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Robert D. Kaplan’s deification of John J. Mearsheimer in The Atlantic last week shows that the authors of The Israel Lobby are winning

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(Illustration from Google Image Search for "israel lobby")

When John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was published in 2007, it launched a thousand essays and op-eds, upset many Jewish readers, and sold a very respectable number of copies. What it did not do, to judge by the reviews, was convince anyone of its central argument: that an all-powerful “Israel lobby” had hijacked American foreign policy using illegitimate means, and that a small but committed group of American Jews was steering the country into disaster to satisfy their parochial interests. Yet judging from a recent spate of articles in some of the country’s most respectable mainstream publications, including the Atlantic, the New York Times, and Time, it seems that, while Walt and Mearsheimer lost the policy battle, in the long term they are winning the war, on the most important battleground of all: that of ideas and language.

To look back on The Israel Lobby’s reception today is to see a remarkable unanimity of rejection, from the New York Times (“mostly wrong … dangerously misleading”) and Foreign Affairs (“written in haste, the book will be repented at leisure”) to The Nation (“serious methodological deficiencies … a mess”). There was also a general recognition that in their insinuations about secret Jewish power, Mearsheimer and Walt—professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, respectively—had given a respectable imprimatur to old and sinister anti-Semitic tropes. Michael Gerson, an evangelical Christian adviser to President George W. Bush, wrote in the Washington Post: “Every generation has seen accusations that Jews have dual loyalties, promote war, and secretly control political structures. These academics might not follow their claims all the way to anti-Semitism. But this is how it begins. This is how it always begins.”

Alert to the same danger, George Shultz, Ronald Reagan’s secretary of State—who should know about how foreign policy is made—went so far as to write the foreword to The Deadliest Lies, a book by Abraham Foxman refuting the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis. “Jewish groups are influential,” Shultz wrote. “But the notion that these groups have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong.”

Case closed, it would seem. And looking at the history of the last four years, there is no doubt that Walt and Mearsheimer failed in their stated goal of disrupting America’s close alliance with Israel—or what they call “treating Israel as a normal state.” Their book, published in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, opened with a complaint about how “serious candidates for the highest office in the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one foreign country—Israel—as well as their determination to maintain unyielding U.S. support for the Jewish state.”

Fast forward to 2012, and the candidates for the Republican nomination were saying just this: At the Republican Jewish Coalition candidates’ forum last December, Mitt Romney promised that his first foreign trip as president would be to Israel. And for all the Jewish right’s criticism of President Obama’s Israel policy, the fact remains that in 2011 the United States pledged to veto the Palestinian bid for statehood in the United Nations.

But if The Israel Lobby has not changed American politics, it has had an insidious effect on the way people talk and think about Israel, and about the whole question of Jewish power. The first time I had this suspicion was when reading, of all things, a biography of H.G. Wells. In H.G. Wells: Another Kind of Life, published in the U.K. in 2010, Michael Sherborne describes how Wells’ contempt for Nazism went along with a dislike for Judaism and Zionism, which he voiced in deliberately offensive terms even as Nazi persecution of Jews reached its peak. “To take on simultaneously the Nazis … and the Jewish lobby may have been foolhardy,” Sherborne writes apropos of Wells in 1938.

There’s no way to prove that Sherborne’s “Jewish lobby” is the intellectual descendant of Walt and Mearsheimer’s “Israel lobby,” but the inference seems like a strong one. Wells, the term suggests, was not attacking Jews, a group that in the Europe of the 1930s was conspicuous for its absolute powerlessness in the face of the evolving Nazi genocide. Instead, he was bravely standing up to a powerful “lobby,” an organization designed to punish critics of the Jews, and whose influence was on a par somehow with that of the Nazis.

What is disturbing in the Sherborne example is the way Walt and Mearsheimer’s conception of Jewish power is projected into a historical moment when it could not have been less accurate. In France during the Dreyfus Affair, it was common for anti-Semites and anti-Dreyfusards to speak of a Jewish syndicate that secretly ruled the country. Now, in the 21st century, it has once again become possible to speak of a Jewish “lobby” that it would be foolish to cross. One of the central premises of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy is that it takes unusual courage to oppose the Jews, since they use their power to ruthlessly suppress dissent in both the political world and the media. Walt and Mearsheimer place themselves on the side of the angels when they attack the Israel lobby’s “objectionable tactics, such as attempting to silence or smear anyone who challenges the lobby’s role or criticizes Israel’s actions.”

