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Obama Distances Himself From
Book on U.S.-Israeli Relations

Like many in Washington, Barack Obama is running as fast as he can from the authors of a controversial new book on U.S.-Israeli politics. And in doing so, he's taking a distinctly different path than one of his highest-profile supporters in the foreign policy establishment, Zbigniew Brzezinski.

After being alerted by a reporter for the New York Sun, the Obama campaign raced yesterday to take down a small ad for the campaign's Web site that appeared as one of several "sponsored links" on the Amazon.com page for "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" by John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. The book argues that a highly influential assortment of pro-Israeli politicians, journalists and academics have succeeded in pushing U.S. policy in the Middle East in directions that do not necessarily serve America's best interests. And, like an article by the authors that appeared last year, the book has caused a considerable stir -- critics have accused the authors of anti-Semitism, admirers have praised them for needed candor, and several institutions and organizations have turned down or canceled appearances by the authors, including the Graduate Center at the City University of New York and, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The Obama campaign says its ad probably appeared on the book's Amazon page simply because the campaign paid for its Web site to be mentioned on searches that included the word "politics," among other phrases, part of a publicity strategy being used by many 2008 candidates. Though the ad's link to the book was clearly unintentional, the campaign may be sensitive to any appearance of an anti-Israel tilt given that Obama had already met with a skeptical response among some Jewish voters this year.

Obama encountered scattered grumbles in March at a pro-Israel conference in Washington, where attendees expressed concerns about Obama's comment, made in Iowa shortly before the conference, that "Nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people.'' At the conference, he got more attention with his observation, referring to the Middle East peace process, that "the biggest enemy I think we have in this whole process ... one of the enemies we have to fight -- it's not just terrorists, it's not just Hezbollah, it's not just Hamas -- it's also cynicism." At another conference in Washington in April, of the National Jewish Democratic Council, Obama chose his words carefully, while still seeking to show that he was not satisfied with the status quo in Israel: "My commitment to you is unwavering," he said in response to a question about Israel, "but the only thing I will not do is to relinquish the possibility that our Middle East policy involves more than just arms sales and military and strategic options to consider. There has to be an effective diplomacy."

There would be no such nuance from Obama when confronted with the Amazon ad. Campaign spokesman Jennifer Psaki told The Sun that Obama had not read the book but knew enough about it to disagree with its authors. "The ad has been removed from the site because the views of the book do not reflect the views of Senator Obama on the U.S.- Israel relationship," she said. "Senator Obama has stated that his support for a strong U.S.- Israel relationship, which includes both a commitment to Israel's security and to helping Israel achieve peace with its neighbors, comes from his belief that it's the right policy for the United States. The idea that supporters of Israel have somehow distorted U.S. foreign policy, or that they are responsible for the debacle in Iraq, is just wrong."

As it happens, though, among the few establishment figures who have spoken more kindly of Mearsheimer and Walt is Brzezinski, the former Carter Administration national security adviser who last month made headlines with his endorsement of Obama. Brzezinski praised Obama for offering a "new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America's role in the world," giving the junior senator from Illinois a strong boost of credibility in the foreign policy department. He is expected to be at Obama's side tomorrow in Iowa when the senator gives what is being billed as a major speech addressing Gen. David Petraeus' report on the war in Iraq.

In the July-August 2006 issue of Foreign Policy, Brzezinski defended Mearsheimer and Walt, saying their article had "rendered a public service by initiating a much-needed public debate on the role of the 'Israel lobby' in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy" and that they "adduce a great deal of factual evidence that over the years Israel has been the beneficiary of privileged -- indeed, highly preferential -- financial assistance, out of all proportion to what the United States extends to any other country." Of those attacking the authors, Brzezinski wrote, "Of course, stifling such debate is in the interest of those who have done well in the absence of it. Hence the outraged reaction from some to Mearsheimer and Walt."

The Obama campaign tonight dismissed questions about squaring Obama's spurning of the book's authors with Brzezinski's strong defense of them against the "outraged reaction" of critics. An Obama supporter, Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida, offered a statement in defense of Obama, saying Obama has "been a consistent supporter of Israel and this is an unfortunate case of a fabricated controversy for political reasons."

"I speak with him often on Israel policy," Wexler added, "and I can tell you firsthand that Barack Obama is opposed to the arguments presented in this book."

