The book on the “Israel Lobby” by Professors Mearsheimer and Walt has risen to the NY Times non-fiction bestsellers’ list. Surely, attacks on them as out and out antisemites or kooks are inappropriate. But their complaint that they are subject to a latter-day variety of McCarthyism is overblown and their success proves this.
I recommend recent blog postings by Dan Fleshler (click here and there) for a more tempered view that both criticizes and commends M & W’s book in a thoughtful way. Dan still sees their work as deeply flawed but argues that their book is an improvement over their earlier, shorter version.
Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun is to a large degree siding with M & W and he denounces the mainstream media for belittling M & W’s thesis that THE “Lobby” was THE primary factor in influencing the US to go to war in Iraq. Lerner also defends Congressman Jim Moran from attacks by the Jewish Democrats’ organization (whatever that’s called) and by Congressmen Hoyer and Cantor (the former, the House majority leader, and the latter, a Republican) . Yet both Hoyer and Cantor, especially Hoyer, seemed quite reasonable in their criticism of Moran. They point out that his primary contention, that the Jewish community had the power to prevent the war, is both wrong and dangerous in its implications.
Any criticism of M & W and their supporters is being viewed as “McCarthyism.” This in itself resembles McCarthyism, or at least manifests a degree of shrillness that precludes the debate that M & W claim to want. I am in favor of such a debate.