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Israel Lobby Book Reviews: What Critics Are Saying

By    |   Thursday, 20 Nov 2014 09:07 PM

The Israel lobby received heavy criticism in the book “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” that has lasted for years. The book, written by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt and published in 2007, received praise from opponents of the lobby, but also criticism. Even reviewers who agree with some points made by the authors object to the conclusions.

Support for Israel has become very costly when it comes to funding for U.S. foreign policy, a point in the book that critics agree on, even if they are strong supporters of a pro-Israel policy in America. Israel’s proponents can argue that the costs are worth it to the U.S. because the nation is such a strong ally and the cost is in America’s interests, notes Itamar Rabinovich, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. in the 1990s, in his review of the book.

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Rabinovich takes issue with the authors’ contention that the Israel lobby was behind America’s invasion of Iraq to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He points out that the main reason was the view of Bush administration officials, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney. It was a result of the 9/11 attacks and the belief that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, based on evidence provided to them from intelligence sources.

However, Rabinovich says the authors make a good point about the perception of America’s support for Israel. Pro-Israel supporters need to take psychological reactions into consideration when dealing with future U.S.-Israel relations. Radical elements in the Arab world turn against America when they perceive the U.S. favors Israel, making more realistic approaches necessary in dealing with Middle East issues.

The case of anti-Semitism labels is featured in a major section of the book, Michael F. Brown explains in a review for the Institute for Middle East Understanding. The anti-Semitism charge makes politicians back off in voting against a pro-Israel policy to avoid the unjust attacks. These charges, however, have a backlash effect as well when used too often. The book does not say the actions of the Israel lobby are illegal, but describes how effective the lobbyists are in preventing administrations in Washington from considering basic rights of the Palestinians, according to the authors.

Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, is among the critics who disagree with the book’s emphasis on the Israel lobby involving the U.S. in war. In a review for The New York Times, he refutes the authors' claim that the lobby is powerful enough to push the U.S. into a war with Iran. Gelb counters that leaders in Washington who belong to the particular administration in charge or in Congress make those decisions.

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The Israel lobby received heavy criticism in the book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" that has lasted for years. The book, written by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt and published in 2007, received praise from opponents of the lobby, but also criticism.
israel, lobby
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2014-07-20
Thursday, 20 Nov 2014 09:07 PM
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