Anti-Semitism can appear in many forms, many disguises. Its latest camouflage can be seen in “The Israel Lobby,” an article in the March 23 London Review of Books by Political Science Professor John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Dean Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
This article is an extract from “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” their March 2006 self-published academic “working paper” that is neither peer reviewed nor published in any scholarly journal. Although ballyhooed as a work by two major scholars, they acknowledge that it “should not be interpreted or portrayed as reflecting the official position” of either Harvard or the University of Chicago.
This working paper, carefully timed to make news just ahead of Israel’s election and a planned leftist propaganda barrage against two accused pro-Israel lobbyists, is really an 83-page Opinion-Editorial article based on the authors’ personal prejudices.
This Mearsheimer and Walt attack is so nastily slanted against Israel that their paper ought to be called The New Protocols of the Elders of Zion. No wonder that among those praising their paper most loudly is the Southern white racist, former American Nazi Party enthusiast and Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, now himself a Ph.D.
The footnotes that comprise almost half of this paper reveal the left-wing sources that have shaped Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s anti-Israel prejudices – among them Noam Chomsky, Seymour Hersh, The Nation, AntiWar.com, CounterPunch, Salon.com, assorted writers and scholars published by the far-Left publishing house Verso, and the British socialist newspaper The Guardian.
The Israeli source they approvingly cite most often is the newspaper Ha’aretz, whose socioeconomic views are too complex to describe easily in terms of the American political spectrum. Ha’aretz might be called the New York Times of Israel, and in fact has a business relationship with the Times. It is secular, supported the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat and in Israeli-Palestinian matters tends to be on the Left.
But even the chief U.S. correspondent of Ha’aretz in his blog on March 16, blasted Mearsheimer and Walt, describing their paper as “academic garbage” and an example of “the decline of academic values and the misuse of academic titles by contemporary American pseudo-scholars.”
For daring to say this, he wrote on March 20, some readers accused him of being an agent of the “Israel Lobby.”
The “Israel Lobby,” write Mearsheimer and Walt, is a “short-hand term for the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. Our use of this term is not meant to suggest that ‘the Lobby’ is a unified movement with a central leadership….”
This Lobby, they write, includes organizations such as the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (CPMJO), many of which “are run by hardliners who generally supported the expansionist policies of Israel’s Likud Party, including its hostility to the Oslo Peace Process.”
But “The Lobby,” they continue, “also includes prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, and Pat Robertson, as well as former House Majority Leaders Dick Armey and Tom DeLay. They believe Israel’s rebirth is part of Biblical prophecy, support its expansionist agenda, and think pressuring Israel is contrary to God’s will.
“In addition,” they continue, “the Lobby’s membership includes neoconservative gentiles such as John Bolton, the late Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and columnist George Will.”
This “Israel Lobby” is pernicious for several reasons, according to Mearsheimer and Walt. “AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress,” they write, and through such political influence its prompts elected officials to put Israel’s national interest above that of the United States. This has diverted many billions of American taxpayer dollars, made the U.S. an enemy in the eyes of more than a billion Israel-hating Muslims around the world, and been a key factor in getting the U.S. into the present conflict in Iraq.
The “Israel Lobby” virtually controls American media, according to Mearsheimer and Walt. It has shaped public opinion with unwavering propaganda images of Arabs as terrorist villains and of Israelis depicted as pro-American Davids surrounded and threatened by an Islamic Goliath. This, too, has distorted American politics and policy in Israel’s favor.
Mearsheimer and Walt applaud Eric Alterman, left-wing journalist of The Nation and fellow at the George Soros-supported Center for American Progress, for writing a 2002 article that listed the names of American journalists and pundits “who can be counted upon to support Israel reflexively and without qualification.” The 56 journalists he labeled as reflexive Israel supporters ranged from Fox News Washington bureau chief Brit Hume, to African-American scholar and columnist Thomas Sowell, to writer and Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz. Full disclosure: Alterman also named Marxist-turned-conservative David Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief of FrontPageMagazine.com.
One of the crudest tactics in formal debate, as Speech 101 students are taught, is “poisoning the well.” If the side opposing you has an expert, smear the expert ad hominem. If this tactic succeeds, you can then duck having to respond to that expert’s logic or evidence.
Alterman, while describing himself as fair and balanced in his view of Israel, simply smeared every major supporter of Israel he could think of by poisonously claiming that all would always side with Israel regardless of the facts and was therefore untrustworthy. (But whenever journalists such as Alterman are accurately listed among those reflexively inclined to take the side of the Left on every issue, the Left denounces this is “McCarthyite name-calling.”)
