S. rivals like
China, in what the U.S. State Department Inspector-General called “a systematic
and growing pattern of unauthorized transfers.”21 According to the U.S. General
Accounting Office, Israel also “conducts the most aggressive espionage
operations against the U.S. of any ally.”22 In addition to the case of Jonathan
Pollard, who gave Israel large quantities of classified material in the early 1980s
(which Israel reportedly passed onto the Soviet Union to gain more exit visas for
Soviet Jews), a new controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key
Pentagon official (Larry Franklin) had passed classified information to an Israeli
diplomat, allegedly aided by two AIPAC officials.23 Israel is hardly the only
country that spies on the United States, but its willingness to spy on its principal
patron casts further doubt on its strategic value.
Apart from its alleged strategic value, Israel’s backers also argue that it deserves
unqualified U.S. support because 1) it is weak and surrounded by enemies, 2) it
is a democracy, which is a morally preferable form of government; 3) the Jewish
people have suffered from past crimes and therefore deserve special treatment,
and 4) Israel’s conduct has been morally superior to its adversaries’ behavior.
On close inspection, however, each of these arguments is unpersuasive. There is
a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence, but that is not in jeopardy.
Viewed objectively, Israel’s past and present conduct offers no moral basis for
privileging it over the Palestinians.
Backing the Underdog?
Israel is often portrayed as weak and besieged, a Jewish David surrounded by a
hostile Arab Goliath. This image has been carefully nurtured by Israeli leaders
and sympathetic writers, but the opposite image is closer to the truth. Contrary
to popular belief, the Zionists had larger, better-equipped, and better-led forces
during the 1947-49 War of Independence and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) won
quick and easy victories against Egypt in 1956 and against Egypt, Jordan, and
Syria in 1967—before large-scale U.S. aid began flowing to Israel.24 These victories
offer eloquent evidence of Israeli patriotism, organizational ability, and military
prowess, but they also reveal that Israel was far from helpless even in its earliest
Today, Israel is the strongest military power in the Middle East. Its conventional
forces are far superior to its neighbors and it is the only state in the region with
nuclear weapons. Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with Israel and Saudi
Arabia has offered to do so as well. Syria has lost its Soviet patron, Iraq has been
decimated by three disastrous wars, and Iran is hundreds of miles away. The
Palestinians barely have effective police, let alone a military that could threaten
Israel. According to a 2005 assessment by Tel Aviv University’s prestigious
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, “the strategic balance decidedly favors Israel,
which has continued to widen the qualitative gap between its own military
capability and deterrence powers and those of its neighbors.”25 If backing the
underdog were a compelling rationale, the United States would be supporting
Israel’s opponents.
Aiding a Fellow Democracy?
American backing is often justified by the claim that Israel is a fellow-democracy
surrounded by hostile dictatorships. This rationale sounds convincing, but it
cannot account for the current level of U.S. support. After all, there are many
democracies around the world, but none receives the lavish support that Israel
does. The United States has overthrown democratic governments in the past and
supported dictators when this was thought to advance U.S. interests, and it has
good relations with a number of dictatorships today. Thus, being democratic
neither justifies nor explains America’s support for Israel.
The “shared democracy” rationale is also weakened by aspects of Israeli
democracy that are at odds with core American values. The United States is a
liberal democracy where people of any race, religion, or ethnicity are supposed
to enjoy equal rights. By contrast, Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state
and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship.26 Given this
conception of citizenship, it is not surprising that Israel’s 1.3 million Arabs are
treated as second-class citizens, or that a recent Israeli government commission
found that Israel behaves in a “neglectful and discriminatory” manner towards
Similarly, Israel does not permit Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens to
become citizens themselves, and does not give these spouses the right to live in
Israel. The Israeli human rights organization B’tselem called this restriction “a
racist law that determines who can live here according to racist criteria.”28 Such
laws may be understandable given Israel’s founding principles, but they are not
consistent with America’s image of democracy.
Israel’s democratic status is also undermined by its refusal to grant the
Palestinians a viable state of their own. Israel controls the lives of about 3.8
million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, while colonizing lands on which
the Palestinians have long dwelt. Israel is formally democratic, but the millions
of Palestinians that it controls are denied full political rights and the “shared
democracy” rationale is correspondingly weakened.
Compensation for Past Crimes
A third moral justification is the history of Jewish suffering in the Christian West,
especially the tragic episode of the Holocaust. Because Jews were persecuted for
centuries and can only be safe in a Jewish homeland, many believe that Israel
deserves special treatment from the United States.
There is no question that Jews suffered greatly from the despicable legacy of anti-
Semitism, and that Israel’s creation was an appropriate response to a long record
of crimes. This history, as noted, provides a strong moral case for supporting
Israel’s existence. But the creation of Israel involved additional crimes against a
largely innocent third party: the Palestinians.
The history of these events is well-understood. When political Zionism began in
earnest in the late 19th century, there were only about 15,000 Jews in Palestine.29
In 1893, for example, the Arabs comprised roughly 95 percent of the population,
and though under Ottoman control, they had been in continuous possession of
this territory for 1300 years.30 Even when Israel was founded, Jews were only
about 35 percent of Palestine’s population and owned 7 percent of the land.31
The mainstream Zionist leadership was not interested in establishing a bi-
national state or accepting a permanent partition of Palestine. The Zionist
leadership was sometimes willing to accept partition as a first step, but this was a
tactical maneuver and not their real objective. As David Ben-Gurion put it in the
late 1930s, “After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment
of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.”32
To achieve this goal, the Zionists had to expel large numbers of Arabs from the
territory that would eventually become Israel. There was simply no other way to
accomplish their objective. Ben-Gurion saw the problem clearly, writing in 1941
that “it is impossible to imagine general evacuation [of the Arab population]
without compulsion, and brutal compulsion.”33 Or as Israeli historian Benny
Morris puts it, “the idea of transfer is as old as modern Zionism and has
accompanied its evolution and praxis during the past century.”34
This opportunity came in 1947-48, when Jewish forces drove up to 700,000
Palestinians into exile.35 Israeli officials have long claimed that the Arabs fled
because their leaders told them to, but careful scholarship (much of it by Israeli
historians like Morris) have demolished this myth. In fact, most Arab leaders
urged the Palestinian population to stay home, but fear of violent death at the
hands of Zionist forces led most of them to flee.36 After the war, Israel barred the
return of the Palestinian exiles.
The fact that the creation of Israel entailed a moral crime against the Palestinian
people was well understood by Israel’s leaders. As Ben-Gurion told Nahum
Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, “If I were an Arab leader I
would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their
country. . . . We come from Israel, but two thousand years ago, and what is that
to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was
that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their
country. Why should they accept that?”37
Since then, Israeli leaders have repeatedly sought to deny the Palestinians’
national ambitions.38 Prime Minister Golda Meir famously remarked that “there
was no such thing as a Palestinian,” and even Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who
signed the 1993 Oslo Accords, nonetheless opposed creating a full-fledged
Palestinian state.39 Pressure from extremist violence and the growing Palestinian
population has forced subsequent Israeli leaders to disengage from some of the
occupied territories and to explore territorial compromise, but no Israeli
government has been willing to offer the Palestinians a viable state of their own.
Even Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s purportedly generous offer at Camp David in
July 2000 would only have given the Palestinians a disarmed and dismembered
set of “Bantustans” under de facto Israeli control.40
Europe’s crimes against the Jews provide a clear moral justification for Israel’s
right to exist. But Israel’s survival is not in doubt—even if some Islamic
extremists make outrageous and unrealistic references to “wiping it off the
map”—and the tragic history of the Jewish people does not obligate the United
States to help Israel no matter what it does today.
“Virtuous Israelis” versus “Evil Arabs”
The final moral argument portrays Israel as a country that has sought peace at
every turn and showed great restraint even when provoked. The Arabs, by
contrast, are said to have acted with great wickedness. This narrative—which is
endlessly repeated by Israeli leaders and American apologists such as Alan
Dershowitz—is yet another myth.41 In terms of actual behavior, Israel’s conduct
is not morally distinguishable from the actions of its opponents.
Israeli scholarship shows that the early Zionists were far from benevolent
towards the Palestinian Arabs.42 The Arab inhabitants did resist the Zionists’
encroachments, which is hardly surprising given that the Zionists were trying to
create their own state on Arab lands. The Zionists responded vigorously, and
neither side owns the moral high ground during this period. This same
scholarship also reveals that the creation of Israel in 1947-48 involved explicit
acts of ethnic cleansing, including executions, massacres, and rapes by Jews.43
Furthermore, Israel’s subsequent conduct towards its Arab adversaries and its
Palestinian subjects has often been brutal, belying any claim to morally superior
conduct. Between 1949 and 1956, for example, Israeli security forces killed
between 2,700 and 5000 Arab infiltrators, the overwhelming majority of them
unarmed.44 The IDF conducted numerous cross-border raids against its
neighbors in the early 1950s, and though these actions were portrayed as
defensive responses, they were actually part of a broader effort to expand Israel’s
borders. Israel’s expansionist ambitions also led it to join Britain and France in
attacking Egypt in 1956, and Israel withdrew from the lands it had conquered
only in the face of intense U.S. pressure. 45
The IDF also murdered hundreds of Egyptian prisoners-of-war in both the 1956
and 1967 wars.46 In 1967, it expelled between 100,000 and 260,000 Palestinians
from the newly-conquered West Bank, and drove 80,000 Syrians from the Golan
Heights.47 It was also complicit in the massacre of 700 innocent Palestinians at
the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps following its invasion of Lebanon in 1982,
and an Israeli investigatory commission found then-Defence Minister Sharon
“personally responsible” for these atrocities.48
Israeli personnel have tortured numerous Palestinian prisoners, systematically
humiliated and inconvenienced Palestinian civilians, and used force
indiscriminately against them on numerous occasions. During the First Intifida
(1987-1991), for example, the IDF distributed truncheons to its troops and
encouraged them to break the bones of Palestinian protestors. The Swedish
“Save the Children” organization estimated that “23,600 to 29,900 children
required medical treatment for their beating injuries in the first two years of the
intifida,” with nearly one-third sustaining broken bones. Nearly one-third of the
beaten children were aged ten and under.”49
Israel’s response to the Second Intifida (2000-2005) has been even more violent,
leading Ha’aretz to declare that “the IDF … is turning into a killing machine
whose efficiency is awe-inspiring, yet shocking.”50 The IDF fired one million
bullets in the first days of the uprising, which is far from a measured response.51
Since then, Israel has killed 3.4 Palestinians for every Israeli lost, the majority of
whom have been innocent bystanders; the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli children
killed is even higher (5.7 to 1).52 Israeli forces have also killed several foreign
peace activists, including a 23 year-old American woman crushed by an Israeli
bulldozer in March 2003.53
These facts about Israel’s conduct have been amply documented by numerous
human rights organizations—including prominent Israeli groups—and are not
disputed by fair-minded observers. And that is why four former officials of Shin
Bet (the Israeli domestic security organization) condemned Israel’s conduct
during the Second Intifada in November 2003. One of them declared “we are
behaving disgracefully,” and another termed Israel’s conduct “patently
But isn’t Israel entitled to do whatever it takes to protect its citizens? Doesn’t the
unique evil of terrorism justify continued U.S. support, even if Israel often
responds harshly?
In fact, this argument is not a compelling moral justification either. Palestinians
have used terrorism against their Israeli occupiers, and their willingness to attack
innocent civilians is wrong. This behavior is not surprising, however, because
the Palestinians believe they have no other way to force Israeli concessions. As
former Prime Minister Barak once admitted, had he been born a Palestinian, he
“would have joined a terrorist organization.”55
Finally, we should not forget that the Zionists used terrorism when they were in
a similarly weak position and trying to obtain their own state. Between 1944 and
1947, several Zionist organizations used terrorist bombings to drive the British
from Palestine, and took the lives of many innocent civilians along the way.56
Israeli terrorists also murdered U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte in 1948,
because they opposed his proposal to internationalize Jerusalem.57 Nor were the
perpetrators of these acts isolated extremists: the leaders of the murder plot were
eventually granted amnesty by the Israeli government and one of them was
elected to the Knesset. Another terrorist leader, who approved the murder but
was not tried, was future Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Indeed, Shamir openly
argued that “neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism
as a means of combat.” Rather, terrorism had “a great part to play … in our war
against the occupier [Britain].”58 If the Palestinians’ use of terrorism is morally
reprehensible today, so was Israel’s reliance upon it in the past, and thus one
cannot justify U.S. support for Israel on the grounds that its past conduct was
morally superior.59
Israel may not have acted worse than many other countries, but it clearly has not
acted any better. And if neither strategic nor moral arguments can account for
America’s support for Israel, how are we to explain it?
The explanation lies in the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby. Were it not for
the Lobby’s ability to manipulate the American political system, the relationship
between Israel and the United States would be far less intimate than it is today.
What Is The Lobby?
We use “the Lobby" as a convenient short-hand term for the loose coalition of
individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in
a pro-Israel direction. Our use of this term is not meant to suggest that "the
Lobby" is a unified movement with a central leadership, or that individuals
within it do not disagree on certain issues
The core of the Lobby is comprised of American Jews who make a significant
effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel’s
interests. Their activities go beyond merely voting for candidates who are pro-
Israel to include letter-writing, financial contributions, and supporting pro-Israel
organizations. But not all Jewish-Americans are part of the Lobby, because
Israel is not a salient issue for many of them. In a 2004 survey, for example,
roughly 36 percent of Jewish-Americans said they were either “not very” or “not
at all” emotionally attached to Israel.60
Jewish-Americans also differ on specific Israeli policies. Many of the key
organizations in the Lobby, like AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of
Major Jewish Organizations (CPMJO), are run by hardliners who generally
supported the expansionist policies of Israel’s Likud Party, including its hostility
to the Oslo Peace Process. The bulk of U.S. Jewry, on the other hand, is more
favorably disposed to making concessions to the Palestinians, and a few
groups—such as Jewish Voice for Peace—strongly advocate such steps.61 Despite
these differences, moderates and hardliners both support steadfast U.S. support
for Israel.
Not surprisingly, American Jewish leaders often consult with Israeli officials, so
that the former can maximize their influence in the United States. As one activist
with a major Jewish organization wrote, “it is routine for us to say: ‘This is our
policy on a certain issue, but we must check what the Israelis think.’ We as a
community do it all the time.”62 There is also a strong norm against criticizing
Israeli policy, and Jewish-American leaders rarely support putting pressure on
Israel. Thus, Edgar Bronfman Sr., the president of the World Jewish Congress,
was accused of “perfidy” when he wrote a letter to President Bush in mid-2003
urging Bush to pressure Israel to curb construction of its controversial “security
fence.”63 Critics declared that, “It would be obscene at any time for the president
of the World Jewish Congress to lobby the president of the United States to resist
policies being promoted by the government of Israel.”
Similarly, when Israel Policy Forum president Seymour Reich advised Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice to pressure Israel to reopen a critical border crossing in
the Gaza Strip in November 2005, critics denounced his action as “irresponsible
behavior,” and declared that, “There is absolutely no room in the Jewish
mainstream for actively canvassing against the security-related policies . . . of
Israel.”64 Recoiling from these attacks, Reich proclaimed that “the word pressure
is not in my vocabulary when it comes to Israel.”
Jewish-Americans have formed an impressive array of organizations to influence
American foreign policy, of which AIPAC is the most powerful and well-known.
In 1997, Fortune magazine asked members of Congress and their staffs to list the
most powerful lobbies in Washington.65 AIPAC was ranked second behind the
American Association of Retired People (AARP), but ahead of heavyweight
lobbies like the AFL-CIO and the National Rifle Association. A National Journal
study in March 2005 reached a similar conclusion, placing AIPAC in second
place (tied with AARP) in the Washington’s “muscle rankings.”66
The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry
Falwell, Ralph Reed, and Pat Robertson, as well as Dick Armey and Tom DeLay,
former majority leaders in the House of Representatives. They believe Israel’s
rebirth is part of Biblical prophecy, support its expansionist agenda, and think
pressuring Israel is contrary to God’s will.67 In addition, the Lobby’s
membership includes neoconservative gentiles such as John Bolton, the late Wall
Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, former Secretary of Education William
Bennett, former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and columnist George
Sources of Power
The United States has a divided government that offers many ways to influence
the policy process. As a result, interest groups can shape policy in many
different ways—by lobbying elected representatives and members of the
executive branch, making campaign contributions, voting in elections, molding
public opinion, etc.
Furthermore, special interest groups enjoy disproportionate power when they
are committed to a particular issue and the bulk of the population is indifferent.
Policymakers will tend to accommodate those who care about the issue in
question, even if their numbers are small, confident that the rest of the
population will not penalize them.
The Israel Lobby’s power flows from its unmatched ability to play this game of
interest group politics. In its basic operations, it is no different from interest
groups like the Farm Lobby, steel and textile workers, and other ethnic lobbies.
What sets the Israel Lobby apart is its extraordinary effectiveness. But there is
nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to
sway U.S. policy towards Israel. The Lobby’s activities are not the sort of
conspiracy depicted in anti-Semitic tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
For the most part, the individuals and groups that comprise the Lobby are doing
what other special interest groups do, just much better. Moreover, pro-Arab
interest groups are weak to non-existent, which makes the Lobby’s task even
Strategies for Success
The Lobby pursues two broad strategies to promote U.S. support for Israel. First,
it wields significant influence in Washington, pressuring both Congress and the
Executive branch to support Israel down the line. Whatever an individual
lawmaker or policymaker’s own views, the Lobby tries to make supporting Israel
the “smart” political choice.
Second, the Lobby strives to ensure that public discourse about Israel portrays it
in a positive light, by repeating myths about Israel and its founding and by
publicizing Israel’s side in the policy debates of the day. The goal is to prevent
critical commentary about Israel from getting a fair hearing in the political arena.
Controlling the debate is essential to guaranteeing U.S. support, because a
candid discussion of U.S.-Israeli relations might lead Americans to favor a
different policy.
Influencing Congress
A key pillar of the Lobby’s effectiveness is its influence in the U.S. Congress,
where Israel is virtually immune from criticism. This is in itself a remarkable
situation, because Congress almost never shies away from contentious issues.
Whether the issue is abortion, affirmative action, health care, or welfare, there is
certain to be a lively debate on Capitol Hill. Where Israel is concerned, however,
potential critics fall silent and there is hardly any debate at all.
One reason for the Lobby’s success with Congress is that some key members are
Christian Zionists like Dick Armey, who said in September 2002 that “My No. 1
priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.”69 One would think that the number
1 priority for any congressman would be to “protect America,” but that is not
what Armey said. There are also Jewish senators and congressmen who work to
make U.S. foreign policy support Israel’s interests.
Pro-Israel congressional staffers are another source of the Lobby’s power. As
Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC, once admitted, “There are a lot of guys
at the working level up here [on Capitol Hill] … who happen to be Jewish, who
are willing … to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness …. These are
all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those
senators …. You can get an awful lot done just at the staff level.”70
It is AIPAC itself, however, that forms the core of the Lobby’s influence in
Congress. AIPAC’s success is due to its ability to reward legislators and
congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who
challenge it. Money is critical to U.S. elections (as the recent scandal over
lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s various shady dealings reminds us), and AIPAC makes
sure that its friends get strong financial support from the myriad pro-Israel
political action committees. Those seen as hostile to Israel, on the other hand,
can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to their political
opponents. AIPAC also organizes letter-writing campaigns and encourages
newspaper editors to endorse pro-Israel candidates.
There is no doubt about the potency of these tactics. To take but one example, in
1984 AIPAC helped defeat Senator Charles Percy from Illinois, who, according to
one prominent Lobby figure, had “displayed insensitivity and even hostility to
our concerns.” Thomas Dine, the head of AIPAC at the time, explained what
happened: “All the Jews in America, from coast to coast, gathered to oust Percy.
And the American politicians -- those who hold public positions now, and those
who aspire -- got the message.”71 AIPAC prizes its reputation as a formidable
adversary, of course, because it discourages anyone from questioning its agenda.
AIPAC’s influence on Capitol Hill goes even further, however. According to
Douglas Bloomfield, a former AIPAC staff member, “It is common for members
of Congress and their staffs to turn to AIPAC first when they need information,
before calling the Library of Congress, the Congressional Research Service,
committee staff or administration experts.”72 More importantly, he notes that
AIPAC is “often called upon to draft speeches, work on legislation, advise on
tactics, perform research, collect co-sponsors and marshal votes.”
The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government,
has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress.73 Open debate about U.S. policy
towards Israel does not occur there, even though that policy has important
consequences for the entire world. Thus, one of the three main branches of the
U.S. government is firmly committed to supporting Israel. As former Senator
Ernest Hollings (D-SC) noted as he was leaving office, “You can’t have an Israeli
policy other than what AIPAC gives you around here.”74 Small wonder that
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told an American audience. “When
people ask me how they can help Israel, I tell them—Help AIPAC.”75
Influencing the Executive
The Lobby also has significant leverage over the Executive branch. That power
derives in part from the influence Jewish voters have on presidential elections.
Despite their small numbers in the population (less than 3 percent), they make
large campaign donations to candidates from both parties. The Washington Post
once estimated that Democratic presidential candidates “depend on Jewish
supporters to supply as much as 60 percent of the money.”76 Furthermore,
Jewish voters have high turn-out rates and are concentrated in key states like
California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania. Because they matter in
close elections, Presidential candidates go to great lengths not to antagonize
Jewish voters.
Key organizations in the Lobby also directly target the administration in power.
For example, pro-Israel forces make sure that critics of the Jewish state do not get
important foreign-policy appointments. Jimmy Carter wanted to make George
Ball his first secretary of state, but he knew that Ball was perceived as critical of
Israel and that the Lobby would oppose the appointment.77 This litmus test
forces any aspiring policymaker to become an overt supporter of Israel, which is
why public critics of Israeli policy have become an endangered species in the
U.S. foreign policy establishment.
