(at the bottom, in bold, is the important section)
Here is Juan Cole’s original post to which I respond below:
The Philip Weiss hagiography of these two poor sods who only have tenured and prominent positions at Harvard and Chicago to protect them from the evil Jews is right in one part: the part where Mearsheimer notes The Atlantic rejected the paper because they thought “it was terrible.”
Yes, it was.
Let’s go to Drezner. I thought this was the most telling comment in his piece:
The mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about. But because Israel is a strategic and moral liability, it takes relentless political pressure to keep U.S. support intact.” What’s fascinating about this quote are the implicit assumptions contained within it: i) the only interest group in existence is the Lobby, and; ii) in the absence of the Lobby, a well-defined sense of national interest will always guide American foreign policy. It would be very problematic for good realists like Mearsheimer and Walt to allow for other interest groups — oil companies, for example — to exist. This would allow for a much greater role for domestic politics than realists ever care to admit.
It is precisely this problem that is one of the primary reasons their paper is being called shoddy and they are being accused of antisemitism. At a time when oil company after oil company announces record profits; when a sitting President (non-Jewish, non-Zionist) from a political dynasty with strong links to Saudi leaders and oil; when you have a sitting VP (non-Jewish, non-Zionist) with an energy background – like the President – and connections to the Mid-East that have nothing to do with Israel; when you have huge defense lobbies, a powerful Pentagon, and almost all key Secretaries in the decision-making loop led by non-Jews and having affiliations with groups that have no significant representation, and; when the party in power, holding the House and the Presidency cannot garner more than 25% of the Jewish vote and watches as 70% of Jews oppose the Iraq War, doesn’t it seem a little odd to all these Walt-Mearsheimer lovers that they are focusing on “The Lobby” as the reason the US approaches its policy from its current point of view?
You write in your critique of Drezner:
Mearsheimer and Walt never once use the word or concept of â€œconspiracy.â€ They are talking about ordinary pressure politics. Nor do they use the word â€œdupe.â€
What, Professor Cole, do you think the authors mean when they write that AIPAC is “a de facto agent of a foreign government” in a paper outlining how AIPAC, as part of a larger Jewish (peppered with a few non-Jews) group, works against American interests? Is that not “duping?” Does that not imply that AIPAC is in violation of lobbying rules? If it does this in tandem with the rest of “The Lobby” as they describe it, is that not a conspiracy? Are you suggesting that if the word “conspiracy” does not appear, then it is not part of their premise?
Here’s how they describe The Lobby (and don’t you find it strange that they don’t call it The Israel Lobby but The Lobby, as if it is the only one or the only one that matters?):
We use “the Lobby” as shorthand for the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction
…Many of the key organizations in the Lobby, like AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations (CPMJO), are run by hardliners who generally support the Likud Party’s expansionist policies, including its hostility to the Oslo peace process.
…The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals [and] neoconservative gentiles.
In other words, support of Israel qualifies one as part of The Lobby. But don’t worry, they tell us, “Not all Jewish Americans are part of the Lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them.” Earlier in the paper they point out – in one brief sentence lost in a larger paragraph – that this number is 36% of Jewish Americans.
Therefore, despite the fact that a vast majority of Jews voted Democrat and opposed the Iraq War, in the W&M Jew Paradigm, a majority belong to this manipulative, lying, conspiratorial Lobby – the only Lobby that affects our policies in any meaningful way.
You tell us, Bush certainly wanted to â€œtake outâ€ Saddam Hussein, but probably thought in terms of snipers or cruise missiles.
Huh? This is the son of the man who launched the Gulf War and who turned American troops around so as to avoid the casualties caused by a fight in Baghdad and the aftermath of rebuilding it. Are you saying that Dubya needed to be told by, well you don’t tell us who but you mean those nasty neo-Cons (mostly Jews, of course) who are, of course, part of The Lobby, that it takes more than a cruise missile to take out Saddam?
I mean, it couldn’t possibly be that instead of the neo-Cons, the parties out there pushing Bush and Cheney would be their energy buddies within and without the US who want to protect and usurp Iraqi oil and set up a beach-head for the US in the world’s oil center, could it?
Nope, it’s that darned The Lobby with all of those Jews and Jewish organizations. Do you not recall the hubris of this Administration after that squeaky win in 2000 where they acted as if they had all the mandates in the world to do as they pleased? What favors did they owe The Lobby, exactly? On the other hand, what favors did they owe Big Oil and Big Defense and Big Business?
