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Study: U.S. Middle East policy motivated by pro-Israel lobby

man_slut

TRIBE Member
I'm always a little wiery about these studies... but it's a study none the less.

Study: U.S. Middle East policy motivated by pro-Israel lobby

By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Middle East policy is not in America's national interest and is motivated primarily by the country's pro-Israel lobby, according to a study published Thursday by researchers from Harvard University and the University of Chicago.

Observers in Washington said Thursday that the study was liable to stir up a tempest and spur renewed debate about the function of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby. The Fatah office in Washington distributed the article to an extensive mailing list.

"No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical," write the authors of the study.

To read Shmuel Rosner's blog on this topic, click here.

John J. Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago's political science department and Stephen M. Walt from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government do not present new facts. They rely mainly on an analysis of Israeli and American newspaper reports and studies, along with the findings of the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

The study also documents accusations that American supporters of Israel pushed the United States into war with Iraq. It lists senior Bush administration officials who supported the war and are also known to support Israel, such as Paul Wolfowitz, Doug Feith and David Wurmser. The authors say the influence of the pro-Israel lobby is a source of serious concern and write that it has even caused damage to Israel by preventing it from reaching a compromise with its neighbors.

LINK
 
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man_slut

TRIBE Member
And the very well thought out rebuttal!

It's US Policy That Inflames the Arab World




Blaming the Israel Lobby




By JOSEPH MASSAD




In the last 25 years, many Palestinians and other Arabs, in the United States and in the Arab world, have been so awed by the power of the US pro-Israel lobby that any study, book, or journalistic article that exposes the inner workings, the substantial influence, and the financial and political power of this lobby have been greeted with ecstatic sighs of relief that Americans finally can see the "truth" and the "error" of their ways.

The underlying argument has been simple and has been told time and again by Washington's regime allies in the Arab world, pro-US liberal and Arab intellectuals, conservative and liberal US intellectuals and former politicians, and even leftist Arab and American activists who support Palestinian rights, namely, that absent the pro- Israel lobby, America would at worst no longer contribute to the oppression of Arabs and Palestinians and at best it would be the Arabs' and the Palestinians' best ally and friend.

What makes this argument persuasive and effective to Arabs? Indeed, why are its claims constantly brandished by Washington's Arab friends to Arab and American audiences as a persuasive argument? I contend that the attraction of this argument is that it exonerates the United States' government from all the responsibility and guilt that it deserves for its policies in the Arab world and gives false hope to many Arabs and Palestinians who wish America would be on their side instead of on the side of their enemies.

Let me start with the premise of the argument, namely its effect of shifting the blame for US policies from the United States onto Israel and its US lobby. According to this logic, it is not the United States that should be held directly responsible for all its imperial policies in the Arab world and the Middle East at large since World War II, rather it is Israel and its lobby who have pushed it to launch policies that are detrimental to its own national interest and are only beneficial to Israel. Establishing and supporting Arab and other Middle East dictatorships, arming and training their militaries, setting up their secret police apparatuses and training them in effective torture methods and counter-insurgency to be used against their own citizens should be blamed, according to the logic of these studies, on Israel and its US lobby.

Blocking all international and UN support for Palestinian rights, arming and financing Israel in its war against a civilian population, protecting Israel from the wrath of the international community should also be blamed not on the United States, the studies insist, but on Israel and its lobby. Additionally, and in line with this logic, controlling Arab economies and finances, dominating key investments in the Middle East, and imposing structural adjustment policies by the IMF and the World Bank which impoverish the Arab peoples should also be blamed on Israel, and not the United States. Finally, starving and then invading Iraq, threatening to invade Syria, raiding and then sanctioning Libya and Iran, besieging the Palestinians and their leaders must also be blamed on the Israeli lobby and not the US government. Indeed, over the years, many pro-US Arab dictators let it leak officially and unofficially that their US diplomat friends have told them time and again how muc! h they and "America" support the Arab world and the Palestinians were it not for the influence of the pro- Israel lobby (sometimes identified by the American diplomats in more explicit "ethnic" terms).

While many of the studies of the pro-Israel lobby are sound and full of awe-inspiring well- documented details about the formidable power commanded by groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its allies, the problem with most of them is what remains unarticulated. For example, when and in what context has the United States government ever supported national liberation in the Third World? The record of the United States is one of being the implacable enemy of all Third World national liberation groups, including European ones, from Greece to Latin America to Africa and Asia, except in the celebrated cases of the Afghan fundamentalists' war against the USSR and supporting apartheid South Africa's main terrorist allies in Angola and Mozambique (UNITA and RENAMO) against their respective anti-colonial national governments. Why then would the US support national liberation in the Arab world absent the pro-Israel lobby is something these studies ne! ver explain.

The United States has had a consistent policy since World War II of fighting all regimes across the Third World who insist on controlling their national resources, whether it be land, oil, or other valuable minerals. This extends from Iran in 1953 to Guatemala in 1954 to the rest of Latin America all the way to present-day Venezuela. Africa has fared much worse in the last four decades, as have many countries in Asia. Why would the United States support nationalist regimes in the Arab world who would nationalise natural resources and stop their pillage by American capital absent the pro-Israel lobby also remains a mystery unexplained by these studies. Finally, the United States government has opposed and overthrown or tried to overthrow any regime that seeks real and tangible independence in the Third World and is especially galled by those regimes that pursue such policies through democratic elections.

The overthrow of regimes from Arbenz to Goulart to Mossadegh and Allende and the ongoing attempts to overthrow Chavez are prominent examples, as is the overthrow of nationalist regimes like Sukarno's and Nkrumah's. The terror unleashed on populations who challenged the US-installed friendly regimes from El Salvador and Nicaragua to Zaire to Chile and Indonesia resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands, if not millions by repressive police and militaries trained for these important tasks by the US. This is aside from direct US invasions of South East Asian and Central American countries that killed untold millions for decades.

Why would the US and its repressive agencies stop invading Arab countries, or stop supporting the repressive police forces of dictatorial Arab regimes and why would the US stop setting up shadow governments inside its embassies in Arab capitals to run these countries' affairs (in some cases the US shadow government runs the Arab country in question down to the smallest detail with the Arab government in question reduced to executing orders) if the pro-Israel lobby did not exist is never broached by these studies let alone explained.

The arguments put forth by these studies would have been more convincing if the Israel lobby was forcing the United States government to pursue policies in the Middle East that are inconsistent with its global policies elsewhere. This, however, is far from what happens. While US policies in the Middle East may often be an exaggerated form of its repressive and anti- democratic policies elsewhere in the world, they are not inconsistent with them. One could easily make the case that the strength of the pro-Israel lobby is what accounts for this exaggeration, but even this contention is not entirely persuasive. One could argue (and I have argued elsewhere) that it is in fact the very centrality of Israel to US strategy in the Middle East that accounts, in part, for the strength of the pro-Israel lobby and not the other way around.

