They too dare to speak out, take 2

In the post below, I write about the crude essay on the “Israel Lobby” by University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer and Harvard Kennedy School Professor Stephen Walt. Today’s New York Sun carries the related story by Eli Lake: “David Duke claims to be vindicated by a Harvard Dean.” Lake reports: “The Palestine Liberation Organization mission to Washington is distributing the paper, which also is being hailed by a senior member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization.” Indeed.

See also the Sun’s editorial of this past Friday: “Harvard, Chicago and the ‘Lobby.'” The Sun notes:

Messrs. Mearsheimer and Walt go out of their way to condemn anti-Semitism, but with their references to this mysterious “Lobby,” their accusation that it is an agent of Israel manipulating the press and the political system, they are flirting with stereotypes that have historically been deadly. They claim that invoking anti-Semitism only chills debate, so we’ll put that question aside for now, though it will be interesting to see how Jewish donors and professors of these universities react to these charges along with the rest of American Jewry.

What we’re struck with, as much as the professors’ investment in the classic stereotypes, is the weakness of their argument. If the Islamists only hate America because of our support for Israel, why are they setting off bombs in Indonesia and Spain, which are hardly in the vanguard of support for Israel? How would abandoning Israel assuage the angry Islamists rather than encouraging them to press on to completing their end goal of making all of America subject to Islamic law? Why do the actions of the so-called Israel lobby – AIPAC is an American organization of Americans – constitute manipulation worthy of an 83-page paper, while the extensive lobbying activities of Saudi Arabia and its allies in the petroleum industry merit hardly a mention, let alone condemnation? Might the “critical element” in the decision to go to war in Iraq not have been the manipulative “Lobby” but rather the attacks of September 11, 2001? And how to account for the participation in the Iraq war of foreign allies such as Poland, where the “Israel Lobby” is essentially nonexistent? Israel’s allies in America have no fear of debate on any of these points because they have by far the better of the arguments on the merits.

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