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News The Israel Lobby

  1. Jun 8, 2009 #1

    CRGreathouse

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    This is a thread for discussing the existence, influence, and exceptionalism of the "Israel Lobby" as proposed by Mearsheimer & Walt and rebutted by Dershowitz.

    First, the papers themselves:
    http://ksgnotes1.harvard.edu/Research/wpaper.nsf/rwp/RWP06-011/$File/rwp_06_011_walt.pdf, Mearsheimer & Walt (2006)
    http://www.hks.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/abstract_dersh1.htm [Broken], Dershowitz (2006)

    I have attempted to suggest a number of different controversial viewpoints below. With any luck, both sides will think that I'm siding with their opponents.


    Some questions to consider (or not):
    * To what extent are disparate U.S. groups supporting Israel more cohesive than other collections of interest-joined lobbyists (hence "The Lobby" rather than "lobbyists")?
    * For specific examples of persons and organizations belonging to the lobby, are the choices reasonable? Exhaustive?
    * How can the size and influence of the lobby be measured?
    * Is the press unusually favorable to Israel? How can this be measured? If so, is it more biased toward Israel than it is biased in other ways?
    * To what extent is support of Israel costly to the U.S., relative to other policy goals?
    * To what extent does MW mirror anti-Semitic propaganda? To what extent has the threat of being labeled anti-Semitic shut down debate?

    Specific criticisms of Mearsheimer & Walt 2006:†
    * Quotes taken out of context
    * Lack of research (is it bad to be 'just' a compilation?)
    * Factual and logical mistakes
    * Low-quality/biased sources: if the information is right why can't a reputable source be found?

    † There is no similar section for Dershowitz because Dershowitz responded to Mearsheimer & Walt, not the other way around.


    When replying to this thread, please focus on the facts at hand; resist the tendency to fall into ad hominem attacks. Please support all facts with arguments or citations: what is obvious to you may not be obvious to others -- it may even be false! Also, respect the rules of the board in order to delay the nigh-inevitable closing of this thread.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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  3. Jun 8, 2009 #2

    drizzle

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    Unfortunately, it cannot be measured, since all the press and media [western] are showing the same level of defending and supporting to whatever actions Israel does, and if other shows differ than that [The Lobby] will take care of it!!
     
  4. Jun 8, 2009 #3
    I think Mearsheimer and Walt's paper stands fine on it's own and answers the questions list as well, while I've yet to find anything of substance in Dershowitz's response, or even anyone on this forum who cares to back any specific argument of his, so I won't bother adressing any at this point, but http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n09/letters.html".

    In regard to the lobby's influence in our media, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfiEpvGQ_E0". That common misunderstanding of Camp David II and Scarborough's retort "I read the New York times, the Washington Post, and Foreign Affairs. You know what I'm going to do, I'm going to throw those away" sums up the situation nicely. I've yet to see any sign that Joe is taking his own advice, but of course I'd expect him to be ostracised if he did. When it comes to coverage of the Israel/Palestine conflict, you'll find notably more even-handed reporting in Israel's own mainstream media than we get in ours.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  5. Jun 8, 2009 #4
    Do you have any contest with how I did so previously in the other thread?
    While the letter presents the facade of supporting peace, the statement "the parties themselves must negotiate the details of any agreement" is a rather thinly veiled call for Obama to end his pressure towards a settlement freeze, effectively endorsing the status-quo which has allowed settlement expansion to continue for decades. Sure, most congressmen aren't so bold as to openly call for wiping Palestine off the map, but if you care to look for those opposing settlement expansion you'll soon note there are hardly any to be found. On the other hand, http://www.forward.com/articles/11794/".

    Also worth noting is the fact that those Dershowitz attacks mentioned above are all pushing for a two-state solution on the basis of international law, as anything less wouldn't leave Palestine as a viable independent state. So, I suppose you could call it the "greater Israel" lobby if you prefer, but "death to Palestine" is the other side of the same coin.
     
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  6. Jun 9, 2009 #5

    CRGreathouse

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    That sounds unnecessarily defeatist.

