Friday, December 16, 2011

The Israel Lobby

Reactions to the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt

I suppose that anyone who writes a review about this book that is even vaguely favorable must start out by saying they're not an antisemite. Well, I'm not. However I am anti-religious, especially when it comes to governments influenced by extremely religious people, and anti-fanatic, especially when it comes to anything. The Palestinians are a Semitic people anyway, though the sources say that the word "antisemitic" is usually specific to Jews in its usage.

The metaphor that came to me a few days after I finished this book was of the balance of blind justice, but with the fulcrum off center. In other words, what the so-called Israel lobby has done is move the fulcrum so that the human rights of the Israelis have lots of leverage and influence and even power in the American political system, while the various other considerations such as the human rights of the Palestinians or even America's own foreign-policy interests are practically without weight. On a physical scale, that would be like moving the fulcrum away from the Israel side, but the political situation is different, especially in that it is more multidimensional.

Overall their description of the situation seems quite insightful and accurate to me, and I've read a lot about the American political system and world history. The situation around Israel is exceedingly unreasonable, and there must be reasons why they can't reach any political accommodations for stable peace with their neighbors. Before reading this book, I felt that the primary obstacle was just the religious fanaticism of a relatively small group of Jewish extremists, but now I feel that the Israel lobby is quite significant, too.

The rational view of the situation is that Israel is a small country that can't indefinitely maintain hostilities against vastly larger enemies. The rational solution would be to engage in reasoned discussions in search of peace--but the example of the Israel lobby in America is that all reasoned discussions can by avoided, apparently indefinitely.

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