By the way, it is interesting to read you say, The Israelis complain about Hezbollah shelling of the occupied Shebaa Farms territory, but that does not belong to Israel anyway, and they could avoid that problem by obeying international law and relinquishing land captured in 1967 on which they are squatting.
First, you ignore the Hezbollah attacks on civilians, soldiers and communities in Israel’s North, far outside the Shabaa Farms. Second, you misrepresent international law since UNSCR 242 actually allows Israel to hold on to to land they captured in 1967 until certain other criteria are met. 242 was definitely written with this type of land exchange (and not all land, for that matter) for peace in mind. So nobody is “squatting,” but Israel is sitting on that land pending a deal with the Syrians.
I find that your claims about Israel wanting to attack Iran are definitely on target. In fact, they undermine your other claims about Iraq because Mofaz himself said that Iraq was not a concern for Israel but Iran was. He said this before the US attacked Iraq. Israel was unconcerned about Iraq, in large part because they perceived the weapons-delivery systems in Iraq to be primitive. After all, the Scuds of ’91 weren’t all that on target, and this fleet was now a decade older. Furthermore, while they believed Hussein had chemical weapons, they did not believe he had nukes, therefore Iran was by far the greater threat.
Therefore, if there was a Lobby, and if Israel was behind it, manipulating the Administration and Congress, it would be clear that the US would currently be mired in Iran, not Iraq. The Israelis simply didn’t care about Iraq. That is the irony behind this entire discussion. While W&M look for a scapegoat, and anti-Israel academics such as you lend their support to this shoddy paper while pouncing on Israel and its supporters (yet again), in fact, the larger truth disproves your points: the Israelis did not care about Iraq and it has been Iran that has scared them for many years now.
You try to address Drezner’s point about AIPAC’s weakness by suggesting that since they can still muster funds that can sway an election, they remain powerful. There are quite a few organizations, many with far, far deeper pockets than AIPAC, that can affect elections on a local, regional or national stage. Furthermore, if this supposed strength was true and so pervasive, would the Administration – supposedly beholden to The Lobby – be using them as a punching bag as they try to legally stifle the ability of the press to gather information through leaks? By the way, W&M have the chutzpah to bring up the Larry Franklin matter as one example of how AIPAC and The Lobby (read: Jews and a few duped or insanely faithful non-Jews) work against the US and US interests. This, of course, before the AIPAC guys go on trial and completely ignoring the FBI’s frame-up after getting nothing on them following two years of tailing them.
You conclude by attacking the Syrian Accountability Act. While I happen to disagree with parts of it, one could make a very strong case that it has brought about the end to a 30 year occupation of Lebanon by Syria. Considering your opposition to certain other occupations, I’m a little surprised to see you belittle this achievement – it’s not as if these past 30 years were a peaceful time for the Lebanese, even if you exclude the years Israel was there.
Drezner was very easy on W&M. Their paper is not serious, not from an academic standpoint and not from the standpoint of standing up to scrutiny in terms of its general premise. It is a shoddy piece of research. If someone wants to make the case that AIPAC and other Jewish groups are influential, that is valid because they can be effective groups. To make the claim that they control DC and our foreign policy is absurd, especially when ignoring all the other powerful lobbies and arms of our Government that have a stake in the outcome of our policies and this war in particular.
The key reason the W&M paper is receiving so much attention is that they tap into some hidden veins of fear and perhaps hatred (hence the David Duke approval of the document, which their supporters are trying to sweep under the rug) against a particular group that has been the butt of conspiracies before. It is no accident they bring up The Protocols to innoculate themselves from well deserved charges.
In fact, one thing the paper does effectively is to tie Israel to American Jews with a charge that amounts to dual loyalty for the American Jews. By doing so in a scholarly paper, W&M open the door to overcoming that last obstacle that has been preventing serious people from criticizing Jews openly.
In the past, people would say, “We’re not antisemitic, we’re anti-Zionist. We have no beef with the Jews, it’s the Zionists we hate.” Few really bought that line, but it was a fair debating point. What W&M have done is to join the dots so that there is no longer a reason to play games: according to them the majority of Jews and Jewish organizations support Israel to the detriment of the US and effectively manipulate the US to act against its own interests.
