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On three successive Mondays in Tacoma, May 7, 14, & 21, 2007, UFPPC's book discussion group will examine two books and two essays on the influence of Israel and the Israel Lobby, including AIPAC (American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee), on U.S. politics, policies, and institutions.[1]  --  Discussion of this subject was stimulated about a year ago by the publication of a long essay by two prominent American political scientists, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt of Harvard.  --  We shall examine the two published versions of their essay, a follow-up piece by journalism critic and author Michael Massing, and two volumes: Paul Findley's They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby, 3rd ed. (Lawrence Hill Books, 2003), and James Petras's The Power of Israel in the United States (Clarity Press, 2006).  --  Paul Findley, 85, represented Illinois's 20th Congressional District from 1961 to 1983; James Petras, Bartle Professor (emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in New York, is a prolific writer with some 62 books to his name....


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WHAT: Digging Deeper XXXI: AIPAC & U.S.-Israeli relations
WHO: Led by Mark Jensen
WHEN: Monday, May 7, 14, & 21, 2007 -- 7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Mandolin Café, 3923 South 12th St., Tacoma, WA 98405

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United for Peace
of Pierce County
Study Circle:
May 7, 14, & 21, 2007
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DIGGING DEEPER XXXI: AIPAC & U.S.-Israeli relations

The March 23, 2006, number of the London Review of Books featured a 12,700-word essay that opened up to broader discussion a topic that Paul Findley called, a year earlier, "the 700-pound gorilla in Washington" — AIPAC, and its influence on U.S. foreign policy.  AIPAC has often been ranked by elected members of Congress as among the "most powerful" lobbying organizations in the nation's capital.  But in criticizing the dominant role of Israel in shaping U.S. foreign policy, Mearsheimer and Walt set of a wide-ranging and passionate discussion which continues today.  What was especially significant about their essay is that it has brought this formerly taboo subject into the mainstream media, with journalists like Richard Cohen of the Washington Post coming to the authors' defense.  Even certain sections of the Israeli press have done so.  The taboo of speaking publicly of the pro-Israel agenda of neoconservatives has apparently been broken.

Does this suggest that old-guard foreign-policy establishment types such as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft and their allies are stepping up to retake foreign-policy leadership in the U.S.?  The neocons have proved a colossal failure in their defense of America's strategic interests?  Mearsheimer and Walt argue that the Israel Lobby advocates not the interests or views of Jewish Americans, but of the state of Israel.  They analyze the sources of their influence, and examine in detail how that influence has been used, including in favor of the Iraq war and currently in support of a confrontation with Iran.  In conclusion, they argue that it is inevitable that Americans face up to the "trouble" caused by the Israel Lobby's influence over U.S. foreign policy, since "the adverse effects of its influence are increasingly difficult to hide. . . . Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided U.S. support and could move the U.S. to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as well."

In addition to the essay by Mearsheimer and Walt, Digging Deeper XXXI will examine a follow-up essay on the Israel lobby by Michael Massing, an early critique of AIPAC by former Congressman Paul Findley now in its third edition, and a recent volume by sociologist James Petras.  Some copies of these volumes are available for loan or purchase; the essays by Mearsheimer & Walt and by Massing are available online.

— John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, "The Israel Lobby," London Review of Books (March 23, 2006).  —  Mearsheimer and Walt argue that the Israel Lobby advocates not the interests or views of Jewish Americans, but of the state of Israel.  They analyze the sources of their influence, and examine in detail how that influence has been used, including in favor of the Iraq war and currently in support of a confrontation with Iran.  In conclusion, they argue that "Powerful states can maintain flawed policies for quite some time, but reality cannot be ignored for ever. . . . Open debate will expose the limits of the strategic and moral case for one-sided U.S. support and could move the U.S. to a position more consistent with its own national interest, with the interests of the other states in the region, and with Israel’s long-term interests as well."  A longer, 83-page version of their essay with 211 footnotes, entitled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," is available on Harvard University's web site.

— Michael Massing, "The Storm over the Israel Lobby," New York Review of Books (June 8, 2006).  —  Massing weighs the criticisms made of the essay by Mearsheimer & Walt, characterizing them as often "furious" and "hysterical," and judges some of them to be justified.  Chief among them is a failure to analyze how the Israel Lobby works.  Massing sets out to repair the flaw by devoting the bulk of his 8,600-word essay — 4,900 words in Sections 3, 4, and 5 — to an account of the lobby's structure, financing, and operations.  He concludes by praising Mearsheimer and Walt for having "performed a very useful service in forcing into the open a subject that has for too long remained taboo."  On Iran, Massing writes:  "Since the mid-1990s, AIPAC has been devoting much of its energy to warning against Iran's development of nuclear weapons, to denouncing the mullahs in Tehran, and to seeking their overthrow.  Mearsheimer and Walt place much emphasis on the lobby's support for war in Iraq, but AIPAC's work on Iran has had far more impact in Washington."

— Paul Findley, They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby, 3rd edition (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books, 2003).  —  The first book to speak out against the pervasive influence of the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on American politics, policy, and institutions resonates today as never before. With careful documentation and specific case histories, former congressman Paul Findley demonstrates how the Israel lobby helps to shape important aspects of U.S. foreign policy and influences congressional, senatorial, and even presidential elections. Described are the undue influence AIPAC exerts in the Senate and the House and the pressure AIPAC brings to bear on university professors and journalists who seem too sympathetic to Arab and Islamic states and too critical of Israel and its policies. Along with many longtime outspoken critics, new voices speaking out include former President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney, Senator Robert Byrd, prominent Arab-American Dr. Ziad Asali, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and journalist Charles Reese. In addition, the lack of open debate among politicians with regard to the U.S. policy in the Middle East is lamented, and AIPAC is blamed in part for this censorship. Connections are drawn between America’s unconditional support of Israel and the raging anti-American passions around the world -- and ultimately the tragic events of 9/11." —Book description.

— James Petras, The Power of Israel in the United States (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2006).  --  "The Lobby and its ideologues have gained intellectual hegemony via coercion and persuasion in the spheres of public life that are central to our Republic — the assessment of and response to threats to our freedom and self-determination.  It is time to launch a counter-hegemonic movement here in the U.S., not for a different kind of empire, free of Israeli entanglements, but simply for the reconstruction of a democratic republic offering true freedom of expression and debate in matters crucial to American well-being.  This book is a modest effort in pursuit of that goal."  —From the introduction.

Since July 2004, United for Peace of Pierce County has been conducting “Digging Deeper,” a Monday-night book discussion group, often in the form of a study circle. Topics have included peak oil, climate change, the corporation, Iran, the writings of Robert Baer, Islam, the evolutionary psychology of human aggression, and American fascism, as well as abiding themes of war, peace, politics, and social change. Occasionally, the group has spent several weeks reading longer works, like Daniel Yergin’s The Prize or Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation.

DIGGING DEEPER meets every Monday from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Mandolin Café, 3923 S. 12th St., Tacoma, WA.

Participation is free. Some copies of these volumes are available for lending or purchase. Info: contact Mark Jensen (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 253-535-7219).

Regular meetings of United for Peace of Pierce County are held at 7:00 p.m. on 1st and 3rd Thursday evenings at First Congregational Church, 209 South “J” St., Tacoma, WA.

***********************************
United for Peace
of Pierce County
Study Circle:
May 7, 14, & 21, 2007
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