Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2007

The Israel Lobby

A Progressive Response to Mearsheimer and Walt

By Stephen Zunes

THE OVERBEARING POWER AND McCarthyite tactics wielded by the American Jewish establishment against critics of Israeli government policies—particularly against prominent Jewish progressives like Michael Lerner—has made critical discourse about U.S. support for the Israeli government extremely difficult. As a result, it is all too easy to buy into the arguments put forward by John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt in their newly-released book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007) that the 'Israel Lobby' is primarily responsible for the tragic course taken in U.S. Middle East policy. The Tikkun Community has recently sponsored a series of public events with the authors, and Rabbi Lerner wrote a lengthy piece in the September/October issue of this magazine largely defending their perspective.

As a political scientist and international relations scholar specializing in the United States' role in the Middle East, I must disagree. I am in no way denying that the Israel Lobby can be quite influential, particularly on Capitol Hill and in its role in limiting the broader public debate. However, it would be naive to assume that U.S. policy in the Middle East would be significantly different without AIPAC and like-minded pro-Zionist organizations.

As leading scholars in my field, I have been familiar with the work of these two distinguished professors for many years. Professor Mearsheimer and I both received our doctorates from Cornell University's Department of Government (which, incidentally, did not offer a single course dealing with the Middle East). While I do not believe they are motivated by a conscious anti-Semitism or any innate hostility toward Israel, their perspective has nevertheless been compromised by another kind of ideological bias.

Mearsheimer and Walt are prominent figures in the 'realist' school of international relations, which discounts international law, human rights, and other legal and moral concerns in foreign policy, downplays diplomacy not backed by military force, belittles the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, and dismisses the growing role of international non-governmental organizations and popular movements.

With some notable exceptions, Mearsheimer and Walt have been largely supportive of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War and subsequently. For example, during the 1980s, Mearsheimer—a graduate of West Point—opposed both the proposed nuclear weapons freeze and the proposed no-first-use nuclear policy. A critic of nonproliferation efforts, Mearsheimer has defended India's atomic weapons arsenal and has even called for the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states such as Germany and Ukraine. He was also an outspoken supporter of the 1991 U.S.-led Gulf War.

Both authors blindly accept a number of naive and demonstrably false assumptions regarding America's role in the world. For example, they assert that the foreign policy of the United States--the world's number one arms supplier for dictatorial regimes—"... is designed to promote democracy abroad" and U.S. efforts in the Middle East "to spread democracy throughout the region ha[ve] inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion." The reality, of course, is just the opposite: it has been U.S. support for the majority of the dictatorships in that part of the world which has primarily contributed to anti-American sentiment.

It is always welcome and significant when traditional conservatives, hawks, realists, and others in the foreign policy establishment speak out against specific negative manifestations of U.S. foreign policy, such as when Mearsheimer and Walt joined a number of other prominent center-right figures in academia in opposing the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. They have also correctly recognized how unconditional U.S. support for many of the more controversial policies of the Israeli government is contrary to the long-term strategic interests of the United States.

However, such realist opposition grows not out of concern over any of the important moral or legal issues but out of a rational calculation that a particular war could lead to greater instability and thereby run counter to America's national security interests.

In other words, both of them have a vested interest in absolving from responsibility the foreign policy establishment that they have served so loyally all these years. Israel and its supporters are essentially being used as convenient scapegoats for America's disastrous policies in the Middle East. And though they avoid falling into simplistic, anti-Semitic, conspiratorial notions regarding Jewish power and influence for the failures of U.S. Middle East policy, it is nevertheless disturbing that the primary culprits they cite are largely Jewish individuals and organizations.

In many respects, their argument is nothing new. This exaggerated view of the Israel Lobby has been made for years by the small group of former State Department officials and former Republican Congressmen one finds in such publications as the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and organizations like the Center for the National Interest who share Mearsheimer and Walt's failure to acknowledge the nature of America's hegemonic designs in the Middle East and beyond. As political scientist Asad AbuKhalil, the self-described 'angry Arab' currently serving as a visiting professor at UC Berkeley, puts it, such analysis "absolves the Bush administration, any administration, from any responsibility because they become portrayed as helpless victims of an all-powerful lobby." Similarly, Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad—who regularly endures attacks by the Israel Lobby for his defense of Palestinian rights—contends that the attraction of Mearsheimer and Walt's argument is that "it exonerates the United States government from all the responsibility and guilt that it deserves for its policies in the Arab world."

