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A State of Denial … Until When? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Last week, I wrote an article about a research paper by John Mearsheimer from Chicago University and Stephen Walt from Harvard, recently published under the title: “Israel lobby and the American foreign affairs.” To my shock, both universities have dissociated themselves from the paper, while the Israel lobby launched its usual anti-Semitic defamation campaign against both professors.

This unrelenting intellectual terrorism, practiced by the Israel lobby, will leave the West barren with one-sided viewpoint. Open and objective political debates are impossible when any criticism of Israeli policies is branded as “anti-Semitic” or “neo-Nazi.” This is deliberate distortion of reality going unchecked.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has confessed at the military school in Pennsylvania that the United States would earn “low grades in the battle of ideas taking place in the World today.” This is not surprising when free thinking is subject to political blackmail. If saying the truth becomes a sort of professional suicide, dogma will win and world peace will be the first looser.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is not a religious one. It is not Islam versus Judaism. Muslims and Jews have lived together peacefully in the region for thousands of years. The conflict is one of occupier and occupied. The conflict is about land and resources. It is about a nation building its life on the ruins of another. This, however, is not the story told by the Israel lobby in the United States.

The Israel lobby has always pictured the Arab-Israeli conflict through the lenses of anti-Semitism, where the Arabs are the neo-Nazis who want to destroy Israel. Any other context is disregarded as irrelevant to Israeli security. And now, with the American war on terrorism, it is not only Arabs any more, but the Muslims of the world who want destruction to Israel. Anyone who tries to view Israeli security from a different perspective is automatically anti-Semitic and Jew-hating.

In their study, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt talk about how the United States tried to mitigate Arab anti-American feelings by curbing Israeli settlement policies and talking about a Palestinian state. In May 2003, an opinion poll showed that “more than 60 per cent of Americans were willing to withhold aid if Israel resisted US pressure to settle the conflict, and that number rose to 70 per cent among the ‘politically active’. Indeed, 73 per cent said that the United States should not favour either side.”

The study then proceeds showing how the Israel lobby worked on convincing the American Administration to isolate Arafat. The Congress eventually was mobilized in support of Sharon. On May 2nd, 2003, the Congress “overrode the administration’s objections and passed two resolutions reaffirming support for Israel.” They stated that “the United States ‘stands in solidarity with Israel’ and that the two countries were … ‘now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism’.”

The resolutions also “condemned ‘the ongoing support and co-ordination of terror by Yasser Arafat’.” On May 9th, “a House appropriations subcommittee met to consider giving Israel an extra $200 million to fight terrorism.” The study concludes that “In short, Sharon and the Lobby took on the president of the United States and triumphed.” In October 2004, Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser, said that “Sharon has Bush ‘wrapped around his little finger’.”

Arab and American public have been the first victims of 9/11, and the subsequent American policies inspired by the Israel lobby. Secretary Rice has admitted that there have been many tactical mistakes in the War on Iraq. American policies, however, are not only misguided on the tactical level, but on the strategic one. Long-term strategies should be made with awareness of facts and accurate estimate of national interests. And unless American officials stop denying the one-sided influence of the Israel lobby on their politics, peace will remain a far-fetched dream in the world.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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