The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

Walt and Mearsheimer’s book on the Israel Lobby has now been published.  For anyone thats not read it yet, I recommend their article “The Israel lobby,” then I’m sure you’ll have to get the book.

 Mondoweiss wrote a good review of it that mentions its relevence to Lebanon –

I realize I have not mentioned one fact from the book. Let me do that. I will pick out one story that tells it all.
Halfway through the 2006 Lebanon War, Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen–having heroically knocked off a Republican in 2004 over the incumbent’s Iraq War vote–wrote a sharp letter to Condoleezza Rice urging the U.S. to pressure Israel to cease fire. Israel had caused “large loss of civilian life, and produced over 750,000 refugees.” It had weakened the Lebanese government and strengthened Hezbollah.  “We have squandered an opportunity to isolate Hezbollah…” Etc.

The bravery of Van Hollen’s letter was that an antiwar congressman was speaking the truth at a moment it needed to be spoken. If America could have served any purpose in that war, it should have been to hold Israel back, or say, This is not good. Van Hollen was stomped on. Right after the letter, Schmuel Rosner clucked in Haaretz that Van Hollen was to meet with AIPAC and “he will hear that this was an unacceptable move.” An unacceptable move for a U.S. Congressman to open his mouth against an Israeli war, having gained his seat by opposing the Iraq War. Then Van Hollen issued an apology. This wasn’t enough. The Jewish Community Relations Council of Washington said he had to reach out to the Jewish community to undo the damage. The ADL said the apology wasn’t convincing in light of the anti-Israel character of the letter. After the war, Van Hollen duly went to Israel on a special AIPAC-affiliated junket, to learn the error of his ways.

And meanwhile, AIPAC’s president crowed in a letter to supporters:  “Look what you’ve done!… Only ONE nation in the world came out and flatly declared: Let Israel finish the job. That nation is the United States… and the reason it had such a clear, unambiguous view of the situation is YOU and the rest of American Jewry.”

Look what they’d done. The Lebanon war stopped two weeks later, and we all know now what had taken place: a disaster. Something like 50 Israelis killed and 1000 Lebanese, the southern Lebanese infrastructure destroyed, including hospitals and stores and bridges–for what, for nothing. As Van Hollen understood, Hezbollah was empowered. Nasrallah became a hero. The IDF hostages weren’t released. And Israel has since experienced a sense of desperate waste. The Israeli army chief of staff, who called in his stock sales just before the war began, was dismissed. And southern Lebanon was strewn with illegal cluster bombs, so that Lebanese children are dismembered to this day.

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One Response

  1. I have read the article as a PDf downloaded from the Harvard website. It is a great document. Now they have released the book and I look forward in reading it.

    Great blog by the way.

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