Mearsheimer and Walt, along with their defenders, fail to make the distinction between the undeniable fact that 'the Lobby' has limited debate (particularly within the Jewish community) regarding U.S. policy toward Israel and the question as to whether it is the major reason for U.S. policy being the way it is. As Professor Massad puts it, the Israel Lobby is responsible for "the details and intensity but not the direction, content, or impact of such policies." Indeed, as I pointed out in my article "Is the Israel Lobby Really That Powerful?" [Tikkun, July/August 2006], U.S. policy toward both Israel/Palestine and the region as a whole is quite consistent with U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere. The consequences are more serious (for example, no Vietnamese or Nicaraguans ever flew airplanes into buildings), but they are not fundamentally different.

Any serious review of U.S. foreign policy in virtually any corner of the globe demonstrates how the United States props up dictatorships, imposes blatant double-standards regarding human rights and international law, supports foreign military occupations (witness East Timor and Western Sahara), undermines the authority of the United Nations, pushes for military solutions to political problems, transfers massive quantities of armaments, imposes draconian austerity programs on debt-ridden countries through international financial institutions, and periodically imposes sanctions, bombs, stages coups, and invades countries that don't accept U.S. hegemony. If U.S. policy toward the Middle East was fundamentally different than it is toward the rest of the world, Mearsheimer and Walt would have every right to look for some other sinister force leading the United States astray from its otherwise benign foreign policy agenda. Unfortunately, however, U.S. policy toward the Middle East is remarkably similarly to U.S. foreign policy elsewhere in the world.

It is certainly true that the United States is, in the words of Mearsheimer and Walt, "out of step" with the vast majority of the international community on the question of Israel and Palestine. Yet the United States is also out of step with the vast majority of the international community regarding the treaty banning land mines, the International Criminal Court, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the embargo against Cuba. Similarly, two decades ago the United States was also out of step with the vast majority of the international community in regard to the mining of Nicaraguan harbors and support for the Contra terrorists, as well as opposition to sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa and allying with Pretoria in supporting the UNITA rebels in Angola.

Mearsheimer and Walt correctly observe how Washington's support for Israel despite its human rights abuses against the Palestinians "makes it look hypocritical when it presses other states to respect human rights," but there is no mention of the equally hypocritical U.S. support for Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Morocco, and other repressive Arab regimes. Similarly, they are accurate in observing how "U.S. efforts to limit nuclear proliferation appear equally hypocritical given its willingness to accept Israel's nuclear arsenal." But is this any more hypocritical than signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with India or selling sophisticated nuclear-capable fighter bombers to the Pakistani government in spite of those countries' nuclear arsenals?

As a result, the idea that U.S. policy would somehow be "more temperate," (again to use the words of Walt and Mearsheimer) were the Lobby not so powerful falsely assumes that U.S. policy toward other Third World regions in which the United States had strong strategic, geo-political and economic interests has historically been more temperate than it has been in the Middle East. This is particularly important to keep in mind given that their argument about the Lobby's influence goes beyond that of Israel and Palestine to include the rest of the Middle East as well, including the Persian Gulf region, in which the United States has had hegemonic designs since before modern Israel came into being.

As I observed in my Tikkun article on this subject last year, while Congress is undeniably greatly influenced by the Lobby, Congress usually doesn't make foreign policy, traditionally the prerogative of the executive branch.

There is little question that it is the pressure put forward by AIPAC which is primarily responsible for Congress passing a number of resolutions by overwhelming bipartisan majorities every session, declaring its support for particular Israeli policies, including defending and covering up for blatant Israeli violations of international humanitarian law. However, virtually all of these are non-binding resolutions. When AIPAC has tried to get Congress to force the president's hand through binding legislation—such as the periodic attempts mandating that the United States move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—they almost always fail.

In any case, it is incorrect to assume that most members of Congress stridently defend the policies of the Israeli government because their careers would be at stake if they did otherwise. Indeed, the majority of the most outspoken congressional champions of the Israeli government are from some of the safest districts in the country and need no support from pro-Israel political action committees (PACs) or Jewish donors in order to be re-elected. In last year's article, I examined a number of cases in which members of Congress allegedly had been defeated as a result of their standing up to AIPAC and made the case that their position on Israel was actually just one, and not the most significant, factor in their defeat.