Walt and Mearsheimer, of course, fill their book with denials that they are talking about a secret syndicate: “The Israel lobby is not a cabal or conspiracy,” they write in the introduction. But the book itself, with its lists of Jewish organizations and journalists, and its tone of moral outrage, works to give exactly this impression. In fact, you don’t even have to read the book to get the impression: Looking at the cover is enough. In 2002, when the British magazine the New Statesman ran a cover story titled “The Kosher Conspiracy” with an image of a gold Star of David pressing down on a Union Jack, it was roundly criticized for copying imagery that would have been familiar in the Nazi periodical Der Sturmer. Yet The Israel Lobby, published by America’s most prestigious house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, bore a cover image of the American flag rendered in the blue and white of the Israeli flag—an unmistakable visual shorthand for Jewish domination. All by itself, this image nullified Walt and Mearsheimer’s repeated insistence that they were not describing the Israel lobby as a cabal.

So the floodgates were opened: What we have witnessed in the five years since is a blithe recuperation of dangerous, vicious imagery and ideas, with no apparent compunction about their origins or consequences. In 2010, Tablet’s Lee Smith investigated the way certain bloggers—including Walt himself—amassed large anti-Semitic readerships through their conspiratorial denunciations of Israel and the Israel Lobby. Quoting the comments sections of such blogs, Smith found them rife with unbridled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, such as “It seems to me that it is no exaggeration to say roundly that the USA in its entirety is under Jewish control of one variety or another.”

Compare this with Thomas Friedman’s Dec. 14, 2011 column in the New York Times, where he wrote about Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress: “I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Criticized for this remark, he replied to New York’s Jewish Week that “In retrospect I probably should have used a more precise term like ‘engineered’ by the Israel lobby—a term that does not suggest grand conspiracy theories that I don’t subscribe to.” But of course, “engineered” suggests exactly the same thing as “bought and paid for.” Decades ago, the right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan was widely denounced for referring to “Israel’s amen corner.” Today, an establishment pundit like Friedman can suggest even more crudely that Congress is bought and paid for by a foreign government with the sense that he is simply voicing conventional wisdom.

Similarly, Joe Klein of Time recently wrote apropos of a possible American conflict with Iran: “It’s another thing entirely to send American kids off to war, yet again, to fight for Israel’s national security.” After being challenged by Jeffrey Goldberg to name a single instance when American troops have fought for Israeli security, Klein went on to apologize for his misuse of commas—it was the sending off to war that was “yet again,” not the fighting for Israel. But if this was a misreading, it was a natural one, given Klein’s earlier writing and, especially, given the way it aligns with the words of Walt and Mearsheimer, who wrote that “Israel’s enemies get weakened or overthrown … and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying.” Once a far-left conspiracy theory, the idea that the Iraq War was fought at the behest of Jews for Israel’s interest had drifted so far to the center that it could appear under the aegis of Time.

It’s impossible to measure, of course, how much influence any single book has on public opinion and discourse. Certainly, many of the insinuations in The Israel Lobby could be heard in various forms in the years after Sept. 11. What Walt and Mearsheimer write about neoconservatives, for instance, was echoed in various ways on the left and in Europe during the Bush years. The Israel Lobby assembles lists of Jews whose “connections would delight a network theorist” (and for “network” you could substitute a less polite word); this practice was already common in attacks on the Bush Administration, when the names of Wolfowitz, Perle, and Feith were invoked more often than those of their superiors, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice.

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy was also far from unique in expressing a post-Sept. 11 hope that, by cutting Israel adrift, the United States could avert the wrath of Islamic terrorists and avoid further embroilments in the Middle East. Putting aside the moral calculus here—nicely compared by Gerson to the idea that “Britain had a Nazi problem in the 1930s because it was so closely allied with Czechoslovakia”—it is obviously unsound in the most primitive “realist” terms. Sacrificing an ally to an enemy is a good way to embolden the enemy; it is not the conduct of a confident power. Still more basic, however, it is a fallacy to think that America’s interests and problems in the Islamic world will be resolved even if and when a Palestinian state is created. How exactly will peace in the West Bank lead to peace in Kashmir and the Strait of Hormuz?

Unable to frame a convincing or politically attractive argument for how their version of “realism” might work in practice, Walt and Mearsheimer ascribe the failure of that argument to the machinations of illegitimate, shadowy forces—the Israel Lobby. This kind of self-pity and conspiratorialism has only grown more evident in their writings and public appearances since 2007. The need to paint the Israel Lobby in ever-darker colors, to heighten the moral stakes of an argument whose grounding in reality was tenuous at best, explains rhetoric such as Mearsheimer’s notorious April 2010 address to the Washington think tank the Jerusalem Fund. In that speech, he called Israelis “the new Afrikaaners” and predicted the rise of a “Greater Israel” that would bear “a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa” and would very soon become a “full-fledged apartheid state.”

Mearsheimer then proceeded to divide American Jews into those who back these purported developments, and the “righteous Jews” like Norman Finkelstein who bravely oppose them. The use of the phrase “righteous Jews” was meant to remind listeners of the “righteous Gentiles” who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. It further suggested that—on a moral plane, at least—Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians was reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s behavior toward the Jews.

