Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Jews Discussing Walt & Mearsheimer

Expand Messages
  • World View
    ‘The Israel Lobby’ Goes International Marc Perelman The Forward http://www.forward.com/articles/11754/ After hitting Europe earlier this month, “The
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 6, 2007
      ‘The Israel Lobby’ Goes International
      Marc Perelman
      The Forward

      After hitting Europe earlier this month, “The Israel Lobby” is preparing for a frontal assault on the Muslim world.

      The controversial book by American academics Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, who accuse the pro-Israel lobby of hijacking American policy, hit bookstores in Europe in September and soon will be published across the Arab world and in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world.

      Hebrew-only readers, however, will have to wait. To date, no Israeli publishing house has agreed to translate the book.

      “We are hoping that the most liberal publishers in Israel might consider publishing it, however, it has proven very difficult,” said Christine Hsu, assistant to Walt and Mearsheimer’s agent at the William Morris Agency, Raffaella De Angelis. The agency declined to be more specific.

      The book will be translated into Arabic by All-Prints, a Beirut-based publisher that also translates books from the likes of the late anti-Zionist Israel Shahak, soccer star David Beckham and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Readers in Indonesia, where some 220 million Muslims live, will be able to buy it from Pustaka Utama a mainstream publisher. And in an indication of the strong interest the book is attracting in Europe, it is being translated into German, Dutch, Danish, French, Italian, Spanish and even Catalan.

      “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” is an extended version of an article that appeared last year in The London Review of Books and on the Web site of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The two scholars contend that a wide array of Jewish and pro-Israel groups has tilted American foreign policy in favor of Israel to the point of endangering America’s national security.

      In recent weeks, the authors have been crisscrossing the United States, where they have been criticized for having an anti-Israel agenda and for shoddy research, but also hailed for provoking a long overdue debate about Israel’s influence on American policymaking.

      The controversy has been covered heavily by the foreign media, particularly in the Arab world on television channels such as Al Jazeera, on which both authors have appeared.

      “Books don’t sell all that well in the Arab world, where the tradition is more oral and visual,” said Shibley Telhami, a professor at the University of Maryland and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But people are aware of it because of satellite TV.”

      While no information was available as of press time about a Walt-Mearsheimer book tour in Muslim countries, the authors are embarking on a European visit next month, with speaking engagements scheduled at prestigious universities and think-tanks in Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Vienna and London. In London, they will also have an event at the House of Lords.

      In Germany, where the book was released September 4 and received mixed reviews in the media, the publisher opted not to hold a promotional debate after the organization that was asked to host the event proposed inviting critics of the book. The publisher, Campus, did not return calls seeking comment.

      A similar issue arose in the United States when the Forward rejected a proposal by publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux to host a debate on the book. The Forward instead proposed to be a participant in a conversation with the authors.

      “I am concerned about the indirect impact this book could have,” said Deidre Berger, director of the American Jewish Committee’s office in Berlin. “It reinforces stereotypes in Germany that are probably even stronger than in the U.S. about the alleged influence of Jewish organizations on American foreign policy.”


      Two Knights and a Dragon
      by Uri Avnery

      THERE ARE books that change people's consciousness and change history.
      Some tell a story, like Harriet Beech Stowe's 1851 "Uncle Tom's
      Cabin", which gave a huge impetus to the campaign for the abolition of
      slavery. Others take the form of a political treatise, like Theodor
      Herzl's "Der Judenstaat", which gave birth to the Zionist movement. Or
      they can be scientific in nature, like Charles Darwin's "The Origin of
      Species", which changed the way humanity sees itself. And perhaps
      political satire, too, can shake the world, like "1984" by George Orwell.

      The impact of these books was amplified by their timing. They appeared
      exactly at the right time, when a large public was ready to absorb
      their message.

      It may well turn out that the book by the two professors, John
      Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign
      Policy", is just such a book.

      It is a dry scientific research report, 355 pages long, backed by 106
      further pages containing some thousand references to sources.

      It is not a bellicose book. On the contrary, its style is restrained
      and factual. The authors take great care not to utter a single
      negative comment on the legitimacy of the Lobby, and indeed bend over
      backwards to stress their support for the existence and security of
      Israel. They let the facts speak for themselves. With the skill of
      experienced masons, they systematically lay brick upon brick, row upon
      row, leaving no gap in their argumentation.

      This wall cannot be torn down by reasoned argument. Nobody has tried,
      and nobody is going to. Instead, the authors are being smeared and
      accused of sinister motives. If the book could be ignored altogether,
      this would have been done - as has happened to other books which have
      been buried alive.

      (Some years ago, there appeared in Russia a large tome by Aleksandr
      Solzhenitsyn, the world-renowned laureate of the Nobel Prize for
      Literature, about Russia and its Jews. This book, called "200 Years
      Together", has been completely ignored. As far as I know, it has not
      been translated into any language, certainly not into Hebrew. I asked
      several of Israel's leading intellectuals, and none of them had even
      heard of the book. Neither does it appear on the list of Amazon.com,
      which includes all the author's other works.)

      THE TWO professors take the bull by the horns. They deal with a
      subject which is absolutely taboo in the United States, a subject
      nobody in his right mind would even mention: the enormous influence of
      the pro-Israel lobby on American foreign policy.

      In a remorselessly systematical way, the book analyzes the Lobby,
      takes it apart, describes its modus operandi, discloses its financial
      sources and lays bare its relations with the White House, the two
      houses of Congress, the leaders of the two major parties and leading
      media people.

      The authors do not call into question the Lobby's legitimacy. On the
      contrary, they show that hundreds of lobbies of this kind play an
      essential role in the American democratic system. The gun and the
      medical lobbies, for example, are also very powerful political forces.
      But the pro-Israel lobby has grown out of all proportion. It has
      unparalleled political power. It can silence all criticism of Israel
      in Congress and the media, bring about the political demise of anyone
      who dares to break the taboo, prevent any action that does not conform
      to the will of the Israeli government.

