The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

infobox Book |
name = The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
orig title =
translator =

author = John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
classification = Non-fiction
genre = Politics
publisher = Farrar, Straus and Giroux
release_date = August 27, 2007
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 496 p.
isbn = ISBN 0-3741-7772-4
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy"Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen. [ The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy] , Kennedy School of Government Working Paper Number:RWP06-011, March 13, 2006.] (a condensed version used the title "The Israel Lobby")Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen. [ The Israel Lobby] , "London Review of Books", Volume 28 Number 6, March 23, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.] is the title of a work by John Mearsheimer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, Professor of International Relations at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, that has gone through several versions from 2002 to 2007. The most recent version is "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," a "New York Times" Best Seller, published in September 2007 by Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.

The work's thesis is that "The Lobby", defined as a "loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to steer U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction." promotes "crimes perpetrated against the Palestinians" and also "hostility towards Syria and Iran" and is a primary cause for the United States to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state [Israel] ; and that U.S. Middle East policy has been driven primarily by domestic politics, especially the "Israel Lobby".

The authors state that the "core of the Lobby" is "American Jews who make a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel's interests." They note that "not all Jewish-Americans are part of the Lobby," and that "Jewish-Americans also differ on specific Israeli policies."

The paper was originally commissioned in 2002 by "The Atlantic Monthly", which then rejected it.Michelle Goldberg, [ Is the "Israel lobby" distorting America's Mideast policies?] ,, April 18, 2006] It became available as a working paper at the Kennedy School's website in 2006. The paper was finally published in March 2006 by the "London Review of Books". A third, revised version addressing some of the criticism was published in the Fall 2006 issue of "Middle East Policy". The authors state that "In terms of its core claims, however, this revised version does not depart from the original Working Paper." [cite journal | author =John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt | date = | year =2006 | month =Fall | title =The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy | journal =Middle East Policy | volume =XIII | issue =3 | pages =29–87 | url = | accessdate =2007-07-14 | doi =10.1111/j.1475-4967.2006.00260.x] In late August 2007 an enlarged version was published as a book. [cite book |author=Walt, Stephen M.; Mearsheimer, John J. |title=The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy |publisher=Farrar, Straus and Giroux |location=New York |year=2007 |pages= |isbn=0-374-17772-4 |oclc= |doi=] [ [ The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy official web site ] ]


Philip Weiss discusses some of the background to the creation of the paper in an article in "The Nation".Weiss, Philip. [ "Ferment Over 'The Israel Lobby'"] ,"The Nation",April 27, 2006]

Mearsheimer and Walt argue that "No lobby has managed to divert U.S. foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical".Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen. [ The Israel Lobby] , "London Review of Books", Volume 28 Number 6, March 22, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.] They argue that "in its basic operations, it is no different from interest groups like the Farm Lobby, steel and textile workers, and other ethnic lobbies. What sets the Israel Lobby apart is its extraordinary effectiveness." According to Mearsheimer and Walt, the "loose coalition" that makes up the Lobby has "significant leverage over the Executive branch," as well as the ability to make sure that the "Lobby's perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media." They claim that AIPAC in particular has a "stranglehold on the U.S. Congress," due to its "ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it."

Mearsheimer and Walt decry what they call misuse of "the charge of anti-Semitism," and argue that pro-Israel groups place great importance on "controlling debate" in American academia; they maintain, however, that the Lobby has yet to succeed in its "campaign to eliminate criticism of Israel from college campuses" (see Campus Watch and U.S. Congress Bill H.R. 509). The authors conclude by arguing that when the Lobby succeeds in shaping U.S. policy in the Middle East, then "Israel's enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying."

The Lobby

The paper says the following about The Lobby:

* "We use ‘the Lobby’ as a convenient short-hand term for the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction."
* "The core of the Lobby is composed of American Jews who make a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel's interests."
* "The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, as well as Dick Armey and Tom DeLay ... all of whom believe Israel's rebirth is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy and support its expansionist agenda; to do otherwise, they believe, would be contrary to God's will."
* "In addition, the Lobby’s membership includes neoconservative gentiles such as John Bolton, Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and columnist George Will."
* "Over the past 25 years, pro-Israel forces have established a commanding presence at the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA).”
* "Jewish-Americans have formed an impressive array of organizations to influence American foreign policy, of which AIPAC is the most powerful and well-known.”
* "Many of the key organizations in the Lobby, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the American Jewish Committee and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, are run by hardliners who generally support the Likud Party's expansionist policies, including its hostility to the Oslo Peace Process."
* "AIPAC itself, however, forms the core of the Lobby’s influence in Congress."
* "The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress."
* "The Lobby also has significant leverage over the Executive branch. That power derives in part from the influence Jewish voters have on presidential elections."
* "Key organizations in the Lobby also directly target the administration in power ... [and] make sure that critics of the Jewish state do not get important foreign-policy appointments"
* "Pro-Israel congressional staffers are another source of the Lobby’s power. As Morris Amitay, a former head of AIPAC, once admitted, ‘There are a lot of guys at the working level up here [on Capitol Hill] ... who happen to be Jewish, who are willing ... to look at certain issues in terms of their Jewishness ... These are all guys who are in a position to make the decision in these areas for those senators.'"
* "The Lobby’s perspective on Israel is widely reflected in the mainstream media in good part because most American commentators are jewish and pro-Israel."
* "The Lobby doesn’t want an open debate, of course, because that might lead Americans to question the level of support they provide."
* "Were it not for the Lobby’s ability to manipulate the American political system, the relationship between Israel and the United States would be far less intimate than it is today."
* "American Jewish leaders often consult with Israeli officials, so that the former can maximize their influence in the United States."
* "The Lobby also monitors what professors write and teach."
* "Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this campaign to eliminate criticism of Israel from college campuses is the effort by Jewish groups to push Congress to establish mechanisms that monitor what professors say about Israel."
* "Jewish philanthropists have established Israel studies programs (in addition to the roughly 130 Jewish Studies programs that already exist) so as to increase the number of Israel-friendly scholars on campus."
* "No discussion of how the Lobby operates would be complete without examining one of its most powerful weapons: the charge of anti-Semitism. Anyone who criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over U.S. Middle East policy — an influence that AIPAC celebrates — stands a good chance of getting labeled an anti-Semite."
* "the [Iraq] war was due in large part to the Lobby’s influence, especially the neoconservatives within it."
* "Congress insisted on putting the screws to Damascus, largely in response to pressure from Israel officials and pro-Israel groups like AIPAC."
* "the Lobby must keep constant pressure on U.S. politicians to confront Tehran."
* "If their efforts to shape U.S. policy succeed, then Israel’s enemies get weakened or overthrown, Israel gets a free hand with the Palestinians, and the United States does most of the fighting, dying, rebuilding, and paying."
* "It is not meant to suggest that 'the lobby' is a unified movement with a central leadership, or that individuals within it do not disagree on certain issues."
* "Not all Jewish Americans are part of the Lobby, because Israel is not a salient issue for many of them."
* "There is nothing improper about American Jews attempting to sway U.S. policy; the Lobby's activities are not a conspiracy ... For the most part the individuals and groups in it are only doing what other special interest groups do, but doing it very much better." However, "the mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about."
* "Can the Lobby’s power be curtailed? One would like to think so ... But that is not going to happen anytime soon."

