Of course, an academic paper that claims that US Foreign policy has been and continues to be subverted by a shadowy cabal of disloyal American Jews is going to unleash a shit storm. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has predictably written a detailed response and although some of our friends have described it as “less than intelligent, lacking intellectual depth, from the like (sic.) of Alan Dershowitz,” it’s actually quite well written. Granted our friends didn’t really do a detailed analysis of the Dershowitz paper so I have no idea where they found it intellectually lacking. Other critiques of the paper have already been discussed by our own TheMiddle in his previous posts on the topic.

Now Walt and Mearsheimer have responded to their critics in a letter to the editor of the London Review of Books. The letter reflects the same level of intellectual depth as their original paper, which is to say, very little. Of course they refute all assertions that their motivations were anti-semitic. They repudiate the support they received from notorious American Nazi David Duke. All they really want, they claim, was to have “a candid discussion of the US relationship with Israel.”

They concluded their letter by stating that “The fact remains that the United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East, and it will not be able to develop effective policies if it is impossible to have a civilised discussion about the role of Israel in American foreign policy.”

Their central thesis is thus that civilised discussion is seriously hampered by the mere existence of the ominously capitalized “Lobby.” The fact that any lobby is an important part of the American Democratic process, allowing like minded citizens to promote their various agendas and is an important part of any civilised discourse is irrelevant to these two bone heads. What they are really saying is that a civilised discussion in this respect can only be carried out absent the voice of clearly biased and unpatriotic supporters of Israel.

In other words, “Shut the fuck up Jews.”

To that I respond, “Shut the fuck up Walt and Mearsheimer.” It’s time for these guys to stick their heads out of their ivory assholes. I hope none of what I have written suggests a disdain for academia. It’s quite the contrary. Walt and Mearsheimer have made a mockery of academia and the rigorous intellectual processes it demands. Their paper is shit and does not merit the attention it has received. If I were Harvard or the University of Chicago, I’d be embarrassed. “[P]iss-poor, monocausal social science” indeed.

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

28 Comments

  • read the paper all 80 or so pages…

    you are left with the felling of, yeah, so, and?

    so Jews/Israel (and I don’t think they are the same, but this is a different debate…) lobby and lobby hard. So?

    Did we create this situation or are we as complicit in the whole ordeal as say, big pharma, tobacco, etc… is in participating in a terrible and corrupt lobbying system in our government?

    Yawn.

    So if you are bored and start to ruminate over the paper you are left with a series of questions. But the most striking is 2 fold: the complete lack of assessment of the role of fundamentalist Islam in creating reactionary right wing states in the middle east, and the coordinate cooption of Islam by those leaders to stay in power (do you really think the king of Jordan is descended from Muhammad?) and the that, for instance, Syria would be a better behaved country if none of this had happened. I say prove it.

    But I also say open and healthy debate about such issues will remove something that has hung over us for untold millennia: that idea that we are up to something behind closed doors in our special little language, in our special little way, conspiring and conniving. But really we are just like everyone else, lobbying and buying influence to get what we want. G-d bless America – and L-rd knows we need it the way we have been acting.

  • I am at Harvard and from what I have seen, most students do not give much credence to the paper. At least at the business school, Walt and Mearsheimer are viewed as anti-semetic shitheads. In fact, it is seen as the usual liberal anti-semetic trash that comes out of the JFK School of Government. Ironic that the most important person to come out of that school is Bill O’Reilly- clearly not a typical JFK student.

  • Muffti wrote something kinda long and hten realized it recapitulated what Nathan Tableman said. Lobbying is a fine democratic right. But it is indisputable that it has been used for nasty purposes. So, its not fair to charge M & W with arguing against a particular lobby by citing the abstract right to lobby.

  • No, Muffti, I think ck is right about this. The overall effect of the paper and part of its intent is to say, “Shut the fuck up, Jews.”

