Breaking the silence

Breaking the silence

The overwrought response to John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's brave paper only confirms its thesis.

By Juan Cole

April 18, 2006 | John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government have put their hands into a hornet's nest with their paper in the London Review of Books, titled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." As political scientists who routinely analyze U.S. foreign policy, they have gained a reputation for lucid and principled argument, but outside the halls of academia are not exactly household names. In daring to simply describe the well-known operations of the Israel lobby, however, they have made themselves targets of a massive smear campaign. Ironically, this reaction is just what their paper predicted.

Fair and gentlemanly to a fault, and widely respected in their discipline, the two professors are impossible to imagine as fire-breathing racial bigots, devious purveyors of blatant falsehoods or wild-eyed conspiracy theorists prone to ignore obvious evidence, but these are the sort of epithets being hurled at them by their critics.

In "The Israel Lobby," Mearsheimer and Walt argue that U.S. policy toward the Middle East has been dangerously skewed by a powerful pro-Israel lobby, which inhibits free discussion of the issues and has made the pro-Israeli position a political sacred cow. Congress, they point out, virtually never criticizes Israel: It is an untouchable subject. And this taboo has had enormous consequences, which are themselves off limits for discussion. Because America's blank-check support for Israel arouses enormous Arab and Muslim rage, Israel is a strategic liability, not an asset...


As an American of Jewish birth and upbringing (during the great hoo-rah and hoo-hah over the newly-created state of Israel), I can agree whole-heartedly with Juan Cole's comments about this, his own article, on his blog and elsewhere.

It amazes me that this -- the topic of the power of absolutist lobby in America -- is still an issue.

Several years ago, an American general stated that if it were not for the influence (control) the American Israeli Lobby had over the media, we would not be committed to defending the state of Israel..

He made it clear he was speaking purely from a military position -- that a pure military analysis without any other factors would find this tiny state strategically and tactically impossible to defend.

And then, in a country (ours) obviously bereft of any sense of irony, he was beaten into a public apology by that same media for saying that they were a tool of the Israeli-lobby policy-makers and would silence any disagreement.


And again, years later, the authors of this thoughtful essay are toast. Mr. Cole continues:

"The substance seems to me unobjectionable. A congressman told me not so long ago, "Juan, I'm glad you're speaking out on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, because we can't." He meant by "we" the US Congress. What has happened to Mearsheimer and Walt is illustrative of what he meant by "can't." Mearsheimer admits that the two of them will never now be considered for a government position (e.g. National Security Council).

In contrast, a known Neocon sleazeball, who shredded the US Constitution and lied to Congress, such as Elliot Abrams, can be forgiven and then brought into the National Security Council to run US policy toward . . . Israel and Palestine. After Abrams lied to them, Congressional leaders vowed in the late 1980s that Abrams would never be allowed to come before them again. But they just rolled over when W. brought him into the White House."


Elliot Abrams is an alleged human who makes every Jew in America shudder in disgust at the fact that such a virulent lying vicious creep would have to be a Jew -- he's the kind of man that makes one think "Well, if Hitler thought ALL Jews were like that, I can start to understand his insanity."


Again, it amazes me this is still an issue -- this 800-pound gorilla Israeli Lobby has been written about by Israelis, by Europeans, by Americans.

Any objections a person makes about the crimes committed by Israeli politicians (Menachim Begin, Ariel Sharon, Bibi Netanyahu, et al) has seen the person denounced as either an anti-semite (if a non-Jew) or a self-hater (if a Jew).

I spent my early life meeting Israelis -- sabras (native-born) who treated me and other American Jews pretty much the way the Germans on the street were told to treat Jews, i.e, disparage them with contempt -- they told us we weren't really Jews at all, but enemies of the new state of Israel. Called us Hitler-lovers. Did everything but spit on us.

So, while I'm glad the poor bastards left alive after the Hitlerian Dream-Quest for Impossible Perfection* was over had a refuge, I have to tell those people:

"No, dummy -- it's YOU I hate --not myself. I don't treat people that way, as if I'm some sort of circumcised SS man."

(I don't hate them -- just find them repugnant and, like those things that live under rocks with Elliot Abrams, best avoided.)


As Americans, we can talk about almost anything we want -- we can talk about whether or not the "Nuke Iran" scare is a sham intended -- with the American public demanding we leave Iraq -- to give one final big payoff to the Bush-wah Buddies over there (oil at $70 a barrel).

Or we can ask and/or speculate about what's really behind this policy or that one. (Well, that one is sort of an historical memory of actual free speech.)

But we may never question any policy towards Israel.

And ultimately, it kind of makes one finally just not really give a shit about anyone who lives there, even including people (I know some of them) who have defied threats and risks (from other Israelis) over the years to establish community relations with Palestinians, who have long opposed the IDF and their interventions let alone their excesses, and who want Palestinians to have the same rights and accesses given to Jews.


* Term coined by/used by John Aes-Nihil of the Archives of Aesthetic Nihilism and which goes so aptly to the root of the reality in referring to Nazi's (or the guilt-crazed, finger-pointing desperate to get clean 700 Club Crazies, for that matter), I've given up on trying to improve on it.


eXTReMe Tracker