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"The Israel Lobby" -- overview and discussion

by DeAnander Fri May 12th, 2006 at 06:51:41 AM EST

In light of recent diary entries on the US/Israel relationship I thought it might be time to go back and review the fracas over the recent Mearsheimer/Walt paper... which oddly enough seems to have seen relatively little discussion at ET. Hey, while we're going near radioactive topics, why not go there? This is another long one... just too much good stuff to be blockquoted :-)

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


Mearsheimer and Walt's paper has drawn criticism from various quarters (on both left and right), a fair chunk of which I agree with; but the most important thing about it in my view is that it has opened up some serious discussion on one of the largest Elephants in the Bedroom of US politics. This glasnost moment seems historically important to me; so I've been idly saving up URLs (not making a huge effort, just noticing stuff that floated by in the memestream). So here goes.

The original Mearsheimer/Walt article that started all the fuss -- in the London Review of Books.

Mearsheimer and Walt's reponse (in the Letters to LRB) to the firestorm their paper provoked. Their comments are well worth a read, as they cover, methodically, the various critiques of their paper and ad hominem attacks on the authors. They conclude

We close with a final comment about the controversy surrounding our article. Although we are not surprised by the hostility directed at us, we are still disappointed that more attention has not been paid to the substance of the piece. The fact remains that the United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East, and it will not be able to develop effective policies if it is impossible to have a civilised discussion about the role of Israel in American foreign policy.

Perhaps more interesting than the paper, its detractors, and the authors' rebuttals however, is the story of how they came to write it at all -- how did two reasonable, centre/rightist middle-aged dons [academic, not mafia] acquire such a hankering to grab the third rail of US political discourse? Philip Weiss gets into the backstory and he is worth quoting at some length [don't miss Krauthammer's flamewar on Fukuyama part way through the excerpt]:

Intellectuals can only dream of having the impact that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have had this spring. Within hours of their publishing a critique of the Israel lobby in The London Review of Books for March 23, the article was zinging around the world [...] Virtually overnight, two balding professors in their 50s had become public intellectuals, ducking hundreds of e-mails, phone messages and challenges to debate.

[...]

The shock waves from the article continue to resonate. The initial response was outrage from Israel supporters, some likening the authors to neo-Nazis. The Anti-Defamation League called the paper "a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control." University of Chicago Professor Daniel Drezner called it "piss-poor, monocausal social science." Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said the men had "destroyed their professional reputations." Even left-leaning critics dismissed the piece as inflammatory and wrong. As time passed (and the Ku Klux Klan remained dormant), a more rational debate began. The New York Times, having first downplayed the article, printed a long op-ed by historian Tony Judt saying that out of fear, the mainstream media were failing to face important ideas the article had put forward. And Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, praised it at the Middle East Institute for conveying "blinding flashes of the obvious," ideas "that were whispered in corners rather than said out loud at cocktail parties where someone else could hear you."

While criticisms of the lobby have circulated widely for years and been published at the periphery, the Mearsheimer-Walt paper stands out because it was so frontal and pointed, and because it was published online by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where Walt is a professor and outgoing academic dean. "It was inevitably going to take someone from Harvard [to get this discussed]," says Phyllis Bennis, a writer on Middle East issues at the Institute for Policy Studies.

[...]

Though it was printed in a left-leaning English journal, it was written by theorists of a school associated with the center/right: realism, which holds that the world is a dangerous neighborhood, that good intentions don't mean very much and that the key to order is a balance of power among armed states. For realists, issues like human rights and how states treat minorities are so much idealistic fluff.

Given the paper's parentage, the ferment over it raises political questions. How did these ideas get to center stage? And what do they suggest about the character of the antiwar intelligentsia?

Let's begin with the personalities. The more forceful member of the duo (and the one who would talk to me), Mearsheimer, 58, is by nature an outsider. Though he spent ten years of his youth in the military, graduating from West Point, he wasn't much for tents and guns even as he latched on to David Halberstam's book The Best and the Brightest because it explained a horrible war. Out of pure intellectual curiosity Mearsheimer, who had become an officer in the Air Force, enrolled in graduate school classes at the University of Southern California. Today he is a realist powerhouse at the University of Chicago, publishing such titles as Conventional Deterrence. Like Mearsheimer, Walt, 50, grew up in privilege, but he is a courtly and soft-spoken achiever. Stanford, Berkeley and Princeton figured in his progress to Harvard. "I think Steve enjoyed moving into institutional roles," says one academic. "Steve likes a good argument, but unlike John he can be polite. John enjoys the image of the bomb thrower."

Mearsheimer was hawkish about Israel until the 1990s, when he began to read Israel's "New Historians," a group of Israeli scholars and journalists (among them Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim and Tom Segev) who showed that Israel's founders had been at times ruthless toward Palestinians. Mearsheimer's former student Michael Desch, a professor at Texas A&M, recalls the epiphany: "For a lot of us, who didn't know a lot about the Israel/Palestine conflict beyond the conventional wisdom and Leon Uris's Exodus, we saw a cold war ally; and the moral issue and the common democracy reinforced a strong pro-Israel bent." Then Desch rode to a conference with two left-wing Jewish academics familiar with the New Historians. "My initial reaction was the same as John's: This is crazy. [They argued that] the Israelis weren't the victims of the '48 war to destroy the country. Ben-Gurion had real doubts about partition. Jordan and Israel talked about dividing up the West Bank together. All those things were heretical. They seemed to be coming from way, way out in left field. Then we started reading [them], and it completely changed the way we looked at these things." Mearsheimer says he had been blinded by Uris's novel. "The New Historians' work was a great revelation to me. Not only do they provide an abundance of evidence to back up their stories about how Israel was really created, but their stories make perfect sense. There is no way that waves of European Jews moving into a land filled with Palestinians are going to create a Jewish state without breaking a lot of Palestinian heads.... It's just not possible." [there speaks a geopolitical realist]

[...] Mearsheimer saw the lobby's power in an episode in the spring of 2002, when Bush called on Ariel Sharon to withdraw troops from Palestinian towns on the West Bank. Sharon shrugged him off, and Bush caved. Mearsheimer says by e-mail: "At the American Political Science Association convention in the late summer of 2002, I was talking to a friend about the US-Israel relationship. We shared similar views, and agreed that lots of others thought the same way. I said to him over the course of a dinner that I found it quite amazing that despite widespread recognition of the lobby's influence, no one could write about it and get it published in the United States. He told me that he thought that was not the case, because he had a friend at The Atlantic who was looking for just such an article."

The Atlantic had long hoped to assign a piece that would look systematically at where Israel and America shared interests and where those interests conflicted, so as to examine the lobby's impact. The magazine duly commissioned an article in late 2002 by Mearsheimer and Walt, whom Mearsheimer had brought in. "No way I would have done it alone," Mearsheimer says. "You needed two people of significant stature to withstand the firestorm that would invariably come with the publication of the piece."

Mearsheimer and Walt had plenty of ideological company. After 9/11, many other realists were questioning American policy in the Mideast. Stephen Van Evera, an international relations professor at MIT, began writing papers showing that the American failure to deal fairly with the Israel/Palestine conflict was fostering support for Al Qaeda across the Muslim world. Robert Pape, a professor down the hall from Mearsheimer at Chicago, published a book, Dying to Win, showing that suicide bombers were not religiously motivated but were acting pragmatically against occupiers.

The writer Anatol Lieven says he reluctantly took on the issue after 9/11 as a matter of "duty"--when the Carnegie Endowment, where he was a senior associate, asked him to. "I knew bloody well it would bring horrible unpopularity.... All my personal loyalties are the other way. I've literally dozens of Jewish friends; I have no Palestinian friends." Lieven says he was a regular at the Aspen Institute till he brought up the issue. "I got kicked out of Aspen.... In early 2002 they held a conference on relations with the Muslim world. For two days nobody mentioned Israel. Finally, I said, 'Look, this is a Soviet-style debate. Whatever you think about this issue, the entire Muslim world is shouting about it.' I have never been asked back." In 2004 Lieven published a book, America Right or Wrong, in which he argued that the United States had subordinated its interests to a tiny militarized state, Israel. Attacked as an anti-Semite, Lieven says he became a pariah among many colleagues at the Carnegie Endowment, which he left for the fledgling New America Foundation.

