Has the Israel lobby really lost its mojo?

Record military aid for Israel will be Barack Obama’s enduring legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue as his presidency draws to a close. (Mark Israel/Flickr)

The Israeli government and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have failed to marshal Congressional opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

But that failure has prompted widespread chatter about the irreparable damage done to US-Israel ties and the demise of AIPAC as a virtually omnipotent lobby.

Despite pouring millions of dollars into its campaign, inundating the airwaves and clogging social media feeds, AIPAC’s efforts to sway members of Congress paid only minimal dividends.

But does this mean that AIPAC has lost its mojo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can now be safely ignored by the Obama administration as a blowhard? Hardly.

This fiasco for Israel and its lobby was entirely predictable and even foreordained after Netanyahu opted to conspire with John Boehner, the House speaker, to deliver his controversial speech to Congress in March opposing talks with Iran.

Netanyahu’s disrespect in circumventing the president prompted around 60 Democratic members of Congress — one-quarter of the party’s caucus — to publicly boycott the address, opening up an unprecedented partisan breach.

After Netanyahu’s stunt in Congress, it was self-evident that no Democratic members of Congress, except for the party’s most hardcore Zionists such as senators Charles Schumer of New York and Ben Cardin of Maryland, would vote to kill what is arguably the signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration.

AIPAC could have pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into its campaign and probably wouldn’t have changed a single vote.


Netanyahu is no fool and neither is AIPAC. So then why did they expend so much political capital and money on a lost cause?

Simple: the louder Israel and its lobby bellowed that the nuclear deal with Iran endangered Israel’s security and presented it with an existential threat, the larger the payout from the United States to back its demands for military aid.

Israel is likely to get recompensed for the Iran nuclear deal in two ways.

The first is through Congressional authorization of the transfer to Israel of advanced weaponry such as bunker-buster bombs. For example, Cory Booker, the Democratic senator from New Jersey who broke with his former mentor Rabbi Shmuley Boteach by supporting the deal, stated that the “US should provide Israel with access to the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to help deter Iranian cheating.”

And Obama appears amenable to upping the quality of weapons the US provides Israel. In a letter to Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic representative for New York, Obama pledged that “Our support for Israel is also an important element in deterring Iran from ever seeking a nuclear weapon.”

Thus Israel is likely to receive from the US the weapons it would need to threaten or actually carry out the attack on Iran the US just potentially avoided with the nuclear deal.

Second, Israel will likely reap an enormous windfall from the United States by negotiating a new 10-year deal for additional military aid. During the George W. Bush administration, the US signed an agreement to provide Israel with $30 billion in military aid from 2009 to 2018.

Ever since he visited Jerusalem in March 2013, Obama has repeatedly made clear that he wants to extend — and even increase — military aid to Israel.

Although the timing of the Iran nuclear deal and the impending expiration of the agreement with Israel is coincidental, Netanyahu is shrewdly choreographing his steps to maximize his leverage with the US and wring out the most concessions possible.

According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, twice since April, Obama personally contacted Netanyahu, practically pleading with him to start talks on how the US may bolster the Israeli military’s arsenal. But the Israeli prime minister steadfastly refused.


Now with Iran a done deal, these discussions are getting underway in earnest — and media reports suggest that Israel will try to get as much as $45 billion in military aid from the US through 2028. In other words, Obama may now wind up signing a deal to increase the Bush administration’s commitment to Israel by 50 percent.

While it is doubtful that Israel would use these weapons to unilaterally attack Iran, they unquestionably will be used to entrench and solidify Israel’s military occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, making the US even further complicit in Israel’s accompanying atrocities.

This new military aid deal, sadly, will be Obama’s enduring legacy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue as his presidency draws to a close.

The debacle for Netanyahu and AIPAC on Iran demonstrably shows that Israel and its allies do not dictate the terms and contours of broader US foreign policy goals. However, their power to preserve the status quo on US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians has emerged largely unscathed from this battle.

Netanyahu is coming to Washington to kiss and make up with Obama over Iran in November — and to collect his check. Without a massive uproar from civil society before then, US taxpayers will be on the hook for another decade of underwriting Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

Vice President Joe Biden recently acknowledged that US taxpayers already fund 20 percent of Israel’s entire military budget.

Enough is enough. Fortunately growing numbers of Americans agree.

To make this message clear, tens of thousands have already endorsed the campaign calling on Obama not to give any more weapons to Israel.

Josh Ruebner is policy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and author of Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.




We do no favor to Israel or to the Middle East by continuing to supply Israel with high order military munitions. Israel has proven time and time again that the government has no judgment. Supplying Israel with the means by which to attack Iran at some point is reckless and endangering to the entire world. As an American, I am weary of Israel and endless drama of that country. It's time to cut Israel from the American welfare roll and let the country learn to get along with the world.