If previously you were merely anti-Zionist, you have just been given a Harvard/U of Chicago seal of approval to blame bad things like, a poorly run war, or high oil prices, or an ineffective government in the international diplomatic sphere on…the Jews. Any Jews. Oops, I meant The Lobby – lots of Jews but some deep believing Christians (that’s W&M subtle code for: the Jews are secular and sane as is their calculated manipulation of our government, in contrast with the few devout Christians who support them but do so out of misguided faith or simple wackiness), except for the 36% of “good” Jews. You know, the ones who are mentioned in one lost line in a paper with dozens of pages and a gazillion (mostly biased and not reflective of any objective truth) footnotes attacking the other Jews and Israel?
The simple truth is that the very same sources from which they culled a good deal of their research, are the ones who agree with their premise and promote it. Gosh, I wonder if there might be some influential group of anti-Israel scholars, politicians, writers, pro-Palestinians and bloggers who are doing their best to promote this highly anti-Israel and anti-American-Jew paper? I bet we could make a case there is such a group. Perhaps we could call it The Lobby? Oh no, I guess we cannot since that name is already taken…by the only lobby that counts.
Yup, my lobby can kick your lobby’s butt. 😉
An awesome rebuttal, how strange he didn’t allow it in his comments section. Too much logic and fact to take in at one. Great job m!
Middle, this controversy recalls the contretemps over Mel Gibson’s Passion flick– with you in the role of Abe Foxman. Frankly, the first sentence above, in bold, is not convincing. The paper’s getting attention because (1) W&M bear the implied imprimatur and mainstream cred of the World’s Greatest University, and (2) because the American policy establishment is so uniformly pro-Israel. It’s not because W&M’s paper gets anyone’s anti-semitic juices going.
Anti-semitism is a tough charge to prove, don’t you think? You’re a lot more convincing taking this piece of crap apart on the merits. Why overreach with a charge that can only be proven with unequivocal evidence of a racist state of mind?
Look, there’s a colorable case to be made that support for Israel is not in the national interests of the United States. Not my view, but the last sentence of para. 3 in bold (expressed untendentiously) is a case that’s out there to be made. It’s not per se anti-semitic to believe that, though indeed there are surely anti-semites who do so. It’s a mistake of political correctness to imply that this point of view is out of bounds, wholly outside the scope of respectable discourse.
On the other hand, Middle, I’m tired of Cole’s mug on PBS– he’s the Lehrer show’s resident ‘expert’ on Shi’ite Iraq. Go bite his ankles.
He ain’t no Juan Pierre. Nor even another Alex Cole.
TM, I read your first post, but not yet your rebuttal. But I think I know why it wasnâ€™t posted: itâ€™s too damn long. I have not doubt of your writingâ€™s logic or strength, but a complete deconstruction of the post is too much for a comment. Better to do what you have done, which is post your rebuttal on your own blog.
My favorite part about all of this is the fact that their whole argument is essentially based on the presumption that Jews don’t have a right to any opinions, especially on matters that effect Jews most.
Tell that to the Irish-Americans who support the terrorist IRA and all of the blacks who marched against apartheid S. Africa. Playing the Devil’s advocate here for a moment, if one ignores the immorality of apartheid, a very good argument could be made that supporting black liberation in places like S. Africa and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe was very much against “realist” US interests. Particularly in the case of Zimbabwe, self-government under the racist demagogue Robert Mugabe has been nothing but a huge disaster for Zimbabwe. Yet the US, for moral reasons and under the pressure of the anti-apartheid Lobby, supported the dissolution of white rule and its replacement by Soviet client liberation movements. Hardly the actions of a “realist” government.
I agree that it is better to stop screaming “Anti-Semitism!” (even though it’s true) and attack the paper for its incredible shoddiness. This is much easier, since the paper is just riddled from top to bottom with factual mistakes.
Folks, I know that many people use the “there they go again, screaming about antisemitism” card to deflect the charge. In fact, W&M do exactly that in their paper, they claim not be writing an antisemitic paper and yet they have created a perfectly circular and un-disprovable thesis that takes the “Jews” and lays the blame for America’s ills with respect to many problems on their shoulders.
If accusing an identifiable group of being disloyal or of perverting the system to benefit another state, and of doing so as a group (hence, “The Lobby,” a very clever ruse on their part) isn’t bigotry, what is?
Here: “The majority of Chinese-Americans, sometimes aided by Socialist or Communist Caucasian Americans, use their wealth, social status, large voting blocks and extraordinarily effective pressure groups that have infiltrated the highest ranks of Government, to compel America to continue to build huge deficits and essentially bankrupt itself and destroy its own middle class by outsourcing most manufacturing to China. They do this at the direction and guidance of the Communist leadership in China, which knows very well how to manipulate America’s democratic, political and social system to achieve its goals.”