On U.S. support for Israel

* Economic: According to the authors, Israel is "the largest total recipient since World War II" of U.S. aid. "Total direct U.S. aid to Israel for this period amounts to well over $140 billion since World War II. Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is about one-fifth of America’s foreign aid budget." The authors claim that "This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita income roughly equal to South Korea or Spain."
The authors claim that "Israel is the only recipient of U.S. aid that does not have to account for how the aid is spent." According to the authors, this makes it "virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the United States opposes."
* Diplomatic/political: The authors write, "Since 1982, the United States has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members together." They further posit that the U.S. also "blocks Arab states’ efforts to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s agenda."

Analysis of Israel as a Strategic Asset and the moral case for support

The authors state: "This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing". The authors offer the following in support of this argument:

trategic Asset

* "Backing Israel is not cheap, however, and it complicates America's relations with the Arab World."
* "The first Gulf War revealed the extent to which Israel was becoming a strategic burden."
* "In fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states."
* "More important, saying that Israel and the U.S. are united by a shared terrorist threat has the causal relationship backwards; the U.S. has a terrorism problem because it is so closely aligned with Israel, not the other way around."
* "As for the so-called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital U.S. interests, except inasmuch as they are a threat to Israel."
* "A final reason to question Israel's strategic value is that it does not behave like a loyal ally."

The Moral Case for Support

* "There is a strong moral case for supporting Israel's continued existence, but that is not in jeopardy."
* "Today Israel is the strongest military power in the Middle East. Its conventional forces are far superior to those of its neighbors and it is the only state in the region with nuclear weapons."
* "That Israel is a fellow democracy surrounded by hostile dictatorships cannot account for the current level of aid."
* "The country's creation was undoubtedly an appropriate response to the long record of crimes against Jews but it also brought about fresh crimes against a largely innocent third party: the Palestinians".
* "Yet on this ground (seeking peace), Israel's record is not distinguishable from that of its opponents."
* "... Yitzhak Shamir, once a terrorist and responsible for the deaths of Count Folke Bernadotte, UN mediator and British official Lord Moyne. Shamir, who would later become prime minister of Israel, declared that 'neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat.'"


The March 2006 publication of Mearsheimer and Walt's bluntly worded essay, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," promoted a charged debate as to what constitutes antisemitic conspiracy theorizing when criticizing the Israel lobby. [Dershowitz, Alan. [ "Debunking the Newest—and Oldest—Jewish Conspiracy: A Reply to the Mearsheimer-Walt "Working Paper" Apr. 2006. Harvard Law School."] 17 Jan. 2007.] The essay's central controversial claim was that the Israel lobby's influence has distorted U.S. Middle East foreign policy away from what the authors referred to as "American national interest."

The matter was further complicated, as Michelle Goldberg reported on, because this was "not just a case of brave academics telling taboo truths" but that they had "blundered forth with an article that has several factual mistakes and baffling omissions" and that seemed "expressly designed to elicit exactly the reaction it has received."Michelle Goldberg, [ Is the "Israel lobby" distorting America's Mideast policies?] ,, April 18 2006, accessed August 29 2006]

In April 2007 the Dutch Tegenlicht ('Backlight'), VPRO's international 50 minute documentary program, produced a documentary as a result of the controversy created by Mearsheimer and Walt's article. The documentary was entitled "The Israel Lobby". [ [;jsessionid=D464B6A64B4D157FEE921BFA5B7B3079?article=9448&template=program Backlight: the Israel Lobby] on Netherlands Public Broadcasting. ] [ [ The Israel Lobby: The Influence of AIPAC on US Foreign Policy] on Google Video. ]


The paper was described as a "wake-up call" by Daniel Levy, [Levy, Daniel [ So pro-Israel that it hurts] , "Haaretz", March 25, 2006. Accessed March 26, 2006. Mirrored [ here] ] former advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. In a March 25 article for "Haaretz", Levy wrote, "Their case is a potent one: that identification of American with Israeli interests can be principally explained via the impact of the Lobby in Washington, and in limiting the parameters of public debate, rather than by virtue of Israel being a vital strategic asset or having a uniquely compelling moral case for support". [Goldberg, Nicholas. [,1,301596.story?coll=la-news-comment Who's afraid of the 'Israel Lobby'?] , "The Los Angeles Times", March 26, 2006. Accessed March 26, 2006.]

Former U.S. Ambassador Edward Peck, now of the Independent Institute and the Council for the National Interest, an anti-Israel lobby, wrote that "The expected tsunami of rabid responses condemned the report, vilified its authors, and denied there is such a lobby — validating both the lobby’s existence and aggressive, pervasive presence and obliging Harvard to remove its name." Peck is generally in agreement with the paper's core thesis: "Opinions differ on the long-term costs and benefits for both nations, but the lobby's views of Israel's interests have become the basis of U.S. Middle East policies." [" [ Of Course There Is an Israel Lobby] ", Edward Peck, April 6 2006]

Rupert Cornwell, writing in "The Independent", welcomed "a debate on America's support for Israel", and accused the "Jewish lobby" of "suppression of serious domestic debate on the U.S. relationship with Israel" and "conflation of Israel's conflict with the Palestinians with America's war on terror". [Cornwell, Rupert. [ At last, a debate on America's support for Israel] , "The Independent", April 7, 2006. (reg. reqd.) Reprinted: [] , [] ]

Tony Judt, a historian at New York University, wrote in the "New York Times", that " [in] spite of [the paper's] provocative title, the essay draws on a wide variety of standard sources and is mostly uncontentious." He goes on to ask " [does] the Israel Lobby affect our foreign policy choices? Of course — that is one of its goals. [...] But does pressure to support Israel distort American decisions? That's a matter of judgment." He concludes the essay by taking the perspective that "this essay, by two 'realist' political scientists with no interest whatsoever in the Palestinians, is a straw in the wind." And that "it will not be self-evident to future generations of Americans why the imperial might and international reputation of the United States are so closely aligned with one small, controversial Mediterranean client state." [ [ A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy] , Tony Judt, "New York Times" Op-ed, April 19, 2006]