      In its second part, the book shows how the Lobby uses its tremendous
      power in practice: how it has prevented the exertion of any pressure
      on Israel to for peace with the Palestinians, how it pushed the US
      into the invasion of Iraq, how it is now pushing for wars with Iran
      and Syria, how it supported the Israeli leadership in the recent war
      in Lebanon and blocked calls for a ceasefire when it didn't want it.

      Each of these assertions is backed up by so much undeniable evidence
      and quotations from written material (mainly from Israeli sources)
      that they cannot be ignored.

      MOST OF these disclosures are nothing new for those in Israel who deal
      with these matters.

      I myself could add to the book a whole chapter from personal experience.

      In the late 50s, I visited the US for the first time. A major New York
      radio station invited me for an interview. Later they cautioned me:
      "You can criticize the President (Dwight D. Eisenhower) and the
      Secretary of State (John Foster Dulles) to your heart's content, but
      please don't criticize Israeli leaders!" At the last moment the
      interview was cancelled altogether, and the Iraqi ambassador was
      invited instead. Criticism was apparently tolerable when it came from
      an Arab, but absolutely not coming from an Israeli.

      In 1970, the respected American "Fellowship of Reconciliation" invited
      me for a lecture tour of 30 universities, under the auspices of the
      Hillel rabbis. When I arrived in New York, I was informed that 29 of
      the lectures had been cancelled. The sole rabbi who did not cancel,
      Balfour Brickner, showed me a secret communication of the
      "Anti-Defamation League" that proscribed my lectures. It said: "While
      Knesset Member Avnery can in no way be considered a traitor, his
      appearance at this time would be deeply divisive…" In the end, all the
      lectures took place under the auspices of Christian chaplains.

      I especially remember a depressing experience in Baltimore. A good
      Jew, who had volunteered to host me, was angered by the cancellation
      of my lecture in this city and obstinately insisted on putting it on.
      We combed the streets of the Jewish quarters - mile upon mile of signs
      with Jewish names - and did not find a single hall whose manager would
      agree to let the lecture by a member of the Israeli Knesset take
      place. In the end, we did hold the lecture in the basement of the
      building of my host's apartment - and functionaries of the Jewish
      community came to protest.

      That year, during Black September, I held a press conference in
      Washington DC, under the auspices of the Quakers. It seemed to be a
      huge success. The journalists came straight from a press conference
      with Prime Minister Golda Meir, and showered me with questions. Almost
      all the important media were represented - TV networks, radio, the
      major newspapers. After the planned hour was up, they would not let me
      go and kept me talking for another hour and a half. But the next day,
      not a single word appeared in any of the media. Thirty-one years
      later, in October 2001 I held a press conference on Capitol Hill in
      Washington, and exactly the same thing happened: many of the media
      were there, they held me for another hour - and not a word, not a
      single word, was published.

      In 1968, a very respected American publishing house (Macmillan)
      brought out a book of mine' "Israel Without Zionists", which was later
      translated into eight other languages. The book described the
      Israeli-Arab conflict in a very different way and proposed the
      establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel - a revolutionary
      idea at the time. Not a single review appeared in the American media.
      I checked in one of the most important book stores in New York and did
      not find the book. When I asked a salesman, he found it buried under a
      heap of volumes and put it on top. Half an hour later it was hidden again.

      The book dealt with the "Two States for Two peoples" solution long
      before it became a world-wide consensus, and with my proposal for
      Israel's integration in "the Semitic Region". True, I am an Israeli
      patriot and was elected to the Knesset by Israeli voters. But I
      criticized the Israeli government - and that was enough.

      THE BOOK by the two professors, who criticize the Israeli government
      from a different angle, cannot be buried anymore. This fact, by
      itself, speaks volumes.

      The book is based on an essay by the two that appeared last year in a
      British journal, after no American publication dared to touch it. Now
      a respected American publishing house has released it - an indication
      that something is moving. The situation has not changed, but it seems
      that it is now possible at least to talk about it.

      Everything depends on timing - and apparently the time is now ripe for
      such a book, which will shock many good people in America. It is now
      causing an uproar.

      The two professors are, of course, accused of anti-Semitism, racism
      and hatred of Israel. What Israel? It is the Lobby itself that hates a
      large part of Israel. In recent years is has shifted even more to the
      Right. Some of its constituent groups - such as the neo-cons who
      pushed the US into the Iraq war - are openly connected with the
      right-wing Likud, and especially with Binyamin Netanyahu. The
      billionaires who finance the Lobby are the same people who finance the
      extreme Israeli Right, and most of all the settlers.

      The small, determined Jewish groups in the US who support the Israeli
      peace movements are remorselessly persecuted. Some of them fold after
      a few years. Members of Israeli peace groups who are sent to America
      are boycotted and slandered as "self-hating-Jews".

      The political views of the two professors, which are briefly stated at
      the end of the book, are identical with the stand of the Israeli peace
      forces: the Two-State Solution, ending the occupation, borders based
      on the Green Line, and international support for the peace settlement.

      If this is anti-Semitism, then we here are all anti-Semites. And only
      the Christian Zionists - those who openly demand the return of the
      Jews to this country but secretly prophesy the annihilation of the
      unconverted Jews at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ - are the true
      Lovers of Zion.

      EVEN IF not a single bad word about the pro-Israel lobby can be
      uttered in the US, it is far from being a secret society, hatching
      conspiracies like the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion". On the
      contrary, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Federation
      and the other organizations vociferously boast about their actions and
      publicly proclaim their incredible successes.

      Quite naturally, the diverse components of the Lobby compete with each
      other - Who has the biggest influence on the White House, Who scares
      the most senators, Who controls more journalists and commentators,.
      This competition causes a permanent escalation - because every success
      by one group spurs the others to redouble their efforts.