Indeed, many of the recent studies highlight the role of pro-Likud members of the Bush administration (or even of the Clinton administration) as evidence of the lobby's awesome power, when, i t could be easily argued that it is these American politicians who had pushed Likud and Labour into more intransigence in the 1990s and are pushing them towards more conquest now that they are at the helm of the US government. This is not to say, however, that the leaders of the pro-Israel lobby do not regularly brag about their crucial influence on US policy in Congress and in the White House. That they have done regularly since the late 1970s.

But the lobby is powerful in the United States because its major claims are about advancing US interests and its support for Israel is contextualised in its support for the overall US strategy in the Middle East. The pro- Israel lobby plays the same role that the China lobby played in the 1950s and the Cuba lobby still plays to this day. The fact that it is more powerful than any other foreign lobby on Capitol Hill testifies to the importance of Israel in US strategy and not to some fantastical power that the lobby commands independent of and extraneous to the US "national interest." The pro-Israel lobby could not sell its message and would not have any influence if Israel was a communist or anti-imperialist country or if Israel opposed US policy elsewhere in the world.

Some would argue that even though Israel attempts to overlap its interests with those of the US, that its lobby is misleading American policy- makers and shifting their position from one of objective assessment of what is truly in America's best interest and that of Israel's. The argument runs as follows: US support for Israel causes groups who oppose Israel to hate the US and target it for attacks. It also costs the US friendly media coverage in the Arab world, affects its investment potential in Arab countries, and loses its important allies in the region, or at least weakens these allies. But none of this is true. The United States has been able to be Israel's biggest backer and financier, its staunchest defender and weapon-supplier while maintaining strategic alliances with most if not all Arab dictatorships, including the Palestinian Authority under both Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

Moreover, US companies and American investments have the largest presence across the Arab world, most prominently but not exclusively in the oil sector. Also, even without the pathetic and ineffective efforts at US propaganda in the guise of the television station Al-Hurra, or Radio Sawa and the now-defunct Hi magazine, not to mention US-paid journalists and newspapers in Iraq and elsewhere, a whole army of Arabic newspapers and state-television stations, not to mention myriad satellite television stations celebrate the US and its culture, broadcast American programmes, and attempt to sell the US point of view as effectively as possible encumbered only by the limitations that actual US policies in the region place on common sense. Even the offending Al-Jazeera has bent over backwards to accommodate the US point of view but is constantly undercut by actual US policies in the region. Al-Jazeera, under tremendous pressure and threats of bombing from the United State! s, has for example stopped referring to the US occupation forces in Iraq as "occupation forces" and now refers to them as "coalition forces". Moreover, since when has the US sought to win a popularity contest among the peoples of the world? Arabs no more hate or love the United States than do Latin Americans, Africans, Asians, or even and especially Europeans.

Finally we come to the financial argument, namely that the US gives an inordinate amount of money to Israel -- too exorbitant a cost that is out of proportion to what the US gets in return. In fact, the United States spends much more on its military bases in the Arab world, not to mention on those in Europe or Asia, than it does on Israel. Israel has indeed been very effective in rendering services to its US master for a good price, whether in channelling illegal arms to central American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, helping pariah regimes like Taiwan and apartheid South Africa in the same period, supporting pro-US, including Fascist, groups inside the Arab world to undermine nationalist Arab regimes, from Lebanon to Iraq to Sudan, coming to the aid of conservative pro- US Arab regimes when threatened as it did in Jordan in 1970, and attacking Arab nationalist regimes outright as it did in 1967 with Egypt and Syria and in 1981 with Iraq when it destroyed that co! untry's nuclear reactor.

While the US had been able to overthrow Sukarno and Nkrumah in bloody coups, Nasser remained entrenched until Israel effectively neutralised him in the 1967 War. It is thanks to this major service that the United States increased its support to Israel exponentially. Moreover, Israel neutralised the PLO in 1982, no small service to many Arab regimes and their US patron who could not fully control the organisation until then. None of the American military bases on which many more billions are spent can claim such a stellar record. Critics argue that when the US had to intervene in the Gulf, it could not rely on Israel to do the job because of the sensitivity of including it in such a coalition which would embarrass Arab allies, hence the need for direct US intervention and the uselessness of Israel as a strategic ally. While this may be true, the US also could not rely on any of its military bases to launch the invasions on their own and had to ship in its army. American ! bases in the Gulf did provide important and needed support but so did Israel.




AIPAC is indeed powerful insofar as it pushes for policies that accord with US interests and that are resonant with the reigning US imperial ideology. The power of the pro-Israel lobby, whether in Congress or on campuses among university administrators, or policy-makers is not based solely on their organisational skills or ideological uniformity. In no small measure, anti- Semitic attitudes in Congress (and among university administrators) play a role in believing the lobby's (and its enemies') exaggerated claims about its actual power, resulting in their towing the line. But even if this were true, one could argue, it would not matter whether the lobby has real or imagined power. For as long as Congress and policy-makers (and university administrators) believe it does, it will remain effective and powerful. I of course concede this point.




What then would have been different in US policy in the Middle East absent Israel and its powerful lobby? The answer in short is: the details and intensity but not the direction, content, or impact of such policies. Is the pro- Israel lobby extremely powerful in the United States? As someone who has been facing the full brunt of their power for the last three years through their formidable influence on my own university and their attempts to get me fired, I answer with a resounding yes. Are they primarily responsible for US policies towards the Palestinians and the Arab world? Absolutely not.

The United States is opposed in the Arab world as elsewhere because it has pursued and continues to pursue policies that are inimical to the interests of most people in these countries and are only beneficial to its own interests and to the minority regimes in the region that serve those interests, including Israel. Absent these policies, and not the pro-Israel lobby which supports them, the United States should expect a change in its standing among Arabs. Short of that, the United States will have to continue its policies in the region that have wreaked, and continue to wreak, havoc on the majority of Arabs and not expect that the Arab people will like it in return.

Joseph Massad is associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. His recent book The Persistence of the Palestinian Question was published by Routledge.
 

Lurker

TRIBE Member
The guy who wrote this study gets:

masterObvious.jpg


I know it's a tad more complex, but come on, how effective is the pro-Arab lobby in Washington? Exactly.
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
And Neumann joins the debate... kind of:

Why the US May Be Acting Against Its Own Interests in the Middle East

The Israel Lobby and Beyond

By MICHAEL NEUMANN

Professors Walt and Mearsheimer's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is an important contribution to the Israel/Palestine debate. It's too bad the important stuff got lost in the melodrama.

