This is not a blog. This certainly is not a pro-Israel blog or a Jewish blog, and any assertion to the contrary must be understood for the nefarious and obfuscating tactic that it so obviously would be.
That said (however disengenuously), I'm sure that I've effectively immunized myself against any accusation of bloggery or pro-Israel bloggery or Jewish bloggery. So it's pointless for me to try to assert that there are any antisemitic or even anti-Israel overtones to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's recent "exposÃ©" of the insidious Israel Lobby (always with a capital "L" because it's a defined term, you see, having little connection with the Israel lobby with a small "l" with which most of us are more or less familiar) because the authors clearly state that there are no such overtones and that they despise and abhor such base sentiments and would never indulge them.
Glad we got that out of the way.
Almost everyone has pointed out that the errors, misrepresentations and contradictions in the "Israel Lobby" screed are so numerous as to prohibit any possibility of effective fisking. Nevertheless, some have taken on the manageable task of focusing on a single claim or two and tearing it to shreds. Rick Richman, for example, does an excellent job of exactly that here. And so mostly to clear my mind of the fog that trying to plow through this swamp has left it in (left in it?), I've decided to take several bites and try to digest and evacuate them much less thoroughly but hopefully effectively.
1. (footnote #1):
Indeed, the mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about. But because Israel is a strategic and moral liability, it takes relentless political pressure to keep U.S. support intact.
Well, while I've been dawdling over this post, Caroline Glick has already nailed this one, thusly:
Every semi-sentient person with even an incidental knowledge of American politics knows that there is no area of human endeavor that is not represented by a lobby in the US. Mearsheimer and Walt's asinine assertion means is that every American interest group - from the elderly to the insurance industry, from the Muslims to gun owners to organic food lovers - stands opposed to the American national interest simply by existing.
Glick's essay is one of the best among a very good bunch of "Lobby" critiques. Please read it all.
2. (page 2): Â Â
Readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial.
Among the profusion of sources that Walt and Mearsheimer cite as support for their conclusions are Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Avi Shlaim, Benny Morris, Uri Avnery, Tom Segev, Lenni Brenner, Seymour Reich, Joel Benin, Tony Judt, James Bramford and a host of inveterate media Israel bashers from Ha'aretz to NPR to The Washington Post. Not controversial? The "evidence" presented by Mearsheimer and Walt (hereinafter "M&W") is un-controversial only when it is patently false.
3. (page 3):
[America's] extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing.
A Middle East Quarterly discussion addressed the strategic asset issue (and a number of other canards that pop up in "Lobby") in some depth back in 1998. Some of the discussion is dated now. Much of it isn't. The "moral" case is an entirely different matter. Their pretensions to a "realist" approach notwithstanding, M&W's whole complaint boils down to their pique at Israel's treatment of the palestinian Arabs. A quick skim of the paper suggests that their view of the Arab-Israeli "conflict" was lifted straight from an ISM handbook. Check it out.
4. Notable omission: I could not find a single reference in this entire composition to the U.S.S. Liberty. Considering that every other libel that's ever been hurled at Israel made its way in, how on earth could they have missed that one?
5. (page 9):
Israel was explicitly founded as a Jewish state and citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship.
This one's been more-than-adequately covered elsewhere. Patent nonsense.
6. (page 9):
Israel does not permit Palestinians who marry Israeli citizens to become citizens themselves, and does not give these spouses the right to live in Israel.
I found this one quite fascinating. M&W dither a bit about the law's origins in Israel's founding principles. Of course it has nothing to do with any such fictitious "founding principles." The law was first enacted in July 2003, not 1948, and it was roundly condemned by all the usual suspects. Prior to that time, Israel did, in fact, permit anyone who married an Israeli citizen to become a citizen of Israel. M&W obscure the timing because the law served to address, not a "principle" but a very real and immediate security threat. An Israeli identity card is helpful in gaining access to terrorist targets with less scrutiny. In some instances, would-be terrorists were getting "married" to Israeli Arabs for the sole purpose of obtaining such identity cards and using them to facilitate terrorist attacks. The law, which must be considered for renewal each year, represented a direct and narrow response to this threat. It was not motivated by either racist or demographic concerns, and it has probably saved many lives -- Jewish, Christian and Muslim as well. Hopefully, one day soon it will no longer be necessary.
7. (page 10)
The mainstream Zionist leadership was not interested in establishing a bi-national state or accepting a permanent partition of Palestine. The Zionist leadership was sometimes willing to accept partition as a first step, but this was a tactical maneuver and not their real objective. As David Ben-Gurion put it in the late 1930s, â€œAfter the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.â€
This so-called quote, along with many others attributed to Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders, is exposed quite nicely by Alex Safian in his comprehensive evisceration of the "Lobby" libel at CAMERA. Such distortions are essential to M&W's thesis.
Well, this has been fun and more than a bit cathartic, but I'm out of time. If there's anything left to pick over next week, perhaps I'll resume then.