In 2006, 'pro-Israel' PACs and individuals are estimated to have contributed more than $9 million to party coffers and congressional campaigns. While that is a significant amount, it ranks significantly below that of PACs and individuals supporting the interests of lawyers ($58 million), retirees ($36 million), real estate interests ($33 million), health professionals ($32 million), securities and investment interests ($29 million), the insurance industry ($21 million), commercial banks ($16 million), the pharmaceutical industry ($14 million), the defense industry ($13 million), electrical utilities ($12 million), the oil and gas industry ($11 million), and the computer industry ($10 million), among others. If campaign contributions had such a direct impact on policy as Walt and Mearsheimer claim, Congress should therefore have a strong and consistent pro-labor agenda since contributions given in support of unions representing public sector workers, the building trades, and transportation workers each were significantly higher than the total contributions given in support for the Israeli government. Furthermore, with rare exceptions, PACs allied with the Israel Lobby do not contribute more than 10 percent of the total amount raised by a given campaign.

The vast majority of the (admittedly few) House members who refuse to follow AIPAC's line are easily reelected. For example, every Democratic member of Congress who refused to support the July 2006 House resolution supporting Israel's attacks on Lebanon, a resolution subjected to vigorous lobbying by AIPAC, was reelected by a larger margin than they were two years earlier.

It is important to recognize the broad array of interests that find it advantageous to exaggerate the Lobby's power. There are members of Congress and their aides who want to deflect criticism from progressive constituents opposed to their support for the Occupation and other Israeli policies; there are foreign service officers who want to do the same in talks with foreign leaders by making the U.S. government appear to be a hostage to special interests beyond the administration's control; there are the constituent components of the Lobby itself, which finds it useful for fundraising purposes and as a means of intimidating members of Congress; there are Jews who find the idea of having such power and influence a liberating reflection of overcoming centuries of oppression; and, of course, there are bigots who find the exaggeration of Jewish power and influence a highly-effective means of spreading their anti-Semitic ideology.

As a result, while it is important to acknowledge where the Israel Lobby does indeed have clout, it is also important to be wary of the multiplicity of reasons why so many people would, consciously or unconsciously, tend to overstate its influence.

In an article published four weeks prior to the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq ("Iraq, Israel and the Jews," [Tikkun, March/April 2003], I predicted that sooner or later, the American public would realize that a U.S. invasion of Iraq had been a disaster, and "in order to divert attention from those who were responsible" there might be some in the foreign policy establishment who would revert to the time-honored tradition of blaming the Jews.

Indeed, perhaps the most misleading argument put forward by Walt and Mearsheimer is their claim that the 2003 invasion of Iraq "was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure." This is ludicrous on several grounds. First of all, Israel is far less secure as a result of the rise of Islamist extremism, terrorist groups, and Iranian influence in post-invasion Iraq than it was during the final years of Saddam Hussein's rule, when Iraq was no longer a strategic threat to Israel or actively involved in anti-Israeli terrorism. Indeed, it had been more than a decade since Iraq had posed any significant threat to Israel and both Israel's chief of intelligence and the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff made public statements in October 2002 emphasizing how Israel's military strength had grown over the previous decade as Iraq's had grown weaker.

During the final years of Saddam Hussein's rule, Iraq was no more of a threat to Israel than it was to the United States. All Iraqi missiles capable of reaching Israel had been accounted for and destroyed by UNSCOM, the International Atomic Energy Agency had determined that Iraq no longer had a nuclear program, and virtually all the country's chemical weapons had similarly been accounted for and destroyed. The Israelis, who actively monitored United Nations disarmament efforts in Iraq and had the best military intelligence capabilities in the region, presumably knew all this. Indeed, Israel's chief of military intelligence during the lead-up to the war, Major General Aharon Farkash, also recognized that Iraq did not have any missiles capable of striking Israel and reiterated observations by other top Israeli security officials that Iraq was incapable of producing nuclear weapons at any time in the foreseeable future.

