ccun.org, Redress, March 16, 2009
Paul J. Balles views the Obama administration's first major
humiliation at the hands of the Israel lobby, arguing: “Unless Obama can
deliver on his campaign promises to control the lobbies that have been
controlling America, including the Israel lobby, it may turn out to be his
"Yes we can!" was the chant of Obama
supporters during the many months of his presidential campaign. It would
have been preferable if the chant had been "Yes we will!"
difference between the ability to do something (Yes we can) and the will
or promise to do something (Yes we will) is extremely important when
assessing the changes that President Obama offered to his supporters.
What did Obama offer as can-do policy promises in connection with the
way that Washington functions? The most courageous was the promise to
eliminate the influence of lobbies.
"The system we have now might
work for the powerful and well-connected interests that have run
Washington for far too long," Obama said in a recent weekly radio and
video address. "But I don't. I work for the American people."
Judging from the mandate given to the president by the voters, the
American people expect just that: Obama at work for the American people
without sacrificing the people’s interests to the interests of Israel and
When the mainstream media headlines the success of the
Israeli lobby, it exposes the most influential of the Washington lobbies
at work. "Israel stance was undoing of nominee for intelligence post" – an
amazing headline for the New York Times (11 March 2008)!
The reference was to the lobby's killing the choice of Charles W. Freeman,
Jr, for a top intelligence post in the Obama administration. Freeman was a
former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush.
Apparently, some of Obama's advisors worried that Freeman's "selection
could be controversial and an unnecessary distraction". Some in the White
House are close enough to the Israel lobby that they saw trouble on the
Freeman accused the Israeli lobby of running a concerted
campaign to victimize him and angrily withdrew his name from
The New York Times reported that on one
occasion Freeman said: "Left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment
will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them
and enrage those who are not.”
Freeman had some deservedly harsh
descriptions of the lobby's influence: "The tactics of the Israel lobby
plumb the depths of dishonour and indecency and include character
assassination, selective misquotation, the wilful distortion of the
record, the fabrication of falsehoods and an utter disregard for the
Freeman accurately described the aim of the lobby as
...control of the policy process through the exercise of a veto
over the appointment of people who dispute the wisdom of its views,
the substitution of political correctness for analysis, and the
exclusion of any and all options for decision by Americans and our
government other than those that it favours.
Perhaps the best description of the influence of the Jewish lobby in
America comes from James Petras who observed that it has “systematically
undermined the principal pillars of our fragile democracy”, adding:
While the US Congress, media, academics, retired military and
public figures are free to criticize the President, any criticism of
Israel, much less the Jewish lobby, is met with vicious attacks in all
the op-ed pages of major newspapers by an army of pro-Israeli “expert”
propagandists with accompanying demands for firings, purges and
expulsions of the critics from their positions or denial of promotions
or new appointments.
While the activities of the Israel lobby have been coming under some
increased scrutiny, mainly from a few retired academics, they still pose a
threat to US and other world interests.
Paul J. Balles is a retired American
university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle
East for many years. For more information, see
Unless Obama can deliver on
his campaign promises to control the lobbies that have been controlling
America, including the Israel lobby, it may turn out to be his Achilles