[Marxism] HAARETZ review of Walt/Mearsheimer
walterlx at earthlink.net
Mon Oct 1 10:46:13 MDT 2007
Last update - 10:34 25/09/2007
On the way to a pariah state
By Carlo Strenger
Henry Kissinger used to say that Israel has no foreign policy, only
internal politics. Listening to our politicians, you often indeed
wonder whether any of them has any long-term strategy. Given that
every Israeli politician is supposed to care for Israel's long-term
survival, it is stunning to see that an important event in the U.S.
with enormous implications for Israel has gone all but unnoticed
Eighteen months ago, two senior political scientists, Stephen M. Walt
and John J. Mearsheimer, from Harvard and the University of Chicago,
respectively, published a paper claiming that U.S. Middle Eastern
policy, including the misguided Iraq war and its unqualified support
for Israel over the last decades, has run counter to true U.S.
interests. They blame the influence of the Israel Lobby for this.
The paper generated a lot of commotion in Jewish circles in the U.S.,
but surprisingly, has been disregarded in Israel. W&M have now
published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy as a book. Their
conclusion: the U.S. needs to start relating to Israel like any other
country, and no longer see a special ally in us, because the close
relation with Israel harms U.S. interests.
W&M paint Israel as a rogue state that does not abide by
international law, and is not up to the standards expected of a
Western state. The subtext is clear: Israel is just another
problematic Middle Eastern country, and should be treated as such -
and the number of policy makers and opinion leaders who think this
way is growing.
My concern here is not with the question whether W&M are right in the
details of their analysis of the power of the Israel Lobby. My point
is that their anti-Israeli stance is the tip of a growing iceberg
that is simply disregarded by Israel's decision makers. Dismissing
W&M as a fringe phenomenon is shortsighted, because it does not take
into account a consistent development over the last few years.
It is something of a consensus that the confrontation with Political
Islam has become the Western world's No. 1 geopolitical problem. This
is generally called the "Clash of Civilizations," following Samuel
Huntington and Bernard Lewis. A growing number of decision makers in
Europe and the U.S. think that Israel, while not necessarily the main
cause for the rise of Political Islam, has become a symbol around
which Islamist extremism coalesces - and there is good evidence for
this. Watch any Jihadist Web site, even if run from Pakistan, and you
will find that images from the West Bank are the core of their
Israel's way of dealing with the Palestinians and Lebanon in the last
few decades has led to a long-term process in which the Western world
is beginning to see Israel as a pariah state that has no true
affinity to Western values. Hence, it is not on the 'right' side of
the clash of civilizations, as was reflected in the French ambassador
to Britain calling Israel "that shitty little country" not long ago.
This development is consistently disregarded by Israeli decision
makers. Short-term political bickering is on their minds more than
the survival of Israel, which in theory is their main goal. Any
criticism of Israel's policies is dismissed as an expression of the
New Anti-Semitism. The proof often provided is that we are not judged
by the same standard as our neighbors: "Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Saudi
Arabia can get away with inhuman behavior a lot worse than ours," the
My point is simple: the day we are no longer judged by the standards
of the West is the beginning of Israel's end, because it means that
the West has decided we are no longer part of it, and hence will not
be committed to Israel's existence. The day may come when Israel
will, as W&M suggest, be seen as just another troublesome country
that destabilizes the world.
Behaving in a manner befitting the standards of the Western world is
far more important for Israel's long-term survival than gaining a few
square miles here and there, by building the security wall through
Palestinian territories, tearing apart villages, homes and schools,
and expanding settlements. Every such act is not just a moral
outrage; it pushes Israel one step closer to being disqualified from
belonging to the West.
My argument is not just about being loved by the world - though this
factor must not be dismissed. Many of us believe that Israel's moral
fiber has been fatally harmed by the occupation and by the two
Lebanon wars. The result is that both morally and strategically, the
continued occupation and subjugation of the Palestinian people has
put us on the wrong side of history.
The writer is professor of Psychology at Tel Aviv University, and a
member of the Permanent Monitoring Panel on Terrorism of the World
Federation of Scientists.
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