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The United States and Israel

April 18, 2006

Two American academics, Chicago University’s John J. Mearsheimer and Harvard’s Stephen M. Walt, have set a royal cat among the pigeons with the publication of their paper ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’ on Harvard University’s website in March.

In The Washington Post, Eliot Cohen has condemned the paper as anti-Semitic, and the indefatigable Melanie Phllips clearly feels likewise.

There are many things to dispute in the paper, among them the actual influence of the Jewish, or Israel, Lobby on US foreign policy. Also in contention is the authors’ account of Israel’s past and present iniquities, derived in large part from the writings of revisionist Israeli academics like Benny Morris — themselves the subject of bitter criticism both within Israel and without.

But one argument advanced by Mearsheimer and Walt — that support for Israel is contrary to the national, and national security interests of the United States — strikes me as being profoundly true.

Support for Israel has, for decades now, been the principal obstacle in the path of better relations between the US and the Arab and wider Islamic world. Why on Earth does the US cleave to this self-destructive policy?

It:

Makes the US a natural target for Middle East-based or -derived terrorists
Contaminates its relationship with Europe
Complicates is relationship with Russia and China
Undermines its authority in the United Nations
Makes it an eternal ‘other’ to the Islamic world
Corrupts its relations with nations from Indonesia to Sudan
Sets it at odds with the bulk of the Western intelligentsia
Provides endless ammunition for its enemies — home-grown and foreign
Renders it perpetually hostage to guilt by association.

It makes no sense. It’s the very obverse of realpolitik.

Perhaps because it’s:

A matter of honour. A matter of history. A matter of loyalty. A matter of right. A matter of integrity. A matter of principle. A matter of courage.

It makes no sense. It’s the very obverse of realpolitik.

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