Michael Scheuer, a former senior official at the Central Intelligence Agency and now a terrorism analyst for CBS News, said to NPR that Mearsheimer and Walt are basically right. Israel, according to Scheuer, has engaged in one of the most successful campaigns to influence public opinion in the United States ever conducted by a foreign government. Scheuer said to NPR that "They [Mearsheimer and Walt] should be credited for the courage they have had to actually present a paper on the subject. I hope they move on and do the Saudi lobby, which is probably more dangerous to the United States than the Israeli lobby." [ Paper on Israel Lobby Sparks Heated Debate] , Deborah Amos, National Public Radio, April 21, 2006]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, wrote: "Mearsheimer and Walt adduce a great deal of factual evidence that over the years Israel has been the beneficiary of privileged — indeed, highly preferential — financial assistance, out of all proportion to what the United States extends to any other country. The massive aid to Israel is in effect a huge entitlement that enriches the relatively prosperous Israelis at the cost of the American taxpayer. Money being fungible, that aid also pays for the very settlements that America opposes and that impede the peace process." [Zbigniew Brzezinski, [ A Dangerous Exemption] , Foreign Policy, Jul/Aug 2006. Reprinted [] [] ]

In his review in "The Times", journalist Max Hastings wrote "otherwise intelligent Americans diminish themselves by hurling charges of antisemitism with such recklessness. There will be no peace in the Middle East until the United States faces its responsibilities there in a much more convincing fashion than it does today, partly for reasons given in this depressing book." [Hastings, Max. [ The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy] , "The Times", Sept. 2, 2007.]

Abdulmo'em Abulfotah, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood (a Sunni Islamist group that, according to U.S. Government-operated Voice of America, was banned but tolerated by the Egyptian government as of late 2005 [ [ Egypt's Most Popular Party Not on Election Ballot ] ] ) said he thinks "that the people who wrote that report were working for the interest of the American people." [ [ Harvard Distancing Itself From Paper Blaming Jews For US Woes] , 26 March 2006. Verified 22 Oct 2007.]

Political commentator Molly Ivins, who voiced support for Mearsheimer and Walt's thesis, wrote that

" [i] n the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel ..., but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel. Being pro-Israel is no defense, as I long ago learned to my cost. Now I've gotten used to it. Jews who criticize Israel are charmingly labeled 'self-hating Jews.'"Molly Ivins, [ The Israeli lobby] , CNN, April 26 2006, accessed August 27 2006]

Mixed reviews

Columnist Christopher Hitchens agreed that "AIPAC and other Jewish organizations exert a vast influence over Middle East policy", and stated that the paper "contains much that is true and a little that is original" and that he "would have gone further than Mearsheimer and Walt". However, he also says, paraphrasing Samuel Johnson, that "what is original is not true and what is true is not original", and that the notion that the "Jewish tail wags the American dog... the United States has gone to war in Iraq to gratify Ariel Sharon, and... the alliance between the two countries has brought down on us the wrath of Osama Bin Laden" is "partly misleading and partly creepy". [Hitchens, Christopher. [ Overstating Jewish Power: Mearsheimer and Walt give too much credit to the Israeli lobby] , "Slate", March 27, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2006.] He also stated that the authors "seriously mischaracterize the origins of the problem" and produced "an article that is redeemed from complete dullness and mediocrity only by being slightly but unmistakably smelly." [Quoted in " [ Dean's World] ".]

Mitchell Plitnick, Director of Education and Policy for Jewish Voice for Peace, wrote an extensive critique of the book, while also stating firmly that "The ideas Walt and Mearsheimer present are not comfortable and, in my view, sometimes not accurate. But they are not personally anti-Semitic, nor are they motivated by animosity toward Israel." Plitnick details his view that Walt and Mearsheimer seriously overstate "The Lobby's" role in policymaking, although their influence in Congress is considerable. He also challenges the view that Israel was a prime motivator in the invasion of Iraq, saying " was clear that Iraq was no threat to Israel. There was simply no reason for Israel to risk alienating a large segment of the American people in order to push for this war and, in fact, they did not. It was an American misadventure, and the Israeli involvement was by American request, not on their own impetus." Plitnick sees US Mideast policy as consistent with US policy in other places and based on an analysis with which both he and Walt and Mearsheimer would disagree, but saying "The Lobby" is responsible is overstating the matter. [ Mitchell Plitnick, [] Posted September 26, 2007 ]

In describing the last of three "surprising weaknesses" of the paper, Eric Alterman writes in "The Nation", "Third, while it's fair to call AIPAC obnoxious and even anti-democratic, the same can often be said about, say, the NRA, Big Pharma and other powerful lobbies. The authors note this but often seem to forget it. This has the effect of making the Jews who read the paper feel unfairly singled out, and inspires much emotionally driven mishigas in reaction. Do these problems justify the inference that the authors are anti-Semitic? Of course not. " [Eric Alterman, [ AIPAC's Complaint] The Nation, May 1, 2006 (posted April 13, 2006)]

Joseph Massad, professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, writes, "Is the pro-Israel lobby extremely powerful in the United States? As someone who has been facing the full brunt of their power for the last three years through their formidable influence on my own university and their attempts to get me fired, I answer with a resounding yes. Are they primarily responsible for U.S. policies towards the Palestinians and the Arab world? Absolutely not." Massad then argued U.S. policy is imperialistic, and has only supported those struggling for freedom when it is politically convenient, especially in the Middle East. [Joseph Massad, [ Blaming the lobby] Al-Ahram Weekly, March 23–29, 2006]

Michelle Goldberggives a detailed analysis of the paper. She writes about some "baffling omissions", e.g. : "Amazingly, Walt and Mearsheimer don't even mention Fatah or Black September, Munich or Entebbe. One might argue that Israel has killed more Palestinians than visa versa, but it doesn't change the role of spectacular Palestinian terrorism in shaping American attitudes toward Israel." She also finds valuable points: "Walt and Mearsheimer are correct, after all, in arguing that discussion about Israel is hugely circumscribed in mainstream American media and politics.... Indeed, one can find far more critical coverage of the Israeli occupation in liberal Israeli newspapers like Haaretz than in any American daily."

Michael Massing, contributing editor of the "Columbia Journalism Review", writes:"The lack of a clearer and fuller account of Palestinian violence is a serious failing of the essay. Its tendency to emphasize Israel's offenses while largely overlooking those of its adversaries has troubled even many doves." On the other hand, he writes:"The nasty campaign waged against John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt has itself provided an excellent example of the bullying tactics used by the lobby and its supporters. The wide attention their argument has received shows that, in this case, those efforts have not entirely succeeded. Despite its many flaws, their essay has performed a very useful service in forcing into the open a subject that has for too long remained taboo." [Michael Massing, [ The Storm over the Israel Lobby] , New York Review of Books, June 8, 2006]

Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, gives a detailed point by point critique of the paper, and concludes:"The consequences of U.S. policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be tragic, not just for Palestinians and other Arabs, who are the immediate victims of the diplomatic support and largess of American aid to Israel, but ultimately for Israel as well. The fates of American client states have often not been positive. Though differing in many respects, Israel could end up like El Salvador or South Vietnam, whose leadership made common cause with U.S. global designs in ways that ultimately led to untold misery and massive destruction. Israeli leaders and their counterparts in many American Zionist organizations have been repeating the historic error of accepting short-term benefits for their people at the risk of compromising long-term security.... 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, [ The Israel Lobby: How powerful is it really?] , Mother Jones, May 18, 2006]

