The Return of the “Israel Lobby” Canard

Oct. 10 2017

Ten years after the publication of The Israel Lobby—the work of two “realist” political scientists who accused pro-Israel forces of manipulating U.S. foreign policy into disaster—events in the Middle East have shown that the existence of a Jewish state is the least of the region’s problems. Yet the book’s coauthor, Stephen Walt, has resurfaced with a column in the Forward arguing that history has proved him right. Jonathan Tobin comments:

[T]he nature of Walt and [and his coauthor John] Mearsheimer’s arguments [in their book] hinged on anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews buying influence or manipulating unsuspecting Gentiles. . . . While Walt continues to deny the anti-Semitic nature of his work, it is telling that in his Forward article he cites, among other things, the rise of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that engages in openly anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incitement, as proof his stand was correct. He and [others who share his perspective] ignore the reality of the conflict in which a Palestinian political culture rejects peace on any terms. . . .

The context for this effort [to revive the arguments of Walt and Mearsheimer] is important because while most Jews are still focused on President Donald Trump’s wrongheaded comments about Charlottesville, the Democratic party is becoming increasingly hostile to Israel. . . . . [N]ow that we have a president who, despite other obvious faults, isn’t obsessed with the idea of “saving Israel from itself” or in empowering an Iranian regime that is as much of a threat to the U.S. and the Arab states as it is to Israel, as Barack Obama was, it’s unsurprising that some on the left want to revive this dishonest discussion.

In the ten years since The Israel Lobby was first published, a rising tide of anti-Semitism has swept across the globe, fueled in part by smears of Israel and Jews like [the smears] Walt helped spread. That is an indictment of his work, not a vindication. Those who want to besmirch Israel’s supporters as undermining U.S. interests without being rightly labeled as anti-Semites are fooling no one.

Read more at Jewish News Service

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, Israel Lobby, Stephen Walt

Winning Islam’s War of Ideas, Saudi-Style

March 19 2018

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. policymakers have understood the need to confront jihadism not only militarily but also ideologically; yet, writes John Hannah, they have had little success. Now Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’ reformist crown prince, appears willing and able to take up the fight, and Hannah urges Washington to support his efforts:

By an order of magnitude, al-Qaeda in 2018 enjoys a larger presence in more countries across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia than it did the day the Twin Towers were felled. . . . What’s consistently been missing from America’s strategy have been powerful partners in the Muslim world who can reliably be counted on to speak out authoritatively on matters of Islamic theology in ways that the United States simply cannot. That’s where Saudi Arabia comes in. It’s the birthplace of Islam and host to the faith’s two holiest mosques. Combined with abundant oil wealth, these assets bestow on the Saudis a measure of soft-power influence unrivaled in the Muslim world. . . .

For months, the crown prince and his closest advisers have relentlessly hammered the theme that Saudi Arabia’s modernization requires an embrace of “moderate Islam.” He’s slammed the extremist ideology that the kingdom did so much to empower after the Iranian revolution and acknowledges that “the problem spread all over the world.” . . . At home, the powers of the kingdom’s notorious religious police have been scaled back. Prominent hardline clerics have been jailed. On the all-important issue of female empowerment, the pace of change has been breathtaking. . . .

Now the U.S. imperative should be pressing Mohammed bin Salman to take his campaign for moderate Islam on the road. . . . There should be multiple elements to such an effort, but some immediate tasks come to mind. First, school textbooks. The Saudis promised to eliminate the hate-filled passages a decade ago. Progress has slowly been made, but the job’s still not done. Mohammed bin Salman should order it finished—this year. Behind the scenes, U.S. experts should provide verification.

Second, working with trusted partners in indigenous communities known for their religious moderation, the Saudis should conduct a thorough audit of the global network of mosques, schools, and charitable organizations that they’ve backed with an eye toward weeding out radical staff and content. Third, [they should] initiate a worldwide buyback of Saudi-distributed mistranslations of the Quran and other religious materials notorious for propagating extremist narratives.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Moderate Islam, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Saudi Arabia, War on Terror