These constraints still operate today. When 2004 presidential candidate Howard
Dean called for the United States to take a more “even-handed role” in the Arab-
Israeli conflict, Senator Joseph Lieberman accused him of selling Israel down the
river and said his statement was “irresponsible.”78 Virtually all of the top
Democrats in the House signed a hard-hitting letter to Dean criticizing his
comments, and the Chicago Jewish Star reported that “anonymous attackers … are
clogging the e-mail inboxes of Jewish leaders around the country, warning --
without much evidence -- that Dean would somehow be bad for Israel.”79
This worry was absurd, however, because Dean is in fact quite hawkish on
Israel.80 His campaign co-chair was a former AIPAC president, and Dean said
his own views on the Middle East more closely reflected those of AIPAC than the
more moderate Americans for Peace Now. Dean had merely suggested that to
“bring the sides together,” Washington should act as an honest broker. This is
hardly a radical idea, but it is anathema to the Lobby, which does not tolerate the
idea of even-handedness when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Lobby’s goals are also served when pro-Israel individuals occupy important
positions in the executive branch. During the Clinton Administration, for
example, Middle East policy was largely shaped by officials with close ties to
Israel or to prominent pro-Israel organizations—including Martin Indyk, the
former deputy director of research at AIPAC and co-founder of the pro-Israel
Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP); Dennis Ross, who joined
WINEP after leaving government in 2001; and Aaron Miller, who has lived in
Israel and often visits there.81
These men were among President Clinton’s closest advisors at the Camp David
summit in July 2000. Although all three supported the Oslo peace process and
favored creation of a Palestinian state, they did so only within the limits of what
would be acceptable to Israel.82 In particular, the American delegation took its
cues from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, coordinated negotiating positions
in advance, and did not offer its own independent proposals for settling the
conflict. Not surprisingly, Palestinian negotiators complained that they were
“negotiating with two Israeli teams -- one displaying an Israeli flag, and one an
American flag.”83
The situation is even more pronounced in the Bush Administration, whose ranks
include fervently pro-Israel individuals like Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas
Feith, I. Lewis (“Scooter”) Libby, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and David
Wurmser. As we shall see, these officials consistently pushed for policies
favored by Israel and backed by organizations in the Lobby.
Manipulating the Media
In addition to influencing government policy directly, the Lobby strives to shape
public perceptions about Israel and the Middle East. It does not want an open
debate on issues involving Israel, because an open debate might cause Americans
to question the level of support that they currently provide. Accordingly, pro-
Israel organizations work hard to influence the media, think tanks, and
academia, because these institutions are critical in shaping popular opinion.
The Lobby’s perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media in
good part because most American commentators are pro-Israel. The debate
among Middle East pundits, journalist Eric Alterman writes, is “dominated by
people who cannot imagine criticizing Israel.”84 He lists 61 “columnists and
commentators who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and
without qualification.” Conversely, Alterman found just five pundits who
consistently criticize Israeli behavior or endorse pro-Arab positions.
Newspapers occasionally publish guest op-eds challenging Israeli policy, but the
balance of opinion clearly favors the other side.
This pro-Israel bias is reflected in the editorials of major newspapers. Robert
Bartley, the late editor of the Wall Street Journal, once remarked that, “Shamir,
Sharon, Bibi – whatever those guys want is pretty much fine by me.”85 Not
surprisingly, the Journal, along with other prominent newspapers like The Chicago
Sun-Times and The Washington Times regularly run editorials that are strongly
pro-Israel. Magazines like Commentary, the New Republic, and the Weekly
Standard also zealously defend Israel at every turn.
Editorial bias is also found in papers like the New York Times. The Times
occasionally criticizes Israeli policies and sometimes concedes that the
Palestinians have legitimate grievances, but it is not even-handed. In his
memoirs, for example, former Times executive editor Max Frankel acknowledged
the impact his own pro-Israel attitude had on his editorial choices. In his words:
“I was much more deeply devoted to Israel than I dared to assert.” He goes on:
“Fortified by my knowledge of Israel and my friendships there, I myself wrote
most of our Middle East commentaries. As more Arab than Jewish readers
recognized, I wrote them from a pro-Israel perspective.” 86
The media’s reporting of news events involving Israel is somewhat more even-
handed than editorial commentary is, in part because reporters strive to be
objective, but also because it is difficult to cover events in the occupied territories
without acknowledging Israel’s actual behavior. To discourage unfavorable
reporting on Israel, the Lobby organizes letter writing campaigns,
demonstrations, and boycotts against news outlets whose content it considers
anti-Israel. One CNN executive has said that he sometimes gets 6,000 e-mail
messages in a single day complaining that a story is anti-Israel.87 Similarly, the
pro-Israel Committee for Accurate Middle East Reporting in America
(CAMERA) organized demonstrations outside National Public Radio stations in
33 cities in May 2003, and it also tried to convince contributors to withhold
support from NPR until its Middle East coverage became more sympathetic to
Israel.88 Boston’s NPR station, WBUR, reportedly lost more than $1 million in
contributions as a result of these efforts. Pressure on NPR has also come from
Israel’s friends in Congress, who have asked NPR for an internal audit as well as
more oversight of its Middle East coverage.
These factors help explain why the American media contains few criticisms of
Israeli policy, rarely questions Washington’s relationship with Israel, and only
occasionally discusses the Lobby’s profound influence on U.S. policy.
Think Tanks That Think One Way
Pro-Israel forces predominate in U.S. think tanks, which play an important role
in shaping public debate as well as actual policy. The Lobby created its own
think tank in 1985, when Martin Indyk helped found WINEP.89 Although
WINEP plays down its links to Israel and claims instead that it provides a
“balanced and realistic” perspective on Middle East issues, this is not the case.90
In fact, WINEP is funded and run by individuals who are deeply committed to
advancing Israel’s agenda.
The Lobby’s influence in the think tank world extends well beyond WINEP.
Over the past 25 years, pro-Israel forces have established a commanding
presence at the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the
Center for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage
Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, and
the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). These think tanks are
decidedly pro-Israel, and include few, if any, critics of U.S. support for the Jewish
A good indicator of the Lobby’s influence in the think tank world is the evolution
of the Brookings Institution. For many years, its senior expert on Middle East
issues was William B. Quandt, a distinguished academic and former NSC official
with a well-deserved reputation for evenhandedness regarding the Arab-Israeli
conflict. Today, however, Brookings’s work on these issues is conducted
through its Saban Center for Middle East Studies, which is financed by Haim
Saban, a wealthy Israeli-American businessman and ardent Zionist.91 The
director of the Saban Center is the ubiquitous Martin Indyk. Thus, what was
once a non-partisan policy institute on Middle East matters is now part of the
chorus of largely pro-Israel think tanks.
Policing Academia
The Lobby has had the most difficulty stifling debate about Israel on college
campuses, because academic freedom is a core value and because tenured
professors are hard to threaten or silence. Even so, there was only mild criticism
of Israel in the 1990s, when the Oslo peace process was underway. Criticism rose
after that process collapsed and Ariel Sharon came to power in early 2001, and it
became especially intense when the IDF re-occupied the West Bank in spring
2002 and employed massive force against the Second Intifada.
The Lobby moved aggressively to “take back the campuses.” New groups
sprang up, like the Caravan for Democracy, which brought Israeli speakers to
U.S. colleges.92 Established groups like the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and
Hillel jumped into the fray, and a new group—the Israel on Campus Coalition—
was formed to coordinate the many groups that now sought to make Israel’s case
on campus. Finally, AIPAC more than tripled its spending for programs to
monitor university activities and to train young advocates for Israel, in order to
“vastly expand the number of students involved on campus . . . in the national
pro-Israel effort.”93
The Lobby also monitors what professors write and teach. In September 2002,
for example, Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel
neoconservatives, established a website (Campus Watch) that posted dossiers on
suspect academics and encouraged students to report comments or behavior that
might be considered hostile to Israel.94 This transparent attempt to blacklist and
intimidate scholars prompted a harsh reaction and Pipes and Kramer later
removed the dossiers, but the website still invites students to report alleged anti-
Israel behavior at U.S. colleges.
Groups in the Lobby also direct their fire at particular professors and the
universities that hire them. Columbia University, which had the late Palestinian
scholar Edward Said on its faculty, has been a frequent target of pro-Israel forces.
Jonathan Cole, the former Columbia provost, reported that, “One can be sure
that any public statement in support of the Palestinian people by the preeminent
literary critic Edward Said will elicit hundreds of e-mails, letters, and journalistic
accounts that call on us to denounce Said and to either sanction or fire him.”95
When Columbia recruited historian Rashid Khalidi from the University of
Chicago, Cole says that “the complaints started flowing in from people who
disagreed with the content of his political views.” Princeton faced the same
problem a few years later when it considered wooing Khalidi away from
A classic illustration of the effort to police academia occurred in late 2004, when
the “David Project” produced a propaganda film alleging that faculty in
Columbia University’s Middle East studies program were anti-Semitic and were
intimidating Jewish students who defended Israel.97 Columbia was raked over
the coals in pro-Israel circles, but a faculty committee assigned to investigate the
charges found no evidence of anti-Semitism and the only incident worth noting
was the possibility that one professor had “responded heatedly” to a student’s
question.98 The committee also discovered that the accused professors had been
the target of an overt intimidation campaign.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this campaign to eliminate criticism of
Israel from college campuses is the effort by Jewish groups to push Congress to
establish mechanisms that monitor what professors say about Israel.99 Schools
judged to have an anti-Israel bias would be denied Federal funding. This effort
to get the U.S. government to police campuses have not yet succeeded, but the
attempt illustrates the importance pro-Israel groups place on controlling debate
on these issues.
Finally, a number of Jewish philanthropists have established Israel studies
programs (in addition to the roughly 130 Jewish Studies programs that already
exist) so as to increase the number of Israel-friendly scholars on campus.100 NYU
announced the establishment of the Taub Center for Israel Studies on May 1,
2003, and similar programs have been established at other schools like Berkeley,
Brandeis, and Emory. Academic administrators emphasize the pedagogical
value of these programs, but the truth is that they are intended in good part to
promote Israel’s image on campus. Fred Laffer, the head of the Taub
Foundation, makes clear that his foundation funded the NYU center to help
counter the “Arabic [sic] point of view” that he thinks is prevalent in NYU’s
Middle East programs.101
In sum, the Lobby has gone to considerable lengths to insulate Israel from
criticism on college campuses. It has not been as successful in academia as it has
been on Capitol Hill, but it has worked hard to stifle criticism of Israel by
professors and students and there is much less of it on campuses today.102
The Great Silencer
No discussion of how the Lobby operates would be complete without examining
one of its most powerful weapons: the charge of anti-Semitism. Anyone who
criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence
over U.S. Middle East policy—an influence that AIPAC celebrates—stands a
good chance of getting labeled an anti-Semite. In fact, anyone who says that
there is an Israel Lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism, even
though the Israeli media themselves refer to America’s “Jewish Lobby.” In effect,
the Lobby boasts of its own power and then attacks anyone who calls attention to
it. This tactic is very effective, because anti-Semitism is loathsome and no
responsible person wants to be accused of it.
Europeans have been more willing than Americans to criticize Israeli policy in
recent years, which some attribute to a resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.
We are “getting to a point,” the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union said in
early 2004, “where it is as bad as it was in the 1930s.”103 Measuring anti-Semitism
is a complicated matter, but the weight of evidence points in the opposite
direction. For example, in the spring of 2004, when accusations of European anti-
Semitism filled the air in America, separate surveys of European public opinion
conducted by the Anti-Defamation League and the Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press showed that it was actually declining.104
Consider France, which pro-Israel forces often portray as the most anti-Semitic
state in Europe. A poll of French citizens in 2002 found that: 89 percent could
envisage living with a Jew; 97 percent believe making anti-Semitic graffiti is a
serious crime; 87 percent think attacks on French synagogues are scandalous;
and 85 percent of practicing French Catholics reject the charge that Jews have too
much influence in business and finance.105 It is unsurprising that the head of the
French Jewish community declared in the summer of 2003 that “France is not
more anti-Semitic than America.”106 According to a recent article in Ha'aretz, the
French police report that anti-Semitic incidents in France declined by almost 50
per cent in 2005; and this despite the fact that France has the largest Muslim
population of any country in Europe.107
Finally, when a French Jew was brutally murdered last month by a Muslim gang,
tens of thousands of French demonstrators poured into the streets to condemn
anti-Semitism. Moreover, President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister
Dominique de Villepin both attended the victim’s memorial service in a public
show of solidarity with French Jewry.108 It is also worth noting that in 2002 more
Jews immigrated to Germany than Israel, making it “the fastest growing Jewish
community in the world,” according to an article in the Jewish newspaper
Forward.109 If Europe were really heading back to the 1930s, it is hard to imagine
that Jews would be moving there in large numbers.
We recognize, however, that Europe is not free of the scourge of anti-Semitism.
No one would deny that there are still some virulent autochthonous anti-Semites
in Europe (as there are in the United States) but their numbers are small and their
extreme views are rejected by the vast majority of Europeans. Nor would one
deny that there is anti-Semitism among European Muslims, some of it provoked
by Israel’s behavior towards the Palestinians and some of it straightforwardly
racist. 110 This problem is worrisome, but it is hardly out of control. Muslims
constitute less than five percent of Europe’s total population, and European
governments are working hard to combat the problem. Why? Because most
Europeans reject such hateful views.111 In short, when it comes to anti-Semitism,
Europe today bears hardly any resemblance to Europe in the 1930s.
This is why pro-Israel forces, when pressed to go beyond assertion, claim that
there is a ‘new anti-Semitism’, which they equate with criticism of Israel.112 In
other words criticize Israeli policy and you are by definition an anti-Semite.
When the synod of the Church of England recently voted to divest from
Caterpillar Inc on the grounds that Caterpillar manufactures the bulldozers used
to demolish Palestinian homes, the Chief Rabbi complained that it would 'have
the most adverse repercussions on ... Jewish-Christian relations in Britain', while
Rabbi Tony Bayfield, the head of the Reform movement, said: “'There is a clear
problem of anti-Zionist - verging on anti-Semitic - attitudes emerging in the grass
roots, and even in the middle ranks of the Church.”113 However, the Church was
neither guilty of anti-Zionism nor anti-Semitism; it was merely protesting Israeli
Critics are also accused of holding Israel to an unfair standard or questioning its
right to exist. But these are bogus charges too. Western critics of Israel hardly
ever question its right to exist. Instead, they question its behavior towards the
Palestinians, which is a legitimate criticism: Israelis question it themselves. Nor is
Israel being judged unfairly. Rather, Israeli treatment of the Palestinians elicits
criticism because it is contrary to widely-accepted human rights norms and
international law, as well as the principle of national self-determination. And it is
hardly the only state that has faced sharp criticism on these grounds.
In sum, other ethnic lobbies can only dream of having the political muscle that
pro-Israel organizations possess. The question, therefore, is what effect does the
Lobby have on U.S. foreign policy?
If the Lobby’s impact were confined to U.S. economic aid to Israel, its influence
might not be that worrisome. Foreign aid is valuable, but not as useful as having
the world’s only superpower bring its vast capabilities to bear on Israel’s behalf.
Accordingly, the Lobby has also sought to shape the core elements of U.S.
Middle East policy. In particular, it has worked successfully to convince
American leaders to back Israel’s continued repression of the Palestinians and to
take aim at Israel’s primary regional adversaries: Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
Demonizing the Palestinians
It is now largely forgotten, but in the fall of 2001, and especially in the spring of
2002, the Bush Administration tried to reduce anti-American sentiment in the
Arab world and undermine support for terrorist groups like al Qaeda, by halting
Israel’s expansionist policies in the occupied territories and advocating the
creation of a Palestinian state.
Bush had enormous potential leverage at his disposal. He could have threatened
to reduce U.S. economic and diplomatic support for Israel, and the American
people would almost certainly have supported him. A May 2003 poll reported
that over 60 percent of Americans were willing to withhold aid to Israel if it
resisted U.S. pressure to settle the conflict, and that number rose to 70 percent
among “politically active” Americans.115 Indeed, 73 percent said that United
States should not favor either side.
Yet the Bush Administration failed to change Israel’s policies, and Washington
ended up backing Israel’s hard-line approach instead. Over time, the
Administration also adopted Israel’s justifications for this approach, so that U.S.
and Israeli rhetoric became similar. By February 2003, a Washington Post
headline summarized the situation: “Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical on
Mideast Policy.”116 The main reason for this switch is the Lobby.
The story begins in late September 2001 when President Bush began pressuring
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon to show restraint in the occupied territories. He
also pressed Sharon to allow Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres to meet with
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, even though Bush was highly critical of Arafat’s
leadership.117 Bush also said publicly that he supported a Palestinian state.118
Alarmed by these developments, Sharon accused Bush of trying “to appease the
Arabs at our expense,” warning that Israel “will not be Czechoslovakia.”119
Bush was reportedly furious at Sharon’s likening him to Neville Chamberlain,
and White House press secretary Ari Fleischer called Sharon’s remarks
“unacceptable.”120 The Israeli prime minister offered a pro forma apology, but he
quickly joined forces with the Lobby to convince the Bush administration and the
American people that the United States and Israel faced a common threat from
terrorism.121 Israeli officials and Lobby representatives repeatedly emphasized
that there was no real difference between Arafat and Osama bin Laden, and
insisted that the United States and Israel should isolate the Palestinians’ elected
leader and have nothing to do with him.122
The Lobby also went to work in Congress. On November 16, 89 senators sent
Bush a letter praising him for refusing to meet with Arafat, but also demanding
that the United States not restrain Israel from retaliating against the Palestinians
and insisting that the administration state publicly that it stood steadfastly
behind Israel. According to the New York Times, the letter “stemmed from a
meeting two weeks ago between leaders of the American Jewish community and
key senators,” adding that AIPAC was “particularly active in providing advice
on the letter.”123
By late November, relations between Tel Aviv and Washington had improved
considerably. This was due in part to the Lobby’s efforts to bend U.S. policy in
Israel’s direction, but also to America’s initial victory in Afghanistan, which
reduced the perceived need for Arab support in dealing with al Qaeda. Sharon
visited the White House in early December and had a friendly meeting with
But trouble erupted again in April 2002, after the IDF launched Operation
Defensive Shield and resumed control of virtually all of the major Palestinian
areas on the West Bank.125 Bush knew that Israel’s action would damage
America’s image in the Arab and Islamic world and undermine the war on
terrorism, so he demanded on April 4 that Sharon “halt the incursions and begin
withdrawal.” He underscored this message two days later, saying this meant
“withdrawal without delay.” On April 7, Bush’s national security advisor,
Condoleezza Rice, told reporters that, “‘without delay’ means without delay. It
means now.” That same day Secretary of State Colin Powell set out for the
Middle East to pressure all sides to stop fighting and start negotiating.126
Israel and the Lobby swung into action. A key target was Powell, who began
feeling intense heat from pro-Israel officials in Vice President Cheney’s office and
the Pentagon, as well as from neoconservative pundits like Robert Kagan and
William Kristol, who accused him of having “virtually obliterated the distinction
between terrorists and those fighting terrorists.”127 A second target was Bush
himself, who was being pressed by Jewish leaders and Christian evangelicals, the
latter a key component of his political base. Tom DeLay and Dick Armey were
especially outspoken about the need to support Israel, and DeLay and Senate
Minority Leader Trent Lott visited the White House and personally warned Bush
to back off.128
The first sign that Bush was caving came on April 11—only one week after he
told Sharon to withdraw his forces—when Ari Fleischer said the President
believes Sharon is “a man of peace.”129 Bush repeated this statement publicly
upon Powell’s return from his abortive mission, and he told reporters that
Sharon had responded satisfactorily to his call for a full and immediate
withdrawal.130 Sharon had done no such thing, but the President of the United
States was no longer willing to make an issue of it.
Meanwhile, Congress was also moving to back Sharon. On May 2, it overrode
the Administration’s objections and passed two resolutions reaffirming support
for Israel. (The Senate vote was 94 to 2; the House version passed 352-21). Both
resolutions emphasized that the United States “stands in solidarity with Israel”
and that the two countries are, to quote the House resolution, “now engaged in a
common struggle against terrorism.” The House version also condemned “the
ongoing support of terror by Yasir Arafat,” who was portrayed as a central
element of the terrorism problem.131 A few days later, a bipartisan congressional
delegation on a fact-finding mission in Israel publicly proclaimed that Sharon
should resist U.S. pressure to negotiate with Arafat.132 On May 9, a House
appropriations subcommittee met to consider giving Israel an extra $200 million
to fight terrorism. Secretary of State Powell opposed the package, but the Lobby
backed it, just as it had helped author the two congressional resolutions.133
Powell lost.
In short, Sharon and the Lobby took on the President of the United States and
triumphed. Hemi Shalev, a journalist for the Israel newspaper Ma’ariv, reported
that Sharon’s aides “could not hide their satisfaction in view of Powell’s failure.
Sharon saw the white in President Bush’s eyes, they bragged, and the President
blinked first.”134 But it was the pro-Israel forces in the United States, not Sharon
or Israel, that played the key role in defeating Bush.
The situation has changed little since then. The Bush Administration refused to
deal further with Arafat, who eventually died in November 2004. It has
subsequently embraced the new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, but has
done little to help him gain a viable state. Sharon continued to develop his plans
for unilateral “disengagement” from the Palestinians, based on withdrawal from
Gaza coupled with continued expansion on the West Bank, which entails
building the so-called “security fence,” seizing Palestinian-owned land, and
expanding settlement blocs and road networks. By refusing to negotiate with
Abbas (who favors a negotiated settlement) and making it impossible for him to
deliver tangible benefits to the Palestinian people, Sharon’s strategy contributed
directly to Hamas’ recent electoral victory.135 With Hamas in power, however,
Israel has another excuse not to negotiate. The administration has supported
Sharon’s actions (and those of his successor, Ehud Olmert), and Bush has even
endorsed unilateral Israeli annexations in the Occupied Territories, reversing the
stated policy of every president since Lyndon Johnson.136
U.S. officials have offered mild criticisms of a few Israeli actions, but have done
little to help create a viable Palestinian state. Former national security advisor
Brent Scowcroft even declared in October 2004 that Sharon has President Bush
“wrapped around his little finger."137 If Bush tries to distance the United States
from Israel, or even criticizes Israeli actions in the occupied territories, he is
certain to face the wrath of the Lobby and its supporters in Congress.
Democratic Party presidential candidates understand these facts of life too,
which is why John Kerry went to great lengths to display his unalloyed support
for Israel in 2004 and why Hillary Clinton is doing the same thing today.138
Maintaining U.S. support for Israel’s policies against the Palestinians is a core
goal of the Lobby, but its ambitions do not stop there. It also wants America to
help Israel remain the dominant regional power. Not surprisingly, the Israeli
government and pro-Israel groups in the United States worked together to shape
the Bush Administration’s policy towards Iraq, Syria, and Iran, as well as its
grand scheme for reordering the Middle East.
Israel and the Iraq War
Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the U.S.
decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was a critical element. Some
Americans believe that this was a “war for oil,” but there is hardly any direct
evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a
desire to make Israel more secure. According to Philip Zelikow, a member of the
President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (2001-2003), executive director
of the 9/11 Commission, and now Counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, the “real threat” from Iraq was not a threat to the United States.139 The
“unstated threat” was the “threat against Israel,” Zelikow told a University of
Virginia audience in September 2002, noting further that “the American
government doesn’t want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a
popular sell.”
On August 16, 2002, eleven days before Vice President Cheney kicked off the
campaign for war with a hard-line speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the
Washington Post reported that “Israel is urging U.S. officials not to delay a
military strike against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.”140 By this point, according to
Sharon, strategic coordination between Israel and the U.S. had reached
“unprecedented dimensions,” and Israeli intelligence officials had given
Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq’s WMD programs.141 As
one retired Israeli general later put it, “Israeli intelligence was a full partner to
the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq’s non-
conventional capabilities.”142
Israeli leaders were deeply distressed when President Bush decided to seek U.N.
