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The Israeli Lobby (2007)

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Is the pro-Israel lobby so strong, financially and politically, that the U.S. relationship with Israel is taboo and therefore unmentionable? And what happens to those who dare expose the unmentionable? In March 2006 the American political scientists John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Steve Walt (Harvard) published the controversial article 'The Israel Lobby and US foreign policy'. In it they state that it is not, or no longer, expedient for the US to support and protect present-day Israel. Together with the power shifts in Congress and the increasing doubts about the current Middle-East policy, this could become the fuse in the powder keg. Backlight talks to the people concerned in this 'new realism' debate. The documentary sheds light on both parties involved in the discussion: those who wish to maintain the strong tie between the US and Israel (Neocon Richard Perle, the Lebanese Christian Brigitte Gabriel and evangelist John Hagee, the lobby club AIPAC), and those who were critical of it and not infrequently became 'victims' of the lobby. Member of Congress Earl Hilliard from Alabama advocated a rapprochement with the Arab world and was promptly ousted by a political adversary who had the support of Aipac money.

The historian Tony Judt, who tried to maintain that Israel was becoming a belligerent and intolerant ethno-state, driven by religion, found a lecture canceled at the last minute. And the Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth was personally attacked after he had criticized the violence Israel had used in the mini-war against Lebanon last summer. Finally the question arises in how far the pro-Israel lobby ultimately determines the military and political importance of Israel itself. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Colin Powell's ex chief-of-staff) explains in how far the lobby's influence affects the decision-making structure in the White House. Member of Congress and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is asked in how far today's politicians can stay out of reach of the long arm of the pro-Israel lobby. The lobby, Congress, the White House and Israel itself seem to have ended up in a suffocating embrace: will it ever change and how could it?

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“Independent media is dangerous because it allows people to speak for themselves. And when you hear someone speaking from their own experience - whether it's a Palestinian child or an Israeli grandmother or an uncle in Afghanistan or a refugee in the Calais refugee camp - it changes you. It breaks the sound barrier. It challenges the stereotypes and the caricatures that fuel the hate groups. You may not agree with what you hear - I mean, how often do we even agree with our family members? - but you begin to understand where they're coming from. That understanding is the beginning of peace. I really do think that the media can be the greatest force for peace on Earth. Instead, all too often, it is wielded as a weapon of war. We have to take the media back.” - Amy Goodman, Place to B at COP21