Yet another on this path was the political philosopher Francis Fukuyama, a neoconservative-turned-realist. In 2004 he attended Charles Krauthammer's speech at the American Enterprise Institute about spreading democracy and was shocked by the many positive effects Krauthammer saw in the Iraq War. Fukuyama attacked this militaristic thinking in an article in The National Interest. He wrote with sympathy of the Palestinians and said the neoconservatives confused American and Israeli interests. "Are we like Israel, locked in a remorseless struggle with a large part of the Arab and Muslim world, with few avenues open to us for dealing with them other than an iron fist?... I believe that there are real problems in transposing one situation to the other." Krauthammer responded in personal terms, all but accusing Fukuyama of anti-Semitism. "The remarkable thing about the debate was how oblique Frank's reference to the issue was and how batshit Krauthammer and the other neoconservatives went," says Mike Desch. "It is important to them to keep this a third rail in American politics. They understood that even an elliptical reference would open the door, and they immediately all jumped on Frank to make the point, 'Don't go there.'" It seems to have worked. The soft-spoken Fukuyama left out the critique of the neocon identification with Israel in his recent book, America at the Crossroads.

"We understood there would be a significant price to pay," Mearsheimer says. "We both went into this understanding full well that our chances of ever being appointed to a high-level administrative position at a university or policy-making position in Washington would be greatly damaged." They turned their piece in to The Atlantic two years ago. The magazine sought revisions, and they submitted a new draft in early 2005, which was rejected. "[We] decided not to publish the article they wrote," managing editor Cullen Murphy wrote to me, adding that The Atlantic's policy is not to discuss editorial decisions with people other than the authors.

[...] Many liberals and leftists have signaled their discomfort with the paper. Daniel Fleshler, a longtime board member of Americans for Peace Now, says the issue of Jewish influence is "so incendiary and so complicated that I don't know how anyone can talk about this in the public sphere. I know that's a problem. But there's not enough space in any article you write to do this in a way that doesn't cause more rancor. And so much of this paper was glib and poorly researched." In Salon Michelle Goldberg wrote that the authors had "blundered forth" into the argument in "clumsy and crude" ways, for instance failing to distinguish between Jewish Likudniks and Jewish support of Democrats in Congress. Noam Chomsky wrote that the authors had ignored the structural forces in the American economy pushing for war, what he calls "the tight state-corporate linkage." Norman Finkelstein makes a similar distinction. "I'm glad they did it," he says of the publication, but he argues that while the pro-Israel lobby controls public debate on the issue, and even Congress, the lobby can't be shown to decide the "elite opinion" that creates policy in the Mideast.

One problem with this argument is that in insisting on the primacy of corporate decision-making, it diminishes the realm of political culture and shows a real dullness about how ideas percolate in Washington. Think tanks, the idea factories that help produce policy, used to have a firmly WASPish character. But as Walt and Mearsheimer show, hawkishly pro-Israel forces have established a "commanding presence" at such organizations over much of the spectrum, from the Brookings Institution in the center to the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation on the right. After Bush's 2000 victory, Dick Cheney made sure that his neoconservative friends were posted throughout the Administration, and after 9/11 their militaristic ideas swept the government like a fever. In a fearful time, their utter distrust of Arab and Muslim culture seemed to the Bushies to explain the world. "You have an alliance between neocons and aggressive nationalists that goes back thirty years. Their ideas have bled into one another," says Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service. "And neoconservatives put Israel at the absolute center of their worldview." One of the tenets of neocon belief was that the road to peace in Israel/Palestine led through Baghdad: Give Israel a greater sense of security and you can solve the Palestinian issue later. That has been the government policy.

[...] Mearsheimer and Walt at times were simplistic and shrill. But it may have required such rhetoric to break through the cinder block and get attention for their ideas. Democracy depends on free exchange, and free exchange means not always having to be careful. Lieven says we have seen in another system the phenomenon of intellectuals strenuously denouncing an article that could not even be published in their own country: the Soviet Union. "If somebody like me, an absolute down-the-line centrist on this issue--my position on Israel/Palestine is identical to that of the Blair government--has so much difficulty publishing, it's a sign of how extremely limited and ethically rotten the media debate is in this country."

Realist ideas are resonating now because the utopian ideas that drove the war are so frightening and demoralizing. Indeed, Fukuyama has moved toward what he calls Wilsonian realism. Lieven is about to come out with a book (co-edited with a right-winger from the Heritage Foundation) on ethical realism. These ideas are appealing because they offer a better way of explaining a dangerous world than the idea that our bombs are good bombs and that Muslims only respect force.

Norman Solomon writes

The extended controversy over a paper by two professors, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," is prying the lid off a debate that has been bottled up for decades.

Alex Cockburn of course could not resist a comment:

For the past few weeks a sometimes comic debate has simmering in the American press, focused on the question of whether there is an Israeli lobby, and if so, just how powerful is it?

I would have thought that to ask whether there's an Israeli lobby here is a bit like asking whether there's a Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor and a White House located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC. For the past sixty years the Lobby has been as fixed a part of the American scene as either of the other two monuments, and not infrequently exercising as much if not more influence on the onward march of history. [there follows an interesting history of the Israel Lobby and the Democratic Party]

Norman Finkelstein burnt his bridges with AIPAC long ago and doesn't bother being conciliatory, to Mearsheimer and Walt or anyone else:
In the current fractious debate over the role of the Israel Lobby in the formulation and execution of US policies in the Middle East, the "either-or" framework -- giving primacy to either the Israel Lobby or to U.S. strategic interests -- isn't, in my opinion, very useful.

Apart from the Israel-Palestine conflict, fundamental U.S. policy in the Middle East hasn't been affected by the Lobby. For different reasons, both U.S. and Israeli elites have always believed that the Arabs need to be kept subordinate. However, once the U.S. solidified its alliance with Israel after June 1967, it began to look at Israelis --­ and Israelis projected themselves --­ as experts on the "Arab mind." Accordingly, the alliance with Israel has abetted the most truculent U.S. policies, Israelis believing that "Arabs only understand the language of force" and every few years this or that Arab country needs to be smashed up. The spectrum of U.S. policy differences might be narrow, but in terms of impact on the real lives of real people in the Arab world these differences are probably meaningful, the Israeli influence making things worse.

The claim that Israel has become a liability for U.S. "national" interests in the Middle East misses the bigger picture. Sometimes what's most obvious escapes the eye. Israel is the only stable and secure base for projecting U.S. power in this region. Every other country the U.S. relies on might, for all anyone knows, fall out of U.S. control tomorrow. The U.S.A. discovered this to its horror in 1979, after immense investment in the Shah. On the other hand, Israel was a creation of the West; it's in every respect -- culturally, politically, economically ­-- in thrall to the West, notably the U.S. This is true not just at the level of a corrupt leadership, as elsewhere in the Middle East but -- what's most important -- at the popular level. Israel's pro-American orientation exists not just among Israeli elites but also among the whole population. Come what may in Israel, it's inconceivable that this fundamental orientation will change. Combined with its overwhelming military power, this makes Israel a unique and irreplaceable American asset in the Middle East.

In this regard, it's useful to recall the rationale behind British support for Zionism. Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann once asked a British official why the British continued to support Zionism despite Arab opposition. Didn't it make more sense for them to keep Palestine but drop support for Zionism? "Although such an attitude may afford a temporary relief and may quiet Arabs for a short time," the official replied, "it will certainly not settle the question as the Arabs don't want the British in Palestine, and after having their way with the Jews, they would attack the British position, as the Moslems are doing in Mesopotamia, Egypt and India." Another British official judged retrospectively that, however much Arab resentment it provoked, British support for Zionism was prudent policy, for it established in the midst of an "uncertain Arab world a well-to-do educated, modern community, ultimately bound to be dependent on the British Empire." Were it even possible, the British had little interest in promoting real Jewish-Arab cooperation because it would inevitably lessen this dependence. Similarly, the U.S. doesn't want an Israel truly at peace with the Arabs, for such an Israel could loosen its bonds of dependence on the U.S. , making it a less reliable proxy. This is one reason why the claim that Jewish elites are "pro"-Israel makes little sense. They are "pro" an Israel that is useful to the U.S. and, therefore, useful to them. What use would a Paul Wolfowitz have of an Israel living peacefully with its Arab neighbors and less willing to do the U.S.'s bidding?

[...]

In the current "either-or" debate on whether the Lobby affects U.S. Middle East policy at the elite level, it's been lost on many of the interlocutors that a crucial dimension of this debate should be the extent to which the Lobby stifles free and open public discussion on the subject. For in terms of trying to broaden public discussion here on the Israel-Palestine conflict the Lobby makes a huge and baneful difference. Especially since U.S. elites have no entrenched interest in the Israeli occupation, the mobilization of public opinion can have a real impact on policy-making -- which is why the Lobby invests so much energy in suppressing discussion.

Robert Fisk was bound to chime in, being a longtime and vociferous opponent of the Occupation:

Congressman Eliot Engel of New York said that the study itself was "anti-Semitic" and deserved the American public's contempt.

Walt has no time for this argument. "We are not saying there is a conspiracy, or a cabal. The Israeli lobby has every right to carry on its work - all Americans like to lobby. What we are saying is that this lobby has a negative influence on US national interests and that this should be discussed. There are vexing problems out in the Middle East and we need to be able to discuss them openly. The Hamas government, for example - how do we deal with this? There may not be complete solutions, but we have to try and have all the information available."

