'Pro-Israel lobby' isn't why we support Israel
7/3/2002 12:00:00 AM - Dennis Prager
All those who disagree with American support of Israel -- the
Arab world and its supporters in America such as the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the left and the State Department
(privately, if not publicly) -- explain American support of Israel by
attributing it to the "pro-Israel lobby" and its alleged power over
This is a thought-through charge that has both explicit and
Explicitly, it means that were it not for the power of a special
interest group, the "pro-Israel lobby," America would not support Israel.
Therefore, this lobby -- and by implication the pro-Israel position
itself -- does not serve America's interests and may therefore even be
Implicitly, "pro-Israel lobby" means "American Jews," thereby
suggesting that this small percentage of Americans is responsible for
America's support of Israel.
Given the grave implications of this charge -- that pro-Israel
policy is against America's interests and that Jews and their money are the
reasons for American support of Israel -- it is very important to clarify
why the charge is untrue.
The first reason is that it ignores Christians, specifically
evangelical Christians. These Americans have supplanted Jewish Americans as
the most powerful support group for Israel. They believe the Bible when it
says, in Genesis, that God will bless those who bless the Jews and curse
those who curse the Jews. They are, incidentally, quite right: America and
the Arab world today are examples of that biblical promise. They also
believe that the return of the Jews to Israel was prophesied thousands of
years ago in the Bible.
This, more than any other single factor, explains the powerful
support given to Israel by President George W. Bush. The president is a
Bible-believing Christian (and therefore considerably more supportive of
Israel than his father, whose Christianity was more "mainstream
Protestant"). If the "pro-Israel lobby" were the reason for American support
of Israel, and if it were synonymous with Jews, President Bush would hardly
be susceptible to its influence. President Bush received few Jews' votes and
few Jews' money.
The second error is to suppose that pro-Israel support is a
function of politics and money. Opponents of Israel and the Jews do not want
to acknowledge that most congressmen support Israel because their values
impel them to do so. Most Americans have a strong preference for free
societies over tyrannies and understand that the real underdog in the Middle
East is the tiny state of Israel struggling to survive in a sea of medieval
Has Vice President Dick Cheney always supported Israel because
of the "pro-Israel lobby's" efforts? Was the former Wyoming congressman
beholden to Wyoming's Jewish electorate? Or does he support Israel because
of his values?
What about Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld? To what lobby
is he (an appointed, not elected, official) beholden?
And what about Condoleezza Rice? What influence does any lobby
have with her?
The third error in attributing support for Israel to the
"pro-Israel lobby" and to using that term as a euphemism for American Jews
is that many American Jews do not support Israel. Many Jews are leftists --
that is their identity as well the source of their values, not Judaism.
Anti-Israel rhetoric from Jews is so common that letters to the editor about
the Middle East signed with a Jewish surname are now almost as likely to be
anti-Israel as pro-Israel.
American support for Israel emanates from the deepest of
America's core values -- support for societies that reflect American values
and opposition to those that threaten such societies. Of course, there are
Jews and Christians and atheists and Democrats and Republicans who lobby
Congress on Israel's behalf, and they have clout. But in the final analysis,
it is a libel of America, its president and its Congress to assert that they
have all sold their souls for a pot of gold, when in fact their pro-Israel
policies and votes reflect America at its best.