The Israeli Lobby

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VOL. 35

2005/06

No. 3
P. 83
Special Document File
The Israeli Lobby
ABSTRACT

A. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israeli Lobby,” London Review of Books, 10 March 2006 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

B. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, “Most Favored Nation,” Boston Globe, 2 April 2006 (excerpts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

C. William Pfaff, “The Mearsheimer-Walt Paper on America's Israeli Lobby,” International Herald Tribune, Paris, 4 April 2006 (excerpts) . . . . . . .

D. Daniel Levy, “So Pro-Israel that It Hurts,” Ha’Aretz, 25 March 2005 (excerpts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

E. Joseph Massad, “Blaming the Lobby,” al-Ahram Weekly, 23–28 March 2006 (excerpts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

F. Noam Chomsky, “The Israel Lobby?” ZNet, 28 March 2006 (excerpts) . . .

G. Mark Mazower, “When Vigilance Undermines Freedom of Speech,” Financial Times, London, 3 April 2006 (excerpts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In mid-March, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government posted on its Web site, as part of its Faculty Research Working Papers series, an 81-page 34,000-word study entitled “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by political scientists John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of the Kennedy School, where he is also academic dean. The paper unleashed a storm of controversy, generating condemnations from congressmen, philanthropists, the editorial boards of leading newspapers, and other academics; threats to withdraw funding were reportedly lodged by Harvard University donors. Within days, Harvard University had removed its logo from the study (later, the Kennedy School’s Web site, which heretofore had posted comments on working papers only by its own faculty members, carried a 15,000-word response from the Law School’s Alan Dershowitz). Meanwhile, an edited (13,000-word) version of the study, prepared for and rejected by the Atlantic Monthly, was published by the London Review of Books (LRB).

Most of the attacks on the Mearsheimer-Walt study came from pro-Israeli sources, though there were also a number of critiques from Arab academics and traditional Israel critics who faulted what they saw as its implied exoneration of U.S. responsibility for its Middle East policies. Increasingly, however, the debate—particularly in the British and international media and on the Internet—began to focus less on the study itself than on the implications of the response—notably the silence in the U.S. mainstream media and the vitriol (indeed, “hysteria”) from Israel’s defenders.    

Because of the clear importance of the paper in opening the debate on the role of the lobby, JPS has chosen to republish the Mearsheimer-Walt study along with a sample of the responses in the press that set the framework for further discussion by critiquing both the harsh responses to the study and the authors' thesis itself. For reasons of space, JPS is reproducing the LRB version, less than half the length of the original and without the extensive footnotes. The full text is available on the Kennedy School Web site at ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011.