Friday, August 1, 2014

Professor Beeson Replies


Recently this blog posted on an article at the Conversation by Prof Mark Beeson of Murdoch University about the IDF operations in Gaza.


Human Rights Activist and Animal Protector
"John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt’s important book may not have earned them many friends, but it did a valuable service in revealing just how powerful and influential the Jewish lobby is in the US."
Actually Mearsheimer and Walt's thoroughly discredited book have earned them an enormous number of friends. This always does. They took the well trodden path from obscure academia to global celebrity by the time honoured method of attacking Israel and the Jews.
American Jews are probably overrepresented in neo conservative and centre or centre right intellectual discourse. Certainly they are in pro-Israel and Zionist activity of all kinds but only the blinkered and worse would draw M and W's conclusions from that. Jews are also over represented among Democrats, charity workers, left wing and revolutionary politics, the professions, universities, British conservatives, those who show up to vote in elections, until recently the ALP, Animal Liberation and for all I know the RSPCA.
So what. What exactly is your point? That a disproportionate number of Jews are activists? You really don't need to write a book to prove that.
People complaining about Jews being "over represented" and therefore having disproportionate influence is the oldest trope in antisemitism. Of course pro-Israel voices in the US are strong, there are many, but only the ignorant think of this as a monolith and only the bigoted see some kind of a conspiracy in this.
One might have hoped we had got past this sort of thing by now.
There are many lobbies in the US just like here. The "Palestinians", Arab Americans, Muslims, teachers, academics, the oil industry all have lobbies. Big Oil has had a bigger influence on American foreign policy than the Jews and it is not at all benign or pro-Israel.
The "gotcha" thesis of these academics about the Jews (remember that American and Israeli Jews are about 90% of the world's Jews) is risible and deplorable. A generation earlier and they would have been clamouring for quotas in the universities to keep the numbers in "proportion". These days I guess they would target east Asians if they could.
American Jews are pro-Israel for exactly the same reasons as most American are pro-Israel. It is because they are pro-American. It is because of the absolute moral clarity of this issue.
The Jews are a tiny minority in the US, less than 2%. To attribute to them some kind of sinister power over the US and the West should be unacceptable in the West even if it is unquestioned orthodoxy across much of the world and especially in the Muslim world.
It should be unacceptable precisely because of that.
Prof Beeson  posted in reply:

Mark Beeson

Professor of International Politics at Murdoch University
In reply to Geoff Pahoff
Thanks for the thoughtful response, Geoff. The points about the US political system being open to a variety of influences are good ones and well taken. But do you really think that US policy toward Israel and Palestine is even-handed?
Why does nearly every American leader or politician feel obliged to intone to the ritual declaration about Israel's right to defend itself, with little comment about the means? Why is it that a successful middle-income state is the largest recipient of American aid? Surely you would concede that Israel occupies a place in American foreign policy practise and thinking that no other state does?

The blog replies


Human Rights Activist and Animal Protector
In reply to Mark Beeson
All of this is military aid. Much of it must be spent in the US as part of the overall US military and defence investment. .
The glib and simple answer to the question however is that no other successful middle income strategically critical ally of the US faces anything like the existential threat that Israel does
The last time would probably have been 1940. The US did much the same thing then that it does now. Sure Israel receives much energy in Washington but that has little to do with the "Lobby". The "Lobby" sees itself primarily in an educational role and as a counter to a hugely determined and aggressive campaign against Israel out of all proportion to its size or even its relative impact on the Arab world and the "Palestinians".
Nor is it a one way street. Israel projects US influence in the Middle East. It is a major source of intelligence about events in the Arab world, an active partner in anti-terrorist operations and increasingly important economically and as a source of leading edge technology including military technology.
Drones and remote warfare were pioneered in Israel, and if the US funded Iron Dome, the enormous leap in technology it represents is shared.
I do admit to some nerve pain at the constant, and yes, almost ritualistic, affirmations about Israel's right to exist, but not for the reason you infer. I can think of no other state where this needs to be even mentioned, let alone constantly intoned as the root cause of a conflict.
That is the rub with the "Palestinian" cause. At its core it not a genuine national movement, or if it is, it is something new and quite threatening.. Its central drive is not for a state but for the destruction and supercession of a state.
There can be no even handedness between Israel and "Palestine" because "Palestine" is not a state like Israel or any other state.
"Palestine' is an antistate. The first in history. .

And that of course is the end of the conversation.
cross posted Israel Thrives


  1. You are no human rights activist . Anyone who would dress up in a gorilla costume and call themselves Che Gorilla is nothing more than a racist.

    1. Indeed, nothing more than a son of a pig and a ape.

      And you sir, are nothing more than an animalist.

  2. 1. Mearsheimer and Walt are not only wrong but ignorantly and egregiously so. They argue that the power of the so-called Lobby is demonstrated by the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In fact it demonstrates the opposite. If the Lobby was so powerful then the US would have done what Israel had wanted and taken on Iran instead.

    2. "But do you really think that US policy toward Israel and Palestine is even-handed?"

    The US is basically even handed. In the same way the police are even-handed when it comes to policing the murder law. They apply the same rules to all, but come down hard on murderers just as the US does not treat a civilised country in the same way it treats a terrorist entity like Hamas. In fact, if anything, Obama is favouring Hamas by pressuring Israel to accept compromises to its security that no sane government could accept.

    Being “even handed” does not involve treating terrorist entities committed to Israel’s destruction by way of murderous war crimes in the same way and as being of equal standing as Israel which wants to maintain its existence as a peaceful democracy.

    3. “Why does nearly every American leader or politician feel obliged to intone to the ritual declaration about Israel's right to defend itself, with little comment about the means?”

    For anyone with any grasp of the facts no further comment is necessary. But for the sake of the less well-informed some additional explanation along the following lines might be in order:

    “Israel is obliged to defend itself because it is under a constant barrage of rockets, every one of which is a war crime, by a vicious anti-Semitic terrorist entity which has sworn to destroy it. We understand that because that entity conducts its operations in breach of international law and the norms of decent behaviour with a view to maximising civilian casualties that there will be civilian casualties. Nevertheless, Israel has a duty to its citizens to use so much force as is necessary to destroy Hamas.

    1. Thank you for this.

      Thing is,Israel actually cautioned against the attack on Iraq and questioned the currency of US intelligence on WMD of Saddam.

      You are right of course. This so called "even handedness" has me beat.

  3. Thanks for maintaining the blog Geoffff. It is a good source of info and opinion. I visit a few times a week. I don't comment much as there is little to disagree with.