Just a coincidence, I’m sure

“You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 Senators on this napkin.” –Former AIPAC official Steven Rosen, speaking to a sympathetic journalist (Jeffrey Goldberg). “Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Arlen Specter (D-PA), John Thune (R-SD) were joined by 72 of their Senate colleagues in writing to President ...

Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Walt-Steve-foreign-policy-columnist20
Stephen M. Walt
By , a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
585678_090520_aipac2.jpg
585678_090520_aipac2.jpg

“You see this napkin? In 24 hours, we could have the signatures of 70 Senators on this napkin.”

–Former AIPAC official Steven Rosen, speaking to a sympathetic journalist (Jeffrey Goldberg).

“Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Arlen Specter (D-PA), John Thune (R-SD) were joined by 72 of their Senate colleagues in writing to President Obama today, encouraging him to work towards achieving peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors in a manner that takes into full account the risks that Israel will face in any peace agreement.”

Press release from office of Sen. Dodd, May 19, 2009.

The letter in question is the Senate version of the AIPAC-drafted letter circulated by Reps. Steney Hoyer (D-MD) and Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the House. It calls for the Obama administration “to work closely and privately” with Israel and that the United States “must be a trusted mediator and a devoted friend to Israel.” In other words, Obama’s team should act as “Israel’s lawyer” in peace talks, just as Bill Clinton’s team did during the failed Oslo process. It says that once the Palestinians meet a series of demanding conditions, then “an accord with Israel will be easier to attain,” and it calls for the Arab states to move “toward normal ties with Israel” without specifying any steps that Israel might take to facilitate this process. There is no mention of an end to settlement construction, lifting the blockade of Gaza, or halting the creeping incorporation of land in and around Jerusalem. It declares that Israel “will be taking the greatest risks in any peace agreement,” but the signatories remain blissfully unaware that continuing to delay a two-state solution poses a far greater threat to Israel’s long-term future. For a more detailed critique, see M.J. Rosenberg here.

There is a broad agreement that groups like AIPAC exert more influence on Capitol Hill than on the Executive Branch. Let’s hope so.       

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University. Twitter: @stephenwalt

More from Foreign Policy

Residents evacuated from Shebekino and other Russian towns near the border with Ukraine are seen in a temporary shelter in Belgorod, Russia, on June 2.
Residents evacuated from Shebekino and other Russian towns near the border with Ukraine are seen in a temporary shelter in Belgorod, Russia, on June 2.

Russians Are Unraveling Before Our Eyes

A wave of fresh humiliations has the Kremlin struggling to control the narrative.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva shake hands in Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva shake hands in Beijing.

A BRICS Currency Could Shake the Dollar’s Dominance

De-dollarization’s moment might finally be here.

Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in an episode of The Diplomat
Keri Russell as Kate Wyler in an episode of The Diplomat

Is Netflix’s ‘The Diplomat’ Factual or Farcical?

A former U.S. ambassador, an Iran expert, a Libya expert, and a former U.K. Conservative Party advisor weigh in.

An illustration shows the faces of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin interrupted by wavy lines of a fragmented map of Europe and Asia.
An illustration shows the faces of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin interrupted by wavy lines of a fragmented map of Europe and Asia.

The Battle for Eurasia

China, Russia, and their autocratic friends are leading another epic clash over the world’s largest landmass.