The Israel Lobby?
The Israel Lobby?
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt recently wrote a piece in the London Review of Books about the “Israel Lobby” that’s been making the e-mail rounds for a few weeks now (with forwards, I’m guessing, wavering somewhere between “Can you believe this anti-Semitism?” and “This is an important article!”).
The opening paragraphs set the tone:
For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, The Israel Lobby, London Review of Books
It’s set off a blog-storm, Here in Cambridge there’s plenty of gossip: about the removal of the Kennedy School of Government logo from the longer working paper; about Walt stepping down as KSG dean; and about Alan Dershowitz’s response (that, among other things, Walt and Mearsheimer are “liars” and “bigots”).
Our hope is to get past the gossip — and the meta-story — and to talk about the issues themselves. More to come soon.
Mearshimer and Walt are staying out of the fray for the time being, but we’ve enlisted Daniel Levy of the Geneva Initiative, who wrote a critique for Haaretz and happens to be visiting the U.S. right now. Daniel Drezner offered a few critiques of his own, and he’ll also be joining us. Jon Garfunkel, a reading list is on the way.
Policy and International Director, The Geneva Initiative
Member of the official Israel negotiating team at the Oslo B and Taba talks
- Extra-Credit Reading
Ruth R. Wisse: Israel Lobby, The Wall Street Journal oped, 3/22/06
Scott Johnson: They too dare to speak out!, Power Line March 20, 2006
David Bernstein: March 17, 2006 at 2:17pm, The Volokh Conspiracy
Peter Beaumont: Editor hits back over Israel row, The Observer April 2, 2006
Philip Weiss: Political Fear and the Limits of Public Discussion, The Huffington Post April 3, 2006
Martin Kramer: A powerful lobby, Martin Kramer on the Middle East April 3, 2006
David Adesnik: Sunday, April 02, 2006 1:03 PM, OxBlog
Chris Bertram: Smear and Distortion, Crooked Timber March 03, 2006