Foreign Policy and Ethnic Interest Groups: American and Canadian Jews Lobby for Israel

By David Howard Goldberg | Go to book overview
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to follow AIPAC's lead in finding something positive to say about Reagan's initiative. And, in the Palestinian disturbances, elements within the Jewish community associated with the Peace Now movement criticized the CIC for its being too quick to articulate a strident defense of Israel's hard-line policies. Several current and former Canadian foreign policy officials voiced the opinion that the Canada-Israel Committee's perceived lack of freedom from the Israelis reduced its credibility and influence over the policy process.

The comparative findings discerned in regard to the international political environment variable suggest that AIPAC has been moderately more influential than the Canada-Israel Committee. More generally, the findings suggest the importance of relations between a home government and an ethnic interest group's foreign policy concern in determining the influence of the group: the ethnic foreign policy lobby exists primarily because of its relationship with the foreign concern; it is, in turn, affected by the foreign government's policies and behavior.


Theorists suggest an inverse relationship between an ethnic foreign policy interest group's level of influence over a policy issue and the intensity with which its government feels concerned about that issue. The relationship holds in most cases for both AIPAC and the CIC. In those cases in which the level of government concern was high (for example, the Yom Kippur War, the F-15 and AWACS sales, and Lebanon for AIPAC, and the boycott, embassy reversal, and Lebanon for the CIC), the influence of the two Zionist lobbies tended to wane. The only significant variation from the anticipated relationship occurred, for AIPAC, with regard to Kissinger's diplomatic strategy, and for the CIC, in the Jerusalem embassy initiation. In those two cases, the Zionist lobbies had a considerable degree of influence despite their respective government's high degree of concern with the policy issues at stake. Therefore, this index does not appear to represent a powerful--or reliable--explanation of an ethnic interest group's level of influence over government policy.


Several conclusions are derived from the data presented in this book. The most basic, perhaps, is that neither AIPAC nor the Canada-Israel Committee were as influential in dealing with a series of crisis issues confronting them and their ethnic constituencies during the October 1973-December 1988 period as they themselves or their detractors considered them to be. Neither the American nor the Canadian Zionist movements demonstrated any extended capacity to directly affect the quality or substance of policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict adopted by their respective governments during the period between October 1973 and December 1988, the end of the first year of the intifada.


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