    It’s kinda like pointing out that they wrote something that resembles plenty of antisemitic attacks launched over the ages and being told that if one brings up antisemitism, one could lose the potential reader/listener/viewer because the word has been overused. “Shut up and don’t say antisemitism.”

    The effect of their paper is to say, “Shut up Jews and Israel supporters and don’t say a word about Iran.” And indeed, we can see how silent Israel’s supporters are about Iran. Everybody knows the Iranian leadership is nuts; that on the basis of their war with Iraq that they can and would take extreme measures at war; that they’ve sponsored terrorism against American, Israeli and Jewish targets; and that right now they are driven by faith perhaps as much as pragmatism. Giving these people a nuclear option can be very dangerous but do you see many Jews taking a leading role in this discussion? Of course not, because we are watching as the Iraq war is being turned into our fault just as many commentators lay the blame for 9/11 at our feet.

    The Walt Mearsheimer paper is intended to launch a debate, but not one where Jews members of The Lobby deserve to have a voice. The debate is supposed to circumvent Jews and supporters of Israel who should shut up because according to these two clever sneaks “The Lobby” got us into this mess in the first place.

    It’s incredible to see this paper in light of our leadership’s and country’s relationships with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the energy industry. It is a reminder as to how simple it is to take age-old ideas and reinvigorate them in the marketplace of ideas.

  • a “sort of” reply: I was and continue to be dead set against the war in Iraq, but Iran and Syria, those are places we should invade! I can’t tell you how odd that makes me feel inside. I also don’t mind, to a certain extent, if people want to blame me (and my kind) for pushing for Iraq. As my father points out, all this “hey look at all the war mongering Jews around Bush” crap is missing a big point: there are a heck of a lot of Jews on the other side of the debate as well. I am just back to the same conclusion. This paper was really “ho hum” didn’t say anything new or interesting. I bet, if I wanted, I could write the same paper about AARP and how they lobbied for prescription drug benefits that are as messed up as they are. Again, left with a feeling of, “yeah, and?”

  • Muffti isn’t so sure (sorry, he’s got an innate disposition to defend academics. Call it a survival instinct if you will). But once again Nathan and Tableman and Muffti (Muffti thinks) are in agreement. You said:

    It’s kinda like pointing out that they wrote something that resembles plenty of antisemitic attacks launched over the ages and being told that if one brings up antisemitism, one could lose the potential reader/listener/viewer because the word has been overused. “Shut up and don’t say antisemitism.”

    This is a motive you attribute to them, and you may be right; but as far as Muffti can tell they aren’t far off in one regard: with the exception of a few types of people, criticizing Israel can get you labelled with the charge anti-semitism. Chomsky? Frequently labelled anti semite. Martin Luther King was willing to equate anti zioinism with anti semitism. Princeton holds conferences on the interesting subtle distinctions between anti-semetism and anti-israelism. In an act of total absurdity, Muffti’s mother always manages to think that anyone who defends Israel must love Jews. Hmmmn…

    One demonstration of this is an op-ed piece by Eliot A. Cohen in the Washington Post. Entitled ‘yeah, it’s anti-semetic’ Cohen goes on lambasting M & W in the usual ways and comes up with the odd paragraph:

    Inept, even kooky academic work, then, but is it anti-Semitic? If by anti-Semitism one means obsessive and irrationally hostile beliefs about Jews; if one accuses them of disloyalty, subversion or treachery, of having occult powers and of participating in secret combinations that manipulate institutions and governments; if one systematically selects everything unfair, ugly or wrong about Jews as individuals or a group and equally systematically suppresses any exculpatory information — why, yes, this paper is anti-Semitic.

    Cohen professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

    There’s an obvious reason for all of this. We are trained to be suspect of people that criticize Israel because it is a JEWISH state. If everyone in America made American relations with Botswana their main concern and spent day in and day ot criticizing Botswana’s actions or defending it, no doubt the charge of racism would soon become connected with anti-Botswanaism. Big surprise that the charge of anti-israelism tends to slide one pretty quickly into the charges of anti-semitism.

