April 29, 2006


The United States Of Israel? (Robert Fisk, 28 April, 2006, The Independent)

Stephen Walt towers over me as we walk in the Harvard sunshine past Eliot Street, a big man who needs to be big right now (he's one of two authors of an academic paper on the influence of America's Jewish lobby) but whose fame, or notoriety, depending on your point of view, is of no interest to him. "John and I have deliberately avoided the television shows because we don't think we can discuss these important issues in 10 minutes. It would become 'J' and 'S', the personalities who wrote about the lobby - and we want to open the way to serious discussion about this, to encourage a broader discussion of the forces shaping US foreign policy in the Middle East."

"John" is John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. Walt is a 50-year-old tenured professor at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The two men have caused one of the most extraordinary political storms over the Middle East in recent American history by stating what to many non-Americans is obvious: that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel, that Israel is a liability in the "war on terror", that the biggest Israeli lobby group, Aipac (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee), is in fact the agent of a foreign government and has a stranglehold on Congress - so much so that US policy towards Israel is not debated there - and that the lobby monitors and condemns academics who are critical of Israel.

"Anyone who criticises Israel's actions or argues that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy," the authors have written, "...stands a good chance of being labelled an anti-Semite. Indeed, anyone who merely claims that there is an Israeli lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism ... Anti-Semitism is something no-one wants to be accused of." This is strong stuff in a country where - to quote the late Edward Said - the "last taboo" (now that anyone can talk about blacks, gays and lesbians) is any serious discussion of America's relationship with Israel.

Walt is already the author of an elegantly written account of the resistance to US world political dominance, a work that includes more than 50 pages of references. Indeed, those who have read his Taming Political Power: The Global Response to US Primacy will note that the Israeli lobby gets a thumping in this earlier volume because Aipac "has repeatedly targeted members of Congress whom it deemed insufficiently friendly to Israel and helped drive them from office, often by channelling money to their opponents."

It makes perfect sense for academics/intellectuals to hate the great Jewish state, Israel, and the great Christian one, America. We are, after all, their enemies.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 29, 2006 7:38 AM

It's funny how the academics are so backward looking, even tribal in their outlook....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at April 29, 2006 11:16 AM

Natan Sharansky has described the 3D's of modern anti-Semitism: Demonization, Double standard, and Delegitimization.
1)Demonization: "...that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel" must be something unique about a small number of Jews having such great influence on such a large country as ours...Israel (Jews) must be the devil.
2)Double standard: I'm sure that no other country in the world has been lobbying our government for any special favors. Only Israel comes under criticism by our learned professors. The same double standard that won't let Israel build a defensive wall won't tolerate any lobbying on behalf of Israel in our Congress either.
Delegitimization: The USA is Israel's only allly in the world. By trying to subvert that support, our learned professors are trying essentially to destroy the Jewish state. 5 million Jews against 500 million Arabs, not much of a contest?

Posted by: morry at April 29, 2006 12:57 PM

Someone made a point I think and LGF that Fiskie can talk to Walt, but he's running for cover if American journos try and talk to him.

Posted by: Sandy P at April 29, 2006 1:06 PM

Let's see. David Duke, Juan Cole, Robert Fisk.

Some impressive enthusiasts that Walt and Mearsheimer have attracted.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at April 29, 2006 3:40 PM

Barry -

My thought exactly. All they need are the endorsements of George Galloway, Pat Buchanan, and Cynthia McKinney. And Bashir Assad, Mahmoud Amadinejad, and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

BTW, did anyone else see Larry Summers' reply to Allen Dershowitz (who had asked at a meeting if Walt was obligated to defend his work) - Summers said "academic freedom gives him the right to remain silent". Pretty droll, eh?

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 29, 2006 4:50 PM