It would be easy to dismiss these statements as an isolated outburst—except that they have proven to be anything but isolated. Take for example Mearsheimer’s recent endorsement of The Wandering Who?, a book by a psychotically anti-Semitic ex-Israeli named Gilad Atzmon. As reported by Goldberg among others, Mearsheimer lent his academic prestige to Atzmon’s poisonous ravings, praising the book for unveiling, yes, unscrupulous Jewish power: “Panicked Jewish leaders, [Atzmon] argues, have turned to Zionism (blind loyalty to Israel) and scaremongering (the threat of another Holocaust) to keep the tribe united and distinct from the surrounding goyim.” (Whenever a non-Jew uses the word “goyim” to describe Jewish attitudes to Gentiles, look out.)

In the current Atlantic, a profile of Mearsheimer by Robert D. Kaplan casts the Atzmon episode, and the Israel Lobby debate generally, as unfortunate distractions from the achievements of a great foreign-policy thinker. “The real tragedy of such controversies, as lamentable as they are, is that they threaten to obscure the urgent and enduring message of Mearsheimer’s life’s work, which topples conventional foreign-policy shibboleths and provides an unblinking guide to the course the United States should follow in the coming decades,” Kaplan writes.

As Tablet Magazine’s Marc Tracy pointed out, this is not quite adequate to the situation. Indeed, the more one accepts Kaplan’s premise that Mearsheimer is a great sage, the more disturbing it becomes that the foreign-policy expert has lent his name to the legitimization of anti-Semitic discourse. In his article, Kaplan continues to bolster Mearsheimer’s self-image as a brave heretic paying a price for crossing the Jews. “Within media ranks, The Israel Lobby has delegitimized Mearsheimer,” Kaplan writes. Here is the neat rhetorical power of the Israel Lobby idea, which it shares with anti-Semitism in general: If you are taken to task for attacking the Jews, you become a martyr to the very Jewish power you denounced.

“Say what you will about The Israel Lobby,” Kaplan writes, but—in the words of an expert he quotes—“It changed the debate on Israel, even if it did not change the policy.” Indeed, I give the book even more credit: It is possible today to see the publication of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy as an intellectual landmark, one of those rare books that succeed in altering the intellectual climate. Without it, it is hard to imagine Friedman and Klein and others casually writing as they did.

In this sense, Walt and Mearsheimer offer a case study in the old truth that ideas have consequences. Language is the most intangible of things, yet the language we use determines the boundaries of the thinkable and, ultimately, the shape of the world we live in. Now we live in a world where it is possible to say in leading publications, without fear of censure, that Jews buy and pay for the U.S. Congress and American troops are sent to die in Israel’s wars. For that, Walt and Mearsheimer deserve their fair share of credit.

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David B. says:

Talking about mainstreaming the idea. I saw an interview with Ron Paul recently, in which he stated that US soldiers must not fight for Israel again and die for Israel. Sadly it is buried in Youtube somewhere but he did say it.
Looking at Pro Paul Youtube video’s thread’s it becomes clear that his anti-Israelism is very popular with the far right and what I would call neo-Nazi’s. They have finally found a candidate who says what they think.
Paul loves to conflate topics and what the anti-semites have latched onto is the $3Billion in aid and that the US’s deficit would disappear if only Israel would be cut off. Never mind that $3Billion is a drop in the ocean compared to the overall mismanagement of the US budget.
All of this is classic anti-semitic discourse, where half truths and lies are conflated and obscured. Be it Dreyfuss or Perle.
Another player in this game is Mark Perry. He has a telling interview on C-Span from 2010. He too blames the Jewish Neocons for hijacking foreign policy. Please go see the interview.

Adam W. says:

I watched a roundtable organised by Shalom TV, where Seth Mandel, a staff writer for Commentary Magazine appeared.

He plainly stated that the most important Jewish event of 2011 was Occupy Wall Street. Why?

Aside from an isolated crank or two, the protests were against big finance, wall street and the banks and anti-Jewishness was simply not part of the mainstream in the protests.

This is important because it shows just how accepted Jews are. We’re as American as apple pie.

That’s why the book ‘The Israel Lobby’ came. It’s not an anti-Jewish screed, rather it’s a signal that you will be able to discuss Jewish power in a more open manner. Nobody is as paranoid when it comes to the this topic than us, the Jews.

Everyone who isn’t a Jew and who talks about it is a closet anti-Semite with dark ambitions. But it’s okay for us to gloat about the total dominance of Jews as CEOs of major Hollywood studies, media organisations, banks, companies and deans of Ivy League colleges and so on.

It’s a schizophrenic mental condition to be in.

I’m one of those moderate Zionists who think that the Israel-Right-or-Wrong crowd does more harm than good, especially as they are as prominent as they are inside the Lobby’s ranks.

An open discussion on the lobby won’t be anti-Semitic by nature, and even if a few fringe genuine anti-Semities might get off on it, the overwhelming majority of people will be able to discuss it clearly and logically.