    Also, you're assuming the conclusion you desire -- you need to *show* this.
     
  7. Jun 9, 2009 #6

    CRGreathouse

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    That seems directly opposite my purpose: to stimulate discussion on this issue. What you see as obvious your opponents don't see at all. Please don't rest on the weak argument, "I can't see anything of substance in my opponent's argument to debate".

    If you'd like specific points to rebut, I suggest:
    * The two Ben-Gurion "out of context" quotes (D, p. 20)
    * The claim of logical weakness, for example in this passage (taken from MW, p. 43):
     
  8. Jun 9, 2009 #7

    CRGreathouse

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    Yes. You don't demonstrate the existence of the lobby you propose. You mention government officials with plans that support Israel or hint at supporting Israel. But government officials could come to support those plans without a lobby at all, let alone the overarchingly powerful and sinister one MW propose.

    Even the article on the apparent whacko Brownback suggests that his position is to shore up support amongst conservative Christians -- and fishing for votes isn't something that needs to be explained away by a conspiracy.

    So please present what evidence you have. People supporting things you don't like is not evidence of a global conspiracy.
     
  9. Jun 9, 2009 #8
    Mearsheimer and Walt adressed Dershowitz's argument's on the Ben-Gurion quotes directly http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n09/letters.html", which previously I linked above:
    Furthermore, Dershowitz's argument on the first quote is a flagrant misrepresentation:
    In fact, Mearsheimer and Walt's intent in presenting that quote is plainly stated in the two sentience preceding it:
    As for the the claim of logical weakness, the comment you quoted through Dershowitz is better understood when it isn't deprived of context:
    On the other hand, Dershowitz's argument against the statement is absurd when it is understood in its original context. so I won't bother reprinting it here.
    Yet the lobby is what brought them to support such plans. For instance, the letter implying Obama should back off the settlements http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/14/AR2009051404242.html" [Broken]:
    That is how stuff works.
    I can't say I've seen Mearsheimer and Walt ever propose the lobby is "overarchingly powerful and sinister", could you please quote whatever you dervied that impression from?
    Sure Christian Zionists are a big part of the lobby, but I doubt calling for ethnic cleansing won him many votes here, and I bet it would cost him more than it gets him if everyone was paying attention, but it certainly won him friends over there. I'm fairly certain Brownback is a true believer regardless.
    I haven't suggested any conspiracy here, but rather I am referring to a loosely-knit lobby which operates quite openly.
     
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  10. Jun 9, 2009 #9

    Hans de Vries

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    America's special role is based on the biblical prophesy in Daniel 9:3-25
    as acknowledged in Isaiah 45:1. (in the eyes of the religious lobbyist)

    That is:

    The second incarnation of the state of Israel can never be save
    without the reincarnation of the Jewish Messiah: Cyrus (the great)

    It was Harry Truman who first proclaimed: "I am Cyrus, I am Cyrus"
    the non-Jewish (gentile) king of the most powerful army in the world.
    who was instructed "inspired" by god to use his army "to subdue nations"
    in the middle east in the service of the people of Israel.
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/is/45.html

    Cyrus' empire in the first incarnation stretched from Israel and Lebanon
    via Iraq and Iran all the way to Afghanistan.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great#Neo-Babylonian_Empire

    There seems to be a religious symbolic relation between the military actions
    as lobbied for (think also the neocon's "new century for America") and the
    borders of the first prophesied empire of the Messiah.

    Donald Rumsfeld directly links Cyrus' army to that of the United States
    by sending biblical texts from Isaiah 5:28 to the troops during the invasion
    of Iraq in 2003: http://men.style.com/gq/features/topsecret [Broken]
    "Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be
    counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind"



    Regards, Hans
     
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  11. Jun 9, 2009 #10

    CRGreathouse

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    You misrepresent me! I took that quote directly from MW. you can tell because it's more than Dershowitz quotes, and it starts from the beginning of the note itself. I don't feel that the quote I gave is deceptive in any way.