--Alec MacGillis

By Post Editor  |  September 11, 2007; 8:32 PM ET
 
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Comments

LOOKS LIKE OBAMA CAVED TO A POWERFUL LOBBY.
WAKE UP AMERICA WE ARE PAYING THESE PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON AND NOBODY IS LISTENING!!!
SEE WHAT THIS LOBBY HAS DONE AT DEPAUL UNIVERSITY WITH PROFESSOR FINKELSTEIN...
THERE IS NO LONGER ACADEMIC FREEDOM ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES!!!
SPEAK OUT AND YOU JUST MIGHT LOOSE YOUR JOB. EVEN IF YOUR PROFESSIONAL PEERS AND STUDENTS SUPPORT YOU. WE NEED TO CONTROL POWERFUL LOBBIES NOT LET THEM CONTROL THE USA, TAX DOLLARS, AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

Posted by: zakidzaki | September 16, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

It's shame that we have aligned ourselves against our own strategic national interests. We as Americans need to recognize that we are Americans ahead of our heritage or background. Only then will we be true Americans. It's un-American to Lobby for the benefit of any other country. We're being silence in our own country how can that be....

Is constructive criticism or dialog of the Israel Lobby by professor Mearsheimer and Walt anti-semantic?------------> http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=523

.

Posted by: PollM | September 16, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Poor Obama.

"The Israel Lobby" is by no means anti-semite.Alan Dershowitz's smear campaign is terrible.He cannot refute the case written in the book effectively.

So all he can do is to make people who does not read his book yet to be misinformed by using the smearing and scaremongering tactics!

Dershowitz,himself as a member of the lobby,has made Mearsheimer's case quite clear.

Posted by: asahinakai | September 15, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Poor Obama.

"The Israel Lobby" is not by no means anti-semite.Alan Dershowitz's smear campaign is terrible.He cannot refute the case written in the book effectively.

So all he can do is to make people who does not read his book yet to be misinformed by using the smearing and scaremongering tactics!

Dershowitz,himself as a member of the lobby,has made Mearsheimer's case quite clear.

Posted by: asahinakai | September 15, 2007 8:43 AM | Report abuse

This country needs Kucinich as the next president. But among probable (for now) winners Obama is surely the better one than Edwards, not mentioning Mrs. Clinton, whose nomination even might force Republican victory, as so many democrats and independent want ANYBODY, but her. About back bone. It is known that only Kucinich posses it. Other are more or less "flow with the wind".

Posted by: aepelbaum | September 13, 2007 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I believe that Obama is the best choice for president. He stays with his opinions and is not afraid to stand for them. Hopefully he will be nominated for the president.

Posted by: doubleblackdiva323 | September 13, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama's just a Muslim in sheeps clothing.

He was born a Muslim and raised to hate the Jews just like all Muslims.

Everytime anything about Israel is posted the Arabs flip out and blame the Jews for all the problems in the Middle east as you have read above.

But what the Arabs don't realise is that us regular Americans are actually happy that Israel has enough firepower to wipe out the whole middle east out if necessary.

We give them more foreign aid than others because they are our friends.

The palestinian state was founded for one reason, to destroy Israel.

It all comes down to one thing.

Israel controls Jerusalem.

And Muslims hate it.

They hate it so much they teach their kids at kindergarden level that the Jews are pigs so the hate will go on forever.

Posted by: Ciap | September 13, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

None of the sentiments expressed by the individuals above dispel my belief that anti-semitism is the root of all evil. None of you will even acknowledge that a view different from yours exists. This is called intolerance. How can anyone blame Israel from doing everything in its power to protect itself. The propoganda brain washing that allows the perpetrators to become the victims is nauseating to me. Hamas sends missles into Israel every day. If the arabs practiced non violent protest they would not suffer retaliation.

Posted by: mioilman | September 12, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

And of course the great irony of this whole episode is that it proves Mearsheimer and Walt's point.

It would be nice to see some other 2% of our population have this much clout.

Posted by: opeluboy | September 12, 2007 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who looks into this deeper than what it actually is (the website having little control over what amazon puts in the adspace) needs to have their head checked.

Posted by: thegribbler | September 12, 2007 4:38 PM | Report abuse

To say that Israel would fall without our help shows just how the people of this country are in a propaganda bubble.

