Jewish lobby is used to describe organized lobbying
Jews on domestic and foreign policy decisions, as a
political participant of representative government, conducted
predominantly in the
Jewish diaspora in a number of Western countries.
While at times self-described, usage of the term is
viewed as inaccurate, and, particularly when used to allege
disproportionate Jewish influence, it can be perceived as pejorative
or may constitute antisemitism.
2 Criticism of the term
2.1 Viewed as inaccurate
2.2 Viewed as antisemitic and/or pejorative
3 Defense of the term
4 Reaction to the term's use
6 See also
7 Further reading
In his Dictionary of Politics (1992),
Walter John Raymond describes
the term "Jewish Lobby" as "A conglomeration of approximately
thirty-four Jewish political organizations in the
United States which
make joint and separate efforts to lobby for their interests in the
United States, as well as for the interests of the State of Israel."
He also notes that "[a]mong those organizations which are most
actively involved in lobbying activities at federal, state and local
levels of political and governmental institutions are: the American
Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish
Committee... and the B'nai B'rith." Dominique Vidal, writing in Le
Monde diplomatique, states that in the
United States the term is
"self-described" and it "is only one of many influence groups that
have official standing with institutions and authorities."
B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission of
Australia states in its
description, "It is important to recognise that lobbies are natural
parts of pluralist, democratic societies such as Australia. Lobbying
constitutes a mainstream method of influencing government policy, as a
means of enhancing representative government. As such, just as other
communities and interest groups have lobbies, there is a ‘Jewish
lobby’ – an unwieldy group of individuals and organisations
devoted to supporting the needs and interests of the Jewish community.
Jewish lobby is a player in representative government, and its
very existence confirms the ordinary place
Jews have within Australian
politics. The assumption, however, that
Jews have a disproportionate
power and influence over decision making is what transforms a
descriptive reality about politics to an antisemitic argument about
Noting the high voting rate of individual American
Jews in elections,
J.J. Goldberg, editorial director of The Forward, stated in a 2004
speech that "The Jewish lobby... is actually more than just a dozen
organizations. The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish
Committee, Hadassah, of course, AIPAC, but it is also the impact of
the Jewish role. ... So, the Jewish influence is a lot of things. It
is the organizations, it’s the vote, it’s fundraising."
Criticism of the term
Viewed as inaccurate
Mitchell Bard, director of the non-profit Jewish Virtual Library,
writes that: "Reference is often made to the 'Jewish lobby' in an
effort to describe Jewish influence, but this term is both vague and
inadequate. While it is true that American
Jews are sometimes
represented by lobbyists, such direct efforts to influence
policy-makers are but a small part of the lobby’s ability to shape
policy." Bard argues the term
Israel lobby is more accurate,
because it comprises both formal and informal elements (which includes
public opinion), and "...because a large proportion of the lobby is
made up of non-Jews." In his 1987 work, The Lobby: Jewish Political
Power and American Foreign Policy,
Edward Tivnan states that the term
"needed some fine-tuning; what was most at issue... was the influence
of the 'pro-
In a letter to the editor of the New York Times Sunday Review of
Books, responding to a review by Leslie Gelb of their 2007 book The
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, University of Chicago
John Mearsheimer and
Harvard University professor Stephen
Walt write: "Gelb refers repeatedly to a 'Jewish lobby,' despite the
fact that we never employ the term in our book. Indeed, we explicitly
rejected this label as inaccurate and misleading, both because the
lobby includes non-
Jews like the Christian Zionists and because many
Jewish Americans do not support the hard-line policies favored by its
most powerful elements." The previous week, in a live Q&A
session at The Washington Post, they stated they themselves "never use
the term 'Jewish lobby' because the lobby is defined by its political
agenda, not by religion or ethnicity."
