The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

How to Lobby for a Foreign Government (and not get arrested)

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Writing in The National Interest, Paul Pillar contrasts the dismal fate of Washington’s Kashmiri lobbyists with an infinitely more significant and deletrious foreign lobby:

There is another way, which is to use institutional subterfuges and the sheer clout of the lobby itself to escape prosecution under the FARA. The Israel lobby has managed to do this. Today’s American Israel Political Action Committee has its origins in the lobbying arm of a predecessor organization, the American Zionist Council, which was directly funded by the Jewish Agency of Israel. In the early 1960s the AZC came under pressure from the Kennedy Justice Department to register under the FARA. The issue became the subject of an inquiry by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by J. William Fulbright. Shortly after this pressure began, the chief AZC lobbyist established an ostensibly new and separate organization, which was AIPAC. Sometimes the issue has arisen whether AIPAC itself ought to register under the FARA, but each time the lobby’s own political power—greater now than in Senator Fulbright’s time—has been sufficient to stifle any moves in that direction. An objective inquiry into this subject such as Fulbright initiated would be unthinkable on Capitol Hill today.

Just as there is little correlation between lobbying that comes under the terms of the FARA and lobbying that effectively pressures U.S. policymakers, so too there is little correlation between being prosecuted under that law and having major and possibly deleterious effects on U.S. interests. Even if the Kashmiri lobbyists who have been indicted had been successful in tilting U.S. policy toward Kashmir more in the direction of Pakistan’s position, the effects on U.S. interests would have paled compared to the damage that has come from the United States being so closely associated with the policies of a single Middle Eastern government that clings to land seized through military conquest and that accordingly accepts a perpetual state of hostility with its neighbors. We are reminded of some of that damage in James Zogby’s latest poll of Arab attitudes, which delivered depressingly low numbers for the standing of the United States in the region and identified as a top reason for those low numbers the “continuing occupation of Palestinian lands.”


Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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