And lo’ and behold, it will actually be Good For The Jews too, because a more critical stance on the lobby will loosen the power of Israel to build settlements without end and make Apartheid permanent, which would end the Zionist dream forever.

Walt and Mearsheimer’s crime was that neither of them were Jewish.
And this sort of narrow-minded ethnocentrism is what fuels the Israel-Right-or-Wrong crowd too. It’s a total disaster.

Adam S says:

In response to Adam W: no one is denying that Jews occupy positions of power in American life or that groups lobbying in behalf of Israel wield enormous influence. However, Mearsheimer and Walt and their minions cross a line when they over-state the power of Jews, when they argue, for example, that the Israel Lobby was a driving force behind America’s war with Iraq or that American foreign policy is scripted by AIPAC. Here’s a simple test for determining whether a claim is anti-semitic: if a statement is factually true, then it’s not anti-semitic; on the other hand, a statement is anti-semitic if it’s false or irrational. So, no, it’s not anti-Semitic to point out that Jews are a powerful and influential group. However, it is anti-Semitic to argue that Jews have the power to drive America into a war. It’s not anti-Semitic to claim that Israel brutalizes Palestinians, but it is anti-Semitic to compare Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi’s treatment of Jews; the analogy is false in every way — in terms of scale, intent, and ideology. Anti-Semitic tropes hold the power of myths, and, as Adam K. points out in his article, those myths still have the power to shape the thinking of supposedly brilliant and accomplished academics.

philip mann says:

I saw some of Ron Paul`s comments, and he does attract the conspiracy crowd , with his talk of no foreign involvement,small government, and hints of the Mossad behind 9/11.

It seems we`re being bracketed. On one end,we have the bio-mass on Youtube,who can`t view any video without making some deeply anti-Semitic comment. Then,we have
Paul,plus the authors of The Israel lobby,plus the atmosphere of universities today,where Jewish speakers are not always welcome. How many countries can you name that have a pro-Israel record these days ?

I have a gentile friend here ,well educated,who I thought was friendly to Jews. Now, she`s started talking about Jews and money. These are dangerous times, people.

Adam W. says:

Adam S:

I just respectfully disagree with you on some points, on others I agree. First the easy part:

Yes, comparing Israeli to Nazi Germany isn’t only anti-Semitism, it’s shocking denigration and disregard of the victims of the shoah. Israel in it’s worst moments is bad, but 1400 victims in Gaza in a military strike is not the same as systemic, industrial mass genocide planned on a state level.

Such a comparison is odious and should be denounced, without condition.

But there’s a problem: that anti-Semitism has nothing to do with Mearsheimer and Walt.

What they are saying is that U.S. *Middle Eastern* policy is strongly influenced by AIPAC and it’s allies, both politically and in the media: like the neocons at Commentary or Goldberg at the Atlantic, Bret Stephens at the WSJ op-ed page, Jackson Diehl at the WaPo op-ed page and so on, and so on…

Of course the Israel lobby was a driving force behind the war in Iraq. Netanyahu himself was in America pushing for the war on CNN and other media outlets, as well as other Israeli establishment figures.

AIPAC pushed for war via it’s WINEP(it’s think-tank arm) on a continual basis and Goldberg among other media figures close to the lobby wrote his gung-ho let’s-attack-Iraq screed, just as he has done the same vis-á-vi Iran.

So yes, Jewish power for the most part is a wonderful thing. I make no apologies for ethnic pride. Because Jews on domestic issues are liberal I would even venture so far and outright say that America is better off from it.

But Jews are not inhuman and flawless, as much as we’d like to think. Self-criticism is something we often say we do, but much more rarely actually attempt it. The strong support from the lobby on making a war against Iraq is a blemish in the Jewish community and we need to be frank in our criticism, while at the same time denying the space for outright anti-Semitism.

It’s a shame that it took a non-Jew to write what a Jew should have written long ago.

Bennett Muraskin says:

So AIPAC is NOT the strongest lobby in the US on matters affecting Israel? So AIPAC is NOT beating the drums for a US attack on Iran??? So Congress is NOT dancing to AIPAC’s tune on this issue???

Excuse me!

Two terrific pieces written a few months ago about Mearsheimer and anti-semitism.

If it walks like a duck, swims likes a duck, and quacks likes a duck…

Yes, and don’t forget that Thomas Friedman said in Haaretz that “In the course of the past year, a new belief has emerged in the town: the belief in war against Iraq. That ardent faith was disseminated by a small group of 25 or 30 neoconservatives, almost all of them Jewish, almost all of them intellectuals (a partial list: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, William Kristol, Eliot Abrams, Charles Krauthammer), people who are mutual friends and cultivate one another and are convinced that political ideas are a major driving force of history. They believe that the right political idea entails a fusion of morality and force, human rights and grit. The philosophical underpinnings of the Washington neoconservatives are the writings of Machiavelli, Hobbes and Edmund Burke.”

