The Israel Lobby (often referred to as "the Lobby" with capital "L") refers to the constellation of organizations and individuals seeking to influence/determin US-policy vis-a-vis the Middle East in general, and Israel in particular. The Council for the National Interest describes it:
- The Israel Lobby is one of the most powerful and pervasive special interest groups in the United States. It began its activities many decades ago and played a major role in the creation of Israel. It consists of a multitude of institutions, many of them extremely well-funded, that work to influence Congress, the Presidency, academia, the media, religious institutions, and the American public on behalf of Israel. It also includes influential individuals. Some of its tactics are of questionable legality. The Israel Lobby drives almost all our foreign policies in the Middle East and many world wide. Components of it were a major factor in causing the Iraq war, are behind the targeting of Iran, and are playing a central role in creating fear and hatred of Muslims. It consists of numerous institutions with diverse agendas. Many differ in orientation or political views, but all are focused on promoting Israeli interests in the U.S.
The word "lobby" refers to attempts by outsiders to influence those on the "inside" to affect policy or determine political outcomes. When those agents seeking to influence political outcomes become themselves policy makers and determine political outcomes, then the term "lobby" is misapplied.
There are similar types of "Lobbies" elsewhere in most of the main European countries, Canada, and Australia. The principal one is the one in the United States, this article only refers to the US Lobby.
- "...policymaking circles throughout government now no longer even make a pretense of exhibiting balance between Israeli and Arab, particularly Palestinian, interests.
In the Clinton administration, the three most senior State Department officials dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli peace process were all partisans of Israel to one degree or another. One of these officials had worked both as a pro-Israel lobbyist and as director of a pro-Israel think tank in Washington before taking a position in the Clinton administration from which he helped make policy on Palestinian-Israeli issues. Another has headed the pro-Israel think tank since leaving government.
The link between active promoters of Israeli interests and policymaking circles is stronger by several orders of magnitude in the Bush administration, which is peppered with people who have long records of activism on behalf of Israel in the United States, of policy advocacy in Israel, and of promoting an agenda for Israel often at odds with existing U.S. policy. These people, who can fairly be called Israeli loyalists, are now at all levels of government, from desk officers at the Defense Department to the deputy secretary level at both State and Defense, as well as on the National Security Council staff and in the vice president's office.
Former CIA analysts, Kathleen and Bill Christison, argue that left criticism of the Israel Lobby is "coming chiefly from Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, and abetted less cogently by Stephen Zunes and Joseph Massad of Columbia University." They go on to note that:
- "The principal problem with these arguments from the left is that they assume a continuity in U.S. strategy and policymaking over the decades that has never in fact existed. The notion that there is any defined strategy that links Eisenhower's policy to Johnson's to Reagan's to Clinton's gives far more credit than is deserved to the extremely ad hoc, hit-or-miss nature of all U.S. foreign policy. Obviously, some level of imperial interest has dictated policy in every administration since World War II and, obviously, the need to guarantee access to vital natural resources around the world, such as oil in the Middle East and elsewhere, has played a critical role in determining policy. But beyond these evident, and not particularly significant, truths, it can accurately be said, at least with regard to the Middle East, that it has been a rare administration that has itself ever had a coherent, clearly defined, and consistent foreign policy and that, except for a broadly defined anti-communism during the Cold War, no administration's strategy has ever carried over in detail to succeeding administrations."
And note that: "Today, even the most outspoken of leftist radio hosts and other commentators, such as Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy, and now Cindy Sheehan, almost always avoid talking and writing about this issue."
The Christisons also add that:
- Indeed, far from Israel functioning as the junior partner carrying out a U.S. plan, it is clear that the weight of pressure in 1967 was on the U.S. to go along with Israel's designs and that this pressure came from Israel and its agents in the U.S. The lobby in this instance as broadly defined by Mearsheimer and Walt: "the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction" was in fact a part of Johnson's intimate circle of friends and advisers.
These included the number-two man at the Israeli embassy, a close personal friend; the strongly pro-Israeli Rostow brothers, Walt and Eugene, who were part of the national security bureaucracy in the administration; Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas; U.N. Ambassador Arthur Goldberg; and numerous others who all spent time with Johnson at the LBJ Ranch in Texas and had the personal access and the leisure time in an informal setting to talk with Johnson about their concern for Israel and to influence him heavily in favor of Israel. This circle had already begun to work on Johnson long before Israel's pre-emptive attack in 1967, so they were nicely placed to persuade Johnson to go along with it despite Johnson's fears of provoking the Soviet Union and becoming involved in a military conflict the U.S. was not prepared for."
Books on The Israel Lobby
- John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007).
- James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States
According to progressive publisher Pluto Press, in September 2007, "Pluto books and the University of Michigan Press - our US distributor - came under attack by Stand With Us (a Zionist lobby group) who were objecting to the publication of Overcoming Zionism by Joel Kovel, which resulted in the book being withdrawn in the US. The vitriolic attack questioned the University's relationship with Pluto generally and denigrated Overcoming Zionism."
