Column: Of course there is a pro-Israel lobby – but there is an anti-Israel lobby too

Yesterday, 7:15 AM 1,293 Views 73 Comments
US President Barack Obama speaking to the UN last week

US President Barack Obama speaking to the UN last week
Image: AP Photo/Richard Drew


WHEN LAST WEDNESDAY, in his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Obama expressed US opposition to a Palestinian state being created unilaterally, arguing instead that it should be created after peace talks with Israel finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian  conflict, there was much incredulity, even outrage in much of Europe, including in Ireland.

In the Irish Times, columnist Lara Marlowe said bluntly that Obama’s policy was solely because of pressure from Jewish and other pro-Israeli elements within the United States (collectively called ‘the Lobby’).

Such a response, if a little tired and predictable, was perhaps inevitable. For sure, there is a Jewish lobby in the United States, but there are many others too, not least the Irish lobby which for a century was a dominant presence in the Democratic Party and was particularly useful in the Northern Ireland Peace Process. Few people, however, talk about probably the most powerful foreign lobby of all that operates in the United States – the Saudi, or more generally, ‘Arab’ lobby – with its petro-wealth, its huge investment in the US economy, and its steady supply of petroleum to the American consumer and capitalist alike.

Israel is the latest target of the ‘Jewish world power’ fantasists and has been for the last 63 years. The facts, however, dispel any notion of Jewish mastery of the levers of world power. The Zionist movement pressed for a Jewish homeland for six decades before World War II – with precious little success, facing at best patronising contempt, at worst outright hatred, from the international community. True, in the immediate wake of the Holocaust, and facing armed Jewish resistance against British rule, the UN did belatedly create Israel in 1947 with Resolution 181. But after that, a great many countries around the world were hostile to Israel or at best indifferent.

The United States was markedly cool on Israel for decades

The biggest canard is the ‘special relationship’ between Israel and the United States. In fact, the United States was markedly cool on Israel for decades. It only recognised Israel at all in 1948 thanks to the personal commitment of President Truman. In 1967, just before the Six-Day War, with Israel imminently facing a coordinated offensive by Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the US government advised Israel not to do anything.

The truth is, the US-Israeli ‘special relationship’ is a fairly recent creature, since the 1970s, and even then the US had a much broader geopolitical agenda than simply supporting little Israel which has been economically insignificant to US interests.

As for Europe, the relationship with Israel is very mixed. As for the Third World’s attitude to Israel, it is generally negative.

The truth is, far from ‘the Lobby’ having a magic hold over the Earth, the biggest lobby in the world is the anti-Israel movement, which takes many forms. Most problematic is the UN itself which, unfortunately, many people in Ireland naively see as the holy embodiment of world virtue. There are 57 Muslim states, only two of which – Egypt and Jordan – even recognise Israel’s right to exist.

Since the 1970s there has been the ‘Arab-African’ bloc whereby in return for Arab support against then apartheid South Africa the black African countries would support the Arab agenda against Israel. That relationship is still ongoing, fuelled by the power of the Arab ‘petro’ lobby. Some Latin American and non-Muslim Asian countries have also signed up to the anti-Israel Lobby – out of Third World loyalty, selfish interest, or economic dependence on the ‘petro’ lobby.

There is an automatic anti-Israel agenda in the UN

In short, for the past generation, there is an automatic anti-Israel agenda in the UN. Any resolution condemning Israel is automatically assured of a majority. For 50 years Israel was excluded from all of the five regional groups in the UN. Since its creation in 2006 the ‘Human Rights Council’ has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than all other countries in the world put together. Past members of the Human Rights Council have included such sure champions of liberal democracy as Gaddafy’s Libya, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia!

As for the Security Council, its chair this month is Lebanon, a country now de facto controlled by Hizbullah – the most powerful terrorist organisation in the world with over 40,000 long range rockets aiming to target Israeli civilians.

Nor does this take into account the worldwide activism against Israel, in Muslim countries, Europe and increasingly even in the United States, a campaign that is well-organised, militant, ceaseless and well-funded. Israel is demonised in media, universities, trade unions, international conferences, artist groups, and subject to boycott campaigns, propaganda and even hysteria (most recently, the Israeli Philharmonic was disrupted in London by activists, presumably because Israeli music is ‘evil music’).

Trade unions boycott Israel – the only country in the Middle East with a free labour movement. Self-styled ‘liberals’ hate Israel – the only country in the Middle East with freedom of press and speech. ‘Gender activists’ have joined the fashionable bandwagon against Israel even though Israel is the only country in the Middle East with freedom of sexual orientation. I wonder who, or what, is behind and funds this global madness against a country the size of Leinster.

I wonder how much the enemies of Israel are sponsored by Arab oil money, and also how much Islamic terrorism is a factor that scares people and countries around the world into standing against Israel, even if it often means standing  in favour of Middle East dictatorships instead.

Sometimes I am asked; “How do Israelis feel being so isolated in the world?” I reply that things are better now than in the past; at least we can be fairly sure of America’s support. Seventy years ago the Jewish people had no one to help them and we know what happened.

Boaz Modai, Ambassador of Israel

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