This is just a coincidence but an article I wrote many months ago to the New Left Project has been published. I re-post the beginning below with a link to the full article.
Norman Finkelstein’s recent book Knowing Too Much surveys the
trajectory of American Jews' infatuation with Israel in order to
show—this is Finkelstein's main point—that it has entered a stage of
disenchantment. But are the political implications of this
disenchantment the ones Finkelstein himself draws?
One chapter particularly worth reading in Finkelstein’s book is
dedicated to a thorough debunking of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's
"The Israeli Lobby made me do it"
explanation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and especially
the Iraq War. In an essay and subsequent book, Walt and Mearsheimer famously argued
that U.S. support for Israeli policies harms rather than serves
American interests, and explained it, along with much of the U.S.'s
behaviour in the Middle East, in terms of the machinations of pro-Israel
In his chapter, Finkelstein establishes a core communality of interests
between Washington and Tel Aviv. Both fear indigenous local
self-assertion that would limit their ability to project power in the
region. Yesterday the principle threat was Egypt's Nasser; today it is
primarily Iran. Israel is fundamentally 'a creature of the West' and
therefore the only U.S. ally in the region whose subservience to the
U.S. stems from deep cultural and popular roots. It therefore continues
to be useful to the U.S. Moreover Finkelstein argues, correctly I
believe, that the probable effect of the 'Arab Spring' in the short-term
will be to increase U.S. foreign policy reliance on Israel, as an
island of pro-western stability in an increasingly volatile region.
Debunking 'The Israel Lobby'
Finkelstein meticulously exposes the leaps of logic that underpin
Mearsheimer and Walt’s theories, such as their claim that the failure of
Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon shows that the Bush administration
was coerced into supporting it, and their insistence that the Iraq war
was contrary to U.S. interests because it failed. (But did the war
“fail”? Only if one accepts the ridiculous justifications and
pie-in-the-sky metrics offered to the public.)
Finkelstein debunks the theory that different U.S. administrations
differed on policy towards Israel because of domestic electoral
concerns. He traces the common thread, ignored by Lobby enthusiasts,
connecting President Truman's tepid support for Israel's creation with
President Eisenhower's purely tactical disagreement with Israel
regarding the best way to remove Nasser from office. Finkelstein argues
cogently that, their protestations notwithstanding, Mearsheimer and Walt
are in fact accusing the American Jewish establishment of disloyalty on
the basis of alleged 'Jewish interests', an accusation Finkelstein
exposes as both false and based on flimsy reasoning.
The bulk of the proof takes Finkelstein into a deconstruction of the
terminology that serves as the basis of the allegations. He takes apart
the term 'neo-conservative', revealing the ingrained opportunism of its
alleged disciples, their almost full alignment with the mainstream U.S.
political vision of the world, and the impossibility of dividing Jewish
from non-Jewish advocates for the same U.S. dominance. He runs
methodically through the record of the Iraq War to demonstrate that
Mearsheimer and Walt's contentions are unsubstantiated and incoherent.
The coup de grace is an approving cite of the demolition of
their thesis on the Iraq War by Norman Podhoretz, a neoconservative
himself. Mearsheimer and Walt's supreme achievement seems to be to have
made at least one neoconservative sound reasonable.
Continue Reading at New Left Project
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