Security Council authorization for war in September, and even more worried
when Saddam agreed to let U.N. inspectors back into Iraq, because these
developments seemed to reduce the likelihood of war. Foreign Minister Shimon
Peres told reporters in September 2002 that “the campaign against Saddam
Hussein is a must. Inspections and inspectors are good for decent people, but
dishonest people can overcome easily inspections and inspectors.”143
At the same time, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak wrote a New York Times op-
ed warning that “the greatest risk now lies in inaction.”144 His predecessor,
Benjamin Netanyahu, published a similar piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled
“The Case for Toppling Saddam.”145 Netanyahu declared, “Today nothing less
than dismantling his regime will do,” adding that “I believe I speak for the
overwhelming majority of Israelis in supporting a pre-emptive strike against
Saddam’s regime.” Or as Ha’aretz reported in February 2003: “The [Israeli]
military and political leadership yearns for war in Iraq.”146
But as Netanyahu suggests, the desire for war was not confined to Israel’s
leaders. Apart from Kuwait, which Saddam conquered in 1990, Israel was the
only country in the world where both the politicians and the public
enthusiastically favored war.147 As journalist Gideon Levy observed at the time,
“Israel is the only country in the West whose leaders support the war
unreservedly and where no alternative opinion is voiced.”148 In fact, Israelis were
so gung-ho for war that their allies in America told them to damp down their
hawkish rhetoric, lest it look like the war was for Israel.149
The Lobby and the Iraq War
Within the United States, the main driving force behind the Iraq war was a small
band of neoconservatives, many with close ties to Israel’s Likud Party.150 In
addition, key leaders of the Lobby’s major organizations lent their voices to the
campaign for war.151 According to the Forward, “As President Bush attempted to
sell the . . . war in Iraq, America’s most important Jewish organizations rallied as
one to his defense. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the
need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass
destruction.”152 The editorial goes on to say that “concern for Israel’s safety
rightfully factored into the deliberations of the main Jewish groups.”
Although neoconservatives and other Lobby leaders were eager to invade Iraq,
the broader American Jewish community was not.153 In fact, Samuel Freedman
reported just after the war started that “a compilation of nationwide opinion
polls by the Pew Research Center shows that Jews are less supportive of the Iraq
war than the population at large, 52% to 62%.”154 Thus, it would be wrong to
blame the war in Iraq on “Jewish influence.” Rather, the war was due in large
part to the Lobby’s influence, especially the neoconservatives within it.
The neoconservatives were already determined to topple Saddam before Bush
became President.155 They caused a stir in early 1998 by publishing two open
letters to President Clinton calling for Saddam’s removal from power.156 The
signatories, many of whom had close ties to pro-Israel groups like JINSA or
WINEP, and whose ranks included Elliot Abrams, John Bolton, Douglas Feith,
William Kristol, Bernard Lewis, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Perle and Paul
Wolfowitz, had little trouble convincing the Clinton Administration to adopt the
general goal of ousting Saddam.157 But the neoconservatives were unable to sell a
war to achieve that objective. Nor were they able to generate much enthusiasm
for invading Iraq in the early months of the Bush Administration.158 As
important as the neoconservatives were for making the Iraq war happen, they
needed help to achieve their aim.
That help arrived with 9/11. Specifically, the events of that fateful day led Bush
and Cheney to reverse course and become strong proponents of a preventive war
to topple Saddam. Neoconservatives in the Lobby—most notably Scooter Libby,
Paul Wolfowitz, and Princeton historian Bernard Lewis—played especially
critical roles in persuading the President and Vice-President to favor war.
For the neoconservatives, 9/11 was a golden opportunity to make the case for
war with Iraq. At a key meeting with Bush at Camp David on September 15,
Wolfowitz advocated attacking Iraq before Afghanistan, even though there was
no evidence that Saddam was involved in the attacks on the United States and
bin Laden was known to be in Afghanistan.159 Bush rejected this advice and
chose to go after Afghanistan instead, but war with Iraq was now regarded as a
serious possibility and the President tasked U.S. military planners on November
21, 2001 with developing concrete plans for an invasion.160
Meanwhile, other neoconservatives were at work within the corridors of power.
We do not have the full story yet, but scholars like Lewis and Fouad Ajami of
John Hopkins University reportedly played key roles in convincing Vice
President Cheney to favor the war.161 Cheney’s views were also heavily
influenced by the neoconservatives on his staff, especially Eric Edelman, John
Hannah, and chief of staff Libby, one of the most powerful individuals in the
Administration.162 The Vice President’s influence helped convince President
Bush by early 2002. With Bush and Cheney on board, the die for war was cast.
Outside the administration, neoconservative pundits lost no time making the
case that invading Iraq was essential to winning the war on terrorism. Their
efforts were partly aimed at keeping pressure on Bush and partly intended to
overcome opposition to the war inside and outside of the government. On
September 20, a group of prominent neoconservatives and their allies published
another open letter, telling the President that “even if evidence does not link Iraq
directly to the [9/11] attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism
and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein
from power in Iraq.”163 The letter also reminded Bush that, “Israel has been and
remains America’s staunchest ally against international terrorism.” In the
October 1 issue of the Weekly Standard, Robert Kagan and William Kristol called
for regime change in Iraq immediately after the Taliban was defeated. That same
day, Charles Krauthammer argued in the Washington Post that after we were
done with Afghanistan, Syria should be next, followed by Iran and Iraq. “The
war on terrorism,” he argued, “will conclude in Baghdad,” when we finish off
“the most dangerous terrorist regime in the world.”164
These salvoes were the beginning of an unrelenting public relations campaign to
win support for invading Iraq.165 A key part of this campaign was the
manipulation of intelligence information, so as to make Saddam look like an
imminent threat. For example, Libby visited the CIA several times to pressure
analysts to find evidence that would make the case for war, and he helped
prepare a detailed briefing on the Iraq threat in early 2003 that was pushed on
Colin Powell, then preparing his infamous briefing to the U.N. Security Council
on the Iraqi threat.166 According to Bob Woodward, Powell “was appalled at
what he considered overreaching and hyperbole. Libby was drawing only the
worst conclusions from fragments and silky threads.”167 Although Powell
discarded Libby’s most outrageous claims, his U.N. presentation was still riddled
with errors, as Powell now acknowledges.
The campaign to manipulate intelligence also involved two organizations that
were created after 9/11 and reported directly to Undersecretary of Defense
Douglas Feith.168 The Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group was tasked to
find links between al Qaeda and Iraq that the intelligence community
supposedly missed. Its two key members were Wurmser, a hard core
neoconservative, and Michael Maloof, a Lebanese-American who had close ties
with Perle. The Office of Special Plans was tasked with finding evidence that
could be used to sell war with Iraq. It was headed by Abram Shulsky, a
neoconservative with longstanding ties to Wolfowitz, and its ranks included
recruits from pro-Israel think tanks.169
Like virtually all the neoconservatives, Feith is deeply committed to Israel. He
also has long-standing ties to the Likud Party. He wrote articles in the 1990s
supporting the settlements and arguing that Israel should retain the occupied
territories.170 More importantly, along with Perle and Wurmser, he wrote the
famous “Clean Break” report in June 1996 for the incoming Israeli Prime
Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.171 Among other things, it recommended that
Netanyahu “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq -- an
important Israeli strategic objective in its own right.” It also called for Israel to
take steps to reorder the entire Middle East. Netanyahu did not implement their
advice, but Feith, Perle and Wurmser were soon advocating that the Bush
Administration pursue those same goals. This situation prompted Ha’aretz
columnist Akiva Eldar to warn that Feith and Perle “are walking a fine line
between their loyalty to American governments … and Israeli interests.”172
Wolfowitz is equally committed to Israel. The Forward once described him as
“the most hawkishly pro-Israel voice in the Administration,” and selected him in
2002 as the first among fifty notables who “have consciously pursued Jewish
activism.”173 At about the same time, JINSA gave Wolfowitz its Henry M.
Jackson Distinguished Service Award for promoting a strong partnership
between Israel and the United States, and the Jerusalem Post, describing him as
“devoutly pro-Israel,” named him “Man of the Year” in 2003.174
Finally, a brief word is in order about the neoconservatives’ prewar support of
Ahmed Chalabi, the unscrupulous Iraqi exile who headed the Iraqi National
Congress (INC). They embraced Chalabi because he had worked to establish
close ties with Jewish-American groups and had pledged to foster good relations
with Israel once he gained power.175 This was precisely what pro-Israel
proponents of regime change wanted to hear, so they backed Chalabi in return.
Journalist Matthew Berger laid out the essence of the bargain in the Jewish
Journal: “The INC saw improved relations as a way to tap Jewish influence in
Washington and Jerusalem and to drum up increased support for its cause. For
their part, the Jewish groups saw an opportunity to pave the way for better
relations between Israel and Iraq, if and when the INC is involved in replacing
Saddam Hussein’s regime.”176
Given the neoconservatives’ devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and
their influence in the Bush Administration, it is not surprising that many
Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests. For
example, Barry Jacobs of the American Jewish Committee acknowledged in
March 2005 that the belief that Israel and the neoconservatives conspired to get
the United States into a war in Iraq was “pervasive” in the U.S. intelligence
community.177 Yet few people would say so publicly, and most that did --
including Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Representative James Moran (D-
VA) -- were condemned for raising the issue.178 Michael Kinsley put the point
well in late 2002, when he wrote that “the lack of public discussion about the role
of Israel … is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one
mentions it.”179 The reason for this reluctance, he observed, was fear of being
labeled an anti-Semite. Even so, there is little doubt that Israel and the Lobby
were key factors in shaping the decision for war. Without the Lobby’s efforts,
the United States would have been far less likely to have gone to war in March
Dreams of Regional Transformation
The Iraq war was not supposed to be a costly quagmire. Rather, it was intended
as the first step in a larger plan to reorder the Middle East. This ambitious
strategy was a dramatic departure from previous U.S. policy, and the Lobby and
Israel were critical driving forces behind this shift. This point was made clearly
after the Iraq war began in a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal. The
headline says it all: “President’s Dream: Changing Not Just Regime but a Region:
A Pro-U.S., Democratic Area is a Goal that Has Israeli and Neo Conservative
Pro-Israel forces have long been interested in getting the U.S. military more
directly involved in the Middle East, so it could help protect Israel.181 But they
had limited success on this front during the Cold War, because America acted as
an “off-shore balancer” in the region. Most U.S. forces designated for the Middle
East, like the Rapid Deployment Force, were kept “over the horizon” and out of
harm’s way. Washington maintained a favorable balance of power by playing
local powers off against each other, which is why the Reagan Administration
supported Saddam against revolutionary Iran during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88).
This policy changed after the first Gulf War, when the Clinton Administration
adopted a strategy of “dual containment.” It called for stationing substantial
U.S. forces in the region to contain both Iran and Iraq, instead of using one to
check the other. The father of dual containment was none other than Martin
Indyk, who first articulated the strategy in May 1993 at the pro-Israel think tank
WINEP and then implemented it as Director for Near East and South Asian
Affairs at the National Security Council.182
There was considerable dissatisfaction with dual containment by the mid-1990s,
because it made the United States the mortal enemy of two countries who also
hated each other, and it forced Washington to bear the burden of containing both
of them.183 Not surprisingly, the Lobby worked actively in Congress to save dual
containment.184 Pressed by AIPAC and other pro-Israel forces, Clinton
toughened up the policy in the spring of 1995 by imposing an economic embargo
on Iran. But AIPAC et al wanted more. The result was the 1996 Iran and Libya
Sanctions Act, which imposed sanctions on any foreign companies investing
more than $40 million to develop petroleum resources in Iran or Libya. As Ze’ev
Schiff, the military correspondent for Ha’aretz, noted at the time, “Israel is but a
tiny element in the big scheme, but one should not conclude that it cannot
influence those within the Beltway.”185
By the late 1990s, however, the neoconservatives were arguing that dual
containment was not enough and that regime change in Iraq was now essential.
By toppling Saddam and turning Iraq into a vibrant democracy, they argued, the
United States would trigger a far-reaching process of change throughout the
Middle East. This line of thinking, of course, was evident in the “Clean Break”
study the neoconservatives wrote for Netanyahu. By 2002, when invading Iraq
had become a front-burner issue, regional transformation had become an article
of faith in neoconservative circles.186
Charles Krauthammer describes this grand scheme as the brainchild of Natan
Sharansky, the Israeli politician whose writings have impressed President
Bush.187 But Sharansky was hardly a lone voice in Israel. In fact, Israelis across
the political spectrum believed that toppling Saddam would alter the Middle
East to Israel’s advantage. Aluf Benn reported in Ha’aretz (February 17, 2003),
“Senior IDF officers and those close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, such as
National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy, paint a rosy picture of the wonderful
future Israel can expect after the war. They envision a domino effect, with the fall
of Saddam Hussein followed by that of Israel’s other enemies … Along with
these leaders will disappear terror and weapons of mass destruction.”188
In short, Israeli leaders, neoconservatives, and the Bush Administration all saw
war with Iraq as the first step in an ambitious campaign to remake the Middle
East. And in the first flush of victory, they turned their sights on Israel’s other
regional opponents.
Gunning for Syria
Israeli leaders did not push the Bush Administration to put its crosshairs on
Syria before March 2003, because they were too busy pushing for war against
Iraq. But once Baghdad fell in mid-April, Sharon and his lieutenants began
urging Washington to target Damascus.189 On April 16, for example, Sharon and
Shaul Mofaz, his defense minister, gave high profile interviews in different
Israeli newspapers. Sharon, in Yedioth Ahronoth, called for the United States to
put “very heavy” pressure on Syria.190 Mofaz told Ma’ariv that, “We have a long
list of issues that we are thinking of demanding of the Syrians and it is
appropriate that it should be done through the Americans.”191 Sharon’s national
security advisor, Ephraim Halevy, told a WINEP audience that it was now
important for the United States to get rough with Syria, and the Washington Post
reported that Israel was “fueling the campaign” against Syria by feeding the
United States intelligence reports about the actions of Syrian President Bashar
Prominent members of the Lobby made the same arguments after Baghdad
fell.193 Wolfowitz declared that “there has got to be regime change in Syria,” and
Richard Perle told a journalist that “We could deliver a short message, a two-
worded message [to other hostile regimes in the Middle East]: ‘You’re next’.”194
In early April, WINEP released a bipartisan report stating that Syria “should not
miss the message that countries that pursue Saddam’s reckless, irresponsible and
defiant behavior could end up sharing his fate.”195 On April 15, Yossi Klein
Halevi wrote a piece in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Next, Turn the Screws on
Syria,” while the next day Zev Chafets wrote an article for the New York Daily
News entitled “Terror-Friendly Syria Needs a Change, Too.” Not to be outdone,
Lawrence Kaplan wrote in the New Republic on April 21 that Syrian leader Assad
was a serious threat to America.196
Back on Capitol Hill, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) had reintroduced the
Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act on April 12.197 It
threatened sanctions against Syria if it did not withdraw from Lebanon, give up
its WMD, and stop supporting terrorism, and it also called for Syria and Lebanon
to take concrete steps to make peace with Israel. This legislation was strongly
endorsed by the Lobby—especially AIPAC—and “framed,” according to the
Jewish Telegraph Agency, “by some of Israel’s best friends in Congress.”198 It had
been on the back burner for some time, largely because the Bush Administration
had little enthusiasm for it, but the anti-Syrian act passed overwhelmingly (398-4
in the House; 89-4 in the Senate), and Bush signed it into law on December 12,
Yet the Bush Administration was still divided about the wisdom of targeting
Syria at this time. Although the neoconservatives were eager to pick a fight with
Damascus, the CIA and the State Department were opposed. And even after
Bush signed the new law, he emphasized that he would go slowly in
implementing it.200
Bush’s ambivalence is understandable. First, the Syrian government had been
providing the United States with important intelligence about al Qaeda since
9/11 and had also warned Washington about a planned terrorist attack in the
Gulf.201 Syria had also given CIA interrogators access to Mohammed Zammar,
the alleged recruiter of some of the 9/11 hijackers. Targeting the Assad regime
would jeopardize these valuable connections, and thus undermine the larger war
on terrorism.
Second, Syria was not on bad terms with Washington before the Iraq war (e.g., it
had even voted for U.N. Resolution 1441), and it was no threat to the United
States. Playing hardball with Syria would make the United States look like a
bully with an insatiable appetite for beating up Arab states. Finally, putting
Syria on the American hit list would give Damascus a powerful incentive to
cause trouble in Iraq. Even if one wanted to pressure Syria, it made good sense
to finish the job in Iraq first.
Yet Congress insisted on putting the screws to Damascus, largely in response to
pressure from Israel officials and pro-Israel groups like AIPAC.202 If there were
no Lobby, there would have been no Syria Accountability Act and U.S. policy
toward Damascus would have been more in line with the U.S. national interest.
Putting Iran in the Crosshairs
Israelis tend to describe every threat in the starkest terms, but Iran is widely seen
as their most dangerous enemy because it is the most likely adversary to acquire
nuclear weapons. Virtually all Israelis regard an Islamic country in the Middle
East with nuclear weapons as an existential threat. As Israeli Defense Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer remarked one month before the Iraq war: “Iraq is a
problem …. But you should understand, if you ask me, today Iran is more
dangerous than Iraq.”203
Sharon began publicly pushing the United States to confront Iran in November
2002, in a high profile interview in The Times (London).204 Describing Iran as the
“center of world terror,” and bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, he declared
that the Bush Administration should put the strong arm on Iran “the day after” it
conquered Iraq. In late April 2003, Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli ambassador
in Washington was now calling for regime change in Iran.205 The overthrow of
Saddam, he noted, was “not enough.” In his words, America “has to follow
through. We still have great threats of that magnitude coming from Syria,
coming from Iran.”
The neoconservatives also lost no time in making the case for regime change in
Tehran.206 On May 6, the AEI co-sponsored an all-day conference on Iran with
the pro-Israel Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and the Hudson
Institute.207 The speakers were all strongly pro-Israel, and many called for the
United States to replace the Iranian regime with a democracy. As usual, there
were a bevy of articles by prominent neoconservatives making the case for going
after Iran. For example, William Kristol wrote in the Weekly Standard on May 12
that, “The liberation of Iraq was the first great battle for the future of the Middle
East …. But the next great battle -- not, we hope, a military one -- will be for
The Bush Administration has responded to the Lobby’s pressure by working
overtime to shut down Iran’s nuclear program. But Washington has had little
success, and Iran seems determined to get a nuclear arsenal. As a result, the
Lobby has intensified its pressure on the U.S. government, using all of the
strategies in its playbook.209 Op-eds and articles now warn of imminent dangers
from a nuclear Iran, caution against any appeasement of a “terrorist” regime, and
hint darkly of preventive action should diplomacy fail. The Lobby is also
pushing Congress to approve the Iran Freedom Support Act, which would
expand existing sanctions on Iran. Israeli officials also warn they may take
preemptive action should Iran continue down the nuclear road, hints partly
intended to keep Washington focused on this issue.
One might argue that Israel and the Lobby have not had much influence on U.S.
policy toward Iran, because the United States has its own reasons to keep Iran
from going nuclear. This is partly true, but Iran’s nuclear ambitions do not pose
an existential threat to the United States. If Washington could live with a nuclear
Soviet Union, a nuclear China, or even a nuclear North Korea, then it can live
with a nuclear Iran. And that is why the Lobby must keep constant pressure on
U.S. politicians to confront Tehran. Iran and the United States would hardly be
allies if the Lobby did not exist, but U.S. policy would be more temperate and
preventive war would not be a serious option.
It is not surprising that Israel and its American supporters want the United States
to deal with any and all threats to Israel’s security. If their efforts to shape U.S.
policy succeed, then Israel’s enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a
free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting,
dying, rebuilding, and paying.
But even if the United States fails to transform the Middle East and finds itself in
conflict with an increasingly radicalized Arab and Islamic world, Israel still ends
up protected by the world’s only superpower.210 This is not a perfect outcome
from the Lobby’s perspective, but it is obviously preferable to Washington
distancing itself from Israel, or using its leverage to force Israel to make peace
with the Palestinians.
Can the Lobby’s power be curtailed? One would like to think so, given the Iraq
debacle, the obvious need to rebuild America’s image in the Arab and Islamic
world, and the recent revelations about AIPAC officials passing U.S. government
secrets to Israel. One might also think that Arafat’s death and the election of the
more moderate Abu Mazen would cause Washington to press vigorously and
evenhandedly for a peace agreement. In short, there are ample grounds for U.S.
leaders to distance themselves from the Lobby and adopt a Middle East policy
more consistent with broader U.S. interests. In particular, using American power
to achieve a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians would help advance
the broader goals of fighting extremism and promoting democracy in the Middle
But that is not going to happen anytime soon. AIPAC and its allies (including
Christian Zionists) have no serious opponents in the lobbying world. They know
it has become more difficult to make Israel’s case today, and they are responding
by expanding their activities and staffs.211 Moreover, American politicians
remain acutely sensitive to campaign contributions and other forms of political
pressure and major media outlets are likely to remain sympathetic to Israel no
matter what it does.
This situation is deeply worrisome, because the Lobby's influence causes trouble
on several fronts. It increases the terrorist danger that all states face—including
America's European allies. By preventing U.S. leaders from pressuring Israel to
make peace, the Lobby has also made it impossible to end the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. This situation gives extremists a powerful recruiting tool, increases the
pool of potential terrorists and sympathizers, and contributes to Islamic
radicalism around the world.
Furthermore, the Lobby’s campaign for regime change in Iran and Syria could
lead the United States to attack those countries, with potentially disastrous
effects. We do not need another Iraq. At a minimum, the Lobby’s hostility
toward these countries makes it especially difficult for Washington to enlist them
against al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency, where their help is badly needed.
There is a moral dimension here as well. Thanks to the Lobby, the United States
has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the occupied territories,
making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians. This
situation undercuts Washington’s efforts to promote democracy abroad and
makes it look hypocritical when it presses other states to respect human rights.
U.S. efforts to limit nuclear proliferation appear equally hypocritical given its
willingness to accept Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which encourages Iran and others
to seek similar capabilities.
Moreover, the Lobby’s campaign to squelch debate about Israel is unhealthy for
democracy. Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts—or by
suggesting that critics are anti-Semites—violates the principle of open debate
upon which democracy depends. The inability of the U.S. Congress to conduct a
genuine debate on these vital issues paralyzes the entire process of democratic
deliberation. Israel’s backers should be free to make their case and to challenge
those who disagree with them. But efforts to stifle debate by intimidation must
be roundly condemned by those who believe in free speech and open discussion
of important public issues.
