Rebuttals to Mearsheimer & Walt’s Israel Lobby

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Rebuttals to Mearsheimer and Walt

Some Rebuttals to Mearsheimer & Walt’s “Israel Lobby”

The manifesto attacking the “Israel Lobby” and its alleged stranglehold on US policy in the Middle East by two prominent “realist” academics, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, appeared in mid-March in two versions: The full 83-page version (with footnotes) was printed as a Working Paper at Harvard entitled “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy,” and a condensed version (without footnotes) appeared in the London Review of Books (vol. 28, #6 – 23 March 2006) as “The Israel Lobby.”
A number of critical responses have already appeared, many of which are internet-accessible. I referred to some of them in a few of my own previous posts: Mearsheimer & Walt on the Zionist Conspiracy… with a response by Herf & Markovits, Why Mearsheimer & Walt are wrong (continued), and Chomsky and Massad on Mearsheimer & Walt. It was suggested to me that it might be useful to collect a lot of the most serious and systematic critiques of Mearsheimer & Walt’s argument in one place, so I have tried to do that below.
This is a preliminary list–not least because I expect that further critiques of M&W’s argument will be appearing. Among the relatively brief responses, I think the letter to the LRB by Herf & Markovits remains the most substantial single critique. (I would also highlight the Forward editorial, despite the fact that it has a few slips and errors of its own, and the piece by Lee Smith, which is both cogent and hilarious–see here ). Any comprehensive, point-by-point refutation would have to be a long piece, given how many of M&W’s assertions are either tendentious, misleading, logically questionable, or simply incorrect. So far, the only full-scale refutation I know of is the one by Alan Dershowitz that appeared on April 5, but I suspect that others are in the works. When they appear, they can be included in this list.
If anyone knows of other significant pieces that should also be included here, suggestions are welcome.

Yours for reality-based discourse,
Jeff Weintraub

P.S. Richard Kuper reminded me of a piece that appeared several months before Mearsheimer & Walt’s paper, but which–in effect–strongly criticizes some key elements of their argument (since Mearsheimer & Walt are mostly just recycling earlier claims made by others). So while this piece does not precisely fit into the list below, it is nevertheless relevant and deserves to be mentioned here:
Steven Zunes, “The US Invasion of Iraq: Not the Fault of Israel and Its Supporters ” Foreign Policy in Focus – January 4, 2006
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Jeffrey Herf & Andrei Markovits, Letter to the London Review of Books | LRB (Vol. 28, #7) dated April 6, 2006 [also here ]

Martin Kramer, “Stephen Walt’s World ” | Sandstorm – March 17, 2006
Martin Kramer, “Israel and the Iraq War ” | Sandstorm – April 12, 2006

Lee Smith, “A Place Called Saudi Arabia ” | Michael J. Totten’s Middle East Journal – March 20, 2006

Richard Baehr & Ed Lasky, “Stephen Walt’s War with Israel ” | American Thinker – March 20, 2006

Robert Fine, “The Lobby: Mearsheimer and Walt’s Conspiracy Theory ” | Engage – March 21, 2006

David Hirsh, “The Blame Game ” | Guardian “Comment is Free” blog – March 21, 2006

Rick Richman, “Walt, Mearsheimer, and Academic Malpractice ” | Jewish Current Issues – March 22, 2006

Shalom Lappin, “More on Mearsheimer and Walt ” | Normblog – March 22, 2006

Ruth R. Wisse, “Harvard attack on ‘Israel lobby’ is actually a targeting of American public ” | Jewish World Review – March 23, 2006

Forward Editorial, “In Dark Times, Blame the Jews ” | Forward – March 24, 2006

ADL Analysis, “Mearsheimer and Walt’s Anti-Israel Screed: A Relentless Assault in Scholarly Guise ” | Anti-Defamation League – March 24, 2006

Adam Shatz, “Dialogue of the Deaf ” | Guardian “Comment is Free” blog – March 24, 2006
[Shatz would clearly like to be able to praise M&W’s paper. He goes out of his way to compliment their “welcome” contributions and dismiss their critics, and he devotes much of this piece to his own attacks on Israel and the “Israel Lobby”; but in the end he is forced to conclude that M&W’s argument is overstated, unconvincing, and misleading. “[T]hey seem so in awe of the lobby’s power that they have abandoned their realism for the fantasy that Washington is Israeli-occupied territory.” –JW]

Ami Isseroff, “The Israel Lobby Revisited ” | Zionism & Israel Web Log – March 26, 2006

Christopher Hitchens, “Overstating Jewish Power ” | Slate.com – March 27, 2006

Noam Chomsky, “The Israel Lobby ” | ZNet – March 28, 2006

Joseph Massad, “Blaming the Lobby ” | Al Ahram Weekly On-line (#787) March 23-29, 2006

Max Boot, “Policy analysis — paranoid style ” | Los Angeles Times – March 29, 2006

Erik Schechter, “The Lobby Made Me Do It ” | Worldpress.org – March 29, 2006

Brendan Simms, “‘The Israel Lobby’: Why John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt are Wrong about United States Middle East Policy and Its Motivations – Brendan Simms Offers a ‘Realist’ Response to their LRB Article ” | The Social Affairs Unit – March 29, 2006

Richard L. Cravatts, “The Paranoid View of History Infects Harvard ” | History News Network – April 3, 2006

David Aaronovitch, “Terrorism, the Iraq war–now we can blame one mysterious, powerful group ” | Times Online – April 4, 2006

Eliot A. Cohen, “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic ” | Washington Post – April 5, 2006

Alan Dershowitz, “Debunking the Newest–and Oldest–Jewish Conspiracy: A Reply to the Mearsheimer-Walt ‘Working Paper ‘” | Harvard Faculty Responses to KSG Working Papers – April 5, 2006
Alan Dershowitz, Letter to the London Review of Books | LRB (Vol. 28, #8) dated April 20, 2006

Jacob T. Levy, “Thoughts on ‘The Israel Lobby’ ” | jacobtlevy.blogspot.com – April 6, 2006

Dov Waxman, “‘The Israel Lobby”–Finally a Balanced Review ” | The Globalist – April 6, 2006
Dov Waxman, “The Israel Lobby–Preserving an All-Around Perspective ” | The Globalist – April 7, 2006

James Klurfeld, “‘Israel lobby’ didn’t con Bush into invading Iraq ” | Newsday – April 7, 2006

Ned Lazarus, “The Irony of Great Power Politics ” | Ha’aretz – April 11, 2006

Jeremy Schreiber, Letter to the London Review of Books | LRB (Vol. 28, #8) dated April 20, 2006
John Gretton, Letter to the London Review of Books | LRB (Vol. 28, #8) dated April 20, 2006
Michael Grenfell, Letter to the London Review of Books | LRB (Vol. 28, #8) dated April 20, 2006

Michelle Goldberg, “Is the ‘Israel Lobby” distorting America’s Mideast policies? ” | Salon.com – April 18, 2006

Rebuttals to Mearsheimer & Walt’s Israel Lobby

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