Sound like bigotry to you? Now change that to Jews, make the topic the sending of Americans to die overseas and combine that with all of the problems we currently have such as 9/11 and the high cost of fuel. That’s what W&M do in their paper. If that’s not antisemitism, what is?
Furthermore, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is saying that this topic can’t be discussed. In fact, most commentators who oppose this paper have tried to engage W&M, except that they are not responding. It’s a classic victim posture, where they put something incendiary out there, expect to be attacked, and then when they are attacked, sniffle about how unfair the world is because of the very group they’ve attacked. Beautiful circularity. The topic is legitimate, but their biased paper and incredible accusations, combined with their poor scholarship don’t leave much room for questioning about their motives. After all, these guys are very good and notable scholars. How is it possible that they’ve written a paper that seems to grab information from online sources, that ignores any source inimical to their claims and that avoids primary sources? How can they make some of the fundamental mistakes that they make? How is possible that in every possible instance they choose the translation of an event that is most damaging to Israel, Israeli history, Jews and Jews in America?
I’d like to ignore the paper, but I cannot. It is in the NY Times and the Washington Post and Ha’aretz and all over the Internet. It will be out there forever now, and is so lengthy that it is very difficult to challenge every part of it…unless you have a tenured position and are being paid to do the research. Of course, if you’re Jewish or have shown any sympathy to Israel in the past, you will be ignored by this paper’s authors because you are officially a part of The Lobby. How brilliant!
Just because it pisses people off when they see somebody say “antisemitism,” that should not make people afraid to call it for what it is. They have accused the Jews of America (!!! – a majority of the Jews certainly!) of conspiring, sometimes intentionally and sometimes indirectly, of doing the bidding of Israel to manipulate the US – their very own country – to act against its own interests. They did this while ignoring all the other reasons or even POSSIBLE reasons that may have caused the US to take these actions. How can one have a serious discussion about anything when you stand accused of causing your country great and damaging harm as an agent of a foreign country? How can one respond when the authors use their significant academic positions to make their claims and spread them far and wide, but then hide behind the facade of a non-existent victimhood?
I didn’t say that the paper isn’t anti-Semitic. It is. And the authors are cowards not to defend it. But it can be attacked on its merits, or, should I rather say, lack thereof, very effectively.
Like it or not, the goyim start rolling their eyes when Jews start talking about anti-Semitism. We are right to do so, but if you want to convince people that the paper is misguided, as opposed to just making rhetorical points, sometimes another tack is more effective.
Could be, but it sure pisses them off mightily. I mean, the truth is I wrote this piece for Juan Cole’s site and he has a petition asking scholars to sign on to a statement that essentially would stop people from attacking Walt and Mearsheimer as antisemitic. He’s actually planning to send it to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. I guess that if we get the order from the, you know, under-bosses (the real bosses being in Israel, of course), people will stop using the term antisemitic with respect to this paper. See some irony here?
So yeah, I admit it, I wanted his blog to lose some of that higher-than-thou pseudo-morality bullshit.
Tom, I’ve given your comment some thought and I’m afraid I have to disagree. When Aldrich Ames was caught, did anybody delve into his origins and seek out a cabal to which he belonged? When Zbigniew Brzezinski was around and participated in flawed US government decisions, did you suddenly see papers appearing suggesting that his loyalties lie elsewhere? How about Robert Hanssen? How about Robert McNamara? Did anybody question the loyalty or seek to find common origins with others of McNamara’s faith or ancestry after it became clear the Vietnam War was a disaster for the US?
Yet this paper makes the claim that because of similar origins or Zionist leanings, a large and disparate group of people can be considered disloyal to the US and working against its interests on behalf of another state.
The neo-Cons are hyper-Americans. They love America and have a very specific mindset about this country’s capabilities, power and destiny. However, since many prominent neo-Cons are Jewish, suddenly you have a situation here where their very loyalty to this country is questioned and the claim is made that they belong to a larger movement of people who share their faith or ideology (or both) who would also place the interests of a foreign country, Israel, above their own.
