Up to now, the presidential candidates have largely ducked the question of what they would do to further peace between Israelis and the Palestinians.
"It's quite remarkable it has not been raised," says Stephen Walt, coauthor of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," a controversial book published last year. "They have gotten a free pass on details for a peace process."
The Harvard University political science professor further criticizes the press for not questioning the candidates about what they would do to push forward a two-state solution to the decades-old struggle with its sizable cost to American taxpayers. Presumably a lever the US has in the dispute is to withhold the aid it gives to Israel and the far smaller amount ($73.5 million requested for fiscal 2008) given to the Palestinians.
"The presidential candidates make it a point never to talk about Middle East foreign aid," says McArthur.
Why the silence?
"Fear," says Paul Findley, a frequent critic of US foreign policy to Israel. He blames the Israeli lobby for contributing to his defeat in 1982 when running for reelection as a Republican congressional representative from Illinois.
None of the three remaining presidential candidates have uttered "even a syllable" of complaint about US policy toward Israel, rather a "paean of praise," Mr. Findley says. "This is a phenomenon without precedent in American history."
To Findley, the "most powerful instrument of intimidation" used by pro-Israel groups is the charge of "anti-Semitism." The meaning of that term has been expanded. It used to be applied to those hostile to a race or faith, that is, against Jews or Judaism. Now it's often applied to critics of Israel or US-Israel policy, says Findley.