University of Maryland professor Shibley Telhami, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and critic of the Iraq war, describes the professors as "incredibly bold" at stirring policy and theoretical debates, but strongly disputes the Lobby's role in pushing the U.S. into war. "There's no doubt that neocons long wanted a war. But in the end it was the decision of a president who was super-empowered after 9/11 and who could have ignored them." [cite news|url=|title=Report on Effect of Israel Lobby Distorts History, Critics Say|author=Michael Powell|publisher="The Washington Post"|date=April 3, 2006]

In a review in "The New Yorker", David Remnick writes, "Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business. It’s a narrative that recounts every lurid report of Israeli cruelty as indisputable fact but leaves out the rise of Fatah and Palestinian terrorism before 1967; the Munich Olympics; Black September; myriad cases of suicide bombings; and other spectaculars. ... The duplicitous and manipulative arguments for invading Iraq put forward by the Bush Administration, the general inability of the press to upend those duplicities, the triumphalist illusions, the miserable performance of the military strategists, the arrogance of the Pentagon, the stifling of dissent within the military and the government, the moral disaster of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, the rise of an intractable civil war, and now an incapacity to deal with the singular winner of the war, Iran—all of this has left Americans furious and demanding explanations. Mearsheimer and Walt provide one: the Israel lobby. In this respect, their account is not so much a diagnosis of our polarized era as a symptom of it." [cite news|url=|title=The Lobby|author=David Remnick|publisher="The New Yorker"|date=September 3, 2007]

Madeleine Albright acknowledged that the Israel lobby was very strong. She spoke of the resistance she encountered from the lobby over sales of airplanes to Saudi Arabia in 1978, during her tenure on the National Security Council in the Carter administration. However, she found "a genuine problem in some of the things" in the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, and found it "highly overstated". She concluded: [Council on Foreign Relations, [] , May 1, 2006]

"I think it’s very easy to get on this tack all of a sudden that it’s some kind of an overly powerful Jewish lobby. There are other lobbies that are very strong, and Washington is full of lobbyists. So I would not, in fact, stress that as much as I would stress the fact that the U.S. does have an indissoluble relationship with Israel that is based on history and culture."

Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, writes that "The authors have also been unfairly criticized for supposedly distorting the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, though their overview is generally quite accurate." and takes issue with Joseph Massad's interpretation of Mearsheimer's and Walt's argument

"there is something quite convenient and discomfortingly familiar about the tendency to blame an allegedly powerful and wealthy group of Jews for the overall direction of an increasingly controversial U.S. policy. Indeed, like exaggerated claims of Jewish power at other times in history, such an explanation absolves the real powerbrokers and assigns blame to convenient scapegoats. This is not to say that Mearsheimer, Walt, or anyone else who expresses concern about the power of the Israel lobby is an anti-Semite, but the way in which this exaggerated view of Jewish power parallels historic anti-Semitism should give us all pause."

Mitchell G. Bard of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise writes:

"Criticizing Israel does not necessarily make someone anti-Semitic. The determining factor is the intent of the commentator. Legitimate critics accept Israel's right to exist, whereas anti-Semites do not. Anti-Semites use double standards when they criticize Israel, for example, denying Israelis the right to ... defend itself, and ignore Jewish victims, while blaming Israel for pursuing their murderers."Bard, Mitchell G. "Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict". Chevy Chase: AICE, 2002.]

Writing in "Foreign Affairs", Walter Russell Mead applauds the authors for "admirably and courageously" initiating a conversation on a difficult subject, but criticizes many of their findings. He observes that their definition of the "Israel lobby" is amorphous to the point of being useless: anyone who supports the existence of Israel (including Mearsheimer and Walt themselves) could be considered a part of the lobby, according to Mead. He is especially critical of their analysis of domestic politics in the United States, suggesting that the authors overstate the magnitude of lobbying in favor Israel when considered relative to overall sums spent on lobbying—only 1% in a typical election cycle. Mead considers their wider geopolitical analysis "more professional" but still "simplistic and sunny" on alternatives to a U.S.-Israeli alliance; he notes, for instance, that simply threatening to cut off aid to Israel in order to influence its behavior is misguided policy, given that other powers such as China, Russia, and India might well view an Israeli alliance as advantageous, should the United States withdraw. Mead rejects any anti-Semetic intent in the work, but feels that the authors left themselves open to the charge through "easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression." [cite journal |last=Mead |first=Walter R. |authorlink=Walter Russell Mead |year=2007 |month= November / December |title=Jerusalem Syndrome: Decoding "The Israel Lobby" |journal=Foreign Affairs |volume=86 |issue=6 |pages=160–168 | url = | accessdate = 2008-04-25]



A number of Harvard professors have criticized the paper. Marvin Kalb, a lecturer in public policy, Edward R. Murrow Professor of Press and Public Policy from 1987 to 1999, and former Director and now Senior Fellow [] at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said that the paper failed to meet basic quality standards for academic research.Clyne, Meghan. [ Harvard's Paper on Israel Called 'Trash' By Solon] , "New York Sun", March 22, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.] Ruth Wisse, a professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature, wrote, "When the authors imply that the bipartisan support of Israel in Congress is a result of Jewish influence, they function as classic conspiracy theorists who attribute decisions to nefarious alliances rather than to the choices of a democratic electorate". [ [ Harvard attack on ‘Israel lobby’ is actually a targeting of American public] , Accessed July 28, 2006] David Gergen, a professor of public service at the Kennedy School at Harvard, wrote that the charges in the paper are "wildly at variance with what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office over the years" [David Gergen, [ An Unfair Attack] , U.S. News & World Report, April 3, 2006] Alan Dershowitz, professor of law, wrote a report challenging the factual basis of the paper, the motivations of the authors and their scholarship. Dershowitz claimed that, "The paper contains three types of major errors: quotations are wrenched out of context, important facts are misstated or omitted, and embarrassingly weak logic is employed." [Dershowitz, Alan. " [ A reply to the Mearsheimer Walt "Working Paper"] ", April 6, 2006. Accessed April 6, 2006.]

Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics at MIT, asserts that he did not find the thesis of the paper very convincing. He said that Stephen Zunes has rightly pointed out that "there are far more powerful interests that have a stake in what happens in the Persian Gulf region than does AIPAC [or the Lobby generally] , such as the oil companies, the arms industry and other special interests whose lobbying influence and campaign contributions far surpass that of the much-vaunted Zionist lobby and its allied donors to congressional races." He finds that the authors "have a highly selective use of evidence (and much of the evidence is assertion)", ignore historical "world affairs", and blame the Lobby for issues that are not relevant. [Noam Chomsky, [ The Israel Lobby?] ZNET, March 28, 2006]

Benny Morris, a widely quoted Israeli scholar on the Israeli-Arab conflict and a professor of Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University, prefaced a very detailed analysis with the remark: "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." [Benny Morris, [ And Now For Some Facts] , The New Republic, May 8, 2006; posted April 28, 2006]

John Judis, a senior editor at "The New Republic" and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote: "I think Walt and Mearsheimer do exaggerate the influence of the Israel lobby and define the lobby in such an inclusive way as to beg the question of its influence." [John Judis. [ Split Personality] "The New Republic Online" via the Carnegie Endowment for International Peacewebsite, February 8, 2007]

Middle East historian Michael Oren wrote: "To prove their argument, the professors don't rely on such banal sources as declassified records, presidential memoirs, or State Department documents. These would unimpeachably show that Arab oil (and not Israel) was America's persistent focus in the Middle East — and that presidents have supported Israel for strategic and moral reasons, not political ones. But, instead of citing archival sources, Walt and Mearsheimer pack their footnotes with newspaper articles and references to the polemical writings of Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, as well as the unreservedly pro-Arab Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. The paper's slipshod quality was so evident that the Kennedy School removed its official seal from the treatise." [Michael Oren. [ Quiet Riot] , "The New Republic" 03.31.06] [ [ Michael Oren piece] , from AIPAC.]

Other critics include Johns Hopkins University professor Eliot A. Cohen;cite news|author=Cohen, Eliot|title= [ Yes, It's Anti-Semitic] |publisher=The Washington Post|date=April 5, 2006] University of Maryland history professor Jeffrey Herf; [ [ Letters] , London Review of Books, vol. 28, no. 7, April 6, 2006] Columbia University journalism professor Samuel G. Freedman; [Samuel Freedman, [ A footnote's footnote] , Jerusalem Post, April 25, 2006] Princeton University professor of politics and international affairs Aaron Friedberg; [Aaron Friedberg, [ An Uncivilized Argument] , Foreign Policy, Jul/Aug 2006] and Stanford University political science adjunct professor Josef Joffe. [Josef Joffe, [ WALT AND MEARSHEIMER: ANTI-AMERICAN., Common Denominator] "The New Republic", 04.06.06]

Mark LeVine, professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic studies at the University of California, Irvine, wrote in the "Asia Times" that "the authors' premise and conclusions are all wrong or, more precisely, backward. Mearsheimer and Walt seem to know little about the Middle East, Israel's role in US foreign policy, and what are core US goals and strategic interests in the region. The United States has been using Israel to fulfill its policy objectives for decades, from its role as a regional 'pillar' (along with Saudi Arabia and Iran) in US containment strategies against the Soviet Union in the 1970s up until last summer... One thing is for sure: aside from the 'Jewish lobby' (for whom the book is a godsend of a fundraising tool), the two groups most happy about the publication of book are the oil and arms lobbies, unquestionably the most powerful, and invisible, lobbies in the United States." [cite news|url=|title=No, it's the dog that wags the tail|author=Mark LeVine|publisher=Asia Times|date=September 8, 2007]

Members of organizations

The American Jewish Committee (AJC): executive director David A. Harris has written several responses to the paper and more recently to the book. His article in the "The Jerusalem Post" discusses the difficulty Europeans have in understanding America's "special relationship" with Israel and the resulting eagerness of European publishers to fast track the book. "Although the book was panned by most American reviewers, it will serve as red meat for those eager to believe the worst about American decision-making regarding Israel and the Middle East." [] AJC also published several critiques of the paper, many of which were reproduced in newspapers around the world. AJC's Anti-Semitism expert, Kenneth Stern, made the following argument against the paper: "Such a dogmatic approach blinds them from seeing what most Americans do. They seek to destroy the “moral” case for Israel by pointing at alleged Israeli misdeeds, rarely noting the terror and anti-Semitism that predicates Israeli reactions." [ [ When All Else Fails: The Israel Lobby at ajc wire - blog of the american jewish committee ] ]

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL): National Director Abraham H. Foxman wrote a book in response to Mearsheimer and Walt's paper, entitled " [ [ The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and The Myth of Jewish Control ] ] [ [ Mearsheimer and Walt's Anti-Jewish Screed: A Relentless Assault in Scholarly Guise ] ] where he allegedly "demolishes a number of shibboleths . . . a rebuttal of a pernicious theory about a mythically powerful Jewish lobby." [Publishers Weekly [] ] Former Secretary of State George Shultz wrote in the Forward to the book, "... the notion. U.S. policy on Israel and Middle East is the result of their influence is simply wrong." [Forward by George Shultz in The Deadliest Lies by Abraham H. Foxman] [ [ Video - Breaking News Videos from ] ] The ADL also published an analysis of the paper, describing it as "amateurish and biased critique of Israel, American Jews, and American policy" and a "sloppy diatribe". [ [ Mearsheimer and Walt's Anti-Israel Screed: A Relentless Assault in Scholarly Guise] , Anti-Defamation League Analysis, March 24, 2006. Accessed March 28, 2006.]

The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, a media watchdog group monitoring perceived anti-Israel coverage, published a detailed critique of the paper, claiming that it was "riddled with errors of fact, logic and omission, has inaccurate citations, displays extremely poor judgement regarding sources, and, contrary to basic scholarly standards, ignores previous serious work on the subject". [Safian, Alex. [ Study Decrying “Israel Lobby” Marred by Numerous Errors] , Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, March 20, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.]

A list of critiques of the paper, with links, is posted on the Engage website. [ [] ]

Edward Walker, president of the Middle East Institute and former U.S. ambassador in Egypt and Israel, told NPR: "I lived through all the history that these gentlemen write about, and I didn't recognize it, not from the way they described it — and I was in government all this time."

Other critical organizations and affiliated individuals include the Dore Gold from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, [ Dore Gold [] , Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF, March 24, 2006.] and Neal Sher of AIPAC. [ Neal M. Sher [] , The Jewish press, December 20, 200]


Congressman Eliot L. Engel described the authors as "dishonest so-called intellectuals" — he insisted they were "entitled to their stupidity", and had a right to publish it, but also supported "the right of the rest of us to expose them for being the anti-Semites they are."