Mearsheimer and Walt do the same kind of well poisoning to preempt would-be critics. “One of the shrewdest things the authors do in their paper,” wrote Ha’aretz’s Washington correspondent, “is dismantle the anti-Semitic counter attack when they claim that the main source of power of the Jewish lobby is the anti-Semitic blame game. Thus if you call the study anti-Semitic, you play right into their hands.”
Okay, you be the judge. According to Mearsheimer and Walt, “the creation of Israel in 1947-48 involved explicit acts of ethnic cleansing, including executions, massacres, and rapes by Jews…The IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] conducted numerous cross-border raids against its neighbors…and though these actions were portrayed as defensive responses, they were actually part of a broader effort to expand Israel’s borders,” a manifestation of “Israel’s expansionist ambitions.”
Reading Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s litany of Israeli alleged expansionism, atrocities, alleged Israeli killing of Egyptian prisoners of war, imperial ambition and the like, you would never know that Israel gave away nearly half of its own tiny territory as part of a peace agreement. Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in the early 1980s. (My wife and I remember visiting Yamit on the Mediterranean days before it was handed back to Egypt.)
Reading Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s paper, you would never know that at Camp David in 2000 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, pressured by outgoing President Bill Clinton, offered Yasser Arafat 95 percent of everything the Palestinians demanded, only to be rebuffed. Islamist Palestinians insisted that nothing less than the total eradication of Israel would be acceptable. Barak’s “purportedly generous offer” is dismissed by Mearsheimer and Walt, who write that it “would only have given the Palestinians a disarmed and dismembered set of ‘Bantustans’ under de facto Israeli control.”
Despite this rejection, Israel has been transferring effective control of Gaza and most of the West Bank to Palestinian (i.e., terrorist Hamas) control. But Mearsheimer and Walt dismiss this giving away of another large percentage of Israel-controlled land as more evidence that Israel is expansionist and imperialistic. Go figure.
What other nation in the history of the world has voluntarily given away as much of its direct national territory (not distant colonies, as England did), territory bought with the blood of its soldiers in war, to achieve elusive peace as Israel?
“Europe’s crimes against the Jews provide a clear moral justification for Israel’s right to exist,” acknowledge Mearsheimer and Walt. “But Israel’s survival is not in doubt – even if some Islamic extremists make outrageous and unrealistic references to ‘wiping it off the map’ – and the tragic history of the Jewish people does not obligate the United States to help Israel….”
Now let’s see: One out of every three Jews on planet Earth was systematically exterminated by genocide during the past 60 years, murdered just for being Jews. Israel stopped Saddam Hussein from acquiring the means to make nuclear weapons in 1981, and had Israel not acted, Iraq would have possessed such weapons by 1990, in time for its annexation of Kuwait. Hussein was paying $25,000 to each family of a suicide bomber who killed Israelis. Iran, led by a madman who funds and arms Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists and who believes an apocalypse two years from now will herald Islam’s takeover of the world, is rushing to acquire its own means to atomic weapons. And Mearsheimer and Walt, using rhetoric that echoes eerily of anti-Semitism, blithely proclaim, “Israel’s survival is not in doubt.”
Dr. Mearsheimer, by the way, stirred his first controversy in 1990 by proposing that the United States should encourage West Germany to develop a nuclear arsenal. As an elite academic (who at least served five years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force), he is the leading proponent of the international relations theory called “Offensive Realism.” This theory assumes that every great power strives for global hegemony and becomes progressively violent as it nears this goal. The U.S. does this globally; Israel does the same regionally and through its tail-wagging-the-dog “control” over U.S. policy.
In Mearsheimer’s abstract universe, peace is preserved by a balance of power. A world with America as the sole Superpower, he believes, is a dangerous world. Much like George Soros, he wants to see America made much weaker relative to other nations. For the same reason, he wants Israel weakened. Nuclear weapons in more hands, including Germany’s, Mearsheimer believes would create a “multipolar” world in which no one nation would dare throw its weight around. As in this new paper, he ignores fears of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.
