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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy Paperback – September 2, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Expanding on their notorious 2006 article in the London Review of Books, the authors increase the megatonnage of their explosive claims about the malign influence of the pro-Israel lobby on the U.S. government. Mearsheimer and Walt, political scientists at the University of Chicago and Harvard, respectively, survey a wide coalition of pro-Israel groups and individuals, including American Jewish organizations and political donors, Christian fundamentalists, neo-con officials in the executive branch, media pundits who smear critics of Israel as anti-Semites and the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, which they characterize as having an almost unchallenged hold on Congress. This lobby, they contend, has pressured the U.S. government into Middle East policies that are strategically and morally unjustifiable: lavish financial subsidies for Israel despite its occupation of Palestinian territories; needless American confrontations with Israel's foes Syria and Iran; uncritical support of Israel's 2006 bombing of Lebanon, which violated the laws of war; and the Iraq war, which almost certainly would not have occurred had [the Israel lobby] been absent. The authors disavow conspiracy mongering, noting that the lobby's activities constitute legitimate, if misguided, interest-group politics, as American as apple pie. Considering the authors' academic credentials and the careful reasoning and meticulous documentation with which they support their claims, the book is bound to rekindle the controversy. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Controversial.” ―Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR

“It could not be more timely.” ―David Bromwich, The Huffington Post

“The strategic questions they raise now, particularly about Israel's privileged relationship with the United States, are worth debating.” ―David Remnick. The New Yorker

“Ruthlessly realistic.” ―William Grimes, The New York Times

“The argument they present is towering and clear and about time.” ―Philip Weiss,

“Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Walt, on the faculty at Harvard, set off a political firestorm.” ―Jay Solomon, The Wall Street

“Promises controversy on a scale not seen since Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations sought to reframe a new world order.” ―Stefan Halper, National

“Deals with Middle East policymaking at a time when America's problems in that region surpass our problems anywhere else . . . People are definitely arguing about it. It's also the kind of book you do not have to agree with on every count (I certainly don't) to benefit from reading.” ―MJ Rosenberg, Israel Policy Forum Newsletter


Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (September 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374531501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374531508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (346 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,343 of 1,540 people found the following review helpful By F. Bernadotte on August 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is stunning. The two authors are prominent political scientists with impeccable credentials, hailing from Harvard and the University of Chicago. They have boldly gone where many of their academic colleagues would fear to tread. Although their conclusions about Israel and its negative influence on American foreign policy will awaken much anxiety, resentment and fury in certain quarters, Walt and Mearsheimer don't seem to care. Why not? They are scientists. They appeal to logic, facts and common sense; and let the conclusions fall where they may. The writing is calm, dispassionate, thorough. The basic argument is that the extraordinarily high degree of economic, military and diplomatic support given to Israel by the United States cannot be explained or justified by the notion that Israel functions as a strategic asset to the U.S., or that Israel as the "only democracy" amidst a sea of authoritarian neighbors is deserving of special favor for its "shared interests and values". In fact, the authors claim, Israel is more a liability than an asset. During the Cold War, the strategic-value argument had perhaps some plausibility -- but no longer. What has replaced the Soviet menace, as the enemy which the U.S. supposedly needs Israel's help to combat, is Islamic terrorism. But the U.S. favor shown to Israel at the expense of the Palestinians only makes us more not less vulnerable to terrorism. Furthermore Israel's cruelty towards the Palestinians and its essential nature as a Jewish but not a truly democratic state in which all citizens of whatever ethnicity or religion would be given equal rights and respect, belie the "shared values" argument.

So if neither "shared values" nor "strategic asset" can explain the overwhelming U.S. support of Israel, what else is there?
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780 of 917 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Burroughs on September 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This year has witnessed an amazing phenomenon. More accomplished Americans are willing to question United States blind support for the State of Israel. Recently we have seen books out by President Jimmy Carter, Grant Smith, Professor Petras and full-page placements in newspapers questioning the American Israel Political Actions Committee placed by the Council for the National Interest Foundation. I suspect the major reason behind this is the Iraq War. As one digs deeper in why this war occurred and who were the major advocates a deeply troubling theme emerges. The chief architects and advocates of this war were also what Pat Buchanan terms "Israel Firsters." These are Americans who have conflated American interests with those of Israel's. I urge all readers to do a search on Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Bill Kristol, Doug Feith, Richard Perle, etc. and investigate their financial and political ties to Israel. I think the reader will be astonished. I suspect that Professors Mearsheimer and Walt did just as I did and were both outraged and troubled by what they discovered. Moreover, the recent efforts by the same cabal that manipulated a rather dull President into invading Iraq are up to their same tricks again by lobbying for war against Iran and Syria. Hence the book; "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." This study is both timely and critical.

The authors published a brief last year that examined the Israel lobby and its impact on U.S. Middle East policy. When the Atlantic Monthly cowardly reneged on their promise to publish the paper, they found refuge with the London Review of Books. Thank to the internet, the Lobby was not able to squelch their research. This paper has now circulated among millions of Americans.
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607 of 715 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on August 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Israel Lobby" asserts what almost 40% (per the authors) of Americans recognize - that Israel is one of the main causes of anti-Americanism, that the U.S. provides Israel with extraordinary material and diplomatic support, and that many policies pursued on Isral's behalf jeopardize U.S. national escurity.

Documentation is not wanting for these claims. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. aid since WWII, amounting to some $154 billion (2005 dollars), and about $500/citizen today. Since 1982, the US has vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members - and this does not even count those that did not come to a vote because of a U.S. veto threat. At the same time, the Israel lobby is also credited with pushing the U.S. away from Syria (had been providing al Qaeda intelligence post 9/11 and Iran (had supported U.S. airmen rescue efforts in Afghanistan, and offered an opportunity for a major agreement at the time Iraq fell).

This extraordinary support might be justified if there were some great moral reason or security need involved. Our military has not been able to use Israel as a base in either Gulf War, nor could we ask it to help for risk of triggering a calamity in the region. Further, the U.S. has a terrorism threat in common with Israel because of our support for that nation. Thus, Israel is far from an asset to the U.S. As for moral argument, Israel's past and present conduct involving continual abuse of the Palestinians after stealing their land offers no moral basis for preferring it over the Palestinians.

So how do we explain our extraordinary support for Israel? The answer, claim the authors, is the Israel lobby.
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