Seeds of Anti-Semitism

[Washington Post] Michael Gerson - Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago have accused the "Israel Lobby" of managing to "manipulate the American political system" into actions that undermine U.S. interests. Accusations of disproportionate Jewish influence are as old as the pharaohs. The novelty here is the endorsement of respected, mainstream academics - though both characterizations are increasingly disputed. I have firsthand knowledge concerning Walt and Mearsheimer's accusations. They have argued that the "Israeli government and pro-Israel groups" have shaped President Bush's "grand scheme for reordering the Middle East." In fact, Israeli officials have been consistently skeptical about the main policy innovation of the Bush era: the democracy agenda. One senior Bush administration official recently told me, "The Israelis are generally convinced that Arab cultures are particularly resistant to democracy; that democracy is likely to lead to victories by the Muslim Brotherhood." Perhaps many Americans actually prefer Israel's flawed democracy to the aging autocrats and corrupt monarchies of the region. Perhaps they root for a reliable ally that is surrounded by nations still committed to its destruction. Perhaps many Americans recall that the Jews, just six decades ago, lost one-third of their number to genocide and believe that this persecuted people deserves a secure home and sanctuary. Perhaps Americans understand that anti-Semitism was the greatest source of evil in the 20th century and is not dead in this one. Every generation has seen accusations that Jews have dual loyalties, promote war and secretly control political structures. These academics may not follow their claims all the way to anti-Semitism. But this is the way it begins. This is the way it always begins. The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, served as President George W. Bush's chief speechwriter and as a senior policy advisor from 2001 until 2006.

2007-09-21 01:00:00

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