This is being alleged about a fairly large group of people most of whom landed on these shores three or more generations ago and whose parents or grandparents may well have fought in its armed forces. Jewish senators, congressmen, government employees, lobbyists, reporters, benefactors, religious organizations, political organizations, social organizations, and the laypeople who support them are all placed under this cloud of support for another state, Israel, over the interests of their own. Ruth Bader Ginsburg gives money to the United Jewish Federation or a similar organization? Then she is in The Lobby. Would that type of inclusion in an accusation of dual loyalty ever happen to Scalia, do you think, even if he actively supports Vatican laws over those that exist in the US? Would you ever even think to make such a claim under any circumstances? Would such accusations be leveled at Brits who live here because they have an affinity to England and England spent a couple of decades appeasing and sucking up to Arab countries so as to avoid terror attacks or cuts in oil supplies?
How does somebody get the balls to challenge a fellow citizen of a greater loyalty to another state? How is it possible that such things can be said and we excuse them? It is, furthermore, also suggested that many of these groups or individuals receive implicit or explicit instructions from Israel and the Israeli government.
That is not all. In order to make this charge an have it fall into the range of reasonableness, the suggestion is that Jewish government workers, politicans, organizations, etc., are actually insinuating themselves into these situations where their objective is to work for the US government but manipulate it to serve Israel’s interests. Very simply that’s what Walt and Mearsheimer are saying. How is that a valid point for debate? What other group is subject to this form of accusation? How can they make these accusations and ignore the much larger and more highly placed non-Jewish leadership in this country who brought us into this war or who have made decisions directing American foreign policy in the wrong direction. How can they absolve these people and lay the blame at the feet of of Jewish organizations, pro-Israelis and a majority of Jews? How can they suggest that these leaders were manipulated by Jewish associates or assistants? Manipulated. Knowingly. Against the interests of a country where they have lived all their lives.
The fact is that only in the Walt and Mearsheimer universe, along with that of David Duke and Pat Buchanan, do you get the right to make these accusations, and then they are typically made against Jews.
Do I manipulate American foreign policy to the benefit of Israel? That is what these two are stating in their paper. It is an egregious accusation. Yet, as I write above, it is one that many people will accept because it is being made about Jews. You can be a fourth, fifth, sixth generation Jewish American and get caught in the net Walt and Mearsheimer cast as The Lobby because you support Israel (directly or indirectly, it doesn’t matter because there is somebody who is aware of the manipulation according to them).
Middle, thanks for the lengthy response. There may be a distinction to be made between an argument that raises the spectre of, or evokes, anti-semitic attitudes and tropes– and that, I agree, is what the article does– and affirmative anti-semitism: ‘I’m attacking US policy toward Israel because I hate Israel and Jews.’
It’s an important distinction. If you or I support the immigration reform measure passed in the US House, does that make us anti-Hispanic or xenophobic or nativist? No doubt the David Dukes of the world are all for a ‘security fence’ at our border. Should guilt by association silence us? Should it keep us from voicing our views?
Ephraim thinks that gentiles’s eyes glaze over at the invocation of anti-semitism. Well, I’ll confess to fatigue at overuse of that term (along, perhaps, with ‘sexism’ and ‘homophobia’ and the like). However– this may owe something to Potter Stewart’s ‘I know it when I see it’ approach– there’s no mistaking the real thing. The President of Iran is taken very seriously by this and many other gentiles, I assure you.
Ephraim’s IRA analogy is a good one. Here’s another: Greek opposition to favorable US policy toward Turkey.
Finally, Middle, the attention you pay to this (or any) product of Harvard University must be condemned in the strongest terms. Not outrage, Middle, but smug, knowing laughter’s called for here.
Ah, Tom, it wasn’t the Harvard label that concerned me as much as U of Chicago, Mearshimer’s school, which, as you know, is one heck of a good school. Then again, both schools and Harvard in particular do have a broad and important public reputation.
I hear you about the distinction between affirmative or pro-active antisemitism, and antisemitic notions that are by-products of an argument or claim. Yet, that is precisely the cover these two are seeking in disguising their claims with an academic patina.
The fact is they put out a paper accusing a group consisting primarily of Jews and Jewish organizations of working to move the US to a position against its own interests and in favor of the interests of another country. If they would have bothered to discuss one other lobby group or influential movement or state, like, say the Oil lobby or the Defense contractors’ lobby, in the context of America’s presence in the Middle East, I think it would be much easier for me to walk away and say they weren’t targeting American Jews.
As it stands, other than being told over and over that I shouldn’t call some people or their work product antisemitic, I haven’t seen a substantive response as to why I shouldn’t. You provide a fair proposal that one should differentiate between overt and unintended antisemitism, but I’m not so sure that applies to the issues I raise with regard to their targeting of American Jews.