    Rather than give a longer quotation, I gave a page number (and a link). A proper reading probably requires reading not just the note but the text to which it is attached.
     
  12. Jun 9, 2009 #11
    I apologize for misrepresenting you, and that was not my intent by any means. I was actually giving you the benefit of the doubt there in assuming you were taken in by Dershowitz's misrepresentation of the quote. which he presented on p. 36 of his paper, and which is exactly the quote you presented minus his "[sic.]". But again, Dershowitz's argument against the statement is absurd when it is understood in its original context. So now I'm left curious to know, what argument you are taking with it?

    And curious stuff there Hans de Vries, I've looked into the dogma of Christian Zionists a good bit over the years, but never stumbled across that particular position before. Any chance you can provide an authoritative source for it?
     
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  13. Jun 9, 2009 #12
    I was looking at similar threads and I came across some comments that I wanted to post here.

    Now, these are not my words and every quote is taken from a different person. What do you think?
     
  14. Jun 9, 2009 #13

    Hans de Vries

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  15. Jun 9, 2009 #14
    I think that the bias is so large that we are all affected by that. The bias has been hard wired in our brains. Then, just like you can demonstrate the fact that your brain is "biased" when it processes information via e.g. optical illusions, the bias we all have when we read the news can be easily demonstrated by applying simple symmetry operations.

    So, if I take this news item:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/newsMaps/idUSTRE5524YZ20090603

    and I apply a certain symmetry operator that should leave our alarm level the same if we were unbiased, I get this:

    But this looks way more alarming than the original, news item. In fact, the mere statements of Ahmadinejad about Israel being wiped off the map that he later clarified to mean that Israel will cease to be a Jewish state all by itself and that it absolutely did not imply any miltary actions by Iran, still led us to be far more alarmed about these statements than any unambiguously real military treat against Iran made by Israel.
     
  16. Jun 9, 2009 #15

    CRGreathouse

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    I'm making no argument whatever. I presented an argument of Dershowitz because I was curious to see the response. I must admit I'm not particularly satisfied. The quote does seem out of context here.

    Here's the text surrounding the Ben-Gurion quote:
    MW, p. 10

    In my opinion, the text would not survive the change from "After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine." to "After the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine [...] through mutual understanding and Jewish-Arab agreement.". You may feel otherwise, and may have good support for that belief. But as far as I'm concerned the burden of proof is on you (well, on MW really).
     
  17. Jun 10, 2009 #16

    CRGreathouse

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    Count Iblis:

    I must admit, the only shocking part of your transposed article to me was the change in the style of Ahmadinejad's speech. But perhaps I'm jaded? Certainly I wouldn't present myself as typical in this respect.

    But more important to me, as an analytical mind, is the idea of measuring that bias. How does it compare to the oft-claimed "liberal bias" in newspapers (or, for other papers, a "conservative bias")? How can bias be measured? I've seen a number of studies of general left-right bias in news reporting, but all seemed massively oversimplified and flawed.
     
  18. Jun 10, 2009 #17

    CRGreathouse

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    To whom is this comment addressed?
     
  19. Jun 10, 2009 #18
    As I said CRGreathouse, those are comments by 6 different members of PF all speaking of the same thing. I would not believe they were all 'fooled' , do you? I would post the names but I'm not sure this would be appropriate.
     
  20. Jun 10, 2009 #19

    CRGreathouse

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    I wasn't asking who wrote them. I was asking to whom this statement of yours was addressed:
    "Now, these are not my words and every quote is taken from a different person. What do you think?"

    Without commenting on the merit of the underlying issue, I could easily imagine six handpicked quotes being from people who were "'fooled'". Let's not fall into the http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Argument_from_Popularity, for that matter).
     
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  21. Jun 10, 2009 #20
    I thank you much.
    Dershowitz took the quote out of context, his argument against Mearsheimer and Walt's statement is refuted by that context. If you belive otherwise, please present your argument so I can adress it.
    And I quoted Mearsheimer and Walt addressing that argument above, pointing out that further context confirms their characterization:
    If you take issue with that, please present your argument so I can adress it.
     
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