The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Hysteria Over the “The Israel Lobby”

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By now, Walt and Mearsheimer’s now infamous “The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy” has already been panned and decimated by everyone except for David Duke. Their names have been smeared and defamed, by attaching them with the former Klan Leader, by denouncing them as anti-Semitic fools, and by other character-assassination ad hominems. “Academic papers posted on a Harvard Web site don't normally attract enthusiastic praise from prominent white supremacists. But John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" has won David Duke's endorsement as "a modern Declaration of American Independence" and a vindication of the ex-Klansman's earlier work, presumably including his pathbreaking book, "Jewish Supremacism." Sneed Eliot Cohen in the Washington Post [1]. He went on to say “Impugning [the patriotism of Jewish-American Israel supporters] or mine is not scholarship or policy advocacy. It is merely, and unforgivably, bigotry.”

But really, enough is enough. The fury over this article is going to confirm the suspicions of the worst elements of society (anti-Semitic white supremacists, prone to conspiracy theory ranting) but Walt and Mearsheimer’s piece is a genuine case for the existence of a loose group of pro-Israel supporters that wield disproportionate amounts of influence over America’s Israel and Middle East policy. It is a relatively rigorous analysis, albeit with a number of debatable points (At Salon.com, they dispute the contention that the War in Iraq had a Zionist undertone, rather than an oil undertone [2].) It is a serious paper, it is a serious argument and it deserves the attention of serious scholars and serious discussion.

The truth is that Walt and Mearsheimer’s idea of an Israel lobby makes them sound only slightly paranoid, however their basic idea is right. American policy is far too tilted towards Israel, public criticism of Israel does get one labeled an anti-Semite, and all-too-often magazines like the New Republic and op-eds in newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times engage in shameless character assassination of anyone who dares to publicly criticize Israeli policy. The truth is that criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism any more than criticism of Indian policy or Nigerian policy is racism. The truth is that Israel has walked a fine line on the issue of human rights, they control occupied territory and an occupied population who do not have self-determination, and in their “proportional responses” during the Second Intifadah, they killed approximately 30 Palestinians for every one Israeli killed. The truth is that America’s nearly unwavering support for Israel has bought her more animosity than goodwill. Its true that Israel has hardly been a reciprocating ally. And it’s true that we need a public discussion in this country about the American-Israeli alliance, without the words “Anti-Semitism” ever coming up to describe critics of specific Israeli policies. And David Duke’s endorsement is a sorry red-herring-of-an-excuse for slandering this paper. Let us have a real debate.

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Articles:
[1] Washington Post - Yes, Its Anti-Semitic
[2] Salon.com – Is the Israel Lobby Distorting America’s Middle East Policy?
Salon.com – Breaking the Silence
TNR -Oil and Vinegar

Posted by George Gordon | Tuesday, April 18, 2006 | E-mail this post

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