[...] Across the United States, there is growing evidence that the Israeli and neo-conservative lobbies are acquiring ever greater power. The cancellation by a New York theatre company of My Name is Rachel Corrie - a play based on the writings of the young American girl crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003 - has deeply shocked liberal Jewish Americans, not least because it was Jewish American complaints that got the performance pulled.

"How can the West condemn the Islamic world for not accepting Mohamed cartoons," Philip Weiss asked in The Nation, "when a Western writer who speaks out on behalf of Palestinians is silenced? And why is it that Europe and Israel itself have a healthier debate over Palestinian human rights than we can have here?" Corrie died trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian home. Enemies of the play falsely claim that she was trying to stop the Israelis from collapsing a tunnel used to smuggle weapons. Hateful e-mails were written about Corrie. Weiss quotes one that reads: "Rachel Corrie won't get 72 virgins but she got what she wanted."

Saree Makdisi - a close relative of the late Edward Said - has revealed how a right-wing website is offering cash for University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) students who report on the political leanings of their professors, especially their views on the Middle East. Those in need of dirty money at UCLA should be aware that class notes, handouts and illicit recordings of lectures will now receive a bounty of $100.

[...] Mearsheimer and Walt include a study of such tactics in their report. "In September 2002," they write, "Martin Kramer and Daniel Pipes, two passionately pro-Israel neo-conservatives, established a website (www.campus-watch.org) that posted dossiers on suspect academics and encouraged students to report behaviour that might be considered hostile to Israel... the website still invites students to report 'anti-Israel' activity."

Linda Heard (a British political analyst resident in Cairo) adds fuel to the fire:

A premise, which many in the Arab world believe, should also be dissected. Is the US manipulating and remoulding the area so that Israel can remain the only regional superpower in perpetuity?

This is not as fanciful as one might imagine on first glance. Read the following strangely prophetic segment from an article published in 1982 by the World Zionist Organisation's publication Kivunim and penned by Oded Yinon, an Israeli journalist with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Yinon's strategy was based on this premise. In order to survive Israel must become an imperial regional power and must also ensure the break-up of all Arab countries so that the region may be carved up into small ineffectual states unequipped to stand up to Israeli military might. Here's what he had to say on Iraq:

"The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon is Israel's primary target on the Eastern frontIraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.

Meanwhile, the Question of Israel haunts the US media. Krauthammer's relentlessly manipulative "1938" editorial, recycling the Holocaust narrative, recycling the "Israel the only safe place to be authentically Jewish" meme, begins to seem like the old guard frantically shoring up their defences. Fisk may think that the Lobby is steadily gaining influence and power, but others disagree and say that times are changing.

As Tony Judt points out in a Ha'aretz think-piece that would never be permitted to see print in any US major daily,

By the age of 58 a country - like a man - should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and for bad, who we are, what we have done and how we appear to others, warts and all. We acknowledge, however reluctantly and privately, our mistakes and our shortcomings. And though we still harbor the occasional illusion about ourselves and our prospects, we are wise enough to recognize that these are indeed for the most part just that: illusions. In short, we are adults.

But the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country - and its many economic achievements - have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one "understands" it and everyone is "against" it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced - and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting - that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal. Appropriately enough, this country that has somehow failed to grow up was until very recently still in the hands of a generation of men who were prominent in its public affairs 40 years ago: an Israeli Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in, say, 1967 would be surprised indeed to awake in 2006 and find Shimon Peres and General Ariel Sharon still hovering over the affairs of the country - the latter albeit only in spirit.

But that, Israeli readers will tell me, is the prejudiced view of the outsider. What looks from abroad like a self-indulgent, wayward country - delinquent in its international obligations and resentfully indifferent to world opinion - is simply an independent little state doing what it has always done: looking after its own interests in an inhospitable part of the globe. Why should embattled Israel even acknowledge such foreign criticism, much less act upon it? They - gentiles, Muslims, leftists - have reasons of their own for disliking Israel. They - Europeans, Arabs, fascists - have always singled out Israel for special criticism. Their motives are timeless. They haven't changed. Why should Israel change?

But they have changed. And it is this change, which has passed largely unrecognized within Israel, to which I want to draw attention here. Before 1967 the State of Israel may have been tiny and embattled, but it was not typically hated: certainly not in the West. Official Soviet-bloc communism was anti-Zionist of course, but for just that reason Israel was rather well regarded by everyone else, including the non-communist left. The romantic image of the kibbutz and the kibbutznik had a broad foreign appeal in the first two decades of Israel's existence. Most admirers of Israel (Jews and non-Jews) knew little about the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948. They preferred to see in the Jewish state the last surviving incarnation of the 19th century idyll of agrarian socialism - or else a paragon of modernizing energy "making the desert bloom."

I remember well, in the spring of 1967, how the balance of student opinion at Cambridge University was overwhelmingly pro-Israel in the weeks leading up to the Six-Day War - and how little attention anyone paid either to the condition of the Palestinians or to Israel's earlier collusion with France and Britain in the disastrous Suez adventure of 1956. In politics and in policy-making circles only old-fashioned conservative Arabists expressed any criticism of the Jewish state; even neo-Fascists rather favored Zionism, on traditional anti-Semitic grounds.

For a while after the 1967 war these sentiments continued unaltered. The pro-Palestinian enthusiasms of post-1960s radical groups and nationalist movements, reflected in joint training camps and shared projects for terrorist attacks, were offset by the growing international acknowledgment of the Holocaust in education and the media: What Israel lost by its continuing occupation of Arab lands it gained through its close identification with the recovered memory of Europe's dead Jews. Even the inauguration of the illegal settlements and the disastrous invasion of Lebanon, while they strengthened the arguments of Israel's critics, did not yet shift the international balance of opinion. As recently as the early 1990s, most people in the world were only vaguely aware of the "West Bank" and what was happening there.

[...] But today everything is different. We can see, in retrospect, that the victory of Israel in June 1967 and its continuing occupation of the territories it conquered then have been the Jewish state's very own nakba: a moral and political catastrophe. Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza have magnified and publicized the country's shortcomings and displayed them to a watching world. Curfews, checkpoints, bulldozers, public humiliations, home destructions, land seizures, shootings, "targeted assassinations," the separation fence: All of these routines of occupation and repression were once familiar only to an informed minority of specialists and activists. Today they can be watched, in real time, by anyone with a computer or a satellite dish - which means that Israel's behavior is under daily scrutiny by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The result has been a complete transformation in the international view of Israel. Until very recently the carefully burnished image of an ultra-modern society - built by survivors and pioneers and peopled by peace-loving democrats - still held sway over international opinion. But today? What is the universal shorthand symbol for Israel, reproduced worldwide in thousands of newspaper editorials and political cartoons? The Star of David emblazoned upon a tank.

[...] today the country's national narrative of macho victimhood appears to the rest of the world as simply bizarre: evidence of a sort of collective cognitive dysfunction that has gripped Israel's political culture. And the long cultivated persecution mania - "everyone's out to get us" - no longer elicits sympathy. Instead it attracts some very unappetizing comparisons: At a recent international meeting I heard one speaker, by analogy with Helmut Schmidt's famous dismissal of the Soviet Union as "Upper Volta with Missiles," describe Israel as "Serbia with nukes."

This, I think, is what Lobby members like Krauthammer have missed; their historical moment has passed them by. And Judt puts his finger on what may be the greatest present danger for world Jewry -- the Lobby's persistent attempts to identify Israel with "all Jews":

And so, shorn of all other justifications for its behavior, Israel and its supporters today fall back with increasing shrillness upon the oldest claim of all: Israel is a Jewish state and that is why people criticize it. This - the charge that criticism of Israel is implicitly anti-Semitic - is regarded in Israel and the United States as Israel's trump card. If it has been played more insistently and aggressively in recent years, that is because it is now the only card left.

The habit of tarring any foreign criticism with the brush of anti-Semitism is deeply engrained in Israeli political instincts: Ariel Sharon used it with characteristic excess but he was only the latest in a long line of Israeli leaders to exploit the claim. David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir did no different. But Jews outside of Israel pay a high price for this tactic. Not only does it inhibit their own criticisms of Israel for fear of appearing to associate with bad company, but it encourages others to look upon Jews everywhere as de facto collaborators in Israel's misbehavior. When Israel breaks international law in the occupied territories, when Israel publicly humiliates the subject populations whose land it has seized - but then responds to its critics with loud cries of "anti-Semitism" - it is in effect saying that these acts are not Israeli acts, they are Jewish acts: The occupation is not an Israeli occupation, it is a Jewish occupation, and if you don't like these things it is because you don't like Jews.

