What Israel Lobby?

A classic Washington gaffe from Susan Rice, referring to the upcoming UN vote on recognizing a Palestinian state:

“And this would be exceedingly politically damaging in our domestic context, as you can well imagine. And I cannot frankly think of a greater threat to our ability to maintain financial and political support for the United Nations in congress than such an outcome.”

Why would it be so politically damaging at home for the Obama administration if the UN took such a vote, even if the US votes in favor? A two-state solution has been the US position for years; recognizing an emergent, if still fragile, Arab democracy on the West Bank, would seem a no-brainer, and a critical part of aligning US interests with the other emergent Arab democracies in Tunisia, Egypt and (fingers crossed) Iraq . Yes, Americans tend to side with the Israelis, but I don't believe that mass opinion would oppose recognizing a Palestinian state. The Progressive Realist suggests that the danger for Obama is that the pro-Israel lobby could flex its Congressional muscles, weaken electoral fundraising for Obama and the Democrats, and play the anti-Israel card to rally the Christianist end-timers. Money quote:

What a sad testament to the damage being done to America’s national security by Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an age when terrorism is said to be the gravest threat to Americans at home and abroad, we’re going to do jihadist recruiters the favor of amping up Arab antipathy toward the US by opposing this Palestinian quest for statehood? In an age when collective international action is increasingly vital to world order, congress may slash funding to the United Nations?

Of course, the Israeli-American effort to thwart Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations will, in the long run, be bad for Israel, not just for America. But this is an old story: It isn’t that America’s interests clash with Israel’s true interests; it’s just that America’s interests clash with Israel’s self-destructive policies—and thus with the political force emanating from “pro-Israel” Americans who, whether they know it or not, are hurting both Israel and America.