Mitchell Plitnick diagnoses it:
Sometimes, Americans follow Israel’s lead. Sometimes we don’t. It’s part of a dynamic many Israeli friends of mine, across the political spectrum, have expressed exasperation about: Americans being more “Israeli” than Israelis. It’s a grossly fetishistic exercise, one that says more about projecting American religious-political desires onto Israelis, than it does, necessarily, about what Israelis might want and think, by themselves.
It is, from an outsider's perspective, a strange phenomenon. It took a while in America for me to grasp why the media and political world was fixated on a tiny country with almost 8 million people. No conspiracy – just a fervent ethnic and religious solidarity that sometimes borders on self-parody. The US Congress is integral to this lop-sided near-fusion of the US and an increasingly problematic ally in a fast-changing region. Plitnick notes the following from the NYT:
The Republicans also attach conditions on aid to Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinians, suspending the latter entirely if the Palestinians succeed in winning recognition of statehood at the United Nations. However, one of the largest portions of foreign aid — more than $3 billion for Israel — is left untouched in both the House and Senate versions, showing that, even in times of austerity, some spending is inviolable.
You can slash Medicare but not $3 billion in aid to a wealthy ally. Plitnick calls it like it is:
Does anyone believe that most Americans think that the country that is always near the top of the list of recipients of US foreign aid, year after year, which is a regional superpower, has a Western standard of living, which is among the countries least affected by the global downturn, should get the lion’s share of American aid money? What about other deserving countries, in worse economic circumstances than Israel? What about unemployed Americans losing their social assistance benefits?
I can’t imagine that most Americans, Republican, Democrat or self-identified independents, would support such an idea. But … we now have a Congress that, due to political opportunism, shows more loyalty to the Israeli right than to the United States.
I think that is now indisputable. Just as indisputable as the Greater Israel lobby's success in protecting its accelerating colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Unless we can resolve this issue, America's influence in the Middle East and beyond will suffer irreparable damage.
(Photo: U.S. conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck hosts a rally near the Western Wall, on August 24, 2011 in Jerusalem's Old City, Israel. The event, under the slogan 'Restoring Courage', was attended by hundreds of his evangelical Christian supporters, whilst many who oppose his right-wing views protested outside. By Uriel Sinai/Getty Images.)