Once this dubious concept takes root, it’s impossible to weed out no matter how much hasbara is deployed. Did you see how crank callers screamed at Bill Kristol on C-SPAN last Monday that the GOP voters were “sick of neocons” and to “go away!”

I wonder if there is a generational dynamic at play here. Friedman, Klein, Kaplan, among others, are rough contemporaries here, old enough to remember the casual antisemitism of the era predating the 1960s, and to feel a more direct connection to the Holocaust, by way of family members and friends. Memories of that kind of trauma, even witnessed secondhand, can seep out of the dimmer recesses of memory and provoke the kind of hysterical writing that all three have recently engaged in. Perhaps it’s a fear of reverting to a kind of second class citizenship that their parents might have experienced, and a concomitant need to affirm their authenticity as Americans, lest they be marginalized again. Friedman even wrote about the swelling sense of pride he felt on first visiting Israel and meeting the self-reliant, tough Jews. His recent remarks are the flip side of that coin.

Most of us, even staunch supporters of Israel, dislike Netanyahu, even abhor his policy of passivity on the diplomatic front. But that doesn’t excuse or explain the kind of craven self-defamation that all three writers have displayed recently.

How can we balance the need for subjecting our own principles to critical examination, including our steadfast belief in the enduring value of Israel, with the moral stamina necessary to face down genuinely evil men, like Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer, who cynically pried open Pandora’s box of racial slander in full knowledge of its contents and the tragic harm they have inflicted?

You can already see that fallout of decades of Edward Said’s error-riddled propaganda on college campuses when a Jewish travel writer feels compelled to advertise his own diffidence about his identity and to publicly distance himself, in the manner of apologizing, from Israel. (Though I applaud Matt Gross for taking some halting steps toward reconciling himself with his own heritage.)

AIPAC wields enormous lobbying power and influence in Washington. What’s the problem with pointing this out?

In part, Jules, because it is a gross exaggeration of how much power AIPAC actually wields. As a number of writers have recently pointed out, Walter Russell Mead prominent among them, support for Israel is a not a function of dollars spent lobbying congress but of a broad based sense of affinity with it that a large number of American’s feel, for various historic, moral and religious reasons. You may disagree with them, but without that backing, no amount of spending–and it’s less than is commonly portraying–is going to sway congress against its constituents wishes.

Secondly, Walt and Mearsheimer revived the charge of dual loyalty, a calumny with roots stretching back millenia, arguing in frank defiance of the facts that Jewish interests steered America to war with Iraq, EVEN WHEN BOTH OF THEM SUPPORTED THE FIRST GULF WAR. It is classic antisemitism, projecting their own unacknowledged faults onto an idealized enemy, the conniving Jew, ever at pains to dupe the innocent non-Jew.

It fertilizes the ground for future persecution, even if that never occurs in this country.

Adam S says:

In 2007, before he became Israel’s ambassador to the UN, I went to a lecture by Michael Oren at the college where I teach. During the Q&A, I asked him if the Israeli government believed that Iraq had WMD before the war. He replied that Israel did believe Iraq had the weapons, but then he said that the Israeli government argued with the Bush administration *not* to go to war with Iraq. Oren explained that Israel wasn’t concerned about Iraq; they were much more anxious about Iran and they believed that a war with Iraq would only strengthen Iran. That’s the argument the Israeli government made to the Bush administration. Sounds very logical and rational, doesn’t it? Indeed, Mearsheimer and Walt even acknowledge in their book that the Israeli government wasn’t enthusiastic about an American war with Iraq. So why did some conservative American Jews and conservative Israeli politicians express support for the war? Maybe not every American Jew supportive of the war was an agent of the Israeli government. Also, considering the close alliance between Israel, maybe the Israeli government felt bound to express support for the war despite their private reservations about it. But here’s the more important question/issue: the three most powerful people in the country– Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld– wanted to attack Iraq for reasons that had nothing to do with Israel. Why, then, were so many people on there left and in the anti-war movement so obsessed with Israel?

Bennett M: Yes, AIPAC is the strongest lobby in the US on matters affecting Israel. But how do you make the leap from that statement to asserting that congress is “dancing to AIPAC’s tune on this issue””? What evidence can you provide to support the belief that congress simply does whatever AIPAC demands?

A-frigging-Men, Adam S. Bush senior, who had famously frosty relations with the Jewish community, initiated the first war with Saddam Hussein. And who were his co-conspirators in that effort? Secretary of Defence Dick Cheney and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell. Do those names sound familiar? How is that you can look at a reconstituted version of the team responsible for the first Gulf War, assembled again for the purpose of prosecuting its sequel, while shifting blame to a Jewish community that overwhelmingly opposed the election of George W. Bush?

I haven’t read this book but I have read former senator Paul Findley’s book about AIPAC and my statement and question still stands.

