- The first weapon of choice for the Israeli
lobby when someone with prestige publishes a soundly researched paper or
book critical of Israel or its powerful lobby is silence. If it's a book,
it rarely gets reviewed; its author doesn't get interviewed. If it's a
paper, there are no news stories in the big corporate press, no interviews
with the authors, no television appearances.
- For the average American who depends
on the press to tell him what's going on, it's as if the criticism never
existed. The second weapon is, of course, to launch vicious personal attacks.
- Both methods are being used against an
astounding paper titled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy [see this
issue's special "Other Voices" supplement]. It was written by
two renowned academics, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago
and Stephen M. Walt of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
- So far as I've been able to determine
with the help of Google, while the paper and talk about it are all over
the Internet, they are missing from the big corporate press as of this
writing. It was published in the London Review of Books, and you can read
it or download an edited version at <www.lrb.co.uk>. There was one
news story about it in the Christian Science Monitor and an attack on it
by David Gergen in U.S. News & World Report. Gergen is editor at large
of the magazine, which is owned by an ardent Zionist, Mortimer Zuckerman.
Gergen is a professional spinmeister who has always served the people who
have the butter for his bread.
- The essence of the paper, which is thoroughly
footnoted, is that Israel's lobby has so skewed American foreign policy
in the Middle East that the U.S. places the security of Israel ahead of
security for the United States.
- "This situation has no equal in
American history," the authors state.
- The Anti-Defamation League was quoted
in a Jewish publication as saying that if the paper gained the attention
of the mainstream media, then a "more vigorous attack" would
be launched. So far, it has not, though in the Christian Science Monitor
story one of the attack dogs of the Israel lobby branded these two esteemed
academics from prestigious universities as "incompetents."
- This paper isn't the first to criticize
the Israeli lobby. There have been lots of papers and books written by
distinguished individuals, none of which you've probably ever heard of.
They Dare to Speak Out, by former Rep. Paul Findley, and The Passionate
Attachment, by George W. Ball, one of America's most distinguished diplomats,
are two that come to mind. It was the late Sen. J. William Fulbright who
first called Congress "Israeli-occupied territory."
- What the authors of the current paper
hope to do is start a sensible public debate about the Israeli lobby and
America's policy in the Middle East. Of course, avoiding an honest debate
is one of the primary objectives of the lobby. That's why it uses silence
and, if that doesn't work, vicious personal attacks. It has certainly buffaloed
Congress and most of America's news media.
- Another author given the silent treatment
as well as vicious personal attacks is Norman Finkelstein, a professor
at DePaul University. He's written three outstanding books you've probably
not heard of: The Holocaust Industry,Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine
Conflict, and his latest, which got not a line of review, Beyond Chutzpah:
On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History [all available
from the AET Book Club]. Finkelstein, by the way, is Jewish and the son
of Holocaust survivors.
- This is a most serious issue and deserves
an honest public debate. Whether you agree with any of the above authors
and academics, you should read what they have to say and not be deterred
by cheap ad hominem attacks.
- You've heard the same message from me,
of course, but I'm only a country boy turned journalist with no fancy degrees.
If you're impressed with credentials, Finkelstein, Findley, Walt, Mearsheimer
and Ball have them up to their armpits.