Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Walt-Mearsheimer, trademark

When I noticed that Jeffrey Goldberg, in his op-ed on "America's 'Israel Problem'", mentioned the Walt-Mearsheimer book, my first thought was, argh, here we go. Now every time anyone offers up any take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the left of Benjamin Netanyahu, they're going to be seen as followers of "The Israel Lobby." Even Goldberg, who explicitly points out that he does not agree with the authors, has to argue against what many would presume, that his argument is theirs. Walt and Mearsheimer apparently want their book to be the go-to name for when one refers to any criticism AIPAC whatsoever. Because, if you are an American Jew don't see the advantage to a Greater Israel, if you have disagreements with decisions made by the organized American-Jewish community (and even I, your rabid Zionist, would fall in this category), you "clearly agree[s] with this part of our argument."

This is bad news. While sensible critiques of AIPAC are part of their book, they are not even remotely the overall substance of it. As for what the book is about, I promise that I have read it and not merely about it, but I wrote an article in which I explain the whole thing in a bit more detail than I can here, so I'll add a link when one's available. But for now, let us remember that just as not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism, not all criticism of US policy towards Israel is an endorsement of this one particular bigoted book.

3 comments:

David Schraub said...

Now every time anyone offers up any take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the left of Benjamin Netanyahu, they're going to be seen as followers of "The Israel Lobby."

Oh God yes. Some folks tried to make this article about Samantha Power (because one of the most prominent liberal internationalists really is a closet neo-realist!) and I kinda flipped out.

Aaron said...

Call this a lesson in professional development. This is what smart academics do - stake out a claim to an area in such a way that, even when their argument is broached in the most tangential way, they get a cite. You should be taking notes.

Phoebe said...

Aaron--I think this is more what smart self-publicizers do. I don't intend to model my own career after either of theirs.