Latest update: October 7th, 2013
Fascinating, isn’t it, to watch professors Stephen Walt (Harvard) and John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) attain near rock-star status by resurrecting the tired and discredited canard that U.S. foreign policy is dictated by a devious, dangerous and disloyal cabal known as the pro-Israel lobby – sort of a Protocols of the Middle-Agers of Zion.
Of course, the good professors are convinced that any policies advocated by the cabal are anathema to the interests of this country.
Moreover, it seems that bashing Israel and its U.S. supporters is good business, as the W&M boys are on the lecture circuit and have landed a lucrative book deal with a well-known publisher.
As a former executive director of AIPAC, the professors’ main target, I’ve had more than a passing interest in what these characters have to say and how their arguments have been received and, in some quarters, blindly accepted. The most detailed and devastating analysis of the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis comes from Alan Dershowitz and is must reading for anyone even thinking about taking these guys seriously. It can be found at http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/dershowitzreply.pdf.
There are several fundamental points that simply cannot be ignored before one buys into the Pat Buchananesque nonsense that Israel and its backers control U.S. foreign policy. I have a confession: I wish most of what they say bout wielding power and influencing public policy were true. But alas, like those other stereotypes about Jews being rich and controlling the media and the banks, it is, as my mother says, just bubbe maisses.
The hard truth is that while the pro-Israel community does wield some influence on foreign policy, recent history is replete with instances where, on issues vital to Israel’s security, the U.S. has shown no reluctance whatsoever to exert strong pressure on Israeli leaders to adopt positions they believed would weaken their nation’s security.
Consider the following examples that literally involve life and death issues:
The Bush administration recently pushed the Olmert government to reverse previous policy and allow 1,500 additional armed Palestinian troops to enter Gaza, despite alarm bells rung by Israeli defense and security experts who warn that Gaza has become a breeding ground for terror where tons of smuggled arms and explosives are being stockpiled until the time they will be turned loose on Israelis.
Secretary of State Rice also got Olmert to approve transferring thousands of assault rifles to Mahmoud Abbas’s security forces; in the past when this happened they often were turned on Israelis rather than those they were supposed to be used against. Somehow, I don’t think that this military buildup was high on the pro-Israel agenda.
Moreover, let’s not forget it was Secretary Rice who insisted and exerted pressure to insure that Hamas – an outfit declared by our own government to be a terrorist organization and one that refuses to recognize Israel – be allowed to fully participate in last January’s Palestinian elections, believing that such “democratic” involvement would have a moderating impact on the organization.
We’ve seen the results of such foreign policy naiveté: Hamas thugs now wield unprecedented clout and Israeli blood has been needlessly spilled. I, for one, certainly don’t remember the pro-Israel cabal pushing to try to legitimize Hamas.
Speaking of Gaza, one of the reasons that area today – long after Israeli troops and settlers left – poses such a threat is Rice’s refusal to allow Israel to secure the Sinai-Gaza border, insisting instead that that vital assignment be given to Egypt. The result: a porous border through which weapons, explosives and terrorists easily pass every day, later to be turned loose against Israelis. And there have been daily barrages of Kassam rockets into Israel. Yes sir, score another one for those wily Israel supporters.
After Israel withdrew from Lebanon, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring Lebanon to control its border with Israel in order to prevent Hizbullah from re-arming, rebuilding its military infrastructure and gaining more power. Predictably, the UN did absolutely nothing to implement its resolution. But our government (and Lebanon) also stood idly by as missile, arms and explosives flowed into Southern Lebanon and into the hands of Hizbullah thugs.
Indeed, the Bush administration failed to enforce a proviso of the 2001 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, introduced by Congressman Tom Lantos, aimed at pressing the Lebanese government to take on Hizbullah. Our government effectively turned a blind eye to the festering problem, ignoring Israel’s warning that southern Lebanon was turning into a volatile Hizbullah stronghold; we saw the results last summer as Jewish blood once again flowed at the hands of terrorists. There it is, yet another piece of evidence that U.S. foreign policy is at the mercy of those disloyal American Jews.
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