[of over 15 million Jews worldwide, only a little under 6 million live in Israel today. This prompted one Jewish friend of mine to opine grumpily: "Right of return my ass -- if we all came 'home' there'd be about 4 square feet each."]

How are Judt's observations related to Mearsheimer and Walt's paper? Judt gets to that:

If Israel's leaders have been able to ignore such developments it is in large measure because they have hitherto counted upon the unquestioning support of the United States - the one country in the world where the claim that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism is still echoed not only in the opinions of many Jews but also in the public pronouncements of mainstream politicians and the mass media. But this lazy, ingrained confidence in unconditional American approval - and the moral, military and financial support that accompanies it - may prove to be Israel's undoing.

Something is changing in the United States. To be sure, it was only a few short years ago that prime minister Sharon's advisers could gleefully celebrate their success in dictating to U.S. President George W. Bush the terms of a public statement approving Israel's illegal settlements. No U.S. Congressman has yet proposed reducing or rescinding the $3 billion in aid Israel receives annually - 20 percent of the total U.S. foreign aid budget - which has helped sustain the Israeli defense budget and the cost of settlement construction in the West Bank. And Israel and the United States appear increasingly bound together in a symbiotic embrace whereby the actions of each party exacerbate their common unpopularity abroad - and thus their ever-closer association in the eyes of critics.

But whereas Israel has no choice but to look to America - it has no other friends, at best only the conditional affection of the enemies of its enemies, such as India - the United States is a great power; and great powers have interests that sooner or later transcend the local obsessions of even the closest of their client states and satellites. It seems to me of no small significance that the recent essay on "The Israel Lobby" by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt has aroused so much public interest and debate. Mearsheimer and Walt are prominent senior academics of impeccable conservative credentials. It is true that - by their own account - they could still not have published their damning indictment of the influence of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy in a major U.S.-based journal (it appeared in the London Review of Books), but the point is that 10 years ago they would not - and probably could not - have published it at all. And while the debate that has ensued may generate more heat than light, it is of great significance: As Dr. Johnson said of female preachers, it is not well done but one is amazed to see it done at all.

To round off this barrage of dissident voices I will offer Allen Brownfeld's review of Larry Tye's fascinating book Home Lands: Portraits of the New Jewish Diaspora, in which Tye examines the current state of disaporic Jewish community and culture and critiques the official Israeli Zionist line that world Jewry must return to Israel in order to lead a culturally and spiritually authentic Jewish life. Since friends of mine are involved in the renaissance of Jewish life and culture in Berlin, this touches me personally; and Brownfeld's review offers a heartening antidote to the (imho) false dichotomy of "Israel First, or the End of Jewry". This diary is far too long already so I will resist with great difficulty quoting Brownfeld's review at the length it really deserves, but simply recommend it with enthusiasm and a limited excerpt [and offer some Further Resources on both Israeli and Diasporic dissidence from the Likudnik line]:

For many years, the State of Israel and the adherents of Zionism in other countries have maintained the position that Israel is the “Jewish homeland,” that Jews outside of Israel are in “exile,” and that a “full Jewish life” can be lived only in the Jewish state. In our own country, even the leaders of Reform Judaism recently adopted a statement of principles holding that Israel is “central” to Jewish life and encouraging “aliyah,” emigration to Israel.

On a visit to Germany in 1996, Israeli President Ezer Weizman declared that he “cannot understand how 40,000 Jews can live in Germany” and asserted that, “The place of Jews is in Israel. Only in Israel can Jews live full Jewish lives.”

In 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon American Jews to make a “mass aliyah” to Israel. The head of the Jewish Agency, Avram Burg, declared that the synagogue in Western countries is the “symbol of destruction,” and that the new center of Jewish life should be the state of Israel.

[...] In many ways, Tye believes, Israelis have much to learn about Judaism and the way it is practiced in the U.S. and other Western countries. In Israel, religion is a monopoly in the hands of the ultra-Orthodox and the majority of young people, facing a choice between ultra-Orthodoxy and secularism, often abandon religion entirely.

[...] Things have now changed. “By the mid-1980s cracks began to form in that solid wall of diaspora support for Israel, and the old rules began to break down. Jews in America and elsewhere increasingly were uncomfortable supporting Israel when they believed Israel was wrong. The New Israel Fund, Peace Now, and other Israel-based groups add to the unease by planting two heretical notions that it actually was the responsibility of diaspora Jews to speak out for Israeli policies they backed and against those they opposed, and that world Jewry should earmark its Israel donations to pro-peace initiatives or other projects they endorsed rather than steer them to umbrella organizations like the United Jewish Appeal. Diaspora Jews also were losing patience with what they saw as a bid by the Orthodox to use the debate over religious conversion to repudiate the contributions of the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements.”

[...] This book stands in marked contrast to all of those pessimistic assessments of the Jewish future which are regularly issued by so many Jewish organizations. Jewish life is alive and well in diverse societies across the world, societies in which Jews feel themselves very much at home. This reality is the strongest refutation of the worldview of Jewish nationalism which would transform the universalism of Judaism into an ethnic identification with a single country.

Poll
This diary is . . .
. ... too bloody long! keep those quotes shorter 20%
. ... kinda boring without any boldfaced pull quotes or images 0%
. ... nice and chewy 46%
. ... too cutnpasty, diarists should do more of their own writing 6%
. ... [unprintable!] I'm reporting DeAnander to Campus Watch right now! 26%

Votes: 15
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I sincerely hope that this article will open the doors of discussion permanently. The reaction to Walt & Mearsheimer was, unfortunately, far too typical of any comment that's made about Israel, Israeli policy, or relations between the US and Israel which is anything less than flattering.

For decades it has been impossible to make a legitimate criticism of the decisions and/or policies of the Israeli government without being beaten around the head with charges of anti-semitism. I believe there was an incident not too many years ago where someone remarked that Ariel Sharon was fat, and this too was conflated with some sort of anti-semitism.

I hope that this article will finally get us past that kind of immature foolishness. We must be able to have rational, adult conversations about American-Israeli relations as well as Israeli policies without having to worry about baseless, foolish charges of anti-semitism and things of that nature.

by richard carlucci on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 03:45:13 AM EST
.
Thank you for great effort and recommended for reading.

A earlier diary @BooMan ::
Israel Democracy Day ¶ Keep A Date June 17

▼ ▼ ▼ MY DIARY

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 03:52:55 AM EST
Thanks to De for opening this important discussion. I'd have been ignored or shouted down.

The Walt/Mearsheimer paper offers no new information - they even address that at the beginning of the paper - but they've opened the doors for a wider and hopefully constructive discussion of the huge problem which is the skewing of US foreign policy in favor Israel. While the discussion will favor the US, the problem this supposes for Israel - as a "zionist" entity promoting "western" and "zionist" interests in the region - is that Israel has no viable economy to stand by itself once sugar-daddy Uncle Sam stops the money flow. The "jewishness" of the place and its "zionist" identity would be called into question by virtue of necessity; they'd have to come to equitable terms with the arabs.

But, in an indirect way, an open and hurtingly honest discussion of Israel will be the only way to save Israel as a country and a place for Jews to live in. As things look right now, Uncle Sam has more trouble than he would like to, and eventually his capacity to continue supporting Israel economically as well as in the realms of politics, diplomacy and the military will wane, and when this happens, Israel (I mean the jews living there, not the Arabs)) as a nation will stand before some stark choices:

  • Gamble it high and continue the rampage of gross injustice against Palestinians and eventually lose everything, and hope that the nations from where their ancestors immigrated will accept them before the Arabs overrun them. This might be a background for the "reviving Jewish culture in Berlin" bit mentioned above.
  • Search for a new sugar-daddy to support the continuing of the genocide campaign against Palestinians. Would be nice (wouldn't it ?), but in a world living under a very different set of constraints (energy prices and all that ...) people might offer far more resistance to the idea of underwriting a genocide and looking bad with people who should be their friends (hint: those are the Arabs, muslims in general, who live above the oil).
  • Two-state "solution" with bantustans for the Palestinians. Another gamble because it would involve continued military presence and bad PR for Israel and anybody supporting them.
  • Some variation of ditching the kooks in the West-Bank colonies together with the outdated zionist ideology, stopping the apartheid and integrating all residents into one society for all (jews, muslims, christians, ...), paying compensation - even symbolic - to displaced Palestinians, welcoming back those who want, bringing down the wall of shame and letting the Palestinians either have their nation in the West Bank delimited by the "green line" or making one country from Jordan to the sea.

A consequence of such a scenario as the last alternative I sketch out is that Jews, especially Israelis, will have to come to terms with their crimes against Palestinians, in the same way as Germans and Austrians have had to come to terms with what the Nazis did. People in the military, in the government, in politics, in positions of power and influence will have to go to jail. This might be painful but it will be the best of all alternatives.

