“The Lobby Falters” Mearsheimer

Lrb17aug2006vol28no16 "An even more important reason for the lobby to drive Freeman out of his job is the weakness of the case for America’s present policy towards Israel, which makes it imperative to silence or marginalise anyone who criticises the special relationship. If Freeman hadn’t been punished, others would see that one could talk critically about Israel and still have a successful career in Washington. And once you get an open and free-wheeling discussion about Israel, the special relationship will be in serious trouble.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Freeman affair was that the mainstream media paid it little attention – the New York Times, for example, did not run a single story dealing with Freeman until the day after he stepped down – while a fierce battle over the appointment took place in the blogosphere. Freeman’s opponents used the internet to their advantage; that is where Rosen launched the campaign. But something happened there that would never have happened in the mainstream media: the lobby faced real opposition. Indeed, a vigorous, well-informed and highly regarded array of bloggers defended Freeman at every turn and would probably have carried the day had Congress not tipped the scales against them. In short, the internet enabled a serious debate in the United States about an issue involving Israel. The lobby has never had much trouble keeping the New York Times and the Washington Post in line, but it has few ways to silence critics on the internet."  Mearsheimer


The bloggers almost won?  pl


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8 Responses to “The Lobby Falters” Mearsheimer

  1. Just want to make clear that I am not the William B. Cummings who is one of retained counsel for the defendants in the AIPAC case.

  2. mo says:

    I would suggest that if one compares today with a decade ago, when there was no Iraq, no huge discussion on the Middle East, and there was little knowledge of whom AIPAC is and what it does, one sees the tide turning.
    What Mearsheimer (and Walt) set in motion was momentous for AIPAC. And their attempts to drown them out only made the message louder and clearer.
    I think AIPAC are worried. Time is against them. If they continue to push the Likkudnik agenda, it will only be a matter of time before the momentum and mass of opposition to the harm it is bringing the US on the global stage becomes such that the men and women of Congress will have to simply stop taking its shilling lest they be campaigned against as traitors who put the needs of another nation above their own.

  3. J says:

    WE (every human being) has ‘heritage’ (ethnic origins/religious origins), but not everybody uses it as a club to lord over everybody else, except the state of Israel. One cannot catagorize all Jews nor lump them in with the ‘Israel firster’ crowd. It would be wrong to cast aspersions on all Jews because of a one segment. But that ‘one segment’ is using ethnic/religion to castigate anybody who dares to disagree with the state of Israel’s behavior, actions, and wheither it should exist or not on the world stage.
    Do we see the Irish, or French, or other groups using their origins as a billy club on others? NO, the only ones we see doing this is the Israel firster crowd. If one wants to be an Israel firster and live in Israel, that’s well and good. But to be an Israel firster and live in the U.S. amounts to ‘treason’ as they have put the interests of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT ‘AHEAD OF’ the interests of their ‘host nation’ (a.k.a. USA).
    It’s time that we the homogenous group known as ‘Americans’ put a dirty sock in the AIPAC/Israel lobby’s whining mouth, and prosecuted every member of Congress who is on Israel’s foreign government’s payroll through Israeli government ‘storefronts’ i.e. AIPAC.

  4. rjj says:

    … but it has few ways to silence critics on the internet.

    I wish Mearsheimer hadn’t said that. Never underestimate the useful idiocy of The Doers of Good. This little setback won’t stop them.
    But am glad he mentioned

    Jimmy Carter, who was smeared by the lobby …

    though he uses the past tense when in fact Carter has yet to be rehabilitated. Even on the Internets people seem unable to say a good thing about Carter (or Clinton) without a requisite number of weaselly qualifiers.
    Why is that?

  5. jr786 says:

    I don’t know about ‘almost’, a miss being as good as a mile in this case. But it does seem that the power of blogs to serve as a rhetorical public sphere (recognizing the imperfect comparison) comes into its known when a well-informed, well intentioned and well educated resistance is provoked as it was during the Freeman Affair.
    Like attracts like. Our collective voices can coalesce with others to form a pretty formidable resistance to the Israel Firsters, G-d willing.

  6. Arun says:

    M.J. Rosenberg wonders how long it will be before the New York Times fires Roger Cohen:
    Quote: “To get back to my headline question. Can Roger Cohen get away with his shockingly realistic opinions of the Middle East or will he be fired? My guess, he’ll be fired. Check this out from neocon author Ron Radosh demanding Cohen’s head. His buddies usually get their man!”

  7. Charles I says:

    All well and good, we are preaching to the choir here.
    It is up to you – I’m Canadian – to take the issue from here to your friends, family, neighbours, legislators and colleagues and to infect them with the cognitive dissonance commensurate with at the very least refusing to accept the old party line, to accept debate and change where indicated.
    Its simple to sit here and post. I put it to you that if you want change, you have to drag this mess – and its undeniable pernicious effects, its opportunity cost as it were – into the sunlight for all to see – and have it acknowledged by society as an issue that must be addressed, like smoking or drunk driving or gay rights or the next war or global warming. Stuff you can no longer deny, though ignorance itself sadly, eternal.
    How many of you are prepared to do that? Take the perspectives and arguments here abroad? The pool of informed citizens willing and able to withstand public debate – some ignorant if not hysterical – and deny the party line patiently enough for a consensus against it to form must be enlarged.
    NONE of most of my circle outside the web would even advert to this issue, most prefer not to, were it not for my dreary campaign of moral harassment. Bloody chain letters move more people than I do, but my converts would not have bothered with even my ready made info/form letters-to-authority package. But my vector is growing, one person at a time.

  8. Will says:

    Fnord mentioned a prime minister of Norway who had moderated his Israel views. I went to his wiki bio page, clicked the history tab and saw that a furious edit war had taken place b/ that the truth had been winning out. It had not always been like that there. I was able to read a full account.
    Uri Avnery has view of the Freeman controvery in his latest columns.
    Indeed Chas had given full throated expression to his views.
    From Uri
    “He has strong opinions about American policy in the Middle East, and makes no secret of them. In a 2005 speech, he criticized Israel’s “high-handed and self-defeating policies” originating in the “occupation and settlement of Arab lands,” which he described as “inherently violent.” In a 2007 speech he said that the US had “embraced Israel’s enemies as our own” and that Arabs had “responded by equating Americans with Israelis as their enemies.” Charging the US with backing Israel’s “efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations” and to “seize ever more Arab land for its colonists,” he added that “Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians.” Another conclusion is his belief that the terrorism the United States confronts is due largely to “the brutal oppression of the Palestinians by an Israeli occupation that has lasted over 40 years and shows no signs of ending.” Naturally, the appointment of such a person was viewed with great alarm by the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.”

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