If the Israeli air force wanted to they can go toe to toe with any country in the world. This includes the US, they have the most combat experienced pilots in the world.
The only reason they have not wiped out Islam is they would look bad in the rest of the world.
To say that Obama has ties with Israel is a bigger Joke, He has one big mountain of people to get on top of.
The Bush Administration and both sides of the Congress.
The best part of Obama for President is he has not been in the Congress for 20 years and he not only has a brain but he uses it.
So he would be a pleasant change, the red necks in the congress would stick out like Christmas Tree Lights.
This is just what this country needs.

Posted by: CDLopez | September 12, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

For more than 60 years, the Israeli tail has wagged the American dog. Until U.S. Arab voters outnumber U.S. Jewish voters, this is not likely to change. And it certainly is not in the best interests of the United States. The only U.S. politician who ever had the guts to stand up to Israel was Eisenhower --- and he was already safely in office.

Posted by: alamirande2001 | September 12, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

How is this a story? Coincidentally, an ad for a controversial book appears on Obama's website and one of Obama's advisors gave that book a less-than-scathing review? Given the number of foreign policy advisors Obama has that's not even a coincidence--it's a statistical certainty. Why not just run a headline that says "Jews Still Unsure About Obama?"

Posted by: mcintire78 | September 12, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Antisemitism is defined as subscribing to any point of thought that does not fully support, in words and deeds (votes) the State of Israel in it's foreign and domestic policy, period. Because any one other than a person of Jewish ancestry cannot possibly understand the ramifications to the world of the religious and secular role that Judaism plays in the history of the world, no outsider has a right to speak on it. Even the thought of having a right to enter into an informed debate where Israel is concerned is of itself antisemetic.
This poses a quandry for this country, because of it's basic constitutional obligation to not endorse any religion over another. This in my humble and misquided opinion renders the stranglehold that the Israel Lobby has on this discussion unconstitutional, and against the principles upon which this country was founded.
I would like to suggest(in an outside of the box sort of fashion), that the only way some sanity can be brought to the issue is to establish, through constitutional amendment) the formation of the 51st and 52 States to the United States of America. these would be the States of Israel and Palestine, with all of the protections and responsibilities that citicens of other States have. There could be a coin toss to determine which States comes in as the 51st and which as the 52nd. I am quite serious about this, so don't smile. This could guarantee that both States would have the protection of the Federal Government, because even as it stands now the American tax payer is footing the bill for these two States already, may as well make it official. Even if you don't agree, let's at least have some discussion on it.

Posted by: crenshawmerchants1 | September 12, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama should run for president---of Israel. We need politicians who work for Americans , not foreigners. And why is the director of homeland security, Chertoff, an Israeli citizen ?? Doesnt that seem strange? He has dual citizenship. Why should we allow any person who is a citizen of a foreign country to be in charge of our security? This seems absurd and dangerous, given the warmongering nature of Israel.

Posted by: rabbitman | September 12, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

American Jews have constantly blackmailed the whole nation by condemning any criticism of Israel as antisemitism. The political class having taken huge sums from Jews and with Jews in all senior positions in industry, academia, law, Wall Street and Government, are slaves of the Jewish lobby who in reality are crippling Israel's own ability to seek peace with Arabs and create an independent Palestine. If Israel wants security for itself it should ignore these long distance patriots and ask them to shut up so that it can work quietly its own deals with Palestinians.

Incidentally, for all their shouting, how many Jews have served in Iraq and got killed???

Posted by: padmanabhan40 | September 12, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Israel is our only ally that exists in a permanent state of war with its neighbors. The elephant in the living room is the fact that petro concerns allow a region of the world to spew anti-christian,anti-semetic bile and demands only true beleivers reside there. My god people remember the outrage shown world wide appropriately for the apartheid regime in South Africa and the fact that the pre-Mandela government was not calling for the annihilation of its black citizens. Why if not anti-semetism, is the ideology espoused by intolerant racists tolerated? Explain. What cost is to great to deny haters another chance to commit genocide? Is spending money to deter one group from eliminating another correct?

Posted by: mioilman | September 12, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I love how the only comment remotely against the book is a poorly written one in all caps. Anyhow, Chris Bollyn has written some very interesting stuff, a lot of which seems credible, but he seems to have chosen a bad circle of associates in the field, as their looniness and paranoid writings make it harder to believe Bollyn's own work sometimes. My main support for Bollyn is his support for the Constitution (free speech) and advocacy for non-violence. However much his words might instigate heated debate, I believe he supports open discussion and non-violence to a degree not very apparent in most politicians.