Viewed as antisemitic and/or pejorative
Part of a series on
Part of Jewish history
History of antisemitism
Ku Klux Klan
Nation of Islam
Controlling the media
Controlling the financial system
Jews and Their Lies
Protocols of the Elders of Zion
The International Jew
The Secret Relationship
Between Blacks and Jews
The Turner Diaries
(William Luther Pierce)
Culture of Critique
Antisemitism on the Web
The Daily Stormer
The Right Stuff
Ghettos in Europe
Community Security Trust
Fundamental Rights Agency
Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)
Stephen Roth Institute
Southern Poverty Law
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC)
Union of Councils for
Swedish Committee Against
Robert S. Wistrich, of the International Center for the Study of
Antisemitism, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sees reference to the
phrase, when used to describe an "all-powerful 'Jewish Lobby' that
prevents justice in the Middle East", as reliance on a classic
Bruno Bettelheim detested the term, arguing "The self-importance of
Jews combined with the paranoia of the anti-Semite had created the
image of this lobby." Michael Lasky describes the term as an
"unfortunate phrase", and "imagines" that Alexander Walker's use of it
while writing about the Nazi films of
Leni Riefenstahl was not
B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission of
Australia states that
"the stereotype of the 'Jewish lobby' is that the Jewish engagement in
politics and policy debate is above and beyond the ordinary
participation of a group in public policy-making. It paints Jewish
involvement as surreptitious, and as subverting the democratic
process. It alleges that a 'Jewish lobby', through bribery, bullying
and manipulation, pressures politicians to act against their will and
duties.” Michael Visontay, editor of Australia's The Sydney
Morning Herald, wrote in 2003 that "The way the phrase 'Jewish lobby'
has been bandied about in numerous letters implies there is something
inherently sinister in lobbying when
Jews do it." According to
Geoffrey Brahm Levey and Philip Mendes, the term is used in Australia
as a pejorative description of the way in which the Jewish community
influences the Liberal Party "by talking to its leaders and making
them aware of Jewish wishes and views".
Dominique Schnapper, Chantal Bordes-Benayoun and Freddy Raphaėl write
that following the 1991 Gulf War, the term "began to be heard in
political life" in France. Vidal writes that the term has been
used there exclusively by the French far right as "a phrase that
combines standard anti-semitic fantasies about Jewish finance, media
control and power; the term is the contemporary equivalent of the
Protocols of the Elders of Zion". Loyola University Chicago
professor Wiley Feinstein wrote in 2003 that "there is much talk of
the 'Jewish lobby' in the Italian Press and in Europe", describing the
term as "a phrase of scorn for
Jews and Judaism".
William Safire wrote in 1993 that in the
United Kingdom "Jewish lobby"
is used as an "even more pejorative" term for "the 'Israel
lobby'". Susan Jacobs of
Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester Metropolitan University writes
that the phrase "Jewish lobby", when used "without mentioning other
‘lobbies’ or differentiating
Jews who have different political
positions on a number of questions, including
Israel and Palestine",
is a contemporary form of the fear of a Jewish conspiracy.
Defense of the term
In a 2004 speech, Goldberg said, "There has been an awful lot of talk
in the last few years about the rise of the
Jewish lobby and the
influence of the Jewish lobby. It used to be that you couldn't talk
about this sort of thing. When I wrote [the book] Jewish Power in
1996... I was accused by various Jewish lobbyists of inflating and
buying into the old myths of international Jewish conspiracies simply
by the use of the title." Goldberg disagrees with the sensitivity
towards the use of the term, arguing that: "There is such a thing as a
Jewish lobby, that the network of organizations that works together to
put across what might be called the Jewish community's view on world
affairs is not insignificant, it's not an invention, but it is not
some sort of all-powerful octopus that it’s sometimes portrayed as
these days." Mearsheimer and Walt wrote in 2006 that "even the
Israeli media refer to America's 'Jewish Lobby'", and stated the
following year that "AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents and the
Israeli media themselves refer to America's 'Jewish Lobby'."
Reaction to the term's use
After South African activist, Christian cleric, and Nobel Peace Prize
Desmond Tutu used it in a 1985 speech at the Jewish Theological
Seminary of America, a supporter wrote him privately urging him to
avoid the phrase, stating it was "language... normally associated with
the less than philo-Semitic elements of our acquaintance". Tutu
used the phrase again in a 2002 editorial in The Guardian, stating
"People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong
Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Well, so what?
For goodness sake, this is God's world!" This use was criticized
Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail. When he edited and
reprinted parts of his speech in 2005, Tutu replaced the words "Jewish
lobby" with "pro-Israeli lobby". In 2007, an invitation to Tutu to
speak at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota was rescinded
because of the speech; writing in Mother Jones, Justin Elliot stated
"Tutu's use of the phrase 'Jewish lobby' is regrettable, mainly
because the pro-
Israel lobby he is referring to is not made up
exclusively of Jews, example Texas preacher John Hagee's Christians
United for Israel. But one minor slip five years ago is hardly grounds
for blacklisting him."
Chris Davies, MEP for the northwest of England was forced to resign in
2006 as leader of the Liberal Democrats group in the European
Parliament after writing to a constituent “I shall denounce the
influence of the
Jewish lobby that seems to have far too great a say
over the political decision-making process in many countries.”
In comments to TotallyJewish.Com he "confessed he didn’t know the
difference between referring to the 'pro
Israel lobby' and the 'Jewish
lobby'," and added “I’m quite prepared to accept that I don’t
understand the semantics of some of these things.” Commenting on
Davies' use of the term, David Hirsh of
The Guardian wrote that Davies
"had to resign because his laudable instinct to side with the underdog
was not tempered by care, thought or self-education." He compared
Davies' rhetoric with the "care to avoid openly antisemitic rhetoric
taken by sophisticates like Mearsheimer and Walt and Robert Fisk."
