Abraham Foxman, who spent his childhood in Vilnius hiding from the Nazis, has a new book out critiquing Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter (two of whom, Mearsheimer and Carter, were prominently featured in CNN’s “God’s Warriors.”)
For Mr. Foxman, the current arguments have an ugly resonance given the historical context: He cites the Dreyfus Affair, Hitler’s allegations that Jews undermined the German effort in World War I, and Stalin’s doubts about Jewish loyalty as significant precedents to the recent charges. “To survive Hitler and to survive postwar communist Europe and to relive these hideous canards, just because they’re being paraded by professors with titles from Chicago and Harvard, does not change their reality,” said Mr. Foxman, making clear he does not equate the current authors with either Hitler or Stalin.
At stake, says Mr. Foxman, is the ability of Jews to engage in American democracy as citizens, much like Irish Americans, Cuban Americans, Italian Americans and members of other ethnic groups. “Will Jews be less willing to act out their full citizenship on issues for fear of being accused of being disloyal or not loyal enough or more loyal to Israel than America?” If some American Jews want to advocate on behalf of Israel or any other cause, he added, “that’s what American democracy is all about.”
“The Deadliest Lies,” which Mr. Foxman hopes will find its way onto academic reading lists that include the books addressed in his account, provides a litany of errors and illogicalities in the works it disputes. Among the offenses: the “denigration” by Messrs. Walt and Mearsheimer of Israel’s offer to Yasser Arafat at Camp David in 2000; their “minimization” of Palestinian-Arab terror attacks on Israeli civilians; their account of the demise of Senator Charles Percy of Illinois, the only politician they believe was forced out of office by the “Lobby,” in an electoral defeat that Mr. Foxman attributes instead to the power of Chicago’s Democratic machine; and numerous examples, omitted from the work of Messrs. Walt and Mearsheimer, of American administrations acting in opposition to Israel and its advocates.
Regarding Mr. Carter, Mr. Foxman quotes Kenneth Stein, a former aide to the president, to dispute the former president’s assertion that Menachem Begin ever made any commitment during Camp David discussions on settlements in the West Bank, and certainly none involving stopping their growth.
Mr. Shultz goes even further in refuting the idea that any “Israel Lobby” dictates American foreign policy, enumerating America’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia during the Reagan administration and recounting Reagan’s decision to visit the Bitburg cemetery. He also cautions against scapegoating. “When we make a wrong decision – even one that is recommended by Israel and supported by American Jewish groups – it is our decision, and one for which we alone are responsible,” Mr. Shultz writes. “We act in our own interest. And when we mistakenly conclude from time to time – as we will – that an action or policy is in America’s interest, we must take responsibility for the mistake.”
Read more here.