Dr. Stephen Walt developed the “Balance of Threat Theory,” which has much in common with Mearsheimer’s “Offensive Realism.” Walt, too, sees America’s sole Superpower status as a bad thing. Dr. Walt, incidentally, has been on the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, famous for its doomsday clock near midnight and advocacy of global nuclear disarmament (i.e., verifiable American but not necessarily verifiable Soviet nuclear disarmament). He has also been a guest scholar at the left-leaning Brookings Institution and a resident associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His 2005 book Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy by leftist publisher W.W. Norton suggested that America was somehow wild and savage and needed to have its claws and fangs pulled. In 2003 Walt and Mearsheimer co-authored the tract An Unnecessary War to criticize U.S. intervention in Iraq.
James Taranto, who writes the “Best of Web” column for OpinionJournal.com, has done an able dissection of several of the worst errors and falsehoods in Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s paper, musing on Tuesday:
The close U.S. relationship with Israel has a psychological basis as well as a moral and strategic one. Both the U.S. and Israel, after all, are immigrant nations, founded and originally settled by people who, for various reasons, got the hell out of Europe. One can see why Europeans who stayed behind, and whose societies are considerably less dynamic than either ours or Israel's, would resent those who rejected the European way.
Further, World War II left Europe owing an incalculable moral debt to both America and the Jews: America because it saved Europe from its own savagery, Jews because they were the primary victims of that savagery. European anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are often hard to tell apart, and it may be because they both reflect a self-loathing aspect of the European psyche – a neurotic need to compensate for an overwhelming sense of historical guilt.
As intellectuals who want to see America and Israel weakened, and to see Europe and the Muslim world strengthened, Mearsheimer and Walt may be reflecting the unreal nature of their own ivy-covered minds, or they may be playing to today’s fashionably left-wing academic biases. But in their prose one can hear something visceral, a hint of the dark emotions Taranto glimpses. This is the tone we heard at Tuesday’s presidential press conference when Arab-American reporter Helen Thomas tried to include Israel as a factor in the blame she was casting for the war in Iraq.
“The Zionist leadership was sometimes willing to accept partition as a first step, but this was a tactical maneuver and not their real objective,” write Mearsheimer and Walt. We have heard such rhetoric before from anti-Semites: “Those sneaky, deceitful Jews are always lying to gain control.” The Israel Lobby, they write, has for decades done the same thing by deceitfully accusing every critic of Israel of being an anti-Semite.
Perhaps this is what Sigmund Freud called “projection,” the tendency to see in others what you yourself are, e.g., of a thief to believe that everybody else steals. Mearsheimer and Walt seem eager to accuse anybody who sincerely supports Israel of being a member of “the Lobby,” thereby implying that they are dupes, fools, or conspiring knaves.
“There is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway U.S. policy towards Israel. The Lobby’s activities are not the sort of conspiracy depicted in anti-Semitic tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Mearsheimer and Walt at one moment concede. “For the most part, the individuals and groups that comprise the Lobby are doing what other special interest groups do, just much better.”
So why did they write an 83-page tract hinting that those in the Lobby are agents of a foreign power bent on subverting American democracy? Americans supporting Israel is democracy. What these two left-wing academics find objectionable is that Israel’s supporters lobby successfully.
Incidentally, have Mearsheimer and Walt ever criticized the left-wing activists who reflexively accuse their opponents of being warmongers, imperialists, bigots, racists, sexists, or homophobes? Just asking.
Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor Mearsheimer and Walt label an “apologist” for Israel, has described much of their paper as “trash.”
“It could have been written by Pat Buchanan, by David Duke, Noam Chomsky, and some of the less intelligent members of Hamas,” Dershowitz told the New York Sun. “An intelligent member of Hamas would not have made these mistakes.”
Among the mistakes Dershowitz cited was Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s claim in the paper that Israeli “citizenship is based on the principle of blood kinship.” The authors, said Dershowitz, had conflated Israel’s law of return with its criteria for citizenship. “That’s right from the neo-Nazi Web sites. Anybody can be a citizen of Israel. It confuses the law of return for the criteria for citizenship. They never mention that a Jew cannot be a citizen in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.”
Dershowitz, reported the Sun, “also objected to the paper’s claim that the 2000 Oslo offer to Yasser Arafat would have created ‘Bantustans.’ Mr. Dershowitz said, ‘They should talk to President Clinton about that. The West Bank territory would have been completely contiguous.’”
What Dean Walt is saying, Dershowitz told the Sun, “is, ‘some of my best lobbyists are Jews. Don’t confuse what we are saying with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’” He continued, “Sorry, but it sounds very similar to me. The only difference is the Protocols are a forgery, but this is actually written by two bigots.”
