The Israel Lobby is nothing compared to the Saudi Lobby

The Vast Power of the Saudi Lobby

Whatever Saudis Want, Saudis Get by Ted Belman   – 2007

Saudi Arabia and the Peace Process  By Ted Belman – Apr 4, 2010

by Alan M. Dershowitz, THE DAILY BEAST Aug 29, 2010

Lost in all of the controversy over the mosque is the fact that the Arab lobby is one of the strongest in America—even stronger than Israel’s, says a controversial new book. Alan Dershowitz on how Arab governments influence U.S. politics.

While the media and politicians engage in frenzied debate about the virtues and vices of building—or preventing the building of—a Muslim community center (cum mosque) near the “sacred ground” of 9/11, Iran continues to build a nuclear weapon, as the Israelis and Palestinians take a tentative step toward building a peaceful resolution to their age-old conflict. Inevitably, whenever Middle East issues take center stage, the question of the role of lobbies, particularly those that advocate for foreign countries, becomes a hot topic. This book by longtime Middle East authority, Mitchell Bard, is a must read for anyone who cares—and who doesn’t?—about the role of lobbies in influencing American policy in the Middle East. Its thesis, which is sure to be controversial, is easily summarized:

“If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office.”

Yes Virginia, there is a big bad lobby that distorts U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East way out of proportion to its actual support by the American public. Professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, author of the screed, The Israel Lobby, are right about that. But the offending lobby is not AIPAC, which supports Israel, but rather the Arab lobby, which opposes the Jewish state.

Both the pro-Israel and pro-Arab lobby (really lobbies because there are several for each) are indeed powerful but there is a big difference—a difference that goes to the heart of the role of lobbying in a democracy. Bard puts it this way:

“One of the most important distinguishing characteristics of the Arab lobby is that it has no popular support. While the Israeli lobby has hundreds of thousands of grass root members and public opinion polls consistently reveal a huge gap between support for Israel and the Arab nations/Palestinians, the Arab lobby has almost no foot soldiers or public sympathy. It’s most powerful elements tend to be bureaucrats who represent only their personal views or what they believe are their institutional interests, and foreign governments that care only about their national interests, not those of the United States. What they lack in human capital in terms of American advocates, they make up for with almost unlimited resources to try to buy what they usually cannot win on the merits of their arguments.”

Book Cover – The Arab Lobby The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East. By Mitchell Bard. 432 pages. Harper. $27.99. This is a critical distinction for a democracy. The case for Israel (though not for all of its policies) is an easy sell for pro-Israel lobbyists, especially elected representatives. Voting in favor of Israel is popular not only in areas with a large concentration of Jewish voters, but throughout the country, because Israel is popular with Evangelical Christians in particular and with much, though certainly not all, of the public in general. Lobbies that reflect the will of the people are an important part of the democratic process. Thus, the American Association of Retired People (AARP), the principal lobbying group for the elderly, is extremely powerful because there are so many elderly people in this country who want to protect social security, Medicaid, and other benefits. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is a powerful lobby precisely because so many Americans, for better or worse, love their guns. And The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a powerful lobby because Americans, in general, support the Middle East’s only democracy and reliable American ally.

But why is the Arab lobby, and most particularly the Saudi lobby, also powerful? Saudi Arabia has virtually no support among Americans. Indeed, it is widely reviled for its export of terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, its manipulation of oil prices, its anti-Christian and anti-Semitic policies, its total deprivation of any semblance of freedom of speech or dissent, and its primitive forms of punishment that include stoning and amputation. Yet, as Bard demonstrates, the Saudi lobby has beaten the pro-Israel lobby over and over again in head-to-head conflicts, such as the sale of sophisticated weapons to a regime that doesn’t even have the technical skills to use them, and the conflict over whether to move the United States’ embassy to Jerusalem. Even now, Saudi Arabia is lobbying to obtain a multibillion-dollar arms deal, and it is likely to succeed over the objections of Israel.

How then does a lobby with no popular support manage to exert influence in a democratic country? The secret is very simple. The Arab lobby in general and the Saudis in particular make little effort to influence popularly elected public officials, particularly legislators. Again, listen to Bard:

“The Saudis have taken a different tact from the Israeli lobby, focusing a top-down rather than bottom-up approach to lobbying. As hired gun, J. Crawford Cook, wrote in laying out his proposed strategy for the kingdom, ‘Saudi Arabia has a need to influence the few that influence the many, rather than the need to influence the many to whom the few must respond.'”

