The Israel lobby in the United States does not serve Israel or the Jewish community – it serves the interests of the Israeli extreme right wing. Most Israelis have come to understand that peace will be possible only when their country complies with international law and permits Palestinians to build a viable and sustainable state based on the 1967 borders, including, in some configuration, East Jerusalem.
This stark demarcation between Israeli pragmatists and the extreme right wing was apparent when I was in the Middle East for the New York Times during Yitzhak Rabin’s 1992 campaign for prime minister. The majority of American Jewish organizations and neoconservative intellectuals made no pretense of neutrality. They had morphed into extensions of the right-wing Likud Party. These American groups, to Rabin’s dismay, had gone on to build, with Likud, an alliance with right-wing Christian groups filled with real anti-Semites whose cultural and historical ignorance of the Middle East was breathtaking. This collection of messianic Jews and Christians, leavened with rabid American imperialists, believed they had been handed a divine or moral mandate to rule the Middle East, whether the Arabs liked it or not.
When Rabin, who had come to despise what the occupation was doing to the citizenry of his own country, was sworn in as prime minister, the leaders of these American Jewish organizations, along with their buffoonish supporters on the Christian right, were conspicuous by their absence. On one of Rabin’s first visits to Washington after he assumed office, according to one of his aides, he was informed that a group of American Jewish leaders were available to meet him. The surly old general, whose gravely cigarette voice seemed to rise up from below his feet, curtly refused. He told his entourage he did not have time to waste on “scumbags.”