A secondary consequence of such a discussion would be that Jews would be knocked from their position of sublime sanctity and uniqueness in public discourse. This would without doubt do big strides to normalize how they relate to gentiles, and ultimately relegate those who shout "anti-semite, anti-semite !" at anybody trying to address all of this to their well-deserved place in the dunce's corner.

Last but not least I'd like to say that I am translating the Walt/Mearsheimer paper to German. I see a big need to open a similar discussion here, and the paper is definitively a help. I respectfully suggest that other people translate the paper to their own language and post it as well, as I am not aware of any translations.

by name (name@spammez_moi_sivouplait.org) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:08:01 AM EST
Most of the US's foreign aid is to Israel, and most of the US's aid to Israel is military. If Israel were not constantly at [or preparing for] war with every one if its neighbours, it would have a viable economy.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:10:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sustained by Europe.

Europe ahs the key of israeli well-being. first importer of israeli goods. First investor... Surprising...but true.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:30:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two months ago in a political-fiction thread I wrote:
Israel has its best shot as an EU enclave surrounded by the Arab League.

Holy shit, this is the Crusader States, redux.

This kind of thinking is part of why the EU needs to involve itself heavily in the Israel-Palestine issue, especially on the status of Jerusalem.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:42:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Front page it..the article in haaretz is excellent....
The paper of record....

I think we approach a different status quo in the Middle East...with calm and quiet for the next decade.A small palestine state will be set within two years according to all newspapers....of course unilaterally...everything unilaterally...but a new status quo is in the horizon...something is moving in Washington and Jerusalem.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:33:12 AM EST
An excellent diary. I didn't find it provocative at all, but that's largely because I've believed for ages that Israel's policies in the West Bank and beyond were counter-productive, only sustainable because of its influence over US policy.

But we can talk all we want, until Israel stops annexing the West Bank slice by slice there will never be any hope of progress. They cannot win, but the longer they carry on with their attempt to eradicate the Palestinians from the memory of time, the harder it will be to achieve a just peace.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 08:29:08 AM EST
 One of my next diaries will relate directly to the issues raised in this one.

  I'll be adding to my series of "Common Persistent Error" one about what I'll call tribal mentality, tribal thinking or tribalist thinking--of which so much about Israeli supporters' exceptionalism is a variety.

  But tribal thinking also is at work among the 34% of the American public who still declare their view of Bush as favorable and, of course, among other partisans including Democrats who see only Republican corruption; opponents to Blair who hope to replace him with his clone, Gordon Brown; etc.  When one lives in a tribe, one supports that tribe against all "outsiders" at all times, no matter what.  The tribe and its leader are paramount--above all things.  If one has doubts, criticisms, they are and they must be kept unuttered.  Tribal thinking is simply the antithesis of critical thinking.  It's indulged in a lot!

  There are--in my opinion, anyway--other equally taboo aspects of judaism, Israel as a religious nation state which remain undiscussed.  That, too, is a pity in my opinion.  Notice how, in this realm, I feel the need to repeat that this, that or the other remark is "my opinion"?  In so much of the discussion of Jews and judaism, that people are entitled to hold unorthodox opinion seems to be constantly in need of defending.

  For those who haven't seen it, Sam Harris's book, The End of Faith is another good and much-needed opening into discussing touchy issues.  He has a website with its own discussion forum.  You'll find some comments there by "Proximity1".

 DeAnander, I admire you for your readiness to buck the conventional "wisdom" and to "go radio-active"--and this site's proprietors  for making this site one where the taboo can be broached.  

  ;^)

"In such an environment it is not surprising that the ills of technology should seem curable only through the application of more technology..." John W Aldridge

by proximity1 on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 09:58:49 AM EST
I have always found it interesting that there is more freedom to discuss/critique Israeli government policy -- which does not reflect the will of 100 pct of Israelis any more than US policy reflects a unanimity of will among Americans -- in Israel than in the US.  Ha'aretz is a minority report among Israeli media, but it is a legitimate paper of record.  In the US, it would be under constant attack by AIPAC and ADL :-)

There are many parallels between Israel and the US at this time.  Both countries have a national/cultural mythos cementing a "White" national identity in contradistinction to a "dark, inferior indigenous" population whose land has been occupied -- a "cowboy legend".  The Palestinians are being confined to reservations now;  for Native Americans this struggle was waged and lost a century ago and more.  (And yet both countries also claim a religious identity which is inclusive;  Christianity is according to its lights small-c catholic, and Judaism accepts converts;  in fact Israeli wingnuts have gone so far as to convert mestizo peasants from S America and then award them "right of return" land in the OT;  both countries' national myths uneasily ride two divergent rails of inclusivism/cosmopolitanism and nativism/racism).

Both Israel and the US were in fairly large part colonised by outcasts, people fleeing danger and persecution in other places, and hence their citizens can easily and with some reason see themselves as champions of freedom, poor people who made good via hard work, perpetual innocent victims seeking refuge from an Evil Other (the Israelis with more recent and vivid reasons).  Both countries are paid up true-believers in Modernity and Industrialism, staking their whole economies on cheap fossil fuel, patting themselves on the back for growing crops in deserts artificially irrigated with repositioned water at great energy expense, etc.  (and both are ironically situated in areas not rich in fossil fuel)...  

Many Israelis aspire to a US suburban type of lifestyle;  one [Jewish, I hasten to add] friend of mine compared Israelis to Boers, complete with the affluent suburban White S African swimming-pool-freeway-and-air-conditioner lifeway that Americans also practise in the desert areas they wrested from more adaptive and sustainable indigenes.  Much of the OT is carburb.  In both cultures peasant farming and sustainable practise is being (has been) swept aside in favour of corporate factory ag, resulting in ever greater food and water precarity.

In both countries a radical rightist/fundie religious bloc dances a dangerous mambo of tail and dog with rightwing and militarist politicos.  Both countries have turned aside from a more leftist/pacifist period (many of the Kibbutzinm did genuinely try to come to terms with Arab neighbours) and into a hardening rightist/patriarchal/capitalist/authoritarian period.  Both countries are heavily enmeshed in the international weapons trade and have large nuke arsenals, yet cannot provide real security for their own populations.  Both rightwing elites rely on "with us or against us" millennial rehetoric and threatmongering to ensure compliance of the electorate with territorial/resource grabbing ventures.  

Both enjoyed at one time a much higher and more idealistic reputation on the world stage and are now falling into relative disrepute, and upset about this loss of reputation.  Both are (officially or by majority mood) in denial about the shadier aspects of their own national foundation, and tend to take refuge from that realpolitik in emotional patriotism, flag waving, and religion.  And both are powered by strong narratives of Exceptionalism which they both draw from the same Old Testament sources.  It's worth noting (again) that a large bloc of the Likudnik lobby in the US is rightwing Christians with millennial belief systems, who regard the return of world Jewry to a refounded Nation of Israel as a precondition for End Times prophecy.

Israel and the US could learn a lot from one another.  But whether their policies are actually good for Americans or good for Jews -- and specifically whether AIPAC represents anything recognisable as "Jewish" welfare or interest -- is a whole 'nother matter.  RQbbi Warshal of Florida writes:

I agree with Walt and Mearsheimer that AIPAC controls our American government policy toward Israel. But in their paper the two political scientists point out that, "In its basic operations, the Israel Lobby is no different from the farm lobby, steel or textile workers' unions, or other ethnic lobbies. There is nothing improper about American Jews and their Christian allies attempting to sway US policy; the Lobby's activities are not a conspiracy of the sort depicted in tracts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

Coming from South Florida, I am acutely aware that our government policy toward Cuba is dictated by the Cuban Lobby. Why else would we have such an absurd opposition to Castro? If we can make peace with Red China and the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, why do we continue an embargo against an obscure Communist island, if it were not for domestic political pressure? So it is with the Jewish domestic lobby. My complaint is that the self-appointed Jewish leaders who control AIPAC and other positions of power within the Jewish community do not represent the best interests of Jews, Israel or the United States in the long run.

Let's zero in on AIPAC. It is controlled by right-wing, rich Jewish neo-conservatives. As one manifestation of the truth of this assertion one merely has to look at its annual meeting this past month. At a time when Vice President Cheney's popularity has dropped below 20 percent, the 4,500 delegates to the AIPAC convention gave him a standing ovation for almost a minute before he even opened his mouth and then proceeded to give him 48 rounds of applause in a 35-minute speech. (As my colleague Leonard Fein pointed out, that's once every 43.7 seconds). Considering that 75 percent of American Jews voted for Kerry, it is obvious that these people are out of the mainstream of Jewish thought.
t the same conference, preceding the recent Israeli elections, these delegates were addressed by Ehud Olmert (Kadima), Amir Peretz (Labor) and Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) by video link from Israel. Olmert and Peretz received polite applause. The AIPAC delegates cheered enthusiastically for Netanyahu, especially when he presented his hard line that was overwhelmingly rejected by the Israeli electorate. Once a great organization, today AIPAC does not even represent the feelings of the average Israeli, let alone the average American Jew.