I keep hoping that Obama has really become determined to free the US from our complicity in Israel's war crimes, which include all kinds of abuse of Palestinians (whom Israel is supposed as occupier to protect!) and appropriation of land (expressly forbidden by the Geneva Conventions). But alas, it seems now we are on the way to increasing our share of guilt by another 50%. I must also ask why we should trust Israel with nuclear weapons more than Iran?


Good piece Josh. I wrote a longish piece on Obama's policy toward Palestine 'bout 3 years ago that made some similar observations. Here's an excerpt:

"Related to the I/P conflict, stating the opinion that Israel is in extreme danger pushes people to believe that Israel is a victim, needs our help, and thus keeps our endless support flowing into Israel. The logic of the Obama 'most hostile ever' talking point... works toward that goal in this way: If Obama hates Israel, the U.S. will withdraw military support, and then the scary innately savage Arabs will swoop in and kill all the Jews. So folks like Bolton, Klein, and Bayefsky parrot the “most hostile” talking point to gin up support for 'protecting' Israel.

The irony is that people are being told that Israel is threatened by the very administration that gives it its protection. The talking point is based on a very simple, and obvious, lie. Obama is not hostile toward Israel and these pundits know it. In simple terms, this PR strategy is essentially the 'repeatedly lie and instill fear' strategy. Obama may actually be the opposite of what’s being put across in this talking point. Keep in mind that this 'hostile' phrase is just one of many purposefully placed memes throughout the media and culture designed to make people believe that Israel is, and has always been, the main victim in the region."

My piece is titled "Obama's Hat Trick" and can be seen here: http://thepalestineconflict.bl...

Thanks again Josh R.


Mr. Ruebner, you offer a popular explanation of Netanyahu's failure, some would say a justification, that paints him and Israel as clever operators--even prescient. If true, fine. But this is exactly the image that Zionists love to work on. They have armies of propagandists casting Israel in the role of the "smart Jew," not just a poor vulnerable one. Writers like David Brooks, a "clever" New York Times op ed social commentator, openly thinks Jews have a "smart Jewish gene."

Zionism is based not only on such race particularism, but on something similar to double jeopardy, where Jews after the holocaust could not rightly be accused a second time of being evil plotters, manipulators any more than they could be said to kill children. Whatever Jews do must have a good reason.

The "logic" claimed for Israel's treatment of Obama and the American people just to kill the international settlement with Iran happens to be Israel's unofficial line, and Israel assumes the world will quickly catch on; after all, everyone knows how "farsighted" Jews are. The message is: Hey, we may have lost this round in Congress, but we're back, baby, bigger and better than ever before. More arms, more support...

Nonsense. This is not how power is exercised in the world, nor how memory serves in the exercise of power. And the corridors of power are precisely where Zionist have felt most at home in the last hundred years, before and after Israel's creation. But these corridors are why Apartheid Israel will finish its days in one of two ways: peacefully or violently. They are not peopled only by Americans, British and French.

At this historical juncture, whatever Israel does, no matter how deep its lobby AIPAC has got US Congressmen buried inside its pocket, it cannot alter international outcomes. The Iran deal has proved this beyond the shadow of a doubt. Israel has no prospect of surviving in its present form or being accepted as a normal state in a region it has sought to demolish.


The USA stopped being an independent nation decades ago, actually as far back as the illegal formation of the blood-sucking Federal Reserve.
But the biggest problem we have today is our subjugation to Israel, a slight of hand trick that was performed so smoothly, that most Americans don't know we're an occupied nation, beholden to Israel.

Any proof needed is in the Dem and Repub presidential candidates, who fall all over each other professing loyalty to Israel.

We've got many problems, but they don't matter, what does matter is whether or not our actions help Israel.


You make it sound like Benny Nutjob and Company control the shots. They don't. They are tools.

They are yet another convenient foil for those who do.

Then who does? You are partially correct about one thing. They who control the money supply control much.

Banksters and War Racketeers. Guns and money, guns and money.

Still controlled pretty much by the same criminal Robber Baron gang that was around in 1900, with a few "Nouveau Riche" upstarts thrown in for good measure.


America now is your chance save your country stand up and give a spine to this spineless President who has taken abuse from Netanyahu in a loop cycle as if he relishes it and is now going to give him one of his many last payload of blackmail money stolen fr our taxed shoulders
Triple taxed shoulders
Income tax
Property tax
Retail tax
Heck death Tax probate Tax and the list goes on beyond the above 3
Am I forgetting some more?

See below: a quote from somewhere
"According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, twice since April, Obama personally contacted Netanyahu, practically pleading with him to start talks on how the US may bolster the Israeli military’s arsenal. But the Israeli prime minister steadfastly refused."