    More importantly is the second part of what you said. Dershowitz said it too: what you say resembles what other anti-semites have said over the past bunch of years. Say what you want about bad academia and monoclausality (!), but this as a response is completly academically irresponsible. Muffti can find you loads of racist sites that say that we shoud leave Iraq right now: are you going ot go and tell all those bright eyed young protestors that their demand is shocking similar to neo-nazi demands. Should they give a fuck if you do? It’s not really relevant and while Muffti is sure there is some latin name for the fallacy invovled, let’s just call it the fallacy of ‘bad company’ – what you say is similar to what they say and, well, they are bad. Hence…

    You can speculate as you like. But Muffti thinks that you and CK are in the midst of trying to pull off a trick that he thinks is reprehensible: impute motives to your debate partner. Dershowitz, as much as Muffti is no real fan of the man, did an admirable job of writing a response piece that didn’t delve into whether or nto M & W are anti-semites. As did the historian you mentioned. If you htink that M & W are trying to silence the competition by levceraging the quick move from anti-israel discussion to anti-semitism, then quit bitching about it and criticize them withotu branding them anti-semites.

  • Muffti: I don’t mean to disparage your Mom, but to compare her knee jerk reactions to what I and other far wiser critics of W&M said is a tad disingenuous. I don’t necessarily think W&M are anti-Semitic (and I certainly don’t think they are anti-Semetic, whatever that is Mr. Academia 😉 ). But the effect of their ideas promotes anti-Semitism in that they feel supporters of Israel, primarily Jews, ought have no voice in ordinary democratic discourse. Jews are faulted for effectively arguing their case and are blamed for leading America into adventures that are against it’s national interest as defined by people who disagree with the “Lobby.” These men are no dummies, and the support they have received from the likes of David Duke may be something they reject, but it’s unlikely they could have failed to realize that their paper would have found resonance in unsavory quarters.

    But to whatever extent you feel that I accused W&M of anti-Semitism, please allow me to retract that. W&M’s paper ought not be rejected because it’s anti-Semitic. It ought to be rejected because by any objective academic standard, it’s a piece of crap.

    You want to have an open discussion on the role of powerful and well monied lobbies distorting the democratic process, that’s fine. Focusing solely on the Israel lobby however seems a tad suspect. Focusing on supporters of Israel and criticizing their excercise of legal democratic rights and implying the existence of a monolithic entity, a shadowy cabal that seeks to subvert the national interest, and attempting to prove your thesis with shoddy research – man, that’s unforgivable!

    But let’s take another approach for a minute. Did you know that Dean Stephen Walt occupies the Robert and Renee Belfer Chair of International Affairs at Harvard? Robert Belfer (Harvard Law, Class of ‘57) endowed this chair with a gift of $7.5 million to the Kennedy School in 1997. Mr. Belfer and his family have also been leading philanthropists and supporters of Jewish causes for decades. Mr. Belfer has been Chairman of the Board of Overseers of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University as well as a board member of both the American Jewish Committee and the Weizmann Institute. Just last month Mr. Belfer received an honorary doctorate from the Israeli institute for “his outstanding professional accomplishments…his lifelong commitment to the values of Jewish philanthropy…and his strong identification with the aspirations of the Weizmann Institute in the service of Israel…” Seems Dr. Walt is the financial beneficiary of an influential member of “the Israel lobby.” By his own logic then, Walt himself is thus a member of the nefarious “Lobby.”

    Maybe this is a trick by those sneaky Zionists? You know, to discredit those who have unearthed our secret cabal by releasing this crappy paper to inevitable wide spread ridicule? W&M’s academic careers Will suffer irreparable harm but they will undoubtedly be amply rewarded in the future with some nice beachfront property in the Caribbean once the elders of Zion inevitably succeed in their plot to take over and enslave the world. Talk about a mind fuck!