Peter W. says:

A substantial percentage of the American population strongly supports Israel, and that’s a key reason the Israel lobby is very effective. There’s nothing pernicious about it, except in the minds of Jew haters.

I think lobbyists whether they lobby and win votes and support by throwing big money around on behalf of a big corporation or those of a foreign country rob the American people of real representative democracy and I think that that in itself is fundamentally pernicious.

Peter W. sums it up properly. it will always be thus.

What will be “always thus?” The unfettered monied power of lobbyists to steal true popular representative government away from the people? Will that always be thus?

philip mann says:


Jews value the vote , and we vote for our fiends. If the system allows for lobbies,then so be it.

In Weimar Germany, Jews figured that being `good Germans` would lead the population to be nice to them. In the end,even decorated veterans were rounded up if they were Jewish. So yes, we will exercise what influence we may .

I think lobbyists belong out of government period and a whole lot of rising voices agree with me.

JamesPhiladelphia says:

According to Ehud Barak Israel defense minister: Obama is the best Israel friend American president ever.
Former NYC mayor Ed Koch will vote for Obama.
The Israel lobby consisting of mainly New Born Christians want a strong Israel, and support such 100%.
Case closed. The facts are solid on the ground.
The islamo fascists are losers again.
Even Jules the paid Iranian blogger is as rabid as ever, typical pig manure.

JamesPhiladelphia says:

Jules is a paid Iranian blogger . Report him and ask to throw him out

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James, you’re searching for and grasping at boogeymen wherever you can conjure them from your fevered imagination. Those ‘New Born Christians” of which you speak are mainly and predominately Evangelical Christians who are primarily interested in how Israel figures into their horror scenario of “the end times” and “the rapture” which is a bleak future of fire and brimstone that imagines those Jews who do not convert to and come to Christ as perishing in a lake of eternal flame. With good friends like these I as a Jew feel so much reassured.

MonkFish says:

Jules isn’t a paid Iranian blogger James. He’s something far less glamorous: a classic anti-semitic troll with immutable bigoted views and a self-loathing Gentile who craves to belong to the Jewish people.

Rule of thumb: don’t feed him.

What zealous fanaticism has reared its ugly head all in the name of stifling honest debate. I feel a new witch hunt is afoot.

Lou Adams says:

Jules seems to have issues when Jews protect their constitutional rights just as many many others do without a whimper.
No complaints on the Saudi or Chinese or British or Mexican or African American lobbies?

Lou Adams says:

Most of us, even staunch supporters of Israel, dislike Netanyahu, even abhor his policy of passivity on the diplomatic

It’s not anti-Semitic to claim that Israel brutalizes

Israel in it’s worst moments is bad, but 1400 victims in Gaza in a military strike
But there’s a problem: that anti-Semitism has nothing to do with Mearsheimer and Walt.
Of course the Israel lobby was a driving force behind the war in Iraq. Netanyahu himself was in America pushing for the war on CNN and other media outlets, as well as other Israeli establishment figures.
AIPAC pushed for war via it’s WINEP(it’s think-tank arm) on a continual basis and Goldberg among other media figures close to the lobby wrote his gung-ho let’s-attack-Iraq screed,

Not the words of friends of Israel and certainly not conversant with the realities as they are.

As I stated before, I believe lobbyists and their big money influence peddling should be shut out of government be it Saudi, Chinese, or if you please Senegalese, especially that of gargantuan corporations. Monolithic corporations from the very outset and start have little to nothing of the average American’s best interests kept at heart.


If you’re going to cite Glenn Greenwald as a source of accurate information, I suppose you should be aware that he cheered on the invasion of Afghanistan, AND supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Not to mention his reprehensibe and xenophobic past views on immigration. Not to mention his defense of neo-Nazis. Not to mention his utter disdain for Israel — to the point of posting fake terrorist propaganda in his column, and calling people chanting about killing Jews, “pure unadulterated heroes.”

A source for accurate and intellectually honest information… he ain’t.

Glenn Greenwald was and is quite an outspoken critic and opponent of both the US invasion of Iraq and the ongoing ill defined campaign in Afghanistan. I don’t know where you conjure up your fraudulent disinformation (from out of some pulp science fiction magazine I expect is the most plausible source) but it’s about as plainly fraudulent as a pageant of fraud could plainly be.

I don’t conjure up anything. Read and be educated by Greenwald himself. Of course you can’t be faulted for not knowing this. He’s NEVER written about it on the internet. It’s from the preface of his first book.

“I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks,my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint.

And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban
and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met.Well into 2002, the president’s approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those
who strongly approved of his performance.”

As for Iraq… Glenn was loyal to his country and George W. Bush, his “leader.” Another FACT he NEVER writes about on the internet. I’m guessing it’s because it would undermine all his vicious, insulting and demeaning attacks on those that did support the war.

So basically, you’re flat-out wrong about Greenwald on Afghanistan and Iraq. As for the rest, it’s also true. Facts are stubborn things.