The melodrama is about the Israel lobby, aka the 'Jewish lobby'. One whiff of Jewish conspiracy theory, and squads of columnists march off to fight the Nazis lurking in academia. But at a bit of a distance, it's hard to see why tales of the lobby are so fascinating.

Various self-styled Jewish organizations and pro-Israel outfits, like so many political pressure groups, brag about their success. No one suggests they're lying. Exactly how much influence do they have over US policy? To what extent are they responsible for getting the US into Iraq?

We have no idea. US policy-making is a complicated business. Some of it is secret. People's motives and thought processes are often hidden. And to what extent are the lobbyists pushing decision-makers down a path they already want to go?

I don't even find these questions interesting.

What really matters is whether support for Israel serves US interests. If it does, why on earth would we care about a pro-Israel lobby? If it doesn't, then the lobby is a bad thing even if it didn't conspire to get us into Iraq.

Walt and Mearsheimer are among the very few to address this important question head-on. They say: "Israel is in fact a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states." They argue forcefully for their claim. They also bear some of the blame for failing to get this message across, because this material doesn't deserve the second-billing they gave it.

Not that the message should need much getting across; it really is a no-brainer. No doubt the US is very concerned about Middle East oil; it's often suggested that this is America's main interest in the region. Well, how is that interest served by cozying up to the one country in the area that all its oil-producers love to hate? Some pundits tell us, with an air of sagacity, that Israel is useful for controlling the oil, and suggest the Big Oil Companies benefit from the arrangement. But how exactly does Israel help control the oil?

Israel would have to shove through Syria or Lebanon or Jordan to get near any oil. That would cause a major conflagration and - guess what - destroy enormous amounts of oil-producing capacity. Besides, the US doesn't need Israel to control the oil. The US could occupy any oilfield in the Middle East all on its own, without Israeli help.

Not that anyone needs to occupy any oilfields. Every country in the Middle East is quite happy to sell the US oil. Saddam Hussein had no problem with the idea, and it's we who won't buy oil from Iran, not the Iranians who won't sell it to us. If it ever were necessary to place military pressure on Middle Eastern countries, the US could sit in the Persian Gulf and astride the pipelines out of the oil producing regions to control the flow of that oil completely. So no, Israel isn't exactly keeping our SUVs on the road for us.

Why then does the US support Israel? Here I do tend to disagree with Walt and Mearsheimer. Maybe the influence of the Israel lobby is the only logical explanation, but that doesn't mean the explanation is right. Nations do not always behave logically.

The US alliance with Israel grew out of 1950s Cold War politics. America supported Egypt against England, France, and Israel in 1956. But when Nasser started buying arms from the Soviet bloc, things changed. The United States, obsessed with visions of a communist Middle East, felt the need for an ally and a base of operations from which it could intimidate the countries it most suspected of veering towards the Soviet camp: Egypt and Syria. The more Israel's military capabilities improved, the more valuable an ally it appeared to be.

With the end of the Cold War, the rationale for this alliance ceased to exist, but the alliance did not. There is a great deal in the government and conduct of nations that runs on inertia, and the US is no exception in this respect. Just as it has taken decades for European nations to outgrow their sentimental attachment to the Americans who defeated Hitler, so it is taking decades for Americans to outgrow their sentimental attachment to Israel, its ally in the fight against communism.

Maybe I'm wrong and Walt and Mearsheimer are right; it really doesn't matter. What matters is that the US no longer has any reason to support Israel, and huge reason not to. Just imagine if the US stopped backing Israel and gave even moderate support to the Palestinians. Suddenly Islam and America would be on the same side. The war on terror would become a cakewalk. The credibility of American democracy would skyrocket in the Middle East. And it would all be a hell of a lot cheaper. This seems a tad more important than which Jewish neocon said what to whom.

Professor Joseph Massad ("Blaming the lobby", 23 - 29 March 2006) makes a reasonable case that the influence of the
Israel lobby on US policy has been exaggerated. However his explanation of what drives U.S. support for Israel is less successful, and promotes an interpretation extremely detrimental to the Palestinian cause.

Professor Massad asserts that

"The United States is opposed in the Arab world as elsewhere because it has pursued and continues to pursue policies that are inimical to the interests of most people in these countries and are only beneficial to its own interests and to the minority regimes in the region that serve those interests, including Israel. "

One could say of such interpretations exactly what Professor Massad says of interpretations blaming the Israel lobby: "...the problem with most of them is what remains unarticulated". What are those policies, and why does the US pursue them? Massad seems to refer to his earlier remark that "The United States has had a consistent policy since World War II of fighting all regimes across the Third World who insist on controlling their national resources, whether it be land, oil, or other valuable minerals. This extends from Iran in 1953 to Guatemala in 1954 to the rest of Latin America all the way to present-day Venezuela."

But this hardly explains current US policy in the Middle East. Middle Eastern regimes are not, properly speaking, Third World, and it is not the case that the United States has consistently fought Middle Eastern regimes that insist on controlling their resources.

On the contrary, the US has excellent relations with the oil-rich Gulf State nations, and these nations have throughout their history insisted, with increasing emphasis, on such control.

The same can be said of US oil companies, who quite obviously prefer cooperation to military force when it comes to operating in the Middle East. They have stuck to this preference even when it meant considerable reduction of their profits.

For similar reasons, the really large US oil companies did not support the invasion of Iraq: leading oil economists such as Daniel Yergin and Fareed Mohamedi to provide convincing arguments for this view. So Professor Massad's explanation will not do.

Michael Neumann is a professor of philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada. Professor Neumann's views are not to be taken as those of his university. His book What's Left: Radical Politics and the Radical Psyche has just been republished by Broadview Press. He contributed the essay, "What is Anti-Semitism", to CounterPunch's book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. This essay is excerpted from Neumann's new book, The Case Against Israel. He can be reached at: mneumann@trentu.ca.

http://counterpunch.com/neumann04042006.html
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Lurker said:
I know it's a tad more complex, but come on, how effective is the pro-Arab lobby in Washington? Exactly.

The Pro-Arab Lobby in Washingonton is EXTREMELY effective! How else do you think the US Companies were able to make hundreds of billions of dollars off the Saudis while everyone knew they were enthusiastically sponsoring terrorism? And the US knew this, because they were helping the Saudis--matching dollar for dollar--radicalise and arm-to-the-teeth the Afghan muslims to fight the Red Army. The CIA, Saudis, Pakistanis, Egyptians and various Gulf Arab states were intimately involved with specifically using Islamic Fundamentalism as THE galvinising ideology against the USSR in Afghanistan. They tought the fighters the world's best known guerilla tactics...you know...the ones being used to utterly humiliate America in Iraq today.