      This could be very dangerous. A balloon that is inflated to monstrous
      dimensions can one day burst in the face of American Jews (who, by the
      way, according to the polls, object to many positions adopted by the
      Lobby that claims to speak in their name.)

      Most of the American public now opposes the Iraq war and considers it
      a disaster. This majority still does not connect the war with the
      actions of the pro-Israel lobby. No newspaper and no politician dares
      to hint at such a connection - yet. But if this taboo is broken, the
      result may be very dangerous for the Jews and for Israel.

      Beneath the surface, a lot of anger directed against the Lobby is
      accumulating. The presidential candidates, who are compelled to grovel
      at the feet of AIPAC, the senators and congressmen, who have become
      slaves of the Lobby, the media people, who are forbidden to write what
      they really think - all these secretly detest the Lobby. If this
      anger explodes, it may hurt us, too.

      This lobby has become a Golem. And like the Golem in legend, in the
      end it will bring disaster on its maker.

      IF I may be permitted to voice some criticism of my own:

      When the original article by the two professors appeared, I argued
      that "the tail is wagging the dog and the dog is wagging the tail".
      The tail, of course, is Israel.

      The two professors confirm the first part of the equation, but
      emphatically deny the second. The central thesis of the book is that
      the pressure of the Lobby causes the United States to act against its
      own interests (and, in the long run, also against the true interests
      of Israel.) They do not accept my contention, quoted in the book, that
      Israel acted in Lebanon as "America's Rottweiler" (to Hizbullah as
      "Iran's Doberman").

      I agree that the US is acting against its true interest (and the true
      interests of Israel) - but the American leadership does not see it
      that way. Bush and his people believe - even without the input of the
      Lobby - that it would be advantageous for the US to establish a
      permanent American military presence in the middle of this region of
      huge oil reserves. In my view, this counter-productive act at was one
      of the main objectives of the war, side by side with the desire to
      eliminate one of Israel's most dangerous enemies. Unfortunately, the
      book deals only very briefly with this issue.

      That does not diminish in any way my profound admiration for the
      intellectual qualities, integrity and courage of Mearsheimer and Walt,
      two knights who, like St. George, who have sallied forth to face the
      fearful dragon.


      The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy
      By John J Mearsheimer and Stephen M Walt
      Reviewed by Max Hastings
      The Sunday Times

      Five years ago, Atlantic Monthly commissioned two academics, John
      Mearsheimer of Chicago University and Stephen Walt of Harvard, to
      write a significant article about the influence of the Israeli lobby
      on American foreign policy. When the piece was at last completed, the
      magazine declined to publish, deeming it too hot for delicate American
      palates. It eventually appeared in 2005, in the London Review of
      Books, provoking one of the most bitter media and academic rows of
      recent times. The authors were accused of antisemitism, and attacked
      with stunning venom by some prominent US commentators. Mearsheimer and
      Walt obviously like a fight, however, for they have now expanded their
      thesis into a book.

      Its argument is readily summarised. The authors support Israel's right
      to exist. But they are dismayed by America's unconditional support for
      its governments' policies, including vast sums of cash aid for which
      there is no plausible accounting process. They reject the view
      articulated as a mantra by all modern American presidents (and 2008
      presidential candidates) that Israel and America share common values,
      and their national interests march hand in hand.

      On the contrary, say the authors, America's backing for Israel does
      grave damage to its own foreign-policy interests. And many Israeli
      government actions, including the expansion of West Bank settlements
      and the invasion of Lebanon, reflect repressive policies that do not
      deserve Washington's endorsement: "While there is no question that the
      Jews were victims in Europe, they were often the victimisers, not the
      victims, in the Middle East, and their main victims were and continue
      to be the Palestinians."

      The authors argue that American policy towards Israel is decisively and

      They quote the experience of a Senate candidate who was invited to
      visit AIPAC early in his campaign for "discussions". Harry Lonsdale
      described what followed as "an experience I will never forget. It
      wasn't enough that I was pro-Israel. I was given a list of vital
      topics and quizzed (read grilled) for my specific opinion on each.
      Actually, I was told what my opinion must be . . . Shortly after that
      . . . I was sent a list of American supporters of Israel . . . that I
      was free to call for campaign contributions. I called; they gave from
      Florida to Alaska".

      When congresswoman Betty McCollum, a liberal with a solid pro-Israel
      voting record, opposed the AIPAC-backed Palestinian AntiTerrorism Act,
      which was also opposed by the state department, an AIPAC lobbyist told
      McCollum's chief-of-staff that her "support for terrorists will not be
      tolerated". Former president Jimmy Carter incurred not merely
      criticism but vilification when he published a book entitled Palestine
      Peace Not Apartheid, likening Israel's policy towards the Palestinians
      to that of the old white regime in South Africa towards its black

      Whatever view Europeans take of Israel, most find it difficult to
      comprehend the sheer ferocity of American sentiment. Ian Buruma wrote
      an article for The New York Times entitled How to Talk About Israel.
      He said how difficult it is to have an honest debate, and remarked
      that "even legitimate criticism of Israel, or of Zionism, is often
      quickly denounced as antiSemitism by various watchdogs".

      Such remarks brought down a storm on his head. The editor of The
      Jerusalem Post, also a columnist for The Wall Street Journal,
      published an open letter to Buruma that began: "Are you a Jew?" He
      argued that nonJews should discuss these issues only in terms
      acceptable to Jews.

      The American media, claim the authors, even such mighty organs as The
      New York Times and The Washington Post, do less than justice to the
      Palestinians, much more than justice to the Israelis. Robert Bartley,
      a former editor of The Wall Street Journal, once said: "Shamir,
      Sharon, Bibi – whatever those guys want is pretty much fine by me."
      There is no American counterpart to such notably Arabist British
      polemicists as Robert Fisk.

