AIPAC and its allies (including Christian Zionists) have no serious opponents in the lobbying world. They know it has become more difficult to make Israel’s case today, and they are responding by expanding their activities and staffs. Moreover, American politicians remain acutely sensitive to campaign contributions and other forms of political pressure and major media outlets are likely to remain sympathetic to Israel no matter what it does.
This situation is deeply worrisome, because the Lobbyʹs influence causes trouble on several fronts. It increases the terrorist danger that all states face—including Americaʹs European allies. By preventing U.S. leaders from pressuring Israel to make peace, the Lobby has also made it impossible to end the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict. This situation gives extremists a powerful recruiting tool, increases the pool of potential terrorists and sympathizers, and contributes to Islamic radicalism around the world.
Furthermore, the Lobby’s campaign for regime change in Iran and Syria could lead the United States to attack those countries, with potentially disastrous effects. We do not need another Iraq. At a minimum, the Lobby’s hostility toward these countries makes it especially difficult for Washington to enlist them against al Qaeda and the Iraqi insurgency, where their help is badly needed.
There is a moral dimension here as well. Thanks to the Lobby, the United States has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the occupied territories, making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians. This situation undercuts Washington’s efforts to promote democracy abroad and makes it look hypocritical when it presses other states to respect human rights. U.S. efforts to limit nuclear proliferation appear equally hypocritical given its willingness to accept Israel’s nuclear arsenal, which encourages Iran and others to seek similar capabilities.
Moreover, the Lobby’s campaign to squelch debate about Israel is unhealthy for democracy. Silencing skeptics by organizing blacklists and boycotts—or by suggesting that critics are anti‐Semites—violates the principle of open debate upon which democracy depends. The inability of the U.S. Congress to conduct a genuine debate on these vital issues paralyzes the entire process of democratic deliberation. Israel’s backers should be free to make their case and to challenge those who disagree with them. But efforts to stifle...