    But again, allow me to reiterate – do not hate M&W because they are anti-Semites (I doubt they are), hate them because their paper sucks.

  • No way, Muffti, they don’t get off so easy.

    That piece by Cohen which you quoted is exactly on target and represents one of the more accurate critiques of Walt & Mearsheimer’s paper.

    I also encourage you to read my conversation with Tom Morrisey about this https://jewlicious.com/index.php/2006/05/02/a-comment-juan-cole-wont-publish-about-walt-and-mearsheimer/ in one of my previous posts.

    Other than ck’s post here, the other 3 posts about this paper which I’ve put up have all included information and relevant criticism of the contents of the paper. However, without imputing the motive of antisemitism to its authors, one can certainly make the claim that the paper itself is antisemitic. Why does calling something antisemitic prevent one from tackling its claims or arguments?

    These guys wrote a paper that attacks Israel with a great deal of false information. That is not antisemitic. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be anti-Zionist. I don’t think people are calling this paper antisemitic because of the anti-Israel claims (many of which are false or misprepresentative of the actual facts anyway).

    People are calling this paper antisemitic because it essentially turns almost all American Jewish Israel-supporters (regardless of how frail or strong their support may be), as well as a huge panoply of Jewish organizations and secular institutions or organizations that have a Jewish donor base, leadership or scholar population, into dual loyalists who actually put Israel’s interests ahead of America’s and in fact MANIPULATE America into taking actions that, according to these two, cause it harm to the benefit of Israel. So it’s not even dual loyalty, it’s loyalty to Israel and manipulation of the US, according to them.

    What more do you need? What qualifies as antisemitism if not the lumping together of a majority of Jews, virtually all of their organizations, virtually all the organizations where they may have an active role, their leadership, their religious institutions, their politicians, media companies where they have influence or ownership? Then taking that big vast swathe of the Jewish population and claiming that it works against the very interests of its own country to the benefit of the Jewish state?

    It is right to say that guilt by association isn’t fair. After all, if David Duke admires their paper, that’s not their fault. But that’s not the issue, the issue is that their paper sounds just like David Duke and his ilk. Any of us who have spent years on the Internet are very familiar with the content of the W&M paper because it is essentially a compilation of the very attacks we see on numerous hate sites, and political sites, that don’t always distinguish between attacks on Israel and Zionists and attacks on Jews.

    I will take exception to your final comment about how I’m trying to pull off a reprehensible trick here. On the contrary, I have been careful to say that the paper has antisemitic overtones, not its authors. I have no idea what they believe or think and they have gone out of their way to say they are not antisemitic. Read all of my posts and comments on this subject and you will see that I have been consistent on this point. I don’t know what their motives are and what they believe, nor do I care, it’s their paper that I find offensive, poorly researched and yes, with the fermented stench of age-old antisemitism.

  • Oy, Muffti shoulda known better than to take on such clever (and verbose!) opponents such as his own friends. Oh well. Muffti guesses that it’s on so…

    Except there isn’t much of a fight here. Muffti isn’t even sure if you guys and Muffti aren’t talking past eachother. HEre’s a few points:

    1) Muffti never said htat CK or TM were calling these guys anti-semites. What he was taking up was the nature of M & W’s claim that arguing against Israel entails a chance of being branded an anti-semite. As far as Muffti can tell, that charge, which isn’t realyl against anyone in particular, is at least plausible. SOme people are very careful in distinguishing between calling someone anti-israel and anti-semitic. Most aren’t. So Muffti thinks htey have a point int his regard: that because it’s a jewish state, it’s easy to get charged with being anti jewish by being an objector to how the state is run, or how its supporters try to ensure support for that state.

