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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy Paperback – September 2, 2008
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“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, Mondoweiss.com
“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 Journal.com
“Promises controversy on a scale not seen since Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations sought to reframe a new world order.” ―Stefan Halper, National Interest.com
“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
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So if neither "shared values" nor "strategic asset" can explain the overwhelming U.S. support of Israel, what else is there? The power of the Israel lobby, which has brought about a situation in which it is impossible for elected officials to question support for Israel, much less redirect foreign policy in any way contrary to the perceived self-interest of Israel. This has led the U.S. to make critical mistakes, such as invading and occupying Iraq. The war on Iraq has proven disastrous; the authors argue that the U.S. would not have attacked Iraq, were it not for the influence of the Israel lobby.
In the end, perhaps what is most significant and remarkable about this book is that it has seen the light of day. It got published. Could it be that there is still hope for reasonable, open debate about the right courses of action in the Middle East? The authors have been and will continue to be vilified as anti-Semitic or worse. They are owed a debt of gratitude for having the courage to stand up and to refuse to be silenced.
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. For this rather minor effort in questioning US-Israeli policy, they were subjected to slander, humiliation and threats. Faster than you could say AIPAC, the usual pro-Israel flacks, Dershowitz and Foxman, rolled out their worn out charge of anti-Semitism. I suspect if a dog's bark was construed as critical of Israel, Dershowitz and Foxman would be on the first morning talk show claiming the dog was an "anti-Semite!" I wish these two clowns would buy a thesaurus and find other words of insult. However, to their credit, Mearsheimer and Walt upped the anty and decided to publish a more detailed and documented book on the Israel Lobby.
The book examines in detail the power that the Israel Lobby now has over U.S. Middle East policy- manifested in the extreme by the invasion of Iraq. The book is well documented with over 100 pages of notes and citations. It first examines the true financial costs of the American-Israel relationship- it should surprise no one that this is one way relationship- the U.S. taxpayers shovel out billions of dollars every year (now exceeding $4 billion) getting little if anything in return. The authors then ask the critical question- is Israel a strategic asset or liability to the United States? Correctly they conclude that it has evolved into a major liability. The United States pays a high price for its blind support of Israeli policies. For example, take case of Lebanon. Though more than 25,000 American citizens were put in harms way by Israel's reckless brutal attack on Lebanon last year, I could count on one hand any members of Congress that raised objections. In fact, our politicians behaved more like a herd of swine running to the microphones to be the first to praise Israel for its willful slaughter of more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians. It was surreal and it was disgusting. Later the authors document the contest between the Lobby and the Palestinian people. See President Carter's book for further discussion on the brutalization of the Palestinian people by Israel. They also describe how Israel routinely undermines American presidents- publicly humiliating them through their virtual control of Congress. They tell the story of how an AIPAC member bragged that within an hour he could have over 70 Senators sign whatever resolution he wrote on a napkin! They then warn us how the Lobby is attempting to again manipulate Washington into another senseless war- this time against Iran and Syria. Finally, they ask, "What is to be done?" They are skeptical whether a "counter lobby" would be effective. They instead put their trust in open debate and open discourse. This reflects their intrinsic belief that "the truth will set you free." However, I am not sure about this. It may be that with the arrival of the internet the distribution of information can no longer be controlled by the Lobby and its fellow travelers. However, the recent disgraceful case of Professor Finkelstein denial of tenure by De Paul University gives me pause. Thus, I am now of another school. Polite scholarly ways will not work against organizations such as AIPAC. I believe that the Israel Lobby now represents an existential threat to the security of the United States. The Lobby's objectives are to engage the United States in perpetual confrontation and war in the Middle East solely to advance the interests of a foreign power- Israel. This requires an offensive response as aggressive as that of the Israel Lobby in its efforts to silence scholars such as Mearsheimer and Walt. Who, if nothing else, deserve the admiration of all patriotic Americans.
Additionally, readers are referred to "Foreign Agents- The American Israel Public Affairs Committee form the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal" by Grant Smith; "The Power of Israel in the United States" by James Petras; "They Dare to Speak Out" by Paul Findley.