Mark Habeeb is East-West editor of The Arab Weekly and adjunct professor of Global Politics and Security at Georgetown University in Washington.

  • Pro-Israel lobby flying high but may face trouble ahead, On: Sun, 23 Apr 2017

  • Redrawing borders will not solve the region’s problems , On: Sun, 16 Apr 2017

  • AIPAC still rules but alternative voices are growing louder , On: Sun, 02 Apr 2017

  • Sisi visits Washington to solidify new relationship , On: Sun, 02 Apr 2017

  • Abbas gets an invitation to Washington but for what purpose? , On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Tunisian Foreign Minister Jhinaoui seeks more support from Washington, On: Sun, 19 Mar 2017

  • Trump plans big cuts in US foreign aid, diplomacy, On: Sun, 12 Mar 2017

  • Did Trump close the window on a two-state solution?, On: Sun, 19 Feb 2017

  • Trump’s inner sanctum to shape US foreign policy, On: Sun, 12 Feb 2017

  • Trump keeps giving gifts to terrorists , On: Sun, 05 Feb 2017

  • Trump sworn in as president, vows to ‘eradicate’ radical Islam, On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • Will Jerusalem be Trump’s first foreign policy crisis? , On: Sun, 22 Jan 2017

  • Trump’s secretary of State nominee says fighting ‘radical Islam’ top priority , On: Sun, 15 Jan 2017

  • Obama unlikely to take initiative on Palestinians, On: Sun, 18 Dec 2016

  • The US pivot from the Middle East will continue , On: Sun, 11 Dec 2016

  • Trump’s election may have killed prospects for amending JASTA , On: Sun, 27 Nov 2016

  • Donald Trump’s victory ‘turned politics on its head’ , On: Sun, 13 Nov 2016

  • Clinton favoured to win election but Trumpism is not going away, On: Sun, 06 Nov 2016

  • Middle East further encroaches on US presidential campaign, On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • Elections risk fuelling populism in the West , On: Sun, 30 Oct 2016

  • Clinton and Trump clash over Iraq, Syria, refugees, On: Sun, 23 Oct 2016

  • Portugal’s Antonio Guterres likely next UN secretary-general, On: Sun, 09 Oct 2016

  • Clinton-Trump debate offers no new insights but reveals stark contrast, On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • US Congress overrides Obama’s veto of 9/11 bill, On: Sun, 02 Oct 2016

  • UN General Assembly strong on talk, weak on action , On: Sun, 25 Sep 2016

  • Clinton and Trump audition to be commander-in-chief, On: Sun, 11 Sep 2016

  • A new level of barbarity, On: Sun, 28 Aug 2016

  • The muddled world vision of Donald Trump, On: Sun, 21 Aug 2016

  • US and Israel near agreement on record-breaking defence aid package, On: Sun, 14 Aug 2016

  • US air strikes on ISIS to back Libya government , On: Sun, 07 Aug 2016

  • Brexit was a victory for nativism over rationality , On: Sun, 03 Jul 2016

  • Paris peace conference has produced nothing new , On: Sun, 05 Jun 2016

  • France’s Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative likely dead-on-arrival, On: Sun, 29 May 2016

  • Clovis Maksoud, pillar of the Arab-American community, dies at age 90 , On: Sun, 22 May 2016

  • Trump vows to work with ‘our friends in the Muslim world’ , On: Sun, 01 May 2016

  • US-GCC summit achieves businesslike agreements but rifts are too deep to patch up , On: Sun, 24 Apr 2016

  • Obama to discuss Gulf security at GCC Summit , On: Sun, 17 Apr 2016

  • Why do engineers go bad?, On: Fri, 08 Apr 2016

  • Who’s advising Clinton and Trump on foreign policy?, On: Fri, 18 Mar 2016

  • Pro-Israel lobby flying high but may face trouble ahead

    To ascribe US support for Israel to only money and lobbying power is overly simplistic.

    Traditional cloud. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer speaks at the 2017 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference, on March 28. (AP)

    2017/04/23 Issue: 103 Page: 17

    Washington - One traditional certainty of US politics is that virtually every politi­cian — regardless of party affiliation, state of residence, religion, age, race or any other factor — voices unwavering support for Israel. Congressional votes in support of Israel regularly win by lopsided margins with only a small handful of dissenters.

    The reasons behind US support of Israel are complex. The power of the pro-Israel lobby, manifest in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is certainly a factor. Any politicians who dare to challenge Israeli policy are likely to see campaign contributions flow into their opponents’ bank ac­counts. The safest political move is to adopt the positions of the pro- Israel lobby and not risk entering its cross hairs.

    To ascribe US support for Israel to only money and lobbying pow­er is overly simplistic. During the Cold War, Israel wisely positioned itself as the US ally in a region that featured many Soviet clients, in­cluding Syria, Iraq, the Palestin­ian Liberation Organisation, Egypt (until 1974) and Algeria. Ameri­cans genuinely believed that Israel shared the US values of democracy and free enterprise. Israel’s most­ly Ashkenazi leadership looked, dressed and talked like Western­ers.