The primary means by which the Saudis exercise this influence is money. They spend enormous amounts of lucre to buy (or rent) former state department officials, diplomats, White House aides, and legislative leaders who become their elite lobbying corps. Far more insidiously, the Saudis let it be known that if current government officials want to be hired following their retirement from government service, they had better hew to the Saudi line while they are serving in our government. The former Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, who was so close to the President George H.W. Bush that he referred to himself as “Bandar Bush,” acknowledged the relationship between how a government official behaves while in office and how well he will be rewarded when he leaves office. “If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have when they are just coming into office.”

Bard concludes from this well known quid pro quo that: “given the potential of these post-retirement opportunities, it would not be surprising if officials adopted positions while in government to make themselves marketable to the Arab lobby.”

The methodology employed by the Arab lobby is thus totally inconsistent with democratic governance, because it does not reflect the will of the people but rather the corruption of the elite, while the Israeli lobby seems to operate within the parameters of democratic processes. Yet so much has been written about the allegedly corrosive nature of the Israeli lobby, while the powerful Arab lobby has widely escaped scrutiny and criticism. This important book thus contributes to the open marketplace of ideas by illuminating the dark side of the massive and largely undemocratic Arab lobbying efforts to influence American policy with regard to the Middle East.

July 18, 2023 | 1 Comment »

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  1. The Arab societies are the primary purveyors of the false belief that a powerful group of wealthy Jews control the world.

    Obama had as one of his main goals to destroy the Israel lobby. He did this by starting a non-profit called J Street, which publicly stated it was a lobbying group for Jews but was actually an Islamist group pretending to be a Jewish group, and attempted to split the progressive Jewish community away from supporting Israel.

    Obama was highly successful in this endeavor. A Pew study found that between 2021 and 2022, Democrat support for Israel was at 60% and democrat support for the Palestinians was at 64%. Republican support for Israel was at 78% and support for the Palestinians was at 37%.

    In other words, Obama achieved the result of turning democrat voters (most Jews in the US are democrat voters) into people more supportive of the Palestinians than of Israelis.

    A poll by the Economist found in 2022:[A]lthough 22% of Democrats regard protecting Israel as a “very important” U.S. goal overall, fully 61% of Republicans do so. In the longstanding conflict between Israel and the Palestinians….Three in five Republicans (61%) say their sympathies lie with Israel, while Democrats are more likely to say they sympathize with both sides (35%) than support either Israel (16%) or the Palestinians (23%). Only 5% of Republicans say their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians.

    A separate May 2021 poll by Quinnipiac College asked “From what you know about the situation in the Middle East, do your sympathies lie more with Israelis or more with the Palestinians?” The poll found that among Republicans, 74 percent said their sympathy lay with Israelis and only 8 percent with the Palestinians. But among Democrats, 43 percent said Palestinians and only 22 percent with Israelis.

    The article on the Saudi lobby in the US underlined that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represents elite globalists and they lobby the political elites in the US to represent their interests, even when their interests are at variance with the needs of the American people.

    This is how we arrived at our current situation in the USA: a CIA coup that overtook the country, and is running the country based on globalist influences and catering to globalist predator needs.

    Those needs are for complete control and domination of the people, and for increasing their wealth at the expense of the American people.

    Thus they have tailored economic policies to cause the economy to collapse probably in 2024, with the collapse of the dollar and massive impoverishment to anyone who trusted the dollar and the US economy.

    This puppet administration is tailoring DoD policies (in truth the Department of Defense is really the Department of War) to cause mayhem and destruction, requiring the purchase of weapons, tanks, and other armaments, despite the fact that the US economy is already weighed down by unsustainable debt. Those who loan money for defense expenditures make money whether the war wins or loses.

    The energy policies of this puppet government are tailored to meet the needs of oil producing nations at the expense of Americans. This energy policy of refusing fossil fuel exploration/leases in the US ACTUALLY CAUSED THE INFLATION that is destroying the value of the dollar every day.

    The Saudi lobby has been wildly successful, especially during both Bush administrations, the Obama Administration, and now with the puppet government.