The Israeli lobby wins again! That’s the obvious takeaway from President Barack
Obama’s historically large, but not quite unprecedented $38 billion “aid package”
to Bibi Netanyahu’s supposedly intransigent government.
In Israel, the ten-year deal is seen as a solid, but
not complete victory for Bibi. In the U.S., the deal looks like it’s
the cost of doing business with Iran. Sadly, the deal also looks like a bad
sign of things to come for the Palestinian people.
Shortly after the deal was sealed, President Obama’s farewell tour took him
to the United Nations where he
stated without irony, “Israel must recognize that it cannot permanently
occupy and settle Palestinian land.” The utter toothlessness of his admonition
was preemptively underlined by a fascinating
online video posted by Netanyahu in which he claimed the Palestinians
– not the rapidly encroaching Israelis – were the real outlaws. Apparently,
they are advocating “ethnic cleansing” by hoping to reclaim pilfered land from
illegal Israel settlements peppered throughout the absconded territory of the
It’s an amazing bit of pretzel logic gleefully served up to a dwindling, demoralized
crowd of two-state enthusiasts. The mustard came when Obama made his final,
flaccid appeal to a now-buoyant Bibi regarding his not-so-subtle expansion
of Israel’s ethnically-pure settlements.
Of course, this predictable turn of events confirmed what critics of Israel’s
outsized influence have always believed – that when it comes to the State of
Israel, the fix is always in no matter how badly the “special relationship”
appears to be broken.
In 2006, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of
Harvard University made a strong
case that, as they wrote
in the London Review of Books, the “Israel Lobby” surpasses all “other special-interest
groups” in its ability to not just “skew foreign policy” away from America’s
“national interest,” but it has also simultaneously convinced “Americans that
US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially
Although there’s little doubt that much of America’s foreign policy establishment
seems inexorably convinced that the two nations share “identical” interests,
there are indications
that Israel is not quite the arm-twister it used to be.
That’s because the Iran Nuke Deal was a distinct departure from the usually
suspect arrangement between Washington and Tel Aviv. It does appear that Obama
broke 40 years of Israeli exceptionalism to defeat the vaunted Israeli Lobby.
In exchange, Obama had to paper-over that unprecedented break with 38 billion
greenbacks. In effect, he purchased Israel’s acceptance of the Iran Nuclear