    More deeply, even subconscious­ly, Americans identified with what was euphemistically called Israel’s “pioneering spirit” — another term for “settler colonialism.” As the world’s most prominent and suc­cessful settler colonial country, the United States shares a certain affin­ity with Israel.

    In the 1980s, Israel discovered a powerful new ally: Evangelical Christians, many of whom say the second coming of Christ will not occur until Israel is re-established and all the world’s Jews live there. Evangelicals also embrace the “Abrahamic Covenant,” the belief that God gave the land of Canaan to the Jewish people.

    For some, it is simply a reflection of Islamophobia: They view Jews as being much closer to Christians, potentially convertible and — since 9/11 — on the front lines against terrorism.

    Israel’s continued strong sup­port is reflected in countless ways. In late 2016, US President Barack Obama, who was not seen by Israel as a friend, reached an agreement to provide Israel with nearly $40 billion in advanced weaponry over ten years. During heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal, the US congressional leadership invited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to address a joint ses­sion of Congress.

    Never before had the leader of a foreign country been invited to openly criticise a US president be­fore Congress and it is hard to im­agine any other foreign leader who would be given that honour.

    Perhaps most glaring is the fact that, despite the Obama admin­istration’s opposition, Israel bra­zenly continued its policy of set­tlement building while sabotaging the peace process with the Pales­tinians. It did this without risk of sanctions or punishment.

    These victories by Israel and its US lobby conceal a growing erosion in support by the US public and, sig­nificantly, young American Jews. Israel has increasingly become a partisan issue in US politics: Re­publicans are far more likely to of­fer Israel the blind support it is ac­customed to receiving while more Democrats challenge its policies.

    A poll conducted in October 2016 by the University of Mary­land’s Shibley Telhami indicated that 65% of Democrats asked said they supported a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement building and only 16% of Republi­can respondents said they backed it. More startling, the same poll showed that 60% of Democratic respondents supported imposing sanctions on Israel for its settle­ment building.

    The strongest criticism of Is­rael was among those aged 18-34, which is the demographic that was most supportive of US Sena­tor Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the Democratic Party’s presiden­tial nomination last year. Sanders, who is Jewish, ran perhaps the most pro-Palestinian campaign in US history and refused to speak at AIPAC’s candidates’ forum in 2016.

    The Sanders wing of the Demo­cratic Party remains strong — even more so after Hillary Clinton’s de­feat — and many of his supporters are young American Jews. Unlike their parents and grandparents, they do not see Israel as an endan­gered country surrounded by en­emies. They also are more likely to support civil rights causes such as Black Lives Matter and the strug­gles of American Indians and they see the connection with the Pales­tinians’ plight.

    US university campuses have become a battleground in the Is­raeli-Palestinian conflict with stu­dent groups demanding that their schools participate in the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) move­ment against Israel. One of the most active of such groups is Jew­ish Voices for Peace (JVP); another group, Students for Justice in Pal­estine (SJP), is a student coalition of Jews, Arabs and others.

    An aeroplane that loses its en­gines will continue to fly for some time but eventually it will lose alti­tude. The Israel lobby is flying high and, from the ground, all appears normal. But it is losing its engines. The most vital question is: Will the plane come down to Earth before Israel’s actions have made peace impossible?

    Editors' Picks

    The Arab Weekly Newspaper reaches Western & Arabic audience that are influential as well as being affluent.

    From Europe to the Middle East,and North America, The Arab Weekly talks to opinion formers and influential figures, providing insight and comment on national, international and regional news through the focus of Arabic countries and community.

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Publisher and Group Executive Editor: Haitham El-Zobaidi, PhD

    Editor-in-Chief: Oussama Romdhani

    Deputy Editor-in-Chief: Dalal Saoud

    Senior Editor: John Hendel

    Chief Copy Editors: Jonathan Hemming and Richard Pretorius

    Analysis Section Editor: Ed Blanche

    Opinion Section Editor: Claude Salhani

    East/West Section Editor: Mark Habeeb

    Levant Section Editor: Jamal J. Halaby

    Gulf Section Editor: Mohammed Alkhereiji

    Society and Travel Sections Editor: Samar Kadi

    Senior Correspondents:

    Mahmud el-Shafey (London)

    Lamine Ghanmi (Tunis)


    Saad Guerraoui (Casablanca)

    Dunia El-Zobeidi (London)

    Roua Khlifi (Tunis)

    Rasha Elass - Thomas Seibert (Washington)

    Published by Al Arab Publishing House

    Contact editor

    Subscription & Advertising:

    Tel 020 3667 7249

    Mohamed Al Mufti

    Marketing & Advertising Manager

    Tel (Main) +44 20 6702 3999

    Direct: +44 20 8742 9262

    Al Arab Publishing House

    Kensington Centre

    66 Hammersmith Road

    London W14 8UD, UK

    Tel: (+44) 20 7602 3999

    Fax: (+44) 20 7602 8778

    Follow Us
    © The Arab Weekly, All rights reserved