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Dore Gold
Israel is no burden
Scholars aim to undermine Israel-US alliance by resorting to false arguments
In their new book, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, slated to be published on September 4, Professors Stephen Walt (Harvard University) and John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) repeat their claims from last year that there are no genuine or compelling strategic motives for America’s support for Israel, which they refer to as a “strategic burden.”


The two added that US foreign policy has been taken over by Israel-supporters that work against the interests of the US itself. They even went further and argued that one of the results of AIPAC’s work was leading up to the war in Iraq in 2003. In the current climate in America, this charge is akin to starting a wildfire, and Jewish organizations in the US have expressed their concern over anti-Semitic side effects that may follow as a result.


It is important to understand that we are not talking about a campaign by two anonymous academicians that will be confined to American campuses. The authors intend to publicize their explosive charges via a wide-scale public relations campaign directed at major media outlets. Some of them have already started to provide a platform for these ideas.


We know that the two academicians asked to appear on CBS’ 60 Minutes, and they already succeeded in publishing a detailed article presenting their positions in the New York Times a week ago. The commotion they created thus far pushed their book into the status of a bestseller on even before it hit the shelves.


Israel must prepare for an attempt by anti-Israel elements to undermine its status in the US by taking advantage of the widely publicized work by the two academicians. The upcoming fight against the false arguments that appear in the book includes several facts that any Israeli diplomat dealing with public relations should be aware of.


1. As early as December 27, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir: "The United States has a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East really comparable only to what it has with Britain over a wide range of world affairs." During the Cold War, the US and Israel had a joint strategic interest in defeating the aggression of Soviet-backed rogue states in the Middle East. This began when Nasser's Egypt intervened in the Arabian Peninsula in 1962, through Yemen, and in 1970 when Syria invaded Jordan.

2. In 1981, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, severely reducing Iraqi military strength. Ten years later, after a US-led coalition had to liberate Kuwait following Iraq's occupation of that oil-producing mini-state, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney in October 1991 thanked Israel for its "bold and dramatic action" a decade earlier.

3. Presently, US-Israeli defense ties have grown even tighter. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on March 15, 2007, USEUCOM commander General Bantz J Craddock stated that Israel was America's "closest ally" in the Middle East and that it "consistently and directly" supported US interests. This professional evaluation of the U.S.-Israel relationship flies in the face of Walt and Mearsheimer's assertion that Israel is a "strategic burden" that does not serve the American national interest.

4. Because many elements of this strategic relationship are kept secret - particularly in the intelligence field - it is difficult for academics and pundits to assess the true value of US-Israel ties. Nonetheless, General George F Keegan, a retired US Air Force intelligence chief, disclosed in 1986 that he could not have obtained the same intelligence that he received from Israel if he had "five CIAs." During his interview, at which time the Cold War was still raging, he added: "The ability of the US Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence."

5. Former US Secretary of State George Shultz rejected the new book’s argument, saying the work was “a conspiracy theory pure and simple and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it."

Another noteworthy point is that although Walt and Mearsheimer direct most of their charges at the activity of the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, they enjoy the support of the pro-Muslim lobby CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations.) It is also noteworthy that while AIPAC relies financially only on donations from American citizens and is unwilling to accept donations from abroad, CAIR enjoys the financial support of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Walt and Mearsheimer are not objective academicians. They took a stand. Their objective is not only to sell books, but also to attempt to influence Middle East decision-making. The broad campaign the two are planning must not catch our public relations officials off guard.


The writer is the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Israel’s former UN ambassador


First published: 08.27.07, 07:25
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