Finally, the Lobby’s influence has been bad for Israel. Its ability to persuade
Washington to support an expansionist agenda has discouraged Israel from
seizing opportunities -- including a peace treaty with Syria and a prompt and full
implementation of the Oslo Accords -- that would have saved Israeli lives and
shrunk the ranks of Palestinian extremists. Denying the Palestinians their
legitimate political rights certainly has not made Israel more secure, and the long
campaign to kill or marginalize a generation of Palestinian leaders has
empowered extremist groups like Hamas, and reduced the number of
Palestinian leaders who would be both willing to accept a fair settlement and
able to make it work. This course raises the awful specter of Israel one day
occupying the pariah status once reserved for apartheid states like South Africa.
Ironically, Israel itself would probably be better off if the Lobby were less
powerful and U.S. policy were more evenhanded.
But there is a ray of hope. Although the Lobby remains a powerful force, the
adverse effects of its influence are increasingly difficult to hide. Powerful states
can maintain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored
forever. What is needed, therefore, is a candid discussion of the Lobby’s
influence and a more open debate about U.S. interests in this vital region. Israel’s
well-being is one of those interests, but not its continued occupation of the West
Bank or its broader regional agenda. Open debate will expose the limits of the
strategic and moral case for one-sided U.S. support and could move the United
States to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the
interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as
1 Indeed, the mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel
is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized
special interest group to bring it about. But because Israel is a strategic and moral
liability, it takes relentless political pressure to keep U.S. support intact. As Richard
Gephardt, the former House Minority Leader, told the American-Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC), “Without [your] constant support . . . and all your fighting on a
daily basis to strengthen that relationship, it would not be.” This quote was downloaded
from the AIPAC website [] on January 12, 2004. Also see Michael
Kinsley, “J’Accuse, Sort Of,” Slate, March 12, 2003.
2 According to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) “Greenbook,”
which reports “overseas loans and grants,” Israel has received $140,142,800 (in constant
2003 dollars) from the United States through 2003. Downloaded from the “Greenbook”
web site [] on November 8, 2005.
3 According to the “Greenbook,” Israel received about $3.7 billion in direct aid from the
United States in 2003. Israel’s population according to the International Institute for
Strategic Studies [IISS] and the CIA is 6,276,883. IISS, The Military Balance: 2005-2006
(Oxfordshire: Routledge, 2005), p. 192;
That averages out to $589 per Israeli. If one assumes the same population size and $3
billion in total aid, then each Israeli receives $478.
4 See; World Bank Atlas (Washington, DC:
Development Data Group, World Bank, September 2004), pp. 64-65.
5 For a discussion of the various special deals that Israel receives, see Clyde R. Mark,
“Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance,” Issue Brief for Congress (Washington, DC:
Congressional Research Service, April 26, 2005).
6 Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999);
Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign
Policy (New York: Random House, 1991).
7 “Report of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Question of Equitable
Representation on and Increase in the Membership of the Security Council and Other
Matters Related to the Security Council,” Annex III, U.N. General Assembly Official
Records, 58th Session, Supplement No. 47, 2004, pp. 13-14; Donald Neff, “An Updated
List of Vetoes Cast by the United States to Shield Israel from Criticism by the U.N.
Security Council,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 2005; Stephen
Zunes, “U.S. Declares Open Season on UN Workers,”, January 10,
2003. There were also many resolutions that never came to a vote because Security
Council members knew that the United States would veto them. Given the difficulty of
criticizing specific Israeli actions in the Security Council, criticism has often come from
the U.N. General Assembly, where no state has a veto. In those instances, the United
States invariably finds itself on the short end of lopsided votes on the order of say 133-4,
where the dissenters include Micronesia and the Marshall Islands as well as Israel and
the United States. In response, the Forward reported in November 2003 that the Bush
Administration, at the instigation of the American Jewish Committee, was “embarking
on the most comprehensive campaign in years to reduce the number of anti-Israel
resolutions routinely passed by the United Nations General Assembly.” Marc Perelman,
“Washington Seeking to Reduce Number of Anti-Israel Votes at U.N.,” Forward,
November 14, 2003.
8 Marc Perelman, “International Agency Eyes Israeli Nukes,” Forward, September 5, 2003.
9 William B. Quandt, Peace Process: American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since
1967, 3rd ed. (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2005), chapters 5-7, 10-12.
10 Nathan Guttman, “U.S. Accused of Pro-Israel Bias at 2000 Camp David,” Ha’aretz,
April 29, 2005. Also see Aaron D. Miller, “Israel’s Lawyer,” Washington Post, May 23,
2005; “Lessons of Arab-Israeli Negotiating: Four Negotiators Look Back and Ahead,”
Transcript of panel discussion, Middle East Institute, April 25, 2005. For general
discussions of how the United States consistently favors Israel over the Palestinians, see
Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians (Cambridge,
MA: South End Press, 1999); Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence
on U.S. Middle East Policy (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001); Naseer H.
Aruri, Dishonest Broker: The U.S. Role in Israel and Palestine (Cambridge, MA: South End
Press, 2003). It is also worth noting that the British favored the Zionists over the
Palestinians during the period of the British Mandate (1919-1948). See Tom Segev, One
Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (New York: Henry Holt,
11 Downloaded from AIPAC’s website []
on January 12, 2006.
12 See, for example, Warren Bass, Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the
Making of the US-Israel Alliance (NY: Oxford University Press, 2003); A.F.K. Organski, The
$36 Billion Bargain: Strategy and Politics in U.S. Assistance to Israel (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1990); Steven L. Spiegel, “Israel as a Strategic Asset,” Commentary, June
1983, pp. 51- 55; Idem, The Other Arab-Israeli Conflict: Making America’s Middle East Policy,
from Truman to Reagan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).
13 This point was not lost on Moshe Dayan, who, remembering a talk he had with Henry
Kissinger at the time of the October 1973 War, noted that “though I happened to remark
that the United States was the only country that was ready to stand by us, my silent
reflection was that the United States would really rather support the Arabs.” Moshe
Dayan, Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life (NY: William Morrow, 1976), pp. 521-513. Also see
Zach Levey, “The United States’ Skyhawk Sale to Israel, 1966: Strategic Exigencies of an
Arms Deal,” Diplomatic History, Vol. 28, No. 2 (April 2004), pp.255-276.
14 Bernard Lewis wrote in 1992, “Whatever value Israel might have had as a strategic
asset during the Cold War, that value obviously ended when the Cold War itself came to
a close. The change was clearly manifested in the Gulf War last year, when what the
United States most desired from Israel was to keep out of the conflict -- to be silent,
inactive and, as far as possible, invisible …. Israel was not an asset, but an irrelevance --
some even said a nuisance. Some of the things that the Israeli government later said and
did were unlikely to change this perception.” “Rethinking the Middle East,” Foreign
Affairs, Vol. 71, No. 4, (Fall 1992), pp. 110-111.
15 According to Middle East expert Shibley Telhami, “No other issue resonates with the
public in the Arab world, and many other parts of the Muslim world, more deeply than
Palestine. No other issue shapes the regional perceptions of America more
fundamentally than the issue of Palestine.” The Stakes: America and the Middle East
(Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002), p. 96. Lakhdar Brahimi, the former U.N. special
envoy to Iraq, who the Bush Administration enlisted to help form an interim Iraqi
government in June 2004, said that Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is “the great
poison in the region,” and that “in the region, and beyond” people recognized the
“injustice of this policy and the equally unjust support of the United States for this
policy.” See Warren Hoge, “U.N. Moves to Disassociate Itself from Remarks by Envoy
to Iraq,” New York Times, April 23, 2004; “Brahimi’s Israel Comments Draw Annan, Israel
Ire,” Ha’aretz, April 24, 2004. Also see the comments of Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak in “Mubarak: Arab Hatred of America Growing,” Washington Post, April 20,
2004. Finally, see Ami Eden, “9/11 Commission Finds Anger at Israel Fueling Islamic
Terrorism Wave,” Forward, July 30, 2004.
16 National Commission on Terrorist Attacks against the United States, “Outline of the
9/11 Plot,” Staff Statement No. 16, June 16, 2004. Also see Nathan Guttman, “Al-Qaida
Planned Attacks during PM’s Visit to White House,” Ha’aretz, June 17, 2004; and Marc
Perelman, “Bin Laden Aimed to Link Plot to Israel,” Forward, June 25, 2004. Pro-Israel
supporters often argue that bin Laden only became interested in the Israel-Palestinian
conflict after 9/11, and only because he thought that it was good for recruiting purposes.
Thus, there is virtually no connection between what happened on 9/11 and U.S. support
for Israel. See Andrea Levin, “Don’t Scapegoat Israel,” Boston Globe, October 6, 2001;
Norman Podhoretz, “Israel Isn’t the Issue,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2001. Note
that both of these pieces were published right after the Twin Towers fell. However, we
now have a substantial number of bin Laden’s writings and talks from the 1980s and
1990s, and it is clear that he cared deeply about matters relating to Jerusalem and the
Palestinians long before 9/11. See, for example, “Jihad against Jews and Crusaders,”
World Islamic Front Statement, February 23, 1998; Transcript of Osama bin Laden’s
March 20, 1997 interview with Peter Arnett of CNN (first broadcast on May 10, 1997).
Also “New Osama bin Laden Video Contains Anti-Israel and Anti-American
Statements,” downloaded from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) website
[] on March 8, 2004.
17 Changing Minds, Winning Peace: A New Strategic Direction for U.S. Public Diplomacy in the
Arab and Muslim World, Report of the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab
and Muslim World, Submitted to the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of
Representatives, October 1, 2003, p. 18. Also see The Pew Global Attitudes Project, Views
of a Changing World 2003: War With Iraq Further Divides Global Publics (Washington, DC:
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, June 3, 2003); Report of the Defense
Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication (Washington, DC: Office of the
Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, September 2004);
Shibley Telhami, “Arab Public Opinion: A Survey in Six Countries,” San Jose Mercury,
March 16, 2003; John Zogby, The Ten Nation Impressions of America Poll (Utica, NY: Zogby
International, April 11, 2002); Idem, Impressions of America 2004: How Arabs View America,
How Arabs Learn about America (Six Nation Survey), (Utica, NY: Zogby International,
18 See The Pew Global Attitudes Project, America Admired, Yet Its New Vulnerability Seen
As Good Thing, Say Opinion Leaders (Washington, DC: The Pew Research Center for the
People and the Press, December 19, 2001); Pew Global Attitudes Project, Views of a
Changing World 2003, p. 5.
19 For a copy of the letter, see “Doomed to Failure in the Middle East,” The Guardian,
April 27, 2004. Also see Nicholas Blanford, “US Moves Inflame Arab Moderates,” The
Christian Science Monitor, April 26, 2004; Rupert Cornwell, “Allies Warn Bush that
Stability in Iraq Demands Arab-Israeli Deal,” The Independent, June 10, 2004; Glenn
Kessler and Robin Wright, “Arabs and Europeans Question ‘Greater Middle East’ Plan,”
Washington Post, February 22, 2004; Paul Richter, “U.S. Has Fresh Hope for Mideast,” Los
Angeles Times, November 7, 2004; Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler, “U.S. Goals for
Middle East Falter,” Washington Post, April 21, 2004. Even some Israelis understand that
“the continuation of this conflict, including the Israeli occupation, will most certainly
lead to new waves of terror; international terrorism, which the Americans fear so much,
will spread.” Ze’ev Schiff, “Fitting into America’s Strategy,” Ha’aretz, August 1, 2003. It
is also worth noting that some 50 retired American diplomats wrote a letter in May 2004
to President Bush similar to the letter that the British diplomats sent to Tony Blair. A
copy of the American letter was published in The New York Review of Books, November
18, 2004.
20 Consider, for example, the controversy that erupted in 2005 over Israel’s decision to
expand its settlements in the West Bank. See Aluf Benn, “We Can’t Expect Explicit U.S.
Okay to Build in Settlements,” Ha’aretz, March 28, 2005; Akiva Eldar, “Bush: End
Expansion of Settlements,” Ha’aretz, May 27, 2005; “Bush Warns Israel over West Bank,”
BBC News Online, April 11, 2005; Donald Macintyre, “Sharon Vows to Defy Bush over
Expansion of Israeli Settlements,” Independent, April 22, 2005; “Sharon Brushes Off
Warning from Bush,”, April 12, 2005; Amy Teibel, “U.S. to Israel: Stop
Expanding Settlements,” Washington Post, June 26, 2005; Ze’ev Schiff, “U.S.: Israel
Shirking Its Promises on Settlement Boundaries,” Ha’aretz, March 15, 2005. Regarding
targeted assassinations Prime Minister Sharon promised Secretary of State Colin Powell
in May 2003 that Israel would refrain from killing Palestinian leaders unless there was a
“ticking bomb” (an imminent attack). Ze’ev Schiff, “Focus/Americans Fear Abu Mazen
Is Further Weakened,” Ha’aretz, June 12, 2003. But one month later, after Bush made a
high-profile visit to the Middle East and the prospects for negotiations between the
warring parties looked promising, Sharon launched seven assassination missions in five
days, none involving a “ticking bomb.” Bradley Burston, “Background: Has Sharon’s
Hamas Hitlist Converted Bush?” Ha’aretz, June 17, 2003. Also see Uri Avnery, “Avoiding
a Road Map to the Abyss,” Arab News (online), August 26, 2003; Glenn Kessler, “White
House Backs Latest Israeli Attacks,” Washington Post, June 13, 2003; Laura King, “Sharon
Lauds Hebron Killing,” Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2003; Gideon Levy, “Who Violated
the Hudna?” Tikkun (online), August 17, 2003. In March 2004, the IDF killed Hamas
spiritual leader Sheik Yassin, even though he was not an imminent threat, and even
though his death damaged America’s position in the Middle East. Georgie Anne Geyer,
“Ariel Sharon Complicates U.S. Mission,” Chicago Tribune, March 26, 2004; H.D.S.
Greenway, “Assassination Fallout Bodes Ill for US,” Boston Globe, March 26, 2004; Tony
Karon, “How Israel’s Hamas Killing Affects the U.S.,” Time, March 23, 2004; David R.
Sands, “Israel’s Killing of Yassin Puts US in Line of Fire,” Washington Times, March 23,
2004. As Jim Hoagland said in the wake of Yassin’s killing, “With the possible exception
of Charles de Gaulle, no friendly foreign leader has complicated modern American
diplomacy more consistently or gravely than Ariel Sharon. He pursues Israel’s interests
with a warrior’s tenacity and directness that takes away the breath, and the options, of
everyone else.” See “Consequences for Sharon -- and the U.S.,” Chicago Tribune, March
26, 2004.
21 Quoted in Duncan L. Clarke, “Israel’s Unauthorized Arms Transfers,” Foreign Policy,
No. 99 (Summer 1995), p. 94. This article provides an excellent discussion of the
problem. There was a bitter controversy in 2004-2005 between the United States and
Israel over Israeli arms sales to China. See Aluf Benn and Amnon Barzilai, “Pentagon
Official Wants Yaron Fired,” Ha’aretz, December 16, 2004; Aluf Benn, “U.S. Keeps Israel
Out of New Fighter-Jet Development Program,” Ha’aretz, October 12, 2005; Nina Gilbert,
“Yaron Won’t Give Info on Arms Sales to China,” Jerusalem Post, December 30, 2004;
“Israeli, U.S. Talks on Weapons Deals with China End without Result,” Ha’aretz, June 29,
2005; Marc Perelman, “Spat Over Sales of Weapons Chilling Ties between Jerusalem and
Beijing,” Forward, December 23, 2004; Marc Perelman, “China Crisis Straining U.S.-Israel
Ties,” Forward, August 5, 2005; Marc Perelman, “Israel Miffed over Lingering China
Flap,” Forward, October 7, 2005; Ze’ev Schiff, “U.S.-Israel Crisis Deepens over Defense
Exports to China,” Ha’aretz, July 27, 2005.
22 Quoted in Duncan L. Clarke, “Israel’s Economic Espionage in the United States,”
Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer 1998), p. 21. Also see Bob Drogin and
Greg Miller, “Israel Has Long Spied on U.S. Say Officials,” Los Angeles Times, September
3, 2004; “FBI Says Israel a Major Player in Industrial Espionage,” Jewish Bulletin, January
16, 1998; Clyde R. Mark, “Israeli-United States Relations,” Issue Brief for Congress
(Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, November 9, 2004), pp. 14-15; Joshua
Mitnick, “U.S. Accuses Officials of Spying,” Washington Times, December 16, 2004.
23 On the Pollard affair, see Hersh, Samson Option, pp. 285-305; Idem, “The Traitor: Why
Pollard Should Never Be Released,” New Yorker, Vol. 74, issue 42 (January 18, 1999), pp.
26-33. There are a huge number of articles on the internet dealing with the Franklin
Affair. For a good overview of the case, see Jeffrey Goldberg, “Real Insiders: A Pro-Israel
Lobby and an F.B.I. Sting,” New Yorker, Vol. 81, issue 19 (July 4, 2005), pp. 34-40.
24 Trevor N. Dupuy, Elusive Victory: The Arab-Israeli Wars, 1947-1974 (New York: Harper
and Row, 1978), pp. 3-19, 121-125, 146-147, 212-214, 231-244, 333-340, 388-390, 597-605,
623-633; Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities (New York: Pantheon
Books, 1987), pp. 189-199; Rashid Khalidi, “The Palestinians and 1948: The Underlying
Causes of Failure,” in Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, eds., The War for Palestine:
Rewriting the History of 1948 (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 12-36; Haim
Levenberg, Military Preparations of the Arab Community in Palestine, 1945-1948 (London:
Frank Cass, 1993); Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), chapters 1,3. Idem, Righteous Victims: A
History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1999), pp. 187-
189, 191-196, 217-223, 235-236, 241-242, 286-291, 311-313, 393-395; Martin Van Creveld,
The Sword and the Olive: A Critical History of the Israeli Defense Forces (NY: Public Affairs,
1998), pp. 77-82, 137-138, 179-182.
25 Amos Harel, “Israel Maintains Its Strategic Advantage, Says Jaffee Center,” Ha’aretz,
November 23, 2005. Also see, Uri Bar-Joseph, “The Paradox of Israeli Power,” Survival,
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Winter 2004-05), pp. 137-156; Martin Van Creveld, “Opportunity
Beckons,” Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2003.
26 For three instructive pieces on this matter from the Israeli press, see Amiram Barkat,
“Majority of Israelis Are Opposed to Intermarriage, Survey Finds,” Ha’aretz, September
15, 2003; Nicky Blackburn, “Better a Jew,” Ha’aretz, April 21, 2004; Lily Galili, “Hitting
Below the Belt,” Ha’aretz, August 8, 2004.
27 See “The Official Summation of the Or Commission Report,” published in Ha’aretz,
September 2, 2003. For evidence of how hostile many Israelis were to the report’s
findings and recommendations, see “No Avoiding the Commission Recommendations,”
Ha’aretz, September 4, 2003; Molly Moore, “Israeli Report Is Welcomed, Dismissed,”
Washington Post, September 3, 2003. Also see Bernard Avishai, “Saving Israel from Itself:
A Secular Future for the Jewish State,” Harper’s Magazine, January 2005. It is also worth
noting that the Israel Democracy Institute reported in May 2003 that: 53 percent of Israeli
Jews “are against full equality for the Arabs”; 77 percent of Israeli Jews believe that
“there should be a Jewish majority on crucial political decisions”; only 31 percent
“support having Arab political parties in the government”; 57 percent “think that the
Arabs should be encouraged to emigrate.” See “The Democracy Index: Major Findings
2003.” Imagine the outcry that would occur if a majority of white Americans declared
that blacks, Hispanics, and Asians “should be encouraged” to leave the United States.
For more recent surveys, which show little change in Israeli attitudes, see Yulie
Khromchenko, “Survey: Most Jewish Israelis Support Transfer of Arabs,” Ha’aretz, June
22, 2004; Yoav Stern, “Poll: Most Israeli Jews Say Israeli Arabs Should Emigrate,”
Ha’aretz, April 4, 2005.
28 Quoted in Justin Huggler, “Israel Imposes ‘Racist’ Marriage Law,” Guardian, August 1,
2003. Also see James Bennet, “Israel Blocks Palestinians from Marrying into Residency,”
New York Times, July 31, 2003; “Racist Legislation,” Ha’aretz editorial, July, 19, 2004;
“Racist Legislation,” Ha’aretz editorial, January 18, 2005. Even the Anti-Defamation
League (ADL) criticized the legislation, albeit mildly. Nathan Guttman, Yair Ettinger,
Sharon Sadeh, “ADL Criticizes Law Denying Citizenship to Palestinians,” Ha’aretz,
August 5, 2003.
29 The first wave of European Jews to come to Palestine is known as the First Aliyah, and
it covers the years from 1882 to 1903. There were slightly more than 15,000 Jews in
Palestine in 1882. Justin McCarthy, The Population of Palestine: Population History and
Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate (NY: Columbia University Press,
1990), p.11, which has excellent data for the years from 1850 to 1915. Also see Mark
Tessler, A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University
Press, 1994), p. 124.
30 The total population of Palestine in 1893 was roughly 530,000, of whom about 19,000
were Jewish (3.6 percent). Arabs comprised the vast majority of the remaining
population. McCarthy, Population of Palestine, p. 11.
31 Flapan, Birth of Israel, p. 44; Morris, Righteous Victims, p. 186.
32 Flapan, Birth of Israel, p 22. Similarly, Ben-Gurion told his son, “I am certain we will be
able to settle in all the other parts of the country, whether through agreement and
mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or in another way.” He went on to say,
“Erect a Jewish State at once, even if it is not in the whole of the land. The rest will come
in the course of time. It must come.” Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World
(NY: Norton, 2000), p. 21. Also see Flapan, Birth of Israel, pp. 13-53; Nur Masalah,
Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of Transfer in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948
(Washington, DC: Institute for Palestine Studies, 1992), chapter 2; Morris, Righteous
Victims, pp. 138-139; Avi Shlaim, The Politics of Partition: King Abdullah, the Zionists, and
Palestine, 1921-1951 (NY: Oxford University Press, 1999).
33 Masalah, Expulsion of the Palestinians, p. 128. Also see Morris, Righteous Victims, pp.
140, 142, 168-169.
34 Benny Morris, “A New Exodus for the Middle East?” Guardian, October 3, 2002. On
the pervasiveness of transfer thinking among Zionists before Israel was established in
1948, see Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians; Morris, “Revisiting the Palestinian
Exodus of 1948,” in Rogan and Shlaim, War for Palestine, pp. 39-48; Morris, Birth
Revisited, chapter 2; Ari Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest,” Ha’aretz, January 9, 2004.
35 Morris, Birth Revisited, provides a detailed account of this event. Also see Meron
Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land since 1948, trans. Maxine
Kaufman-Lacusta (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000), chapters 3-4. The
only remaining debate of real significance regarding the expulsion of the Palestinians
from their homeland is whether it was “born of war,” as Morris argues, or by design, as
Norman Finkelstein argues in Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (London:
Verso, 1995), chapter 3.