Posted by: andy_3_20 | September 12, 2007 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Why the fear of being "labeled"!!?? "anti-Semitic?" Intimidating FALSE semantics - "labeled" = "branded".

In fact, neither are accurate - the "anti-semitism" shouter is merely an accuser - not the judge and jury. The credibility of these lunatic accusers has reached its nadir - nobody believes them. So why not protest against Israel - there is nothing to fear - a bunch of easily-recognizable crackpots who are instantly dismissed as such.

Posted by: TimothyL | September 12, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

My comment is as follows:

It's high time this taboo is broken and APIAC and its lobby on behalf of Isreli state is fully and openly discussed inorder to provide some discernment and intelligence on how US got itself so closely mired with domestic Israeli politics.

If Eliot Abraham (NSC)- a mouthpiece of APIAC and its member - with proximity to GWB responsible for Palestinian policy and its strategic development is capable of telling what's acceptable and whatnot, I'm afraid, democrats are not being honest when they speak on Palestine-Israeli discord and terrorism.

Posted by: hariknaidu | September 12, 2007 5:45 AM | Report abuse

The books discusses the "elephant in the living room" of US politics, that is to say how the Zionist Lobby controls and has controlled for decades US policy toward the Middle East. The last thing the Lobby wants is to have this fact revealed. Keeping the US in a "war" vs Islam is Israel's primary goal and what it thinks necessary for its survival. If the US ever un-glued itself from Israel, the days of the latter would be numbered. Hence the rage and alarm amongst Zionists regarding this book. It has, for them, to be neutralized or destroyed.

Posted by: ellerveira | September 12, 2007 5:29 AM | Report abuse

PAISTINIANS CAN'T EVEN GET ALONG WITH THEMSELVES, HOW DO YOU EXPEXCT THEM TO GET ALONG WITH ANYONE ELSE. EVERY PRESIDENT SINCE NIXON AND PROBABLY BEFORE HAS TRIED TO STRAIGHTEN IT OUT AND IT ALL HAS GONE NOWHERE. CLINTON PROBABLY TRIED THE HARDEST AND WHAT DID THEY DO BUT CRAP ALL OVER HIM. PALISTINIANS ARE RODENTS AND IMPOSSIBLE TO DEAL WITH.

Posted by: FAPLAND | September 12, 2007 3:19 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of the merit of the book, Obama has reinforced its point.
Obama may need the support he'll get from obamagirl (www.barelypolitical.com)

Posted by: edlharris | September 12, 2007 1:46 AM | Report abuse

The Israel Lobby
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy' throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.

Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the 'Israel Lobby'. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country - in this case, Israel - are essentially identical.

Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune of well over $140 billion (in 2004 dollars). Israel receives about $3 billion in direct assistance each year, roughly one-fifth of the foreign aid budget, and worth about $500 a year for every Israeli. This largesse is especially striking since Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to that of South Korea or Spain.

Other recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and can thus earn interest on it. Most recipients of aid given for military purposes are required to spend all of it in the US, but Israel is allowed to use roughly 25 per cent of its allocation to subsidise its own defence industry. It is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, which makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the US opposes, such as building settlements on the West Bank. Moreover, the US has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems, and given it access to such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets. Finally, the US gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its Nato allies and has turned a blind eye to Israel's acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Washington also provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It blocks the efforts of Arab states to put Israel's nuclear arsenal on the IAEA's agenda. The US comes to the rescue in wartime and takes Israel's side when negotiating peace. The Nixon administration protected it from the threat of Soviet intervention and resupplied it during the October War. Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war, as well as in the lengthy 'step-by-step' process that followed, just as it played a key role in the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords. In each case there was occasional friction between US and Israeli officials, but the US consistently supported the Israeli position. One American participant at Camp David in 2000 later said: 'Far too often, we functioned . . . as Israel's lawyer.' Finally, the Bush administration's ambition to transform the Middle East is at least partly aimed at improving Israel's strategic situation.

This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for US backing. But neither explanation is convincing. One might argue that Israel was an asset during the Cold War. By serving as America's proxy after 1967, it helped contain Soviet expansion in the region and inflicted humiliating defeats on Soviet clients like Egypt and Syria. It occasionally helped protect other US allies (like King Hussein of Jordan) and its military prowess forced Moscow to spend more on backing its own client states. It also provided useful intelligence about Soviet capabilities.

