Saturday, March 26, 2011

Stephen Walt Pats Himself on the Back for 'The Israel Lobby'...Again

Mearsheimer and Walt protecting the White House

Stephen Walt's latest Foreign Policy post asks, Did The Israel Lobby Change Anything? I'm going to leave to smarter critics than I to answer this but I do have one particular takeaway from his self-congratulatory reflections. Nowhere in the article does he mention the main reason The Israel Lobby received so much negative attention: the spurious thesis that “the Israel lobby ... played a key role in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.” And it was this thesis that led to the charges that Walt and Mearsheimer were sailing awfully close to the ideas promulgated in The Elders of Zion -- that Jewish power is omnipresent.

In a response to Walt's re-assertion of this claim last year, John Judis has a rather good article worth reading in its entirety: Rinse,Wash, Repeat: For the last time, Stephen Walt, Israel did not send the U.S. and Britain into Iraq.

Instead, in this year’s self-pat, Walt takes credit for ‘opening up the discussion about Israel’ within the Jewish community. He credits The Israel Lobby for birthing J Street, Jewish Voices for Peace and for opening up the space for David Remnick’s and Peter Beinart’s critical articles about Israel and American Jews. You would think the Jews were waiting for permission to start arguing.

What he also doesn’t mention is his partner, John Mearsheimer’s more audacious opening up of the space to speak of Good Jews and Bad Jews as he did in his speech at the Palestine Center The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. New Afrikaners.” Good Jews being those anti-Zionists, the bad, obviously, Israel’s supporters. And he named names:

“Righteous Jews have a powerful attachment to core liberal values…..To give you a better sense of what I mean when I use the term righteous Jews, let me give you some names of people and organizations that I would put in this category. The list would include Noam Chomsky, Roger Cohen, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, Tony Karon, Naomi Klein, MJ Rosenberg, Sara Roy, and Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss fame, just to name a few. I would also include many of the individuals associated with J Street and everyone associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, as well as distinguished international figures such as Judge Richard Goldstone. Furthermore, I would apply the label to the many American Jews who work for different human rights organizations, such as Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch.
“On the other side we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an apartheid state…..I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners. That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones. I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic. It would be easy to add more names to this list.”
So, five years after publication, The Israel Lobby has made Jew-baiting quite the intellectual option, hasn't it?

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