The latest wave of counterattacks to come out of the seemingly never-ending cycle of violence between Israel and Palestine needs to be considered within the context of recent events.  A largely one-sided (Palestinian) cease fire had existed for fifteen months until a shell exploded on a Gaza beach. Israel initially denied that it was responsible for this shelling, but that wasn’t the only event that precipitated further violence.  This from Time: 

What prompted Hamas’ move? First, Jamal Abu Samhadana, head of a Gaza security force, was assassinated in an Israeli missile strike. But it was the Israeli shelling of a Gaza beach–killing eight, including five members of one family–that united the Palestinians in outrage. Israel expressed regret, but that didn’t placate Hamas’ military wing, which ended the cease-fire and fired at least 15 rockets into
Israel. 

It is hard to understand why the United States almost unconditionally backs
Israel in this conflict.  One answer may be found in a working research paper written by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and made available through Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  In the paper, titled The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Mearsheimer of the University of
Chicago’s Department of Political Science and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard
University’s Kennedy School of Government argue that it is the strength of the Jewish lobby.  Alan Dershowitz immediately wrote a forty-four page response which not only accused the authors of lacking academic rigor, but of promoting anti-Semitism: 

. . . the real trouble with the paper is that it presents a conspiratorial view of history. This type of paranoid worldview, in which Jews manipulate and control the media and government, is not the sort of argument one would expect from prominent academics. It more closely resembles what Professor Richard Hofstadter described in “The Paranoid Style of American Politics,” in which extremists on both the far right and the far left harbor exaggerated fantasies about an individual demographic group’s influence.

Dershowitz, in his paper, also cites the Wall Street Journal’s criticism:

The authors are at pains to note that the Israel Lobby is by no means exclusively Jewish, and that not every American Jew is a part of it. Fair enough. But has there ever been an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that does not share its basic features?

Regardless of what one thinks of the argument of the working paper, I think that an open debate on this issue needs to be able to occur.  One needs to be able to admit the presence of a strong and influential Jewish lobby without being labeled an Anti-Semite or conspiracy theorist.  All sorts of lobbying groups hold sway in the
US for all kinds of different reasons, but to refer to their influence does not mean that one is harboring prejudice or characterizing them as cabals.  Think of the frequent references in the media to the lobbying power of the “Christian right” and “evangelicals.”  Think of the constant references to their direct line to the White House.  Has anyone, particularly a scholar in a forty-four page paper, stood up and said, “Wait a minute, you’re paranoid, and you must hate Christians.”  No doubt this is true for some critics of the Christian right, but for the most part, the criticism of their influence is fair-minded, and no one is afraid to speak openly about it.  No one need worry about having his career damaged or being labeled a “Christian-conspiracy theorist.” 

In fact, the Mearsheimer/Walt paper makes extensive note of Christian Evangelical involvement in lobbying efforts in support of Israel.

The Bush administration has made a gross error by focusing on regime change and occupation in order to stabilize the Middle East (ultimately, to make it safe for business) when it should have been focusing on the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  That is the very first thing that needs to be done in order to stabilize the Middle East and all else will follow.  Instead, the Bush-Cheney crowd has single-mindedly and obsessively focused on Iraq.  If half the resources spent on Iraq had been spent on solving the Israel-Palestine problem, we might have a better and safer world today. 

Further, the US has hampered a resolution by so strongly supportiong Israel.  Why not introduce an embargo against BOTH parties until they come to their senses?  


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