John Mearsheimer: What Mondoweiss Means To Me

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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 SalaitaRebecca VilkomersonOmar Barghouti, Cindy CorrieScott Roth and Phil Weiss as well!

Each one of you has your own reasons for visiting Mondoweiss, a unique news operation that serves an amazing community of activists and thinkers. Please donate today, and tell us what Mondoweiss means to you.

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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.

John Mearsheimer

John Mearsheimer

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.

Sincerely,

John Mearsheimer
R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, the University of Chicago

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About John J. Mearsheimer

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982. He is the co-author with Stephen Walt of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

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18 Responses

  1. John Douglas
    December 24, 2014, 11:08 am

    From John Mearsheimer: ” Criticizing Israel or its American lobby is mortal combat for intellectuals, journalists, and policymakers . . . 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.”

    It’s difficult to over-emphasize how important this point is, and by extension what Mondoweiss has accomplished. Coming from a scholar of John Mearsheimer’s stature it is once and for all nailed into place. Many thanks and congratulations to the whole crew at M-W.

    • Kathleen
      December 27, 2014, 2:49 pm

      John those were the sentences that jumped out at me too. While a few folks tried to open the gates on the web a bit (David Corn) his website was attacked in a big way, a few of us tried like hell to encourage/push Firedoglake towards pushing these gates open and a few of the participants over there put there toes in the water on this critical issue there was real resistance. Thanks to the Nations support of Phil in the early days Mondoweiss was born and so many activist are grateful.

  2. MHughes976
    December 24, 2014, 12:44 pm

    I’m interested to see such an extremely distinguished scholar say that the trouble arises because of support of Israeli policy in the O-Territories, ie because of Israel 67 and not because, as I am convinced, of Israel 48.

    • John O
      December 24, 2014, 1:34 pm

      I suspect that’s because a great many people accept ’48 Israel as a fait accompli. Whereas the Israel of post ’67 is an attempt to “accomplir” more “faits” on the ground.

    • bryan
      December 24, 2014, 1:59 pm

      I’m not sure that that is a fair conclusion to draw – John criticized Israeli policy in the “territories” he said nothing about Israel’s legitimacy in 70, 1948, 1967 or 2014. He is, as you say, a very highly respected scholar whose major book deserves reading and rereading but he is also a brave man to openly endorse Mondoweiss. Thank you John – huge respect.

      • MHughes976
        December 25, 2014, 4:53 am

        The remark I noticed was that ‘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’ – I was not drawing a conclusion but more or less quoting what had been said. I agree that this is not in the least an endorsement of Israel’s legitimacy at any time. It’s about the trouble we have in the West – and it’s true that we do have serious trouble because of the way we support outrages in the OT. There is, I further agree, no strict implication – though there is a hint – that we could have avoided all or much of the trouble if we had confined ourselves to endorsing the 48 Nakba or that those events are so much a fait accompli that no realistic question about them arises. That is the hint I would wish to question, while fully acknowledging that John, unlike me, is an internationally renowned expert and is also one who has suffered somewhat in the cause.
        It’s December 25th! Have a great day, everyone.

    • eGuard
      December 25, 2014, 2:47 am

      Indeed, MHughes. That leaves Jerusalem, Right of Return, Nakba, institutionised, racism in Israel out of US foreign policy wrt Israel.

      Still, Mearsheimer here does not beat the bush: This well-orchestrated silencing effort [by the Israel Lobby] says that it is not a “loosely connected” number of people as we were supposed to think some years ago.

  3. Les
    December 24, 2014, 2:49 pm

    Add to this that American Jewish zionists who are, of course, obliged to emmigrate to Israel owe it 100% of their loyalty which means they are dutybound to be Israel’s fifth column in the US until their departure.

  4. Annie Robbins
    December 24, 2014, 2:52 pm

    thank you so very very much John, for everything. your contribution to these ‘conversations’ we’re having has been invaluable and immeasurable. you are an inspiration.

  5. catporn
    December 24, 2014, 11:39 pm

    Very glad to hear Prof Mearsheimer endorse MW, but not surprised, he’s not shy when it comes to telling truths, and unlike many political commentators who prefer the path of least resistance, he’ll give you the facts as he see’s them, no matter how inconvenient or unpopular.

    In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act – Orwell

    • seafoid
      December 25, 2014, 1:26 pm

      It is interesting to note how the stock of Israel has fallen since 2007 when that mearsheimer book was written,.
      ZIonism wouldn’t have dreamt of losing people like MJR when the first iPhone was released.

  6. Marnie
    December 25, 2014, 1:24 am

    Ditto and love the quote –

  7. Pixel
    December 25, 2014, 6:21 am

    Phil, while I donate during the off-season, the theme of the current campaign is very impressive.

  8. seafoid
    December 25, 2014, 11:22 am

    The omerta rule on criticism of Israel is most damaging for israel. The sons and daughters of bitches who enforce it do a great disservice to the state and the wider Judaism. Constructive criticism might have strangled YESHA at birth. Talk to forest experts in CA. You need the small fires to clear the brush and make the forest safer. If you don’t the big one comes and does a much bigger job. Israel needs the spirit of the jewish prophets but they would prolly be lynched there today.

  9. David Doppler
    December 25, 2014, 11:28 am

    I learned about Professors Mearsheimer’s and Walt’s LRB paper and book thru Mondoweiss. On the day the book was to be released, I turned to the NYTimes Book Review to see how it would be handled. Instead I found Ruth Weisse’ book, Jews in Power reviewed, and I read that, too, after the Israel Lobby. We’re all still waiting for the NYTimes to acknowledge one of the most important books of the last decade, while Weisse’s book is long forgotten.

    Mondoweiss has been the antidote to an Orwellian thought control movement, where those voices who would speak truth to power have been heard, and power’s responses have been parsed.

    I often think of a passage from Amos, one that MLK famously quoted, when reading this blog: “Let justice come down like water; and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.”

    Justice would include rectifying the slights and unanswered slurs throughout our MSM directed at W&M, by acknowledging their significant contribution to turning the country and the world away from the Neocon pathway to fiasco. Righteousness will include supporting Mondoweiss financially.

  10. Citizen
    December 25, 2014, 12:57 pm

    There’s not many I really admire. John Mearsheimer is one of them, as is Phil Weiss & his team here at MW. I also respect many of the commenters here over the years–since 2007. Yes, the biggest taboo in America is ever so slightly crumbling–I’ve felt its weight since the early 1970s. What a world it would be if our betters gave us more of Phil & John, less of ilk like John Bolton. I wonder if Hagel has ever read MW?

  11. Kathleen
    December 27, 2014, 2:54 pm

    I had the pleasure of meeting Mearsheimer at the Ohio University (Athens Ohio) Baker Peace Conference some ten or so years ago. He was on a panel with Michael Ledeen, Leon Feurth, Meirsheimer and a fourth individual that I am forgetting. I had gotten up and asked why the US had not encouraged/pushed Israel into signing the IAEA’s Non Proliferation Treaty? Mearsheimer’s answer was the most on target and thoughtful. He basically said yes. Had a great conversation with John where he shared that he had an upcoming book (The Israel Lobby) coming out. A must read.

    Really appreciate his thoughtful comments once again.

  12. jayn0t
    December 28, 2014, 11:01 am

    A thoughtful and encouraging tribute from Mearsheimer, but “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.”

    Surely the power of the Lobby in the USA did Israel at least one favor – it allowed it to exist.

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