The Saudis pump HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars into "think tanks" and they fund hundreds of university chairs across America for the purpose of "building a better understanding of the Arab world" while they fund and promote the most radical kind of Islam to every corner of the planet (Wahabi Islam).

Furthermore, the Saudis spend tens of millions of dollars converting Americans to Islam. In the US, Islam is the fastest growing religion!!! I'd say that's pretty damn successful.

Also, what we call "Al Quaeda" today, had an office in Brooklyn, New York. President Ronals Reagan dedicated a shuttle launch to "The freedom fighters of Afghanistan" Osama Bin Laden was declared the recruiter in chief for the Afghan war effort by the Saudi Intelligence Chief, Prince Turki--a good friend of Bill Clinton's at Yale.
 
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Lurker

TRIBE Member
^^ sorry, I should have re-phrased: Arab lobby in relation to Israel.

My bad.

I still don't see how there's any kind of swaying of policies, especially now with Hamas controlling the PA.

It also seems like surrounding countries like Egypt and Saudi are keeping a comfortable distance away from the whole deal, given that the only certain thing the region has going for it is uncertainty. Nobody wants to fully recognize Hamas, and if they do, they get branded as siding with the more radical likes of Syria and Iran.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Lurker said:
It also seems like surrounding countries like Egypt and Saudi are keeping a comfortable distance away from the whole deal, given that the only certain thing the region has going for it is uncertainty. Nobody wants to fully recognize Hamas, and if they do, they get branded as siding with the more radical likes of Syria and Iran.

In the ME, nothing is what it seems. All those countries, for example, have secret diplomatic relations with Israel. Nobody is cutting off the Hamas-led PA, not even Israel, and certainly not the United States. Iran and Syria use their connection to the Palestinians as political capital because they are allies--which is an unusual relationship that goes against the grain and is quite old, but that's another story all together. All the countries that claim to represent and care about the Palestinians *don't give a shit* about them. I want to be very clear about that.

All those countries have MAD DOLLARS...they could EASILY bail out the PA in the face of any Western sanctions. They just don't want to--for various reason, some of which are entirely secret--they may have even promised Israel, their supposed arch enemy, in exchange for...."military gifts" or intelligence, or even protection. The Mossad helped protect the Lybian government for a while back in the day.

So anything any of those actors do, is not for something as simple as not wanting to look like they're in bed with some side. They're all in bed together and they're all bitter rivals at he same time. The strategic equation is extremely fluid there.

One neat example is the Saudi Foreign Minister--Saudis a wiesels, but the Kuwaitis are worse--said his gov was in contact with int'l organisation to secure the release of Saudi Citizen being held in Israel. The Arab news is claiming that he was a suicide bomber who successfully infiltrated the state, but was then caught. The chief of the Israeli Prisons Authority, remarked that he is not actually a "prisoner" but has the status of illegal alien who is claiming political refugee status. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Foreign Ministry are saying that they have nothing to say.

So WTF is the story then? He's been there for 11 months. Why are the Saudis making it public now? For every detail that is exposed, another ten unknowns are created.
 
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man_slut

TRIBE Member
The United States of Israel?

The newest instalment from MR.FISK:

Breaking the Last Taboo
The United States of Israel?
By ROBERT FISK

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."

But how many people in America are putting their own heads above the parapet, now that Mearsheimer and Walt have launched a missile that would fall to the ground unexploded in any other country but which is detonating here at high speed? Not a lot. For a while, the mainstream US press and television - as pro-Israeli, biased and gutless as the two academics infer them to be - did not know whether to report on their conclusions (originally written for The Atlantic Monthly, whose editors apparently took fright, and subsequently reprinted in the London Review of Books in slightly truncated form) or to remain submissively silent. The New York Times, for example, only got round to covering the affair in depth well over two weeks after the report's publication, and then buried its article in the education section on page 19. The academic essay, according to the paper's headline, had created a "debate" about the lobby's influence.

They can say that again. Dore Gold, a former ambassador to the UN, who now heads an Israeli lobby group, kicked off by unwittingly proving that the Mearsheimer-Walt theory of "anti-Semitism" abuse is correct. "I believe," he said, "that anti-Semitism may be partly defined as asserting a Jewish conspiracy for doing the same thing non-Jews engage in." Congressman Eliot Engel of New York said that the study itself was "anti-Semitic" and deserved the American public's contempt.

Walt has no time for this argument. "We are not saying there is a conspiracy, or a cabal. The Israeli lobby has every right to carry on its work - all Americans like to lobby. What we are saying is that this lobby has a negative influence on US national interests and that this should be discussed. There are vexing problems out in the Middle East and we need to be able to discuss them openly. The Hamas government, for example - how do we deal with this? There may not be complete solutions, but we have to try and have all the information available."

Walt doesn't exactly admit to being shocked by some of the responses to his work - it's all part of his desire to keep "discourse" in the academic arena, I suspect, though it probably won't work. But no-one could be anything but angered by his Harvard colleague, Alan Dershowitz, who announced that the two scholars recycled accusations that "would be seized on by bigots to promote their anti-Semitic agendas". The two are preparing a reply to Dershowitz's 45-page attack, but could probably have done without praise from the white supremacist and ex-Ku Klux Klan head David Duke - adulation which allowed newspapers to lump the name of Duke with the names of Mearsheimer and Walt. "Of Israel, Harvard and David Duke," ran the Washington Post's reprehensible headline.

The Wall Street Journal, ever Israel's friend in the American press, took an even weirder line on the case. "As Ex-Lobbyists of Pro-Israel Group Face Court, Article Queries Sway on Mideast Policy" its headline proclaimed to astonished readers. Neither Mearsheimer nor Walt had mentioned the trial of two Aipac lobbyists - due to begin next month - who are charged under the Espionage Act with receiving and disseminating classified information provided by a former Pentagon Middle East analyst. The defence team for Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman has indicated that it may call Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley to the stand.

Almost a third of the Journal's report is taken up with the Rosen-Weissman trial, adding that the indictment details how the two men "allegedly sought to promote a hawkish US policy toward Iran by trading favours with a number of senior US officials. Lawrence Franklin, the former Pentagon official, has pleaded guilty to misusing classified information. Mr Franklin was charged with orally passing on information about a draft National Security Council paper on Iran to the two lobbyists... as well as other classified information. Mr Franklin was sentenced in December to nearly 13 years in prison..."

