The ‘Israel lobby’: US aid to and support for Israel

Page last updated 23 Oct 2015

1. The Israel Lobby
John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt, London Review of Books, 28/6, 23 Mar 2006.

All previous discussions of US-Israel relations were overshadowed by the publication of this controversial article in March 2006. The authors argued: “the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical.”

It provoked a deluge of responses, some critical of the argument, others going further and finding much or most of the argument antisemitic. (And, when the article was developed and published as a long book The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in 2007, the argument continued.)

The authors responded twice with letters in the London Review of Books, 4th May 2006 and 25 May 2006.

Some relevant critiques

Those critical of the general thesis

Adam Shatz, Dialogue of the deaf, Guardian Comment is Free, 24 Mar 2006
Noam Chomsky, The Israel Lobby?, Znet, 28 Mar 2006
As’ad, A Note of Dissent, Angry Arab News Service, Mar 2006
Tony Judt, A Lobby, Not a ConspiracyNew York Times Op-Ed, April 19, 2006
Joseph Massad, Blaming the lobbyElectronic Intifada (first published in Al-Ahram Weekly), 24 Mar 2006
Stephen Zunes, The Israel Lobby: How Powerful is it Really?, Foreign Policy in Focus, 23 May 2006
Stephen Zunes, The U.S. Invasion of Iraq: Not the Fault of Israel and Its Supporters, (this one published on 4 Jan, but nonetheless effectively a reply)
Norman Finkelstein, It’s Not Either/OrCounterpunch, 1 May 2006
Juan Cole, Breaking the Silence, Salon, 18 Apr 2006 and response by Jeff Weintraub, Jeff Weintraub website, 18 Apr 2006
Richard Kuper, American interest, Red Pepper, Dec 2007


Those going further, and finding shades, or more, of antisemitism

Robert Fine, The Lobby: Mearsheimer & Walt’s conspiracy theory, Engage, Mar 2006
Jeffrey Herf & Andrei S. Markovits; Shalom Lappin; postings on Normblog, 22 Mar 2006 here and here
Alan Dershowitz, Debunking the Newest – and Oldest – Jewish Conspiracy: A Reply to the Mearsheimer-Walt “Working Paper”, 5 Apr 2006
Anti-Defamation League, An Anti-Jewish Screed in Scholarly Guise, 24 Mar  26 Mar 2006
Eliot A. Cohen, Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic, Washington Post, 5 Apr 2006

A large number of links to other articles can be found in Jeff Weintraub’s collection, Some Rebuttals to Mearsheimer & Walt’s “Israel Lobby”


2. US hegemony, not “the lobby,” behind complicity with Israel
Stephen Maher, The Electronic Intifada, 27 Apr 2010

After the dust had settled… Maher takes a broad view of determinants of US policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“A central claim of the ‘Israel lobby’ thesis is that the ‘lobby,’ however defined, overwhelmingly shapes US policy towards the Middle East. Thus, if the argument were true, its proponents would have to demonstrate that there is something qualitatively unique about US policy towards the Middle East compared with that in other regions of the world. Yet upon careful analysis, we find little difference between the purported distortions caused by the lobby and what is frequently referred to as the ‘national interest,’ governed by the same concentrations of domestic power that drive US foreign policy elsewhere.”


3. Christian Zionism: The New Heresy that Undermines Middle East Peace
Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, Middle East Monitor, 01 Aug 2013

Christian Zionism is a central part of the Israel lobby in the US and its ideas play an imortant part elsewhere in genrating support for Israel.

“It is my contention…that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.”


Contents of this section


a) The ‘Israel lobby’: US aid to and support for Israel
b) The European Union and Israel-Palestine
c) General commentaries

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