Thursday, August 30, 2007


JPost has a pretty decent article about how AIPAC and the Israeli government intend to counter Walt and Mearsheimer's The Israeli Lobby (subtitle: "how the Jews came from across the ocean, corrupted good Christian Americans, and tricked them into betraying their country"). The basic strategy: do nothing. Israel can't go around countering the claims of every vaguely disgruntled, largely discredited academic who discovers that "hey, these Jews make pretty good scapegoats". It's got all of its resources tied up dealing with the ones who are already on UN committees:
Neither Israel nor the American Israel Public Affairs Committee are putting together a proactive campaign to combat the new Stephen Walt-John Mearsheimer book slamming the Israel lobby for allegedly hijacking US foreign policy. The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy is scheduled to hit the stores on September 5, but is already being sold on the Internet. Government officials in Jerusalem, explaining why the Foreign Ministry has chosen to ignore the book, said Sunday that Israel had no desire to "help the sales of the book," something that would happen, one official said, if Israel aggressively fired back. "We don't want to play into their hands.
There is a very easy test to see whether a pro-The Israel Lobby academic is being genuine in his or her new-found anti-Israel sophistication. For decades, the academic left has railed against Mearsheimer. There were times when, for the critical left, he was more or less the embodiment of everything that was wrong with "academic Orientalism". No part of his theory - from ideas like "national interest" to his description of the anarchy problematic - was spared from withering criticism. He was quite openly indicted as complicit with colonialism, imperialism, genocide, etc. So if you find an academic that spent the last few decades quite convinced that the realist description of the world was (a) wrong and (b) bad - and if suddenly that academic has found something redeeming about Mearsheimer, just as Mearsheimer has become to demonize living, breathing Jews - then yeah, it's probably appropriate to be suspicious about their change of heart. Just remember: it's not anti-Semitism, it's just anti-Zionism. Why their anti-Zionism is so entrenched, seething, and irrational - of course - is a different question.

[Read an extended version of this post at Mere Rhetoric]

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