    Is there paper anti-semitic? Muffti thinks that TM has some rather slippery logic on this one. (Muffti would quote but his shitty old computer at his soon to be ex-office is having mouse trouble). TM’s arugment, Muffti takes it, runs osmething like this:

    According to M & W, there is a lobby whose loyalty is to Israel.
    There relevant members of the supposed Lobby is chalk full of jews, jewish organizations and jewish groups.
    Thereofre, Jews aren’t loyal to the US.
    Antisemitism is the hatred and picking on Jews in particular.
    THerefore this paper is anti semitic.

    If htis isn’t a fair rendering, please correct him. But in essentails, it’s a bad argument. It’s not better than this:

    PEople in group X are assholes because liking X makes you an asshole.
    Everyone is goup X is a Y, and many Ys are members of group X.
    Therefore many members of group Y are assholes.
    If you are anti-Y, then you pick on Ys in particular.
    Therefore, the author of the premises above in anti-Y.

    THat’s a bad argument at premise 4. To be anti-soemthing, you have to be anti-it BECA– USE its members or members of it. If Muffti hates people who drive really badly because it endangers other people’s lives, and the majority of those people are old people, that doesn’t make Muffti anti-old people. So, there is no evidence that these guys are picking on Jews qua Jews, but that they are picking on members of hte supposed lobby qua members of the supposed Lobby.

    Now, the non-existence, non-homogeneity, non-unity of the Lobby is another matter for academic dispute. But Muffti sees no legitimacy to the Washington Post op-ed. It’s a classic example of bad logic (technically, substituting in to an non-extensional context).

    Now, as it turns out, you may think that he’s picking on these people because they are jews; but that’s just what you guys are denying as far as Muffti can tell.

    2. Muffti doesn’t see where this ‘keep jews out of the public discourse’ comes from. WHat they are saying is that if such a lobby exists, its good to be aware of it and its influence on public discourse. (N.B. Muffti thinks what these guys have to say is rather shallow and most of it pretty contentious). That seems fair, if the existence of such a lobby is demonstrated — Muffti thinks we should be wary of shills of any big lobby.

    3. Related to (2), CK, a public discussion about big lobbying etc. would be useful. But htink about hwat you are saying: yuou are complaining about talking about the role of an israeli-jewish-israel supporter lobby rather than a genreal discussion. You would not say the same thing about someone who looked into the cigarette lobby ‘on its own’. Nor into the oil lobby ‘on its own’ and you’d find it laughable if an oil lobbyist said ‘why is everybody always picking on me? So many other lobbys!’

    4. As for the Jewish founders of Walt’s position, Muffti doesn’t really see what you are getting at. Unless it’s (with all due respect buddy) yet another argumentative fallacy known as tu quo que. Hypocrisy does not equal falsity.

    5. Lay off Muffti’s mom! She was thrown in jokingly with the rest.

    6. To reiterate, Muffti never thought you guys were syaing M&W are anti-semites. Just that he thought your criticism of theirs (tyrign to silence the jews/israel supporters) was off base.

    7. SOrry you take exception, Middle (and muffti is probably repeating himsefl massively at this point) but you were pulling off a trick: the trick of claiming that M & Ws assertions that you are likely to be called anti semitic if you criticize israel equalled shutting jews up with respect to the public discourse. He wans’t trying to say that you are calling them anti semitic. DOes that clear things up?

  • Oy Muffti, if only your spelling was better it would be so much easier to understand these eye-glazing philosophy analogies.

    Here’s one:
    Paper accuses disparate members of particular group of using all of their formidable power to influence the foreign policy of their country in favor of another country.
    The paper harps on and on about this formidable power of this group listing every key facet of influence over American life and Washington as part of this disparate lobby.
    The paper furthermore claims that this group, by promoting this agenda on behalf of another state, has caused and is causing harm to their state.
    The paper pays short lip service to the large number of people in this group who don’t give a shit about the other country.
    The paper spends an extraordinary amount of lip service focusing on the part of the group that supposedly does manipulate the country’s foreign policy to the country’s detriment.
    The paper uses sneaky and mendacious language like “The Lobby” to identify this group.
    The paper does not introduce, in a document about the foreign policy of the country in question, a single other entity or group that may be influencing the country’s foreign policy. This despite the country’s leadership having an old and cozy, as well as mutually beneficial relationship with a key state in that region as well as business interests in a relevant area of business.
    The paper does not mention any group or lobby other than this ethnic group’s “lobby” that may have influence over such foreign policy even though there are other such lobbies, defense and energy among them, that are quite powerful and arguably far more powerful and well connected than the ethnic group’s lobby.

