The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy - Reception - Criticism - Journalists

Journalists

Those critical of the paper include Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post; columnist Bret Stephens; and editor of Jewish Current Issues Rick Richman.

John Judis, a senior editor at The New Republic and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote: "I think Walt and Mearsheimer do exaggerate the influence of the Israel lobby and define the lobby in such an inclusive way as to beg the question of its influence."

In a review in The New Republic, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg writes:

Mearsheimer and Walt write about the lobbying activities of AIPAC and other Jewish lobbying and advocacy groups as if they had never set foot in the capital. Here is their description of the way in which AIPAC and other pro- Israel groups do their work: "In addition to direct lobbying on Capitol Hill, the lobby rewards or punishes politicians largely through an ability to guide the flow of campaign contributions. Organizations in the lobby also put pressure on the executive branch through a number of mechanisms, including working through government officials who are sympathetic to their views." Imagine that!

Goldberg finds that the authors "cherry-picked" their sources, deliberately leave out important information, and come to irrational conclusions and inferences based on their chosen evidence.

Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Journal wrote "Five years ago, before the start of the Iraq War, I wrote an editorial titled 'The Jewish War.' If the Iraq War is a disaster, I wrote, mainstream voices will start blaming the Jews... Guess what? It's time to get off the couch. ... (It is not an exaggeration to say that in the view of the authors, the whole thing is Israel's fault, aided and abetted by the American Jewish Israel lobby and their puppets in the Congress and the White House. Five decades of Arab rejectionism and Palestinian terror, Yasser Arafat's torpedoing of the Oslo accords, a majority American and Israeli Jewish support for land-for-peace deals—none of this matters.) ... The authors take pains—well, four pages—to note that Jews are loyal Americans and that their lobbying is legal, like that of other special interest groups... But these pages, which may as well have been titled, "Hey, Some of Our Best Friends Are Jewish", are contradicted time and again in the authors' selective re-telling of the events leading up the Iraq War.

Tim Rutten wrote in the Los Angeles Times: "Anyone familiar with the tortured history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a hard time recognizing the history Mearsheimer and Walt rehearse. Every hoary old Israeli atrocity tale is trotted out, and the long story of Palestinian terrorism is rendered entirely as a reaction to Israeli oppression. The failure of every peace negotiation is attributed to Israeli deviousness under the shield of the American Israel lobby. There is nothing here of Palestinian corruption, division and duplicity or even of this unhappy people's inability to provide a reliable secular partner with whom peace can be negotiated... At times, the authors simply contradict themselves, asserting—rather remarkably—at one point that the United States has nothing to fear from a nuclear-armed Iran and, at another, that the dangerous prospect of a nuke-equipped Tehran is the Israel lobby's fault. Similarly, they write, Al Qaeda would hammer its swords into ploughshares and Osama bin Laden would lay down with the lamb if only the United States would come out from under Israel's thrall and create by coercion a Palestinian state... (You'd never guess from the Mearsheimer-Walt analysis that many people in this country support Israel precisely because they admire it as a brave, dynamic and democratic society.) ... In fact, if you accept the analysis put forward in this book, it's impossible not to conclude that the United States was, in fact, tricked into a disastrous war in Iraq by a domestic Fifth Column and that the ranks of that subversive formation are filled with Jews, their friends and willing dupes."

In a review in the Denver Post, Richard Cohen writes, "Where Israel is wrong, they say so. But where Israel is right, they are somehow silent. By the time you finish the book, you almost have to wonder why anyone in their right mind could find any reason to admire or like Israel. ... They had an observation worth making and a position worth debating. But their argument is so dry, so one-sided — an Israel lobby that leads America around by the nose — they suggest that not only do they not know Israel, they don't know America, either."

