At the same time, we must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs.
So sayeth Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama at an AIPAC event a couple of days ago in Chicago. When asked, I will tell people that I was born both a Democrat and a Catholic, but that I regularly fail to meet any of the membership requirements of either institution. As the late great Billmon pointed out before he disappeared from cyberspace, the Democrats are in some ways much more dangerous when it comes to US policy in the Middle East. And thus while Obama will never match Hillary in his support for American and Israeli militarism, I cannot bring myself to support any of the Democratic candidates. I will give Obama credit, however, for directly mentioning the defense programs that drive the relationship.
It should be noted that despite recent conservative inroads, Jewish Americans vote overwhelming in favor of the Democrats as they generally prefer the Democratic position on a host of civil rights and social justice issues. It should also be noted that over 70 percent of Jewish Americans opposed the US war on Iraq.
But we are not talking about Jewish Americans. We are talking about AIPAC and those who butter their bread on the “unique” military relationship between Israel and the United States. One should also note that the vast majority of those who benefit from this relationship are not in fact Jewish and have no particular position on Israeli policies as long as the register keeps ringing.
Indeed, it is my sneaking position that many of these individuals and corporations actually find solace in attacks on the “Israel lobby,” as it works to deflect criticism of the real movers-and-shakers in this unholy alliance. This is the glaring hole in Walt and Mearsheimer’s analysis, as pointed out by no less than Noam Chomsky, and leaves such analysis open to charges of anti-Semitism. One can see this clearly in the trajectory of former AIPAC officials, many of whom move directly on to high-paying positions with various defense contractors and their lobbyists on K Street.
This is the cause and consequence of the US becoming Israel’s largest military supplier and if you need an object lesson in seeing how structure translates into superstructure, witness the dramatic shift in the 1970s and 1980s in magazines such as Dissent and Commentary, which had previously been the site of vigorous debate over the direction of Israeli policy (insert Woody Allen joke here).
As always, do as Obama does, follow the money.