ISRAEL LOBBIES. Subscription-only...

ISRAEL LOBBIES. Subscription-only CQ reports on the looming showdown between the House and the Bush administration over a draconian bill imposing across-the-board sanctions against the Palestinian Authority and limiting the president's waiver authority (which normally gives him some flexibility to override the directives). The administration has made clear that it opposes punitive sanctions of this scope, not merely on the grounds of executive prerogative (which is, of course, the par-for-the-course Bushian rationale for opposing congressional directives), but also because the extent of the restrictions the bill imposes -- related to both direct and indirect humanitarian aid and funding for any diplomatic contacts between American and Palestinian officials -- really does run counter to the substance of administration policy. Indeed, the bill appears to run counter to the policy of the Olmert government in Israel. Eric Alterman recently reported hearing an interesting tidbit from MJ Rosenberg of the Israel Lobby Forum (which opposes this bill): "Rosenberg says that House staffers have told him that the Democratic leadership in the House is telling Members that it is important that fewer Democrats than Republicans oppose the bill in order that Rahm Emanuel's fundraising efforts for the DCCC do not suffer." Among the 295 sponsors of the bill in the House, Republicans are so far beating out Dems 174-121, but we'll wait for the roll call vote later this afternoon to see if the DCCC's funding remains secure.

All this may inspire thoughts of a certain horrible evil no-good essay about the Israel lobby that we can't talk about because of course there's no Israel lobby. Snark aside, Rosenberg actually does discuss the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis in the context of this bill, pointing out that the Israel lobby is less monolithic than the authors portray it as despite the outsized influence of AIPAC. On the actual policy question at hand, I'm siding with the cooler heads currently carrying the day in such well-known hotbeds of craven terrorist-appeasement as the Bush administration and the Israeli government.

Meanwhile, this letter from Rep. Betty McCollum to AIPAC is not to be missed.

UPDATE: Link to the bill fixed.

--Sam Rosenfeld