Though observers were less confident regarding the absence of biological weapons, the Israelis recognized that there was no realistic threat from that source either. Respected Israeli military analyst Meir Stieglitz, writing in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, stated categorically that, "There is no such thing as a long-range Iraqi missile with an effective biological warhead. No one has found an Iraqi biological warhead. The chances of Iraq having succeeded in developing operative warheads without tests are zero." Similarly, it was recognized that Iraq could not realistically attack Israel with biological weapons by other means, either. For example, it would have been hard to imagine that an Iraqi aircraft carrying biological weapons, presumably some kind of subsonic drone, could have somehow made the 600 mile trip to Israel without being detected and shot down. Israel—as well as Iraq's immediate neighbors—had sophisticated anti-aircraft capability.

Furthermore, if the United States was really concerned with Israel's safety from Iraqi attack, why did the U.S. government provide Iraq with key elements of its WMD capability during the 1980s, "including the seed stock for its anthrax and many of the components for its chemical weapons program" back when Iraq clearly did have the capability of striking Israel? How could the "pro-Israel Lobby"—which was no more influential in 2003 than it was fifteen years earlier—have the power to push the United States to invade Iraq when Saddam was no longer a threat to Israel, when the Lobby was unable to stop U.S. technology transfers to Iraq when it really could have potentially harmed Israel?

More fundamentally, it appears that Israeli officials warned the Bush administration that invading Iraq could destabilize the region, in large part due to concern that it would strengthen Iran, which the Israelis considered the primary threat. For example, in a visit to Washington D.C. in February 2002, both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Fouad Ben-Eliezer emphasized their concern that "Iran is more dangerous than Iraq." Sharon specifically warned Bush against occupying Iraq or invading Iraq without an exit strategy since the likely result would be an insurgency, which the Israeli prime minister feared, could radicalize the region and spill over Iraq's borders. Israeli ambassador Danny Ayalon was even instructed by Sharon to tell visiting Israelis not to encourage a U.S. invasion of Iraq for fear that its likely failure would be blamed on Israel.

Interestingly, Mearsheimer and Walt acknowledge that the Israelis were initially skeptical about the administration's obsession with 'regime change' in Iraq. Indeed, a careful reading of their book reveals that Israel was not the principal backer of the long-planned invasion and Israeli officials came on board only after the decision had been made, apparently with the promise that Iran would become the next target. In other words, the Israeli government and the Israel Lobby were willing to use their clout to help their friends in the White House garner public and congressional support for a decision that had already been made independently, but they were not responsible for the decision to go to war itself.

As a result, Mearsheimer and Walt's charge that "the war was due in large part to the Lobby's influence" does not square with the facts. Furthermore, despite the belated backing for the invasion by the Israeli government, Iraq was not the major priority for AIPAC and allied lobbying groups in the months leading up to the congressional vote authorizing the invasion in October 2002. Indeed, some of Israel's biggest supporters on Capitol Hill were among the most outspoken voices against the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Nor does the authors' emphasis, often repeated elsewhere, that it was the affinity for Israel by the influential neo-conservatives that played a major role in the decision to invade that oil-rich nation. Those behind the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) and other neo-conservatives opposed Iraq because they feared it would challenge U.S. hegemony in the region, which was always their priority. The strong support by PNAC members and other neo-cons for Israel only goes as far as they see American and Israeli interests converging. They have not been major supporters of Israel, for example, when the right wing has not been in power. And even under the rightist Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, most Israeli government officials—with a few notable exceptions—saw Israel's political and strategic interests at odds with the American neo-conservative's designs on Iraq.

These same neo-conservatives, while in the Reagan administration during the 1980s, were advocates of a U.S. invasion of Nicaragua and Cuba as well as a nuclear first strike-as part of a so-called "limited nuclear war"—against the Soviet Union. In short, they are hawks across the board, not just in regard to the Middle East. "Support for Israel" has always been seen as part of a broader strategic design to advance perceived U.S. interests in the region.

While a disproportionate number of Jews could be found among the top policy makers in Washington who pushed for a U.S. invasion of Iraq, it is also true that a disproportionate number of Jews could be found among liberal Democrats in Congress and leftist intellectuals in universities who opposed the invasion of Iraq. Furthermore, it is absurd to imply that those who were most responsible for the decision to invade Iraq—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and President George W. Bush—would place the perceived interests of Israel ahead of that of the United States. And they were perfectly capable of making such a stupid and tragic miscalculation on their own.