    I don’t know whether that means that A and B equals C or E, but I do know that most readers read this: JEWS JEWS JEWS; LOTS OF JEWS; THEY MANIPULATE THE COUNTRY; THEY DO IT TO BENEFIT ANOTHER COUNTRY; THE JEWS ARE CAUSING OUR COUNTRY HARM BY DOING SO AND ARE DOING IT KNOWINGLY.

    Did I miss something?

    I point out again that Mearsheimer and Walt may not be antisemitic and claim not to be, but that does not mean their paper isn’t. The discussion isn’t about the attack on Israel’s history but rather the manipulation of the US foreign policy by this disparate group of Jews and Jewish organizations. By the time you conclude the paper the group seems to include everybody from the average Jewish guy who votes to every think tank, political group, synagogue, Jewish organization, media outlets, and of course lobbies, that have Jews in leading roles. Sure, sure they mention some Christian Zionists, but this, like the mention of the 36% of Jews who don’t care about Israel, is quickly glossed over.

    As for my supposed trickery, I don’t think we’re on the same page. They claim (or rather, whine) that people who speak against Israel and The Lobby are likely going to be attacked as antisemites. Then, of course, they go on to lump a whole bunch of Jews together as manipulators of foreign policy and our national discourse. My point was that by putting out this paper, and making such claims about Jews being manipulators of the national foreign policy – and let’s not forget that we’re talking about the Iraq war with its failures and heavy cost in lives – they are essentially suggesting that any “Lobby” input will be to the benefit of Israel rather than the USA. Tell me how that doesn’t shut me up as a Jew? Any time I speak my mind about an issue related to foreign policy, the reader who believes the premise of this paper will simply assume that my intentions and objectives are to take steps on behalf of Israel even at the expense and cost in lives of America and Americans. Is that conducive to keeping Jews as part of the national discourse or is that underhandedly exclusionary? Why aren’t the oil and energy lobby be described similarly in such a paper? Why aren’t the Saudis?

  • TM, Muffti isn’t quite sure you caught his drift. The point was this. To be anti-X where X is some group is to be anti the people who are Xs because they are Xs. If you are anti-Y, and the people in Y happen to be Xs, that doesn’t make you anti-X. Now, sometimes peole are really anti-X but just hide that by pretending to be anti-Y, but Muffti thought that we were agreeing that that wasn’t the case here. One also may explicitly be anti-X because one is anti-Y but we were agreeing that that wasnt’ the case here. W & M aren’t anti-semites per se, but they are anti-israel. and the paper is an examination (whatever its lack of quality may be) of a supposed Lobby group, not of Jews in America. You mention yourself…

    By the time you conclude the paper the group seems to include everybody from the average Jewish guy who votes to every think tank, political group, synagogue, Jewish organization, media outlets, and of course lobbies, that have Jews in leading roles. Sure, sure they mention some Christian Zionists, but this, like the mention of the 36% of Jews who don’t care about Israel, is quickly glossed over.

    The point there was exactly mine: to separate between the group they are examining and criticizing and Jews: they’re agitation is towards the group qua group, not towards Jews qua jews.