Backing Israel was not cheap, however, and it complicated America's relations with the Arab world. For example, the decision to give $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an Opec oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies. For all that, Israel's armed forces were not in a position to protect US interests in the region. The US could not, for example, rely on Israel when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 raised concerns about the security of oil supplies, and had to create its own Rapid Deployment Force instead.

The first Gulf War revealed the extent to which Israel was becoming a strategic burden. The US could not use Israeli bases without rupturing the anti-Iraq coalition, and had to divert resources (e.g. Patriot missile batteries) to prevent Tel Aviv doing anything that might harm the alliance against Saddam Hussein. History repeated itself in 2003: although Israel was eager for the US to attack Iraq, Bush could not ask it to help without triggering Arab opposition. So Israel stayed on the sidelines once again.

Beginning in the 1990s, and even more after 9/11, US support has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arab and Muslim world, and by 'rogue states' that back these groups and seek weapons of mass destruction. This is taken to mean not only that Washington should give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press it to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead, but that the US should go after countries like Iran and Syria. Israel is thus seen as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are America's enemies. In fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.

'Terrorism' is not a single adversary, but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups. The terrorist organisations that threaten Israel do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or 'the West'; it is largely a response to Israel's prolonged campaign to colonise the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

More important, saying that Israel and the US are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards: the US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around. Support for Israel is not the only source of anti-American terrorism, but it is an important one, and it makes winning the war on terror more difficult. There is no question that many al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are motivated by Israel's presence in Jerusalem and the plight of the Palestinians. Unconditional support for Israel makes it easier for extremists to rally popular support and to attract recruits.

As for so-called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital US interests, except inasmuch as they are a threat to Israel. Even if these states acquire nuclear weapons - which is obviously undesirable - neither America nor Israel could be blackmailed, because the blackmailer could not carry out the threat without suffering overwhelming retaliation. The danger of a nuclear handover to terrorists is equally remote, because a rogue state could not be sure the transfer would go undetected or that it would not be blamed and punished afterwards. The relationship with Israel actually makes it harder for the US to deal with these states. Israel's nuclear arsenal is one reason some of its neighbours want nuclear weapons, and threatening them with regime change merely increases that desire.

A final reason to question Israel's strategic value is that it does not behave like a loyal ally. Israeli officials frequently ignore US requests and renege on promises (including pledges to stop building settlements and to refrain from 'targeted assassinations' of Palestinian leaders). Israel has provided sensitive military technology to potential rivals like China, in what the State Department inspector-general called 'a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorised transfers'. According to the General Accounting Office, Israel also 'conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any ally'. In addition to the case of Jonathan Pollard, who gave Israel large quantities of classified material in the early 1980s (which it reportedly passed on to the Soviet Union in return for more exit visas for Soviet Jews), a new controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key Pentagon official called Larry Franklin had passed classified information to an Israeli diplomat. Israel is hardly the only country that spies on the US, but its willingness to spy on its principal patron casts further doubt on its strategic value.

Israel's strategic value isn't the only issue.

*more

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html

Posted by: bioenergyman | September 12, 2007 12:52 AM | Report abuse

nti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

Normal human: What's anti-semitism?

Zionist: Well, since Israel is a Jewish state, any criticism of Israel is anti-semitism.

Normal Human: Israel is a Jewish state and has acted despicably toward the Palestinians. It deserves criticism!

Zionist: Ooh! You anti-semite! How could you say such a thing! Are you a Nazi? Oh!oh!oh! Anti-semite!

Normal Human: Actually, Israel's despicable actions have made anti-semitism almost respectable.

The Real Cost of US Support for Israel: $3 Trillion
By Christopher Bollyn

While it is commonly reported that Israel officially receives some $3 billion every year in the form of economic aid from the U.S. government, this figure is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many billions of dollars more in hidden costs and economic losses lurking beneath the surface. A recently published economic analysis has concluded that U.S. support for the state of Israel has cost American taxpayers nearly $3 trillion ($3 million millions) in 2002 dollars.

"The Costs to American Taxpayers of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: $3 Trillion" is a summary of economic research done by Thomas R. Stauffer. Stauffer's summary of the research was published in the June 2003 issue of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

Stauffer is a Washington, D.C.-based engineer and economist who writes and teaches about the economics of energy and the Middle East. Stauffer has taught at Harvard University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. Stauffer's findings were first presented at an October 2002 conference sponsored by the U.S. Army College and the University of Maine.

