Question: Does the government listen to American Muslims in formulating foreign policy
Barrett: I think it is beginning to be heard as illustrated by the fact that candidates for the White House, since at least 2000, have gone very far out of their way to seek favor of an endorsement from various parts of the Muslim-Arab and other parts of the Muslim American community. In connection with domestic concerns, candidates particularly . . . and there’s probably some irony here. George W. Bush went far out of his way to say things particularly in 2000, but also in 2004 that were messages directly to Arab and Muslim voters. He condemned, for example in 2000, ethnic profiling in one of his debates with Gore, which was a huge event in Muslim America. Because they knew those lines were for them and them only. But the question of whether American politicians are listening to Muslims is eclipsed by the fact . . . by the question of whether American politicians basically listen to any voices dissenting to any degree basically from lock step American policies vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I mean you know for example, Jewish Americans who might favor the perspective of the peace now movement, their voices are not heard in the halls of Congress. I mean you’re not really allowed to stand up in the United States Congress and criticize the state of Israel. If you do, you are endangering your career in the same way that you would be if you stood up and criticized the National Rifle Association. There are certain extremely potent lobbying organizations. And leave aside whether this is like illegitimate or outside of democratic bounds. There are just certain causes that are very, very powerful in Washington. And support for the state of Israel – and I wouldn’t use the term “Jewish lobby” myself; I would say “Israeli lobby” – is one of them.
Recorded on: 12/4/07