Benny Morris: About Mearsheimer and Walt's "The Israel Lobby"

Roundup: Historians' Take

John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt's "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is a nasty piece of work. Some of what they assert regarding the terrorist tactics of certain Zionist groups during the 1930s, and the atrocities committed by Israeli troops in the War of 1948, and the harsh Israeli measures against the Palestinians during the second intifada, and certain activities of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States over the past decades--some of this is correct, and I realize as I write this sentence that it will henceforth be trotted out by the Mearsheimers and Walts of the world, as by their Arab admirers, while they omit the previous sentence and all that now follows. But what these distinguished professors have produced is otherwise depressing to anyone who values intellectual integrity.

Mearsheimer and Walt build their case mainly by means of omission: they tell certain facts while omitting others, sometimes more apt and crucial. And occasionally they distort facts and figures. The thesis of their study, which was supported by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, is that America's support of Israel runs contrary to American national interests, and that it is not grounded in "a compelling moral case." To establish the latter contention, they deny that Israel is the weaker party in the Arab-Israeli conflict; and that it is a democracy; and that "Israel's conduct has been morally superior to [that of] its adversaries."

In order to highlight the authors' methodology and to give an accurate picture of their scholarship, I wish to focus on several historical points that they make to sustain their case. (I will leave it to others to show what should be perfectly obvious: that the pro-Israel lobby is not the conspiratorial tail that wags the American dog.) I must confess to a personal interest in the matter. Like many pro-Arab propagandists at work today, Mearsheimer and Walt often cite my own books, sometimes quoting directly from them, in apparent corroboration of their arguments. Yet their work is a travesty of the history that I have studied and written for the past two decades. Their work is riddled with shoddiness and defiled by mendacity. Were "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" an actual person, I would have to say that he did not have a single honest bone in his body. ...

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Arnold Shcherban - 5/11/2006

Sorry for the "false alarm" on the first submittal.
Mr. Morris seems not arguing anymore
against the very fact of tremendous
power and influence of Israel lobby
in this country. He finds no "honest bone" in the body of the cited
authors' thesis about the differences between US essential national interests and the course of foreign policy (especially in Mid-East) traditionally taken by the US goverments (under the influence of that lobby or independently, for that matter).
Brushing aside all other big-time negative historical events and tragedies for this country of the past directly related to the issue in question, let's focus on just one reality that in the opinion of Mr. Morris himself forms the shape of our present: Islamic terrorism against USA and its most loyal Western allies.
One has to be totally crooked or insane to conclude that the hatred Islamic extremists feel against the US has nothing or just little to do
with its country's goverments whole sale economic, political, and military support for Israel - the most
evil of all evils - in the minds of
the most Islamists.
If this so, doesn't Mr. Morris (by making the assertion of perfect matching of the national interests of this country and American Israel lobby) essentually insist that mentioned terrorist attacks run well along with the US national interests?
It would have been a sensational revelation to an American public that
the US national interests presuppose
deaths of its thousands civilians, not already mentioning much more of the troops (acquiring dozens of millions of new enemies notwithstanding).
But I suspect that for morrises of this world Israel lobby mean Jewish lobby, and consequently, Jewish lobby
mean unquestionably moral, bright, and democratic one.

Arnold Shcherban - 5/11/2006