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal wrote that "We find wrongheaded, but we will stipulate that one can in good faith take the position that the costs to the U.S. of supporting Israel outweigh the benefits." After rebuking the authors' stance that there are neither strategic nor moral arguments in defending Israel, Taranto states that "Walt and Mearsheimer's method of analysis presumes Israel's guilt. Every past or present Israeli transgression is evidence of its wickedness, whereas Arab ones, if they are acknowledged at all, are 'understandable.' This approach paints a highly misleading picture. It is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent."

In an address to Stanford University, author and journalist Christopher Hitchens said that Mearsheimer and Walt "think that they are smarter than the American imperialists. If they were running the empire, wouldn't be fooled by the Jews. They'd be making big business with the Saudis instead and not letting Arabs get upset about Zionism. Well, its an extraordinary piece of cynicism, I would say, combined with an extraordinary naiveté. It doesn't deserve to be called realistic at all."

Salim Muwakkil, a senior editor of In These Times writes: "While the controversial study offers nothing dramatically new to the critique of the Israel lobby's warp factor, the pedigree of the authors make it a noteworthy piece. But my problem with the study is that it attributes too much power to the Israeli lobby. Sure, the lobby is extremely influential in U.S. political circles. But it would not be if its interests weren’t already in agreement with U.S. foreign policy. If the lobby disappeared tomorrow, there's little chance the administration would alter its policy toward Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, or even Palestinians."In These Times

Shmuel Rosner, a blogger at Haaretz, a left-wing Israeli newspaper whose articles were cited by Walt and Mearsheimer, writes: "Haaretz is a very good source of news. It is also a good source for commentary, but when it comes to views you have to bear two weaknesses in mind. One, you need to use it in an honest manner, otherwise there's enough fringe material in it as to distort reality. Two, you have to realize that this fine paper does not—repeat, does not—represent the majority view in Israel. That's why it was so easy for Walt-Mearsheimer to use material from Haaretz in their study. That's where the Judt piece is also somewhat flawed."Haaretz

In a review in Haaretz, Reuven Pedhatzur writes: "That is an argument that ignores the danger inherent in a nuclear Iran, not only to Israel but also to the entire world, starting with U.S. interests.

The authors completely distort the view of the Bush administration, which like its European colleagues, has reached the conclusion that the Iranian nuclear threat is not only Israel's problem. ...The two authors totally ignore the fact that Palestinians rejected the Partition Plan and that they started the warring, and they lend a hand to the legitimization of the murderous terror perpetrated by Hamas, which they praise as a legitimate political force, persecuted by Israel." He says the authors purport the view that "there is no reason for American support for Israel."

In a front-page editorial, The Forward published the longest editorial in the newspaper's history, stating what was more "startling" than the distinguished résumés of the professor was "the flimsiness of their work. Countless facts are simply wrong. Long stretches of argument are implausible, at times almost comically so. Much of their research is oddly amateurish, drawn not from credible documents or primary source interviews but from newspaper clippings, including dozens from this newspaper, seemingly dug up in quick Internet word searches aimed at proving a point, not exploring the truth. Some are wildly misquoted. An undergraduate submitting work like this would be laughed out of class." The Forward proceeds to write a substantive rebuttal to Walt and Mearsheimer.

In a review of the book, The Forward adds that "Most of the paper's flaws survive in the book...and it does no service to those who truly crave a more robust debate in this country. Still, if the Forward had been asked to participate in a debate with the professors, we would have done so happily." It says: "They invented historical facts. They twisted quotes. David Ben-Gurion was cited as having stated in 1937 that he opposed the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states — drawn from a famous speech in which he went on to say that, nonetheless, partition was the best that Zionism could hope for and should be seized with open arms. Paul Wolfowitz was said to have been described by the Forward as 'the most hawkishly pro-Israel neocon in the administration' — this from a 2002 article citing the 'hawkishly pro-Israel' image as conventional Washington wisdom that was proved wrong that week, when Wolfowitz was booed by a pro-Israel crowd for defending Palestinian rights."

Read more about this topic:  The Israel Lobby And U.S. Foreign Policy, Reception, Criticism

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