The Wall Street Journal report goes on to say that lawyers and "many Jewish leaders" - who are not identified - "say the actions of the former Aipac employees were no different from how thousands of Washington lobbyists work. They say the indictment marks the first time in US history that American citizens... have been charged with receiving and disseminating state secrets in conversations." The paper goes on to say that "several members of Congress have expressed concern about the case since it broke in 2004, fearing that the Justice Department may be targeting pro-Israel lobbying groups, such as Aipac. These officials (sic) say they're eager to see the legal process run its course, but are concerned about the lack of transparency in the case."

As far as Dershowitz is concerned, it isn't hard for me to sympathise with the terrible pair. He it was who shouted abuse at me during an Irish radio interview when I said that we had to ask the question "Why?" after the 11 September 2001 international crimes against humanity. I was a "dangerous man", Dershowitz shouted over the air, adding that to be "anti-American" - my thought-crime for asking the "Why?" question - was the same as being anti-Semitic. I must, however, also acknowledge another interest. Twelve years ago, one of the Israeli lobby groups that Mearsheimer and Walt fingers prevented any second showing of a film series on Muslims in which I participated for Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel - by stating that my "claim" that Israel was building large Jewish settlements on Arab land was "an egregious falsehood". I was, according to another Israeli support group, "a Henry Higgins with fangs", who was "drooling venom into the living rooms of America."

Such nonsense continues to this day. In Australia to launch my new book on the Middle East, for instance, I repeatedly stated that Israel - contrary to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists - was not responsible for the crimes of 11 September 2001. Yet the Australian Jewish News claimed that I "stopped just millimetres short of suggesting that Israel was the cause of the 9/11 attacks. The audience reportedly (and predictably) showered him in accolades."

This was untrue. There was no applause and no accolades and I never stopped "millimetres" short of accusing Israel of these crimes against humanity. The story in the Australian Jewish News is a lie.

So I have to say that - from my own humble experience - Mearsheimer and Walt have a point. And for a man who says he has not been to Israel for 20 years - or Egypt, though he says he had a "great time" in both countries - Walt rightly doesn't claim any on-the-ground expertise. "I've never flown into Afghanistan on a rickety plane, or stood at a checkpoint and seen a bus coming and not known if there is a suicide bomber aboard," he says.

Noam Chomsky, America's foremost moral philosopher and linguistics academic - so critical of Israel that he does not even have a regular newspaper column - does travel widely in the region and acknowledges the ruthlessness of the Israeli lobby. But he suggests that American corporate business has more to do with US policy in the Middle East than Israel's supporters - proving, I suppose, that the Left in the United States has an infinite capacity for fratricide. Walt doesn't say he's on the left, but he and Mearsheimer objected to the invasion of Iraq, a once lonely stand that now appears to be as politically acceptable as they hope - rather forlornly - that discussion of the Israeli lobby will become.

Walt sits in a Malaysian restaurant with me, patiently (though I can hear the irritation in his voice) explaining that the conspiracy theories about him are nonsense. His stepping down as dean of the Kennedy School was a decision taken before the publication of his report, he says. No one is throwing him out. The much-publicised Harvard disclaimer of ownership to the essay - far from being a gesture of fear and criticism by the university as his would-be supporters have claimed - was mainly drafted by Walt himself, since Mearsheimer, a friend as well as colleague, was a Chicago scholar, not a Harvard don.

But something surely has to give.

Across the United States, there is growing evidence that the Israeli and neo-conservative lobbies are acquiring ever greater power. The cancellation by a New York theatre company of My Name is Rachel Corrie - a play based on the writings of the young American girl crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 - has deeply shocked liberal Jewish Americans, not least because it was Jewish American complaints that got the performance pulled.

"How can the West condemn the Islamic world for not accepting Mohamed cartoons," Philip Weiss asked in The Nation, "when a Western writer who speaks out on behalf of Palestinians is silenced? And why is it that Europe and Israel itself have a healthier debate over Palestinian human rights than we can have here?" Corrie died trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. Enemies of the play falsely claim that she was trying to stop the Israelis from collapsing a tunnel used to smuggle weapons. Hateful e-mails were written about Corrie. Weiss quotes one that reads: "Rachel Corrie won't get 72 virgins but she got what she wanted."

Saree Makdisi - a close relative of the late Edward Said - has revealed how a right-wing website is offering cash for University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) students who report on the political leanings of their professors, especially their views on the Middle East. Those in need of dirty money at UCLA should be aware that class notes, handouts and illicit recordings of lectures will now receive a bounty of $100. "I earned my own inaccurate and defamatory 'profile'," Makdisi says, "...not for what I have said in my classes on English poets such as Wordsworth and Blake - my academic speciality, which the website avoids mentioning - but rather for what I have written in newspapers about Middle Eastern politics."

Mearsheimer and Walt include a study of such tactics in their report. "In September 2002," they write, "Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (www.campus-watch.org) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel... the website still invites students to report 'anti-Israel' activity."

Perhaps the most incendiary paragraph in the essay - albeit one whose contents have been confirmed in the Israeli press - discusses Israel's pressure on the United States to invade Iraq. "Israeli intelligence officials had given Washington a variety of alarming reports about Iraq's WMD programmes," the two academics write, quoting a retired Israeli general as saying: "Israeli intelligence was a full partner to the picture presented by American and British intelligence regarding Iraq's non-conventional capabilities."

Walt says he might take a year's sabbatical - though he doesn't want to get typecast as a "lobby" critic - because he needs a rest after his recent administrative post. There will be Israeli lobbyists, no doubt, who would he happy if he made that sabbatical a permanent one. I somehow doubt he will.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent.

LINK
 

Subsonic Chronic

TRIBE Member
I think the funniest thing out of all this is those right-wing Christians (don't remember the name of the exact branch - 7th Day Rapture or something like that?) who are only supporting U.S. policy in Israel because they think it will bring on the apocalypse sooner.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Subsonic Chronic said:
I think the funniest thing out of all this is those right-wing Christians (don't remember the name of the exact branch - 7th Day Rapture or something like that?) who are only supporting U.S. policy in Israel because they think it will bring on the apocalypse sooner.

Evangelicals.
 
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Gizmo

TRIBE Member
Subsonic Chronic said:
I think the funniest thing out of all this is those right-wing Christians (don't remember the name of the exact branch - 7th Day Rapture or something like that?) who are only supporting U.S. policy in Israel because they think it will bring on the apocalypse sooner.

Conversely there are Jewish groups like the Neturai Karta who believe Israel can only exist once the Messiah comes. Hence they believe Israel in its current state is a man made one, hence an affront to God, and thus should not exist. So, they are strong supporters of the PLO formerly, and now the Palestinian Authority. If you saw footage of Hamas' post election victory parade you would have seen members of the sect and their "foreign minister" Rabbi Moshe Hirsch there giving their congratulations. The Rabbi is a frequent visitor to Arab countries and Iran and a strong vocal supporter of Ahmadinejad. In London several members of the sect testified on behalf of Abu Hamza in his incitement to terrorism trial.