Jonathan Rosenblum, columnist for Maariv and the Jerusalem Post, said that Mearsheimer and Walt prefer "to portray President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (not to mention former President Bill Clinton) as helpless dupes of the lobby, than to discuss their policy choices." [Jonathan Rosenblum, [ Paper on Israel Lobby poses threat] , Jewish Journal, April 28, 2006]

Shlomo Ben-Ami, foreign minister of Israel under Ehud Barak, wrote: "Mearsheimer and Walt’s focus on the Israel lobby’s influence on America’s Middle East policy is grossly overblown. They portray U.S. politicians as being either too incompetent to understand America’s national interest, or so undutiful that they would sell it to any pressure group for the sake of political survival. Sentiment and idealism certainly underlie America’s commitment to Israel. But so do the shared interests and considerations of realpolitik." [Shlomo Ben-Ami, [ The Complex Truth] , Foreign Policy, Jul/Aug 2006]

Others critical of the paper include Caroline Glick of The Jerusalem Post; [ Caroline B. Glick, [] , Jewish World Review March 26, 2006] columnist Bret Stephens; [ Bret Stephens [] , The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2006 (username and password needed)] [ [ Israpundit » Blog Archive » The Israel Conspiracy ] ] editor of "Jewish Current Issues" Rick Richman; [ ['Israel_Lobby'_And_Academic_Malpractice.html] , The Jewish Press, March 29, 2006] [ [ Bret Stephens: “Meet the Israel Lobby”] , Speech at the University of Chicago May 3, 2006, Delivered to Chicago Friends of Israel, Israel Week 2006 Keynote] and James Taranto of the The Wall Street Journal; [ [] , "The Wall Street Journal", Editorial Page, March 20, 2006]

George P. Schultz, who served as the United States Secretary of Labor from 1969 to 1970, as the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from 1972 to 1974, and as the U.S. Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989, wrote in the "U.S. News and World Report": "Anyone who thinks that Jewish groups constitute a homogeneous 'lobby' ought to spend some time dealing with them. For example, my decision to open a dialogue with Yasser Arafat after he met certain conditions evoked a wide spectrum of responses from the government of Israel, its political parties, and American Jewish groups who weighed in on one side or the other. ... The United States supports Israel not because of favoritism based on political pressure or influence but because the American people, and their leaders, say that supporting Israel is politically sound and morally just. ... So, on every level, those who blame Israel and its Jewish supporters for U.S. policies they do not support are wrong. They are wrong because, to begin with, support for Israel is in our best interests. They are also wrong because Israel and its supporters have the right to try to influence U.S. policy. And they are wrong because the U.S. government is responsible for the policies it adopts, not any other state or any of the myriad lobbies and groups that battle daily—sometimes with lies—to win America's support." [cite web|url=|title=The 'Israel Lobby' Myth|author=George P. Schultz|publisher=U.S. News and World Report|date=September 9, 2007]

Leslie Gelb, the former President of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in the New York Times Book Review that the scholarship was shoddy and that the authors were biased. "More troublingly, [Walt and Mearsheimer] don’t seriously review the facts of the two most critical issues to Israel and the lobby — arms sales to Arab states and the question of a Palestinian state — matters on which the American position has consistently run counter to the so-called all-powerful Jewish lobby. For several decades, administration after administration has sold Saudi Arabia and other Arab states first-rate modern weapons, against the all-out opposition of Israel and the lobby. And make no mistake, these arms have represented genuine security risks to Israel. . . And on the policy issue that has counted most to Israel and the lobby — preventing the United States from accepting a Palestinian state prior to a negotiated deal between Israel and the Palestinians — it’s fair to say Washington has quietly sided with the Palestinians for a long time." [ [http://www.] Leslie Gelb. "Dual Loyalties", New York Times Book Review, 2007-09-23.]

In a review in the "Chicago Sun-Times": "It's no secret that the Israeli lobby has a record of success... Yet, no other interest group is so frequently singled out for harsh scrutiny, as if somehow laboring on Israel's behalf turns out to be working against America's best interests. ... Forget the dynamics of radical Islamism, Arab resentment of the West and other complexities of international affairs. Just change U.S. policy toward Israel and the world will be a happier place for America. Two intellectuals at two of our best universities have reduced international relations to that." Huntley said the authors' discrediting of certain sources proved "a bias against Israel so deep seated that it defies reality." [cite news|url=,CST-EDT-hunt07.article|title=Unfair charge vs. Israeli lobby|author=Steve Huntley|publisher=Chicago Sun-Times|date=September 7, 2007]

Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of the "Jewish Journal" wrote "Five years ago, before the start of the Iraq War, I wrote an editorial titled ' [ The Jewish War] .' If the Iraq War is a disaster, I wrote, mainstream voices will start blaming the Jews... Guess what? It's time to get off the couch. ... (It is not an exaggeration to say that in the view of the authors, the whole thing is Israel's fault, aided and abetted by the American Jewish Israel lobby and their puppets in the Congress and the White House. Five decades of Arab rejectionism and Palestinian terror, Yasser Arafat's torpedoing of the Oslo accords, a majority American and Israeli Jewish support for land-for-peace deals -- none of this matters.) ... The authors take pains -- well, four pages -- to note that Jews are loyal Americans and that their lobbying is legal, like that of other special interest groups... But these pages, which may as well have been titled, "Hey, Some of Our Best Friends Are Jewish," are contradicted time and again in the authors' selective re-telling of the events leading up the Iraq War. [cite news|url=|title=Jew-Baiting|author=Rob Eshman|publisher="Jewish Journal"|date=2007-09-09]

In a review in "Newsday": "From a couple of prominent political scientists, you'd expect a close analysis of particular pro-Israel organizations (for example, AIPAC) and fresh research into how they exercise influence. But the footnotes, which draw heavily from books and newspaper articles, reveal that the authors have not really done interviews with people presumably belonging to the "lobby," nor gotten access to internal documents. At the same time, they are wedded to the notion that the U.S. and Israel have distinct national interests - with the American interest defined, more or less, as sustained access to Middle Eastern oil. They reject the idea that Iraq was occupied in pursuit of oil." McLemee also criticized the authors' definition of the Israel lobby and their allegation of its role in the occupation of Iraq. [cite news|url=,0,1172999.story|title='The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy'|author="Scott McLemee|publisher="Newsday"|date=September 16, 2007]

In a review in the "Los Angeles Times": "Anyone familiar with the tortured history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a hard time recognizing the history Mearsheimer and Walt rehearse. Every hoary old Israeli atrocity tale is trotted out, and the long story of Palestinian terrorism is rendered entirely as a reaction to Israeli oppression. The failure of every peace negotiation is attributed to Israeli deviousness under the shield of the American Israel lobby. There is nothing here of Palestinian corruption, division and duplicity or even of this unhappy people's inability to provide a reliable secular partner with whom peace can be negotiated... At times, the authors simply contradict themselves, asserting -- rather remarkably -- at one point that the United States has nothing to fear from a nuclear-armed Iran and, at another, that the dangerous prospect of a nuke-equipped Tehran is the Israel lobby's fault. Similarly, they write, Al Qaeda would hammer its swords into ploughshares and Osama bin Laden would lay down with the lamb if only the United States would come out from under Israel's thrall and create by coercion a Palestinian state... (You'd never guess from the Mearsheimer-Walt analysis that many people in this country support Israel precisely because they admire it as a brave, dynamic and democratic society.) ... In fact, if you accept the analysis put forward in this book, it's impossible not to conclude that the United States was, in fact, tricked into a disastrous war in Iraq by a domestic Fifth Column and that the ranks of that subversive formation are filled with Jews, their friends and willing dupes." [cite news|url=,0,5421243.story?coll=la-headlines-calendar|title=Israel's lobby as scapegoat
title=Israel's lobby as scapegoat|author=Tim Rutten|publisher="Los Angeles Times"|date=September 12, 2007

