The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East
In this authoritative history—the first in over twenty-five years to investigate the scope and activities of the Arab Lobby—Mitchell Bard provides a timely and valuable corrective to the unbalanced view of Middle East affairs that is so widely promoted today.
The so-called Israel lobby has been widely denounced and demonized in the media, but its power pales in comparison to the decades-long corruption of American interests by Arab governments. Indeed, for more than seventy years, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been shaped not by the power of a nefarious "Israel lobby" but by a misguided emphasis on pleasing and placating the Arab states. This outlook has ensured that the United States pays disproportionate attention to their demands, assisting Arab countries—all of them dictatorial regimes with abysmal human rights records—that do not share our values, and often work to subvert our interests.
Historically, the Arab lobby consisted of the oil industry, Christian missionaries, and current or former U.S. diplomats. Arabists in the State Department, many of them openly anti-Semitic, tried to prevent America from recognizing Israel in 1948, and have since waged a long bureaucratic war to undermine the alliance between America and the only true democracy in the Middle East, blocking arms and aid to Israel, while seeking larger weapons sales for their Arab friends. Many of these Arabists subsequently found lucrative jobs promoting business with Arab countries, speaking on their behalf and criticizing U.S.-Israel policy.
Today the Arab states influence American policy through numerous hidden and informal channels, including former members of Congress, subsidized think tanks, paid media spokesmen, academics who hold chairs endowed by Arab money, human rights organizations, assorted UN agencies, European diplomats, and Christian groups hostile to Israel. A number of former ambassadors, university professors, and think tank experts routinely opine on Middle Eastern affairs, but never reveal these conflicts of interest.
The most powerful member of the Arab lobby is Saudi Arabia, which has a nearly eighty-year relationship with the United States. From the earliest days, when American companies first discovered oil in the Arabian Peninsula, the Saudis have used a variety of tactics, including threats and bribes, to coerce U.S. policy makers to ignore their human rights abuses, support of terrorism, and opposition to American interests.
Today, Bard shows, the Arab lobby's goals include feeding America's oil addiction, obtaining more sophisticated weaponry, and weakening our alliance with a democratic Israel. It also seeks to influence public opinion through a well-funded publicity campaign, and by injecting distorted views of the Middle East into high school and college textbooks. Bard's detailed political history brings much-needed balance to a debate fraught with ignorance and propaganda.
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Mitchell Bard's The Arab Lobby is a meticulous (almost 400 pages and not even a spelling mistake), well-researched (this book is dense with information) and documented (639 footnotes). The book's purpose is revealed in the subtitle, to reveal "the invisible alliance that undermines America's interests in the Middle East". The book ranges over the whole spectrum of Middle Eastern problems and conundrums that affect America, from the creation of Israel, to the pernicious effect of oil addiction, to the newly formed Muslim lobby groups such as C.A.I.R.. The author familiarizes us with much of the current literature on the topic (a conspicuous exception being Robert Spencer's Stealth Jihad) such as Martin Kramer's Ivory Towers on Sand as well as informing us of many things that were news to this writer at least. I am sure it will come a shock to many liberal Jews in the United States that "... Roosevelt failed to take steps before and during the war that could have saved thousands of European Jews, and that most of his actions with respect to the Zionist program were unhelpful." (p. 16) The Saudi Arabian lobby is documented at great length, from the initial discoveries of oil up to the present time. The author's view of the Saudis is encapsulated in his conclusion: "Arabists see the Saudis as wise exotic rulers, but if not for oil they would be dismissed as anti-semitic, paranoid crackpots of the ilk of Idi Amin and Qaddafi. To author supports this view with facts, anecdotes and arguments that are overwhelming. Many people may know that the Saudis were one of the last nations on earth to ban slavery in 1962; however, very few people know why that happened: "Kennedy was much blunter when Crown Prince Faisal
came to the White House in September 1962. The president gave him the reassurance he sought regarding America's devotion to Saudi independence and territorial integrity, but he also made clear that he expected the Saudis to institute certain reforms, in particular the abolition of slavery. One of the little-publicized aspects of Saudi society, this was also one of the most dramatic examples of the difference in values. Slavery was an issue that was swept under the rug by the Arabists, who to this day show little concern for the human rights abuses of the Saudis. Kennedy was the only president who made this an issue, and his emphatic position was probably the reason that Faisal issued a proclamation out- lawing slavery soon after he returned from Washington, and almost a century after the practice was abolished in the United States." (p. 78) The anti-semitic views of prominent Saudis are demonstrated: "Another important element of these arms sales was secrecy. They were not debated in public or Congress, and therefore the statements and policies of the Saudis did not inhibit the administration's ability to arrange arms transfers. This was a good thing for the kingdom, given the views of King Faisal, a virulent anti-Semite who once told a congressman from San Francisco how much he liked the city, especially the signs in stores that said, "No dogs or Jews allowed." On a visit to Paris, he claimed that five children were murdered and their blood drained by Jews so they could use it to make Passover matzo. Faisal was also famous for giving visitors copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. At the end of every meeting, according to Ambassador Horan, Faisal would say to his protocol assistant, "Have you given him THE BOOK?
Get him THE BOOK!" (p. 57) He further documents at length the Saudis' attempts to influence American policy and society through lobbying legislators, funding professorships and academic departments at prominent universities, funding Arab, Palestinian and Muslim lobby groups, funding dawa (Muslim proselytization), funding the building of Mosques and funding Islamic
Until Bard's "The Arab Lobby," readers had only a vague idea of the pernicious role that Arab oil money plays in our society. Many of us understood that the millions of dollars spent by the oil companies and by oil-exporting countries in lobbying our government for privilege was hurtful to our pocketbook and our national security. But Bard's research lays bare that hurt. Chapter by chapter, he shows how the lobby's tenacles have captured not just trusted institutions like our State Department, but how it works to control ideas by buying up or into our colleges and universities, our media, and even members of Congress and our Administration. It is an eye opener to learn how Arab oil is used to curry favor with ex-United States' presidents by contributing substantial sums to the building of their presidential libraries. Notning is done without expectation of rewards and Bard details the rewards. It's a must read.
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