This is why conspiratorial talk about the Israel Lobby seriously misses the point. The U.S. relationship with Israel is not determined by a narrow band of colluding Washington, New York and Hollywood Jews. It’s not even determined by Jews, full stop. It thrives because one of the most powerful constituencies in American politics, conservative Christians, identifies with Israel — and not with politicians who question it. You can see that, barometrically, in the GOP presidential debates, in which the candidates line up to outdo each other in vowing support for Israel and bashing Obama for his insufficient affection for Israel.
Goldblog pushes back:
I don't disagree with Ackerman about the priorities of conservative Christian "Zionists" (I'm not sure I would label what they believe "Zionism,' because their beliefs don't have much to do with the reasons actual political Zionism came into existence, but you should pardon the digression). What I don't fully accept is the notion that evangelical Christians are a) truly devoted in a permanent way to the cause of Israel, and b) that their current commitment is deep and abiding, and c) they possess the political infrastructure to protect, over time, Israel in the American foreign policy debate.
Krauthammer, perhaps the most influential of Netanyahu's supporters in the US, differs. In fact, he agrees with me and Spencer:
98 percent of pro-Israeli Americans are gentile. It’s a very strong, important issue among the evangelical Christians. The association [of Israel] only with Jews is missing a very large story here.
Despite the fact that it would be much more fruitful just to take Israel appeals directly to the evangelicals, the Republican hopefuls did not give their Israel speeches this week in front of Christians United for Israel; they gave their speeches in front of the Republican Jewish Coalition. This is why there is such intensity over the votes of a two percent bloc of the population: electorally, American Jews are walking force multipliers. It’s why a special election in a hilariously obscure (and obscurely Jewish) corner of Queens and Brooklyn became a national story, and why, a week later, Gov. Rick Perry’s Israel press conference featured himself and the victor, Rep. Bob Turner, as the only two Gentiles on a very crowded stage.
But without the 98 percent, there's only so much multiplication of force. The support for Greater Israel is now primarily a Christianist project. It will be headed if he wins the presidency by a Benedict XVI Catholic. It is at the core of the Christianist GOP base.
(Photo: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the Christians United For Israel [CUFI] summit in Jerusalem, hosted by US televenangelical pastor John Hagee on March 8, 2010. By Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images.)