In a review in the "Denver Post", Richard Cohen writes, "By the time I put down the book, occasional critic of Israel though I be, I was ready to burst into 'Hatikvah,' the Israeli national anthem. ... Where Israel is wrong, they say so. But where Israel is right, they are somehow silent. By the time you finish the book, you almost have to wonder why anyone in their right mind could find any reason to admire or like Israel. ... They had an observation worth making and a position worth debating. But their argument is so dry, so one-sided — an Israel lobby that leads America around by the nose — they suggest that not only do they not know Israel, they don't know America, either." [cite news|url=|title=Why does America support Israel?|author=Richard Cohen|publisher="Denver Post"|date=09/12/2007]

Former Director of the CIA James Woolsey also wrote a strongly negative review, remarking that "... Reading [Walt and Mearsheimer's] version of events is like entering a completely different world."

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said that the paper has not had "any great impact on the general public. The American public continues to support the relations [between the two countries] , and resistance to any threat to the survival of Israel." [cite news|url=|title=Kissinger: US public still committed to Israel|author=Michal Lando|date=March 30, 2008]

Outspoken religious and political pundit, and recipient of the American Jewish Press Association's Prize for Excellence in Jewish Commentary, Dennis Prager, wrote in the online conservative political magazine, FrontPage Magazine, that the book is "essentially a tempered modern-day version of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." [] ] Prager is best known for his involvement in the Qur'an oath controversy of 2006, in which he publicly denounced the decision to allow Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress to take his oath of office with his hand upon the Koran, the Islamic holy book, which resulted in a wave of nationwide criticism of his remarks. []

Barack Obama Amazon ad

A "New York Sun" reporter alerted Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that a small ad for his campaign's Web site was appearing as one of several "sponsored links" on the page for "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy", and on September 10, 2007, the Obama campaign took it down. The Obama campaign says its ad probably appeared on the book's Amazon page simply because the campaign paid for its Web site to be mentioned on searches that included the word "politics," among other phrases, part of a publicity strategy being used by many 2008 candidates.

Campaign spokesman Jennifer Psaki told "The Sun" that Obama had not read the book but knew enough about it to disagree with its authors. "The ad has been removed from the site because the views of the book do not reflect the views of Senator Obama on the U.S.- Israel relationship," she said. "Senator Obama has stated that his support for a strong U.S.- Israel relationship, which includes both a commitment to Israel's security and to helping Israel achieve peace with its neighbors, comes from his belief that it's the right policy for the United States. The idea that supporters of Israel have somehow distorted U.S. foreign policy, or that they are responsible for the debacle in Iraq, is just wrong."

The Obama campaign dismissed questions about squaring Obama's spurning of the book's authors with the strong defense of it by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has endorsed Obama. Another Obama supporter, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), who publicly endorsed Obama several months earlier, offered a statement in his defense, saying Obama has "been a consistent supporter of Israel and this is an unfortunate case of a fabricated controversy for political reasons." "I speak with him often on Israel policy," Wexler added, "and I can tell you firsthand that Barack Obama is opposed to the arguments presented in this book." [cite news|url=|title=Obama Distances Himself From Book on U.S.-Israeli Relations|author=Alec MacGillis|date=September 11, 2007]

Reaction to the reception

Harvard's Kennedy School of Government removed its logo, more strongly wording its disclaimer and making it more prominent, and insisting the paper reflected only the views of its authors. [Clyne, Meghan. " [ A Harvard School Distances Itself from Dean's Paper] ", "New York Sun", March 22, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.] [Rosner, Shmuel. " [ Harvard to remove official seal from anti-AIPAC 'working paper'] ", "Haaretz", March 23, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.] [Safian, Alex. " [ Harvard Backs Away from "Israel Lobby" Professors; Removes Logo from Controversial Paper] ", Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, March 22, 2006. Accessed March 24, 2006.] The Kennedy School said in a statement: "The only purpose of that removal was to end public confusion; it was not intended, contrary to some interpretations, to send any signal that the school was also 'distancing' itself from one of its senior professors"Borger, Julian. " [,,1743767,00.html US professors accused of being liars and bigots over essay on pro-Israeli lobby] ", "The Guardian", March 31, 2006. Accessed March 31, 2006.] and stated that they are committed to academic freedom, and do not take a position on faculty conclusions and research. [Bhayani, Paras and Friedman, Rebecca. " [ Dean Attacks 'Israel Lobby'] ", "The Harvard Crimson", March 21, 2006. Accessed March 28, 2006.]

Mark Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University, wrote that it is not possible to openly debate the topic of the article: "What is striking is less the substance of their argument than the outraged reaction: to all intents and purposes, discussing the US-Israel special relationship still remains taboo in the U.S. media mainstream. [...] Whatever one thinks of the merits of the piece itself, it would seem all but impossible to have a sensible public discussion in the U.S. today about the country’s relationship with Israel."Mazower, Mark. " [ When vigilance undermines freedom of speech] " , "Financial Times", April 3 2006]

Criticism of the paper has itself been called "moral blackmail" and "bullying" by an opinion piece in "The Financial Times": "Moral blackmail — the fear that any criticism of Israeli policy and U.S. support for it will lead to charges of anti-Semitism — is a powerful disincentive to publish dissenting views...Bullying Americans into a consensus on Israeli policy is bad for Israel and makes it impossible for America to articulate its own national interest." The editorial praised the paper, remarking that "They argue powerfully that extraordinarily effective lobbying in Washington has led to a political consensus that American and Israeli interests are inseparable and identical." [ America and Israel] , "The Financial Times", April 1, 2006. Copied [ here] .]

Juan Cole responded to Alan Dershowitz, disputing Dershowitz's major factual criticisms, charging that Dershowitz "sets up the straw man that the authors claim that a central "cabal" of "Jews" tightly controls the U.S. press and the U.S. government and prevents them from criticizing Israel" and claiming that Dershowitz is trying to imply that "Mearsheimer and Walt are anti-Semites in the Henry Ford/Protocols of the Elders of Zion tradition". [ [ Breaking the silence] , Verified 22 Oct 2007.]

Richard Cohen responded in "The Washington Post" to Eliot A. Cohen's prior editorial in the same newspaper, denying that the working paper is anti-Semitic, and calling Eliot Cohen's piece "offensive": "To associate Mearsheimer and Walt with hate groups is rank guilt by association and does not in any way rebut the argument made in their paper on the Israel lobby." Richard Cohen found the paper unremarkable, calling its "basic point" "inarguable", but contends that "Israel's special place in U.S. foreign policy is deserved, in my view, and not entirely the product of lobbying." He also observes that the article is "a bit sloppy and one-sided (nothing here about the Arab oil lobby)". [Cohen, Richard" [ No, It's Not Anti-Semitic] ", "The Washington Post", April 25, 2006. Accessed April 25, 2006.]