Satmar Hassidics are similar in their thinking, although not as extreme I think.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
Colm said:
Christian Zionists.

A small group, but very useful to the media. A Western version of endless jihadists. Talk about symmetry!

THere isn't an official group called "Christian Zionists". This is a new term that seems to have sprouted in the so-called 'slogosphere'. Evangelicals beleive that the Holy Land must be in Jewish hands when Jesus finally decides to show for judgement day.
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
Great article from Znet:

The Lobby

By Vijay Prashad

Talk about political correctness. You can't mention Israel's Little Power ambitions and its ingenious reach into the halls of the US establishment without getting whacked. All of us who have an opinion about the role of Israel in Washington, and of groups like WINEP on Israeli politics, don't all speak with one voice. If you read the Counterpunch collection (The Politics of Anti-Semitism, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair) alongside Chomsky's writings on the Middle East, the range of opinion will become clear.

Indeed, Jeffrey Blankfort, in the Counterpunch collection, takes on Chomsky directly for an apparent underestimation of Israeli influence. There is no singular line, although with differences in emphases, there is agreement that not only does the intransigent Right in Washington model itself after Israel's forward policy, but it is also deeply influenced by various Zionist organizations that make it their business to push and prod Washington to line up with the Israeli state's Middle East policy.

That many American Jews disavow these organizations (AIPAC and WINEP) is clear to many of the writers who make this point. One of the more toxic Zionists is Robert Bartley, the editor of the Wall Street Journal, who once said, "Shamir, Sharon, Bibi - whatever these guys want is pretty much fine by me." He's a Midwestern Christian. For me, there is a fundamental distinction between calling this power bloc an "Israeli lobby" or a "Zionist lobby" and a "Jewish lobby." The two former designations are more accurate, and far less prone to misrepresentation. Although with the forces that dismiss all criticism of Israel as the delusions of an anti-Semite would hardly listen carefully for these crucial differences.

Nothing the Israeli Lobby does is unusual. It operates in the way of the hundreds of other lobbies that operate in and around Washington. The two most recently being smacked around for their article on the lobby (establishment figures John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt) go as far as to point out that what the Israeli Lobby does is vintage American politics. "This is a classic case of interest group politics," Mearsheimer told The New York Times. "It's as American as apple pie" (April 12, 2006). Some lobbies are more successful because their agenda is not averse to those of the US elite.

What Mearsheimer and Walt, as well as many others before them, suggest is that the demands of the Israeli Lobby have perverted the realistic foreign policy objectives of the US. They can only believe that because they have a neutral conception of US interests, as if the US government formulates its policies based on the interest of its population. In fact, to my mind, the US government develops it approach to the world not with its population in mind, but with the interests of the entrenched global hierarchy at heart.

For example, while the US government apparently objects to international governance in principle, it is quite happy to push international treaties that protect the intellectual property rights of those who hold the means of conception. This elite also has a very well developed sense of its need to command the basic resources of capitalism (including energy resources). For that reason, it is willing to knit itself to the forward policy of Zionism, as well as the forward policy of the Venezuelan aristocracy, the Colombian drug-land lords and the Burmese Junta (to name a few allies of the duopoly). Extravagances of the gun are of value when they ensure that the Law of Value is untroubled.

Discussion of the Israeli Lobby is crucial, as long as it does not eclipse two other central lobbies: the American Lobby and the Ares Lobby. The American Lobby is not so well known perhaps because it is ubiquitous. When George W. Bush came to India last month, for instance, the American Lobby was in full effect:

1) Certain political parties (the BJP, for instance, as well as sections of the Congress) have knit their global role to US preeminence. 2) Entire industries (not just Business Process Outsourcing, but also research and development and some export manufacturing) salivate before the US dollar. 3) A highly educated class (tens of millions of people) that is eager for upward mobility. As the Indian psychologist Sudhir Kakar puts it, "This class somehow has the ability to transmute a flame into a blaze.' The biographer of this class, Pavan K. Varma, writes that although it "thinks out of the box" and is "a hugely entrepreneurial class," it "may be bent on cloning itself on the West." The attachment of this class to the graded inequality of the global capitalist system is driven by its own aspirations to rise up the ladder.

These interests coalesce with much more powerful forces: the ruling class in places such as India, Brazil and South Africa, the organized might of the G-7, the various international financial conglomerates. This class has its annual meeting at Davos. Their mouthpiece is Thomas Friedman. We have plenty of research of this or that element of the American Lobby, but we don't often give it its rightful name.

The other Lobby also slides under the radar: the Ares Lobby. As the fracas over the Israeli Lobby broke out, I was reading Jeffrey St. Clair's new book, Grand Theft Pentagon: Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror (Common Courage, 2005). St. Clair marshals an enormous amount of detail that justifies President Eisenhower's premonitions about the Military Industrial Complex. For the Ares Lobby, 911 has been a real godsend. It enabled a massive expansion of the US military spending, and justified the kind of reckless expenditure only the Pentagon is allowed to get away with in this time of fiscal tightness.

There's Lockheed (daily feed from the federal treasury = $65 million). It has its fists in almost all the major arms deals, and it even makes armaments that are utterly useless in the current political environment (the F-22 Raptor, for instance, designed to battle the Soviet landmass is of no value against al-Qaeda, nor, at $300 million per plane, would it be worthwhile in a conflict against the relatively under-armed Chinese air force - even ace hawk Robert Kaplan conceded that the Chinese "navy and air force will not be able to match ours for some decades," if ever).

In St. Clair's Believe It Or Not we get the litany of corporate crimes from such familiar villains as Halliburton, Bechtel, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, and the Carlyle Group; we also get treated to details of strategically dubious armaments (the F-22 Raptor, the A-10 Warthog, the Patriot Missile, Star Wars, et. seq.). The business of the arms merchants, one Bechtel shill says, "is a lumpy business. Some projects come through that are a billion, some are a mere $200 million." As St. Clair comments, "Note the sly emphasis on 'mere.'" Indeed.

Most of this is well known, or else has been reasonably documented by non-profit research foundations such as the Center for Public Integrity, Project on Government Oversight or CorpWatch. But few write with St. Clair's verve, and with his wit. That's a bonus.

