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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy
John J. Mearsheimer
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
496 pp., $26.00
It's All So Simple!
Mearsheimer and Walt waste no time in getting to their thesis. In the preface we are told that the material and diplomatic support that the United States has given to Israel in amounts that increase with each decade
[cannot] be explained on either strategic or moral grounds. Instead it [is] due largely to the political power of the Israel lobby, a loose coalition of individuals and groups that seeks to influence American foreign policy in ways that will benefit Israel. … The activities of this lobby have led directly to the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, and the ongoing confrontation with Syria and Iran … [and other policies that are] not in the U.S. national interest and [are] in fact harmful to Israel's long-term interests as well.
In the introduction, Mearsheimer and Walt tell the story of how their earliest effort to put their thesis forth as an essay in a major journal was stifled by the lobby, which caused a great cry of "anti-Semitism" to go up across the land—precisely the same experience, they say, that Jimmy Carter had with his Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (reviewed in Books & Culture, January/February 2007). Such attempts to muzzle dissent seemed to justify fleshing out the article into the formidable volume that we consider here: 400 pages of argument ballasted by 100 pages of notes. And somehow, despite the long reach of Israel's partisans, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy enjoyed a run on the bestseller list.
A key to the Israel lobby's hold on our minds, say Mearsheimer and Walt, is the tireless promotion of the fallacy that the Muslim world hates Israel because it hates us and our civilization. Mearsheimer and Walt won't have any of this: Israel's behavior, they explain, is the cause of Muslim rage against the United States. Why this should be so is never explained; certainly, Mearsheimer and Walt never argue with it. That the Muslims hate the Jews is simply stated as an immutable truth.
Take the case of Osama bin Laden. "The young ....