Zel Lurie Reacts to Mearsheimer-Walt

Zel Lurie Reacts to Mearsheimer-Walt

From “The truth about the Israel lobby,” the latest column by J. Zel Lurie in the Jewish Journal of South Florida:

… On September 4, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by two distinguished political scientists, John J. Mersheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen J. Walt of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, a book-length version of their treatise first published in the London Review of Books that the Israel lobby controls U.S. foreign policy and is responsible for the war in Iraq.

On the same date, Palgrave/Macmillan published a refutation of the Mersheimer/Walt thesis by Abraham H. Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Under the sensational title “The Deadliest Lies” and the ambiguous subtitle, “The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control,” Abe Foxman effectively demolishes most of their arguments. …

On the key issue of Israel and the war in Iraq, Foxman says that the two professors contradict themselves. They quote Israel’s [former] minister of defense. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who remarked a month before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, “Iraq is a problem…but today Iran is more dangerous than Iraq.”

Foxman writes: “Given the fact that Israel regarded Iran as the primary threat, how does the U.S. decision to invade Iraq instead square with the notion of Israeli ‘control’ of U.S. foreign policy?”

Lawrence Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, wrote last week in the Hong Kong Asia Times that Israeli officials warned the Bush administration that an invasion of Iraq would be destabilizing to the region and urged the U.S, instead to target Iran, the primary enemy. This message was conveyed from Jerusalem as early as 2002 by a wide range of Israelis, including political and intelligence figures and private citizens. The main point, wrote Wilkerson, was not that the U.S. should attack Iran but that it should not be distracted by Iraq and Saddam Hussein from a focus on the threat from Iran.

The Neo-Cons in Washington, many of whom are Jewish — Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and others — paid no attention to Israeli objections. Together with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and others they continued to plan the Iraq invasion. The perpetrators are mostly gone now, but their disastrous planning has resulted in a swamp in which the next Democratic president may well sink in 2009.

We didn’t need a couple of wily professors, trying successfully to make a buck, to tell us that the Israel lobby is strong and effective. It has induced no less than 34 vetoes of Security Council resolutions critical of Israel since 1982.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s security adviser, in commenting on Mearsheimer-Walt rated the Israel lobby among the top lobbies. He wrote in Foreign Policy magazine: “I have dealt with many of them. I would rank the Israeli-American, Cuban-American and Armenian-American lobbies as the most effective.”

{A couple of weeks ago, Abe Foxman faced the Armenian lobby, which is run by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Armenian refugees who escaped the massacre by Turks during World War I. Abe refused to call it genocide because Moslem Turkey is friendly to Israel. Abe capitulated. He issued a statement calling the massacre genocide.}

The Israel lobby consists of 40 or 50 Jewish organizations loosely connected in the Conference of Presidents of Major American-Jewish Organizations. I was a spoke in its wheel as the editor of the Hadassah Magazine. AIPAC is its Washington operator, assisted by those organizations which have representation in Washington. Abe Foxman is its self-appointed spokesman.

It is not a Jewish lobby. The Evangelical Christians are a significant force in the lobby. The way these fundamentalist Christians raise money for and visit the Jewish settlements in the West Bank is dramatically portrayed in Christiane Amanpour’s recent program on CNN.

The program neglects the American Jewish peace organizations: Americans for Peace Now, Israel Policy Forum and Brit Tzedek V’Shalom, all of which I support, and which are gaining influence in Washington in opposition to AIPAC.

Morris Amitay, former head of AIPAC who now runs its Washington PAC, tells Amanpour that they are successful because they approach the administration and Congress on the basis of American self-interest. He neglects to add that when their message contravenes the administration, they lose.

That’s what happened in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan proposed the sale to Saudi Arabia of five planes equipped with our most sophisticated radar system. It was called AWACS, which stood for Airborn Warning and Control System.

The Israel Air Force didn’t want Saudi Arabia watching its planes. If the Saudis had had these planes in 1967, the surprise attack on Egypt’s planes and airfields would have been imperiled. The Israel government, AIPAC, and every Jewish organization including Hadassah and its magazine, mounted a massive campaign against the sale. Israel’s Prime Minister Menachem Begin came to Washington to lobby President Reagan.

The campaign reached its peak when the Senate’s Foreign Affairs committee voted 10 to 5 to ban the sale. Then President Reagan personally lobbied 18 senators. The whole Senate voted in favor of the sale.

In a forward to Foxman’s book. George P. Shultz wrote: “Jewish groups are influential…But the notion…that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is a result of their influence is simply wrong.”

George Shultz should know. He was President Reagan’s Secretary of State. He was a key player in the sale of AWACS to Saudi Arabia.

AIPAC has been more successful in its campaign for the Jewish settlements in the West Bank against the stated opposition of every U.S. president. Amanpour gives us quotes from each of them. But the only president who took any action was the first George Bush who refused Israel’s request for loan guarantees unless settlement expansion was halted. Amanpour shows how Bush capitulated during his campaign for re-election, which he lost anyway.

Therefore, the Israel lobby is responsible for the establishment and growth of over 200 Jewish settlements in the West Bank, contrary to the wishes of every American administration. More important, the majority of Israeli and American Jews consider them to be obstacles to peace designed to prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

By | 2007-09-10T04:49:00-04:00 September 10th, 2007|Blog|0 Comments

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