The Lobby

Experts in the West and ordinary people in Arab lands
have understood for many years that the United States
does not have an independent policy toward the Middle
East. President Jimmy Carter, a man of good will, tried
to use American influence to settle the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the source of dangerous
instability in the Middle East. However, Israel was able
to block Carter`s attempt, while blaming Yasser Arafat.
Carter`s plan would have given rise to a Palestinian
state. Israel did not want any such state, because
obvious military aggression is necessary in order to
steal the territory of an official state with defined
borders. It is much easier to steal land from a

By preventing the rise of a Palestinian state, Israel
has been able to continue with its theft of the West
Bank. Palestinians who have not been driven out have
been forced into ghettos, cut off from schools,
hospitals, water, and their olive groves and farmlands.
In a recent book, President Carter called the existing
situation "apartheid." Carter was demonized by
the Israel Lobby for his use of this word, but some
experts consider Carter`s choice of words to be an
euphemism for the continuation of what I. Pappe and N.
G. Finkelstein call "the ethnic cleansing of

That the vast majority of Americans know nothing of this
is testimony to the power of the Israel Lobby.

A number of writers have exposed Israel`s misbehavior
and the power of the Lobby, but until now, the Lobby has
been able to marginalize its critics by smearing them as
"anti-Semites," "Nazis," and
In a new book, John J. Mearsheimer and
Stephen M. Walt have broken the Israel Lobby`s power to
suppress truth by demonizing and intimidating all who
would criticize Israel.

Mearsheimer and Walt are distinguished scholars holding
distinguished appointments at the University of Chicago
and Harvard University, two of America`s most
distinguished universities. Their book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,

published by the distinguished American
publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, is a masterpiece
of scholarship and documentation. Footnotes comprise 23
percent of the book`s pages.

Mearsheimer and Walt easily succeed in making their case
that neither strategic nor moral grounds can explain
U.S. support for Israel. Only the power of the Israel
Lobby can explain the juxtaposition of a dwindling moral
and strategic case with ever-increasing U.S. backing for
Israel, even to the disadvantage of U.S. national and
strategic interests. Indeed, both executive and
legislative branches are so completely compromised by
the Lobby that the different elements of U.S. Middle
East policy “have been designed in whole or part to
benefit Israel vis-à-vis its various rivals."

Chapter by chapter, Mearsheimer and Walt demonstrate the
deleterious effects the Lobby has had on U.S. relations
with Palestinians, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Lebanon. The
two scholars conclude:

lobby`s influence helped lead the United States into a
disastrous war in Iraq and has hamstrung efforts to deal
with Syria and Iran. It also encouraged the United
States to back Israel`s ill-conceived assault on
Lebanon, a campaign that strengthened Hezbollah, drove
Syria and Iran closer together, and further tarnished
America`s global image. The lobby bears considerable,
though not complete, responsibility for each of these
developments, and none of them was good for the United
States. The bottom line is hard to escape, although
America`s problems in the Middle East would not
disappear if the lobby were less influential, U.S.
leaders would find it easier to explore alternative
approaches and be more likely to adopt policies more in
line with American interests."

There is nothing anti-Semitic about this book.
Mearsheimer and Walt do not challenge Israel`s right to
exist or the legitimacy of the Israeli state. They
believe the U.S. must defend Israel from threats to its
survival. They even regard AIPAC, the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee, as a legitimate American lobby
and not as an unregistered agent of a foreign state.

The motives of the two scholars, apart from respect for
truth and the obligation to speak it, are to further
Israel`s and America`s legitimate interests. Mearsheimer
and Walt agree with numerous Israeli historians and
commentators that Israel`s policy toward Palestine and
the Arabs, together with the Lobby`s suppression of
critics, have been "directly harmful to Israel."
The inflexibility that Israel has imposed on U.S.
foreign policy has America mired in wars—now a half
decade or more old—in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even as
Muslim rage threatens to engulf America`s puppet in
Pakistan, vice president Dick Cheney, Israel and its
neoconservative allies strive to initiate war with Iran.

This is a high price to pay for Israeli territorial
expansion even if the U.S.-Israeli policy of war and
coercion succeed. If military aggression fails to bring
the Middle East under the hegemony of the U.S. and
Israel, the dangers to energy flows and Israel`s
existence could result in the use of nuclear weapons.

It is literally insane for the United States to expose
the world to such risks for the sake of Israel`s
misguided policy toward Palestine.

Other scholars, especially those whose sense of justice
is offended by the cruel oppression Palestinians suffer
at the hands of Israel, are more critical than
Mearsheimer and Walt. The latter do Israel and the Lobby
a service by defining the issue as one of U.S. and
Israeli legitimate national interests rather than
casting it as a case of crimes, inhumanity, and

Instead of legitimate national interests, James Petras,
Bartle Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Binghamton
University in New York, sees "a level of crimes
parallel to those of the Nazis in World War II."
(The Power of Israel in the United States,
Petras writes that

"the architects of the Iraqi war planned a series of
aggressive wars of conquest based on the principle of
domination by violence, torture, collective punishment,
total war on civilian populations, their homes,
hospitals, cultural heritage, churches and mosques,
means of livelihood and educational institutions. These
are the highest crimes against humanity."

"The worst crimes," Petras writes, "are
committed by those who claim to be a divinely chosen
people, a people with `righteous` claims of supreme

It remains to be seen how much more blood and treasure
Zionist fanaticism will extract from Americans. But one
thing is certain: the Israel Lobby is far too powerful
for America`s good and Israel`s.

Forty years ago the Lobby was sufficiently powerful to
force President Lyndon Johnson to cover up the
intentional Israeli attack on the USS Liberty
that resulted in 34 Americans dead and 174 wounded.
Admiral Thomas Moorer, Chief of Naval Operations and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared:

"No American President can stand up to Israel."

Forty years later the Israel Lobby is able to reach into
Catholic universities and to overturn tenure decisions.
The courageous scholar Norman Finkelstein was

denied tenure
at DePaul University in Chicago,
Illinois, because he is an effective critic of Israeli

In America today academics and intellectuals who fail to
toe the Lobby`s line are unlikely to receive support
from conservative or liberal foundations. Even
Mearsheimer and Walt`s article, "The Israel Lobby,"
commissioned by the Atlantic Monthly and from
which their book evolved, had to be published overseas

The London Review of Books
when the Atlantic
`s editors` courage failed them.

American patriots who glorify in their country`s status
as the "sole superpower" have much to learn about
the subservience of their country`s foreign policy to a
tiny state of five million people.

There is no better place to begin than with Mearsheimer
and Walt`s The Israel Lobby.



Paul Craig Roberts

] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.