hi folks, just published this in Middle East Times and wanted feedback from you folks about this question of who and what is pro-israel and what and who are anti-israel. Very interested in responses and discussion. peace, marc

What Exactly is Pro-Israel?
Published: June 16, 2008
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States, just concluded its annual Washington conference. It drew a long line of administration officials and the presidential candidates to its doorsteps, all touting orthodox lines on what it means to be pro-Israel – messages carefully crafted to please the lobby.

Now is a good time to ask, what exactly does 'pro-Israel' mean, and who is pro-Israel in the United States today?

The ones who twist every arm in Congress to be silent, to suppress what they know is right to do in terms of a fair Israeli-Palestinian deal? We have before us now a hair-trigger set of confrontations from Lebanon to the Persian Gulf, with long-range missiles, chemical and nuclear capable, aimed at Israel from a country in the Gulf that has no business in the Gaza Strip.

And yet, due to the unending festering of the Palestinian tragedy, Shiite Iran has stepped into Sunni Gaza, in addition to Iraq and Lebanon, primarily because the United States failed to engage fairly, or at all, in the last eight years.

Have our actions made Israel safer, and do they reflect a pro-Israel position? Or is this in fact an anti-Israel position that is sacrificing Jewish and Palestinian children on an altar of self-destructive fears and hatreds? In the end, American politicians are going to say and do what the most effective lobbyists tell them to do regarding Israel. And that translates back to the American people and their voice. The American people must decide what is pro-Israel and what is anti-Israel.

Some interesting lessons learned come from Northern Ireland: On March 26, 2007 Ian Paisley, co-founder of the DUP party of Northern Ireland, sat side by side with Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein, his most reviled enemy, and the two of them pledged their full participation in an Irish government.

This is the same Ian Paisley who had consistently been the voice of Protestant opposition and demonization of Catholics. This is the same Sinn Fein that had represented the Irish Republican Army as it carried out decades of violence against Protestants. How did these enemies get to 2007? There was a little stop along the way in 1998, in which the United States and one George Mitchell played a central role.

In 1998, former Senator George Mitchell, of Irish descent, oversaw the completion of the historic Good Friday Accord that led eventually to the power sharing arrangements which Northern Ireland now enjoys. He was supported by another man of partial Irish descent, U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Senator Mitchell once told me in person exactly how he managed to successfully outmaneuver the spoilers in the Irish/Protestant conflict. He explained to me: "I had a pad of paper with my handwritten notes. I had the only copy. On it I placed what each side pledged to do, and exactly when and in what sequence they would do it. I let them know that if either side failed in the sequence, then the president of the United States would publicly lay the blame for the failure of the entire accord on the side that had broken their word."

These words were so simple, so remarkable, so pristine in their understanding of negotiation and arbitration. And this is precisely what has been missing from Palestinian/Israeli peace processes from the very beginning.

It is not as if the American road to Irish peacemaking was easy. There were spoilers in America, just as there are now regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There were people on both sides who thought they were pro-Irish. But were they pro-Irish all those decades or anti-Irish? In the end, it was Mitchell and Clinton who were the most pro-Irish, because they stopped the killing of Irish children once and for all.

It goes without saying that the issues were exceedingly complex, that it took years to identify the compromises, and that Mitchell's charisma and skills added up to much more than a pad of paper. However, what was irreplaceable was the American political will to authorize Mitchell to boil it all down to that pad of paper and its conditions.

Perhaps it is time to finally tell our congressmen to tell Mitchell to go to the Holy Land, with a single pad of paper in hand, armed with the only weapon necessary: the American will to write on that pad of paper what needs to be written, what everyone knows must be written.

How many more Palestinian and Jewish children have to die before the American people find the willpower to send a brilliant negotiator to the Middle East with a single pad of paper?


Marc Gopin is the James Laue Professor of World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University in Washington D.C. He can be reached at This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Views: 68

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

do you work on capitol hill? do you visit there and talk to the staffers? do you have congressmen telling you that any project has to be approved by aipac? if you do then I will accept your different experience. but after years of being on the ground, reading many accounts, trying to work there year after year, i can tell u that 50 million dollars a year buys you alot in washington. the Lobby is in fact all powerful. even out of office no one except cynthia mckinney wants to destroy their own party, there are continuing allegiances, loyalties, serious money involved in jobs after congress. On the other side, is the hapless pro-Palestinian forces, practically nonexistent. There is a serious pro oil lobby, and therefore also pro gulf states, but not for Palestine. Most congressmen have absolutely no facts but what they see in the American local news. that is the goal of the Lobby and most propaganda, to limit information.
Other congressmen who go, quietly, to Syria and other places, keep the information to themselves until they can jump on a bandwagon that an Israeli prime minister creates. they cannot afford to have aipac and all the other israel pacs go against them. No one in the United States is telling Israel what they really think of its behavior. Anyone in washington who is not Jewish or evangelical will tell you that. Just dig a little and stop relying on Jewish establishment information sources. i cannot tell you what a horrible atmosphere it is here, and that is a horrible atmosphere for zionist liberals, let alone for a Palestinian ambassador who tries to represent a very moderate set of positions. Some have managed to circumvent the system and do some good, like Ziad Asali. Though he is too conservative for many Palestinians. The Palestinians have a tough sell because they are not a state, because their leadership was terrible till recently, because the Arab states did not really support them, and most of all because Israel was locked into a tight relatationship with everyone top to bottom in washington. The Israelis have made their case very well here, it is their job in a fight to position themselves well. but the Lobby has been pernicious, excessive, punitive, extremist, and doing Israel great harm by depriving it of any voices from the outside to help it through its complicated relationship to the Palestinians and the Arab world. This kind of censorship and blackmail always backfires because without good information you always lose in the end.
"Just dig a little and stop relying on Jewish establishment information source"

Like Stephen Zunes? Is he the "Jewish establishment"? What about the principles of anti-racism? Are they just Jewish ploys? That's just offensive, Marc. Please don't belittle me like that.

It's typical to try to take Jews out of the debate by calling them right-wingers when they even mention antisemitism. Sure, the Palestinians have little or no voice in the process, but that doesn't mean Jews have a strong voice. And this pattern of marginalizing Jews only makes things worse.
sorry for being offensive but the atmosphere is a real prison. and this is how liberal jews feel. of course there is always antisemitism. but this is not it. projewish people, and non-racist arabs are horrified by what the jewish community is doing to itself.
Sorry, but I think that view is part of the problem. There's a long history of court Jews, I'm sure you know, with power only so that they can become scapegoats. And it's always been "what the jewish community is doing to itself."

AIPAC is our American court Jew. I think if you start to take that seriously, you'll either find you're discriminated against in Washington or you'll find your way out of that prison. Either way, I think you'll see that the supposed power of AIPAC is nothing but a reified myth.



Latest Activity

Dr. David Leffler posted a blog post

Cruise Ships for Peace in The Middle East

By Teresa Studzinski, Arlene J. Schar, and Dr. David Leffler Variations of this article were…See More
Nov 6
Shefqet Avdush Emini updated their profile
Oct 29
Mauricio San Miguel Llosa updated their profile
Oct 4
Amir Salameh updated their profile
Jun 25
Fredda Goldfarb updated their profile
Apr 15
Dr. David Leffler posted a blog post
Apr 9


"Like" us on Facebook

Promote MEPEACE online



© 2019   Created by Eyal Raviv. Supported by One Region, One Future.   ..

Feedback | Report an Issue  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service