Mitchell Bard's "The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance that Undermines America's Interests in the Middle East," demonstrates conclusively that there is a powerful Arab counterpart to the much-villified Israel lobby.
It was written, in a sense, as a reaction to Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer's "The Israel Lobby," which slammed American Jewish lobbying efforts for Israel while downplaying the parallel Arab effort.
This remarkably well-researched book demonstrates that not only is there an Arab lobby, but that it is well-financed and an important player in America.
The author, a scholar and executive director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise in Washington, D.C., will be speaking in the Bay Area on Nov. 15 and 16.
Bard believes the Arab lobby is an active force that exerts a malevolent influence on U.S. foreign policy, writing that "[It] has consistently acted to undermine U.S. values (freedom, democracy, human rights) and security interests (stability, Arab-Israeli peace, economic growth)."
He found that in its composition, activities and effectiveness, the Arab lobby is the Jewish lobby's mirror image. The Arab lobby encompasses American businesses with interests in the Middle East and weapons manufacturers; State Department Arabists; Arab and Muslim Americans; Christian anti-Zionists; some academics, especially from Middle East studies departments; and other groups. It is backed and financed by Saudi Arabia, Bard says.
Unlike the Israel lobby's AIPAC, which works mostly in the open, the Arab lobby has no central address and operates primarily behind the scenes.
While the Israel lobby has great popular support in the Jewish and evangelical Christian communities, the Arab lobby has "almost no foot soldiers or public sympathy," Bard writes. Arab Americans, coming from many different countries, tend not to be united and often coalesce around a single issue and then disband. They have "remained relatively weak because of their inability to raise money, cultivate membership, or develop persuasive arguments for changing U.S. policy."
But many of the weaknesses in the Arab lobby are papered over by a deluge of Saudi greenbacks, Bard charges.
He says the Arab lobby has succeeded primarily in overcoming Israeli opposition to U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Yet the Arabs have failed to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Israel.
Overall, "the Israeli lobby is more effective than the domestic Arab lobby because it enjoys advantages in every area considered relevant to interest-group influence. It has a large and vocal membership, members who enjoy high status and legitimacy, a high degree of electoral participation (voting and financing), effective leadership, and a high degree of access to decision makers and public support."
For Israel supporters, though, there's no reason to be complacent.
Bard takes note of the Arab lobby's efforts to indoctrinate young people with anti-Israel sentiments.
He points out that the Arab lobby has been creating chairs and departments at universities for more than 50 years, and that faculty members of Arab-financed centers on universities often tend to be vociferously anti-Israel, sometimes anti-Semitic, and have been accused of intimidating Jewish or pro-Israeli students.
Many in universities don't speak out aginst this, because they fear retaliation, Bard adds. "Few people have noticed the bias in academia because students rarely complain. They are afraid it will negatively impact their grades and their career."
And, by providing textbooks, programs and other resources, the Arab lobby is trying to extend its reach from universities into K-12 education, the author alleges. "One of the most shocking results," he warns, "is that American students are becoming more radical than the Arabs in the region."