The infamous Israel Lobby
study of Walt and Mearsheimer was discussed previously
in these pages, but it deserves more attention. I have compiled a
Web scrap book of articles about the Israel Lobby 'study' - click here to access it
and to add more materials.
There are two or three aspects to dealing with the 'study.' The first is to understand the basic fallacies and factual errors behind its claims. The second is to understand and deal with the weaknesses they attack and the errors made by Israel and the Zionist movement that help the anti-Israel lobby lobby. The third is to note with some alarm that very few people who were not Jews and Zionists have taken exception to the study, despite its numerous errors and obvious bias. The announced approach of the "Jewish Establishment"
- to simply ignore the study and hope it goes away, is not going to work. This particular study might be ignorable. However, Walt and Mearsheimer's basic complaints represent a considerable body of thought in the US academic establishment, State Department and voting public. It would be courting disaster to ignore it just because it is unpleasant or inconvenient.
The 'study' claims that the US supports Israel only because of the "Israel lobby" which is the work of a cabal of US Jews who control US policy, and that Israel is a strategic liability to the United States rather than an asset. Specifically, the 'study' seems to focus on the highly visible AIPAC lobby, on the very large foreign aid grants and loans that Israel gets, and on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
It can be shown fairly easily that the conclusions reflect the biases of the authors rather than systematic study of the problem, and echo cheap propaganda that has appeared for years in the Washington Report on Middle East affairs, as well as in racist Web sites that warn about the "pernicious effect" of Zionism in America. Basic Fallacies
The Walt and Mearsheimer 'study' and the entire anti-Israel Lobby Lobby is based on some major fibs that are standard fare for all the the anti-Israel Lobby people.
The first error is that US foreign policy to Israel is not and was never determined by the Israel Lobby. None of the major decisions of the US to aid Israel were due to AIPAC or the "Israel Lobby." Though Jewish lobby groups undoubtedly influenced the decision of the US to support Palestine partition in 1947, the nefarious Zionist cabal that is posited by Walt and Mearsheimer was not able to lift the embargo on arms supplies to the Jewish state. In 1967, prior to the 6-day war, the United States reneged on its commitment to open the traits of Tiran and ensure freedom of shipping as they had undertaken in 1957. The Jewish lobby could do nothing. Only the IDF, which was then mostly independent of US military supplies, could lift the Egyptian embargo. In 1970, the US acceded to Israeli requests for aid against Soviet pilots in the war of attrition, because the US was in conflict with the USSR. Israel vindicated US arms and supplied the US with important military intelligence about Soviet anti-aircraft missiles in several wars. US resupply of Israel during the Yom Kippur war was not due in any way to AIPAC or Jewish plots. It was part of a well-conceived US policy to use Israel as a lever to gain influence in Egypt, and it succeeded.
The high level of aid that the US granted Israel as the result of the treaty with Egypt in 1981 was again, a continuation of the same policy, and not the result of machinations of sinister Jewish forces.
AIPAC was able to pass several congressional resolutions about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, but the resolutions have stayed in Washington and the embassy stayed in Tel Aviv. US foreign policy is made by the executive branch, where AIPAC has little or no influence.
In 2001, when the Bush administration came into office, they imposed a spare parts embargo on the IDF. Where was the mighty Israel Lobby? They could do nothing. Where were all the supposed Mossad spies that live in the walls of the Pentagon? They could do nothing at all. The embargo was not lifted because of the Jewish lobby, but because of the lobbying efforts of Osama Bin Laden, who sent his message on September 11, 2001. It was he who made obvious the strategic interests and natural allies of the US,
The second fallacy of the Walt and Mearsheimer study is that contrary to what they would have you believe, lobbying is a legitimate right of US citizens and foreign governments, and it is done by every ethnic group in the USA and by numerous foreign governments. The huge sums of money spent in the US by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries on lobbying, departments of Islamic studies at universities and other goodies are a matter of public record. The American-Iranian council is there for all to see. The activities of ADC and CAIR on behalf of Muslims and Arabs are matters of record as well. The Arab and Muslim lobby and the lobbies of Arab and Muslim countries, and the lobby of US oil interests in those countries are together certainly far more powerful than the "Israel Lobby."
A third fallacy of the Walt and Mearsheimer study is that Jewish public opinion in the United States is not a monolithic force directed by the Elders of Zion. The "Jewish Lobby" includes groups like Peace Now and Brit Tzedek Veshalom that consistently and continuously lobby against the Israeli occupation and the security fence, as well as groups like Tikkun. Tikkun's leader, Rabbi Michael Lerner, got himself arrested at a demonstration in favor of the Palestinian sponsored plan to institute an international peace keeping force in the occupied territories. All of these, as well as the many Jewish groups that oppose the war in Iraq and some who oppose the existence of Israel, are all part of the "Jewish Lobby" that Walt and Mearsheimer insist is responsible for US support to Israel. In all, all the factions and types of Jews constitute about 2% of the US population. They are negligible compared to the numerous Arab and Muslim countries, the oil companies and the academics who represent them. Walt and Mearsheimer form a part of the US Arab lobby. Dealing with the Errors and Weaknesses AIPAC
- AIPAC is doing a good job of collecting money for AIPAC, but they aren't doing the best possible job of representing Israel. Continually advertising their presence and magnifying their supposed accomplishments helps get donors to donate, but it provides an easy target for Walt and Mearsheimerites. AIPAC "support" for some US policies actually makes it more difficult for the US to implement those policies because Middle East opponents can label them as "Zionist." Iranian nuclear ambitions represent a clear and present danger to every nation in the Persian Gulf area. It is clear that Iran wants to acquire nuclear capabilities in order to build itself as a regional power in the Gulf and to push the US and its client-state Sunni governments out. President Ahmedinejad called for a world without America, because the "great Satan" is perceived as enemy #1 by the government of the Mullahs. Thus, there would be no problem convincing the United States or its Gulf allies of the absolute urgency of dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat. Unfortunately, AIPAC and certain Israeli politicians made unfortunate pronouncements on the matter and AIPAC has made its views only too well known. Therefore, it becomes easier for the Iranian government to discredit opposition to their nuclear plans and designs of regional hegemony as "Zionist" and "neocon." Occupation
- There is no doubt that anti-Zionists didn't like Israel before 1967, but there is also no doubt that the Israeli occupation of the West bank is a political liability in the United States and Europe, and it is a issue that is utilized by people like Walt and Mearsheimer to discredit and embarrass Israel. Foreign Aid
- I discussed the Israeli addiction to US aid money before
at length. Being dependent for financial and military aid from the US or any other country limits Israeli independence and provides an easy target for critics. Nobody likes to pay taxes. If the Walts and Mearsheimers ever have their way, this aid will stop. In addition to the financial jolt, the IDF will be without vital spare parts and without sources for vital military supplies. Ami Isseroff
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Both Jewish and Arab lobbies have a right to promote their beliefs. To suggest that the Arab lobby has influence equal to the Jewish lobby is an exercise in self-delusion
Henry Clifford, Saturday, May 6th
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