Syndicated political commentator Molly Ivins believed that it was "the sheer disproportion, the vehemence of the attacks on anyone perceived as criticizing Israel that makes them so odious. Mearsheimer and Walt are both widely respected political scientists — comparing their writing to "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is just silly." She commented that she found the arguments of the paper to be "unexceptional" and that "it seems an easy case can be made that the United States has subjugated its own interests to those of Israel in the past."Molly Ivins, " [ The Israeli lobby] ",, April 26, 2006]

Mearsheimer and Walt's response

Mearsheimer stated, " [w] e fully recognised that the lobby would retaliate against us" and " [w] e expected the story we told in the piece would apply to us after it was published. We are not surprised that we've come under attack by the lobby." [Mekay, Emad. " [ Israel Lobby Dictates U.S. Policy, Study Charges] ", "Inter Press Service News Agency", March 22, 2006. Accessed March 26, 2006.] He also stated "we expected to be called anti-semites, even though both of us are philo-semites and strongly support the existence of Israel."

Mearsheimer and Walt responded to their critics in a letter to the "London Review of Books".Mearsheimer, John J. and Walt, Stephen. [ letter] to the "London Review of Books", May 11, 2006.]

* To the accusation that they "see the lobby as a well-organised Jewish conspiracy" they refer to their description of the lobby "a loose coalition of individuals and organisations without a central headquarters".

* To the accusation of mono-causality, they remark "we also pointed out that support for Israel is hardly the only reason America’s standing in the Middle East is so low".

* To the complaint that they "'catalogue Israel's moral flaws', while paying little attention to the shortcomings of other states", they refer to the "high levels of material and diplomatic support" given by the United States especially to Israel as a reason to focus on it.

* To the claim that U.S. support for Israel reflects "genuine support among the American public" they agree, but argue that "this popularity is substantially due to the lobby's success at portraying Israel in a favourable light and effectively limiting public awareness and discussion of Israel’s less savoury actions".

* To the claim that there are countervailing forces "such as 'paleo-conservatives, Arab and Islamic advocacy groups... and the diplomatic establishment'", they argue that these are no match for the lobby.

* To the argument that oil rather than Israel drives Middle East policy, they claim that the United States would favour the Palestinians instead of Israel, and would not have gone to war in Iraq or be threatening Iran if that were so.

*They accuse various critics of smearing them by linking them to racists, and dispute various claims by Alan Dershowitz and others that their facts, references or quotations are mistaken.

Ori Nir at "The Forward" wrote: "Asked if the study may have been initially rejected by the American publisher because of poor research, Mearsheimer said that the "evidence in the piece is just the tip of the iceberg," and that the study's observations are supported by a large body of evidence." [Ori Nir, [ Professor Says American Publisher Turned Him Down] "The Forward", March 24, 2006] Speaking at a forum at invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Walt expresses that the Israel lobby "is not a cabal," that it is "not synonymous with American Jews" and that "there is nothing improper or illegitimate about its activities." [Dana Milbank: [ Pronouncing Blame on the Israel Lobby] , Mearsheimer and Walt speak at a forum at invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), "Washington Post", August 29, 2006]

In answering a question at Georgetown University about David Gergen's criticism, Walt noted that Gergen, in his White House days, was primarily involved in public relations and spin, not the formation of Middle East policy.

The authors have privately circulated a 79-page rebuttal, "Setting the Record Straight: A Response to Critics of 'The Israel Lobby'" [] , and are working on a book on the subject. [Philip Weiss, [ "Walt and Mearsheimer Rebut (and Humble) Their Critics"] , January 9, 2007]

Scott McConnell in The American Conservative commented on the different reactions the book caused inside and outside of America and noted "casual newspaper readers in Israel, in Britain, and soon in the rest of Europe, where the book is being translated into seven languages, are being treated to far more nuanced and serious discussion of The Israel Lobby than Americans have been." [Scott McConnell, [ The Lobby Strikes Back] , December 2007]


"The London Review of Books" [ organised a follow-up debate] on the paper, moderated by Anne-Marie Slaughter. [ [ "The Israel Lobby: Does it Have Too Much Influence on US Foreign Policy?"] ,, October 11, 2006] The panelists were John Mearsheimer, Shlomo Ben-Ami, Martin Indyk, Tony Judt, Rashid Khalidi, and Dennis Ross.

See also

* Jewish lobby
* Arab lobby in the United States


External links

* [ Israel Lobby Book] - Official Site
* [ Video] From London Review of Books Israel Lobby Debate
*Letters to the "London Review of Books": [ Vol. 28 No. 7] , [ Vol. 28 No. 8] , [ Vol. 28 No. 9] , [ Vol. 28 No. 10] , [ Vol. 28 No. 11] , [ Vol. 28 No. 12]
* Alternative link to Mearsheimer and Walt paper hosted at University of Chicago [ "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," Kennedy School of Government Working Paper No. RWP06-011]
* [ The myth of the "Jewish lobby"] in the "Frontline" (India's National Magazine) Volume 20 — Issue 20, September 27 – October 10, 2003.
* [ It's Not Either/Or The Israel Lobby]
* [ The FLORA or Foreign Lobby Registration Act] , a proposed bill to limit or restrict the influence of foreign governments influence in Washington DC.
* [ Grabbing the third rail] , Mother Jones interview of Mearsheimer and Walt
* [ We need to put pressure on Israelis, professor says] , "Times Herald-Record" interviews Mearsheimer
* [ A beautiful friendship?] , Glenn Frankel at
* [ Some Rebuttals to Mearsheimer & Walt's "Israel Lobby"] published by "Engage"
* [,1,6447050.story?coll=la-news-comment&ctrack=1&cset=true A Hot Paper Muzzles Harvard: controversial "Jewish lobby" paper raises nary a peep on the cowed campus] — from the LA Times
* [ One Hour Radio Interview with Mearsheimer and Walt on NPR's "The Diane Rehm Show"] — June 21, 2006
* [ Review] by L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006
* [ Is There A Kosher Way to Criticize the Israel Lobby?] — from "The American Prospect"
* [ Republicans more pro-Israel than Democrats] — from "U.S. News and World Report"
* [ AIPAC's Dangerous Grip on Washington] — from "The Nation"
* [ "Jews have too much sway in US policy" (AP)] — from "The Jerusalem Post" (May 2007)
* [ The Israel Lobby & Global Hegemony: The Mearsheimer-Walt Thesis Deconstructed] — from "World War 4 Report"
* [,,2169838,00.html Articles of faith]
* [ De-Mystifying American Middle East Policy: A Response to Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer] by Mitchell Plitnick

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