      Mearsheimer and Walt's book argues its points at such ponderous length
      that it makes pretty leaden reading. But it is extraordinary that, in
      a free society, the legitimacy of the expression of their opinions
      should be called into question. "We show," say the authors, "that
      although Israel may have been an asset during the cold war it is
      increasingly a strategic liability now that the cold war is over.
      Backing Israel so strongly helps fuel America's terrorism problem and
      makes it harder for the United States to address the other problems it
      faces in the Middle East."

      Americans ring-fence Israel from the normal sceptical proc-esses of
      democracy, while arguments for the Palestinians are often denounced as
      pernicious as well as antisemitic. All the 2008 presidential
      candidates, say Mearsheimer and Walt, know that their campaign would
      be dead in the water if they hinted that Israel would receive less
      than 100% backing if they win. They note that many Israelis are much
      bolder in attacking their own governments than any American politician
      would dare to be.

      Part of the trouble is that AIPAC faces no significant opposition.
      Palestinians, and indeed all Arabs, command negligible sympathy in
      America, especially since 9/11. The authors think that the most
      helpful step towards diminishing the Israel lobby's grip would be for
      election campaigns to be publicly financed, ending candidates'
      dependence on private contributions: "AIPAC's success is due in large
      part to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates
      who support its agenda, and to punish those who do not."

      But the authors know reform will not happen. The Israel lobby is
      vastly strengthened by the support of America's Christian Zionists, an
      important element of George W Bush's constituency. Some may think
      these people are lunatics, but there are an awful lot of them. They
      are even more strident in their opposition to Arab rights in Palestine
      than the Israeli Likud party.

      Mearsheimer and Walt conclude, weakly but inevitably, with a mere plea
      for more open debate in the US about Israel. "Because most Americans
      are only dimly aware of the crimes committed against the
      Palestinians," they say, "they see their continued resistance as an
      irrational desire for vengeance. Or as evidence of unwarranted hatred
      of Jews akin to the antisemitism that was endemic in old Europe.

      "Although we deplore the Palestinians' reliance on terrorism and are
      well aware of their own contribution to prolonging the conflict, we
      believe their grievances are genuine and must be addressed. We also
      believe that most Americans would support a different approach . . .
      if they had a more accurate understanding of past events and present

      For Europeans, all this adds up to a bleak picture. Only America might
      be capable of inducing the government of Israel to moderate its
      behaviour, and it will not try. Washington gives Jerusalem a blank
      cheque, and all of us in some degree pay a price for Israel's abuses
      of it.

      After that remark, I shall be pleasantly surprised to escape an
      allegation from somebody that I belong in the same stable of
      antisemites as Walt and Mearsheimer. Yet otherwise intelligent
      Americans diminish themselves by hurling charges of antisemitism with
      such recklessness. There will be no peace in the Middle East until the
      United States faces its responsibilities there in a much more
      convincing fashion than it does today, partly for reasons given in
      this depressing book.


      Iraq, Israel, Iran
      David Bromwich

      When John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's article on the Israel Lobby
      appeared in the London Review of Books, after having been commissioned
      and killed by the Atlantic Monthly, neoconservative publicists
      launched an all-out campaign to slander the authors as anti-Semites.
      Now that their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy has
      appeared--a work of considerable scope, carefully documented, and not
      just an expanded version of the article--the imputation of
      anti-Semitism will doubtless be repeated more sparingly for readers
      lower down the educational ladder. Meanwhile, the literate
      establishment press will (a) ignore it, (b) pretend that it says
      nothing new or surprising, and (c) rule out the probable inferences
      from the data, on the ground that the very meaning of the word "lobby"
      is elusive.

      The truth is that many new facts are in this book, and many surprising
      facts. By reconstructing a trail of meetings and public statements in
      2001-2002, for example, the authors show that much of the leadership
      of Israel was puzzled at first by the boyish enthusiasm for a war on
      Iraq among their neoconservative allies. Why Iraq? they asked. Why
      now? They would appear to have obtained assurances, however, that once
      the "regime change" in Iraq was accomplished, the next war would be
      against Iran.

      A notable pilgrimage followed. One by one they lined up, Netanyahu,
      Sharon, Peres, and Barak, writing op-eds and issuing flaming warnings
      to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein was a menace of
      world-historical magnitude. Suddenly the message was that any delay of
      the president's plan to bomb, invade, and occupy Iraq would be seized
      on by "the terrorists" as a sign of weakness. Regarding the correct
      treatment of terrorists, as also regarding the avoidance of weakness,
      Americans look to Israelis as mentors in a class by themselves.

      So a war projected years before by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz--a
      war secured at last by the fixing of the facts around the policy at
      the Office of the Vice President--was allowed to borrow some prestige
      at an intermediate stage by the consent of a few well-regarded Israeli
      politicians. Yet their target of choice had been Iran. They accepted
      the change of sequence without outward signs of doubt, possibly owing
      to their acquaintance with the Middle East doctrine espoused by the
      Weekly Standard and the American Enterprise Institute--a doctrine
      which held that to create a viable order after the fall of Iraq,
      regime change in Iran and Syria would have to follow expeditiously.

      To sum up this part: the evidence of Mearsheimer and Walt suggests
      that Israel was never the prime mover of the Iraq war. Rather, once
      the Cheney-Wolfowitz design was in place, the Israeli ministers who
      trooped through American opinion pages and news-talk shows did what
      they could to heat up the war fever. This war was on the cards before
      they threw in their lot with Cheney and Bush; by their efforts they
      merely helped to confer on the plan an aura of legitimacy and worldly

      But now the American war with Iran they originally wanted is coming
      closer. Last Tuesday, when the mass media were crammed to distraction
      with the behavior of a senator in an airport washroom, few could be
      troubled to notice an important speech by President Bush. If Iran is
      allowed to persist in its present state, the president told the
      American Legion convention in Reno, it threatens "to put a region
      already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a
      nuclear holocaust." He said he had no intention of allowing that; and
      so he has "authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront
      Tehran's murderous activities." Those words come close to saying not
      that a war is coming but that it is already here. No lawmaker who
      reads them can affect the slightest shock at any action the president
      takes against Iran.