Blaming supporters of Israel for the Iraq debacle also ignores the many more important factors which led the Bush administration to invade Iraq, not the least of which is oil.

In my article in Tikkun last year, I detailed the role of the military-industrial complex and other interests that are even more influential than the Israel Lobby. For example, though Mearsheimer and Walt observe that U.S. foreign aid to Israel comes out to "about $500 a year for every Israeli," they ignore the fact that virtually all of the military assistance goes directly to American arms merchants and the economic aid is barely more than what Israel pays annually for interest on loans from U.S. banks for previous weapons purchases. In other words, ordinary Israelis never see that money. Furthermore, for every dollar of U.S. military aid, Israeli taxpayers are forced to pay $2 to $3 to cover personnel, training, and spare parts.

Mearsheimer and Walt downplay this largesse for American arms manufacturers by noting that Israel is allowed to spend up to one-quarter of its aid money domestically. However, even that 75 percent is far more than any other country receives. Furthermore, the aid to Israel makes it possible for the United States to sell arms to Arab countries concerned about countering Israeli arms procurement. Even "domestic" Israeli arms production involves the purchase of American parts and includes lucrative partnerships with American firms. When the authors talk about how the United States provides Israel, at taxpayer expense, with "such top-drawer weaponry as Blackhawk helicopters and F-16 jets," they seem to forget the lobbying efforts by Sikorsky or Lockheed Martin, the powerful corporations which manufacture those aircraft, or the more than $1 million in congressional appropriations and armed services committees.

It is also important to note that the governments of Egypt and Colombia do not have strong allied domestic lobbies, yet they are the second and third largest recipients of U.S. military aid. Clearly, as I have pointed out in previous articles in this magazine, while Mearsheimer and Walt are correct in noting how U.S. support for Israeli government policies actually hurts U.S. interests in the long-run, the U.S. government still believes there are plenty of good strategic and economic reasons for supporting a militarized Israel. As Uri Avnery puts it, just as "Israel uses the U.S. to dominate Palestine," it is also true that "the U.S. uses Israel to dominate the Middle East."

Yet the pressure on U.S. policy makers to blindly support Israeli policies is motivated by more than narrow strategic and economic interests. There are ideological factors as well, which (while the Israel Lobby has certainly played a role in cultivating them) were already firmly entrenched in the American psyche.

One is the sentimental attachment many Americans—particularly liberals of the post-World War II generations—have for Israel. There is a great appreciation for Israel's internal democracy, progressive social institutions (such as the kibbutzim), the relatively high level of social equality, and Israel's important role as a sanctuary for an oppressed minority group that spent centuries in the Diaspora. Through a mixture of guilt regarding Western anti-Semitism, personal friendships with Jewish Americans who identify strongly with Israel, and fear of inadvertently encouraging anti-Semitism by criticizing Israel, there is enormous reluctance to acknowledge the seriousness of Israeli violations of human rights and international law. Many American liberals of this generation have an idealist view of Israel that is both as sincere and inaccurate as the idealized view of Stalin's Russia embraced by an earlier generation of American leftists. To many Americans who are middle aged and older, Israel is seen as it was portrayed in the idealized and romanticized 1960 movie Exodus, starring a young Paul Newman.

Contributing to this view is the widespread racism in American society against Arabs and Muslims, often encouraged in the media. This is compounded by the identification many Americans have with Zionism in the Middle East as a reflection of their own historical experience in North America as immigrants and pioneers. In both cases, European migrants (many of whom were escaping religious persecution) built a new nation based upon noble, idealistic values, while simultaneously suppressing and expelling the indigenous population seen as violent and "primitive."

Mearsheimer and Walt, as well as Rabbi Lerner in the last issue of this magazine, correctly note the bias in the mainstream media, particularly among leading columnists and other pundits, in defense of Israeli government policies and U.S. support for such policies. It is unclear, however, whether this media bias is qualitatively worse than media bias in its coverage of other conflict regions or international policy issues in which the U.S. government is heavily invested. During the 1980s, for example, it was extremely rare to read or hear anything positive in the mainstream media about the Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Articles documenting that leftist regime's real and alleged human rights abuses were more prominent than accounts of the far greater human rights abuses by rightist regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador. Today, negative press coverage regarding Cuba and Venezuela outweighs any negative stories regarding pro-U.S. governments with poor human rights records like Colombia and Mexico. Similarly, rarely is there serious critical analysis of the neo-liberal model of globalization or the Pentagon's bloated budget, nor are there many positive news stories or opinion pieces regarding groups challenging corporate greed and militarization.