[...]

 Beware that you are reading treasonable material. If you "out" the Israeli lobby and you are Gentile, you're branded an anti-Semite; if you are Jewish, you're obviously a self-hating Jew. The Jewish establishment abides no criticism of Israel. You don't agree with me? Take this example: Last month a pro-Palestinian play entitled My Name is Rachel Corrie was to open at the New York Theatre Workshop, a "progressive" company on East Fourth Street. The play is based on the writings of a young British girl who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer when she was protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza two years ago. Although the play was widely praised in London last year, it never opened in New York. The theater producers spoke to the ADL and other Jewish leaders, including big-money Jews on its board, and that was the end of that. But, of course, we don't "censor" discussion concerning Israel. We just politely give our opinions and the voice of the other side disappears.

Another example: 400 rabbis, including myself, signed a letter sponsored by Brit Tzedek v'Shalom that appeared in the Forward this past month. It was a mildly liberal statement that proclaimed that "we are deeply troubled by the recent victory of Hamas," but went on to urge "indirect assistance to the Palestinian people via NGO's, with the appropriate conditions to ensure that it does not reach the hands of terrorists." Pretty mild stuff. Yet pulpit rabbis across this country who signed the letter have reported a concerted effort to silence them. The letter has been branded a "piece of back-stabbing abandonment of the Jews of Israel." Synagogue boards have been pressured to silence their rabbis by that loose coalition called the "Israel Lobby."

Just another example of the Jewish establishment stifling any discussion of Israel that does not conform to the neo-conservative tenets of AIPAC and its cohorts. Beware of these self-appointed guardians of Israel and Jewish values. In the end they will destroy everything that makes Judaism a compassionate religion, and if in their zeal they do not destroy Israel, they certainly will not make it more secure.

also worth a think, Marc Ellis on 'Constantinian Judaism' or the peril of religion hijacked into the service of (ethnic) nationalism.

my $0.02 as of today:  I think we have to understand AIPAC and the rest of the Israel Lobby as an integrated part of a rightwing, fundamentalist, and tribalist backlash worldwide.  Like the rest of the rightwing spin machine one of their primary tactics is to silence any opposition.  This omerta has been broken by Walt and Mearsheimer, who may well pay heavily for it professionally and in broken friendships and damaged collegial relationships.  But simply by opening up that locked box I think they have done everyone -- including Israelis -- a favour.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 04:42:34 PM EST
Great comemnt on its own..another diary?  but let me recall you that Haaretz is not a a minor newspapers. It is tru ethat it does not have the level of sales of other newspapers but its reports and influence can be felt on other media outlets.

Army Radio is knwon for being the more balanced and also have the view point of Haaretz-structure.

So Haaretz indeed creatives an important narrative both because it is not as minor as you say and also because it heavily influences other outlets.

Unfortunately TV reigns supreme...and ronaldinho (an idol around hee)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 05:26:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry kcurie, by "minority report" I meant not a "minor" newspaper but one which represents the view of less than 50 percent of the public.  as far as I can tell Gush Shalom and similar groups are still a minority, and the conservatives still have majority backing despite Likud's decline, yes?  but please correct me if you have a better sense, as Israeli politics can be tricky for casual outsiders to follow.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 05:43:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as far as I can tell Gush Shalom and similar groups are still a minority, and the conservatives still have majority backing despite Likud's decline, yes?

Indeed unlike Rabbi Warshal, I'd consider Kadima marginally better than Likud, and Labour still can't dig itself out.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 05:47:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes , yes, then you are right.

Present haaretz stand on the issues is not shared by 50 % of the isreli. Only 25-35% want a complete withdrawal and negotiations about the big blocs and East Jerusalem inmediately afterwards (where "negotiation" means giving land of Israel for the big blocs and East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine).

Another third of the population want a small palestinian state with Jerusalem as the unique capital of Israel but would accept giving up some land in exchange for the blocs (upon some convincing that it will bring peace)... The rest are likudniks, radical orthodoxs or off-politics (some of them also into ultra-orthodox politics,a world off-politics of its own).

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:34:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the second group is the one that Peres belongs to. He said in one interview I saw on CBC that perhaps something Israel ought to look into is trading some of its land for existing outposts near Jerusalem.

I think whether the country was created under the right or wrong premises, we need to accept the fact that Israel will never allow the return of the Palestinians. And truth be told, throwing terms like "refugees" around is a bit dangerous. There are hundreds of thousands of "refugees" in Israel - Jews who have fled or moved away from areas where they felt threatened. They are not refugees. Neither are the Palestinians living in refugee camps. They are JUST Palestinians. We need to move away from using thousands of people as a tool of some kind. Both people deserve to have their own country and both must accept each other's right to exist.

Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 01:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Throwing the idea od the rfugees is for poker purposes for Palestinians. As the idea of retaining importan parts of the West Bank for Israle. they are there fo rthe sake of saying that both made compromises.

As you may guess the problem is that they are both serious about Jerusalem....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 03:24:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Palestinian side as repeatedly pointed out that the right of return doesn't mean actual return by hundreds of thousands. Most don't want to live in Israel, you see. But it could be the basis of (a) reparations, (b) visits to old dwelling-places inside Israel, and (IIRC this one wasn't said openly by Palestinians) (c) Israeli subsidies for the construction of new homes for refugees in the new Palestina.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
allthose things a third of isralis would happily accept in exchange for a safe jewish majority democratic state. The restof the population..I guess you could convince another third...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 07:16:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Difficult, when they turn to Kadima, and Barak and his former staff insist to keep up the myths to absolve them for the failure of Taba and Camp David - but if the well-meaning third is persistent, it may happen.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 09:49:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
we need to accept the fact that Israel will never allow the return of the Palestinians.

Oh, and the Palestinians will never accept an agreement without right of return.

You can't make a peace deal on the basis of such categoric statements.

Neither are the Palestinians living in refugee camps.

Please. No historical amnesia here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:11:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Reparations were offered by Barak during Camp David. Whether or not you liked the proposal Barak put forth at that time, it was heck of a lot more than what Arafat prepared as a counter-offer (which was pretty much nothing). There would have been an independent Palestine by now already had it not been for all these shenanigans. I think it is reasonable to say that had Arafat come back with a reasonable counter-proposal, it would have been accepted. After all, a compromise is when all parts walk away somewhat unhappy with the outcome.

The right of return is somewhat of a silly notion anyway. First of all, the people who live in Palestine today have nothing to do with the people who fled Israel 50 years ago. Second of all, it remains a question mark how many of those who fled did so on their own vs. being forced out. Third of all, it is hard to negotiate with the government that doesn't even want to recognize the state of Israel.

Mikhail from SF

by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 12:42:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reparations were offered by Barak during Camp David.

Barak's offer didn't include granting the right of return, it only included a promise of aid for refugees re-settled to Palestina. In fact, at Taba, Barak proved more uncompromising on the issue of right of return than his own negotiators, who together with their counterparts moved the debate to the number of refugees to be accepted back (and it was Barak who broke off the negotiations).

There would have been an independent Palestine by now

A mini-bantustan cut up and completely dependent on Israel. That's not an offer, that's blackmail, one built upon Barak's all previous broken promises (for example settlement expansions). Look at Gush Shalom's presentation (Flash; same as html; they don't even show the Israeli-patrolled crossing roads; also look at this timeline map series).

A good detailed analysis of Camp David (and Taba) comes again from Gush Shalom.

Palestine today have nothing to do with the people who fled Israel 50 years ago.

Ah come on.

it remains a question mark how many of those who fled did so on their own vs. being forced out.

The circumstances of fleeing from your homes are totally irrelevant to the question of the right of return. Ethnic Serbs in Croatia who fled on their own didn't lost their right to return, however much Croatian nationalist leaders wished them away. Besides, the Palestinians have several UN resolutions to base their claim on.

it is hard to negotiate with the government that doesn't even want to recognize the state of Israel.

Have you now switched to Hamas? Or do you rely on Barak's snide rhetoric about why Arafat rejected Clinton's offer to only have 'guardianship' over the Temple Mount? But even ignoring that, this is a most silly argument - when one side is armed with helicopters, fighter jets, nuclear bombs and occupies the other and continues to settle its territory, not to speak of acknowledging their statehood, then the solution must start with the other's a-priori acknowledgement of statehood?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 02:40:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1. You said this in your previous post:

"The Palestinian side as repeatedly pointed out that the right of return doesn't mean actual return by hundreds of thousands. Most don't want to live in Israel, you see. But it could be the basis of (a) reparations, (b) visits to old dwelling-places inside Israel, and (IIRC this one wasn't said openly by Palestinians) (c) Israeli subsidies for the construction of new homes for refugees in the new Palestina."