This is but one example of what Greenwald has to to say about Iraq and the Iraq War. I will be happy to produce others as they are so well reasoned and numerous. Your “facts” are fraudulent, and you provided no link where you puled the paragraph in quotes from or in what context it is taken out of or whether Greenwald actually wrote it.

I would though expect no less from a hot headed fanatic.

Tom Friedman and Joe Klein are not Nazi types of anti-Semites, but more in the mode of Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin. They have deep discomfort with hearing about Israel in the news, and would prefer not to be embarassed by Israel. Thats why they promote a soft antisemitism, ie if you do things we dont like, we will use our influence to make things bad for Israel and the US Jewish community


Stow all the tired, cliched outrage and open your mind to the fact that Greenwald DID support the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and he DID write what I quoted. And it’s obvious you didn’t even read the piece to which I linked. Had you actually done so, you would have discovered this link:

So is it still “pulp science fiction,” that he supported Bush on the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq?

As I stated earlier, if he actually admitted it now, it would undermine all his antagonistic bluster and invective against those who supported the wars. Mind you, I have no problem with people evolving politically, but he should at least be far more honest about the fact that at one point, he was the very thing he tears apart today.

And no, the preface of a book written almost seven years ago, doesn’t really count. Especially when people like you, who defend him, have absolutely no idea about his past. He’d rather those uncomfortable truths be left on dusty bookshelves as opposed to the open world of the internet.

Furthermore, by being such an ardent defender, you more than prove my point about people being in the dark about his past.

artcohn says:

What this article also demonstrates are the degeneration of the Atlantic, the NY Times, Time, et al. That such shoddy work should be taken as a reference, or that its co-author should be highly praised demonstrates their fall to mediocrity.

Rob you’re really spinning your wheels wildly here in a pit of pointless and pathetic vanity. Yes, Chistopher Hitchens with whom you are likely conflating Greenwald’s views zealously encouraged the Iraq debacle. Have you finished presenting your weak sophistry as valid argument?

Rob, I would further add that non-support of a needless war that was waged on a naked lie (Iraq having no weapons of mass destruction in its possession )does not make one a bad American but a wise and foresighted American one who loves and highly regards reason and rational thought over illogic and madness.

Those thoughts (ad hominem attacks) are all nice, Jules, but the fact that you continue in your refusal to come to grips with Greenwald’s irrefutable past support of Afghanistan and Iraq, in the face of incontrovertible evidence (his own words in his own book), renders your views pretty much null and void. Not to mention delusional.

To peg you as an example of what this article discusses would be an understatement. You’re a caricature. And a crude one at that. I’m not taking up any more comment space discussing this with someone apparently far removed from any reality-based discussion.

You confuse incontrovertable with inverted and come up a loser with your loose with the truth argument Rob. I hope it’s a merry madness you enjoy.

Rabbi Tony Jutner says:

I call on Mr Muraskin and Jules to endorse NewJudaism, with its trinity of Social Justice, Economic Justice, and Right of Return of Endogenous Peoples, Especially the Palestinians. It is the only way to be progressive and Jewish in the 21st century

Myron Stempf says:

Mr. Kirsch’s quoting from Mearsheimer’s Jerusalem Fund speech to smear him as Jew/Israel-hating is factually wrong and misleading.

M does not call Israelis “the new Afrikaaners” as K claims. This label he gives American Jews who follow AIPAC, ADL, etc in their uncritical support of Israeli policies–not because they are apartheid racists, but because their extremism is driving them inexorably toward supporting an Israel that is destined by its own policies to become an apartheid state.

Opposing this group are what M calls “righteous Jews,” activists
who believe “that Palestinians deserve a state of their own.” M does count Norman Finkelstein among them, but also J Street, Mondoweiss and various human rights organizations and supporters–mainstream liberal types. But K only IDs NF–why else but to make M look extreme? K then accuses M of deliberately coining “righteous Jew” to elicit in readers’ minds the gentiles who saved Jews from the Shoah and thereby correlate Israeli behavior with Nazism. This is pretty potty thinking, and illogical, for it’s clear in this speech that M does not liken Israel to anything like Nazi Germany, or believe it is a nation of latent “Afrikaaners.” In fact he declares he wants the outcome that K himself surely wants: a two-state solution. If M were so anti-Israel, or anti-Jewish, then why would he want such an outcome, a secure Israel? M would be plumping for the Greater Israel that he sees evolving into a Palestinian state–and the demise of Zionism. But he is not doing this in this “notorious” (K’s word) speech. He is only predicting it:as the fateful conclusion to Israeli policies that M calls suicidal. M does not think Israelis or “Israel Firsters” are Nazis or Apartheiders; he thinks they are thoughtless, or stupid.
Now, there may be real proof somewhere of M’s anti-Israel or -Semitic beliefs, but this speech, which K evokes as evidence, isn’t it. Rather it’s an example of the tendentiousness K purports to condemn.


