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  • April 1, 2006
  • 11 minutes read

An essay by two prominent American professors

An essay by two prominent American professors challenging the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and its sway over the US foreign policy has created a firestorm, drawing immediate anti-Semitism accusations and scathing criticism, a leading British newspaper reported Friday, March 31.

“Accusations of powerful Jews behind the scenes are part of the most dangerous traditions of modern anti-Semitism,” Jeffrey Herf and Andrei Markovits, two academics at the reputable Harvard University, wrote in a letter to the London Review of Books, according to the Guardian.

Two weeks ago, Stephen Walt, the academic dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and John Mearsheimer, a political science professor at the University of Chicago, published an essay about the impact of Israel Lobby in the United States.

They said that the US has been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies to advance Israeli interests.

The essay said the US willingness was largely as a result of pressure from Jewish American groups such as the American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) allied to pro-Zionist Christian evangelists and influential Jewish neo-conservatives.

Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz also denounced in the university newspaper the essay’s authors as “liars” and “bigots”.


Challenging accusation of being anti-Semite, professor Mearsheimer said the ongoing furor over the essay proved the strength of the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

“We argued in the piece that the lobby goes to great lengths to silence criticism of Israeli policy as well as the US-Israeli relationship, and that its most effective weapon is the charge of anti-Semitism,” he told the Guardian.

He said that they expected of being accused of anti-Semitism after publishing the essay.

“Huge numbers of people know this story to be true but are afraid to say it because they would punished by pro-Israeli forces.”

Two versions of the essay were published in the London Review of Books and on the Kennedy School website.

But soon the school removed its cover page from the online version of the essay, denying that the move was to distance itself from its professors.

Also after the essay’s publication, it was announced that Walt would step down from his job as academic dean at the end of June.

But the Kennedy School and Walt’s colleagues claimed that the move had long been planned.


In their March 10 essay, professors Walt and Mearsheimer said that the US foreign policy has been influenced by the pro-Israel Lobby to serve the Israeli interests.

“Instead, the overall thrust of US policy in the region is due almost entirely to US domestic politics, and especially to the activities of the ’Israel Lobby,” they wrote.

“Other special interest groups have managed to skew US foreign policy in direction they favored, but no lobby has managed to divert US foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise’s suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US and Israeli interests are essentially identical.”

They attributed the powerful impact of the Israel lobby to its effectiveness in the US Congress.

“One reason for the Lobby’s success with Congress is that some key members are Christian Zionists like Dick Armey, who said in September 2002 that ’My No. 1 priority in foreign policy is to protect Israel.’

“One would think that the number 1 priority for any congressman would be to ’protect America,’ but that is not what Armey said.

“There are also Jewish senators and congressmen who work to make U.S. foreign policy support Israel’s interests,” they said.

The two US professors maintained that the Israel Lobby has also a significant leverage over the US executive branch.

“That power derives in part from the influence Jewish voters have on presidential elections. Despite their small numbers in the population (less than 3 percent), they make large campaign donations to candidates from both parties.”

They added that the US media was also dominated by the Israel lobby.

“The Lobby strives to shape public perceptions about Israel and the Middle East. It does not want an open debate on issues involving Israel, because an open debate might cause Americans to question the level of support that they currently provide.”

“Accordingly, pro‐Israel organizations work hard to influence the media, think tanks, and academia, because these institutions are critical in shaping popular opinion.”

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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt 1,377.96