Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Summary of questions to ask Walt & Mearsheimer series

Comment: For a few weeks I have run questions you might consider asking Profs.Walt & Mearsheimer-here is the complete list-thank you.
1. Can you tell us why, in your 350 page book, you ignored the connections between the American oil lobby and Arab countries, and their ties to international terrorism?

2. Why does your book ignore the context for Israel's policies by whitewashing terrorism, ignoring the founding documents of Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah and dismissing the pronouncements of Presidents Ahmadinejad and Assad and the goal of so many in the region to prevent Israel's continued existence in any boundaries? Don't you think these issues are crucial for understanding Israel's policy choices?

3. Can you explain why Benny Morris, whom you cited frequently on the history of Israel, wrote that your work "is a travesty of the history that I have studied and written" and that you have a "fundamental ignorance of the history with which you deal?"

4. Your work has been criticized for being one-sided, for using sources with political agendas or that are marginalized versions of Israel's history not accepted by mainstream scholars or foreign policy experts. For example, you use "new historians" like Ilan Pappe whose work has been discredited, and even adopt the Palestinian version of Camp David instead of Dennis Ross and President Clinton's version. Don't you think it is incumbent upon scholars to research the range of views on controversial issues they address so their final work is not full of factual errors and transparent bias as yours seems to be?

5. Are you considering revising your book to correct the fundamental errors that scholars have exposed, such as cherry picking a Ben Gurion quote so he seems to support Jews expelling Arabs when in fact he opposed it, or claiming Israel had the military advantage in the 1948 War when in fact it didn't, or claiming Israel encouraged the US to invade Iraq when even you admitted in an interview that Israeli policy experts originally discouraged the US war plans? Would you be willing to reassess your conclusions and issue a new edition once you become better informed?

6. Given that radical Islamists and countries like Iran openly state that they despise America and its values and want to dominate the Middle East, resurrect a Caliphate and institute sharia law, why would decreasing support for Israel suddenly change their ideology or their long term agenda?

7. You claim that terrorism against the U.S. and Al-Qai'ada's 9/11 attack stem largely from the close US-Israel alliance. What then were the motives for Islamic terrorism against Britain, Spain, Scotland, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and the threats of attack in France, Denmark and other European countries that don't have close alliances with Israel and that have often been openly hostile to it?

8. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are eagerly promoting your book, Holocaust denier Mark Weber applauded it, and former KKK leader David Duke said it "validates every major point I have been making...." Can you explain why white supremacists would view your book so favorably?

9. As you know, if the Arab countries really wanted to support the Palestinian people, they would have helped build roads, schools and hospitals instead of financing terrorism and suicide bombing. Given that your book repeatedly criticizes Israel's policies in the Territories, why aren't you also extremely critical of the Arab countries' goals for the Palestinian people and their role in perpetuating the conflict?

10. Could you please be more specific about when you think Israel deserves special American support for its defense? Would it be only after Israel was attacked, say by Iran?

11. Why didn't your book focus on the lack of moderate, stable governments in the Arab world which is the main problem the U.S. faces in the Middle East? What policy recommendations—other than decreasing support for Israel—would you recommend to foster more moderate, responsible governments in the region?

12. The policies you advocate have already been proposed by the US and Israel--a 2-state solution along the slightly modified 1967 borders and decreased economic aid to Israel which is scheduled to be zero in 2008. What, then, are the new policies you want the U.S. to recommend, and how will they solve the central problem: Arab rejection of Israel's right to exist?

13. Your book seems to argue that America should be friendlier with terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and dictatorial regimes that violate human rights and practice religious and gender apartheid like Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran and other radical Islamic regimes. How will fostering these relationships further America's interests?

14. Can you explain why, if the Israel Lobby is so powerful, the US continues to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that are not at peace with Israel? For example, the US is concluding a 20 billion dollar ten-year arms deal with the Saudis and other Gulf countries.

15. You claim that Al-Qaeda is largely motivated by humanitarian concern for the Palestinians. Given that Al-Qaeda has been murdering Arabs in Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, how can you argue that they are motivated by humanitarian concerns instead of by their ambition to dominate the Middle East?

16. Saudi Arabia, the US' most important and influential Gulf ally, and Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states all want the Iranian nuclear threat to be eliminated. Isn't it clear that US policy toward Iran will be molded by multiple countries' concerns?

17. How do you reconcile your claim that President Bush and VP Cheney were driven into the Iraq War by the Israel Lobby when they can't rely on the Jewish vote, are most closely affiliated with Saudi Arabia and the oil lobby, and are reputed not to heed polls or lobbies?

18. Your book consistently identifies who is Jewish and even who has Jewish relatives. For example, you tried to prove that 2004 presidential candidate Howard Dean had to be in the "Israel Lobby" because some of his advisors were Jewish and his "wife is Jewish and his children were raised Jewish as well." (p. 164) Why do you consider these ethnic/religious identifications more important than the merits of these people's policy positions? Is this the reason that many view your book as anti-Semitic?

19. You make a point of distancing yourselves from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion—something never seen in serious scholarship--and yet proceeded to single out who is a Jew or has Jewish attachments, as though this alone were incriminating, and your book earned the praise of neo-Nazis and radical Islamist groups. How do you feel about the very real possibility that your book will fuel anti-Semitism and what are you doing to ensure that your work will not have this dangerous effect?

20. You claim that criticism of Israel is suppressed in the U.S. How then do you explain the extensive coverage of your article and book in the media, and your book tour appearances? Has the pro-Israel lobby been weakened, or did you exaggerate its power?
21. You argue that too many intellectuals, think tanks and writers are pro-Israel, and therefore the media silences information and debate. Yet you support the Arab narrative of the conflict, and seem to want it to dominate instead. Do you really believe that no point of view that supports or defends Israel has validity?

22. You minimize the dangers of a nuclear Iran, saying that the threat of retaliation would deter any Iranian use of nuclear weapons just as it deterred the Soviet Union. Iran's former President has already said that Iran doesn't fear massive retaliation and its current president declared several times Iran's intention to "wipe Israel off the map." Isn't it likely that Iran's messianic leadership doesn't operate on the same principles as the Soviets did, and that "mutually assured destruction" may not be an effective deterrence?

23. Has it occurred to you that the vast majority of American scholars, journalists and policy makers reject your essentially one-sided Arab narrative about Israel not because of the "Lobby's" influence but because it is based on factual and historical distortions?

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