“M does count Norman Finkelstein among them, but also J Street, Mondoweiss “, Finkelstein & Mondoscheiss openly advocate the end of the Jewish state. You godda be kiddin’ us. Your entire comment is worthless.
Finkelstein? That Commie mad man?! Wondering the halls of the Arab far left anti-Zionist left? Righteous Jews?

Wow..really well written artile..Thanks Tab and Adam K..

jacob arnon says:

People Jules is a well known antisemite who posts his passion here.

Don’t waste time on his “arguments.”

jacob arnon says:

So Mearsheimer blames the US-Israel “special relationship” for our country not taking the “China threat” more seriously.

It looks like this son of German immigrants is continuing that traditions which says “the Jews are our misfortune.” Of course in his book he translates it to read “the Hebrews (Israel) are our misfortune.”

jacob arnon says:

I see that that old Jew hater who calls himself ‘Rabbi Jutner” has found out this place and is posting his hateful comments.

jacob arnon says:

And Robert D Kaplan wants us to jettison the Judeo-Christian moral tradition in favor of the Classical Greco-Roman (pagan) traditions.

No wonder he sees in Mearsheimer a kindred soul.

The “neocon” influence on the Iraq War was always muddled and overstated.
Muddled because it is never really clear who exactly is a neocon. Or, to put it another way, it depends on who is talking.

For many on the liberal left neocon simply means hawk. Among paleoconservatives like Ron Paul and pat Buchanan it is code for Jewish conservative. Among both groups, there is a notion of extreme support for Israel and a tendency to identify neocons as “Likudniks”.

This is strange as most hawks in Israel, including hawks in the Likud, did not support the Iraq War, instead viewing Iran as a greater threat. This needs to be repeated. If the “Israel lobby” is supposedly the voice of the most hawkish elements in Israel, those voices were arguing for war with Iran and not Iraq.

It was overstated because the people in the actual positions of power were not neocons. I am talking about Pres. GW Bush, VP Cheney, Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld, Sec of State Rice and others. Hawks yes, but not neocons.

The highest placed neocon under W was Undersecretary of Defense Wolfowitz who has been accorded immense powers far out of proportion to those he actually wielded. The others–Perle, Podhoretz, etc.–were mostly pundits with a few advisers.

This is where antisemitism comes in. The notion that this cabal of advisers and pundits somehow duped the actual policy makers and people in power. It’s standard ZOG nonsense in academic trappings.

This is an insightful and thought provoking article.

It brought to mind last week’s primary in South Carolina where some candidates employed these same tactics of inuendo, demonization, isolation and deligitimization against their opponents.

Do we never learn from history? First it is the Jews, then the other and then you and me.

The problem here is that we are not educating our people to be critical thinkers!

gzuckier says:

The Israel Lobby is just another attempt for liberal Americans to try and weasel out from under responsibility for their country’s actions. “We’re not the kind of country that would invade Iraq under false pretenses; must be the Jews made us do it.” After all, the fabled Jewish Mind Control has been a staple of European antisemitism for centuries.

Surprising to some, but consistent with his role as a serious leftist and a deep thinker, even Noam Chomsky (never shy of criticizing Israel himself) derides Mearsheimer and Walt’s tail-wagging-the-dog thesis: “But recognizing that M-W took a courageous stand, which merits praise, we still have to ask how convincing their thesis is. Not very, in my opinion.”

Peter Connolly says:

I have always thought that it was a disastrous mistake to couple criticism of Israeli policies, with respect to settlement expansion for example, with discussions of the “Israel Lobby” and its allegedly nefarious power. Of course, pro Israel organizations have considerable influence in Congress where the Mideast is concerned, as do the NRA, farm groups, the Florida Cubans with respect to the issues they care about. But making reference to the other groups simply does not carry the terrible historical weight that casually uttered references to illegitimate Jewish power does. The evil history associated with such references is a fact, which it does no good to ignore. Moreover,it does active harm in that it causes an inevitable angry and defensive reaction, which is at once entirely understandable and , in my view, frustrating, at it helps to ensure that nothing whatever is going to happen to alter the tragic course of events in the Mideast. One can and should say that the emergence of modern Zionism was a reasonable response to the increasingly untenable position of the Jewish people in Europe, that the establishment of the State of Israel was a moral necessity in the terrible aftermath of the Second World War, that Israel has great achievements to its credit, that it has been met with unremitting hostility from its neighbors from the start and that yielding territory in exchange for peace is hazardous. One can say all of those things and mean them but also say that for Israel to maintain control over millions of Palestinians in perpetuity, denying to them any right to vote in Israeli elections even though they live under Israeli rule and for Israel to appropriate additional West Bank land for settlements for Jewish Israelis at its discretion also poses severe moral questions, as well as being a likely path to future destructive wars.
I have no magic answers to offer about the way forward in the Mideast but I think we should stick to the moral merits.

Mike says:

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