The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (By John J. Merasheimer and Stephen M. Walt) | The Deadliest Lies (By Abraham H. Foxman)

Conspiracy Theory

Stephen M. Walt, left, and John J. Mearsheimer
Stephen M. Walt, left, and John J. Mearsheimer (Greg Martin/farrar, Straus And Giroux Via Bloomberg News)
Reviewed by Samuel G. Freedman
Sunday, October 7, 2007


By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt

Farrar Straus Giroux. 484 pp. $26


The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control

By Abraham H. Foxman

Palgrave Macmillan. 256 pp. $24.95

In the fifth chapter of the New Testament's Book of Romans, there appears the single verse that established the concept of original sin. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin," the passage in the King James version reads, "and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." From Adam onward, in other words, sin is hereditary, ancestral, inescapable except through the acceptance of Jesus Christ.

Original sin over the millennia has become more than a religious belief, and a contested one at that. It has entered our collective vocabulary as a powerful metaphor for ineradicable guilt, guilt based on the condition of merely existing. As such, original sin serves very well, if unintentionally, as the framework for The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, the broadside by political scientists John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard.

For all its attention to American foreign policy and domestic lawmaking, The Israel Lobby operates more deeply as a theology, a belief system. The original sin, in the Mearsheimer-Walt cosmology, is the United States' support for Israel, which they view as the root cause of global instability, Islamist terrorism and American insecurity. To enter into this faith is to accept the premise that a shifting, stealthy, protoplasmic group of Zionists, most of them Jews but some evangelical Christians, have for decades manipulated the puppet strings of Congress and the White House.

The Israel lobby's "loose coalition of individuals and organizations" has not simply steered the United States into a self-destructive and staggeringly expensive bond with Israel, a "strategic liability." It has pushed America into the Iraq war, alienated us from Western European allies, ruined rapprochement with Syria and begun greasing the way for a military strike against Iran.

Like some other critics of the American-Israeli relationship -- the historian Tony Judt, former President Jimmy Carter -- Mearsheimer and Walt perceive themselves as speaking a previously unutterable truth, a truth so shattering in its clarity that powerful forces seek to muzzle it. The more voices are raised against them, the more convinced they are of their own rightness and persecution.

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