The process of decision making in developed democracies is a difficult one. Arriving at a decision or shaping new legislation is time-consuming, demanding, and requires extensive knowledge. It is a natural state that the decisionmakers and legislators need external experts to guide and advise them. That is the role of lobby groups, bodies, and individuals. The Middle East is a strategic region for the USA for a number of reasons such as: the presence of strategic natural resources; the existence and possibility of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and is the home to two of America’s most vital partners in the region, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the shape of American Middle East policy is of fundamental importance. This policy is also important for the local states in the region who want American policy to be in line with their expectations and interests. This policy is also vital for ethnic minorities and Americans who can trace their roots to the Middle East. These minorities, organized in formal and informal lobbies, work alongside the policymakers consulting and advising them, aiming for a more preferential policy towards the country of their interest.
Therefore, comparing and contrasting the pro-Israeli and the pro-Arab lobby helps to understand the process of shaping American policy towards the Middle East. The two lobby groups, while operating in a common environment, differ significantly: the size of the lobby, the wealth, and also their place in American society, all have implications as to the effectiveness of their actions. Understanding American Middle East policy, how the USA shapes and executes its interests and policies in this strategic region, requires understanding of the pro-Israeli and pro-Arab lobby in the USA. This knowledge is also essential to formulate our own opinions and positions on this difficult subject.
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