July 01, 2008

Silverstein on M & W on the telly

Richard Silverstein had a Comment is free piece out yesterday on a Dutch documentary on Mearsheimer and Walt, which I haven't actually watched yet, though I did read Richard's article. Here's the doc:

Silverstein applauds the fact that the documentary was made at all and thanks youtube for uploading it (over a year ago!). The strange thing that Silverstein says is this:
There probably should've been a few more voices critical of the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis like Alan Dershowitz for the sake of balance. But no matter, Perle played the role and did his feeble best, and they gave him plenty of time to try to undermine the Israel Lobby critique. Interestingly, no member of Congress was willing to be interviewed for the programme.

Here's my comment in case it disappears:
Richard - I haven't yet found that 50 minutes to watch the doc but a critical voice from Alan Dershowitz would hardly amount to balance now, would it? Unless M & W are accusing Israel of stealing cheese from the moon, in which case Dershowitz can say that it's Israel right because it's actually been Jewish cheese from time immemorial.

The M & W thesis is that there is an Israel lobby that stifles and distorts debate on Israel in America and that the lobby's influence had been decisive in determining American policy on the middle east. So it's a two part thesis.

There are many critics of Mearsheimer and Walt but no serious criticism denied the actual existence of the lobby as Dershowitz does from his standpoint of being a major player in the lobby. Finkelstein, Massad, Chomsky, Richard Seymour at the Lenin's Tomb blog, all have criticisms of M & W that don't degenerate into false allegations of antisemitism. I think each of these could have provided real balance to the assertion that the lobby distorts debate and therefore foreign policy. It does the former, I think, but not the latter. The establishment wants to support Israel so it allows the lobby to flourish. Of course it stifles debate and this is why M & W have to be thanked for their courageous stand but if the thesis is debatable, and it is eminently so, then it needs to be critiqued seriously. People who have an interest in stifling the debate that M & W have initiated shouldn't be invited to participate in it.

Anyway, I'll try to look at the documentary today and I'll look forward to an exposé of the Israel lobby that is currently flourishing in the EU and UK. Attention to that is well overdue even if it isn't quite as successful as its American counterpart.
See how long the comment lasts. For the life of me I don't know why he'd want Dershowitz on the show. I'm going to walk the dogs and think about that one. I'm starting to think it was simply to have Dershowitz make himself look ridiculous.

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