This week Richard Cohen defended the Walt/Mearsheimer "Israel Lobby" paper "Not it's not antisemitic" In a key paragraph Cohen writes
Israel's special place in U.S. foreign policy is deserved, in my view, and not entirely the product of lobbying. Israel has earned it, and isn't there something bracing about a special relationship that is not based on oil or markets or strategic location but on shared values? (A bit now like Britain.) But I can understand how foreign policy "realists" such as Mearsheimer and Walt might question its utility and not only think that a bit too much power is located in a specific lobby but that it is rarely even discussed. This may be wrong, but it is not (necessarily) anti-Semitic. In fact, after reading the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, the respected Israeli newspaper Haaretz not only failed to discern anti-Semitism but commended the paper to its readers. "The professors' article does not deserve condemnation," Haaretz stated in an editorial.
But it wasn't just that Walt/Mearsheimer argued that Israel had an influential lobby, it was that it was encouraging America to act against its interests. And the also claimed, implausibly, that because the lobby was so powerful they couldn't get their paper published in the United States. Given that tripe such as theirs (if not as detailed) gets published regularly in leftist publications, that claim is disingenuous. It is very clear that they have more in common with David Duke than they care to admit.
Since Richard Cohen started his defense by attacking Eliot Cohen's earlier essay in the Washington Post, Eliot Cohen's cousin, Israel Matzav steps in and concludes
To answer that question, I believe that we need to look no further than Martin Luther King Jr. During an appearance at Harvard University shortly before his death, a student stood up and asked King to address himself to the issue of Zionism. The question was clearly hostile. King responded, "When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism." I'm sure that I don't need to tell you that there a whole slew of leftist and Arab websites out there that have literally tried to take those words out of Dr. King's mouth. But when in doubt, King's words are the fairest guidance.
But Walt/Mearsheimer don't lack for defenders, Molly Ivins the abrasive know-nothing Texas columnist defends them too.
In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel. In Israel, they have it as a matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semi- tism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel.
Being pro-Israel is no defense, as I long ago learned to my cost. Now I've gotten used to it. Jews who criticize Israel are charmingly labeled ''self-hating Jews.'' As I have often pointed out, that must mean there are a lot of self-hating Israelis, because those folks raise hell over their own government's policies all the time.
Fortunately, Meryl Yourish comes the rescue
You are seeing exactly what I wrote about weeks ago: The paper got out there, and now everyone is using it as a justification for the arguments that used to be whispered in private. They were whispered in private because they bear the stink of anti-Semitism. Now, they’re trying to move to the mainstream, and tools like Ivins are helping them right along.
The end is priceless
Funny, isn’t it, that none of the people who decry the strength of The Lobby ever consider, even briefly, that perhaps American support of Israel is given because, well, gee — it’s the right thing to do. And the public approves of it, in every poll ever taken. Politicians don’t go against polls.
But then, Academia and Big Journalism have one thing in common: They believe that they, not the American people, know what is Best For America. Molly Ivins certainly does. Look at how she describes her opponents: “nutjobs.”
Better that than a hack who can’t understand an issue without having someone else do all the footwork for her, I guess.
But, of course, you must read the whole thing.Posted by SoccerDad at April 28, 2006 2:02 AM