What is less attended to in the public mind, but is well documented by St. Clair, is the Ares Lobby: the ensemble of lobbyists, political representatives and their allies assembled by the arms industry to facilitate its interests. There is little embarrassment about this in Washington because it is so banal: politicians take money from arms dealers and then push their weapons systems; when the politicians retire, they work for the arms industry. This is routine, and only occasionally does someone get into trouble for failing to cover their hypocrisy by sufficient technicalities.

St. Clair's book begins with Duke Cunningham who represented San Diego, but who worked for MZM Incorporated. It was only after eight terms of mendacity that Cunningham fell on the government's proffered sword (a loyalist for Pentagon gourmandize, Cunningham had got too flashy with MZM's gifts).

St. Clair's former colleague at Counterpunch and current LA Times reporter, Ken Silverstein, wrote in 1998, "When you consider the enormous benefits bestowed on Corporate America by the White House and Congress, the big sums companies spend to win favors are revealed as chump change." Lockheed paid $5 to lobby Congress in 1996, but won approval for a $15 billion government fund to underwrite arms sales overseas. The rate of return is staggering.

The Lobby pervades every aspect of Washington - it is not its money that buys its favors. That would be too easy (and it is what exercises liberals). The Lobby is not the lobbyists, but it includes them and encompasses the political class and the arms merchants as well. They are the Lobby. In that sense, we are today governed by the Merchants of Death.

LINK
 

Hamza

TRIBE Member
Lurker said:
The guy who wrote this study gets:

masterObvious.jpg


I know it's a tad more complex, but come on, how effective is the pro-Arab lobby in Washington? Exactly.


I think the value of this study comes from the fact that Walt and Mearshiemier analyze the results in the context of the policy's usefulness to the US. This is likely to stir up some emotions and I'm sure the jewish lobby will be calling them anti-semetic and will demand an apology.


Nonetheless, go team neo-realists!

Mearshiemer also wrote a great article just before the Iraq war, can't remember the name...I have it somewhere in the Hamza Library
 
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man_slut

TRIBE Member
Wicked! Mersheimer and Walt respond to their critics! Is it me or is Dershowitz a scum bag?


Is It Possible to Have a Civilized Discussion About the Role of Israel in American Foreign Policy?
The Storm over "the Israel Lobby"

By JOHN MEARSHEIMER and STEPHEN WALT


We wrote 'The Israel Lobby' in order to begin a discussion of a subject that had become difficult to address openly in the United States (London Review of Books, 23 March). We knew it was likely to generate a strong reaction, and we are not surprised that some of our critics have chosen to attack our characters or misrepresent our arguments. We have also been gratified by the many positive responses we have received, and by the thoughtful commentary that has begun to emerge in the media and the blogosphere. It is clear that many people--including Jews and Israelis--believe that it is time to have a candid discussion of the US relationship with Israel. It is in that spirit that we engage with the letters responding to our article. We confine ourselves here to the most salient points of dispute.

One of the most prominent charges against us is that we see the lobby as a well-organised Jewish conspiracy. Jeffrey Herf and Andrei Markovits, for example, begin by noting that 'accusations of powerful Jews behind the scenes are part of the most dangerous traditions of modern anti-semitism' (Letters, 6 April ). It is a tradition we deplore and that we explicitly rejected in our article. Instead, we described the lobby as a loose coalition of individuals and organisations without a central headquarters. It includes gentiles as well as Jews, and many Jewish-Americans do not endorse its positions on some or all issues. Most important, the Israel lobby is not a secret, clandestine cabal; on the contrary, it is openly engaged in interest-group politics and there is nothing conspiratorial or illicit about its behaviour. Thus, we can easily believe that Daniel Pipes has never 'taken orders' from the lobby, because the Leninist caricature of the lobby depicted in his letter is one that we clearly dismissed. Readers will also note that Pipes does not deny that his organisation, Campus Watch, was created in order to monitor what academics say, write and teach, so as to discourage them from engaging in open discourse about the Middle East.

Several writers chide us for making mono-causal arguments, accusing us of saying that Israel alone is responsible for anti-Americanism in the Arab and Islamic world (as one letter puts it, anti-Americanism 'would exist if Israel was not there') or suggesting that the lobby bears sole responsibility for the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq. But that is not what we said. We emphasised that US support for Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories is a powerful source of anti-Americanism, the conclusion reached in several scholarly studies and US government commissions (including the 9/11 Commission). But we also pointed out that support for Israel is hardly the only reason America's standing in the Middle East is so low. Similarly, we clearly stated that Osama bin Laden had other grievances against the United States besides the Palestinian issue, but as the 9/11 Commission documents, this matter was a major concern for him. We also explicitly stated that the lobby, by itself, could not convince either the Clinton or the Bush administration to invade Iraq. Nevertheless, there is abundant evidence that the neo-conservatives and other groups within the lobby played a central role in making the case for war.

At least two of the letters complain that we 'catalogue Israel's moral flaws', while paying little attention to the shortcomings of other states. We focused on Israeli behaviour, not because we have any animus towards Israel, but because the United States gives it such high levels of material and diplomatic support. Our aim was to determine whether Israel merits this special treatment either because it is a unique strategic asset or because it behaves better than other countries do. We argued that neither argument is convincing: Israel's strategic value has declined since the end of the Cold War and Israel does not behave significantly better than most other states.

Herf and Markovits interpret us to be saying that Israel's 'continued survival' should be of little concern to the United States. We made no such argument. In fact, we emphasised that there is a powerful moral case for Israel's existence, and we firmly believe that the United States should take action to ensure its survival if it were in danger. Our criticism was directed at Israeli policy and America's special relationship with Israel, not Israel's existence.

Another recurring theme in the letters is that the lobby ultimately matters little because Israel's 'values command genuine support among the American public'. Thus, Herf and Markovits maintain that there is substantial support for Israel in military and diplomatic circles within the United States. We agree that there is strong public support for Israel in America, in part because it is seen as compatible with America's Judaeo-Christian culture. But we believe this popularity is substantially due to the lobby's success at portraying Israel in a favourable light and effectively limiting public awareness and discussion of Israel's less savoury actions. Diplomats and military officers are also affected by this distorted public discourse, but many of them can see through the rhetoric. They keep silent, however, because they fear that groups like AIPAC will damage their careers if they speak out. The fact is that if there were no AIPAC, Americans would have a more critical view of Israel and US policy in the Middle East would look different.

On a related point, Michael Szanto contrasts the US-Israeli relationship with the American military commitments to Western Europe, Japan and South Korea, to show that the United States has given substantial support to other states besides Israel (6 April). He does not mention, however, that these other relationships did not depend on strong domestic lobbies. The reason is simple: these countries did not need a lobby because close ties with each of them were in America's strategic interest. By contrast, as Israel has become a strategic burden for the US, its American backers have had to work even harder to preserve the 'special relationship'.