Stauffer's analysis is "an estimate of the total cost to the U.S. alone of instability and conflict in the region - which emanates from the core Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

"Total identifiable costs come to almost $3 trillion," Stauffer says. "About 60 percent, well over half, of those costs - about $1.7 trillion - arose from the U.S. defense of Israel, where most of that amount has been incurred since 1973."

"Support for Israel comes to $1.8 trillion, including special trade advantages, preferential contracts, or aid buried in other accounts. In addition to the financial outlay, U.S. aid to Israel costs some 275,000 American jobs each year." The trade-aid imbalance alone with Israel of between $6-10 billion costs about 125,000 American jobs every year, Stauffer says.

The largest single element in the costs has been the series of oil-supply crises that have accompanied the Israeli-Arab wars and the construction of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. "To date these have cost the U.S. $1.5 trillion (2002 dollars), excluding the additional costs incurred since 2001," Stauffer wrote.

The cost of supporting Israel increased drastically after the 1973 Israeli-Arab war. U.S. support for Israel during that war resulted in additional costs for the American taxpayer of between $750 billion and $1 trillion, Stauffer says.

When Israel was losing the war, President Richard Nixon stepped in to supply the Jewish state with U.S. weapons. Nixon's intervention triggered the Arab oil embargo which Stauffer estimates cost the U.S. as much as $600 billion in lost GDP and another $450 in higher oil import costs.

"The 1973 oil crisis, all in all, cost the U.S. economy no less than $900 billion, and probably as much as $1,200 billion," he says.

As a result of the oil embargo the United States created the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to "insulate Israel and the U.S. against the wielding of a future Arab 'oil weapon.'" The billion-barrel SPR has cost U.S. taxpayers $134 billion to date. According to an Oil Supply Guarantee, which former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger provided Israel in 1975, Israel gets "first call" on any oil available to the U.S. if Israel's oil supply is stopped.

Stauffer's $3 trillion figure is conservative as it does not include the increased costs incurred during the year-long buildup to the recent war against Iraq in which Israel played a significant, albeit covert, role. The higher oil prices that occurred as a result of the Anglo-American campaign against Iraq were absorbed by the consumers. The increase in oil prices provided a huge bonus for the leading oil companies such as British Petroleum and Shell, who are major oil producers as well as retailers. The major international oil companies recorded record profits for the first quarter of 2003.

The Washington Report seeks to "provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states." The monthly journal is known for keeping close tabs on the amount of U.S. taxpayer money that goes to Israel and how much pro-Israel money flows back to Members of Congress in the form of campaign aid.

The journal's website, www.wrmea.com, has an up-to-date counter at the top that indicates how much official aid flows to Israel. While the counter currently stands at $88.2 billion, it only reflects the minimum, as it does not include the many hidden costs.

"The distinction is important, because the indirect or consequential losses suffered by the U.S. as a result of its blind support for Israel exceed by many times the substantial amount of direct aid to Israel," Shirl McArthur wrote in the May 2003 issue of Washington Report.

McArthur's article, "A Conservative Tally of Total Direct U.S. Aid to Israel: $97.5 Billion - and Counting" tallies the hidden costs, such as interest lost due to the early disbursement of aid to Israel and funds hidden in other accounts. For example, Israel received $5.45 billion in Defense Department funding of Israeli weapons projects through 2002, McArthur says.

Loans made to Israel by the U.S. government, like the recently awarded $9 billion, invariably wind up being paid by the American taxpayer. A recent Congressional Research Service report indicates that Israel has received $42 billion in waived loans. "Therefore, it is reasonable to consider all government loans to Israel the same as grants," McArthur says.

Support for Israel has cost America dearly - well over than $10,000 per American - however the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been extremely costly for the entire world. According to Stauffer, the total bill for supporting Israel is two to four times higher than that for the U.S. alone - costing the global community an estimated $6 to $12 trillion.

Posted by: bioenergyman | September 12, 2007 12:49 AM | Report abuse

Now Obama's turning into a classic John Kerry type weenie. great.
If the man had any balls, he would have stood by his anti-lobby stand and not separate the Israeli lobby as anything different than the rest of the lobbies that are buying and selling our politicians.
While I agree that we can't blame the Israel lobby (or any lobby) on US policy (that would be the fault of our politicans who are so easily bought), Obama's move shows he's as easily swayed by a powerful lobby as any of the "old school" politicians.
I truly hoped Obama would turn out to be the candidate of change his campaign promises. Sadly, it seems he's just more of the same old, same old in a shiny new package.


