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The “Israel Lobby” According to the Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government

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Powerline’s Scott Johnson directs our attention to this essay on the “Israel lobby,” published in the London Review of Books and authored by University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer and Harvard Kennedy School of Government Dean Stephen Walt. (Johnson’s first post is here, his second here.)

The piece begins:

For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world. This situation has no equal in American political history. Why has the US been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?

Any essay with such a dishonest beginning –and which ignores 9/11 and the growth of the Islamist threat– is certain to be a print carnival of distortion and lies, and it does not disappoint.

Nine paragraphs into the pice we find that Israel is a burden in the GWOT:

Beginning in the 1990s, and even more after 9/11, US support has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arab and Muslim world, and by ‘rogue states’ that back these groups and seek weapons of mass destruction. This is taken to mean not only that Washington should give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press it to make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead, but that the US should go after countries like Iran and Syria. Israel is thus seen as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are America’s enemies. In fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.

The authors blame Israel for 9/11:

[T]he US has a terrorism problem in good part because it is so closely allied with Israel, not the other way around.

Given the burden that Israel is on the U.S., why the closeness of the U.S.-Israel alliance:

So if neither strategic nor moral arguments can account for America’s support for Israel, how are we to explain it?

The explanation is the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby. We use ‘the Lobby’ as shorthand for the loose coalition of individuals and organisations who actively work to steer US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

The authors –in an astonishing aside– concede that supporters of Israel are not acting as anti-Semites have portrayed them as acting for generations:

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.

Johnson rightly notes this defamatory assertion:

The bottom line is that AIPAC, a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on Congress….

The invasion of Iraq, you may be surprised to learn, was also in large part the work of…the Jews:

Pressure from Israel and the Lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical….

Given the neo-conservatives’ devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and their influence in the Bush administration, it isn’t surprising that many Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests.

Harvard’s Kennedy School has got a Dean who can only be described as a nutter, a conspiracy theorist of the first order, indulging in the worst sort of anti-Semitic slanders –American Jews are foreign agents!– and giving open encouragement to and endorsement of the extremist views of American foreign policy circulating in the camps of America’s enemies.

Today the Los Angeles Times runs a front page story on ties between Iran and al Qaeda. Professor Mearsheimer and Dean Walt will no doubt see the hand of the Israel Lobby at work in the story, and in the larger effort to contain the Iranian regime which believes that Israel ought not to exist and that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

Read the whole piece, and if you are a Kennedy School alum, consider what has happened to your alma mater.


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