      Admittedly, it was a showdown speech, reckless and belligerent, to a
      soldier audience; but then, this has been just the sort of crowd and
      message that Cheney and Bush favor when they are about to open a new
      round of killings. And in a sense, the Senate had given the president
      his cue when it approved, by a vote of 97-0, the July 11 Lieberman
      Amendment to Confront Iran. It is hardly an accident that the
      president and his favorite tame senator concurred in their choice of
      the word "confront." The pretext for the Lieberman amendment, as for
      the president's order, was the discovery of caches of weapons alleged
      to belong to Iran, the capture of Iranian advisers said to be
      operating against American troops, and the assertion that the most
      deadly IEDs used against Americans are often traceable to Iranian
      sources--claims that have been widely treated in the press as
      possible, but suspect and unverified. Still, the vote was 97-0. If few
      Americans took notice, the government of Iran surely did.

      That unanimous vote was the latest in a series of capitulations that
      has included the apparent end of resistance by Nancy Pelosi to the
      next war. After the election of 2006, the speaker of the house
      declared her intention to enact into law a requirement that this
      president seek separate authorization for a war against Iran. On the
      point of doing so, she addressed the AIPAC convention, and was booed
      for criticizing the escalation of the Iraq war. Pelosi took the hint,
      shelved her authorization plan, and went with AIPAC against the
      anti-war base of the Democratic party.

      This much, one might know without the help of Mearsheimer and Walt.
      But without their record, how many would trace the connection between
      the removal of Philip Zelikow as policy counselor of the state
      department, at the end of 2006, and a speech Zelikow had given in
      September 2006 urging serious negotiation and a two-state solution for
      Israel and Palestine? The ousting of Zelikow was a blessing to the war
      party, since it freed them from a skeptical confidant of Secretary of
      State Rice--perhaps the only person of stature anywhere near the
      administration whom she treated as an ally and friend. And the meaning
      of the change was clear when Zelikow's replacement turned out to be
      Eliot Cohen: a neoconservative war scholar and enthusiast, an early
      booster of the "surge" on the pundit shows, and incidentally a
      shameless slanderer of Mearsheimer-Walt ("Yes, It's Anti-Semitic,"
      Washington Post, April 5, 2006).

      From Zelikow to Cohen was only a step on the long path of humiliation
      that now stretched before Condoleeza Rice. When, in March 2007, amid
      suggestions of a renewal of diplomacy, she intimated that talks might
      be helpful in dealing with the Hamas-Fatah unity government (whose
      formation the Arab world had greeted as offering a promise of peace),
      she was demolished by an AIPAC-backed advisory letter bearing the
      signatures of 79 senators, which directed her not to speak with a
      government that had not yet recognized Israel. From that moment Rice
      was effectively neutralized.

      The hottest cries for another war have been coming this summer from
      Joe Lieberman. He has called for attacks on Iran, and for attacks on
      Syria. It is as if Lieberman, with his appetite for multiple theaters
      of conflict, spoke from the congealed memory of all the wars he never
      fought. But Joe Lieberman is a stalking-horse. He would not say these
      things without getting permission from Vice President Cheney, a close
      and admired friend. Nor would Cheney permit a high-profile lawmaker
      whom he partly controls to set the United States and Israel on so
      perilous a course unless he had ascertained its acceptability to Ehud

      Yet the chief orchestrater of the second neoconservative war of
      aggression is Elliott Abrams. Convicted for deceptions around
      Iran-Contra, as Lewis Libby was convicted for deceptions stemming from
      Iraq--and pardoned by the elder Bush just as Libby had his sentence
      commuted by the younger--Abrams now presides over the Middle East desk
      at the National Security Council. All of the wildness of this
      astonishing functionary and all his reckless love of subversion will
      be required to pump up the "imminent danger" of Iran. For here, as
      with Iraq, the danger can only be made to look imminent by
      manipulation and forgery. On all sober estimates, Iran is several
      months from mastering the nuclear cycle, and several years from
      producing a weapon. Whereas Israel for decades has been in possession
      of a substantial nuclear arsenal.

      How mad is Elliott Abrams? If one passage cited by Mearsheimer-Walt is
      quoted accurately, it would seem to be the duty of the Senate Foreign
      Relations Committee to subject Abrams to as exacting a challenge as
      the Senate Judiciary Committee brought to Alberto Gonzales. The man at
      the Middle East desk of the National Security Council wrote in 1997 in
      his book Faith or Fear: "there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to
      the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the
      nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be
      apart--except in Israel--from the rest of the population." When he
      wrote those words, Abrams probably did not expect to serve in another
      American administration. He certainly did not expect to occupy a
      position that would require him to weigh the national interest of
      Israel, the country with which he confessed himself uniquely at one,
      alongside the national interest of a country in which he felt himself
      to stand "apart...from the rest of the population." Now that he is
      calling the shots against Hamas and Hezbollah, Damascus and Tehran,
      his words of 1997 ought to alarm us into reflection.

      Among many possible lines of inquiry, the senators might begin by
      recognizing that the United States has other allies in Asia besides
      Israel. One of those allies is India; and there is a further point of
      resemblance. In a distinct exception to our anti-proliferation policy,
      we have allowed India to develop nuclear weapons; just as, in an
      earlier such exception, we allowed Israel to do the same. But suppose
      we read tomorrow a statement by the director of the South Asia desk of
      the National Security Council which declared: "There can be no doubt
      that Hindus are to stand apart from any nation in which they live. It
      is the very nature of being Hindu to be apart--except in India--from
      the rest of the population." Suppose, further, we knew this man still
      held these beliefs at a time of maximum tension between India and
      Pakistan; and that he had recently channeled 86 million dollars to
      regional gangs and militias bent on increasing the tension. Would we
      not conclude that something in our counsels of state had gone
      seriously out of joint?