A 2007 editorial in
The New York Sun
The New York Sun accused Richard Dawkins, a
British evolutionary biologist and writer, of repeating antisemitic
conspiracy theories after he used the term in an interview published
in The Guardian. In the interview Dawkins said: "When you think
about how fantastically successful the
Jewish lobby has been, though,
in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious
Jews anyway -
than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign
policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a
small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better
place." In a
National Review column discussing the influence of
"high-profile atheists" on the American left,
Arthur C. Brooks
Arthur C. Brooks wrote
that Dawkins' claim was "anti-Semitic, slanders religion, and asserts
victimhood." David Cesarani, commenting in The Guardian, stated
that "Mearsheimer and Walt would doubtless chide Dawkins for using the
term 'Jewish lobby', which they studiously avoid in order to give no
truck to anti-Jewish innuendo."
In his book Jewish Power, Goldberg writes that in the United States
the "Jewish lobby" for decades played a leadership role in formulating
American policy on issues such as civil rights, separation of church
and state, and immigration, guided by a liberalism that was a complex
mixture of Jewish tradition, the experience of persecution, and
self-interest. It was thrust into prominence following the Nixon
Administration's sharp shift of American policy towards significant
military and foreign aid support for
Israel following the 1973 Yom
Tivnan writes that a "full-fledged 'Jewish lobby'" was developed in
1943, in which the moderates represented by
Stephen Samuel Wise
Stephen Samuel Wise and
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Committee were defeated by supporters of Abba
Hillel Silver and "the maximalist goal of a 'Jewish Commonwealth'" at
the American Jewish and Biltmore Conferences. Silver became the new
leader of American Zionism, with his call for "loud diplomacy", and he
then "cranked up the Zionist Organization of America's one-man
lobbying operation in Washington—renaming it the American Zionist
Emergency Council (AZEC)—and began to mobilize American Jewry into a
Former New York Times journalist Youssef Ibrahim writes: "That there
Jewish lobby in America concerned with the well-being of Israel
is a silly question. It is insane to ask whether the 6 million
Jews should be concerned about the 6 million Israeli Jews,
particularly in view of the massacre of another 6 million
Jews in the
Holocaust. It's elementary, my dear Watson: Any people who do not care
for their own are not worthy of concern. And what the
does is what all ethnic lobbies — Greek, Armenian, Latvian, Irish,
Cuban, and others — do in this democracy."
Diaspora politics in the United States
Ethnic interest groups in the United States
Israel lobby in the United States
Israel lobby in the United Kingdom
Rafael Medoff, Jewish Americans and political participation: a
reference handbook Chapter 4, The Jewish Lobby
Alan J. Ward, Immigrant Minority "Diplomacy": American
Russia, 1901 - 1912, 1964, British Association for American Studies
Hasia R. Diner, The
Jews of the United States, 1654 to 2000, (2004),
University of California Press
^ Raymond, Walter John. The Dictionary of Politics: Selected American
and Foreign Political and Legal Terms, Brunswick Publishing
Corporation, 1992, p. 254.
^ a b Vidal, Dominique. "France: racism is indivisible", Le Monde
diplomatique, May 2004.
^ The Media, Stereotypes and the Jewish Lobby, B'nai B'rith
Anti-Defamation Commission, Inc. (Australia). Accessed 28 March 2011.
^ a b c J.J. Goldberg."Archived copy". Archived from the original on
April 10, 2008. Retrieved February 27, 2008. CS1 maint: Unfit url
(link) , Speech before the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, March
^ Mitchell Bard, The Israeli and Arab Lobbies, Jewish Virtual Library.
Accessed February 22, 2008.
^ Bard, Mitchell. The Water's Edge and Beyond: Defining the Limits to
Domestic Influence on
United States Middle East Policy, Transaction
Publishers, 1991, p. 6. ISBN 978-0-88738-346-5
^ Tivnan, Edward. The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American
Foreign Policy. Simon & Schuster, 1987, p. 10.
^ Gelb, Leslie H. "Dual Loyalties" The New York Times, September 23,
^ Mearsheimer, John; Walt, Stephen. "The
Israel lobby", letters to the
editor, New York Times Sunday Review of Books, October 14, 2007.
^ Mearsheimer, John; Walt, Stephen. "The
Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign
Policy", Washington Post, Book World Live, October 9, 2007. Accessed
March 10, 2011.
^ Klug, Brian & Wistrich, Robert S. "Correspondence between Prof.