Isn't this exactly what Barak was offering minus visits to old dwelling places? So, which right of return are you talking about - right of permanent return, or compensation for living in Palestine? I'm sure had Arafat asked for allowing people to visit temporarily at Camp David, he would have gotten it.

  1. Any way to slice Palestine, it will be a cut up country. Even if Israel returns to pre-1967 borders (which is pretty much the most any left-wing Israeli will ever propose), Palestine will have two onclaves completely separated from one another with Israeli land in between them.

  2. The circumstance of fleeing your home is NOT irrelevant to the right of return. If I voluntarily leave a place without any threat directly aimed at me, I am not a refugee. I'm an immigrant. Many religious and political leaders in the Arab world used the formation of the Israeli state as a rallying cry and made people scared through their fearmongering.

  3. It doesn't matter what one side is armed with. There are very simple and very basic diplomatic steps that need to be taken in order to sit at the negotiating table. Even if the Palestinian cause is just, there is the right approach and the wrong approach to everything. The Hamas approach has clearly not worked thus far.

With regard to Camp David, there were three main issues, as you know: territory, Jerusalem, and right of return.

  1. Territory - Barak made a pretty unreasonable offer by offering to annex a bunch of land in exchange for a piece in Negev. Bad Barak. What did Arafat do? Absolutely nothing. He mad no effort to make a counter-proposal whatsoever.

  2. Jerusalem - Arafat rejected the Israeli idea of giving East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as custodians. Here, I think it is pretty clear-cut. Israel was willing to take a step forward and go from complete Israeli ownership to half-half. Arafat, of course, wanted everything or nothing.

  3. Refugees - this has been talked about plenty. Israel offered a bunch of money. Again, it was a step forward - maybe not to Palestine's complete satisfaction, but a step nonetheless. The point made by Israel, that many Jews fled from Arab countries, but have received no compensation since then, while a little iffy, needs to be examined in the context of setting precedents. Physical right of return is almost never possible; monetary compensation, on the other hand, is.


Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:54:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was just getting ready to go do some laundry, get off the computer and start doing something constructive today when I saw your diary...will have to come back to it and read the whole thing.

I do know one thing-people in my country are definitely brain washed by the media into believing Israel=good/just and Palestinians=bad/terrorists period.  I know that is what I thought for a long time-I just assumed this to be true(foolish me) before I got a computer and actually started to try and read more balanced articles concerning Israel and Palestine and the trying to read up on the history of this whole issue.

This really is almost a taboo subject in the US, you're either pro-Israel or your anti-semitic period.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Thu May 11th, 2006 at 06:44:42 PM EST
weird. i was reading the judt piece at ha'aretz when it suddenly refreshed & had disappeared. all that remains now is a 404 The following error occurred: [code=CONTENT_NOT_PRESENT] Content is temporarily not present. Contact your system administrator.
by b real on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 12:03:58 AM EST
I have the complete text saved here...  just plain text, no html or anything.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 12:39:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great diary...

as an amateur detective, the next step seems to me to be to trace the membership of the aipac and israel lobby, and figure out why they're so much more hardcore right than the israelis themselves, and the jewish democrat vote in america.

my guess...military-industrial-complex connections, hiding under a shroud of victimology.

some people are making a tidy profit off of all this military aid to israel, at both ends.

it is their economic interest to hush debate and silence scrutiny, by yelling 'anti-semite' and 'holocaust' as emotive invocation of past gentile mistakes, while bizniz as usual continues.

the fact that these shenanigans are ramping up to a possible WW4, is irrelevant to their bottom line....in fact it raises the stakes on their psychopathic power-games.

try to drag pigs away from a feeding trough, it's hard work.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 03:03:39 AM EST
I didn't vote since there was no way to give a rave review to DeAnander's excellent preludium to what one hopes (probably in vain) will be a vivacious but civil
discussion of the issues raised.   Noam Chomsky has recently published remarks on the Mearsheimer-Walt paper.   His comments, together with those of Norman Finkelstein, Tony Judt, and Allen Brownfeld certainly provide ample grist for the dialectic mill.

Hannah K. O'Luthon
by Hannah K OLuthon on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 03:05:39 AM EST
My buddy 'rootlesscosmo' had this to say:
I think this--from Judt's piece--needs a closer look:
Official Soviet-bloc communism was anti-Zionist of course, but for just that reason Israel was rather well regarded by everyone else, including the non-communist left.

When Zionism emerged in the 1890's, it offered itself as an alternative to Socialism, which in one form or another had the allegiance of most Jewish workers -- and most Jews then, in Europe and the US, were workers.

This was at a time when official Socialism took a very hostile attitude toward nationalisms of all kinds -- it was Lenin, somewhat later, who drew a distinction between "nationalism of oppressed peoples" and "nationalism of oppressor nations," and proposed that revolutionary Socialists should support the former while pointing out that only a proletarian state would offer them self-determination, i.e. the choice to establish sovereign states or not. (The characteristic model was minority nationalities inside a multinational empire like Russia, Austria, etc., not colonized peoples in what we now call the Third World -- though Lenin was perfectly willing to extend the argument to include them.)

Rosa Luxemburg, from the Left, opposed this view as a concession to retrograde ideology and a strategy that would subordinate newly sovereign peoples (as a Pole, she had Poland in mind) to "their own" capitalist classes;  Connolly made the same case for Ireland, though he eventually allied himself with the Fenians.

Socialism was so solidly entrenched among Jewish workers, meanwhile, that many Zionists tried (whether from conviction or not) to find a way to combine the two programs... whence Labor Zionism and its alliance, in the US, with Social-Democratic union leaderships in overwhelmingly Jewish sections of the working class, i.e. the garment workers.

In short I think there's an arguable case that the US-Israel bond is a Cold War survival at several levels: not only the heavy arming of Israel as a reliable gendarme in the region, but also the murky soup of ex-Trotskyists, ex-Shachtmanites, ex-Social Democrats, and "Labor Zionists" (like the late Albert Shanker of the NYC Teachers) in and out of outfits like the AFL-CIO's old international committee (headed up for years by ex-Communist Jay Lovestone) and the Scoop Jackson hawkish wing of the Democratic Party which always operated in cozy company with AFL-CIO leadership. These forces, were united in their opposition to Communism beyond any differences on other question;  they were, in fact, the "non-communist left" Judt refers to.  And indeed they did function as the Left in US politics: generally pro-civil rights, pro-union, pro-social welfare etc.-- policies they also viewed through the prism of anti-Communism, as ways to outflank revolutionary agitation and contain unrest, while also maintaining support for the warfare state that kept everybody working and the treasury well-supplied with funds. (There's an aphorism sloshing around here somewhere, something about "You combine Theodor Herzl, V.I. Lenin and J. M. Keynes, and whaddaya get? Boeing Aircraft!" Needs work...)

Another point I think needs closer examination is Finkelstein's claim that Israel isn't a liability to US "national" interests, since -- he argues -- these coincide on major points, even if they occasionally differ in emphasis. I'm inclined to agree with him (always keeping in mind that "US national interests" !=  the actual interests of most people living in the US.)

I think I tend to agree with the Cold War survival theory.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 03:38:07 AM EST
When Zionism emerged in the 1890's, it offered itself as an alternative to Socialism, which in one form or another had the allegiance of most Jewish workers -- and most Jews then, in Europe and the US, were workers.

The largest Jewish community at that time was in the former lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Community - i.e. Galicia (part of Austria-Hungary) and the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire. If you define 'worker' as someone working in a mid to large factory - i.e. classic proletariat, then yes, most Jewish workers were socialists, but most Jews were not workers under that definition. If you define worker as poor, manual labourer or bottom rung tradesman - peddlers etc. - then most Jews were indeed workers, but only a minority were socialists.  