    Admittedly, this is a fine distinction and maybe in the end ofhte da not one worth maintaining, but Muffti would like to see the case for that made. But Muffti thinks that we should be a bit careful; take an abstract situation and consider what you think. Say that the US suddenly started promoting Botswana against its neighbouring countries. It gave Botswana tons of cash. It gave Botswana tons of arms. It vetoed UN resolutions against Botswana. And say that a paper come out that claimed that there was a Botswanian Lobby, composed largely of people who are ethnically connected to Botswana, but not all people who are so connected are members (some argue against the legitimacy of Botswana and prefer to see sucked into South Africa) and some parts of teh Lobby are sympathetic people of totally different ethnic origins. Say teh paper accused the Lobby of perverting american interests because of its preoccurpation with the good of Botswana and said that American should demand a fresh look at their policy on Botswana.

    Would you say that paper is anti-botswanian? Muffti would have to conclude ‘no’: for one thing,t eh paper has no independant opinions. For a second, more serious thing, the paper is about a Lobby and interestingly is largely unconcerned with the ethnic make up of the lobby. If the Lobby were to lose all its Botswanan members and instead be composed of old white rich guys who were planning to retire there and thus wanted the place to be as suported by the US as possible, the paper’s point would still stand (unless knocked down by legitimate academic reasons or political science counter arguments).

    Similarly with the supposed Israel Lobby. THe paper is largely unconcerned with its character and concerned a great deal with its power and influence. If 90% of the Jews started hating Israel and were replaced one for one by zionist christians with the same amount of money, influence and organizational power, the paper woudl argue against that same group and their interests. the pointn of hte paper is that the Lobby has a right to Lobby, but that people should be aware of its effects and force their government to justify their acquesience to the policies the lobby pushes for. The exact same thing goes for people who argue against the fast food lobby. And the oil lobby. and the cigarette lobby. and the auto industry lobby: whoever makes up those groups, the policies they push for are CLEARLY not always in american interests. If it turned out that it was all asian americans in those groups, Muffti would not consider himself anti-asian american or out to disclude them from public discourse if he argued against those lobbies.

    The last set of questions is a good question, but Muffti isn’t quite sure why they are germane to the point at hand. Look: papers are written ALL the time about the oil and energy lobbies. Michael Moore lambastes them in documentaries. Book after book come out about their ties to government. No one says ‘boy waht a shitty book on teh oil lobby; not once did it mention the effects of the Fruit Industry Lobby and they’ve been responsible for assasinations in foreign countries for christ’s sake’.

    The only way Muffti can connect your questions about the OTHER lobbies is if they offer a counter explanation to the effects fothe supposed Israel Lobby, and clearly they do. But that’s a criticism about the academia of the paper, not about its anti-semitism.

  • Why an abstract situation like Botswana? Let’s take Cuba and the Cuban community in Florida. Surely, in their part of the country they are an affluent group that can deliver votes to the politician who gives them what they want. If I were to write a paper about them, I doubt very much that I would ignore other forces in DC, the military and those who oppose Communism in any form when discussing how US foreign policy toward Cuba is determined. I think, in fact, that Cuba policy represents a far simpler issue to understand and cover than American Mid-East policy. And yet, the emphasis of their paper is to a significant degree on one particular group and the lobby of which this group is the primary and most forceful participant.

    Now, I don’t agree with your comment that the paper is largely unconcerned with the group’s character but rather its power and influence. It most certainly alludes to character by first attacking the country for which this lobby does its dirty work in contradiction with the actual needs, as expressed by the authors, of US policy. It also makes clear reference to clever and underhanded manipulations such as having government employees and Congressional staffers, not to mention politicians who essentially infiltrate these bodies and use their position to manipulate the system to the advantage of “The Lobby.” How is that not a function of character?

    As for your last remark, that the criticism about their ignoring any other lobby is an academic one and not related to the paper’s inherent anti-semitism, I beg to differ. It is precisely the point I am trying to make. These guys are serious and well respected scholars at two of the finest academic institutions in the country. When they write a paper informing the world that US foreign policy is manipulated by “The Lobby” to the exclusion of any other forces, and when this lobby is identified to a large degree as a collective of a single ethnic group, the omission of the other sources of influence such as Saudi Arabia or an energy lobby take on a very different meaning. The blame here is laid directly on the shoulders of the Jewish community and the little-mentioned (in the paper) Christian Zionists.

