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Israel Lobby Book Reviews: What Politicians Are Saying

By    |   Thursday, 20 Nov 2014 08:26 PM

There have been critics and supporters of the book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. The book continues to ignite debates since its publication in 2007.

Political insiders, however, seem to look at the authors’ views as naïve in thinking lobby groups have so much control.

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George Shultz, secretary of state from 1982 to 1989, said blaming U.S. policies on Israeli supporters is greatly mistaken because supporting Israel is in the best interest of the U.S. Also, the U.S. government is solely responsible for any actions adopted in relation to Israel and the Middle East. In an opinion piece for U.S. News and World Report, addressing the book by Mearsheimer and Walt, he stated that there isn’t a uniform agenda among Jewish groups in the U.S.

Shultz likened the accusations in the book to conspiracy theories. Critics of the Israel lobby have a mindset that concludes America should be supporting the Arab world because of its rich sources of oil. However, since the U.S. supports Israel, a tiny country with no natural resources, there must be a Jewish plot involved, Shultz stated.

Shultz also pointed to the differences of opinion regarding policy by American Jewish groups. When he opened a dialogue with PLO leader Yasser Arafat after certain conditions were met, Shultz was met with criticism and also support from Jewish groups. American policymakers frequently reject the views of lobbyists for Israel, including selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

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Michael Gerson, a top aide to President George W. Bush in policy and strategic planning, disputed in The Washington Post the book’s claim that pro-Israel groups dictated foreign policy in the Middle East to the Bush administration. He said some supporters of Israel and Israeli officials were often skeptical about Bush’s aims to democratize countries in the Middle East following years of tyranny.

Gerson’s review of the book also took on the authors’ claim that the U.S. suffers from terrorist threats because of its close alliance with Israel. He compared it to saying Britain was threatened by the Nazis in the 1930s because its alliance with Czechoslovakia. He added that the authors’ views of the Israel lobby controlling U.S. foreign policy is a dangerous way of thinking because it suggests that Jews have a secret control of governments.

The support of Israel takes an enormous economic toll on U.S. funding for foreign policy, which is a factor that the book gets right, according to Itamar Rabinovich, Israel’s ambassador to Washington in the 1990s. It is the job of the Israel lobby to help explain that support for Israel is in America’s best interest. But Rabinovich also says the authors focus their attention on the view that lobbying politics determines U.S. foreign policy, when the actual decisions come from Democratic and Republican administrations.

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There have been critics and supporters of the book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt. The book continues to ignite debates since its publication in 2007.
israel, lobby
501
2014-26-20
Thursday, 20 Nov 2014 08:26 PM
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