September 12, 2007


Israel's lobby as scapegoat (The authors of a new title see the Jewish state as the archenemy (Tim Rutten, September 12, 2007, Los Angeles Times)

It's interesting that the authors chose to first float their arguments in the London Review rather than, say, in Foreign Affairs or some other American journal. While I subscribe to the review -- and, in fact, have been invited several times to contribute to it -- it's a melancholy fact that, in recent years, like so much of the European intellectual press, it has become objectively anti-Semitic in its treatment of Israel. And while it's true that the authors have had several invitations to speak about their book in the United States withdrawn, it's also true that this volume arrives under the imprint of what is arguably America's most prestigious publishing house.

Odd that the all-powerful Israel lobby let that happen.

To get a flavor of the professors' argument, here's how they described the lobby's operations inside the U.S. Congress: "Another source of the Lobby's power is its use of pro-Israel congressional staffers. As Morris Amitay, a former head of [the American Israel Public Affairs Committee], once admitted, 'there are a lot of guys at the working level up here' -- on Capitol Hill -- 'who happen to be Jewish, who are willing. . . to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness. . . . These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators. . . . "

The quotation from an AIPAC staff member is an ingenious twist on the old dual-loyalty argument, but at the end of the day, you've still got sour old wine in new skins. [...]

Perhaps most malicious of all, Mearsheimer and Walt go to great lengths in the book to make what they clearly believe is the most immediate case in point -- which is their assertion that the Israel lobby, acting at the Likud's behest, drove the United States into attacking Saddam Hussein. Thus, readers are treated to an explication on the religious affiliations of various Bush administration officials that reads like it was inspired by the Nuremberg Laws. The fact of the matter is, however, that the figure most responsible for pushing the attack on Iraq -- Vice President Dick Cheney -- is not Jewish, nor even ideologically neoconservative. He is a card-carrying member of the petroleum industry elite, however, and names like Halliburton and ExxonMobil never seem to make their way onto these pages.

It's not the Jews, it's the petrocrats!

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 12, 2007 1:12 PM

Curious how these lobbies keep getting us into all those wars.

The pioneer lobby got us into 1812; the Texas lobby into the Mexican War ("James Knox Polk lied, people died, remember); the Cuba lobby into the war with Spain, The Brits against Germany (with help from those pesky Jews the second time around).

All kinds of lobbies set us against the Communists: Poles, Cuban refugees, of course the infamous China lobby.

But wait, you say, was not the national interest served by the string of victories we were suckered into by all those lobbies. Were not these victories examples of our manifest destiny of ascent to the status of holder of world power?

Precisely. The most that could be said of the "lobbies" is Orwell's line from 1984, "Under the spreading Chestnut tree, I sold you and you sold me." This is so, even if we pass over our special relationship to Israel going back to Truman's snap recognition.

We should certainly forbear to purchase the Mearsheimer-Walt book, (no aid and comfort to the enemy from this quarter), but a short library loan will be in order. Let us see whether the authors treat with all those other lobbies which have led us around by the nose as we came to power.

Posted by: Lou Gots at September 12, 2007 4:44 PM

Does the Holy Spirit have a lobby?

Posted by: jdkelly at September 12, 2007 5:00 PM


As Ivy academics (where battles are so vicious because there's so little to lose) and with a philosophy of "realism" (i.e., countries should do what's in their best interest, and screw everyone else), why would you even expect that?

Here are some questions for Walt and Mearsheimer and their supporters to help put the “Jewish Lobby” essay and book into some sorely-needed historical perspective:

Anti-semites, polemicists and dictators have been writing about the "Jewish control of the world" for some time. Er - about 2,000 years, to be exact.

Starting in Roman Times, to the Blood Libel of the Middle Ages, to the anti-Jewish polemics that fueled the pogroms of Russia, to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to the rants of Julius Streicher; Josef Goebbels; Adolf Hitler, to Arab propaganda that accelerated after the founding of Israel, to Iran's Ahmadi-Nejad ... and many others ... the claim has been made that the Jews exert undue influence to their own benefit and to the detriment of everyone else.

So, I ask you, Professors Walt and Mearsheimer:

- Which of the historical accusations (those in my list and the others that have occurred) against the Jews do you find true, and which untrue?

- If you believe the historical predecessors to your essay and book on the "Jewish Lobby" were untrue, I also ask you: why are you "correct" now, in 2006-7, when your historical predecessors saying basically the same thing for 2,000 years were not?

- If your historical predecessors were correct in their assessments that Jews controlled the world or exerted undue influence, why have you not referenced these works to bolster your arguments?

Posted by: Eris at September 12, 2007 6:01 PM

For all of their plotting and controling they seem to get the dirty end of the stick a lot.

Posted by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 13, 2007 7:13 AM