Also see critique of The Power of Israel in the United States by William Bowles. 
Junnola wrote that "Other institutes of note are JINSA and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy--both seen as strongly tied to the Israel lobby--and the Middle East Forum (MEF). Though their budgets--mostly funded through private donations--do not come close to those of their bigger brothers, they hit above their weight when it comes to influence."
- Allegheny Foundations
- Carthage Foundations
- Castle Rock Foundation
- Charles G. Koch Foundation
- Claude R. Lambe Foundation
- David H. Koch Foundation
- Earhart Foundation
- John M. Olin Foundation
- Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
- Sarah Scaife Foundation
- Smith Richardson Foundation
Pro-Israel lobbying groups
- American Israel Public Affairs Committee (better known as AIPAC)
- American Jewish Committee (better known as AJC)
- American Jewish Congress
- Anti-Defamation League (better known as ADL)
- Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council
- Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (better known as CPMAJO)
- Israel on Campus Coalition
- Republican Jewish Coalition
- Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
- Zionist Organization of America (better known as ZOA)
Related SourceWatch articles
- State terrorism
- The Power of the Israel Lobby: Its Origins and Growth (2006)
- The threat that dare not speak its name
- J Street
- Conservative Friends of Israel
- CNI: Introduction to the Israel Lobby Accessed: 25 February 2012.
- Kathleen and Bill Christison, A Rose By Another Other Name, CounterPunch, 13 December 2002.
- Stephen Lendman, "James Petras' New Book: The Power of Israel in the United States," Center for Research on Globalization, October 29, 2006. See a critique of Petras.
- "Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire: Bankers, Zionists and Militants", Amazon.com for a brief summary.
- Sherwood Ross, Just How Powerful is the Israel Lobby? Only Cheney Knows for Sure, CounterPunch, September 24, 2007.
- Roger van Zwanenberg, Pluto Press Under Attack by Israel Lobby: Pressure Builds on University of Michigan, CounterPunch, 22 September 2007.
- Israel and the US – Two nations under one flag?, William Bowles, accessed December 28, 2007.
- Jill Junnola, "Perspective: Who funds whom?" Energy Compass (Campus Watch), October 4, 2002.
- Edward S. Herman, "The Pro-Israel Lobby," ZMag, July 1994.
- Michael Massing, "The Israel Lobby," The Nation, May 23, 2002 (June 10, 2002 issue).
- Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, "Pro-Israeli Lobby a Force to Be Reckoned With," Fox News, May 28, 2002.
- Dennis Prager, "'Pro-Israel lobby' is not why America supports Israel," Sullivan-County.com, July 3, 2002.
- Joel Beinin, "Pro-Israel Hawks and the Second Gulf War," Middle East Report, April 6, 2003.
- "Pro-Israel lobby on Capitol Hill," BBC, May 8, 2003.
- Thomas B. Edsall and Molly Moore, "Pro-Israel Lobby Has Strong Voice. AIPAC Is Embroiled in Investigation of Pentagon Leaks," Washington Post, September 5, 2004.
- Jeffrey Goldberg, "Real Insiders. A pro-Israel lobby and an F.B.I. sting," The New Yorker, July 4, 2005.
- Joseph Massad, "Blaming the lobby," Al-Ahram Weekly, March 23/24, 2006; CounterPunch, March 25/26, 2006.
- Noam Chomsky, "The Israel Lobby?" ZNet, March 28, 2006. Also see response to Chomsky.
- James Petras, "Noam Chomsky and the Pro-Israel Lobby: Fourteen Erroneous Theses," Axis of Logic, April 3, 2006.
- Daniel Levy, Opinion: "So pro-Israel that it hurts. America and Israel," International Herald Tribune, April 4, 2006.
- Norman G. Finkelstein, The Israel Lobby: It's Not Either / Or, CounterPunch, 1 May 2006.
- Charley Reese, "Two American Views. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Keeping It Quiet," Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 2006.
- Margaret O'Neill, "Pro-Israel lobby heavily influencing US policy, academics say," Lateline: ABC News (Australia), 19 July 2006.
- James Petras, "The Pro-Israel Lobby and US Middle East Policy. The Score Card for 2007," Dissident Voice, May 14, 2007.
- James Petras, Norman Finkelstein and Hagit Borer, "Debating the Primacy of The Pro-Israel Lobby. The Debate between James Petras adn Norman Finkelstein," ZMag, April 18, 2007.
- "An Interview With Mearsheimer and Walt", You Tube (Institute of International Studies), September 26, 2007.
- "America's pro-Israel lobby. Powerful, but not that powerful," The Economist, September 27, 2007.
- Joachim Martillo, "Judonia Rising: The Israel Lobby and American Society", Self-published, A Working Paper.
- Mitchell Bard, "The Israeli and Arab Lobbies," The Jewish Virtual Library.
- Israel lobby in the United States, Wikipedia.
- The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Wikipedia.
- Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
- Israel Lobby Watch, Electronic Intifada.