Posted by: swamp1 | September 12, 2007 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbors who have yet to establish diplomatic relations with her. All sponsor state terrorism with the stated goal being its destruction. Only ignorance of history can explain the devisive attitudes held by many if anti-semitism is not at the root.

Posted by: mioilman | September 11, 2007 11:51 PM | Report abuse

Well folks it is coming in like excrement in a hurricane for the leading Democrat candidates today.

Both Clinton and Obama are pledged to give the country "change" in Washington but only if we will just trust them and pledge our vote and some change, if possible, now.

In the case of Hillary Clinton just like her old man (sort of) we read that she is deeply enmeshed with contributions now said to be nearing $1,000,000 from a yet another genial oriental gentleman who has perhaps become too enthuisastic in his quest for his version of the American Dream.

That is too say the circumstances of his wealth and influence are decidedly not in the public realm just as was the case with Mr. Chong and our experience with Big Bill Clinton. (Seems like it happened only yesterday.)

One is left to ask: "In what way or manner is Hillary's current dilemma any change from that of her man Bill's?"

Was there any hope or understanding that a President Hillary would promise to issue a pardon to her benefactor as did Big Bill for the benefit of Marc Rich and numerous others?

Maybe as Bill was fond of reminding us: "It all depends on how you define "change."

Moving right along we have the similar hijinks of one Osama Hussein Obama also promising change.

As the self-billed black Mr. Deeds goes to Washington he had forthrightly stated his position on the Middle East imbroglio.

"My commitment to you (Israel) is unwavering, but the only thing I will not do is to relinquish the possibility that our Middle East policy involves more than just arms sales and military options to consider. There has to be an effective diplomacy." (Now THAT would be a change!)

Surely a stance appropriate to one vowing change and the author of the "Audacity of Hope." But that was before Mr. Obama got his true taste of the dangers of mixing religion and state.

After his epiphany conversation, Obama today says through his spokesman: "Obama had not read the book ("The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy") but knew enough (sic!) about it to disagree with the authors. "The idea that supporters of Israel have somehow (sic) distorted U.S. foreign policy, or that they are responsible for the debacle in Iraq, is just wrong."

Well o.k. Mr. Cbama "perish the thought."

And so this is Obama's definition of change.

Not to be outdone today the least likely Dem candidate to succeed, Kucinich, today appears on Syrian video fresh and flush after his conversation with that other "Man of Peace" Assad.

The amateur statesman is completely enthralled with experience in the heady world of conversation with a world leader. And unwittingly reports he made all the expected errors often associated with the novice engaging in such matters.

So as one noted at the outset: not a good day for the Dems and along with many vote losses amongst Independents, Republicans, probably caused even some of the more considered Democrats to catch a deep breath.

P.S. This reader continues to await a full and fair review in the Washington Post of the book by Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt. As does every right thinking subscriber/reader. But as they like to remind us, "Follow the Money" etc. so don't hold your breath fellow Americans.

And don't we all just continue to marvel at "Big Bill" Richardson's classic pander:

"Forty-three million of us all around the country can decide not just what is best for Latinos but what is best for America."

Apparently this is Big Bill's idea of "change" in America and it would be for sure.

(Hola, Guillermo better clear this with 6 million Jews who were under the impression they called the shots in America.) More Dem votes, money, and media lost?

As Clinton liked to say one is Looking For Tomorrow and only wondering what marvelous pratfalls and exposures the Dems will offer next.

And the Iraqis are said to be reluctant to adopt our version of Democracy. Strange.

Posted by: wcg1 | September 11, 2007 11:02 PM | Report abuse

So Obama has drunk the cool-aid too. How sad. The vicious reception his mild comments about the middle east situation prove you can't buck the Lobby in America, and that Mearsheimer and Walt are correct.

But Obama can't say it. Will Brzezinsky abandon him now? I hope not, but he would be justified in doing so. And that's a shame. Does NOBODY but Kucinich have any backbone?

Posted by: teeptwo | September 11, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

What a surprise. This is the unspoken truth in DC.

Posted by: ohio4580 | September 11, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Discussion about Israel in the United States is often circumscribed, and that the ultimate price for criticizing Israel is to be branded an anti-Semite. This taboo ultimately hurts America.

Must a Presidential Candidate in America be Pro Israel to win.... -------------------------------------> http://www.youpolls.com/details.asp?pid=467

Posted by: PollM | September 11, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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