In “Of Course There Is an Israel Lobby”, an attempt to inject an element of rationality into a highly emotional subject, I said that merely mentioning the topic guarantees three immediate reactions: denunciation of the document; vilification of the author with ad hominem attacks; shrill denial that a lobby exists. I am grateful to David Bernstein and James Taranto for their contributions to demonstrating the validity of that prediction. Thanks, guys.

It is easy to understand why an open discussion of the U.S. government’s massive support for Israel, and its manifold heavy costs, stirs emotions. It should nonetheless be a matter of concern that educated, otherwise intelligent people will instantly resort to invective, slander, insult and distortion to silence anyone raising the subject.

In democracies, the majority does not always rule. Groups of like-minded citizens (lobbies) can dominate an issue if they are motivated and active and the majority isn’t—or has real difficulty in disseminating its views. This might explain, as examples, no relations with Cuba and negotiations with the IRA. Some lobbies are small, others are multifaceted, well-financed and highly effective. They work to advance their interests, and whether the effect on the greater good is beneficial or detrimental is entirely subjective.

No one can object to the unquestioned right of the Israel lobby, individuals and organizations, to promote close relations with Israel. Denying that it exists, however, and is both extremely active and highly successful, is simply idiotic.

There is an unacceptable, dangerous, and entirely undemocratic aspect of its activities, however, the massive, unrelenting pressure which seeks to deny the same rights to others. Those with differing views encounter highly restricted opportunities to express them in the media, and are subject to vitriolic personal attacks if they actually succeed in doing so. (Right, gentlemen?)

There are logical, legitimate reasons for concerns that many of Israel’s actions are not at all in America’s best interests—nor in Israel’s. An open public discussion of the pros and cons of funding, arming and supporting the occupation of Palestine, and the brutal, oppressive nature of that occupation, might reveal that current policies actually do represent the desire of the majority of the American people.

The lobby, however, will do everything it can to insure that we never have a chance to find out. This may in part be due to a well-founded fear of the reaction if the general public ever becomes aware of the actual and future political, economic and human costs, as well as the loss of moral standing, of supporting policies and practices which we vociferously, ceaselessly, and rightfully condemn everywhere else.