The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy - Content of The Preceding Paper

Content of The Preceding Paper

In April 2006, Philip Weiss discussed some of the background to the creation of the paper in an article in The Nation.

Mearsheimer and Walt argue that "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". They argue that "in its basic operations, it is no different from interest groups like the Farm Lobby, steel and textile workers, and other ethnic lobbies. What sets the Israel Lobby apart is its extraordinary effectiveness." According to Mearsheimer and Walt, the "loose coalition" that makes up the Lobby has "significant leverage over the Executive branch", as well as the ability to make sure that the "Lobby's perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media." They claim that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in particular has a "stranglehold on the U.S. Congress", due to its "ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it."

Mearsheimer and Walt decry what they call misuse of "the charge of anti-Semitism", and argue that pro-Israel groups place great importance on "controlling debate" in American academia; they maintain, however, that the Lobby has yet to succeed in its "campaign to eliminate criticism of Israel from college campuses" (see Campus Watch and U.S. Congress Bill H.R. 509). The authors conclude by arguing that when the Lobby succeeds in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East, then "Israel's enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying."

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