      The Mearsheimer-Walt study of American policy deserves to be widely
      read and discussed. It could not be more timely. If the speeches and
      saber-rattling by the president, the ambassador to Iraq, and several
      army officers mean anything, they mean that Cheney and Abrams are
      preparing to do to Iran what Cheney and Wolfowitz did to Iraq. They
      are gunning for an incident. They are working against some resistance
      from the armed forces but none from the opposition party at home. The
      president has ordered American troops to confront Iran. Sarkozy has
      fallen into line, Brown and Merkel are silent, and outside the United
      States only Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy
      Agency stands between the war party and a prefabricated justification
      for a war that would extend across a vast subcontinent. Unless some
      opposition can rouse itself, we are poised to descend with
      non-partisan compliance into a moral and political disaster that will
      dwarf anything America has seen.


      Them and U.S.
      By Shmuel Rosner

      WASHINGTON - Even if the United States had five CIA's, it would not be
      able to get the high-quality information it received from Israel.
      That's what General George Keegan, a retired U.S. Air Force
      intelligence chief, said in 1986, in the midst of the Cold War.

      "The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the army in
      general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to the
      Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of
      intelligence," he said.

      This is a winning quote, dropped into the battle that will shortly
      break out once more over the nature of the strategic relationship
      between Israel and the United States. Those who argue that Israel is
      weighing down the superpower will have to contend with the general's
      statements. That comment and many similar ones appear in a new
      position paper published by Dore Gold, the former Israeli ambassador
      to the United Nations and political adviser to then prime minister
      Benjamin Netanyahu, who now heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
      Gold recently hired the services of American public relations firm
      Shirley and Bannister to market his wares in Washington. He will be
      visiting the United States next week to talk about his position paper,
      a comprehensive defense of Israel's contribution to American security.
      Think of it as a preemptive strike ahead of the publication of the
      controversial book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," by two
      political science professors, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer.

      Gold will not be alone. September 4th will see the American release of
      a book by Anti-Defamation League national director Abe Foxman called
      "The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control."
      In his book, Foxman warns of the possible consequences of theories of
      Jewish influence such as those proposed by Walt and Mearsheimer, which
      the ADL director describes as the repetition of an "old anti-Semitic
      canard" in respectable disguise. Foxman succeeded in getting former
      U.S. secretary of state to write an introduction to the book that
      knocks down the basis of the professors' argument.

      "The United States supports Israel, not because of favoritism based on
      political pressure or influence, but because both political parties
      and virtually all our national leaders agree with the American
      people's view that supporting Israel is politically sound and morally
      just," Shultz wrote. "Scholars at great universities should be ashamed
      to promulgate it."

      Walt and Mearsheimer - who are said to have received more than
      $700,000 as an advance for their book from respected publishing
      company Farrar, Straus & Giroux - do indeed work at highly esteemed
      universities. Mearsheimer teaches at the University of Chicago and
      Walt is at Harvard, proving once again that an academic seal of
      approval is no guarantee of wisdom.

      The two authors have been here before. Their Israel lobby argument won
      exposure last year, when they published what they called a "study"
      article in the London Review of Books. They said they had to get the
      material published in England because no respectable American magazine
      would publish their article, out of fear of the "lobby." It later
      turned out that they were rejected by only one magazine, The Atlantic
      Monthly, and quickly gave up on the entire U.S. market. This did
      nothing to dampen the furor over the article, which was also posted on
      the Web site of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where Walt is
      a faculty member. The media loved the controversy and spent months on
      the topic.

      Walt and Mearsheimer's basic argument is simple: The U.S. lobby that
      supports Israel - a Jewish lobby as well as an evangelical Christian
      one - is very powerful and is charting a foreign policy for the United
      States that is favorable to Israel, but is not in America's interests.
      The professors included in their definition of the Israel lobby
      organizations, individuals and institutions that have different, and
      even contradictory, worldviews, from both the right and the left.

      The authors had difficulty finding supporters of their argument - even
      among major critics of the policies of the American Israel Public
      Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby - because they lumped
      groups and individuals far to the left of AIPAC in the same basket,
      thereby destroying any possibility of a detailed analysis of the
      policies of a specific lobby group. The most serious charge the
      authors made was to blame Israel's supporters for the war in Iraq.
      This mendacious argument is based on the Jewish identity of some Bush
      administration officials and presidential advisers.

      The article notes that since 1967, "the centerpiece of U.S. Middle
      East policy has been its relationship with Israel," completely
      ignoring the American interest in oil. Former administration
      officials, experts and columnists have poked holes in this dubious
      argument, but all the same, the identity of the authors - who come
      from the heart of the academic establishment - has left readers of the
      article in shock. Much has been written about the authors' motives.
      U.S. State Department counselor Eliot Cohen didn't hesitate to come
      out and say that the article was anti-Semitic, pure and simple. Others
      were more forgiving, saying that Walt and Mearsheimer were simply
      venting their frustration at having no one heed them.

      There were some who hoped that the book would redress some of the
      distortions, but the chapters I have read indicate that this didn't
      happen. For instance, while performing intellectual somersaults more
      suitable for a circus, the authors blame the Israel lobby - and
      indirectly, Israel itself - for thwarting American-Syrian dialogue.
      This argument is made as though it wasn't the Bush administration
      emphasizing that it would be best if Israel did not talk to Syria, as
      though it wasn't Syrian President Bashar Assad's activities in Lebanon
      and Iraq that were hindering an improvement of relations between the
      United States and Syria.