Martin Peretz is editor of The New Republic, a magazine named in Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s paper as one of those publications that “zealously defend Israel at every turn.” Peretz told the Sun: “It is easier to attribute disloyalty to Jews than to question the loyalty of Islamists. This is really questioning the loyalty of Jews, that is what this is about. Everyone is looped in, even people who are a little dicey about Israel like Aaron David Miller and Howard Dean. This goes from the lobby in capital letters, from Jerry Falwell to every left-wing Jewish Democrat in the House. It is the imagining of a wall to wall conspiracy and therefore it’s nutsy.”
And this anti-Israel paper has attracted its share of nuts.
“I have read about the report and read one summary already, and I am surprised how excellent it is,” racist David Duke told the Sun in an e-mail. “It is quite satisfying to see a body in the premier American University essentially come out and validate every major point I have been making since even before the war even started…the task before us is to wrest control of America’s foreign policy and critical junctures of media from the Jewish extremist Neocons that seek to lead us into what they expectantly call World War IV.”
Walt retorted, “I have always found Mr. Duke’s views reprehensible, and I am sorry he sees this article as consistent with his view of the world.”
David Duke is now also a Ph.D. issued in 2005 from the Interregional Academy of Personnel Management in the Ukraine, an institution that has been accused of harboring anti-Semitism. Duke is also an author of such works as Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question in 2004 and his 1998 autobiography My Awakening, whose title sounds ominously like another autobiography titled “My Struggle,” Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
In college, Duke celebrated Hitler’s birthday and wore a Nazi uniform around campus. He was kicked out of ROTC at Tulane University because, according to one source, as an activist for the American Nazi Party, he was ineligible to be commissioned in the U.S. military.
In 2004, David Duke endorsed John Kerry for President. Duke has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war for some of the same reasons Mearsheimer and Walt express. Duke embraced a slogan that says in a few words what these two scholars took 83 pages to say: “No War for Israel.”
As Ben Johnson of FrontPage Magazine reported, David Duke has been a big booster for leftist war critic Cindy Sheehan. On Syrian National Television in November 2005, Duke again summed up in a few words the bottom-line message of these scholars’ more caged and qualified report.
“The Zionist neocons…are crazy,” David Duke reportedly said. “The people who are pushing Jewish supremacism, Zionism – they are absolute evil and they are crazy. All they know is more power, and so there is a real danger, I should say, for Syria, and a danger for Iran….”
And others have reacted favorably to this paper. “I think that the people who wrote that report were working for the interest of the American people,” a senior member of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s guidance council, Abdulmo’em Abulfotah, has been quoted as saying. “I ask a question here: Is it in the interest of the American people to clash with 1.3 billion people in favor of 5 million people who represent the Zionist project? Not even the Jews, but the Zionists.”
“Thanks to the Lobby,” wrote Mearsheimer and Walt, “the United States has become the de facto enabler of Israeli expansion in the occupied territories, making it complicit in the crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians.”
Blame it on the Jews, they are saying, if America is hated, hit by terrorists, and forced to fight in Middle Eastern wars.
But in his first statements after 9/11, the mastermind of its murder of 3,000 Americans Osama bin Laden said not a word about Israel and the Palestinians. The focus of his anger was American troops stationed in the “Land of the Two Holy Mosques,” as he calls Saudi Arabia. Has nobody ever told Mearsheimer and Walt that Islam has been trying to take over the world for almost 1,400 years – long before the restoration of the ancient Jewish State in 1948? If their fear is imperial expansion, where is their concern about Islamist fanatics determined to impose a single world government under the dictatorship of one Muslim Caliph?
“These neo-cons and Zionists have manipulated Bush and the American government and our boys and girls are dying in Iraq,” said the Nation of Islam’s leader Rev. Louis Farrakhan last February.
Israel is the tail wagging the dog, which is America. I’m warning you, America. You better get rid of them neo-cons. That’s the synagogue of Satan. They have made America weak…and your country has been taken from you by the synagogue of Satan. They own Congress…And the Christian right, with your blindness to that wicked state of Israel…That land is gonna be cleansed with blood.
Mearsheimer and Walt have issued a paper that differs from the message of the hatemongers David Duke and Rev. Louis Farrakhan more in style than in substance. Does this hard fact give these scholars second thoughts, or sleepless nights? Does it show them why so many whose loved ones were gassed in the Holocaust are committed to Israel’s survival? The savagery is not in America’s or Israel’s policies, nor in those who lobby for them. It is in the darkness just beyond the light of our shared civilization’s fragile vigil campfires.
Click Here to support Frontpagemag.com.