Thursday, August 16, 2007

Elaborating on "The Lobby"

Mearsheimer and Walt are back, with a book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”.

The names seemed familiar: I remembered Jeff Weintraub writing about them (see here). This was at the time of their paper and the LRB article based on it, in April 2006. One of the most detailed responses was from Benny Morris:
footnote 10 states: "It is also worth noting that the British favored the Zionists over the Palestinians during the period of the British Mandate (1919-1948)." But during the Mandate, both Arabs and Jews were "Palestinians";
There are some other historical truths that many are prepared to overlook:
Moreover, during the 1930s and 1940s, the espoused policy of the leader of the Palestinian Arab national movement, the Muslim cleric Haj Amin al Husseini, was frankly expulsionist about the Yishuv [the Jewish community in Palestine]. He repeatedly stated that he was willing, in his future Palestinian state, to accommodate as citizens only those Jews who had been residents or citizens of Palestine up to 1917--say, 60,000 to 80,000 in all. When asked in 1937 by the Peel Commission what he intended to do with the 80 percent of the Jews who had been born in or come to Palestine after that date, he responded that time will tell. The commissioners understood him to mean that they were destined for expulsion or worse.
In the book, to be published on 4 Sept., we are told "they elaborate on and update their case."

Update (17 Aug):  Based on a blogsearch, most of the comments appearing in the roughly 16 hours after my original post seem in large majority to be supportive of Mearsheimer and Walt. Some examples:
Paul Craig Roberts: 'En mars 2006, deux universitaires distingués, John Mearsheimer et Stephen Walt, s'inquiétaient dans The London Review Books du pouvoir du lobby d'Israël [my emphasis].'

ANOTHER BOOK AIPAC IS UNHAPPY ABOUT: 'If Abe Foxman and his cronies are upset by the publication of a new book.... then IT IS DEFINITELY WORTH READING!'
A number focus on the Chicago Global Affairs Council decision to cancel its event with the authors:
Alain Gresh on Le Monde Diplomatique's blog (Quelle surprise!): 'Deux universitaires, auteur d'un rapport très détaillé sur le rôle du lobby [..] devaient parler devant le Chicago Global Affairs Council le 27 septembre 2007...'

I think an advance order from Amazon.com is in order“On July 24, Council President Marshall Bouton phoned one of us (Mearsheimer) and informed him that he was canceling the event,” 
The pro-Israeli side seems to have shot itself in the foot here. If I am asked to oppose the British campaign to boycott Israeli academics (which I am and I do), I think there must be a certain consistency here - to encourage open debate.

There is an interesting parallel here. A few days ago, I think it was regarding the row about Channel 4's Dispatches documentary, 'Undercover Mosque', somebody dredged up a Front Page Magazine about a Saudi banker's attempts, using British libel laws , 'to stymie the flow of information concerning his apparent misdeeds'. Another alarm bell rang in my head: it does not take long to confirm that they supported the actions to exclude Tariq Ramadan from the United States.

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