      Of course, Walt and Mearsheimer are not the first to come up with this
      approach, nor are they the only ones who have benefited from it. Many
      others before them have come to the realization that a convincing
      theory is not necessary to get attention, as long as it is
      controversial. Over the past year, Israel has borne the brunt of other
      examples of this method, like former U.S. president Jimmy Carter's
      book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which became a bestseller. Now
      the two professors are hoping to repeat that success. (Maybe Foxman
      will also profit from it, since his book, including Shultz's
      introduction, presents Carter's book and "The Israel Lobby" in a
      similar light.)

      It's hard to predict how well "The Israel Lobby" will do. Gabriel
      Schoenfeld, a senior editor at the conservative Jewish magazine
      Commentary, said "there is reason to think that the Walt-Mearsheimer
      phenomenon has already peaked," since the book doesn't go much beyond
      the original article, which has already made its mark. But others are
      less optimistic. The professors have managed to get a new wave of
      articles about being silenced, as they put it.

      This week the target was the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which
      decided at the end of July to cancel a promotional event for Walt and
      Mearsheimer's book that had been scheduled for September. The
      professors sent an accusatory letter, saying that the council
      president "explained that his decision was based on the need 'to
      protect the institution.'" Protect it from what and whom? Readers are
      meant to understand that "the lobby" is to blame. After all, if it
      managed to get the United States to fight in Iraq, surely it would
      have little trouble getting a promotional event canceled.

      The Forward, a Jewish American liberal newspaper that cannot be
      accused of excessive support for the organized Jewish establishment,
      will publish an editorial in today's edition that succinctly describes
      the tactics of Walt and Mearsheimer on their way to cashing in on the

      "The trick follows a typical pattern," writes The Forward. "Step one:
      Publish your views in as provocative a manner as possible. Use words
      like 'apartheid,' as Jimmy Carter did in his book, or paint Jewish
      lobbying efforts in darkly conspiratorial terms, as Walt and
      Mearsheimer did in a paper published last year. Step two: Dare the
      Jewish community to lash out at you, then whine about being victimized
      by bullies. Step three: Implore fair-minded liberals to line up behind
      you, forcing them to choose between endorsing your vision - however
      skewed - or becoming part of the censorship juggernaut."

      The Forward also refused to sponsor a program in which, the paper
      stated, "the professors would present their views, unopposed."

      The professors, in their anger at the Israel lobby, caused a fair
      amount of damage to themselves since the initial publication of their
      article. They made basic factual mistakes in public appearances, and
      were ridiculed in The Washington Post for mispronouncing the names of
      senior officials. They also participated in an event held by the
      extremist Council on American-Islamic Relations, confirming the
      suspicion that they had gone from being academics to being lobbyists
      in their own right. They did not criticize the council, even though it
      leverages its influence thanks to financial assistance from countries
      like Saudi Arabia, which also have a well-known interest in American
      policy in the Middle East.

      Capitol Hill. Power.

      Last week AIPAC workers celebrated an insignificant event: The men's
      magazine GQ included their executive director, Howard Kohr, on its
      list of the 50 most influential people in Washington. Kohr, along with
      three other key lobbyists, came in sixth. The only people who preceded
      him were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senate Majority Leader
      Harry Reid, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Supreme Court Justice
      Anthony Kennedy and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

      "Don't expect any big changes to our Israel or prescription-drug
      policies in coming years," the magazine wrote.

      Walt and Mearsheimer can add this as a footnote to their next book. In
      any case, most of their work is based on newspaper clippings and
      fragments of rumors (quite a few of them, it must be said, from
      Haaretz). There is no denying that the Israel lobby does have a lot of
      power, and AIPAC policy is occasionally controversial. That will
      presumably be the argument against Dore Gold's new position paper.

      In essence, there is a built-in dilemma that disturbs Israel
      supporters in Washington: Should they be strong, or well-liked? It's
      hard to be both in such a power-oriented city. In order to be strong,
      you also have to be aggressive, and those who become aggressive
      necessarily lose supporters and leave frustrated and offended people
      in their wake.

      AIPAC is a regular target of such accusations. The organization hasn't
      had many reasons to celebrate in the last few years. The sword of the
      court hangs over its head; in January the court will decide the fate
      of two former AIPAC lobbyists accused of receiving and handing over
      confidential security-related information. Rumors that its status has
      eroded have flooded the capital, despite the group's success in
      increasing the number of participants in its annual conferences and
      getting high-profile figures to speak. Apparently the rumors haven't
      reached the editors of GQ.

      Washington. Comfort.

      Some senior officials at the Israeli Embassy in Washington this week
      watched CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour profiling Jewish extremism
      in the first episode of the monumental but problematic series, "God's
      Warriors," which artificially compares Jewish, Muslim and Christian

      The episode showed Sandra Oster Baras, an Orthodox Jew going to an
      evangelical church to raise money for settlements, and televangelist
      John Hagee making a controversial appearance at the last AIPAC
      conference. The embassy officials are quite familiar with the
      evangelical community; it must be acknowledged that the security of
      Israel sometimes depends on their support.

      There is some comfort to be found in the gloom that disturbs, among
      others, Israeli representatives stationed in Washington. Walt and
      Mearsheimer's view has not yet trickled down to public opinion.
      Opinion polls show the Israeli position to be as stable as ever, and
      the administration and Congress are no less friendly than before. Only
      a week has passed since a new, generous, 10-year aid agreement was
      signed. In the meantime, the 2008 presidential candidates are
      competing over expressions of support for Israel. It's hard to find a
      crack, or even the hint of a crack, in the steadfastness of their
      interest in preserving the "special relationship" between Israel and
      the United States that has continued from the Lyndon Johnson (some say
      John F. Kennedy) era to that of George W. Bush.

