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J Street leader compares Walt and Mearsheimer to ‘Protocols’

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I don’t know how to read. Or anyway I only read the intermarriage portion of Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview with Jeremy Ben-Ami earlier today. Now I see that Ben-Ami goes after Walt and Mearsheimer, throws them under the bus. Walt and Mearsheimer wrote a great book. They never said that all foreign policy is controlled by one interest group. And I’ve gone further than they have in talking about Jewish identity and Jewish loyalty.

They did say that the Israel lobby pushed for the disastrous Iraq war–Jeffrey Goldberg and the New Yorker included. That this still counts as a revelation is a sign of the poverty of our debate. Here is Adam Garfinkle, in Jewcentricity, going well beyond what Walt and Mearsheimer say:

Neoconservatives are the purest expression of two phenomena simultaneously. First, they are an American Jewish example of the broad modern tendency for religious energies to attach themselves to politics, and second, they are an expression of stereoscopic chosenness, having filtered out the realism-inducing study of Jewish history and replaced it with the heroic narratives of American and modern Zionist histories…

Neoconservatives tend to unite aroudd the conviction that small, beleaguered groups of chosen believers can prevail over all odds if they stick to their beliefs… If this sounds like the sort of reaction one would have expected from Jews in centuries past who were assailed in their ghettoes and small villages by masses of threatening ignoramuses around them, that’s no coincidents. There really is such a thing as the moral chauvinism of the downtrodden…

Yes, and Jews are the only ones who can criticize the neocons on Jewish terms.

Memo to J Street: If you think that the lobby is going to be reformed within the Jewish community, you’ve got another think coming. Ben-Ami:

I’m more than happy to tell you why, on a personal basis, I don’t like what Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer have written in their book and in their articles. I don’t agree with Stephen Walt. It’s his business whether or not he chooses to say nice things about us. I have zero right to tell him, and I have zero interest in telling him, not to say what he thinks. That is his business.

JG: Tell me about the problem with his thesis.

JB: Here’s where the line is. There is no question that over the last 40 to 50 years, the American Jewish community has developed a very sophisticated lobbying mechanism to promote its views and its interests, and I am in awe of that as a student of politics. I also happen to respect and value much of what has been achieved. For instance, the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel, the essential security guarantee that the U.S. provides, the notion that Israel should always have a qualitative military edge — those are things that have been achieved by lobbying, by what some people would call the "Israel lobby." J Street is very happy with these achievements, and we support those ends, and we respect and admire much of what groups like AIPAC and others have done over the years.

However, when the analysis of that lobby veers over a line and essentially says that all of American foreign policy is controlled by this one lobby and this one interest group, to me, personally, this does smack of the kind of conspiracy theories contained in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This notion that somehow Jews control this country, they control our foreign policy, that there is some diabolical conspiracy behind the scenes, this is when you cross that line.  I believe that the analysis in the Walt and Mearsheimer book and article crossed that line, but this doesn’t take away from my view that this is an incredibly effective lobby.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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