36 Erskine Childers, “The Other Exodus,” Spectator, May 12, 1961; Flapan, Birth of Israel,
pp. 81-118; Walid Khalidi, “Why Did the Palestinians Leave Revisited,” Journal of
Palestine Studies, Vol. 34, No. 2 ( Winter 2005), pp. 42-54; Idem, “The Fall of Haifa,”
Middle East Forum, Vol. 35, No. 10 (December, 1959), pp. 22-32; Morris, Birth Revisited.
37 Nahum Goldmann, The Jewish Paradox, trans. Steve Cox (NY: Grosset and Dunlap,
1978), p. 99. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founding father of the Israeli right, made essentially
the same point when he wrote, “Colonization is self-explanatory and what it implies is
fully understood by every sensible Jew and Arab. There can only be one purpose in
colonization. For the country’s Arabs that purpose is essentially unacceptable. This is a
natural reaction and nothing will change it.” Quoted in Ian Lustick, “To Build and To
Be Built By: Israel and the Hidden Logic of the Iron Wall,” Israel Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1
(Spring 1996), p. 200.
38 See Geoffrey Aronson, Israel, Palestinians, and the Intifada: Creating Facts on the West
Bank (London: Kegan Paul International, 1990); Amnon Barzilai, “A Brief History of the
Missed Opportunity,” Ha’aretz, June 5, 2002; Idem, “Some Saw the Refugees as the Key
to Peace,” Ha’aretz, June 11, 2002; Moshe Behar, “The Peace Process and Israeli Domestic
Politics in the 1990s,” Socialism and Democracy, Current Issue Number 32, Vol. 16, No. 2
(Summer-Fall 2002), pp. 34-47; Adam Hanieh and Catherine Cook, “A Road Map to the
Oslo Cul-de-Sac,” Middle East Report Online, May 15, 2003; “Israel’s Interests Take
Primacy: An Interview with Dore Gold,” in, “What Constitutes a Viable
Palestinian State?” March 15, 2004, Edition 10; Nur Masalha, Imperial Israel and the
Palestinians: The Politics of Expansion (London: Pluto Press, 2000); Sara Roy, “Erasing the
‘Optics’ of Gaza,” The Daily Star On Line, February 14, 2004; “36 Years, and Still
Counting,” Ha’aretz, September 26, 2003.
39 Rahid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness
(NY: Columbia University Press, 1997), p. 147. Meir also said, “It was not as though
there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and
we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not
exist.” Masalha, Imperial Israel, p. 47. Rabin said in 1995, two years after signing the Oslo
accords, “I seek peaceful coexistence between Israel as a Jewish state, not all over the
land of Israel, or most of it; its capital, the united Jerusalem; its security border with
Jordan rebuilt; next to it, a Palestinian entity, less than a state, that runs the life of
Palestinians …. This is my goal, not to return to the pre-Six Day War lines but to create
two entities, a separation between Israel and the Palestinians who reside in the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip.” Hanieh and Cook, “Road Map.” Also see Akiva Eldar, “On
the Same Page, Ten Years On,” Ha’aretz, November 5, 2005; David Grossman, “The
Night Our Hope for Peace Died,” Guardian, November 4, 2005; Michael Jansen, “A
Practice that Prevents the Emergence of a Palestinian State,” Jordan Times, November 10,
2005. It is worth noting that in the spring of 1998, Israel and its American supporters
sharply criticized First Lady Hillary Clinton for saying that, “It would be in the long-
term interests of peace in the Middle East for there to be a state of Palestine, a
functioning modern state that is on the same footing as other states.” Tom Rhodes and
Christopher Walker, “Congress Tells Israel to Reject Clinton’s Pullout Plan,” New York
Times, May 8, 1998; James Bennet, “Aides Disavow Mrs. Clinton on Mideast,” New York
Times, May 8, 1998.
40 Charles Enderlein, Shattered Dreams: The Failure of the Peace Process in the Middle East,
1995-2002, trans. Susan Fairfield (NY: Other Press, 2003), pp. 201, 207-208; Jeremy
Pressman, “Visions in Collision: What Happened at Camp David and Taba? International
Security, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Fall 2003), p. 17; Deborah Sontag, “Quest for Mideast Peace:
How and Why It Failed,” New York Times, July 26, 2001; Clayton E. Swisher, The Truth
about Camp David: The Untold Story about the Collapse of the Peace Process (NY: Nation
Books, 2004), pp. 284, 318, 325. Barak himself said after Camp David that “the
Palestinians were promised a continuous piece of sovereign territory except for a razor-
thin Israeli wedge running from Jerusalem through from Maale Adumim to the Jordan
River,” which effectively would have been under Israel’s control. Benny Morris, “Camp
David and After: An Exchange (1. An Interview with Ehud Barak)”, New York Review of
Books, Vol. 49, No. 10 (June 13, 2002), p. 44. Also see the map Israeli negotiators
presented to the Palestinians at Camp David, a copy of which can be found in Roane
Carey, ed., The New Intifada: Resisting Israel’s Apartheid (London: Verso, 2001), p. 36.
41 See Alan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003). For a
telling critique of Dershowitz’s book, see Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On
the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California
Press, 2005). Also see “Dershowitz v. Desch,” American Conservative, January 16, 2005.
42 Morris, Righteous Victims, chapters 2-5.
43 Morris, Birth Revisited. It should be noted that many Israeli documents concerning the
events of 1948 remain classified; Morris expects “that with respect to both expulsions
and atrocities, we can expect additional revelations as the years pass and more Israeli
records become available.” Morris, “Revisiting the Palestinian Exodus,” in Rogan and
Shlaim, War for Palestine, p. 49. In fact, he maintains that the reported cases of rape he
knows about are “just the tip of the iceberg.” See Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest.”
44 Benny Morris, Israel’s Border Wars, 1949-1956 (New York: Oxford University Press,
1997), p. 432. Also see ibid., pp. 126-153, 178-184. For evidence of similar behavior after
the 1967 War, see Uri Avnery, “Crying Wolf?” CounterPunch, March 15, 2003; Ami
Kronfeld, “Avnery on Ethnic Cleansing and a Personal Note,” in Jewish Voice for Peace,
Jewish Peace News, March 17, 2003; Katherine M. Metres, “As Evidence Mounts, Toll of
Israeli Prisoner of War Massacres Grows,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
February/March 1996, pp. 17, 104-105.
45 During his negotiations with the British and French governments over the launching
of the 1956 war, Ben-Gurion proposed a grand plan for reordering the region that would
have divided Jordan between Israel and Iraq, transferred all of Lebanon south of the
Litani River to Israel, and given Israel portions of the Sinai as well. On Israel’s policies
in the 1950s, see Morris, Israel’s Border Wars; Morris, Righteous Victims, chapter 6,
especially pp. 289-290; Shlaim, Iron Wall, chapters 3-4, especially pp.184-185; Kennett
Love, Suez: the Twice Fought War (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1969), pp. 589-638; Michael
Brecher, Decisions in Israel’s Foreign Policy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975), pp.
46 Gabby Bron, “Egyptian POWs Ordered to Dig Graves, Then Shot by Israeli Army,”
Yedioth Ahronoth, August 17, 1995; Ronal Fisher, “Mass Murder in the 1956 Sinai War,”
Ma’ariv, August 8, 1995 [Copies of these two pieces can be found in Journal of Palestine
Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3 (Spring 1996), pp. 148-155]; Galal Bana, “Egypt: We Will Turn to
the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague if Israel Will Not Compensate
Murdered Prisoners of War,” Ha’aretz, July 24, 2002; Zehavat, Friedman, “Personal
Reminiscence: Remembering Ami Kronfeld,” in Jewish Voice for Peace, Jewish Peace
News, September 25, 2005; Metres, “As Evidence Mounts.”
47 Avnery, “Crying Wolf”; Robert Blecher, “Living on the Edge: The Threat of ‘Transfer’
in Israel and Palestine,” MERIP, Middle East Report 225, Winter 2002; Baruch
Kimmerling, Politicide: Ariel Sharon’s War against the Palestinians (London: Verso, 2003), p.
28. Also see Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, p. 97; Morris, Righteous Victims, pp. 328-329;
Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 (NY: Seven Stories Press,
2002), p. 8. Morris reports (p. 329) that 120,000 Palestinians applied to return to their
homes right after the 1967 War, but Israel allowed only about 17,000 to come back.
Amnesty International estimated in mid-2003 that in the years since Israel had acquired
the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, it had destroyed more than 10,000 Palestinian homes
in those areas. Danny Rubinstein, “Roads, Fences and Outposts Maintain Control in the
Territories,” Ha’aretz, August 12, 2003.
48 “Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Events at the Refugee Camps in
Beirut,” February 7, 1983. The report is commonly called “The Kahan Commission
Report” after its chairman, Yitzhak Kahan.
49 Swedish Save the Children, “The Status of Palestinian Children during the Uprising in
the Occupied Territories,” Excerpted Summary Material, Jerusalem, 1990, in Journal of
Palestine Studies, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Summer 1990), pp. 136-146. Also see Joshua Brilliant,
“Officer Tells Court Villagers Were Bound, Gagged and Beaten. ‘Not Guilty’ Plea at
‘Break Bones’ Trial,” Jerusalem Post, March 30, 1990; Joshua Brilliant, “‘Rabin Ordered
Beatings’, Meir Tells Military Court,” Jerusalem Post, June 22, 1990; Jackson Diehl,
“Rights Group Accuses Israel of Violence Against Children in Palestinian Uprising,”
Washington Post, May 17, 1990; James A. Graff, “Crippling a People: Palestinian Children
and Israeli State Violence,” Alif, No. 13 (1993), pp. 46-63; Ronald R. Stockton, “Intifada
Deaths,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Summer 1990), pp. 86-95. Ehud
Barak, the IDF’s Deputy Chief of Staff during the First Intifada, said at the time, “We do
not want children to be shot under any circumstances …. When you see a child you
don’t shoot.” Nevertheless, the Swedish Save the Children report estimated that 6,500 to
8,000 children were wounded by gunfire during the first two years of the Intifada.
Researchers investigated 66 of the 106 recorded cases of “child gunshot deaths.” They
concluded that: almost all of them “were hit by directed -- not random or ricochet --
gunfire”; nearly twenty percent suffered multiple gunshot wounds; twelve percent were
shot from behind; fifteen percent of the children were ten years of age or younger; “most
children were not participating in a stone-throwing demonstration when shot dead”;
and “nearly one-fifth of the children were shot dead while at home or within ten meters
of their homes.”
50 “Unbridled Force,” Ha’aretz editorial, March 16, 2003. For other evidence, see Jonathan
Cook, “Impunity on Both Sides of the Green Line,” MERIP, Middle East Report Online,
November 23, 2005; “When Everything Is Permissible,” Ha’aretz editorial, June 6, 2005;
“It Can Happen Here,” Ha’aretz editorial, November 22, 2004; Chris McGreal, “Snipers
with Children in Their Sights,” Guardian, June 28, 2005; Idem, “Israel Shocked by Image
of Soldiers Forcing Violinist to Play at Roadblock,” Guardian, November 29, 2004; Greg
Myre, “Former Israeli Soldiers Tell of Harassment of Palestinians,” New York Times, June
24, 2004; Reuven Pedatzur, “The Message to the Soldiers Was Clear,” Ha’aretz, December
13, 2004; Conal Urquhart, “Israeli Soldiers Tell of Indiscriminate Killings by Army and A
Culture of Impunity,” Guardian, September 6, 2005.
51 See Swisher, Truth about Camp David, p. 387.
52 According to B’tselem, between September 29, 2000, and December 31, 2005, 3,386
Palestinians were killed by the Israelis, of whom 676 were children. Of those 3,386
deaths, 1,185 were bystanders, 1,008 were killed while fighting the Israelis, and the
circumstances of 563 deaths are unknown. During the same period, 992 Israelis were
killed by the Palestinians, 118 of whom were children. Of those 992 deaths, 683 were
civilians and 309 belonged to Israeli security forces. B’tselem press release, January 4,
53 Nathan Guttman, “‘It’s a Terrible Thing, Living with the Knowledge that You Crushed
Our Daughter’,” Ha’aretz, April 30, 2004; Adam Shapiro, “Remembering Rachel
Shapiro,” Nation, March 18, 2004; Tsahar Rotem, “British Peace Activist Shot by IDF
Troops in Gaza Strip,” Ha’aretz, April 11, 2003.
54 Molly Moore, “Ex-Security Chiefs Turn on Sharon,” Washington Post, November 15,
2003; “Ex-Shin Bet Heads Warn of ‘Catastrophe’ without Peace Deal,” Ha’aretz,
November 15, 2003. These comments were based on an interview in the Israeli
newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on November 14, 2003. For a copy of that interview, see
“We Are Seriously Concerned about the Fate of the State of Israel,” The Alternative
Information Center, December 1, 2003.
55 Bill Maxwell, “U.S. Should Reconsider Aid to Israel,” St. Petersburg Times, December
16, 2001.
56 See J. Bowyer Bell, Terror Out of Zion: The Fight for Israeli Independence ( New
Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1996); Joseph Heller, The Stern Gang: Ideology,
Politics and Terror, 1940-1949 (London: Frank Cass, 1995); Bruce Hoffmann, The Failure of
British Military Strategy within Palestine, 1939-1947 (Israel: Bar-Ilan University, 1983);
Morris, Righteous Victims, pp. 173-180; Segev, One Palestine, pp. 468-486. According to
Haim Levenberg, 210 of the 429 casualties from Jewish terrorism in Palestine during
1946 were civilians. The other 219 were police and soldiers. Levenberg, Military
Preparations, p. 72. Furthermore, it was Jewish terrorists from the infamous Irgun who in
late 1937 introduced the practice of placing bombs in buses and large crowds. Benny
Morris speculates that, “The Arabs may well have learned the value of terrorist
bombings from the Jews.” Righteous Victims, pp. 147, 201. Also see Lenni Brenner, The
Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism from Jabotinsky to Shamir (London: Zed Books, 1984), p. 100;
Yehoshua Porath, The Palestinian Arab National Movement: from Riots to Rebellion, Vol. II,
1929-1939 (London: Frank Cass, 1977), p. 238. Finally, Morris notes that during the 1948
war the main Jewish terrorist groups “knowingly planted bombs in bus stops with the
aim of killing non-combatants, including women and children.” Birth Revisited, p. 80.
57 Bell, Terror Out of Zion, pp. 336-340.
58 Quoted in Chomsky, Fateful Triangle, pp. 485-486. Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol
used to call Menachem Begin “the terrorist.” Barzilai, “Brief History.” On Shamir, see
Avishai Margalit, “The Violent Life of Yitzhak Shamir,” New York Review of Books, May
14, 1992, pp. 18-24.
59 Moreover, Israel’s claim to a morally superior status is undermined by some of its
other policies. Israel once cultivated close ties with apartheid-era South Africa and
aided the white minority government’s nuclear weapons program. Peter Liberman,
“Israel and the South African Bomb,” The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Summer
2004), pp. 46-80. In 1954, Israeli intelligence forces bombed a U.S. diplomatic facility in
Cairo in a bungled attempt to sow discord between Egypt and the United States. Shlaim,
Iron Wall, pp. 110-113.
60 Steven M. Cohen, The 2004 National Survey of American Jews, sponsored by the Jewish
Agency for Israel’s Department of Jewish-Zionist Education, February 24, 2005. The
figure two years earlier was 28 percent. See Steven M. Cohen, The 2002 National Survey of
American Jews, sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Department of Jewish-Zionist
Education, conducted in November-December 2002. Also see Amiran Barkat, “Young
American Jews Are More Ambivalent Toward Israel, Study Shows,” Ha’aretz, March 7,
2005; Steven M. Cohen, “Poll: Attachment of U.S. Jews to Israel Falls in Past 2 Years,”
Forward, March 4, 2005; M.J. Rosenberg, “Letting Israel Sell Itself,” Israel Policy Forum
Issue Brief #218, March 18, 2005.
61 J.J. Goldberg, “Old Friend, Shattered Dreams,” Forward, December 24, 2004; Esther
Kaplan, “The Jewish Divide on Israel,” Nation, July 12, 2004; Michael Massing,
“Conservative Jewish Groups Have Clout,” Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2002; Eric
Yoffie, “Reform the Conference,” Forward, August 2, 2002.
62 Ori Nir, “FBI Probe: More Questions Than Answers.” Forward, May 13, 2005.
63 Inigo Gilmore, “U.S. Jewish Leader Hit over Letter,” London Sunday Telegraph, August
12, 2003; Isi Liebler, “When Seymour Met Condi,” Jerusalem Post, November 24, 2005.
Also see Sarah Bronson, “Orthodox Leader: U.S. Jews Have No Right to Criticize Israel,
Ha’aretz, August 2, 2004.
64 Liebler, “When Seymour Met Condi”; Ori Nir, “O.U. Chief Decries American Pressure
on Israel,” Forward, December 2, 2005; Idem, “Rice Trip Raises Concern over U.S.
Pressure on Israel,” Forward, November 18, 2005; Seymour D. Reich, “Listen to
America,” Jerusalem Post, November 13, 2005.
65 Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, “Washington’s Power 25,” Fortune, December 8, 1997. AIPAC
was ranked number 4 in a similar study conducted in 2001. See Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and
Russell Newell, “Fat and Happy in D.C.,” Fortune, May 28, 2001.
66 Richard E. Cohen and Peter Bell, “Congressional Insiders Poll,” National Journal. March
5, 2005; James D. Besser, “Most Muscle? It’s NRA, Then AIPAC and AARP,” Chicago
Jewish Star, March 11-24, 2005.
67 See Max Blumenthal, “Born-Agains for Sharon,”, October 30, 2004; Darrell L.
Bock, “Some Christians See a ‘Road Map’ to End Times,” Los Angeles Times, June 18,
2003; Nathan Guttman, “Wiping Out Terror, Brining On Redemption,” Ha’aretz, April
29, 2002; Tom Hamburger and Jim VandeHei, “Chosen People: How Israel Became a
Favorite Cause of Christian Right,” Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2002; Paul Nussbaum,
“Israel Finds an Ally in American Evangelicals,” Philadelphia Inquirer, November 17,
2005. Daniel Pipes maintains that, “other than the Israel Defense Forces, America’s
Christian Zionists may be the Jewish state’s ultimate strategic asset.” “[Christian
Zionism:] Israel’s Best Weapon?” New York Post, July 15, 2003.
68 The weakness of the “Palestinian Lobby” in the United States is captured in the
headlines of these two articles: Nora Boustany, “Palestinians’ Lone Hand in
Washington,” Washington Post, April, 19, 2002; George Gedda, “PLO Loses D.C. Office
Because of Unpaid Rent,” Chicago Tribune, April 12, 2002. On the weak impact of the
“Arab Lobby,” see Ali A. Mazrui, “Between the Crescent and the Star-Spangled Banner:
American Muslims and U.S. Foreign Policy,” International Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 3 (July
1996), pp. 493-506; Nabeel A. Khoury, “The Arab Lobby: Problems and Prospects,”
Middle East Journal, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Summer 1987), pp. 379-396; Andrea Barron, “Jewish
and Arab Diasporas in the United States and Their Impact on U.S. Middle East Policy,”
in Yehuda Lukacs and Abdalla M. Battah, eds., The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Two Decades of
Change (London: Westview, 1988), pp. 238-259.
69 Jake Tapper, “Questions for Dick Armey: Retiring, Not Shy,” New York Times Magazine,
September 1, 2002. Also, Tom DeLay has called himself “an Israeli at heart.” See James
Bennet, “DeLay Says Palestinians Bear Burden for Achieving Peace,” New York Times,
July 30, 2003.
70 Quoted in Mitchell Bard, “Israeli Lobby Power,” Midstream, Vol. 33, No. 1 (January
1987), pp. 6-8.
71 Quoted in Edward Tivnan, The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American Foreign Policy
(NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987), p. 191. J.J. Goldberg, the editor of the Forward, said in
2002, “There is this image in Congress that you don’t cross these people or they take you
down.” Quoted in John Diamond and Brianna B. Piec, “Pro-Israel Groups Intensify
Political Front in U.S.,” Chicago Tribune, April 16, 2002.
72 Quoted in Camille Mansour, Beyond Alliance: Israel in U.S. Foreign Policy, trans. James
A. Cohen (NY: Columbia University Press, 1994), p. 242.
73 Although AIPAC has been able to use its political muscle to avoid having to register as
a foreign agent for another government, it is especially concerned about that problem
today because of the Larry Franklin spy scandal, and thus it is going to considerable
lengths to emphasize its “American side.” See Ori Nir, “Leaders Fear Probe Will Force
Pro-Israel Lobby to File as ‘Foreign Agent’ Could Fuel Dual Loyalty Talk,” Forward,
December 31, 2004; Idem, “Leaders Stress American Side of AIPAC,” Forward, May 27,
74 “Sen. Hollings Floor Statement Setting the Record Straight on His Mideast Newspaper
Column,” May 20, 2004, a copy of which can be found on the former Senator’s web site.
75 Published in an AIPAC advertisement in the Chicago Jewish Star, August 29 –
September 11, 2003. Sharon is not alone in his appraisal of AIPAC’s power. Senate
Minority Leader Harry Reid says that “I can't think of a policy organization in the
country as well-organized or respected [as AIPAC]” and former House Speaker Newt
Gingrich called it “the most effective general interest group . . . across the entire planet.”
Former President Bill Clinton described AIPAC as “stunningly effective” and “better
than anyone else lobbying in this town.” Quotations downloaded from the AIPAC
website on January 14, 2005 [].
76 Thomas B. Edsall and Alan Cooperman, “GOP Uses Remarks to Court Jews,”
Washington Post, March 13, 2003. Also see James D. Besser, “Jews’ Primary Role
Expanding,” Jewish Week, January 23, 2004; Alexander Bolton, “Jewish Defections Irk
Democrats,” The Hill, March 30, 2004; E.J. Kessler, “Ancient Woes Resurfacing as Dean
Eyes Top Dem Post,” Forward, January 28, 2005. Hamilton Jordan wrote a memorandum
to President Jimmy Carter in June 1977, in which he said: “Out of 125 members of the
Democratic National Finance Council, over 70 are Jewish; In 1976, over 60% of the large
donors to the Democratic Party were Jewish; Over 60% of the monies raised by Nixon in
1972 was from Jewish contributors; Over 75% of the monies raised in Humphrey’s 1968
campaign was from Jewish contributors; Over 90% of the monies raised by Scoop
Jackson in the Democratic primaries was from Jewish contributors; In spite of the fact
that you were a long shot and came from an area of the country where there is a smaller
Jewish community, approximately 35% of our primary funds were from Jewish
supporters. Wherever there is major political fundraising in this country, you will find
American Jews playing a significant role.” Hamilton Jordan, Confidential File, Box 34,
File “Foreign Policy/Domestic Politics Memo, HJ Memo, 6/77,” declassified June 12,
77 Douglas Brinkley, “Out of the Loop,” The New York Times, December 29, 2002.
Lawrence Kaplan reports that after Bruce Riedel, the Middle East expert on the National
Security Council, left his job at the end of 2001, the Pentagon “held up the appointment
of Riedel’s designated successor, Middle East expert Alina Romanowski, whom
Pentagon officials suspect of being insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state.”
