Monday, January 5, 2009


While overall a great post, and one that 10 years ago could not be published by Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt writes:

Pundits like Walter Russell Mead are fond of claiming that the U.S.-Israel "special relationship" reflects shared religious traditions and the will of the American people. The evidence suggests otherwise: although most Americans support Israel’s existence and have more sympathy for them than they have for the Palestinians, they are not demanding that U.S. leaders back Israel no matter what it does. But that's what American politicians reflexively do, even though it encourages Israel to continue immoral and self-destructive policies (including the continued expansion of settlements) and contributes to Arab and Islamic anger at the United States.

This only makes sense if we define the US-Israel "special relationship" to mean that the US leader must back Israel no matter what it does. That seems like a definition that few, if any, reasonable people adhere to. The idea of a common Judeo-Christian culture and disdain for Arab peoples has been a powerful component of US postwar American culture, and this cultural phenomena created the environment that allowed organizations like AIPAC to be ubiquitous in the halls of Congress. Moreover, among low-information voters, there is no differentiation between Palestinians in terrorists--popular movies and TV shows simply don't portray Palestinians as humans. If Palestinians were depicted differently in the US, or if Israel was occupying the land of an ethnic group that that the US was capable of empathizing with, the Israel lobby would not have the power it does today.

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