BBC News: "U.S. storm over book on Israel Lobby"

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Dr. Dilznick, Nov 25, 2007.

  1. Dr. Dilznick

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    Last Updated: Thursday, 22 November 2007, 17:22 GMT

    By Henri Astier
    BBC News


    The power of America's "Jewish lobby" is said to be legendary.

    Commentators the world over refer to it, as though it were a well-established fact that US Jews wield far more influence than their numbers (2% of the population) would suggest.

    But this presumed influence is also a delicate issue in the US, and is rarely analysed.

    How does the lobby work? Is its power truly legendary, or just a legend?

    Two US academics, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard, have set out to answer those questions, and triggered a firestorm of controversy as a result.

    Their book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, which builds on a 2006 article in the London Review of Books, says the reasons for US support for Israel need to be explained.

    America spends $3bn a year in largely military assistance - one-sixth of its direct aid budget - to help a prosperous, nuclear-armed country, and strongly backs Israel in negotiations on Middle East peace.

    But according to Mearsheimer and Walt, the US gets remarkably little in return.

    They reject the argument that Israel is a key ally in America's "war on terror".

    On the contrary, they contend, US patronage of Israel fuels militant anger - as well as fostering resentment in Arab countries that control vital oil supplies.

    One-sided

    The authors also reject the common view of Israel as a democratic outpost that needs protection from deadly enemies.

    It is indeed a vibrant democracy, they say, but also a regional giant ready to use its considerable firepower against civilians.

    If both these arguments are weak, they say, the real reason behind US support for Israel is domestic - the activities of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and like-minded groups and think tanks.

    Mearsheimer and Walt do not talk of a "Jewish lobby", as these groups do not speak for all US Jews and include many non-Jews, but of an "Israel lobby", whose main aim, they say, is to convince America that its interests are aligned with those of the Israeli state.

    The book analyses the lobby's sources of influence - notably its financial muscle and the reluctance of critics to speak out.

    Pro-Israeli contributions to US campaigns dwarf those of Arab-Americans or Muslim groups.

    Like other interest groups, the Israel lobby also influences debate by rounding on politicians and commentators who take positions it does not like - but it does it particularly effectively, according to Mearsheimer and Walt.

    Those who might think of questioning US support for Israel know they are in for a fight, making it more trouble than it is worth.

    The resulting lack of discussion, the book says, has skewed US policies across the Middle East.

    Most controversially, it argues that the lobby played an important role in the Iraq war.

    No conspiracy

    Perhaps not surprisingly, Mearsheimer and Walt have unleashed a torrent of criticism - though not from Aipac, which has made no comment.

    "Their conclusions are classic anti-Semitic canards - such as control of foreign policy against the interest of the US, the Jews controlling the media and getting America into war," ADL director Abraham Foxman told the BBC News website.

    After reading the original article, Mr Foxman wrote a book-length rebuttal entitled The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and The Myth of Jewish Control.

    Many attacks have been highly personal.

    In a fierce critique of their scholarship, Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote in the New Republic of the original article: "Were 'The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy' an actual person, I would have to say that he did not have a single honest bone in his body."

    Virtually all reviews of the book in the mainstream US press have been negative.

    "They have often misrepresented our arguments badly or tried to smear us by either saying or hinting that we are anti-Semitic," Mr Walt told the BBC News website.

    He and Mr Mearsheimer deny recycling old fantasies of Jewish conspiracies. Their book repeatedly states that pro-Israeli lobbying is not secretive, but conforms to the open rules of America's democratic system.

    The authors regard their excoriation in the US press as a sign of the lobby's effectiveness, and point out that reviews abroad have been much more favourable.

    "This in some way confirms our basic argument that it's much easier to talk about this subject outside the United States than we do inside the US," he says.

    Cause and effect

    However, some of Mearsheimer and Walt's US critics have been less vitriolic and harder to dismiss as angry polemic.

    Robert Lieberman, a Columbia University political scientist, argues that they overstate the lobby's financial power.

    Mearsheimer and Walt cite cases of members of Congress losing their seats after running afoul of pro-Israeli groups which then bankrolled their opponents.

    But Mr Lieberman says the contributions involved are unlikely to make a difference and the book fails to establish a clear link between lobby money and victory.

    Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle lost his seat in 2004 despite the fact that he got more pro-Israel funding than any candidate that year.

    "For any anecdote they come up with, you can come up with an anecdote that demonstrates the opposite," Mr Lieberman says.

    Perhaps the most contentious argument in the book is the direct causal link it tries to establish between lobby activity and US Middle East policies.

    But political preferences can be influenced by any number of factors, such as popular pressure, party politics or heartfelt conviction.