“Torpedo Boat: How Bush Turned on Arafat,” New Republic, February 18, 2003. The
position was eventually filled by Elliot Abrams, a fervent supporter of Israel. “Indeed,
for the government of Israel,” Nathan Guttman wrote, “it is a gift from heaven.” See
“From Clemency to a Senior Post,” Ha’aretz, December 16, 2002.
78 E.J. Kessler, “Lieberman and Dean Spar Over Israel,” Forward, September 9, 2003;
Stephen Zunes, “Attacks on Dean Expose Democrats’ Shift to the Right,” Tikkun,
November/December 2003.
79 Zunes, “Attacks on Dean”; James D. Besser, “Dean’s Jewish Problem,” Chicago Jewish
Star, December 19, 2003 -- January 8, 2004.
80 E.J. Kessler, “Dean Plans to Visit Israel, Political Baggage in Tow,” Forward, July 8,
2005; Zunes, “Attacks on Dean.”
81 Laura Blumenfeld, “Three Peace Suits; For These Passionate American Diplomats, a
Middle East Settlement is the Goal of a Lifetime,” Washington Post, February 24, 1997.
82 Samuel (“Sandy”) Berger, President Clinton’s National Security Advisor, reports that
at one point during the negotiations at Camp David (July 2000), Dennis Ross made the
remarkable comment that, “If Barak offers anything more, I’ll be against this
agreement.” Unedited transcript of “Comments by Sandy Berger at the Launch of How
Israelis and Palestinians Negotiate (USIP Press, 2005),” U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington,
DC, June 7, 2005.
83 Quoted in Blumenfeld, “Three Peace Suits.”
84 Eric Alterman, “Intractable Foes, Warring Narratives,”, March 28, 2002.
85 Quoted in Bret Stephens, “Eye on the Media by Bret Stephens: Bartley’s Journal,”
Jerusalem Post, November 21, 2002.
86 Max Frankel, The Times of My Life And My Life with the Times (NY: Random House,
1999), pp. 401-403.
87 Felicity Barringer, “Some U.S. Backers of Israel Boycott Dailies Over Mideast Coverage
That They Deplore,” New York Times, May 23, 2002.
88 Barringer, “Some U.S. Backers”; Gaby Wenig, “NPR Israel Coverage Sparks Protests,”
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, May 9, 2003; Gila Wertheimer, “NPR Dismisses
Protest Rallies,” Chicago Jewish Star, May 30 – June 12, 2003. Also see James D. Besser,
“NPR Radio Wars Putting Jewish Groups in a Bind,” Jewish Week, May 20, 2005; Samuel
Freedman, “From ‘Balance’ to Censorship: Bush’s Cynical Plan for NPR,” Forward, May
27, 2005; Nathan Guttman, “Enough Already from Those Pro-Israel Nudniks,” Ha’aretz,
February 1, 2005; E.J. Kessler, “Hot Seat Expected for New Chair of Corporation for
Public Broadcasting,” Forward, October 28, 2005.
89 Joel Beinin, “Money, Media and Policy Consensus: The Washington Institute for Near
East Policy,” Middle East Report, January-February 1993, pp. 10-15; Mark H. Milstein,
“Washington Institute for Near East Policy: An AIPAC ‘Image Problem’,” Washington
Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1991.
90 Quoted in Milstein, “Washington Institute.”
91 “Brookings Announces New Saban Center for Middle East Policy,” Brookings
Institution Press Release, May 9, 2002; Andrew Ross Sorkin, “Schlepping to Moguldom,”
New York Times, September 5, 2004.
92 James D. Besser, “Turning up Heat in Campus Wars,” Jewish Week, July 25, 2003;
Ronald S. Lauder and Jay Schottenstein, “Back to School for Israel Advocacy,” Forward,
November 14, 2003; Rachel Pomerance, “Israel Forces Winning Campus Battle, Say
Students Attending AIPAC Meeting,” JTA, December 31, 2002. Jewish groups are also
targeting high schools. See Max Gross, “Israel Advocacy Coalition Targeting High
Schools,” Forward, January 23, 2004; “New Pro-Israel Campaign Targets High School
Students,” JTA, June 2, 2004.
93 Besser, “Turning up Heat.” In 2002 and 2003, AIPAC brought 240 college students to
Washington, DC for intensive advocacy training, sending them back to school to win
over campus leaders to Israel’s cause. Besser, “Turning up Heat”; Pomerance, “Israel
Forces Winning.” In the spring of 2005, it hosted 100 student government presidents (80
of whom were not Jewish) at its annual conference. Nathaniel Popper, “Pro-Israel
Groups: Campuses Improving,” Forward, June 24, 2005.
94 Michael Dobbs, “Middle East Studies under Scrutiny in U.S.,” Washington Post,
January 13, 2004; Michele Goldberg, “Osama University?”, November 6, 2003;
Kristine McNeil, “The War on Academic Freedom,” Nation, November 11, 2002; Zachary
Lockman, “Behind the Battle over US Middle East Policy,” Middle East Report Online,
January 2004.
95 Jonathan R. Cole, “The Patriot Act on Campus: Defending the University Post--9/11,”
Boston Review, Summer 2003.
96 Chanakya Sethi, “Khalidi Candidacy for New Chair Draws Fire,” Daily Princetonian,
April 22, 2005; Idem, “Debate Grows over Khalidi Candidacy,” Daily Princetonian, April
28, 2005.
97 Robert Gaines, “The Battle at Columbia University,” Washington Report on Middle East
Affairs, April 2005, pp. 56-57; Caroline Glick, “Our World: The Columbia Disaster,”
Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2005; Joseph Massad, “Witch Hunt at Columbia: Targeting the
University,” CounterPunch, June 3, 2005; Nathaniel Popper, “Columbia Students Say
Firestorm Blurs Campus Reality,” Forward, February 11, 2005; Scott Sherman, “The
Mideast Comes to Columbia,” Nation, April 4, 2005; Chanan Weissman, “Columbia
Unbecoming,” Jerusalem Post, February 6, 2005.
98 “Columbia University Ad Hoc Grievance Committee, Final Report, New York, 28
March 2005 (excerpts),” in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2005), pp.
99 Goldberg, “Osama University?”; Ron Kampeas, “Campus Oversight Passes Senate as
Review Effort Scores a Victory,” JTA, November 22, 2005; Stanley Kurtz, “Reforming the
Campus: Congress Targets Title VI,” National Review Online, October 14, 2003; McNeil,
“War on Academic Freedom”; Ori Nir, “Groups Back Bill to Monitor Universities,”
Forward, March 12, 2004; Sara Roy, “Short Cuts,” London Review of Books, April 1, 2004;
Anders Strindberg, “The New Commissars,” American Conservative, February 2, 2004.
100 The number 130 comes from Mitchell G. Bard, “Tenured or Tenuous: Defining the
Role of Faculty in Supporting Israel on Campus,” Report published by The Israel on
Campus Coalition and The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, May 2004, p. 11.
Also see Nacha Cattan, “NYU Center: New Addition to Growing Academic Field,”
Forward, May 2, 2003; Samuel G. Freedman, “Separating the Political Myths from the
Facts in Israel Studies,” New York Times, February 16, 2005; Jennifer Jacobson, “The
Politics of Israel Studies,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 24, 2005, pp. 10-12; Michael
C. Kotzin, “The Jewish Community and the Ivory Tower: An Urgent Need for Israel
Studies,” Forward, January 30, 2004; Nathaniel Popper, “Israel Studies Gain on Campus
as Disputes Grow,” Forward, March 25, 2005.
101 Quoted in Cattan, “NYU Center.”
102 Jonathan Kessler, “Pro-Israel Activism Makes Comeback on Campus,” Forward,
December 26, 2003; Popper, “Campuses Improving”; Barry Silverman and Randall
Kaplan, “Pro-Israel College Activists Quietly Successful on Campus,” JTA, May 9, 2005;
Chanan Tigay, “As Students Return to Campus, Activists Prepare a New Approach,”
JTA, September 1, 2005. Nevertheless, there are limits to the Lobby’s effectiveness on
campuses. See Joe Eskenazi, “Book: College Campuses Quiet, but Anti-Israel Feeling Is
Growing,” JTA, November 29, 2005; Gary Rosenblatt, “U.S. Grad Students Seen Hostile
to Israel,” Jewish Week, June 17, 2005.
103 Quoted in Tony Judt, “Goodbye to All That?” Nation, January 3, 2005.
104 Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “Attitudes toward Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-
Israeli Conflict in Ten European Countries,” April 2004; The Pew Global Attitudes
Project, A Year After Iraq War: Mistrust of America in Europe Even Higher, Muslim Anger
Persists (Washington, DC: The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, March
16, 2004), pp. 4-5, 26. On the ADL survey, see “ADL Survey Finds Some Decrease in
Anti-Semitic Attitudes in Ten European Countries,” ADL Press Release, April 26, 2004;
Shlomo Shamir, “Poll Shows Decrease in Anti-Semitic Views in Europe,” Ha’aretz, April
27, 2004. These findings had virtually no effect on pro-Israel pundits, who continued to
argue that anti-Semitism was rampant in Europe. See, for example, Daniel J. Goldhagen,
“Europe’s Toothless Reply to Anti-Semitism: Conference Fails to Build Tools to Fight a
Rising Sickness” Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2004; Charles Krauthammer, “The Real
Mideast ‘Poison’,” Washington Post, April 30, 2004.
105 Martin Peretz, the editor-in-chief of the New Republic, says, “The headquarters of anti-
Semitic Europe today, just as during the Third Republic, is Paris.” “Cambridge Diarist:
Regrets,” New Republic, April 22, 2002, p. 50. The data in this paragraph are from “Anti-
Semitism in Europe: Is It Really Rising?” Economist, May 4, 2002.
106 Quoted in Marc Perelman, “Community Head: France No More Antisemitic Than
U.S.,” Forward, August 1, 2003. Also see Francois Bujon de l’Estang, “A Slander on
France,” Washington Post, June 22, 2002; “French President Accuses Israel of Conducting
Anti-French Campaign,” Ha’aretz, May 12, 2002.
107 “French Police: Anti-Semitism in France Sharply Decreased in 2005,” Ha’aretz, January
19, 2006.
108 “French Protest for Murdered Jew,” BBC News Online, February 26, 2006; Michel
Zlotowski, “Large Memorial Held for Parisian Jew,” Jerusalem Post, February 23, 2006.
109 Avi Beker, “The Eternally Open Gate,” Ha’aretz, January 11, 2005; Josef Joffe, “A
Boom, if Not A Renaissance, in Modern-Day Germany,” Forward, July 25, 2003;
Nathaniel Popper, “Immigrant Policy Eyed as German Community Swells,” Forward,
July 25, 2003; Eliahu Salpeter, “Jews from the CIS Prefer Germany to the Jewish State,”
Ha’aretz, May 28, 2005. Also, the Times of London reported in the spring of 2005, that,
“An estimated 100,000 Jews have returned to Russia in the past few years, sparking a
dramatic renaissance of Jewish life in a country with a long history of anti-Semitism.”
Jeremy Page, “Once Desperate to Leave, Now Jews Are Returning to Russia, Land of
Opportunity,” Times, April 28, 2005. Also see Lev Krichevsky, “Poll: Russians Don’t
Dislike Jews, and More Are against Anti-Semitism,” JTA, February 2, 2006.
110 The chairman of the Education Department of the Jewish Agency recently said that
“present day violent anti-Semitism originates from two separate sources: radical
Islamists in the Middle East and Western Europe as well as the neo-Nazi youth element
in Eastern Europe and Latin America.” Jonathan Schneider, “Anti-Semitism Still a World
Problem,” Jerusalem Post, January 26, 2006.
111 In the ADL’s April 2004 survey, “Attitudes toward Jews, Israel and the Palestinian-
Israeli Conflict in Ten European Countries,” the following question was asked: “In your
opinion, is it very important, somewhat important, somewhat unimportant or not
important at all for our government to take a role in combating anti-Semitism in our
country?” The percentages for those who strongly agree or somewhat agree were Italy
(92), Britain (83), Netherlands (83), France (82), Germany (81), Belgium (81), Denmark
(79), Austria (76), Switzerland (74), Spain (73). See p. 19.
112 Phyllis Chesler, The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do about
It (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003); Hillel Halkin, “The Return of Anti-Semitism: To Be
against Israel Is to Be against the Jews,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2002; Barry
Kosmin and Paul Iganski, “Judeophobia – Not Your Parent’s Anti-Semitism,” Ha’aretz,
June 3, 2003; Amnon Rubinstein, “Fighting the New Anti-Semitism,” Ha’aretz, December
2, 2003; Gabriel Schoenfeld, The Return of Anti-Semitism (San Francisco: Encounter Books,
2003); Natan Sharansky, “Anti-Semitism is our Problem,” Ha’aretz, August 10, 2003; Yair
Sheleg. “A World Cleansed of the Jewish State,” Ha’aretz. April 18, 2002; Yair Sheleg,
“Enemies, a Post-National Story,” Ha’aretz, March 8, 2003. For criticism of this
perspective, see Akiva Eldar, “Anti-Semitism Can Be Self-Serving,” Ha’aretz, May 3,
2002; Brian Klug, “The Myth of the New Anti-Semitism,” Nation, February 2, 2004; Ralph
Nader, “Criticizing Israel is Not Anti-Semitism,” CounterPunch, October 16/17, 2004;
Henri Picciotto and Mitchell Plitnick, eds., Reframing Anti-Semitism: Alternative Jewish
Perspectives (Oakland, CA: Jewish Voice for Peace, 2004); and especially Finkelstein,
Beyond Chutzpah, chapters 1-3.
113 Helen Nugent, “Chief Rabbi Flays Church over Vote on Israel Assets,” Times Online,
February 17, 2006. Also see Bill Bowder, “Sacks Seeks Talks after Synod Vote on
Disinvestment,” Church Times, February 24, 2006; “Bulldozer Motion ‘Based on
Ignorance’,” in ibid; Ruth Gledhill, “Church Urged to Reconsider Investments with
Israel,” Times Online, May 28, 2005; Irene Lancaster, “Anglicans Have Betrayed the
Jews,” Downloaded from Moriel Ministries (UK) website, February 20, 2006; “U.K. Chief
Rabbi Attacks Anglicans over Israel Divestment Vote,” Ha’aretz, February 17, 2006.
114 That the Church of England was merely criticizing Israeli policy and not engaging in
anti-Semitism is clearly reflected in the February 10, 2006 letter that the Archbishop of
Canterbury (Dr. Rowan Williams) sent to England’s Chief Rabbi (Jonathan Sacks)
explaining the Church’s decision on divestment. For a copy of the letter, see
“Archbishop: Synod Call Was Expression of Concern,” February 10, 2006, Downloaded
from Church of England website, February 20, 2006.
115 Steven Kull (Principal Investigator), Americans on the Middle East Road Map (Program
on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, May 30, 2003), pp. 9-11, 18-19.
Also see Steven Kull et al., Americans on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Program on
International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, May 6, 2002). A 2005 Anti-
Defamation League public opinion survey found that 78 percent of Americans believe
that their government should favor neither Israel nor the Palestinians. “American
Attitudes toward Israel and the Middle East,” Survey conducted on March 18-25, 2005,
and June 19-23, 2005, by the Marttila Communications Group for the Anti-Defamation
116 Robert G. Kaiser, “Bush and Sharon Nearly Identical on Mideast Policy,” Washington
Post, February 9, 2003.
117 Lee Hockstader and Daniel Williams, “Israel Says It Won’t ‘Pay Price’ of Coalition,”
Washington Post, September 18, 2001; Jonathan Karp, “Sharon Cancels Peace Talks in
Rebuff to U.S. Concerns,” Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2001; Thomas Oliphant, “A
Delicate Balance,” Boston Globe, September 18, 2001: “Israel’s Opportunity,” Los Angeles
Times editorial, September 18, 2001.
118 Kurt Eichenwald, “U.S. Jews Split on Washington’s Shift on Palestinian State,” New
York Times, October 5, 2001. At the same time, Prime Minister Tony Blair made “Britain’s
strongest endorsement yet of Palestinian statehood.” Michael Dobbs, “Blair Backs
Creation of Palestinian State,” Washington Post, October 16, 2001.
119 James Bennet, “Sharon Invokes Munich in Warning U.S. on ‘Appeasement’,” New
York Times, October 5, 2001; Jane Perlez and and Katharine Q. Seelye. “U.S. Stongly
Rebukes Sharon for Criticism of Bush, Calling it ‘Unacceptable’.” New York Times
October 6, 2001; Shlomo Shamir, “U.S. Jews: Sharon is ‘Worried’ by Terrorism
Distinction,” Ha’aretz, September 18, 2001; Alan Sipress and Lee Hockstader, “Sharon
Speech Riles U.S.,” Washington Post, October 6, 2001. For evidence that other Israelis
shared Sharon’s fears, see Israel Harel, “Lessons from the Next War,” Ha’aretz, October
6, 2001.
120 Jack Donnelly, “Nation Set to Push Sharon on Agreement,” Boston Globe, October 10,
2001; Hockstader and Sipress, “Sharon Speech Riles U.S.”; Perlez and Seelye. “U.S.
Strongly Rebukes Sharon.”
121 Lee Hockstader, “Sharon Apologetic over Row with U.S.,” Washington Post, October 7,
2001; Serge Schmemann, “Raising Munich, Sharon Reveals Israeli Qualms,” New York
Times, October 6, 2001.
122 Aluf Benn, “Analysis: Clutching at Straws,” Ha’aretz, September 18, 2001; “Excerpts
from Talk by Sharon,” New York Times, December 4, 2001; William Safire, “‘Israel or
Arafat’,” New York Times, December 3, 2001.
123 Elaine Sciolino, “Senators Urge Bush Not to Hamper Israel,” New York Times,
November 17, 2001.
124 Dana Milbank, “Bush Spokesman Gentle on Israeli Assault,” Washington Post,
December 3, 2001; Safire, “Israel or Arafat”; David Sanger, “U.S. Walks a Tightrope on
Terrorism in Israel,” New York Times, December 4, 2001.
125 Keith B. Richburg and Molly Moore, “Israel Rejects Demands to Withdraw Troops,”
Washington Post, April 11, 2002. All quotes in this paragraph are from Fareed Zakaria,
“Colin Powell’s Humiliation: Bush Should Clearly Support His Secretary of State –
Otherwise He Should Get a New One,” Newsweek, April 29, 2002. Also see Mike Allen
and John Lancaster, “Defiant Sharon Losing Support in White House,” Washington Post,
April 11, 2002, which describes the Bush Administration’s anger with Sharon.
126 It is worth noting that the American people were generally supportive of Bush’s
efforts to put pressure on Israel in the spring of 2002. A Time/CNN poll taken on April
10-11 found that 60 percent of Americans felt that U.S. aid to Israel should be cut off or
reduced if Sharon refused to withdraw from the Palestinian areas he had recently
occupied. “Poll: Americans Support Cutting Aid to Israel,” Reuters News Release, April
12, 2002; AFP News Release, April 13, 2002. Also see Israel and the Palestinians (Program
on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, last updated on August 15,
2002). Moreover, 75 percent of those surveyed thought that Powell should meet with
Arafat when he visited Israel. Regarding Sharon, only 35 percent found him
trustworthy, while 35 percent thought he was a warmonger, 20 percent saw him as a
terrorist, and 25 percent considered him an enemy of the United States.
127 William Kristol and Robert Kagan, “‘Senior White House Aides:’ Speak Up!” Weekly
Standard, April 11, 2002. For a graphic description of the heat that the Lobby put on
Powell when he was in the Middle East, see Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York:
Simon and Schuster, 2002), pp. 323-326. Also see John Simpson, “Israeli Leader Has
More Power in Washington than Powell,” Sunday Telegraph (London), April 14, 2002,
which describes a joint press conference Powell and Sharon conducted by noting that:
“the Secretary of State’s language, body and verbal, certainly were not that of the
paymaster coming to call a client to account. Far from it. Mr. Powell seemed ingratiating,
deferential; no doubt he realizes how much support Mr. Sharon has back in Washington
and how much influence his friends have there with the President.” It is also worth
noting that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was making Israel’s
case in the United States at the time, said even before Powell arrived in Israel that his
trip “won’t amount to anything.” Elaine Sciolino, “Netanyahu Says Powell Mission
‘Won’t Amount to Anything’ and Urges Arafat’s Exile,” New York Times, April 11, 2002.
128 James D. Besser, “No Tennessee Waltz,” Jewish Week, December 27, 2002. Also see
Mike Allen and Juliet Eilperin, “White House and DeLay at Odds,” Washington Post
April 26, 2002; Judith Eilperin and Helen Dewar, “Lawmakers Endorse Israel’s
Offensive,” Washington Post, May 3, 2002. Bush was feeling intense pressure not just
from lawmakers, but from Jewish leaders and Christian Evangelicals. See Mike Allen
and John Lancaster, “Defiant Sharon Losing Support in White House,” Washington Post,
April 11, 2002; Dan Balz, “Bush Statement on Mideast Reflects Tension in GOP,”
Washington Post, April 7, 2003; Elisabeth Bumiller, “Bush Sends Aide to Speak at Rally to
Quell a Growing Furor,” New York Times, April 16, 2002; Bradley Burston, “Background:
Can Bush Afford to Press Sharon for Peace?” Ha’aretz, May 6, 2002; Akiva Eldar, “Bush
and Israel, 1991 and 2002,” Ha’aretz, May 6, 2002; Alison Mitchell, “U.S. Political Leaders
Seek Unity on Mideast, for Now,” Washington Post, April 12, 2002; William Safire, “On
Being an Ally,” New York Times, April 11, 2002; Alan Sipress, “Policy Divide Thwarts
Powell in Mideast Effort,” Washington Post, April 26, 2002; and Alan Sipress and Karen
DeYoung, “U.S. Presses Ahead with Peace Efforts,” Washington Post, May 9, 2002.
129 Randall Mikkelsen, “White House Calls Sharon ‘Man of Peace’,” Reuters, April 11,
2002; Bill Sammon, “White House Softens Tone with Israel,” Washington Times, April 12,
130 Peter Slevin and Mike Allen, “Bush: Sharon A ‘Man of Peace’,” Washington Post, April
19, 2002; David Sanger, “President Praises Effort by Powell in the Middle East,” New
York Times, April 19, 2002. For a transcript of the press conference, see “President Bush,
Secretary Powell Discuss Middle East,” White House, Office of the Press Secretary, April
18, 2002.