  • What Muffti meant was that if every Jew quit supporting ‘the Lobby’ and were replaced by zealous christians with equal influence and money doing the same work, the paper’s criticisms would stand if htey were true. That’s the point.

    As for ignoring other factors, truth is that it is hard to tell bad academia from anti-semitism and Muffti thinks that neither of us are in a position to tell really waht the case is here.

  • Muffti and I are not the intended audience, are we? In fact, Muffti and I are part of The Lobby according to these two. Most people who will read this paper will be reading the paper and understanding what I wrote in all caps in my comment #12.

  • Besides its inherent assumption that Jews have no right to opinions on matters of importance to Jews if these opinions are somehow detrimental to the national interest as defined by M&W, and other faults too numerous to mention, there is just one thing I don’t get.

    AIPAC is a lobby, true. Just one among many, but that’s how politics works in the US.

    But how can there be something called “The Lobby” if most of its putative members are not even aware that they belong to such an organization? By definition, an organization must be, well, organized. Yet one of their points seems to be that this “Lobby” is actually not organized at all, at least in the traditional sense.

    By redefining the “Lobby” as an amorphous entity the existence of which is a secret even to the people who supposedly belong to it, M&W have really forefeited any claim to be objective academics. It’s just conspiracy-mongering.

    And even though I think that it can best be attacked on its (lack of) merits, I do think it is anti-Semitic because it is based on the idea that Jews do not have a right to an opinion, especially if it differs from theirs.

  • Oy, Middle, why does never understand just how limited the point Muffti is trying to make is? Muffti thinks that the paper is pretty crappy — that’s not in dispute. It was only the question of anti-semitism that he found interesting – especially your idea that a paper coudl be anti-semitic even if it’s authors aren’t. He also thought it was interesting to question whether or not the question W & M were raising was legitimate: how does the US justify its expenditures on a foreign country. You and CK immeadeatly claimed that W&M were trying to lock Jews and pro-isreali people out of the public discourse. And that in effect the paper was anti-semitic. Muffti disagreed with both, but agrees on the shoddiness of the research and is happy to see people out there taking it on without bandying around charges of anti-semitism. That’s how academia works when it works well. So you really don’t have to post ‘for Muffti’ every tom dick and Harry that writes an article about W & M. Especially not one as fluffy as the one you just referenced.

  • Ephraim, Muffti isn’t sure why he’s going on with this, but he thinks what you say is a bit quick. Muffti thinks you can have a lobby of various organizations that work not within concert: there is no matter of definition here. According to The American Heritage Dictionary:
    lob·by P Pronunciation Key (lb)
    n. pl. lob·bies…[after the definitions involving parts of a building]
    A group of persons engaged in trying to influence legislators or other public officials in favor of a specific cause: the banking lobby; the labor lobby.

    There is no clear need for this lobby to be unified. If every oil company had its own advocate the lobbied against funding, say, electric cars, but they didn’t act in concert though they all acted for the same goal, Muffti would be happy to call them collectively an oil lobby.

    You are right in one respect; the typical lobby tends to, for obvious reasons, co-ordinate if they can get over their differences enough to co-operate.

  • Muffti, The Middle is gratified that Grandmuffti considers these linked papers to be of dubious quality while showing proper respect for the writings of The Middle. 😉

  • hehehe, Middle, Muffti has great respect for your writings! Muffti still thinks your post on the M & W paper is one of the best things he’s read yet.

  • […] a work by two prominent International Relations professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, arguing that American Middle Eastern policy is excessively influenced by AIPAC and hence unfairly biased in favor of Israel. Following a public outcry, Harvard removed its emblem […]

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