A series of recent books and articles allege that a nefarious Israeli lobby is using its muscle to benefit Israel at the expense of American interests. Yet U.S. policy for more than 70 years has been animated primarily by an interest in fostering good relations with the Arab states. Indeed, despite what critics claim is a disproportionately pro-Israel policy, U.S.-Arab relations are as good or better today than ever before.
The explanation has to do with the lobby the critics have ignored in their obsession with Israel, namely the Arab lobby. In 1951, King Saud asked U.S. diplomats to finance a pro-Arab lobby to counter the lobby that eventually became known as AIPAC. But Arab governments exercised influence for decades before that through an informal lobby consisting of oil companies, Christian missionaries, and State Department Arabists.
Today the Arab lobby exercises power through a broad array of channels including current and former diplomats, corporations with business interests in the Middle East, human rights organizations, the United Nations, academics from Middle East studies departments, and Christian groups hostile to Israel.
In the past, the Arab Lobby opposed US recognition of Israel, blocked arms and aid to Israel, and sought larger weapons sales to Arabs. Today, the Arab lobby is focused on feeding the American addiction to oil, expanding economic ties with the US, obtaining the most sophisticated weaponry and trying to weaken the US alliance with Israel.
The Arab lobby is in many ways far more powerful than the Israel lobby. It has insured that the U.S. pays disproportionate attention to the interests of Arab states and supports countries that share none of our values and few of our interests. These states are all dictatorial regimes with abysmal human rights records. Worse, some of these nations, the Saudis in particular, are actively working to subvert American interests by supporting terrorism and promoting radical Islamic views on a global scale - including right here in the U.S. where they seek (among other things) to introduce shariah law.