The article “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” describes the role of the Israel Lobby in influencing U.S. Foreign Policy, especially toward the Middle East. In this article, Mearsheimer and Walt (2007) define the lobby as a loose coalition of organizations and people who work actively to steer the U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel way. The article centers on how the lobby influences the U.S. foreign policy and its destructive impact on the interests of Americans, and Israel as well. According to Mearsheimer and Walt (2007), America has a long record of supporting Israel. Although the majority think that the support is justified on the shared moral values or strategic ground, this is not the case. In the authors’ view, the support is due to the extraordinary power of the Israel lobby that is shaping the greatest part of the U.S. foreign policy. This argument has been highly rebutted by other political scholars, claiming that although Mearsheimer and Walt demonstrated basic knowledge of the Israel lobby and its power revolution, they fail accurately reflect the extent of the lobby’s power, and the U.S-Israel relationship realities.
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The article demonstrates the authors’ basic knowledge of the operations of the Israel lobby. They acknowledged the American Israel Public Affairs committee’s central role in lobbying Congress and the executive branch to a lesser extent. They acknowledged the participation of a huge array of Zionist Christian groups and other Jewish organizations. They also identified the substantial political contributions levels that originate from American Jews. They also demonstrated considerable comprehension of how the lobbying power has evolved and grown over the past 60 years (Mearsheimer & Walt, 2007). The article also gives an extensive review of both the English-language press and the American Jewish press, demonstrating deep familiarity with the internal Jewish communities’ arguments in both Israel and the United States. However, despite showing a great understanding of Jewish community political organization, they seem to fully misunderstand the lobby’s power limits. Particularly they seem to misunderstand a narrow, laser-like focus on the relationship between the Israel and United States is what enhances the power of the lobby.
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According to Silva (2007) it is true that the ability of the American Jewish community to impact the U.S. policy toward Israel is sharply enhanced due to the unique Congress role in American democracy. Unlike in parliamentary systems representatives, Members of Congress are extremely sensitive to interest groups and voter opinion. Therefore, the political strength of the Jewish together with the opposition weaknesses and the Israel general public support permits the lobby to influence the U.S. policy toward Israel strongly. However, Silva (2007) argues that, as soon as a minority community attempts to extend the power of its organization to other public policy arenas, its ability to impact policy is reduced significantly since it must compete with other strong interest groups. This can be demonstrated by Lobby Reform Bill battle in 2007. According to Mearsheimer and Walt, the AIPAC won the above legislative fight, a claim that is strongly refuted. Silva (2007) claims that although the position of AIPAC on third-party funded congressional travel was indeed embraced, the lobby group failed in its efforts to permit congressional lobbyists to join the members of Congress on those trips. AIPAC was unable to stand against the public opinion setting where the congressional and lobbyist travel was equated to a scandal. Similarly, the lobby has never had an essential influence on finance reform legislation campaigns. This implied that while demonstrating the power of AIPAC and influence on the U.S. policy formation, Mearsheimer and Walt failed to understand that such congressional behavior subtleties or the ethnic group power limits.
In McGlinchey (2010) views, Mearsheimer and Walt made the enormous accusation that the lobby has substantial responsibility for the Iraq war, by demonstrating how a neoconservative group conspired to push for the Iraq war, and combine these neocons with the Israel lobby. The authors significantly blame the Israel lobby for Iraq’s chaos and also warn that any Iran’s future military action must unavoidably be laid at the lobby’s door. In the authors’ view, the lobby and Israel were the central forces behind all Capital Hill and Bush Administration talks regarding the application of military power to destroy nuclear facilities in Iran. Despite this claim, Stephens (2007) confirms that successive Israel governments and lobby have still not gotten clear U.S. support for unwavering desire to urgently and forcibly terminate Iran’s nuclear program that is often regarded as an existential threat to the existence of Israel. Moreover, the commentary of neoconservative publication published a reaction to Mearsheimer and Walt’s article rejecting their thesis on the ground that it lacked original, and rather depended on crass generalizations and secondary sources, and it also anti-semantic stereotypes. In Gorenberg’s (2008) views, arguing that the largely Jewish neocons gang was able to bully Bush, Rumsfeld, and Powell into a war against their interest and will is Illogical. Worse is the idea that the Israel lobby was these neocons. According to McGlinchey (2010) Mearsheimer and Walt at the start of the article describe the Israel lobby as a loose coalition of people and organizations. Therefore in their ideology, diverse organizations such as the Zionist organization of America and Israel Policy Forum are part of the Israel lobby. Also, people as diverse as John Bolton; the former UN ambassador, Tom Friedman; the New York Times columnist, Tom DeLay; the former Senate Majority Leader and Senator Russ Feingold were part of this great lobby. This means these individuals participated in pursuing the American government into a war in the Middle East for Israel, against the government will, which is similar to impossible (Silva, 2007).
There is also a loophole in some of the findings demonstrated in this article. According to Silva (2007) some claims are not supported with evidence. For instance, although a lobby is perceived as a loose coalition, to some extend it needs some level of information sharing and coordination toward specific policy and legislative goals. There is no evidence that this happened about discussing U.S. military involvement in Iran. According to McGlinchey (2010) the actual Israel lobby did not participate meaningfully in the Iraq debate as it does not have the power to implicitly influence that debate. Especially not when huge arrays of powerful ideological and interest groups clashed over the issue of America’s engagement in a war. In addition, there are Mearsheimer and Walt portions of the narrative that failed to mirror the domestic political realities behind the U.S. – Israel relationship. For instance, there is a part where the authors try to show that the Israel lobby shoe the public relations battle. According to Silva (2007), if Mearsheimer and Walt had considered interviewing any Jewish communal leader, they would have established that the Jewish community does not have public relations strategy on Israel’s behalf, and this has been a source of dispute for years. Other paper errors include 50% inflation of part of Jewish in the U.S. population.
Generally, the authors demonstrate good scholarship as they have highly supported their work with footnotes. They have also demonstrated a considerable level of knowledge about the Israel lobby and its basic duties. However, they have overvalued the lobby role and contribution in the formation of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Although the Israeli government indeed has sure support from the U.S. government despite who is ruling, this cannot be purely based on strong Israel lobby power. America is a country that only invests where it is out to benefit. If it invests in Middle East military engagement, it is not because it wants to please Israel but for its interest and good. Although the Israel lobby has some influence on some decisions, it cannot convince the disinterested United States government to join in war for Israel benefits only. Moreover, the members of the Israel lobby, as defined by the authors, do not seem to be interested in such activities. If the United States is constantly in support of Israel maybe for other reasons, rather than just the power of the Israel lobby. Although we cannot completely rule out its contribution to the U.S. engagement decision in the Middle East, it cannot be pointed out as the only force that influences U.S. behavior in this issue.