For two days, the Atlantic’s Jeff Goldberg has been calling Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and other critics of Bibi Netanyahu “anti-Semites.” Nothing new about that. For Goldberg, a major AIPAC neocon, all critics of Israeli policies are anti-Semites by definition. (See this good piece on Goldberg).
But why is he obsessing about Walt so much now?
It is because, in August, Goldberg is coming out with his big Atlantic piece calling on the United States to bomb Iran so that Israel does not have to.
But Goldberg has a problem. As an American who chose to serve in the Israeli army (he was a guard at a Palestinian prison camp), he fears that Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer — who accused the Likud lobby of promoting war with Iraq in their groundbreaking bestseller — will point out that Goldberg is just about the least credible advocate for war with Iran.
Israel’s botched raid against the Gaza-bound humanitarian flotilla on May 31 is the latest sign that Israel is on a disastrous course that it seems incapable of reversing. The attack also highlights the extent to which Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States. This situation is likely to get worse over time, which will cause major problems for Americans who have a deep attachment to the Jewish state.
The bungled assault on the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the flotilla, shows once again that Israel is addicted to using military force yet unable to do so effectively. One would think that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would improve over time from all the practice. Instead, it has become the gang that cannot shoot straight.
The IDF last scored a clear-cut victory in the Six Day War in 1967; the record since then is a litany of unsuccessful campaigns. The War of Attrition (1969-70) was at best a draw, and Israel fell victim to one of the great surprise attacks in military history in the October War of 1973. In 1982, the IDF invaded Lebanon and ended up in a protracted and bloody fight with Hezbollah. Eighteen years later, Israel conceded defeat and pulled out of the Lebanese quagmire. Israel tried to quell the First Intifada by force in the late 1980s, with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin telling his troops to break the bones of the Palestinian demonstrators. But that strategy failed and Israel was forced to join the Oslo Peace Process instead, which was another failed endeavor.
This is the transcript of the Hisham B. Sharabi Memorial Lecture delivered by John J. Mearsheimer at the The Palestine Center today.
It is a great honor to be here at the Palestine Center to give the Sharabi Memorial Lecture. I would like to thank Yousef Munnayer, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund, for inviting me, and all of you for coming out to hear me speak this afternoon.
My topic is the future of Palestine, and by that I mean the future of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, or what was long ago called Mandatory Palestine. As you all know, that land is now broken into two parts: Israel proper or what is sometime called “Green Line” Israel and the Occupied Territories, which include the West Bank and Gaza. In essence, my talk is about the future relationship between Israel and the Occupied Territories.
Of course, I am not just talking about the fate of those lands; I am also talking about the future of the people who live there. I am talking about the future of the Jews and the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens, as well as the Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories.
by John Mearsheimer In the wake of Vice President Joe Biden’s ill-fated trip to Israel last week, many people would agree with the Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s remark that ‘Israel’s ties with the United States are in their worst crisis since 1975… a crisis of historic proportions.’ Like all crises, this one will eventually go away. However, this bitter fight has disturbing implications for Israelis and their American supporters.
First, the events of the past week make it clear in ways that we have not seen in the past that Israel is a strategic liability for the United States, not the strategic asset that the Israel lobby has long claimed it was. Specifically, the Obama administration has unambiguously declared that Israel’s expansionist policies in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, are doing serious damage to US interests in the region. Indeed, Biden reportedly told the Israeli prime minister, Binyahim Netanyahu, in private:
This is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace.
If that message begins to resonate with the American public, unconditional support for the Jewish state is likely to evaporate.
John does a great job arguing for his positions yet his extremist pro-settlement hosts seem determined to paint him as an anti-Semite. All Mearsheimer really argues is that he wants it to be possible to criticise Israel’s bad policies in the United States – it’s difficult to see why any sensible person could have a problem with this.
Toward the end, after they’ve ditched John, they even claim the next Holocaust will be in America and that it’s being brought about by a new sophisticated anti-Semitism, contained in Mearsheimers & Walt’s book The Israel Lobby, and this new anti-Semitism is the “most dangerous thing on the market today.”
Mearsheimer on Israel National Radio (48:31) | MP3
Frank Rich had an excellent column in the Sunday New York Times in which he suggested that President Obama’s economic team is unsuited to deal with the financial crisis. “I fear,” he wrote, “that too many of the administration’s officials are too marinated in the insiders’ culture to police it, reform it or own up to their own past complicity with it.” Let’s hope his fears are proven wrong.
But Rich’s column points to a larger and possibly more disturbing feature of our predicament: very few of the country’s economic experts foresaw the tsunami that is now upon us. Indeed, most of them thought that the global economy was working well and needed nothing more than some tweaking here and there. This is why Obama ended up appointing a team of economic experts who not only failed to see the storm coming, but in the case of Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, promoted policies that helped cause it. Simply put, there were hardly any sagacious business people, economists, or policymakers who he could have turned to for help.