This was at a time when official Socialism took a very hostile attitude toward nationalisms of all kinds

Very misleading because the most popular variant of socialism among poor Jews in the ex Polish-Lithuanian lands at the turn of the century was Bundism, a rather peculiar form of socialist Jewish nationalism. After that you had strong allegiances both to the more or less anti-nationalist Russian SD's as well as Roza Luksemburg and Feliks Dzierzynski's strongly anti-nationalist SDKPiL, and the nationally oriented PPS and its Galician equivalent.  

by MarekNYC on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 03:50:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thank you Marek for very relevant info...  I suspect rootless' comment was biased towards urban populations.  I'm gonna shunt your comments off to him (a nonblogger type) and see whether he adjusts his position or offers more detail to defend it.  my gut feeling from reading about the period is that he's onto something with the theme of Zionism being offered as a substitute project for communist/socialist activism -- a project which would not threaten the property and position of elites in the countries where "those darned uppity Jewish intellectuals" were causing trouble in the Labour and social justice movements (Jewish women were quite active in the early feminist movement in Germany for example).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 04:07:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
these guys were the icebreakers.

kudos to them!

they knew it would be a rough ride...

why not put the united nations in jerusalem?

bolton would be happy.

i know it was an american invention, but these days i'd be more comfortable knowing it was somewhere more....central.

after 9-11, you can't really claim NY to be any more immune from attack, can you?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 10:18:15 AM EST
This is perhaps the best idea so far in this thread :)

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 12:45:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

somebody said above that the palestinians are not serious about their right of return. well, let me tell you something.

the palestinian families who had to leave their houses in 1948, 1967 and at various other dates before, between and after those years, have taken with them the keys of their dwellings and the documents proving that they own those places. these keys and documents have been passed down thru generations. this is not only a symbolic act, it is meant to serve as a basis to return and claim that property whenever that becomes possible.

ownership of land or a house is taken very serious in that part of the world. not for nothing do the places described and named in the bible thousands of year ago remain - more or less - as they are, but the ownership of specific properties can be traced back thru millenia. for example, the abraham cave (a.k.a the ibrahimi mosque or the cave of the patriarchs) in hebron is called that way because the patriarch abraham was buried on that patch of land. that was about 5000 years ago if i'm correct.

i conjecture that to ask from americans and europeans to believe that there exist people who - materially - exist as an organized society for so long a time is asking too much.

by name (name@spammez_moi_sivouplait.org) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 02:33:41 PM EST
I have to admit, 'name,' that when we are asked to take seriously the right of Jews to return to a 'homeland' in which many/most families and clans have not lived for over 2000 years, yet in the next breath told that Palestinians should expect to abandon all attachment to their family lands and farms after a mere 50 years, I do blink in surprise.

the right of repatriation or reparation in land is a vexed one worldwide;  and if the precedent of Israel were taken seriously then, of course, Anglo/Euros should be packing up and moving out of all the lands they took by force from aboriginal people far more recently than the original exile of Jewry from Eretz Yisroel.  it seems to me that negotiated settlements and partial justice are all we can hope for -- both "forget the Alamo" [aka we won, nyah nyah. get over it you pathetic losers] and "next year in Jerusalem" [aka it was ours 3000 years ago and we want it back, you damn pack of thieves], as extreme viewpoints, are so problematic.

my ancestry is Pictish, Celtic, probably some Anglo Saxon;  but I don't see that I have any special right to return to the UK and boot out some Pakistani grocer from his shop -- even if it stands on the same high street where my distant ancestor once scrubbed mosaic floors for some arrogant Roman occupier or a less distant ancestor managed to hide in the cellar and live through the civil wars.

the Question of Israel raises many vexing ethical issues, not the least of which is "is there any statute of limitations on the right of return to ancestral lands?"  if the answer is No for one ethnic group then how do we justify making it Yes, And A Bloody Short One Too for other displaced ethnic groups?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 04:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Question of Israel raises many vexing ethical issues, not the least of which is "is there any statute of limitations on the right of return to ancestral lands?"  if the answer is No for one ethnic group then how do we justify making it Yes, And A Bloody Short One Too for other displaced ethnic groups?

You're confusing two different issues. The first is whether it makes sense to see a Jewish right of return pre-Israel as justified, while seeing a Palestinian right of return now as not. Clearly it doesn't make sense. The second question is whether a right of return for the Palestinians today is just. I'd say equally clearly no.

by MarekNYC on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:13:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd say equally clearly no.

I'd say you'd need to draw a false analogy with the Polish/German, Polish/Belorussian etc. situations for that.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:20:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The way I see it a Palestinian right of return means helping the descendants of the victims of a crime by punishing the descendants of those who committed it. And I'm not sure why the Polish/German or Polish/Ukrainian cases are false analogies.
by MarekNYC on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:29:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of my relatives living in Israel fled Uzbekistan and Tajikistan during post-Communist violence that engufled both countries, after having received threats. My uncle living in New York abandoned his house just so that he could move away from that mess. As I am sure you are aware, no compensation ever was or ever will be offered to him. Nor would he want any. The new country has absorbed him into the society and made him a citizen with rights and responsibilities, and a voice. Purely anecdotal evidence here, but I bet you this is what has happened to the majority of the Israeli population. We are not splitting hairs here, the issue of compensation and right of return for Palestinians is no different than anyone else in any other part of the world.

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:59:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The issue of the importance of AIPAC's role in influencing US policy and more generally the question of whether the US Israel policy should be from the perspective of US national interests is rather tabu in the mainstream press and deserves close scrutiny. However, M&W is not a good starting point.  The paper is unbelievably sloppy, tendentious, makes exaggerated claims, and occasionally descends into something right on the edge of racism.

To give an example of sloppiness - the treatment of Israel in the Cold War. M&W suggest that Israel was the biggest beneficiary of US help among its client states.  Really? - I'd say the scale of US engagement on behalf of South Korea and South Vietnam was quite a bit larger. Same goes for Western Europe.  The claim might be true if one only counts direct financial aid, but that is a disingeuously narrow definition.  

Tendentiousness - In discussing the US arms lift to Israel in the 1973 war they note the costs of that action - i.e. the oil embargo. What they don't mention is the flip side - that if Israel were facing imminent catastrophic defeat by the the Egyptian and Syrian forces they would have most likely acted according to the standard policy of nuclear armed states in such a situation - turn the enemy into mushroom clouds. Also not a particularly satisfying outcome.

Another example is in making the case that Israel commits crimes - well yes, but it's not like that has been a hindrance to America in its support for other countries, particularly during the Cold War. Or afterwards - America rushed a half million troops to fight on behalf of Saudi Arabia in 1991-1992.

Straight out stupidity - The idea that the Jewish vote is a key factor. As the paper itself notes Jews make up only three percent of the population, and the majority disagree with the AIPAC line. Furthermore, they are concentrated in a few, mostly solidly blue areas.

 Monocausality - M&W see the US pro-Israel policy as self-evidently bad for US national interests (something I agree with). But they attribute far too great a role to this far flung 'Lobby' and discount other factors, e.g. ideology, lack of any significant constituency that cares deeply about the Palestinians, strategic concerns, oil, etc.  They address each of those issues, say that they cannot explain US policy on their own, and then discount them as irrelevant - completely illogical. National policies have multiple causes.

Realist paradox - The two scholars are both 'realists' - that is they believe that states have foreign policy interests that are objectively clear and which they will always pursue. Domestic political concerns and ideological biases are not factors in determining foreign policy.   Here they have found an exception to their model - US Middle East policy is not in its national interest.  As ideology and error are not possible explanations, the only one that makes sense to them is that the US is being misled by those who place another state's interests over their own - hence the all-powerful Lobby. (So what's their explanation for Vietnam?) Catch is, they also mention that the policy being supported isn't in Israel's interests either. So what we're left with in their own terms is a nonsensical situation - a superpower led astray by a                        
group of its own citizens, primarily defined by their ethnicity, who are acting against the interests of their own country in favour of the country of their co-ethnics, except that they're also acting against the interests of that country. Furthermore the majority of their co-ethnics and of the rest of the population doesn't support them.

Borderline racism.  They note a claim that in presidential contests Dem candidates get as much as sixty percent of their money from Jewish sources. But how many of those donors are Likudnik types, how many are Meretz types? No idea but rather obviously both exist, yet the implication is that 'Jewish money' is monolithic.

The Larry Summers analogy

I've mentioned before that I see political correctness in its soft, non administratively or legally enforced form, as a good thing. Among other things that means applying a very strict standard when it comes to playing with racist, sexist, or homophobic stereotypes.   If a scholar wishes to play with such issues - e.g. black crime or poor school performance, lack of women in science, or all powerful Jewish conspiracies, he or she should be extra careful about the quality of the work, and avoid making exaggerated claims about the truth of such stereotypes. And if they do the reverse, they should be condemned. Mearsheimer and Walt are no Charles Murray, there is no pattern of racism in their lives. There is also no clear pattern of sexism with Larry Summers. But both M&W and Summers offered support for noxious stereotypes without sufficient evidence.  I have no sympathy for them when they ended up burned.

by MarekNYC on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 05:07:48 PM EST
The two scholars are both 'realists' - that is they believe that states have foreign policy interests that are objectively clear and which they will always pursue.
Funny, that definition of "realist" makes them sound almost like Hegelian idealists.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri May 12th, 2006 at 06:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes it sounds like a 'realism' that completely edits out what Tuchman called 'the March of Folly' -- irrationality and futility in the conduct of national and international affairs, especially warfare.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat May 13th, 2006 at 02:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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