May 24, 2013
May 22, 2013
They launched the 'Arab Spring' but now yearn for the good old days of a strongman
May 20, 2013
Richard A. Serrano: Is Meir Kahane's assassin now a changed man?
Genetic copies of living people from embryos no longer science fiction
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom :
The Kosher Gourmet by Cathy Pollak:
Jews Inducted into Rock Hall of Fame; Anton Yelchin co-stars in New "Trek" film; Kutcher (but not Kunis) visits Israel; Jewish TV Star Praises Jewish Rap Star
WARNING: This WALNUT CAKE WITH PRALINE FROSTING, perfect for afternoon coffee, is addicting
May 13, 2013
Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: Why the giving of the document that would permanently change the world could only be done in desolation
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
Sept. 24, 2007
/ 12 Tishrei 5768
The big lie about the Great Silencer
When John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt embarked on The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, a 484-page elaboration of the theme that a mighty pro-Israel machine controls America's dealings in the Middle East and crushes those who get in its way, they expected to be condemned as anti-Semites.
"The charge of anti-Semitism," the two academics write in their book (as they had in their notorious 2006 essay on the subject), is one of the "most powerful weapons" in the Israel lobby's arsenal. "Anyone who criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy stands a good chance of getting labeled an anti-Semite. In fact, anyone who says that there is an Israel lobby runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism."
This accusation they label the "Great Silencer," one that has proven "a potent way to make sure that criticisms of Israel or the lobby were rarely spoken and were either ignored or disparaged when they were." Accordingly, Mearsheimer and Walt weren't surprised when leading booksellers refused to carry the The Israel Lobby and when attendance at their public appearances was suppressed. As they predicted, media outlets either refused to review their book, or published reviews that tarred them as anti-Semites. Such censorship and defamation are the price paid by anyone foolhardy enough to challenge Israel and, to coin a phrase, its amen corner in the United States.
In another universe, that is.
In this one, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Israel Lobby, needless to say, is on sale everywhere. It debuted at Number 12 on The New York Times Best Sellers list, and Number 6 in the Los Angeles Times. As of Friday, it was ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in Amazon.com's US History, Israel History, and International Relations categories. Far from being stifled or ignored, Mearsheimer and Walt have had invitations aplenty to air their views, in venues as varied as NPR's "Fresh Air" and "On Point," the Los Angeles Times editorial board, and a standing-room-only crowd at Politics & Prose, the noted Washington bookstore.
The media has neither cold-shouldered them nor deployed the "Great Silencer" to defame them. "Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites or racists," David Remnick declared flatly in The New Yorker. "They are serious scholars and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity." Newsday's Scott McLemee opened his review by noting that "The Israel Lobby" has something important in common with Israel itself: "It is necessary to affirm its right to exist." Tim Rutten, reviewing the book for the L.A. Times, recoiled from its "underlying malice" and pronounced its argument "sinister" but made no suggestion that the authors are bigots. Ditto the New York Times, whose reviewer found the book unconvincing and unpleasant "the general tone of hostility to Israel grates on the nerves," he wrote but had nothing unflattering to say about Mearsheimer and Walt themselves.
This does not mean that no one has read the Mearsheimer/Walt philippic and concluded that it is, in fact, anti-Jewish bigotry dressed up as academic analysis. Gabriel Schoenfeld, writing in Commentary, pronounced the original paper a "meretricious attempt to put a scholarly cap and gown on every hoary calumny ever devised about Jewish influence," and he wasn't the only one to think so. His argument can be debated on its own merits.
For their part, Mearsheimer and Walt declare for the record that they not only harbor no anti-Semitic animus, but are in fact philo-Semites. Does that square with the view, to quote their original treatise, that a largely Jewish "Israel Lobby" has a "stranglehold on Congress" one powerful enough to "divert US foreign policy" in ways that benefit Israel while harming America, in order to give Israel "a free hand with the Palestinians," while Americans "do most of the fighting, dying . . . rebuilding and paying"? That, too, can be debated on its own merits.
What is not debatable is that Mearsheimer and Walt have not been silenced in any way. Their views have been widely discussed. A leading publisher invited them to extend those views in a book. Their claim that anyone critical of Israel or its supporters is ruthlessly muzzled is simply a lie. From Jimmy Carter to Noam Chomsky to Pat Buchanan, from the media to academia to the blogosphere, from the corridors of the UN to the "realists" of the State Department, Israel's detractors are loud and legion, quite often profitably so.
So why the Big Lie about the "Great Silencer?" Perhaps to disguise the fact that hostility for Israel is simply not a flavor most Americans like. Yes, the Mearsheimer/Walt message can sell books and garner lecture bookings. But in the American marketplace of ideas, the viewpoint they embrace has proven singularly unpalatable. If America's policies are pro-Israel, it is because America's people are pro-Israel and they are pro-Israel not because of the machinations of a Zionist lobby, but because they see in Israel a liberal democracy and a beleaguered but loyal ally in the war against radical Islam.
Mearsheimer and Walt are more than welcome to peddle their anti-Israel message. But when all is said and done, most Americans just don't buy it.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.
Jeff Jacoby Archives
© 2006, Boston Globe
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K