131 Eilperin and Dewar, “Lawmakers Endorse Israel’s Offensive”; Juliet Eilperin and
Mike Allen, “Hill Leaders Plan Votes on Pro-Israel Relations,” Washington Post, May 2,
2002; Alison Mitchell, “House and Senate Support Israel in Strong Resolutions,” New
York Times, May 3, 2002. For copies of the two resolutions, see “2 Resolutions ‘Expressing
Solidarity with Israel’,” New York Times, May 3, 2002. Also see Matthew E. Berger, “Bills
in Congress Boost Israel, Treat Arafat as Terrorist,” Jewish Bulletin, April 26, 2002.
132 Arieh O’Sullivan, “Visiting Congressmen Advise Israel to Resist Administration
Pressure to Deal with Arafat,” Jerusalem Post¸ May 6, 2002.
133 Eli Lake, “Israeli Lobby Wins $200 Million Fight,” United Press International, May 11,
134 Quoted in Jefferson Morley, “Who’s in Charge?” Washington Post, April 26, 2002. As
Akiva Eldar noted just before Sharon steamrolled Bush, “Sharon has a lot of experience
sticking it to the Americans …. Ultimately, whether it was Palestinian terror, Arafat’s
mistakes, or domestic politics, the Americans were sent to the peanut gallery.” See his
“Words Are Not Enough,” Ha’aretz, April 8, 2002. Nor was Bush’s humiliation lost on
commentators around the world. Spain’s leading daily, El Pais, expressed the views of
many outside observers when it commented, “If a country’s weight is measured by its
degree of influence on events, the superpower is not the USA but Israel.” Quoted in
Morley, “Who’s in Charge?”
135 Bradley Burston, “Hamas ‘R’ Us,” Ha’aretz, January 18, 2006; Akiva Eldar, “Kadima to
A New Middle East,” Ha’aretz, December 19, 2005; Idem, “Who Needs Abu Mazen?”
Ha’aretz, November 7, 2005; Ran HaCohen, “Hamas and Israel: Rival Twins,”, February 6, 2006; M.J. Rosenberg, “No Partner -- As Always,” IPF Friday,
Issue No. 260, February 3, 2006; Danny Rubenstein, “All We Did Was Switch the Non-
Partner,” Ha’aretz, February 5, 2006; “Disarray Among the Palestinians,” New York Times
editorial, January 17, 2006.
136 Regarding the views of previous Presidents, see Clyde R. Mark, “Israeli-United States
Relations,” Issue Brief for Congress (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service,
August 29, 2002), p. 7. On April 14, 2004, Bush broke with his predecessors and
proclaimed that Israel would not have to return all of the territories that it occupied in
1967, and that Palestinian refugees would not be allowed to return to their former homes
in Israel, but would have to settle in a new Palestinian state. See “Statement by the
President Regarding Israel-Arab Peace Process,” April 14, 2004; and “President Bush’s
Letter to Prime Minister Sharon,” April 14, 2004.
137 “US Scowcroft Criticizes Bush Admin’s Foreign Policy,” Financial Times, October 13,
2004. Also see Glenn Kessler, “Scowcroft is Critical of Bush,” Washington Post, October
16, 2004.
138 On Kerry, see Gadi Dechter, “Analysis: President Kerry on Israel,” United Press
International press release, July 9, 2004; Nathan Guttman, “Kerry Position Paper Outlines
Support for Israel,” Ha’aretz, July 2, 2004: Nathan Guttman, “Kerry Jumps on Sharon
Bandwagon in Favoring Gaza Disengagement Plan,” Ha’aretz, April 25, 2004. On
Clinton, see Adam Dickter, “Hillary: ‘I Had A Lot to Prove’,” Jewish Week, November 18,
2005; Kristen Lombardi, “Hillary Calls Israel a ‘Beacon’ of Democracy,” Village Voice,
December 11, 2005; Sonia Verma, “Clinton Stressed U.S.-Israel Coalition,” Newsday,
November 15, 2005; Rachel Zabarkes Friedman, “Senator Israel,” National Review Online,
May 25, 2005.
139 Emad Mekay, “Iraq Was Invaded ‘to Protect Israel’ – US Official,” Asia Times Online,
March 31, 2004. Zelikow also served with Rice on the National Security Council when
George H. W. Bush was President, and co-authored a book with her on German
reunification. He was also one of the principal authors of the second Bush
Administration’s 2002 National Security Strategy, which is the most comprehensive
official presentation of the so-called Bush Doctrine.
140 Jason Keyser, “Israel Urges U.S. to Attack,” Washington Post, August 16, 2002. Also see
Aluf Benn, “PM Urging U.S. Not to Delay Strike against Iraq,” Ha’aretz, August 16, 2002;
Idem, “PM Aide: Delay in U.S. Attack Lets Iraq Speed Up Arms Program,” Ha’aretz,
August 16, 2002; Reuven Pedhatzur, “Israel’s Interest in the War on Saddam,” Ha’aretz,
August 4, 2002; Ze’ev Schiff, “Into the Rough,” Ha’aretz, August 16, 2002.
141 Gideon Alon, “Sharon to Panel: Iraq is Our Biggest Danger,” Ha’aretz, August 13,
2002. At a White House press conference with President Bush on October 16, 2002,
Sharon said: “I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for the friendship and
cooperation. And as far as I remember, as we look back towards many years now, I
think that we never had such relations with any President of the United States as we
have with you, and we never had such cooperation in everything as we have with the
current administration.” For a transcript of the press conference, see “President Bush
Welcomes Prime Minister Sharon to White House; Question and Answer Session with
the Press,” U.S. Department of State, October 16, 2002. Also see Kaiser, “Bush and
Sharon Nearly Identical on Mideast Policy.”
142 Shlomo Brom, “An Intelligence Failure,” Strategic Assessment (Jaffee Center for
Strategic Studies, Tel Aviv University), Vol. 6, No. 3 (November 2003), p. 9. Also see
“Intelligence Assessment: Selections from the Media, 1998-2003,” in ibid., pp. 17-19;
Gideon Alon, “Report Slams Assessment of Dangers Posed by Libya, Iraq,” Ha’aretz,
March 28, 2004; Dan Baron, “Israeli Report Blasts Intelligence for Exaggerating the Iraqi
Threat,” JTA, March 28, 2004; Greg Myre, “Israeli Report Faults Intelligence on Iraq,”
New York Times, March 28, 2004; James Risen, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA
and the Bush Administration (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), pp. 72-73.
143 Marc Perelman, “Iraqi Move Puts Israel in Lonely U.S. Corner,” Forward, September
20, 2002. This article begins, “Saddam Hussein’s surprise acceptance of ‘unconditional’
United Nations weapons inspections put Israel on the hot seat this week, forcing it into
the open as the only nation actively supporting the Bush administration’s goal of Iraqi
regime change.” Peres became so frustrated with the UN process in the following
months that in mid-February 2003 he lashed out at the French by questioning France’s
status as a permanent member of the Security Council. “Peres Questions France
Permanent Status on Security Council,” Ha’aretz, February 20, 2003. On a visit to
Moscow in late September 2002, Sharon made it clear to Russian President Putin, who
was leading the charge for new inspections, “that the time when these inspectors could
have been effective has passed.” Herb Keinon, “Sharon to Putin: Too Late for Iraq Arms
Inspection,” Jerusalem Post, October 1, 2002.
144 Ehud Barak, “Taking Apart Iraq’s Nuclear Threat,” New York Times, September 4,
145 Benjamin Netanyahu, “The Case for Toppling Saddam,” Wall Street Journal,
September 20, 2002. The Jerusalem Post was particularly hawkish on Iraq, frequently
running editorials and op-eds promoting the war, and hardly ever running pieces
against it. Representative editorials include “Next Stop Baghdad,” Jerusalem Post,
November 15, 2001; “Don’t Wait for Saddam,” Jerusalem Post, August 18, 2002; “Making
the Case for War,” Jerusalem Post, September 9, 2002. For some representative op-eds,
see Ron Dermer, “The March to Baghdad,” Jerusalem Post, December 21, 2001; Efraim
Inbar, “Ousting Saddam, Instilling Stability,” Jerusalem Post, October 8, 2002; Gerald M.
Steinberg, “Imagining the Liberation of Iraq,” Jerusalem Post, November 18, 2001.
146 Aluf Benn, “Background: Enthusiastic IDF Awaits War in Iraq,” Ha’aretz, February 17,
2002. Also see James Bennet, “Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit the Region,” New
York Times, February 27, 2003; Chemi Shalev, “Jerusalem Frets As U.S. Battles Iraq War
Delays,” Forward, March 7, 2003.
147 Indeed, a February 2003 poll reported that 77.5 percent of Israeli Jews wanted the
United States to attack Iraq. Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann, “Peace Index: Most
Israelis Support the Attack on Iraq,” Ha’aretz, March 6, 2003. Regarding Kuwait, a
public opinion poll released in March 2003 found that 89.6 percent of Kuwaitis favored
the impending war against Iraq. James Morrison, “Kuwaitis Support War,” Washington
Times, March 18, 2003.
148 Gideon Levy, “A Deafening Silence,” Ha’aretz, October 6, 2002.
149 See Dan Izenberg, “Foreign Ministry Warns Israeli War Talk Fuels US Anti-
Semitism,” Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2003, which makes clear that “the Foreign Ministry
has received reports from the US” telling Israelis to cool their jets because “the US
media” is portraying Israel as “trying to goad the administration into war.” There is also
evidence that Israel itself was concerned about being seen as driving American policy
toward Iraq. See Benn, “PM Urging U.S. Not to Delay Strike”; Perelman, “Iraq Move
Puts Israel in Lonely U.S. Corner.” Finally, in late September 2002, a group of political
consultants known as the “Israel Project” told pro-Israel leaders in the United States “to
keep quiet while the Bush administration purses a possible war with Iraq.” Dana
Milbank, “Group Urges Pro-Israel Leaders Silence on Iraq,” Washington Post, November
27, 2002.
150 The influence of the neoconservatives and their allies is clearly reflected in the
following articles: See Joel Beinin, “Pro-Israel Hawks and the Second Gulf War,” Middle
East Report Online, April 6, 2003; Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Schmitt, “On the Job and at
Home, Influential Hawks’ 30-Year Friendship Evolves,” New York Times, September 11,
2002; Kathleen and William Christison, “A Rose by Another Name: The Bush
Administration’s Dual Loyalties,” CounterPunch, December 13, 2002; Robert Dreyfuss,
“The Pentagon Muzzles the CIA,” The American Prospect, December 16, 2002; Michael
Elliott and James Carney, “First Stop, Iraq,” Time, March 31, 2003; Seymour Hersh, “The
Iraq Hawks,” New Yorker, Vol. 77, issue 41 (December 24-31, 2001), pp. 58-63; Glenn
Kessler, “U.S. Decision on Iraq Has Puzzling Past,” Washington Post, January 12, 2003;
Joshua M. Marshall, “Bomb Saddam?” Washington Monthly, June 2002; Dana Milbank,
“White House Push for Iraqi Strike Is on Hold,” Washington Post, August 18, 2002; Susan
Page, “Showdown with Saddam: The Decision to Act,” USA Today, September 11, 2002;
Sam Tanenhaus, “Bush’s Brain Trust,” Vanity Fair, July 2003. Note that all these articles
are from before the war started.
151 See Mortimer B. Zuckerman, “No Time for Equivocation,” U.S. News & World Report,
August 26/September 2, 2002; Idem, “Clear and Compelling Proof,” U.S. News & World
Report, February 10, 2003; Idem, “The High Price of Waiting,” U.S. News & World Report,
March 10, 2003.
152 “An Unseemly Silence,” Forward, May 7, 2004. Also see Gary Rosenblatt, “Hussein
Asylum,” Jewish Week, August 23, 2002; Idem, “The Case for War against Saddam,”
Jewish Week, December 13, 2002.
153 Just before the U.S. military invaded Iraq, Congressman James P. Moran (D-Va)
created a stir when he said, “If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish
community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this.” Spencer S. Hsu, “Moran
Said Jews Are Pushing War,” Washington Post, March 11, 2003. However, Moran
misspoke, because there was not widespread support for the war in the Jewish
community. He should have said, “If it were not for the strong support of the
neoconservatives and the leadership of the Israel Lobby for this war with Iraq, we would
not be doing this.”
154 Samuel G. Freedman, “Don’t Blame Jews for This War,” USA Today, April 2, 2003.
Also see Ori Nir, “Poll Finds Jewish Political Gap,” Forward, February 4, 2005.
155 It is no exaggeration to say that in the wake of 9/11, the neoconservatives were not
just determined, but were obsessed with removing Saddam from power. As one senior
Administration figure put it in January, 2003, “I do believe certain people have grown
theological about this. It’s almost a religion – that it will be the end of our society if we
don’t take action now.” Kessler, “U.S. Decision on Iraq Has Puzzling Past.” Kessler also
describes Colin Powell returning from White House meetings on Iraq, “rolling his eyes”
and saying, “Jeez, what a fixation about Iraq.” Bob Woodward reports in Plan of Attack
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004), p. 410, that Kenneth Adelman “said he had
worried to death as time went on and support seemed to wane that there would be no
war.” Also see ibid., pp. 164-165.
156 The first letter (January 26, 1998) was written under the auspices of the Project for the
New American Century and can be found on its website. The second letter (February
19, 1998) was written under the auspices of the Committee for Peace and Security in the
Gulf and can be found on the Iraq Watch website. Also see the May 29, 1998 letter to
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott written
under the auspices of the Project for the New American Century and found on its
website. The neoconservatives, it should be emphasized, advocated invading Iraq to
topple Saddam. See “The End of Containment,” Weekly Standard, December 1, 1997, pp.
13-14; Zalmay M. Khalizad and Paul Wolfowitz, “Overthrow Him,” in ibid., pp. 14-15;
Frederick W. Kagan, “Not by Air Alone,” in ibid., pp. 15-16.
157 See Clinton’s comments after he signed the “Iraq Liberation Act of 1998.” Statement
by the President, White House Press Office, October 31, 1998.
158 One might think from the publicity and the controversy surrounding two books
published in 2004—Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror
(New York: Free Press, 2004) and Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the
White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004)—
that Bush and Cheney were bent on invading Iraq when they assumed office in late
January 2001. However, this interpretation is wrong. They were deeply interested in
toppling Saddam, just as Bill Clinton and Al Gore had been. But there is no evidence in
the public record showing that Bush and Cheney were seriously contemplating war
against Iraq before 9/11. In fact, Bush made it clear to Bob Woodward that he was not
thinking about going to war against Saddam before 9/11. See Plan of Attack, p. 12. Also
see Nicholas Lehmann, “The Iraq Factor,” New Yorker, Vol. 76, issue 43 (January 22,
2001), pp. 34-48; Eric Schmitt and Steven Lee Meyers, “Bush Administration Warns Iraq
on Weapons Programs,” New York Times, January 23, 2001. And Cheney had defended
the decision not to go to Baghdad throughout the 1990s and during the 2000 campaign.
See Timothy Noah, “Dick Cheney, Dove,” Slate, October 16, 2002; “Calm after Desert
Storm,” An Interview with Dick Cheney, Policy Review, No. 65 (Summer 1993). In short,
even though the neoconservatives held important positions in the Bush Administration,
they were unable to generate much enthusiasm for attacking Iraq before 9/11. Thus, the
New York Times reported in March 2001 that “some Republicans” were complaining that
Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz “are failing to live up to their pre-election advocacy of
stepping up efforts to overthrow President Hussein.” At the same time, a Washington
Times editorial asked, “Have Hawks Become Doves?” See Jane Perlez, “Capitol Hawks
Seek Tougher Line on Iraq,” New York Times, March 7, 2001; “Have Hawks Become
Doves?” Washington Times, March 8, 2001.
159 Woodward, Plan of Attack, pp. 25-26. Wolfowitz was so insistent on conquering Iraq
that five days later Cheney had to tell him to “stop agitating for targeting Saddam.”
Page, “Showdown with Saddam.” According to one Republican lawmaker, he “was like
a parrot bringing [Iraq] up all the time. It was getting on the President’s nerves.” Elliot
and Carney, “First Stop, Iraq.” Woodward describes Wolfowitz as “like a drum that
would not stop.” Plan of Attack, p. 22.
160 Woodward, Plan of Attack, pp. 1-44.
161 Regarding the neoconservatives’ influence on Cheney, see Elliott and Carney, “First
Stop, Iraq”; Page, “Showdown with Saddam”; Michael Hirsh, “Bernard Lewis
Revisited,” Washington Monthly, November 2004, pp.13-19; Frederick Kempe, “Lewis’s
‘Liberation’ Doctrine for Mideast Faces New Tests,” Wall Street Journal, December 13,
2005; Carla Anne Robbins and Jeanne Cummings, “How Bush Decided that Hussein
Must Be Ousted from Atop Iraq,” Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2002. On Cheney’s critical
role in the decision-making process, see Glenn Kessler and Peter Slevin, “Cheney is
Fulcrum of Foreign Policy,” Washington Post, October 13, 2002; Barbara Slavin and Susan
Page, “Cheney Rewrites Roles in Foreign Policy,” USA Today, July 29, 2002.
162 The New York Times reported shortly after 9/11 that, “Some senior administration
officials, led by Paul D. Wolfowitz … and I. Lewis Libby … are pressing for the earliest
and broadest military campaign against not only the Osama bin Laden network in
Afghanistan, but also against other suspected terrorist bases in Iraq and in Lebanon’s
Bekka region.” Patrick E. Tyler and Elaine Sciolino, “Bush Advisers Split on Scope of
Retaliation,” New York Times, September 20, 2001. Also see William Safire, “Phony War
II,” New York Times, November 28, 2002. Woodward succinctly describes Libby’s
influence in Plan of Attack (pp. 48-49): “Libby had three formal titles. He was chief of
staff to Vice President Cheney; he was also national security adviser to the vice
president; and he was finally an assistant to President Bush. It was a trifecta of positions
probably never held before by a single person. Scooter was a power center unto himself
…. Libby was one of only two people who were not principals to attend the National
Security Council meetings with the president and the separate principals meetings
chaired by Rice.” Also see ibid., pp 50-51, 288-292, 300-301, 409-410; Bumiller and
Schmitt, “On the Job and at Home”; Karen Kwiatkowski, “The New Pentagon Papers,”, March 10, 2004; Patrick E. Tyler and Elaine Sciolino, “Bush Advisers Split on
Scope of Retaliation,” New York Times, September 20, 2001. On Libby’s relationship to
Israel, an article in the Forward reports that “Israeli officials liked Libby. They described
him as an important contact who was accessible, genuinely interested in Israel-related
issues and very sympathetic to their cause.” Ori Nir, “Libby Played Leading Role on
Foreign Policy Decisions,” Forward, November 4, 2005.
163 This letter was published in the Weekly Standard, October 1, 2001.
164 Robert Kagan and William Kristol, “The Right War,” Weekly Standard, October 1, 2001;
Charles Krauthammer, “Our First Move: Take Out the Taliban,” Washington Post,
October 1, 2001. Also see “War Aims,” Wall Street Journal, September 20, 2001.
165 Even before the dust had settled at the World Trade Center, pro-Israel forces were
making the case that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. See Michael Barone, “War by
Ultimatum,” U.S. News and World Report, October 1, 2001; Bill Gertz, “Iraq Suspected of
Sponsoring Terrorist Attacks,” Washington Times, September 21, 2001; “Drain the Pond
of Terror,” Jerusalem Post editorial, September 25, 2001; William Safire, “The Ultimate
Enemy,” New York Times, September 24, 2001.
166 See James Bamford, A Pretext to War (New York: Doubleday, 2004); chaps. 13-14;
Woodward, Plan of Attack, pp. 288-292, 297-306. Also see ibid., pp. 72, 163, 300-301.
167 Woodward, Plan of Attack, p. 290.
168 See Bamford, Pretext to War, pp. 287-291, 307-331; David S. Cloud, “Prewar
Intelligence Inquiry Zeroes In On Pentagon,” Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2004;
Seymour M. Hersh, “Selective Intelligence,” New Yorker, Vol. 79, issue 11 (May 12, 2003),
pp. 44-50; Kwiatkowski, “New Pentagon Papers”; Jim Lobe, “Pentagon Office Home to
Neo-Con Network,” Inter Press Service News Agency, August 7, 2003; Greg Miller, “Spy
Unit Skirted CIA on Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2004; Paul R. Pillar, “Intelligence,
Policy, and the War in Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 85, No. 2 (March-April 2006), pp. 15-27;
James Risen, “How Pair’s Finding on Terror Led to Clash on Shaping Intelligence,” New
York Times, April 28, 2004; Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, “Threats and Responses: A
C.I.A. Rival; Pentagon Sets Up Intelligence Unit.” New York Times October 24, 2002.
169 The Office of Special Plans relied heavily on information from Ahmed Chalabi and
other Iraqi exiles and it had close links with various Israeli sources. Indeed, the Guardian
reports that it “forged close ties to a parallel, ad hoc intelligence operation inside Ariel
Sharon’s office in Israel specifically to bypass Mossad and provide the Bush
administration with more alarmist reports on Saddam’s Iraq than Mossad was prepared
to authorize.” Julian Borger, “The Spies Who Pushed for War,” Guardian, July 17, 2003.
170 See, for example, Douglas J. Feith, “The Inner Logic of Israel’s Negotiations:
Withdrawal Process, Not Peace Process,” Middle East Quarterly, March 1996. For useful
discussions of Feith’s views, see Jeffrey Goldberg, “A Little Learning: What Douglas
Feith Knew and When He Knew It,” New Yorker, Vol. 81, issue 12 (May 9, 2005), pp. 36-
41; Jim Lobe, “Losing Feith, or is the Bush Team Shedding Its Sharper Edges?” The Daily
Star, January 31, 2005; James J. Zogby, “A Dangerous Appointment: Profile of Douglas
Feith, Undersecretary of Defense under Bush,” Middle East Information Center, April
18, 2001; “Israeli Settlements: Legitimate, Democratically Mandated, Vital to Israel’s
Security and, Therefore, in U.S. Interest,” The Center for Security Policy, Transition Brief
No. 96-T 130, December 17, 1996. Note that the title of the latter piece, which was
published by an organization in the Lobby, says that what is in Israel’s interest is
therefore in America’s national interest. In “Losing Feith,” Lobe writes: “In 2003, when
Feith, who was standing in for Rumsfeld at an interagency ‘Principals’ Meeting’ on the
Middle East, concluded his remarks on behalf of the Pentagon, according to the
Washington insider newsletter, The Nelson Report, [National Security Advisor
Condoleezza] Rice said, ‘Thanks Doug, but when we want the Israeli position we’ll
invite the ambassador’.”
171 The “Clean Break” study was prepared for The Institute for Advanced Strategic and
Political Studies in Jerusalem and published in June 1996.A copy can be found on the
Institute’s web site.