    Although Mearsheimer and Walt do their best to discard those alternative explanations for the US pro-Israeli stance, many are unconvinced.

    "Is this the manipulation of a tiny group, or is this politicians not wanting to take a stand that is unpopular with the broader public?" Walter Russell Mead, of the Council on Foreign Relations, told the BBC News website.

    Mr Mead - who wrote a lengthy critique of the book in the journal Foreign Affairs - also says Mearsheimer and Walt give too vague a definition of the lobby to make any credible conclusion about its impact.

    Opening up

    The fact that the book invites criticism, however, is also a strength. Its scholarly, dispassionate tone is meant to encourage a debate.

    "Reasonable people can disagree and one of the reasons we want to have a discussion is to get issues out in the open so people can talk about them," Mr Walt says.

    Tony Judt - a prominent historian and critic of Israel - does not accept every point made by Mearsheimer and Walt, but he credits them with lifting a taboo.

    The main effect of the lobby, he says, has been self-censorship. "There are people out there who are anti-Semitic obviously, and you don't want to find yourself in their company, so you end up saying nothing," he says.

    Mr Judt himself is not afraid to speak out, but he has to tread more carefully when he criticises Israeli policies in the US than he does in Israel itself.

    "I have written articles in Haaretz that no American newspapers would touch," he says.

    In this context, he adds, Mearsheimer and Walt's book is an "enormous act of intellectual courage".

    "They gained nothing from it, but the community has really gained something because with each little step like that, the conversation opens up a bit more."

    BBC NEWS | Americas | US storm over book on Israel lobby
     
  2. B_sugarandspice

    B_sugarandspice New Member

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    Wow, it's about time. I had many friends in college who had family murdered in concentration camps at the hands of the Israeli military. I lived in Florida and I did not like the bigotry and the openly voiced racisms and hatred by my own Jewish friends who feel that only they should have respect and protection. It is about time this is being discussed.
    You could never show movies with sick and twisted Satanic themes using Jewish sacred symbols like they do using Wiccan sacred symbols and demonizing the sacred names of Pagan deities like the carnage based movies coming out of Hollywood. It looks like a majority of people in the film industry are Jewish. i have seen a lot of hypocrisy and bigotry.
    I pray for peace on Earth and for greed driven wars to end.
    Blessed be to all.
     
  3. SteveHd

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  4. speshk

    speshk New Member

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    I'm not Jewish and I haven't even had a serious discussion with Jewish friends on the topic so I don't consider myself "coached", but I consider myself fair-minded. So my question is, What's wrong with Jewish people wanting to preserve their own country? I mean there have been problems with their "host" countries in the past. My God, Israel is a country the size of a postage stamp. Live and let live for fuck's sake. As for disproportionate influence, maybe they just work harder for what they want? Educate me.
     
  5. Mem

    Mem
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    Please explain, I never heared of this.
     
  6. simcha

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    Ah yes, the Pagan Ultra-Left. I would guess you are a follower of the traitor, Starhawk, who made up her "herstory" in Spiral Dance. She's such a scholar (note sarcasm).

    Also she is one of the most self-hating Jews I've ever met. And yes, I've met her. I dabble in Pagan stuff because, well, I've been curious and a lot of it is useful. But anyway, Starhawk in particular invented a history where the male Hebrew Elders destroyed Goddess worship in the land of Canaan. There is no archeological evidence for this or textual evidence for this, but she insists she's revealing "the truth." Hence, she hates her own people and the religion of her birth.

    She works tirelessly for the PLO, Hamas, and Hizbollah making propaganda against Israel on the alleged injustices done to Arabs who live in the occupied territories. She goes on "missions" to the occupied territories and works with people who bomb school buses, shopping malls, and who lob missiles into Israel.

    I find it interesting that you parrot the myth that "The Jews control Hollywood" and that you expect that your rantings should be taken seriously.

    And, BTW, many of the symbols used by Pagans originate from Hebrew Magick. Look at the Key of Solomon, etc. Those symbols get used in Hollywood in movies to represent evil forces all the time. And even Paganism's most sacred symbol, the Pentagram, was used by Hebrew magicians.

    So, get off of the cross, someone needs the wood.
     
  7. BigDuder

    BigDuder New Member

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    oh how interesting, a theory about shadow governments involving jews! this idea has never been raised before.




    "do you know why ireland is the only country that never persecuted jews?

    because they never let them in."

    a little butchered joyce for you guys.
     
  8. Elmer Gantry

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    It still amazes me that STILL you haven't figured this one out.

    And the vocal and overwhelming response to this article gives me no comfort that the "War On Terror" will ever end.

    Go read some Robert Fisk and then come back and comment.
     
  9. SpeedoGuy

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    I know its true 'cause I read about it on the internets.
     
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