Posted by: noticeable | January 6, 2008

The Israel Lobby and Presidential Politics: The Quotes

The U.S. presidential season got an earlier start this time around with the Iowa caucus this week. And while the candidates engage in their usual posturing and attempt to accentuate the “differences” in their opinions on domestic and foreign affairs there is one topic all involved can outwardly agree on: solidarity with Israel.

I was reminded of this conformity yesterday as I started John Mearsheimer’s and Stephen Walt’s new book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The authors wasted no time showing how “serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one foreign country-Israel-as well as their determination to maintain unyielding U.S. support for the Jewish state.” The authors go on to write, “None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do will probably fall by the wayside.”

So what have the candidates said about Israel? (The following quotes and applicable endnote citations can be found on page 4 of Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s new book.)

John Edwards: “Your future is our future” and the bond between the U.S. and Israel “will never be broken.”

Mitt Romney: Talked of being “in a country I love with people I love.”

John McCain: “when it comes to the defense of Israel, we simply cannot compromise.”

Hillary Clinton: In speaking to a chapter of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in New York: “[this is] a moment of great difficulty for Israel and great peril for Israel . . . what is vital is that we stand by our friend and our ally and we stand by our own values. Israel is a beacon of what’s right in a neighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism.”

According to Mearsheimer and Walt, Barack Obama (whose views on Israel were discussed earlier on this blog here) and Bill Richardson have also expressed continued support for the Jewish state.

In essence, what this spells is a continuation of the usual and unquestioned support for Israel regardless of the next president. What will be more troubling is any attempt by Bush’s successor to try to broker an equitable “peace” in the region as all have shown such a deferential position toward Israel. And not one will dare to resist or go against the most powerful lobby groups in the U.S.



  1. I guess it never occurred to anyone that support of Israel could have its merits?

    Anyway, remember that Mearsheimer and Walt don’t always stick to the facts. They blame the Iraq war on Israel, although both Israeli and American sources now confirm that the government of then PM Sharon opposed the war. Sharon personally came to Washington to urge Bush not to invade, but kept his opinions from the public so not to offend Bush. He rightly feared that the war would benefit the Iranians. Certainly the pro-Israel lobby was aware of this, but they too kept silent for fear of offending Bush. If the pro-Israel lobby were half as influential as its critics claim, then certainly the Iraq disaster would have been avoided.

  2. […] Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt argued in their 2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy that “serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express […]

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