Here is the latest message in our series, “What Mondoweiss Means To Me.” We are honored that leaders in the movement for justice in Israel/Palestine respect the site enough to offer these statements in order to help us raise $60,000 by December 31. Please read John Mearsheimer’s comments, and if you agree that quality news and analysis are essential, join him in giving. And please be sure to check out the messages from Steven Salaita, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Omar Barghouti, Cindy Corrie, Scott Roth and Phil Weiss as well!
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Dear fellow Mondoweiss readers:
Many Mondoweiss readers care about events in Israel/Palestine because they are Palestinian or Jewish, or are consistently engaged in activism for social change there. While I too hope fervently for developments in the region that will result in greater freedom, rights and security for all residents, I value Mondoweiss in another way as well: as a scholar of U.S. foreign policy.
I have spent 35 years studying American foreign policy: doing research, reading and writing in an effort to understand what leads to war and its human cost. The information available through Mondoweiss is vital in illuminating how over several decades, U.S. policy in the region has served neither American interests nor those of Israel—let alone Palestinian sovereignty or even basic human rights.
The United States has a “special relationship” with Israel that has no parallel in modern history; which means those two countries matter greatly for each other’s foreign policy. Mondoweiss is enormously important to me—and many thousands of other people as well—because it is one of the few venues where Israel is discussed openly and critically.
As I can tell you from personal experience, it used to be nearly impossible to publish anything in the mainstream media that was even mildly critical of Israeli behavior or America’s relationship with Israel. And if you did, some of Israel’s supporters would immediately slander you as an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew. This well-orchestrated silencing effort was not only antithetical to liberal values; it also did great harm to US foreign policy and did Israel no favors either.
Criticizing Israel or its American lobby is mortal combat for intellectuals, journalists, and policymakers. We have all paid a serious price for doing so. Some valiant individuals have even lost their jobs, others their reputations. Mondoweiss has been one of the few places where one could speak the truth despite the professional risks. It was the first serious web site that evaluated Israeli policy in an open-minded and often critical fashion, discussed the Israel lobby’s influence, and challenged the reigning narrative about Israel. Other web sites followed in its wake, but Mondoweiss cleared the way.
And it has not stood still over the years. In fact, Mondoweiss’s coverage gets better every year, which is why it is now an indispensable source of information for anyone who wants to understand US-Israeli relations. It has also brought ideas into the mainstream media that were otherwise marginalized. If there were no Mondoweiss, public debate on these vital matters would be much the poorer.
As I have argued elsewhere, the United States is in deep trouble in the Middle East and has a serious terrorism problem in good part because of its unconditional support for Israel’s policies in the Occupied Territories. Anyone who cares about improving America’s standing in the Middle East must be deeply grateful to Mondoweiss’s editors for all they have done—and continue to do—to encourage honest and open discourse on these critical issues.
Academic freedom, journalistic freedom and fact-based policy analysis are fundamentally intertwined. If you value the pursuit of truth as a tool in developing rational, humane policy, please join me in supporting Mondoweiss. We must provide the resources to keep this site performing its essential public service.
R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, the University of Chicago