Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Arab Lobby

by The Washington Project

An "Israel lobby" in the United States has been the subject of at least eight books in recent years with the 2007 Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy[1] by Harvard's Stephen Walt and the University of Chicago's John Mearsheimer perhaps best known. Reminiscent in part of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other examples of anti-Semitism, these books argue that Western, and especially U.S., foreign policy is at the mercy of this small but super-powerful lobby. While some, like Abraham Foxman and Alan Dershowitz, have attacked these works by exposing manipulated facts (and in some cases outright lies), Bard, executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, offers another, and perhaps more effective, approach.

Bard turns the tables on the conspiracy theorists and compellingly dissects the arguably more powerful Arab lobby. He demonstrates convincingly that an Arab lobby exists and is comprised of two main clusters. Members of the first group are agents of the oil exporting states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), especially Saudi Arabia. They have powerful allies in the United States in the form of multinational oil companies and exporters of defense industrial goods, alongside Arabists within the State Department.

The second group is composed of ethnic lobbies of Arab and Muslim-Americans, in alliance with non-evangelical Christian groups and the campus-based academic left. The first group is interested mainly in energy policy and the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf region, and, in the case of the GCC, the export of Salafist versions of Islam; the second group is focused mainly on the Palestinian question.

In contradistinction to pro-Israel groups, the Arab lobby does not exist primarily to foster close relations between the United States and the Arab world. More of its energy is expended on vilifying and opposing Israel and striving to weaken the alliance between Jerusalem and Washington. While the Arab lobby has lots of money, it garners little support from the American people.

Despite repeated exertions, Americans of Arab origin have not rushed to join in a crusade against Israel. More than half of all Arab Americans come from Lebanese and Syrian Christian backgrounds, and many remember the damage done to their coreligionists by extremist Arab nationalist and Muslim groups in their home countries. While the major successes of the Arab lobby have not, up until now, been on the Palestinian question, it has not been completely ineffective. In areas such as energy policy, arms exports, and the spread of Islam, there have been notable successes.

Bard presents data never before assembled on all the elements of the Arab lobby. He leaves no doubt that, measured by level of effort, if not results, the Arab lobby is equal, or superior to, anything done by the friends of Israel.

[1] Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007.

The Washington Project


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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