Robert Wistrich and Brian Klug: When Is Opposition to
Israel and Its
Policies Anti-Semitic?" Archived 2006-09-10 at the Wayback Machine.,
International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, Hebrew University
of Jerusalem. Retrieved January 11, 2008: "Does he or she rely on
classic anti-Semitic stereotypes in so doing: for example, by dredging
up the alleged Jewish/Zionist 'conspiracy' to dominate the world, or
by evoking Jewish/Israeli 'warmongers' who supposedly run American
foreign policy; or through referring to an all-powerful "Jewish Lobby"
that prevents justice in the Middle East."
^ Sutton, Nina (David Sharp trans.) Bettelheim: A Life and a Legacy,
Basic Books, 1996, p. 486. ISBN 978-0-465-00635-9
^ Lasky, Melvin J. Media Warfare: The Americanization of Language,
Transaction Publishers, 2005, p. 147. ISBN 978-0-7658-0302-3
^ The 'Jewish Lobby',
B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission
(Australia). Accessed March 10, 2011.
^ Visontay, Michael. "Free speech for some, others pay", The Sydney
Morning Herald, November 14, 2003.
^ Levey, Geoffrey Brahm; Mendes, Philip.
Jews and Australian Politics,
Sussex Academic Press, 2004, p. 91. ISBN 978-1-903900-72-7
^ Dominique Schnapper, Chantal Bordes-Benayoun, Freddy Raphaėl.
Jewish Citizenship in France: The Temptation of Being Among One's Own,
Transaction Publishers, 2010, p. 3. ISBN 978-1-4128-1474-4
^ Feinstein, Wiley. The Civilization of the Holocaust in Italy: Poets,
Artists, Saints, Anti-Semites, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,
2003, p. 369. ISBN 978-0-8386-3988-7
^ Safire, William. Safire's New Political Dictionary: The Definitive
Guide to the New Language, Random House, 1993, p. 120.
^ Jacobs, Dr. Susan. "AntiSemitism and other forms of racism
Continuities, discontinuities, (and some conspiracies….)" Paper
presented at the 2005 CRONEM (Centre for Research on Nationalism,
Ethnicity and Multiculturalism) Conference, Roehampton University,
Southlands College, 14th-15th June 2005.
^ Mearsheimer, John and Walt, Stephen. "The
Israel Lobby, London
Review of Books, March 23, 2006. Accessed March 10, 2011.
^ Mearsheimer, John and Walt, Stephen. The
Israel Lobby and U.S.
Foreign Policy, Farrah, Strauss and Giroux, 2007, p. 188.
^ Allen, John. Rabble-Rouser for Peace: The Authorized Biography of
Desmond Tutu, Simon & Schuster, 2006, p. 385.
^ Tutu, Desmond. "Apartheid in the Holy Land", The Guardian, April 29,
^ Phillips, Melanie. "Bigotry and a corruption of the truth", Daily
Mail, May 6, 2002.
^ Prior, Michael P; Aruri, Naseer Hasan. Speaking the Truth: Zionism,
Israel, and Occupation, Olive Branch Press, 2005, p. 12.
^ Elliott, Justin."Turning Tutu Away", Mojo - October, 2007, Mother
Jones, October 5, 2007.
^ a b Hirsh, David. "Revenge of the Jewish lobby?", The Guardian, May
^ Sholem, Alex. "MEP Disciplined Over Slur" Archived 2007-06-12 at the
Wayback Machine., TotallyJewish.Com, May 4, 2006.
^ Johnson, Daniel. "Suppressed Scholarship", The New York Sun, October
^ MacAskill, Ewen. "Atheists arise: Dawkins spreads the A-word among
America's unbelievers", The Guardian, October 1, 2007. In an article
called "The Out Campaign" Archived April 30, 2008, at the Wayback
Machine. on his personal website Dawkins similarly writes: "Atheists
are more numerous than religious Jews, yet they wield a tiny fraction
of the political power, apparently because they have never got their
act together in the way the
Jewish lobby so brilliantly has: the
famous 'herding cats' problem again."
^ Brooks, Arthur C. "Atheists Hold Sway Among American Left", CBS News
(reprinted from National Review), December 2, 2007.
^ Cesarani, David. "Exerting influence", The Guardian, October 8,
^ Goldberg, Jonathan Jeremy. Jewish Power: Inside the American Jewish
Establishment. Basic Books, 1996, Chapter 2, especially 24.
^ Tivnan, Edward . The Lobby: Jewish Political Power and American
Foreign Policy, Simon & Schuster, 1987, pp. 23–24.
^ Ibrahim, Youssef. "
Israel Lobby's Pull Pales Next to Evil Saudi
Input", The New York Sun, S