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

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

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

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

Synopsis

Goldberg presents a detailed comparison of American and Canadian Jewish lobbying organizations over the past 15 years, offering a careful assessment of their influence on foreign policy decisions affecting the Middle East. He focuses primarily on the two most prominent Jewish foreign policy interest groups: the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Canada-Israel Committee. He examines the response of these organizations to a series of crisis issues, beginning with the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 and including the current Palestinian uprising. Using a set of analytical criteria, he correlates their response with the conduct of U.S. and Canadian foreign policy during the same period.

Excerpt

Origins

The development of a united national American Zionist movement was slow and sporadic. This was partly a function of disputes inherent to all Jewish communities over level of religious adherence and the legitimate role of political Zionism as a vehicle for Jewish national regeneration and survival (Hertzberg 1979; Weizmann 1949). It was also attributable to certain factors distinct to American Jewry. Among these were: the Jew's long tenure in America, dating back to 1654; the different inclinations toward Zionism carried to the United States by various waves of Jewish immigrants throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Dawidowicz 1982; Elazar 1980, 38-42; Cohen 1975; Halperin 1961; Urofsky 1975, 1978); the sheer physical size and geographic distribution of American Jewry; and the elaborate network of national organizations and local federations that arose to service both the general and the specific interests of the community (Elazar 1980). a final factor contributing to the delayed evolution of American Zionism was the tendency on the part of many American Jews to view Zionism more as a philanthropic exercise than a personal pioneering endeavor (Cohen 1975, 11).

It was only with the course of historical events, most notably the European Holocaust and the post-World War Two international debate over the future of the Palestine Mandate and the struggle for Israel's creation, that American Zionism developed into an all-encompassing national Jewish cause. Zionism, which began as an ambiguous, quasi-spiritual philosophy of little relevance to the majority of American Jews, evolved into a series of decentralized groups "bedeviled by internal factionalism and public apathy" (Halperin 1961, 25).

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