The Israel lobby and American Foreign Policy – bookreview by Walter Russell Mead

Summary: Sloppy execution means "The Israel Lobby," however commendable the intentions of its authors, will have the opposite of its desired effect: impeding new thinking about U.S. policy in the Middle East rather than advancing the debate.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt claim that they want The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy "to foster a more clear-eyed and candid discussion of this subject." Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. "The Israel Lobby" will harden and freeze positions rather than open them up. It will delay rather than hasten the development of new U.S. policies in the Middle East. It will confuse the policy debate not just in the United States but throughout the world as well, while giving aid and comfort to anti-Semites wherever they are found. All of this is deeply contrary to the intentions of the authors; written in haste, the book will be repented at leisure….

‘Jerusalem Syndrome’ – The Israel lobby and American Foreign Policy (bookreview by Walter Russell Mead in Foreign Affairsa>

Israel Lobby and its Discontents (R. T. Curran in Foreign Affairs)


2 thoughts on “The Israel lobby and American Foreign Policy – bookreview by Walter Russell Mead

  1. "If you talk about an influential set of interest groups that is mostly though not exclusively comprised of Jewish Americans, some may think you are saying that there is some kind of secret conspiracy to control U.S. foreign policy," says Stephen M. Walt, gazing at the more than 500 people who have pressed into the narrow aisles of a Washington bookstore on this sweltering September night. "Anybody who raises this issue is virtually certain to be accused of being anti-Semitic."
    The crowd gathered at the store is the largest anyone on hand can remember, and television cameras are here to record the event. People are jostling for positions and standing on tiptoe to get a better look at the two scholars in gray suits who, for the past 20 months, have been at the center of one of the greatest intellectual dust-ups in recent memory.
    "So I want to be very clear at the outset," Walt continues, enunciating each word. "Both my co-author and I reject every one of those anti-Semitic conspiracy theories."…

  2. More than five years ago, Adam Shatz, then the Nation magazine’s literary editor, wrote an important piece about the left’s response to 9/11. One of Shatz’s targets was Dissent magazine liberals who were pushing for war in Iraq. For them, Shatz wrote, "America’s struggle against Al Qaeda and Israel’s war with Palestinian suicide bombers are one and the same." Then citing one of those liberals, he said:
    "The implication of [Paul] Berman’s argument is that no change in Middle East policy could stem the tide of Arab anger, directed as it is not against specific American or Israeli policies but against "our" way of life. Though rarely cited explicitly, Israel shapes and even defines the foreign policy views of a small but influential group of American liberals. It’s one reason Berman and like-minded social democrats at the journal Dissent may support a war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein has not attacked us, but, as Ann Snitow, a member of the Dissent editorial board, reminded me, "Who is ‘us’? Is it New York or Tel Aviv? The ‘us’ slides around."The Forward picked up Shatz’s comments in fall 2002–before our country so disastrously invaded Iraq–and Mitchell Cohen, Dissent’s co-editor, called Shatz’s assertion “a type of insinuation that reeks of the worst of the left.” But the Forward reminded Cohen that "many" Dissent writers are staunch supporters of Israel. Cohen responded: “If you look down the list of the editorial board you’ll see a lot of Jewish names, but none of them came to Dissent with a Jewish agenda."
    Now Cohen, who supported the Iraq war, has gone further, saying that anti-Zionism is antisemitism:…

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