Monday, September 03, 2007

The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control

I was browsing the new non-fiction books table in the local Barnes & Noble and noticed a curious title: The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control by Abraham Foxman. It purports to be a comprehensive rebuttal of the proposition that "there is an Israel lobby with disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy." I leafed through it and read a few passages, but it seemed like more of a knee-jerk reactionary response to valid criticism and more of an attempt to smear critics of the foreign policy of Israel and the U.S. foreign policy with regards to Israel and the greater Middle East.

From From Publishers Weekly:

In opposing the view that there is an Israel lobby with disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy (a view that Foxman says plays into the traditional anti-Semitic narrative about 'Jewish control' ), the national director of the Anti-Defamation League focuses on the controversial 2006 paper The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (their book of the same title will be published in September). Foxman demolishes a number of shibboleths about the lobby's power. Much of the book's second half then takes on what Foxman sees as the biases and distortions in former president Carter's Palestine Peace or Apartheid, offering evidence, for example, that Yasser Arafat, not Ehud Barak, was the obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement at the Taba negotiations. But Foxman never really defines what the Israel lobby is, paying more attention to the ADL than to that lobby's main instrument, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee. And many will find debatable his claim that Israel has proven to be the single greatest source of stability in the region. This book succeeds far more as a rebuttal of a pernicious theory about a mythically powerful Jewish lobby than as a look at the real institutions that lobby in support of Israel or at Israel's complex role in the Middle East.

I'm not exactly sure what the reference to "the traditional anti-Semitic narrative about 'Jewish control'Â" is meant to convey in this context, but I don't recall either Carter or Mearsheimer or Walt suggesting anything at all about "control." Rather, the latter were referring to excessive influence. And I don't recall reading anything from them even hinting at them being "anti-Semitic", other than the usual caveat that anyone critisizing Israel, its policies, or its supporters is automatically labelled as being "anti-Semitic" in some social circles.

And why any of this warrants a label of "The Deadliest Lies" is a complete mystery, other than to betray its aims of being an intentional smear campaign against legitimate criticism.

And if the author of the book is unfamiliar with the clout that AIPAC has in Washington or with congressional politics, he is in a complete state of denial.

To be clear, I myself do not believe in some mythic, monolithic "Israel Lobby" or "Jewish Control", but there is a clear, if loose, coalition of interests in Washington which I loosely refer to as "the so-called Pro-Israel Lobby." This loose coalition includes all of those labeled as Neo-Conservatives, right-wing Christian fundamentalists, right-wing conservative Jewish groups, and assorted politicians and interest groups who align themselves with the core groups as a matter of political expediency and to gain access to campaign funds. All of those assorted players, only some of who are actually Jewish, act with a distinct bias in favor of a conservative view on Israel and its policies towards its neighbors in the greater Middle East.

I have no intention of buying the book myself, but I would like to read it for background once any of my readers have finished it.

And if you are interested in reading what the targets of Foxman's criticisms have to say take a look at The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt:

And take a look at Palestine Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter:

BTW, if you do buy any of these books by clicking on my links, I will get a very modest commission.

-- Jack Krupansky

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