      Former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, as Gold notes in his position
      paper, was the first to refer to Israel as a "strategic asset." Reagan
      was a popular president whose legacy even Democrats are happy to rely
      on occasionally, in recognition of the value of his stock in the
      political market. In addition, the introduction to Foxman's book that
      was written by Shultz, Reagan's secretary of state, is particularly
      important. That's because if there is anything that is worth doing
      better than it was done in the previous round of the war over the good
      name and position of the Israel lobby, this is it: It is appropriate
      that the Jews themselves are not the only ones to fight the battle.


      Walt & Mearsheimer's book "The Israel Lobby" hits bookstores
      Philip Weiss
      The New York Observer
      September 01, 2007

      Walt & Mearsheimer's Proof That 'Tail Wagged the Dog' Points American
      Jews to a Universalist Ethos

      Everyone in my community (opponents of the Iraq war who seek a more
      balanced American policy toward the Palestinians) has only one
      question about Walt and Mearsheimer's forthcoming book: Will it be
      ignored? For instance, James Morris, who I believe I once saw explode
      in the audience at an American Enterprise Institute program on
      Israel's secure borders (led by Richard Perle and Dore Gold), has been
      sending out emails about his efforts to get the book covered by '60
      Minutes'. No dice.

      I am a cockeyed optimist; I don't think it will be ignored. I don't
      think it can be. One fear we've have is that the LRB paper was such a
      tremendous sensation that the big media, having only grudgingly
      covered that, would now say, Oh well this is just an expansion of the
      paper; old news. One mainstream editor said as much to me a few weeks
      back in shooting down a proposal I made for an article about Stephen
      Walt's Jewish milieu (more about that later...). "Oh I think that
      moment is over," the editor said. Class dismissed.

      I no longer fear as much. Making my way slowly to the end of the
      actual book (it's a dense read, esp. for someone who cares deeply
      about every issue they raise), I don't think anyone can argue that the
      book recapitulates the paper. The book expands the paper by a factor
      of 4 in pure numbers of words, and the book's tone is more exalted
      than the paper's. The authors are less tentative, and less emotional,
      qualities I remember in the original. The manner of the book is
      amazingly calm. The arguments are more solid, and go much further. As
      for solidity, I am simply awed by the field of reference. W&M have
      read every comment ever made by an Israeli official about U.S. policy,
      they have found every neoconservative crackpot comment about remaking
      the Middle East. They did this in little over a year. God bless the
      internet (or the coolie system in academic research!).

      But the main reason the book cannot be ignored is that the arguments
      go much further, and are devastating. Simply put, the book proves that
      the tail has wagged the dog on the greatest foreign policy mistake of
      the last 40 years, a mistake that has caused incredible suffering in
      Iraq and the U.S., and blasted my country's image. The evidence the
      authors marshal is so compelling that it leaves me, as a progressive
      Jew, weeping with distress over what the fervid particularist
      imagination of rightwing Jews has done to my country. I applaud the
      authors for being cold. They don't seem to have any of my feeling.
      They leave it to the readers, and they trust educated Americans to be
      able to discuss these issues without setting loose the cossacks.

      Again I say, it is progressive American Jews who as much as anyone
      ought to be morally and spiritually engaged by this book. I hope that
      the JJ Goldbergs and Dan Fleshlers and Seymour Hershes and Glenn
      Greenwalds and Jerrold Nadlers of the world (none of whom supported
      this war) will at last turn on the neocons openly and say, Your
      wrongheaded policies about Israel are a big reason our country is in
      Iraq, how do you answer? Progressive Jews must do this, a
      political/moral cleansing for the sake of the United States and Jewish
      tradition. And they will do it. The only question is how many of us
      there will be.

      I would point to one sentence in the book that I found heartbreaking.
      The authors describe in detail the neocon vision of transforming the
      Middle East as democracies by starting with Iraq. The dream that peace
      in Jerusalem would begin with war in Baghdad, which has ended in such
      a miserable failure, grew out of the conviction that Israel was a
      great democracy and that its treatment of the Palestinians would be
      overlooked once the U.S. changed Arab societies. It is a complete
      delusion; and yet its power over Jews of even liberal stripe can be
      glimpsed this week in The New Republic, where, in further evidence
      that the prowar coalition is delaminating, Jonathan Chait turns on
      Bill Kristol and at one point cries out, Oh where is that dreamy
      neocon philosophy of yesteryear. "[T]here was something inspiring in
      their vision of America as a different kind of superpower--a liberal
      hegemon deploying its might on behalf of subjugated peoples, rather
      than mere self interest." I.e., we will decide who among you Arabs are
      subjugated, and then destroy that society...

      But I still haven't gotten to Walt and Mearsheimer's sentence. In
      describing that neocon vision of the "wonderful future Israel [could]
      expect after the war," the authors say, you might think people would
      be more sophisticated and experienced than to believe such stuff. But
      they add, "The original Zionist dream of reestablishing a Jewish state
      where none had existed for nearly two millennia was nothing if not

      That sentence is devastating because (while it refers to Israel's
      leaders) it describes American neoconservatism, accurately, as an
      expression of a great Jewish attribute, the prophetic ability to cast
      a vision of the future into the world and gain adherents for that
      vision. (Communism, Freudianism, globalism all have drawn on dreamy
      Jewish brains). As I have argued on this site before, this is why
      anti-Zionism is the new Zionism. American Jewish universalists
      (including assimilationists) must help to chart a different vision for
      Israel's future and the U.S.'s too, away from the militarized isms
      this book anatomizes so calmly and convincingly. We must accept our
      new status as principals in the U.S., and find a spiritual/political
      raison-d'etre that takes greater account of other peoples, for
      instance Arab societies and the American communities that have
      produced the foot soldiers of this war.



      To subscribe to this group, send an email to:


      Need some good karma? Appreciate the service?
      Please consider donating to WVNS today.
      Email ummyakoub@... for instructions.

      To leave this list, send an email to:
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.