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Feiler Faster

The debate over Jimmy Carter’s book may have been only the beginning. The war over the Israel Lobby is already underway in advance of a new book, and counter book, being published this September. I haven’t read the books, so it’s hard for me to comment at this moment, but the debate triggers a number of soap boxes for me: Namely 1) the conflation of criticial talk about Israel with anti-Semitism is dangerous and wrong, 2) the idea that supporting Israel, or everything Israel does, is somehow a standard of how Jewish one is is dangerous and wrong, and 3) the idea that the Israel lobby is just about Jews is dangerous and wrong, especially considering the complicated relationship between evangelical Christians and the Holy Land.
Patty Cohen, who is simply hitting story after story out of the park in the ideas arena in the NYT, writes up the conflict.

John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, were not totally surprised by the reaction to their work. An article last spring in the London Review of Books outlining their argument — that a powerful pro-Israel lobby has a pernicious influence on American policy — set off a firestorm as charges of anti-Semitism, shoddy scholarship and censorship ricocheted among prominent academics, writers, policymakers and advocates. In the book, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and embargoed until Sept. 4, they elaborate on and update their case.
“Now that the cold war is over, Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States,” they write. “Yet no aspiring politician is going to say so in public or even raise the possibility” because the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful. They credit the lobby with shutting down talks with Syria and with moderates in Iran, preventing the United States from condemning Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and with not pushing the Israelis hard enough to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. They also discuss Christian Zionists and the issue of dual loyalty.
Opponents are prepared. Also being released on Sept. 4 is “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The notion that pro-Israel groups “have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong,” George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state, says in the foreword. “This is a conspiracy theory pure and simple, and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it.”

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