The links between the Israel lobby and US foreign policy are a Washington taboo. But a controversial new study is opening up a long-stifled debate….
Perhaps it is hard, for those of us who are not Jewish, to understand the passion and intensity with which America’s Israel lobby pursue their goals. It would have been helpful if Mearsheimer and Walt had tried, dispassionately, to explore why they are so often driven, sometimes to the excesses I have described. But the authors are too busy with their prosecutorial charge-sheet to pause and wonder. We read all too much about AIPAC, but next to nothing about the Project for the New American Century – a genuinely sinister group that included the now-discredited neocons but also, more crucially, non-Jewish fanatics such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and John Bolton.
In my opinion it, far more than the likes of AIPAC, was responsible for the foreign-policy calamities – culminating in the Iraq tragedy – that have occurred under George W Bush. We should be grateful to Mearsheimer and Walt, nonetheless, for embarking on their near-impossible task and bringing out into the open a rancorous issue that desperately needs to be addressed by all concerned. The passions and anger – and, indeed, anti-Semitism – are such that writing a detached and lucid book on this subject is probably impossible. Heaven knows what Mearsheimer and Walt have been through, but we should all now hope that it has been worth it and that their book marks the beginning of a new and more open era when it comes to this most painful of subjects.