Independent letters on the “US Jewish lobby”

11 Jun 2009 by CST

As an update to this post on the Independent’s use of the phrase “Jewish lobby” in its reporting of President Obama’s Cairo speech, today’s Independent has published two letters on the subject, the first of which is from CST:

Letters: US 'Jewish lobby'

Supposed influence of the US 'Jewish lobby'

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The article (5 June) by your Washington correspondent, David Usborne, concerning President Obama's Cairo speech, was subtitled, "White House shows willingness to ignore US Jewish lobby by risking confrontation with Netanyahu over Palestinian statehood". The opening paragraph of the article further stated that Obama's "chiding" of Benjamin Netanyahu "risked the wrath of the Jewish lobby in the US". Usborne later claimed that "Mr Obama showed he is willing, perhaps more than any US president before him, to ignore the Jewish lobby by getting firm with Israel".

There is no point in arguing here about the real or imaginary power (or legitimacy) of the pro-Israel lobby in Washington. Nevertheless, by using the term "Jewish lobby", Usborne's analysis is very dangerously worded and resonant with old-style antisemitic conspiracy theory.

It is dangerous nonsense to use the term "Jewish lobby" as if it is synonymous with whatever pro-Netanyahu, and pro-Israeli settler lobbies exist in Washington; just as it is dangerous nonsense to imply that Obama's predecessors have somehow all been dominated by the "Jewish lobby" (remember Suez? remember Nixon? Bush snr?).

An estimated 78 per cent of American Jews voted for Obama, and studies have repeatedly shown that American Jews favour a peaceful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Mark Gardner

Director of Communications, CST, London NW4

In your report of the US President's speech in Cairo, you reported that "Barack Obama risked the wrath of the Jewish lobby in the US".

I worked with the USAF on ballistic missiles in Los Angeles in 1958-1960. My wife and I found that there seemed to be a strong antisemitic feeling in the USA (outside Hollywood). When, in 2003, we went to a reunion in Washington DC with some of those (very senior) retired officers, my wife asked them directly why the US allowed such a small and unpopular minority to have such a strong influence on foreign policy.

We were both much surprised to be told that the pro-Israel lobby was strongest in the Southern "Bible Belt". There, in pursuit of "Rapture" and an early entry to heaven, those Christians hoped to help the takeover of the whole of Palestine by Jews. That part of the USA was very strongly Republican; so there had been no hope that a Republican President like Bush would do other than support Israel to the full.

It is not a Jewish lobby that is strongest in support of Israel; it is a Republican Christian one.

Air Marshal Sir Reginald E W Harland

Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk


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