Blogs > Liberty and Power > The Israel Lobby: The Debate Continues

May 8, 2006 3:17 pm

The Israel Lobby: The Debate Continues

As readers would expect, the London Review of Books has carried extended correspondence about Mearsheimer and Walt's article on the Israel Lobby about which my co-blogger Sheldon Richman posted a while ago. Go here to read the first letters, here to read Alan Dershowitz and others, and here to read the authors' reply.

Elsewhere Norman Finkelstein suggests that The Lobby: It's Not Either/Or. Worth a look.

UPDATE: Alexander Cockburn says yes, of course, there is an Israel lobby and although he finds the Mearsheimer and Walt paper to be"extremely dull … [it] has the merit of stating rather blandly some home truths which are somehow still regarded as too dangerous to state publicly in respectable circles in the United States."

Cockburn continues:"Meanwhile, mostly on the left, there has been an altogether different debate, over the actual weight of the Lobby. Here the best known of the debaters is Noam Chomsky, who has reiterated a position he has held for many years, to the general effect that US foreign policy has always hewed to the national self interest, and that the Lobby's power is greatly overestimated."

Cockburn concludes thus:"I have to say I'm not 100 per cent on board with [Noam Chomsky] on this one. The Lobby really does have very hefty clout. Ask Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr. In her excellent book The One-State Solution Virginia Tilley makes a persuasive case that the US strategy and tactics in Iraq have more to do with what Israel wants than any self-interested 'realist' US plan."

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Mark Brady - 5/10/2006

Two thoughts.

First, in recent years Americans who lobby for Britain, Ireland and Greece have been a lot less successful in looting the taxpayer than those who lobby for Israel. That said, prior to December 1941, the British government very successfully engaged in clandestine lobbying for U.S. aid to the UK.

Second, AIPAC is exempt from the Foreign Agents' Registration Act.

Craig J. Bolton - 5/9/2006

I will read this exchange with interest, but I have a preliminary question about the topic: "so what?"

Presuming that lobbying for the purpose of influencing public policy is at all legitimate [perhaps not a big "if"], what is particularly wrong with a pro-Israel lobby? What, particularly, is wrong since my understanding is that virtually "no one" maintains that the "Israel lobby" is funded or directed from Israel.

Should we also be concerned that there are those Americans who would influence public policy in favor of England or Ireland or [gasp] Greece, and that they sometimes raise money and hire professionals to push for their agendas? Isn't this simply another example of the "grab the government and use it for your particular purposes" system that is universal today? If so, why the particular concern with a "Israel Lobby"?