This is not to say that those who challenge U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict haven't been subjected to enormous pressure from organized right wing forces. I have often been on the receiving end of such attacks. As a result of my opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli government's policies of occupation, colonization, and repression, I have been deliberately misquoted, subjected to slander and libel, and been falsely accused of being "anti-Semitic" and "supporting terrorism;" my children have been harassed and my university's administration has been bombarded with calls for my dismissal. I have also had media appearances and speaking engagements cancelled, even by groups generally supportive of the right to dissent. (For example, in 2003, just two weeks prior to its annual meeting at which I had been scheduled to speak on U.S. foreign policy and international law, the State Bar Association of Arizona rescinded its invitation after the president and board received a flurry of emails claiming that I was "anti-Israel." A few years earlier, the Oregon Peace Institute cancelled an invitation for me to speak at a forum in Portland following similar pressure from the campaign of the first district's Democratic nominee for Congress. And a recent peace studies conference at Hofstra University insisted at the last minute on adding a right wing supporter of the Israeli government to their plenary program in order to counter my scheduled "anti-Israel" presentation, wherein I raised concerns about Washington's failure to take into account international law in brokering the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.)

It is important to remember, however, that those who challenge U.S. policy anywhere are going to be subjected to intimidation. Recent attacks against U.S. professors specializing in the Middle East and criticism of the Middle East Studies Association are very disturbing, but they are only marginally worse than the similar attacks against professors specializing in Latin America and the Latin American Studies Association during the 1980s. Right wing criticism during the 1960s targeting Southeast Asian scholars was also widespread. In other words, intellectuals with empirical knowledge of any world region who dare challenge the lies and distortions of a given administration relevant to their area of research are going to be subjected to intimidation.

This is not to belittle the exceptional nature of the challenges faced by critics of U.S. support for the Israeli government. Given that Israel is the world's only Jewish state and that some criticism of Israel really is rooted in anti-Semitism, organized attacks against those opposing Israeli policies tend to carry more resonance since they involve alleged manifestations of prejudice against a minority group. If a Jewish state were not the focus, many liberals would dismiss such attacks as passe McCarthyism and would not take them seriously. As a result, assaults on critics of Israeli policies have been more successful in limiting open debate, but this gagging censorship effect stems more from ignorance and liberal guilt than from any all-powerful Israel lobby.

It has long been in Washington's interest to maintain a militarily powerful and belligerent Israel dependent on the United States. Real peace could undermine such a relationship. The United States has therefore pursued a policy that attempts to bring greater stability to the region, while falling short of real peace. Washington wants a Middle East where Israel can serve a proxy role in projecting U.S. military and economic interests. This symbiosis requires suppressing challenges to American-Israeli hegemony within the region.

This also requires suppressing challenges to this policy within the United States and there is no question that the Israel Lobby plays an important role in this regard. However, this is primarily an issue of the Israel Lobby working at the behest of U.S. foreign policymakers, not U.S. foreign policymakers working at the behest of the Israel Lobby.

Unfortunately, Washington's agenda provokes a reaction that all but precludes any kind of stable order that would enhance the long-term national security interests of the United States or Israel, much less peace or justice. U.S. policy has resulted in dividing Israelis from Arabs, although both are Semitic peoples who worship the same God, love the same land, and share a history of subjugation and oppression. The so-called peace process is not about peace but about imposing a Pax Americana. To blame the current morass in the Middle East on the Israel Lobby only exacerbates animosities and plays into the hands of the divide-and-rule tactics of those in Congress and the administration whose primary objective is ultimately not to help Israel but to advance the American Empire.

Stephen Zunes (www.stephenzunes.org) is professor of politics and international studies at the University of San Francisco and a member of the Tikkun advisory board. He serves as the Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus (www.fpif.org) and is the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003).
 
 
Source Citation
Zunes, Stephen. 2007. The Israel Lobby: A Progressive Response to Mearsheimer and Walt. Tikkun 22(6): 47.
 
tags: Israel/Palestine  
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