Posted: 8/26/2007 10:52:00 PM
Author: Jerusalem Post editorial
Source: This editorial appeared on the Jerusalem Post website on August 27, 2007.
Hard-Hitting Critique or Deadly Lies?
Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham H. Foxman seeks in his new book, The Deadliest Lies, to refute the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis.
The self-proclaimed goal of Foxman's book is to "demolish the claims of an all-powerful Israeli lobby and a global Jewish conspiracy, revealing their historic roots in the most virulent forms of bigotry."
Here are some excerpts from the ADL head's book, which is published by Palgrave Macmillan:
Of course, the fact that there is a lobby (lower-case L) made up of Americans who believe that US interests are best served by a strong alliance with Israel is obvious and non-controversial. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) bills itself as "America's Pro-Israel Lobby."
It is registered as a domestic lobby, is supported by donations from over l00,000 individual members, and receives no financial backing from Israel or any other foreign entity. There is nothing unusual about this. Spend ten minutes on Google and you can easily find similar advocacy groups that represent the interests of Irish Americans, Mexican Americans, Indian Americans, Italian Americans and practically every other imaginable ethnic and national group in the United States. Only the American lobby for Israel seems to be subject to such intense critical scrutiny and even demonization by people like Mearsheimer and Walt.
The authors recognize that they are on shaky ground here. They acknowledge that, in a democratic America, pro-Israel activists have every right to lobby their government. They are also careful to state that they are not suggesting any conspiracy by Jews aimed at world domination, like that depicted by the notorious anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Mearsheimer and Walt clearly regard themselves not as bigoted, but as serious scholars attempting to make a responsible argument.
But their claims of even-handedness and objectivity, in the end, are merely lip service, because of the nonstop one-sidedness of their presentation, their gross exaggeration of the power of the lobby, their disregard for the consistently broad-based American public support for Israel, their omission of the very many interests that the US has in a strong and safe Israel, and their overriding theme that policy-makers are controlled by the lobby. No matter how the authors protest, all of this adds up to an effort to delegitimize the work of pro-Israel activists.
Unfortunately for the authors, the idea that colleges and universities in the United States are dominated by pro-Israeli voices is absurdly laughable, even more so than their claims that the Lobby controls Congress, the State Department and the White House. Thus, Mearsheimer and Walt are forced to do a lot of hedging and filling in their discussion of the Lobby and academia. They admit that "the Lobby has had the most difficulty stifling debate about Israel on college campuses," and in mild desperation they list many instances in which pro-Israel advocates merely criticized or disagreed with specific faculty members or university programs. For example, the fact that writings by the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said provoked "hundreds of e-mails, letters, and journalistic accounts that call on [Columbia University] to denounce Said and to either sanction or fire him" is cited as evidence of the power of the Lobby on campus. The fact that Said never was denounced, sanctioned or fired is apparently irrelevant.
The truth is that American college campuses are enormously diverse from almost every point of view - and that includes ideologically. In fact, many campuses have become hotbeds of anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian, and, in a few cases, outright anti-Semitic activism. Jewish organizations are working hard to try to hold their own, but their voices are often being drowned out by those of militant anti-Israel groups.