never in the time that I led the American negotiations on the Middle East peace process did we take a step because ‘the lobby’ wanted us to. Nor did we shy away from one because ‘the lobby’ opposed it. That is not to say that AIPAC and others have no influence. They do. But they don’t distort U.S. policy or undermine American interests.
I wonder what the word “influence” means in Dennis Ross’ world. In my world, it means the power to change policy from what it otherwise would be – in other words, to distort policy, or lead negotiators to “shy away from” unfavorable policies and take steps because the influence-wielder “wanted them to”. Apparently, Ross thinks “influence” is purely epiphenomenal.
Look, the Israel lobby can be influential, or it can “not distort U.S. policy”. It can’t do both. Given how indefensible it would be to deny the lobby’s influence, that means admitting that it distorts U.S. policy. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s a bad thing, and thankfully some Obama administration officials seem think it’s a bad thing, but Ross and Martin Indyk and other Israel hawks should welcome the additional pressure for their policy positions. But they should at least be honest about the lobby, and the role it plays in helping out their side of the argument.