Other critics contend that we overstate the lobby's power because we overlook countervailing forces, such as 'paleo-conservatives, Arab and Islamic advocacy groups . . . and the diplomatic establishment'. Such countervailing forces do exist, but they are no match--either alone or in combination--for the lobby. There are Arab-American political groups, for example, but they are weak, divided, and wield far less influence than AIPAC and other organisations that present a strong, consistent message from the lobby.

Probably the most popular argument made about a countervailing force is Herf and Markovits's claim that the centrepiece of US Middle East policy is oil, not Israel. There is no question that access to that region's oil is a vital US strategic interest. Washington is also deeply committed to supporting Israel. Thus, the relevant question is, how does each of those interests affect US policy? We maintain that US policy in the Middle East is driven primarily by the commitment to Israel, not oil interests. If the oil companies or the oil-producing countries were driving policy, Washington would be tempted to favour the Palestinians instead of Israel. Moreover, the United States would almost certainly not have gone to war against Iraq in March 2003, and the Bush administration would not be threatening to use military force against Iran. Although many claim that the Iraq war was all about oil, there is hardly any evidence to support that supposition, and much evidence of the lobby's influence. Oil is clearly an important concern for US policymakers, but with the exception of episodes like the 1973 Opec oil embargo, the US commitment to Israel has yet to threaten access to oil. It does, however, contribute to America's terrorism problem, complicates its efforts to halt nuclear proliferation, and helped get the United States involved in wars like Iraq.

Regrettably, some of our critics have tried to smear us by linking us with overt racists, thereby suggesting that we are racists or anti-semites ourselves. Michael Taylor, for example, notes that our article has been 'hailed' by Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke (6 April). Alan Dershowitz implies that some of our material was taken from neo-Nazi websites and other hate literature (20 April). We have no control over who likes or dislikes our article, but we regret that Duke used it to promote his racist agenda, which we utterly reject. Furthermore, nothing in our piece is drawn from racist sources of any kind, and Dershowitz offers no evidence to support this false claim. We provided a fully documented version of the paper so that readers could see for themselves that we used reputable sources.

Finally, a few critics claim that some of our facts, references or quotations are mistaken. For example, Dershowitz challenges our claim that Israel was 'explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship'. Israel was founded as a Jewish state (a fact Dershowitz does not challenge), and our reference to citizenship was obviously to Israel's Jewish citizens, whose identity is ordinarily based on ancestry. We stated that Israel has a sizeable number of non-Jewish citizens (primarily Arabs), and our main point was that many of them are relegated to a second-class status in a predominantly Jewish society.

We also referred to Golda Meir's famous statement that 'there is no such thin g as a Palestinian,' and Jeremy Schreiber reads us as saying that Meir was denying the existence of those people rather than simply denying Palestinian nationhood (20 April). There is no disagreement here; we agree with Schreiber's interpretation and we quoted Meir in a discussion of Israel's prolonged effort 'to deny the Palestinians' national ambitions'.

Dershowitz challenges our claim that the Israelis did not offer the Palestinians a contiguous state at Camp David in July 2000. As support, he cites a s tatement by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and the memoirs of former US negotiator Dennis Ross. There are a number of competing accounts of what happened at Camp David, however, and many of them agree with our claim. Moreover, Barak himself acknowledges that 'the Palestinians were promised a continuous piece of sovereign territory except for a razor-thin Israeli wedge running from Jerusalem . . . to the Jordan River.' This wedge, which would bisect the West Bank, was essential to Israel's plan to retain control of the Jordan River Valley for another six to twenty years. Finally, and contrary to Dershowitz's claim, there was no 'second map' or map of a 'final proposal at Camp David'. Indeed, it is explicitly stated in a note beside the map published in Ross's memoirs that 'no map was presented during the final rounds at Camp David.' Given all this, it is not surprising that Barak's foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, who was a key participant at Camp David, later admitted: 'If I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David as well.'

Dershowitz also claims that we quote David Ben-Gurion 'out of context' and thus misrepresented his views on the need to use force to build a Jewish state in all of Palestine. Dershowitz is wrong. As a number of Israeli historians have shown, Ben-Gurion made numerous statements about the need to use force (or the threat of overwhelming force) to create a Jewish state in all of Palestine. In October 1937, for example, he wrote to his son Amos that the future Jewish state would have an 'outstanding army . . . so I am certain that we won't be constrained from settling in the rest of the country, either by mutual agreement and understanding with our Arab neighbours, or by some other way' (emphasis added). Furthermore, common sense says that there was no other way to achieve that goal, because the Palestinians were hardly likely to give up their homeland voluntarily. Ben-Gurion was a consummate strategist and he understood that it would be unwise for the Zionists to talk openly about the need for 'brutal compulsion'. We quote a memorandum Ben-Gurion wrote prior to the Extraordinary Zionist Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in New York in May 1942. He wrote that 'it is impossible to imagine general evacuation' of the Arab population of Palestine 'without compulsion, and brutal compulsion'. Dershowitz claims that Ben-Gurion's subsequent statement--'we should in no way make it part of our programme'--shows that he opposed the transfer of the Arab population and the 'brutal compulsion' it would entail. But Ben-Gurion was not rejecting this policy: he was simply noting that the Zionists should not openly proclaim it. Indeed, he said that they should not 'discourage other people, British or American, who favour transfer from advocating this course, but we should in no way make it part of our programme'.

We close with a final comment about the controversy surrounding our article. Although we are not surprised by the hostility directed at us, we are still disappointed that more attention has not been paid to the substance of the piece. The fact remains that the United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East, and it will not be able to develop effective policies if it is impossible to have a civilised discussion about the role of Israel in American foreign policy.

John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt University of Chicago & Harvard University.

This letter originally appeared in the London Review of Books.
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
Seriously though! Dershowitz is the only majour voice representing Israel... When I say majour I mean one that everybody knows.

This guy is scum. His last book is littered with plagiarism and inaccuracies... and he is still considered a legitimate voice and representative for Israel!

I mean look at his cliental as a lawyer... that should be enough proof (besides the fact that he's an American lawyer:D )
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
I'm generally Pro-Israel while being definitely anti-occupation...and I have to say that Allan Douche-witz is a giant scum bag that does more harm than good. He concludes that the only rational explanation for Noam Chonsky's position on Israel is that he simply MUST be a self-hating Jew.

Thanks for coming out Allan.

His book is a pure propaganda. In fact its propaganda meant to teach people how to propagandise. It only adds to the swirl of garbage out there, that unfortunately the best and brightest minds contribute to all too often...including Mr. Chomsky, for whom I have a great deal of respect--certainly more than Dirtbagowitz.
 
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