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Ron Radosh

Those whom he disapproves of, he terms the “new Afrikaners,” since in Mearsheimer’s eyes, they are ipso facto supporters of a new apartheid Israel. He proclaims:

These are individuals who will back Israel no matter what it does, because they have blind loyalty to the Jewish state….I would classify most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations as new Afrikaners.  That list would include Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America, just to name some of the more prominent ones.  I would also include businessmen like Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman as well as media personalities like Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and Martin Peretz of the New Republic.

Anyone familiar with his list knows, as Mearsheimer evidently does not, that these individuals  have different perspectives and views on many issues pertaining to Israel and its policies. Some are opposed to many of Israel’s settlements; others are not. Peretz, for example, comes from a Labor Zionist tradition and regularly expresses his opposition to many of the policies of the Israeli right; others like Morton Klein are on the right of the spectrum on Israeli political issues, as is Sheldon Adelson. Others like David Harris can be considered centrists in tune with the majority of American Jewish opinion. Mearsheimer groups them all together and ignores all differences. What is important to him is that they all support the existence of Israel and do not favor the kind of solutions for the Middle East he proposes.

As for Mearsheimer’s analysis, I second the point made by David Bernstein, who writes that “the scholarly content of the piece is a joke.” Mearsheimer writes as if it is only Israel that stands in the way of the Palestinians having their own state.  There is not one word about the Palestinians’ continual rejection of every opportunity given it to have such a state, from the UN Partition resolution in November of 1947 to the last offer by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, when the Palestinian negotiators turned down the most magnanimous offer by Israel ever presented to them.

In fact, as David Bernstein points out, recent Israeli polls show that Palestinians — not Israelis — reject a two-state solution — 66.7 percent of Palestinians said they are against it. And the contrary is also true. Israelis overwhelmingly back a two-state solution, something never acknowledged by Mearsheimer.

So Mearsheimer argues that there will be no two-state solution because of Israel’s intransigence, leaving only one result: “an apartheid state dominated by Israeli Jews.” American pressure could force it, but as we know he already believes, it cannot — because of the great power of the Israel lobby! Any American president, he writes, finds it “impossible” to “play hardball with Israel.” I guess Mearsheimer has not stopped to explain the current turn in policy against Israel by President Barack Obama, whom so many have criticized for just this misguided approach. He is correct though when he says that during the campaign, Obama responded to those who feared he might be soft on Israel by “pandering” and praising the “special relationship” between the two countries. Indeed, Obama continues to do that today — while moving ahead with a policy that gives the lie to his words.

So in effect, what  John Mearsheimer predicts (or possibly hopes for) is that there will be an apartheid state, at which point the liberalism of American Jews will prevail and they will turn against Israel, putting their liberalism and values first and their concern for Israel second. Then, the great and all powerful Israel lobby will find it is ineffective, and its membership will quickly fall away. (Of course Jimmy Carter argues it already is an apartheid state; Mearsheimer differs only in that he says it soon will become one.) The so-called “Afrikaners” will then lose their influence, since American Jews will no longer listen to them.

Mearsheimer ends with what he hopes will be the outcome: “a democratic bi-national state,” the kind of solution already advocated by Tony Judt, the editors of The Nation and The New York Review of Books, and other left-liberal intellectuals. That “solution,” of course, might sound good to them, but won’t work. In effect it means a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority, that will quickly move — as its leaders promise time and again — to rid the state of Jews and to treat them as the Arab states have in the past and the present — as a minority with few rights, bound to accept either subjugation or Islamic law if Hamas gains the upper hand.

At any rate, John Mearsheimer has taken off the gloves. For a while, he and Walt tried to pretend they were friends of Israel and trying to save the country from itself. Now Mearsheimer, as one writer has pointed out, sounds much like the Charles Lindbergh of America First.  No wonder his writing now appears in publications like the Buchananite American Conservative and the Marxist Monthly Review. That is the appropriate venue for thinkers far outside the American mainstream.

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