Molly Ivins has read about the criticism of the Walt-Mearsheimer paper, and apparently hasn’t read anything first-hand. Her criticism of the criticism:
For having the sheer effrontery to point out the painfully obvious — that there is an Israel lobby in the United States — Mearsheimer and Walt have been accused of being anti-Semitic, nutty and guilty of “kooky academic work.” Alan Dershowitz, who seems to be easily upset, went totally ballistic over the mild, academic, not to suggest pretty boring article by Mearsheimer and Walt, calling them “liars” and “bigots.”
It’s the party line, apparently. Don’t look at the criticism that details the numerous factual errors in the paper. Instead, mislead your readers and say that the critics are saying there is no Israel lobby.
It’s good to know, though, that Ivins thinks it’s perfectly okay to have a discussion about the Israel lobby. Because, you see, it’s not like anyone in America has ever mentioned AIPAC or the Israel lobby before. It’s not like a Democratic Congressman never accused Jews — I’m sorry, in W-M terms, “the Israel Lobby” — of being behind the Iraq war.
David Bernstein has already written about this false criticism, which is beginning to become the standard answer to W-M critics. I suspect that when W&M finally respond to their critics, that response will be peppered with the same lies and misinformation.
After starting out with that intellectually lazy premise, she gets worse.
It’s the sheer disproportion, the vehemence of the attacks on anyone perceived as criticizing Israel that makes them so odious. Mearsheimer and Walt are both widely respected political scientists — comparing their writing to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is just silly.
Funny, I have the opposite reaction, particularly since Lynn B. did just that, and Walt and Mearsheimer come out stinking the stink of the Russian Czarists who forged the Protocols.
Here, she actually makes a bit of sense:
Several critics have pointed out some flaws in the Mearsheimer-Walt paper, including a too-broad use of the term “Israel lobby” — those of us who are pro-Israel differ widely — and having perhaps overemphasized the clout of the Israel lobby by ignoring the energy lobby.
But in the next breath, she loses it utterly.
It seems to me the root of the difficulty has been Israel’s inability first to admit the Palestinians have been treated unfairly and, second, to figure out what to do about it. Now here goes a big fat generalization, but I think many Jews are so accustomed (by reality) to thinking of themselves as victims, it is especially difficult for them to admit they have victimized others.
What. A. Load. Of. Crap. Has Molly ever heard of an organization called B’tselem? Has she ever read Ha’aretz? Or any left-leaning Israeli who has published a newspaper or magazine article, or indeed, entire books written by Israelis about the Israeli treatment of palestinians? Has she heard of the many Israeli court judgments ruling against Israel in favor of palestinians over land, laws, and — here’s the big one — the placement of the security fence? Is she that effing ignorant, or wilfully blind and stupid?
And gee, can you get any more condescending than this:
I think many Jews are so accustomed (by reality) to thinking of themselves as victims, it is especially difficult for them to admit they have victimized others.
But wait, because now she really puts her foot in it. Deeply.
But the Mearsheimer-Walt paper is not about the basic conflict, but its effect on American foreign policy, and it appears to me their arguments are unexceptional. Israel is the No. 1 recipient of American foreign aid, and it seems an easy case can be made that the United States has subjugated its own interests to those of Israel in the past.
Whether you agree or not, it is a discussion well worth having and one that should not be shut down before it can start by unfair accusations of “anti-Semitism.” In a very equal sense, none of this is academic. The Israel lobby was overwhelmingly in favor of starting the war with Iraq and is now among the leading hawks on Iran.
Way to echo the paper, Molly. May I see a cite or three? What’s that? Don’t have one? What? Using the generic “The Israel lobby” is enough? Going by the erroneous W-M paper is enough?
You are seeing exactly what I wrote about weeks ago: The paper got out there, and now everyone is using it as a justification for the arguments that used to be whispered in private. They were whispered in private because they bear the stink of anti-Semitism. Now, they’re trying to move to the mainstream, and tools like Ivins are helping them right along.
To the extent that our interests do differ from those of Israel, the matter needs to be discussed calmly and fairly. This is not about conspiracies or plots or fantasies or anti-Semitism — it’s about rational discussion of American interests. And, in my case, being pro-Israel. I’m looking forward to hearing from all you nutjobs again.
Funny, isn’t it, that none of the people who decry the strength of The Lobby ever consider, even briefly, that perhaps American support of Israel is given because, well, gee — it’s the right thing to do. And the public approves of it, in every poll ever taken. Politicians don’t go against polls.
But then, Academia and Big Journalism have one thing in common: They believe that they, not the American people, know what is Best For America. Molly Ivins certainly does. Look at how she describes her opponents: “nutjobs.”
Better that than a hack who can’t understand an issue without having someone else do all the footwork for her, I guess.