Potential rapprochement between Israel and Cuba, sparked by Fidel Castro's surprisingly direct condemnation of anti-Semitism in relation to anti-Israel politics, now looks to be off, thanks to the timely intervention of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), incoming chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ros-Lehtinen has a reputation for being pro-Israel, but an even stronger one for being anti-Castro, and was exceptionally displeased at seeing the wide rift between Israel and Cuba be even partially bridged. Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently written a letter of apology to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.
I don't want to overstate things -- it was hardly the case that Israel and Cuba were on the verge of becoming besties until Ros-Lehtinen stepped in. And likewise, I don't consider what Ros-Lehtinen did to be inappropriate -- she has policy preferences which she is entitled to exercise, and furthering the isolation of Cuba matters more to her than countering the isolation of Israel. That's useful knowledge for me to have, but we're allowed to have differences of opinion.
I do think that Jeffrey Goldberg's wry comment about the relative power of "lobbies" is well-taken. But more fundamentally, this whole notion about who "controls" whose foreign policy -- that it is some unique abomination if the US adopts anything but a reckless, devil-may-care attitude towards how our foreign policy decisions impact other countries -- is substantively absurd. Countries (particularly, we'd hope, friendly countries) are constantly in dialogue with each other and adopt their policies to match the desires of their friends. Sometimes that means Israel varies its policies to suit allies in the US, and sometimes vice versa. Of course, here I think the policy Israel is being forced to pursue to appease Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is substantively bad for both them and us, but the process itself is decidedly normal.