“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” paper arrives, carrying heavy baggage. John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor of international affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, set off a furor last year by arguing, in an article that appeared in The London Review of Books, that uncritical American support for Israel, shaped by powerful lobbying organizations like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, does grave harm to both American and Israeli interests.
Slowly, deliberately and dispassionately Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt lay out the case for a ruthlessly realistic Middle East policy that would make Israel nothing more than one of many countries in the region. On those occasions when Israel’s interests coincide with America’s, it should count on American support, but otherwise not. What Americans fail to understand, the authors argue, is that most of the time the two countries’ interests are opposed.
The reason they do not realize this, Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt insist, can be explained quite simply: The Israel lobby makes sure of it. Working closely with members of Congress, public-policy organizations and journals of opinion, energetic, well-financed groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee, along with dozens of political-action committees, perpetuate the myth, as the authors see it, of Israel as an isolated, beleaguered state surrounded by enemies and in need of America’s unstinting financial and military support.
This lobby is particularly adept at stifling debate before it begins, the authors argue. “Whether the issue is abortion, arms control, affirmative action, gay rights, the environment, trade policy, health care, immigration or welfare, there is almost always a lively debate on Capitol Hill,” they write. “But where Israel is concerned, potential critics fall silent and there is hardly any debate at all.”
There is nothing underhanded or devious about this, the authors say. Like the National Rifle Association or the AARP, the Israel lobby relies on the traditional political weapons available to any special-interest group in pressing its agenda. It just happens to be unusually skillful and effective.
“It is simply a powerful interest group, made up of both Jews and gentiles, whose acknowledged purpose is to press Israel’s case within the United States and influence American foreign policy in ways that its members believe will benefit the Jewish state,” they write.
The problem, Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt argue, is that Israel has become a strategic liability with the end of the cold war and a moral pariah in its dealings with the Palestinians and, most recently, the Lebanese. Uncritical American support for its closest Middle East ally has damaged American credibility in the Arab world, encouraged terrorism, stymied the search for a solution to the Palestinian problem, and in every way made America’s international position weaker and more dangerous."
Posted for the reader whose username is 'snake'.