Kovel's book is the best survey of Zionism, its roots, its outcomes and why it is one of the most destructive ideologies today for Jews, PalestiniansKovel's book is the best survey of Zionism, its roots, its outcomes and why it is one of the most destructive ideologies today for Jews, Palestinians and the rest of the world. The primary conclusion that he draws is that the primary road to peace is the dismantling of Zionist ideology as a whole and putting in its place a construct based on Universal human rights and respect for the human dignity of all individuals.
What is unique about his analysis is that he looks at Zionism from all angles - including its psychological, sociological, religious, economic and geopolitical aspects. He then looks at the state of Israel and how the marriage of Zionism with all instutions of the state and society has created a haven for Jewish religious fanaticism, militancy, violence and racism. These aspects of the state and society are, because of the nature of Zionism, ever-increasing and becoming more and more dangerous, with no mechasims for self-correction.
For Zionists, hardcore believers or passive acceptors, reading this book will present them with a perspective that they have not likely heard before and a very important reality adjustment for their world view. For non-Zionists it will enable them to understand what exactly is so problematic with this Zionist ideology which has resulted in such strife for almost a century. Finally it presents a prescription for action to overcome Zionism both in Israel, the US and everywhere else.
"The Israel Lobby" asserts what almost 40% (per the authors) of Americans recognize - that Israel is one of the main causes of anti-Americanism, that"The Israel Lobby" asserts what almost 40% (per the authors) of Americans recognize - that Israel is one of the main causes of anti-Americanism, that the U.S. provides Israel with extraordinary material and diplomatic support, and that many policies pursued on Israel's behalf jeopardize U.S. national security.
Documentation is not wanting for these claims. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid since WWII, amounting to some $154 billion (2005 dollars), and about $500/citizen today. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members - and this does not even count those that did not come to a vote because of a U.S. veto threat. At the same time, the Israel lobby is also credited with pushing the U.S. away from Syria (had been providing al Qaeda intelligence post 9/11 and Iran (had supported U.S. airmen rescue efforts in Afghanistan, and offered an opportunity for a major agreement at the time Iraq fell).
This extraordinary support might be justified if there were some great moral reason or security need involved. Our military has not been able to use Israel as a base in either Gulf War, nor could we ask it to help for risk of triggering a calamity in the region. Further, the U.S. has a terrorism threat in common with Israel because of our support for that nation. Thus, Israel is far from an asset to the U.S. As for moral argument, Israel's past and present conduct involving continual abuse of the Palestinians after stealing their land offers no moral basis for preferring it over the Palestinians.
So how do we explain our extraordinary support for Israel? The answer, claim the authors, is the Israel lobby. AIPAC is the most powerful and best known; however, prominent Christians have also been involved - eg. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Gary Bauer and numerous politicians believe Israel's rebirth is the fulfilment of biblical prophecy and support its expansionist agenda. One leading Israel lobbyist even bragged that he could easily get 70 U.S. Senators' signatures upon a napkin.
Senator Charles Percy's ouster in 1984 (for insensitivity to Israeli issues) has become the most visible example of the Israel lobby's influence. Although they make up only 3% of the population, it is estimated that their donations comprise 60% of Democrat donations, and their voters turn out in high percentages.
Influence is not limited to just elections. The Israel lobby also influences key appointments (eg. George Ball was not appointed Sec. of State because Carter knew he would be opposed), monitors professors' comments, newspaper editorials, etc. Neoconservatives, on the other hand, are pushed by the Israel lobby because of their support for strong U.S. action in the mid-East - most recently for taking action against Iran.
"The Israel Lobby" also provided recommendations. 1)Israel should be treated like a normal state. 2)The U.S. should strongly pursue an end to the Palestine-Israel conflict. 3)Campaign finance reform is essential to a more balanced debate on Israel - eg. public campaign financing. 4)Open debate should be encouraged. (The authors have been precluded from several speaking engagements due to Israel lobby pressure. Also note the adverse reaction to President Carter's book on the Israel-Palestine conflict.)
Kudos to the authors for shining light on this major problem....more