172 Akiva Eldar, “Perles of Wisdom for the Feithful,” Ha’aretz, October 1, 2002.
173 “Rally Unites Anguished Factions under Flag of ‘Stand with Israel’,” Forward, April
19, 2002; “Forward 50,” Forward, November 15, 2002.
174 John McCaslin, “Israeli-Trained Cops,” Washington Times, November 5, 2002; Bret
Stephens, “Man of the Year,” Jerusalem Post (Rosh Hashana Supplement), September 26,
2003; Janine Zacharia, “Invasive Treatment,” in ibid. Other useful pieces on Wolfowitz
include Michael Dobbs, “For Wolfowitz, A Vision May Be Realized,” Washington Post,
April 7, 2003; James Fallows, “The Unilateralist,” Atlantic Monthly, March 2002, pp. 26-
29; Bill Keller, “The Sunshine Warrior,” New York Times Magazine, September 22, 2002;
“Paul Wolfowitz, Velociraptor,” Economist, February 9-15, 2002.
175 According to Feith’s former law partner, L. Marc Zell, Chalabi also promised to re-
build the pipeline that once ran from Haifa in Israel to Mosul in Iraq. See John Dizard,
“How Ahmed Chalabi Conned the Neocons,”, May 4, 2004. In mid-June 2003,
Benjamin Netanyahu announced that, “It won’t be long before you will see Iraqi oil
flowing to Haifa.” Reuters, “Netanyahu Says Iraq-Israel Oil Line Not Pipe-Dream,”
Ha’aretz, June 20, 2003. Of course, this did not happen and it is unlikely to happen in the
foreseeable future.
176 Matthew E. Berger, “New Chances to Build Israel-Iraq Ties,” Jewish Journal, April 28,
2003. Also see Bamford, Pretext to War, p. 293; Ed Blanche, “Securing Iraqi Oil for Israel:
The Plot Thickens,”, April 25, 2003. Nathan Guttman reports that “the
American Jewish community and the Iraqi opposition” had for years “taken pains to
conceal” the links between them. “Mutual Wariness: AIPAC and the Iraqi Opposition,”
Ha’aretz, April 8, 2003.
177 Nir, “FBI Probe.” On the eve of the war, Bill Keller, who is now the executive editor of
the New York Times, wrote: “The idea that this war is about Israel is persistent and more
widely held than you think.” Keller, “Is It Good for the Jews?” New York Times, March 8,
178 In an op-ed written in mid-2004, Hollings asked why the Bush Administration
invaded Iraq when it was not a direct threat to the United States. “The answer,” which
he says “everyone knows,” is “because we want to secure our friend Israel.” Senator
Ernest F. Hollings, “Bush’s Failed Mideast Policy Is Creating More Terrorism,”
Charleston Post and Courier, May 6, 2004; “Sen. Hollings Floor Statement.” Not
surprisingly, Hollings was called an anti-Semite, a charge he furiously rejected. Matthew
E. Berger, “Not So Gentle Rhetoric from the Gentleman from South Carolina,” JTA, May
23, 2004; “Sen. Hollings Floor Statement”; “Senator Lautenberg’s Floor Statement in
Support of Senator Hollings,” June 3, 2004, a copy of which can be found on Hollings’
web site. On Moran, see note 151. A handful of other public figures like Patrick
Buchanan, Maureen Dowd, Georgie Anne Geyer, Gary Hart, Chris Matthews, and
General Anthony Zinni, have either said or strongly hinted that pro-Israel forces in the
United States were the principle movers behind the Iraq war. See Aluf Benn, “Scapegoat
for Israel,” Ha’aretz, May 13, 2004; Matthew Berger, “Will Some Jews’ Backing for War in
Iraq Have Repercussions for All?” JTA, June 10, 2004; Patrick J. Buchanan, “Whose
War?” American Conservative, March 24, 2003; Ami Eden, “Israel’s Role: The ‘Elephant’
They’re Talking About,” Forward, February 28, 2003; “The Ground Shifts,” Forward, May
28, 2004; Nathan Guttman, “Prominent U.S. Jews, Israel Blamed for Start of Iraq War,”
Ha’aretz, May 31, 2004; Lawrence F. Kaplan, “Toxic Talk on War,” Washington Post,
February 18, 2003; E.J. Kessler, “Gary Hart Says ‘Dual Loyalty’ Barb Was Not Aimed at
Jews,” Forward, February 21, 2003; Ori Nir and Ami Eden, “Ex-Mideast Envoy Zinni
Charges Neocons Pushed Iraq War to Benefit Israel,” Forward, May 28, 2004.
179 Michael Kinsley, “What Bush Isn’t Saying about Iraq,” Slate, October 24, 2002. Also
see idem, “J’Accuse.”
180 Robert S. Greenberger and Karby Leggett, “President’s Dream: Changing Not Just
Regime but a Region: A Pro-U.S., Democratic Area is a Goal that Has Israeli and Neo
Conservative Roots,” Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2003. Also see George Packer,
“Dreaming of Democracy,” New York Times Magazine, March 2, 2003. Although not all
neoconservatives are Jewish, most of the founders were and virtually all were strong
supporters of Israel. According to Gal Beckerman in the Forward, “If there is an
intellectual movement in America to whose invention Jews can lay sole claim,
neoconservatism is it.” See “The Neoconservative Persuasion,” Forward, January 6, 2006.
181 See, for example, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New
Century, A Report for the New American Century, September 2000, p. 14.
182 Martin Indyk, “The Clinton Administration’s Approach to the Middle East,” Speech
to Soref Symposium, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 18, 1993. Also see
Anthony Lake, “Confronting Backlash States,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73. No. 2
(March/April 1994), pp. 45-53.
183 Barbara Conry, “America’s Misguided Policy of Dual Containment in the Persian
Gulf,” Foreign Policy Briefing No. 33, CATO Institute, November 10, 1994; Gregory F.
Gause III, “The Illogic of Dual Containment,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73. No. 2 (March/April
1994), pp. 56-66; Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, Differentiated Containment:
U.S. Policy Toward Iran and Iraq, Report of an Independent Study Group on Gulf Stability
and Security, Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 1997.
184 Brzezinski and Scowcroft, Differentiated Containment, p. 6.
185 Brzezinski and Scowcroft, Differentiated Containment, p. 130.
186 For example, the Jerusalem Post noted in an editorial (September 9, 2002) that
“according to Middle East expert Bernard Lewis, a post-Saddam Iraq is one that would
be more likely to make peace with Israel, defang Arab radicalism, and perhaps even
catalyze revolutionary forces in present-day Iran.” Similarly, Michael Ledeen wrote on
August 6, 2002 in the National Review Online (“Scowcroft Strikes Out”) that, “If ever there
was a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we
wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria,
and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly
line to indoctrinate young terrorists.” On August 19, Joshua Muravchik argued in the
New York Times (“Democracy’s Quiet Victory”) that, “Change toward democratic
regimes in Tehran and Baghdad would unleash a tsunami across the Islamic world.”
Also see Marina Ottaway et al., “Democratic Mirage in the Middle East,” Policy Brief #20
(Washington, D.C: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 2002).
187 Charles Krauthammer, “Peace through Democracy,” Washington Post, June 28, 2002.
188 Benn, “Background.” Also, the New York Times reported that Halevy gave a speech in
Munich in February 2003 in which he said, “The shock waves emerging from post-
Saddam Baghdad could have wide-ranging effects in Tehran, Damascus, and in
Ramallah.” The Times article went on to say that Israel “is hoping that once Saddam
Hussein is dispensed with, the dominoes will start to tumble. According to this hope …
moderates and reformers throughout the region would be encouraged to put new
pressure on their own governments, not excepting the Palestinian Authority of Yasir
Arafat.” Bennet, “Israel Says War on Iraq Would Benefit the Region.” This same theme
is reflected in a Forward article from early March 2003, which said that “Israel’s top
political, military and economic echelons have come to regard the looming war as a
virtual deus ex machina that will turn the political and economic tables and extricate Israel
from its current morass.” Shalev, “Jerusalem Frets.” Finally, this line of thinking was
apparent in former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s previously-discussed September 4,
2002, op-ed in the New York Times. Barak maintained that “putting an end to Saddam
Hussein’s regime will change the geopolitical landscape of the Arab world.” He claimed
that “An Arab world without Saddam Hussein would enable many from this generation
[leaders about to come into power] to embrace the gradual democratic opening that
some of the Persian Gulf states and Jordan have begun to enjoy.” Barak also maintained
that toppling Saddam would “create an opening for forward movement on the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict.”
189 See Seymour M. Hersh, “The Syrian Bet,” New Yorker, Vol. 79, issue 20 (July 28, 2003),
pp. 32-36; Molly Moore, “Sharon Asks U.S. to Pressure Syria on Militants,” Washington
Post, April 17, 2003; Ori Nir, “Jerusalem Urges Bush: Next Target Hezbollah,” Forward,
April 11, 2003; Idem, “Sharon Aide Makes the Case for U.S. Action against Syria,
Forward, April 18, 2003; Marc Perelman, “Behind Warnings to Damascus: Reassessment
of Younger Assad,” Forward, April 18, 2004; Daniel Sobelman and Nathan Guttman,
“PM Urges U.S. to Keep Heat on Syria, Calls Assad ‘Dangerous’,” Ha’aretz, April 15,
190 Moore, “Sharon Asks U.S.”
191 Nir, “Sharon Aide.” Also see Karen DeYoung, “U.S. Toughens Warnings to Syria on
Iraq, Other Issues,” Washington Post, April 15, 2003.
192 Nir, “Sharon Aide.” Also see Perelman, “Behind Warnings.” In their efforts to
demonize Syria and bait the United States into attacking it, Israelis have said that
Damascus was harboring high-level Iraqis from Saddam’s regime, and even worse,
hiding Iraq’s WMD. Perelman, “Behind Warnings”; Laurie Copans, “Israeli Military
Boss Claims Iraq Had Chemical Weapons,” Associated Press news release, April 26, 2004;
Ira Stoll, “Saddam’s WMD Moved to Syria, An Israeli Says,” New York Sun, December
15, 2005; Idem, “Iraq’s WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says,” New York Sun, January 26,
2006. In August 2003, when a suicide truck bomber blew up UN headquarters in
Baghdad, Israel’s ambassador to the UN caused a diplomatic spat by suggesting that
Syria had provided the truck, thereby implying that Syria was partly responsible.
Michael Casey, “Israeli Ambassador Believes Truck Used in U.N. Bombing Came from
Syria,” Associated Press news release, August 21, 2003; “Israeli Envoy Links Syria to UN
Blast, Stirs Flap,” Reuters news release, August 21, 2003. Itmar Rabinowich, the former
Israeli ambassador to the United States, told Seymour Hersh that he “wondered …
whether, given the quality of their sources, the Syrians had had advance information
about the September 11th plot -- and failed to warn the United States.” Hersh, “The
Syrian Bet.” There was little evidence to support these charges, but Israel’s willingness
to make them shows how eager they were to get the United States embroiled with yet
another Arab regime.
193 Syria had been in the Lobby’s gunsights well before 9/11. In fact, Syria, not Iraq, was
the main target in the “Clean Break”study that Feith, Perle, and Wurmser wrote for
Netanyahu in 1996. And Daniel Pipes and Ziad Abdelnour, the head of the U.S.
Committee for a Free Lebanon (USCFL), had co-authored a 2000 report calling for the
United States to use military threats to force Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon,
get rid of any WMD it might have, and stop supporting terrorism. (“Ending Syria’s
Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role,” Report of the Middle East Study Group, Middle
East Forum, May 2000.) The UCSFL is a close cousin of the Lobby, and it includes
numerous neoconservatives (Abrams, Feith, Ledeen, Perle, and Wurmser) among its
“official core supporters.” Jordan Green, “Neocons Dream of Lebanon,” ZNet, July 23,
2003; David R. Sands, “Hawks Recycle Arguments for Iraq War against Syria,”
Washington Times, April 16, 2003. Except for Ledeen, they all signed the 2000 report, as
did pro-Israel Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), another core supporter of UCSFL.
194 Nathan Guttman, “Some Senior U.S. Figures Say Syria Has Crossed the Red Line,”
Ha’aretz, Aril 14, 2004; Michael Flynn, “The War Hawks: The Right Flexes Muscle with
New U.S. Agenda,” Chicago Tribune, April 13, 2003. In addition to Perle and Wolfowitz,
John Bolton pushed hard from inside the Administration for regime change in Syria. He
had told Israeli leaders a month before the Iraq war that the Bush Administration would
deal with Syria, as well as Iran and North Korea, right after Saddam fell from power.
Flynn, “The Right Flexes Muscle.” In pursuit of that goal, Bolton reportedly prepared to
tell Congress in mid-July that Syria’s WMD programs had reached the point where they
were a serious threat to stability in the Middle East and had to be dealt with sooner
rather than later. However, the CIA and other government agencies objected, claiming
that Bolton’s analysis greatly inflated the Syrian threat. Consequently, the
Administration did not allow Bolton to give his testimony on Syria at that time. Douglas
Jehl, “New Warning Was Put Off on Weapons Syria Plans,” New York Times, July 18,
2003; Marc Perelman, “State Department Hawk under Fire in Intelligence Flap over
Syria,” Forward, July 25, 2003; Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landay, “Intelligence
Data on Syria Now Disputed,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 2003. Yet Bolton was not
put off for long. He appeared before Congress in September 2003 and described Syria as
a growing threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East. Nathan Guttman, “US: Syria
Supporting Terror, Developing Weapons of Mass Destruction,” Ha’aretz, September 16
195 Quoted in Robin Wright, “U.S. Insists Syria Alter Its Course,” Los Angeles Times, April
14, 2003. Also see Martin Indyk’s and Dennis Ross’s tough-minded rhetoric about Syria
in Hersh, “The Syrian Bet.”
196 Lawrence F. Kaplan, “White Lie,” New Republic, April 21& 28, 2003. Also see William
Kristol and Lawrence F. Kaplan, The War over Iraq: Saddam’s Tyranny ad America’s Mission
(New York: Encounter Books, 2003).
197 DeYoung, “U.S. Toughens Stance.” There was a story in Ha’aretz (“NY Congressman
Says Will Push Bill to Pressure Syria”) on August 19, 2003, which reported that Engel
had just met with Sharon in his Jerusalem Office for 90 minutes and the Israeli leader
had endorsed Engel’s efforts to push the Syria Accountability Act. Regarding the
specifics of that legislation, see Zvi Bar’el, “Deciphering the Syrians, Ha’aretz, July 9,
2003; “The Return of the Syria Accountability Act,”, April 19, 2003; Claude
Salhani, “The Syria Accountability Act: Taking the Wrong Road to Damascus,” Policy
Analysis, No. 512, CATO Institute, March 18, 2004. Not surprisingly, Richard Perle called
on Congress to pass the Syria Accountability Act shortly after Engel re-introduced the
legislation. Sands, “Hawks Recycle Arguments.”
198 Ron Kampeas, “Bush, Once Reluctant on Sanctions, Prepares to Take a Tough Line
with Syria,” JTA, March 16, 2004.
199 Salhani, “The Syria Accountability Act,” p. 5.
200 Julian Borger, “Bush Vetoes Syria War Plan,” Guardian, April 15, 2003; Kampeas,
“Bush, Once Reluctant.”
201 See Hersh, “The Syrian Bet.” Other pieces discussing the advantages for the United
states of cooperating with Syria include Spencer Ackerman, “Rough Trade,” New
Repulic, January 13, 2003; Susan Taylor Martin, “Experts Disagree on Dangers of Syria,”
St. Petersburg Times, November 3, 2002; Salhani, “The Syria Accountability Act”; Stephen
Zunes, “Bush Has Clear Run at Syria,” Asia Times Online, March 2, 2005.
202 Two articles that appeared in the Forward after Baghdad fell describe the driving
forces behind the new U.S. policy toward Syria. In a piece in mid-April, the author
noted: “A sudden flurry of U.S. warnings to Syria in recent days indicates that
Washington has undertaken what Israel and its supporters here have been urging for
months: a comprehensive reassessment of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad.” Perelman,
“Behind Warnings.” A few months later in mid-July, another author noted: “During the
past several months, top Israeli officials have warned their American counterparts and
audiences about Assad’s unreliability. American officials have echoed the stance and
press reports have speculated about possible American military intervention in Syria.”
Marc Perelman, “Syria Makes Overture over Negotiations,” Forward, July 11, 2003.
203 Quoted in Alan Sipress, “Israel Emphasizes Iranian Threat,” Washington Post,
February 7, 2002. This article, which was written as Sharon was arriving in Washington,
makes clear that Tel Aviv was “redoubling its efforts to warn the Bush administration
that Iran poses a greater threat than the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein.” Also see
Seymour Hersh, “The Iran Game,” New Yorker, Vol. 77, issue 38 (December 3, 2001), pp.
42-49; Peter Hirschberg, “Background/Peres Raises Iranian Threat,” Ha’aretz, February 5,
2002; David Hirst, “Israel Thrusts Iran in Line of US Fire,” Guardian, February 2, 2002;
“Israel Once Again Sees Iran as A Cause for Concern,” Ha’aretz, May 7, 2001.
204 Stephen Farrell, Robert Thomson, and Danielle Haas, “Attack Iran the Day Iraq War
Ends, Demands Israel,” The Times (London), September 5, 2002; Stephen Farrell and
Robert Thomson, “The Times Interview with Ariel Sharon,” in ibid.
205 “Ambassador to U.S. Calls for ‘Regime Change’ in Iran, Syria,” Ha’aretz, April 28,
2003. Ten days later the New York Times reported that the Washington was growing
increasingly concerned about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and that there is “a lot of
hammering from the Israelis for us to take this position seriously.” Steven R. Weisman,
“New U.S. Concerns on Iran’s Pursuit of Nuclear Arms,” New York Times, May 8, 2003.
Shimon Peres then published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on June 25 entitled, “We
Must Unite to Prevent an Ayatollah Nuke.” His description of the Iranian threat
sounded just like his earlier description of the threat from Saddam, even including a
ritual reference to the lessons of appeasement in the 1930s. Iran, he emphasized, must
be told in no uncertain terms that the United States and Israel will not tolerate it going
206 In late May 2003, Inter Press Service reported that, “The neo-cons’ efforts to now focus
US attention on ‘regime change’ in Iran has become much more intense since early May
and already has borne substantial fruit.” Jim Lobe, “U.S. Neo-Cons Move Quickly on
Iran,” Inter Press Service, May 28, 2003. In early June, the Forward reported that,
“Neoconservatives inside and outside the administration have been urging an active
effort to promote regime change in Tehran. Reports of possible covert actions have
surfaced in recent weeks.” Marc Perelman, “Pentagon Team on Iran Comes under Fire,”
Forward, June 6, 2003. Also see idem, “White House Is Aiming to Raise Iranian Nukes at
U.N. Security Council,” Forward, May 9, 2003; Idem, “New Front Sets Sights on Toppling
Iran Regime,” Forward, May 16, 2003. Finally, the Lobby has established close relations
with Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah of Iran. He is even reported to have had
meetings with Netanyahu and Sharon. This relationship is similar to the Lobby’s
relationship with Ahmed Chalabi. Specifically, pro-Israel forces promote Pahlavi, and in
return, he makes clear that if he comes to power in Iran, it will have good relations with
Israel. Connie Bruck, “Exiles: How Iran’s Expatriates Are Gaming the Nuclear Threat,”
New Yorker, Vol. 82, issue 2 (March 6, 2006), pp. 48- 63; Perelman, “New Front.”
207 The flyer advertising the conference, which was entitled “The Future of Iran:
Mullahcracy, Democracy and the War on Terror,” can be found at a number of sites on
the web. Also see Green, “Neocons Dream of Lebanon”; Lobe, “U.S. Neo-Cons Move
208 William Kristol, “The End of the Beginning,” Weekly Standard, February 12, 2003.
Others writing articles at the time include Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson, who wrote
a piece on May 20 for the Jerusalem Post entitled “Turn up the Pressure on Iran.” They
called for the Bush Administration to support the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a terrorist
organization based in Iraq that was bent on overthrowing the ayatollahs running Iran.
Lawrence Kaplan argued in the New Republic (“Iranamok”) on June 9 that the US needed
to get tougher with Iran over its nuclear programs, which he feared were further along
than most American policymakers recognized. Michael Ledeen, one of the leading
hawks on Iran, wrote in the National Review Online (“The Others”) on April 4: “There is
no more time for diplomatic ‘solutions.’ We will have to deal with the terror masters,
here and now. Iran, at least, offers us the possibility of a memorable victory, because the
Iranian people openly loath the regime, and will enthusiastically combat it, if only the
United States supports them in their just struggle.”
209 For evidence of the Lobby’s intensified efforts to get the Bush Administration to deal
with the Iranian nuclear problem, see Stewart Ain, “Israel Urging U.S. to Stop Iran
Nukes,” Jewish Week, October 7, 2005; Efraim Inbar, “The Imperatives to Use Force
against Iranian Nuclearization,” BESA Center [Bar-Ilan University, Israel] Perspectives,
Number 12, December 1, 2005; Martin S. Indyk, “Iran’s Bluster Isn’t A Bluff,” Los Angeles
Times, November 1, 2005; Ron Kampeas, “With Time Short on Iran Nukes, AIPAC
Criticizes Bush Approach,” JTA, December 2, 2005; Charles Krauthammer, “In Iran,
Arming for Armageddon,” Washington Post, December 16, 2005; Dafna Linzer, “Pro-
Israel Group Criticizes White House Policy on Iran,” Washington Post, December 25,
2005; Ori Nir, “New Sanction Bill Loses Momentum as Administration Presses
Diplomacy,” Forward, June 10, 2005; Idem, “Jewish Groups Push for Iran Sanctions,”
Forward, September 23, 2005; Idem, “Israeli Aides Warn U.S. Not to Drop Ball on Iran,”
Forward, December 9, 2005; Michael Rubin et al., “War Footing: 10 Steps America Must
Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World,” American Enterprise Institute,
November 30, 2005; Rowan Scarborough, “Israel Pushes U.S. on Iran Nuke Solution,”
Washington Times, February 21, 2005.
210 Some neoconservatives even welcome this outcome. For example, Robert Kagan and
William Kristol wrote in the aftermath of 9/11 that, “Afghanistan will prove but an
opening battle …. this war will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf
a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of
American military power in multiple places simultaneously. It is going to resemble the
clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid.” “The Gathering Storm,” Weekly
Standard, October 29, 2002. Also see Eliot A. Cohen, “World War IV,” Wall Street Journal,
November 20, 2001; Phil McCombs, “The Fire This Time,” Washington Post, April 13,
2003; Norman Podhoretz, “How to Win World War IV,” Commentary, February 2002;
Idem, “World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win,”
Commentary, September 2004; Brian Whitaker, “Playing Skittles with Saddam,” Guardian,
September 3, 2002.
211 Ron Kampeas, “After Restructuring, AIPAC Plans to Focus on Wider Range of
Issues,” JTA, September 26, 2005.
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